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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 ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

25 April 2016

25/04/2016 - Teaching | Mount | Technical Mount Escape

Teaching #500
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/04/2016

I start off with a variation on Saulo's technical mount escape, as seen both in his book and BJJ Library. Saulo stiff arms with one arm, the other staying back to help defend the neck. Having bent their leg outwards, he then simply sits up at an angle. Keep in mind that if you're not paying attention you could end up on your side in their guard, at risk of having your back taken. Therefore make sure you move to good posture before they can put you in a awkward position.

I therefore prefer to add in a sit-up escape element, like in the Jeff Rockwell escape from side control. That's because I find with the Saulo escape, if they're wise to it, they will scoop up your arm or possibly take your back. To try to prevent that, after you've managed to stiff-arm into their leg, come up on your other elbow, sitting up high. Move from your elbow to your hand, then pushing off that hand and your feet, try and slide your hips out as much as possible. Square back up to them and recover guard. This needs to be relatively quick, so they don't have time to knock off your arm and/or attempt a back take.

If you're having trouble with that one, you can try a simpler technique I was first taught by Kev several years ago. The basic idea is wedging something under the leg that they've stepped over. It's possible to use your arm for this, especially if you want to go to deep half (I'll get to that in a moment), but I prefer using my knee.

Grab their knee with both arms, keeping your elbows in to make it more difficult for them to strip your grips. You also want to be as much on your side as possible, curled inwards. Shove their leg towards your knee with your arms, shrimping into them to make space. As soon as there is any space, fill it with your knee, then spin to guard or simply try and knock them off-balance to escape (though that can end up becoming a scramble: either way, tends to be better than being stuck under mount).

You can try doing this with one hand, such as if they manage to strip one of your grips, but it's more difficult. As always, be aware of chokes: you may need to disengage one of your hands to defend your neck. Like side control escapes, be careful they don't immediately pass as you try and knock them off with the butterfly hook. Finally, they may be able to scupper your escape completely before you get started if they grab lower on the leg you're trying to use to insert your knee.

For something more advanced, you could also do a switch to deep half guard. The key is getting either your top arm/elbow inserted into any space between the back of their knee and your torso. Your other hand (so, this will be the arm you have closest to the floor) needs to be grabbing your opposite collar tightly, as otherwise they'll have a clear route to choke you. Once you can get your arm through into the gap behind their knee, reach in and grab your gi trousers, by your knee.

Start moving your legs towards your head, until there is an opportunity to shove their leg between yours and switch to deep half guard. From here, you can continue to run towards your head, then quickly turn the other way: this is what Jeff Glover calls the 'Homer sweep'. If your partner is wise to that and adjusts their weight accordingly, you may still be able to pop out the back.
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Teaching Notes: I showed two options, which I think is probably helpful for those who have difficulty with the first one. If people have already done the stiff arm escape from side control, then that will help a lot. If not, then either they pick it up, or the second option is nice and easy. As usual, I showed the escape to deep half to some of the more experienced people during drilling too. Saulo's is another option, but I prefer the simpler one his brother Xande does (which is like Kev's version).

I finally got back to sparring after a week off, which feels like much longer. Unfortunately, my wrist wasn't entirely happy with it. I went with some smaller white belts for specific, then one of the more experienced students who is also my size. I can trust him to be controlled, though I still twinged my wrist a few times due to the kind of open guard I normally play, so had to be careful on that. Looks like I'm not as healed up as I'd hoped, unfortunately.

22 April 2016

22/04/2016 - Teaching | Mount | Escape to Butterfly

Teaching #499
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/04/2016

I went with the bump and frame to butterfly, a relatively basic technique tonight. This isn't an option I often go for, but I do regularly use some of the principles, as quite often I'll end up trying to dig my knee through.

First of all you need to get their hips in range. It is more difficult to land this escape if they're still upright, although in that case you would probably go for something else. Knock them forward with a straight up and down bridge, pressing your knee into their bum. As soon as they're horizontal, frame your arms into their hips and do a powerful bridge (heels as close to your bum as possible, pushing high, on your toes).

Stiff arm into both their hips, so that when you drop your hips back down, the space you created from your bridge is still there. Make sure that the power comes from your hips, not your arms. You arms are just meant to be there to support the weight, like a shelf, not provide the power. Bring both your knees through that gap: having been balanced on your arms, they are now balanced on your shins. You can then kick forward with both legs, using the momentum to also sit up. This should put you directly into butterfly guard, where you can immediately sweep them.

If they are still upright, you can still do it sloppily by jamming as much of your knees as you can into the space you create. It ends up being one or one and a half knees, knocking them off to the side at best. Still, that can work too, and will almost certainly be better than staying stuck under mount. It can also potentially give you a chance at moving into x-guard or something like that, circling your outside around to press your foot into their hip. A double-shin sweep could work from here too.
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Teaching Notes: It is tricky to get this one as pure leverage, as people will tend to try and benchpress, especially if they have a size advantage. I'd like to demonstrate this with a bigger person, though unfortunately tonight I still had a dodgy wrist and sore arms from the vaccination earlier in the week. Next time, I need to make sure I've got this technique smooth and accurate enough to try it on a big person, to demonstrate that it isn't about power. It could be an idea to get people to try it on bigger partners, but at the same time there's a safety issue: I don't want anybody hurting their wrists. Either way, something to play with at open mat some more before I teach it next time.

Having said that, it is still effective, just easy to turn into a power move rather than technique. It should set up the technical mount escape nicely, that I plan to teach next week, as that uses a similar stiff arm principle (or at least, one of the variations does, there are other ways you can do it).

20 April 2016

20/04/2016 - Teaching | Mount | Heel Drag

Teaching #498
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/04/2016

The elbow escape is related to my personal favourite mount escape, the heel drag. The heel drag is also quite simple, which is another reason I like it so much. You're in mount, your elbows in a good place for defence, down by their knees. For this escape to work, you need to have one of your legs out flat, just like before. Again, you also need to get on your side: a slight bridging motion will help.

The big danger at this point is that the person on top will switch to technical mount. You therefore need to make sure that your neck is safe if that happens. You also don't want to let them settle into technical mount: immediately prepare your frames to start escaping before they secure the position. You may even be able to disrupt them as they try to shift, using that shift in their base to enter into your escape.

If they don't get to technical mount, or you're able to work back to the previous position, wedge an elbow underneath their knee. You can either make a frame against their hips, or if you're concerned about your neck, adjust so that you can still pry your elbow under their knee while protecting your collar with your hands. As well as chokes, you also need to be wary of their cross-face: if they can control your head, they can flatten you back out, which will make the escape less effective. Use a combination of your elbow and shrimping to shove their knee backwards, on your flat leg side.

Bring your other foot over both your flat leg and the leg they have next to it. That means you can use the heel of that foot to drag their leg over your flat leg. As soon as you get it over, lock half guard and shrimp towards their trapped leg. In half guard, you want to get onto your side as quickly as possible: if you stay flat on your back, you've already done their work for them, as they will want to flatten you out in order to pass half guard. If you're comfortable in half guard, you could stay there and work your attacks.

Alternatively, keep shrimping in the other direction, in order to free your other leg, just like you would with an elbow escape. It's also worth noting that some people, like Roy Dean, recommend just pinching your knees rather than fully triangling your legs around theirs, so that's worth trying too. To help recover full guard, you can also bring your arm across to their opposite shoulder, impeding their movement while aiding yours. Emily Kwok has a handy tip too: if their foot is too flat, making it hard to get your heel in for a drag, shove under their heel with your knee to pry it up and create that space between their foot and the mat.

A very similar escape, which I don't use much, is the foot lift. Dean shows these two escapes in sequence on his awesome Blue Belt Requirements. The foot lift is for when they have some space underneath their in-step. People won't often do that, in my experience, but if they do, this time just step over your flat leg. Use your foot to hook underneath their instep and lift it over, then as before lock up half guard (your legs are already in position), or shrimp to recover full guard.

Make sure that you pay particular attention to shoving on their knee with this variation, as it is easier for them to slip free (though if that happens, you can always switch to the heel drag). With both escapes, it is important to get the knee of their trapped leg back behind your legs. If they still have their knee past your legs, it makes it much easier for them to move straight into a half guard pass, by driving their knee to the mat and sliding through.
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Teaching Notes: A few people looked like they were rushing on getting that leg over, though there were a few size discrepancies, so it might have been that. Either way, next time I'd like to try using some ideas from how Andrew Smith teaches it, as I think he hooks the leg a little differently. This is the link, as a reminder to myself for next time. :)

20/04/2016 - Teaching | Women's Class | Maintaining Mount

Teaching #497
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/04/2016

There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I call low and high. Once you've achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath (or just near, depending on your flexibility and leg length) their bum, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are ideally off the ground, to generate maximum pressure. How far off the ground they are depends on your dimensions: the key is getting loads of hip pressure. Another option, which I learned from Rob Stevens at Gracie Barra Birmingham, is to put the soles of your feet together and then bring your knees right off the floor.

Whichever option you're going for, thrust those hips into them. It's important to get into a position where you can thrust your hips down, rather than getting bunched up so your bum starts going into the air. Use your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head (remember, you can always remove it for base if you're really getting thrown hard to that side) while the other goes out wide for base.

Try to grip the gi material by their opposite shoulder, or even better, by the opposite armpit. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they're bridging hard, you can switch from side to side, lifting their head slightly and bringing your other arm under, meaning your remaining arm bases out to the other side.

To do the trap and roll/upa escape, they will need to get control of your arm. So, don't let them grab it and crush your arm to their side. Instead, swim your arm through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.
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Teaching Notes: There was a new person in class tonight, but we were able to fit in both low mount and some details on high mount. Like I was saying a couple of weeks ago, I have been moving towards Saulo's version of the high mount, which is more upright than I normally play mount, a hand in the collar.

With the transition to high mount, interestingly there was some discussion of there being an element of pain compliance here, which I hadn't noticed before. People were saying that pressing into the shoulders can pinch into the muscle up there, so that's something for me to keep in mind. It's not meant to be something based on pain, but leverage: I'll have to experiment with hand placement on that.