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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

17 November 2011

17/11/2011 - Teaching (Maintaining Closed Guard)

Teaching #028
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 17/11/2011

Last time, I think I tried to cram in way too much, so when I come to do the first and second cycle of my lesson plan again (in case you didn't realise, I'm on the second cycle at the moment), I'll split that out. So, tonight's lesson will probably end up being part of a third or even fourth cycle.

Before I got into the meat, I wanted to quickly emphasise a simple tip that is worth keeping in mind. When you're in closed guard, you don't have to put your hips on the floor. Try raising them up instead and scooting in closer to your opponent. Previously, the space was in front of them, and therefore potentially could help them open up your legs and pass. Now, it's behind them, which potentially helps your ability to create angles and lessens the pressure on your legs. There's good coverage of that on Andre Anderson's excellent closed guard DVD.

The main topic I wanted to cover was again breaking posture and grips, but this time how that can effectively become a guard in itself. What I call either the armwrap or overhook guard has a whole bunch of submissions and sweeps, but I just wanted to show how to get there for the moment.

They will probably be grabbing your gi somewhere between your chest and stomach. Grab their sleeve with one hand, then reach your other hand underneath to hold your own wrist, making a figure-four. Wrench up with your figure-four to break their grip (you could also try raising your hips then dropping them as you wrench to increase the leverage, depending where they're holding you). Bring your knees to your chest and pull their sleeve behind your head.

At the same time, swim around their arm with your other hand, so that you end up overhooking that arm. With the overhooking hand, reach through and grasp their opposite collar (if you can't reach it, grab what you can, but for setting up submissions, much better to have the far collar). Keep the elbow of your overhooking arm locked to your body, so they can't free their arm. This is a good controlling position, where you have a number of attacks: omoplata, armbar, triangle, chokes etc.

There are also sweeps and at least one back take from here, which I'll probably show in a couple of weeks time. There are also various ways of manipulating their arm depending on how you break the grip. The overhook is what I would call the 'inside' grip break, because the hand grabbing the sleeve is 'inside'. You can also use what you might call an 'outside' figure 4 grip, because this time your sleeve grabbing hand is on the outside of their arm.

So, for that outside figure four, grab their sleeve on the outside. Wrap your other hand underneath from the inside, sliding their hand under to grab your sleeve grab wrist, which secures a figure four. This time, after you thrust upwards to break the grip, you aren't going to pull their arm behind your head. Instead, switch your bottom hand to their sleeve and yank it across your body. Your other hand can go to their elbow, or if you prefer you could move into some other technique. For example, you might bring your knees in and wrap over their back to trap the arm, then go for a flower sweep. Play around with it.

I thought those were fairly simple, so instead of the usual four minutes each followed by three minutes of progressive resistance, I had everyone drill each option for two minutes each, then two minutes of progressive resistance. Once we had covered both, I did a step up from progressive resistance, where the rules were the person on the bottom was only looking for that grip break and to break posture, while the person on top only wanted to stand up. My intention was that it would both help test the techniques against more resistance, and also give the person on top a chance to work their posture in guard without having to worry about sweeps and submissions. I'm not sure how well it worked, so as ever, feel free to leave me feedback. :)

Another way of using the arms is to overwrap your partner with both of them, which Saulo simply calls the closed guard overwrap in Jiu Jitsu University (p103, if you're interested). It is relatively simple: you just circle one hand under theirs, then sit up. At the same time, shoot that arm through, while also bringing your other arm around their head. Link your arms and drop back down. Saulo uses this to initiate a back take, which we'll cover later. For now, just step one foot the mat and shrimp to that side (being careful to still keep your knee tight to their body and the other foot controlling their hip: if either of those are too loose, your partner may simply push your leg down and pass).

You can use your legs in a similar way. Instead of wrapping around their upper back with your arms, walk your feet up their back, then re-cross your ankles. This puts you in what is called high guard, which again has various attacks associated with it. Again, there are dangers with that. A training partner of mine at RGA Bucks, Howard, used to immediately stand up and drive his knee into my tailbone whenever I went to high guard. So, watch out for that guard break, as the high guard can make you vulnerable.

Again, I split those into two minutes without resistance and two minutes with, before moving on to a few rounds of specific sparring from guard. I'm not sure how helpful the last three grips were, so may look to mix and match when I cycle round to this part of the curriculum next time. Still experimenting, so I may well split out the first cycle into the second in future.

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