Join Date: May 2006
Location: New York City, New York
A Note on Elbows from the Bottom
I was training with Greg, one of the guys in my MMA class, and we were working grappling with strikes (headgear and 8 ounce gloves) and I kept sweeping him.
Now Greg's not very good at BJJ, so it's understandable that I'm sweeping him, but he wanted to know it there's anything that I could show him to help him out with this problem, and it got me thinking about something that I've just sort of taken for granted for a long time.
Why is it so easy for me to get sweeps off of the bottom when I'm training full contact?
The answer didn't take me that long, and I realized that it's the same reason why my opponent's let me get back to my feet once they get out of my closed/rubber guard.
They don't like getting hit in the face, even if they're on top.
You see, being in the guard gives you a really excellent opportunity to hit an opponent who can't really mobilize to get out of the way. As the person on the bottom, you have lots of moves that can be used against an opponent, as you can escape through the bottom and can constantly attack with submissions, the same as being in the mount. While the leverage for attacking with strikes from the guard doesn't seem as good, often it's actually better, especially when it comes to set up attacks, which is what I finally decided makes my guard game work.
If you are throwing an up elbow, while doing what is essentially a situp, your opponent often wants to get out of the way, the problem is that there are only two ways that he can go with his hips blocked off by your guard: backwards and forwards; and both are positions that give me easy submissions.
Even if an opponent dodges the elbow my moving his head to the mat and trying to smash me with his chest (going foward), I'm in a great position to lock down my favorite closed guard submissions: the omoplata, the kimura and the guillotine choke. Understand that the first two come from when your opponent tries to pin you to the canvas. He needs to open one of his arms (the one opposite his head) so that you don't take the back. If he's a big enough idiot to do that, then take it, but most guys aren't.
Once he opens that arm, all you have to do is swim your opposite side arm over his head and set up the kimura grip or, if you have flexible hips like me, pull the foot up and swing the hips out to isolate the shoulder.
If he pulls the arm in to guard the kimura grip (which I sometimes use even with the omoplata, because letting your opponents hips through isn't really a problem, as it enables a sweep that finishes the kimura submission for you), then you can still take the guillotine and pull your legs up to increase your leverage.
It also acts as a great setup for mission control in the rubber guard game (which I use it for all the time as an intermediary between the breakdown and the kimura/omoplata/jiu-claw), if he's saavy enough that you don't think you'll get him with the guillotine.
Now, if he decides he's going to back out away from the elbow (really the amateur response, but the one that's been most common for me to deal with) the answer is a simple hip sweep. The hip sweep will put you in mount and allow you to either proceed to beat the crap out of your opponent or to start looking for submissions while he panics.
The elbow can also finish fights by making a cut, but I feel this uses are more effective for those of us (myself included) who don't have those Kenny Florian razors.
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