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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

06 February 2017

06/02/2017 - Teaching | Open Guard | Maintaining Sitting Guard & Ankle Pick Sweep

Teaching #628
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 06/02/2017

Sitting guard is my main open guard position at the moment (as ever, lots of other names, like seated guard, sit-up guard, cross-grip guard, stiff-arm guard etc). To enter into the guard, grab their same side collar while putting your opposite foot on their opposite hip. Open up the collar and switch to your other hand. If you're greedy and start off with the cross-grip, that may leave you vulnerable to getting passed, according to Xande.

You will be sitting on the floor, one knee up, the other down. Keep your head facing slightly up, puff your chest out and make sure your head is in front of your hips. There should be a bend at your waist (but don't curve your upper body, keep it straight). Grab their opposite collar and make a fist, pressing into their clavicle. Keep that arm straight and stay mobile, aiming to keep your knee up and keep them inside that knee. If they get outside and manage to collapse it, that's problematic, but there are things you can do if they step around the knee (which I'll be covering later).

The basic offence from sitting guard is what Xande calls the get-up sweep, which I first learned from Kev as the ankle pick sweep. Though I prefer ankle pick sweep as a name, the good thing about Xande's term is that it emphasises how standing up is a central part of this sweep, rather than simply driving forwards and muscling them over.

This sweep works from several positions. It can be done from butterfly guard, so links up with the butterfly sweep. Whatever the position, you have a grip of their opposite collar, then your other hand is based behind you. Keep that hand where you can't see it. The only time it should be in view, according to Xande, is when you're going for a collar drag and moving around the outside. You can also go to your elbow: if you lean heavily over that, it can make it hard to them to yank your arm back (a common way to break your base in sitting guard).

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on

From sitting guard, the ankle pick sweep works best when they are moving backwards: that can often happen if they are wary of your grips. It will work if they're on their knees too, when you can follow them up into a sort of combat base position. Either way, get hold of their heel/ankle ((hence the sweep name, which Xande also calls the 'get up' sweep), or potentially the material of their trouser leg (that works better from butterfly guard). Stand up, using your collar grip to direct them to the mat as you pull back on their leg.

Xande emphasises that the leverage doesn't come from trying to muscle them to the ground. It comes from the action of standing up. So, concentrate on getting the grips and then standing, rather than getting the grips and driving forward before you've stood up. Xande also notes that you want to be careful of your momentum, as it's easy to fall forwards if you aren't careful of posture (his analogy is that if you were running and suddenly came across a cliff, you'd lean back to avoid tumbling over the edge). Lean back slightly instead as you knock them down, getting into a secure guard passing crouch, then do a knee cut. Your knee should already be forward and in place, making this straightforward. Not that you have to do a knee cut, any other pass is fine too, but knee cut is probably the easiest.

Teaching Notes: I continued to use that drill for getting used to sitting guard, having your partner lean into you to see if they can flatten you out. The main point with this sweep is the one from Xande, about getting up to provide the leverage rather than trying to push them over with your arm. Another thing to mention is that you can reach inside the leg as well as outside, particularly if it is easier to reach their foot by grabbing the inside. I normally go outside, but that does mean you have to reach too far sometimes: I'll remember to mention an inside grip too next time.

I also added in the butterfly flip pass drill, because it's fun. On that, main thing is to also show the less acrobatic versions (handstand to float past, or simply hop over the leg), as well as emphasising you turn towards the legs, to avoid exposing your back. In sparring, using Paul Schreiner's leg sit pass was helpful, even just as a principle. Sometimes I couldn't get both legs, but squashing one leg led to a pass too.

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