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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

05 July 2014

05/07/2014 - RGA Aylesbury (Knee Cut & Knee Shield Pass)

Class #578
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 05/07/2014

It's another family birthday, which means I'm returning not just to my family home, but to my jiu jitsu home as well, up in Aylesbury at RGA Bucks. Kev began with a very familiar drilling sequence: it's the same one I've been teaching for several years now, after Kev taught it to me earlier. That begins with them stepping to the level of your hip, then you recover your guard by shrimping and bringing your outside leg over to hook, pulling yourself square on to them.

The next step is to do a running escape type hip swing, although I normally do this from knee on belly; Kev did it from the same position as the previous technique. Useful variation to know, as then I don't have to explain what knee on belly is. Although if somebody doesn't know what knee on belly is, that could indicate they are too new to easily perform this drill. I'm still not sure if it counts as an advanced move or if it is suitable for beginners.

That same question sprang to mind with the new drill (or at least, new to me, as I can't remember having seen it before, though it's entirely possible I've seen it in an earlier Kev class). Again they have passed to the level of your hip. Bring your outside leg over, putting your shin on their near side thigh. That leg is going to stay in place for the rest of the drill.

With your nearest hand, reach to their far leg: you can either hook behind or grab the trouser leg. Raise your hips and swivel, using your shin on their thigh as the pivot point. Keep spinning until you return to a guard position in front of them. You'll probably need to pull yourself across a little with that gripping/hooking hand.

As is common to Kev's classes (and completely alien to mine), he added in a couple of takedowns. Like I've said before, Kev is not only a champion BJJ black belt, he's got a judo black belt as well. The takedown option he showed was directly in response to some typically dubious rule changes by the IBJJF (fortunately there are many other competition companies you can go to, though the IBJJF is influential). I haven't competed since 2007, so sometimes forget the impact that IBJJF rule changes can have.

The one pertinent to this technique is that now when you are being single legged and they have their head on the outsie, you apparently can no longer do the obvious counter, dropping back and rolling them over your head with your trapped leg (in judo, this is a 'sumi-gaeshi', I think). That means that when somebody tries to single leg you, they can feel a lot less in danger if they put their head on the outside than before.

Due to that rule, it means the takedown becomes easier. You start with a Russian grip (I think that's what it is called), where you are grabbing one of their arms with both of yours, a bit like you would in an armdrag. Your first hand is holding their wrist, the other is grabbing higher up and underneath their arm. When you get that grip, they will often pull their arm out.

Immediately drop and grab their leg instead, made vulnerable due to their sudden pulling back of their arm and accompanying shift in balance. Once you've grabbed it with both your arms, reach underneath their leg and grab some marterial, either their gi or their belt. Pull down on that like it was an old-style toilet chain and drop your hips, knocking them to the floor and putting you in a good guard passing position.

Alternatively, if they don't pull their arm away, dig your shoulder in behind theirs (getting the sweet spot isn't easy: it's roughly on the bottom of their shoulder blade on the side nearest to you, I think). Drop your hips and angle your body to knock them down, kicking their supporting leg away to make sure. I had some trouble getting the right angle: I think you're going a little forwards, but I'm not sure.

Moving on to the fun part with groundwork, Kev picked a couple of passes that relate to both half guard and open guard. The first was when they are in a sort of open half guard, with details on the knee cut that would also apply to a standard open guard. Grab their collar and follow it in with your body. You want to make sure you are not giving them any space to insert their knee under your arm as you do this. Also grip their knee and shove it to the mat, driving your own knee over their trapped shin.

On the other side, try to get an underhook: you may have to raise up slightly. The aim is to get your shoulder under theirs, so they can't pummel to get their own underhook. If the underhook isn't there, a good plan b is to drop the elbow of the collar-gripping arm and put your weight behind that. Use your head to push theirs out the way and with your free arm, pull up on their same-side elbow. This is better than pulling up on the sleeve, because if you grab the sleeve, their elbow is still potentially a risk (e.g., they can try to pop your knee off with their elbow, use it as a base point for shrimping, make space, etc). Slide through to finish the knee cut.

If they do get their knee in, you can try Kev's knee shield pass. Grab their collar and pull them in towards you, bringing your other arm around their lower back to block their hips. Step your leg up and sprawl back to pop your leg free (or do you step your leg up after? Can't quire remember). The lower part of the leg that was trapped now swings back (Kev refers to this as a windscreen wiper), pinning their leg to the mat.

From that position, Kev offered two ways to pass. My preference was the first, where you grab their trouser leg and shove it down to staple their legs in place. Shove down with your collar grip too, using those two grips as your base points to then walk around into north-south or side control, depending on how they react.

The other option is to reach through their legs diagonally, gripping the bottom leg to stop them recovering guard. Pull their legs out of your way and pass, without moving your hips too much in order to maintain the pressure.

My sparring today was all with larger blue belts, or at least blue belts bigger than me. I'm not sure how experienced they were, but their levels of intensity varied from fairly relaxed (I think because he was conscious of the size difference) to carefully measured bursts of speed (e.g., one of them tried shooting up their arm to grab mine when I was in mount and my arm came in range).

I was looking for the tripod/sickle sweep combo, as that's what I'm teaching next week. I sometimes have problems applying it because my arm or leg gets grabbed: I either need to consider how best to break those grips without giving them a pass (e.g., if I should do the hook behind and kick one or something else), or adjust to sweep them despite their grips, or indeed something else entirely.

I did eventually manage the tripod, but I need to get better at transitioning to the sickle. It isn't smooth enough on my part, as I'm pausing to think what foot goes where. I should try keeping in mind that whatever leg I've grabbed the heel/trouser, that's for pushing, the other is for pulling. I also need to be changing my body position for the sickle, swivelling my body.

My deep collar grip also keeps getting stuffed, normally because I can't get it in deep enough and/or they swivel their head around. I had the same problem last time I was sparring at RGA Bucks, so that's something to ask Kev and Donal about to see what solutions they try. I'm also continuing to play with the lapel guard type thing, although in my case it is more "grab the lapel and see what they do" rather than any kind of guard. Everything I've seen from lapel guard so far looks way too complicated, so I'll keep playing to see if I can find anything more mechanically simple and with fewer steps.

One thing along those lines is the mawashi grip, but I wasn't able to shove the lapel under their legs before they got deep in their pass. They did have a fairly tight gi, but still, I want to get better at using that grip, as Kev totally killed me with it a while ago. Very effective, judging by being on the receiving end.

I'm repeatedly going for the crucifix when they turtle, since that Dave Jacobs seminar. I started walking back to knock them over, but their base was too good, so they ended up almost just sitting up with me on their back. Squirming around a bit, I got a more orthodox back control instead, but wasn't able to finish, despite having an arm around the neck. Earlier on he was able to pull my arm over his head in one of the classic escape. I'm not sure exactly what grip I had, but pulling up on their gi and anchoring with my elbow seemed to at least hold me in place, which is better than losing the back (advancing to some kind of submission would be better, of course).

I continue to rely far, far too much on wrapping up with my left arm in closed guard. I can tell when I'm doing that, as my arm gets sore and I use way more energy. I need to come up with a better approach to closed guard when I've got someone big and powerful, as holding them down that way is not effective in the long term. Pulling their gi over their back could be one option, or simply be more proactive on sweeps rather than waiting for the perfect position. I managed to do that in a later roll, where again I had someone bigger wrapped up, but transitioned into the windscreen wiper sweep. I think I keep not swivelling my body enough on that, but must have been in the right spot this time as it felt like a smooth roll into mount.

However, once in mount I wasn't finishing. I was able to walk up into their armpits and hold them there, but not much else. I remembered to look for the switch into technical mount attacking for the bow and arrow choke, but couldn't get the handful of gi I needed to launch into that. So, more work required on what to do when I'm struggling to get their arms past horizontal in mount. I guess I could have looked more for the back by walking them over, or that tip Dónal had on moving your whole body around to the other side of their arm then squaring back up to trap it.

Sparring with Kev, I got stuck under his favoured kimura attack from north-south and side control. I went for the wriggling escape under north-south where you then try and swing your legs back over, which almost worked, but I couldn't quite establish the hook. Kev had two points to make on that: first, it's worth going for, though I could also be looking for half guard rather than all the way to the back. Second, although it does take more energy, you should consider whether you want to try for three escapes at 20% effort, or one attempt at a more effective escape at 60% effort. Seemed like a reasonable argument to keep in mind. :)

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