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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

26 May 2011

26/05/2011 - Teaching (Attacking Side Control)

Teaching #003
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 26/05/2011

I'm not big on submissions, but I wanted to make sure I taught a few. On the rare occasions I do manage to submit anybody, it will often be an americana from side control: I'm fond of that technique, as it is one over which you can exert lots of control. I also wanted to remind people of the previous lesson on side control escapes, so again had everyone quickly drill that ten times each (took a bit long, so I think I'll cut it down to five). I'll have to think of a maintaining side control drill that can be done quickly too.

Getting into the main technique, I wanted to show how to go for the americana from that strong, orthodox side control position I mentioned before. To start, you need to isolate their far arm. Often the set up is that they've pushed their forearm up towards you (which is why from an escape perspective, you don't want to be shoving up with your arm and trying to benchpress them).

Go with it a little, then turn back towards them, driving their arm to the mat with your bodyweight, head and hand. You can increase the power by switching your legs as you move back, then switching again as your return your weight towards them. Alternatively, you can simply turn your body slightly as they push, with the intention to get enough space to go for their wrist, then push it to the ground.

There are different arguments regarding gripping their wrist using your thumb or not. Some feel that having the thumb there provides better control, and that is the instinctive way of holding something. However, most BJJ instructors I've seen describe gripping for the americana advocate a thumbless grip, so that all of your fingers are over the other side of their arm.

That's the direction they want to escape, so that's where you want your strength. It also means you can really push down, rather than squashing your own thumb. Then there's the point Kev at RGA Bucks makes, which is that he feels the thumb can act as a lever for their escape.

Support your hand with your head if you're having trouble pushing their arm to the mat (Cindy Omatsu is showing it from mount in the picture, but same idea). Also be sure to keep their arm away from their body, so they can't grab their belt or gi. The aim is to put the arm at right angles. Another handy tip is to get your elbow into their neck. That means they can't turn towards you to relieve pressure on their shoulder and begin an escape.

Finish by 'painting' the floor with their knuckles, moving their hand towards their legs, lifting their elbow off the floor. You may need to adjust the angle of their arm, depending on how flexible they are. Make sure you don't give them space by their shoulder, or they can relieve the pressure and perhaps begin an escape.

I had everyone drill that for four minutes each as usual, before moving through what I call the Roy Dean lockflow, as he is the person who taught it to me during one of his seminars (it's also on his DVD, Purple Belt Requirements). A couple of blue belts there mentioned Lloyd Irvin calls it the mousetrap, so you might be familiar with it under that name.

If they start to slip their arm free from the americana, you don't want to simply go for the same thing again. It is of the utmost important that you combine techniques in BJJ, instead of viewing them in isolation. That goes for escapes as well as attacks. What I wanted to show was an example of that, using the americana as a starting point.

You also want to avoid meeting force with force if possible. So instead, as they slip out, go with it, letting them straighten it out. However, this sets you up for another attack, as you can get a pressing armbar from here. Slide your figure-four grip up their arm, so that you have one hand around their wrist, with one of your arms a little in front of their elbow. That means you've created a fulcrum, so you can press their wrist down to apply a jointlock.

Roy Harris, Dean's instructor, has a whole DVD on bent armlocks. For the transition to the straight/pressing armbar, he advises moving your weight forward, so your chest is over their elbow. Harris also puts his arm in the crook of his elbow, raising his other elbow off the ground to get the pressure. You may need to twist their wrist to get their thumb pointing up, in order to create the right leverage on their elbow.

Possibly they manage to slip out of that as well, meaning their arm begins to bend in the other direction. Don't worry, you can still keep attacking. Clamp their arm to your chin using your own arm, then switch your free arm. You can now apply the kimura. If you need extra leverage, turn to your side and base out.

For even more leverage, step over their head and lift them slightly off the floor. Keep in mind that if they slip free of that, you can go back to the pressing armbar and americana: hence why this is a lockflow, because it should be continuously available as long as you maintain control of the far arm.

Again, I had everyone drill that for four minutes each, then followed with two minutes of progressive resistance. I made sure to emphasise tapping and safety here, as we were dealing with submissions rather than the positional work I'd been doing the previous fortnight. I'm wondering if I could explain progressive resistance better, as some people were working their partners like I wanted, but others looked to be taking it fairly light.

Right now, I'm tending to try and encourage people at various points during the drill, like saying "make it difficult for them! Don't just give them the submission!" etc, but I don't know how effective that it. I guess people will eventually get the idea if they do it enough. The difficult thing is reaching that balance between a decent test of their application, but without going nut and effectively shifting into a sparring situation.

At this point, I probably should have just moved into specific sparring. However, I still had a transition from mount I wanted to teach, to give them another option, so asked people if they wanted more technique. They did, but perhaps I should have made the decision myself, as sparring ended up being somewhat brief as a result. I think I also overran a little at the end, which was silly of me given I was previously all pleased with myself for getting the lesson to start on time at seven.

Anyway, to transition from side control to mount, start by killing the near arm, as I discussed last week. Another thing to try, which I don't think I mentioned in class, is to switch your hips to get that elbow up, then switch back to trap it. However you trap it, as with maintaining, getting the near elbow out of the way is key to this particular method of transitioning to mount.

From tight side control, having killed the near arm, switch one arm to their far arm, putting the other hand to their near hip, then shift hips right back towards their head as far as you can. Your elbow is either in their far armpit or wrapped underneath for control. This position means you're also blocking their view with your entire body. Lean into them, using your body weight to help maintain control. This is reverse scarf hold.

That therefore stops them from seeing exactly what you're doing (note that when Saulo shows it on his DVD, he suggests you mess with them by slapping their legs, until you can pick your moment). When you've got up really high and are ready to go (at this point, they should almost be bridging to relieve the pressure), grab their knee to stop them snatching mount, then bring the leg across. Ideally, you'll crush this to the mat, squashing both their knees together.

For that last step, you have three main options. First, you could simply swing the leg over to the other side. This is quick, but there is a real danger that they may trap you in half guard mid-swing. There is also a simple escape they can do here, if they merely turn into you, coming up into full guard. Therefore I wouldn't recommend this option.

Second, you can grab your own foot and pull it across, or just squeeze it past your own arm, depending on your flexibility. This is useful when you have limited space, but personally I find it feels a little awkward, in that you might tangle yourself up in your own limbs.

Third, which is my favourite, is to slide your knee over their belt line. Bring that knee to the far side of their body, then quickly swivel your leg around and into mount. I feel this is the safest option, which uses steady pressure to get into place, rather than relying on explosive power, flexibility or luck. You can also grab their belt or cup their far hip to stop them shrimping midway through.

Note that as ever, this isn't the only way of doing it, but I didn't have time to show some of the other options. I think next time when I'm cycling through side control, I'll devote the whole lesson to transitions into mount. I felt like I could have gone into more detail, so wasn't entirely happy with my teaching tonight. The previous two lessons seemed to be better structured, so I'll avoid cramming that much technique into one session in the future.

Specific sparring was only about ten minutes (in order to leave a bit for the warm-down, though like I said, we ran over slightly). Turn out tonight was the best I've had so far, with about nine people. I split it into groups by weight, though that left five in one and four in the other. As I had two people go on their backs, that didn't quite work for the group of four. It happened to be the smaller people group, so I joined in to provide a bit more variety.

Next week, I'll be moving into mount, starting off with maintaining the mount position. Having two chunks of technique seems to work best for me, so I'll focus on good posture and grips for high mount, then low mount. Should be fun, though I'm still mostly in my comfort zone. The more challenging lesson will be when I get to guard and how to pass, as passing the guard is without any doubt the worst part of my game.

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