Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 20/03/2013
For today's lesson with Dónal, I decided to move on from guard passing. The reason I started off with passing is that it has long been one of my major weak areas, which thanks to Dónal now feels much stronger (or at least I have a clear route to take). My other current big weakness is the guard...but my injury won't let me work on that. Therefore I plumped for yet another weak point for me, which is back escapes.
As ever, I was looking for simple and efficient, preferably building on what I already know. Dónal came up with the perfect option, which is essentially a modified combination of what I've taught in the past, namely Xande's variation where he falls to the side and the basic back bridge escape. Those modifications are important, as they make the escape much more effective.
Start off by immediately bringing your knee up on the choking arm side. In one quick motion, move your head forwards and simultaneously shove their head sideways (this is presuming they know what they are doing and have their head tight to yours for control). Look towards them, keeping your head and neck firm in order to stop them moving their head back into place. Push off your leg and bridge back, aiming to get your shoulders and spine to the mat. Angle your choking arm side knee towards the other side, to stop them dragging you back over to the choking arm side once you start escaping.
Due to your body slipping off to the side, they are probably going to try and come on top. To do that, they need to be able to turn their legs down and then away from you. Keep your legs in tight to block them: with your leg back, that forms an effective barrier to their efforts to turn. There are a couple of ways you can do that. The first one Dónal showed was hooking their top leg (if they're trying to turn on top, they'll be on their side) with your near leg. Alternatively, step your near leg behind the knee of their bottom leg and pinch your own knees together.
With your near arm, grab their trousers by their top leg (either by the knee or a bit lower). When you have the opportunity, switch to grip with the other hand, which means you can bring your near elbow down past their body, on the inside. At this point, make sure you've got your outside knee angled towards them, for base like before. Shrimp away, get your near arm back, then turn straight into the leg squash pass position.
I ended up doing it a bit differently when we were drilling, as I like to get control of the shoulder and head. I diverged at the point after you switch your grip on their trousers. Instead of getting my elbow to the floor and turning, I preferred to either reach across their neck and grab the gi, or better, reach under their head, grip the far armpit then lock my shoulder into their head/shoulder.
Either way, I then shrimp away and turn to try and come on top. With your grip on the knee, stiff-arm so they can't lock their half-guard (if they do lock their half guard, this puts you in the opposite side half guard pass position, so proceed from there). Free your leg and move into side control.
The other option is to go to deep half, then do the Homer Simpson sweep to come on top and pass. This starts off the same as before, but the difference is that when they try to come on top, they've been a bit more canny and locked their heel into your far hip. That is going to make it more difficult for you to reach the top position. Instead, shove that leg between yours (either bridge and push it in between, or kick your far leg and swivel it round to trap their leg).
Pinch your knees, also stepping your near leg behind their bottom knee. Alternatively, you can hookin your near leg around the back of their top knee. Shrimp away, then curl your near hand underneath their butt, leading with the back of your hand. Use that to bump them off balance, turning into deep half. Hold onto their knee and turn it outwards, run around with your legs (this is the 'Homer Simpson' part of the sweep), then spin to come on top (be careful they don't underhook your arm, as that's awkward) and pass. I'm not a fan of deep half as I put it in the category of "flashy stuff that is too complex for me", but this is probably the most basic application, so something I'm willing to try.
When you come on top, you can go into a useful knee cut/single underhook pass position, which allows you to go for either pass depending on their reaction. I think that's in the Gracie University stripe 1 lesson on passing, which I should take another look at (also reminds me I still haven't reviewed the guard chapter I bought ages ago, so will have to get round to doing that at some point.
I headed straight over to Jamie's lesson afterwards, which continued the side control escape theme from this week. There was a chance I'd get to practice the back escapes, but then last time Geeza taught a GB Fundamentals on side control escapes, you stopped specific sparring as soon as they were able to turn to their knees, so probably not.