Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Liam Knapp, Bristol, UK - 26/02/2013
As Dónal has been busy with his new baby, the rest of the purple belts have been helping to cover his classes. Tonight it was Liam's turn: he's the most recent purple but has actually been training for longer than both Miles and I, so I was looking forward to what he'd come up with. After Miles took the warm up, Liam moved into several techniques for taking the back.
The first back take was a Marcelo Garcia classic from butterfly guard. The initial grip is important, starting by grabbing their wrist with your same side hand. You'll use your other hand to completely isolate their arm, cupping behind their elbow. This two on one hold will enable you to pull their arm across your body. Lift and kick your same side leg, simultaneously yanking their arm across. Use the combined momentum to shift your hips down to their leg.
They should now be low to the ground and turned slightly away from you. Clamp your chest to their shoulder, reaching your top arm around their back and grip their side, while the other hand bases on the floor. Bring your knee out slightly for balance, then swing your other leg over to establish your first hook. If they are blocking that hook with their arm, that means their neck is vulnerable so you can go for the choke.
The next back take from closed guard was quite different, this time influenced by Cobrinha. Establish a two-on-one grip, grabbing their sleeve with your same side hand, then reaching under with your other hand to grip your own wrist. Thrust upwards to break their grip on your jacket. Maintaining your initial grip, pull their arm behind your head, while also reaching your other arm around the outside. This feels a bit awkward, so it takes some getting use to: you're trying to essentially get your shoulder next to theirs, pulling their arm underneath your body.
After you've got into that odd position, which is already uncomfortable for them, the arm you just reached through is now going to go under their neck and grab their far collar. For them, it feels like they are being both choke and armbarred at the same time, so they will probably want you to take their back at this point. Kick out their knee with your leg to collapse them, then take their back.
When drilling, I found that I kept ending up with too little of Miles' arm. There is another technique Cobrinha uses for that kind of position, when he hooks that arm and gets into a very tight armbar if they turn towards him, but to complete the technique we were trying to drill, I found it helpful to reach close into Miles' elbow. If I could pry that elbow up as I reached through, it made it much easier to bend his arm and pull it underneath me.
Finally, Liam wanted us to play with trapping the arm from the back. He started off with the basic option of shoving their wrist down and bringing your leg over. Thread your leg through, pushing until you can get your foot behind their back, also squeezing your knee into them. There is also Dónal's option, where you bring your hand palm up, grab your leg, then complete the technique. That gives them very little chance to wriggle free.
Specific sparring was from a position where they had already trapped your arm with that method. My groin injury prevented me from practicing sparring when on somebody's back, but I could practice the defence. People weren't going all out for the choke, which made things fairly light and therefore meant things that were working for me probably wouldn't if we were going full speed. Still, I was having some success feeding my arm inside their choking arm to create some space. I was also trying to step on their ankles, in order to immobilise one leg and enable me to step over and hopefully free my hips.
I was finding that I could often free my lower body, which tended to be enough to walk around, get my weight onto them and then free my upper body. However, again at full speed that would have been much tougher, particularly as like Liam mentioned, if somebody can get that over under grip they can still control you whether or not they have the hooks in. It was helpful nevertheless, getting a feel for stepping on the ankles, hip movement etc.
There was then one round of free sparring, where as ever I found myself getting into a half spider guard type thing, adapting to only being able to use one leg properly. I end up pushing against a hip and framing with my arms, trying to maintain distance: against a white belt, that can work the whole spar, but with somebody more experienced, they will eventually pass. I am REALLY looking forward to having both of my legs in full working order again! On the other hand, being forced to play guard like this might help me avoid doing whatever it was that injured me in the first place (though more likely I'll just slip into the same patterns as before. Bleh).
I also had a chance to try Dónal's pass in a live situation. My legs got swiftly entangled and I also got stretched out, as well as Miles' arms framing into my hips (I think). I couldn't bring my hips in close to his to bring my weight to bear and also struggled to shrug off his legs. That ended up with him sweeping me, IIRC. On the plus side, I was able to get into my starting position, so that's something. Either way, it was useful, because I now had something to think about for the next private lesson. :)