Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 06/07/2016
With the knee cut pass, the basic idea is to step between their legs in open guard, with one leg on the outside. Of course, most people aren't going to just let you cut across their leg, so you'll need to get into a solid position to do it. A while back, Dónal showed me a good option for this, which he in turn learned from his instructor.
First off, you want to get a good grip on their legs, to limit their mobility: grabbing the material by their knees tends to be a good option. Next, you want a grip on their collar. If you simply reach for it, you're asking to get triangled. So, being careful to keep your elbows inside their legs, drive your leg forwards into theirs. Keep driving forward until you can safely grip high on their same side collar (keep your elbow by your knee), pulling them back towards you as much as possible. You want to curl their body, so their shoulders are off the ground. This makes it much harder for them to sweep you.
Drop into a relatively low crouch, legs apart for base. They will probably have a foot on your hip at this point: if they do, your grip will be on the trouser material by their shin. Turn your leg inwards slightly, pressing into their foot. With the grip you have on their trousers, shove their leg down, swinging your own leg backwards, then stepping over their leg. The grip you have on their trousers is important here: you're going to roll your knuckles down so that they are pressing into the shin, straightening your arm. This provides a firm control.
Next, you're going to cut across their thigh (still on the leg you just stuffed with your grip), using your opposite knee. As you do, also be sure to yank them towards that side with your collar grip, again to prevent sweeps. Drop in low, trying to secure an underhook, also keeping your head in tight. To get the underhook, put your elbow on their side, then circle your arm around, rather than diving straight for the underhook. You can also just maintain your grip on their collar, keeping your elbow low.
Either way, it is essential that you have your elbow inside. You don't want them to either be able to bring their arm inside for an underhook, or insert their knee in front of you. If they can manage the knee or the underhook, the pass isn't impossible, but it makes it a lot more difficult to finish. Imagine you have a short steel bar attaching your wrist to your driving knee, which you'll only detach as you switch into the underhook or collar grip.
When you've pinned their leg with your shin, you can switch your grip from their leg to their arm (or even better, just below their elbow) and pull up. To further establish control, you could try shoving your head next to theirs, like in the picture I've included of Xande demonstrating a similar technique. To finish, you'll slide through over their thigh. To secure your position, walk your hips back before you settle (there is a good Mendes brothers video on this), getting your hips underneath them to shove their legs out of the way. That's when you can then solidify your side control.
If you are having trouble cutting across their knee, you can turn that slide into a more horizontal motion, sliding your knee right out. Make sure you have some upper body control when you do that: otherwise you could be presenting them with an easy route to your back. Ideally you'll have an underhook, but if not a firm grip on their same side collar is good too, keeping your elbow right down towards their hip. You don't want them to be able to establish their own underhook and start spinning to your back.
Teaching & Sparring Notes: I'm emphasising that push with the knee and hip drop more, the way I like to do it. Sam does it differently, goes way out to behind the knee, that works too. Sparring with Sam was interesting, trying to use different methods for blocking. I'm still having a tough time stopping the pass, it feels like he gets there faster than I can react. I need to think carefully about exactly what he's doing and what he needs to reach his goal: I've been meaning to do some super-specific sparring for ages, but still not gotten round to it. Right now I've been trying to block with my arm and or leg, but that isn't working. He can still get his hips and knee underneath that, the block isn't effective.
Also, he's been doing a new thing where he gets his shin to the side. Should I be going for the back, spinning out to the side? I need a strategy. On top, looking for mount could be good, especially against people who knee shield. Adamson said he loves it when people knee shield, feeds right into his mount goal. So, I should start doing that more, crawling up the body. Also, the thing de la Riva said to somebody about 'ladder theory', where you're climbing up each rung (ankles, knees, hips) to pass. I think with the knee cut, I often try to jump straight to the hip, giving them space to get a knee in.
Finally, I must keep attempting to not strain, let things go more. It's harder to do with somebody high pace like Sam, but I must keep trying, avoid getting into that agility battle. ;)