Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre/MyGym), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 15/12/2014
Taking advantage of the Black Friday sale, I picked up Ryan Hall's new DVD set (one of several on World Martial Arts recently), The Defensive Guard. Judging by the trailer and description, it looked like it would fit in perfectly with my efforts since last November to improve my guard, in this case my open guard retention and ability to block passes.
Due to my old groin injury flaring up, that limits me, but fortunately Hall covers plenty of options that don't require putting a lot of strain through my groin. Specifically, he has a number of sections on the second DVD (I haven't watched the third one yet) where he details how to use your arms as a secondary line of defence. It makes more sense when combined with the leg stuff he covers earlier, but I wanted to focus on the arms. That way, I can still improve my guard despite not being able to use my legs properly at the moment.
I always rip DVDs to mobile compatible mp4, then stick it on my phone. I could therefore show Chris exactly what I wanted to work on, having also chopped up the files I wanted (out of four hours and two DVDs, I cut it down to twenty minutes. It's a good set, but Hall's DVDs could most definitely be edited to a much shorter length ;D). I started off by practicing the shrimp the Ryan Hall way, which appears to basically be getting more on your side, connecting your elbow to your knee to form a shield and keeping space between your feet (he uses the analogy of boxing footwork, where you would never put your feet right next to eachother). That was followed by the technical standup, where Hall emphasises that your head should stay up all the way through.
Chris and I then gradually worked through a bunch of the video clips I'd pulled from the DVD. First there is the stiff arm concept from open guard (or more specifically, seated guard, like what Kev recommended to me in what's become an increasingly important private lesson), locking out not only your arm, but also aligning it with your supporting arm to create the strongest possible structure. Chris was finding that you could just knock their arm upwards to dislodge that grip, but I guess at that point, they are committing their arms to break the grip, so you can dive in for the tripod/sickle sweep combo etc.
If they slip past, Ryan Hall has an 'elbow block', where you are jamming your elbow into their clavicle. That's not to dig it in, but just to create another sort of stiff arm, this time with your upper arm. The same principle then applies, trying to align your skeletal structure. It's also essential that you expand your chest and push your bum out.
If they get past that, then you can grab the belt, or more broadly (as this applies outside of gi or when their belt is loose), put on a whizzer. Other than that, same again, aligning your skeletal structure to create a shield.
Chris found that both of those work best when they are passing low, like it's shown on the DVD, rather than if they are still stood up. In that case, you would presumably go to your primary layer of defence (feet and legs) rather than secondary (arms). As I can't use my legs properly at the mo due to injury, I'm focusing on the secondary layer of defence. :)
Ryan Hall also shows a cool cross-grip type thing where you grab their sleeve, then drive your knuckles into the top of their wrist. It's the same idea Dónal has shown me in a few private lessons (e.g., on the windscreen wiper sweep and knee cut pass). That makes for a really powerful grip that is tough to break, though you need to be careful drilling it. After a while, it tends to make a red mark on your partner's wrist! ;)
More Ryan Hall fun next time. I'll also continue working my way through The Defensive Guard: I haven't started the third DVD yet, where he ties all the fundamental stuff together into some techniques.