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.




A greater understanding

For me, I use things that I have learned about. If I have a question about something, I look for information on it. I try to understand it better. I dig into the mechanics of it, the history, the tradition, the current uses, the science, the experiences of others, and so on. That’s what lead me to BJJ in the first place. Research lead to understanding which lead to action.

In BJJ, when I am learning a new technique, I learn the mechanics of it. That way, I can understand how something works, why it works, and what ways to go about applying it.

For example: Side Control Escape to Guard

This technique is based on creating enough space to bring your knee through, under the opponent in order to recapture guard. The mechanics of it include a bridge, an arm brace, a hip escape, and a hip in with a leading knee.

The bridge creates space for space. It bumps the person up. This is actually, by itself, eliminating space. You’re getting closer to the opponent. But, in the entire scheme of the move, it creates space for the creation of space.

The arm brace fills space. If you’re escaping with your arms in a good defensive posture you are able to use them to brace the opponent. You created space for space with the bridge, then as you hip out you fill that created space with a bracing structure of your arms. Again, this in itself is not an escape. If you stop here you’ll likely get yourself into trouble.

The hip out creates space between you and your opponent. It’s extra space because you bridged. It’s filled space because you’re bracing. The further you hip away, the more space is created for you to fill with your leg as you bring it in to establish guard.

The hip in with the leading knee refills the created space with what you want instead of what they want.

When I understand all that, even in its most basic explanation, I can start to put the move into action. That understanding should drive me to action that reflects the information I have about it. This helps me to see what I’ve missed when the move doesn’t work. Sometimes I doing bridge, or hip-out, or bring my knee back in. Sometimes the opponent blocks a key element of the move. That doesn’t delegitimize the move, it simply presents a problem to be solved, which is why other moves are created.

The vast majority of my submissions lately have come in the form of the cross lapel choke. The reason is because I have developed an understanding of the mechanics of it. That understanding lead to action. That action lead to experience, which lead to problems, which lead to analytical thinking, which lead to new strategy based on the original understanding of the mechanics.

So, if you struggle with a technique, go away and do your homework. Learn why a move works, I bet (not that I’m a gambling man) you’ll see it in a whole new light.

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