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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

03 May 2014

03/05/2014 - Fabio Novaes BJJ Open Mat

Class #566
Fabio Novaes BJJ, Open Mat, Lakeland, FL, USA - 03/05/2014

A photo posted by Can (Jun) (@slideyfoot) on

Today is my last full day in the US for 2014 as well as my last training on American soil for this year. It was really cool to finally train with an old Bullshido buddy of mine, Josh. Back when I was regularly updating my training log thread on there, Josh would often chime in with some good advice.

I was therefore excited at the prospect of rolling with him in person, as I knew he would have lots of pointers (on top of very generously driving me to and from the open mat, a three hour round trip, which was shortly after his mammoth 6hr+ drive down from Atlanta, GA!). He didn't disappoint, breaking down several issues I've been having. First up was a potential solution to my long-running issue with combat base: even better, it was simple.

You've broken their posture, but they have a knee raised. Bring your outside foot in front of their shin, hooking their ankle, then pull it to the open side. You can then knock their leg back, which combined with collar control could provide an immediate transition into an omoplata, moving into the triangle and armbar if you miss that.

Another thing Josh pointed out was that given I frequently go for a deep collar grip, I could start using a collar drag. I've seen that done, but always forget about it as an option: you simply shift slightly to the side and pull them into the space you vacated. If they resist, post your free hand behind you and push forwards to knock them backwards. If that doesn't work either, there's the possibility of a loop choke. Sounds like a good sequence for me to work on, fitting with my current game (though admittedly I don't have much of a game from guard).

With passing I'm focusing too much on driving forward, meaning I miss opportunities to circle around. That came up when I was putting in lots of pressure forward, while Josh had a sort of lasso grip on my right hand. At that point, I should have used my strong position to get that hand free and move around to an underhook pass. Also, if my knee cut is getting blocked, I should slide my hip into them, rather than continuing to shove forwards ineffectually.

On the sit-up sweep, I made a very sloppy attempt during sparring, prompting a useful reminder to bump with the hip rather than leading with the shoulder. Interestingly, under side control Josh recommends putting the foot on the knee: I have always preferred to keep the knee floating and I had thought that putting the foot on the knee made it more vulnerable to footlocks.

Quite to the contrary, Josh said it actually was easier to footlock when the leg is floating. He also noted that by having the foot on your knee, you can use the other leg to help wedge your knee underneath. Be sure to properly shrimp with a turn: I wasn't doing that properly today, sliding sideways, which doesn't bring any advantage. Basic point, but always get on your side! ;)

The usual issue of not attacking enough came up too: I've gotten comfortable maintaining mount, but I keep being to complacent and not moving on from that. Josh pointed out that when I get that high mount with their arms crossed over their face, the arm triangle is an option. Even if I don't get it, that could open up other attacks.

Sparring with Stephanie again was really cool too. She has a dodgy knee at the mo, so we were keeping things on the knees rather than any open guard against standing type stuff, which suits me fine. I got to have a good play with the crucifix entries and attacks I learned at the Dave Jacobs seminar a few weeks ago in Virginia, which was fun.

I managed the entry a few times, but couldn't get her arm straightened out walking my feet up it. She was also careful to tuck her chin to make that bow and arrow style grip difficult. I could perhaps have worked a sliding choke, because I might be able to get away with not going under the chin as much there, so I need to remember to attempt that next time.

There was loads of chatting with Josh and Stephanie too: all in all, a super cool way to round off my trip this year. I will definitely be back in the States, but it might be a coupe of years before I head out again. At the moment, my next priorities are Seattle, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York (the only place in the US that would tempt my gf to give this country another try), followed by return trips to Virginia, Texas and Florida. :)

Update May 2014: Josh's write-up here.


  1. It was a blast training with you! We're working on a UK trip sometime in the next couple of years, so I might be able to return the favor and come visit you sometime in the medium term future!

    1. Awesome! It would be very cool to welcome you onto the mats at Artemis BJJ! :)