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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

13 April 2010

Meerkatsu Sighting (2): 13/04/10 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #302
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 13/04/2010

As a way of both saying goodbye to Kev and celebrating getting that new job, I plan to take a private lesson with him on Thursday. It isn't something I've felt would benefit me before or something I could afford, but now seems like a good time to try out the format. I've been struggling to open and pass the guard for a long time now, so some specific focus on that should help. I'll also be keeping Dolph's tips on private lessons in mind (if anyone else has tips, or has stuck up a post about them I've forgotten, comment and let me know!).

Shifting to guard instead of knee-on-belly, Kev showed us a couple of options from what he called hook guard. This is the same position used by Yukinori Sasa in his 'Sasa sweep', where you have a leg threaded on their arm, while your other shin is across their stomach. There's also a sweep from there Tim Radcliffe showed me, back at Nova Força.

Kev's sweep starts from closed guard. You attempt a scissor sweep, but their base it too good and they block it. So instead, hold their sleeve, then wrap your leg around that same arm, pushing off their hip with your other foot in order to adjust your shin on their stomach (so that the knee is facing away from your wrapped leg). This should tempt them to try and pass, as it looks as if there is a clear route to side control.

If they don't take that bait, grab the fabric on the side of their knee pointing towards you. Bring the leg you have around their arm directly away from them, to the side. That should disrupt their balance: to further help them on their way, punch upwards with the grip your have on their trousers. Finally, that shin you have in their stomach will help, as it means they go into mid-air that much easier.

If they do try to pass, even better. That provides you with further momentum to complete the sweep. Even if they go all the way to side control, you have a lot of leverage with that leg around their arm, so it shouldn't be difficult to make enough space to re-establish guard.

Kev then showed a variation on that sweep, using a different grip. The position is the same, but instead of holding the fabric by their knee, you're going to reach through with your free arm to the outside of their other leg. Use that to rotate, and kick through with your wrapped leg. You're aiming to set yourself up for an omoplata, so the leg needs to be near their shoulder.

Triangle your legs and sit up, making sure you have pushed their arm into a ninety degree angle, trapped by your bottom leg. You also need to quickly get your near arm over their back, or they'll roll in an attempt to escape the omoplata. At this point, they are still too high, so you need to shift over to the side slightly, then pull them into that gap. This should flatten them out.

It is worth noting here that you don't need both legs to trap their arm: your bottom leg is the one doing the work. If you're especially tight, you could even get away with not holding the sleeve with your hand, but I'd feel I was in imminent danger of losing the submission if I did that. As you other leg can therefore be free, raise that knee, using your foot both for base and to move yourself to the side.

Once you've got them flattened out, lean forward as if you want to whisper in their ear. It is important you don't slam the omoplata on full force, as their shoulder is very vulnerable in this position.

In free sparring, Seymour showcased his effective use of small person jiu jitsu. In other words, he is quick and mobile, squirming and spinning out of my attacks and into his own. I looked to practice breaking posture from the guard, which I normally do by waiting for them to try and raise up or stand, then pull them forwards with my legs. Seymour mentioned afterwards that you can also grab the outside of both their elbows, then do the same thing (I normally go for the standard collar and elbow grip).

I should start trying those in conjunction, as the additional off-balancing should help set up submissions. It would have especially helped the Shawn Williams Guard I was looking to move into. The problem was, I couldn't get his arm in the right position: if I'd grabbed behind my leg at that point, it would have been a simple matter for him to pull his arm free.

My last roll was with one of the white belts. This was another opportunity to concentrate on being slow and steady, letting them use up energy, waiting for the right moment to transition. I eventually ended up in mount, but we somehow slid underneath a punch bag hanging from the ceiling, which probably didn't help his escapes (the bottom of the bag was almost directly above me). I should have called a stop at that point and moved, rather than trying to steadily manoeuvre him away from the bag.

To cap off a good night's training, I got a Gracie Mag from Kev. Like I mentioned last month, RGA High Wycombe is now a Gracie Mag Associate Club, which means anyone paying by standing order receives a copy each month. Again, it was really cool to finally meet Seymour: he's written up a report on his own Meerkatsu blog.


  1. Two for the price of one! Awesome!

    Enjoy your private. I personally like to focus on just 2 or 3 things and really work them and include some sparring time. In fact what I do is take a private after each comp and Nick analyses what went wrong or what could have been better.
    When I take them with Oli, he often sends a link to one or more of his fight videos to illustrate the concept he was talking about. So video backup is defo help for me.

  2. Hello brother,

    Wanted to share a tip that really helped me to break peoples' posture in the closed guard. Any time their head moves forward, that's the time to sharply pull with your legs. ESPECIALLY when their head moves in front of their hands.

    It's a very simple concept, but you'd be surprised at how many guys - even advanced guys - forget and let their head come forward.

    This is one reason why Saulo teaches that when you post a leg in the closed guard, you shift your body sideways rather than front-ways.

  3. @Meerkatsu: I'm going to be very interested not only in the content of the private lesson tomorrow, but also the private lesson format itself.

    @Matt: Thanks for the tip: I'll keep that in mind next time I'm trying to break someone's posture. If it's from Saulo, even better, as his "treat your partner like your best friend" ethos remains a touchstone for me.

  4. Can't wait to hear how the private goes. Passing the guard is one of the hardest things for me too.