18/04/2013 – No Gi (Turtle Escapes)

Class #499
Gracie Barra Bristol, (No-Gi), Miles Pearson, Bristol, UK – 18/04/2013

I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past that I’m not a big fan of nogi. Out of the 500 lessons of BJJ I’ve taken over the years, a mere 30 of them have been nogi. When I’ve gone to nogi, it has normally been because I had no choice as I couldn’t make any other class in the schedule. That’s exactly why I find myself in the GB Bristol nogi class: Thursdays and Tuesdays are still by far the best days for me to train, so as I now teach on Tuesdays, it looks like I’ll be taking off the gi on Thursdays.

This time, I do at least have a new element to make it interesting: Leverage Submission Grappling. I’ve been to two of Nathan ‘Levo’ Leverton’s seminars so far, which I will be using as a nogi syllabus to work through. Every time I train nogi, my main focus will be LSG techniques. Fortunately for me, tonight was straight out of the LSG playbook, with several techniques Levo taught back at the Leverage Grappling Seminar #03. Miles kicked off with the wrestler’s sit-out (which Levo calls the ‘peek out’). They are in front of you, with their arms past your armpits but not locked. Base on an elbow and the opposite foot, then knock back their same side arm with your non-basing elbow.

Bring your non-basing foot through right across to the opposite corner, getting your head up, then spin behind them. Your inside hand stays by the leg in case they try to run behind. Also make sure you are putting your weight onto them when you bring your head through. If your weight is sat on the floor, the person on top can simply put their head on the floor, bring their leg over and mount.

Miles combined this with the arm roll, which applies when they lock their arms around you. Of course, a good grappler isn’t going to give you their arm like that when you’re in turtle, but it is still worth knowing. Same position, but this time you reach back and lock their arm. Look in the direction of the wrapped arm, then drop your same side shoulder to the mat and roll them onto their back. Turn towards their legs to come on top (if you turn towards their head, they can take your back).

Miles finished off with defending the over-under. This is when you have a more knowledgeable opponent, who reaches under your neck with one arm and your armpit with the other. From there, they can move into chokes, so you don’t want to hang around. Miles said that some people advocate the usual sit-out, but that he finds it doesn’t work well for him. His preference is to drop to the mat, firmly gripping their arm, one leg back and the other curled up high.

That should mean you are now heavy because your centre of gravity is low, hopefully giving you time to work free of their grip. When drilling, Liam tested out some variations on the Peruvian neck tie (although I’ve heard of it, that was the first time I’d seen it in the flesh), which he thought might make that defence problematic, although trouble-shooting with Miles, the defence seemed sound.

I was nervous about sparring, as my groin injury decided to flare up again due to Tuesday (I didn’t restrict myself as much, which was a mistake), but it turned out ok. Specific sparring from turtle gave me the chance to try and shift into Levo’s front headlock position, but I was having trouble because we all had to start with that arm-wrapping grip. Although even if we hadn’t started there, I would still have run into difficulty: I’m not settling my shoulder into their upper back properly, meaning they can still move forward and take out my legs.

Underneath I also had problems, again partially due to the grip. Normally if I’m in turtle I would be trying very hard to prevent them getting any kind of grip, with my elbows in tight. What I should have done was practice the escapes we’d learned, but I got overly fixated in attempting some tips from LSG #03, particularly the point on always shifting backwards to make them follow you then go for a leg.

Moving into free sparring, I was reminded yet again just how little I know about nogi. I really struggle to get any sort of grip in guard: not having lots of gi to grab makes a massive difference. That meant that instead, I was grabbing the head and failing to get over and underhooks. Keeping them tight is another high priority, which I need to work on. I have been to Levo’s closed guard seminar, but would benefit from going again, along with his session on open guard.


I vaguely looked for deep half at one point, but as I don’t use that in gi either, I just ended up curled close to their legs. That curled up position featured heavily when I sparred Luke too, this time facing the other way, in the running escape survival posture. I could defend from there, but because I was squashed on the mat, I couldn’t do much else except work to block arms digging in. I was impressed by Luke’s control, as despite being a huge guy, he took it nice and easy, staying technical even though I’m sure he could have just picked me up and thrown me across the room. 😉

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