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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

09 February 2012

09/02/2012 - Teaching (Maintaining the Back)

Teaching #041
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/02/2012

I wanted to go through some more simple techniques tonight, this time for when your opponent is trying to escape and get their shoulders to the mat. Andre Galvao shows a simple option for retaking the back, which works well as a drill. They manage to clear one of your hooks and start bringing their hips over. Before they can get their shoulders to the mat, press your chest into their shoulder and roll them onto their side, in the direction they were escaping. Use the foot they've dislodged to post , raising yourself up enough that you can slide your dislodged knee high up their back. Sit back and roll them towards your remaining hook, onto their other side, then re-establish your second hook. You can keep doing that from side to side as a drill.

Back mount is a great position, but if you're about to lose it because they're slipping free, you can also try a basic method of shifting to mount. This time, they've not only cleared one hook, they've also managed to put their shoulders onto the mat. It might be tough regain your back mount from here, especially if they've moved over your leg or have it under their body. Instead, shift so that you can bring your remaining hook over their body. Clamp that heel to their far hip, making sure it is providing you with enough control that they can't simply shrug you off. Pull out your elbow for base, then turn and slide through into mount.

For sparring, I used that drill I like again, splitting the class into groups of three. There were twelve people tonight including me, which is more than usual, which meant I could divide by weight fairly evenly. Each person in the group spent six minutes maintaining the back, while the other two cycled in. There was loads of time left for sparring, so I also managed to fit in four rounds of 'normal' sparring from the back (so, specific from the back, but with submissions, not just maintaining), finishing up with a round of free sparring.

My classes have definitely got much more heavy on the sparring compared to when I started, ranging between thirty to forty minutes. Previously, the techniques I taught this week and last week were crammed into one lesson, which tells me I was trying to fit in far too much into a single session when I began teaching last year. I'll have to be careful I don't swing too far the other way, but it's always good to have plenty of resistance training. Still experimenting with the format, as this is now my first repeat of my planned series of classes (but in a different order, as there is that new system of all the instructors sticking to the same position each month).


  1. I think it's worth spending the time going over the move to the point of boredom. That is probably a sign that it's sunk in, somehow. While we were practicing the first drill you've mentioned here, even though I went through it a ton of times, I couldn't quite 'get' it. I felt like my centre of gravity wasn't quite in the right position in relation to my drill partner to cause the tip back to regaining my hooks & taking his back again. But a couple of days later, a situation (my sparring partner's back) presented itself & I went into that move & accomplished it, even though it hadn't worked quite right in the training session. So, it was well worth it from my point of view. Something about the principle sunk in at the time, even if I couldn't quite get the specifics.

  2. Cool! As an instructor (especially an inexperienced one), hearing that a student managed to apply something I helped teach them is always awesome. :D