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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

01 April 2010

01/04/2010 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #299
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Sahid Khamlichi, High Wycombe, UK - 01/04/2010

Kev was away being a fireman, so one of his more experienced blue belts (who recently took gold at the British Open, IIRC), Sahid, took the class. Still, theme was the same as Tuesday, working on side control. I was looking forward to practicing my top game from side, as I'd been watching a Braulio Estima video recently (I'll review it at some point in the future) which talked about proper control from that position.

It seems that Braulio focuses heavily on controlling the elbows, which I realise is something I haven't been doing due to my preferred gable grip. While that feels tight, it doesn't give you any real purchase on their far arm. Much better to actively grab that arm, coming underneath the elbow. Sahid demonstrated exactly that grip while quickly going over the basic concepts of top side control.

He then moved on to two submissions, beginning with the kimura from north south, which starts from side control. Controlling that far arm, you want to pull it up, in order to get them on their side. Ideally, you'll have already cleared their near arm, but if not, take the opportunity to dig the knee closest to their hips into their armpit instead. The leg nearest their head will step over, so that you end up shifting into north south.

However, in this case you stay upright, as you're maintaining control of that far arm. Pin it to your chest, then establish a figure four grip. They may well try and grasp their belt or some gi material at this point, because they'll normally realise their arm is vulnerable and try to defend it. If they do, yank the arm in the direction their knuckles are facing: in the other direction, they're probably too strong. You can then complete the kimura as normal, twisting your body to rotate their arm and lock out the shoulder.

Alternatively, you may be able to step right through for an armbar. If you are able to get their arm trapped straight up against your body, rather than bent, then instead of stopping at north south, you can continue to the other side of them. From there, keeping tight on the arm, slide down so you don't leave any space, then drop back. Maintain control of the wrist, being careful that they can't turn their hand and try the hitchhiker escape (so called because you turn in the direction your thumb is pointing, then continue around to the side, due to the fact they only have one leg over your head, rather than the normal two).

Sparring from side control with Callum, I started on the bottom. I was still looking to spin and kick my legs up, looking to use them to hook an arm or head then push off and escape. This did work once, but I always wonder when I escape like that if I'm being complacent due to the set end goal of specific sparring, meaning that if that finish line wasn't there, I would actually end up in a bad position.

I also continued to play around with armbars from the bottom. Today was another handy reminder that even if you can secure the arm, you have to keep in mind that you're in an inferior position. So, holding onto that arm if they get their head free, as happened that roll, probably isn't a good idea. Instead, I should have used it as a controlling position to help my escape, not a potential submission. Also, must pinch my knees together to stop them slipping their head out, and make certain I can in fact use both legs: I'm not sure I had the second leg in the right position when I brought the first one over his head.

Escaping north-south proved more successful. I've been attempted to follow Gustavo Machado's escape off his DVD for some time now, but this is the first time I've got it to work when sparring a fellow blue. The process is to first grab their belt or low on their gi, protecting your arms, then wiggling your hips from side to side to make space. Once enough of your body is clear, you can swing up over their shoulder and take the back.

At least that's the theory. The first time, I flailed a bit around his shoulder, then fell off. The second time was better, as I did get my legs over, but I was way too far forward. So, if this hadn't been specific sparring, Callum could have just pushed me off and taken my back. Still, nice to get it sort of working, but I need to make more space to do it properly.

On top, I wanted to try out Braulio's transition from a tight underhook with your other arm controlling their far arm. If they push up on your neck, you move your underhook from under their head to under their far arm, establishing control on that arm before taking your other arm to their near hip. I wasn't reacting quickly enough for that to work, so could do with drilling it.

Again, north south proved more successful, this time from on top. I was concentrating on keeping my weight low and grabbing over his shoulders to reach for the armpits, to maintain control. I was also basically dropping my weight on his head, sprawling my legs back, hips low: I'm not sure that is a legitimate thing to do. Callum has about eight or ten kilos on me, so I was just happy to keep him under some kind of control, but it doesn't really fit with my goal of always staying technical. I did later shift to be more diagonal, on his shoulder, which is less mean. I'll be aiming to stick to that next time.

I'll be missing training yet again due to a visit down to Bristol, but should make it back in time for the Thursday session next week.


  1. I've tried that North/South escape too. As yet, I haven't been able to pull it off. But at least it forces my opponent to move and make space.

  2. I think sprawling down on their head in North/south is legit, and basically what you *have* to do to get any kind of offence going. After trying the north/south kimura probably twenty times and always having the guy escape/turtle on me, I asked a black belt from RGA what I was doing wrong, and he immediately said I wasn't tight enough on top. His demonstration of the position was pretty much balls-on-the-face, which is why many guys shy away from doing that move, I guess. In conclusion, I need to wear a groin guard more.

  3. Yeah, grinding your groin into somebody's face definitely takes some getting used to. I can't say I'm keen to go there, but then for a kimura from north-south, there doesn't seem to be much choice.

    Personally, I never wear a cup, as I find them uncomfortable, and they can also do things like dig into your training partner's spine during back mount. Not to mention they're illegal in most comps anyway, as far as I'm aware.

    Still, it would be nice to have a barrier in that particular situation. ;)