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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

28 September 2011

28/09/2011 - Gracie Barra Technique (Armbar Escapes)

Class #420
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 28/09/2011

After the excitement of getting my gf along to a lesson followed by the ADCC, it was back to normal tonight. Geeza has been running through armbars this week, specifically armbar escapes. Before he got on to tonight's escape, he first had us drill two basic armbar set-ups. Kicking off with the armbar from mount, you're imagining your opponent shoves their arms into your chest (unlikely in sparring, but useful for the purposes of drilling). Put one arm on the outside of theirs, with your hand on their sternum. Put your other arm inside, so that the second hand goes on top of the first.

Slide your far leg up into their armpit, sole of the foot pointing towards their head. The near leg shifts to their shoulder. Lean forwards, then slide your shoulder leg over their. Your arm should already be over theirs: lock it over the back of their elbow. Geeza noted that drilling, that was safer than grabbing the wrist. In sparring, you would use your other arm to secure the wrist. Drop back, then repeat on the other side.

That was followed by a similarly basic armbar from knee on belly drill. They have put their outside hand on your knee, leaving a gap. Reach through the gap and pull them onto their side. Move around to step over their head, then drop back for the armbar.

The main techniques of the lesson were armbar escapes. Geeza called the first one a 'clear and bridge' escape. They are about to armbar you from mount, but you've managed to link your hands together to get a brief moment before you're forced to tap. Fling your arms over your head to knock their leg off your head. Bridge, then wriggle your head and shoulders over their leg. Make a tight turn to come up in their guard, making sure your elbows are safe: if you're not careful, they could go straight for an armbar or triangle.

Geeza followed up with another armbar escape, this time referred to as the 'ninja star' escape. They are again looking to secure an armbar, now from guard. To give yourself some time, drop your weight down in what Geeza dubbed the 'floppy dog' position, sunk towards your knees. You're then going to flick your hand to one side, so that your thumb is pointing at their shoulder (as if you're an '80s ninja throwing the aforementioned shuriken).

That should give you the space to quickly tug your arm free. Apparently, Matt Serra used the same escape in his classic upset with GSP, but from a mounted armbar. It is a little like the hitchhiker escape, except that you're not following the arm around. Instead, you're just trying to create the space to pull the arm out.

There was enough time for a round of free sparring, where I went with Oli. Tends to always be quite fun, as Oli often tries out random stuff and keeps things light and friendly. I was reminded again that I need to adjust my passing depending on their grips, as I wasn't properly dealing with the leg pressing into my bicep. Need to remember to move back to clear that off my arm.

I also had a chance to move into the running escape, which I wanted to practice as I'm teaching it tomorrow. The usual problems were raised again, which is to be very careful of their arm coming through by your hip. Interestingly, Oli was bringing the arm by the head through sometimes, which doesn't normally happen. I guess you can block that with your hands, but it is a bit different to them driving through the hip arm.

Finally, I tried putting into practice a handy suggestion from Donal on spider guard, which he mentioned at the start of the lesson. In short, when you're using the leg lasso, kick a bit further and hook the foot around their back. I haven't done that in the past because I worry about foot locks, but Donal said that's never happened to him. As Donal mentioned it was a tip from Michael Langhi, I'm happy to take his word for it: something to play around with, and it does provide more control. Donal is going to be teaching on Tuesdays starting next week, so I'm looking forward to checking out his lesson. :)

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