Class notes from 2016

22nd December 2016 – Straight Ankle lock basics
The straight ankle lock is a very effective submission that is legal from white belt upwards in adult divisions. Recognition of the components that make it work helps with all footlock attacks. These components are: (a) Isolate and trap the foot, (b) Add a lever, (c) Add a power base.
1. Basic straight ankle lock – main tip one being is to place your wrist bone as low down on his achilles as possible. Use your whole upper body as a lever and your foot placed on his hip bone as the anchor and power source. Arch backwards but you are on your side, not on your back.
2. Across body straight ankle lock, either from double feet placed on his hip bone or from a 50/50 guard position. Same details apply as (1) above.
3. A variation on the hand grips to (2) above sees you swapping to the far side arm slipping underneath his achilles and you form a figure 4 or RNC style grip.

18th December 2016 – Collar chokes from the closed guard.
The closed guard is a great platform with which to attack via collar chokes. today we covered:
1. Basic cross collar choke
1b. As above but with the ‘shave’ to move jawline
2. Wrap-around version of above
3. Both palms up cross collar choke
4. Loop choke/ezekiel after failed version of (3)

KIDS CLASS: We covered grip releases from standing (as a light sparring style of drill). Then we worked scissor sweep from closed guard transitioning to top mount.

15th December 2016 – The Closed Guard
We covered the basic armbar from the closed guard position, then we looked at the high guard armbar, which is much more movement efficient compared to the regular armbar, but does require a more subtle understanding of the nuances of the position. Finally, we looked at a basic sweep from the failed armbar when the opponent is stacking you, if you do this sweep successfully, you should end up with another nice armbar opportunity. The key to playing closed guard is to make it a dynamic position where you are always threatening with a submission or a sweep and staying as active as possible, never letting your opponent settle down.

11th December 2016 – Armbars and breaking armbar grips
The straight armbar is one of the major submission targets that all grapplers must learn. The main reason it is such a vital target to aim for is because that you can find it from all sorts of positions: for example from top mount, closed guard, knee on belly, even from the back position, which was last lesson’s technique.

However one of the main problems that armbarrers encounter is that uke will prevent you from straightening out their arm. To add to the problem is the fact that there are a myriad number of ways uke can grip with own hand or arm or gi. Examples include: grabing own wrist, S-grip, gable grip, grabbing own sleeve, grabbing own gi collar, folding own arms tightly, forming an RNC arm formation…and possibly others, but the aforementioned ones are the most common.

To help identify a method of grip breakage for each type of grip, I taught a three-part principle:
1. Identify the weakest part of the grip, for example with a wrist-only grab, the gap between finger and thumb grip is weakest.
2. Utilise a lever of some sort, usually this is your spare arm, but you can also use your own foot to push away the opposing arm.
3. Locate a power source, ie don’t just use your own arms to pull and tug, use your upper torso, hips, whole body to twist and turn to create more power.

We also covered armbar disciple: the components of your own body position and posture that help maintain control over the armbar.

Kids class: sprawl from double leg takedown

Breaking an RNC style armbar grip using the Ryan Hall style technique

8th December 2016
Back attacks when you are on the ‘weak’ side.
Although the general advice is for you to avoid falling to the side where your arm is underneath your opponent, you sometimes can’t avoid this. And in fact there is a school of thought that suggests this is actually a very good position when attacking for armbars from the back. But you need to adhere to a couple of rules, first, block his head from moving to the mat, second, grip fight to eliminate one, or better still, both arms.
1. Quick armbar from the back. Once you have secured the arm with an over-grip, you need to pivot to a more 90 degree angle in relation to your uke. To do this, you ‘walk’ around your opponent placing your foot on his hip and pushing as you rotate to a better position. Make sure your nearside leg is placed as horizontal high across his belly or he will trap it with his own legs. From here, a quick ‘karate chop’ motion while at the same time swinging your leg over his head will ensure a rough and ready armbar.
2. Slow version involving the kimura grip. In essence all things are the same as (1) above except you have secured a kimura grip on your opponent’s bottom arm. Use this figure four grip to manipulate and direct your opponent to your advantage. It should be ribust enough that he cannot escape the grip. The armbar itself is slower, more controlled.
3. Faking a deep collar choke with your free arm will invoke his far arm to defend. Rapidly shoot your arm the opposite direction and trap his arm with your far leg. His arm is now trapped under your leg. You can now use your free arm to attach his neck, a rear naked choke is a good choice, as is a traditional cross collar choke.

4th December 2016
Ezekiel from the back.
The ezekiel is a useful attack when you find that your opponent is preventing you from gripping his lapels (which is a requirement in order to execute the bow and arrow or other collar based attacks.)
We covered two versions of the ezekiel: the first is the traditional version where you use the blade of your hand to pressure the neck artery. The second version relies on your arms to form a triangle shape. It is a lot more powerful, although does require a tweak to the way you orientate your body and arms in relation to your opponent. American grapplers Ryan Hall and Seph Smith are notable in using this ‘arm triangle’ style for ezekiels and other related submission attacks.

Kids class: we covered escape from a ground headlock. In this version, we used our arms are a frame and when extending opponent’s head away, we then swung our legs over his head and locked our feet.

1st December 2016
Bow and arrow choke. When you have back control, the bow and arrow is a very high percentage go-to move.
Three versions of the bow: (1) regular version (tip: extend your legs to achieve more power when pulling for the submission.)
(2) Speed version: dive using your hand as a spear to reach for the near leg and hook it over your hand and then forearms.
(3) Power version, useful if you feel they are stronger than you, place your shin and knee between his head and your body and apply as with (1) for extra power.

27th November 2016
Getting to back control from side mount.
This movement uses the exact same step and spin movement as with knee on belly. It is best used when the bottom person attempts to turn to face you and escape using an underhook (his far arm reaching under your armpit). It’s a common way to escape side control. But , by turning to face you, he presents an opportunity for your to spin round and take his back. Tips: keep pressure and weight more or less on top of his upper body, otherwise he will escape while you spin around. You should end up with seatbelt grip and your shin lying flush to his backside in readiness to take full back control with both your legs around his front.

Kids class:
Self defence technique – defence to a rear hair grab, overwrap the near arm and clasp your own hands – this causes his arm to bend at the elbow, continuing the motion of your hands upwards will result in attacker’s arm to rotate beyond normal shoulder limit and cause the tap.

20th November – Knee on belly – strangulation attacks

The knee on belly is a great platform to launch attacks on the limbs (as per previous lesson) and the neck. The easiest of these ‘chokes’ are the cross collar choke and the baseball bat choke. Despite being ‘simple’ chokes, they rely on good posture in the knee on belly in order to be successful.

1. We began drilling the side control to knee on belly to top mount transition. It’s a fundamental movement that is worth repeating again and again. From knee on belly we also moved into a scarf hold. All the major top control positions together (side/knee on belly/mount/north south/scarf) are intimately connected to one another and good BJJ players are able to switch from one to the other as and when required.

2a. Cross collar choke attack. The first grip begins when you are in side control and does not move. Your second hand feeds into the nearside collar lapel and moves up to his neck. With the arm from your first grip, elbow loops over uke’s head. Important tips: bring uke’s head to you, rather than your body to him. Another important tip is to keep your own elbows tight to your body, watch they do NOT flare outwards.

2b. Your attempt to loop your elbow can be blocked, or even earlier in the process, trying to feed your hand into the lapel can be blocked. You still have the option to execute a ‘dirty’ choke, using your forearm like a razor to give your partner a shave across his jawline, before clamping your grip into gi material and cross choking as before.

3. Baseball bat choke. Starting from side control, grip the collar at the neckline as per (2) and pop up to knee on belly. Feed your free arm to the far side lapel. Important tips: your first arm acts as a barrier, it does not bend. Your second arm is the one that bends at the elbow. Pivoting your body AND adding downward hip pressure squeezes his neck tighter and tighter like a tourniquet. If uke blocks your pivoting movement, you can use the knee, that was on his belly, to drive through the remove the blocking arm or hand as you pivot around.

Kids Class
Side control switch to scarf hold, switch back again.
Set position – holding side control on your partner as they try to escape.

17th November 2016 – Knee on belly
Knee on belly is a top control position that offers a lot of attack and transition opportunities. It is a point scoring position in its own right (2 points under IBJJF system). If you already have effective side control, but feel that moving straight to mount or north south position is at risk of escape, then knee on belly is a great option.


1. Side control to knee on belly v1, the high pressure version. From a very tight side control position and shoulder of justice in full effect, drive your knee over his ribs and land it on top of his solar plexus. Keep that pressure on tight on all areas, it’s easy to get excited and rush the knee drive and forget to hold the head. Continue from here driving your knee until it travels fully across the torso and lands on the floor. Once here, move your lower leg (known as the windshield wiper motion) until it is flat on the ground and you have full top mount position.

2. Side control to knee on belly v2, the pop up method. From the same tight side control, grip one hand onto his waist trouser, your other hand makes the small adjustment from your clamped hand grip on to gripping his gi collar or shoulder material. Once secured, pop up into the knee on belly position.

3. Maintaining knee on belly [see photo]: feet the balls of your foot on the ground, ensure no gap between your instep and his body, your shin is placed across his lower torso in a diagonal, your grips must pull up (as if you are folding his body into a V shape), keep your stance at 90 degrees and your other leg away from his reach, do not posture too high or elevate your hip, in fact, crouching into a lower posture adds to your stability and you can react to his escape attempts faster. If uke rolls one way or the other, you can to some degree resist by transfering the emphasis of weight with your knee on belly.

4. Drill: shifting from one knee on belly side to the other in response to uke rolling towards you. Meet your knee to your own knee and there will be a moment when you are riding on top of uke’s body before planting your foot down to take knee on belly on the other side.

5. Knee on belly attack: nearside armbar: from a high side position, drive your knee into his chest area, so it’s still a knee on belly but your placement is slightly further up his torso. Grip his tricep, pull up, insert your shin under his armpit, step over his head, drop back down for an armbar.

6. Knee on belly attack: far side armbar: one of the most common reactions is for uke to push your knee as he does not want the discomfort to continue. Reach under his arm, drag it close to your body, step around his head for the farside armbar.

13th November 2016 – North South position
The north-south position is a very effective pin down and platform to launch attacks.
1. Move to NS from side position. Most important part of the movement is to block uke’s nearside hip with your arm. Your head should ideally be placed at uke’s hip level, while your own hip is pressing down on uke’s face, to force him to turn his head sideways. A good way to orient your arms is the over/under, ie one of your arms goes under his armpit, the other arm goes over his shoulder. Once here, you lower your hips, sprawl backwards (but not too far back), your head planted firmly into uke’s body and keep you elbows tucked in. You can grab his gi.

Holding North South position

2. Paper cutter choke aka bread cutter choke (see 24th July side control). This version is performed from NS position, which is arguably better than attempted from side position since you have more space to grab the collar under uke’s armpit.

Paper cutter choke

3. Kimura from NS position. This technique requires you to focus on the ‘over’ arm ie not the one you are placed under his armpit. Hug this arm tight as you rotate uke’s body onto his side. Your own inner thigh and knee forms a barrier to prevent him rolling to his back again. You need to literally sit on his head and pin it to the floor. If uke is gripping his own gi to delay you working the kimura, use the spring tension concept to release the grip. Another method is to violently shake his arm up and down.

Kimura from North South

KIDS: Escape from rear bear hug over the arms / Escape from front bear hug over the arms. In this version, as it was a younger class, we merely dropped stance (I called this ‘strong legs‘), and pushed away from attacker, we did not do the throw portion of the escape.
We also looked at the Back Control position, mainly the seatbelt/harness grip and keeping everything tight so you cannot be shaken off (Crazy Horse).

10th November 2016 – Modified scarf hold as a platform to attack
1. To ensure that modified scarf is robust enough as a holding position, you need to ensure all aspects of the pin are tight and stable. It is very important the bottom person’s nearside elbow does not drop down to touch the ground. This lowering of his elbow and shoulder allows his far side hip to rise and then initiate an escape. We looked at the four corners principle applies when trying to pin a person to the floor .
2. Your balance is also key to good modified scarf, if you lean even just a small part of your upper torso backwards, the bottom person can capitalise on the leverage and escape. Make sure your elbow and hips are pulled in tight to uke, almost like you are using your ribs to crush into uke’s ribs. Keep your head low, to make it harder for uke to form a frame against you. Keep your legs spread out wide, this forms a wide base, not only to prevent being toppled over, but also so you can push off your foot to increase pressure. Keep pulling up on that tricep!
3. By lifting uke’s arm up even higher – almost like you are rolling him onto his side – you are in readiness to attack in any one of a number of different ways. Even just stepping your foot over uke’s head is a great attacking position. But, today, we recapped our nearside step-over armbar. Make sure to square up your hips in order to make space for your shin to slot into the gap between you and uke’s armpit. When you lie back to straighten the arm, lie so that you are close in line with uke’s body, almost as if you are lowering yourself onto his body like lying down on a bed!
4. A very common defence that uke will try to do when you are in high modified scarf hold is for him to push you away from his farside arm. When this happens, you can release your grip in his tricep and attack with an Americana. You’ll need to step almost over his head in order to keep his nearside arm tight – it’s still a worry that he’ll drop his shoulder/elbow to the ground in order to escape. To make sure that Americana is sink in good, you can switch your base to face his feet.
5. We looked at transition from modified scarf into north south position. Which we’ll examine in closer detail on Suunday.


Top person shows good modified scarf hold while bottom person is trying to form a frame against top person.


6th November 2016 – Scarf hold options
The modified scarf hold and cross side body position are two positions that are easy to switch between. Handy for when you require a little mobility when applying side mount pressure.
1. Drill, from cross body side mount (aka 100 kilos) to modified scarf hold switch into reverse scarf hold.
2. Shoulder pressure discussion (aka shoulder of justice). From cross body side mount, the regular shoulder of justice applies pressure which forces the face to turn away from you (known as cross face). This is useful as it prevents the bottom person from turning their body to face you and escape. Another way to utilise the shoulder is to drop it lower, onto the sternum, then redirect it upwards towards the chin forcing the jaw to tilt back and applying pressure into the neck artery. This action opens up the person and allows you to naturally transition to full mount position.
3. From a fairly low modified scarf hold you are in danger of being reversed. But you can take advantage of the gap under his armpit to hop up into a step-over straight armbar.
4. Similar to (3) above, but your modified scarf is much higher and tighter on your opponent, there is no gap between his armpit and your body. Pull up his shoulder and arm, then step over his head, with his arm trapped, you can ease back and apply the straight armbar.
5. Reverse scarf hold, the best use of this position is to use it as a route to take full top mount. Make sure to shift your base back as high up into his armpit as possible. If he blocks your assisted step through, you can grab his hand and form a kimura grip. Keep hold of that grip, shift your legs from reverse scarf into regular side and then into regular scarf hold and apply the kimura (photo).
KIDS CLASS – Standing when inside someone’s closed guard. Jump up and shake to open guard and enter knee slice position, reach up and hug uke’s upper torso, slide out other leg and take top mount, finish with aeroplane arms. We also trained gi grip breaks (sleeve and collar grips).

4th November 2016 – Reacting when in top mount
The top mount, as with any other position, is best viewed not as a static pin, but as something more fluid that moves and flows into other positions as and when the need arises. Modified mount or technical mount is one such transition off from the regular top mount.
1a. Drill – bottom person attempts to push your chest with their arms to prevent your low base, you must swim one arm at a time in between his arms, then base your arms out far and wide. This is a popular kids class drill but still very effective even at high level adults.
1b. Drill – bottom person attempts hip escape and while doing so, top mount person switches their leg position so one knee is on the ground and one knee is high. Your heel and lower leg locks in tight to bottom person’s stomach area to prevent him rolling forward to escaping between the gap of your foot and his lower torso. Your other leg, thigh, groin and lower stomach act as a wall, against which he cannot roll to his back. Drill this one side, back to top mount then drill the other side. Start slow then get faster.
2. Collar lapel choke from modified mount and your arms are in the harness/seatbelt position.
3. Straight armbar from modified mount
4. Kimura grip (figure four grip) into Gift wrap knuckle choke from modified mount.
The kimura grip is very effective especially in nogi BJJ. From this position you have armbar and kimura attacks, in addition you can transition to full back control.

30th October 2016 – Top Mount attacks
Despite the positional dominance of top high mount, some BJJ players feel that the number of submissions available to them is limited, especially so when bottom player defence is tight. Once in high mount however, there are a number of good options to try in addition to S-mount->armbar and gi strangles:
1a. Mounted triangle. The key to this technique is to find a way to isolate one arm in between your legs. The quick and simple way to try this is to pin one of uke’s arms to his chest as you swing your leg over and under the back of his head. A good tip is to try to execute the triangle submission when still in top mount position. You can of course roll to your back, this could however provide a chance for uke to escape.
1b. Another entry into the mounted triangle is when uke underhooks your leg in order to try to escape. You use this as an opportunity to swing your leg under his head without needing to pin his arm.
2. Gogoplata. If you can do a mounted triangle, you can do a mounted gogoplata. The conventional version relies on you placing the instep of your foot onto his throat while trapping his arm on your same side – the submission occurs when you reach behind the head and grab your own foot and extend. This places a lot of constriction on the neck artery. The version we practiced takes advantage of the same as (1b) above when uke underhooks your leg. If you are fast, you swing your leg not behind the head as per mounted triangle, but in front of his face and placed onto his throat/side of neck. Careful not to let go of his other arm otherwise he’ll escape and put you in a bad position.
3. If uke’s elbows are simply too tight to open for a high mount, you can use your chest pressure to force his arm across his body. From here you reach under his head and grab his wrist. This is known as the Gift Wrap, aka Gracie Gift. From here your uke cannot defend on one side and there are many options afterwards. One of which we practised which involved inserting your hand, forming a fist, and creating a submission by pressure into the neck artery.

Kids class: O goshi (hip throw).  Set piece sparring from top mount.

27th October 2016 – Maintaining Top Mount Position
The top mount in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best positions to be in, however it can be awkward to maintain this position against a person frantically trying to escape. A good game plan for the top player is to progress their position to a high mount which is far harder to escape from.
1. Drill – maintain top mount (without submissions) on partner who is bridging and shrimping. Movements you can use include: raised hips if they bridge, switch to technical mount if they turn to one side, if they push with their arms, you can swim through and base out low. Keep your feet tucked in tight to uke’s body to prevent the trap and roll escape.
2. Drill – maintain top mount without any grips or basing out (place hands on head) while partner tries to escape.
3. Moving from low mount to high mount – base your posture low and place one arm beneath uke’s head, apply shoulder pressure which should force uke to defence by raising one elbow. Use your ‘spider fingers’ to crawl upwards and force open his elbow. Move your knee into the space where his elbow was (see photo). Repeat on the other side.
4. High mount to S-mount. The high mount is great for dominance, but with all the arms crowding the region where you wish to perform a collar choke or ezekiel choke, it can be awkward to try to submit using such submissions. Use the fake collar choke (or ezekiel) to force uke to raise one arm high, which allows you to insert you knee as close to his ear as possible. Your other leg switches position so that your foot is placed next to other side of uke’s head. Your hips face uke at an angle. From here you can continue to force a collar choke which can then transition into a straight armbar.

23rd October 2016 – More side control escapes
The theme today was the use of seeking an angle before attempting to escape from underneath side control.
1. ‘Superman’ style escapes (4) and (5) from previous session rely on your lead arm punching through a gap under the opponent’s armpit. This acts both as a lever and a thrust and allows your body an angle with which to escape efficiently. It is highly recommended that when you perform the ‘superman’ movement, that you end up flat on your stomach, before transitioning onto both your knees.
2. In the situation where your opponent has locked you in so tight that you cannot escape by regular means, you may be able to try the ‘jailbreak’ escape. In this scenario, your nearside arm reaches underneath your opponent to grab your own foot (the leg that is farthest away from opponent). Place your foot in between both uke’s legs and use this as a lever to push yourself out of side control and into a butterfly guard.
3. The sit-up escape has been made popular recently by grappling legend Marcelo Garcia. Here, you use your nearside forearm as a brace against uke’s neck and upper shoulder, at the same time you swiftly sit up and scoot backwards. It is an escape that requires a more nuanced level of sensitivity and timing, as well as a better understanding of the angle and leverage involved. We drilled this today just as a point of principle but we’ll explore this in more detail at a later stage.

Everyone drilled set position side escapes for an extended period.

Kids class: more double leg takedown practice. We then moved onto side control escapes – this time in a set sparring context which is also a basic introduction to full sparring.

20th October 2016 – Guard retention and side control escapes


Underneath side control is without doubt a terrible position to be in, especially with someone who knows how to exert strong top pressure. It can often feel like there is little you can do to escape. But it isn’t possible for him to control every part of your body, and there in lies the clues to the tools you need to escape..

1a. Prevention: the moment when uke begins to pass your guard is the moment you activate your guard retention techniques – we will cover this in more detail later, but for today, we drilled two fundamental guard retention movements: the step over movement and the granby roll.

1b. If guard retention fails or is too late, you have to watch out for uke cross facing you. Form a T-Rex arm and use it as a barrier to his arm.

2. If uke does secure side position and holds you with cross face, your first action should be to start framing away from him using your arms. Dynamic hip bumps are needs to create space. Rotating your forearm helps to lever uke’s face up and away from you.

3. Basic knee in and re-guard

4. Near arm underhook: hit under his armpit hard, get to knees…or (more advanced) work for a guillotine/anaconda/brabo choke.

5. Far arm underhook – slide your hand and arm under his armpit as you scissor your legs and end up on your stomach. It seems weird but more effective than posturing too high.

6. BONUS: Americana from underneath side control.

16th October 2016 – Bent arm escapes, the kimura
The kimura attack is arguably one of the strongest of bent arm attacks. The reason being the figure four grip by the opponent is very hard to break free from plus the range of motion required to effect the tap is much smaller than, say, the omoplata or Americana. Therefore it is vital to identify then your arm is under threat and nulligy it as early as possible.
1. Kimura attack from inside closed guard. When uke sits up to execute his hip bump sweep while also attacking with the kimura, you need to raise your own hips high. This acts as a wall against which he cannot complete the sweep or the kimura. Another way to block his hips is to push on his hip as he raises. In fact you can combine these two actions for an effective block against this attack from the closed guard.
2. If however the kimura does get locked on when you are inside closed guard, your  first objective is defend your elbow by sneaking your hand to the inside between uke and you. Then you must narrow the gap between your elbow and your hip. To do this, you move your hip towards your attacked elbow and apply as much weight pressure as you can. So far you have prevented the kimura, with a bit more practice, if you grab your own hands and angle your body correctly, you can even apply a counter attacking kimura in the process.
3. Kimura attacks can occur from many other positions. The side kimura is a common attack when uke is attacking the arm farthest away from him. Since you are pinned down under his weight and he is applying the kimura grip, you must move your leg upwards to meet your hand. Your hand then grips the inside of your thigh. This is a strong position that will delay the submission but it won’t last forever. With your free arm, reach underneath uke and push his arm away from you, at the same time you are aiming to wedge your knee (ideally the bottom one, but the top one can also substitute). With the knee wedged you can drive it through to break open his kimura grip, immediately shrimp away to escape into a butterfly or knee shield position – uke will inevitably attempt to take side control once his kimura attack fails.

Kids class: double leg takedown from an aggressive bully. Double ankle sweep when back is on the ground and person standing over you. Grip breaks, wrist breaks, lapel collar breaks, escapes from neck hold.

13th October 2016 – Bent arm escapes.
Omoplata, kimura and Americana are submissions involving your arm bent at the elbow and the whole arm rotating beyond the limit of normal shoulder movement. The further your elbow is away from the side of your body, the harder it is to defend and the easier it is for uke to apply the submission.

Omoplata escapes
The omoplata is a common submission often included as part of an attacking combo eg armbar + triangle from the guard. As with the other submission escapes escaping as early as possible will make your job easier:
1. Survival mode – upright posture the moment you feel under threat, grab your belt or inner thigh for stability. Alternatively, immediate forward roll to escape. However, most reasonably skilled opponents will anticipate these simple moves. Hence…
2. Going over uke’s body (knee step over, jumping or cartwheeling over). This relies on your legs being free to move, if uke grabs your pant to prevent this, you can still do the move, but you need to first thread through your leg farthest away from uke.
4. Going under uke’s body. This is the same movement as escape from turtle position. You need to move your knee furthest away from uke in towards his body. You are seeking to roll underneath his centre of gravity.
5. Rolling away from uke – the normal forward roll is easy for uke to prevent, rolling from one shoulder to the other however is more effective and does not involve your jumping or leaping into the air.

Americana escape
Americana can be applied from side position or from top mount.
1. Prevention – soon as you see uke attacking for Americana, keep your elbows tight against your body.
2. If he does isolate one arm and pin it to the ground, he can’t execute the Americana unless he gets his second hand involved. Close the door by pinning your own arm flat to eh ground (raising your hip slightly helps).
3. If he does manage to get his second hand into the Americana and just as be begins to form the figure four lock position, there is a chance you can still withdraw your exposed elbow and bring it tight to your side.
4. Once uke is fully committed to the Americana, if you bridge hard while pushing under his armpit or at the tricep, this forces his weight off you allowing you to extract your arm and at the same time find space to shrimp out of his top mount. This escape can also be applied when being Americanaed from side mount.

9th October 2016 – Defending and escaping from the triangle submission (when you are in their guard).

The triangle choke relies on several actions in order to become a successful submission: The first requirement your opponent will need is to have one of your arms between his legs and one outside. The second requirement is for him to lock his legs into a figure four configuration. The third requirement is to break down your posture. Finally, the submission is completed by squeezing the legs, pulling down the head while at a slight angle to you. The following escapes are in order of triangle progression, from early interception to last gasp escape:

  1. Arm and posture awareness. The moment you feel uke setting you up for a triangle attack, posture your torso as erect as possible. Even if he manages to lock his legs it will be very hard to bring your head down. Seek to remove your trapped arm too.
  2. When a triangle has progressed a little further than (1) you will need your hands and arms to assist you in posturing. There are two methods, the first relies on hands placed on the opponent’s hip. The second method has you grabbing at his knee. In both cases you must be disciplined in protecting your elbow. Posture upwards and push downwards. Uke’s legs should pop open. But if they don’t, you should still be able to swim your free hand in between his legs, rendering the triangle null.
  3. When it is too difficult to correct your posture, you will now need to escape by working on the angle of your body in relation to uke. This escape relies on your trapped arm elbow recessing backwards as far as possible. Ideally it should touch your own thigh. Your free hand reaches over uke’s body to grab far lapel or shoulder. Hop up to your feet as you drive forward and pivot your body in the direction of your protected elbow. The result causes ukes legs to unlock. Continue to take side mount position. There is another escape [not taught] that uses a similar mechanism in which you stand up and step over uke’s body, generating both leverage and torque to open uke’s legs.
  4. There are many other triangle escapes. This one is used either as a last gasp desperate attempt to escape or it is a sneaky bait and trap used to counter submit your uke. When the triangle is locked but you still have movement of your trapped arm, grab the gi lapel, stand up, grab the back of ukes gi pants and lift up high. This causes uke to be stacked in an uncomfortable compressing position. At this stage you can push on the gi lapel to force a painful submission. Be disciplined with the pant grab, his hips must be rendered immobile by your grip.

Kids class: escape from a standing headlock (forward rolling version), escape from a headlock on the ground (get onto knees version).

7th October 2016
Defence and escape against a straight armbar attack.
The straight armbar is a common submission and when applied fully, causes pain and hyper extension of the elbow joint. Tap and tap early once the arm is fully straight and you cannot escape. However, armbars require a degree of setting up, hence the warning signs are present in the build up to the submission, long enough for you to prepare and defend. Here are the most common options:
1. Basic survival mode: clearly it is instinct not to allow your arm to straighten, hence grabbing your free hand is the first and obvious choice. There are a number of hand grips you can use, none of them will last long and only delay the inevitable. A longer laasting defensive grip is to grab your own collar lapel. Again, it only delays the inevitable submission from occurring. Your real aim, is to escape.
2. The crossed arms defence and escape. You cross your arms like you are waiting impatiently for a bus to arrive. This arm configuration protects the vulnerable arm. Your free hand underhooks beneath uke’s leg. Swing your own legs in a way that enables you to get up on your knees. Posture so you are putting all your weight into uke with your head directly over and above uke’s head. Sit with one knee down one knee up. Proceed to ‘stack’ your opponent. Wriggle your arm out.
3. The push knee escape. This relies on you crossing your own arms just like (1) but for whatever reason, your free arm cannot grabunder uke’s leg. Instead, you can simply grip on the pant material at uke’s knee line and push the knee off your body, over your head. As you do so, bridge and then shift your body weight to land on top of the freed leg. Continue to shoulder walk until as much of your own body weight traps uke’s leg, now rotate and face uke. You should end up in his guard.
4. The hitchhiker. In this scenario, your arm is not protected by crossed arms or hand grip and is very close to straightening out. As soon as you can, rotate your arm so the thumb points outwards (like you are hitching for a ride) and at the same time, your elbow also rotates away from the fulcrum. As you do all this, you have to walk your body round in the direction your thumb is pointing. Keep walking until you come up onto your knees. Extract your arm if it still remains entangled with your partner.
5. Escaping armbar from the closed guard. In this situation, you are in uke’s closed guard and he then transitions into an armbar. Raise one knee up and one knee one the floor, your free arm underhooks beneath uke’s leg, lean all your weight into uke, head over head and stack him as (1) above. Wriggle your arm out.
6. Escaping the inverted armbar. Here uke’s weight is on top of your arm, both of you are facing the floor. It is a situation that could have arisen say when uke was originally in your back position, or another route would have been as you flipped around defending one armbar and the inverted armbar then became available to him. The defence requires you to rotate your attacked arm’s hand so that you place palm flat on uke’s belly/chest. Pivot your body so that you have to climb/jump/leap over uke’s body. You should end up in a position where no armbar is possible and easy to extract the arm.

2nd October 2016
More defences and escapes from under the mount.
There are multiple dangers from being underneath mount. You have to protect your neck from strangles while at the same time preventing your opponent from travelling further up your torso into high mount. Your fundamental escapes – the hip/elbow escape (using framing and shrimping) and the trap/bridge/roll should aim to be your go to moves. However when uke bases his arms out wide, the regular escapes become far harder to do, so there is a riskier alternative:
1. Hip Push Escape – place your hands on uke’s hips or belt and bridge high while also pushing opponent up into the air. When your hips go back down to the ground (but not the opponent’s weight) insert one of your knees into the gap. From here a variety of options exist, but the most simple one being to lever your shin to force uke away from you (a similar motion to what is effectively a butterfly guard).

2. Underneath mount, you are always at risk from a variety of neck attacks. We practiced hand placement options that serve to block, fend off and deflect the attacker’s choking movements. The earlier you block the attack, the better, hence, not allowing him to obtain that first grip on your collar is important. If the first grip is established, then it is vital to prevent that second hand reaching in and grabbing your other collar. If two collar grips are sunk in, there may still be a slim chance of escape, usually by pushing at uke’s elbow and forcing yourself out.

3. The high mount is a dangerous position to find yourself under. From here uke can pin you with out much fear of you bridging or shrimping out. One method to escape from here is to cross your arms and shoulder walk away from him. Your uke will hopefully be shoved back down into the lower mount position. Not great, as he is still in mount, but better than before.

4. A riskier option is the back door escape (see photo). When uke has high mount, with your straight arms you push under his armpits (to force him to lurch further away from you) and quickly raise your legs high into the air and place them under his armpits. The action is basically like performing a backwards roll. Crucially, it is not your legs that pushes uke away from you, but you must use your hands to grab at his torso and shove him away (or any available part of his body). As you ‘roll’ over your shoulder, by popping your head free from the position, you have effectively escaped high mount. Advanced versions of this technique will have the escapee transition immediately into leg attacks. However, this move is risky because by using your extended arms and by inverting, you are more at risk of a counter attack that could leave you in a worse off position.


Kids class: O soto gari.

29th September 2016
Escaping the mount position. Before we drilled our mount escape, we recapped last week’s escapes from the back position, but on this occasion, we know that as we escape, the opponent is already seeking to take mount position. Using this scenario, we examined the concept of ‘framing‘ as part of ones defensive structure. Whenever trying to defend and escape, using ones body parts to form a defensive frame is a vital tool. Very common and simple frames are formed using your bent leg and the shin forming a barrier, or positioning your arms together like a picture frame and ward off the weight of your opponent. Framing is part of a wider concept where you use your skeletal structure to form buttresses and props to strengthen the position you find yourself in.
Moving on to actual mount escapes – the low mount is where your opponent sits directly over your hips. This is where you can utilise your bridging movement as part of the escape procedure:
1.  Bridge to unbalance, turn to one side of your body and shrimp enough so you can extract your bottom leg (just the knee is fine). Quickly turn your body to the other side and repeat the leg extraction. More than likely you will find yourself in an open butterfly position, your shins and knees form an open frame against further advancement from your uke.
2. Trap and roll, this requires you to trap one of uke’s arms. This escape is probably best used when uke first sinks his hand in to collar choke you, however you can also trap his arm by bridging and forcing him to base his hands out on the floor for balance. The trap and roll also requires you to trap one of his feet. A strong high elevation on your bridge will topple your uke and you will end up in his guard. Be disciplined in how you posture once inside his closed guard.

25th September 2016
Escapes from back attacks – in the previous session we looked at the fundamental escape for when someone takes back control with either a non-control grip or via the seatbelt grip. Regardless of the grip position, danger from either a lapel choke or rear naked choke or arm bar is always present so protecting those parts is of utmost importance (chin down, shoulders up, elbows in). The same fundamental ‘hip/elbow escape’ movement can still be applied when the back attacks become a lot more aggressive:

  1. Escape from a cross collar choke – you should aim to grip his arm very high (one grip at his shoulder, your other hand grips at his elbow) and pull down which will buy you time as you hip escape away and turn in to face your uke
  2. Escape from a bow and arrow choke – almost exactly the same as before, but you need to release the pant leg grip. Applying the escape as early as you can increase your chances, a late stage bow and arrow choke is incredibly hard to defend or escape from.
  3. Escape from a rear naked choke – as well as pulling his choking arm down to buy some time, guarding against his second arm moving in to apply the full RNC is vitally important. As you do so, you can use the same hip escape and turn to face movement as with all prior escapes. If the second arm does sink in, it might still be possible to hip shunt to one side as you turn to face him and escape – but your percentage success is greatly diminished.
  4. We finished off by looking at the body triangle. When the opponent has their legs triangled around your lower torso, it is both painful and constricts your ability to breathe properly. It is usually applied so tight that obvious escape might seem impossible. That very tightness can also be your savior, in that when you roll to one side, his own legs are effectively trapped under your body weight. Ideally one needs to roll over to the side where his foot is tucked under his leg (there are escapes for the other side too). While it is possible to execute a painful footlock here (no harm trying), it is better to focus on disentangling his triangle locked foot position and hip shifting away. As before, always guard against his arms and hands which will be seeking lapel or RNC submissions.

Kids class: side breakfalls, side control with cross face knee across belly and then take top mount and hold (aeroplane position). See if bottom person can struggle free.

22nd September 2016 – Survival – Defence – Escapes…from back control.

Within the hierarchy of positional dominance, back control is, along with top mount, considered the most valuable of all positions. There are a number of attacking options from here and the person defending must protect both their neck and their arms at all costs. While protecting these areas, they must also attempt to move and shift in a manner that (a) prevents attacker from transitioning to another position and (b) allows the defender to find an escape route. Beginners will find that these most basic fundamental survival and escape moves are used time and time again throughout their jiujitsu career when sparring and competing.
1. Basic hand positions when you have your back taken – you must block collar grabs and neck control. There  are several ways to place your hands but the two basic methods are either crossing your arms over each other or, the so-called ‘home alone‘ posture.
2. The hands don’t have to remain glued to your head, they can move up, around, down or wherever they are needed (for example if attacker tries a sneaky nose-bar), but they must never flap around aimlessly. I used the analogy of the old pop song/dance craze of Vogueing (see photo below) where you slide your open hand around across your face and head!
3. Head position. You must keep your chin down, ideally touching your chest bone. The wall of protection is further enhanced by raising your shoulders. Combined together, your neck begins to disappear as a viable target for the back attacker.
4. Your body position in relation to the attacker. By shunting your body upwards towards the head of your attacker, your centre of gravity is displaced higher up. Raising your hips then allows you to efectively pin your opponent with the weight of your upper body onto his chest. It’s not a long lasting pin, but enough to transition to escape mode.
5. The hip escape #1. When opponent has no specified grab on you, or perhaps he has both hands around and under your arms, you can pick either left or right to hip escape – actually it’s sort of a hip bump combined with a hip escape (shrimp). Do not simply flop or roll to one side, this does not change the back attack position, and certainly do not face away from your opponent. Instead, think of it as a side direction hip shunt.
6. The hip escape #2. the most common grip position the attacker will have on you is the seat belt grip (aka harness grip). The basic escape here is the same as (5) but you can only really direct your escape to one side – the side where you are trapping his arm which is under your armpit. There is also the more impending danger of his top arm reaching for a submission strangle so you need to grab his arm and prevent this from happening while trying to escape.
With both (5) and (6) above, the most obvious and easy position to end up in is side control.

This basic hip bunp/hip escape movement is a fundamental component to escapes from the back against a wide variety of attacks. On Sunday we’ll see how it is used against a cross collar choke from the back, a bow and arrow choke and even against the rear naked choke.

18th September 2016
This session we turned our attention to being in the turtle position and finding effective methods to escape. More importantly, to escape and then move in to an attacking position.
Escape 1: Sit through when opponent grabs around your waist and is faceing you head to head. Tip: if you elevate yourself before performing the sit through, your uke will drop down to the ground with greater force. It makes for a more effective escape and allow you time to spin around to grab his back.
Escape 2: Still using the sit through, you can also perform this escape even if uke is to one side of you. In this case, you may prefer to opt to spin the other direction so as to face him. Be careful not to dawdle, a slow sit through from this position could give your opponent your back more readily than if you made more of a surprise escape. Another option, using a variation of the sit-through, is to alter your body angle and aim to re-guard into closed guard.
Escape 3: In this case, uke has reached over your back and under your torso. A very simple yet very high percentage move here is the trap and roll escape (see photo). Make sure you trap above his elbow and make sure your outer knee moves deep underneath your own body before you perform the rolling move. Once rolled, immediately prepare to seek an effective side mount position eg by shunting your seated body towards his armputs, otherwise you might possibly end up upside down and with uke grabbing your body.
Turtle tactics: we looked at where to place your arms, more specifically your elbows, when turtling. Against an aggressive attacker who tries to lift you and slam you to the ground to open you up, it is often best to maintain the tight elbow touching hip bone placement.
Another option to use when turtling is to shift your weight and use your far leg as a prop to force some pressure onto your opponent when he is to one side of you. Opening yourself up in this ‘safer’ manner allows you to seek opportunities to re-guard.
Rolling a turtle over: our final technique looked at a less invasive method to attack the turtle, here, top person uses his own knee placed tightly against near side leg of his uke, grab his farside hip and roll him towards you. Do not roll over the belt line, ideally, roll in the direction of his shoulder or towards his backside, which are paths of lesser resistance.

Kids class: trap and roll escape from turtle position

15th September 2016
Attacking the Turtle position. The turtle position is a common position in BJJ, often used in desperation as a result of an opponent successfully passing their guard, or successfully defending against a leg based takedown, it can crop up almost in any scramble between two grapplers. Althought tactically weak, the turtle position can still prove frustrating to attack if the person is clamped in tight and unwilling to give any space.
Drill 1: Top person spins round on the top of turtled partner, making sure to always apply weight and keep their hips close to uke.
Drill 2: Same spin but uke will at their choosing, attempt to re-guard.
Attack 1: Clock choke, this basic gi based attack requires uke to use a little knuckle power and finger crawling under the uke’s chin in order to reach and grip on the collar lapel. His other arm can reach for the gi lapel underneath uke, but that tends to over-commit the arm, so a very good alternative is to over-grip the forearm. From here, clock choke can be achieved if you place pressure on the back of the head/top of the shoulders, while your own head is placed on the floor and your torso walks slowly to apply the torque needed for the tap.
Attack 2. Your arms are basically committed when working the clock choke, so to ensure you have more control over uke, it is wise to engage your far leg knee and insert it into the gap between his armpit and thigh, just under the ribs. Use your knee to push out his arm. From here, scoop his arm with your free leg and sweep it backwards. Clamp your knees tight. Lower your hips as you raise your feet for an inverted straight armbar.
Attack 3: Often uke will bend his arm to avoid the straight armbar and bu hooking his arm around your front leg, you can trap it between your knees and roll over uke for a crucifix. In the classic crucifix, you can pull on the collar lapel for the choke. your other hand is working to prevent uke using his spare arm to defend. An S-grip grapsing his forearm is suitable here or you can use the classic hand behind your head position.
Attack 4: There are multiple transitions and other attacks from crucifix, but a simple and easy one is to abandon the collar choke and arm grip and work the RNC. I also demonstrated the rolling omoplata if uke bends his arm the other way.

11th September 2016
Stand-up. Unless you are already a highly proficient judoka or wrestler, most BJJ students will only need to rely on a smaller repertoire of take-downs borrowed from those two combat arts. In the previous session we explored the basic leg sweeping techniques from judo, this session we looked at the level changing takedowns more popular among wrestlers:
Takedown 1: Collar drag. Two hands are placed on the same lapel collar and a very forceful ‘snap down’ action is required to pull uke down to the floor while you yourself take a step back. This is very similar to the collar drag from butterfly/seated guard (18th August).
Takedown 2: Same two hands on one collar grip, as you pull uke towards the floor, he resists and plants a foot forward to avoid falling, from here you can reach down and perform an ankle pick takedown (whichever is the nearest foot to you).
Takedown 3: The fake guard pull to ankle pick is a devilishly neat trick popular with a number of elite champion players (see Gui Mendes and Augusto Mendes). you need to be quick to transition from placing foot on uke’s thigh, removing it and stepping back as you reach down for the ankle pick. Timed correctly, it forces the uke to instinctively react to the guard pull by standing upright to counter.
Takedown 4: The double leg takedown has a number of variations, but they mostly all share the same fundamentals: deep penetration with the knee of your lead leg, a level change, cupping around both uke’s legs, driving your body forward as you do so. A crude version of this, while still effective, will be to continue driving forward forcing uke to flat flat on his back. A better variation will be to direct uke sideways as he loses balance. Another variation, the low double leg takedown, involved you hooking your lower leg around uke’s ankle, in effect, tripping him over a you drive forwards.
We also drilled our basic sprawl technique for when uke is executing a double leg takedown.

Kids class: double ankle sweep on the uke  who stands up in your closed guard. Technical stand up to follow the sweep.

8th September 2016
Stand-up. In BJJ competition, all bouts begin standing up. Therefore it’s important to gain at the very least, a rudimentary takedown game. Judo is the sister art to BJJ and many throws, leg trips and takedowns work perfectly when taking the fight to the ground.
Throw 1: O soto gari – big outer reap – an effective leg trip that lands you to the side of your landed uke, thereby avoiding the necessity of passing guard.
Throw 2: O Uchi Gari – big inner reap. Uke can tend to land in front of you with legs open so  a speedy guard pass might be necessary following the throw.
Throw 3: Ko Uchi Gari – small inner reap. We drilled it where your uke performs a big step forward and presents to you his leg for sweeping.

Judo throws are complimented by effective guard pulling techniques:
Guard Pull 1: Plant your leg on uke’s hip – the same side as you are holding his sleeve grip. Then sit down into a closed guard. Although a basic technique, it is probably the most popularly used still. Advanced variations on the guard pull can include pulling into guard systems that attack the standing leg with foot locks, 50/50 guard, x-guard and other positions.
Guard Pull 2: Plant your leg on uke’s thigh – on the side where you are holding the collar. The foot acts as a blockade against uke stepping forward and, as you sit down into your guard, his posture is broken. Be aware of the counter since he has a free hand available on that side of his body.
Guard pull 3: This time we are gripping on the same side of uke’s body – eg if your left hand grips uke’s right sleeve, then your right hand grips uke’s right lapel. The two grips make for a very powerful pull down one side of uke’s body. Place your right shin across uke’s hip as you sit down and you’ll find uke ends up in a straight armbar position.


4th September 2016
Further exploration of the lasso guard…as with many other positions, your opponent will more than likely attempt to escape or otherwise react to your attempts at sweeps and submissions:
Technique 1: Opponent stands up when you apply the lasso guard. Switching your free hand to grab the collar lapel instead of the sleeve cuffs allows you to continue breaking uke’s posture. From here, with your other foot placed on his hip, you can perform an overhead sweep (aka balloon sweep). Important tip: before completing the sweep, make sure your opponent’s head is directly over your head, this is a handy marker for positioning yourself beneath his centre of gravity. If the overhead is a bit too difficult, you can of course sweep uke off to one side and maybe even still take top mount after.
Technique 2: Opponent tries to prevent being swept by sitting with one knee high, other knee on the ground. If the high knee is the one on the lasso guard side, you can try the de la Riva (dlr) lasso guard, where you insert your lasso foot beneath his leg. From here it requires a collar lapel grip and a bit of hip shifting to move into the right position. Use your free leg to catch his shin as you sweep him over. It helps if, like the previous sweep, you attempt to bring his head forward towards you, thus ensuring you are more beneath his centre of gravity.
Technique 3: A more straightforward way to access the omoplata from lasso guard is to release your lasso hand grip and grab his tricep instead, then kick your foot in front (see previous week for the spinning under version). This allows you to pivot for a regular omoplata attack. A strong collar lapel grip is important with this technique.
Technique 4: From the lasso guard, one can even switch the way you grip his sleeve, using your free hand instead. If you release your lasso guard leg and insert into his far armpit, you create a strong lever with which to sweep him over. We’ll call this the cross-sleeve grip (or x-grip) lasso guard sweep. All being well, uke lands flat on his back and pretty much presents his arm for a straight armbar attack.

Kids class: Escape from side control (shrimp out, knee in, clsoed guard) / hip bump sweep from closed guard into mount

1st September 2016
The Lasso Guard is very closely related to the basic spider guard but it is in my opinion, a much more stable position. Wrapping your leg over then under one of uke’s arms effectively locks it down and takes it out of action. A good lasso guard is very very hard for uke to remove his arm from.
Technique 1: scissor sweep against kneeling uke – sweeping him to his non lasso side.
Technique 2: spider sweep against kneeling uke – sweeping him other way to his lasso side
Technique 3: push sweep against kneeling uke – flattens uke out allowing you potential for omoplata or sweep and mount etc.
Techs 1,2,3 depend on the way your uke is resisting as you apply the lasso. For example if he is attempting to avoid you squaring up your lasso guard then sweep (1) would be applicable.
I briefly demonstrated a scenario to showcase the usefulness of the lasso guard against a standing opponent. We’ll explore this further on Sunday.
Technique 4: Fake spin under lasso guard into lifting knee sweep – you set up a trap for uke to move into the supposed unguarded side of your body and sweep from here. Some call this a pivot sweep. It’s ridiculously easy to execute and requires no strength. You can either grip his pant at the knee or underhook behind the knee. The tech is most effective when you perform all moves at the same time (driving your knee outwards while lifting his leg up at the same time). You should up in a painful bicep crush position (not legal under IBJJF rules until brown belt).
Technique 5: Spin under lasso guard, into omoplata. This requires you to rotate underneath the lasso trapped arm and emerge round the other side where you can push you leg and stretch out uke for an omoplata.
Technique 6: Spin under lasso guard, into triangle choke. This comes about mainly because uke resists the omoplata by posturing away. By continuing your spin, you are open to setting up the triangle with your legs. You can also execute this as a direct attack by spinning faster and more aggressively, ignoring the omoplata option.

Sparring from from set position of spider grips, then towards the end I introduced the concept of flow-sparring, something we’ll cover frequently in future classes.

26th August 2016
The spider guard is a highly effective position to learn, as it offers great leverage when sweeping your uke, plus by gripping both his sleeves, it eliminates many attacks and defences he might do.
Technique 1: Basic spider guard sweep – remember to direct his upper arm in a forward direction ie along a plane where his head is pointing. The entire action resembles a scissor sweep.
Technique 2: Instead of sweeping, one could attempt a triangle choke from spider guard. As an aside, although one can play spider guard with both your feet on uke’s biceps, a generally safer way is to only place only one of your feet on his biceps, your other foot being on his hips.
Technique 3: Once familiar with a spider position, it’s useful to know how to get to it. We drilled transitions from closed guard and also butterfly guard.
Technique 4: If uke stands up, the danger is that he will posture out of your spider guard and also force you to square up (which is a weaker position when playing spider). We drilled a sickle sweep on the standing uke from spider guard. There were two variations: one where it was easy to grab his far ankle, and one where it was not easy. For the latter, by placing one of our feet flat on the ground while the other was in spider position, it is possible to make uke step forward towards us.
Technique 5: Basic lasso guard. This is a very strong and firm spider guard variant. We drilled how to get into the lasso and then a simple sweep – same as (1) above. We will continue exploring the lasso next session.

21st August 2016
More butterfly guard attacks – this time the focus was more on attacking from an initial cross collar lapel grip. Our body position could also be described as a seated guard (aka sit-up guard) where we may or may not have a butterfly hook inserted under the uke’s base.
Technique 1a: Push the uke at the collar bone level while you do a technical stand-up. This level-change allows you to drive forward with greater force than from butterfly/seated position.
Technique 1b: Same as above but you execute a half-technical stand-up, ie you are pushing off from your back knee. In this bulldozer sweep, you make greater use of your forehead against uke’s sternum.
Technique 1c: From the initial cross collar lapel grip, you sit forward into an aggressive combat base position, while at the same time lift uke’s knee up off the ground. It’s a very simple manoeuvre but beware of falling into your uke’s guard.
Technique 2: Loop choke from seated guard. Use your free hand to guide uke’s head under your shoulder. From this sort of-guillotine position, you could attempt a one-handed loop choke by raising your choking arm’s elbow vertically high. You can continue the movement by rolling your head underneath the body of uke, grabbing one of his legs and ending up on your back pulling both your arms down to execute the choke [see photo of Daniel Strauss below].
Technique 3: Two handed loop choke – this requires you to use your own leg to secure weight on top of uke’s back to prevent him posturing up and escaping.
Technique 4: Often, from the seated guard position, uke will decide to stand up. You are then faced with a level change where uke is standing facing you and you are seated. Using both your feet to hook around both his ankles, you can push his knees to trip him backwards.
Technique 5: Same as (4) but this involves you grabbing both his ankles and your legs make contact shin to shin on both legs. Hence, this becomes a shin push sweep. It’s a stronger trip but harder to ensure you get all the components in place.
Technique 6: One of the most effective sweeps from seated position is the sickle sweep. Not only is it a very powerful sweep that will send uke crashing backwards, if you maintain sleeve or collar grip and ankle grip at the same time, his falling provides momentum for you to level change into a better position.

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18th August 2016
The butterfly guard is an open guard system that gives the user far greater degree of mobility and access to his opponent compared with closed guard systems (such as the closed full guard or the closed version of the half guard). Butterfly guard users must maintain a seated posture with their head positioned further forward on the vertical plane than their hips – the main danger being pushed and flattened onto their backs. Another danger is that by being in such an open position their opponent can grab their arms and legs and collar easily.
Technique 1: Grip fighting and defence in full open butterfly posture (uke is kneeling)
Technique 2a: Establishing the underhook – from here you can attempt the half butterfly sweep.
Technique 2b: As above, but if uke bases his knee wide to counteract your sweep, you need to push-kick this knee away from you.
Technique 3: The underhook requires you to close the distance between you and uke, but one can also work nice techniques from a slightly longer range distance – one example is the 2-on-1 arm drag, which if successful, grants you access to uke’s back, or, if he resists, allows you to move closer and work techniques 2 and 2a above.
Technique 4: The collar drag is similar to the arm drag except of course you are pulling uke’s collar lapel. Make sure you coordinate your sideways hip shift and forceful lapel pull down together.
Technique 5: If you do get flattened in butterfly position, all is not lost, if you can get double underhooks then you can pull uke so that his weight is on top of you. It sounds counterintuitive to do so but by pulling him closer to you, you are in effect underneath his centre of gravity and can re-direct him to another position – either pushing him backwards away from you (which allows you to sit up back into a better upright seated butterfly position) or flipping to one side where you can take side or if lucky, full mount. Sometimes, you could even sweep him completely over your head. These techniques where you take uke’s weight forward and you are underneath him, are known as balloon sweeps and can be executed from a several other guard systems.

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14th August 2016
More half guard practice. For Technique 3 from the previous class, we added a component to the knee grab variation which involved detangling our legs doing the half guard. By removing our half guard position we are able to turn onto both our knees and effect a more dominant grab on the far knee of uke.

Kids class: Continuing closed guard techniques, we drilled the scissor sweep.

12th August 2016
Half Guard. This position relies on the bottom person controlling one leg of the top person. ‘Half guard’ is a position that actually encompasses a variety of positions: from classic triangled legs version to knee shield ‘open’ half guard, to other ‘deeper’ positions, known as deep half guards. Less commonly used variations include inverted half guard and reverse half guard. All have their uses but most folk will play between a closed half guard and an open one, making use of that knee shield.
Technique 1: defending the half guard – there are two dangers to be aware of, first is the cross face (where top person grabs behind your head) and the underhook (top person reaches under your armpit). Either one of these dangers, or worse, both, will cause you to be turned flat on your back – a poor position to be in.
Technique 2: Bottom person finds the underhook on the top person. From here, you can take the back.
Technique 3: A common cause and effect of you taking the underhook, is that top person will whizzer you (reaches under your arm). From here, you can’t take the back, but you can sweep by grabbing his far knee. We practiced two variations of this positional sweep, one is a roll over your own back, the other is more of a push away from you.
Technique 4: submissions can arise from half guard, notably gi based chokes such as the loop choke and joint based submissions, the most available one being the kimura.

The video here shows a highlight of black belt Oli Geddes, who makes extensive use of the half guard as a platform to win matches:

8th August 2016
Submissions from the back. With your seatbelt grip in place, and assuming uke is not grip fighting you, it’s straightforward to set up a basic collar lapel choke. From here, one can transition to a bow and arrow choke (tip: keep your head held tight to uke and do not allow any space to form between your choking arm and the back of uke’s head.) From bow and arrow, one can transition to a straight armbar finish, or, if uke sits up to counter this, you can switch into a triangle choke.
Rear naked choke – your single arm first cups uke’s shoulder, then slide your second hand in, squeeze tight, puff your chest out, keep your head held tight and a slight lift too adds to the feeling of hanging someone.

Kids class: closed guard introduction

4th August 2016
The back position. This position scores the highest points in sport bjj (4 points), for good reason: with effective back control, you are able to control and attack for submission while your opponent has a vastly depleted arsenal of options. It is such an advantageous position that you will also see it used as a primary position in MMA and submission wrestling matches. Actually getting to the back control position however takes a degree of knowledge and an understanding of the necessary the levers required that manipulate your opponent to expose their backs. This can be achieved from a surprisingly very wide variety of positions, tonight we practiced a few of the more common ones:

Taking the back from side control (two versions) – (a) when uke turns away from you and (b) when uke turns towards you. For (a) we utilised the ‘gift wrap’ (aka the face wrap or the arm wrap). The gift wrap grants the attacker a very large degree or control over uke. For (b) we drilled the ‘spin to back’ movement, which utilises a quick turn and back step in order to reach the far side of uke as he turns to face you. (a) can also be used when in knee on belly position and full top mount position. In fact the ‘gift wrap’ is a very versatile technique that we’ll explore on another day.

Taking the back from closed guard. The opening move is similar to an arm drag, in that you need to place uke’s arm across his own chest and away from your own body. This already contorts his upper body to partially expose his back. From here it is a matter of climbing onto his back, but ensuring all grips and potential countering movements are taken care of.

The back can be accessed from many more positions than described above. For demo purposes only, I showed how for example one could attack via reverse de la Riva guard to access the back – this and a whole host of other cool open guard sweeps, reversals and back takes will be covered during open guard week.

Once the back position has been reached, it is important to know how to maintain it. We drilled the basic ‘seat belt’ position (aka the harness grip). We also drilled how to switch from the weak side to the strong side when uke is moving from side to side. Your own leg and foot position plays a key role during back control. Getting both ‘hooks’ into secures your the 4 points but more importantly, provides a good degree of lower body control. Careful not to cross over your own ankles. Another very strong way to use your legs is the body triangle hold, which we did not cover in class.

We finished class with set position sparring. Starting in side control, you must achieve either top mount or back control, uke on the other hand must either escape or place you in closed or half guard.

31st July 2016
Knee on belly (kob) is a position usually arrived at from side control, but you can also get to kob straight from a guard pass. In either case, establishing the position with a degree of control takes practice. In class today we practiced four drills: (a) side mount switch immediately to kob, (b) kob switch from one side of the body to the far side of the body, (c) kob into reverse kob, back to regular kob or spinning into top mount (d) regular kob and riding that position against uke who is hip bumping.

Attacks from kob: (a) straight armbar when uke pushes his hand on your knee, (b) baseball bat lapel choke (tip: remember to get the first collar grip deep and lift his head), (c) step over collar choke (tip: this requires a less deep grip on uke’s collar).

By way of illustration, I showed the high kob position, from here you can exert pressure onto the sternum and transition to full top mount, or, switch into a nearside armbar attack.

We finished class with set position sparring: starting off in regular side position with aim to get kob and then top mount while uke defends and resists.

Kids Class: kesa gatame into side control drills, then against resistance (set position sparring). We also played tug of war, sumo and defence against a front strangle.

28th July 2016
Continuing on with side position attacks. Far side arm attacks. We looked at the ‘triple threat‘ sequence of submissions on uke’s arm farthest away from you when you hold him down in side control. The tripe threat consists of the Americana (aka keylock), which as uke resists, turns into a straight armbar, then as uke resists further, turns into a kimura attack. Some tips: to initiate the Americana, you need to allow uke to bring his arm in front of you and then you try to ‘catch’ it at the right time. The straight armbar might require you to extend your body further over his in order to place the fulcrum in the correct place. The kimura relies on a switch of your hand grip positions, and your head pinning down his arm can help here.
We finished off with two ‘fun’ techniques. The first is a pressure point attack on uke’s elbow just beneath the tricep (in fact it’s often called the tricep crush  – see photo below. The second fun technique introduces the beginner to the many many ways of using your own uniform to create a choke [we’ll dedicate a whole lesson to a dozen or more variations at some point in the future.]

24th July 2016
Side position. Following a successful guard pass, the most common position you will find yourself in is the side position. There are many ways to control this position as a pin down, one of the more secure versions in BJJ would be the cross horizontal side control where one of your arms is under uke’s neck and the other arm over his body and under his armpit so that you can clasp your own hands together. At the same time, uke’s nearside arm is isolated, trapped between your upper arm and your thigh [note, the ability to isolate uke’s near side arm alone is skillset we’ll cover in a separate lesson].

Collar choke submissions from side control:
(1) Twisting collar choke with a baseball bat grip
(2) Step over choke
(3) Papercutter choke (aka bread cutter, cookie cutter)
With chokes (1) and (3) above we also explored how the north-south position can become involved in the success of these techniques. Choke (2) is a lovely set-up for several other submissions, for example a kimura lock or straight armbar.

Kids class: double leg takedown. Side control, then switching from side to kesa gatame.

21st July 2016
Passing the open guard. Whether you have previously had to deal with the closed guard, or are in a standing position and your opponent is seated or on his back, then you have to deal with the open guard ie passing beyond his legs and hips to ideally, settle in side or mount control.
We first looked at the simple bullfighter pass aka the Toreando pass (grab at the pants inside of the knees, pull his legs down to the ground and you walk around to his side, keeping the grips held tight, complete the move by dropping your shoulder onto opponent and transitioning to side control).

There are many entries to the open guard. We looked at the hip and knee control method, by shuffling sideways, we can lever uke’s knee down to the floor and pin it there with the beginnings of our knee cut pass.

We then worked the main portion of the class on the knee slice guard pass (aka the knee cut, knee-through or knee slide). This pass can be done slowly and with pressure, but can also be used as a more opportunistic fast paced pass (sometimes known as the Margarida Pass, after famed champion Fernando “Margarida” Pontes). Two common problems with the knee slice pass can occur, the first occurs when you have almost sliced your knee across but uke traps your foot by squeezing his knees. By re-angling the orientation of your trapped foot, it then becomes easier to extract. Not taught in class, but for another time: other possible ways to deal with the trapped foot is to switch your body to the other side of uke, or simply, to re-angle your knee and work for the mount.
The other problem that can occur is earlier on in the knee slice process, when uke blocks your path with a knee shield. Here, it might be easier to slice across his shins by changing your angle of movement.

Another possible problem after you have completed the knee cut pass and attempt to take side control is that uke will impede your progress simply by placing his knees in the way, not quite a knee shield but enough of a block for you to lose that waiting side mount. The solution is for you to be aware of this counter and use the backward motion of your own hips to shove his legs back and out of the way before you proceed to take side hold.

17th July 2016
Continuing on from the previous class, we looked at opening the closed guard and methods of passing the guard once open. We practised the double under guard pass and also the single leg stacking guard pass. Both positions can be accessed via standing up closed guard break or the on the knees guard break.
Both the double unders and the single leg stack pass work on completely immobilising uke’s hips and legs. As you progress past the legs, it’s important to grip the gi but don’t over-stretch, as this makes your arm vulnerable to elbow push escapes.
With the double unders pass, it’s advisable to create a structure beneath uke’s hips as you raise them up, this can be achieved using your own knee or with your free hand lifting him up. For the single leg stacking pass, it is important not to bend your head down and curve your back as this means you lose the forward pressure – keep looking ahead and project your chest forward as you bring his knee to his nose.
We finished the session by seeing how the single leg stack pass and the double unders can transition from one to the other.

14th July 2016
Opening the closed guard and Guard Passing – we began by looking old school guard passes – the double hand belt grab technique and the one arm under the leg technique, sometimes mockingly called ‘the Gracie Gift’. Both techniques keep you on your knees and do work but requires a fine degree of control and sensitivity, otherwise a sweep or submission is easily available to your opponent. Hence, we used this class to drill techniques for opening the closed guard by standing up:
(i) Basic stand up technique by gripping collar lapels and one sleeve (as per photo below)
(ii) Variation on above but you switch sleeve grip
(iii) After breaking open the guard and our knee planted on uke’s inner thigh, we proceeded to pass the guard using the cross face method (grabbing under his head).
(iv) Uke is bound to make our life difficult, we looked at how to deal with uke underhooking your standing leg (you need to turn your knee and hip in towards uke’s body). We also looked at the scenario if uke does not give you any sleeve grips (use the armpit standup technique). Finally I showed a quick counter if your uke does break your posture and cross chokes you (you counter choke using the push choke).

7th July 2016
Revision: triangle choke submission, then triangle from a failed armbar.
Closed guard attack: the omoplata.
This arm and shoulder lock relies on weight bearing down on uke’s shoulder. He head should be as low as possible, ideally touching the floor and his hips should also be low as possible, ideally flattened out on the floor.
We looked at the basic omoplata submission and how to finish it. Then we looked at entries to the omoplata – mainly from the failed triangle choke (uke bends his arm the ‘wrong’ way). One can either execute the omoplata as a slow, incremental transition or, as a faster, axe kick swinging attack that uses power and momentum to destroy uke’s posture. In either case, it’s useful to end up seated by shifting your bottom backwards and outwards, away from uke as he collapses. I personally also prefer grabbing at the belt rather than the pant leg. The latter, while effective in the flattening process, can lead to you lying prone on your back at a crucial stage when you should be posturing upwards.
We closed the technical session looking briefly at the triangle, omoplata, armbar triple whammy set of submission attacks.

3rd July 2016
Triangle choke from the closed guard. We began by solely focusing on the submission and all the components that form the triangle choke.Very roughly there are four things you need to concentrate on: the angle of your body in relation to the uke, the elevation of your own hips, the securing of uke’s head (by holding the back of his head) and the final component is the leg ‘squeeze’.
We also looked at entry into the triangle – one entry from the armbar and one entry from the faked pendulum sweep.

30th June 2016
Revision: Flower sweep, Pendulum sweep, armbar from closed guard.
Closed guard attack: scissor sweep
As with last week, the main theme was the ability to connect various attacks from the closed guard position. The best illustration of this was to transition from the closed guard armbar into a pendulum style sweep.

23rd June 2016
Revision: armbar from the closed guard.
Closed guard sweeps: Flower sweep (grab sleeve, foot on uke hip, raise your own hip, grab uke trouser, roll onto your shoulder to fake a sweep one side, then perform flower sweep to the other side using that karate axe kick motion of your free leg – end up in mount).
Pendulum sweep. First we practised a non-partner drill which looks a bit like break dancing! We then put this into action with the pendulum sweep (grab sleeve, your other hand underhooks uke’s leg, open your closed guard as your pivot into a perpendicular direction, raise your hips high before swinging your legs beat boy style to execute the sweep, end up in mount).
Another application of the pendulum sweep is when you are attempting the armbar from closed guard and uke stacks you. A change of direction and swing of your legs from here can end with uke being swept onto his back or at very least frees up his arm for the armbar again.
See these videos: Xande Ribeiro sweep, Michael Liera Jr Sweep (6:20), Robert Harper (note the attack in one direction before reversing his direction to execute the sweep).

16th June 2016
Revision: ezekiel from low mount, cross choke from high mount, S-mount to armbar

Closed guard study: cross choke from closed guard, armbar from closed guard.

Often the same techniques can be applied from the top and from the bottom. In today’s class we saw how the armbar and the cross choke could be applied either in mount position or in closed guard. Within closed guard you do not have the advantage of gravity so techniques rely on breaking uke’s posture before applying the submission.

11th June 2016
Warm ups included switching S-mount stance and butt scooting forwards and backwards as a drill.

Revision: low mount ezekiel, high mount cross choke.

Attacking study: arm from the S-mount position. You attack with a collar choke, as the opponent defends, you insert your knee close to the side of his head. Your other leg alters position so both your legs configure into an ‘S’ shape. Keeping both uke’s arms tightly under your control (by reaching and cupping that far arm), it is simple to step around his head and execute a straight armbar. Important notes: keep bearing your weight directly over his torso while in S-mount and do not leave any space or he will escape. We also covered the details of the armbar as a submission.

Guard study: cross choke from the closed guard. We looked at how to break posture. We then examined a quick and simple cross choke (palm up, palm down). We also covered various scenarios as the uke defends.

4th June 2016
Warm up drills included solo triangle reps – helps for core strength and readying our bodies for when we learn triangle submissions later on. Head weight nodding reps, to strengthen our neck muscles.

Revision: mount escapes – hip escape (shrimp) version and trap and roll by bridging version. We also briefly looked at escape where the bottom person pushes with both hands on the top person’s hips. We then drilled the dynamic bridge, which is a more explosive version of the standard bridging movement.

Position study: the top mount. We looked at the difference between low mount and high mount. Low mount is prone to allowing the bottom person to escape, therefore we looked at ways to secure this position while thinking of ways to move up the torso into…High mount is a tactically better position as it opens up more attacks and closes down many of the bottom person’s tools for escaping.

Attacks from mount. In low mount we practised the ezekiel choke (hand in your own sleeve). We looked at ways to refine the pure submission technique by using your own head and shoulders when in low mount, plus there was a (more brutal) variation that involved using your closed fist instead of the open hand. Further discussion on tactics – ezekiel is in itself a great submission (see the video below of Roger Gracie using ezekiel in the 2009 Mundials on Ricardo Abreu) it is mainly used as a bait, to force the bottom person to defend and raise their arms. When this happens, top person can progress their position into high mount.

From high mount, we looked at the basic cross choke (palm up/palm down variation) which also included the ‘shave’ to create space for the second collar grip. Our second gi choke technique was a mirrored version of the cross choke, but this time the thumb goes in first, use your own forearm to lever the uke’s chin up so you can slip your second hand in for the choke.

28th May 2016
Warm up drills included all the breakfalls and also step forward shooting drills.

Position Study: Side control positions where you are facing your uke’s head. There are several variations of this position. We looked at the basic head only lock, progressing to head and arm control (scarf hold/kesa gatame) finally the modified scarf hold (kuzure kesa gatame). Very briefly I also showed the reverse scarf hold.

Escapes: We covered escapes from the basic headlock (step away, get to knees, collapse the opponent onto his side, release headlock with your own forearm pressure and directional movement).

Escape from kesa gatame: hug around uke torso, bridge to upset uke balance, step in close to uke, bridge again to reverse uke position, finish as previous.
Escape from modified kesa gatame: this escape depends how free your nearside arm is. Ideally your nearside elbow needs to be on the floor as you continue to shrimp away from your uke. If you elbow cannot reach the floor due to uke’s knee placed very close to your head, then the gi push technique works to push the uke onto his back (you need to shrimp out a bit). If your arm is completely tied ar, then pushing uke’s gi with your far side arm can help leverage your body as you attempt to hip escape and get to your knees.

21 May 2016
Escapes: This week we revised with a quick run through two of our mount escapes (the elbow escape and the trap and roll escape). The same principles that enable us to escape from mount – either the shrimp or the bridge (or a combo of both) also enable us to escape from under neath side control.
Position study: side control allows the aggressor ample opportunity to apply heavy pressure on the bottom person to prevent them escaping. The ideal controlling position for the top person is for him to place his arm under the back of your head (known as cross face), from here he is able to grind his shoulder into my jaw (known as the ‘shoulder of justice’). From side control the top person is able to transition into more attacking positions such as the north-south position and the knee on belly.
Escaping side control: we drilled two different escapes from under side control. Both operate with the sole aim prying open some space to allow us to jam our knee and form the beginnings of a guard. Before the actual escaping, I showed the basic position that your arms should be in so as to form a protective frame.
Escape #1 with your forearm rotation you lever the jaw of your opponent up, shrimp your hips out from under him, then use the space to jam your knee between yourself and your opponent, next step is to swivel your body to the other side and extract your other leg, both knees should end up in front of your opponent.
Escape #2 in this situation your shrimping moves are not effective enough to escape, therefore you will need to bridge up firmly, thus causing the top person to elevate to a higher position. The space you create underneath him allows you to swim your hand under his armpit (a position known as having the underhooks). Scissor your legs as you rotate your body so you end up belly down. Grab his near leg and pull in to control and upset his balance.
Class ended with set position sparring from under side control.

14 May 2016
Escapes: Today we looked at how to escape from beneath the mount position. Escape 1 uses your hands to form a frame against the opponent’s hip (photo below) while you shrimp out. Escape 2 traps your opponent’s arm and leg while you bridge him off you, ending up in his guard. Escape 3 relies on your leg to collect your opponent’s opposite foot in order for you to shrimp out (into half guard or open guard).
Position study: today we looked at the closed guard and how to control a person when using the closed guard. As with any other type of guard, the closed guard is most effective when using it to disrupt the posture of your opponent. We practised using both collar grip and leg movement to break the opponent’s posture.
Attack: From closed guard, we saw how the hip bump sweep was a strong attacking move that unbalances an opponent who maintains his posture. The sweep ends up with you on top of mount.

7 May 2016
Beginner’s Seminar: We looked at the ‘shrimp’ and the ‘hip bridge’ and then drilled how to use them (isolated and then combined) in order to escape being mounted. We also saw how the ‘technical stand-up’ (aka ‘standing up in base’) was a structurally sound method to move from seated to standing position, while also maintaining distance. There was a brief introduction to the guard in BJJ and then a short demonstration of light-sparring between Chris Hearn and I. The overall theme of the session was to demonstrate that knowledge of the fundamental positions on the ground was applicable to both self defence and sporting scenarios.

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