Bristol Sports Centre, (Artemis BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 05/03/2014
The Artemis BJJ GrappleThon fundraising has almost reached the halfway point of £1,500! We've still got a bit over a month to go, so there's plenty of time to get your donations in (and there's nothing stopping you donating after the event too ;D). If you'd like to help us reach our target of £3,000, the JustGiving page is here. For those intending to take part on the 12th April in Bristol (you would be very welcome!), then all the details you need can be found here.
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Now that we've started our month on mount at Artemis BJJ, I thought the ideal opening technique would be the trap and roll, also commonly known as the 'upa escape'. A typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then their just above their elbow with your other hand. This is the preferred grip on Gracie Combatives. The reasoning is that this grip prevents your opponent from drawing back their arm for a punch.
There are various other possibilities, such as the option I first learned, which was gripping their wrist with your same side hand, then grabbing the crook of their elbow with your opposite hand. That has the advantage of helping you wedge your elbow and arm into their chest, which provides additional leverage when rolling them over. Having said that, you can still use your elbow with the Gracie Combatives grip, it's just slightly less effective as your arm starts further away from their torso.
Whatever grip you choose, you then need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use that for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly to your bum. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. If you feel your control is too loose, slide your foot further across towards the other side of your bum, which should eat up some more space.
Even if they can't post with their leg, they might be able to use their knee, so you want to have their leg as tightly locked to your body as possible. Also, be careful that you don't end up hooking both their feet, or leave your other leg in range of their hook. It is possible for the person on top to defend the escape by securing their free leg by your non-trapping leg. Therefore, try to keep it out of range.
A common problem is that you're having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try using your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range. This is an advantage of the Gracie Combatives grip, as putting a hand behind their triceps puts your elbow in a good position for shoving back their knee.
Yet another option, if their arm is not in range, is to bridge enough to bump them forward. That should mean they are forced to post out their hands for balance, a difficult instinct to ignore. That puts their arm within reach. You can then wrap both of your arms around one of theirs, gable gripping your hands (palm to palm). Suck that arm into your chest, clamping it at the elbow.
To finish, you're going to bridge towards that trapped side. As with the classic side control escape, get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning into their guard. Make sure that you're bridging over your shoulder and turning to your knees, not simply rolling over to your side. If you don't raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back. Also remember to posture up once you are in their guard, as otherwise you might find you put yourself right into a submission. Should they try to base with their other arm, you can attempt to dislodge that by pushing their arm off the ground.
You can still trap and and roll if they bring an arm under your head: simply reach back as if you were combing your hair to trap their arm, then progress as before. Generally when I do this, I like to be able to drive my elbow into their hip and stomach, as I find that helps with leverage. Rener prefers to put his hand right into their hip, at least when he teaches this technique on Gracie Combatives.
Teaching & Sparring Notes: I don't use the upa all that often myself, so I enjoy teaching it as it makes me think more deeply about the technique. I don't think it is as high percentage as my preferred heel drag, but it's still an important escape to have in your toolbox. The importance of trapping their heel became increasingly evident when watching people during progressive resistance and sparring. It was also interesting sparring with Tristan, as when I blocked in the standard way by posting with my free arm above his head, he attempted to attack that arm to complete his escape.
That's not something people do to me often and it's a good tactic. I'll have to explore that in more depth and see if I can add it into the teaching. Something else that came up is the defence for the person on top, where they hook a leg to stop getting rolled over. I think I first saw that pointed out on Gracie Combatives somewhere and it's a useful tip to keep in mind, both for the person on top to try and the person on the bottom to avoid.
I got in some more sparring from mount, where I have the usual problem of not being able to finish very often. On the plus side, I'm feeling more confident about moving up their body and looking for a submission, rather than concentrating 100% on maintaining the position. I need to isolate the arms more, as well as threaten more often with a choke to open them up. I also looked to switch into technical mount and then the bow and arrow, but my training partner was wise to that: I almost managed to take the back, but probably over-committed to bow-and-arrow grip earlier, meaning I fell off into guard. I was thinking too much about putting in my hooks, rather than getting my arms in position to keep me on the back.