Air time

Air time: Sweeps in Jiu jitsu all score the same amount regardless of amplitude. Indeed powerful sweeps often result in reduced control after the sweep and allow an opponent to scramble out to avoid conceding the score. Nonetheless there is something to be said for big sweeps - they have a disorienting effect that can sometimes lead into submission attempts after the sweep. In addition they create a definite sense of power that will send a message to opponent and create some fear/respect for the next sweep that may create over reactions that you can exploit. So even though most of the time control is more important than amplitude, every so often you can let fly and make an opponent fly the unfriendly skies

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture: When you work in bottom position you will have to carry your opponents weight on top of you for extended periods. This can be tiring and fruitless if done with poor posture. IF YOU WANT TO EASILY CARRY AND MOVE HEAVY OPPONENTS FROM BOTTOM KEEP YOUR KNEES TO CHEST AND SOINE CURVED LIKE THE BOTTOM OF A ROCKING CHAIR - just as a rocking chair can easily carry and move heavy bodies, so too will you. Look how Nicky Ryan uses the banana curve in his spine to topple an opponent forward and easily move him into a position where he can lift himself into a cross ashi garami entry. If your spine is flat on the floor you will feel every ounce of your opponents weight and won’t be able to move him an inch. Put a healthy curve in your spine and you will bounce him around from one attack to another.

Sweeps can do more than sweep

Sweeps can do more than sweep: When we go to sweep an opponent from guard position we typically do so with the goal of getting up to to top position and scoring two points. Understand however, that sweeps have TWO major functions. The first is exactly what we just described - the attempt to put an opponent down to bottom position and gain top position. The second is much less talked about. A failed sweep almost always creates SPACE and EXTENSION in our opponent. Space, because he will need to move away to break connection and lessen the power of the sweep; and extension because he will need to base his hands/feet outwards to prevent being turned over. These defensive reactions of space and extension will make it surprisingly easy to switch from the goal of REVERSING an opponent to SUBMITTING an opponent (or standing up to your feet). As the opponent bases out wide with feet and knees - leg lock entries become easy. As he bases out with hands, arm locks and triangles become surprisingly easy. Here, Georges St Pierre is getting ready to test the strong base of Gordon Ryan with a shoulder crunch variation of sumi gaeshi sweep. Mr Ryan is already starting to widen his base in anticipation - ask yourself where you would go with regards submissions in this situation


Overlap: Many of the most popular standing takedowns in Jiu jitsu can also be used as sweeps from guard position on the ground. This really helps the Jiu jitsu student speed the process of learning them as standing takedowns. If you already have a strong single leg sweep from open guard, it won’t be so difficult to lead a single leg takedown from standing position. Once you learn standing set ups and elements of stance and motion etc, everything is quite similar. Quite a few takedowns have very significant overlap with commonly used guard sweeps - double legs, Tomoe nage, sumi gaeshi, collar drags, ankle picks - these (and others) all are excellent takedowns from standing as well as excellent sweeps from the floor. By focusing on these overlap takedowns, the Jiu jitsu student can shorten learning time by taking what is already familiar and applying it in a different context. I’m sure that many of you have been applying these moves as sweeps for many years - it will be easier to apply them from standing once you make the necessary additions than learning an entirely new takedown that has no relation to the ground game you are so familiar with. If you’re looking to develop a good standing takedown game in a short timeframe - ask yourself what some of your favorite guard sweeps are and whether they can be applied in standing position - a surprising number can - perhaps they can be your short cut to developing some takedown skills

Sweeps AND submissions

Sweeps AND submissions: Very often there is a natural tendency to divide our attacks from open guard into sweeps and submissions and to see them as as an either/or option - you either sweep the opponent or you submit him. There is nothing wrong with that, but you will get much better results when you understand that they operate best when used in unison. Every time you attack with a sweep, your opponent will be forced to base out with his limbs to prevent it. This will immediately created extended limbs - and extended limbs are breakable limbs. THE MORE YOU CAN GET AN OPPONENT EXTENDED AND OUT OF BALANCE, THE MORE YOU WILL SUBMIT HIM. Don’t see sweeps as an alternative choice to submissions - see them as an essential precursor - and watch your submission percentages increase overnight. Here, Gordon Ryan launches an opponent into some serious air time at the world championships. A sweep attack as powerful as this will either result in sweep points or at the very least, an extended and off balanced opponent who can easily be attacked via submission at both upper and lower body.

Look where you want them to land

Look where you want them to land! Whenever you want to throw someone from standing position or sweep from guard position, you will need to align your body’s structure and in the direction of the throw/sweep. Only a unified effort recruiting every part of your body will get the job done against strong resistance. One of the best ways to do this is to obey the simple adage - LOOK WHERE YOU WANT YOUR OPPONENT TO LAND. In many cases (there are exceptions) this simple act of looking will get your head pointed in the correct direction. The head leads the body and will thus help you create a unified effort in the proper direction to get the results you seek. Here, Nicky Ryan launches into a beautiful hook sweep (sumi gaeshi). By looking where he wants his opponent to land he creates a powerful body align that creates high amplitude and a spectacular finish. Next time you are sweeping from bottom, employ this simple but very useful principle and you can get better results!

The three things your opponent just can’t hide in a grappling match

The three things your opponent just can’t hide in a grappling match: Once you come to grips with an opponent you obviously want to hide certain vulnerabilities from each other. No one wants to expose their back obviously and most opponents do a good job reducing back exposure as much as possible. There are three things an opponent will find very difficult to avoid exposing himself to. First is the front headlock. Any time you try to tackle a leg or lower your level, an essential movement in any extended grappling exchange, you become vulnerable to a front head lock. Any time you reach for an opponent, inevitable in any grappling exchange, as you have to grip to begin any form of action, you become vulnerable to KImura. Any time you wisen your base, essential in grappling as no one want to be taken down or swept, you become vulnerable to Ashi garami based leg locks. These three families of submission- strangles from front headlock, kimura and Ashi garami based leg locks; no opponent will be able to totally hide from you in a grappling match that goes longer than a couple of minutes. Make them part of your arsenal. Your opponent can hide many things from you - but he can’t hide those three.

Removing a potential base of support prior to a sweep

Removing a potential base of support prior to a sweep: Sweeping tough opponents from open guard is never an easy thing. You can however, make it a lot easier by first taking away an opponents base of support in the direction of the sweep. This usually means trapping an arm on one side of the body and sweeping towards the side of that trapped arm. Here I have my partners right arm trapped between our bodies. This will make a sweep to my left much easier. This comes at the price of additional hand fighting prior to the sweep so that you can trap the arm - however a little extra work at the start of an enterprise usually leads to easier work down the line - and that’s exactly the philosophy of arm traps as a precursor to sweeps. Use them whenever you can and watch your open guard sweep game make some serious progress!

Mastery of the hook sweep (sumi gaeshi) - an essential part of my approach to the game

Mastery of the hook sweep (sumi gaeshi) - an essential part of my approach to the game: Very often I am approached by people who have visited the blue basement and they recount their training experiences to me. A very common theme that I hear many many times is this - “Man, I was expecting everyone to be good at leg attacks and back attacks and all the other submissions - but the one thing that really caught me by surprise was how easily and often everyone swept me from butterfly guard.” There is a reason for this. I PUT AN EXTREMELY HEAVY EMPHASIS ON EXCELLENCE WITH THE HOOK SWEEP (SUMI GAESHI) IN ALL ITS MANY VARIATIONS AS THE BASIS OF OUR BOTTOM OPEN GUARD GAME. No other sweep is performed as often and in so many forms in my coaching program. It is equally effective gi or no gi. It Can be used from any grip, in both left and right directions, standing or on the floor and creates defensive reactions that set up all our favorite entries into lower body and upper body submissions. Development of a strong sumi gaeshi game is one of the first signs I look for when assessing the progress of a developing students bottom position skill level. All of my senior students excel in this move - no exceptions. There aren’t many moves that I tyrannically enforce upon my students, generally I liked to let them pick and choose their favorites past purple belt - but sumi gaeshi is one of them. Make sure you devote time to this classic and powerful move. It will benefit every aspect of your bottom game both position and submission.