Feb. 14th, 2012

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These are the thoughts going through my head as I commute to work.

For a long time, my preferred position in the guard was a very traditional one: Deep grip with my right hand in the opposite collar, left hand on opponent’s right sleeve, attack cross chokes and scissors sweeps (still my highest percentage sweep). Anticipate stand-up attempts and be ready to pendulum sweep, should the opportunity arise. If I’m on the ball and not lying flat, I’ll be on my left hip.

Of course, in no-gi it’s a no-go. Without the lapel the control isn’t there. So in no-gi, I started developing a different game, where my posture control is effected by an overhook. I’ll get whichever overhook I can, but I prefer to use my left hand to overhook as deeply as I can, get on my right hip, and start pushing on the far arm with my right hand and foot, threatening triangles.

More recently I’ve started adopting this same basic position in gi as well: Get on my right hip, and dive my left arm deep for an overhook, preferably securing a grip, as deep as possible, on the opponent’s far (i.e. left) lapel. I’m finding this a superior way to control posture; an opponent with a strong neck and/or a bit of skill can often sit up against the orthodox cross-collar grip, but with the overhook there’s a lot of weight on the shoulder and I’m more to the side, making it awkward for them. Additionally, I find that people tend to fight the overhook before attempting anything else, whereas with the orthodox collar grip they may just monitor it while already working on a pass.

The overhook grip also provides a very solid platform for a number of techniques. If, as I prefer, I get the overhooked arm on the outside (to my left), I can threaten

  • a cross choke by taking either a four-fingers-in grip in the right collar, or overhand grip on the shoulder seam
  • an armbar on the overhooked arm, bracing its wrist against my neck and clamping down with my arm, possibly reinforced by my left knee
  • a triangle choke
  • spinning into an omoplata

Typically the opponent won’t like this, and will work to withdraw the arm to the inside, between our bodies, where it is less exposed and can help fight off the cross choke, and would make the triangle very awkward. But then I can

  • still spin for the omoplata or omoplata sweep
  • start climbing for the back, since my opponent did the hard work of killing the arm blocking me!

Although I haven’t yet worked these things, it seems to me that the arm-inside position should also open up

  • spinning 180° for an orthodox armbar from guard
  • spinning 180° for a sweep, perhaps the pendulum

Additionally, although I’ve never used this position as a platform for scissors sweeps, it occurs to me that the possibility ought to be there, whenever I can control the far (non-overhooked) arm—although my position on the far side of the body might make it less than ideal, as posting with the far leg should be easy (which, however, is why I think I need to play with pendulum sweeps from here!). Still, worth trying.

I find it interesting how this position seems to have insinuated itself into my game very organically, necessitated by the lack of collar grips in no-gi, without my ever really thinking about it. The fact that I seem to have started developing a game centered on it feels promising. Now perhaps it is time to begin analysing it and constructing that game more consciously.


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Petter Häggholm

April 2016

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