09/04/2013 – GrappleThon In A Few Weeks & Teaching (Maintaining Mount)

Teaching #103
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 09/04/2013

If you’re somehow not aware of the Team Lloyd Irvin scandal, then take a look at this great summary, ‘LloydIrvinRapeTruth.com‘. Irvin is sadly trying to bury the facts with SEO, so the more you can click on and link to Lloyd Irvin Rape Truth.com, the better.

Update: Looks like TLI got hold of the original LloydIrvinRapeTruth.com site and put in a redirect. However, the original content is still here.

Also, the GrappleThon is less than a month away! I’m trying to pull a press release together, so hopefully I’ll be able to get that into a newspaper somewhere (last time I had the benefit of a professional press officer, so may not be as successful this time), but we’ll see. We’ve currently raised £4,542.35, which is very cool: still taking donations of course, so if you’d like to help the cause, please go here. 😀
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There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I’ll call low and high. Once you’ve achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are ideally off the ground, to generate maximum pressure. How far off the ground they are depends on your dimensions: the key is getting loads of hip pressure. Another option, which I learned from Rob Stevens at Gracie Barra Birmingham, is to put the soles of your feet together and then bring your knees right off the floor.

Whichever option you’re going for, thrust those hips into them, using your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head while the other goes out wide for base. Try to grip the gi material by their opposite shoulder, or even better, by the opposite armpit. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they’re bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

A basic escape is to trap an arm, bridge and roll. So, don’t let them grab your arm and crush it to their side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.

The drawback to the low mount is that there aren’t many submissions from there: the ezequiel is one of the few high percentage attacks. In terms of their defence, they are mostly going to be trying to unhook your feet and digging their elbows under your knees, so you’ll be battling to keep those in place.

To attack, you’re better off climbing further up, into high mount. Again, you need to worry about their hips. To control them, put your feet by their bum, tucking your toes underneath: Roger Gracie points this out as of particular importance. In what you might call ‘middle’ mount where you’re still over their hips, Saulo suggests that you ‘ride’ their bridges, like you were on a horse. Lean back, then as they bridge, lift up: you’re aiming to move with their hips, rather than just leaving a big space. So, this takes a good understanding of timing.

He also recommends against leaning forward, as he feels that gives them more space and leverage to escape. Hence why he leans back instead. Experiment, seeing how holding the head works for you versus leaning back. I think Saulo’s method requires more experience, and personally I feel unstable there, but as ever, I want to offer students choice whenever possible.

The danger of leaning back is when you’re facing somebody with flexibility and/or long limbs. They might be able reach their legs over to kick into your armpits, either sliding out through your legs or pushing your over. You must control their hips with your feet, to prevent them from bending their body. Swimming the arms through might help you out here, this time against their legs, depending on how they attack. If they do get their feet in place, I generally grab on the back of their collar, stay really low, then attempt to gradually work my hips back to flatten them out: that worked for me last time it happened.

Another option is to move off their hips, shifting into an even higher mount. Gradually walk your knees into their armpits (pulling on the top of their head may help) being careful of the elbows. If they start to work an elbow into your thigh, twist to one side and raise that knee. Pull their arm up with whatever you can grab, then reinsert your knee. I’ve seen Rob S teach grabbing their sleeve with your opposite hand, while Mauricio likes to grab the elbow with their opposite hand and Felipe essentially shifts to technical mount for a moment.

A final thing I wanted to mention, from Demian Maia, is that you can also use the cross-face. If they turn on their side to get their elbow back in, you can use the cross face to bring their head out of alignment: moving them with their head is easier than trying to move their shoulders or arms or whatever. Also, the body follows the head, so they are going to have trouble bridging or turning if you’ve got a solid cross face.

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Teaching Notes: This is becoming a fairly defined lesson now, but as ever I’m still looking for tweaks. I think that the opening section on low mount is rather lighter on detail than high mounts, so I can shift some parts across. Next time, I will add the arm swimming to low mount, leaving the cross-facing in high mount. The cross-facing is something I emphasised this time, as I personally find it useful. Also, turning to the side, lifting a leg slightly then pulling their arm.

Something else I will add next time is grabbing the head and using that to either stop them sliding away when you’ve got to high mount, or to help pull yourself up into high mount from low mount. I was reminded of it when sparring Geraldine (again: she’s making a habit of being a useful training partner for things like this ;D), because I was commenting how people will try to slide back up under high mount. She immediately used it on me, quite effectively, which was cool.

I’m not sure if it is worth including the Saulo option, as I don’t think many people use it (though I know one student specifically said it worked well for him, so I can’t discount it). However, it is handy to demonstrate what you can do with a more upright posture, which leads into the warning about their legs reaching to grab your armpits.

While teaching, I used something I saw on a video a while ago, I can’t remember who from (Jason Scully or Jeremy Arel, possibly?) Very simple, but to show hip pressure from mount, get the person you’re demonstrating on to go through the alphabet without pressure. Then have them do it again, but this time apply pressure partway through. The change in voice hopefully gets a little laugh and helps solidify the concept in peoples’ heads.

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14/02/2013 – Teaching (Mount Top)

Teaching #094
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 14/02/2013

The GrappleThon in support of Rape Crisis has had a major boost to its fundraising in the last few days, in the form of Jack McDonald. He joined the team on the 13th, I’m writing this on the 15th, and in that mere three days he has already almost raised £250. Which is awesome. If anybody would like to help me bump up my own total, or indeed donate to any of the other fundraisers (they’re all listed in the team link at the bottom), please send your kind donations here. No amount is too small: you can also do it by text message, texting GRAP54 £1 to 70070 (the number you put after the £ sign dictates how much you donate ;D).

There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I’ll call low and high. Once you’ve achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are ideally off the ground, to generate maximum pressure. How far off the ground they are depends on your dimensions: the key is getting loads of hip pressure. Another option, which I learned from Rob Stevens at Gracie Barra Birmingham, is to put the soles of your feet together and then bring your knees right off the floor.

Whichever option you’re going for, thrust those hips into them, using your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head while the other goes out wide for base. Try to grip the gi material by their opposite shoulder, or even better, by the opposite armpit. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they’re bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

A basic escape is to trap an arm, bridge and roll. So, don’t let them grab your arm and crush it to their side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.

You can also turn to what’s called technical mount if they roll to either side. I didn’t go into too much detail on that, as that’s a whole other lesson in itself (which I last taught in conjunction with s-mount), but it is worth pointing it out as an option at this stage. I included the basic drill where you turn from side to side in the warm-up.

The drawback to the low mount is that there aren’t many submissions from there: the ezequiel is one of the few high percentage attacks. In terms of their defence, they are mostly going to be trying to unhook your feet and digging their elbows under your knees, so you’ll be battling to keep those in place.

To attack, you’re better off climbing further up, into high mount. Again, you need to worry about their hips. To control them, put your feet by their bum, tucking your toes underneath: Roger Gracie points this out as of particular importance. In what you might call ‘middle’ mount where you’re still over their hips, Saulo suggests that you ‘ride’ their bridges, like you were on a horse. Lean back, then as they bridge, lift up: you’re aiming to move with their hips, rather than just leaving a big space. So, this takes a good understanding of timing.

He also recommends against leaning forward, as he feels that gives them more space and leverage to escape. Hence why he leans back instead. Experiment, seeing how holding the head works for you versus leaning back. I think Saulo’s method requires more experience, and personally I feel unstable there, but as ever, I want to offer students choice whenever possible.

The danger of leaning back is when you’re facing somebody with flexibility and/or long limbs. They might be able reach their legs over to kick into your armpits, either sliding out through your legs or pushing your over. You must control their hips with your feet, to prevent them from bending their body. Swimming the arms through might help you out here, this time against their legs, depending on how they attack. If they do get their feet in place, I generally grab on the back of their collar, stay really low, then attempt to gradually work my hips back to flatten them out: that worked for me last time it happened.

Another option is to move off their hips, shifting into an even higher mount. Gradually walk your knees into their armpits (pulling on the top of their head may help) being careful of the elbows. If they start to work an elbow into your thigh, twist to one side and raise that knee. Pull their arm up with whatever you can grab, then reinsert your knee. I’ve seen Rob S teach grabbing their sleeve with your opposite hand, while Mauricio likes to grab the elbow with their opposite hand and Felipe essentially shifts to technical mount for a moment.

A final thing I wanted to mention, from Demian Maia, is that you can also use the cross-face. If they turn on their side to get their elbow back in, you can use the cross face to bring their head out of alignment: moving them with their head is easier than trying to move their shoulders or arms or whatever. Also, the body follows the head, so they are going to have trouble bridging or turning if you’ve got a solid cross face.

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Teaching Notes: As before, I don’t think the Saulo option was very popular, but I had enough time to teach it during the high mount section, so thought I’d throw it in there. The main interesting point to come out of this lesson from a teaching perspective was a reminder that different body types require slight modifications of a technique. I always use a low mount with my feet crossed under their bum, but then I’m small with short legs.

The taller people in class had rather more trouble. If they tried to cross their feet, they couldn’t get them under the other person’s bottom without messing up their posture on top. The other option was bringing their crossed feet out behind, between their partner’s legs, but that makes them a lot more vulnerable to getting stuck in various escapes (like the heel drag to half guard).

I suggested trying standard grapevines if your legs are that long, although that does have the problem that people can unhook your grapevines and again go for an escape (which is the reason I cross my feet in the first place). Something for me to consider in future lessons, and perhaps watch how some taller grapplers use mount in competition.

From my own lineage, Roger is a good example, who I talked about in this lesson. However, I mentioned him from a high mount perspective rather than low mount. I’ll have to see if I can find videos of Roger doing low mount: TrumpetDan most likely has it covered somewhere, as he has put up lots of good analysis of Roger’s game.


02/08/2012 – Teaching (Fundamental Mount Maintenance)

Teaching #066
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 02/08/2012

The GrappleThon has almost hit the £300 mark! That is largely thanks to a new member of the team, who has been working behind the scenes: Seymour ‘Meerkatsu’ Yang. He very kindly produced an awesome design for the event, which BJJ and MMA apparel company Tatami Fightwear have generously put onto a number of t-shirts. For more details on the GrappleThon, check out our team fundraising page here: you currently have a choice of ten lovely grapplers awaiting your donation, which will go to Meningitis UK. Please spare whatever you can for a great cause. You’ll also be able to watch us via a live stream when the event takes place on the 22nd September. 😀

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There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I’ll call low and high. Once you’ve achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are ideally off the ground, to generate maximum pressure. How far off the ground they are depends on your dimensions: the key is getting loads of hip pressure.

Thrust those hips into them, using your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head while the other goes out wide for base. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they’re bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

A basic escape is to trap an arm, bridge and roll. So, don’t let them grab your arm and crush it to their side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.

You can also turn to what’s called technical mount if they roll to either side. I didn’t go into too much detail on that, as that’s a whole other lesson in itself (which I last taught in conjunction with s-mount), but it is worth pointing it out as an option at this stage. I included the basic drill where you turn from side to side in the warm-up.

The drawback to the low mount is that there aren’t many submissions from there: the ezequiel is one of the few high percentage attacks. In terms of their defence, they are mostly going to be trying to unhook your feet, so you’ll be battling to keep those in place.

To attack, you’re better off climbing further up, into high mount. Again, you need to worry about their hips. To control them, put your feet by their bum, tucking your toes underneath: Roger Gracie points this out as of particular importance. In what you might call ‘middle’ mount where you’re still over their hips, Saulo suggests that you ‘ride’ their bridges, like you were on a horse. Lean back, then as they bridge, lift up: you’re aiming to move with their hips, rather than just leaving a big space. So, this takes a good understanding of timing.

He also recommends against leaning forward, as he feels that gives them more space and leverage to escape. Hence why he leans back instead. Experiment, seeing how holding the head works for you versus leaning back. I think Saulo’s method requires more experience, and personally I feel unstable there, but as ever, I want to offer students choice whenever possible.

The danger of leaning back is when you’re facing somebody with flexibility and/or long limbs. They might be able reach their legs over to kick into your armpits, either sliding out through your legs or pushing your over. You must control their hips with your feet, to prevent them from bending their body. Swimming the arms through might help you out here, this time against their legs, depending on how they attack. If they do get their feet in place, I generally grab on the back of their collar, stay really low, then attempt to gradually work my hips back to flatten them out: that worked for me last time it happened.

Another option is to move off their hips, shifting into an even higher mount. Gradually walk your knees into their armpits (pulling on the top of their head may help) being careful of the elbows. If they start to work an elbow into your thigh, twist to one side and raise that knee. Pull their arm up with whatever you can grab, then reinsert your knee.

A final thing I wanted to mention, from Demian Maia, is that you can also use the cross-face. If they turn on their side to get their elbow back in, you can use the cross face to bring their head out of alignment: moving them with their head is easier than trying to move their shoulders or arms or whatever. Also, the body follows the head, so they are going to have trouble bridging or turning if you’ve got a solid cross face.


27/10/2011 – Teaching (Maintaining Mount: Technical Mount & Gift Wrap to the Back)

Teaching #025
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 27/10/2011

Last time, I talked about the two main ways of maintaining the mount, which are low mount with grapevines, along with high mount, walking your knees up into their armpits, squeezing your legs into their sides. However, as with all the other dominant positions in BJJ, sometimes you’ll find your opponent is about to escape. Rather than lose the position, there are several transitions in mount that mean you can retain control.

The most common is probably technical mount, sometimes referred to as seated mount. I mentioned this briefly in my previous lesson, but I wanted to spend more time on it tonight. If they turn under your mount, turn with them, so that you’re facing in the same direction as their head. They will end up facing away from you, balanced on their side. As you turn to follow them, lead that turning motion with your knee, sliding it along their back. The other knee comes off the floor, meaning that you can now jam the heel of that raised leg into their hip. This is key: if you leave any space, you’re vulnerable to their escape.

I tend to have the foot of the leg by their back tucked close to them, to cut off space. However, that may not provide as good a base compared to angling the foot away slightly, should they try to shove you in that direction. Lean into their shoulder with your upper body, to further help stabilise the position and remove any gaps. From there, I like to reach through with my lower hand and grab their collar, ready to initiate some choke attempts.

If you can get a decent grip on their upper body, then you can also apply some lessons we learned about other positions. For example, a while ago I showed one of Andre Galvao’s methods for keeping the back. If you look at that technique, you’ll see that certain stages are quite similar to the technical mount. So, if from reason the foot you have by their hip is slipping and they try to catch it in half guard, try sliding your other knee right to their head and rolling them to the other side. Due to their half guard attempt, they’ve already given you one hook, so you just need to insert the other.

It is also worth keeping in mind that you can of course switch back to full mount. That may present itself if they turn towards you from technical mount. By doing that, they’re basically putting themselves back underneath full mount: you just have to adjust your leg positioning slightly. Always try to stay fluid, rather than locking yourself stiffly into one position.

A more secure way to go to the back from mount is to use a gift wrap, which you’ll also see called twisting arm control. If they have an elbow exposed (e.g., they might be reaching over to grab their own collar, in an attempt to protect their neck), you can push into that with your chest, to shove their hand down next to the side of their neck. If you then reach under their head with your arm and grasp their wrist, you can pull it tight.

Use that grip on their wrist to turn them on their side, switching your legs to the technical mount position. Drop backwards, pulling them along with you using that gift wrap grip. The first hook is simple, as you already had that foot by their hip, so it is in position. For the second hook, your knee that was by their back slides into position, as you are pulling them past it.

Another option is to switch into s-mount, which is often the precursor to an armbar (which I’ll cover next week). From full mount, slide one knee up towards their head. Your other knee is going to drive into their far arm. Once you have their arm roughly at the level of their chest, swing the lower part of your far leg: your foot should point towards their head, with the rest of the leg curled around their armpit. It is important you keep this tight.

You should now be turned towards their far side, sitting back on your near side heel. To further tighten up the position, you can reaching under their head and grabbing your far ankle, pulling it towards their near side. Stephan Kesting recommends you slightly raise the knee that is by their head off the floor, to put additional pressure into their diaphragm. A final tip on s-mount, this time from Aesopian (fill out his gi survey if you haven’t already), is to hook their far leg with your free arm, to diminish the power of their bridge. He also tends to drive his near side knee a bit further, so that it slides under their head.


27/10/2011 – Teaching (Maintaining Mount)

Teaching #025
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 27/10/2011

Last time, I talked about the two main ways of maintaining the mount, which are low mount with grapevines, along with high mount, walking your knees up into their armpits, squeezing your legs into their sides. However, as with all the other dominant positions in BJJ, sometimes you’ll find your opponent is about to escape. Rather than lose the position, there are several transitions in mount that mean you can retain control.

The most common is probably technical mount, sometimes referred to as seated mount. I mentioned this briefly in my previous lesson, but I wanted to spend more time on it tonight. If they turn under your mount, turn with them, so that you’re facing in the same direction as their head. They will end up facing away from you, balanced on their side. As you turn to follow them, lead that turning motion with your knee, sliding it along their back. The other knee comes off the floor, meaning that you can now jam the heel of that raised leg into their hip. This is key: if you leave any space, you’re vulnerable to their escape.

I tend to have the foot of the leg by their back tucked close to them, to cut off space. However, that may not provide as good a base compared to angling the foot away slightly, should they try to shove you in that direction. Lean into their shoulder with your upper body, to further help stabilise the position and remove any gaps. From there, I like to reach through with my lower hand and grab their collar, ready to initiate some choke attempts.

If you can get a decent grip on their upper body, then you can also apply some lessons we learned about other positions. For example, a while ago I showed one of Andre Galvao’s methods for keeping the back. If you look at that technique, you’ll see that certain stages are quite similar to the technical mount. So, if from reason the foot you have by their hip is slipping and they try to catch it in half guard, try sliding your other knee right to their head and rolling them to the other side. Due to their half guard attempt, they’ve already given you one hook, so you just need to insert the other.

It is also worth keeping in mind that you can of course switch back to full mount. That may present itself if they turn towards you from technical mount. By doing that, they’re basically putting themselves back underneath full mount: you just have to adjust your leg positioning slightly. Always try to stay fluid, rather than locking yourself stiffly into one position.

A more secure way to go to the back from mount is to use a gift wrap, which you’ll also see called twisting arm control. If they have an elbow exposed (e.g., they might be reaching over to grab their own collar, in an attempt to protect their neck), you can push into that with your chest, to shove their hand down next to the side of their neck. If you then reach under their head with your arm and grasp their wrist, you can pull it tight.

Use that grip on their wrist to turn them on their side, switching your legs to the technical mount position. Drop backwards, pulling them along with you using that gift wrap grip. The first hook is simple, as you already had that foot by their hip, so it is in position. For the second hook, your knee that was by their back slides into position, as you are pulling them past it.

Another option is to switch into s-mount, which is often the precursor to an armbar (which I’ll cover next week). From full mount, slide one knee up towards their head. Your other knee is going to drive into their far arm. Once you have their arm roughly at the level of their chest, swing the lower part of your far leg: your foot should point towards their head, with the rest of the leg curled around their armpit. It is important you keep this tight.

You should now be turned towards their far side, sitting back on your near side heel. To further tighten up the position, you can reaching under their head and grabbing your far ankle, pulling it towards their near side. Stephan Kesting recommends you slightly raise the knee that is by their head off the floor, to put additional pressure into their diaphragm. A final tip on s-mount, this time from Aesopian (fill out his gi survey if you haven’t already), is to hook their far leg with your free arm, to diminish the power of their bridge. He also tends to drive his near side knee a bit further, so that it slides under their head.


02/06/2011 – Teaching (Maintaining Mount)

Teaching #004
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 02/06/2011

Having shown a transition to mount last week, tonight my intention was to help people maintain the position once they got there. There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I’ll call low and high. In future lessons, I’ll be looking in more detail at various sub positions like technical mount and s-mount, but for now we’ll stick with basics. Once you’ve achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are barely touching the ground, to generate maximum pressure.

Also be sure to thrust your own hips down into them. Use your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head while the other goes out wide for base. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they’re bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

As usual, I then had everyone drill this for four minutes each. Before moving on to the three minutes each of progressive resistance, there were a couple of points I wanted to make, having observed what people were doing. These were also points I was intending to make anyway: upon reflection, it would have been better to do them earlier during the main technique demonstration, as that felt a bit brief anyway.

First point was that a basic escape, which I’ll be showing in a couple of weeks, is to trap an arm, bridge and roll. So, don’t let them grab your arm and crush it to your side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.

Worth noting here that when I demonstrated this, I started with Clayton, then called up Miles to make sure Clayton could see it too. However, Miles’ method of trapping my arm was different to what I’m used to, which confused me for a moment. It felt a bit like the classic “you attacked me wrong!” moment from the old Jim Carrey In Living Colour sketch, but hopefully people still got the idea. Something for me to be aware of next time. 😉

Second point was that you can also turn to what’s called technical mount if they roll to either side. I didn’t go into much detail here, but I think next time, I’ll go through it in full, as I ended up doing that later anyway. It is possibly good to introduce the basic version then explain more fully later on (which I know is what some instructors like to do), but I felt like I could have saved some precious rolling time by just going through it the once.

The drawback to the low mount is that there aren’t many submissions from there: I’ll be showing the main option next week. They are mostly going to be trying to unhook your feet, so you’ll be battling to keep those in place.

To attack, you’re better off climbing further up, into high mount. Again, you need to worry about their hips. To control them, put your feet by their bum, tucking your toes underneath: Roger Gracie points this out as of particular importance. In what you might call ‘middle’ mount where you’re still over their hips, Saulo suggests that you ‘ride’ their bridges, like you were on a horse. Lean back, then as they bridge, lift up: you’re aiming to move with their hips, rather than just leaving a big space. So, this takes a good understanding of timing.

He also recommends against leaning forward, as he feels that gives them more space and leverage to escape. Hence why he leans back instead. Experiment, seeing how holding the head works for you versus leaning back. I think Saulo’s method requires more experience, and personally I feel unstable there, but as ever, I want to offer students choice whenever possible.

The danger of leaning back is when you’re facing somebody with flexibility and/or long limbs. They might be able reach their legs over to kick into your armpits, either sliding out through your legs or pushing your over. You must control their hips with your feet, to prevent them from bending their body. Swimming the arms through might help you out here, this time against their legs, depending on how they attack.

Miles (cool to have him there) raised a good question while I was demonstrating on him, which was what do you do if they get the feet into your armpits, then start slipping out through your legs and looking to take your back. This has happened to me in the past: I normally just grab on the back of their collar, stay really low, then attempt to gradually work my hips back to flatten them out. However, something I’ll ask Geeza next time I get a chance, to see what his thoughts are.

Another option is to move off their hips, shifting into a higher mount. Gradually walk your knees into their armpits (pulling on the top of their head may help) being careful of the elbows. If they start to work an elbow into your thigh, twist to one side and raise that knee. Pull their arm up with whatever you can grab, then reinsert your knee.

You could also go to technical mount from here, as that’s a position in itself with submission opportunities (though I wasn’t covering that today). There is a good drill, turning to technical mount from side to side as they push, but I didn’t have time for that: however, something I’d like to incorporate into the warm up. Also, remember to use your arms for base against their bridge, posting out if you need to.

A final thing I wanted to mention, from Demian Maia, is that you can also use the cross-face. If they turn on their side to get their elbow back in, you can use the cross face to bring their head out of alignment: moving them with their head is easier than trying to move their shoulders or arms or whatever. Also, the body follows the head, so they are going to have trouble bridging or turning if you’ve got a solid cross face.

I had a question from one of the blue belts just after drilling, regarding removing that arm when they push into your knee. If they’ve got a tight grip, then how do you get it off? I suggested that if they’ve locked out their arm, you could move your foot back slightly to create some leeway, in order to then yank up on the arm and re-establish mount, or you could try cross-facing. However, I felt like I could have given a more conclusive answer, so that’s something else I’ll ask Geeza when I get the chance.

Again I didn’t include as much sparring time as I wanted, with only about nine minutes or so of king of the hill, split into two groups by weight. So, I need to shave a bit of time from somewhere. Possibly the warm-up, or I could cut progressive resistance to two minutes each rather than three.

Classes have been getting bigger each week, which is nice: first class was barely a handful, this week it was around twelve students. That will also help when it comes to sparring, as I should eventually be able to institute my preferred 1-2-3 grouping, but we’ll see how things go. Could be that class size will fluctuate depending on what I’m teaching.


02/06/2011 – Teaching (Maintaining Mount)

Teaching #004
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 02/06/2011

Having shown a transition to mount last week, tonight my intention was to help people maintain the position once they got there. There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I’ll call low and high. In future lessons, I’ll be looking in more detail at various sub positions like technical mount and s-mount, but for now we’ll stick with basics. Once you’ve achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are barely touching the ground, to generate maximum pressure.

Also be sure to thrust your own hips down into them. Use your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head while the other goes out wide for base. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they’re bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

As usual, I then had everyone drill this for four minutes each. Before moving on to the three minutes each of progressive resistance, there were a couple of points I wanted to make, having observed what people were doing. These were also points I was intending to make anyway: upon reflection, it would have been better to do them earlier during the main technique demonstration, as that felt a bit brief anyway.

First point was that a basic escape, which I’ll be showing in a couple of weeks, is to trap an arm, bridge and roll. So, don’t let them grab your arm and crush it to your side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.

Worth noting here that when I demonstrated this, I started with Clayton, then called up Miles to make sure Clayton could see it too. However, Miles’ method of trapping my arm was different to what I’m used to, which confused me for a moment. It felt a bit like the classic “you attacked me wrong!” moment from the old Jim Carrey In Living Colour sketch, but hopefully people still got the idea. Something for me to be aware of next time. 😉

Second point was that you can also turn to what’s called technical mount if they roll to either side. I didn’t go into much detail here, but I think next time, I’ll go through it in full, as I ended up doing that later anyway. It is possibly good to introduce the basic version then explain more fully later on (which I know is what some instructors like to do), but I felt like I could have saved some precious rolling time by just going through it the once.

The drawback to the low mount is that there aren’t many submissions from there: I’ll be showing the main option next week. They are mostly going to be trying to unhook your feet, so you’ll be battling to keep those in place.

To attack, you’re better off climbing further up, into high mount. Again, you need to worry about their hips. To control them, put your feet by their bum, tucking your toes underneath: Roger Gracie points this out as of particular importance. In what you might call ‘middle’ mount where you’re still over their hips, Saulo suggests that you ‘ride’ their bridges, like you were on a horse. Lean back, then as they bridge, lift up: you’re aiming to move with their hips, rather than just leaving a big space. So, this takes a good understanding of timing.

He also recommends against leaning forward, as he feels that gives them more space and leverage to escape. Hence why he leans back instead. Experiment, seeing how holding the head works for you versus leaning back. I think Saulo’s method requires more experience, and personally I feel unstable there, but as ever, I want to offer students choice whenever possible.

The danger of leaning back is when you’re facing somebody with flexibility and/or long limbs. They might be able reach their legs over to kick into your armpits, either sliding out through your legs or pushing your over. You must control their hips with your feet, to prevent them from bending their body. Swimming the arms through might help you out here, this time against their legs, depending on how they attack.

Miles (cool to have him there) raised a good question while I was demonstrating on him, which was what do you do if they get the feet into your armpits, then start slipping out through your legs and looking to take your back. This has happened to me in the past: I normally just grab on the back of their collar, stay really low, then attempt to gradually work my hips back to flatten them out. However, something I’ll ask Geeza next time I get a chance, to see what his thoughts are.

Another option is to move off their hips, shifting into a higher mount. Gradually walk your knees into their armpits (pulling on the top of their head may help) being careful of the elbows. If they start to work an elbow into your thigh, twist to one side and raise that knee. Pull their arm up with whatever you can grab, then reinsert your knee.

You could also go to technical mount from here, as that’s a position in itself with submission opportunities (though I wasn’t covering that today). There is a good drill, turning to technical mount from side to side as they push, but I didn’t have time for that: however, something I’d like to incorporate into the warm up. Also, remember to use your arms for base against their bridge, posting out if you need to.

A final thing I wanted to mention, from Demian Maia, is that you can also use the cross-face. If they turn on their side to get their elbow back in, you can use the cross face to bring their head out of alignment: moving them with their head is easier than trying to move their shoulders or arms or whatever. Also, the body follows the head, so they are going to have trouble bridging or turning if you’ve got a solid cross face.

I had a question from one of the blue belts just after drilling, regarding removing that arm when they push into your knee. If they’ve got a tight grip, then how do you get it off? I suggested that if they’ve locked out their arm, you could move your foot back slightly to create some leeway, in order to then yank up on the arm and re-establish mount, or you could try cross-facing. However, I felt like I could have given a more conclusive answer, so that’s something else I’ll ask Geeza when I get the chance.

Again I didn’t include as much sparring time as I wanted, with only about nine minutes or so of king of the hill, split into two groups by weight. So, I need to shave a bit of time from somewhere. Possibly the warm-up, or I could cut progressive resistance to two minutes each rather than three.

Classes have been getting bigger each week, which is nice: first class was barely a handful, this week it was around twelve students. That will also help when it comes to sparring, as I should eventually be able to institute my preferred 1-2-3 grouping, but we’ll see how things go. Could be that class size will fluctuate depending on what I’m teaching.