BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 3 - Submitting from the side mount

It's all about setting the right traps and removing obstacles (Image source: WatchBJJ)

In a previous post I explained the main concepts a jiujitsu practitioner needs to keep in mind to control their opponent from cross side top (ak. side mount or side control) and how to transition from the side to the full mount. I also promised I'd discuss what I have found to be the highest percentage ways to submit the opponent from side to mount so here we go:

The thing is, as you may have noticed from the previous two articles, my high-pressure control itself and constant threat of mounting usually opens doors to submission that wouldn't normally be there. Just take the Kimura Roger talks about in the previous post for instance: That's probably my favourite go to straight from side mount.

Check Article 2 in this series for details of this position

I am very grateful that almost every teacher I have ever had in jiujitsu and judo has emphasized the importance of crushing pressure without over-engagement from the arms. This has meant that the system I currently follow when attacking from the side goes like this:


  1. Kill the nearside arm: To do this from my version of the side mount, I use my shins to pin their forearm to the mat (preferably my south leg so I can ...)
  2. Post the north leg while isolating their farside arm further (putting my north arm deep in between their arm and their torso)
  3. Secure the kimura grip and attack with:
    • Kimura
    • lapel-trap paper-cutter choke
    • Leg scissor choke

I recently found a good video that demonstrates one variation of the lapel trap choke I mention above, although I would try to keep more pressure on the opponent:



Let's be crystal clear: My goal from the side mount is very simple: I want you to tap from my pressure alone. I will do everything I can to tip the scales in my direction when it comes to me having a stronger mechanical advantage, leverage and "comfort" and I will angle my body and contour around your frames and add more and more pressure until you tap from pressure alone. Going to mount and / or submitting you with a choke or armlock will always be my secondary option but because I am so pressure-focused, when I do actually go for the attacks, my opponent has had to endure some serious claustrophobia and their frames and spine are all out of proper posture. 


I hope you enjoyed this extended and detailed style of blog and that you spend the upcoming 5-6 weeks putting one or two tips out of it into your own practice. I welcome all feedback, just drop me a line through the link at the top of the blog.


Next topic: My favourite - the  mount.
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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 2 - transitioning to mount

In a previous post I explained the main concepts a jiujitsu practitioner needs to keep in mind to control their opponent from cross side top (ak. side mount or side control). I explained that I've found that the key to maintaining that control is through a combination of the right positioning / postures, weight distribution and pressures on the opponent body and limbs and I promised I'd discuss what I have found to be the most dominant ways to transition from side to mount so here we go:

From a private lesson I took from my teacher, professor Eddie Kone, many
years ago. Notice how free his hands are to attack and submit, as opposed to
being preoccupied with holding or squeezing the opponent.

I mentioned last post that there are many different ways of laying cross side on top of your opponent and that in this particular 6-week study, I'm focusing on the version closest resembling judo's kuzure yoko shiho gatame as opposed to the more often seen underhook-and-cross-face style of hold down. This is not to say that this is the only way I hold someone in side control. It's just my current favourite and the one I'm exploring. Naturally, my transitions to mount will flow directly (and sometimes indirectly) from that particular style of side control.

Kuzure-Yoko-shiho-gatame


Since my top arm is wrapped around the outside of the opponent's far arm, the body's naturally more incline to turn to face the legs than to face the opponent's head. What this means is that it would be more natural for me to transition to the mount using the high step method than through the knee slide method:

Screenshots are courtesy of Evolve University & Chew Jitsu
After flattening the opponent, I use my back to push and open up (separate from the torso) the opponent's nearside elbow. The flattening action actually makes opening the elbow easier.

Once the elbow is open and my back has shrimped away from their legs, I prop their nearside knee with my knee / upper shin (I don't feel it makes a difference which leg!) then drag both their legs down to collapse them before high stepping to the mount. Here's a nice clip of Mr Roger Gracie showing what I mean:



I have to admit, however, I do two things differently to Roger. I'm not Roger's size so I need to put in a couple of safety measures when I high step to mount:

  1. I use my nearside leg (the one I am not stepping over with) to hook under their nearside leg. This gives me my first leg hook before I've even mounted and prevents them sliding under me for a sneaky backdoor escape from the mount - aka elbow escape from the side control.
  2. I don't step onto the mat with my foot. Rather, I hook my heel on their far hamstring-area then use that connection to pull myself up onto them, sliding that heel deeper into what becomes my second leg hook. This slide is lead by the hips

Rather than stepping, hook the heel and pull yourself on top

In the next and final post on the topic of the Side Mount - Top, I will discuss submission opportunities that arise naturally when your control is tight and your mount transitions are always a threat! Stay tuned.

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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 1 - maintaining the side control

What is the easiest position to control someone in grappling?

Most people I know love the side mount and will put it ahead of the mount. Especially beginners as they still haven't developed their mount maintenance techniques and attributes and always feel in danger of getting flipped. With your body off your opponent in the side mount (aka cross side or side control), the risk of the position getting reversed is reduced.

Personally, I see the side mount as a portal to the mount. Yes I use it to exhaust my opponents and yes I have a number of submission attacks from there, but my goal is to mount my opponent.

While I am laying cross side on my opponent, I'd like to use the following postures and pressures to open them up for the aforementioned attacks, including the transition to mount. The position itself is most reminiscent of the kuzure yoko shiho gatame in judo, or "broken side 4-way hold-down", with an adjustment or two.

Kuzure-Yoko-shiho-gatame

Position, relative to the opponent:

Alignment: My spine is at 90-95 degrees to their spine, angling north. My chest / breastbone practically right on top of theirs and my chin near the outside of their far deltoid which my own north side armpit is close to their chin. I like to keep my head super low both to deny space but also to prevent damage from effective strikes (accidental or otherwise). The hips, controversially, are higher than my shoulders, but I stay behind an invisible wall defined by their centre line to prevent getting flipped.

Arms: my north arm wraps around their far arm / shoulder. I also like grabbing the belt with that hand and making sure the far shoulder is isolated from the ground by that arm. I also pull that arm to my hip so it restricts the movement of his head. The south arm is guarding against their attempts to replace me into their guard by hovering between the level of their knee and mid-thigh. I sometimes go lower, but I'm always aware of the risk of them bringing their shin through the space potentially created by my elbow. I'm always alert to hug, especially with the south arm, if they bridge explosively.

Legs: my north leg is straight. My south leg is bent with the knee close to my south elbow / their nearside hip

Picture courtesy of JiuJitsu Mag's Youtube channel


Pressure: 

This positional alignment creates a ton of pressure against the opponent's far shoulder, but also their chest. As you become comfortable on top, listen to their breathing and deepen your position and hold over them at the end of their exhale.

Weight distribution: Play around with this until you find the sweet spot. For me, it's usually sternum-to-sternum. If they start to turn towards you, distribute your weight to turn them flat again. If they try to frame against your north-side hip, drop your other hip to contour around their pressure.

Comfort: Get your knees and elbows off the ground to direct all the weight into the opponent at all times, hence tipping the comfort scales in your favour.





It goes without saying that this is only a narrow, specialised 6-week deep-dive into one variation of how to hold your opponent from the side mount. You can orientate your arms, legs and torso in a variety of other ways and I will investigate these in the future, but for now: This is my go-to strategy.

In the next article, I will talk about the pathways I've been investigating to go from the side to the full mount.

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How to Afford A BJJ Holiday: Jiujitsu in LA - Travel report of my 2018 visit



How can you afford your BJJ trips?!” Is one of the most common questions I get asked, right after “did you train with any big names out there?” and “when and where are you going next?

The reason these questions stuck in my mind and why I am sharing this is because it used to be me asking the questions. Like many Jiujitsu practitioners I used to enviously listen to or read about Jiujitsu vagabonding stories and wonder how the person made it happen, often dismissing it as an anomaly or at least something that I thought was beyond my control: “they have more money / time / connections / luck than I do”.

And who knows. Maybe I was right. Maybe I needed the post Social Media era to finally realise my (fairly modest) travel plans and dreams. All I know is that when I ask my friends about their Jiujitsu travel dreams, they all sound so...achievable.

To start off, let me outline the major obstacles to just picking up your gi or rash guard & shorts and just hitting the proverbial road and then offer a few suggestions as to how you can work around them.
After that I’ll give you my modest advice for travelling for Jiujitsu and I’ll finish with a breakdown of my most recent trip to the Gracie Academy HQ in Torrance, LA (aka Gracie University or Jiujitsu Heaven.)

Budget:





You need an outline. You need to be good at planning and sticking to the plan. I can give you my numbers and figures, but ultimately you need to plan around your own time and budget and you (have I mentioned this before?) need to stick to your plan. Here are my figures for my experience for a week in a major jiujitsu mecca in California such as San Diego or LA:

BJJ / Grappling Tips: Avoiding injuries by training jiujitsu without an ego

Squad: Training triangle chokes against a striking opponent.
Myself, Professor Kone and my friend Mr Shukie Lok.
Shukie, myself and Shaun got our black belt together.


My jiujitsu teacher, Professor Eddie Kone, recently wrote a piece titled: "Separate your ego from your training. Train hard, but not like an a**hole."

Not only did I like the sentiment, I also liked the way he put his message across so I thought I'd share it here with you.


As most of you know a few weeks back I received an injury, The severity of the injury although not as bad as first thought was still a hindrance and rendered me unable to teach which the effect resulted in cancelling privates and having time away from the mat.

I just want to reiterate that injuries although are far and few between can happen, so how do we prevent or at least understand how they happen ?

I compiled some information for you to read at your own leisure, but one thing is for sure :-

BJJ / Grappling Tips: Half Guard Top Theme Part 3

In my previous 2 posts I explained the main concepts a Half Guard Player can dominate your trapped leg from the half guard by controlling your foot, your knee and / or your hip. I explained that I've found that the key to unraveling their control is to negate their control of the trapped foot using a "Lockdown" style control. Once I freed and hid my foot, I noticed most of my training partners tried to control my hip instead and yesterday I discussed what I have found to be the most important concept to prevent the opponent from controlling my hip (plus 3 auxiliary ones) and outlined my counters to their counters. Lastly, I promised I'd show two approaches I've been playing with to how I deal with the Butterfly Half Guard and today is the day.

The Butterfly hook in the half guard serves the purpose of creating space but also stickiness to the top player. If you are to negate that, you need to address both these consequences of the butterfly hook.

As promised, I give you two expressions of the same set of principles. First is Master Pedro Sauer's version and second is that of the legend that is Mr Roger Gracie. Notice that while they deal with the problem (having space created against them by the bottom guy) slightly differently, they achieve the same objective, albeit using different tools:

Master Pedro Sauer:




Professor Roger Gracie:



I hope you enjoyed this extended and detailed style of blog and that you spend the upcoming 5-6 weeks putting one or two tips out of it into your own practice. I welcome all feedback, just drop me a line through the link at the top of the blog.


Next topic: The side mount (AKA Side Control or even Cross Side).


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ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!

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