14/12/2010 – BJJ (Advanced)

Class #369
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 14/12/2010

Fellow members of Bullshido have most likely been reading MrBadGuy’s thread for a few years now, but I only just got round to checking it out. Entertaining stuff, and I imagine particularly amusing if you’re from the Houston area. He writes about the various schools he’s checked out, which would seem to be just about every school in the city, until eventually he was able to earn his purple belt in BJJ. Currently in two parts: part one runs through his time with Kuk Sool Won, a dodgy BJJ school (they do exist, though thankfully fairly rare) and a whole bunch of other random martial arts. Part two brings us up to the present: I’m guessing there will be a part three once that thread gets too huge. Particularly in that second thread, there is a lot of random stuff by other people to scroll through (mostly requests for updates), but you can always do Ctrl + F on “MrBadGuy” to skip past it.

In what has become something of a pattern, I wasn’t able to make Thursday because I was in the wrong part of the country. That reminds me yet again that it is really cool Kev has a number of different payment options: per class, per month, or per block of classes. I’m on the third option, which works out perfectly for my geographically uncertain schedule. Kev normally closes down RGA Bucks for a couple of weeks around Christmas, so I should hopefully be able to get in a few sessions at Gracie Barra Bristol over the New Year, when I go visit my gf. She’s still looking at a place to buy, so fingers crossed that works out and I can finally move down permanently in a couple of months.

Kev continued with the mount, but went in a completely different direction by combining an escape with a nifty sweep. To escape mount, turn to your side, using your lower elbow to push their leg back, the upper arm for defence. You’re going to do a similar motion to the foot drag into half guard, but rather than trapping the leg completely, you just want to balance their foot on your lower leg. Use your other leg to lever that foot down, opening up a space by their knee.

Reach through that space with your upper arm, wrapping their leg, immediately swivelling as well as knocking them forwards with your legs. This will mean you can then go for a deep half guard sweep, which is the ‘Homer Simpson’ Kev showed a couple of months ago, from Jeff Glover’s deep half DVD. Run your legs towards your head, then once you feel they’re off-balance, roll back the other way to come on top. As I often get stuck there if anyone adds any resistance, Howard recommend I try to drive my head towards their chest, which facilitates the shift to half guard.

While walking round, Kev also showed Howard and I a deep half guard pass you can use if somebody puts you in that position. Grab their leg and walk around their head, swinging that leg over to the other side. At the same time, you need to work your trapped knee to the ground, meaning that you are then in a much stronger position, ready to attempt a knee slide pass.

For sparring, I was paired up with John, who is still carrying that knee injury: I’m small and tend to go light anyway, so I’m always more than happy to help people train around their injuries. Unusually, it wasn’t free sparring tonight, but several rounds of specific, starting with mount again. Underneath was much the same as before, going a bit lighter than normal in order to avoid aggravating his knee injury.

On top, as earlier, I was looking to try feet in hips as well as the grapevine. Although I’m sure the injury had something to do with it, as that must have reduced his ability to bridge and general mobility, worked fairly well. I was able to climb high, and then pressure with my hips to try and open up an arm. That worked rather less well: although I can sometimes maintain the mount for a while, I still fail utterly to complete any attacks from there. MUCH prefer side control.

While I’m at least occasionally comfortable maintaining mount, I still struggle with back mount, which was the next position for specific sparring. Escaping was complicated by the injury, as I was worried I’d tweak his knee, but I could still practice fundamentals, like protecting my neck and Saulo’s ‘scoop’ defence from Jiu Jitsu University. I very almost got caught with some kind of choke, which I wasn’t paying enough attention to as I thought he only had the one collar. Dangerously complacent.

On his back, I continued to flail about ineffectually. However, again I was able to play around with some stuff I haven’t tried in a while, like trapping his arm under my leg. That theoretically makes it easier to get the choke, as you then only have one arm to worry about, but I still couldn’t get where I want. Interestingly, he kept on trying wristlocks as I attacked. That definitely make me more hesitant, so seems to be a good tactic.

The final round was from turtle, where again I was being cautious due to the knee. On top, most of the time I could at least get enough of a hook to move into top half guard, but I think that was directly because of the knee injury. He also tried a wristlock yet again, but this time from under side control, which surprised me. The dominant position meant I had enough leverage to wriggle free, but as before, it makes you a little more hesitant, so useful distraction. Possibly time to take another look at The Art of the Wristlock.

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14/12/2010 – BJJ (Advanced)

Class #368
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 14/12/2010

Fellow members of Bullshido have most likely been reading MrBadGuy’s thread for a few years now, but I only just got round to checking it out. Entertaining stuff, and I imagine particularly amusing if you’re from the Houston area. He writes about the various schools he’s checked out, which would seem to be just about every school in the city, until eventually he was able to earn his purple belt in BJJ. Currently in two parts: part one runs through his time with Kuk Sool Won, a dodgy BJJ school (they do exist, though thankfully fairly rare) and a whole bunch of other random martial arts. Part two brings us up to the present: I’m guessing there will be a part three once that thread gets too huge. Particularly in that second thread, there is a lot of random stuff by other people to scroll through (mostly requests for updates), but you can always do Ctrl + F on “MrBadGuy” to skip past it.

In what has become something of a pattern, I wasn’t able to make Thursday because I was in the wrong part of the country. That reminds me yet again that it is really cool Kev has a number of different payment options: per class, per month, or per block of classes. I’m on the third option, which works out perfectly for my geographically uncertain schedule. Kev normally closes down RGA Bucks for a couple of weeks around Christmas, so I should hopefully be able to get in a few sessions at Gracie Barra Bristol over the New Year, when I go visit my gf. She’s still looking at a place to buy, so fingers crossed that works out and I can finally move down permanently in a couple of months.

Kev continued with the mount, but went in a completely different direction by combining an escape with a nifty sweep. To escape mount, turn to your side, using your lower elbow to push their leg back, the upper arm for defence. You’re going to do a similar motion to the foot drag into half guard, but rather than trapping the leg completely, you just want to balance their foot on your lower leg. Use your other leg to lever that foot down, opening up a space by their knee.

Reach through that space with your upper arm, wrapping their leg, immediately swivelling as well as knocking them forwards with your legs. This will mean you can then go for a deep half guard sweep, which is the ‘Homer Simpson’ Kev showed a couple of months ago, from Jeff Glover’s deep half DVD. Run your legs towards your head, then once you feel they’re off-balance, roll back the other way to come on top. As I often get stuck there if anyone adds any resistance, Howard recommend I try to drive my head towards their chest, which facilitates the shift to half guard.

While walking round, Kev also showed Howard and I a deep half guard pass you can use if somebody puts you in that position. Grab their leg and walk around their head, swinging that leg over to the other side. At the same time, you need to work your trapped knee to the ground, meaning that you are then in a much stronger position, ready to attempt a knee slide pass.

For sparring, I was paired up with John, who is still carrying that knee injury: I’m small and tend to go light anyway, so I’m always more than happy to help people train around their injuries. Unusually, it wasn’t free sparring tonight, but several rounds of specific, starting with mount again. Underneath was much the same as before, going a bit lighter than normal in order to avoid aggravating his knee injury.

On top, as earlier, I was looking to try feet in hips as well as the grapevine. Although I’m sure the injury had something to do with it, as that must have reduced his ability to bridge and general mobility, worked fairly well. I was able to climb high, and then pressure with my hips to try and open up an arm. That worked rather less well: although I can sometimes maintain the mount for a while, I still fail utterly to complete any attacks from there. MUCH prefer side control.

While I’m at least occasionally comfortable maintaining mount, I still struggle with back mount, which was the next position for specific sparring. Escaping was complicated by the injury, as I was worried I’d tweak his knee, but I could still practice fundamentals, like protecting my neck and Saulo’s ‘scoop’ defence from Jiu Jitsu University. I very almost got caught with some kind of choke, which I wasn’t paying enough attention to as I thought he only had the one collar. Dangerously complacent.

On his back, I continued to flail about ineffectually. However, again I was able to play around with some stuff I haven’t tried in a while, like trapping his arm under my leg. That theoretically makes it easier to get the choke, as you then only have one arm to worry about, but I still couldn’t get where I want. Interestingly, he kept on trying wristlocks as I attacked. That definitely make me more hesitant, so seems to be a good tactic.

The final round was from turtle, where again I was being cautious due to the knee. On top, most of the time I could at least get enough of a hook to move into top half guard, but I think that was directly because of the knee injury. He also tried a wristlock yet again, but this time from under side control, which surprised me. The dominant position meant I had enough leverage to wriggle free, but as before, it makes you a little more hesitant, so useful distraction. Possibly time to take another look at The Art of the Wristlock.


14/12/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #368
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 14/12/2010

For those of you who watched the Mark Bocek versus Dustin Hazelett fight at UFC 124 (if you haven’t, skip this bit as there will be spoilers), it has inspired an interesting series of interconnected videos by an entirely disparate group of BJJ black belts, which is cool to see. That starts off with a Gracie Breakdown by Rener and Ryron, where they look at the fight from Bocek’s perspective, here.

There was a fair bit of criticism on the web for the rubber guard (e.g., here, particularly as it seemed Bocek passed it pretty easily. So, 10th Planet head honcho Eddie Bravo put up this video in a thread on The Underground. Yet another black belt, Dave Jacobs, regularly posts on that forum, and seeing the video, decided that he’d put up this response. Exactly the kind of exchange that demonstrate how awesome the internet can be. 🙂

Class tonight started off with the clinch takedown as defence to a haymaker, from the Gracie Barra Fundamentals syllabus, which led into mount techniques. The first was a basic cross choke from mount, although instead of feeding the second hand under the first, you put your thumb in their opposite collar. Slide that arm around the head and under their jaw, after which you can complete the choke by bringing your elbows back and your head down.

Alternatively, you can move into a double-attack from mount. Set up the choke as before, but this time, they manage to block your second arm somehow. On your first arm side, bring your knee to their head. Your other knee slides up to their elbow on the far side to make space, after which you swing your lower leg towards their head, in a ‘dog-leg’ position. From there you can switch grips and go for the armbar, and depending on how they react, drop back and grab their near leg, or switch back to the choke (hence why it’s known as a double attack).

Grabbing that near leg is important, as if you don’t, they can thread their leg through and escape to their knees as you drop for the armbar. They may also have the option of the hitchhiker escape. If you grab the near leg, it is very difficult for them to turn, because in order to do so, they have to bring that leg underneath them first.

Kev finished off with a basic trap and roll escape from underneath, before moving on to specific sparring from mount. This served as a handy reminder that it makes a big difference if you don’t stop at half guard: I can often snatch that leg, but progressing from there can be tough. I was looking to use the knee I had behind them to bump them forward, making space to recover full guard or escape. That did work, but I need to make sure I’ve got onto my side, rather than getting squished underneath them.

I also had a go at the escape Rob Stevens showed back at Gracie Barra Birmingham, where you put an arm across the stomach, using the other arm to simply lift their leg and trap it in half guard, aiming to move into deep half. However, I wasn’t defending my neck properly in the process, so very nearly go stuck in an Ezequiel as a result. Asking Kev afterwards, he suggested turning on your side, wedging one arm into their stomach. Your other hand grips your own collar and pulls it tight: combined with shrugging your shoulders, this defends against chokes. The elbow of that same arm can be used to shove against their leg, in order to move into half guard.

On top, I was ending up in my preferred low mount with grapevines, but also trying to experiment with feet on hips too. As ever I was going for Ezequiels without much success, and also grabbed at the americana a few times: I was able to grab the hand with one hand under their head, but couldn’t isolate that arm, ready to slide my arm over their head to go for the sub. I also failed to hold technical mount, though I did at least get there, which is a small improvement.

Crossing the feet underneath mount was handy too, and felt almost as if I was playing guard from on top of somebody, with the same principles of controlling with the legs. The problem there is that it’s easy to get your foot squashed underneath them, so I tend to worry about my ankles if they happen to suddenly roll just right to mess it up. My partner also almost escaped by simply bringing their feet right through, which is one of the more frustrating escapes (as it feels like they shouldn’t be able to do it, but somehow they get there anyway). I managed to avoid it by grabbing behind his collar, then patiently waiting to work backwards to flatten him back out, but it was close.


14/12/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #367
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 14/12/2010

For those of you who watched the Mark Bocek versus Dustin Hazelett fight at UFC 124 (if you haven’t, skip this bit as there will be spoilers), it has inspired an interesting series of interconnected videos by an entirely disparate group of BJJ black belts, which is cool to see. That starts off with a Gracie Breakdown by Rener and Ryron, where they look at the fight from Bocek’s perspective, here.

There was a fair bit of criticism on the web for the rubber guard (e.g., here, particularly as it seemed Bocek passed it pretty easily. So, 10th Planet head honcho Eddie Bravo put up this video in a thread on The Underground. Yet another black belt, Dave Jacobs, regularly posts on that forum, and seeing the video, decided that he’d put up this response. Exactly the kind of exchange that demonstrate how awesome the internet can be. 🙂

Class tonight started off with the clinch takedown as defence to a haymaker, from the Gracie Barra Fundamentals syllabus, which led into mount techniques. The first was a basic cross choke from mount, although instead of feeding the second hand under the first, you put your thumb in their opposite collar. Slide that arm around the head and under their jaw, after which you can complete the choke by bringing your elbows back and your head down.

Alternatively, you can move into a double-attack from mount. Set up the choke as before, but this time, they manage to block your second arm somehow. On your first arm side, bring your knee to their head. Your other knee slides up to their elbow on the far side to make space, after which you swing your lower leg towards their head, in a ‘dog-leg’ position. From there you can switch grips and go for the armbar, and depending on how they react, drop back and grab their near leg, or switch back to the choke (hence why it’s known as a double attack).

Grabbing that near leg is important, as if you don’t, they can thread their leg through and escape to their knees as you drop for the armbar. They may also have the option of the hitchhiker escape. If you grab the near leg, it is very difficult for them to turn, because in order to do so, they have to bring that leg underneath them first.

Kev finished off with a basic trap and roll escape from underneath, before moving on to specific sparring from mount. This served as a handy reminder that it makes a big difference if you don’t stop at half guard: I can often snatch that leg, but progressing from there can be tough. I was looking to use the knee I had behind them to bump them forward, making space to recover full guard or escape. That did work, but I need to make sure I’ve got onto my side, rather than getting squished underneath them.

I also had a go at the escape Rob Stevens showed back at Gracie Barra Birmingham, where you put an arm across the stomach, using the other arm to simply lift their leg and trap it in half guard, aiming to move into deep half. However, I wasn’t defending my neck properly in the process, so very nearly go stuck in an Ezequiel as a result. Asking Kev afterwards, he suggested turning on your side, wedging one arm into their stomach. Your other hand grips your own collar and pulls it tight: combined with shrugging your shoulders, this defends against chokes. The elbow of that same arm can be used to shove against their leg, in order to move into half guard.

On top, I was ending up in my preferred low mount with grapevines, but also trying to experiment with feet on hips too. As ever I was going for Ezequiels without much success, and also grabbed at the americana a few times: I was able to grab the hand with one hand under their head, but couldn’t isolate that arm, ready to slide my arm over their head to go for the sub. I also failed to hold technical mount, though I did at least get there, which is a small improvement.

Crossing the feet underneath mount was handy too, and felt almost as if I was playing guard from on top of somebody, with the same principles of controlling with the legs. The problem there is that it’s easy to get your foot squashed underneath them, so I tend to worry about my ankles if they happen to suddenly roll just right to mess it up. My partner also almost escaped by simply bringing their feet right through, which is one of the more frustrating escapes (as it feels like they shouldn’t be able to do it, but somehow they get there anyway). I managed to avoid it by grabbing behind his collar, then patiently waiting to work backwards to flatten him back out, but it was close.


07/12/2010 – BJJ (Advanced)

Class #367
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 07/12/2010

Next up was the running escape itself, although rather than the one I keep trying, this was the version from Saulo’s first DVD, where he doesn’t take that break in the middle of the technique. When your partner has near side grips, to escape side control, you begin by bumping, then turning to your side and getting your hand past their shoulder. In one motion, step out with your bottom leg, then quickly turn and bring the other leg over the top, spinning to your knees.

Also, don’t elbow your partner in the face. I pushed off the shoulder with my hand when drilling this, but smacked him hard in the jaw in the process (sorry Howard). Not clever, and doing that definitely isn’t going to endear you to your training partners. Not to mention that watching Kev show it again, he doesn’t actually push off the shoulder, but punches his arm straight through instead.

The risk with that technique, as I’ve always found whenever I’ve tried to turn, is that there is a chance your partner is going to take the back. Kev showed us how to do this next, using Marcelo Garcia as an example: this is one of Garcia’s signature moves. The way Garcia does is to get a sort of harness grip with his arms – ‘backpack’, I think Kev called it – then gradually work them onto their side. Kev went for a simpler version, without that grip, but the principle is the same.

As soon as they start to turn away from you, slide your leg underneath them to establish your initial hook, then swing over to take the back. The problem here is that it is tempting to immediately try and swing over their body with the far hook, by which point they’ll probably have turned too far and escaped already. I kept doing that in drilling: the key is to force yourself to establish that near hook first. Something to work on.

Sparring started from side control, but kept on going after that, so was free rather than specific. With Howard, I was yet again getting into that running escape position: as you can see in the picture on the right, it acts as a sort of stopping point, so you aren’t swinging straight through this time. However, for me that seems to mean I passively curl up and wait. I was having difficulty progressing to the next stage, bridging forward off the lower leg and spinning to guard.

On the other hand, I was pleased that at one point, I was able to switch my hips up then roll over and face Howard square on, like Saulo shows in his second DVD series (Kev drilled the same movement last week). Not that it went as smoothly as I planned, because I seemed to end up in half guard, but still, that’s the closest I’ve got to successfully executing the running escape. I also need to watch them getting body control with their arm: Saulo does show a sort of sit up and spin response to that, but I’m going to need more practice to get that right.

With Kev, it was as usual a good steady pace, where he let me work. Due to the way Kev goes light, I often find myself in open guard, which isn’t common for me when sparring higher belts: with Howard, I think I spent almost the entire spar defending under side control, which is entirely typical. So although Kev’s intention was to see what I’d do, I was basically just staring at him from open guard, switching grips with my arms and legs.

Kev mentioned afterwards that my sparring isn’t too bad in terms of guard retention and hip movement, and I’m getting to the right positions. However, I’m not actually doing anything when I get there, so I need to attack more. This has been a long term problem, as I’m pretty much 100% defensive. I’m not sure if that is because I’m lazy and don’t want to take risks, I’m not used to being in position to attack, or that I simply don’t know what to do from there. Either way, it’s a good reminder to make proper use of open guard, instead of just assuming I’m going to get passed at some point anyway.

I did try that reverse De La Riva sweep again, where you push into their knee with both your legs, but as I spun to hook the other leg, I lost the grip with my first hand. Kev suggested that I could try gripping differently, so that my hand wraps around the inside of their ankle and heel, rather than the usual hold around the outside. That could help twist their leg outwards and put them off-balance. At the same time, I’d want to be careful with that, as I don’t want to tweak anyone’s knee.

He also mentioned I could use sitting guard, which is handy as they taught a lot of that while I was at Gracie Barra Birmingham (it’s De La Riva, but when you’ve sat up by their leg, pressing your foot into the other one). I find it difficult to keep the tension in that pressing leg, but it would combine well with the reverse De La Riva stuff I’ve been playing with. There is deep half guard too, though I still find that really confusing. Nevertheless, that could work well with the sitting guard sweep where you spin underneath.


07/12/2010 – BJJ (Advanced)

Class #366
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 07/12/2010

Next up was the running escape itself, although rather than the one I keep trying, this was the version from Saulo’s first DVD, where he doesn’t take that break in the middle of the technique. When your partner has near side grips, to escape side control, you begin by bumping, then turning to your side and getting your hand past their shoulder. In one motion, step out with your bottom leg, then quickly turn and bring the other leg over the top, spinning to your knees.

Also, don’t elbow your partner in the face. I pushed off the shoulder with my hand when drilling this, but smacked him hard in the jaw in the process (sorry Howard). Not clever, and doing that definitely isn’t going to endear you to your training partners. Not to mention that watching Kev show it again, he doesn’t actually push off the shoulder, but punches his arm straight through instead.

The risk with that technique, as I’ve always found whenever I’ve tried to turn, is that there is a chance your partner is going to take the back. Kev showed us how to do this next, using Marcelo Garcia as an example: this is one of Garcia’s signature moves. The way Garcia does is to get a sort of harness grip with his arms – ‘backpack’, I think Kev called it – then gradually work them onto their side. Kev went for a simpler version, without that grip, but the principle is the same.

As soon as they start to turn away from you, slide your leg underneath them to establish your initial hook, then swing over to take the back. The problem here is that it is tempting to immediately try and swing over their body with the far hook, by which point they’ll probably have turned too far and escaped already. I kept doing that in drilling: the key is to force yourself to establish that near hook first. Something to work on.

Sparring started from side control, but kept on going after that, so was free rather than specific. With Howard, I was yet again getting into that running escape position: as you can see in the picture on the right, it acts as a sort of stopping point, so you aren’t swinging straight through this time. However, for me that seems to mean I passively curl up and wait. I was having difficulty progressing to the next stage, bridging forward off the lower leg and spinning to guard.

On the other hand, I was pleased that at one point, I was able to switch my hips up then roll over and face Howard square on, like Saulo shows in his second DVD series (Kev drilled the same movement last week). Not that it went as smoothly as I planned, because I seemed to end up in half guard, but still, that’s the closest I’ve got to successfully executing the running escape. I also need to watch them getting body control with their arm: Saulo does show a sort of sit up and spin response to that, but I’m going to need more practice to get that right.

With Kev, it was as usual a good steady pace, where he let me work. Due to the way Kev goes light, I often find myself in open guard, which isn’t common for me when sparring higher belts: with Howard, I think I spent almost the entire spar defending under side control, which is entirely typical. So although Kev’s intention was to see what I’d do, I was basically just staring at him from open guard, switching grips with my arms and legs.

Kev mentioned afterwards that my sparring isn’t too bad in terms of guard retention and hip movement, and I’m getting to the right positions. However, I’m not actually doing anything when I get there, so I need to attack more. This has been a long term problem, as I’m pretty much 100% defensive. I’m not sure if that is because I’m lazy and don’t want to take risks, I’m not used to being in position to attack, or that I simply don’t know what to do from there. Either way, it’s a good reminder to make proper use of open guard, instead of just assuming I’m going to get passed at some point anyway.

I did try that reverse De La Riva sweep again, where you push into their knee with both your legs, but as I spun to hook the other leg, I lost the grip with my first hand. Kev suggested that I could try gripping differently, so that my hand wraps around the inside of their ankle and heel, rather than the usual hold around the outside. That could help twist their leg outwards and put them off-balance. At the same time, I’d want to be careful with that, as I don’t want to tweak anyone’s knee.

He also mentioned I could use sitting guard, which is handy as they taught a lot of that while I was at Gracie Barra Birmingham (it’s De La Riva, but when you’ve sat up by their leg, pressing your foot into the other one). I find it difficult to keep the tension in that pressing leg, but it would combine well with the reverse De La Riva stuff I’ve been playing with. There is deep half guard too, though I still find that really confusing. Nevertheless, that could work well with the sitting guard sweep where you spin underneath.


07/12/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #366
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 07/12/2010

All about side control escapes tonight, which was ideal for me given I’ve been playing with the running escape. Kev started off with the basic escape to the knees, which I still hardly ever do. Howard gave me a handy tip on shrimping twice to thread the leg through more effectively: I frequently find I end up with crap posture when I try to go to knees, so just get flattened.

Kev’s aim for this one wasn’t to single leg and move to the top. If you have your head on one side and raise your leg on the other, you can slide your other leg in to replace butterfly guard. If you have your head and leg on the same side, you can make space by driving your elbow backwards against their arm, then kick your other leg through and spin to their back (a wrestler’s sit-out).

On top, Kev demonstrated a method of maintaining side control, by switching to the other side when they try to escape. They’re attempting to do that same escape, swimming their arm through. As soon as they do that, thread your arm under theirs (known as a whizzer), reaching through with your hand so you can push on the back of their head (no their neck, as that isn’t so controlling a grip). Keeping your weight down, follow them round, moving to the other side. Even if they get to their knees, this hold is sufficiently strong that you should still be able to move around to the other side, rolling them onto their back.

Another more difficult option is to go against your instinct, and turn your bum towards them as they try that escape and you establish the whizzer, meaning, you end up sitting on them. From there, you can either bring your leg through past their head and look for the triangle, or possibly set up an armbar, due to the control you have on their arm. I felt vulnerable in terms of balance and it felt like I was leaving a lot of space, but then Kev does this to me all the time, so I guess it’s a matter of practice to get the sensitivity and timing.

Sparring was of course specific from side control. As ever, I was giving the running escape a go again, but I am still finding that I end up just settling into the position and then struggling to move anywhere. I was generally not being too proactive under side control, going flat on my back too often.

I’m also still tending to do silly things like look for the armbar or triangle from under there, which is particularly foolish against other blues. I did get to half guard once, but I’m pretty sure Howard could have got back to side control if we’d kept going: I always find it tough to fully establish guard when escaping his side control.

On top, I was trying to drop my weight and go high on the shoulder, to see if I could sneak my way into that step-over triangle position. A couple of times, I noticed that I could slide into mount due to all the space, but that almost feels like cheating when doing specific side control sparring. That’s because in the specific setting, if you spend a lot of time working high on their shoulder, they start to forget about the possibility of mount so you can sneak it in. I should be taking the opportunity to practice more control in side control and attacks.

Or at least that’s how I felt, which was possibly a bit silly. Probably also affected by the fact I really don’t like being in mount (which is definitely silly, as that is supposed to be a major dominant position, not a place to avoid!), as I’m far more comfortable attacking from side control. So on the other hand, good to practice getting to mount as well.

I also had a go at that control Kev showed by threading the arm, although I went too low, holding the neck rather than behind the head. That meant Howard could get to his knees and reverse, because my grip was too weak. Still, I like the concept, so I’m going to try and use it more often in future: just need to make sure I’m going higher, so controlling the head like a muay thai plum clinch, not the neck.