RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 27/10/2009
It was an interesting class tonight, as Kev was teaching techniques I recognised from 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, specifically the first few pages of the half guard section in Mastering the Rubber Guard.
This was something of a coincidence, as I noticed earlier today that the people from the new 10th Planet JJ site were so impressed by my BJJ glossary they've decided to copy it for their own site. Hopefully they'll do me the courtesy of a link back to my original version.
There is a copyright notice on mine, but given that this is about the fourth or fifth time someone's copied my Brazilian jiu jitsu glossary without asking or acknowledgement, it clearly doesn't do much good. I did what I always do, which is send a polite email asking if, seeing as they've taken my BJJ glossary, could they please link back to the original.
Not sure if I had Eddie Bravo's email right, or that of his web guy, but we'll see if that sorts the problem. Bravo seems like a decent guy, so I wouldn't have thought he'd knowingly plagiarise somebody else (even though he gets accused of stealing from Nino Schembri and renaming it 10th Planet JJ and 'rubber guard', Bravo does always acknowledge his sources).
Update Oct 2010: The 10th Planet site has had another revamp, and the glossary is no longer on it, as far as I can tell.
Anyway, on to the beginner class tonight: Kev kicked off by showing the proper application of the lockdown (pp54-55 in Mastering the Rubber Guard). Hook their leg as normal with your outside foot, then step your other leg over. However, instead of just locking your legs together, you're going to hook the foot of your second leg under their shin. From there, stretch your legs out to immobilise their limb.
The next step in 10th Planet JJ would be the 'Jaws of Life', which is basically shoving against their face to make space to get double underhooks. Kev instead incorporated this into the third step, the whip up (pp58-59 in Mastering the Rubber Guard). Once you've managed to make some space, get your hands to their hips. Maintaining your lockdown, bring your knees towards you while simultaneously pushing on their hips with your hands.
That should mean you have enough room and leverage to 'whip up' onto your side, securing an underhook. This is a much better position than flat on your back in half-guard, as now you have the option to go on the offensive. Still in keeping with Mastering the Rubber Guard, you can now move to what Eddie Bravo calls the 'old school' sweep (pp60-62).
However, Kev's version deviates from 10th Planet JJ at this point, and I have to say I prefer his variation. Rather than actually sweeping your opponent, you simply secure a dominant position and move round either to side control or their back, depending on how they react.
You being by reaching through with your free hand to grab their far ankle. This grip is key: don't let go until you've passed. Having got hold of their ankle. you now need to get out from half guard. Pull their leg back with your top foot, which should give you enough control to slide the other leg under, coming up to their back.
From here, you simply move around to side control. This is facilitated by the typical response of your opponent, which is to try and turn into you. As long as you keep hold of that foot, you should be able to keep walking your legs round and secure sidemount. If they choose not to turn into you, that means their back is right there for the taking: you just need to insert your hooks (you may also need to move their arm out of the way, but due to your underhook, you can just shrug it off with your shoulder).
Bravo's method is to instead grab the toes, pull, and drive through to initiate a pass. While there is nothing wrong with doing that, Kev's method uses a lot less energy, something that immediately makes a technique appeal to me.
As ever, Kev also showed the flipside, which is one of the things I love about his classes. In order to pass the lockdown, you first need to free your foot. You could use something like the infamous 'Indian death lock', as described in Passing in the Guard (p219), but that can seriously damage the knees of both you and your partner.
Fortunately, there are alternatives, two of which appear in the new second edition of Passing the Guard. Kev didn't go that route, instead using a simpler method to free the foot. First, you need to shift your weight back: you aim is to create enough pressure that you can circle your top foot free, then slide it underneath their leg to free yourself. It doesn't matter if you can't entirely get the foot under their leg, as long as your able to shove your knee up to their bum. You need to hide your leg so they can't re-establish their lockdown.
Now that your leg is no longer stretched out behind you, drive your shoulder into their chin, creating as much force as possible with your weight. It is essentially you maintain heavy pressure with your shoulder, as that will mean you can raise your lower body in order to bring your free leg through. You want to get the shin of that leg on top of their leg, so it can act as a wedge.
You need to be careful here, as you're vulnerable to an easy sweep if they just bridge into you. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that you make sure you grab their knee. That will make their bridge ineffective: if they try it, you can use your grip on the leg to make space and simply pull your leg free, switching to side control.
If they're sensible enough not to bridge once you're holding their knee, then you still need to free your leg. There are two options: firstly, you can use your shoulder pressure and blocking shin to make enough room to free the leg. Secondly, you can your grip on the knee to pull their legs towards you, again making space to yank your leg out.
In specific sparring, I found that the lockdown was almost totally ineffective against my training partner, Howard. He was able to simply shift down to my hips and immobilise me each time I tried it. I've read in the past that some people don't like the lockdown because it limits their hip mobility: I can now see exactly what they mean.
I had better luck with orthodox half guard, where I managed to recover full guard a couple of times. Passing was much less successful, as I had trouble getting Howard flat. He also kept grabbing my foot, which scuppered my passing. I asked Kev for his advice, and he said that you must get them flattened out: that's the best option on top of half guard. However, if they manage to get your foot, then try changing your angle to a different pass. He also suggested that I try the brabo off the whizzer (overhooking their arm), as I'll often get that position in sparring.