Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 14/08/2012
The writing workload has finally calmed down enough that I can get back to normal training, rather than just teaching. I'm looking to gradually get back to three or four times a week, preferably more, in time for my training trip to Texas in November. The GrappleThon in September should help with that too: if you haven't donated already, click on the widget to the left, or go here for the main GrappleThon team page on JustGiving. Even £1 helps! :D The following two weeks are all about the back. For this class, Dónal showed us a couple of details on how to trap their arm when you're on the back: that's helpful, because it then means you only have one of their arms to deal with, while both of yours are still free. I've seen a number of ways to do that, but Dónal's method was new to me. You will be trying to get a seat belt grip (so, one arm over their shoulder, the other by their armpit, then gripping your hands together, either palm to palm or holding your own wrist). They will normally have their crossed by their neck, in an effort to block your attacks. You should be able to get in at least one arm: over the shoulder tends to be easier. With your other hand, wedge it under their same side elbow, raising the little finger side. Wriggle that under until you have some purchase by the elbow, then lever their arm up. As soon as there is space, bring that hand inside their elbow, grabbing their wrist or forearm, your palm pointing away. Push their arm down, then fall towards your shoulder arm side. Twist your hips slightly, towards your armpit arm side. That should give you slightly greater range of motion in your leg on that side, which you will now swing over their elbow. Swivel your armpit hand so the palm is facing in, then grab your own shin. Bring your leg through their arm, using your gripping hand to help, until you can get your foot to their spine. This should trap their arm securely, as long as you are above their elbow: otherwise, they might be able to wriggle free. From here, you should find it much easier to attack, as it is now two arms against one. If they are grabbing their gi or your arm, you'll need to break their grip before you can go for this technique. You are already holding their wrist with your armpit hand. However, you are having trouble pushing it down because they are grabbing their gi collar. To loosen that hold, wedge the wrist of your shoulder hand next to the knuckle of their little finger: the way I thought of it as like doing a heel hook, but with your wrist taking the place of the crook of your elbow, while the heel is that knuckle. Release your grip on their wrist with your armpit hand, so you can instead chop downwards directly into their wrist. As you chop down, also pull up with your shoulder hand. This should twist their wrist uncomfortably, until the leverage enables you to break their grip and enact the previous arm-trap technique. Even if it doesn't break their grip, you should find that by continuing to increase the pressure you will end up with your arm against their throat, ready to go for a choke (or at least, that's what Dónal did, when I asked what would happen if you couldn't break their grip and he demonstrated on me). If they are grabbing your wrist rather than their own gi, the technique is similar but you'll use a slightly different approach. Lock your hands palm to palm, then again twist their wrist by locking your hands together and levering them up. This is handy, as a very common defence is for them to grasp your shoulder hand to stop you securing position for a choke. It's been about two months since I did any free sparring, so it was good to get back into it tonight. Things kicked off with some specific sparring from the back, where I was practicing the Marcelo Garcia approach to maintaining the back, like I taught a while back. I got the hip extension a few times, until Tony got wise to it and managed to scrunch up.
I think the problem I then had was the separation between my chest and his upper back, caused by the way he was able to loosen my seat belt grip. That meant I couldn't get much control over his upper body, which you need in order to effectively stretch them out to re-insert your second hook.
I also found that while I was fairly happy underhook his leg with my own when he rolled to the armpit arm side to move him back the other way, it was more difficult if Tony successfully got his shoulder side leg out. I probably should have switched more quickly to either technical or full mount as the leg started to slip, rather than being overly focused on the leg lift tactic (which obviously doesn't work if they aren't bridging to put you on your back).
Free sparring started off with Mike, I looked to get into a passing position to start off with. He went straight for his preferred single-leg x-guard, which I attempted to counter by staying low and grabbing his collar to keep my balance. From there I worked on sprawling my legs back and trying to slide over his knee to move into top half guard, underhooking his far arm and then controlling his head first with my elbow, then a cross-face once I had enough base. I felt like I was in danger of being swept a few times (my slight weight advantage probably helped keep me on top), so I need to be careful of giving them too much space for their legs and knees to get underneath.
I finished off with a larger white belt, where as usual when the person is bigger, I stayed very defensive, switching between the running escape posture under side control then into spider guard variations if I could get out of there. I focused on making sure my legs were always pushing on hips, shoulders, arms or chest and my hands were grabbing either collar, arm or trouser leg. I think it was Christina who first advised me that you should always be grabbing something, rather than having an arm or leg uselessly flopping around in mid-air: either way, it's useful advice.
I still need to improve my ability to go to the back from guard. I felt like I was in position, having reached over to secure their lat, but struggled to get the rotation to move over the top. Something to work on: perhaps using my other hand to post? Or work harder to arm-drag, which is a technique I'd really like to incorporate properly into my guard game. At the moment, my guard remains super-defensive, so I'm not taking enough advantage of options like moving to the back.