Rediscovering my BJJ Journal

10/23 – We worked on a nifty half guard sweep tonight. Its the same one utilizing the lockdown but then switching off to a butterfly hook for the sweep.

You are in half guard and the opponent has the inside knee down on the ground with head control. Hook his inside leg with your ankle, or lock down, and the point here is to straighten out the leg. Keep your hand on the opposite side on his hip and switch your hip enough to get the hook in, toes up! Now on the same side as the sweep, keep his arm on his side, or by the hip, so he can’t post. Now just keep inching it and switch your hips and sweep to that side.

If he keeps the inside leg up in your half-guard, which you can tell, because he would be smashing his shoulder into your face, hook outside the leg and sweep to the other side. If he posts, that is giving you space, so take the back.

10/20 – Ratinho is in for the next two weeks. Last night, he showed us some details in regards to attacking for the armbar from side control and knee-on-belly.

Side Control – The first thing is to control the hip and keep a good base so the guy can’t hip out on you. When controlling the far-side arm, you want to hook it as deep under the elbow as possible. The best thing is to control the arm near the armpit and grab your own lapel. Your other arm should be pinning his neck to the floor at this point. There are a few ways you can move into the armbar from there, all having to do with going north-south until you have the other side. You can either switch the hip and  walk your leg up that way or bring your knee up on the side opposite of which you are controlling your arm first (for a good base) and go around the north south position. Once you are around, do not be too concerned with putting your foot under his armpit. The important thing is that you have good wedges, like leaning into the guy from the hip. You should have the arm controlled under the elbow and be in almost a squatting position, pinning his arm across his body. To finish, put your foot/knee under the hip and control his neck with your other leg. Pinch the knees and finish.

Knee-On-Belly – Don’t take “knee-on-belly” literally. Your knee should be vertical across the torso and be pinning his spine to the floor. Keep your toes of the ground and distribute the weight so that you’re putting pressure on the spine but can get light to counter his movements. Attack the collar for the cross choke with your near hand. If he doesn’t defend, choke him by taking the other collar with the thumb-in/4 fingers grib and pin your elbow to the floor. If he defends, grab the arm at the elbow and pull it up. Move around the head and wedge the attacked arm down. Use your other foot as a wedge, preferably under the armpit, control the arm, pinch your knees, and finish.

Back Control – Clint asked Ratinho a good question about how to take the back from a scramble. Clock chokes are a good idea too if they have a good base. You can test the base while you control the hip, which should be the first thing you are doing. To take the back, keep the control on the hip but control the lapel over the frontside of his near shoulder. (similar to Marcelo’s backpack grip) If you are controlling the hip and they are turtled tight, you can put your nearside knee in their ribs, right under the elbow, to create space as you spin to his back. From there, switch the hip control the back of his collar while keeping the lapel in your other hand and work to put the other hook in. From here, you can work the lapel chokes, RNC, or fight for the armbar by angling out, trapping the arm with your leg, and finishing the arm.

Rolling, I noticed a few things. (1) You can hit the kimura from absolutely anywhere if you can get deep enough under the arm. (2) That triangle set-up we worked last week is a really good setup. If I can get better at hipping out and dragging the arm across, this definately a good armbar/omoplata setup as well. (3) Grips, Grips, Grips (4) The stretch guard is a good transitionally defense but I shouldn’t rely on it because I’ll keep getting passed like an 80 yr. old woman in traffic.


– Hai had us work on this lapel choke from side control. Pretty cut and dry in explaining it but I’m sure i’ll have a harder time pulling it off. I didn’t get that many reps in but I had a good fill for the application of it.

1. Establish side control with hand on nearside hip & head control.
2. Grab the far lapel, keeping his spine flat with your far shoulder, and passing it around to your other hand under his head.
3. Pull the lapel until it clears the neck, all the while controlling the torso with your shoulder and staying reasonably flat so you don’t get reversed.
4. Switch the grip (wrist up) to the far hand, keeping the wrist straight.
5. Cross-grip on the other side of the neck (wrist down). pin to the floor, and sag hips to floor until he taps or sleeps.

As far as rolling today, I worked with a less experienced, yet larger guy to start off with and just worked guard and sweeps. As I can recall, I got a simple sweep and a couple of butterfly sweeps, along with some reversals from side control but never really attacked much. I got his back after reversing and passing but could not finish. This has been a consistent pattern with me working guard just for sweeps. I really need to incorporate the triangle setup we worked on last week, along with some of the other submissions not named kimura or armbar.

I got paired up with one of brown belts next and just gassed from the beginning. I couldn’t do jack shit. He just bullied me over onto my back and had the effective knee-on-belly, where instead of going straight accross, he was pinning my spine down vertically. He worked the baseball choke. Tap. Then took my back and RNC, Tap. Then I was tired and tried a scissor takedown and missed up. Anklelock. Tap. Then RNC again. Tap. Half-guard didn’t work. Lockdown was even more laughable. Just absolutely gassed.

Final round was more of me being tired and controlling the less experienced person. Working a sweep and then S-mount,which is a new thing I really like, because it really sets up a tight armbar finish. Only damn thing I did all day. I’ve gotta work on my cardio and cut some weight. (Last week: 210 Now: 205 with liquid workday diet Goal: 185)

October 13, 2006

Last night we worked on triangle set-ups from the heavy leg. When the opponents get and underhook, you have several options.

1. keep your head back and put all the pressure on the leg so as he can’t lift you at all. You really can’t do much from here though, other than not allowing him to pass. I always want to either work away and stand back up or get some grips and fight back to closed guard.

2. heavy leg just a little bit to get him to put some pressure into it and then loop your leg over his arm and get your knee back in. For the triangle setup, while you’re looping that leg, switch your hips and get your other leg over his arm/shoulder in a scissor-guard type of position. 2on1 on the arm that you looped or grab the sleeve. The opponent should try to pass around the open side but as long as you have the grip and you are blocking him off with your arm as a wedge on that side, he won’t be able to pass. From there, wait until he tilts/or angle too much to the open side and pull the arm in and set up the triangle/omoplata/armbar.

The important thing with open guard and playing on bottom in general is to use your legs in concert with your arms. Pulling and pushing so many different ways, if your limbs are doing too much, you’ll counteract yourself. Its always best to remember which way you want to go and use your angles & wedges to accomplish the goal.

While rolling, I was having a hard time with the guys that have long legs and a tight closed guard. The one-eyd pass was kind of succesful. I mean, whenever I get their guards open, I pass rather easily. Its just a matter of getting that accomplished without getting my posture broken. My biggest problem is that I don’t know where to put my hands where I’m postured, stuffing their spine, and trying to pass at the same time. I think I’m focused too much on keep my back straight up like 90 degrees rather than just keeping my spine straight. If I get that, passing should be easier. Otherwise, as long as the legs are broken and I can get my knee to my elbow, I’m usually fine.

Another issue I had was with a person with a really active open guard. I couldn’t get in close enough because I would get kicked off and I couldn’t get around because they’d just track me and bring their legs back in. I almost passed with a cartwheel but got grought back in again. I finally got it with the stack but I had to stay really tight. I think next time, I’m just going to bring my knee to elbow and work it an inch at a time.

October 2, 2006

Angles from guard, its all about angles! Eddie (fresh off back surgery) did some armbar drills with me today and showed me a nice way to set up the armbar/omoplata/etc. from closed guard. Essentially, it was all about getting behind the elbow with one leg and hitting the angle on the opposite side by using the same foot that you are using to wedge behind the elbow to kick off the hip. From there, use the other leg to control the shoulder and hit the armbar, straight armbar, take the back, or omoplata depending on how the guy reacts. I’ve gotta drill this without using the hands. Over and over again. Its the only way I can work submissions from guard, because, let’s face it, I’ll never have spider legs like some of these f*ckers.

September 28, 2006

Just worked on ankle picks today. Getting that grab on the collar and putting all the weight on one leg is really important. Same side lapel as the leg you pick with your opposite hand that could control the arm. Works when posture is broken. Otherwise, set up for the single or preferably the double leg takedown. Penetrate with inside leg, drive with the hip. The end.

September 26, 2006

The past couple of weeks, we have been working on a lot of different things. For one, Eric showed us the one-eyed pass, or rather a way of splitting the legs to pass the guard. It involves turning your head away as you step back. They key is turning your hip to be able to break the legs and then work to pass by either (1) stacking: wedge pressure on hips and stepping up almost to opp. ear or (2) diving under. I love this one.  All you need is one underhook with the hand and then just literally letting go of your posture and diving underneath and away the opp. heavy leg and gaining side control. There are many, many details that I am not covering but I at least wanted to measure these to myself so I won’t forget to work them more.

The arm-in guillotine is a real bitch because it can be hit from any angle. Getting that loose bat grip and jumping to high guard puts a lot of leverage/torque into the choke. If you can trap one, or both, arms as you jump guard, it’s going to be very difficult for the opponent to get out. Keep this in mind.

September 12, 2004

So we were working on using the push-pull choke as a means to pass the guard. I know its palm down but I was having trouble on how deep the grip actually has to be and how to get under the carotid. Eric likes using his knuckle on the choke because it’s easier for him to switch sides but some people like bringing the collar across to choke. I still have to figure out which one works better for me. Now when we were standing and using the choke to break closed guard, a lot of people were having difficulty with the correct way to jam the hip. I was told that I am not supposed to move my legs as if I was just passing normally but rather use my knee to completely jam the guy’s hip. I need to actually step up even deeper and get by his ear if possible and then choke the shit out of the guy until I can bait the armbar and chainsaw my arm out of there or until he opens his hard.

Also, I was having trouble with maintaining a collar grip from inside my guard. Eric told me that I have to get a grip as deep as possible behind the guy’s neck, almost like I’m trying to pull his socks up. It’s a much stronger feel when my grip is back there. I’ll use my free hand to loosen the collar if I have to but if that grip isn’t there, I might as well not mess with the grip at all. Also, the correct technique in gripping is that my elbow show be in front of my rib and not on the side. The correct way to do that is to angle off a little bit and avoid being flat on my back. Reason being, if I’m flat on my back, the strength of the grip will be non-existent and also, the opponent can kill my spine and break the grip by posturing properly.

September 8, 2006

Damn, passing guard is so hard when you come in to train tired and lackadaisical. We were working on the same pass we worked on Tuesday, except with the standing variation. The grip on the hip is so crucial. Also, without proper posture, you’re not going to be able to pass anyone. I swear I need tokeep my back straight and look at the ceiling whenever I’m in anyone’s guard from now on. We also worked on how to break someone’s guard when they have long legs . With these guys, you really have to stick your knee into their crack as wedge after you stand. Doing that and angling off as you jam your knee into their hip is pretty much the only way to pass.

Another thing, if you feel yourself going over with a simple sweep, throw your leg, baseball slide style, with the sweep and you should be able to get side position. Let’s work on that and give it a shot.

September 5, 2006 – Notes

I went to train after the first day back at the new office (which was wonderful…) and got a wake up call in that I was missing so many important details from the most basic of passes or simply forgot due to extreme drunkeness and laziness of the past few months. A few other people are starting to train harder now and partying less and I’m tired of being “that guy” so screw it, I’m going to start training seriously as well. Special occasions excluded, of course, I’m focusing on training, grad school applications, and work for the forseeable future and hopefully, I get some good results out of it. Anyways, Step 1. I need to start taking notes again if I want to improve on grappling.

Basic Pass – the most important thing here is the grips. One hand on the lapel, pinning the spine to the floor (horizontal grip to provide the strongest wedge) and the same grip on the hip, pinning the opponent’s hip to the floor. Now in making the move to pass, what actually breaks the closed guard is not just wedging the knee behind the opponent’s ass, but actually the strength and fluidity of transitioning your knee (same one as the lapel wedge) to knee-on-belly. Important detail: do not let go of the grip you have on the pants until after you pass because if you do, you will lose the pass and your opponent can counter with an omo-plata or upside-down guard. Now if you have the wedge, it doesn’t matter if he goes under your leg with his hand because you are controlling his hip anyway.

More on the Basic Pass – If you are passing and the opponent counters by wedging his hands so you cannot go knee-on-belly, or if he goes and spins with you, switch and go up the center. Switch your grips to inside control on the legs, sprawl, and take side control.

One more thing on this pass – You don’t need the lapel grip if he isn’t trying to control your head and break your posture. Control the hips instead.

On Open guard… – If I am playing open guard and the opponent stands, if he threatens with an ankle lock or otherwise controls the ankle, reach up and go get it by breaking his elbow position. From here, you can go to omo-plata or sweep.

Also, it never hurts to stand back up from open guard if you have enough space.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I got a lot of good answers when I asked questions after class today.

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