Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 13/01/2016
The classic cross choke from guard starts with a grip on their opposite collar, up high past their neck, getting your elbow to their chest. This can lead to all sorts of attacks and sweeps, but the cross choke is probably the most traditional. However, it can also be tough to finish, not least because everybody is expecting the attack. Make sure you've broken down their posture when you go for this, as it will be really hard to submit with a cross choke if they are still upright and have their arms in place.
It is the second grip that generally proves to be challenging. Jason Scully has a good tip here, recommending that you angle off to help shoot your second arm underneath the first. You're aiming to get both hands together behind their neck: in practice, you are unlikely to get them to touch, but get as close as you can. Suck your elbows in, pulling their head down in the process. Do not flare out your elbows: they can easily defend that by simply wrapping over your elbows and bringing them back together. To finish, twist your hands inwards to press you
There is a handy Roy Dean trick you can try if your grip has slipped down too low to apply the choke. Shoot your arms up straight, aiming to get your thumbs touching behind their neck at the back of their collar (ideally, gripping right by the tag), then pull them back down. Your grips can then progress as normal: don't try to choke with your arms extended. Also, remember to turn your thumbs inwards rather than out (or to put it another way, turn them away from your face rather than towards it. Imagine they've been tied together with a string, so you can't open up any space between them). Turning them outwards will work too, but inwards should be tighter.
There is also the 'palm up, palm down' choke, where your second hand grabs their opposite shoulder. You can then drive your forearm into the neck from there, sliding it into position for the choke. Another Jason Scully tip at this point is to bring your second arm up high by your head, so that if they try to block with their same side hand, you can dig your elbow straight past their hand and into the neck. He again recommends angling off, this time towards the shoulder you're trying to grab. To help that spin, push off your initial collar grip, towards their far shoulder. That connects well with an armbar.
Teaching & Sparring Notes: I think next time, I will teach the classic palm up palm up choke, adding in the deep grip variation, rather than separating them into two classes. Palm up palm up will do for one class, then I can do another class on the palm up palm down variation, as that is quite versatile. I mainly use three, any of which could combine into a class: the basic palm up palm down, the one where you can switch into an armbar by using your legs and the gi tail version. In this class, I tried teaching both the palm up palm up and the palm up palm down. Sort of works, but doesn't feel as efficient a class. I'd rather split it.
I played with those palm up palm down options during sparring, with the gi tail proving especially handy, resulting in a sweep. However, that was against somebody who hadn't seen that option before, so it's naturally going to work a lot better in that situation. Normally he's good at getting his arm there to base and scupper sweeps, but thanks to that gi tail grip I was able to manoeuvre his arm to my chest and trap it there. Directly contrasting spar with my next partner, as I was playing with that Sao Paulo pass, but he was well aware of it as he's the guy that lent me the DVD. He also knows the overhook guard, which is the natural response to somebody trying to underhook from within your closed guard. I reverted back to the eat the belt pass, which I do by grabbing the top of the trousers. However, I hadn't thought about that might dig uncomfortably into some sensitive areas! I guess because either nobody has tried it on me, or I've somehow managed to avoid crushing when I've done it in the past. I suspect the former, so need to be careful with that. ;)
I was able to open the guard a few times in that spar, but forgot the golden rule of not letting them close it again. Good spar, which you can always tell because you're both smiling at the end. Next spar was also interesting, as again I found myself repeating the mistakes I've been making with triangles and omoplatas. I think I'm not using my legs enough to control their posture, particularly breaking it down before I go for the triangle. Grabbing the head isn't enough on its own, so next time I'll try and focus on the set up. Throwing the legs up and then grabbing the head when they're already starting to posture up isn't effective, especially if you've got short legs like me. ;)