At Borehamwood BJJ Club we require all regular members to wear a BJJ uniform – referred to as a gi or kimono. We do not supply uniforms but there are many online stores where you can purchase one. You may wear any colour gi you like. You don’t have to buy one immediately, try 3 or 4 sessions at first before investing.
Each store will have its own guide on sizing so observe the charts carefully. You ought to take into account a bit of shrinkage after washing too. If the uniform feels a bit tight brand new, chances are it will be worse after a few washes, so use the opportunity to exchange for a bigger size prior to wearing it in training.
Some uniforms arrive with a white belt. But many do not, check with care!
These are optional but we highly recommend wearing one beneath the gi. The extra layer may serve as added protection for hygiene reasons and sweat absorption. It is also handy to wear on occasions when we train nogi techniques (gi and no gi vary slightly in the way techniques are performed – more information about the difference can be found here.)
Some people also wear leggings under their gi trousers, in BJJ we often call them spats. Again, they offer an extra layer for hygiene, sweat or just comfort reasons. Also handy for nogi training.
Other items of equipment
Towel – to wipe up your sweat
Water bottle (although no eating or drinking on the mats please)
Flip flops – for walking off the mat
Groin guard – bear in mind these are not allowed for use at competition, so it’s a useful practice to get used to not wearing one.
Ear guards – if ear cartilage damage (cauliflower ear) is a concern
Patches – we have some club patches, they’re optional but a nice touch if you would like to represent the club on your uniform!
Fundamentals classes at Borehamwood BJJ Club are designed to equip complete newcomers and those rising through the ranks with the chance to drill core movements, techniques and concepts that are fundamental to the main BJJ program.
Listed below is a broad list of concepts and techniques that we will cover, it is subject to change and alteration:
Basic movements These are mainly practiced as part of our opening warm up drills:
Breakfalling / hip escapes aka shrimping / bridging / framing (layers of the guard using arms) / technical stand up / butt scooting / windshield wipers / guard retention (step over, half granby).
Survival on the ground
Protecting your elbows and neck / removing grips / avoiding the crossface / trying to get your legs in the way / strong shape-weak shape / home alone / hair combing / crossed arms defence.
Basic control positions
Four corners principle / Mount / side control / back control / north-south / knee on belly / guard / base / posture
Submissions and attacking principles
Joint attacks / strangulation attacks / ‘position before submission’ concept / sweeps / combination attacks
Closed guard / breaking posture / defending and attacking from guard / angles of attack / submissions / open guards / half guards / breaking closed guard / passing opened guard
While it is possible to submit someone when both of you are standing up, grapplers will seek to impose positional dominance by taking down their opponent. Takedowns, throws, arm drags, step unders, clinching and guard pulls.
Non-sporting Jiu jitsu
BJJ was originally devised as a self defence method. We explore some of the key techniques where one can apply BJJ techniques against an aggressor who seeks to harm us using any method.
Distancing, clinchwork, shoots and takedowns against a puncher. Side control, guard and mount versus puncher. The best position against frantic thrashing: back control. Inappropriate techniques: eg they stand up when u triangle, when they are biting or eye poking, generally thrashing around. Some cheats: nose bar, fist to throat, knee on chest/neck face etc.
Lesson One: Connecting to the ground, how we move the hips
As able bodied human adults we’re conditioned to be able to move efficiently on two legs: walking, standing, running, fighting etc we can more or less move around fairly instinctively. On two legs, a person’s superior size, weight and strength can be used against a smaller person without too much prior knowledge. We demonstrated this by practising shoving or pulling our training partner around in the standing up position.
Once you are on the ground however, the dynamics of size, weight and strength change remarkably. Knowing how to move around on the ground, knowing how to plant certain parts of your body onto the ground and knowing how to gauge distance as well as elevation above the ground – all of these factors give you an advantage over someone with no clue what to do on the ground, regardless of their size. To demonstrate this, we performed a drill where one person sits on the floor with feet out in front and their training partner pulls or pushes them around. This is the same exercise as when standing. We found it was much harder for the aggressor to bully the seated person around.
But sitting around on the floor is not an effective fighting strategy if your opponent is standing up! So, we drilled an exercise called the technical stand-up. From a relaxed seated position with one hand posted behind you, this technique teaches us about distance management (using that front foot as a check) and by stepping back, we are two strides away from our opponent instead of being directly in line of fire.
The drills above have one aspect in common: our ability to move our hips on the ground. The reason why bullying someone around when they are seated is harder than when they are standing, is because the seated person’s hips (and therefore centre of gravity) are connected to the floor. Another illustration of how important hip movement is: we did a drill where our training partner is on their knees trying to ‘strangle us’ while we lie on the ground. One hip movement away from the opponent – a movement we call shrimping– was enough to bring the knee in between us and the opponent. Shrimping is a movement that we’ll use again and again throughout our jiu jitsu journey.
Just as an aside, we also looked at the other side of the equation, as jiu jitsu students we need to know how NOT to let our opponent shrimp away from us, so we saw how simply locking down on the bottom person’s hips using our elbows and bearing our weight down on their lower torso, prevented them from escaping.
Thus, this leads us to the final exercise of the day – the bridge. Very simply the bridge is the way we elevate our hips off the floor. Even with the weight of a person on top, the hips are still strong enough to lift up. Combined with the shrimp, we saw how effective it was to escape from someone trying to pin us down in this manner.
Summary: sitting down, standing up, bridging and shrimping, all these movements focus on how we move our hips in relation to the ground and in relation to our opponent. Once you become aware of this, the dynamics of how to move on the ground won’t feel so alien as before.
LESSON 2: PROTECTION AND DEFENCE WHEN ON THE GROUND
When stuck on the ground, protecting and defending against attack (be they BJJ submission attacks or a no rules fight scenario) is very different compared to when standing up. If someone tries to attack you when you are standing up, it is instinctive to move away. But on the ground without the use of your legs, defending and escaping attacks relies on a different set of principles.
In BJJ rules, we do not strike, kick or hit our opponents. We look for two targets, the neck for strangles and the limbs for joint locks. At a very basic level, protecting your neck and elbows using the ‘Home Alone’ position is a vital posture that can be applied in all manner of different positions. By adopting this posture, it is very very hard for the attacker to reach the target areas. In the case where punches and strikes are allowed, it is only a small adaptation moving your home alone hand position to a more boxing style ‘guard’ posture.
Maintaining your defensive posture is not good enough, your attacker will reach the target eventually. This is why escape must be the paramount goal whenever you are caught in a bad position on the ground. There are as many types of escape as there are types of attack, so it would be very hard to remember every single scenario by rote learning. Instead, today I used two examples that illustrate fundamental escape concepts that you can apply to all sorts of situations:
Removing the space your attacker relied on. In this concept we practised the escape from a headlock. By moving our own body out of the way the attacker (who’s own arms are occupied by headlocking you) has no way to brace the fall and he slumps into the space you just vacated. In BJJ we operate this concept in many situations.
Another very common escape concept is our ability to trap the attacker’s arm or leg to prevent them from bracing out and stopping their fall as you escape. The example we used is the trap, bridge and roll escape when someone is on top of you in mount position.
Summary: the ability to protect yourself when under attack on the ground is a hugely important part of BJJ training. When you get really good at defence, the student then begins to explore ways to initiate counter attacks, feints and traps aimed at catching their opponent out.
Lesson 3 – The Guard
The ‘guard’ in BJJ terms can be described as any scenario where you can place your legs or part of your legs in between you and your opponent. One could also include your arms as part of the guard system, but for the most part, it is your legs that most BJJ folk understand as the guard.
There are a huge array of guard systems in BJJ, some with seemingly complex and sophisticated set-ups and modes of operation. Don’t be put off by the complexity, most guard systems all follow the same logic and purpose: to act as a defensive barrier AND as a platform to attack.
In fact we’ve been using the guard since day one without really knowing it: remember that drill where we sat on our bottoms and ward off a standing opponent? Or the drill where we defended using our knee against a person strangling us? Or the drill where we removed a person sitting on us in mount position and we ended up with him between our legs? All those examples deployed the use of the guard.
Although there are many different types of guard positions, they nearly all abide by the same series of concepts. The drills we used today illustrate several of these concepts:
1 .Distance management: from the closed guard, it is possible to keep your opponent away from harming you (by extending your body or placing shins in front). The guard can also be used to draw them in tightly for a clinch. The former keeps our head out of the opponent’s reach, the latter prevents him from hitting or strangling us.
2. Centre of gravity and balance. Manipulating your opponent’s centre of gravity and/or taking advantage of their position to capitalise on their balance is a key concept when trying to use the guard to sweep your opponent. The idea of sweeping is for you to end up in a more advantageous position. The hip bump sweep, for example, takes advantage of the opponent’s unstable nature when he kneeling in an upright posture. It also utilises a concept where we displace his position and a knowledge of the best angle of attack – two skill aspects that take a little time to develop.
The scissor sweep takes advantage of an opponent being low in posture with his head leaning forward. Which leads us onto the third concept:
3. Where the head points, the body will follow…the basic butterfly sweep is a good exampe of this concept in action. It also relies on many other concepts: taking away base, killing posture and balance, getting underneath their centre of gravity, making use of levers.
Summary: In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we use our legs as the principle method to guard against our opponent. It is a platform to both defend and attack him. To use it effectively we need to understand a few simple concepts: distance management, posture disruption, getting under their centre of gravity and ability to move the opponent in the direction that their heads point.
The guard is also a platform to launch submission attacks, which we will cover in Lesson 5.
Lesson 4: Taking your opponent down and keeping them there.
BJJ ground techniques are mostly useless unless you can take your opponent down and keep him there. Today we looked at some basic principles to take downs and hold downs.
Taking someone to the ground.
In competition, all BJJ matches begin with both participants standing up. Even if you don’t intend to compete, you have to understand that ground techniques will not work unless you bring your opponent down. So at the very least, we need to learn basic throws and take downs. If you already have judo or wrestling experience then you have a good start! It is not necessary to master a huge list of throws and take downs, but it’s useful to examine how take downs work in principle:
When someone stands up, their balance can be disrupted by preventing the use of their legs and also by moving head (or hips) away from the vertical plane. A simple exercise to demonstrate this is to plant your feet to the ground without moving and have a partner move your head forward or backward until you feel you are going to topple over. Add in some force and pressure on other areas of the body, such as lifting the hips into the air, sweeping away the legs or rotating around a plane, and you can see how throws and take downs operate.
Before we can play with taking someone to the ground, we need to develop breakfalling skills. Breakfalls protect us by dispersing impact energy along non-vulnerable parts of our body. There are many breakfalls, today we covered side breakfalling and backwards breakfalling.
A very straightforward takedown is the ankle pick. With this technique, you unbalance your opponent by pulling him forwards by the head and it helps to rotate his body with your footwork. When he steps forward to compensate for the loss of balance, you can pick up that leg and push for him to fall backwards.
In the previous technique, the opponent was allowed to take a step, but many takedowns rely on you eliminating the use of his legs. The double leg takedown (as used by MMA fighters and wresters) for example is a popular technique. O goshi and related throws from judo elevate the opponent’s hips and lifts their legs clear off the ground, making defending the throw very hard once in the air. Foot sweeps, trips and many other tactics are also employed in order to take a person to the ground.
The need to know how to make someone fall is also required when you yourself are on the ground. In this exercise, we have the closed guard and our opponent stands up. The double ankle sweep attack will send our opponent falling backwards, preventing him from passing your guard andenabling us to progress to a better position.
Keeping someone on the ground – hold downs
The ability to hold your opponent down on the ground is one of the most fundamental skills needed in BJJ. Pinning someone down is not about putting your weight on top of them and hoping to squash them (although it might feel like that if you are in the receiving end!) When two players spar, it can seem that the majority of time is spent just trying to get to a dominant position and hold the opponent down.
To understand how hold downs work, one handy analogy is to view the bottom person’s torso as a four cornered box. By suppressing and allowing specific corners to lift or not lift up, you are able the control the rest of the body and prevent escape. Controlling the head is also another very important factor. Once you see how this works, using specific hold downs becomes more logical.
To illustrate this, we used the basic cross side control. One of our arms goes under his neck, the other reaches over his body and under his armpit in order to grip your own hand. Your elbows and knees are tucked tight into your opponent’s body. In this position, you have pretty much locked down all four corners. But that’s not all, our shoulder has a part to play, and by driving it into the opponent’s jaw line, you can make him look away from you, thus further diminishing his ability to escape. This basic hold down is very robust and becomes a launching pad to execute a very large array of subsequent techniques and positions.
Finally, from our newly secured side mount position, we looked at how to advance our position to top mount without losing any of that hard won top pressure on the opponent. Driving ones knee across the belly is one method, but there are many many others as those who have trained for a while can testify.
Lesson 5: Position and Submission
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu operates around the strategy of positional hierarchy. When attacking, you must first be able to get past a person’s defensive position and then establish a dominant position yourself. Only once you have established good position will a submission attack be successful (it’s a general rule, there are of course plenty of ‘bad position’ type attacks.)
In sport BJJ, the point system reflects the positional hierarchy: 3 points to pass the guard and 4 points if you secure top mount or back control. For the defender, his prime objective should be to work his way out of the defensive posture and towards attacking. Hence, the point system rewards a sweep from the guard with 2 points. The moment a submission occurs and the opponent taps, it is declared an instant win.
It is generally considered a good idea for either attacker or defender to constantly be on the move and seek opportunities from their respective positions. The drill below is a common and useful sequences that allows the top person to transition from one position to another.
DRILL 1: Side control, knee on belly, mount, high mount
Broadly there are two forms of submission attack: neck strangulations and joint pressure.
DRILL 2: repeat drill 1 and add in Americana (an example of joint over rotation)
DRILL 3: repeat drill 1 and add in armbar (an example of joint hyper extension)
DRILL 4: take the back (I demo’ed the sequence from side position), RNC attack (an example of neck strangulation) REMEMBER TO TAP
When I first began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2003 I was dropped into the deep end where everyone seemed to know what to do except for me. Back then, lessons weren’t very structured and it took me a long time before I felt I could grasp even the most basic of the basics. It was a steep learning curve that I probably didn’t help by making mistake after mistake, time and time again.
Fast forward to today and I believe that newcomers to BJJ can truly benefit with an introductory course on the fundamental techniques that form the basis of this fascinating yet highly technical martial art.
One of the difficulties many beginners face is trying to remember the sheer number of techniques that they have to learn. So during this 5 week introduction course, I will cover core concepts for each hour-long session. Concepts are easier to remember and can be applied to numerous different situations.
Some of the areas I will cover include: how to escape from seemingly terrible positions, how to control an opponent, how to use leverage for maximum force with minimal effort, how good posture can dramatically increase technique efficiency, how to spar. Plus we will also cover terminology, basic positions and submission techniques. Participants who complete all five sessions will have a better understanding of BJJ basics and will be able to participate in our regular classes.
Sign up now to our 5 week Introduction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Course.
Next session begins Thursday 1st February 2018 and runs each Thursday up to and including 1st March 2018
Class begins 7:30pm prompt and finishes 8:30pm
Numbers are strictly limited. This course is aimed for people 16 and over.
Cost: £30 for all five sessions. Full payment to be made at the first session.
You do not not need to bring a uniform or have any prior knowledge of martial arts.
21st December 2017
No fundamentals class, instead today the entire session was devoted to an introduction to inversion positions in BJJ. Inverting is a popular tactic used by guard players seeking new angles and spaces. But it is also a position that comes into play at other moments. In this class I picked out a variety of situations where inverting happens and how to execute movements once there:
17th December 2017
Kids Class: Since it was the final session of the year, we played a variety of games and drills culminating with several bouts of Sumo (from the knees). The finale of the session was to announce our Junior Student of the Year – Maya, who all of us kids coaches agreed showed outstanding growth and development in her jiu jitsu skills over this past year.
Adults Class: Old School Half Guard
1. Pulling half guard from standing (idea is to get really low down on your opponent)2. Taking the back from the low down half guard3. Old School sweep and reverse roll 4. Dogbar/belly down knee bar
14th December 2017
Fundamentals: Sprawling and Sweeps when someone stands in your closed guard.
We drilled sprawling when on the knees and when standing. Although primarily seen as the go to defence against someone shooting for single or souble leg, sprawling is also important when on the ground as opponent often shoot for legs even from this low base position.
Anti standing sweeps: double ankle, Sickle sweep and Tripod sweep. These sweeps, and many others related to them, are not only excellent defences against a standing opponent but also fundmantal to many defences when applying other open guard systems eg x-guard, de la Riva guard, butterfly, lasso etc.
Main Class: Closed knee shield half guard.
The closed knee shield is useful for maintaining distance from the opponent. The levering action of your legs, especially the driving strength of you hip+femur bone+knee cap can be used to sweep the opponent backwards. We drilled this using grips and without the grips. The latter is very similar in action to the hip bump sweep, only you are starting in this case from the knee shield half guard.
To add to our attacking options, I also taught the baseball bat choke (aka suicide choke) from half guard. Here, the trick is all in the subtlety of the set-up. You want your opponent to crush you thereby giving up all his posture and stability.
10th December 2017
Due to heavy snow and bad driving conditions, sadly both kids and adult classes today were cancelled.
7th December 2017
Fundamentals – standup portion was dedicated to the snap-down series of takedowns. With a double lapel grip, the basic snap down uses ones whole body to bring uke to the mat. Once this basic movement has been established, its possible to add on variations, for example a drop seio nage throw, or a double/single leg takedown. For our session we drilled the ankle sweep and the nogi jump to guillotine and snap down.
For the ground portion of the class we looked at how to defend when underneath side control and how to escape. The main emphasis was to understand how framing works. We also dabbled a little with the leg swinging method of unbalancing the top uke.
Main class: In main class the stand up portion continued our successful work with foot sweeps, this time involving the high back grip. For the ground portion, we did a recap of Sunday’s dog fight sweep, plus I added in the dead arm escape when uke has the overwrap on your arm…leading to the surprise guillotine attack.
3rd December 2017
Kids class – escape from headlocks on the ground (two variations)
Main class – closed half guard sweeps – getting to the dogfight position.
30th November 2017
Fundamentals – escapes from headlocks and guillotines
Main class – Jay Herridge armbar workshop
26th November 2017
KIDS CLASS – the racing down the lane format between two teams seems popular. We repeated the format today with kids racing to complete these techniques properly, under our guidance: escape from the standing headlock / escape from under top mount / escape from front strangle / escape from the back postion. We then concluded the session with tug of war.
ADULTS CLASS – I picked two things that were observations from Day 1 of the English Open: the headlock escape and a counter to the headlock. The quarter guard and three ways to pass/escape it.
24th November 2017
Fundamentals class: The main session was dedicated to escaping from the back however prior to this, we recapped the back control position using the seatbelt grip plus I added in a basic first look at the bow and arrow choke.
Main class: Double Unders and stack guard passing.The double unders position is a very powerful method of controlling the guard player underneath. We looked at the fundamental structure of the position and how to deal with the bottom person trying to escape from here.
At the end of class, I awarded Grant Brown his first club stripe on his blue belt (he had one also from his previous club).
19th November 2017
KIDS CLASS: One of the warm up games I made up seemed to be pretty popular: all
the kids run around the edge of the mat and the adult coaches and I would form
turtle position which the kids had to step over. However, at random moments, we
would elevate onto our hands and feet so the next kid would have to crawl
underneath. There’s a catch, the bridge would collapse at random moments so the
kid underneath would have to scramble out with our body weight on top of them
(obviously we made sure to do this with care).
The rest of the lesson was focused on a single technique: escape from a
standing headlock. There are various ways to do this but the method we used was
one where the child had to step forward and drop down in front of the attacker.
The headlocking attacker (us adults took this role in each case) was then
pulled to the ground. Advanced kids would proceed to take a modified mount and
execute an armbar. Beginner kids were still able to take a mount position
following the sit and roll.
ADULT CLASS: Reaction based guard passing drills and tips.
We began the session with tit-for-tat takedowns and throws. With a partner we
take turns to do any standing technique and then it was the other person’s
turn. The second part of this drill was a variation – this time the recipient
of the throw/takedown/guardpull had to react and defend or stuff the attempt by
the first person. Again performed one at a time.
When we learn guard passing techniques they are practised cleanly and wiuthout
resistance or only mild resistance. In sparring or competition however, we find
there are a whole ton of blocks, checks, grips, hooks and other things that get
in the way of a clean guard pass. Today we looked at a few of the major
obstacles preventing us from passing and how to deal with them:
1. The guard closer – in this drill, bottom person has one objective, to close
guard. Top person must use frames to prevent this. This exercise forces you to
be aware of re-guarding while you are attempting to pass.
2. As above but this time bottom person takes an aggressive lapel or sleeve
grip and you must get rid of the grip without losing the ability to prevent the
guard closing. Much harder than (1) above but also more realistic.
3. Removing hooks. Bottom person using their hooks against you is a massive
part of open guard play. The shin circling method here is a very efficient
method to remove and prevent the inside hooks taking place.
4. Removing de la Riva hooks. This hook again is very common and you must act
quickly to remove the controlling points.
16th November 2017
Fundamentals – escapes from closed guard submissions.
1. Posture inside the closed guard, then various phone home type defences to the cross colar choke.2. The stacking defence to the straight armbar inside closed guard.
Main class – guard retention and dealing with the knee slice pass
Drill for two ways to retain the guard first uses the step over method the second the half granby roll, both really really effective against a guard passer ‘running’ around to the side of you. If they kill your hips, then these types of guard retention techniques have less use. Hence… The knee slice defences we drlled today serve more use. It’s more a matter of not giving the passer the tools he needs to successfully pass, ie he wants the underhook, so you deny him that. The second part of the knee slice defence is to seek an exit – using your knee to bump him forward is an oldie but a goldie.
12th November 2017
KIDS CLASS: Slightly different format today. Instead of dividing the group and each group being taught by a separate instructor, today we formed three teams. Each team was headed by one of us 3 coaches. The kids had to wait in line and race each other to execute the moves on their adult coach. This kept attention span for longer, more engaged and a motivation to do the technique both properly and in good time. The drills were:
1. Blast Double leg takedown to side control
2. Eat the belt escape from closed guard
3. Bullfighter pass to side control, both sides.
The final ten minutes we selected pairs to spar against each other.
The drawback to this format is that all the kids had to do the same technique so had to be applicable to the newcomers as well as the more advanced kids.
MAIN CLASS – Timing drills for guard and for guard passing.
Often in competition, there are small windows of opportunity where you can take advantage of your opponent’s lack of full control (grips, balance etc). The drills we practiced today looked at the following:
1. Uke pulls guard but doesn’t sink in his closed guard, the immediate stand up.
2. Uke pulls open guard, usually it’ll be a DLR hook, so this drill removed the hook to get a sort of ‘pit stop’ type position (see last session)
3. You pull closed guard, uke tries to stand, you pull elbow to break balance and posture.
4.You pull closed guard and have a second chance to mess with uke’s balance, when they just about to step up with that second foot.
5. Say you pull guard and uke stands up immediately (as per 1 above) you have no grips, but you can access the elbows and perform technique (4).
6. Finally, if they cleanly stand up, and you have both hands free, the double ankle sweep is a very high percentage sweep. Just don’t lie there admiring your work, follow it up with a technical stand up and move to pass guard.
9th November 2017
FUNDAMENTALS: Closed guard attacks – armbar-omoplata-triangle.
These three submission attacks chain together really nicely especially when your opponent resists one, it inevitably leads to the next. Each submission requires a lot of time and practice to be able to execute smoothly. So one good way for beginners to practice these three submissions is to drill them as a smooth flowing set:
MAIN CLASS: More standing guard passes tonight. We recapped the previous sessions of standing up from within closed guard. Once the closed guard is broken we looked at a low squat position where you can stall a little and decide which direction to pass. The key to this position is to keep your elbows tucked tightly in to you and have uke’s legs split open and not allow him to close guard, form half guard, spider guard or anything else.
We then moved on to the knee slicer, aka knee cut pass. This is a very powerful pressure based version of the pass.
5th November 2017
KIDS CLASS: Back control was the main lesson today. For those with 2+ stripes they were taught the sliding collar choke. Novice white belt kids were taught basic back control with seat belt grip. We also taught them a good side and less good side when using back control. We also introduced to them the idea of points for position, the back control with both hooks being a 4-point technique.
We also graded Aaron and Janaye to grey and white belt. Daniel received his fourth stripe and Noah his first.
ADULTS CLASS: Guard opening and passing drills. The focus today was on shorter taught section and more time spent drilling core techniques that would be useful for those competing at the English Open in 3 weeks.
We looked at standing up guard opening techniques and a simple way to use the knee cut or knee slice open guard pass (a useful precursor to passing half guard and other semi-open guard positions).
2nd November 2017
Fundamentals class: we drilled the blast double leg and then looked at closed guard basics.
MAIN CLASS: Standing up in closed guard.
This lesson built up a step by step sequence for the standing guard break, staple pass with back step.
29th October 2017
Kids Class: More relay racing style techs today. Including a new method of opening closed guard (pushing the belt and walking knees backwards to open the guard).
Adults class: CLOSED GUARD: Overhook armbars.
When you overhook the opponent’s arm, it is very tightly trapped and you have the makings for a super powerful version of the straight armbar. I’m sure I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘Power-bar’ for this reason (Google shows nothing so maybe it’s just me!)
Unfortunately, the very tightness of this armbar can also be a hindrance, so it requires a little flexibility with how the opponent reacts and your choice of follow-on technique – as shown in the latter sections of this video.
We also practiced the Mir Lock, made famous by Frank Mir in UFC 36.
26th October 2017
Fundamentals class: knee on belly basics.
As part of our standing warm up we drilled how to sprawl. For many it was their first time so we drilled starting from the knees. Partner shoots in for our legs from kneeling and other person sprawls back.
Knee on belly is versatile enough to act as either a pin and hold down with submission attack options, or, a platform to stay mobile and move on to other options.
1. Getting to knee on belly form side
2. A little look at body angles
3. The far side armbar
4. Some mobility drills and demos
Main class – closed guard overhook choke attacks.
The overhook is a good controlling position when using closed guard. There are many attacks from here and it’s very hard for uke to posture back up as long as you observe the main aspects to holding the overhook. Included in the mix, is a solo drill using your own gi to help practice the cross sleeve grip to overhook.
22nd October 2017
KIDS CLASS: today we split the class into two teams, each with a team captain who selected their squad. The mats became a runway track and the kids one of the the other performed each jiu jitsu drill as a relay race. For example first exercise was to run up the mat, do five press ups and run back down, tag the next member of their team, who then does the same. This continued until each member of the team had done the exercise. Points were awarded for each win. The drills includes usual warm up shrimps, animal drills etc then built up to more complex BJJ techniques: escape from closed guard using hands on bicep technique, escape from under mount, guard retention/recovery drill (4 reps) then finale, pass us adults open guard.
Adults class – More hip bump sweep, this time we looked at combination and follow-on attacks if the hip bump sweep failed – or rather, we may have intended for our uke to post out their hand, which gives us the kimura attack.
19th October 2017
FUNDAMENTALS – chokes from the back.
MAIN CLASS – special guest Liam Wandi taught some concepts from the closed guard.
15th October 2017
KIDS CLASS: Beginner kids: closed guard and how to break opponent’s posture by widening apart their elbows and using knees to bring them down and hold them there. At the same time I taught how the person inside closed guard can try to find a way back to upright posture.
Advanced kids class (Sandeep) were taught the closed guard sleeve drag to back take position. This is a simple but high percentage way to get to the back of the opponent.
ADULT CLASS: Hip bump sweep.
As part of our standing technique warm up, Sandeep taught a counter to the guard pull. With this version, you grip with one hand only and keep theother free which you can use to swipe away opponent’s posting leg when he pulls guard.
Hip bump Sweep lesson taught by me was a breakdown of the main components that make the sweep work efficiently.
12th October 2017
FUNDAMENTALS – Double leg takedown.
FUNDAMENTALS – Back Control.
MAIN CLASS – Counters to the guard pull.
MAIN CLASS – More Flower and Pendulum Sweep details
8th October 2017
Kids Class: all the kids trained escaping the closed guard by standing up and pushing the knee down. The more advanced kids proceeded to transition to mount by the more simpler method of climbing over their uke’s legs and taking top mount. Then they had to resist the bottom person from escaping. The newer kids just did the standing up part.
Adults class: for standup we drilled kouchi gari foot sweeps. During the main portion I taught pendulum sweep and flower sweep, with an explanation on how both were similar but had their own characteristics.
5th October 2017
Fundamentals – Standup technique: standing guillotine attack and the defence to this.
Carrying on with Top control, moving from side to scarf hold to north south, introduction to the mount, moving from low mount to high mount.
Main class – takedowns we carried on drilling the lapel drag from standing with more emphasis on really moving our body forward and underneath the uke while at the same time dragging them forward.
Scissor sweep defence – to defeat the scissor sweep or indeed many other sweeps, destroying the components that make the sweep work is a good concept to follow:
1st October 2017
Kids class – Everyone drilled the scissor sweep from the closed guard. The aim was to make it all the way to top mount position and not let the partner escape.
Takedowns: lapel collar drag from standing.
Scissor sweep follow-on attacks.
I reckon a lot of people lose faith with the scissor sweep because when they try to apply it in sparring against a more experienced partner, it opens them up too much to a pass or the sweep gets stuffed and they feel it doesn’t work anymore.
So the first tech I showed was how to load up your scissor sweep position as tightly as possible and not allow your opponent to take advantage of any slack or space to move. From there, the sweep itself can be performed either in the traditional fashion or as a reverse scissor sweep (tech 2).
The armbar and collar choke combo is a nice follow on attack in case the scissor sweep itself gets halted.
Finally, I showed a couple of open guard sweeps that work on the same principle as the closed guard scissor sweep. We’ll be looking more at the open guard in subsequent weeks.
SPARRING – the higher grades and I demonstrated how to roll properly. The best sparring rolls are done so with the aim of seeking positional progression and explore technique as well as trying to find submissions, but it must be done so with control and never to hurt your training partner. It seems obvious but without focus, can be easily forgotten, hence it is always worth reminding oneself best practice when rolling. See the video below, it is long and a bit noisy:
28th September 2017
Standing technique – Armdrag, side clinch, squat and lift opponent. We did this drill as part of our warm up. Next technique – from side clinch, drop your leg that is behind uke and sit down, both of you will fall to the floor, take mount.
Today we looked at side control pinning concepts using the four corners principle. Imagine the torso is like a rectangle with four corners – two at the hips and two at the shoulders. You can lock down and control hips, equally you can control and lock the shoulders too. Finally we looked at how to control all four corners.
Main class – Closed guard month: the scissor sweep.
Warm up was standing technique: double lapel snap down into triangle with quick conversion to closed guard if that fails.
We looked at the finer points of the basic scissor sweep, then switched it up a bit by playing with follow on techniques if the initial attempt doesn’t work. Then we looked at cross sleeve grips as an effective means to scissor sweep.
24th September 2017
Standing warm up: snap down from far side collar grab and knee pick takedown.
Back attacks – Sandeep taught two techniques, one a sneak choke using your own gi lapel, the other, a nogi style attack which eliminates the defender’s arm and directs him into your triangle choke.
Kids class: how to hold mount when the bottom person is moving side to side or pushing your chest away (a drill known as Spiderkid). The more advanced kids were shown how to progress from low mount to high mount using the finger crawl method to open the elbows. Then we briefly covered the S-mount.
21st September 2017
Fundamentals class – Framing
I would say there are three major concepts needed for really effective defence and escapes in BJJ – hip escaping, bridging and the third one being framing (there are many others, but I’d say those are the big three.) Today we looked at framing when under side control, when under mount and when being head locked on the ground. We ended with a set position task for the top person to pin and prevent bottom person escaping while bottom person was to use hip escapes, bridging and framing in a bid to prevent being pinned down.
Warm up was the arm drag and re-drag to side clinch. We also practiced the back breakfall briefly.
Main class – Back attacks: straight armbar
Warm up: foot sweeps, same as Sunday.
When you obtain back control, you need a good set of submissions both choking submissions and armbars. The reason for this is because of the possibility of uke falling one the ‘weak’ side (where your arm is under his arm), or falling on the ‘strong’ side (where your arm is over uke’s shoulder). In truth there is no strong or weak side but be aware that falling on the weak side allows uke to escape more easily.
1. Quick armbar from the back using the karate chop method.
2. Figure 4 grip (aka kimura grip) to armbar
3. From the back, to attemped armbar, to sitting kimura submission
4. From (3), failed kimura, to straight armbar.
17th September 2017
Main class – back attacks: the six choke combination/flow
An efficient way to learn a series of related techniques is to combine them into a [shhh whisper it] kata type sequence. Today I put together 6 back attacks that flow from one to the other depending on how uke reacts.
1. Sliding collar choke
2. Transition to bow and arrow
3. From here switch to single wing collar choke
4. If that fails move to the sleeve ezekiel
5. If they collapse then switch to nogi ezekiel
6. If they turtle, the clock choke is there.
Standing warmups: judo footsweep drills
Kids Class: the focus today was on a series of simple self defence techniques:
1. Grip breaks
2. Wrist lock when pushed on the chest
3. Duck under escapes from a front strangle
4. Touch floor then grab leg escape from rear bear hug under arms.
14th September 2017
Fundamentals Class – Bridging.
Warm up was standing arm drags as a means to take the back or the T-clinch position.
Bridging is a very powerful and important movement that is utilised mainly during positional escapes. We looked at how the bridge can be used to lift heavy weights off the ground and direct them to another area of the ground. We drilled bridging as applied to the trap and roll escape from under mount, then looked at bridging as an escape to the headlock (kesa gatame) and finally bridging when your back is taken.
Warm-up: Guard pull to closed guard using our instep and shin to flick away uke’s standing leg. We also drilled basic fake guard pull to ankle pick.
Submissions from the back – collar and lapel chokes
Using your opponent’s gi is a staple for many collar chokes from the back. We drilled the basic sliding collar choke, then the basic bow and arrow choke. Following that we played with a variation using our knee and then finally using our own gi skirt as a means to secure the bow and arrow.
10th September 2017
Stand Up: from now on, we will train standing attacks as part of our warm up. The idea is to drill the movements, timing and distancing but less focus on the specific details. We’ll save those for specific takedowns and throws sessions. It was evident at competition that few of our team were able to deal with the stand up portion of their fights. Today we looked at the guard pull, up to the part where foot it placed on hip.TAKING THE BACK: From closed guard, reacting when opponent tries to counter.
The sleeve drag from closed guard is very effective but it needs to be executed with precision and very close contact, so there are times when the opponent will counter and prevent you from completing the back take.
1. If the opponent tries to power out of the sleeve drag, it often means he presents the gift wrap. With the gift wrap in place, it gives you the ideal opportunity to use the pendulum sweep (I refer to it as the flower sweep in the video). When you land the pendulum sweep nicely into technical mount, with the gift wrap still in place, it gives you the chance to take the back.
2. If the opponent sits back and kills your pendulum sweep attempt, you can still take the back.(Bonus: we also talking about how to escape the gift wrap position when you are underneath. It was a position I observed often inthe white belt divisions of the Beds Open.
KIDS CLASS: Bulldozer drill (allowing bottom person to barrel roll while you maintain top position). We then looked at switching base from top mount to technical mount when the person turns sideways trying to escape, we then drilled the immediate seat belt grip. Finally I showed them the back take when in technical mount.7th September 2017
FUNDAMENTALS CLASS: The hip escape
The hip escape is often also referred to as ‘shrimping.’ The concept is simple to move your hips away from where they were previously resting when your back is flat on the ground. It is a core movement that forms the basis of so many techniques where you must try to escape from your opponent’s attacks. At advanced levels it is also used when counter-attacking. Experienced grapplers use their knowledge of how their opponent will hip escape in order to prevent them from escaping, thus maximizing the success of their attack. These drills were performed with minimum top pressure, just to enable beginners to get used to the core hip escape movement. The full technique will require knowledge of framing, timing and distancing.1. Hip escape drill solo
2. Hip escape drill when someone is on top in ‘mount’ position.
3. Hip escape drill when someone is on top is ‘side control’ position.
4. Hip escape drill when someone is behind you in ‘back control.’
5. Set position exercise putting the hip escape in action against a constantly moving partner.
General BJJ Class: TAKING THE BACK – From butterfly guard and from closed guard.
Just as with mount and side mount, trying to access the opponent’s back from guard play can seem awkward as it is facing the farthest away from you. But the armdrag principle if used correctly, can instantly bring the back to you, and from here with almost little effort, you can take the back and start attacking from there.
1. Butterfly guard with armdrag to back
2. Butterfly guard with 2-on-1 grip and butterfly lifting sweep
3. Closed guard, sleeve drag to back (several variations on getting uke to release their grip on you).
3rd September 2017
BACK TAKES – Using the Kimura Grip
The kimura grip, aka Figure four grip – is a very versatile control point. You can obtain it from a very wide variety of positions (today we looked at the mount and the side). Once established, you can either attack (for example an armbar or kimura submission) or move your opponent to take their back.
1. Setting up the kimura grip from mount / taking the back
2. Setting up kimura grip from side / taking the back
KIDS CLASS: Taking the back. The advanced kids learned how to transition from top mount to technical mount and sink in the seat belt grip. From here they were shown how to take back control. White belt kids did the same except we focused solely on the transition to technical mount with seat belt.
Interesting new kids game: the press up hand slap game: pair up kids facing each other both in push up position, take turns to slap the other person’s hand. This drill builds core strength, balance and stability as well as speed. It’s also fun and you can play adult v kid.
31st August 2017
BACK TAKES – From the mount position
When you take the top mount, your job is to make it hell for the bottom person by using a lot of pressure, maybe attempting submissions, grinding away and just being a pain enough to force them to try to escape. This then becomes the ideal opportunity to transition to back control, which is arguably a superior controlling position to be in. When you have back control, you can attack and not receive much back.Warming up, the bottom person turned to their side and the top person immediately switches their position to something we call the technical mount. Back to normal mount, the bottom person then turns to their other side and top person switches position again. Repeat to improve the timing and sensitivity of the drill.
1. Bottom person rolls to their side to try and hip escape (without framing) and top person switches to a high technical mount, as per warm up, but this time, establishes a tight seat belt aka harness grip on the top part of their body. Your chest is low and compressing down. Everything is about locking in tight. From here sit on your bum and roll to the side. Don’t fall backwards, be aware of the plane of movement. Get your second hook in (your second foot).
2. There is a version where you don’t get the harness grip and in fact stay very light on top while bottom person turns over onto his knees. From here you have to spot the opportunity to insert that second hook and establish back control. Shift your weight backwards over uke’s hips or you’ll be too far forward.
3. Similar to drill (1) there is sometimes an opportunity to use the gift wrap, which is a great way to control uke’s upper body.
4. When uke uses the step-over hip escape, this is an ideal opportunity to try the rolling back take. This technique might seem fancy, but it is actually fairly simple. It requires a little practice to get used to the somewhat unorthodox angle of attack and the nature of the rolling to get to the other side.
27th August 2017
OMOPLATA – More escapes and a sneaky counter
The rolling out method we practised last week (Sandeep tells me David Onuma calls it the sniff-butt method lol) should be your first choice go-to escape once the omoplata is sunk in. Today we looked at other options for when uke hasn’t quite sunk in the omoplata and is not yet sitting upright this giving you an opportunity to work more agile escapes that land you in better positions:
1. Revision on our rolling out method.
2. Hopping over uke
3. Sliding over uke with pressure to his jaw
4. Sliding underneath uke
5. Sit-through (I neglected to record this, so see video in comments section).
6. Sit-through with toe-hold. This is nasty, and only allowed at brown belt and above rank.
Kids class: Sandeep taught guard play while three of our long time students were being tested for their grey/white belt. Well done to Aimee, Ella and Roma on passing the test and earning a promotion to their new belt rank!
24th August 2017
OMOPLATA – Defence and escapesAs we’ve seen in previous lessons, the omoplata is a highly versatile technique both as a submission itself and as a control point with which to attack other options. Spotting the trigger points at which your opponent will attack using the omoplata is a valuable trait to perfect.
1. Either through your own actions or forced to by your opponent, there will be points during a roll where your elbow opens outwards and away from the side of your body. Once they do open out, then you are vulnerable to be attacked using so-called open elbow attacks (omoplata, kimura, americana and a few others that are less common).
Spotting the trigger points as early as you can and posturing up along with closing your elbow all help to stuff the omoplata attempts.
2. A lot of omoplata attempts are a result of you yourself giving the opponent a free open elbow. One example is the common (though ill-advised) tactic of reversing your arm direction when being triangled. This only gives your opponent a chance to attack with an omoplata. From here, we used this scenario to practice last ditch defence and posturing. Grabbing your inner thigh will buy you a few brief moments of time to compose yourself. But it won’t prevent the eventual submission.
3. A common escape from omoplata is to roll forward. But rolling forward where you face away from your opponent might seem instinctive to do, but it only allows your opponent to continue attacking. Rolling by facing inwards towards your opponent is a far higher percentage escape. This method does not rely on strength and doesn’t allow your opponent to control your hips. You might even get a full guard pass by doing so but worst case scenario is you escape the omoplata and face his guard.
13th August 2017
OMOPLATA x TRIANGLE COMBOS.
The omoplata marries beautifully alongside a bunch of other submissions, the triangle being particular good one to look for. Since we’ve just spent a good month on the triangle it is still fresh in our minds so today we looked at how it links to the omoplata…
Warmup: triangle to omoplata back to triangle repeated. First try with no grips, then very light grips. This exercise encourages sensitivity to the movements and not be lazy with hips or rely on strong grips.
1: triangle attempt, bends arm back (switch grips), omoplata (The Slap or slow method).
2. Omoplata, feel resistance, grip collar and move to triangle.
3: Omoplata / he rolls forward / you remain, sit & trap arm / back step to the mounted triangle / roll to regular triangle or reverse triangle.
4. The seated arm trap is a fairly common position when uke escapes out of omoplata, I wouldn’t call it a mount or a pin but it’s a handy place from which to launch different things. As above, there is the mounted triangle but a simpler option is to move to side control. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the monoplata or the gogoplata – good techs to try especially in nogi jiujitsu.
KIDS CLASS: To practice scissor sweep, I introduced a game called running on the floor: they lie on the floor on their sides and the top leg steps over the bottom one, allowing them to run in circles on the spot. They can chase a partner running around them or a partner jumping over their legs. This action was then repeated but from open guard, so as to practice the scissor sweep.
Another game/drill we used was the hip escape race. Bottom person back to the ground, partner sits in mount (but doesn’t apply full weight) and the bottom person has to hip escape/shrimp down the mat. It is a race so I paired up the kids and first one to reach the end was the winner. At random points I yelled, SIT and the kid in mount has to apply full weight on the bottom kid, to make the hip escape harder.
Finally – Kneeling tug of war – the kids can sit kneeling, combat base, butterfly, any position but must not stand up. Person who crosses past a line or loses the rope is the loser.
10th August 2017
MORE OMOPLATA: you can use the omoplata as a lever to manipulate your opponent as they try to escape. You can also use it to finish even if you cannot drive them flat to the ground.
1. Movement drills based on expecting your opponent to roll out of your omoplata.
2. When uke stands up you can use the omoplata to sweep him if you use the correct grip.
3. Omoplata can be finished even from a crappy uncompleted position, if you use the leg hook method.
4. As above, this time, we’re focused on the crucifix position which can be attained from a crappy omoplata half finish to even better, when uke rolls forward, you roll as well and end up in the perfect crucifix position. I neglected to explain one tiny but important detail – you need to hip shift away once you grab the far shoulder. This extends his shoulders further and locks them for a painful submission.
6th August 2017
Omoplata is part of the ‘open elbow’ series of attacks along with Americana, Kimura etc. Most folk see it as mainly a submission – which it certainly is – but increasingly, modern day competitors use it as a platform to set up all sorts of other things, such as sweeps and combination attacks. Today we looked at the basics of how the omoplata works to kill your opponent’s posture and how to lock in the submission. Then we looked at allowing our uke to perform a forward roll to ‘escape’ only to fall into your trap of a side control.
Kids class: a variety of techniques from the white belt syllabus revision, plus I showed a simple defence to front strange (step back, shunt shoulders back wards, one more step back but hold out arm for distancing)
27th July 2017
ESCAPING THE TRIANGLE
In tonight’s session, we looked at defending and escaping the triangle via a progression of techniques where the triangle gets worse and worse each time.
1. This one is relevant regardless of the attack, posture + grip fighting are the key elements to dealing with being inside the guard.
2. If they do get to isolate head and arm, then this method is a textbook escape when they haven’t locked you down too bad.
3. A good triangle really needs the bottom person to create an acute angle. If you can deny them this, then the triangle is a zillion times harder to execute. A simple tactic.
4. The knee drive method of escape is a very basic but very effective escape. Learn this!!
5. BONUS: the push choke escape is low percentage and you are in a very real risk of getting armbarred, but as a surprise last ditch attempt, make sure you grab the pants and elevate his hips.
23rd July 2017
TRIANGLE SET-UPS – FROM MOUNT AND BACK
The triangle choke (whether from the bottom or from the top) is a powerful high percentage submission that is accessible from a large variety of positions. In previous classes we saw how to acquire that key trigger position of an isolated arm and head – from the knee on belly, closed guard and the side mount. Today we looked at getting to the triangle from the full top mount position, from a failed armbar and finally from the back mount via a bow and arrow choke.
Adding the triangle as both a primary attack and a secondary attack option therefore is a good fight strategy when grappling.
KIDS CLASS: today was a more fun and games day as most kids will have just finished school term. We kicked of with ball based games including fighting a turtled opponent for claim the ball, shrimping badckwards in a race to grab the ball and this one, which involved using the seal movement from our animal drills selection:
We also worked a timed exercise trying to get from side control to full mount, then another timed exercise to try to break open closed guard and escape to pass to side.
20th July 2017
TRIANGLE CHOKE – DOUBLE THREAT ATTACKS.
These submission attacks all revolve around the fact that you are NOT losing that triangle lock around your opponent’s head and arm. There are of course plenty of secondary attacks from the triangle (eg omoplata etc) but you need to open the triangle in order to execute them. The attacks we used today all keep the triangling legs closed…ideally, you end up with the double threat of having two target options to attack almost at the same time.
1. A quick entry to the triangle from closed guard.
2. Step by step: Breaking posture, making a perpendicular angle, locking in the legs tight and pressuring the arteries.
3. The armbar from inside the triangle choke.
4. As above but different version when elbow is not in middle.
5. Arm crush, aka reverse armbar.
Assuming your triangle position is solid, the attacks above are very high percentage. You will get a finish if done correctly.
16th July 2017
MOUNTED TRIANGLE v BOTTOM TRIANGLE.
The rapid attack of mounted triangle from the side control position is a neat way to exert dominance. Make sure your starting position is as high as possible so you land in a good high mount and can execute the triangle effectively.
If you cannot lock the feet for the mounted triangle, try the armbar (two versions shown). Then consider rolling into the bottom triangle. I showed more detail on how to fine tune the triangle for proper execution, including the less commonly used (but very effective) triangle with the underhook.
Kids class: self defence was the focus today. We worked on escape from rear bear hug and added in the double knee pickup and backward throw. We also looked at a very simple defence to the front two handed strange and played a game of Zombies to help work the drill.
14th July 2017
KNEE ON BELLY: MOUNTED TRIANGLE.
Mounted versions of the triangle are a crazy awesome position to be in. Being on top is positionally superior to being on the bottom. When you can get a really high mount and can lock your legs in tight, a submission is *almost* a certainty. That being said, if you must roll over, be prepared to re-adjust that triangle choke quickly. It is during this roll over transition where most attacks fall apart. If you can, try to finish and stay on top, even if it means abandoning the triangle and attacking the straight armbar instead. But we’ll cover the bottom triangle choke fully in another class.
The video today focuses a lot on the very core basics on how to finish the mounted triangle:
Main tips: get really high, squeeze your knees tight and then lift the head to throw your leg under his head, make sure there is a good ‘bite’ on the neck, lean to one side to lift your foot so that you may swing the free leg for the figure four lock, then the finale, angle your body pressure on the tricep thus pushing his arm into his arteries (as opposed to the more old school version of just lifting the head).
Getting to the mounted triangle can be achieved from a lot of different positions and set-ups. Today we looked at the knee on belly where bottom person pushes your knee. I also showed the reverse knee on belly version and the side mount to triangle transition. We will look at these in more detail Sunday.
9th July 2017
Knee on belly – basic position, grips and reaction-based submission.
Basic positioning, grips, armbars and kimura: all a result of using the KOB to elicit a reaction due to your painful pressure. Plus bonus: the Cyborg knee on neck submission.
Kids class: strong legs and examples of when to use them: basic standing rock solid and resisting against someone pulling or pushing them when standing up. We also used the strong legs principle when someone grabs you from behind covering both your arms.
6th July 2017
David Onuma Seminar: posture in the closed guard
We were lucky to have second degree black belt David Onuma teaching a class tonight. He focused on posture inside the closed guard and then progressed to how to open and then pass the guard. With David’s unique perspective, it was an amazing session. No video for this entry – the seminar was a special for members only. But here’s a nice group photo:
2nd July 2017
Ideally you want to prevent north/south from being established in the first place. When someone passes your guard, you are going your damnest to re-guard (see retaining guard videos). But if this fails then you have to watch out for either side control or if the opponent reaches around and goes straight to north south.
The most important priority for you is to ensure your face and chest are not weighed down by the top person. The leg and hip upward pump I showed along with stiff arming the hips will help you shunt your body down and the opponent further up your body. This gives you freedom to then perform any one of the many north/south escapes available.
Today we looked at three simple escapes:
1. Double knee shield spin into butterfly
2. Rolling over backwards
3. Leg pendulum onto knees and possible single leg takedown.
Kids Class: Single leg takedown (using our waves on the beach analogy). In this version of the single leg, we also reached around for the double leg takedown. We then practiced a game of grab the tag on the back of the belt but the two participants had to continue in sleeve or elbow grip.
29th June 2017
North South Attacks
The north-south position offers the top person a great choice to attack on either side of his opponent. In some ways, people often view north-south as an extreme version of side control.
I recommend the over/under grip position. From the ‘unders’ position you have the papercutter choke or the armbar. From the ‘overs’ position you have the kimura and, bonus tech: the head scissors choke.
22nd June 2017
REVERSE SCARF HOLD DEFENCE & ESCAPES.
The reverse scarf typically comes about because you have done well preventing the guard passer from establishing the regular cross side mount. Or, he perhaps is midway escaping your half guard and decides to switch the way he is facing in order to escape. However it happens, your number one priority is to NOT allow him to open out your elbows!
Maintain strong discipline with your elbows and try to hip escape away from the top person. Should your elbows be opened out and top person progresses higher up your body, the moment his weight is on your chest then you need to chest bump and shoulder walk to force him back down.
In addition to the regular hip escape – where you turn to face the top person, the stiff arm escape is also an option, but remember you are turning away from the top person with this technique.
Other escapes capitalise on mistakes and errors by the top person. For example if they get frustrated trying to open your elbows, they may decide to move their body over your elbows, if this happens, you have an excellent opportunity to escape and even counter.
Finally, watch out because stepping over your body to gain the mount is not the only way the reverse scarf holder can move. He could for example hop up onto your body and spin around – Andre Galvao style!
Kids Class: We added forward shrimping and an example why it was useful. Our second week of practising the o goshi throw, then sparring starting from back to back placement.
SIDE CONTROL DEFENCE AND ESCAPES
A good cross body side control will have you pinned down across the shoulders and with the top person’s knee and elbow clamped tight, it also reduced your ability to shrimp out. Add in a shoulder of justice for the cross face and it’s a horrible position to be in.:
1. With the opponent about to get side control, preventing the cross face is a first priority.
2. With the cross face in place, we see if we can do hip escape with framing
3. Underhook using our far side arm
4. Underhook using our nearside arm (with the potential for a brabo or anaconda choke to finish).
5. Turning away – this breaks the established rule to never show your back, but if you do it this way, it is reasonably safe for a short period of time.
6. But ideally you’ll need to escape and the running man escape is one option.
18th June 2017
SIDE CONTROL ATTACKS – nogi ezekiel, nogi brabo and no gi Japanese necktie.
To show the versitility of the head and arm triangle system, today we looked at transitioning from the basic head and arm triangle into the nogi ezekiel (using a RNC grip). This is useful for when uke turns away from you. When uke turns in to face you and tries to underhook you, the nogi Brabo (aka Darce) can come into play. This technique relies on dropping your shoulder deep to make your arm long. But if it’s really hard for you to achieve this, the Japanese necktie is another option. It is less reliant on making your arms long. Train with care, it is a very very painful and neck crushing submission.
Kids class: O Goshi (hip throw) today with lots of breakfall practice too.
15th June 2017
SIDE CONTROL ATTACKS: Brabo grip attacks / Head & Arm Triangle choke.
Last week we utilised the opponent’s gi lapel as a tool to attack the neck. The Brabo grip switches the way we hold that same far side gi lapel. We looked at two attacks once the Brabo is established:
1. Basic cross collar choke
2. Head and arm triangle choke.
The Brabo is a very versatile gripping position and can lead on to a number of other head and arm style attacks.
This brings us nicely onto the head & arm triangle itself. In its pure form, as a nogi technique, we looked at the mechanics of how to make it work in the most efficient manner using our bicep+forearm+head/chest/uke’s arm to form the three sides of a triangle. It is not always an instant or immediate tap, think of it more like the constriction of a python, slowly increasing as the blood flow reduces until finally, the opponent must tap or go to sleep.
Finally we looked at the set up to head and arm triangle from the side mount. Note the specific way to transport our legs across to the other side without gettting trapped by the opponent.
11th June 2017
SIDE CONTROL ATTACKS – using gi lapels.
Gi lapels are a handy tool to use in addition to established choking methods. If you consider the number of lapels available to you: two on your gi and two on your opponent’s gi, you get the idea that there are multiple options available to you. Today we looked at some simple lapel chokes to start us off:
1. Using uke’s own far side gi lapel for the baseball bat choke
2. Using uke’s own far side gi lapel for the clock style choke
3. Using your own far side gi lapel for the clock style choke, or if you prefer to jump your feet over, this is often known as the Jacare choke, named after famous champ, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ de Souza.
4. Using your own nearside lapel for the same choke.
Kids class: following on from last week where the kids learned the ‘backpack’, today we looked at how to escape the back control: push up and back then place head on floor, move shoulders, step out and hip escape. The idea was for the kids to escape and turn in to face their partner and obtain side control.
8th June 2017
SIDE CONTROL TRANSITIONS – in response to how uke moves.
It’s easy to think of dominant holding positions as static and an opportunity to apply pressure, but you need to also be able to react quickly when/if the bottom person attempts to escape.
1. (not on video) with the leg as a block, you have a number of choices but the leg lace is one option, so is the reverse kesa gatame with foot thread to mount.
2. If bottom person finds a way to turn in to face you, switching to modified scarf hold and pulling up on the nearside elbow is a good safe option. A little tip when you cannot get the elbow is to pull up on his near shoulder. Switching from cross side to kesa in response to bottom person’s movement is a good drill to practice and use in rolling.
3. When bottom person tries to escape with the underhook you need to abandon the cross side position or he will succeed escaping and counterattack. The spin around to other side drill works really nicely when this happens.
4. If the bottom person turns away from you and tries to turtle up, wait for that gap to appear before trying to insert your bottom leg, then you can throw over the top leg and take back control.
4th June 2017
SIDE CONTROL: MOVING TO MOUNT Pt 2
When in side mount, you have a choice of either controlling the top half of uke or you control his hips, it’s difficult to really control the both at the same time. Today we looked at how to lock down his hips and prevent uke from hip escaping. It’s a useful position when you are fresh from passing his guard and want to establish yourself prior to further progression.
One obstacle to progression from the low side mount to a higher side mount cross face is uke’s nearside elbow getting in the way. We looked at a position I like to call the reverse side control, where you face uke’s legs. From here, shunting your hips backwards can lever open up elbow, allowing you space to thread your foot to the mount position.
Not videoed: sometimes you simply cannot open out that nearside elbow, in which case you can either re-establish the low side position, or move to something else, like north south or as I demonstrated, hopping up a level and reverse spin to take the mount (a very risky move but nice for the showreel!). We will look at more transitioning reaction type moves next lesson.
Kids Class: Back control basics. We showed that in order to maintain back control, it was best to keep both ‘hooks’ in with tightly squeezed in feet, plus a strong seat belt grip and keeping head tucked in. We then tested their holding position with versions of the Crazy Horse drill.
1st June 2017
SIDE CONTROL: Moving to mount Pt1
1. Cross body side control is our usual go-to side position. It’s a very good position to control the person below but it can leave you vulnerable to the knee shield and re-guard efforts as you cannot control his hips from this position. Hence, the hip block position comes in useful.
2. The hip block position also has the benefit of allowing you to change angle and really dig your shoulder into your partner’s jawline. From here, it’s not a big ask to reach between his legs and grab his gi pants of the bottom leg. Your uke should now end up in a C-shape. This position we’ll call the ‘leg weave’.
3. The leg weave can also be obtained when uke defends by placing his foot on his thigh and raising his knee to form a barrier. Simply reach under that near leg and grab the far leg and walk around to flatten.
4. The leg weave is a good but temporary stopping point. It’s terrible for the bottom person because his hips face one way while his shoulders are flat on the ground. From here we can transition to the mount, but we need to do it step by step and exert pressure each step along the way.
5. the smash pass to mount aka the Dope Pass can be done using either of your legs. But most important to note, is that you need to keep your opponent’s shoulders flat on the ground. If successful you should end up in high mount.
28th May 2017
ESCAPES USING THE DEEP HALF GUARD
Deep half guard is an ideal platform with which to escape from. Your body is positioned directly beneath your opponent’s centre of gravity thereby allowing you to sweep him with ease. Today we looked at just two sweep options: the back door escape and the over/under pass.
Kids class: Continuing on from last week where the kids practiced passing the guard to take side control. This week we looked deeper at how to get a good side control using the cross face position and the ability to use your knee to windshield wipe the bottom person’s arm out of the way. We then practiced transition from side to full mount via the knee on belly. We completed the move by grapevining the legs to ensure a strong low mount hold down.
25th May 2017
ESCAPING TECHNICAL MOUNT & HIGH MOUNT
The technical mount (aka the modified mount) very commonly occurs when you are trying to move from flat on your back to the side in readiness to shrimp out of mount. That instant hip shift of the top person puts them in a great position to advance higher up, access back control or attack for submissions. Still, some people suggest that escaping modified mount is actually EASIER than escaping from regular mount, and the main reason for that is your ability to use wedges and blocks (in the form of your elbows and shins) to lever your way out. Today we looked how to do this:
1. Know that by shrimping to your side, your opponent will more than likely shift to modified mount so tucking in as you do so will make his job a lot harder.
2. The reverse hip escape is useful if you don’t succeed in getting your elbow or knee between him and you. Turning back to face your uke and using your hips are a lever to widen his base will ensure you can get your free leg between him and you.
3. If you do have sufficient elbows wedged in the you can of course use the regular hip escape movement to insert your legs between him and you.
4. If your uke has left a little gap with his upright leg, you can insert one or both your arms and perform the reverse shrimp. This needs to be done swiftly and with confidence or you risk being trapped.
5. If you fail to stop uke gaining high mount then none of the previous techs will work so you need to use something a bit more crude: shoulder walking if you do it early enough will force uke to go back down to low mount.
6. the back door escape might also be a solution if all else fails.
7. There is also an escape where you swing your legs from side to side very vigorously in order to create instability for an escape.
21st May 2017
ESCAPE FROM LOW MOUNT BASICS
Your objective at this stage is to move your body in readiness to shrimp, that means being tilted on one of shoulders more than the other, it also means having one of your legs completely flat while the other has the knee high in readiness to push the floor. Your arms must form a frame, crucially it must be braced against both your opponent’s hips. From here you are ready to escape the low mount.
A very good high percentage technique is to use the step-over escape where you hook your opponent’s heel with your own heel and drag it over your leg. Once this has been achieved you need to shrimp to your other side of the body. From here you have lots of options, a safe one is to re-guard. But you could also underhook your opponent and sweep from half guard. Deep half is also an excellent option, something we will explore in full one session soon.
Problems: the main problem you’ll face is not protecting against your opponent’s desire to progress his mount position – a very common one is that they will transition to the modified mount (aka Technical mount)…this is something we will look at the next session.
KIDS CLASS: today we played a game drill where the kids had to find a way to pass the open guard of the bottom player and land in side control. In doing this drill the kids were exposed to the notion of guard passing and securing the side control with a 3 second long hold down.
18th May 2017
Nick Brooks Seminar: Brabo grip lapel attacks from the closed guard.
We had the pleasure of having Nick Brooks (second degree black belt and the Head of Mill Hill BJJ) teaching us a class today. The techniques all were centred on the Brabo grip from the closed guard. Using your uke’s own gi skirt lapel as the starting point, Nick showed us the large array of attacking options. A very worthwhile technical seminar that gave the participants much substance for when they next play closed guard.
14th May 2017
THE MOUNT: S-MOUNT ATTACKS
The s-mount gives the attacker a great angle to go for the nearside armbar. You can also neatly switch for the far side armbar. We also looked at another option, the s-mount with the gift wrap.
Kids class: we wanted the kids to improve their ability to hold the closed guard. So we began by getting the kids to lock their ankles together and then seeing how long they could hold it when their partner stood upright. We progressed from here to show how the person inside theclosed guard could push down on the knee and break open the guard.
11th May 2017
THE MOUNT: LOW MOUNT TO HIGH MOUNT
Today we looked at maintaining the low and the high mount. We then saw that the high mount was useful when switching to the S-mount and attacking from there. Also available is the gift wrap, which can progress to a variety of attacks, we focused on just one today, the back take and rear naked choke.
7th May 2017
ESCAPES & DEFENCES: Straight ankle lock escapes, defences and counters.
The straight ankle lock while often taught as a ‘beginner’ technique should never be taken lightly. Of all the foot lock attacks, I personally rate it very highly. The main reason being that it is the most easy to set-up and execute. It can also lead to a variety of transitions and counters.
Knowing how to execute the ankle lock should be trained as equally as knowing how to defend it. Please refer to previous video on how to attack the straight ankle lock for that video: https://youtu.be/UyaAijkREAs
1. Absolutely essential first action to take when you feel your foot is under threat is to pull the toes back and kick the heel forward. This is often refered to as ‘putting the boot or sock on’. Forming this foot structure will buy you time to escape.
2. There are many ways to escape the straight ankle lock. The basic principle to most of these is to split your opponent’s knees apart and invade the space you create. This in fact leads potentially to you taking a superior and dominant position.
3. On the flipside, it is useful to know the counter when your opponent wants to split your knees apart.
Escaping from the closed guard using the hands on biceps guard break.
4th April 2017
DEFENCE & ESCAPES: FROM CROSS COLLAR CHOKES
There are numerous collar/lapel based strangle techniques. Most of these rely on the actions of both your opponent’s grips. One grip tends to be the anchoring side while the other will be the moveable threat and is the side that applies the final pressure.
Good defence begins early, and it is advisable to maintain good posture (if caught within closed guard) and engage in grip fighting to avoid allowing him to obtain any grip on your collars. But if uke does manage one collar grip, he’ll still require that second collar grip to become effective so you could try to ward that second arm away. The objective is not so much to defend all the time, but to regain good posture and begin working your guard pass.
In the worst case scenario where your opponent has both grips on your collars and has broken your posture, you have one last gasp survival technique, which is to hug his elbows tightly.
In all of these cases, the ‘phonecall’ or ‘brushing your hair’ movement with your hand is a very effective tool when defending collar grips.
30th April 2017
ESCAPES: REVERSE SHRIMPING
The reverse shrimp (aka forward shrimp) is when you are trying to shift your body downwards towards your feet, as opposed to normal shrimping when you are trying to shift your weight upwards, towards the direction of your head. Both forms of shrimping are important when executing your great escapes!
1. Reverse shrimping basics, how to do it properly and what the purpose is.
2. An illustration of how it works using your partner as dead weight.
3. The reverse shrimp when escaping early back control
4. In back control, when partner has collar grip, you can still use reverse shrimp but you must protect your neck first
5. Further deep into the back control escape strategy, you can use reverse shrimping when he has a bow and arrow choke.
6. In mount, a normal shrimp is the usual course of action, but there are situations where the reverse can be very effective.
7. From under side control, a mini-reverse shrimp really works wonders when escaping using one of the several underhook (Superman) style escapes.
Reverse shrimps are usually practised during warm up drills but rarely taught as a standalone technique, which is a shame as it forms such a vital part of escaping from bad positions.
Kids Class: today we warmed up with grip breaks from when an opponent grabs your wrist. We then looked at the scissor sweep from closed guard. Adding this technique to last week’s provides the guard player with two very effective sweeps from this position.
27th April 2017
DEFENSIVE COUNTERS: DROPPING INTO SPACE CONCEPT.
Using your multi-layered wall principle is one thing, but using it as a way to trap, bait and counter attack is another layer you can add to this strategy. We drilled several examples of this concept, from long, middle and short range guards, all involve the idea of removing a structure (either a part of your body or that of your opponent) to make them fall or drop a little bit. This drop can be used against them:
1. Concept basics
2. Spider guard into triangle choke
3. Basic balloon sweep (both feet on hips)
4. Balloon sweep via de la Riva guard
5. When you are being crushed with your knees in the way, drop to cross collar choke (tip: elevate the hips before dropping down).
6. The Roleta sweep, a version of the overhead style balloon sweep from closed guard, it also relies on removing structures to execute the sweep.
7. Knee shield half guard into loop choke.
8. Further discussion: the examples we tried today are just to demo the concept, once you have this in your skillset, you’ll see opportunities everywhere to mess with your opponent’s balance and direction.
23rd April 2017
DEFENCE, ESCAPES AND COUNTERS – Layers of the guard.
Most people learn a specific guard system and then they learn ways to pass it and then move on to learn another system etc etc. This is perfectly normal. The bigger picture however is to combine all these guards into a complete defensive system. A simple way to view this is to consider these guards as long, medium or short range defensive walls. today we looked at a sample of ways from each of these different ranges:
1. Long range – using your feet, not just the soles, but insteps too (eg in DLr or RDLR)
2. Mid-range – using your knees, shins, stiff arming etc
3. Short-range – using your collar tie, inverted collar tie or whizzer.
4. Very short range – one can also use ones hips, eg granby rolling back into guard.
Once you know how to put up wall after wall of defences against an attacker who is intent on passing and pinning you, then you can effectively move from short to medium to long and back to medium etc pretty much at will, forcing your opponent to constantly seek holes and weaknesses in the system (which can take a long time if you are good at this).
People who are really good at using these layers of defences are also good at using them to counter, bait, trap and submit from the guard…which we will look at in the next series of classes.
KIDS CLASS: we continued from last week’s armbar from the closed guard to drill the hip bump sweep. This simple but highly effective sweep turns the bottom player into the top player and lands them in mount. A very good controlling dominant position.
20th April 2017
DEFENCE, ESCAPES AND COUNTERS – the strong shape/weak shape concept and The Wall concept.
1. Strong shape/weak shape refers to the way your shoulders ideally ought to point in the same direction as your hips. Any twisting or torque applied to make hips point in a different direction to your shoulders means that you are mechanically weaker to defend, attack or move compared to strong shape. Once you begin seeing your movements using this concept, you realise how it affects almost every single movement in jiu jitsu, from defending mount, side, back control, to passing guard, to playing guard to all sorts of areas. I would rate this concept is one of the single most important body mechanical principles in BJJ. I credit black belt Nic Gregoriades with presenting the concept in this very easy to learn way.
2. The Wall is a concept that I learned from American instructor Ryan Hall – one of the very best conceptual teachers out there. The Wall, simply put, is the concept of using your legs and arms to act as shields to prevent your opponent passing your guard and edging past your hips. It’s a very deep concept with many aspects to it. Tonight we covered only the very basic long range to short range zones of using legs and arms to create blocks and checkpoints against the four corners principle (another concept model).
16th April 2017
MORE TURTLE ATTACKS: Entries into the Crucifix PLUS Peruvian necktie gi and nogi variations)
When attacking the turtle position, the balled up opponent is actually in a pretty strong position defensively. The top crucifix has a few attack options but you are in a much better place ironically when you roll him over so your own back is on the ground. This exposes your opponent’s weaker areas for attack.
We also looked at the unashamedly devastating submission attack known as the Peruvian necktie. With or without the gi, this strangulation technique comes on super fast. It is one of a whole family of head and arm triangle submissions which we’ll explore at a later date. (Thanks to Sandeep for the necktie attacks).
KIDS CLASS: We’re focusing on the closed guard for a few weeks. We began the session with simple way to use the knees to ward off an attacker trying to strangle us within our guard. Then we began the set-up for thw straight armbar from the closed guard.
13th April 2017
ATTACKING THE TURTLE – CRUCIFIX POSITION
The crucifix is a really cool position that allows you to control the back of you opponent and grants access to a myriad of submissions. But it isn’t much used which is a shame because it is a very effective position. The main reason I think is because it is viewed as ‘difficult to get to’ or too ‘specialist’ however once you start spotting the moments that a crucifix would be applicable, opportunities suddenly start appearing. We looked at a few such examples this evening:
1. Crucifix from the turtle person trapping your arm to roll you over.
2. How to hold the basic crucifix from the bottom (there is a top control version too)
3. The basic gi collar choke from crucifix
4. The one-armed rear naked choke…also we trained the conventional two arm version as a follow up (not on video).
5. The loop choke bait from a failed gi collar choke.
6. Demonstrated but not drilled: other methods of obtaining the crucifix on a turtled opponent.
9th April 2017
ATTACKING TURTLE POSITION
Your opponent may end up in turtle from a variety of reasons and positions. One example might be by trying to not let you pass his guard, another is if he fails a double leg takedown and you sprawl on top of him. Many other examples exist and your job is to see this as an opportunity to attack.
There are a number of tactics one can employ but broadly you can attack the turtle directly, or indirectly. The direct method would involve you trying to insert your hooks in while your opponent is still in turtle, the indirect method relies on you disrupting his turtle position:
1. First of all, be aware of the pitfalls of committing yourself to certain grips while placing your weight on the turtling opponent.
2. You can try to insert your foot in while opponent is still in turtle position. It’s unlikely you’ll get to start choking him from the top position, more than likely he will roll you off him. Which is fine, you can then try to get to the seatbelt grip or attack the next directly once he rolls.
3. Another way to attack the turtle is to remove his strong turtle position – the spiral ride from wrestling is a great tool to use in such cases. It is less risky as you don’t have to be on top of your opponent and it exposes himself for you to insert hooks with minimal effort.
KIDS CLASS: 1. Guard passing revision from last week. 2. Americana from mount
6th April 2017
STAND UP TECHNIQUES – NOGI
In gi based BJJ, grips are very important. But you don’t need to always go for the sleeve and/or collar grip. In many scenarios neither party has grips or, you may find you see a limb that is more available to grab instead of the uniform. No-gi grips are also important for nogi jiu jitsu, MMA and self defence applications. S
1. Overhook / underhook grip
2. Pummelling – from easy to harder resistance
3. O/U position: osoto gari,
4. O/U position: double unders, body lock takedown
6. O/U far knee tap takedown
7. O/U near knee..single leg takedown (demonstrated in class but not drilled)
2nd April 2017
STAND UP TECHNIQUES – ASHI WAZA TECHNIQUES
Foot sweeps and trips are very handy to add to ones stand up arsenal even if you aren’t too practiced in judo. They’re relatively low risk and if successful, could lead to a very nice takedown, or at worst, puts your opponent onto the back foot, leaving him open to other takedowns, eg guard pulls, ankle picks etc.
Today we drilled ko-uchi gari, o-uchi gari and de ashiharai.
Kids class: guard passing. In the two previous classes we taught the kids how to execute an armbar from the mount. But I asked the kids, how does one get to the mount position? None could answer correctly, which led us presenting the idea of ‘passing the guard’. But before we did the drills, I got the kids to play a game, one person on their knees to the side of the other, who is on their back. The person lying down must prevent the other person from taking mount. By just moving around fast and getting their legs and knees in between their opponent, it was now obvious how hard taking mount was against resistance.
Drills: hop over and slide down the top of the thighs / grab knees, push to ground and bunny hop over the straightened legs onto mount / grab knees and step to one side then the other drill.
30th March 2017
STAND UP TECHNIQUES – GUARD PULLING AND RELATED TECHNIQUES
Guard pulling is a useful tool many BJJ players utilise when their aim is to establish the guard on their opponent. The hips far back low posture stance is also a useful foil against opponents who like to use judo throws or wrestlers who wish to shoot in. But the low posture can also mean a smaller repertoire of takedown techniques available. The obvious go to move is the standard guard pull. More advanced players may seek to pull to various open guards like the de la Riva but pulling to closed guard remains a fairly safe bet.
In class today (not shown on video below) we drilled pulling guard, then countering the guard pull (thrusting hips forward and moving leg out the way), then countering the counter by working a ground based sweep such as the tripod sweep.
Placing your foot on the hip of your opponent is the first step to pulling guard, but you may instead wish to continue the momentum of dropping of your body to the ground and throwing uke over your body. The tomoe-nage throw.
One very useful technique, if practiced enough to use with high speed, is the fake guard pull to ankle pick.
GUARD RECOVERY (aka guard retention)
When you play a guard position, chances are it won’t always go to plan so it is essential to hone your skills with ‘guard recovery’. This is that middle area between the top person who has just gone passed your guard but before he has locked you down with a hold down (eg side control or top mount). Everyone must learn these three key guard recovery skills:
1. Granby roll (at the very least, know how to effectively use the half granby). The ability to keep your hips free and away from being locked down by your opponent forms the key part of your defence and recovery.
2. Step over own leg sequence. This cross crossing of your own legs is highly effective when your opponent is working to pass on one side of you.
3. Hip escape with stiff arm: very commonly, you won’t have the full freedom to work your legs the stiff arm and hip escape (ala butt scoot) is a vital recovery movement.
4. BONUS: today we also looked at the bottom arm as a device to guard and recover when you have to turtle against an opponent.
There are many other guard recovery skills you pick up the more you become experienced with playing with different guards, but the first three above are essential for all levels of players. Bear in mind too, that the top person has the freedom to switch their direction of pass at any time especially when they meet with one of your guard recovery attempts hence the need to always mix and match these techniques in rapid quick succession.
Today we drilled hwo to hold in top mount position: the swim through, base out against side push and to continue letting the bottom person barrel roll.
We also practised armbar from the top mount.
23rd March 2017
Passing de la Riva Guard
The de la Riva guard is an open guard system with a very diverse array of possible sweeps, transitions and submission attacks. In order to pass this guard type, you need to understand how the DLR person is controlling you and how you must break down his multiple points of control. At most, he will have four points of control over your body and yet the most you can have is two (grips), so he will outnumber you in the control game. Hence, the key is to deny him or remove, those points of control so your’s outnumbers his.
1. Concept drill: look at each point of control bottom person has, how do they affect you and how do we get rid of each one:
(a) his far leg on your knee/thigh
(b) his ankle grab
(c) his dlr hook
(d) his collar or sleeve grip
3. Knee slice pass
19th March 2017
Sitting guard basics
The sitting guard (aka seated guard or sitting up guard) is very closely related to the basic de la Riva guard. When you go to sit up, it’s important to keep tight control of his standing leg and, ideally, one of his sleeve grips too:
1. Basic sitting up guard position as a transition off from the DLR guard. In this version, I have the far sleeve. Pull down on the collar to sweep him over. It’s a good idea to shift your angle of body slightly to the outside of his leg, to avoid him directly pressuring in to you with his knee. Remember to always keep your other foot extended and placed on his far leg, around or just above the knee.
2. When you sit up, grabbing the arm nearest to you is a better and more available option. From here, if you pull him down as before, his free arm is able to base out and prevent him from being completely swept over. Once you have this position, you can operate the technical stand up, which leads nicely into the …
3. Single leg takedown using the ‘run the pipe’ movement. In this takedown, squeezing your knees tightly together and pressuring your chest downwards (with a slight outwards rotation) forces your opponent to sit down. From here numerous passing options exist.
4. The final simple basic sitting up guard variation we drilled was the shin on shin guard. It’s basically the same as the sitting up guard but your shin acts as a barrier and a lever. When you fall to one side (or are pushed), lifting your leg up adds to the leverage you can use to tip your opponent off balance. Again, there are numerous set-ups and finishes using the shin on shin, worth Googling if you have time!
Kids class: Maintaining the mount position using arms swimming through method. Straight armbar from the mount position.
16th March 2017
De la Riva guard basics
The de la Riva (DLR) guard kicks in when your opponent has one leg in between both your legs, so you find yourself in a sort of staggered position. A very common scenario in grappling and striking. The beauty of DLR is that you are working to take away his ‘base’ (centre of gravity) as well as cutting an angle for secondary attacks, sweeps and transitions to other positions.Today, we looked at various sweep options:
1. DLR when uke is in combat base, then push knee sweep.
2. DLR when uke stands up, same push knee sweep with tweaks
3. DLR when uke stands up, this time we need to reach for a deeper position, once there, one option is the backwards trip.
4. With the Deep DLR position, another option is to work and take the back
Additional after class: just nogi sparring
12th March 2017
PASSING LEG LASSO
The leg lasso completely ties up one of your arms and breaks your posture. There are many ways to escape and pass from this guard, but most resort to the principle of removing and isolating the non-lasso side leg of your opponent and keeping your hips far back and away from him.
1. A simple early response hand rotation to prevent the leg lasso
2. The basic pass to the lasso side of your opponent
3. The leg drag version of (2)
4. If the lasso guard player’s leg gets a bit caught under you and it fails to pop out, try using your shin as a fulcrum to extract your arm from his lasso grips.
Kids class: side breakfalls, osoto Gari (nogi version – over under arm), beginnings of the armbar from mount for striped ranked kids. For newcomers, basic how to hold the top mount position.
9th March 2017
PASSING SPIDER GUARD
Warm up drill: Closed guard to spider…spider to elevator lift/helicopter armbar.
1. Preventing partner from getting to spider from closed, experimenting with shutting down each phase of the transition.
2. Sleeve grips are the super annoying part of being in spider guard – one basic way to break these grips is to place your foot on their inside thigh and pull up.
3. Arguably a better alternative than having to fight the sleeve grips is to remove the foot or feet that is placed on your bicep and hip. Version 1: Square up – grab knees – step back – push down or push to the side – step around.
4. Version 2: Square up – step back – lift legs up and over uke’s head – pass to take back or leg drag position or breacutter choke.
5. If the spider guard is too strong and you cannot grip trousers or do 3, 4 above, using your own knee as pop off the foot on bicep is a massive help, remember to rotate your wrists so you can grab the inside of his gi pants once you have popped off the foot.
COMP TRAINING 1. No arm Guillotines from seated/butterfly drill 2. Arm drag from seated/butterfly 3. Nogi grip fighting drills
5th March 2017
SPIDER & LASSO GUARD SUBMISSION ATTACKS
From spider guard and lasso guard there are a number of very effective attacks one can use. These include the omoplata and the triangle. Today we looked only at the triangle choke and how to get to this submission using the spider or lasso.
1. Escape from a rear bear hug over the arms
2. Escape from closed guard: arms on biceps and stand up version
2nd March 2017
SPIDER GUARD & LASSO GUARD SWEEPS
These two open guard systems are often taught together as they operate along similar lines. However the lasso guard is far harder for the opponent to escape from. The regular spider guard still offers much use, especially when it comes to sweeping thanks to the power of your leg extension:
1. Basic spider guard scissor sweep
2. As above but with the knee push
3. Basic lasso guard from the closed guard
4. Lasso guard bait and sweep (two variations, the underhook and the trouser grip)
5. Lasso guard, spin under and omoplata
I also offered a few tips on how to preserve your fingers when gripping the sleeves for extended periods.
26th February 2017
PASSING (or ESCAPING) X-GUARD
The x-guard is really annoying because opponent is directly beneath you and can create a lot of instability.
1. Avoid being stretched out and at the earliest opportunity, escape by pointing towards uke’s head and running over his head.
2. If you are being stretched out and cannot run away, it is important to dismantle the components of the x-guard. The obvious first choice option is to grab and push down his top foot. I showed various options using this tactic, the simplest being to back step away, but there are also options where you grab his sleeve and dig your knee into his chest.
3. The sprawl escape and pass puts you in a very neat dominant position.
Concept tip: any escape and pass that lands you in a dominant position is the preferred tactical choice in a BJJ match.
Kids: clinch and body fold takedown. Shrimping practice and elbow escape from underneath mount.
23rd February 2017
PASSING BUTTERFLY GUARD
1. Old school method relies on top pressure and isolating one of your partner’s legs.
1(b) Brief discussion on how to flatten your opponent.
2. Head stand pass is also a very old school technique, but in my opinion still effective as long as you place pressure on your opponent using your shoulder. The actual pass can be a simpler conservative step over, or you can be more vertical but if you are feeling adventurous, why not try a full flip overhead.
3. Knees together pass, this one relies on a constantly repeating concept of tying your opponent’s knees together as you pass. Useful if you cannot flatten him.
4. Cartwheel guard pass. Not a really high percentage pass but worth exploring since jiu jitsu movements should be viewing three dimensions.
Competition training segment: we drilled single leg x-guard, basic sweep into straight achilles lock, from here switch to 50/50, attempt basic achilles ankle lock, switch that into reverse arm configuration.
19th February 2017
X-guard is cool because you are right underneath your opponent’s centre of gravity. Your placement allows you to unbalance and displace him in a way that few other guards can rival. Today we covered two basic (but very effective sweeps):
1. Technical stand up, leg pull and ankle grab.
2. Switch to reverse x-guard, insert knee for ‘crab ride’ position, kick out and back take.
Kids class: Armlock defence to hoodie/hair grab from behind. Trapp and roll escape from underneath mount. For higher graded kids, we tried to show them how to stand up within closed guard and escape from there following the trap and roll mount escape.
16th February 2017
BUTTERFLY AND X-GUARD
The butterfly guard is an open guard that is very versatile. If used correctly, it becomes very awkward to pass thanks to the use of your foot or feet hooked behind your uke’s legs. In butteffly, your legs become highly efficient levers which enable you to sweep your opponent and basically exert more control than, say, from closed guard. The drawbacks however are that you are prone to being placed flat on your back and you also leave your head open to guillotine style attacks. Maintaining good butterfly posture as well as the ability to transition to other open guard systems help mitigate these dangers. Our techniques today covered the following:
1. Closed guard to butterfly: rarely will you begin a fight in butterfly, so it’s useful to know how to transition into it from other guards.
2. Basic butterfly guard sweep – although ‘basic’, this sweep is still remarkably effective in full sparring and competition situations. Tips: ensure a very close grasp behind the back with your underhook, create a slight angle, lift with one foot but also power off the ground with the other foot, prevent uke from basing out with his free arm.
3. The overhook version of (2) does the same thing, except just be aware of how you land, your opponent might be able to escape and take your back if you aren’t prepared for it.
4. The speed version of the basic sweep adds nothing more to the technique other than timing and speed. In some respects, it works better than the standard (2).
5. Being flattened out is a big danger, in case you feel you are losing the butterfly battle, your legs hooking underneath your uke are a vital took in escaping or reverting to closed guard.
6. X-guard. Being directly underneath your opponent’s centre of gravity is the ideal location to manufacture a sweep and the x-guard position is precisely that. This drill involves transitioning from butterfly to x-guard when uke steps his leg out for you to grab. You can also enter x-guard from many other positions – from spider guard being one favourite.
7. X-guard backwards sweep. This sweep is similar to a tripod or lumberjack sweep whereby both your feet are used (one high, one low) to trip over your opponent.
PASSING THE KNEE SHIELD
Passing the knee shield guard: two styles, the first one doesn’t need you to shift the knee shield and is more movement based. The second one requires you to shift the knee past your centre line and then proceeds to apply more pressure. Worth knowing and getting familiar with both styles of guard passing as they open the doors to many other methods and techniques.
Kids Class: Pushing pulling drill (base station), bridging with partner on top of belly.
9th February 2017
PASSING CLOSED HALF GUARD
Often when working out how to escape, defend or counter a position, it is useful to reverse-engineer the elements that make your opponent’s technique work. Hence, to escape and pass the closed half guard, it is necessary to: (a) flatten the opponent (using underhook / head control), (b) keep him flattened and (c) extract your knee from half guard.
The basic head control method can be broken down into a five parts:
1a. In closed half guard, spread yourself out and walk your legs to flatten uke.
1b. As aobve but now add a cross face on one side and underhooks on the other.
1c. With uke now flattened, walk your hips up as high as possible until you knee is clear
1d. When you knee is clear, drop it to the floor on the far side, use your other foot to help extract it, take top mount.
1e. As above, but drop your knee to the other side for a knee slice pass, again, use your free foot to help extract the leg.
2. We also drilled other ways to pass closed half guard if you cannot reach for head control include: the hip switch pass and the back step pass.
5th February 2017
HALF GUARD – the ‘open’ style half guards.
Half guard can also be played without closing the feet. These open half guards, often referred to variously as the knee shield, 93 guard or z-guard offer the player a lot more flexibility to convert the position into sweeps, attacks or transitions without committing themselves so much to one position.
1. Knee shield, some tips: keep you knee pointed to uke’s chin, and place your shin firm against his sternum, your bottom leg should hook tightly and raise the knee of the floor if possible. Your instep much lie flush against uke’s hip, either that, or plant your foot firmly on his hip, never let it hang loose and prone to being grabbed and underhooked. From knee shield you now have a good defensive structure and access to both sleeves plus collars…
2. Basic scissor sweep: you should be turned on your side, grip the sleeve and inside pant leg, scissor to roll uke to his back. You’ll usually end up in top half guard but if you’re quick, and can extract your leg, may end up in side mount. For advanced players, the scissor sweep pairs very well with the ‘Shaolin sweep’.
3. If uke attempts to feed his hand between your legs (called the leg lace) he could use it to escape from half guard and pass. You have a small window with which to capitalise on the moment with a sleeve grip and ’tilt’ sweep (aka lasso sweep) to the other side.
4. In fact, even if uke does not leg weave you, it’s perfectly possible to convert your knee shield into a lasso half guard…and then perform the sweep (3).
5. Using your arm to frame, loop choke is a very viable target, especially if you use it together with some push-pull kuzushi style movement.
Additional notes: the knee shield is very versatile because you can still use the dogfight/underhook style attacks as per the closed knee on hip style half guards. It is also a great place to easily switch to other guards – from closed to lasso, spider, butterfly…you can even attempt a quick and nasty triangle from here. Something for us to look at next time!
Kids class: we practiced our grip and wrist breaks, then drilled holding side mount
2nd February 2017
HALF GUARD – closed style half guards
Half guard is when you are on bottom and use your legs to lock down one of your opponent’s legs. It is often a position used as the next tier of defence when you have your main guard passed, although that being said, there are lots of people who specialize in this position and will even seek it out as their first guard of choice. From half guard, you can stop your opponent from progressing position, there are also sweeps and submissions from here and of course it is also a place to transition to other guards.
There are broadly two types, closed half guard and open half guard. Today we looked at the closed system, which although viewed as perhaps old school, is still very effective and arguably safer to perform for less experienced players.
1. Different levels of half guard and how to hold each position plus how to move from closed guard to half and back again.
2. Trad closed half guard: foot grab push sweep
3a. Knee on hip, closed half guard: grab gi at knee, get to ‘dog fight’ and push sweep
3b. Same as 3a, but uke pushes you back, so you roll with the pressure and sweep him over the other direction.
29th January 2017
GUARD PASSING – Knee slicer and leg split style passes
The use of your knee to pin one leg of you opponent allows you to pass and still have control over your opponent on the bottom.
1. Single leg underhook – backstep to side control. It is crucial with this technique to ensure you do not over-commit when pressing forward. By hooking your bent arm under his high leg and keeping that tension right up until the last minute, you can pass safely without uke retaining guard or slipping away
2.Single leg, semi-stack style pass – from exactly the same starting position as (1) above, you can decide to pass on the other side of the high leg. Forward pressure is needed and whilst some might choose to include a choke from here, it is probably safer simply to grab the gi lapel nearer the base of his leg as you pass around. A variation of this style of pass the true single leg underhook stack pass, in which you elevate uke’s hips as you press down with a choke. With this variant (not taught today) it is highly possible to obtain the tap, and even if not the tap, then a sure fire pass to side control.
3. Knee cut pass. This pass is very common when trying to pass half guard but it can also be used after opening the closed guard. It requires a very low base, your shoulder and arm acting as a wall against his high leg. Your aim is to switch your leg positions, basing one leg out and the inside leg cutting across his inner thigh. Your grips will aim for underhooks on the far side of uke’s body and the other side, pulling his arm high. This prevents him turning to escape or blocking your entry.
Kids class: hip bump sweep from closed guard position, hold top mount.
26th January 2017
GUARD PASSING – PRESSURE BASED PASSES
Upon opening the closed guard, the next phase to move on to is passing the legs. Today we looked at pressure based systems.
1. Head control pass, full credit for this technique to an American instructor called Paul Schreiner who made this technique a standard in his system. Head control is the key to the pressure passing system, you don’t have to hold the head though, as the next technique shows…
2. Stack passing (double unders variation). Stacking your opponent means elevating their hips and applying their own body weigh and yours directly over their head and neck, this acts as head control and is very unpleasant. Some people like to combine this with a collar choke, but it’s probably more high percentage to just secure the pass to side control.
3. Sao Paulo pass, aka Tozi pass or Wilson Reis pass. Your head placed firmly on his upper torso plus your collar grip is enough to secure his head and upper body in place while you work the pass.
Pressure passing is not to be confused with using force or strength etc. It is a concept whereby you are using technique to pin your opponent’s upper body while you move around them. Other styles of guard passing are much more mobile and rely more on speed and angle of your direction. We’ll look at a few of those on Sunday.
22nd January 2017
GUARD PASSING – OPENING CLOSED GUARD
In last lesson we covered seated guard opening techniques, but in this lesson, the focus was on two completely different levels: standing up in order to open the closed guard and sinking your head and body down low.
1. Standing up in closed guard: main tips here are to always keep your posture as verticsal as possible, don’t look at your opponent’s face (look ahead), open out your backfoot before completing the standing up, the sleeve grip must be held as high as possible and withdraw your elbow while standing, your other hand needs to be fully straight before pushing down on his knee. When you drop his leg to the ground, you pin it in place with your own shin.
2. A variation on this is when you transfer the sleeve grip to your other hand (cross grip).
3. Sao Paulo passing – we just looked at the bare basics of this very low posture guard opening and passing movement. We’ll explore this more in the next lesson.
19th January 2017
GUARD PASSING – OPENING CLOSED GUARD
1. Posture inside the closed guard (active feet, wide base, hips rotate forward, look ahead, arm placed on uke hand on his sternum).
2. Climbing back into good posture after losing posture
3. Your hip as the power source and lever when opening: basic ‘L’ shape opener
4. A couple of low percentage guard opening moves, eg the (illegal) can opener, the legal lapel push choke and ezekiel attempts.
5. The arm block series of guard openers, your knee drives a wedge between you and uke
6. Two hands on the belt/waistline old school push back method, your hips are the driving force.
15th January 2017
CROSS SLEEVE GRIP ARM DRAG FROM CLOSED GUARD
Following on from the previous class, once you have the cross sleeve grip and completed the armdrag, it’s important to maintain posture so that uke does not simply move back into his original position within your guard. The armdrag offers a number of options, depending on how uke resists:
1. If uke does nothing to resist once you have the arm drag, then take the back by shifting your hips over his lower back.
2. If uke resists you be pushing back in to you, then a pendulum type sweep is the ideal answer.
3. The power of the pendulum sweep can be enhanced by underhooking uke’s leg, or gripping his trousers at the knee area.
4. The gift wrap position (uke’s own arm wraps around his throat) is ideal for a pendulum sweep as it gives you a handy lever to pull and work the sweep.
For techniques 2,3,4 you should end up in full top mount.
[see second half of video below]
Kids class: hip escape from underneath top mount.
12th January 2017
GRIP AND POSTURE BREAKS IN CLOSED GUARD
For the guard playing, the number one task is to break posture and remove opponent’s grips.
1. When uke has no grips on your body, just use the power of your legs to break his posture by moving your knees in the direction towards your head.
2. If uke places two hands on your hips or tummy, just swim your hands underneath and remove them.
3. As above but this time he grips your belt, reach around the outside of his elbows and flare them in an outward direction befoe using the power of your legs to draw him towads you.
4. Same two hands on belt grip, you could also try a wrist lock or at least, fake a wrist lock but what you actually want, is the elbow arm drag.
5. When uke has the one hand high, one hand low grip on your body (which is very common position) then one option is the sleeve grip arm drag. From here, you need to drag the arm completely across his own body, while at the same time you need to keep your body tight to his and have shifted your hips so you are to his side. Your spare hand must grab all the way over his back and on to his far lat.
[see first half of video above]
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Children’s BJJ Curriculum at Borehamwood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club
The kids program here at Borehamwood BJJ Club differs from the way we teach adults. The techniques remain more or less the same however we focus more closely on the core basics at every belt level. The program also includes specific self defence techniques.
Students are awarded stripes based on attendance. Upon completion of the required minimum number of attendances, they are eligible (at the discretion of the instructor) to be tested for their next belt level.
White belt (0 to 4 stripes) At this belt level, students will learn the basics of body movement both when standing and when on the ground. We introduce to them the concept of positional strategy. A number of more commonly faced self defence scenarios are taught, for example escape from headlocks and hair grabs. Sparring is introduced. Submissions are introduced but the main priority is on understanding position so in most cases, white belts spar but without submissions.
Grey Belt System (grey+white, solid grey, grey+black: four stripes each belt)
As the student progresses, the techniques taught will advance on the basic fundamentals taught at white belt. There is more emphasis on transitions from one position to another and we begin to look at submissions in closer detail. Work on standing and ground based self defence scenarios continues as well as sparring. Sparring from set positions and sparring with specific submissions are also taught.
Yellow Belt System (yellow+white, solid yellow, yellow+black)
At yellow level, students expected to have a good understanding and be able to apply core basic techniques. They will be able to apply them when sparring and begin to utilise gameplan, strategy and tactics for sport jiu jitsu. There is more training on advanced guard and guard passing systems, submissions, transitions and other more advanced aspects as well as a continued study of self defensive scenarios.
Orange belt and Green belt system
Currently at Borehamwood BJJ, students who reach orange belt will more than likely be old enough to join the adults class (13-14 years old). They will therefore follow the adult syllabus, albeit with special caution over techniques that are banned for under 16’s by the IBJJF system.
Beyond the junior belt system
There is no recognised grade of BJJ black belt for juniors. At the age of 16, junior students move on to adult belt system. In general, a student who has trained regularly for several years and is at least an orange belt, will be promoted to blue belt on the year of their 16th birthday. They are eligible to compete in juvenile blue belt categories, but not full adult divisions until they are 18.
BJJ academies tend not to utilise a formal syllabus system compared to many traditional martial arts. Techniques are taught from a positional standpoint and students will explore the myriad of attack and defensive options for each of these positions. Over time, students gain exposure to a wide variety of techniques and attempt to apply them in sparring and competition.
At Borehamwood BJJ we advise newcomers to start their training by attending the Fundamentals Classes (currently every Thursday at 7:30pm). These classes will cover the core techniques and concepts that apply to BJJ techniques and will equip all users with a good understanding of the what, why, how and when of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These lessons are also valuable drilling time for more experienced grapplers.
The main general BJJ classes (Thursdays 8:30pm and Sundays 10:45am) follow a week to week structure as listed below:
DEFENCE AND ESCAPE
Defence and escape are two different things. Beginners are taught how to escape basic positons and submissions but over time they will also develop a range of defensive skills that will avoid them being put into bad positions in the first place. Advanced players will focus more on counterattacking skills and even faking a bad position as tricks and traps.
The mount position is given great importance within the heirarchy of BJJ positional play. From here you can attack and dominate an opponent. It is also a great place to transition to other areas, such as the back position, depending on how your opponent reacts. Beginners are taught first how to maintain the mount postion and the options available to attack from here.
For many players, side control offers far more options to attack compared to mount position. Beginners are taught how to maintain the side control position and the many submission options from here.
A much underrated position, the north south is actually very powerful as a control and pin position. From here many submission attacks are also within easy reach, for example the kimura arm locks and various neck attacks. Beginners are shown how to enter the NS and how to keep the bottom person pinned down.
KNEE ON BELLY
Like side control, knee on belly offers the player many options for submission or transition to other positions. The position itself causes great discomfort to the bottom player which in itself can be utilised for maximum effect. Beginners are taught how to enter the knee on belly, how to maintain it and how to execute submissions and transitions from here.
THE BACK POSITION
The back position is granted the highest importance rating in BJJ (along with the mount). The hardest aspect to back control is getting here in the first place. Beginners are taught basic back control and attacking techniques as well as examples of how to transition to here from other positions. Many advanced players base their entire gameplan on finding a way to obtain back control of their opponent.
THE CLOSED GUARD
The closed guard allows the user to control their opponent very tightly while keeping themselves relatively safe. For this reason, it is a favourite guard position for most beginners to use during sparring and competition. Beginners are taught how to use the closed guard to control their opponent’s posture, and how to perform basic sweeps and submissions as well as guard retention. As one becomes more fluent using closed guard, higher level users are shown how it can become a far more active attacking position with which to work from.
The half guard is an excellent position that encourages the beginner to rely less on the closed guard while still maintaining a good degree of control and safety. It is also an excellent position to seek the back. Beginners are taught how to maintain half guard and how to execute sweeps from this position.
This segment of the curriculum is potentially the largest. There are so many many different types of open guard positions, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. By their very nature, open guards offer much more leverage and opportunity to force the opponent off balance and out of position compared with closed guards. Beginners are taught spider guard, lasso guard and butterfly/seated guard techniques, which are good safe open guard positions to start from. Further, highly effective open guard systems include: de la Riva guard, X-guard, 50/50 guard, sitting up guard, single leg X-guard, Z-guard, lapel guard, reverse de la riva, inverted guard…the list goes on and it is further complicated by a trend to create hybrid guards that mix up the established open guards.
PASSING THE GUARD
Passing the guard is as important a skillset in BJJ as knowing how to submit or play guard. It is a very large topic, for there are a great many different guard positions to learn to deal with. Beginners are taught the basics of guard passing and how to pass and transition into a dominant position.
BJJ matches always begin standing up. This means players must learn how to take down their opponents. Beginners are taught a basic set of trips, sweeps and takedowns culled from the combat arts of judo and wrestling. They are also taught a set of basic guard pulling moves. Key to these takedown techniques is the ability to perform them in order to land you in an advantageous position. Most times, as with judo throws, this will mean you aim to land on top in side control, but those whom prefer to play their strong guard game, will prefer to execute variations on the guard pull.
Often seen as a very defensive and stalling position used by those who have had their guard passed (which to be fair, it mostly is), it is still nevertheless a bonafide position in BJJ. Beginners are taught how to attack the opponent who is turtling, but there are also techniques that the turtler can use to counter attack.
The above list, though not exhaustive, is the basic pattern we’ll use on a week by week basis, the techniques within each segment will vary and change depending on the level of students who attend that week. Quite often we’ll repeat a lot of the basic techniques cycle after cycle because that is the only way to improve, other times we’ll learn fresh techniques so keep minds active. In BJJ, even very high grades must never assume that they ‘know’ the basics, it is an area that must always be maintained and practised.
Some areas we’ll look at from time to time: Foot and leg attacks, wristlocks, sparring methods (flow rolling vs comp sparring), tournament skills and tactics, other rulesets in grappling)…to be continued.
Sparring is one of the vital training components that contributes to the effectiveness of BJJ. It is the best way to pressure test the techniques against a resisting opponent with relative safety. But sparring is not always easy, and many find it a difficult exercise to deal with. Here is my story…
For the first few years of my BJJ journey I was petrified when it came to sparring time. No matter how hard I tried to chill and stay relaxed, I suffered from awful butterflies in my stomach as I stood there waiting to be paired up. I sometimes felt I was about to throw up [I never did thankfully!] Consequently my rolls were terrible and I would either go too hard or capitulate too easily. Often I would just tap out of frustration and ineptitude. I learned very little and found it hugely difficult to connect the techniques I had drilled into a live situation. Worse still, I would reason with myself that it was because I was small and light and everyone was too big and heavy. Excuses, excuses!
But one day, something just clicked. I was by then a blue belt and three or four years into my journey. It was a normal regular gi class and nothing untoward was different about the session yet when we lined up, I no longer had the butterflies. We paired up and my rolling was different. I ceased to spar as if my life depended on it. Instead, I began to explore spaces – spaces that were always there, but I was too scared in the past to go in to. When I realized that against a better player, I was going to get my guard passed, or I was going to have to endure heavy pressure under side control or mount, I just let it happen and try to problem solve my way out using technique. And this has been the way that I roll ever since.
“ learn the difference between training and fighting. When you train, focus only upon increasing your skill set. Play around with new moves and positions and learn the subtle details that make them work well. Do not overly concern yourself with who wins and who loses – that is only important when you compete, not when you train. Learn to play jiu jitsu, rather than fight jiu jitsu in the training room”
It is a quote that resonates with my personal experience. My own sparring epiphany occurred when I changed (without me realizing it) from ‘fighting’ into ‘playing’ jiu jitsu while sparring. Don’t get me wrong, when I say ‘playing’ it does not mean I am mucking around and not really trying. By ‘playing’ I mean I am choosing to spar on my own terms. In the past, I would ‘fight’ which to me, meant I am reacting to whatever was being thrown at me. These days, I will try to choose the terms of my movement, not the other way around. Simply put – when sparring I pre-select in my mind the things I want to work on and aim to put myself in those positions. It might not even be a specific position or technique, sometimes I’ll just grip in a certain way, or put my leg in a certain position, just to see how my opponent reacts and learning as I go along. In other times, I will aim for specific techniques, mentally evaluating the mistakes and errors as I go along. A bit like having a live stream commentary going on in my own head.
So by ‘playing’ jiu jitsu in class, what I’m really doing is allowing myself to have a much more control over what I am doing, instead of the emphasis on what the other person is doing. Of course every roll is different and every person you spar with offers their own set of problems for you to deal with. But even with much better and more skilled opponents, you can still aim to set the agenda and play during the roll on your own terms.
I now no longer have butterflies in my stomach anymore prior to sparring and I guess it means I don’t view the sessions as a ‘fighter’ would. Instead however, I see them as opportunities to explore and create something fresh each and every time. As Rickson Gracie once said “I flow with the go”.
Tips for novices
Sparring is not meant to be easy but equally it isn’t meant to be a fight to the death. It’s simply a training exercise to test what you know against someone who is also doing the same. Play it like a game, rather than a fight. Select a position to play from and test your ability to attack or defend from there. If something is consistently not working for you, ask a higher grade to have a look and see if they can suggest improvements. Experiment a little, but always remember the basics and fundamental concepts. Over time, these will become instinct and you can experiment further away from ‘textbook’ techniques. Most important of all, learn to tap if you are clearly in a position unable to escape or defend, and equally, on the other side, don’t snap on submissions like you wish that person to die a horrible death – control is the key here. Most important of all…have fun!!!
I am offering a free session for complete beginners to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).
BJJ is a fun martial art that focuses on techniques on the ground. It is both a sport and a form of self defence and is loved by people of all shapes, sizes, ages and physical abilities.
Time and Date Saturday 7th May
1pm-1:45pm (Children aged 7-12) and then 2pm-3pm (Adults)
The kids session is open for children aged 7-12 years old.
Parents are encouraged to stay and watch.
Adults session is open to anyone over 18 years old
Wear comfortable sports clothing, eg tshirt and jogging pants or shorts.
The session begins promptly at the stated times. Please arrive early in order to give time for filling in a form and to get changed.
The Venue leisure centre has parking (bring change for the meter).
There are changing rooms downstairs.
The Beaumont Dance Studio is located upstairs at the Venue. Go up the spiral stairs, turn left and follow the coridoor until you see the door named ‘Dance Studio’. There are changing rooms upstairs too.
What to expect Read a FAQ on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here.
In this session, I will introduce participants to simple movements and concepts that form the basis of BJJ. We’ll then apply these movements to practice how to escape from being pinned to the floor. I will also introduce some basic ‘guard’ positions and (for adult session only) a few simple and effective submission techniques. It’s a light to moderate work-out with an emphasis on simplicity, ease and of course….fun!
Who is teaching I (Seymour Yang) have been training martial arts for over 25 years. I am a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (under Roger Gracie Mill Hill Team). I am DBS checked (April 2016) and hold full professional instructor insurance. I am a member of the UKBJJA – the largest national body for BJJ in the UK.
To attend, simply contact me on 07900 188434 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org