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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

19 March 2017

2nd Seminar with Neil Owen

Seminar #024
Artemis BJJ, Neil Owen, Bristol, UK - 19/03/2017

Neil began with some simple drills for entering spider guard, starting with feet on the hips. Grab the sleeves, then put your feet into the biceps. The feet should always be doing a different job, one pulling while the other pushes. He also included moving to the knees, back to the hips, then lift them up. A nice, fluid drill to work on getting comfortable with open guard. Neil emphasised curling your foot around their bicep, like you're trying to grab it with a foot-hand. The same is true for the hip: curl your foot around the hip bone.

From there, get used to rotating. This was like the tips Chelsea gave in her seminar (I still need to write up her fourth one, from January), rotating to face the arm, with your outside foot extending straight as the inside leg curls in. To create pressure into the arm, push through with your heel, like you're putting a boot on (similar motion to the footlock defence). There is flexion in the foot too, for controlling the biceps.

Neil progressed to the concept of protecting your week side. By that he means the side where they can move around and pass. If you have a leg on the weak side that you can extend straight, that bolsters your defence. You want to spin so that your weak side is on the outside, your strong side is by them. They can pass around the inside, but they will get swept if you have your legs in place.

If they open your guard, they are passing. If you open your guard, then you're playing open guard. This is an important distinction. Neil demonstrated this idea by going into more detail about what he calls classic guard, getting there from as they try to open your closed guard. He prefers to grip under with his fingers on the collar grip, so thumb on top. Opposite leg on the floor and shrimp, then put your other foot on their hip. He has four points of contact: knee (into their chest), foot (on their hip), hand (on their collar) and other hand (on their same side sleeve).

If they stand, hide your outside foot. Should they grip it, you have their arm in range, which is what you wanted. Your weak side here is the outside, so the foot on that side swivels into the bicep and extends, while pulling down with the collar grip. For classic guard, he doesn't like to keep the foot in their bicep, it is too easy to weave the hand in. He prefers to keep his foot on the shoulder blade, that is much harder for them to weave their hand around.

When you have extended your legs into them all the way, it is hard for them to step around, but they might be able to go back to come off your feet. When they do that and break the connection, you could be in trouble. Therefore keep a little bit of a bend in your leg, as opposed to completely straightening them. The slight bend makes it easier for you to keep that connection between the soles of your feet and their hips/shoulder etc (your collar grip you're using to pull them in will help a lot here, leading into things later).

In terms of passing, should they have four points of contact, you need to remove some in order to pass. For example, controlling their legs, then moving your hips back in order to remove the feet. For the guard player, when you feel yourself losing those points of contact, sit up and press your collar grip into them. Move to the outside with your hips. If they move inside, your arm is strong, but if they move behind, you don't have much resistance. You therefore need to keep moving away to make sure they stay within that area you are strong. Any time there is a pause, strip the grip they have on your knee, meaning you can return to your previous position.

For stripping a grip, think about pushing the wrist over, rather than grabbing their sleeve and yanking. It's the same idea as when you're trying to remove a hook from a loop. Also keep in mind that when you are moving your hips away, they will occasionally try and drive forward. You therefore don't want to simply spin in a circle. If they manage to beat your legs and start dropping in, you can use your sleeve grip to keep pushing their arm away, same as the last time Neil taught us open guard.

When drilling, remember that with more resistance, there will be less space for you. That means the person on top needs to move in close, not giving unrealistic amounts of space. If you lose your grip, frame against their arm, moving your hips back until you can recover a guard. This should be pre-emptive, before they get in close to your hips. Your trigger to shrimp should not be when they have passed the knees and are dropping their weight into your hip/stomach. You need to do it earlier, just as they are starting to pass your knees.

Moving on to a different position, Neil talked about the turtle. He began with a drill where you are in turtle, then you post your outside arm and leg. Roll under yourself into that space, as if you're doing a really tight breakfall on the spot. You want to make a wide circle with your leg. You're reaching for your own butt cheek.

This can be applied to the previous material too. They have passed and are starting to press in. Roll away, swinging your legs through to recover guard. Your body shape is key, to avoid getting put flat. If you do that and they end up in a front headlock, you can do the wrestler's sit-out. Neil's version was a little different, hooking the leg with an arm and then firing out under the armpit.

Yet another option you could try is underhooking when the pressure comes in off the pass. However, that's a risky one, as it is when that pressure is there. Ideally you want to use one of the other options, before the pressure is applied.

The last part of the seminar was from what Neil calls classic guard. Again, you have a collar and sleeve grip, along with a foot into their shoulder (not their biceps). Your other foot is into their hip. Push with the hip foot, dragging their sleeve into your hip. Rotate your hip knee around, to move into an omoplata as you bend their arm around your leg. A typical follow-up is to square up, sit up, then get their shoulder on the ground. That isn't easy, especially if they are bigger than you.

Neil prefers to turn his knees away instead, pressing it to the ground. That makes it tough for them to bring their shoulder off the ground, as well as scuppering their ability to roll through. From there, wiggle your hips out and go to apply the omoplata. Be careful with the omoplata, it's a lot of control on the shoulder. Disentangle yourself with care, their arm and shoulder are very vulnerable. It is not like a choke, where you can just relieve the pressure and you are finished. You have to actively remove yourself from the submission.

Another option is a collar drag, switching your hips and dragging them into the space you've just cleared. Neil prefers to go to side control from there, rather than trying to jump onto the back. Be careful with this one, as it is difficult to hit this technique in sparring without smacking their face into the floor. With drilling, it's best for the person passing to let go of the legs, in order to land safely,.

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