Class notes

[View the Club Adult Curriculum or the Kids BJJ curriculum, class notes from 2016]

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.

Main class
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
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!

Kids grading Aug2017 - 1
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
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 basics.
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

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
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

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
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
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:
group 1.jpg

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

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.

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

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
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
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

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 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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
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
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

2. X-pass
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
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
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
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.

Kids class:
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

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
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
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
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.

12thFebruary 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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
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]