We continued this week with working from bottom half guard, with the focus on taking the back. Previously, after we had worked to overcome 1 ) being flat on our back, 2) the cross-face and 3) the under-hook, we either replaced our guard or went out the back to take their back. I felt more comfortable again with the process of moving out the back, control his hip and pulling him back onto me. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s coming.
Some of the previous details made more sense, in part due to realizing some new details that seem to make difference. For example, it seem counter-intuitive but when you’re trying to pull you opponent back on to you, the harder you pull the harder it is to get him back onto you. But, if you scoot away while maintaining control on his hip and being close to his torso he seems to just fall onto you. With more reps I’m starting to increase my sensitivity for my partners weight and momentum, which makes it easier to focus on using technique rather than succumb to the feeling of having to muscle someone around.
Once you get your partner to fall on to you, you try to get the middle of your chest to the middle of their back, get the seat belt on, and then the last hook in. The order is important, as the chest/back connection is what really helps you control them, and going for the seat belt or hooks first actually makes it harder to get that connection, which makes it less likely you’ll control them. From there, we played out two options: first, if your control was good, your start to work towards a rear naked choke. If your control was less than good, they’ll try to get their back to the floor, at which point you move to an arm triangle.
For the RNC, it usually begins with a bit of hand fighting, since, you know… you’re trying to choke them. During this you just need a split second to work your primary arm across to grab the back of their shoulder, ideally something rigid like the scapular spine or acromion. At that point, with your elbow in front of their Adam’s apple, it’s pretty locked in. A little bit more hand fighting as you then try to slip your secondary hand between the back of his head and your body to grab your opposite shoulder. As it slides across, you switch your initial grip from his shoulder to your other arm. At this point, you’re really only holding on to yourself, and his neck just happens to be wedged between your bicep and forearm. At little downward pressure is all it should take from here, no flexing required.
At this point we had a little chat about the physiology of chokes, specifically blood chokes. Generally, we talked about the difference between air chokes and blood chokes, as well as the pressure that’s needed to reduce (not completely stop) blood flow, and why your body responds by flipping the switch to ‘off’. I was interested, so a quick search produced a couple of articles. The first, from Breaking Muscle, offers a nice overview, with the second elaborating more about the stimulation of the vagus nerve and carotid sinus. Lots of cool stuff and I’m sure there’s more out there. They wrote it better than I did, so I won’t repeat it. Much.
Next, if your control wasn’t great, they’ll likely try to twist their back to the floor, breaking that chest/back connection that you were going for. Once you feel this, you can reach with your under-hook arm (from the seat belt) across and over their shoulder and start the process of working towards the arm triangle. I had drilled the arm triangle previously, that time from side control. Same principles apply, but coming from back control it seemed harder to get my arm up, across and all the way under his head. Still, if you do all the other stuff well (chest pressure, body alignment) it still works.
Another fun session and going again tonight. Trying to arrange our schedules to match up with our gym’s schedule so that our 4-year old can go once or twice a week, with both my wife going twice a week is challenging right now, but we’re slowly figuring it out.
Edit: Bonus video, via The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory, of Ryan Hall taking the back. To be perfectly honest, while I recognize a few things going on, 99% of this video is incomprehensible to me at this point… but cool none the less.