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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

29 October 2009

29/10/2009 - BJJ

Class #256

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 29/10/2009

Shereen, a female BJJer who I became aware of due to this thread, has just set up a training blog here. She isn't your average woman, at over 200lbs of muscle with many years of bodybuilding and powerlifting behind her. So, I'm very much looking forward to following her training, as for a female BJJer, she has a fairly unique combination of attributes.

Tonight Kev continued with the half guard, but this time it was orthodox rather than lockdown. First up was a drill for demonstrating how to recover full guard from half guard. Step out your leg and shrimp out to the side of half guard, making space to wedge your knee into their chest. Use that pressure to straighten up your torso, free your other leg, then put your feet on their hips. You can now either go to full guard, or stick with open guard.

That was followed by passing the half guard, where as on Tuesday shoulder pressure was paramount. Begin by securing a grip under their head and arm, gable gripping your hands and driving your shoulder into the side of their face. The aim is to turn their head away from you.

Now that you've jammed their upper body to the mat, you can push off your toes and straighten your legs. This feels vulnerable because your hips are raised, but if you've got your shoulder in the right place, they won't be able to capitalise with a sweep. To finish, get your knee free and slide it to the mat for mount. If you can't quite pull out your foot, use your other foot to push their away.

If they manage to shove your head to the other side, it makes little difference. You'll simply trap their head there instead, by putting your head onto the mat, right next to their skull. Straighten your legs and raise your hips as before, but this time you'll slide your knee the other way, moving through into scarf hold instead of mount.

Being squished flat on your back is tough, but there is a solution. Kev showed us two related sweeps from half guard, dealing with exactly the situation he'd just demonstrated on top. You first need to overhook their arm on the same side as the leg you've trapped, reaching through to grab their collar (this can act as a handy grip, pulling it up to their armpit). You're also going to hook over the other arm with your own, reaching back towards your head. This may telegraph the sweep, so if you wish you can leave it for later.

Release your top leg from half guard, maintaining a good grasp with the remaining leg behind their knee. Switch the top leg to a butterfly hook and lift, also basing off the toes of your other foot. Bridge and drive diagonally to the side, lifting with your hook. Done right, this should put you straight into mount.

It is possible for the person being swept to widen their base, preventing your sweep with their knee. If that happens, simply step closer with your basing leg and push again. Eventually, they will go over, as you have much more leverage than they do.

Alternately, they might get their arm free from your hook and base out that way. If that happens, you can switch to butterfly guard, then bridge the other way. As you have their other arm locked up, you should be able to sweep to mount that way. Even if you can't, you're still in butterfly rather than half, and can normally recover full guard from here.

Specific sparring with Callum went similarly to previous times I've been in his half guard. He wasn't wearing a gi, which didn't help, but the central problem on top was that I still can't beat their underhook. I can get that whizzer, but fail to do anything much with it. This time, I tried harder to use that grip to try and wrestle them back down to the mat, but without much success.

Underneath, I also didn't get very far, and the same thing happened with Joel. I realised later that the very obvious problem was that I wasn't doing what Kev had just shown us. Instead, I was thinking too much about my foot position, although I did get a chance to play with the lockdown and work harder for the underhook. Still, even though I had double underhooks on Joel, I couldn't move his weight. He's a fair bit bigger, but my technique was of course the main problem.

On top with Joel, I did remember to use Kev's technique, trying to get that shoulder pressure. I could just about get the grip, but wasn't able to straighten up and get my legs free. What kept happening was that I'd raise my hips, but then Joel would get a lockdown and pull me back down again. Then again, that gave me the opportunity to practice releasing the lockdown, which went as per drilling: shift down to put pressure on the grip until you can circle your foot free, then hide your leg.


  1. We've been working a lot of half guard sweeps and passes lately. That half guard pass where you use your shoulder is interesting. We learned a similar move, but some of the details were different. Goes to show how many different variations can get you to the same result.

  2. Yeah: the complexity of BJJ is one of the best things about it. Always something new to learn, even within the confines of a single technique.