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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

20 May 2015

20/05/2015 - Teaching | Women's Class | Teaching Notes

Teaching #325
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/05/2015

Nothing much to add here, as it went much the same as the other recent lessons. I did throw in a load of other techniques, as class was small today. It became a focused lesson on escaping and maintaining side control, with some submission options too. Not how I would normally run a class, but I'll sometimes do it if there aren't many people, especially in the looser structure of the women's class.

I'm writing this up a few days later, so given I don't have a lot to say about today (I'd just be copy and pasting the previous side control escape class without adding anything in the notes), I'll take the opportunity to mention the competition calendar I've added to the ArtemisBJJ.com site. The club is still young, but as yet nobody has got on the competition mats (not all that surprising, as there aren't many members who have trained more than six months).

Not that I'm a big competitor myself. Far from it, I've only competed a mere once so far, way back in 2007 as a white belt: if I ever do one again, it will probably be something special, like trying out a US Grappling sub only during a US trip. Anyway, hopefully having a calender up might encourage some of the students to give competition a shot. There are three or four who regularly talk about doing it at some point, so this will give them a chance to plan. Never know, might motivate me to finally get in there myself a second time (but I'm pretty sure it would have to be US Grappling to do something as magical as that ;D).

20/05/2015 - Open Mat | Breadcutter Choke

Class #644
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 20/05/2015

I've made abortive attempts at creating BJJ flowcharts/mind maps/whatever you want to call them, but got re-inspired recently by the GrappleFlow feature on Grapplers Guide (one of the earliest online instructional sites, which I reviewed a few years back and still use regularly). That means I've finally got something more substantial to further highlight what I need to work on most.

Today, I decided that was the breadcutter choke, particularly as I was thinking of teaching it next week. It's something I've played with before, after Donal taught it to me during a private in 2013. I had another look at the videos on BJJ Library again too, finding that the version Xande goes for looks the most appealing, especially as he has follow-ups right from the choke into a kimura and armbar.

Dónal's breadcutter choke is set up by moving towards north-south from side control. They will often reach past your hip when you do that, which leaves a space for you reach under their armpit and clamp it to your side, so that their arm is stuck between your side and your arm. Move back to side control, then with the hand of that clamping arm, grab behind their neck, gripping in the middle of the collar. Cinch that in.

Bring your free arm back towards you, then use that to turn their head away from you. This feels counter-intuitive, as you'd expect to drag that arm back and turn their head towards you. However, you want to expose the near side of their neck. So, bring your arm back, then drive it over their jawline, turning their head away. Grip their far collar with your free hand (this might require balancing on their chest, turned towards their head, which should also help keep them pinned to the mat), then put your forearm into the exposed side of their neck.

To finish, you need to create some pressure into their neck, in order to close off the artery. Turn towards their legs, in a sort of reverse scarf hold position, then use that base from your legs to lower yourself gradually into their neck, keeping your initial gi grip tight. Be careful, as this can come on quickly and it isn't very comfortable.

Saulo's version also relies upon that pressure into the neck. What I like about Xande's version is that you aren't required to drive your weight through the side of their neck. Their head isn't even turned. First you secure your initial grip, which Xande does by going all the way to north-south, curling his arm back, then returning his body to the side he's grabbed. He doesn't go all the way behind the collar, his arm seems to be a little further back.

Rather than turning their head to press into the side of the neck, he grips across to the far collar while they are still facing up. The hand needs to be far enough up that it doesn't cause the arm to squish the windpipe, but low enough to keep the gi tight. Drop your elbow, close to where your first hand is gripping. You then pry their head back with your elbow for the submission. It comes on quickly and feels somehow 'cleaner' than leaning all your weight into their neck.

I want to play with that more, so I'm intending to practice at the Saturday open mat, possibly in combination with those other attacks Xande shows in another video. I often go for the north-south kimura, meaning that will fit well. Fun times, though I remember last time I had trouble getting the breadcutter once resistance is added in. I'll try to make a more concerted effort to stick with it this time. ;)

18 May 2015

18/05/2015 - Teaching | Side Control | Maintaining (Standard)

Teaching #324
Artemis BJJ, (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 18/05/2015

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Side ControlIt's been over six months since our last month of side control, so I decided it was time to revisit maintaining side control. I kicked off with the conceptual framework John described to me in Texas, which I've mentioned before: the primary control points are the hips and the triangle of shoulders and head, secondary control is inside the knees and elbows, then finally tertiary control relates to the wrists and ankles. John goes into more detail over on this thread. I think it's helpful to have that framework at the start, as then the students can hopefully see how that principle filters through everything we'll be training today.

A particularly effective method of control is applying a cross face. If you're not familiar with the term, that means bringing your near side arm under their head: I like to reach right to their far armpit and anchor my arm there, either by cupping, or by getting a hold of the gi material. From that position, you can then drive your shoulder and/or arm into the side of their head or neck, aiming to get their head to turn away from you and/or generate some choking pressure to distract them.

If they can't turn their head back towards you due to the shoulder pressure, it will make it much harder for them to create space and escape. "The body follows the head" or "where the head goes, the body follows" is an old adage and a true one. This is what SBG call the 'shoulder of justice.' If you shift your shoulder from their face to their neck, that choking pressure can also open up opportunities to switch to mount or consider initiating a submission attempt. However, it does mean they can probably turn their head again, which improves their escape opportunities.

Next, it is a good idea to deal with their far arm. Reach under that far elbow with your arm, coming under the armpit. You have a couple of options here. Option one is linking your hands together with a gable grip and sucking them in towards you, providing a very tight side control. This is how Tran showed it to me several years ago. Option two is gripping around their shoulder, to bring their shoulder off the mat: this is something Dónal likes to do, which isn't surprising as I think I first saw that on a Braulio video. You can also use the elbow of your far arm to squeeze into their far hip. This latter option makes more sense if you're already grabbing by their armpit with your near arm. You want to keep control over their far arm for two reasons: first, they can use it to defend, by getting it into your neck. Second, there are a number of attacks you can do from here.

I also wanted to emphasise chest position. Picture an imaginary line between the middle of their chest and also between yours. You want to bisect those lines: don't be too far over them, or they can easily roll you (if they DO try and roll you and it's working, put your far arm or your forehead out for base). Too far back, and it's easier for them to slip out and escape. Stay low, dropping your hips: don't leave them any space.

Moving on to the legs, there are a bunch of different things you can do. I used to prefer to bring both knees in tight, but I later started sprawling the leg nearer the head backwards, which enables me to bring my hips much lower. This is key: you must keep your hips low in side control. If your knees are in tight, widen them if your hips are still high.

The lower the hips, the more weight on top of them, which therefore gives you better control. However, if you have both legs sprawled back, there is a chance they might be able to bring their knee inside: you need to block it somehow, which would commonly be with the hip nearest their legs, your hand or your knee. Play around and see which position you like, and also be ready to switch depending on your partner's movement.

Finally, if you're sprawling your legs back, keep your knees off the ground and stay on your toes. This helps with mobility and driving forward.
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Teaching Notes: I thought hard about whether to go with the orthodox side control maintenance lesson tonight, or try something I teach less often, like scarf hold or north-south. I eventually decided that there are a number of people who weren't here when I last taught this lesson in October, not to mention that it is sufficiently fundamental that it's well worth showing at least a few times a year. I'm therefore going to bring in the 'rarer' lessons later in the week. Thursday is a good 'testing' space for me, meaning I will do either scarf hold or north south that day.

For the Wednesday, that's the biggest class with the most room. That means it should work well for my other fundamental side control maintenance lesson, where I talk about the 'hip to hip' method. It doesn't take all that long to teach it, but lends itself to lots of resistance drills. I could potentially add a transition to scarf hold as part of that, something I want to test out for Wednesday.

16 May 2015

16/05/2015 - Open Mat

Class #643
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 16/05/2015

Today I mostly just recapped techniques from the Super Seminar with two of the students who popped along, Laura and Kirsty. We ran through the closed guard back take and armbar Yas showed, then Gret's half guard material, before finishing off with Vanessa's spider guard sweep. I simplified that last one, as there were quite a few steps to it based on 'what if'. It began from closed guard, moving into spider guard from there, then using the lasso to pull the collar in range, then the main sweep itself, along with some details to counteract your opponent trying to go to knee on belly.

I just went through the sweep, starting off in open guard, without assuming they are trying for knee on belly. That seemed to make it clearer for people who haven't really used spider guard before. Handily, as they've also seen those extra details, those should hopefully be up their sleeve for when that does happen. Right now it's a bit advanced for the classes I tend to teach, but all of the material from the seminar is going to be especially useful as we move into three months of guard, starting in June with closed guard.

Other than that, I also had a quick refresher on the scarf hold escape, as Steve mentioned that the friendly judo guy who popped along on Thursday was escaping easily and he wasn't sure how. The basic method Dan Lewis went through a while ago at RGA Bucks worked well for Steve: I may give scarf hold a go next week, but I'm still considering what I should teach. Might make for a useful change, perhaps throwing in the americana with the legs too after showing how it can be used to maintain on top.