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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 January 2016

20/01/2016 - Teaching | Closed Guard | Preparing the Pass

Teaching #453
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/01/2016

First thing I wanted to cover was posture. Stay upright, with your head up. Curving your back slightly, arching it like a cat (so, convex rather than concave), can help too. Don't let them bend your arms: keep at least one of them stiff into their hip. It is very important to control their hips, as they need to angle off to attack effectively. Your other hand is ready to push them down if they attempt to raise their torso towards you, or more typically, gripping both collars and keeping their back on the mat.

Be aware that you don't want to extend that arm too far or they can break your posture: it's also likely that they will primarily be looking to dislodge your arm and gain control of it, so be ready to disengage and then quickly re-engage the grip. Having said that, there are numerous other ways of posturing up, so it's good to experiment.

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For a strong base, widen your knees, sitting on your heels. Alternatively, you could try squeezing your knees to their hips to stop them moving, but that will result in a less sturdy base. Make sure you do not put your elbows on the outside of their legs: keep them inside, or they can start kicking up into your armpit for triangles, armbars, flower sweeps etc.

A key detail is to come up on your toes. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but it provides you with much better base than having your insteps flat on the floor. With your toes up, you can resist their attempts to pull you around. It also enables you to drive forward and improves your mobility.

Another way they'll be looking to disrupt your base is to angle their hips away. To prevent that, you can simply follow them, making sure you keep squaring back up so they don't have that attacking angle anymore. You could also try caging their hips by squeezing your knees together, but that can result in a less stable base.

In order to attack, they are going to want to disrupt your base and break your posture down. The first way they'll probably do that is to establish a strong grip, on your sleeve and collar. You don't want that, so try to strip any grips before beginning your pass. Not to say that it's impossible to pass if they've got grips, but you'll find it easier if they don't.

If they grab your collar, use both of your hands to grab either side of that sleeve or wrist. Push it forcefully away from you, while simultaneously leaning back slightly. If you remember the grip break from the maintaining closed guard lesson I taught a while back, this is a similar principle, but from the opposite position. Another option is to put both your hands on their gripping arm, trapping it to their torso. Posture up forcefully to break the grip. Alternatively, you could try simply re-establishing your grips on their collar and hip over the top of their arms, meaning you can press your arms into theirs. That way, it's possible to use arm pressure to loosen their grips to the point they become less effective.

If they get a grip on your sleeve, then grab their sleeve with your free hand. To break the grip, yank your trapped hand back as your gripping hand drives forward. TrumpetDan has a good video on this, here. I don't generally recommend YouTube, but he is one of the better teachers on there. A simpler option is to circle your hand either inside or outside of their arm, then chop downwards to break the grip: there is a good explanation of that in Beneville's excellent Passing the Guard.

There is also a one-handed grip break you can try, which Xande shows on BJJ Library: he calls it the 'y grip break'. This has some similarities to circling your hand, but this time you circle it underneath their hand, shoving the 'v' between your thumb and index finger into the heel of their hand. Thrust your arm forward forcefully to free your sleeve. You might also be able to use your hand position to grab their wrist, putting you in control and negating their own grip.

Should they get a hold of the material by your knee, grab their gripping wrist with your same side arm and press it to the mat, then kick your trapped leg back. Ideally, as with the previous grip break, this will now give you control of their arm, which you can immediately use to initiate your pass.

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Teaching Notes: Previously I split this into two sections, which I may do again. It is possible to get through all the posture stuff and the grip breaks, but I feel like I might be straining attention spans a bit. So next time, quick demonstration, some drilling, another demonstration, more drilling, then progressive resistance. I also added in both standing and kneeling breaks as warm-ups, which hopefully helps people see the context. Sticking in a passing drill would be good too, like the knee cut that we do a fair bit already in the warm-ups.

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