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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

14 February 2012

14/02/2012 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Knee-Slice & Armbar from the Back)

Class #446
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 14/02/2012

As often on Tuesdays, I got in some extra drilling before class started. Today, Mike asked to work on refining his knee slice pass, as he's been finding lots of people block it part of the way through by getting their knee in the way. We played around with that for a while, which is always fun (and useful for me too, because I get to work the flipside), then got some very handy tips from Dónal when he later arrived.

Normally when you knee-slice pass, you grab their trousers a bit below the knee, shove one leg to the ground and step over, while your other arm stays inside their knee to block them bringing it across. From there, you try to slide the knee through and pass. However, often you might find there is enough of a gap for them to get their knee in, or perhaps they grab half guard, or otherwise get their feet in the way.

Dónal suggested starting off from those same grips, but in a deep crouch. Then with the knee-blocking arm, he grips deeper, grabbing the same side collar. That means that there is much less of a gap for their knee, because your arm is now creating a barrier. You also want to hook their leg with your foot (I can't remember which one, so will have to ask Dónal), in order to stop them going for half guard. Your leg on the side to which you're passing stays slightly bent, so you can push off and use that extra power to drive into them, which also increase the pressure.

The class itself featured an armbar from the back. I had assumed that would be the one I'm familiar with, where you get a figure four grip on the arm, bring your elbow over their head then move into the armbar. However, Dónal's entry was quite different. They have their arms crossed to protect their neck: one of those arms will be on top. That arm will also have a small space beind the crook of their elbow.

With your same side hand, reach into that crook, twisting your hand so you little finger is pointing towards the ceiling, your palm facing away from them. Punch that arm right through, in the direction of their opposite leg. Once your elbow is far enough, drag it back to your hip, scraping tight to their body as you do. Your same side knee can come into play here, bringing that next to your elbow to facilitate the scraping motion, until your elbow is on your own thigh and their arm is well and truly trapped. Note, you may need to scrape several times to attain that control.

Grab their trapped-arm side collar with your far hand, like you were setting up a bow and arrow choke. Step your choking-arm side foot to their same side hip, in order to help you swivel. Again like a bow and arrow choke, bring both your feet to that other side. Stay tight with your legs, so you don't give them any space to turn towards you as you swivel, moving perpendicular to them. When you have sufficient control, you can let go of the collar and push on their head, bring your leg over then secure the armbar. If you need to, you can also curl the heel of the leg over their head into their neck, which should further assist your control.

The bow and arrow collar grip will make it hard for them to turn for an armbar escape. Another trick Dónal showed is to pull out their lapel on the trapped arm side (most commonly you'll do that before you trap the arm), then feed it across their body and under your own leg to your other side. Cinch it in firmly, creating a restraint across their waist. When you then go through the previous armbar technique, it should be even harder for them to make any room to escape.

In sparring, it was cool to have that new option for attacking the back. I'm not fond of going for the armbar as it isn't so easy to recover position as with choke attacks, but having another way to mount an offence meant I could be more pro-active. That means you have more opportunities for getting a reaction, which in my case will probably be used to bait for the bow and arrow. Kev uses that choke to great success, so I'm keen to follow his example (as he's a comparable size to me).


  1. Found a good video showing a lot of the details of the knee slice that donal mentioned.

    Frustratingly sat at home with a cold at the moment. Really want to get back to the gym to practice this a bit more.

  2. Cool, I'll have to check that link out later. Get well soon! :)