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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

10 January 2012

10/01/2012 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Side Control Choke)

Class #441
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 10/01/2012

Dónal is now back from Austria, which meant more cool drills to work body movement and weight distribution. They fit in particularly well tonight, as I spent about 30 mins with Mike before the lesson started drilling and then testing a butterfly sweep he wanted to practice. Dónal's drills were related to that baseball slide he has shown in the past, where you bring your knee out underneath your other leg. That has since increased in complexity to doing it from all fours, as well as doing a little hop and changing sides.

Dónal added on yet another layer of complexity with tonight's lesson. First off, he had us go on all fours, then fling our legs in the air, trying to land softly on one foot. The next stage was to do the same thing, but this time you switch your hips in mid-airs, bringing one leg underneath the other. That means you land with your legs splayed, like you would if you were dropping your hips low in scarf hold or something like that.

Even better, Dónal showed the application. As Miles attempted to butterfly sweep him, Dónal switched his hips. For the sweep, Miles had hooked under one leg: Dónal therefore swung his other leg over the top, which not only switched his hips, but also meant that he slid off Miles' hooking foot and into side control. Nice.

However, the main technique for tonight (and there was only one, which is good) was a choke from side control. This is the same thing I learned from Matt Burn a while back at RGA Bucks, but Dónal had a few more details to add. The basic idea is to open up your far lapel with your far hand, bunching it in your fist. Punch that past their arm so that your fist is next to their neck.

Your other hand should be underneath their neck, meaning you can then feed the lapel from your far hand to your near side arm hand. Straighten your near arm into their neck, then gradually bring your head to their near side hip. Keeping your arm straight as you turn should cause the pressure on the sides of their neck to increase until you land the choke.

Dónal suggested that you not only pull your lapel out of your gi, you also twist it up into a rope. Twist the gi towards your feet, until you have what is effectively a coil of rope. Hide that in your hand and punch it through as before. This rope should make the choke noticeably more effective at digging into the carotid arteries: keep in mind the choke is around the back of the neck and side, not the front or the throat.

Rather than simply straightening your arm, you also want to drop your shoulder and across. You can either sprawl as you move around, or you can raise your bum in the air to drive your weight through a smaller area. If you need some extra pressure when you're in that finishing position, Dónal moved his choking arm elbow across, which seemed to be a useful way to finish off a stubborn opponent.

Dónal also holds side control a bit differently. I normally bring my knees in tight, as I like that feeling of security: other people like to sprawl back, as they feel they can drive more weight through their opponent that way. Dónal sort of did both. He folded the leg nearest their hip right back, so that his heel was touching the back of his own leg, while still keeping the knee of that leg pressed into their side. His other leg was sprawled behind him.

Sparring started off with specific sparring from side control, which all of a sudden made me realise I haven't been under side control as much as usual (mainly because I've been either starting from or working towards the top due to that neck injury). Still, when I am underneath, I'm making the same mistakes, relying too much on stalling with the running escape position and either getting my back taken or getting passed.

I still feel relatively comfortable under there, when I look to recover guard with the basic shrimp escape, but as ever I need to be more proactive. Fortunately I'm teaching side control in a few weeks, so I can focus on revisiting those fundamentals again. Hence why I also started under side control in free sparring a few times too.

On top, also as ever, I'm mostly maintaining, failing to launch any real attacks aside from a transition to mount (which is useful, but not the same thing as improving my submissions). I had some relaxing technical rolls with the other two purples at GB Bristol, Miles and Dónal, which was cool as Miles isn't normally at the same classes as me.

With some of the blues, I was looking to work my guard passing and particular trying to get to the back, neither of which I did particularly well: I could start the movement, but not actually get to where I want to go (i.e., I was flailing around looking to break down their turtle, but didn't manage to get both my hooks in). Long term goal.

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