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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 May 2010

10/05/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #310
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Kevin Webb, Birmingham, UK - 10/05/2010

Following on from Kev's last lesson on passing the knee-in half guard (z-guard?), tonight he focused on passing the deep half guard. Since Rob showed us some options from underneath a while back, I've been trying it more often, though rather unsuccessfully. Kev's reference to it as a really good way for small people to sweep big people renews that impetus to look into it more.

Kev showed two scenarios for passing deep half guard, beginning with the less secure option where they use their arms to hook one leg each, rather than wrapping around one leg. You will be in a position where your knee is close to their head, and they have one arm around that knee. Their other arm will be by your other thigh, their head tucked in towards your hip, while their legs are locked just below the knee of that other leg. This straightens out your leg, and can make it feel like a precarious balancing act.

To pass, you first want to grab the wrist of the hand nearest their head. Pull it onto your nearest hip and lock it there. You are then going to shift your weight towards their legs, so that you can bring the knee by their head over their neck and to the floor. You're going to drop so that you're now looking at their leg. It is essential that you maintain your tight grip on their wrist throughout: this will put them into a sort of shoulder lock, forcing them to turn to their front.

The next part has to be done quickly. You're going to grab around their back, or ideally, grip the back of their gi trousers. Swiftly, you now want to release their wrist from your hip, basing out with your hand instead. Simultaneously pushing off with that hand, you also want to bring your leg through, and push off with that foot to swing to their back.

Thought it feels counter-intuitive, the leg which was trapped between theirs to start with stays there almost the entire time. This is going to become your first hook which you'll use to establish back control. It is tempting to try and pull it free when you've dropped to their side, but that will leave you without the control you need to take their back.

The second method for passing deep half guard starts from a slightly different situation. Now instead of having an arm around the leg you have close to their head, they have both their arms around the leg they've trapped with their own legs. This means you can't use the previous tactic, so have to come up with something quite different, and a little more straightforward.

The first action depends on how they have triangled their legs around your leg. If the foot underneath is pointing behind you, that's what you want: you're going to grab around the side of the foot, near the toes, and pull it towards you. You then bring your elbow to the other side of your leg, so it is in front of your leg rather than behind.

If their bottom foot is pointing towards your front, you still grab the foot pointing behind (which this time will be their top foot). Again, pull it towards you. They will normally relock their legs in the previous configuration to break your grip. That then means you can proceed as above.

Once you've done that, all you're doing to do is bring the leg you have nearest their head around, so that your free leg can point towards their knees. As you have a tight hold on their foot, you're immobilising their lower body, so they don't have much hip mobility to stop you. You can then let go, bringing that same arm backwards so that it wedges into their armpit, and you can grasp their back, dropping your weight onto them. Again, this should immobilise them, but this time its their upper body which can't move much.

Now you shuffle back, using your other hand to help (this hand is also there for posting, is they try to shove you in that direction). Your trapped leg will gradually slip out of their locked triangle. Most likely they'll tighten up, so that your foot is stuck. To free that foot requires leverage, rather than force. Many people kick at the top knee, without doing much good. Instead, use the bit between your toes and the ball of your foot to press into the bottom edge of their top knee. You can simply lift that up, prying the triangle free and pulling your leg out.

During free sparring with Pete, I began by looking for that spider guard again, but yet again not quite getting the position I wanted. I then attempted to use the stiff arm principle against his shoulder and neck to stop getting passed. It worked for a little while, but he was eventually able to collapse my arms and get to side control. That did give a chance for the Gustavo Machado north-south escape, but as so often happens, he just moved backwards, so I slipped off the front instead of securing back control.

My next roll was with a female white belt, where I was able to move into move. However, I was stuck in her half guard for a good while: my usual shoulder pressure pass did eventually work, but it was sloppy. Still, once I moved into high mount, I moved into a triangle. I could see I wasn't going to be able to lock from there, so rolled into guard instead. For once, I remembered head control, scooted back on my hips, and underhooked her free arm to swivel into the necessary angle.

I was also pleased to finally get that spider guard position I wanted, threading my leg around the arm and pulling the gi sleeve around my thigh. Following what I'd seen on Braulio's spider guard instructional, while still holding that sleeve, I then pushed both feet into the other arm, gripping the sleeve with my other arm.

The next part didn't quite go according to plan, as you're supposed to open your legs, pull their arm in, and then threaten an armbar to either get the tap from that, or make them move forward into a triangle. Instead, I lost the head, but still had the arm, switching to a kimura. I'm not sure I had much control, so it probably isn't a good habit, especially as there was probably a size difference in my favour.

With Chris, I was playing lots of open guard, still looking for the spider guard. I had it briefly, but he was able to yank his arm free, also getting his knee in for further leverage. However, that meant his foot was close enough for me to try the handstand sweep. As usual, not much luck, and then I remembered I used to always try the star sweep as a follow up, as seen in Royler, Renzo and Danaher's Theory & Technique.

To my surprise, it actually worked this time, although it wasn't exactly smooth. Rather than mount or side control, I ended up on top in half guard, but very low, almost with my head on his hips. I was able to crawl up into a more secure half guard, but definitely need to try and end up higher on that sweep.

With Donal, I got smashed by lapel chokes. There was a pattern where I would try to scoot forward into butterfly guard, he would crush my knees together, pass, then sneak a lapel over or under my neck as I tried to defend with an eye on his choking hand. Every time, my focus was on the wrong thing, as that lapel snuck into position, enabling him to get the submission. I clearly need to be more careful with those.

Finally, I rolled with a green belt. In the past when I've rolled with juniors who regularly train in the adult class, they tend to be very explosive and acrobatic. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this guy's controlled, steady pace, which made for a refreshingly slow battle for position on top in half guard.

I'll be training yet again tomorrow: I hadn't intended to do four in a row, but there's a postgraduate seminar series I don't want to miss on Wednesday, as its on poetic form and therefore relevant to my writing. Working at the University has a whole bunch of perks like that: I'm especially looking forward to start of the next academic year, as I'll be able to take some language courses.

Unfortunately that's way off in October, but I guess that gives me a chance to see if I actually have the time to dedicate to a structured course like that (I've been following the Pimsleur Spanish language course, but then that's all audio, so I can go at my own pace, rather than a set schedule).

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