Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/01/2017
It's three years to the day that Donal and I started the club. We're celebrating with a seminar on Saturday. Hooray!
To attack the closed guard, you are generally going to have to break down your opponent's posture first. That begins from your positioning in the closed guard. Bring your hips up into them to take away space, making it harder for them to start opening your guard. Keep your knees up into their armpits if possible, walking your legs up their back when you can. Your legs are much stronger than your arms: make sure you're using both to break their posture.
If they have managed to get their hands on you, the most basic method of breaking posture is probably pulling their elbows out and then towards you. This is particularly handy if they've got both hands on your hips, or something like that. Using your legs is key here, to help you pull them forwards. If they have one elbow digging back into your leg and you can't pull it back with one hand, reach across with both, then yank that elbow back. This could have the added advantage of enabling you to pull that arm to the other side of your body, very useful for attacking.
The same applies if they want to stand. Carefully time the right moment, then as soon as you feel their bum rise away from their heels, pull your knees towards your chest. That should knock them back onto the ground. It could also put you in a better position than before, as they may end up falling into you, meaning you can get superior control. Ideally, they'll make the mistake of posting on their hands, as that means you can go for various attacks, like the kimura. As Jason Scully advises, you don't have to just pull straight towards you: twisting can knock them right into an omoplata, or at worst help you to start creating angles.
If you want to maintain closed guard, then you need to stop them setting up their pass. If they try to pass from the knees, the first thing they normally do is put a knee into your tailbone, or somewhere else on your bottom. The easy way to scupper that is to grab onto the gi material by their knee and shift your hips back over to the middle. That can be very frustrating for the person trying to pass, which is good for distracting them and working an opening to attack. On the downside, it can consume a fair bit of energy, as you might find yourself doing it repeatedly if they're really persistent. Another option is a very simple sweep from Henry Akins, where you just pop your hips over to the opposite side and knock them over.
My favourite option builds on the simple posture break, as I like to weave my hands into a shoulder clamp. When you pull them down, reach one hand under the armpit, the other around their head. Lock your hands palm to palm (this is known as a 'gable grip', clamping down on their shoulder. When the time is right, loop your arm over their head, tightening your grip even more firmly by their shoulder. You can now start to angle off, rotating your hips in the direction of that shoulder, bringing your knee up their back to press their head down. This sets you up for pressing armbars, omoplatas, backtakes, etc.
When they have the standard grips from closed guard, with one hand grabbing your collars by your chest and the other back by the hip, the two-on-one grip break is a good one to try. Gather their sleeve in your fist (i.e., a pistol grip), then your other hand goes underneath their arm, grabbing your own wrist. The positioning here matters: you want to get the sleeve grip with your arm on the inside. With that configuration, you can either punch straight up to break their grip, or angle your hips away slightly.
Make sure that you maintain your grip on their sleeve, straightening your arm. You want to push their arm across their body, while simultaneously pulling in with your knees. The intention is to collapse them on top of their arm. Due to the grip configuration, your outside hand can reach around to their far armpit. Hook your fingers in for a solid hold, then twist your elbow in firmly. Combined with your stiff-arming sleeve grip, that should rotate their torso and make it hard for them to turn back towards you. You can now shrimp slightly away from them, keeping your bottom foot in tight to act as your first hook. Shrimping away may be enough to drop them into back control. If not, use the heel of your top foot to dig into their hip, spinning them into back control.
You can also use that grip break to move into the overhook guard. Pull the sleeve behind your hand, bring your elbow from inside to outside. Reach through for their opposite collar and lock in your elbow, then you have lots of attacks from that overhook guard (overhook choke, triangle, sweep, pressing armbar, etc).
Teaching Notes: I didn't emphasise the keeping your hips up part, or knees in armpit. I'll remember that for next time. I thought the class went really well though, so will follow this format again next. In other words, start with the simple posture break we always drill, then mention how that can become the shoulder clamp instead. After that, talk about the two on one grip, highlighting that it matters which hand grabs the sleeve, as you want to be able to push it across their body.
I didn't talk about the collar and elbow or the deep grip, as that didn't seem to fit as well as the other stuff. However, it's good material, so I just need to think where it is best to show. Maybe as part of a lesson on the deep grip choke, the scissor sweep, something like that which relies on those grips? I'll leave it here in case I want to use it again:
Another handy grip you can establish from there is a collar and elbow grip. There are various attacks you can do with that, the most common of which are probably armbars, scissor and push sweeps. I then suggested double wrist control (emphasising to keep your elbows close to your sides for added leverage), which meant I could emphasise the two main types of sleeve grips: either make a pocket with your thumb and insert your four fingers (rather than putting four fingers inside the sleeve or trouser cuff: that's not only competition illegal, it's dangerous), or get a pistol grip, where you grab a heap of cloth in your fist.
Yet another option is to grab their trousers by their knee, the other hand on their sleeve. This again can be useful for sweeps. It also helps to stop them getting a knee into your tailbone, as you can use that grip on the knee to bounce your hips back over their knee. It might also make them nervous, as they'll assume you're setting something up, whether or not you actually are. That’s when they’re liable to make mistakes which you can then exploit to your advantage.