30/09/2012 – Leverage Submission Grappling Fundamentals 04 (Closed Guard)

Seminar #009
Leicester Shootfighters, (Submission Grappling), Nathan ‘Levo’ Leverton, Leicester, UK – 30/09/2012

I first began actively participating in online martial arts forums back in 2002, during my MA when I was still doing Zhuan Shu Kuan kung fu. I started off as part of the Tung-Fu message board, which had some cross-over with the much more influential SFUK: I think shortly before I joined, there had been some kind of troll influx from SFUK. After a few months, those trolls morphed into contributors, causing Tung-Fu to go from being a staunchly traditional martial arts forum to one relatively supportive of the then recent phenomenon of MMA (indeed, when we had a meet-up a year later, grappling taught by an MMA instructor was a major component of the day). I think it was around then I first encountered someone posting as ‘Levo’ online, a regular on SFUK.

That name popped up frequently over the years on various forums I frequented, either in person or as a reference, in places like Cyberkwoon, Bullshido and Martial Arts Planet. Almost always, Levo would be making some measured and intelligent argument about something in martial arts. I often found myself quoting him, like here, particularly in the days before I was seriously grappling myself. I often thought it would be cool to go train with this Levo guy, but never took the opportunity to head over to Leicester and check out his school.

It’s taken a decade, but I finally got round to it today. Levo is the internet handle of Nathan Leverton, a pioneer in UK grappling. Having spent well over a decade training numerous successful fighters in MMA, this year he’s decided to codify his experience into a system, ‘Leverage Submission Grappling‘. I heard about it earlier this year, so have been keeping an eye out on developments.

The reason it intrigued me back in January was mainly down to Leverton’s reputation. I expected that if he was creating a system, it would be technical, cerebral and for want of a better word, ‘grown-up’. That’s as opposed to something like 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu: though much of Eddie Bravo’s nogi system is viable if you are an experienced grappler with the requisite flexibility, I’m put off by the marketing approach and constant drug advocacy. Leverage Submission Grappling also has the advantage that it was advertised as fundamentals, which always perks my interest.

Today’s seminar is number four in a series of six proposed Leverage Submission Grappling seminars on fundamentals. The next one is on the 14th October (more information and booking details here), discussing side control, but I’ll be in Portugal. Seminar number five on open guard is the following Sunday, which I can’t make either, so I’m hoping I can make the one after that (which I should be able to, unless it is in November when I’m away in Texas).

Leverton’s instruction totally lived up to my expectations: intelligent, detailed and thorough. The breadth of his experience was immediately evident from his theoretical introduction, where he discussed how Leverage Submission Grappling draws on numerous grappling styles, from catch wrestling to judo to Brazilian jiu jitsu amongst others. It would be fascinating to chat with him at length about his background in martial arts, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to interview him some time, either for Jiu Jitsu Style or just for this website.

He started off with theory, running through a positional hierarchy in keeping with Brazilian jiu jitsu (i.e., the back, mount and side control are where you want to be, guard is neutral, whereas underneath side control, mount and the back are progressively worse). Of all the positions, guard was going to be the most influenced by jiu jitsu, given that BJJ is arguably the style which has developed that position the most.

First of all you need to know how to hold the guard properly. This might seem like a simple point, but as Leverton said, many people don’t use their legs as effectively as they could. Rather than letting your legs flop down so you’re resting on their thighs, you’ll achieve better control by gripping higher on their waist, pinching your knees.

Next you want to break their posture. As soon as they adjust a knee and start to rise, pull your knees into your chest to knock them off-balance. You also want to bounce your hips over if they start shifting their knee into the middle: I’m used to having a trouser leg to pull on to help with that, but the principle is the same in no-gi. Once you’ve broken their posture, clamp your heels down to help keep them there.

Most likely they will try and position their arms to maintain posture: in gi, that normally means one hand grabbing both collars and the other by your hip. In no-gi, there isn’t anything to grab, but they’ll still probably be pressing into your stomach or possibly your hips. Either way, you want to get those arms out of the way. Leverton went through the three basic options, which are swimming inside the arms and pushing them to the mat, then the opposite motion from outside, and finally the same elbow grab and pull I’m used to from the gi.

When you’ve brought them down, wrap up the head immediately with your arm. There are two main routes for securing that: first, you could underhook with your same side arm then link your hands, or secondly you can overhook. If you overhook, make sure you put your knee by your elbow to keep things tight. This concept of tightness was probably the overriding theme of the day, as you’ll see the further I get into this write-up.

Having established that grip around the head, Leverton moved into his first submission, a pressing armbar. For a fundamentals seminar it seemed fairly complex, but as Leverton explained, this technique also teaches several important principles that relate to various other techniques. Starting from your underhook, shift your arm from the head so that you’re instead gripping around their shoulder with both hands. Pull that in tight.

Open your guard and shift your hips out towards the trapped shoulder side. You’ll end up with one leg on top, the knee by their shoulder, while the rest of your leg curls down the middle of their back. Your other knee should clamp underneath the shoulder, pinning it in place. Next, you want to secure the end of their arm towards their wrist (‘stick theory’: to snap a stick across your knee, you hold it at both ends, not just one). To shift up the arm, you may need to push against their head with one hand to help your control.

Adjust your grip so you’re a little underneath their elbow, grabbing your own far shoulder. You want to be a bit past the point of where you’d apply the submission. If they pull their arm out slightly, you won’t lose the submission opportunity completely. Your other arm then moves up to join the first, so that both arms are crossed under their elbow and pulling into your chest.

Push your knees into them if you need to adjust that position on the elbow. Walk your shoulders back to stretch out the arm and lift your head up slightly, to create some space around their elbow. Finally, pull their elbow in towards that space you created by squeezing your arms and expanding your chest.

Leverton then progressed to the spinning armbar, which he noted was his preferred variation. According to Leverton, this is the judo approach and is more effective for nogi. The set up is to cup the inside of their elbow with your same side arm, elbow up. This is intentionally a loose grip, as you don’t want to tip them off that you’re about to go for the submission. Crunch your body so that less of your back is in contact with the floor, making it easier to spin.

Wedge the back of your hand under their same side leg, then open your guard. Kick both your legs up at the same time and spin, using your hand against their leg to help your rotation. Clamp your legs down, angling the leg by their head slightly outwards for control (so, a little like Adam Adshead’s tip on armbar control). Again, tightness is key, getting those knees squeezed on either side of the shoulder.

From here you can then sweep them into mount, which Leverton recommends: they can’t stack you from mount. Move your knees to the side to raise their bum in the air, then knock them forwards to go to a mounted armbar. Pinch your knees to raise their arm up, providing better leverage. Another handy tip is to pull their arm slightly off-centre, towards their legs. That makes it very hard for them to escape, even if you’re doing the Japanese armbar with the near leg tucked by their side rather than over their head.

The climbing armbar is more common to jiu jitsu and gi grappling, but as with the pressing armbar, it teaches you useful concepts, like climbing the legs. Control one arm at the wrist and elbow, putting your same side foot on the hip. Kick the other leg up into their armpit to bend them at the waist, swivelling to look at their ear. Bring your first leg over their head, then complete the armbar as before. That series of three techniques also revealed that my shoulder is worryingly tight: I was already close to tapping just from the set-up!

After a quick break (very useful for scribbling down some notes, or in my case speaking the main points I wanted to remember into my phone), Leverton moved on to the triangle choke. Ryan Hall’s name came up several times, which made sense as his instruction on the triangle is probably the best around at the moment (no doubt helped by the fact he has hundreds of competition wins via that submission).

Leverton discussed two set-ups, starting with the basic option Hall calls the ‘tap through triangle’. Grab their wrist and push that into their stomach (not the chest, as that’s a bit high, though there is a different set up where you push the arm right to their jaw). Open your guard and lift your legs over the top, then lock them in a ‘diamond’. A key detail is to then pull their head down, but into your belly button rather than your chest. It’s a simple point, but it made me realise that’s a big mistake I’ve been making up until now, and is probably why I get stacked so often.

If you can get straight to the triangle go for it, but if not, stick with a secure diamond rather than a sloppy half-locked triangle. From there, pull on your shin to lock up the triangle as normal, swivelling off to an angle if necessary. The second set-up was starting from an overhook, shifting your hips and bringing your knee through for a kick-through set-up, then finishing as before. Leverton includes the usual important advice about not pulling on your toes or locking over the toes, as that’s a good way to get injured.

Another useful point he mentioned on the triangle was to do with people tucking their chin into the ‘hole’ at the bottom of a loose triangle, meaning you can’t choke them. If that happens, simply twist their head so their chin is directed at your leg rather than that hole, meaning you can press your leg into their throat. This ‘hole’ may develop if you haven’t got their arm across: like Ryan Hall, Leverton also emphasises that you do not have to have the arm across the get the choke. If they bury their arm underneath your body, you can swim inside to pull the arm up into a pressing armbar position and either submit them with that or complete the choke.

After another break, it was time for the kimura, or as it is called in catch wrestling, the double wristlock. Leverton has trained with catch wrestling legend Billy Robinson, who has a somewhat negative view of jiu jitsu, especially the guard (you can get a flavour of that here). As a result, Robinson hates it when people call this lock the kimura.

The set-up was familiar, as you reach over the arm whenever they make the mistake of putting a hand on the mat. You can then lock up your figure four grip. There was a brief pause at this point to talk about grips. When going for the americana or kimura from the top position, you would use a thumbless grip, because if you use your thumb, that bends your wrist upwards. Without the thumb, you can keep your wrist and arm in alignment. However, from guard the grip with a thumb is fine, as there isn’t the same issue of your wrist being forced out of alignment.

Once you have that grip, shift your hips out as before, bringing them down to start attacking the arm. Push their arm a bit further than ninety degrees: as with the pressing armbar from earlier, you want to have some leeway in case they start to escape. A BJJ kimura is a little different from a catch double-wristlock, because the catch version brings their elbow higher, also using their own elbow to get counter-pressure. Leverton cited to famous example of Sakuraba versus Renzo in Pride 10, where Sakuraba was able to get an immense amount of control from the kimura due to that elbow positioning and counter-pressure.

The last submission was the guillotine. Leverton began with the standard variation, adding a little tip that as you bring your hand through, ‘hollow’ your chest to make it easy to cinch up. Once the hand and arm are in place, your chest returns to its normal position, which instantly tightens your hold and makes it tough for them to wriggle free.

A more effective variation is what Leverton referred to as the ‘Marcelotine’, named after Marcelo Garcia. I’ve vaguely heard of it before, but as I never use guillotines I hadn’t paid much attention. However, having now been shown it by a good instructor and drilled it, I’ll have to revisit that attack: definitely a powerful choke.

The difference with the Marcelotine is that firstly you grip is shallower. Insert your wrist by their jawline rather than deep into the throat. Grab your first hand with your second, gripping around the non-thumb side of your first hand. The elbow of your second hand is raised, bracing against their shoulder. To complete the choke, press on their shoulder with that elbow while you simultaneously twist your first hand back with your second, ideally right into the fleshy part just behind their chin.

Leverton then moved on to sweeps, starting with the high-percentage sit-up sweep, also known as the hip bump. This makes for a classic offensive combination with the kimura and guillotine. Rise up as you would for the kimura, except this time you push up off your other arm and reach right over their arm. Secure their tricep and whack them with your hip. This should cause them to fall off balance. Once you get your knee onto the mat, twist your upper body so that you’re effectively doing a take down.

The scissor sweep was going to follow, but Leverton decided that it just wasn’t effective enough in nogi, so skipped ahead to the basic double ankle grab sweep. As they stand up, maintain your grip on their head to keep their posture bent forwards. At the moment you let go and they try to reach an upright position, grab behind their ankles, open your guard and bring your knees together under their chest, then drive those knees into them. If they’re tall, you may need to push into their hips with your feet instead.

That should knock them over if they aren’t prepared for the sweep. Before they can react, come up on your hand, then bring your hips forward on that same side. It’s important you don’t try to move straight forward: your direction must be diagonal. Slide your knee on that side to the mat, keeping your hips low, also grabbing their head. From there, you could go to mount, s-mount, side control etc. It is an awkward position, so takes a bit of getting used to.

The last section was on closed guard from the top: in other words, passing. However, before you can pass, you need to be able to stay safe in the closed guard. First off, like Caio Terra says, you should be on your toes in order to drive forward. Leverton then showed the basic safety position, which I think I’ve seen in Saulo’s book. The idea is not only does this keep you safe, but it may frustrate them into opening without wasting much energy yourself or leaving opportunities for them to attack. Good tactic, a little similar to something Roy Harris does, except he stays a little higher.

In short, your head is buried into their chest, your elbows are clamped to their hips, which in turn are shielded by your knees. If they manage to overhook, rotate your arm out, if they underhook, turn your thumb up and pull straight back. Should they pop their hips over, block it with your elbow on that side then replace your knee. When they try to sit up, use your head to keep them down.

Similarly, if they sit up to the side, pummel your head back in to return them to their back. If they put a foot on your hip, kick that leg back, drop your hip to knock their leg off, then return to the safety position. Should they get frustrated at any point and open their legs, scoot straight backwards before they can re-close their guard and move into combat base, with a knee up in the middle.

If they don’t open their guard, then you can use a guard break from the knees. It’s reminiscent of Saulo’s DVD. Leverton mentioned he’d had trouble getting this to work for years: I’ve struggled with it too, so it was cool to get more details. Geeza taught a similar lesson on this position a while back. Geeza used the metaphor of cats and dogs as a guide for your back positioning. In that lesson, Geeza had us start on our hands and knees, starting in the ‘dog’ position: head raised, back curved down, chest up. From there shift into the ‘cat’, where you arch your back and dip your head slightly.

The application is posturing in somebody’s guard. Your back should be in the ‘cat’ position: Leverton called this ‘hunching your back’, which gets across the same idea. For nogi, brace both your hands against the bottom of their ribcage, with the hands turned outwards to avoid getting wristlocked. This uses skeletal structure (your straight arms, their ribcage) to prevent them from breaking your posture.

In order to open the guard, move one knee out to the side, then insert your other knee into their tailbone. Leverton emphasised that you must move your knee out first: if you just insert your knee, you don’t have any base. Your hand on that side will shift to their hip, making sure your shoulder is over the top to focus your weight into that hip. Once your knee is against their tailbone, move the other knee out even further, shifting your body towards that side to create an angle. Finally, hunch your back to pop their ankles open.

Alternatively, you can use a standing guard break. Trap an arm with both of your hands, pressing down firmly into their stomach, then raise your knee on that side. Bring your other knee in tight to their hip, so they can’t easily underhook that leg. Next put both your knees behind their bum and drag them towards you. If they try to raise up, sit backwards: this is uncomfortable and should stop their motion.

When you’ve secured that position, reach back with one arm and put your hand on your hip. Don’t dig your hand too deep, or they may be able to trap your arm against your side with their leg. Turn your body, using that twist to open their legs. You can also just push on their knee, depending how tight they’re gripping. Step backwards on the same side leg and open the guard, then immediately move into your guard passing posture.

Sadly I’m not going to be able to make the next two seminars on the 14th and 21st October, because that’s when I leave and return from Portugal. Hopefully the seminar on back mount will be a date I can make, as I’m really keen to get to that one (so, not the next weekend of October as that’s my mum’s birthday, or between 17th-30th November when I’m in Texas ;D). My back control is rubbish, so if I can learn how to keep it tight in nogi, that should help me tighten it up in gi too.


02/06/2009 – Nova Força

Class #228

Nova Força Epsom (BJJ), Ricardo Da Silva, Epsom, UK – 02/06/2009

Class was absolutely packed, with a tough warm-up from Simon. There were also three women present, which was good to see. The two new joiners haven’t bought a gi yet, but I presume they plan to stay, as they’ve been to most of the classes I’ve attended so far.

Technique tonight was the guillotine, which while basic is nevertheless a fundamental move I certainly haven’t got down yet. The scenario presented was that you’ve got head control and they posture up. You follow them and go for a sit-up sweep, which they attempt to counter by pulling your arm and driving their weight forward.

In response, immediately scoot your hips back and bring one arm under their neck, reaching to clasp your other hand. Twist to side on which you’ve trapped their head, then I think move slightly up (though I keep getting that wrong: either way, you need to get the bone of your forearm pressed against their neck).

If they bring their legs up to resist, shrimp to the opposite side you’ve trapped their head. At the same time, use your legs to chop low on one side and high on the other: in other words, comparable to a flower sweep, taking them over diagonally. Continue holding the guillotine, which will mean they either tap as you roll them over, or if not, you’ll still end up in mount. Ricardo mentioned that in gi competition, you’d have to release the sub at that point (presumably because its potentially a neck crank, but I’m guessing there).

As the class was so huge, free sparring was split into two groups, with one sitting on the side. Rounds were only two minutes, so got through lots of sparring partners. However, that short space of time also meant that they generally followed the same pattern: I’d pull guard from the knees, but so badly that I’d instantly get passed to side control.

From there, I tried to stay on my side, but not all that successfully. My partner would then either transition to knee on belly, where I’d keep trying to shrimp away, or move to scarf hold. I need to review scarf hold escapes, as I’m definitely out of practice.

I was also trying keep my arms tight to my neck to defend against chokes, and my head close to the floor to avoid the cross face. Along with scarf hold, my north-south escape needs work too: I can’t remember the last time I was held in north-south, as people don’t seem to bother all that often. I aimed to wriggle out with the intention of then seeing if I could swing up onto their back, but didn’t get that far. Instead, managed to follow their legs and recover half-guard, as I think they were trying to move round for a choke or something at the same time.

The only spar that broke that pattern was with Lindsey, where I had another chance to keep working the triangle. As before, I need to deal with the arms, getting one in and one out in order to initiate the triangle. I was looking for an underhook too, but struggled to open up her arms sufficiently. Using my hips more might help, perhaps bridging up to make some space.

My left arm was still a bit sore from the previous week, so it will be good to give it a rest until next Tuesday. I’m also hoping to get that friend along to class I mentioned a while back, depending on if he’s busy or not. He’s in Oxshott, so getting a lift sounds handy too, as that saves me the cycle ride.

31/01/2008 – BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #117

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 31/01/2008No-Gi

Unfortunately, my arm did indeed seize up the next morning after my last class. I think it was something muscular, as when I tried to raise my elbow I got a sharp stabbing pain along the outside of my upper arm. Training when feeling slightly under the weather is one thing, but there is no way I’m going to risk training with an injury.

That meant that I couldn’t train last Saturday, which was unfortunate as I’d arranged my advance ticket to Bristol around the beginner training session at 14:00. Not being able train left me waiting at home, after which I then got to Paddington early anyway because my lift was heading to London for around 2pm. Still, got some reading in before my 16:37 train, which is always good. No doubt if I had booked the train earlier, I wouldn’t have got injured and would now be complaining that I wish I’d left time to make the Saturday class. Sod’s law. 😉

Also had a play with Google Documents (which allows you to upload Word/Excel etc files), meaning you can get a sample of just how geekily I track my training here. Makes for an easy – if rather excessively detailed – answer to “what’s your training background?” The main file on my laptop is even worse. ;p

Finally made it back to an advanced class tonight, and was also hoping to double up, something I haven’t done since October. Still not sure whether I prefer to wear grappling shorts or gi trousers, but as I wanted to double tonight, that made the decision for me: makes for quicker change of clothes before training the second class if you’ve already got the bottom half on.

There was somebody taking an intro class I couldn’t recognise at first because I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but turned out it we’d met before, at the second Birmingham Throwdown. She’s thinking of joining up at RGA, which would be cool (as I frequently mention in this blog, I much prefer training with women, due to their size normally being close to mine, mature attitude and controlled approach to sparring), although as she mentioned she’s soon to go off to Thailand for a few months, I’m guessing that’s going to be delayed.

Tonight was heavily focused on the guillotine, with lots of variations. In fact, Jude was unusually varied in technical instruction, as normally we’ll just cover one or two, three at most: I think we went through at least five this time round. First was the basic guillotine from guard, which for no-gi, you grab the head, pull it down, then bring the other arm around the neck. Bring your legs up on their back to lock their upper body down. Grab your wrist, pulling the forearm into their neck. Finally, twist towards your knee, as if you were trying to touch it with your elbow.

If they happen to go for a single leg takedown but leave their neck exposed, you can again go for a guillotine variation. Get the guillotine grip on their neck (so one hand under, then grabbing your wrist to secure your forearm into their neck. I presume the one I’m more familiar with, where you grab your bicep and wrap them up, would work too. Or perhaps that’s not so effective in no-gi?). Fall back, bringing one instep into their hip (your knee of that leg therefore should be on the same side as their head, so your have to work it under their body). You other leg should come over the top, locking them into place. Then squeeze and twist your body as before.

Should they attempt to escape that by pressing their weight down and walking round, you can try to catch them in a brabo choke. I got a bit confused on this one, so will need to double check: IIRC, from the guillotine position above, push on their elbow and bring your hand right through. Grab your bicep, using your free hand to hold their side, then squeeze. I found it impossible to work my hand through, however, and tended to end up moving my partner over me and onto their back before I could secure it, which wasn’t the idea.

I then got to see another choke which was entirely new to me. Still from the single leg defence, cup their chin with your hand. Bring your other hand on top, and pull their head to the centre of your body. Press your chest into the back of their head, then sit-up, digging the edge of your hands into their neck. Combined with your chest, this should end up choking them. Will still work if they stand up, as you can simply follow them up and continue the squeeze.

Jude moved on to again work from defending the single leg, this time ending with a brabo choke variation. When they go for the single, sprawl back. Knock their elbow towards their other arm with your elbow, then with the same arm, reach up past their armpit. Spin to your back, then with that arm reach for your other bicep, getting into position for a brabo. You then roll them over your body, which should end up tightening the choke with their own body weight.

Again, I had trouble with this, and kept either knocking the wrong elbow, trying to grab my bicep too soon, not spinning to my back properly, ending up with my head on the wrong side, etc. I think I’ve been shown this before, back when Chris was still my regular no-gi training partner, so will have a look back through the blog to see if that sheds any light.

Technique over, it was time for sparring. My first partner was Jude, which is always great as he is (as you’d expect) very controlled, and offers lots of tips. He walked me through a guillotine, reminding me to walk my legs up a bit higher: apparently, in my closed guard I’ve been holding it too low. I also found myself frequently going to my back and trying to move into guard, which is something I’m a little too ready to do, as Oli mentioned last time we rolled. That tendency to want to go to my back often leads to people mounting or getting side control on me, especially in nogi where I haven’t got any handles to cling to.

Connor would do exactly that in my next spar. After fiddling about with open guard, failing to isolate a leg, get a foot into a knee and secure an ankle with my hand (I managed them separately, but not all at once, which led to a sloppy open guard on my part as they had a leg free), I soon found myself under Connor’s side control. That’s pretty much where I stayed, until Connor eventually worked his way to an arm triangle. I’m still not swimming my arm under and going to my knees, a side control escape I absolutely have to stop neglecting. I keep finding myself going for that same move to half-guard by trapping a leg, then getting kinda stuck when it doesn’t work. Must shift between several escapes instead of getting preoccupied with one.

Finally, I had a spar with Tran. He dropped to his back, meaning I had to try and go for the top position. As my top game is non-existent, that soon led to a reversal, though I managed to salvage half-guard (I think). Not that it meant anything: while normally I feel I at least have some space in half-guard, against Tran there was no room at all. He steadily progressed to mount, sucking up any space. His mount was completely solid, so it felt rather like fighting a cliff face as he inexorably moved to high mount. I kept bucking and trying to keep my arms in, eventually attempting to pop out the back by twisting to the side near his legs, but to no avail. I shoved an arm out at some point (my body now crammed up against Tran’s knees), falling straight into Tran’s armbar.

Still, was good to have such an unshakeable mount to work against, as after all, I want to work my escapes. Nothing like solid resistance to sharpen up your technique, even if its only small improvements.

01/11/2007 – BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #100

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 01/11/2007No-Gi

Unusually, Jude took the no-gi class today: that could be the start of a new trend, as I think I heard him say something about taking over a lot of Felipe’s classes for a while, because Felipe is doing an Open University degree (always good to see people getting back into education :D).

Unlike yesterday, there was lots of technique to go through. Jude started off with the single leg takedown we did a while back in a beginners class, also showing a variation if they resist. As you go for the single leg and they maintain their balance, shift your grip and stand up, so that you’ve got both arms underneath their leg. Then change the near hand (so the one further from their foot) to go round their waist, and finally sweep their lone leg with your same side foot, dropping them straight to the ground.

He then moved on to the guillotine from guard. Your hand dives around their head, palm up, with the forearm right into their neck, aiming to grab your own stomach or far side. Then use your other hand to grip round the wrist, making a tight hold, finally twisting your torso towards the knee on the same side as your first gripping arm. The choke comes from this swivelling motion rather than squeezing madly on their neck.

Another option is to do a guillotine from open guard. This time, one leg comes in underneath and against their stomach (a bit like the scissor sweep), while the other goes around their back. Using the same guillotine grip as before, twist towards the bottom leg for the sub. Jude showed it from your opponent attempting to escape side control by coming to their knees, whereupon you get under their neck, adjust for the guillotine grip, shoving your hips forward and then dropping back into the open guard.

Finally on the technical side, Jude showed us some escapes from the guillotine, noting that to free yourself from that particular submission can be both difficult and painful. The first option was if you hand an arm free: get that across their neck. Then bring up the same knee to whichever side your head is on, sprawling back with your legs and driving with your shoulder to put maximum pressure on their chest. Reach back to remove their arm, which should loosen as you drop your weight on them.

If your arm isn’t free, reach around their back instead. Push your head to the floor and drive forward, again thrusting your shoulder into their chest. This should also serve to loosen their grip until you can extricate yourself from the guillotine.

Like yesterday, I again found myself doing a lot of sparring. I started off with my drilling partner, Leo, who’s roughly my size, if rather stronger. He went pretty light, so I tried playing with guard and seeing if I could get any sweeps. While I could occasionally work my legs into position for an elevator, I couldn’t work out how to bring Leo forward: not having the usual grips made my sweeps even crapper than usual. I probably should have had a try at the sit-up, although I can’t remember if Leo sat back at any point.

I haven’t sparred Ben for a while, so had a roll with him after Leo. As always happens when I spar Ben, I found myself at the receiving end of armbars: I almost thought I might be able to bend my arm round the knee and escape, but Ben got my arm back too quick. He also put me in a triangle which I again felt I might have been able to get out of, as I had both arms in, but was squished into my own forearm. There was no chance I’d be able to resist the power of both Ben’s legs and his arms pulling my head down, so soon tapped.

I also found it tough under Ben’s side control, where I couldn’t make any space, and in addition failed to get my far leg over to try for half guard. That heel drag step over thing didn’t work under mount either: still, I’d like to work that technique more, as after all I’ve currently just been going off something I saw Johannes do at Belfast. Yet another thing I could ask an instructor next time I get the chance.

Next up was Christina, under whom I spent some time squished in side control, and also in her guard. I tried the elbows to hips tip she mentioned yesterday to avoid armbars, which seemed to help. I had no clue how to pass, as again, my passes are poor with a gi, so became even more useless without the grips. I tried to curl into a ball to maintain open guard, and also see if I could trap a leg to pass, but without much success. I need to shrimp more and perhaps keep my knees tighter when they’re trying to pass and give me enough space, as that could then lead to recovering my guard.

I was ready to sit out at this point, but Jude dragged me up to spar. The opportunity to roll with a black belt was a nice way to celebrate my hundredth lesson, and as you’d expect, Jude took it very easy and coached me through some escapes and submissions (like the kimura from guard). This again emphasised that I absolutely must shrimp more, with one of the few proactive things I did being that step over to half guard. As soon as I get that, I need to shrimp towards the trapped leg and then get my other leg into position for recovering guard.

Under Jude’s side control I felt pretty helpless, even though he was going light: I tried to bridge and make some space, but clearly I’ve got lots of work to do on effective bridging. In general I continue to move too slowly after bridging – I need to use that moment of imbalance on their part to shrimp. At the moment, I’m just sliding up, which isn’t helping to prepare my escape.

Annoyingly, I couldn’t find my gumshield before the session, so hopefully I haven’t lost that: will have to check at home. Final piece of news is that there is an academy Open Day on November 17th from 13:00-15:00, which is meant to be a chance for us to all bring down our family and friends to try out BJJ. My gf is away that day, so technically I could try and get some people down, but that depends firstly on if anyone would be up for it and secondly how far I’ve got with my updated writing (for which I’ll be having a meeting on the 20th, so possible that they’ll ask for it before the 17th anyway).

That Compeed plaster fell off at some point during the training, but not sure exactly when. So, would appear it can only handle one and a bit training sessions, unless it fell off right at the end. Four more of them to go, which I can but hope will be enough for the burn mark to heal up.