Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 29/09/2012
Normally Geeza would be heading up this class, but he and a large number of students are away at an internal comp over at Roger Gracie HQ. I haven't trained much this week, so wanted to fit in another class. It was also a good opportunity to see how much my injured leg can handle. The warm-up caused a few problems: breakfalling seems to be painful on the one side, and I'm also having some issues with a few stretches. Definitely time to check in with a physio.
Dónal's innovative warm-up drill for tonight was to do with protecting yourself as you spun through into turtle, very useful if like me you're fond of the running escape. From lying on your back, turn like you would with the running escape. As you turn, bring your arm across and put your hand by your neck, palm facing out with your fingers extended. The arm you use is the one nearest the floor as you turn, reaching to the opposite side of your neck.
This is to block them reaching for your collar: if your hand is lower, they will still be able to reach over the top. On the same side as that shielding palm, your other hand swings out down by the hip, so that they can't insert a hook as you turn away from them. It's worth remembering that your knee on that side as you initially turn will need to be tight too, to prevent them getting the other hook in, but in the context of this drill you were already too far for them to go that route.
In terms of technique, Dónal asked the class if there was anything in particular people wanted help with. Luke suggested dealing with frames with side control, though that's also applicable to passing the guard. If somebody is framing into your shoulder, which they'll commonly do in order to create space to shrimp back to guard, the solution is fairly simply. As when somebody is straight-arming into your hip, dip your shoulder towards them. The aim is to put pressure into their wrist, which will normally make them bend their arm.
With the same arm as that shoulder, scoop under their legs and move forwards, dropping your weight into them. Due to that scoop, you should be able to drive their knees together on the other side of the mat. Trapping them with your weight will make it very difficult for them to recover, but be careful you don't bring your weight too low. If you're way down by their legs, they will be able to sit up with their upper body. So, you want to be more towards the middle.
The second technique was some tips on the gi tail choke from side control. I think Dónal has taught something like this before, as I remembered him showing the first part, where you twist your gi outwards to create a rope. From side control, pull out your gi, so that you can bring the gi lapel nearest to their legs over to the far side.
Ideally, you want to get that gi tail right against their neck on the far side. However, anybody with a bit of experience will realise something is up if you're pulling out your gi and trying to pull it around their head. Therefore you'll need to be a bit sneakier. Matty Burn's tip from when I first learned this was to hide the gi in your fist then punch it through. Dónal suggested that even if they do realise what you're doing and bring their arm in the way, you can keep shoving the gi through anyway.
Bringing that gi around their arm will often make them react by pulling their arm free. You can then immediately get the gi tail to their neck before they can readjust their defence. If they keep their arm in place, then they're leaving themselves open to an americana. Once you go for that, they'll probably bring their arm out, meaning that the route to their neck is again clear.
To finish off the choke, feed the gi tail to your other hand, under their head. Move your head to their other hip, either staying low, or bringing your hips up for additional leverage (however, be careful if you do that to maintain downwards pressure into their torso, or they may be able to use the space to escape). You other arm needs to be driving firmly into the other side of their neck as you move around, leading to the submission.
In sparring, I was trying to go a bit lighter to avoid straining my leg any further. Fortunately several of my favorite training partners were there, who I know I can rely on to stay controlled, like Luke and Dónal. I'm still finding myself defaulting to spider guard when I want to keep things light: I'm not sure if that is aggravating the injury, though I didn't notice any twinges when pushing forwards into a bicep.
Berry has an injured wrist, so for that round we did one-handed sparring, like in the open guard drill. It's also a useful exercise, particularly from positions like the back, where normally I would rely more on grabbing with my arms. Only having one hand free forces you to think more carefully about your weight distribution and pressure when on top.
I had a chance to try out the gi tail choke later too, though I wasn't twisting it out, which I should have attempted, rather than just doing the technique like I always do. I did find that lifting the hips was a useful method when I didn't have as good a grip as I wanted with the gi tail, because I hadn't fed it through very far. Being able to generate a bit of extra leverage by raising the hips meant that the shallow grip was sufficient.
Mount continues to be a no-submission zone for me, except for occasional sloppy ezequiels. I'm looking forward to the next fortnight on mount, as I'd like to dedicate my lessons to going for the cross choke. Every time I'm in mount, I find that I'm sitting there maintaining it, often walking an arm up underneath their elbow, but I can never effect any kind of threat from there, apart from the ezequiel (though even that will normally be stunted: I'll get an arm partway through, then stop as the only way I can finish with that limited purchase is force, which isn't something I'm interested in practicing).