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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

09 September 2014

09/09/2014 - Teaching | The Back | Crucifix Single Arm Choke

Teaching #193
Artemis BJJ (Impact Gym), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/09/2014

My gf and I headed to Devon last Friday, stopping in at Sidmouth along the way to visit a friend who has moved over from Northern Ireland after 12 years away. Our main destination was Lyme Regis, to enjoy the lovely weather (it was consistently 19 degrees C until Tuesday, thankfully) and a number of events that were taking place. On a totally unrelated note, if you missed it, my Saulo Ribeiro and Fabio Santos interviews can be found here: go read them! :)

[To skip right to the BJJ, click here]

The Guitars on the Beach festival in Lyme Regis was going for a world record attempt for the greatest number of guitarists simultaneously playing the same song (or something like that). Unfortunately it was a bit boring because of the PA system: despite the fact that there were almost four thousands people playing at the same time, it didn't sound any different than one because the PA system drowned it out. But meh, Ian Gillan made an appearance to join in with Smoke on the Water, so that was cool.

More exciting was the 'Food Rocks' festival. I'm very far from a foodie (I have the taste buds and diet of a five year old), but there was an enjoyable series of talks taking place as part of the event. I really enjoyed learning more about tea (I don't drink it) and chocolate (I eat FAR too much of it). The Comins Tea House talk was especially interesting, given that I know nothing about tea as I never drink tea nor coffee. However, I have been intrigued by green tea, as I've heard about the health benefits from Eddie Goldman on NHB News.

Apparently, to make green tea, you should always use 80 degree C water, not boiled: otherwise, it gets bitter. Tea bags are a bit rubbish too, as they're made with the discarded tea dust. That used to be put back on the field as fertiliser: it was only when somebody accidentally invented the tea bag (a merchant who gave out samples in little bags: his customers started dunking the whole thing in their drink and asking for more bags, so he jumped on it) that they sold it instead.

At the chocolate talk from Chococo, I got to try loads of super tasty stuff, especially my favourite, mega dark chocolate. Despite the low opinion the Chococo rep had for mainstream cheap stuff, I like ALL chocolate, so everything tasted good to me (she was trying to indicate that it was cheap for a good reason, but it made no difference to my belly). However, I didn't know Cadburys apparently use palm oil in their products, so that's off-putting. Even Cadbury's Fair Trade stuff is suspect, according to Chococo. Educational day!

Aside from food, we also did a load of walks. The best was saved for last, on our way back to Bristol. Stopping off at Beer (the place in Devon, not the drink!), we headed to an area called The Undercliff. This was formed in 1790, when the original cliffs had a huge landslide. The result was a new area of 10 acres underneath the cliffs. As you can see from the pic at the top of this post, it's gotten rather overgrown in the ensuing couple of centuries, making for an excellent walk with spectacular views. A few hours later, I was packing my gi, ready to teach the crucifix at Artemis BJJ.

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Tonight I wanted to move into a technique I've been playing with since I first learned it earlier this year at the Dave Jacobs seminar in Virginia: the crucifix. My desire to work more on the crucifix is the main reason I wanted to pick turtle as our Artemis BJJ position of the month for September.

Starting from the side ride, dig your near knee next to their hip. You're aiming to shove that as deep as you can behind their arm. Once it is in deep, flare the knee out towards you, which should make their arm available for your other heel to hook. Drag it back over your other leg and use your legs to lock that arm in place. At this point, you've already got a bunch of attacks available to you, but we want to get them face-up.

You'll probably be grabbing their wrist, their bicep, their sleeve or something else with your arm on the near side. With your other arm, reach under their far armpit and grab their shoulder. They could trap your elbow and try to roll you at this point, but that puts you where you want to be anyway. In the likely event they aren't foolish enough to do that, you have a few entries to the face-up crucifix available to you.

The one I prefer is from that Jacobs seminar. Walk your feet back towards their bum, staying low and tight. Keep walking until you roll over their leg, putting them face-up. As you move into that position, make sure that your far arm is hooking back behind your head: otherwise, they can wriggle their arm free without too much trouble, enabling them to turn and escape.

You don't want their weight too far on top of you, as again that can help them escape: if that happens, shrimp your hips slightly to bring them down again. However, you don't want them to slip too far down to the mat, as there's another escape they can do in that situation. So, if they're too far down, scoop under them to prevent that escape.

You're now ready for the choke, which is nice and simple. With your free arm, reach around their neck, aligning your elbow with their chin. Grab their shoulder-blade with the hand of that arm. Put your head tightly next to theirs, then squeeze your arm slightly and drive the shoulder of that arm into their head, as if you were trying to push through it. That should make them tap.
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Teaching Notes: This is the first time I've taught the crucifix, drawing on the Dave Jacobs seminar, along with two of the various instructionals I'm reviewing at the moment: Mastering the Crucifix by Aesopian and a video on the turtle by Nathan Leverton. Since the seminar in April, the crucifix has been my go-to "cool move to show somebody at open mat" position. So, in a sense I have taught it before, but only in terms of sharing it on a one-to-one or one-to-two basis.

I therefore wasn't sure how complicated people were going to find it. Bearing out what Aesopian argues all the way through his instructional, nobody had any major problems with the technique, including somebody whose first ever class of BJJ was with me last week. Still, there were a few recurring errors I'll know to look out for next time. The most common was people ending up too far on the arm, past the elbow. If you do that, it's easy for them to slip their arm free.

Secondly, a number of people weren't getting their elbow all the way around to the chin. You can still finish the choke from there, but it tends to hit the windpipe more than the sides of theneck that way. Finally, and less importantly, some people weren't clamping their head right next to the other person's head. You don't have to do that to finish the choke, but it helps.

I wasn't sure if it was best to go with the crucifix entry I like, which is the walking backwards towards their legs option that Jacobs taught. The standard entry is rolling over the top of them: that's a bit acrobatic for me, but I mentioned it to a couple of people who were semi-jumping to enter already.

A few other points I want to think about for next time (which would be tomorrow, after the women's class) are: sliding the knee in to get their arm free (specifically how to dig in if super tight), the best option for that second grip (I was going under the armpit and around the shoulder, but you could also go for the wrist, the sleeve, the collar etc).

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