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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

09 May 2014

08/05/2014 - Women's Class This Sunday | Teaching (Grips & Breaking Posture in Closed Guard)

Teaching #151
Artemis BJJ (Longwell Green), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 08/05/2014

Exciting news! The Artemis BJJ women's class (which will be completely FREE) is starting this Sunday, on the 11th May. It will run from 11:00-12:00 at our Longwell Green location. For full details and directions to the gym, head over here. Hopefully I'll see you on the mats!


I was covering tonight, as normally I'd teach on Tuesday, but Donal has a commitment every second Thursday of the month. It therefore makes sense to switch our days when that happens. Something I hadn't considered was that the Longwell Green location has lots of MMA people show up, because the gym we're based at has an MMA program (run by the gym owner, a friendly pro-MMA fighter). That means a lot of people do not have a gi. I therefore couldn't go with the collar-grip based class I was considering.

However, that was ok, as I could simply switch to what I taught yesterday. I had to modify it a bit, given that the grips are rather different in no-gi. I am not entirely comfortable teaching no-gi, but was able to adapt the grips. Instead of talking as much about collar grips (though I did mention them, for the one person in a gi other than me), I discussed overhooks and underhooks. A handy grip to get is underhook then linking your hands over their back in a gable grip. That can enable you to progress into various attacks, such as the pressing armbar.

If they are wearing a gi, a basic but very useful grip is to get a really deep grasp of the collar: you may find it helps to sit up to get that in really deep. As Roy Dean discusses in Brown Belt Requirements, an especially deep grip can help your choke as well as give you authoritative control. Once you have it, that provides three main advantages. Firstly, this gives you great control, as you can pull them down towards you. Second, it could be the beginning of a choke, and perhaps more importantly, it will make them start to worry about that choke rather than thinking about passing.

Thirdly, it means you can establish a collar and elbow grip. There are various attacks you can do from there, the most common of which are probably armbars, scissor and push sweeps. I then suggested double wrist control (emphasising to keep your elbows close to your sides for added leverage), which meant I could emphasise the two main types of sleeve grips: either make a pocket with your thumb and insert your four fingers (rather than putting four fingers inside the sleeve or trouser cuff: that's not only competition illegal, it's dangerous), or get a pistol grip, where you grab a heap of cloth in your fist.

Another grip is to grab their trousers by their knee, the other hand on their sleeve. This again can be useful for sweeps. It also helps to stop them getting a knee into your tailbone, as you can use that grip on the knee to bounce your hips back over their knee. It might also make them nervous, as they'll assume you're setting something up, whether or not you actually are. That’s when they’re liable to make mistakes which you can then exploit to your advantage.

The most basic method of breaking posture is probably pulling their elbows out and then towards you. This is particularly handy if they've got both hands on your hips, or something like that. Using your legs is key here, to help you pull them forwards. This is a general point for the guard: make sure you involve your legs, as they're a lot more powerful than your arms alone.

This is also true if they want to stand. Carefully time the right moment, then as they stand, pull your knees towards your chest. That should knock them back onto the ground. It could also put you in a better position than before, as they may end up falling into you, meaning you can get superior control. Ideally, they'll make the mistake of posting on their hands, as that means you can go for various attacks, like the kimura.

Teaching Notes: Given the lack of gis, I was essentially teaching a semi no-gi class tonight. I think focusing on the underhook grip could be a good option for when I teaching in Longwell Green, as that means I can have a progression there too. At Bristol Sports Centre, I can go with gi grips and my gi progression. In Longwell Green, I could move from the underhook grip into a pressing armbar. After all, that's what Nathan Leverton teaching in his basic nogi grappling system for closed guard, plus I learned another variation recently from Dave Jacobs (though that was butterfly guard).

Jim, who is another MMA fighter, had a number of tips when he was drilling with some of the less experienced people at the gym. For example, when he does an overhook, he reaches through to grab their wrist (I think the opposite one?). Sam was commenting how much he liked that from an MMA perspective, as he still had a free hand to strike. It is basically the same as the overhook guard in gi, though without the choking options. Something for me to consider when I come to teach the overhook guard: I'll have a play at open mat some time.

This class is also slightly longer than the ones at Bristol Sports Centre, with an additional 15 minutes. I have a few options as to what I can do with that, but the main reason is to fit in more sparring. That's what I did, though I might also be able to have a brief 'question and answer' bit if time allows. We'll see how it goes. :)

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