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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

07 June 2015

07/06/2015 - Open Mat | Competition Prep & Shoulder Clamp

Class #648
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 07/06/2015

As anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows, I am not a big competitor. I did it once, way back in 2007. I didn't enjoy it and didn't get much out of it either, so I've not had the motivation to compete again since. However, at the same time I'm very glad I made an attempt, as I think it's good for everybody to give competition a try at least once. I don't think it's something essential for the individual, but I do think competition is absolutely key to the continued vitality of BJJ (something I babble about at length here).

So, I'm really pleased that there are now a few people at Artemis BJJ interested in competing, several of whom have signed up to Roll Models (up in Stoke, on the 5th July. Still only £20 entry at the mo, and even better women compete for free!). I've put up a summary of the IBJJF rules (as that company's ruleset is the most common) on the Artemis BJJ competition page. I'll keep updating that, as my own understanding of the rules needs to improve. I don't yet understand advantages for a start. ;)

Fortuitously, this week is our first MYGYM Bristol open mat, so it was the perfect time to use those competition drills I first saw at Chris Rees Swansea a few years ago. I thought their system was really good. At the end of the class I went to, class was split into several groups of six. Two people 'compete', with two other people acting as coaches, another as ref and finally somebody doing the points.

The drills seemed to be helpful for the students, and they were definitely helpful for me. It was very good practice for my coaching. I think the main point I took away (I made sure to ask afterwards if the coaching was helpful) was that while specific technical tips can be handy if they're in a good position, it's less useful in a bad position. That's because you end up repeating yourself, with things like "make space, get on your side." They are normally well aware that's what they need to do, but they've gotten stuck because the other person on top is maintaining well.

So, in that situation, repeatedly telling them "make space, get on your side" becomes frustrating, as they aren't able to do it. That can either make them irritated, or demoralised. A better approach proved to be the more general things I was saying in those situations, like "stay calm", "keep breathing", "try to keep your elbows in." I'll keep on trying stuff out over the next few open mats, with the same approach I take to refining technique. After all, coaching is a skill that takes time to develop too. :)

There were also numerous questions about rules, which I need to research as I didn't know off the top of my head. If anyone reading the blog has a view, please stick up a comment! :D These are the main two I remember:

1. Can you spam knee on belly for more points, either from side control or mount? I can remember Royler used to do that at ADCC, but I'm not sure if it is still allowed in either that competition or in IBJJF rules.

2. Is technical mount four points, or does it have to be full mount (so, both knees on the ground, they are flat on their back)? Though that's something that might be in the rulebook if I read it more carefully.

Eventually we'll need more space, as today it was 9 people. The studio can hold about 12 at most, after which it starts getting uncomfortable. Downstairs is triple (maybe even quadruple the size), but understandably the rent is also much higher. That will be my next goal: once we get a few more sign-ups, I'll move the first hour downstairs, then both hours downstairs once the budget is there.

In terms of my own sparring, I got in a couple of rounds with Rafal, one of the more experienced guys at the club. We started from closed guard, as again I wanted to work on the shoulder clamp material from Jason Scully's videos off The Grappler's Guide (that review needs an update, as a LOT has changed in the years since. Way more videos, for a start). I got further than Wednesday, but I'm still finding it hard to prevent them slipping their arm out. I was flaring my elbow, but think perhaps I didn't have the angle, as well as not controlling his head sufficiently.

It wasn't unsuccessful though, as the shoulder clamp led into several omoplata attempts. I wasn't able to finish as I failed to get control of his hips before he rolled, but it did put me on top each time. I need to go for the Relson grip choke more, then once I get that grip, I can work to underhook and and go into shoulder clamp. The Relson grip is handy as that means my hand is in the right place to switch into a shoulder clamp with good pressure into the side of the head. Trying the sit up sweep more would be another good idea, as then I could go straight into the shoulder clamp if they posted.

I also tried to go to that 'halfway stage' armbar position Chris and I explored on Wednesday, attempting to then move into triangles. I possible should have worked more for the armbar, as there was too much of shoulder inside, plus they could still defend with a hand, I was square on and hadn't controlled posture enough, leaving me a bit stacked as well.

On top of guard, I'm sticking too long with with the kneeling break. If they're good at breaking your grip and pulling your forward, that puts me in danger. I could switch to pushing into their hips with both hands and see how that works: I don't feel secure with that approach, but it's worth a go. I vaguely tried to stand up a couple of times, but I need to be careful I don't fall into my old pattern of avoiding standing up because of the risk of getting swept.


  1. 1. From my understanding points reflect awards for the progression of dominant positions. You won't keep getting knee on belly points if you opt to drop back to side control in the same way you won't get points for mounting, dismounting and remounting.
    If your opponent makes a defensive action that causes you to return to side control then you are more likely to be awarded another set of knee on belly points when you return to the position.

    If you were looking to spam points you would be better off focusing on your dominant grips from knee on belly and allowing your foot to be caught in 3/4 guard then going for an easy pass

    2. Technical mount is a scoring position, see page 18 of the IBJJF rules for pictures

    1. Cool, thanks Jack! I've been getting lots of good advice from Pippa over on Facebook too, so made a bunch of updates to the main comp page on the Artemis BJJ website. Next step would be for me to jump on the next ref course, so I can make sure the students have got knowledge as current as possible. :)

    2. I can recommend the UKBJJA courses, excellent teaching and a very clear breakdown of the rules. Would prove useful for coaching a competition student even if you didn't plan to referee.

    3. Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, especially as I would much rather give the UKBJJA my money as opposed to the IBJJF. My club has been signed up to it since we started last year, though I'm not an individual member yet (IIRC, if you do that it works out cheaper to attend the ref course anyway?)