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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

14 December 2010

14/12/2010 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #368
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 14/12/2010

For those of you who watched the Mark Bocek versus Dustin Hazelett fight at UFC 124 (if you haven't, skip this bit as there will be spoilers), it has inspired an interesting series of interconnected videos by an entirely disparate group of BJJ black belts, which is cool to see. That starts off with a Gracie Breakdown by Rener and Ryron, where they look at the fight from Bocek's perspective, here.

There was a fair bit of criticism on the web for the rubber guard (e.g., here, particularly as it seemed Bocek passed it pretty easily. So, 10th Planet head honcho Eddie Bravo put up this video in a thread on The Underground. Yet another black belt, Dave Jacobs, regularly posts on that forum, and seeing the video, decided that he'd put up this response. Exactly the kind of exchange that demonstrate how awesome the internet can be. :)

Class tonight started off with the clinch takedown as defence to a haymaker, from the Gracie Barra Fundamentals syllabus, which led into mount techniques. The first was a basic cross choke from mount, although instead of feeding the second hand under the first, you put your thumb in their opposite collar. Slide that arm around the head and under their jaw, after which you can complete the choke by bringing your elbows back and your head down.

Alternatively, you can move into a double-attack from mount. Set up the choke as before, but this time, they manage to block your second arm somehow. On your first arm side, bring your knee to their head. Your other knee slides up to their elbow on the far side to make space, after which you swing your lower leg towards their head, in a 'dog-leg' position. From there you can switch grips and go for the armbar, and depending on how they react, drop back and grab their near leg, or switch back to the choke (hence why it's known as a double attack).

Grabbing that near leg is important, as if you don't, they can thread their leg through and escape to their knees as you drop for the armbar. They may also have the option of the hitchhiker escape. If you grab the near leg, it is very difficult for them to turn, because in order to do so, they have to bring that leg underneath them first.

Kev finished off with a basic trap and roll escape from underneath, before moving on to specific sparring from mount. This served as a handy reminder that it makes a big difference if you don't stop at half guard: I can often snatch that leg, but progressing from there can be tough. I was looking to use the knee I had behind them to bump them forward, making space to recover full guard or escape. That did work, but I need to make sure I've got onto my side, rather than getting squished underneath them.

I also had a go at the escape Rob Stevens showed back at Gracie Barra Birmingham, where you put an arm across the stomach, using the other arm to simply lift their leg and trap it in half guard, aiming to move into deep half. However, I wasn't defending my neck properly in the process, so very nearly go stuck in an Ezequiel as a result. Asking Kev afterwards, he suggested turning on your side, wedging one arm into their stomach. Your other hand grips your own collar and pulls it tight: combined with shrugging your shoulders, this defends against chokes. The elbow of that same arm can be used to shove against their leg, in order to move into half guard.

On top, I was ending up in my preferred low mount with grapevines, but also trying to experiment with feet on hips too. As ever I was going for Ezequiels without much success, and also grabbed at the americana a few times: I was able to grab the hand with one hand under their head, but couldn't isolate that arm, ready to slide my arm over their head to go for the sub. I also failed to hold technical mount, though I did at least get there, which is a small improvement.

Crossing the feet underneath mount was handy too, and felt almost as if I was playing guard from on top of somebody, with the same principles of controlling with the legs. The problem there is that it's easy to get your foot squashed underneath them, so I tend to worry about my ankles if they happen to suddenly roll just right to mess it up. My partner also almost escaped by simply bringing their feet right through, which is one of the more frustrating escapes (as it feels like they shouldn't be able to do it, but somehow they get there anyway). I managed to avoid it by grabbing behind his collar, then patiently waiting to work backwards to flatten him back out, but it was close.


  1. Interesting that you bring up crossing the feet under the mount. Last morning class I asked one of my instructors about it.

    He used our head instructor (5'4", was in Bocek's corner for that fight) as an example of someone who can transition quickly while he (6') has a more difficult time. After explaining how he uses it just to set things up (since it restricts movement) he mentioned that people with shorter legs have an easier time with it, while people with longer legs tend to get them "tangled" and have a harder time crossing and uncrossing.

  2. Cool - I didn't realise Bocek was ATT. That fight inspired me to go have a look around for more footage of him: MMA only really catches my attention when there is good BJJ involved, like Danaher appearing on the last season of TUF.

    I can imagine it is easier for small people, like me (despite the worries over crushing my ankles).

    Someone once said on a forum (or it might have been a blog comment, not sure) that you could treat the back position as like the guard, just reversed.

    With my feet crossed under mount, it also feels a bit like guard, except you're sitting on top of them.