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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 ©2004-2014 Can Sönmez

21 October 2014

21/10/2014 - Teaching | Side Control | Stiff Arm Escape

Teaching #216
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 21/10/2014

Another session on the stiff arm tonight. I know two main variations, of which I find Marcelo Garcia's elbow push (technically it's the triceps, but he calls it 'elbow push' on MGinAction) the higher percentage. He works from under a standard side control then brings their arm across. To do so, make some space by pressing into their neck and bridging if necessary, then sneaking your other hand under their armpit and onto your head.

Use your elbow to bump their arm over, bumping it up high on your head. As soon as their arm clears your head, immediately grab just above their elbow, pinching your hand around their triceps: you can support this with your other arm if necessary. Extend your arm so it is straight: this is absolutely key, keep it straight. Still holding their arm, swing your legs up, then as they come down, use that momentum to sit up. Bring your free arm backwards in order to base out on your elbow (if possible, extend that arm when you can, in order to post on your hand and create a stronger base). Continuing to push on their triceps, shrimp backwards into the space you've created, until you can recover guard.

Sometimes you'll be able to combine this with the other option, which is to keep pushing into their elbow or armpit until you can roll them over. Normally it's easier to shrimp out to guard, but sometimes their weight distribution means that pushing them over makes more sense.


Teaching & Sparring Notes: Tonight I added in the two arms option, as well as bumping them arm high over your head. I noticed this during progressive resistance and sparring: if I put my elbow high, it seemed to be a good bit easier to bring their arm over my skull. In terms of blocking the escape, my highest rate of success was turning my near hip towards their head. However, I think that also makes you more vulnerable to the pushover variation, judging by when I was on the bottom and my training partner attempted the same counter. If you stay low with the head, that helps.

I found a few times that when I was having trouble escaping as they had that near hip in (so, the hip-to-hip side control I taught yesterday, sort of), I could manage to knock them over by pushing into an arm and also shoving their gi collar into their neck. Sitting up was then enough to bump them over, though I'm not sure that's a high percentage escape. I was also attempting to bridge more powerfully when escaping, going off two legs rather than my usual one, as well as knocking them up over my head.

In sparring, I kept in mind the advice about always holding on to the figure four grip if you get it. I initially locked it in from side control, moving to north south to look for the kimura. He turtled, I kept my grip and moved into a crucifix. As he rolled over of that and back to turtle, I was able to knock him over (still with the grip) and walk my legs back round to side control. From there, I drove the other knee in past the hips as he attempted to turn, put my leg around the head then slowly dropped back for the armbar (I had a vague triangle around the head from side control at some point too, which further helped with control).

Normally I'm not keen on armbars, but when it feels like I have a strong control all the way through, much better. This could possibly fit in when I teach the americana tomorrow, though it may be a little too advanced if there are lots of beginners. I'm still having a think about the best set-up to teach.

I added in the same takedown drills at the start of tonight. From now on, I plan to just do them on the Tuesday and Thursday at Kingswood, because the lesson is a bit longer. Takes too much time in the hour I've got at Bristol Sports Centre, I think.

20 October 2014

20/10/2014 - Teaching | Side Control | Maintaining (Hip to Hip)

Teaching #215
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/10/2014

Last week, I went through the orthodox method of holding side control, something I see as the basic, 'safe' method for beginners that will give them some control. Today, I wanted to emphasise mobility in side control as well as focused pressure, again drawing on John Palmer's excellent 'control point theory' that I talked about yesterday. 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.

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.

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.

Teaching Notes: I added some takedown drills tonight, building off the double-leg trip Roy Dean teaches. I think that works well as a low-impact, easy to understand takedown. I've got a couple more in mind, then once those are embedded into class, I can start considering combinations. That's a while off though: also, I'll probably end up limiting takedowns to the Kingswood location, as those lessons are longer. Showing the takedown tonight took a good while, so next time I'll just put in some of the drills rather than going through the whole takedown.

18 October 2014

18/10/2014 - Artemis BJJ | Open Mat | Takedowns & Spider Guard Shoulder Variation

Class #599
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 18/10/2014

I have never been overly fond of takedowns, but as a few students have asked about bringing the fight to the ground from standing, I decided it's time I tried adding some to the warm-up. I want something that is broadly effective, easy to learn and relatively low impact (as the mats where I teach aren't especially thick, though there are some crash mats we can use for dedicated throwing practice).

Thinking back through the throws I've learned (quite a few over the years, and I guess I did technically train judo before I started BJJ, if only briefly), I thought that single and double legs would be best, especially as they also don't require a gi. I ran through the seoi-nage just to refresh my memory, but I think that's too high impact for the beginners I teach, especially as they haven't done much breakfalling yet.

The entry for both the takedowns I wanted to use is the same. Grab their collar and elbow, pulling that up and you drop down into a crouch and shoot forward. Wrap up both legs and drive through for the double leg, or alternatively, Roy Dean's version where you slot a leg through first and then drive. That means you end up passing smoothly at best and half guard at worst, but it's a bit more fiddly than simply blasting forwards.

The single leg starts the same, except you just wrap up the one leg. Pick it up and trap it between your legs. You can either 'run the pipe' by jamming your head into their same side hip and turning, or adjust to bring your hand under their leg while the other grabs around their other hip. From there you can bump them up and drop them. For beginners, I think running the pipe is better, as they don't need to worry about lifting wrong and hurting their back or something.

Another entry is to do an arm-drag, then dropping for the leg. That could be a better option, as firstly it means they don't need a gi and secondly the arm drag is useful generally rather than just as an entry. I'll try that on Monday and see how it goes. Randomly, I also had a play with flying triangles, as I'd been reading Dave Camarillo's old Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu to refresh my memory on takedowns. I'd forgotten he doesn't have any double or single legs in there, but I did get tempted by the flying triangle. Especially with my lovely new spats, which feature an awesome samurai triangle. ;)

A very helpful purple belt at the open mat suggested the arm drag to me, along with a great drill I want to try. This is for throws like the seoi-nage where you spin in to take people down. Step in and swivel as normal, then drop to throw. Instead of throwing, roll onto the floor. That means you are working pretty much the same motion as the throw, but without the difficulties of breakfalling, keeping your back safe, placing your partner as you throw, etc

That same purple belt also shared what he was currently working on, a spider guard variation that looks fairly similar to what Xande does on his DVD. The difference is that this one has you put a foot on the shoulder rather than the crook of the elbow, also pushing into the same side hip with your other foot. The hand grips are the same as Xande, pulling on the same side sleeve (that purple uses a pistol grip, which saves the fingers, but a typical pocket grip works too) as the hip-foot side, then cross gripping the collar.

Drilling that with Paul, I found that on the bottom it enables me to be much more proactive than my usual lasso spider guard: I'm definitely going to keep this in mind next time I teach my usual lesson on maintaining spider guard. Flowing into the push sweep felt more natural, plus the sweep just shoving with your legs from spider guard felt more powerful too. Triangles are also easier and it feels simpler to recover your shoulder push if they knock off your foot.

On top, I was finding that there are some disadvantages to be aware of, due to putting the foot on the shoulder. That leaves the arm on that side free, so I was able to repeatedly use that hand to push Paul's leg off my hip, having popped my hips back. To get the foot off my shoulder was slightly trickier (I brought my hand to my head in order to use the elbow to knock the foot away), but again once I had it clear the pass was right there. So, that's something I'll need to be aware of when using this guard: perhaps just a matter of switching between the shoulder and arm? I'll find out as I play with it more.