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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

17 May 2012

17/05/2012 - Teaching (Closed Guard Sweeps)

Teaching #055
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 17/05/2012

As I’m going to be teaching this again tomorrow, I decided to go with the scissor sweep. Start by getting a deep grip on their opposite collar, then with your other hand grab their same side elbow. Alternatively, you can grip their wrist and pin it to your chest. Rener makes a clear distinction here, as he suggests grabbing the sleeve if they are pushing into your bicep, grabbing the wrist if they are pushing into your chest. Either way, your intention – and this is true for lots of sweeps and reversals – is to prevent their ability to post with that hand. That makes for a straightforward test for whether or not what you’re using is effective: can they put their hand on the mat and prevent the sweep?

The next step is to put your foot on their same side hip (or the floor, depending on your preference) and shrimp out slightly, to make space to insert your knee. Slide that knee over, once again to that same side, until your shin is across their stomach. Hook your instep around their other side. Another option is to angle your knee towards their shoulder, which can act as an entry into the triangle.

A key detail is to then raise your elbows towards your head, so that you're pulling them onto your shin. The aim is to load them onto your leg, which in turn means that their weight is no longer on their legs. Extending your torso back, rather than remaining curled up, may help that weight transfer.

This should make them lighter: drop your other leg to the mat, chopping underneath them as you bring your hooking leg over, rolling into mount. Ryron has two handy tips here. Firstly, use the heel of your hooking foot to swivel and clamp to their side, becoming a leverage point to assist your shift into mount. Secondly, bring the elbow of your sleeve gripping arm further backwards, to put your opponent even more off balance.

The sweep shouldn't require much strength, so if you're having to strain, you probably haven't pulled them forward enough first. You can also get this sweep if they raise a knee up, which is the classic way to teach it. Drop your same side knee towards their opposite hip, then continue the sweep as above. If you're finding that when you try and chop their leg they simply step over it, raise your chopping leg slightly. You might even try hooking behind their knee with it, as that will immobilise the leg, although it may also make it more difficult to get a smooth chopping motion.

If for some reason you're having trouble chopping out their leg, you can switch to a push sweep, which is very similar to the scissor sweep. Everything is the same, except that you don't chop the leg. Instead, move your head back in line with theirs, so your torso is square on, then slide what would have been your chopping leg backwards. You now have room to use the foot of that leg to push into the side of their knee. Tracing a semi-circle, you're then going to shove their knee straight back, which will knock them off balance, whereupon you can roll through to mount as before.

A common mistake is to try and push the knee backwards right away. That is unlikely to work, as there will probably be too much friction. You need to push the knee slightly sideways first, then trace that arc to get the leg back. They should start to fall as soon as you do that, meaning that gravity will help you initiate the sweeping movement.


  1. Great technique description mate. When it comes to thorough movement write ups you are top of class out of all the blogs I read. Nice one dude. You going to the Bristol Open?

  2. Thanks!

    I won't be at the Bristol Open: if I ever compete again, it will probably be at a submission only. That's a big if, though. ;)