Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 28/06/2012
In my first formal lesson of BJJ, back on the 8th November 2006, I learned something called the ankle grab sweep. It's a very basic technique, so most people are going to be expecting it and ready to counter, but it's nonetheless important to have it in your repertoire. If nothing else, by reviewing the ankle grab sweep, you can take another look at both the counters, re-counters and potential follow-ups.
The technique itself is very simple. They are in your guard, in the process of standing up. Before they begin setting up their pass, open your guard on your terms: you don't want them dictating the pace, as they will then also dictate the grips. Slide down their legs slightly, then bring your knees together. Your lower legs will be splayed out, over their hips. Grab behind their ankles (around the outside: that's safer than inside), then drive your knees up and through their chest. That should put them on their back.
It's very important that you don't stop at that point celebrating how awesome it is you've knocked them over. Immediately move through to the mount. Don't try and push straight forward, as that is going to be awkward, slow and liable to leave gaps for them to exploit. Instead, drive diagonally across them. You can either put a hand behind you for base (it will be the hand on the same side as the direction you're moving), or alternatively, grab their same side trouser leg with that hand. That's probably preferable, as then you have both base and some control over their lower body. As you drive through, stay tight with your hips, bending your knees to slide straight into mount.
If they are taller or you're getting stacked, then there is also the option of switching from driving with your knees to putting your feet on their hips and pushing. That gives you a greater range. It might also mean they fall back away from you, in which case you could do a technical stand up instead, then pass the guard.
Almost everyone will just grab your gi jacket to counterbalance the ankle grab sweep. The next option is a little harder for them to defend. I know it as the 'handstand sweep', though invariably there are probably lots of names for it. As they stand, keep your guard closed, wrapping an arm around their same side ankle. You're looking to get the crook of your elbow behind the ankle: for further control, you could try reaching through to grab your own collar. For power, range and balance, put your free hand on the floor, as if you were doing a handstand (hence the name).
To complete the sweep, you need to bring their knee out sideways. Their foot has to be immobilised for that, or they'll be able to adjust and maintain their balance. To turn their knee out, bring your hips sideways, pushing into the inside of their knee. Once you've pushed it far enough so their leg swivels, that should knock them to the floor. Your guard stays closed throughout, opening at the last moment to adjust into mount.
However, that still leaves them a hand with which they can post out and recover. To prevent that, you can cross-grip their sleeve. This is what Xande calls the 'muscle sweep', because their ankle is by your 'muscle' (i.e., bicep). The set up is the same as before, but this time, you don't use your free hand to push off the floor. Instead, you grab their opposite sleeve, thereby both preventing them from posting out, and also providing you with an easy way of pulling yourself up into mount.
The difficulty is due to the decreased leverage at your disposal. Now that you can't use that hand to push up, you instead have to really push into their knee. Make sure your grip around their leg is tight, pulling their foot right to your head. You will also use your grip on their sleeve, pulling their arm way across towards their trapped leg. This is tougher to pull off, but it makes the transition to the top easier.
For both variations, make sure you are driving your hips across into their knee, rather than rising up as you would with the ankle grab. If you rise up, then you'll be going above their knee, which will lessen your leverage. Your hips should be next the knee to generate maximum torque.
BJJGrrl: BJJ for Women
jnp's Grappling Principles
28 June 2012