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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

30 June 2011

30/06/2011 - Teaching (Attacking Closed Guard)

Teaching #010
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 30/06/2011

Building on what I taught last week about grips, I wanted to go into some basic sweeps. That started with a drill for the flower sweep, using a helpful body movement drill Roy Dean includes on his Blue Belt Requirements DVD set. Start on your back. Bring your right leg up and out. Swing it away from your body, down, then back towards your other foot. At the same time, swing your other leg up and across, using that momentum to turn your body over. You then go back the other way, repeating side to side. It's a bit like a breakdancing move.

Like I mentioned last week, there are lots of entries for this sweep: I began with the grip I showed previously, double wrist control. You then switch to gripping the gi material by either their same side knee or ankle. Put your opposite foot on their other hip, then use that to swivel your body to a perpendicular position. On the knee/ankle gripping side, kick your leg right up into their armpit, aiming to off-balance them over towards your other shoulder.

You then continue the motion from the body movement drill, bringing that armpit leg over your body (go diagonally, towards your shoulder), while chopping the other leg underneath. It's important you clear that leg out of the way, in order to smoothly roll through to mount. If you fail to chop that leg through, you'll roll your opponent on top of your own leg. At best, you'll then end up with a very sloppy sweep, but at worst, you'll block your own technique and end back in guard.

Next, I showed one of the first entries I was taught, which is much tougher to establish (sufficiently so that it put me off trying this sweep in sparring). Break their grip like I showed last week, dragging their arm across your body and pulling them towards you with your legs. Prevent them regaining their posture by wrapping an arm behind their head, which also traps their arm: they can no longer use that to post out. From here, grab the material by their knee or ankle, then complete the sweep as before.

Yet another option is to go for the sweep if they raise their knee: you can then hook your arm behind that knee, otherwise completing the sweep as before. Finally, I showed how this combines well with the armlock, as going for the armbar puts you in the right position to get the flower.

Upon reflection, I may have gone a bit overboard with all those entries. My intention was to give lots of choice, so people could try them out and see which worked best for them. However, I probably should have cut it down to three at most, particularly as people were definitely having some trouble with the flower sweep motion itself. Normally people don't need much correction or ask too many questions, but tonight I was offering pointers to pretty much everybody as I wandered round.

That also fed into the usual three minutes of progressive resistance, which for most people became extra time for drilling the basic move rather than refining it under resistance. The main problem seems to have been getting perpendicular, so when I teach this again, I'll spend some more time going through putting the foot on the hip and swivelling, kicking the leg into the armpit.

Next was the scissor sweep, which is a lot easier. Start by getting a deep grip on their opposite collar, then with your other hand grab their same side elbow. Put your foot on their same side hip and shrimp out slightly, to make space to insert your knee. Slide that knee over, once again to that same side, until your shin is across their stomach. Hook your instep around their other side. Another option is to angle your knee towards their shoulder, which can act as an entry into the triangle.

A key detail is to then raise your elbows towards your head, so that you're pulling them onto your shin. The aim is to load them onto your leg, which in turn means that their weight is no longer on their legs. This should make them lighter: drop your other leg to the mat, chopping underneath them as you bring your hooking leg over, rolling into mount.

That shouldn't require much strength, so if you're having to strain, you probably haven't pulled them forward enough first. You can also get this sweep is they raise a knee up. Drop your same side knee towards their opposite hip, then continue the sweep as above. If you're finding that when you try and chop their leg they simply step over it, raise your chopping leg slightly. You might even try hooking behind their knee with it, as that will immobilise the leg, although it may also make it more difficult to get a smooth chopping motion.

Finally, if for some reason you're having trouble chopping out their leg, you can switch to a push sweep, which is very similar to the scissor sweep. Everything is the same, except that you don't chop the leg. Instead, move your head back in line with theirs, so your torso is square on, then slide what would have been your chopping leg backwards. You now have room to use the foot of that leg to push into the side of their knee. Tracing a semi-circle, you're then going to shove their knee straight back, which will knock them off balance, whereupon you can roll through to mount as before.

A common mistake is to try and push the knee backwards right away. That is unlikely to work, as there will probably be too much friction. You need to push the knee slightly sideways first, then trace that arc to get the leg back. They should start to fall as soon as you do that, meaning that gravity will help you initiate the sweeping movement.


  1. Very helpful, slidey, as I have been finding myself at the bottom most times...

  2. No probs: glad to be of help! Although it's always best to ask your instructor, of course, as I'm just a noobie purple belt. :)

  3. Very good instructional, thanks! I always have trouble with that one. BTW, Thanks for the props on "This Old Lady Got Her Blue Belt".

  4. Cheers!

    Whenever a woman appears to be looking for support like she was, I try to encourage them to join the awesome commmunity of female BJJ bloggers. Hopefully you've gained yourself a reader. :D

  5. You write technique details so well. I am usually stumbling around with something like,"and then you do this flippy thingy and land in half guard." lol! How do you prioritize what you teach to beginners?

  6. Thanks Allie!

    At the moment I'm still experimenting with what and how to teach, but I'm prioritising based on what I find most difficult about getting to a technique (hence the focus on maintaining), along with what I wish I'd been taught as a beginner to overcome it.

    I've laid out a rough 20 lesson plan, running through the positions I most commonly find myself in during sparring. For each one, I then try and think how to maintain, attack and escape.

    I'm also aiming to keep things as basic as possible, as well as reading and watching what other people teach for comparison. Roy Dean and Saulo have been very handy for that.

    So far, I've been pretty much in my comfort zone, so tonight will be more challenging. That's because I'm covering guard passing, which is in whatever you call the opposite of comfort zone! ;)