Artemis BJJ (Impact Gym), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 23/09/2014
Turtle escapes today and as ever, Dónal had some useful drills in the warm-up. To simulate trapping the arm and rolling, reach your elbow back and clamp from turtle, then kick back your same side leg and roll through. For a motion directly related to the technique today, again start in turtle. This time, base on your elbow, then step up your opposite side leg. Kick your other leg through, as if going to half guard. To make the drill flow, swivel through back to turtle, facing the other way compared to before.
Dónal also ran through a simple back take, though I think it may be a little hard on the neck (at least when drilling: may have been something else, but my neck was sore afterwards). Clamp onto their back, squeezing your knees to their hips. Reach in to grab both their collars, quickly pulling back so they can't hook an arm. Roll over their shoulder, then pull them over the top. You'd think that would require lots of strength, but the leverage makes it surprisingly easy.
The main techniques for tonight were some magical Irish ways to escape the turtle. Or at least, they seemed pretty magical: I think I may have seen it before, but couldn't find anything in the slideyfoot.com archives. Normally in turtle, my approach is to stay really tight and basically just wait until there is some space. Dónal's method was a great pro-active alternative. It feels counter-intuitive, but works really well.
Essentially, as they try to move to your side from the front of your turtle, all you do is stick out an arm (your 'wing') on that side, thumb pointing down. Hold it around the level of their hip and don't straighten it. That motion reminds me a bit of how Braulio finishes his running escape, though for this turtle escape, your 'wing' is considerably lower. Also, don't try to wrap up their leg with that arm, keep it straight. By this point, they're already by your side, so single leg attempts etc will likely just put your arm in danger of getting attacked.
That outstretched arm acts as a barrier, preventing them from establishing hip-to-hip contact. As with side control as various other positions, if they can't get their hip next to yours (or alternatively, a knee/elbow/hand by your hip), it considerably reduces their control. You can then do the same motion as in that earlier drill, bringing your leg through to establish a hook. Even better, your arm is already in place to immediately become an underhook, meaning you move right into a strong half guard.
If they are moving to the side from behind you, then a different turtle escape comes into play. The idea is similar, but this time rather than blocking their hip with your arm, you're going to use your leg. Place your instep/shin by their opposite hip: it will be the near side hip for whichever side they're moving towards (i.e., if they're moving to your right, use your right leg to hook their opposite hip). Though you don't have to wait for them to move to your side, as you can move into this position if they're directly behind you too.
Once you have that foot in place, you have two options. The simple version is to swivel underneath, towards the side they're trying to reach, putting you right into a strong open guard. Your knee will already be in place to block them and provide some distance control, then you can back that up by framing your arms and bringing your other leg to bear. The more complex option is a bit higher risk, but you get higher potential reward.
This time, grab their trouser leg on the inside, reaching through your own legs (this is key: if you don't get that grip, they can avoid this technique fairly easily). You can then swing your non-hooking leg over the top, so swivelling in the other direction compared to the previous guard recovery. That ends up potentially putting them right into your triangle, but on the downside if you mess it up, they're now in a good spot to pass.
Sparring started off with a white belt who has a fairly intense style, so I went with my usual approach in that situation, aiming to lock him down from guard (ideally I want to get on top and smother them in side control, but that's not always easy with strong, aggressive training partners). I was able to get the overhook guard, clamping down. I had a look for some kind of sweep (again, that post/posture/leverage idea from the Gregoriades/Dale instructional) or choke, but mainly focusing on containing them inside the guard.
In the second roll, I did manage to get on top, so as this was a strong white belt, I moved into my favourite place in BJJ, a heavy side control. Although he wasn't going full force, when I had that crossface, I felt very comfortable holding them there on top. He was able to make some space a bit later on: as soon as you get that separation between your chest and theirs, side control gets harder to maintain. I tried to switch into scarf hold, but ended up getting rolled over. I moved straight back into guard during the transition, but that's a good reminder to make the switch from side control to scarf hold smoother. Also, I need to make the switch on my terms, rather than letting them dictate the pace by making all that space under side control.