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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

27 August 2014

27/08/2014 - Teaching | Open Guard | Maintaining Spider Guard

Teaching #189
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/08/2014

Following the women's class, I repeated the lesson on maintaining spider guard (as it was different people in class from last week). There are three main variants, all of which require you to grab both sleeves: this guard isn't commonly used in nogi for that reason, though it is possible to adapt. You will also normally have your feet curled around their biceps. For the most common variant, put your feet on their same side biceps, pulling their sleeves towards you, then push one leg straight, while keeping the other leg bent. This is intended to break their posture, keeping them off balance.

That is true whether or not they are standing up. There are several basic spider guard sweeps, which begin by pushing one arm out to the side, that work in either situation. You also don't have to push your feet into both biceps. There are numerous spider guard variations, such as pushing into one arm while also hooking behind their same side leg, or pushing into an arm and also holding a collar, which can set you up nicely for a triangle or omoplata.

A second option is to use your knees rather than your feet. While you could use this when they stand, it is more typical to do so when they're sat in your guard, given the obvious point that you've got a much smaller tool to work with when using your knees rather than the full length of your legs. The same sweeps can work here too, except that you're shoving their arm out to the side with your knee rather than your foot.

In nogi, you could grab around the back of their arms, just behind the elbow. In gi, you can grab the sleeves. This is something that you'll see pop up in Gracie Combatives, where it is part of the punch block series. I don't really use this one, but it's an option, and there is a bunch of stuff you can do from here.

The third option, and the one I and Dónal prefer, is known as the lasso grip. Circle your leg around the outside of their arm, so that your lower leg is on the inside, then wrap your foot so that it hooks the outside of their arm. You can then either keep your foot there, or Dónal's option of going deeper, hooking it under their armpit and around their back. That gives you a bit more control over their posture.

In terms of your sleeve grip, it's important to get that fabric as far round the front of your thigh as you can, clamping your elbow tight to your side. Braulio uses the metaphor of tying up a boat at the harbour: to pull their arm free, they have to not only fight your grip strength, but your thigh and your elbow as well.

As before, you don't have to keep both feet against their arms. You can also switch grip on their non-lassoed arm from the sleeve to their collar, slide your foot to their shoulder, or indeed push on the hip. That's useful if you find that you want to create some distance, as well as keep them off-balance. Pushing into their non-lasso side knee is another option to disrupt their base.


Teaching Notes: The tattoo I got after the recent Grapplethon is still healing, but it's healed enough that I felt more comfortable demonstrating this time. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into sparring properly either on Saturday or next week. I added in the point about pulling pistol grips around the knees when you're in the knee spider guard variation. I was also able to briefly run through a few different options in response to questions and stuff I noticed in sparring.

First off, there was the simple scissor sweep. If you know how to do it from closed guard, you can do much the same thing from spider guard. The main difference is that rather than loading them up onto the shin you have across their stomach, you'll be bringing their weight forward with the foot you have on their bicep.

The typical situation is that they are on their knees. You have the orthodox spider guard, with one foot on their same side bicep and the other by their hip. Pull them forwards: just like the scissor sweep from closed guard, you want to bring your elbows right up by your head, to get them as far forward as possible.

This will take their weight off their knees, which means you can take your foot off their hip and chop through their same side knee. Help them over by kicking into their bicep, so that you're pushing diagonally towards your opposite shoulder. Roll through and settle into mount, or possibly side control if they end up too far.

I also very briefly ran through a few passing options at the end, which is basically shoving your knee in behind the leg you want to remove, using that tension to pop your arm free. This will be the last class on open guard until the new theme next month (unless we go for a third month on open guard), so I'll keep it in mind for next time.

One other thing that's important to keep in mind is how spider guard is hard on the fingers. So, if you're drilling spider guard for a whole class, that can get a bit unpleasant. Therefore next time I teach it, I'll try to think of ways to mitigate that. Given the finger strain, I probably wouldn't want to spend more than a week or at most two on spider guard stuff. ;)

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