| bjj resources

 BJJ FAQ  Academy

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

27 August 2008

27/08/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #174

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Oli Geddes, London, UK - 27/08/2008 - Advanced

On Monday, I finally put up a version of that BJJ history post I've mentioned over the past few months. I didn't realise I'd been playing with it quite as long as I have – since last May, apparently – so about time I stuck it on the blog, if only to stop me fiddling with it. Well, until I get my next history book, that is… :p

In other news, B Stuff Etc (of snowboarding action figure fame) has moved to a new url, (always good to get keywords into the URL ;p). Like Steve mentioned on his blog a while ago, the Google Reader thing is really handy for keeping up to date on the rest of the BJJers scribbling on the net, though it does mean you miss out on links etc sitting in the frame.

Gustavo had to rush off to deal with something unexpected, which meant Oli G was left in charge. That turned out to be good for me, as he ran a great class: I received lots of tips during drilling. Before we got to the fun stuff, guard passage gave me another chance to try and force myself to stand-up, which I sort of managed to do, but also as usual, either got dragged straight back down or swept. Eventually its all going to click, but I need to keep up that impetus and avoid my defensive comfort zone in guard.

We then switched so that the person on the mat went on top, so I got to play guard a little. Didn't get me too far, but made for a nice change from getting swept or submitted all the time. I could do with getting to open guard quicker, rather than bailing once they've almost passed anyway. I can't remember the last time I tried going for a sit-up sweep, which used to be my go-to move, but these days I find my partner always has too good a base. Must give that another try some time.

Switching to side control, I wasn't getting anywhere, but did much better once I found myself starting on the bottom. With Yuri, I had expect to get quickly smashed, as he's got a driving, aggressive style. However, he left enough space while trying to go for something that I could shrimp my way to half and then full guard. However, I did cramp my calf a little in the process, as I had to drag him into half-guard, reaching for his leg: my calf immediately complained by tensing up, but fortunately I found I could still shrimp for full guard. I could see that kind of cramp easily happening in a competition, so something to be keep in mind. That calf often seizes, which made me wonder if it might be exacerbated by my poor diet: I rarely eat enough before class.

I managed a similar escape with Herman (I had thought he'd still be on tour for a while, so was cool to see him in class: one of my best training partners), after which sparring changed to mount. Alex gave me a useful reminder about working your knees up from on top: if they get their elbow past, make sure you deal with that rather than blithely continuing to try and shove your knees forward. Get under their elbow with your hand, yank it up, then fill the gap with your knee.

As you'd expect from somebody as proficient with half-guard as Oli, he went with his favourite position when it came to technique. I constantly end up in half-guard, so that was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping he'd show us. He began with a sequence I think I've seen in Mastering the Rubber Guard, working from half-guard to a position Bravo – with his usual penchant for random made-up terminology - calls "the dogfight" (page 74). Useful to have a name, as otherwise I'd have to refer to it as "that position where you're next to the other person, both on your knees and one hand, with a grip over their back and holding the far hip".

Oli demonstrated two half guard sweeps, both starting in a typical half guard position. Grab the opposite arm to the leg you've trapped, bringing your other forearm firmly into their throat, holding them by the shoulder. Shrimp out towards the trapped leg, then swivel your throat arm underneath their armpit (Oli did a kicking motion to use his leg as a counterbalance to bring himself up, similar to what Roy Dean does to get to his knees from side control in Blue Belt Requirements, moving in close and gripping all the way around their back to their other hip.

You are now going to unwrap your ankles from their trapped leg, then step the outside leg over. This means you can then use that heel to hook their, aiming to drag it back to your bum. Having made that space, you can now bring your other leg underneath their raised knee, coming up on your side using your elbow. You're now in the aforementioned "dogfight".

Once we had that down, Oli moved onto the two sweeps themselves. The first option was to drive your head into their chest and pull their far knee towards you. This will enable you to knock them over, after which you can then swing your rear leg behind you and switch into side control. Looks like the one Bravo calls the "half and half variation" sweep on page 78 of MTRG, following on from the "half and half" (where he gable grips underneath their torso rather than grabbing the knee).

Update Oct 08: There's now a decent video of the half and half sweep up on YouTube, thanks to Alder Hampel.

If they push back into you, there is a second sweep (I'm guessing something like what Bravo calls "Plan B", on page 80), which uses their momentum against them. With the grip you have around their hip, pull them onto your own hip. Maintaining that hold, you're now going to quickly roll to your back, straightening out your other arm against their far knee. This will bring them over the top of you, where you can again adjust into side control.

Two points to note on that second one are firstly, make sure you still have a knee between their legs when in the dogfight position. If you're further out and don't have that control of the leg, the sweep won't function. Secondly, note that it isn't so much a push with your arm as a sort of brace. I don't think I quite got this part of the technique down, as I found Herman was landing heavily, hip-first, into my stomach. With a heavier partner, that could be painful, so I need to work on straightening the arm properly, which should hopefully prevent me winding myself.

I kicked off free sparring with Herman, where we almost immediately ended up in half-guard. I tried the technique we'd just been shown, but Herman controlled me with his other arm. I think I need to get that forearm more forcefully into his neck, something I'm not used to doing as normally if I put an arm around there, I do it too loosely, so its get pushed to the side and leave me open for an arm triangle.

Instead, I went for a deep half-guard, and at one point I think managed to sweep Herman, but sloppily, through grabbing his leg and yanking it in the air. I also found myself in exactly the position we'd been shown how to escape a few lessons ago, where they're in top half guard with their back to you, but couldn't remember the technique. Will have to review that for next time.

Next up was Owen, who I haven't sparred in a while. I'd forgotten about his mighty open guard, but he was taking it fairly easy on me, so coached me through driving my hips forward. However, I found when I next tried to use that, while it definitely helped, I burned up energy quickly. Could be that I was trying to use force when I should have been relying on bodyweight instead. Either way, got swept before too long, but that gave an opportunity to try something I'd seen Roy Dean do on the Seminars: Year One. When your partner is going for a stack pass but hasn't yet locked their hands together around your legs, wiggle your legs forward, driving your thighs against their arms. This sort of worked, but ultimately just delayed the inevitable. I also need to be more controlled when I next try that, as I think I managed to knee Owen in the process: not clever.

Finally, I rolled again with Herman, where I tried to get into De La Riva and then switch for that tripod sweep Rosie went through at the last Warwick Uni BJJ meet-up. However, he was too far forward, and I wasn't able to push him back to get into position to switch to the tripod sweep (I think that's what its called anyway). I tried for an elevator sweep a few times doing, pulling him forward first, but his base was sufficient to resist. As time ran out, I looked for the right grip on his gi to get a choke, but could only get a hold on the back of the gi. Same thing happened with Owen: might be better if I get the deep grip on the collar first, though that's easier said than done.

Very cool to have a lesson detailing some of Oli's very effective half-guard stuff, drawing on Eddie Bravo (normally I avoid his stuff as too advanced, with the exception of the half guard section at the start of MTRG). I'll hopefully be training again tomorrow, but I have an irritatingly late meeting at work. Although if I don't make it on Thursday, not too much of a worry, as I should be able to get in an extra session next Saturday, because my gf is away. Even better would be if Andy Roberts has his Farnborough opening that weekend, but will have to wait and see: I'd assume its either going to be the first September weekend or the second.


  1. thanks for the shout-out for my new URL...

    I feel the same way with the Rubber Guard stuff - too advanced, but I do use or (try to use) the half-guard stuff in my game

  2. Ah ha! the elavator sweep, that looks handy. Andy goes away this weekend, where we will be borrowing Mr Geddes for tues, fri and tues. Then hopefully the new place will open!

  3. forlogos: Yeah, the opening, most basic parts of the half-guard bit of Mastering the Rubber Guard is the only section I feel at all comfortable with. Would be very interesting to see how Bravo teaches noobs at 10th Planet, and what they're like in white belt competitions.

    Jadon: Useful vid for the elevator here, though that's for a specific situation.

  4. Re: the rubber guard stuff - for the sake of getting down the basics first and at the recommendation of slideyfoot here heh I've tried to set aside the rubber guard stuff for later. But like slideyfoot, I've found some of that half guard stuff useful :)