10 May 2012

10/05/2012 - Teaching (Maintaining Closed Guard)

Teaching #053
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 10/05/2012

My first formal encounter with grappling was back in 2004, during my first stint living in Bristol to raise some money for a round the world trip. Inadequate women’s changing facilities. That class was taught by a certain Kevin O’Hagan. Eight years later, I find myself teaching his daughter-in-law Soeli (though I’m sure she’s seen it before, as she’s already got a fair bit of experience). Kirsty was also there tonight, as was another woman, who was popping in to check out the club.

Hopefully that increasing number of women will mean that the women’s changing room gets expanded to accommodate them. At present, it’s only big enough for one woman at a time, meaning the women end up queuing. However, as there are two large changing rooms (currently both designated for the men), I would assume one of them will be allocated to the women instead. I think it would be a lot more welcoming to future potential female students if there was greater provision for their needs, particularly as the facilities are already in place.

For tonight’s lesson, I was keeping things especially simple. The most basic method of breaking posture is probably pulling their elbows out and then towards you. This is particularly handy if they've got both hands on your hips, or something like that. Using your legs is key here, to help you pull them forwards. This is a general point for the guard: make sure you involve your legs, as they're a lot more powerful than your arms alone.

This is also true if they want to stand. Carefully time the right moment, then as they stand, pull your knees towards your chest. That should knock them back onto the ground. It could also put you in a better position than before, as they may end up falling into you, meaning you can get superior control. Ideally, they'll make the mistake of posting on their hands, as that means you can go for various attacks, like the kimura.

The tips John Will taught on Tuesday fit in nicely here, so I added the sequence which starts by reaching over their head with your arm. They will naturally try to recover their posture by raising up. As soon as they do, reach your other arm deep into their opposite collar. Having secured that grip, your head-wrapping arm then also grabs the collar, next to your collar hand. If they try to recover their posture now, get as much of your body off the floor and hang off that grip. Even if they’re bigger than you, this should make it very difficult for them to return to an upright position.

After that, I moved into the usual discussion of closed guard grips. A basic but very useful grip is to get a really deep grasp of the collar: you may find it helps to sit up to get that in really deep. As Roy Dean discusses in Brown Belt Requirements, an especially deep grip can help your choke as well as give you authoritative control. Once you have it, that provides three main advantages. Firstly, this gives you great control, as you can pull them down towards you. Second, it could be the beginning of a choke, and perhaps more importantly, it will make them start to worry about that choke rather than thinking about passing.

Thirdly, it means you can establish a collar and elbow grip. There are various attacks you can do from there, the most common of which are probably armbars, scissor and push sweeps. I then suggested double wrist control, which meant I could emphasise the two main types of sleeve grips: either make a pocket with your thumb and insert your four fingers (rather than putting four fingers inside the sleeve or trouser cuff: that's not only competition illegal, it's dangerous), or get a pistol grip, where you grab a heap of cloth in your fist.

Another grip is to grab their trousers by their knee, the other hand on their sleeve. This again can be useful for sweeps. It also helps to stop them getting a knee into your tailbone, as you can use that grip on the knee to bounce your hips back over their knee. It might also make them nervous, as they'll assume you're setting something up, whether or not you actually are. That’s when they’re liable to make mistakes which you can then exploit to your advantage.

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