| 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

01 December 2009

01/12/2009 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #266

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 01/12/2009

After the opening section on throws that always kicks off the advanced class, Kev asked what we most wanted to see (given that it was a small class). Both I and Dan, one of the white belts, immediately said "opening the guard," which resulted in lots of handy tips on the twisting guard break Kev had shown a while back.

The first point of interest was the grip Kev used on the collar. Rather than simply grabbing both collars with one hand and twisting, he inserted his index finger in between. Apparently, this is something he once saw a big name demonstrate at seminar many years ago, though he can't quite remember what the reasoning was. However, Kev finds it comfortable: anyone reading this use that same grip? I was wondering if perhaps it helped nullify that grip break where they yank their collars open (though for that reason, I think I'd be worried about getting my index finger mashed up).

If they grab your collar when you initiate this technique, you can counter that by stepping your leg up to the same side hip. This should take that collar grip out of the equation, though as you'll probably need to switch your grip to do this, be aware that they're looking to break your posture. If you take both hands off their torso, that provides them with a perfect opportunity. So, be careful.

My training partner Dan also had a handy suggestion for breaking the grip, which Kev had told him some time ago. Place both your hands on the arm they're using to grab your collar. That should lock it in place, so you can now forcefully posture up to remove their grasp. This was useful, as frequently I procrastinate about standing up to pass, because I think too much about that collar grip.

Moving on to the guard pass itself: once you've opened their guard, secure a firm grasp on the material on their same side knee, so you gain some control over their leg. You also want to bring your knee inside their leg, on the same side as your collar-grabbing arm. Using your grip on the knee, shove their leg to floor and step your outside leg around it.

Trap that leg on the floor by bringing your opposite shin across their thigh. You also want to get your hips onto theirs as quickly as possibly, to kill their ability to move. To complete your pass, you're going to slide your knee through.

You have two options: either grip their collar to keep their upper body down, or underhook their far side. You'll need to do one or the other, as it is important they don't have the space to try and take your back. Pulling up on their near arm is also a good idea, as that will help you slide into scarf hold.

As I soon reminded in sparring, the most important aspect of that twisting guard break is to really pin that hip, holding the belt and shoving straight down. You want to get your arm straight, so you can drive your weight on top of it (though I should note you may not be in position to do this immediately, so take into account your posture). I wasn't doing that enough, so each time I attempted the guard break, my partner could just move their hips, preventing the technique.

Dan's grip break worked well, and Kev's tip on shifting to the other side in order to beat the collar grip was useful too. I also liked Kev's suggestion that if they try to underhook the leg you step up to their hip, you can simply sit on the arm. That can set you up to pass that arm under their back and feed it to your other hand: this is a very frustrating position for them to be in. It's easier said than done, as normally they'll slip their arm free, but nevertheless an interesting option to aim for.

I managed to get to the back from half guard, looking for a choke, or maybe an armbar. Struggling to get either, I then saw a chance to step over the arm. I was thinking about the triangle from the back, but couldn't follow up properly. As often happens, I ended up slipping off the side and back into my guard. I need to solidify my grips, and make better use of my hooks. I also found that Dan slipped free of my overhook from guard too easily, so I must tighten that up as well.

Sparring another white belt, I found that using shoulder pressure to pass half guard has been working well for me. Previously I was concentrating on either attacking the arm or freeing my leg: both work much better when combined with the distraction of shoulder pressure. That also helps clamp their upper body in place while you wriggle your leg free.


  1. I shall try the index finger thing and see if it works any better than standard lapels grip.
    I can;t see how it could offer any advantage but will experiment tonight.

    Half guard shoulder pressure - is this the same as the 'shoulder of justice?' Roger told me to really go for it when I had my private with him, and it nearly choked him out!!

  2. Cool, I'll be interested to hear how it goes.

    Yep, 'shoulder of justice' - arm under their head, drive shoulder into (or under? I'm guessing under is a little less mean, but could be wrong) their chin, preferably driving their head to the side in the process.