Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 13/03/2013
Today's lesson was a little different from the others, as it was less clearly focused. This time round, we mostly just did some very light specific sparring on passing to work out some potentially useful additional details. That makes sense, as we've done a fair bit of work on passing already, so a kind of review is useful at this point.
When I was trying to pass in previous lessons, I was having some trouble getting to the starting position, crouched low, grips on the leg and collar, pressuring forward. Lots of people were shoving back forcefully, though that did set me up nicely for the bullfighter pass instead (as Dónal mentioned, higher belts are unlikely to fall into that trap). I should also remember to twist my leg inwards to make it harder for them to push it back. Another key point I'm still forgetting is to grab their collar and pull their shoulders off the floor. This is absolutely essential, as it makes it much tougher for them to sweep you.
The first of many useful tips related to when they pull your arm forwards. If you simply pull back, it will probably be hard because they've got a strong grip. Instead, turn your hand so your little finger and elbow are pointing down. That gives you a far stronger structure, so it should now become a lot easier to pull your arm back.
If you can't get your arm as far back as you would like (e.g., if you want to get your hand back to push on their ankle), use your forearm instead. You can also trick them by manipulating the direction of their force, like you would when trying to clear the arm for a RNC. In the context of passing, you push forward to lift their foot up off your hip, they start pushing it down to counteract, whereupon you immediately switch and continue that push down.
You can then move into the strong passing position, shoving their leg under your thigh to put it out of commission. Similarly, when pushing their knee across your body you can use your forearm. This time it is a matter of efficiency. Pushing it with your hand is less powerful then using your whole forearm and twisting your body. That provides better leverage.
When you're doing the leg squash pass, grip their gi collar with your free hand, don't base it on the floor. Swing your leg up to keep the pressure on their thigh. That collar grip should be relatively low down on their lapel, because that means you can stop them turning away. Lock your elbow by their other hip: they are going to find it tough to turn from there. With the lapel grip, you can just reel them back in.
Yet another good tip relates to when they try for an underhook. They start to get their hand through for the underhook. Trap your elbow against their hip, pressing into their other hip with your own. This should lock the arm in place. Make sure you're manoeuvring them flat onto their back, bringing your chest forward, to stop them shrimping away.
Dónal had a little point on cross facing too. You can just bring your arm into the side of their face, lifting up your elbow. This will work even if you aren't putting your hand on the ground. I'm teaching a class on top side control in a couple of weeks, so will see if I can add that detail in.
Something else to keep in mind: don't focus too much on what you're used to if there is an easier option. The example that came up today was when they have that grip on your arm and sit up. I tried to force half guard as usual to pass from there. However, it uses less energy to just go for the knee cut as usual: when I did it after Dónal pointed this out, it felt like a very 'Dónal ' movement, fluid and natural. Cool!