BJJ Tips: Taking the back, RNC finishing tip and my waffle about control in BJJ and Grappling

Chris Hauter, BJJ black belt under the Machados and one of the Dirty Dozen (the first 12 non-brazilians to get a black belt in BJJ. You can train with John Will, another member of the Dirty Dozen at Fighting Fit on the 3rd of May) is known to tell his students that "no matter how good they get (at jiu jitsu), there is always more to learn. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is the “art without limits,” its nature is “boxes within boxes.” ".

I love that saying. I learn more everytime I roll. As my friend Don called it the other day: "Small victories". Even when I just go to the mat and get beasted. Escpecially when I get beasted!

Everytime I get my ass handed to me when rolling, it gives me incentive to really think and research what I'm doing and what my training partner is doing. Not always looking at ways to counter, but to prevent them getting there in the first place.

One of the recent things I've been working on in BJJ is simplifying and closing down any gaps I present when rolling*. If Im inside someone's guard, I'm trying to take away from them the ability to attack. If they're in my guard, I'm trying to take away their ability to posture up or in any other way prevent my attacks and sweeps. It doesn't always work, but it always teaches me something and I can feel myself getting better at it.

One of the areas I've been noticing this is control of the legs when playing guard, both gi and no-gi jiu jitsu.

The space between your hamstring and your calf is so important. Just think of the De La Riva hook and how the small master used it to create enough leverage to disrupt his bigger and stronger opponents' balance and sweep them during all his years at the Carlson Gracie Academy and at competitions. But there are many other ways to use that control (or negate it!).

When almost finished passing guard and almost settling into side control, I know my opponent is trying to re-hook my near leg and put me in half guard and by simply:

1, flexing the hamstring and bringing my foot to my butt and
2, flexing my glutes and hence bringing my hamstring closer to my back

I deny them access to that space. Like I said, it doesn't always work, but it always teaches me something.

I could show you a ton of examples where controlling the space between the opponent's hamstrings and calf gives you great control and denying them the same gives you the upper hand. I'll start you off with these two beautiful video clips:

Stephan Kesting on back take and RNC

Counter to back take from the De La Riva back take:

I will continue to invest time and energy into learning more about how use small controls like that as I believe they, collectively, add tons to my game. If you find cool stuff along those lines, please do share them. I loves learnings!

*This is one of my favourite verses from the Tao de jing:

"But I have heard that he who is skilful in managing the life entrusted to him for a time travels on the land without having to shun rhinoceros or tiger, and enters a host without having to avoid buff coat or sharp weapon. The rhinoceros finds no place in him into which to thrust its horn, nor the tiger a place in which to fix its claws, nor the weapon a place to admit its point. And for what reason? Because there is in him no place of death."


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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