Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Study Hall, Bristol, UK - 08/09/2013
Today's session started off with a brief bit of takedowns, as that's what the people I was partnered up with wanted to do. I took the opportunity to play with some of the Rickson techniques I learned at the Michel Verhoeven seminar recently (later that seminar was handy once again, when I was helping Berry with some cross-choke details). As Arnaud pushed in towards me, I couldn't stop him shoving me backwards down the mat. However, if I switched to pick up his leg, he said he couldn't stop his momentum as he overbalanced, enabling me to put him on his back. I still don't have any intention of competing, meaning takedown practice is rather redundant for me, but it's good to have something to work on when takedowns training is unavoidable.
I'm still not happy with my back escapes, so I'm returning to the same techniques as before (which I suspect is going to be a regular occurrence for a long time). Switching to deep half when they go to mount could do with a lot of improvement. Hooking the leg is something I need to time, as if I do it too soon, I lose my supporting leg and can get rolled to the other side. I therefore should get my back properly to the mat first. A few times, they ended up in mount anyway: I then escape from technical mount, but that's not really the idea.
Another area where I'm having trouble is working out when to move to grabbing their trouser leg. In the scenario where they try to mount, that's useful, as it gives me the possibility of doing what Xande does and recover guard. I'd prefer to get on top, but having somebody in my guard is much better than having them on my back.
I took a different route to the usual progressive resistance. Although that is very useful and I do it frequently, it isn't always as effective at pinning down the specific problem, because it can turn into pseudo-sparring. To further isolate the specific training, I broke the escape down step by step, asking my training partner what their reaction would be at each point. That obviously isn't realistic, but I did find it helpful to work out what to do at which point, as well as different tweaks and responses my partner might have.
For example, Berry liked to switch his arms when I turn away from the choking side, which results in recovering the choking side without having to roll them over (as I taught a while ago). To avoid that, I need better control over the arms, which was a general theme over the whole session.
I focused on clamping my elbow to my side, to trap the arm they had reaching under my armpit. I then looked to also control their other arm, by grabbing the sleeve with that same elbow-clamping arm. I haven't yet worked out the best configuration to lock that in place. At present, they may be able to simply free that arm then pull it out of range. Then again, perhaps that would open up the chance of stepping over it with my leg, trapping it that way? Could work as a nice combination.
Another advantage of gripping like that is I'm using one arm to control both of theirs, leaving one of my arms free. I can use that free arm to grab their leg and being my escape, then reach behind their head and grab their far armpit. That puts me in my preferred cross-facing position. It isn't always easy to get, so I also need a Plan B: perhaps dropping my elbow like Dónal, or somehow getting my weight up onto their chest, or indeed reaching across their neck (again like I've taught before).
I don't often train with Nick because he is so big (literally about twice the size of me), but he's also very technical. Going through the same step-by-step process with him, he had various advice on maintaining the back. If you want to put them back over to the other side, press your heel into their hip on that side (similar to what I learned in the private on bow and arrow chokes). When gripping under their armpit, getting the opposite collar grip is going to be the strongest.
Rather than going to mount when they push off one hook, you can also do a very simple flick under their leg with your remaining hook, then walk around to side control. This does depend on how much mobility you have with their armpit arm, though: if they've really clamped it, you won't be able to turn. Afterwards I realised that this is something I used to attempt, way back in the day, but I think I generally got stuck due to that armpit arm. Nice option to have, either way.