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. 😉


31/05/2011 – Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #400
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Miles Pearson, Bristol, UK – 31/05/2011

A carpenter is coming at 8am tomorrow morning, which meant that tonight was going to be my first night spent sleeping at the new house. We don’t have any curtains up yet, so that meant I’d have a natural alarm clock. We also don’t have a bed, so I was using an air bed (which has a really, really loud electrical thing to blow it up: I felt too bad for the neighbours to actually wait for the damn thing to finish, so just made do with something half-inflated). Then of course there was the biggest drawback, which is that I wouldn’t be able to see my gf in the evening, or wake up with her the next morning.

Despite those discomforts, there was still a big plus. Staying overnight meant that, at last, I didn’t have to rush off to jump on a bike and cycle the forty minutes or so back to Downend. Instead, I only had a seven minute walk around the corner. So, I could finally stay a bit later to get in some more sparring, and even more valuable, pick Geeza’s brain.

Before that, however, there was of course Miles’ class. He takes a different approach to me, as the techniques are a little more complex, with a greater focus on submissions. Last time I popped down to a Tuesday, it was the gift wrap and various attacks. This week, Miles wanted to cover the crucifix position, followed again by a number of submissions.

First, you have to get there. To transition to the crucifix, Miles had us enter against them turtling. You’re on their side, looking to dig your knee inside. Pull back on their collar to make a little space, then insert your near knee. With your other leg, step over their near arm, then drag it back over your other arm, triangling your legs.

Reach through with your far arm, to thread inside their far arm and grab their wrist. Bring that towards their body to stop them using it to post. Push off your feet, then roll over your shoulder, moving over their body. You should end up on your back, with them perpendicular to you. One of their arms will be trapped by your triangled legs, while you have the other wrapped. Secure it by bringing your hand to the back of your head, as if you were combing your hair.

From here, you can effect a choke. With your free arm, reach over for their far collar and get a deep grip. Twist your wrist up and raise your hips, in order to press into their neck for the choke. You’re aiming to squeeze both sides of their neck here, so your arm needs to also be pressing into their neck. It is possible you can choke them by just pressing into their windpipe, but that’s less efficient than cutting off their blood flow.

If they’re sufficiently strong to break their arm free of your arm wrap, they will probably pull on their collar or otherwise remove your grip. You can still get a choke, by simply reaching a bit further, past their collar and to the shoulder. The point of your elbow should now be just under their chin. You’ll probably need to roll towards them and onto your side to reach in deep enough.

Create a backstop by gable gripping your other hand (so, palm to palm). Also keep your head in close to theirs, as with a rear naked choke. If this was a rear naked choke, you’d finish by expanding your chest and squeezing. That isn’t convenient from this position, so instead, roll away from them slightly to pull them up onto your hips to increase your leverage, then bridge.

Finally, you could go for a shoulder submission off a triangle. From the crucifix, press on the side of their head with your arm, so that you can step your leg over their head. Put that foot into their far armpit, then lock the triangle. It is unlikely you’ll be able to actually submit them with just that, so it is more of a controlling hold. The submission will come from bringing your other arm over their near armpit, then bridging up and twisting to apply pressure to their shoulder.

Miles left plenty of time to fit in a good bit of free sparring. I started with Monica, who had been my drilling partner today: it was good to see her in class again, as that hopefully means she will become a regular. I look forward to the day we reach a critical mass of women at GB Bristol, so that other women are encouraged to join, especially once the women progress to higher ranks.

Monica mentioned yesterday she’d done a few months of BJJ in the past, which is possibly why it turned out her ability to maintain side control was pretty good. She was able to generate a decent bit of pressure, without leaving much space for me to escape. Good stuff. She also reacted well to my attempts to recover guard, quickly moving around to pass and re-establish side control.

I then went with Luke, who as always maintained a relaxed, technical pace. I was looking for the spider guard sweep again, without much luck. I can’t remember how I got there, but at some point I ended up on top in north south looking for an attack. The opportunity to work on my offence is one of the nicest things about a relaxed roll, although on the other hand, I’m not sure if that means I’m taking advantage of somebody’s kindness. I guess it depends on if you go nuts with the attack, rather than keeping it steady and gradual.

Geeza was up next, who made a quick point about side control maintenance before we got going (something he wanted to mention after my class a couple of weeks ago, but as usual I had to leave early). In short, it is important to be aware that you need different types of control for different types of escape: although you might block their guard recovery, that could open up an opportunity for them to go to their knees. You need to be aware of both.

The roll itself led on from that, as Geeza asked to start under side control so he could take a look at my game from top side control. Naturally he was taking it easy as a result, so I tried to move around to north south, seeing if I could isolate an arm (I tend to go for the kimura from north south). At another point, I went to the step-over triangle, then again looked to see if I could get hold of an arm. I wasn’t able to isolate the non-triangled arm, so attempted to switch to pushing on the trapped arm instead, going for a bent armlock by bending it over my hips. Something I need to keep in mind, as I haven’t tried it much from that triangle position.

Finally, I had a roll with Oli, seeing if I could go for the spider guard attack. I also wanted to keep in mind more basic open guard options, like the tripod sweep. For once, I remembered to switch to the sickle sweep if I couldn’t get the tripod, but didn’t drive my hips through properly. That meant I ended up in a crappy pseudo-mount, which was soon reversed, putting me back under guard.

Class finished, but because I could stay late, that meant I was able to hang around and chat, as well as get in some more sparring with Geeza. As with previous rolls, he tried to work my passing game, going to his back and inviting me to try and get past. Also as with previous rolls, I flopped to my back at the first opportunity, then played defence. This is a bad habit, which I find I particularly do with instructors who are looking to help my game. Rather counterproductive on my part.

Unsurprisingly, Geeza finished up with the sensible advice I’ve also had (among others) from Kev and Nick Brooks: my defence is ok, so now I need to really focus in on going for some kind of attack. My intention pretty much since I started has been to develop a good defence so that I can take risks with my offence. I’ll throw in a quote, in case anyone still hasn’t read the best thread ever (which you really, really should). This is what I’ve been aiming for:

JohnnyS: We had John Will teaching us on Monday which is always enlightening. Before class we (the brown belts and myself) had a private with John and he recommended we work on our defence. He said the number one way to work on your confidence is to work your defence. When you are certain that no-one can tap you, what do you have to fear? You can work any attack you want because if you stuff it up, you don’t have to fear being caught in a bad position.

From what several instructors have said, I’ve shifted more towards the negative side of that mindset, which is clamming up to avoid being submitted, rather than going for a submission of my own. Rolling not to tap is only going to lead to stagnation. I’ve been trying to avoid doing that, but it definitely happens a lot with higher level sparring partners. Something I need to stop: perhaps if I keep saying it on my blog enough, it will finally sink into my thick skull. 😉

Geeza also had some good tips on the basic guard break he showed yesterday, which I made sure to ask him about as I’ve been having problems with it for so long. He emphasised controlling the hips by pressing all your weight through the hand you have pressed into their hip. To get the guard open, aim to slide your own hip bone down their shin, making yourself too broad for them to keep their guard closed.


31/05/2011 – Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #401
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Miles Pearson, Bristol, UK – 31/05/2011

A carpenter is coming at 8am tomorrow morning, which meant that tonight was going to be my first night spent sleeping at the new house. We don’t have any curtains up yet, so that meant I’d have a natural alarm clock. We also don’t have a bed, so I was using an air bed (which has a really, really loud electrical thing to blow it up: I felt too bad for the neighbours to actually wait for the damn thing to finish, so just made do with something half-inflated). Then of course there was the biggest drawback, which is that I wouldn’t be able to see my gf in the evening, or wake up with her the next morning.

Despite those discomforts, there was still a big plus. Staying overnight meant that, at last, I didn’t have to rush off to jump on a bike and cycle the forty minutes or so back to Downend. Instead, I only had a seven minute walk around the corner. So, I could finally stay a bit later to get in some more sparring, and even more valuable, pick Geeza’s brain.

Before that, however, there was of course Miles’ class. He takes a different approach to me, as the techniques are a little more complex, with a greater focus on submissions. Last time I popped down to a Tuesday, it was the gift wrap and various attacks. This week, Miles wanted to cover the crucifix position, followed again by a number of submissions.

First, you have to get there. To transition to the crucifix, Miles had us enter against them turtling. You’re on their side, looking to dig your knee inside. Pull back on their collar to make a little space, then insert your near knee. With your other leg, step over their near arm, then drag it back over your other arm, triangling your legs.

Reach through with your far arm, to thread inside their far arm and grab their wrist. Bring that towards their body to stop them using it to post. Push off your feet, then roll over your shoulder, moving over their body. You should end up on your back, with them perpendicular to you. One of their arms will be trapped by your triangled legs, while you have the other wrapped. Secure it by bringing your hand to the back of your head, as if you were combing your hair.

From here, you can effect a choke. With your free arm, reach over for their far collar and get a deep grip. Twist your wrist up and raise your hips, in order to press into their neck for the choke. You’re aiming to squeeze both sides of their neck here, so your arm needs to also be pressing into their neck. It is possible you can choke them by just pressing into their windpipe, but that’s less efficient than cutting off their blood flow.

If they’re sufficiently strong to break their arm free of your arm wrap, they will probably pull on their collar or otherwise remove your grip. You can still get a choke, by simply reaching a bit further, past their collar and to the shoulder. The point of your elbow should now be just under their chin. You’ll probably need to roll towards them and onto your side to reach in deep enough.

Create a backstop by gable gripping your other hand (so, palm to palm). Also keep your head in close to theirs, as with a rear naked choke. If this was a rear naked choke, you’d finish by expanding your chest and squeezing. That isn’t convenient from this position, so instead, roll away from them slightly to pull them up onto your hips to increase your leverage, then bridge.

Finally, you could go for a shoulder submission off a triangle. From the crucifix, press on the side of their head with your arm, so that you can step your leg over their head. Put that foot into their far armpit, then lock the triangle. It is unlikely you’ll be able to actually submit them with just that, so it is more of a controlling hold. The submission will come from bringing your other arm over their near armpit, then bridging up and twisting to apply pressure to their shoulder.

Miles left plenty of time to fit in a good bit of free sparring. I started with Monica, who had been my drilling partner today: it was good to see her in class again, as that hopefully means she will become a regular. I look forward to the day we reach a critical mass of women at GB Bristol, so that other women are encouraged to join, especially once the women progress to higher ranks.

Monica mentioned yesterday she’d done a few months of BJJ in the past, which is possibly why it turned out her ability to maintain side control was pretty good. She was able to generate a decent bit of pressure, without leaving much space for me to escape. Good stuff. She also reacted well to my attempts to recover guard, quickly moving around to pass and re-establish side control.

I then went with Luke, who as always maintained a relaxed, technical pace. I was looking for the spider guard sweep again, without much luck. I can’t remember how I got there, but at some point I ended up on top in north south looking for an attack. The opportunity to work on my offence is one of the nicest things about a relaxed roll, although on the other hand, I’m not sure if that means I’m taking advantage of somebody’s kindness. I guess it depends on if you go nuts with the attack, rather than keeping it steady and gradual.

Geeza was up next, who made a quick point about side control maintenance before we got going (something he wanted to mention after my class a couple of weeks ago, but as usual I had to leave early). In short, it is important to be aware that you need different types of control for different types of escape: although you might block their guard recovery, that could open up an opportunity for them to go to their knees. You need to be aware of both.

The roll itself led on from that, as Geeza asked to start under side control so he could take a look at my game from top side control. Naturally he was taking it easy as a result, so I tried to move around to north south, seeing if I could isolate an arm (I tend to go for the kimura from north south). At another point, I went to the step-over triangle, then again looked to see if I could get hold of an arm. I wasn’t able to isolate the non-triangled arm, so attempted to switch to pushing on the trapped arm instead, going for a bent armlock by bending it over my hips. Something I need to keep in mind, as I haven’t tried it much from that triangle position.

Finally, I had a roll with Oli, seeing if I could go for the spider guard attack. I also wanted to keep in mind more basic open guard options, like the tripod sweep. For once, I remembered to switch to the sickle sweep if I couldn’t get the tripod, but didn’t drive my hips through properly. That meant I ended up in a crappy pseudo-mount, which was soon reversed, putting me back under guard.

Class finished, but because I could stay late, that meant I was able to hang around and chat, as well as get in some more sparring with Geeza. As with previous rolls, he tried to work my passing game, going to his back and inviting me to try and get past. Also as with previous rolls, I flopped to my back at the first opportunity, then played defence. This is a bad habit, which I find I particularly do with instructors who are looking to help my game. Rather counterproductive on my part.

Unsurprisingly, Geeza finished up with the sensible advice I’ve also had (among others) from Kev and Nick Brooks: my defence is ok, so now I need to really focus in on going for some kind of attack. My intention pretty much since I started has been to develop a good defence so that I can take risks with my offence. I’ll throw in a quote, in case anyone still hasn’t read the best thread ever (which you really, really should). This is what I’ve been aiming for:

JohnnyS: We had John Will teaching us on Monday which is always enlightening. Before class we (the brown belts and myself) had a private with John and he recommended we work on our defence. He said the number one way to work on your confidence is to work your defence. When you are certain that no-one can tap you, what do you have to fear? You can work any attack you want because if you stuff it up, you don’t have to fear being caught in a bad position.

From what several instructors have said, I’ve shifted more towards the negative side of that mindset, which is clamming up to avoid being submitted, rather than going for a submission of my own. Rolling not to tap is only going to lead to stagnation. I’ve been trying to avoid doing that, but it definitely happens a lot with higher level sparring partners. Something I need to stop: perhaps if I keep saying it on my blog enough, it will finally sink into my thick skull. 😉

Geeza also had some good tips on the basic guard break he showed yesterday, which I made sure to ask him about as I’ve been having problems with it for so long. He emphasised controlling the hips by pressing all your weight through the hand you have pressed into their hip. To get the guard open, aim to slide your own hip bone down their shin, making yourself too broad for them to keep their guard closed.


17/05/2011 – GB Bristol

Class #397
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Miles Pearson, Bristol, UK – 17/05/2011

There are two purple belts currently at Gracie Barra Bristol: I’m one, and Miles is the other. We’ve both been asked to teach by Geeza, with my class on the Thursdays, Miles’ class on the Tuesday. I’m obviously interested in what my fellow purple is teaching (although he’s a more experienced purple, and a more experienced instructor: he has a background in primary school teaching), so I was keen to pop along for the Tuesday class. It’s impressive Miles is teaching at all, as his wife recently gave birth: congrats to both of them. 🙂

Miles runs a comparatively long warm-up, following up the usual running round the room with various drills, like partner hip lifting, gi pull ups, belt sprints etc. He then moved into the technical portion, which was all going to be based around the ‘gift wrap’ made famous by Rickson Gracie. It’s a bit like Lesson 35 from Gracie Combatives, which Rener calls ‘twisting arm control’ (except that he has his foot over by their hip, rather than both knees behind their back). The set up Miles showed started in scarf hold.

To transition to the gift wrap (or twisting arm control, if you prefer that term), step the leg nearest their head over their face. That will push their trapped arm across their body. Grab it with the arm you have over their body, also bringing your other hand under their head. You can then feed their wrist to that other hand, pulling it in tight to establish the gift wrap.

There is a chance you might be able to get a wristlock here, if they don’t make a fist with their trapped hand. You want to hold their wrist as high as you can, also controlling that arm with your other hand. Bring their arm out slightly, making sure that their fingers are pointing towards their head. Put your sternum on their elbow, then apply pressure for the wristlock.

As that is low percentage, like Miles mentioned, you can also go for a choke. Loosen up their arm enough that you can slip your other arm through, then reach for your shoulder or bicep. Tighten their arm back up: you’re looking to block off one side of their neck with their own arm, and the other with your arm. Once you’re in position, pull them up slightly towards you, then straighten your arms, pressing forward.

From the same position, you can also switch to an armbar. Again you want your arm through, but this time grab your wrist, to establish a figure four. Bring your knees up, shift your arm over their head, then get one leg over their head as well, dropping back for the armbar. Make sure to also grab their trouser leg, as otherwise they’ll be able to turn and use the hitchhiker escape, because you don’t have both legs over.

Miles then showed the same gift wrap/twisting arm control from mount. To transition to the gift wrap, move into a high mount. It will be tough to simply shove their arm over, so instead block it with your hand. Move your upper torso to the side, then pressing your side into their elbow, put your whole body into the action. With that weight, you should be able to slide their arm across their neck, then slip your arm under their head to grab their wrist and enter the gift wrap.

You can now shift into s-mount, where you can go for an armbar in the usual fashion. You can also take the back, by getting a figure four grip again, then dropping towards one side. This will end up being your weak side in terms of the choke, so you’ll want to push off with your leg to roll them over to the other side. You’re now in a strong position to set up your favourite choke from the back.

Miles finished up by having everyone line up against the wall, where he paired people up for free sparring. I started off with Miles, who was taking it relatively easy with me (possibly because he’s a fair bit bigger). I was mostly going to the running escape, trying to spin around back to guard, which he largely let me do.

Next was Geeza, who dropped to his back and waited to see how I’d try to pass his guard. As ever, my answer was mainly to stare at him in confusion, vaguely flailing at his legs before getting swept. My guard passing remains really, really bad: I sometimes forget just how bad, because normally I’ll mercifully get put on my back somehow, meaning I can then work my guard.

However, being a good instructor, Geeza kept returning to his back after he landed a sweep, meaning I had to keep on attempting (and failing) to pass. Afterwards, he suggested that instead of trying to push forward and drive with my hips, I should move back and push the legs down. I’m small and weedy, so the second option is a better fit for my body type. Something I need to keep in mind for next time.

Finally, I had a roll with Luke. As always when I roll with Luke, he shows an impressive level of calm control, never using strength, meaning sparring with him is always enjoyably technical. I tried for that lasso spider guard sweep, and set it up just right: I had the lasso, he was passing…but I didn’t grab the leg and push, leaving it too late. Luke could see what I was trying to do, so had no problem basing out and preventing the sweep.

I did manage to then bring my legs up for the triangle and roll on top, but that was mostly down to flexibility and the light pace of the roll, rather than solid technique on my part. Still, worth trying that kind of thing when I can, as it’s a handy thing to spring on people: they aren’t normally expecting to be attacked from under side control. At the same time, it’s low percentage stuff (on top of side control is a dominant position for a reason, after all), so definitely not something to rely on.


17/05/2011 – GB Bristol

Class #398
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Miles Pearson, Bristol, UK – 17/05/2011

There are two purple belts currently at Gracie Barra Bristol: I’m one, and Miles is the other. We’ve both been asked to teach by Geeza, with my class on the Thursdays, Miles’ class on the Tuesday. I’m obviously interested in what my fellow purple is teaching (although he’s a more experienced purple, and a more experienced instructor: he has a background in primary school teaching), so I was keen to pop along for the Tuesday class. It’s impressive Miles is teaching at all, as his wife recently gave birth: congrats to both of them. 🙂

Miles runs a comparatively long warm-up, following up the usual running round the room with various drills, like partner hip lifting, gi pull ups, belt sprints etc. He then moved into the technical portion, which was all going to be based around the ‘gift wrap’ made famous by Rickson Gracie. It’s a bit like Lesson 35 from Gracie Combatives, which Rener calls ‘twisting arm control’ (except that he has his foot over by their hip, rather than both knees behind their back). The set up Miles showed started in scarf hold.

To transition to the gift wrap (or twisting arm control, if you prefer that term), step the leg nearest their head over their face. That will push their trapped arm across their body. Grab it with the arm you have over their body, also bringing your other hand under their head. You can then feed their wrist to that other hand, pulling it in tight to establish the gift wrap.

There is a chance you might be able to get a wristlock here, if they don’t make a fist with their trapped hand. You want to hold their wrist as high as you can, also controlling that arm with your other hand. Bring their arm out slightly, making sure that their fingers are pointing towards their head. Put your sternum on their elbow, then apply pressure for the wristlock.

As that is low percentage, like Miles mentioned, you can also go for a choke. Loosen up their arm enough that you can slip your other arm through, then reach for your shoulder or bicep. Tighten their arm back up: you’re looking to block off one side of their neck with their own arm, and the other with your arm. Once you’re in position, pull them up slightly towards you, then straighten your arms, pressing forward.

From the same position, you can also switch to an armbar. Again you want your arm through, but this time grab your wrist, to establish a figure four. Bring your knees up, shift your arm over their head, then get one leg over their head as well, dropping back for the armbar. Make sure to also grab their trouser leg, as otherwise they’ll be able to turn and use the hitchhiker escape, because you don’t have both legs over.

Miles then showed the same gift wrap/twisting arm control from mount. To transition to the gift wrap, move into a high mount. It will be tough to simply shove their arm over, so instead block it with your hand. Move your upper torso to the side, then pressing your side into their elbow, put your whole body into the action. With that weight, you should be able to slide their arm across their neck, then slip your arm under their head to grab their wrist and enter the gift wrap.

You can now shift into s-mount, where you can go for an armbar in the usual fashion. You can also take the back, by getting a figure four grip again, then dropping towards one side. This will end up being your weak side in terms of the choke, so you’ll want to push off with your leg to roll them over to the other side. You’re now in a strong position to set up your favourite choke from the back.

Miles finished up by having everyone line up against the wall, where he paired people up for free sparring. I started off with Miles, who was taking it relatively easy with me (possibly because he’s a fair bit bigger). I was mostly going to the running escape, trying to spin around back to guard, which he largely let me do.

Next was Geeza, who dropped to his back and waited to see how I’d try to pass his guard. As ever, my answer was mainly to stare at him in confusion, vaguely flailing at his legs before getting swept. My guard passing remains really, really bad: I sometimes forget just how bad, because normally I’ll mercifully get put on my back somehow, meaning I can then work my guard.

However, being a good instructor, Geeza kept returning to his back after he landed a sweep, meaning I had to keep on attempting (and failing) to pass. Afterwards, he suggested that instead of trying to push forward and drive with my hips, I should move back and push the legs down. I’m small and weedy, so the second option is a better fit for my body type. Something I need to keep in mind for next time.

Finally, I had a roll with Luke. As always when I roll with Luke, he shows an impressive level of calm control, never using strength, meaning sparring with him is always enjoyably technical. I tried for that lasso spider guard sweep, and set it up just right: I had the lasso, he was passing…but I didn’t grab the leg and push, leaving it too late. Luke could see what I was trying to do, so had no problem basing out and preventing the sweep.

I did manage to then bring my legs up for the triangle and roll on top, but that was mostly down to flexibility and the light pace of the roll, rather than solid technique on my part. Still, worth trying that kind of thing when I can, as it’s a handy thing to spring on people: they aren’t normally expecting to be attacked from under side control. At the same time, it’s low percentage stuff (on top of side control is a dominant position for a reason, after all), so definitely not something to rely on.