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

31 July 2008

31/07/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #167

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 31/07/2008 - Advanced

Back to technique this session, returning to some open guard sweeps Jude has shown us before. They both begin from half-guard, after your opponent has stood up, then I think switch to what is called 'x-guard', but as I'm still not entirely sure what the hell that is, may be mislabelling the position.

Anyway, the first x-guard sweep starts with them standing up, while you have both of your legs wrapped around one of theirs, also using your same side hand to grab their gi trousers. With your other hand, grip their other sleeve. In order to make them step forward, brings your knees towards your chest and pull their sleeve forward.

Once they've stepped forward, switch your grip from their sleeve to behind their leg, wrapping your arm around the back of their knee, gripping just above that same knee round the other side. Your half-guard now switches to the 'x-guard' thingy, where your have one shin underneath their leg, the other foot braced by the side of their knee. If they are trying to drop their knee to your stomach, use your own knee to press them back.

To knock them over, pull your arm in so you can change your grip from their gi pants to their ankle, then use the combination of pushing on their knee and your hold on their other leg to put them on the ground. Don't come up using your hand: rely on the momentum instead, completing the motion by coming round to side control.

The next x-guard sweep was a bit more complicated, working from the same starting position. However, this time when you try to get them to step forward, they put their weight back and hold steady, so you can't hook that leg. Instead, you'll move right round to the side of the leg you've trapped with your own legs. Pull their arm between their legs, feeding the sleeve to your other hand, then hook the instep of one leg around their other thigh (taking care not to get your arm and leg tangled up, which I did a few times when drilling this). Your other leg is going to push on their knee again.

Having got into position, sit up and grab their collar, aiming to get a deep grip. You can now drop the leg you've got hooked, and instead concentrate on pushing their knee, pulling down on the gi with your collar grip at the same time. This should drag them to the floor: note that they can't easily break their fall, so be careful when drilling this (you basically end up landing on your shoulder).

Specific sparring was king of the hill guard passage, where again my main goal was to make myself stand up. I got defensive a few times, but was pleased to at least get to my feet during a couple of spars. I'm not getting any further than that at the mo, but it’s a start: next thing will be to drive my hips forward and develop good balance, so I can being to work a pass. At the moment, I tend to get swept fairly quickly and easily after I'm up, so its going to be a matter of persevering until I start to settle into the motion and get my base.

I spent a lot of free sparring in half-guard, particularly with Dean and Christy. For the first spar, my partner was Christina, and I tried to stand up: didn't really work, but again, something I just need to keep trying. As ever, soon ended up underneath, mostly in either side control or knee on belly. In the latter position, I'm tending to do a lot of waiting, trying to go to half guard by pushing on the knee, which isn't very effective. I've seen some escapes in the Ed Beneville books, and I remember Maurição showing us some a while back, so need to double-check those.

My main problem in half-guard at present is getting up my torso onto the same side as the leg I've trapped. I keep ending up in a diagonal posture, which is much less useful for sweeps, taking the back, recovering guard etc. I'm getting better with snatching half guard if I can see I'm about to be swept or passed, but I must be doing it in such a way that I end up with my torso in the wrong place. Working back around is proving difficult: I should probably be using my hips more, and bridging to make space.

I seem to remember getting some kind of sweep on Christy, but I think it was kinda sloppy, and right near the end I rolled her over with her leg (if I'm remembering correctly). That wasn't really planned, but I should keep in mind that their leg is vulnerable if its up close to my head.

I also rolled into Dean's guard a couple of times, but that didn't help me much as on each occasion he had a kimura mostly locked in when on top of my half-guard. The second time round I managed to get out of it by attempting to crush my shoulder down after I rolled, but I'm not sure if I escaped due to that, or he eased off: not sure on the correct technical escape for a kimura from guard.

Seemed to bruise up my knee today, which I think may have been exacerbated by the unpleasant humidity. London has been wet and hot today, which is a terrible combination. Hopefully will be a little cooler when I get back next week: got a friend's wedding to go to in Cambridge this weekend, which should be fun.


  1. I believe x-guard was made famous by Marcelo Garcia. I don't have a clue as to what it is either, but I'm sure it's effective.

  2. Sounds like you have a good attitude to learning mate. Standing in guard is tricky at first, easy to get swept. Definitely stick with it though, once you're used to it, passing (or at least opening) the guard is much easier.

    For knee-on-belly, instead of trying to push their knee straight into half-guard try reaching through to their ankle and put them into 1/4 guard then work for half from there.

    (Why do I write "half" guard but then "1/4" guard?!)

  3. Joon: I'd forgotten about the very handy photo glossary over on Grapplearts, which has a pic of the X-Guard: the one Jude showed us was the basic version, in the top left of that glossary.

    Rob: Thanks, and cheers for the advice: will have to give that 1/4 guard thing a go, once I work out what it is. Is that the same as what's called 'Z-Guard' in Kesting's glossary?

    If so, then I might take another look at Aesopian's vids: I had difficulty getting the knee across when I last tried it, but I think that was mainly because I tried to keep my legs locked - they're way too short for that to work. ;)

  4. Sorry, I should have explained. 1/4 guard is basically half-guard but you only have their foot trapped.

    The sort of position you can end up in as someone tries to pass your half-guard, or the first step to recovering half from mount.

    It's not a particularly strong position to hold but it gives you a chance to get to half. Just be careful not to let them go straight over to mount when trying it.

  5. This shows the position; (although the technique itself isn't great)

    (sorry for multiple replies!)

  6. Ah, so not Z-Guard, then? Good ol BJJ terminology: makes me jealous of judo, with their standardised set of terms that only ever mean one thing. :p

    I quite often find I'm clinging on to a foot with my legs as they're about to pass my half-guard, with both their knees to one side, driving for side control.

    So do you mean from knee-on-belly, I should be bringing my outside leg over to trap their foot, then work the other leg through until I can lock my ankles, sort of ending up in the above position?

    Thanks again: always tough to explain things in text, as I've been discovering from writing this blog.

  7. Oops, was typing my previous comment while you made the second post. Thanks for the vid: judging by that, looks like 1/4 guard is indeed what I thought it was.

    Multiple replies absolutely fine: I appreciate any comments I get on here (unless its spam or something, of course, but blogger seems to stop most of them. Except for that annoying 'Jason' bot who posts some random dodgy money site).

  8. I have a good move that has been working for me lately just as my guard is getting passed... When they are almost through, driving their knee through to complete the pass, and you maybe have the quarter guard mentioned above (basically gripping their foot between your knees), give them a small bump on the hip with your hips, towards them. They will instincively push back and as they do so, explode into a bridge and pull them over your body. Grab their pants leg at the knee for extra push. If the timing is right, it is effortless.

    God I am crap at explaining BJJ in words. That's why I don't bother with technique descriptions much on my blog!

    My other piece of advice is that if you can get the underhook then it is almost always better to get to your knees when you are in danger of being passed rather than flopping onto your back and being under side control.

  9. By the way, it doesn't seem to be your style but I would love to see some photos or video up here. It's nice to put faces to names, and it's good for the MTV generation... too many words! (That's a joke...)

  10. Yeah, I'm far too happy going to my back when I should be driving to get onto my knees. However, I think that movement drill Nick G did with us a while ago helped: going to my knees felt a bit more natural afterwards, so might see if I can get someone to drill that with, maybe even with my gf at home (she complains about BJJ being painful, but a drill in which you're not holding any positions or going for subs should hopefully be ok).

    Heh - yeah, I'm big on text. Probably the academic in me. Next competition I go to, definitely plan on taking a bunch of pics.

  11. No, it's good, it's your style. Something a reader can get their teeth into.

    Still, would love to see some images...