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Team McVicker Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Fall Camp Day #1: The Art ofUncomfortable

Guard Passing Hip Pressure Concepts

Day one of the training camp started with Jeff Serafin discussing guard passing concepts, specifically hip pressure and how aggressive but controlled hip drive was essential for guard passing while eliminating scrambling during the pass.  Jeff covered three guard passes to illustrate his concept:

  • Same-Side Knee Pass - Start with one knee up and control your opponents legs, roll your knee to the same side, over their thigh to trap the leg.  The key here is to bring the hips in and drop the weight.  Your hip line should be parallel to inguinal (groin) line of the trapped leg.  Pivot step out to free your leg and before releasing the hook.  Again the hips should slide in close to prevent your opponent from moving.
  • Over-Under Pass - Staple one leg to the ground with the same side hand, simultaneously drive the hips forward as you underhook their leg.  Driving in the hips should raise their leg, not your arm, your want contact with the proximal calf and thigh across your body, your hip should be on their hip/buttock.  Your hip line should be parallel to their pelvis.  Use your free hand to control the cross collar, and then continue to drive forward using the pressure to drive their leg out of the way.  Your hips will slide past their hip and you will establish control.
  • Leg Ride Pass - Start just far enough away that you can grab your opponents ankles from forward leaning squat position.  Lift them up as you step in, a l√° a penetration step in wrestling.  One knee should, on the knee, land parallel with their flank while the other remains up and behind their legs, pinch inward with your legs.
This pressure concept is not exclusive to these passes but rather a fundamental concept that can be applied to passing the guard.  The key is to drop, close, tight hip pressure, using the line of the pelvis as a target for your hip line, either over their leg or posterior-lateral to it.  They should not be able to bridge, let alone move, unless it opens the side-mount, mount, or rear-mount positions.  I had the chance to grapple with Jeff later and he applied this concept, it kind of felt like he was running me over, slowly, with a Mack truck.

Inverted Armbar Variations and Applications

Next I covered secrets from deep within the Advanced Techniques Division of the Jokerjitsu Dojoratory, specifically inverted armbar variations and applications.   The inverted armbar, or ude gatame, is a straight elbow lock typically applied to the ipsilateral (same) side.  I started using it more in my guard game when the yield of my contralateral or cross body techniques (e.g. straight armbar and triangle) started to diminish.  One of the reasons that it may be effective is due to my ectomorphic body habitus, opponents reach to control the lapel or head, extending and straightening their arm.
I initially experimented with positions that I could obtain the inverted armbar submission, and have had success with the guard, half-guard, half-mount, side-mount, and full-mount positions.  After the “tap out” yield diminished I began looking for what happens after the inverted armbar, i.e. what reaction this attack provoked and what the next attack in my sequence should be (perhaps something I should have done when my other techniques began to “fail”).  I have more recently started looking into the grips and frames of reference for more rapidly setting up and finishing the submission.

Key Points

At the cost of stating the obvious, you must extend your opponent’s arm for this to work.  This either means you grab their arm and force it straight or by aggressive positioning your opponent presents a straight arm.  This means you need to be looking for opportunities to attack their elbow and moments where they post or grab with a straight, or nearly straight arm.  There are three points of control required to apply the inverted armbar:
  1. You must isolate the shoulder, typically abducting or adducting while simultaneously extending the axillary joint.
  2. You must simultaneously control the forearm distally, near the wrist, typically near your humeral head or tucked into the crook between the neck and trapezius.
  3. Finally, you must control just proximally to the elbow, with whatever grip (see below) is most suitable.  You want to be near but not on the elbow to apply leverage and still retain control of their ability to roll the elbow.

Evolution of the Grip

One of the greatest difficulties with the inverted armbar is controlling the elbow so that your opponent cannot rotate their arm and free themselves from the lock.  Over time I have tried different methods of controlling and submitting the arm. Regardless of the grip, distal forearm control is essential, however control of the shoulder is less critical.
Your grip selection will largely depend on position, that is the relation of your opponents elbow to your “peanut butter jar” zone, the area where you feel your ability to hold and manipulate is strongest, i.e. the place you put your hands when opening the lid of a peanut butter jar.  This means you will move their arm, your body, or both to obtain this position.  However, some grips are more suitable depending on positioning and hence must be used accordingly.
  • Hook grip: I started with just grabbing or cupping the posterior side of the arm at the elbow and pulled the arm straight.  It was simple, but low yield.  It is however probably the most versatile way of at setting up the inverted arm bar regardless of position.
  • Wrist square:  In order to decrease the strain on my hands while putting a hard surface (my wrist) into a soft spot (their elbow ligaments and triceps’ tendon), I switched to a perpendicular thumbless grip driving my wrist into the soft spot on the humerus just proximal to the elbow. Because you need to bend your arm to get bone to soft tissue alignment, this is a shorter range grip than hooks or our next method.
  • Pipe Wrench”: This is simply applying a thumbless grip and pinching the distal humerus and elbow joint between the vice grip of your wrist bones. You can twist the arm allowing for more rapid and greater control of the direction of their elbow.  Essentially I am applying the two-on-one strength of a locking my hands together with the concepts of Filipino Dumong to twist the arm straight.  I set this up with my ipsilateral side being palm facing me and the contralateral palm facing away from me.  Because the angle between your forearms in the thumbless grip increases as your hands get close to your body, this works only at longer range.  Also, because your hands lock together you cannot reach as far as with the hooks above. 
  • Deep Figure Four: A variation of the wrist square, with the intent  of having more control of the your opponent’s arm.  Here I attempt to get the distal part of the humerus in front of my ipsilateral (same side) arm. I start the figure four by placing this hand on my opposite distal biceps and use the hand of this arm to grab my head. This is a shorter range set-up due to the proximity of the figure four to your body.

Inverted Armbar From the Guard

Traditionally, the inverted armbar from guard makes use of placing the foot on the hip of your opponent, on the same side you are attacking.  Your knee is adducted to control the shoulder with their wrist cradled between your neck and trapezius on the ipsilateral side as their arm.  In order to get here, I typically started with one foot in the hip and used the partial extension of this leg and my arms to pull their arm straight and away from their body.  Simultaneously I would rotate my body approximately 45° offline in the direction of their arm.  The shoulder control becomes less important with the application of the wrist square, pipe wrench, and deep figure four.  You can either go after the submission by pulling their arm into place or provoke them to reach for your lapel.
If your submission should fail, look at their reaction, they will typically bend their arm, either inferiorly setting up oma plata, or across their body, allowing your to go for cross body straight armbar, or taking the back by arm dragging.

Inverted Armbar From the Half-Guard (Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu variation)

Inverted Armbar From the Side-Mount
Using concepts from Lloyd Irvin’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Micro Transitional Drilling System, as I pass I reach under their far arm to set-up an inverted armbar position.  I have been using the deep figure four position, you can sometimes submit them simply by applying pressure from this position, however it is low yield.  So you have options, such as
  • climbing forward, placing your shins across their abdomen and chest
  • rotating onto your inferior hip
  • as above but stepping over their head
  • placing the knee on the belly, and pulling up, this should rotate them on their far flank as you fall to your back

Knee On Stomach

Finally Jack McVicker covered the knee on stomach position.  The knee shin should be across the abdomen with your foot tucked to your opponent's flank.  The same side hand controls the hip near your knee by placing it on the floor or grabbing the kimono on this side.  The opposite hand controls the neck lapel on the near side.  Remember to post your other leg back and away, enough to give you a lot of weight on your opponent and so that they cannot grab that leg but not so far away that you are off balance and cannot move.  The attacks covered:
  • 180° armbar - your opponent tries to push your knee off them, creating an opening due to the bend of their arm.  Use the inferior side arm to hook this and pull up, placing them on their side.  Step your far leg to the opposite side of their body (their back) and grab their belt with your free hand.  Pivot 180° tucking your shin next to their body and your trailing leg across their head, ending perpendicularly to them.  Finish the armbar.
  • Baseball bat choke - Push their gi at the neck with the hand their, drop your opposite hand in and grab the lapel.  Your hands should touch as if holding a baseball bat. Drop your shoulder to their distal chest and rotate so that your are parallel and above their head, crossing your forearms and finishing the choke.
  • Brabo choke series - Your opponent underhooks your distal shin in an attempt to escape.  Drop back to the side-mount position and trap this arm.  Now free the far kimono and feed it under their far arm and behind their neck. Reach the inferior hand up to grip this and use your superior hand to reach across, securing the choke.  If they defend by "combing the hair" on the far side, use your blocked (superior) hand to pull them up on their side.  Drop your weight on this shoulder and pull up with your other hand, completing the choke.

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