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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

22 December 2011

22/12/2011 - Teaching (Maintaining the Back)

Teaching #033
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/12/2011

Next time I run through my first and second cycle of the curriculum I'm trying to develop, I think I'll split my previous maintaining and attack the back lessons, then spread out the maintaining part over two lessons (so, rather than showing how to trap an arm in the lesson on the RNC, I could put that in the second maintaining the back lesson). However, this time round, I wanted to play with something that will probably end up being in the third cycle, as it is a bit more advanced and lower percentage.

The usual way to maintain the back is with both insteps hooked inside their thighs, with a harness/seat belt/over-under (it has various names) grip over their upper body. I would recommend that as the most secure method of holding the back. Still, it is worth keeping in mind that there are other options. The best known alternative is probably the body triangle, which is exactly what it sounds like: you are triangling their body, rather than just their arm and head.

The basic idea is to get one leg across their torso (e.g., like you would when swivelling for the bow and arrow I taught last week), then locking that ankle behind the knee of your other leg, as you would with a triangle. This can generate lots of pressure, as you're squeezing the air out of your opponent. It can also result in a very tight control, against which the usual escapes will be less effective.

You'll also want to tuck your locking leg foot under their leg, so they have more trouble trying to attack it. To further control them, roll them to the non-hooked side. If you fall to the other side, there is a fairly simple escape they can use, similar to when somebody crosses their feet in back mount.

However, there are a number of problems with the body triangle. From a competitive perspective, it doesn't get you any points, as you don't technically have both hooks in. It is also possible that you are leaving yourself open to a footlock, one of which I mentioned above. Your movement is more restricted compared to orthodox back mount. Finally, the body triangle requires you to be flexible, have long legs or a particularly thin opponent. It therefore may not be applicable against someone your own size, especially if they're broad across the torso.

In MMA, the body triangle is arguably more useful than in BJJ, as it can provide you with a good platform for strikes. However, even there you might run into trouble, given that most MMA organisations don't allow you to hit someone in the back of the head.

I prefer the next technique, which I was first taught by Kev as a method of transitioning to an armbar from the back. However, it can also be a form of control in itself, as taught on Ryan Hall's DVD, Back Attacks. You have a basic harness grip, so one arm is over their shoulder, the other is under their armpit, then you link your hands together. You decide that you want to shift your hold for some reason (most commonly, you can't get the choke so you want to go for an armbar instead).

With your shoulder hand, grip their wrist on the armpit arm side. With your free hand, grab the wrist of your shoulder arm. You now have a figure-four grip, like you would for a kimura. Bring your shoulder arm over their head: at this point, you can now secure their arm, but there is an important point Hall mentions on his DVD. He mentions that he had been doing the technique wrong until Dave Camarillo showed him a better method. I realised the same thing after watching the DVD.

The wrong way is to suck their arm in tight to your body. Like Hall says, that feels right, but it actually makes it easier for them to turn towards you, drop their elbow and escape. The Camarillo method is to instead extend your arms and being to apply the kimura (i.e., you're pushing their wrist down while levering their elbow up). This makes it hard for them to move, as there is considerable pressure on their shoulder.

As with any kimura, you'll want to bring their hand away from their body, so they can't grab onto their gi to try and relieve the torque on their shoulder. Once you have that grip, you can switch to an armbar (which I'll show at some point in the future, based off what Kev taught me), which is one of a number of follow-ups. Hall goes into more depth on how to use that grip in his DVD.

That's my last lesson until the 27th, when I'll be training at RGA Bucks, so to everyone reading this: merry xmas! :D

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