Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 07/05/2013
The 2013 GrappleThon went really well, with over £8,500 raised so far: full write-up here, in case you missed it (my donation page will stay open for several months too, if you'd like to donate but haven't had a chance to do so yet ;D). I also decided to finally do something I've been considering for a while and set up GrappleThon.org.
The idea is to not only give me a place to put all my GrappleThon related material, but hopefully encourage other people to set up their own GrappleThons, perhaps even internationally (to which end I also wrote a quick guide to running a GrappleThon, based on how I've done it: obviously not the only way, but may be of some use to people who aren't sure how to start). It would be awesome if one day there were multiple GrappleThons a year in lots of different locations, all raising money for charity and bringing the BJJ community together. :D
I've done quite a bit of work on the knee cut pass with Dónal, as he's taught me multiple private lessons on the topic. I therefore wanted to try and condense that into a class, as I continue to find it useful to teach techniques I'm working on myself. There was a good range of different body types tonight, which is always handy for establishing the important elements of a techniques.
To start off, I tried to teach a basic version of the knee cut pass. Rather than going through the numerous details I gleaned from Dónal and trying the pass out in sparring, I tried emphasise three key details: your initial grip, cutting your knee across and establishing control of the upper body.
The basic idea is to step between their legs in open guard, with one leg on the outside. Although I didn't go into depth on the grips, I did mention Dónal's tip about gripping halfway down their shin, then curling your knuckles down to take out the slack. That makes it easier to punch downwards and pin their leg to the mat. Cut your inside leg across their thigh, then get control of their upper body. I prefer an underhook, though there are various other options: again, I didn't go into detail. Pull up on their arm and shift into side control.
After some progressive resistance, I added in some of those nuances to the knee cut pass. Again, grab low on their same side trouser leg with your shin hand, knuckles forward. The elbow of you other arm stays inside your other knee: drive that into the back of their other leg. Keep squashing forward until it your other hand can safely (i.e., without getting triangled) reach high on their same side collar, pulling back towards you as much as possible. You want to curl their body, so their shoulders are off the ground. This makes it much harder for them to sweep you.
Drop into a relatively low crouch, legs apart for base. They will probably have a foot on your hip at this point, on the side where you're trying to get your shin behind their leg. Turn your leg inwards slightly, pressing into their foot, then swing the leg back and over. The grip is important here: you're going to roll your knuckles down so that they are pressing into the shin, straightening your arm. This provides a firm control. Another grip option is to shove straight down into their ankle with the space between your finger and thumb, trapping their leg under you.
Next, you're going to cut across their thigh (still on the leg you just stuffed with your grip), using your opposite knee. As you do, also be sure to yank them towards that side with your collar grip, again to prevent sweeps. Drop in low, trying to secure an underhook, also keeping your head in tight. To get the underhook, put your elbow on their side, then circle your arm around, rather than diving straight for the underhook. You can also just maintain your grip on their collar.
Either way, it is essential that you have your elbow inside. You don't want them to either be able to bring their arm inside for an underhook, or insert their knee in front of you. If they can manage the knee or the underhook, the pass isn't impossible, but it makes it a lot more difficult to finish.
When you've pinned their leg with your shin, you can switch your grip from their leg to their arm and pull up. From here you'll slide through as normal. To secure your position, walk your hips back before you settle (there is a good Mendes brothers video on this), getting your hips underneath them to shove their legs out of the way. That's when you can then solidify your side control.
Teaching Notes: I like using a structure that has a simplified version at the start, then goes into depth later: if you've read this blog before, you'll know that's how I write my reviews. In the context of a class, that means a basic technique followed by more advanced details. I'm still considering how best to do that, so will keep working on it when I come to teach this lesson.
The feedback from students was that they seemed to like having a chance to practice a simple version first, though I think I could be more coherent in that first section. At present, it was an attempt to teach the technique by chopping out lots of the details, focusing instead on what I thought were key elements: initial grips, sliding that knee across and getting the underhook.
Mike reminded me of a handy little detail, putting your head next to theirs for control. I do something similar for half guard passes, as per Xande's method, but I hadn't thought about its applicability to the knee cut pass. Something I could include next time. He also mentioned I could perhaps emphasise the importance of angle (I think? I may have forgotten, as I'm writing this a good while later: hopefully he can remind me if he reads this ;p).