Leg Entanglement Sequence Drill
* Contributed by EGA Black Belt, Joe Pomarico
I’ve been asked on numerous occasions what it’s like to train jiu jitsu and the most accurate analogy which comes to mind is a ‘physical game of chess.’ In both BJJ and chess we cause our opponent to react with the intention of gaining a dominant position or set up an attack. This often entails thinking one or two steps ahead and even having the foresight of multiple scenarios simultaneously. In BJJ we drill chain attacks with the understanding that if our opponent is able to escape, an alternative attack attempt immediately follows. The classic armbar->triangle->armbar from closed guard is a perfect example.
We can apply the same principle by drilling positional sequences where our goal may be to retain or advance somewhere more dominant on the positional hierarchy. With so many secondary guards which transition well together, open guard is a great place to start developing and drilling a sequence. In many cases, open guard can be intimidating as a newer or smaller practitioner. It is easy to feel vulnerable positioned underneath an opponent. Not to fear… Your legs are much stronger than you think and when used correctly in conjunction with the rest of your body, your ground game will develop into a guard retaining, off balancing, leg entangling machine. It was a game changer for me. More reason to drill these sequences. Let’s get started:
In the sequence video above, I am the uke and start in Rae’s closed guard. In the attempt to break her guard from standing, I make the common mistake by leaving my heels too close, allowing her to open her guard to attempt a very common attack – the double ankle sweep. In the event I am able to free one of my feet, Rae can set up the tripod sweep by transferring her control side foot to my hip and her far side foot under the knee of my free leg. After exhausting each sweep option, we will now focus on a sequence of open guard transitions based on my reaction. The sequence from our current position is as follows:
De la Riva -> Shallow K -> K-Guard -> X-Guard -> Single Leg X -> Modified X -> Saddle -> Submission (Heel Hook/Kneebar)
The transitions are as old as the positions themselves. By making a continuous, longer chain of positions, however, we can become more accustomed to using our legs in a more effective manner while developing a greater understanding of the relationship to each position and how these positions intertwine. It is important to note – the uke should play a roll in this sequence by accurately and effectively pushing and peeling the guard player’s feet or legs to simulate the sequence effectively. It is in fact, a two-way drill.
Use this sequence as a template. Be creative. Expand by transitioning and linking additional guards such as reverse De la Riva, 50/50 and waiter guard. Develop an objective to sweep, take the back, or wrestle up. The students who have been drilling this the last few months have found this extremely helpful as it’s made their transitions sharper and more effective, along with more confidence in their open guard. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
This sequence was introduced during a small group session in early January of this year. The ‘Lock Club’ as it’s now been called, is geared toward drilling the various open guard positions and the beginning stages of leg entanglements. It is an informal group session which meets once a week in the evening and is open to all experience levels. Feel free to reach out if you are interested. We’d love to have you.
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