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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2015 Can Sönmez

09 April 2015

09/04/2015 - Teaching Notes at PHNX | Ezequiel Variation

Teaching #305
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/04/2015

Today I ran through various mount attacks, then answered a few questions about related side control chokes. I had a play trying out that variation of the ezequiel choke too, seeing if that was a useful alternative. Drilling, we found it's hard to do without raising up, though that might be because I don't have it tight enough. I still like the ease of setting it up though, and trapping the arm must have some potential.

The choke, shown to me by a visiting purple a while ago, is similar to the lapel attack I like to do from side control, where you feed your gi to the hand you have under their head (something you can set up from mount too, dismounting to side control for the finish). Even more fun, if they are being super-defensive and crossing their arms to block a choke from mount, that's where the ezequiel variation comes in.

Pull their gi lapel up and over their bent arm, feeding it to the hand you have under their head. Bring your other arm underneath that lapel, cutting the hand down by the side of their neck, like you would for a standard ezequiel. You can then finish the choke pretty much as normal. If you start off with the gi lapel slightly loose, it's easier to slip your other hand under, before tightening it right up. I'm going to continue playing with this, as well as checking back with that purple to see how it's been working for him in the months since he first showed it to me.

08 April 2015

08/04/2015 - Teaching | Mount | Ezequiel Choke

Teaching #304
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 08/04/2015

From the low mount, your attacking options are limited. I've found the most reliable is the ezequiel choke, which has the advantage of being low risk and also opening up a route to high mount even if you don't get the choke. need to get one arm under their head. Many people will just give you that space as they try to escape, but if not, you can press into their neck to get them to raise their head.

Once you have an arm under the head, you can progress to the next stage. To get the choke, you need to block off both sides of their neck. For the first side, you're going to use your gi. With the hand you have under their head, grab your free sleeve. Pull it tight to the nearest side of their neck. Remember that it is the sleeve that is applying that half of the choke, not your hand. You therefore need to pull that sleeve across and into their neck. You may need to grip the sleeve with less fingers to increase your range, so that you are pulling gi material into their neck.

Curl your free hand in past their chin, moving it across their neck. Keep reaching, until you can make a chopping motion down into the other side of their neck. Make sure you're pressing into the side of their neck, not the throat (although crushing the windpipe may still get a tap, it isn't as efficient). To finish, pull on the sleeve as you chop. If you need to increase your leverage, raise up slightly (some people will even put a foot by the head to really drive). However, be aware that giving them more space could lead to an escape.

Obviously it isn't going to be that easy in sparring. They're going to be blocking you with their hand, trying to buck you off, disrupting your attack any way they can. To avoid that, there are a couple of options. One is to slip your arm inside their defending arm, pushing your arm through, then driving your elbow to the mat. You can then slide that arm back to trap their arm to their side, clearing the way for your choke attempt. Alternatively, they may give you the opportunity by pushing on your knee.

Fill up the space by sticking your head right next to theirs. Use this as both a means of control and a barrier against their efforts to get a hand back inside. Stay low, then gradually slip in your second hand. Again, they may give you the opportunity by bridging. If they are staying really tight, use your head to push into their skull, aiming to get them to turn it away. When that space appears, follow your head with your hand, then slip through for the choke.
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Teaching Notes: I want to emphasise pulling the elbow across next time, in order to get the gi sleeve into the neck. Lots of people ended up with their hand up high, because they were focusing on getting a firm grip on the sleeve rather than creating that cord of sleeve for the choke. Of course, it is also important to note that sometimes the gi may just be too tight for an effective ezequiel choke.

In that situation, you can instead use it to get them to raise their elbow, enabling you to move into high mount. Another option is to pull their gi lapel over their arm (e.g., if they're blocking) and feed it to your other hand. Pull that close to the neck, then slip your other hand inside, finishing off the choke as before.

It's not as effective as the orthodox grip and tends to require more leverage, but a handy potential variation if your gi isn't baggy enough. Also, I'd like to highlight reaching the arm inside to clear their arm out of the way, as that's useful for the choke set-up.

Tonight was my first time teaching on the big mats downstairs. It is awesome having all that space, but sound is trickier than the smaller room upstairs. Not only is downstairs huge, so your voice has to carry further, but there are people lifting weights and exercising all around the outside. The sound system wasn't working too well either, but I think I have a back-up plan (and if that fails, I'll look into getting some good portable speakers for my phone, so the timer is suitably loud).

08/04/2015 - Teaching | Women's Class | Side Control to Mount

Teaching #303
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 08/04/2015

To transition from side control to mount, start by killing the near arm. When you're underneath, one of the worst things that can happen is they control your near arm. Now that you're on top, that is therefore exactly what you want. Start by digging your knee in to get it into the armpit: Saulo suggests faking a choke to get them to raise their arm. You want to slip your knee right under their arm, bringing your knees in close to their head.

Another thing to try is switching your hips into a scarf hold position to pry their elbow up, then switch back to a more orthodox side control to trap their arm. If you are having trouble, dragging your hip along the floor and into their elbow may enable you to scoop up their arm. However you manage it, getting the near elbow out of the way is key to this particular method of transitioning to mount. Once it's secure, you've got several methods for getting to the mount.

My preference is to use reverse scarf hold to go to mount. From tight side control, having killed the near arm, switch one arm to grip their far arm, putting your other hand by their near hip. Shift your hips right back towards their head, as far as you can. Your elbow will either be in their far armpit or wrapped underneath their far arm for control. This position means you're also blocking their view with your entire body. Lean into them, using your body weight to help maintain control.

That therefore stops them from seeing exactly what you're doing (note that when Saulo shows it on his DVD, he suggests you mess with them by slapping their legs, until you can pick your moment). When you've got up really high and are ready to go (at this point, they should almost be bridging to relieve the pressure), grab their knee to stop them snatching mount, then bring your leg across. Ideally, you'll pin their knee to the mat, squashing both their knees together.

If you're able to clamp their knees onto the near side, there is the possibility of inserting your foot behind their knees and switching through to mount. However, it generally isn't going to be easy to get them into that position, so I wouldn't rely on this, but still, if you can get it that's an easy route to mount. Second, you can grab your own foot and pull it across, or just squeeze it past your own arm, depending on your flexibility. This is useful when you have limited space, but personally I find it feels a little awkward, in that you might tangle yourself up in your own limbs.

Beginners will often try to simply swing their leg over, which is instinctive. However, while that can sometimes work, especially if you time it well, there are two main dangers. The first is that they will snatch half guard as your leg swings over, as it will normally be within range of their own legs. The second is even more dangerous. If they bridge into you midway through your swing, they can roll you onto your back and end up in your guard.

The safest option is to slide your knee across their belt line, then 'fishtail' (slapping the mat with the side of your lower leg) when your knee touches the mat. You can also grab their belt or cup their far hip to stop them shrimping midway through. I feel this is the best method, using steady pressure to get into place, rather than relying on explosive power, flexibility or luck.
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Teaching Notes: Bank Holiday on Monday, so the gym was closed. Getting back to teaching tonight, I'm wondering if I should just teach the diagonal armpit option, as people always get confused with the fishtail anyway. If I do, then I should also talk about getting the far arm out of the way, walking your fingers up to make room. Having everybody go through it John Will style would be worth bringing in earlier (I've said this before and keep not doing it), as I noticed people weren't quite getting the positioning for that reverse scarf hold switch with their legs.

04 April 2015

04/04/2015 - Artemis BJJ | Open Mat

Class #636
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 04/04/2015

I had my first roll in ages after bronchitis, with one of the women. It was a good way to get to training. I did my usual thing of a relaxed open guard, encouraging my partner to pass by controlling the legs, as otherwise I can keep pushing into their hips and maintain distance.

She also asked for some advice on escaping side control too. I found that I could push the knee away and move round as they tried to bring it in. Thinking about my approach when I escape from there, I suggested a focus on connecting elbow to knee, to avoid leaving a space that the person on top can get their arm or hip inside.

I then did some rolling with a bigger white belt, re-encoutering my old problem of not managing to finish from mount. I was going for the palm up palm down choke, where you use the static arm as a 'bar', but I didn't have that in place properly. I'm not sure my initial grip was deep enough either. As ever, it's still positive that I could maintain the position. Next time, I need to focus on the positioning of that 'bar'.

My favourite side control gi choke didn't work for me either. I think I didn't have that locked in tight enough, in order to properly drop the arm over the top. I need to stay low, not give them any space. From closed guard, I looked to angle off, but failed to get a decent lock into their shoulder with my chest. Could be I need to get a bit higher, or use my legs more.

Though I would normally keep on practicing that open guard from Kev, I avoided it this time as my partner has an ankle injury. I find the movement for techniques like the loop choke and especially collar drag are jerky and can lead to stumbling on their part. Not good for ankle injuries! That makes me wonder if there a 'gentle' collar drag I could use instead. Perhaps grabbing their foot and gradually taking them down, putting me on top? I'd rather be on top than on the back anyway.

Also, my neck was sore yet again. Is that from playing guard too flat, or squirming too much underneath side control etc and relying on the neck muscles to get me into position? I need to have a good think on that, how to compensate. Perhaps getting more onto my shoulders, thinking of where I can get my skeleton into play rather than muscles. It happens a lot: this was after just one roll, so that's an issue I need to resolve.