Invisible BJJ Details: Tips on the Palm Up Palm Down Cross Collar Choke
I covered for Martyn last night, coaching both the Fundamentals and Advanced BJJ sessions. I had planned the first to evolve around the art of getting a deep cross collar grip and the options that that can present (chokes, armbar, back take...etc.) and the second session around preventing stalling in a competition scenario. The second session was hard physically. Very hard, actually. One of our blue belts is competing at the Gracie Invitational this weekend and I had designed that session with him in mind, but I will get back to that in another post.
The first session covered details that you don’t usually see and it was inspired by a quote from John Will’s blog: “Notice what no one else notices and you’ll know what no one else knows.”
There are very few secret moves in BJJ / Grappling nowadays. The real secret is and will always be in your application of the moves and your commitment to the level of detail. The Cross Choke from guard is a great example because when done correctly (with three rotations/shrimp movements and the correct wrist action) it will go on so fast, you’ll tap before you even realise you’re tapping. When done with any less than 100% commitment to the technique, it can still work (of course it can – it’s a choke and even a heavy shoulder bag can choke you!) but it will need a lot of muscle and much longer to set in.
It took me at least 20 minutes of repetitions to convince the whole group of exactly how deep I wanted the first hand needs to go into the collar. I mention that for two reasons:
1. They all saw me demonstrate the move a number of times and they all understood what I was saying, but they had probably seen the move so many times before that their eyes were on autopilot. I had to go around to each training pair and say: “Good. Now push that hand at least 2 more inches in. Crunch up and push that hand in and behind their neck”
2. I don’t remember this level of detail being shown to me in a BJJ / Grappling class. If it was, it wasn’t afforded the time it needed to sink into my slow brain. I had to re-learn this choke by rewinding matches and digging into lots of DVDs until I found it and I’m sure that this is the situation for most players.
The way BJJ / Grappling classes are taught at most schools nowadays*, everybody wants at least 3-4 moves from the instructor or they tell you that the class was boring. Well I can put my hand on heart and tell you that when we rolled in the second hour, every single one of those white and blue belts had a much deeper** and more threatening Cross Collar Choke. They learnt something so well that they could apply it successfully in the same day.
Look for the invisible detail. When you find it, drill it against progressive resistance. That’s the easiest and fastest way to gain a deeper understanding of the BJJ / Grappling game.
*Carlos Valente, 6th degree black belt under Rickson Gracie, talked about this in a great interview on the Fightworks Podcast back in 2006.
**Stephan Kesting lays down the law on deep collar grips in this excellent and concise article.
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