Monday, December 14, 2009

scissor sweep and arm bar

I'm pretty clueless about sweeps, so anything I can learn and manage to apply is going to be helpful. Sunday's class focused on the scissor sweep and, failing that, the transition to arm bar. I start from closed guard. I get control of the cross shoulder lapel (eg. my right hand grabs the opponent's right lapel-- deep threatening grip, if possible). I open my guard, plant my right foot, and shrimp out enough to be able to slip my knee and shin back inside across the opponent's chest. I want my leg to be angled here. I don't want the leg to be parallel to the ground at this point. My right foot should be able to hook on to my opponent's left side/obliques.

With my left arm, I gain control of the opponent's right arm. To execute the sweep, I load my opponent on to me by pulling him forward. I place my left leg on the mat with the back of my knee in line with the opponent's knee. I kick my right leg forward, chop my left leg back, and pull the opponent forward in one simultaneous movement. This should swing him over onto his back and give me the mount. Since the right hand is already deep in the lapel, I am already set up for the choke.

If I cannot manage to get him over, I need to change tactics. To free my right leg from my opponent's chest, I need to extend and kick the leg forward to extend it behind his back. I bite down with the leg on the opponent's back. My left leg finds the opponent's hip and pushes off to rotate me to the right. Curl the shoulders up off the ground to get a smaller surface area on the ground and facilitate rotation. As I rotate, I must bite down hard on the opponent's back with my right leg. This should force him down further and affect his balance, sending him forward. Swing the left leg over his head, control his right arm, and extend my hips to hyper-extend the elbow.

If I'm the one caught in the arm bar, I need to grab onto the crook of my bicep before my opponent extends his legs and hips. The tighter I am, the better. From here, I begin short quick pulls of the threatened arm towards the back. Inch by inch, I should be able to get the arm free. Once the elbow has cleared danger, then I need to extend it back across the opponent's hamstring and begin the stacking/smash pass. From there, I move to side control.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


On a sidenote, I received my second strip today. Several of my classmates got promoted to blue belt, and many others inched their way towards their next coloured belt. I'm just happy I got the second stripe for my white belt. I'm still a long way off from my goal, but I'm making progress. That alone is encouraging.

Sweeps and Adjustments

After Day 1 of Bruno's seminar, I spent another hour with him one-on-one. My greatest concern right now is my lack of bottom game. As a Heavyweight (currently 230 lbs or so), I haven't had much need of a bottom game since I'm usually dealing with smaller guys at the club. However, when I compete, I'm in against guys who are at least the same size as I am, but usually significantly bigger. Thus, I need a ground game. My instructor tells me that, with my hip flexibility, no one should pass my guard. Well, that's not the case.

I'd been working different aspects of my game with Bruno in past sessions, but this time we decided to focus on sweeps. I demonstrated the one sweep that I have a decent grip on: the Flower sweep. From the closed guard, you get control of one sleeve. For note purposes, we'll say it's his right sleeve (using my left hand). I use my right hand to grab his pants, somewhere near the knee. This sweep is all about the timing. As the opponent shifts his weight forward, I raise my hips off the ground as high as I can. Next, I drop my hips and pull his sleeve towards my head, removing a potential base. As I'm doing this, I open my guard and kick my legs to my left and pull his left knee off the ground with my right hand. I roll myself over to the left. Keep in mind, this is happening at roughly the same time. The momentum created should take the opponent over and leave me in the mount.

The first sweep I worked on with Bruno depends on my opponent standing up to pass my guard. As he stands up, it is imperative that I gain control of the opposite arm's sleeve. So, if I'm reaching with my right, then I need to be controlling his right sleeve. I use that sleeve to pull me over to his right leg and ankle. I trap the ankle against my shoulder with my left hand. Keeping my guard closed (though I can let the guard open, if needed), I push my hips against the inside of my opponent's right knee. Since I have the right foot trapped, he has no way of stepping to correct his balance.

The next sweep was a review of one I've used in the past. As my opponent stands up, I wait to see if he keeps his feet essentially parallel. If he does, I reach for his ankles/heels, open my guard and drop my hips. I pinch my knees together in front of him, then extend my hips upward, while pulling at his ankles/heels. This should send my opponent backwards and then the scramble ensues.

The third sweep of the session is connected to the first sweep I learned that day. If the opponent is resisting really well against the knee pressure, I can open my guard, pull the sleeve I'm controlling (the right sleeve, being pulled by my right arm) and shoot my leg up over his shoulder. I should be hitting him with my calf as hard as I can to try and affect his balance. From there, I make a figure 4 with my legs, locking over his right shoulder and start sitting up. Once he's falling forward, I feed his arm into the 90 degree omaplata position. If I land it, great, if not he's still in a bad position. I need to remember to point my foot in the direction I want my opponent to go. If not, then I'm not doing it right.

The last point that we worked on was my lapel choke attack. I need to reach as deeply as possible inside the cross side lapel. So since I'm right handed, I'm reaching across my body and grabbing inside my opponent's right lapel, palm up. Where I had gone wrong is the angle of execution. I need to turn my wrist and curl my hand in more, taking as much fabric as I can, pretty much like I would if I were trying to get some extra "pop" out of a bicep curl. From there, I reach across to find any sort of fabric I can, palm down. I cross my forearms and make like my forearm is a blade that I'm sharpening. If I've got the blade of my arms applied correctly, then he should be tapping out. Another thing I can do is to open my guard and use my right leg to push my opponent to the left. This will straighten my right arm across the correct contact point. From there, I reach across to this left shoulder with my left hand, palm down, grab some fabric and X my forearms.

My biggest problem has been getting a small enough contact point, so I need to really work on rotating that wrist and curling my hand.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bruno Fernandes seminar

Bruno Fernandes has finally returned to my club. With any luck, some of the guys will receive the promotions they so rightly deserve. For me, it was just nice to catch up with him a bit and learn some new techniques. The class started with a sequence from butterfly guard.

Butterfly guard involves keeping your feet on the insides of your opponent's legs, as opposed to wrapping your legs around his body (standard guard). Our goal was to sweep the opponent, despite him having the underhook. Life is a lot easier when we have the underhook ourselves, but sometimes we're not that lucky. First thing we need to break down the opponent's posture, then reach over the back and grab whatever you can. It's probably easiest to grab the belt. Make sure that your arm is more or less draped over his back in line with his spine, otherwise, you're not really maintaining the broken posture.

From there, lie back and load the opponent on top of you. You should feel pressure on your chest. The more pressure you feel, the better off you are. Make sure you've trapped his arm with your free arm. Your opponent is already loaded on top, so kick with the hook opposite the opponent's trapped arm. This will lift him up and move him in the direction of the trapped arm. Roll in the direction of the trapped arm and you should end up in the mount.

In the event that he posts up as you're attempting to load up, release the belt and track down the near arm. Scoot your bottom leg up in the direction of your opponent's head. You're rotating to try and get your body at a 90 degree angle from your opponent. Once you've got the bottom leg/knee up near his head, swing the top leg over the opponent's shoulder and start to close the triangle. You're going for an omaplata shoulder lock. Lock in the triangle and make sure the opponent's arm is at a 90 degree angle, pointing south on his body. Sit up and begin to finish the move.

If you can't keep the arm in the proper position (or if he's defending properly), control the near wrist/sleeve and straight-arm it. Open your legs and make sure your top leg is out of the way. You grab the opponent's belt and, while straight-arming him, pull the belt towards you. The goal is to get him off balance and get control of the back. Scoot your hips back as needed to tip your opponent over. Get the hooks in to control the back.

So let's suppose you've got control of the back, but your opponent starts to stand up as a defense. Walk your hands over in the direction of the arm you want to attack. Hook his arm with your opposite arm, release the hooks and turn your body so that you're at 90 degrees to the opponent. Put your head on the mat for additional balance. At this point, you've got one arm trapped. Now you need to hook his leg, tuck your head and roll over the shoulder that trapped the arm. This should have you in a good spot for an arm bar.

If your opponent starts to spin away from the arm bar, simply unlock your legs, lift them up and as he finishes turning, he's left himself open to another omaplata. Thus, the sequence begins again from the omaplata. I'll get into the details of the private lesson a little later.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Triangles and Arm Bars

Tonight, we reviewed two of the basic submissions from the guard: the Triangle choke and the Arm Bar. We started with the triangle, since one attack flows naturally into the other. So let's start with the general scenario. Please keep in mind that these are my own notes to remind myself of what I learned and should not be mistaken for an instructional guide.

The opponent is posturing up, with one hand on your chest, gripping your gi. First priority is to break his grip on the gi and to control the opponent's wrist. Grab the opponent's sleeve with the opposite side hand (eg. if he's gripping your gi with his right hand, you grab his sleeve with your right hand). Grab your right wrist with your left hand and pull up and across your body, so that his hand ends up off your body and ideally over your right shoulder or center of your chest.

Adjust your grip so that your left hand is controlling his right wrist. Straight-arm his wrist right into his chest. It should be fairly difficult for him to resist this. If he tries to pull his arm away, then he unknowingly helps the process. Grab his lapel with your right hand and pull your opponent down towards you. Maintain the straight-arm on the right wrist. As you pull him down, open the guard and hop your left leg over his right shoulder. Re-establish control by hooking your legs together. At this point, you should be in a triangle set-up position, but you still need to create the proper angle.

Before making any adjustments, reach up and grab your left shin with your right hand. This should allow you to keep your opponent trapped as you open your guard to adjust the angle. Don't let his left arm find it's way out. Use your right foot to push off either your opponent's left knee or hip. This will allow you to affect his balance, as well as adjust your angle. If you've done the push-off properly, then your left leg should be tight against his neck and you can loop your right leg over your shin to complete a figure-4 sort of position. In order to complete the choke, you need to get the remaining arm (the left, in this case) across his body. To do this, you need to lift your hips off the mat. His arm will naturally pop up as you do this. Find his elbow and then push it across from your right side to your left side as you drop your hips. Pull down on the head, if necessary.

In the event that he defends the triangle attempt, you can switch to the arm bar easily enough. Clamp your knees tightly against the opponent to try and limit his mobility. Control the arm that you still have trapped (the left, based on the set-up above). Extend your left leg, maintaining the hooks you established while going for the triangle. Try to keep your hips on the ground. This will give you a bit of distance, as well as attack the opponent's balance, moving him to your right (his left). Control the trapped arm. Control the trapped arm. Control the trapped arm. I can't stress that enough. The opponent's elbow should be ripe for the picking. Push off his left knee or hip again, if necessary, while biting down with your left leg. From there, swing your right leg over his head and squeeze tightly with both knees. You can push his head to the side to make it easier, as well. From here, it's just a matter of raising the hips and hyper-extending the elbow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baby Steps Towards My Goal

I've been told that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is more than a martial art; it's a lifestyle. Now that I'm about a year and a quarter into my journey to the elusive Black Belt, I'm beginning to see how that's the case. I'm sure that anyone who has found this blog accidentally are already familiar with the art, so there's really no need to go into a lot of background information about the art itself. That being said, I'll give you a bit more info about myself.

I'm nearing 35 years old and I decided to take up this art as a way of complementing my studies in American Kenpo. Along the way, I realized that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a far more complete self-defense system than Ed Parker's American Kenpo, so I decided to put my focus on that. I have been training with the local Gracie Barra affiliated club in town, as well as doing the Gracie Combatives dvd program when time permits.

I've entered 3 tournaments so far and managed to win one match. I'm not exactly tearing up the tournament scene, but I'm fine with that, since I've always been more interested in the self-defense aspect of BJJ anyway. The purpose of this blog is to help me to keep track of what I've learned and just generally follow my journey. With any luck, I'll earn a Black Belt someday. At this point, I'm a one-stripe white belt, so the final prize is a long, long way away. Stay tuned for future updates.