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. 😀
________________

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.

_____________________

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.

Advertisements

02/04/2013 – Teaching (Mount: Elbow Escape & Heel Drag)

Teaching #102
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 02/04/2013

Dónal has stepped back from teaching (understandably, as he’s a new father), so the class schedule is shifting around to accommodate that. From now on, I will be teaching the Tuesday class, meaning that Thursdays will be just the one nogi class. That does have the advantage of meaning I’ll be on the main mats again, which have more space, more heat and a better timer.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re underneath, you don’t want to be flat on your back. So, start your elbow escape by turning to your side and working your elbows inside their knee. Keep defending your neck throughout, so that your elbows form a frame. Create some space by bridging. You can then use your frame to help you shrimp into the space you just created, pushing against their leg.

The idea is to make enough space to pull your leg through: don’t just bridge and plop back down. That leg will need to be flat, the other raised, or it will be hard to pull it free. After you’re on your side, bump slightly, then simultaneously pry their knee up and over with your elbow while sliding your flat leg underneath.

Aim to pop your knee through initially. If you can pull the whole leg out in one, great, but don’t be greedy. Getting that knee through will mean you can then brace it against their thigh, aiding your second shrimp to free your other leg. Once one of your legs is fully out, you can then use it to wrap around one of theirs. Getting half guard may be a possibility here, but generally I’d recommend you keep working towards full guard. To do that, continue shrimping (towards the trapped leg side: you should be able to base the trapped leg foot on the floor if you’ve already got your knee into their thigh) and framing until both legs are free. Another option is to put the leg around their back.

You can also use a frame against their hips, one arm across, the other bracing against that wrist, elbow in tight. That’s also handy for stopping them moving up higher in mount. However, be extra careful with your neck if you do that: as your arms are down by their hips, that could leave you vulnerable to chokes. Use a powerful bridge followed immediately by shrimping to make space, then complete the escape as before.

The elbow escape is related to my personal favourite mount escape, the heel drag. The heel drag is also quite simple, which is another reason I like it so much. You’re in mount, your elbows in a good place for defence, down by their knees. For this escape to work, you need to have one of your legs out flat, just like before. Again, you also need to get on your side: a slight bridging motion will help.

The big danger at this point is that the person on top will switch to technical mount. You therefore need to make sure that your neck is safe if that happens. You also don’t want to let them settle into technical mount: immediately prepare your frames to start escaping before they secure the position. You may even be able to disrupt them as they try to shift, using that shift in their base to enter into your escape.

If they don’t get to technical mount, or you’re able to work back to the previous position, wedge an elbow underneath their knee. You can either make a frame against their hips, or if you’re concerned about your neck, adjust so that you can still pry your elbow under their knee while protecting your collar with your hands. As well as chokes, you also need to be wary of their cross-face: if they can control your head, they can flatten you back out, which will make the escape less effective. Use a combination of your elbow and shrimping to shove their knee backwards, on your flat leg side.

Bring your other foot over both your flat leg and the leg they have next to it. That means you can use the heel of that foot to drag their leg over your flat leg. As soon as you get it over, lock half guard and shrimp towards their trapped leg. In half guard, you want to get onto your side as quickly as possible: if you stay flat on your back, you’ve already done their work for them, as they will want to flatten you out in order to pass half guard. If you’re comfortable in half guard, you could stay there and work your attacks.

Alternatively, keep shrimping in the other direction, in order to free your other leg, just like you would with an elbow escape. It’s also worth noting that some people, like Roy Dean, recommend just pinching your knees rather than fully triangling your legs around theirs, so that’s worth trying too. To help recover full guard, you can also bring your arm across to their opposite shoulder, impeding their movement while aiding yours. Emily Kwok has a handy tip too: if their foot is too flat, making it hard to get your heel in for a drag, shove under their heel with your knee to pry it up and create that space between their foot and the mat.

A very similar escape, which I don’t use much, is the foot lift. Dean shows these two escapes in sequence on his awesome Blue Belt Requirements. The foot lift is for when they have some space underneath their in-step. People won’t often do that, in my experience, but if they do, this time just step over your flat leg. Use your foot to hook underneath their instep and lift it over, then as before lock up half guard (your legs are already in position), or shrimp to recover full guard.

Make sure that you pay particular attention to shoving on their knee with this variation, as it is easier for them to slip free (though if that happens, you can always switch to the heel drag). With both escapes, it is important to get the knee of their trapped leg back behind your legs. If they still have their knee past your legs, it makes it much easier for them to move straight into a half guard pass, by driving their knee to the mat and sliding through.
_____________________

Teaching Notes: I suspected something like that might happen, so wasn’t overly surprised when Geeza rang me today to ask if I could teach. Fortunately this week is mount escapes, an area where I’m fairly confident of teaching material. Like I said last time, I wanted to rejig up my lesson plans for mount escapes, as I think elbow escape and heel drag goes together better than with the trap and roll.

A lot of people were forgetting to clamp down on the leg after shifting towards half guard, so I’ll emphasise that more next time. I think I’ll also review removing grapevines, as I could probably demonstrate the second option of bringing in a leg and stepping on their hook more effectively. Sparring was handy, although I think I learned more about being on top, as I didn’t spar underneath much, except for a bit of progresive resistance.

So on top, cross facing (making sure to use your shoulder) is handy when they’re getting up on their side and wriggling free. Crossing your feet under their bum, like I often do, works well but does mean they can stamp on your feet, which isn’t comfortable. Then again, that serves as a good reminder to crawl up into their armpit and go on the offensive.

It’s very common for people to snatch half guard and stall when sparring from mount. I generally say that people should keep on working from half guard if that happens, then if nothing is progressing reset in mount. I’m not sure what the best cut-off is: I was getting put in half guard a few times myself, which I took as an opportunity to practice working free, but there’s a line: it’s good to practice getting free of half guard as that is so common from mount, but not to the level where it takes away from practicing mount in general. Something to think about for next time. 🙂


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.

_____________________

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.


07/02/2013 – Teaching (Mount Escapes)

Teaching #093
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 07/02/2013

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!Tonight, it was time to again cover the two simplest methods of escaping the mount. Like last time, there were a few drills I wanted to include, beginning with shrimping in pairs (one person standing by the others armpits, bottom person shrimps back to guard).

The first basic escape is the trap and roll. A typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then their elbow with your other hand. That means you can use your elbow when bridging. You can also grab their wrist with your same side hand: this puts the elbow of that arm in a better position to block their knee.

There are various other possibilities, but the essential thing is to stop their ability to post their hand for base. If you want to force the position, you can bump to knock them forward, meaning they will normally catch themselves by putting a hand on the mat. You can then bring your linked arms over that extended arm, bending their elbow and trapping the arm.

You also need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use that for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. A common problem is that you’re having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try to use your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range.

To finish, you’re going to bridge towards that trapped side. As with the side control escape, get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning into their guard. Make sure that you’re bridging over your shoulder and turning to your knees, not simply rolling over to your side. If you don’t raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back.

Also remember to either posture up or slide back into a tight defensive position once you are in their guard, as otherwise you might find you put yourself right into a submission. Try to time your bridge carefully, as otherwise you’ll just tire yourself out and make yourself easier to control. Don’t just bridge crazily without any thought to where the person on top is applying pressure (e.g., are they high above your hips, with knees into your armpits? Are they low on your body, grapevining your legs? Or have you maneuvered them right on top of your hips, for maxmium bridging potential?)

You can still trap and and roll if they bring an arm under your head: simply reach back as if you were combing your hair to trap their arm, then progress as before. Again there are variations here. On Gracie Combatives, Rener recommends bringing your free arm into their armpit and rolling. Others prefer to press their hand into the hip.

Finally, you might find you need to remove their legs from being threaded in between yours (known as ‘grapevining’). To clear them, tuck one of your feet back toward your bum, then with your other foot, push off their hook on the tucked-in leg. Another method, which Rener uses, is to just circle your leg around, though that depends on how well they’re using their grapevine. This is the same method Geeza showed on Tuesday. Alternatively you can preempt that completely by having both legs flat, meaning they can’t establish grapevines in the first place. Personally I don’t use that method as I like to have at least one knee up, but there are instructors who teach it.

The trap and roll escape does work, but on its own may not be enough against an experienced opponent. The second main option is the elbow escape, which relies more on shrimping than bridging. As a rule of thumb, if you’re underneath, you don’t want to be flat on your back, as that makes it easier for the person on top to establish control of your shoulders, head and hips. So, start your elbow escape by turning to your side and working an elbow inside their knee. Keep defending your neck throughout, so that your elbows form a frame. Create some space by bridging. You can then use your frame to help you shrimp into the space you just created, pushing against their leg.

The idea is to make enough space to pull your leg through: don’t just bridge and plop back down. That leg will need to be flat, the other raised, or it will be hard to pull it free. After you’re on your side, you can simply bump slightly, then simultaneously shove their knee with your elbow while sliding your flat leg underneath.

Aim to pop your knee through initially. If you can pull the whole leg out in one, great, but don’t be greedy. Getting that knee through past their hips will mean you can then brace it against their thigh. That mechanical advantage should aid you when shrimping a second time, in order to to free your other leg.

Once one of your legs is fully out, you can then use it to wrap around one of theirs: this is what Geeza calls ‘good half guard’. Stopping at half guard may be a possibility here, but generally I’d recommend you keep working towards full guard. To do that, continue shrimping and framing until both legs are free. Another option is to put the leg around their back.

You can also use a frame against their hips, one arm across, the other bracing against that wrist, elbow in tight. That’s also handy for stopping them moving up higher in mount. However, be extra careful with your neck if you do that: as your arms are down by their hips, that could leave you vulnerable to chokes.

As with any technique, try to combine your escapes rather than obsessing over just one. Also, don’t give them your head: that’s what the person on top wants for control. Connected to that, make sure you always defend your neck and keep your elbows tight. I’m a small guy, so this is what I tend to do most classes: stay really tight, elbows in, knees curled up, not leaving anything loose for them to attack, or space for them to wedge their hands through.
_____________________

Teaching Notes: Next time I’m going to split this up further. Although they are both basic techniques, I ended up spending too much time teaching, particularly as I divided the trap and roll into the standard and headlock variations (to use Rener’s terminology). When I come to teach this again, I will teach the trap and roll as one lesson, adding in details on hip placement in the headlock section, then in a future lesson teach the elbow escape and the heel drag.

It’s a shame Dharni is going to be leaving soon, as she’s a good person to have in class as she often does unusual things in drilling. That’s very handy as a teacher, as that provides me with more material to teach. Today this was in regards to the headlock variation from mount. If the person on top continues to cling on to the head, you’ll want to extricate your head. The method that made sense to me was putting your opposite arm into their collar then bringing your head out to the ‘open’ side, similar to how you’d free your head from a tight guard.

Every time I teach the elbow escape I’m always surprised by how unfamiliar it feels. I never use it in sparring. That’s a bad thing, as it indicates I’m almost 100% reliant on the heel drag. I also felt a bit rushed tonight, because I was keen to get on to the sparring before we ran out of time. I’ll lavish some attention on the elbow escape next time, which should fit nicely into the heel drag.

I can then also talk about removing hooks from the grapevine in that future lesson, which is something I didn’t deal with today due to time restrictions. It’s an important part of escaping mount, although personally I use Kev’s method of crossing your feet under their bum rather than standard grapevines.

It was cool to get some specific sparring time in, although I need to be careful of my leg, which doesn’t enjoy people elbow escaping under mount. It was hopefully useful for students to have somebody a bit more experienced hold mount on them: I’m always concerned when I join in class that I’m taking time away from a student that could instead be learning how to hold mount.


09/08/2012 – Teaching (Basic Mount Escapes)

Teaching #067
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 09/08/2012

Tonight, it was time to again cover the two simplest methods of escaping the mount. Like last time, there were a few drills I wanted to include, beginning with shrimping in pairs (one person standing by the others armpits, bottom person shrimps back to guard).

The first basic escape is the trap and roll. A typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then their elbow with your other hand. There are various other possibilities, like wrapping the arm, but the essential thing is to stop their ability to post their hand for base. You could bump to knock them forward, meaning they will normally catch themselves by putting a hand on the mat. You can then bring your linked arms over that extended arm, bending their elbow and trapping the arm.

You also need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use that for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. A common problem is that you’re having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try to use your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range.

To finish, you’re going to bridge towards that trapped side. As with the side control escape, get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning into their guard. Make sure that you’re bridging over your shoulder and turning to your knees, not simply rolling over to your side. If you don’t raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back. Also remember to posture up once you are in their guard, as otherwise you might find you put yourself right into a submission.

You can still trap and and roll if they bring an arm under your head: simply reach back as if you were combing your hair to trap their arm, then progress as before. Finally, you might find you need to remove their legs from being threaded in between yours (known as ‘grapevining’). To clear them, bring one of your feet back to your bum, then push off their hook on that leg with your other foot. Another method, which Rener uses, is to just circle your leg around, though that depends on how well they’re using their grapevine.

The trap and roll escape does work, but on its own may not be enough against an experienced opponent. Personally, I prefer the elbow escape, which relies more on shrimping than bridging. As a rule of thumb, if you’re underneath, you don’t want to be flat on your back. So, start your elbow escape by turning to your side and working your elbows inside their knee. Keep defending your neck throughout, so that your elbows form a frame. Create some space by bridging. You can then use your frame to help you shrimp into the space you just created, pushing against their leg.

The idea is to make enough space to pull your leg through: don’t just bridge and plop back down. That leg will need to be flat, the other raised, or it will be hard to pull it free. After you’re on your side, you can simply bump slightly, then simultaneously shove their knee with your elbow while sliding your flat leg underneath.

Aim to pop your knee through initially. If you can pull the whole leg out in one, great, but don’t be greedy. Getting that knee through will mean you can then brace it against their thigh, aiding your second shrimp to free your other leg.

Once one of your legs is fully out, you can then use it to wrap around one of theirs. Getting half guard may be a possibility here, but generally I’d recommend you keep working towards full guard. To do that, continue shrimping and framing until both legs are free. Another option is to put the leg around their back.

You can also use a frame against their hips, one arm across, the other bracing against that wrist, elbow in tight. That’s also handy for stopping them moving up higher in mount. However, be extra careful with your neck if you do that: as your arms are down by their hips, that could leave you vulnerable to chokes.

As with any technique, try to combine your escapes rather than obsessing over just one. Also, don’t give them your head: that’s what the person on top wants for control. Connected to that, make sure you always defend your neck and keep your elbows tight. I’m a small guy, so this is what I tend to do most classes: stay really tight, elbows in, knees curled up, not leaving anything loose for them to attack, or space for them to wedge their hands through.

I have finally emerged from the hole I’ve been stuck in for the last month or two beavering away on writing. So, I should at least be able to get back into a more normal routine of at least two classes a week, hopefully three or four. It felt good to do a little bit of sparring at the end of class today, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it properly. 🙂


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. 😀

_____________________________

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.


14/05/2012 – BJJ Intro at Aro Ling (Mount Escapes)

Teaching #054
Aro Ling Buddhist Centre, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK – 14/05/2012

There are two major barriers to entry in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Firstly, it is an expensive sport. Monthly fees can be anything from £50 to upwards of £100 per month, then on top of that you will need at least one gi, which again can vary from £30 (I’d recommend a Blitz Kokuba judogi to start) to well over £100. BJJ can also be intimidating, as the close body contact makes many people uncomfortable. That’s understandable, particularly if you’re a woman: the prospect of rolling around on the floor with a sweaty male stranger (unfortunately, the majority of BJJ students tend to be male, something I’d like to help change) is not appealing to most people.

One of my main aims when I began writing about my BJJ training after I started in 2006 was to encourage more people to try out jiu jitsu, especially women. So, when a friend of mine told me that a number of her friends were interested in BJJ but didn’t feel ready for the club environment, I jumped at the chance to put my words into action.

I’m not sure if this will turn out to be a one-off or an ongoing project, but either way, it wouldn’t have been right to charge anything: I’m hoping that after getting a taste of BJJ from me, people might feel more confident about checking out one of the various BJJ clubs in Bristol. The main Pedro Bessa academy is a few minutes walk up the road, while the club I train at, Gracie Barra Bristol, is a short drive away in Redfield. There’s also a Checkmat affiliate (for those who don’t know, Checkmat, like Gracie Barra, is another large team with outposts around the world) at Trojan Free Fighters.

I kicked things off with a warm-up: as I didn’t have to include star-jumps and press-ups, that meant it was purely drills related to BJJ, specifically bridging and shrimping. As we had limited space, that meant I could go into much more depth than usual on how to bridge and shrimp. Along with the how, I talked a bit about the why, as it’s helpful to be able to put things in context. My intention was to lead into the two techniques for tonight, which would therefore add in the application.

For the technical portion of class, I would normally go with the rear naked choke when teaching absolute beginners. However, having earlier chatted to my friend about what she thought would most interest the group, this time I decided to take Rorion Gracie’s early years in the US as my inspiration. Rorion is large responsible for expanding Brazilian jiu jitsu outside of his native Brazil. In 1979, he travelled to the US for a second time, with the intention of establishing BJJ in North America.

Initially he found work as an extra in Hollywood, while teaching BJJ out of his garage. Thanks to those connections, over the years Rorion was able to encourage actors, directors and writers to come train with him. Around 1990, Ed O’Neill had a part in a popular comedy: his acting friends had been pestering him to give the Gracie Academy a go. To shut them up, O’Neill reluctantly agreed to try it out. Rorion, who has always had a knack for marketing, offered O’Neill a simple challenge. If Rorion sat on top of him, could O’Neill throw the small Brazilian off?

O’Neill decided to accept: as a fairly large man, it should be easy enough. However, try as he might, O’Neill couldn’t budge Rorion from his position. Smiling, Rorion then suggested that perhaps O’Neill might find it easier to hold Rorion down. After the demonstration O’Neill had just felt, he felt that surely he would be able to use his size advantage to stay in place for at least a few seconds. However, again Rorion surprised him, with a quick reversal. O’Neill was hooked, and over a decade later, he earned his black belt. He tells the story himself in this video.

I’m no Rorion Gracie, but I thought the same strategy was worth a try in 2012. So, my first technique was a basic trap and roll escape from the mount. A typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then their elbow with your other hand. There are various other possibilities, like wrapping the arm, but the essential thing is to stop their ability to post their hand for base. You could bump to knock them forward, meaning they will normally catch themselves by putting a hand on the mat. You can then bring your linked arms over that extended arm, bending their elbow and trapping the arm.

You also need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use that for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. A common problem is that you’re having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try to use your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range.

To finish, you’re going to bridge towards that trapped side. Get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning to your knees: this puts you in their guard (i.e., their legs are wrapped around your torso). Make sure that you’re bridging over your shoulder and turning to your knees, not simply rolling over to your side. If you don’t raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back.

The trap and roll escape does work, but on its own may not be enough against an experienced opponent. Personally, I prefer the elbow escape, which relies more on shrimping than bridging. As a rule of thumb, if you’re underneath, you don’t want to be flat on your back. So, start your elbow escape by turning to your side and working your elbows inside their knee. Keep defending your neck throughout, so that your elbows form a frame. Create some space by bridging. You can then use your frame to help you shrimp into the space you just created, pushing against their leg.

The idea is to make enough space to pull your leg through: don’t just bridge and plop back down. That leg will need to be flat, the other raised, or it will be hard to pull it free. After you’re on your side, you can simply bump slightly, then simultaneously shove their knee with your elbow while sliding your flat leg underneath. Once it’s out, you can then use that leg to wrap around one of theirs. Getting half guard may be a possibility here, but generally I’d recommend you keep working towards full guard. To do that, continue shrimping and framing until both legs are free.

You can also use a frame against their hips, one arm across, the other bracing against that wrist, elbow in tight. That’s also handy for stopping them moving up higher in mount. However, be extra careful with your neck if you do that: as your arms are down by their hips, that could leave you vulnerable to chokes.

As with any technique, try to combine your escapes rather than obsessing over just one. Also, don’t give them your head: that’s what the person on top wants for control. Connected to that, make sure you always defend your neck and keep your elbows tight. I’m a small guy, so this is what I tend to do most classes: stay really tight, elbows in, knees curled up, not leaving anything loose for them to attack, or space for them to wedge their hands through.

I’ll be running another session on Friday: hopefully some of the same faces will then move on to a real club, like Gracie Barra Bristol, Checkmat or Pedro Bessa. Also, if anybody interested in trying BJJ is reading this, you might find it useful to take a look at my BJJ Beginner FAQ. 😀