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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

20 July 2015

20/07/2015 - Teaching | Open Guard | Maintaining Sitting Guard & Ankle Pick

Teaching #358
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/07/2015


Sitting guard is my main open guard position at the moment (as ever, lots of other names, like seated guard, sit-up guard, cross-grip guard, stiff-arm guard etc). To enter into the guard, grab their same side collar while putting your opposite foot on their opposite hip. Open up the collar and switch to your other hand. If you're greedy and start off with the cross-grip, that may leave you vulnerable to getting passed, according to Xande.

You will be sitting on the floor, one knee up, the other down. Keep your head facing slightly up, puff your chest out and make sure your head is in front of your hips. There should be a bend at your waist (but don't curve your upper body, keep it straight). Grab their opposite collar and make a fist, pressing into their clavicle. Keep that arm straight and stay mobile, aiming to keep your knee up and keep them inside that knee. If they get outside and manage to collapse it, that's problematic, but there are things you can do if they step around the knee (which I'll be covering later).

The basic offence from sitting guard is what Xande calls the get-up sweep, which I first learned from Kev as the ankle pick sweep. Though I prefer ankle pick sweep as a name, the good thing about Xande's term is that it emphasises how standing up is a central part of this sweep, rather than simply driving forwards and muscling them over.

This sweep works from several positions. It can be done from butterfly guard, so links up with the butterfly sweep. Whatever the position, you have a grip of their opposite collar, then your other hand is based behind you. Keep that hand where you can't see it. The only time it should be in view, according to Xande, is when you're going for a collar drag and moving around the outside.

From sitting guard, the ankle pick sweep works best when they are moving backwards: that can often happen if they are wary of your grips. It will work if they're on their knees too, when you can follow them up into a sort of combat base position. Either way, get hold of their heel/ankle ((hence the sweep name, which Xande also calls the 'get up' sweep), or potentially the material of their trouser leg (that works better from butterfly guard). Stand up, using your collar grip to direct them to the mat as you pull back on their leg.

Xande emphasises that the leverage doesn't come from trying to muscle them to the ground. It comes from the action of standing up. So, concentrate on getting the grips and then standing, rather than getting the grips and driving forward before you've stood up. Xande also notes that you want to be careful of your momentum, as it's easy to fall forwards if you aren't careful of posture (his analogy is that if you were running and suddenly came across a cliff, you'd lean back to avoid tumbling over the edge). Lean back slightly instead as you knock them down, getting into a secure guard passing crouch, then do a knee cut. Your knee should already be forward and in place, making this straightforward. Not that you have to do a knee cut, any other pass is fine too, but knee cut is probably the easiest.
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Teaching & Sparring Notes: I want to emphasise keeping your head forwards and chest out, along with the Xande 'cliff edge' analogy. I mentioned all of those while walking around during drilling, but could have emphasised it more in the main demonstration bit. To help get people used to the position, I added the butterfly scoot drill to hopefully help establish the move. Also split drilling, with a quick bit of playing with the position first, then into the ankle pick. Seemed to work well.

There were the usual problems with people relying more on a shove rather than gravity after they've stood. I did emphasise the stand a lot, so will just keep doing that. Something else to point out during my initial demonstration is Xande's 'cliff edge' analogy. Handy, as it's a good way of reminding people to cut their forward momentum so they don't fall forwards after the sweep.

Sparring, my koala guard efforts are continuing, but not quite smooth enough. I possibly need to be less willing to jump into it straight away, because currently I've been going to that if I can't get a grip on the collar. Tripod and sickle might be a better one before I try that, as long as I can combine those all together. On a similar note, I was trying butterfly with Ross when he squished down into my guard. Nice passing efforts on his part with the shin trap I taught him ages ago: he just overbalanced a bit on kicking the leg back, so I was able to hit a butterfly sweep. Used shoulder clamp to help, useful for taking away that basing arm.

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