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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

10 November 2009

10/11/2009 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #260

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 10/11/2009

I was pleased to see my article on the No Gi Worlds live stream get plenty of hits over the past two days, presumably because people are looking for results. I also wanted to note that if you missed the stream, it is going to be replayed at some point this week. Initially, there was a guy from Budovideos on The Underground saying tonight, but the Nogi Live site itself currently reads "we will be rebroadcasting the finals in the coming days".

When I find out exactly when the replay is happening, I'll put it on Twitter (which is linked through to my Facebook updates, if I happen to know you on there). Speaking of Twitter, I've been playing with their new list feature to make a 'BJJnews' section on my Twitter page. I'm looking for people who actually put up BJJ specific news, rather than lots of pointless "@randomguido: UFC was awesome, bro!" type posts. Most pertinent account on the Nogi Live situation is the Budovideos Twitter page. I didn't see one for, so if somebody knows they have one, tell me.

I wouldn't normally bother writing up the throwing section of the advanced class, as it's not something I tend to concentrate on very heavily, but tonight was interesting. Instead of just running through throws, Kev worked specifically on grip fighting. First, he went through four fundamental grips, and how to do them correctly (remember, he's got a black belt in judo as well as the brown belt in BJJ and MMA record), in a flowing sequence.

The most basic is the collar and elbow. One hand grips deep in the collar, the other grabs the cloth slightly above their elbow, tight. A variation on that is a high grip: you simply slide your collar gripping hand a bit further up. Next, Kev went to a cross-collar grip, which as you can probably guess is simply gripping the opposite collar rather than same side.

Finally, Kev went through the slightly more complex Russian grip. Release their elbow, instead grasping their opposite sleeve. Pull on that, aiming to move towards their back (bit like an armdrag), so you can bring your collar-gripping arm over their back, grabbing by their armpit. Done right, you should end up with their arm pulled across your body, while your other arm is over their back. This is perfect for breaking their posture down, forcing them to bend over.

I hate takedown sparring, as it tends to hurt (due to a combination of my crap breakfalling and occasional aggressive training partners). However, Kev had a magnificent solution that even a wimp like me could be happy with: you don't throw anyone, you just fight for grips. Much less painful than getting thrown repeatedly: busts up your fingers a bit, but I prefer that to the usual grazed elbows, sore back and dodgy knees.

Groundwork continued in mount, this time a somewhat unusual technique Kev mentioned he was working with Daniel Strauss. Instead of an armdrag from guard, this was an armdrag from mount. First, you slide your hand into the crook of their elbow, until you can grab around the other side. You also need to make sure you've threaded your arm over theirs, otherwise this won't work.

For base, you'll need to immediately post out with your arm and head on that side, or you're likely to get bridged. Yank that arm up and across, moving straight into a technical mount where you're also pressing your torso into that elbow. That stops them pulling their arm back out again. This is therefore potentially a risk if you're using Saulo's arm frame to defend mount, which I do regularly: so, be aware they can try to armdrag you if there's enough space by the crook of your elbow.

To finish, you're going to take their back. Similarly to Kev's high mount transition preceding the armbar from earlier, grab their other elbow with both hands. However, instead of using that to get your knee in for high mount, roll them into you and establish your hooks for back mount. You'll need to stay tight here, or they might spin into your guard, meaning that you've just rolled out of a dominant position for no reason.

From here, you can go into a triangle from back mount. The technique is similar to the one Pedro Carvalho demonstrated on his old tapes from 1996. Demian Maia also used it in Science of Jiu Jitsu, from 2007, on his 'Attacking the Back' DVD. Kev described it as an old technique, so perhaps it isn't used as much these days. No reason it shouldn't be, however, considering it's a brilliant way of controlling your opponent from the back.

Kev's version was probably closer to Carvalho's, as unlike Maia, Kev didn't say anything about cupping under the chin. Also like Carvalho, it makes for a great attacking position, with a whole bunch of submissions available once you've secured it. The basic idea is to step over one of their arms: it could be that they've reached down and tried to remove one of your hooks, or you could just shove their arm down yourself.

Either way, once you've got that leg over, cross your feet. While this is normally a cardinal sin in back mount which will get you footlocked, your feet should be too high for that in this particular position. Pull their arm across their neck and trap it in place, before stepping off their hip to shift up, until you can bring that leg across too, triangling it with your other leg. Make sure you step off their hip, and not the floor: the latter option may give them enough space to escape.

From here, tense your calves to make the choke tighter (bring the top of your foot backwards). You probably won't manage to submit them from here, so to add pressure, grab their leg with one hand, then basing your other hand behind you, raise up and simultaneously pull their leg towards you. This should bend them in half, adding much more power to the choke.

If that still doesn't work (I found I wasn't tapping to it, most likely because I'm weeny, so there isn't much neck to get your legs round), no problem. Their arm is seriously vulnerable. You can apply a wristlock (Roy Dean can help you with those), a keylock, a straight armbar, and many other options. You could also grab more of their leg, hauling it right back so you can go for a toehold. Do note that toeholds aren't allowed until brown belt, while you have to be at least a blue belt for wristlocks.

Specific sparring from the back went ok in terms of defence, as using Aisling Daly's handy advice on the 'Shirley Temple' method, I was able to protect my neck long enough to recover half guard (well, most of the time: Howard caught with me a bow and arrow choke first).

However, when it came to my turn, not much luck. As is so often the case, I wasn't able to stay on the back. I had a go at trying the tips from Lesson 4 of Gracie Combatives, about remounting, but not successfully. I think I was possibly doing it on the wrong side, as it felt like I had a long way to move in order to slide back into mount.

I'm off to Bristol to visit my girlfriend tomorrow (should be able to run through some more Gracie Combatives for her), so no training again this Thursday. I've already put up my article for this week, so next post should be next Tuesday.


  1. Take down training scares me more than anything. That's how I hurt my knee about a month ago and I haven't trained them since because I am worried about re-injuring myself. It's probably the weakest part of my game. Any suggestions for take downs that you can do to avoid knee injuries? I've just been pulling guard because I'm too scared to stand up with people and risk an injury.

  2. Hmm, must ask Daniel about that armdrag from the mount.
    We did specific sparring from the back this week. As the back takee, I am utterly useless and last no more than 2 seconds before uke cranks on a bow and arrow or, well actually bow and arrow is my nemesis.
    No matter how much you practice and train, always something new or old to re-discover and improve on. Your blog helps remind me of stuff like that.

  3. Kneebar! We usually use that to finish if they won't tap to the triangle there. Sometimes even with just grabbing the leg, they'll fight the choke, so we'll actually turn it into a straight kneebar.

    I think what you call the "Shirley Temple" is what we call "Home Alone" (from the scene where the kid slaps on the aftershave).

  4. @A.D: Heh - I absolutely suck at takedowns, so I'd go with pulling guard too. Unfortunately not something for which I can offer much advice. It seems that takedowns are just plain hard on the knees, one of the many reasons I don't like doing them.

    @Meerkatsu: Yeah, that's one of the best things about BJJ. It is so endlessly intricate you'll never find yourself without opportunities to learn, even with the techniques you thought you already knew.

    @bjjgrrl: 'Shirley Temple' isn't a reference I would have made, so I guess Ais must have watched her films back in the day or something.

    Though Ais is younger than me, so presumably her mum introduced her to them. My girlfriend loves the Carry On series, for example, which is well before her time.

    'Home Alone' makes sense, and generationally speaking (for me, at least - I'm 28), that's probably a more readily recognisable image.