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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

06 July 2010

06/07/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #323
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK - 06/07/2010

Good article by Krista Scott-Dixon up on Grapplearts, here. She tackles the essential topic of attracting women to your BJJ school, and perhaps just as important, retaining them as members.

Speaking of women, a new one joined my family today, as my sister gave birth to her second daughter (so far, no nephews, which pleases me). As I don’t intend to have any kids myself, I’ve enjoyed being an uncle. I spent eight months looking after my first niece back when I was unemployed, so it will be interesting to see how she reacts to having a sister.

Getting back to training, as ever I couldn’t make the Monday, this time because I was visiting my girlfriend in Bristol. The buses have also changed now that it’s out of term time, so Wednesdays are going to be much tougher to make: it could be that I’ll be limited to just Tuesdays, but hopefully not.

Nathan continued his coverage of side control today. Having gone through the usual drill where we go from side control to mount to side control, he then showed us another method for moving from side control to mount. You start with a tight mount, having already cleared the elbow. First, bring your elbow over their head and slide it back, so that their skull is squished between your elbow and knee. You also want to make sure you’re controlling their far arm, so they can’t get their elbow to the mat and turn.

Instead, you’re going to turn, switching your base so you’re facing their legs. Grab their leg to limit their mobility, while also pushing back into their armpit with your hips, until you’re effectively sitting on their face. Having made all that space, you can bring your foot over to their far hip, without putting it on the floor. Instead, you’re going to use that hook on their hip to twist into mount.

Nathan then progressed to the bottom perspective, with an escape from side control, in that same position. If you’re on the bottom and they bring their arm over, you want to do two things. First, you’re going to grip around the back of their gi so that you’re grabbing the material behind their neck. Pull it tight, so that they can’t possibly attack your arm: if you leave the elbow expose, they’ll either move round to eventually go for a kimura, or potentially just raise up and attack the straightened arm.

If instead you’re pulling them down, with your elbow up high by their shoulder, there isn’t much they can do. This is made safer by ‘chicken dancing’ your other elbow against their knee, to wriggle your back up the mat. That elbow by their knee means they can’t move to north-south, and they also can’t re-establish a tight side control by moving back up under your armpit. You are also going to grab that knee, for reasons which will become clear in a moment.

The main thing they’ll probably do from here is switch their hips, looking to get into some kind of scarf hold to restore their previous control. You’ll be waiting for the moment they switch their hips: if you time it right, you can bridge up into them, switching your hips over as you do, so that you end up rolling them onto their back. Due to your high elbow position, you can slide that around their head, while keeping your own head low.

This should result in a solid arm triangle position. You can increase the pressure by coming up on your toes slightly and driving your shoulder into them, solidifying your position further as you do. Either go for the submission from there, or alternatively use it as a firm controlling point to move into mount. You could also reach around to grab wrist control, then shift to take their back.

If they should happen to get half guard in the midst of that, it doesn’t really matter. You can still work the submission, or just keep up the pressure with your shoulder, slide your knee through and establish mount. They’ll find it difficult to get a secure half guard if you’ve got that control around their head and arm.

Specific sparring went as it often does from side control, where I found I could normally escape from side control eventually, either by recovering half guard or slowly working my knee through for full guard. However, I’m still not getting that scarf hold escape properly, where you brace their lapel against their neck: one thing I think I’m doing wrong is not pushing up enough. I tried to get into place to push on the back of the elbow when they put both arms over too, but that’s also something where I need a lot more work to get used to the principle and iron out the details.

On top, I struggled to keep the position: my training partner had clearly paid attention to Nathan’s repeated advice to get that elbow to the mat, as it was tough to stop him doing it. I tried moving to scarf and north-south, but that elbow kept slipping free. I could possibly try collapsing my weight on that arm more, or be more pro-active about attacking the far arm to distract them, or perhaps even the neck with some kind of choke.

Moving to mount by quickly sliding my knee over did work at one point, but probably because he was expecting another extended battle of the knees and elbows. I also almost made it to the back at one point, but he was wise to it, getting half guard and spinning to face me before I could establish both my hooks.

Getting into free sparring, there was a bit more of that side control, though I also found myself in his guard at one point. It seems like ages since I’ve been in a position to practice passing, and as ever I was too passive and slow to react. Some specific work on guard would definitely be handy, as much as I’ve enjoyed the intense focus on side control over the last couple of months.

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