Sunday, September 11, 2005

Stray Thoughts on Passing the Guard

A couple of stray thoughts on passing the guard.

There are three ways of attacking the legs from within the guard. All require staying tight and having upright posture. These are passes against guys who want to aggressively fight from the guard (like the guy I fought from Marcelo Alonso at Copa NW 5!) Guys who like to pull guard fall into this category, also.

Here are the three ways:
(1) Scoop leg. Grab the underside of the opposite thigh. Work to pass on the side of the grabbed leg.
(2) Stack leg. Reach across the thigh to grab the sleeve of the opposite arm. Reach across with the other arm and grab the opposite sleeve or lapel. Stack and pass on either side.
(3) Split leg. With your opposite hand hold down the bicep or, if the guy is too long, grip the sleeve. Drive your arm between your body and his tightly. Get your sholder deep under his thight. That is your pass side. Use your pass side hand to reach across his body and grab his lapel. Pull yourself around as you pass.

All three of these also work if the guy tries to control you by gripping your sleeves (see my Copa NW 6 match!) These are effective passes in any event, but especially helpful against attacks on your arm.

Other pass techniques include the Saulo Ribeiro, Rodrigo's standing pass, and the elbow-inside-knee break (which isn't a pass in and of itself, just a way of opening the guard) ...

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I lost my first tournament match: submission by armbar.

There were only two of us in the 159-171 division. I weighted in at 163 and the guy from Marcelo Alonso weighed in at 163.4. He had a few inches on me, as I suspect most of the 159-171ers will.

Ultimately, I know I'll be at 155 or 150. In fact, that's a minimum goal for me before the November Copa.

In the meanwhile, I need to get in better shape (stronger and more cardio) in order to do as much sparring as I can in class. I can't increase the number of days a week, so I've got maximize my time while I'm there.

In a perfect world, I'd spend one five-minute round fighting from the guard, one five-minute round trying to pass the guard, and one five-minute round fighting to escape side mount/side control every class.

A recap of the fight: We square off. I don't really have an offensive move for him and he doesn't really have one for me. My base is solid, so he decides to pull guard rather than try for some takedown that might result in a scramble.

He pulls guard and gets a good grip on my left sleeve. I'm paralyzed: his gi is wide open, so the most recent pass Rodrigo taught us won't work. He transitions to a thrusting choke that I negate pretty well just by tucking my chin. The problem is that I'm 100% defensive and giving him nothing to react to.

He transitions to a triangle which--as usual--becomes an armbar. I try and yank my arm out. But he is rolling it over almost immediately. I'm done. Just as we are falling out of bounds, I slap the mat.

A review. At this point, a scramble is probably to my benefit. So I should force the engagement in the standup. I'll look around and see if I can find a takedown or two to focus on. One assumption is that I need to be either too far away or too close, preferably the latter, to negate the length advantage in my opponents.

If somebody pulls guard and grabs a sleeve, try and jerk your arm free--maybe while reaching over with the opposite arm and grabbing the sleeve of his grip arm. Also use the arm he's trying to grab to grab the underside of the opposite pant leg and try and work that pass away from his grip. That's also probably the side he wants to attack, so passing in that direction can be especially worthwhile.

It might be possible just to tug the arm back, keeping your elbow in tight, and taking your hand under that near leg. That way, you lose one arm, but he loses the arm and the leg.

The biggest takeaway is that Marc Laimon is right: you've got to get out of the guard. Don't fight in the guard. Pass the guard.

A note on the tournament experience: a lot of fun! My match was over pretty quickly and it wasn't fun watching Joe lose at about the same clip. But watching all that fighting was both fun and a great learning experience.

My right arm is still pretty sore from that armbar, and my right shoulder is a little tweaked also. But that tournament really fired me up to intensify my training--both at Tully's and at home with cardio in the mornings (MTRF).

I also want to work that 100+ pushup routine into my morning cardio--probably before I jump on the treadmill. I ought to make a 100+ crunch routine and a 100+ squat routine along the same parameters.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Day Before Copa Northwest 5

I'm fighting tomorrow morning in the Copa Northwest 5 Tournament. The location is our gym in the Tully's building, so that familiarity will help a lot.

I'm a little over 160 now. I don't know if the scale will have me in the 146-158 division or the 159-171 division. Myguess is that it will be the later. Going forward, I don't see myself at 159-171, at all. I think 155-150 is my ideal "muscular" range. But I'm not going to get worked up over it. It's my first tournament. It will be interesting to see how I match up. I don't see myself getting into really good cardio shape and being over 160, though. I could lose ten pounds from my mid-section, be at 150 and loving it.

The Fight

I'm not going to worry about takedowns. If the guy is bigger and slower, then I'll shoot. Otherwise, I'll try to either trip/sweep or hip throw.

A couple of things:

Passing the guard: The "sharp elbow behind the knee" move is popular to open the guard. I like the Saulo Ribeiro technique with the leg split and hipping out with the hand on the belt for leverage best. If I try the standing pass that Rodrigo taught us Thursday, I need to remember:
1. Grab the lapel and fist into solar plexis.
2. Grip the sleeve tightly.
3. Step with the sleeve leg and rise keeping the grip arm taut and the ELBOW INSIDE THE THIGH.
4. Palm the opposite knee (lapel grip side) and hip out quickly.

Joe managed to sweep me repeatedly during sparring when I tried this pass. I'm searching the Net for a counter, or to see what I'm doing that makes me so vulnerable to this sweep. I know one mistake is not keeping my posture as upright as possible.

The other pass I like is the one where you grab the opposite pant leg underneath and, with that leg trapped, step in the direction of the leg you've grabbed and work for side mount. You might have to do that flying pivot to the other side if he counteres by pushing up on your hips.

The Renzo/Royler book talks about shooting your arm between your body and the guard. Then hook your shoulder deep under his thight and do a sort of circular stack to that side. Sprawl to keep your legs away from his hands and work for side control.

Those are my passes: Saulo Ribeiro, standing, under leg pants grip, inside arm shoot and scoop.

Keep your back and posture straight while in the guard. You get nothing by getting low (head to chest) in the guard. PASS. PASS. PASS.

The only attack from inside the guard is the thrusting choke (amassa pao). If the collar is too loose, this will be a difficult attack. It is good for opening the guard, though, because his hands will be occupied trying to fight the choke.

Basically, the amassa pao has you pull down on one side of the collar while you pull over and across the throat with the other. Same-side grips.

Side mount attacks
The best attack from side mount is to get full mount as far as I'm concerned. If I get side control, then I need to move as soon as possible to full mount. I think there is a let down when a guy gets side mounted, just a second when he goes, "aw shit, he passed my guard." In that moment, I need to move to mount. I like the knee grab that Rodrigo taught us best for moving from side to mount.

North-south isn't bad. If he reaches back in "stick-up" fashion, then he'll be vulnerable to a key lock. Grab the wrist with the same-side hand. The opposite side arm is the reach-under arm. Otherwise, I like north-south as a way to get to side mount.

Rodrigo taught us a move where you use the head-side arm to trap his opposite arm, then reach over and get a kimura lock with your other hand. Reverse and open your hips to the head side and crank the lock. The coup de grace is stepping over the head.

There is an armbar variation from this position also if he extends the arm.

From mount, my game is pretty straightforward: go for the amassa pao thrusting choke and be ready to hit the armbar if he overcommits to defending the choke. I can also use key lock attempts to set up the armbar.

Attacks from the guard
This is definitely my weakest area. I'll even consider standing out of the guard, Marc Laimon style, if necessary to avoid being passed. If I do this, though, I need to go aggressively for a takedown because standing out of the guard (instead of attacking from the guard) is a little controversial it seems.

My triangle choke should be vicious, given my leg strength. But I just don't trust it. I need to review the attacks from the guard Rodrigo taught us, as well as the ones in my Machado Encyclopedia.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Attacks from the Guard

I left my gi top at class. I called Rodrigo's cell and left a message. Best case scenario? I pick it up in Ballard around 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. Worst case scenario? It's left there until I come in on Thursday. I'm more annoyed than I should be ...

If I don't hear from Rodrigo by tomorrow noon, I'm going to Seattle Martial Arts Supplies on 658 South King Street in the ID and pick up a gi top if possible, or a back-up full gi if necessary. There's nothing wrong with having two; most regular jiu-jitsu guys have at least as many.

Will be at the tournament this Saturday. Rodrigo gave me the option to fight in the white belt bracket, and I'll probably take him up on it. I got my first submission in sparring tonight--an armbar after working for a gi choke from the mount. It was against a heavier (though not much taller) white belt who'd been around roughly the same amount of time as me. Pretty exhilerating. It was a lot more fun that just punching and kicking somebody in the head.

Notes on the armbar. Squeeze your knees together. Don't flex your thigh muscles or you'll cramp (as I almost did). Feet to the mat, extend the captured arm with the thumb up, and slowly raise your hips. TAP.

The techniques for tonight were attacks from the guard. One variation set up a triangle, another set up the armbar, the third set up the omoplata. I'm going to look around in my Machado encyclopedia volume #1 (which is 150+ attacks from the guard), and see if I can spot them. There is always a hip swivel that seems counter-intuitive in many of these moves. Once you do it, you see why it makes sense. But as you're trying to remember it, it is easy to get confused.

Got it! The first move we did was Machado #7: The triangle choke.
Got it ! The third move we did was Machado #10: The omoplata.

Okay, I'll look for the second move later. There were a number of armbars in Machado that looked close. So I'm sure I'll find it.

Tore some skin under my left little toe. Nothing serious. I need to stop mutilatintg my fingers. It's making them unnecessarily sensitive at the tips.

got thoroughly worked by a purple belt during sparring. I've sparred with him before and he's got good variations. I didn't really have anything for him but some halfway decent moves to take side control. But there aren't any points in that. I tried to work his arm for a kimura or key lock. But I was so obvious about it that he easily defended.

I didn't do a halfway bad job of passing his gaurd. but he'd get me right back in his guard usually (except for a moment or two of side control, as above). The grabbing the opposite pant leg technique is a nice part of the guard passing arsenal, though.

I tried to work that one pass with the opposite collar grab and forearm to the throat, but nobody was buying it. Maybe I ned to combine it with the pass-side pant leg grab from underneath to give me room to shoot a pass-side knee ...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

All About the Side Control

Here's a catch-up from recent sessions. My last class, on September 1, was my sixth.

We've been working from side control in the past few days. Remember with side control to keep the head-side leg back and straight to help prevent the guy from rolling you over. STAY CHEST TO CHEST. Have your leg-side knee snug against his hip with most of your weight on his chest. Hook you head-side arm under his neck and hook your leg-side arm under his legs--preferably gripping the underside of the far leg.

Note: another way of maintaining side control is to put your leg-side arm over his legs and wedge your elbow into the far hip. That way, you are trapping both hips: one with your knee, one with your elbow. Reach over his neck with your head-side arm and hook back to trap the head/upper chest down

This is a basic move. From side control reach up and grab the far knee with the leg-side hand. As you tug the far knee toward you--forcing both knees down and toward you in the process--step up and over with your leg-side knee and secure the mount position.

From the mount position reach across his body to force the opposite wrist and forearm back above the head. Lodge the elbow of the arm into his neck to stabilize. Reach under his arm with the lock-side arm and grab your wrist. Work his wrist/forearm lower until it is equal to his shoulder. Then slowly crank the keylock, keeping the right angle in the elbow.

Note: there is a helpful suggestion on how to force down the arm of a stronger guy over at the Canadian jiu jitsu website, Abhiya (or something like that). Includes a video. Link to come.

From the mount position, first wait for him to try and push your chest away with both hands. This could happen as he is defending against a choke or keylock attempt. Reach one hand over and one hand under his outstretched arms and press against his chest, trapping the arm.

The hand that is over comes from the same side you will fall back into the arm lock.

Step up with the opposite foot (away from lock side) , planting it with your toes facing away from him. As you rise up, lean hard away from the lock. This will help you get in the proper position (parallel or closer to his head) and will help trap his arm under yours.

Then step up and over his head with the other foot, keeping as close to his body as possible. With both feet planted on the non-lock side, grip the lock-side wrist tightly and fall back into the arm lock. Try and keep your feet on the ground and squeeze your knees together to keep the pressure on.

We also learned another move from side control. This one is especially effective if the guy tries to push you off by putting his hand on your leg-side shoulder instead of your head-side shoulder.

Once he puts his hand on your leg-side shoulder, reach over his head with your head-side arm and trap his bicep against his body. Your hips, in side control, should be neutral.

From neutral shift your hips to open to the leg-side. Do this by swiveling your hips and dragging your head-side thigh under to the leg-side. This movement will help give you the leverage to break his hold on your leg-side shoulder, to force that hand down to the mat, and to lean over and into him to secure the kimura grip.

Get the grip by reaching down along his body with your head-side hand, which should grip your wrist to secure the kimura. From here, swivel your hips the other way to open up to the head-side, and begin walking your way toward his head. In order to get the lock set, step over his head with your lead, or head-side, leg.

Rolling notes: If you get the guy's back and are working the hooks, don't cross your feet at the ankle. Work the hooks separately from the inside and the outside. That will force him to either pull off the hooks or protect his collar from the choke.

I need to start thinking in sequences. Get dominant position. Get finishing position. I like the side control - mount - choke or keylock/armlock sequence especially.

Must improve skills: sweeping from the guard, passing the guard (especially the open guard that a lot of the blue and purple belts are using!)