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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a brown belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

16 November 2018

16/11/2018 - Blue belt+ class, Priit running escape > turtle > panda

Class #1076
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 16/11/2018

More on that same sequence I've been working for a while now. I was feeling pretty good about it, as yesterday it seemed to function well testing it in sparring with Sam (though I doubt he was going all that hard). I carefully checked my videos of both Priit and Saulo teaching this, so I hopefully have a better leg position. I confused myself thinking too much about pulling the knee in from what Priit said last weekend: on reflection, I reckon he just meant bring it closer behind the front leg, not slide it underneath.

There is loads more we can dig into on the panda, a position I introduced today. That went down well, looks like the blue belts and purples (well, purple, meaning Chris ;D) are going to have fun playing with that. ;)

16/11/2018 - Teaching | Side Control | Running Escape

Teaching #815
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 16/11/2018

Short Version:
  • Bump and get the back of your hand to their shoulder
  • Push off the shoulder, step your leg over, knee up, curling your body up
  • Tuck your elbow tightly by your hip, put your head in your armpit to block chokes (or head turned down, in Priit's version)
  • 'Expand' outwards, pushing off your foot
  • Turn in a tight circle, into open guard. Alternatively for Priit's version, turn to turtle

Full Version: I started off by talking about the running escape as a survival posture. I first pointed out the importance of blocking their arm from reaching through past your hip. Ideally you want to block that by jamming your forearm to your thigh, so that you elbow is by your hip. This will need to be mobile, as they will be trying to wriggle past.

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Putting your arm under your knee can work too, depending on your flexibility, but be careful of reaching too far under your leg. It may leave you vulnerable to them collapsing your leg on top of your arm, trapping both limbs (unless you're flexible enough to get your heel right to your hip, which should be a strong enough structure to prevent that).

If they do manage to get their arm in, dig it back out using your elbow and knee. You can also drive your shin into the crook of their elbow and recover your position, or potentially try and recover guard by spinning off that leverage point (Beneville calls this the 'shin in elbow trick' in his book). I should note that it is possible to escape while their arm is through (Marcelo teaches it that way, IIRC), but personally I find it much tougher when they have that arm through.

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The second survival tip is being very careful of their attempts to take your back. Especially if they have an arm through and can reach your opposite hip, they will try to lift you up and slide their leg underneath. That will then help them to put in their hooks and take the back. If they do start to take your back, block their second hook with your elbow and knee (in the same way you were blocking their arm), hopefully setting you up to either get back to the running escape, or perhaps starting a pass off the back escape. Blocking the first hook with your hand is another possibility, but that could potentially leave your neck vulnerable.

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Which leads into the third point: protect your neck. You are relatively safe in the running escape, but if they can reach a hand past your neck and grab a collar, that's dangerous. If you feel their hand beginning to sneak past your shoulder, immediately dive your head into your lower armpit. It is a strange position, but that motion should close off their route to your neck. This isn't somewhere you want to stay very long: just enough to prevent that choke set-up.

Moving on to the actual escape, saulo's version in Jiu Jitsu University (p69), which begins by making a little space and turning to the survival posture, links directly to his knee on belly escape. I normally just teach that knee on belly escape as a drill for my open guard maintenance lesson, as the swinging motion is a useful skill to learn. However, in his book, Saulo uses that motion to recover his guard from under side control, rather than the swivel he uses in Jiu Jitsu Revolution 2 (he does a much quicker version in his first set, Jiu Jitsu Revolution 1).

The risky part is as you're swinging through with your legs in the air: if your partner is prepared and you aren't able to perform that motion smoothly and efficiently, they may be able to set up a double-underhook pass. It is therefore important to clamp your legs down as Saulo does in the last picture, rather than leaving them dangling and vulnerable. If they do get that double underhook, make your legs heavy, wriggle back on your shoulders, then hook your insteps inside their thighs.

Saulo has a little tweak to this guard recovery option, which I noticed on his instructional site, BJJ Library (review now up, here). It may be he did this previously, but it was highlighted on the running escape video. In the past, I have used a wide base, securing my weight on my shoulder and two feet. The way Saulo did it in the video was with a much narrower base, pushing off with his feet straight from the running escape position rather than stepping out to wide the legs. He also makes more of a push with his hips into them, staying close, rather than a swing. If you can manage to push them with your hips, that leaves less space for them to move right into the double-underhooks pass.

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To further enhance your push, you can try the tips I got from Donal's private lesson a while back: using the elbow to make some space before you go for the hip swing. After you have shoved your elbow into their chest, continue to extend it to push them further. Initially, especially if you are very defensive like me, that feels as if you're leaving your arm vulnerable. However, because you are immediately following up the elbow shove and arm extension with a hip bump and leg swing, they shouldn't have a chance to capitalise on your arm being out there.

On that point, be careful to time your escape, staying sensitive to their weight distribution. If they are driving into you with lots of pressure, it will be hard. A good moment to attempt the escape is when they are looking to attack or transition to another position. Often, there will be a brief moment before they start when they take their weight off you. That is the time to spring the escape.

It is possible that the person you are training with won't often use near side grips from side control. Speaking personally, I tend to go for the orthodox grip under the head and the far arm. That doesn't mean you can't use the running escape, it simply means you have to put yourself into position, forcing them to use near grips. All you need to do is make enough space that you can turn away and curl into a ball.

Since 2017, I've also been using Priit Mihkelson's version, which is a modification of Saulo's original method. Tuck your bottom arm underneath you, in order to block their near hook. Rather than putting your head in your armpit, turn it down towards the mat and try to fold it towards your shoulder. Your weight is therefore partly on your head, making it easier to turn to turtle. Priit has an extended sequence from there, going from the running escape to turtle into what he calls panda.


Teaching Notes: Matt was away, so I covered both Friday classes today. I think the main thing is leg position, bringing that back leg in tight behind the front leg. Also, turning your head down towards the mat. I showed the transition to turtle this time, so next time I reckon the spin to guard and the granby roll would be worth going through again (those are the ones I usually teach for running escape).

Also, emphasise are the importance of timing, so you're not trying to do this when they are crushing their full weight into you, along with the 'running' part of the escape. You can start to create that timing and space by moving away with your legs to adjust their weight distribution. Scraping off their arm using your knee/shin combined with your arm/elbow is worth talking about too, as I end up doing that quite often due to how much I use this position.

15 November 2018

15/11/2018 - Thursday daytime

Class #1075
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 15/11/2018

I spent today's session working on Priit's running escape > turtle > panda sequence, which has been a focus for me over the last year and a bit. I've especially been using it in sparring with Sam, as I find it so difficult to maintain any kind of open guard with him. It's easier to go to turtle. Sparring with him again later, the sequence worked well, although I'm not sure if he was going all that hard so was probably letting me get away with stuff.

I'm also uncertain if I'm doing it right. I picked Priit's brain about it last weekend, but I am now unsure if I remembered the leg position on the running escape correctly. I tagged Priit in the vid, so hopefully he sees it. If not, I'll just need to review the many, MANY vids I have of Priit teaching this (based on training with him for something like 40hrs since 2017 ;) ).

Shorted version of that vid on Instagram, here:

14 November 2018

14/11/2018 - Teaching | Side Control | Hip to hip maintenance

Teaching #814
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 14/11/2018

Today, I wanted to emphasise mobility in side control as well as focused pressure, again drawing on John Palmer's excellent 'control point theory'. Although it can be tempting to just seize up in side control, you have to keep moving. Otherwise, you aren't reacting to your opponent and they're eventually going to escape. The old "it's better to bend than to break" cliche comes to mind.

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That transitional, mobile element to side control can be seen in Saulo's hip-to-hip side control, which he shows on Jiu Jitsu Revolution. He keeps his hip stuck right by theirs throughout. The only time he lets off the pressure is if he gets something better, like strong control on the far arm. As they move, turn and put your other hip to theirs, following them around with your legs sprawled back. Your elbow is across, blocking their other hip: however, be careful of pinching that in too forcefully, as that may help them initiate an escape where they roll you over the top. Also, don't rest your elbow on the mat. Putting the elbow on the mat takes your weight off them, pinch it into their far hip instead.

Your weight should constantly be on them, because of that sprawl: don't touch the floor with your legs or knees. You can also reverse, which Saulo's brother Xande discusses in detail on his DVD set. Turn your hips in the other direction, so that you're now facing their legs. Control their far arm, also making sure to block their near hip to prevent their movement in that direction. As you turn, it's worth blocking their legs with your arms, as well as clamping your head to their hip.

My favourite way to practice this is using the 'no hands' maintenance drill, explained in the video:


Teaching Notes: This class is solid now, so no changes I can think of. I emphasised clamping your elbow to their far hip rather than putting it on the ground, keeping hips low when moving around and not straining when you're on the bottom during the drills. That injury prevention point is important. :D