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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

14 November 2016

14/11/2016 - Teaching | Back | Clock Choke

Teaching #592
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 14/11/2016

If I can't get the back from turtle and I haven't managed to move into a crucifix, I like to go for the clock choke. I use an 'elbow wedge' variation I learned from my instructor Kev Capel (and he in turn learned it from Felipe Souza, who we both used to train with at RGA HQ).

From the side ride, move from grabbing their arm to reaching through for a grip on their far collar. If the grip isn't quite right on the far collar, this can end up being an air choke rather than a blood choke: avoid being too shallow on that grip. To enhance your hold, there is the option of reaching under their arm with your far arm and opening up the collar, then feeding it to your other hand. Be aware that there is a danger of them reaching back to trap your elbow if you do that.

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on

Either way, once you have a deep grip, bring the arm that was by their far leg to the near side of their head. Use your elbow as a wedge against their skull, giving you a sort of 'backstop' to pull their collar through. Another potential reason it might turn into an air choke is the position of your wrist: if you're finding it's an air choke, try adjusting how much you bend your wrist.

Pressing that arm into their skull produces a fair bit of leverage in conjunction with your collar grip. Increase it by leaning back slightly, while walking your legs around towards their head. Make sure you maintain your weight on their shoulders, or you'll relieve the pressure: Saulo suggests keeping your ribs against their shoulder. This should eventually result in a choke.

Speaking of Saulo, his variation on BJJ Library doesn't bother with an elbow block. He simply leans heavily into the shoulder, locking off the choke by leaning his head across. His other hand is grabbing by their far hip. If he doesn't get it, he keeps walking around, turning them onto their side and circling his elbow over. The other arm goes behind to lock off the choke.

Teaching & Sparring Notes: I'm happy with the lesson structure. I emphasised the same things as normal, particularly keeping your ribs against their shoulder. That seems to get people to distribute their weight in the right place. I also got in lots of good sparring today.

That's because I've finally instituted something I've wanted to get off the ground for a long time now: focused sparring where everyone takes turns, everything filmed. This solves several problems at once. Firstly, I can make sure I get in some good sparring, rather than just hoping it will be odd numbers so I get a partner. Secondly, I get to work on the weakest part of my game, which is open guard. Thirdly, I get a load of sparring footage I can analyse: not only my own, but also everybody else. That means I can see what the guys who have really good guard retention are doing.

The first session of that today, at the open mat after class, was useful. That's because three of the most experienced students were there today, each with their owns strengths I could analyse and experience. E.g., Sam and Hamza both have excellent (but quite different) passing and guard retention, whereas Chris has a game closer to mine (i.e., lots of steady, methodical pressure). Unfortunately I didn't think to show everybody how to use the camera on my phone, so some of the sparring I wanted to look at wasn't recorded, but that's a good lesson for future sessions.

Weirdly, when I look back at how my game has developed, I now feel more comfortable passing open guard than I do playing it. On top, I was having some success, testing out things like going from a knee cut into another pass by pulling the knees across. However, I think I was relying too much on force, as well as grips: I invariably rip the skin off two fingers on my left hand, plus I was out of breath. I'm not sure if the excessive energy expenditure is from passing, or from trying too hard to lift from open guard. Again, video analysis is going to help with all of that.

I'll talk more about this in my post for tomorrow, along with putting up a video, as that's where I did the bulk of my sparring. Tuesdays are going to be a good option for this ongoing, as I get a full hour. Downside is I'm doing it right after a kettlebells session, though on the other hand that could force me to rely less on strength. ;)

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