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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

04 July 2018

04/07/2018 - Teaching | Open Guard | Maintaining Spider Guard

Teaching #789
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 04/07/2018

I started off with two drills, first swivelling side to side, leg extended on the inside, retracted on the inside (as per Xande and Chelsea). I could then build to the more complex AJ de Sousa drill for the lasso. Switch one leg to their same side hip. Extend your other leg, pulling in their arm on the hip side. You can then circle your hip leg around into a lasso. To switch, your straight leg goes to their hip and pushes, to control the distance. Lasso circles out again into a standard spider guard, extending. Then you pull on the other arm, circling that hip leg back into a lasso.

To put that in context, for spider guard there are three main variants, which require you to control both sleeves: this guard isn't commonly used in nogi for that reason, though it is possible to adapt. You will also normally have your feet curled around their biceps. For the most common variant, put your feet on their same side biceps, pulling their sleeves towards you, then push one leg straight, while keeping the other leg bent. This is intended to break their posture, keeping them off balance.

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That is true whether or not they are standing up. If you are facing straight on, you're at risk of your leg being thrown aside and passed. To counter that, swing your hip out, meaning that you are now more sideways, your outside leg bent, the other pushing straight. There are several basic spider guard sweeps from here, that work in either situation. You also don't have to push your feet into both biceps. There are numerous spider guard variations, such as pushing into one arm while also hooking behind their same side leg, or pushing into an arm and also holding a collar, which can set you up nicely for a triangle or omoplata.

A second option is to use your knees rather than your feet. While you could use this when they stand, it is more typical to do so when they're sat in your guard, given the obvious point that you've got a much smaller tool to work with when using your knees rather than the full length of your legs. The same sweeps can work here too, except that you're shoving their arm out to the side with your knee rather than your foot.

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In nogi, you could grab around the back of their arms, just behind the elbow. In gi, you can grab the sleeves. This is something that you'll see pop up in Gracie Combatives, where it is part of the punch block series. I don't really use this one, but it's an option, and there is a bunch of stuff you can do from here. Another nogi option is to grab all their fingers and use that instead of a sleeve, something Priit Mihkelson does.

The third option, and the one I prefer, is known as the lasso grip. Circle your leg around the outside of their arm, so that your lower leg is on the inside, then wrap your foot so that it hooks the outside of their arm. You can then either keep your foot there, or Dónal's option of going deeper, hooking it under their armpit and around their back. That gives you a bit more control over their posture, but makes it harder to extract your foot (e.g., if you want to switch into an omoplata).

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In terms of your sleeve grip, it's important to get that fabric as far round the front of your thigh as you can, clamping your elbow tight to your side. Braulio uses the metaphor of tying up a boat at the harbour: to pull their arm free, they have to not only fight your grip strength, but your thigh and your elbow as well.

As before, you don't have to keep both feet against their arms. You can also switch grip on their non-lassoed arm from the sleeve to their collar, slide your foot to their shoulder, or indeed push on the hip. That's useful if you find that you want to create some distance, as well as keep them off-balance. Pushing into their non-lasso side knee is another option to disrupt their base.

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Finally, a related position builds off what Neil Owen calls 'classic guard'. Neil also suggests putting your foot into their shoulder rather than the crook of their elbow, as that makes it harder for them to circle their arm free. Instead of pulling on the same side sleeve, he then switches to the opposite collar, while still maintaining his other sleeve grip. Your other foot goes to their hip.

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Sometimes you might find they manage to step in close, making it difficult to break down their posture. In that situation, you could try pushing their hips back with your feet. There is also the possibility of going for sweeps, such as single x, as that works well when somebody is crowding your hips.

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Teaching Notes: Too much for one lesson, so next time I'll miss out the shin on arms one and I won't mention the Neil Owen option either. Those could be in a separate class. Focus on getting the basic spider in, feet in biceps, then swivelling side to side. Point out that the outside leg is bent, emphasising that the other way round it is too easy for them to pass. Then build to the lasso off that (having done the drills in the warm up). More than that and people will get confused, especially beginners.

Braulio's 'tying up a boat at the harbour' analogy is good, that's worth mentioning. Josh made a good point: how do you deal with them just posturing up? I guess pushing into the hip with your foot, keeping their posture down. Too easy for them to stand up if you aren't doing that. But definitely a question I should ask somebody who is good at spider (Chelsea maybe? Recheck the vids too). Also, on the Priit finger grab, mention that you grab all of them, never just one. Important safety tip!

I should also mention about curling your feet around their arm, monkey gripping. Also, must get a better angle on the camera next time, use the wide angle lens with camera in portrait.

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