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Artechoke in a Can: Arm Drags and Single Legs

We began exploring the potential of the arm drag last week. As much as we want to take the back with the arm drag, and that should always be your primary goal, the arm drag will sometimes fail. That’s the nature of grappling. In the arm drag’s failure, however, is opportunity.

The most common reaction to an arm drag attempt is simple: your opponent yanks his arm free of your grips. When this happens, the arm drag is lost, but your opponent has temporarily cleared a path for you to attack. When his hands are directly in front of him, it can be hard to close the distance. When he yanks back to escape the arm drag, he clears a path by taking his own hand out of the way. In the first technique, where both myself and my opponent are standing, we use this fleeting opening to transition into a single leg.

For the next technique, we looked at what to do if our opponent is stopping our rotation to the back when we attack with the arm drag from the butt scoot while our opponent is standing. When you are trying to come up out of the butt scoot in this situation, your opponent can sometimes use his standing position to pressure back into you, to keep you from coming all the way up to your feet and then to his back. When this happens, you use a movement similar to one we looked at last week: you throw your weight backward (keeping your shoulder attached to his shoulder) to pull him to the mat and stretch him out. From there, you can take his back just like you did when both of you were on the ground. It’s worth noting that this same backward drop can be used from a standing arm drag entry. If you feel like he is stopping you from rounding the corner to his back but your arm drag control is secure, drop your butt to the mat and bring him with you.

To round out the class, we return to the single leg, except this time I am in the butt scoot and my opponent is standing. This is a reliable technique, and the more you work it, the more you start to think of the butt scoot as the first half of your shot (the level change). From the butt scoot, you shoot forward and up, attacking your opponent’s legs and hips with a takedown. For me, that takedown is usually a single leg. Since we’re thinking of the butt scoot as a staging area for a shot, we can use many of the same shot set-ups that we use from standing, like threatening an arm drag to clear a path for a single leg takedown. This, to me, is what makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu really fun.

Next week, we will start to sharpen our back take instincts, by looking at common scenarios where an opponent might expose his back. These are awesome opportunities to establish a dominant position, but they also tend to come and go very quickly. So we will work on honing our reaction time and training ourselves to anticipate these openings so that we can capitalize effectively.

If you are following along with these lessons and train at another gym, you should know that we review all the techniques that we’ve covered in a module prior to learning new material, and we’ve been doing isolation sparring from the back position. Those repetitions are a big part of the learning process. If you are trying to incorporate this material into your jiu-jitsu and you aren’t drilling the regularly, you should start.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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