Shorter Ladders

Jiu-Jitsu is great because we get to spar every time we meet. That means that you get a lot of opportunities to experiment because you get a lot of opportunities to test your new thoughts.

My newest thought was that of making my technical ladders a bit shorter.

The Scissors Sweep is still my go-to sweep against a kneeling opponent. When I’m rolling, and have simply had enough of being on the bottom, I set up the Scissors Sweep. That technique goes something like this.

Closed Guard with the left hand gripping the opponent’s right sleeve and the right hand gripping the opponent’s collar.

Open your guard putting your left leg down by the opponent’s right leg and bringing your right knee across the opponent’s belt line.

Pull your opponent down with your collar grip. Pull up over your head, or across your body with your sleeve grip. Sweep to your right with your left leg an guide the opponent over with your right leg.

Follow your opponent up into the mount.

That’s a longer ladder than I want to have to climb every time I want to sweep. So, I want to shorten the ladder. Here’s how I’ve gone about doing it.

I look for a cross sleeve grip.

The opponent’s posture has to come forward and I have to eliminate the post on the side I want to sweep to. I realised that if I’m able to get a cross grip I can pull my opponent’s arm across his body. If I do it right it also brings him forward. This takes the steps of getting the grips, and breaking the posture and puts them into one step.

I don’t bother with the closed guard.

I usually play a seated guard looking to establish butterfly hooks. However, I also quite like to put my feet on hips and knees when the opponent is kneeling. If I establish a cross sleeve grip I tend to go straight to a hip/knee placement because I’ll look to either arm drag across, or sweep. Instead of having to open my guard, then get my feet in place I simply place my feet very close to where I want them to end up. This effectively cuts the leg placement process in half.

I have also started to bring my right leg, knee first across the opponent’s chest. I create a hook under the opponent’s armpit. This acts as a knee shield (similar to the z-guard) to help keep space, a barrier against around-the-leg passes to my right, and a placement that adds itself very well to the scissors sweep.

So, I develop a guard system around the knee shield with a cross sleeve grip all aimed at the scissors sweep. That systems means that the sweep is always two steps.

Pull my opponent’s arm across and towards my right shoulder as I push on the opponent’s right knee.

Follow over into mount.

Shorter ladder.

My current other options from that guard are:

– Armdrag to back transition

– Triangle if they try to underhook the right leg

– Omoplata if they try to overhook the right leg

– Figure 4 if they pull arm free and post

– Guillotine if they pull the arm free and come forward with the head

I’m also looking to develop a similar system when I can’t get the cross sleeve grip but can get the cross collar grip, which has presented itself as of late.

 

 

Visualisation

I have had the flu for a week, so haven’t been able to do any physical training. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any training.

I am a decently strong believer in visualisation. There are two main kinds that I use in my training.

Visualising a technique in the same way that I would drill it. Drilling creates the muscle memory, and shouldn’t be overlooked (which it is by the VAST majority of BJJ practitioners). Visualisation creates mental memory. You see, when I can’t drill something live, like when I’m on the train, at work, in the bathroom, on the plane, in the car, in bed, etc, etc, I just drill it in my mind. I go through the steps. I think about it so that it becomes something natural.

Then, when I get to live drilling it’s not about trying to remember. I can let my muscles do some work, feel the technique, and create the muscle memory. I don’t have to stop every step and think, “Alright… what’s the next step?” It’s already all in my head. As I drill, and feel the technique I can adjust my mental picture to work with what I’m feeling.

This leads me to my second kind of visualisation.

Because I don’t have to think about a technique while rolling, and I have drilled it enough to not have to worry about the feel, I can start thinking in depth about it.

If you study the games of the best BJJ practitioners in the world you will see that they have extremely deep games based on basic moves.

Marcelo Garcia is a great example. He has a dominant hooks sweep from butterfly guard.

Hooks sweep from Butterfly Guard is a great example of this depth concept. If you study his game you’ll realise that he’s taken one of the most basic sweeps in jiu-jitsu and turned it into a powerhouse. Here’s why:

Every technique has a counter. But, the glory of BJJ is that every counter has a counter. When you know a technique so well that you don’t have to put any thought into it you can start to see how people are countering the move. When you can recognise the counter, you can develop a way to counter the counter.

Garcia’s hook sweep from butterfly guard has an entire series of counters to counters. If you block by posting low with the leg he has a counter to that. If you block by posting high with the leg he has a counter. If you block by posting the arm, he counters that. If you block with posture, he counters. If you block with weight, he counters. He also has developed ways to force you into the posture needed to get the hook sweep. It’s amazing

It’s an example of one of the most basic moves in BJJ being turned into an unstoppable method of sweeping.

Watch the 2010 World Champs. Garcia wins the middleweight division with a hook sweep from butterfly. He’s produced books, and DVDs, and a web site laying out his ENTIRE game, and this basic move still can’t be stopped. Why? Because, he has given it depth.

Roger Gracie has the most devastating cross collar choke from mount in the world. Basic submission turned into a powerhouse through strategic thinking. He’s added depth.

So, in my study of the scissors sweep I have spent my sick week visualising variations, counters to counters, and set-ups from any position. I have focused on the depth of the move. The next time I roll I am going to try my set-up from being pinned in side control. I am going to try my counter to the common counters I’ve experienced. I am going to work on what I do when they won’t give me the grips I want. What I do when they’re postured well. What I do when they counter a counter. This will all be noted mentally, and visualised some more.

All of this has come from visualisation training. Just taking the time to think in depth about a move. I go from seeing a basic sweep from one position, with one set of grips, and one posture, into seeing an entire game plan.

It becomes this immense web of strategy and movement all based on one of the most basic techniques in BJJ.

This is possible because of time invested in visualisation.

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