RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 15/12/2009
Jem has relaunched her presence in the blogosphere, with a new project entitled 'Girls and BJJ in SEA'. As people who read her previous blog may remember, Jem has considerable experience in muay thai. She has also been training BJJ over four years, currently in Bangkok under black belt Adam Kayoom. It is always great to see new blogs pop up, especially when they're by women. So, go check it out!
This week, we're back to mount. Previously I was having success with the grapevined low mount, but tonight, I was again struggling to keep my position on top. I'm going to be optimistic and assume that is other people getting better rather than my game deteriorating: either way, it is good to encounter problems in sparring, as that gives you something to work on. It also helps iron out details in your technique. As the saying goes, if you're not tapping, you're not learning (though here it is a more a case of "if you're not finding flaws in your mount control, then you're going to have trouble making it tighter").
Kev began with a nifty flow drill I've seen in the pass, where you begin in guard. Pass to side control, transition to mount. Your partner then bridges and rolls, putting them in guard, where the process can repeat. This also meant that Kev was able to cover off the defensive part of the lesson in a way that enabled both partners to test technique at the same time. I found it useful to get in some more practice on the twisting guard break, as well as trying out a pass I saw on a DVD earlier that day (I should have a review up soon, hopefully by tomorrow).
The main technique for the beginners class was one I have been looking forward to seeing: the Ezequiel choke from mount. Of course, now that I'm finding it tougher to maintain the mount itself, that has become less pressing, but still handy to work. That is especially true when you consider part of maintaining the mount is constantly threatening (something I'm really, really bad at), so they're thinking more about defending their neck than trying to escape.
You start by getting one arm under their head. Grab your other sleeve, then bring that gi material close to their neck. This is what you're going to use to close off one of their carotid arteries. To block the other, put your other forearm and wrist against the other side of their neck. To apply the choke, twist your sleeve grip and press down, while also raising your torso up.
It is possible that forming a fist with your free hand will be useful, as you can then press the knuckles into their neck. However, keep in mind that the idea is not to shove that free hand into their throat: the power comes from twisting and pulling on your sleeve grip. Most likely you will find that you also end up squashing their larynx (especially if you're sparring a guy), which will probably cause them to turn their head. That makes it even easier to secure the choke. Also remember Saulo's excellent advice: "your training partner should be your best friend." Don't try and crush their throat, but instead apply steady pressure.
Sparring from mount, I was happy enough from the bottom. I was generally able to get my elbow to the knee and frame on Callum's hip, bridging to make enough space to insert my knee. From there, it was a matter of shrimping and lifting to freedom. I was using more strength than I would have liked, but that is a timing issue: I need to be more astute in gauging balance and where my partner's weight is sitting.
On top, it went rather less well. I tried my usual grapevined low mount, but found it difficult to keep those hooks in. The bigger problem was that each time I tried to shift up to go for an attack in technical mount, Callum was able to wedge his elbow under my leg and make space to escape (like I had just done). I could see exactly what he was doing, but that didn't help me stop the escape. I was looking to pull up on the arm to get my knee back in place, or drop back to grapevine (sometimes crossing my ankles to make it tighter), but to no avail.
When I asked Kev about that elbow into the knee, he first mentioned that you need to be attacking, giving them something else to think about. Specifically addressing the elbow, he suggested that either you drop back into a low grapevine, or alternatively, put one or both hands on their opposite shoulder.
Stiff-arming with your full weight behind it should shove them flat on their back. The downside is that this doesn't work so well if they are bigger than you, so grapevining tends to be more reliable. Shifting to technical mount at this point is tough: you need to beat their elbow, as playing catch-up is almost certainly going to end with them escaping.