Basic BJJ Combinations: Cross Choke And Scissor Sweep

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that revolves around finding ways to put your opponent in compromising positions. The sport, which many people refer to as ‘human chess’, requires a good understanding of body mechanics, psychology, and pattern recognition. An excellent way to level up your game is to understand that one-move attacks won’t work the more you roll with experienced training partners. This means that knowing simple two-move combinations can go a long way whenever you are in the dojo. Today we’ll talk about one of the classic combinations in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: the cross choke to scissor sweep from the closed guard.


Basics Are The Foundation Of Your Game

Like many people, you might have noticed that social media is filled with clips of crazy-looking attacks. Yes, they are very entertaining to watch and are fun to try in training, but if you are interested in improving your whole game, you need to work on your BJJ basics. The basics are the building blocks of the sport. These techniques will teach you the underlying principles that define what BJJ is all about – leverage, pressure, kuzushi. The more you practice the basic techniques, the more you’ll have a deeper understanding of BJJ. This will help you as you study more complicated techniques.

Perhaps the most classic of all the basic positions is the closed guard. The closed guard is the most fundamental of guard positions and is defined by wrapping your legs around your opponent’s. Keeping your legs around the body helps prevent any escapes and limits the options of your opponent. From here, you can then move to work on your offense. The great benefit of studying the close guard is its versatility. The closed guard is one of the oldest guards in grappling – old Judo masters used this guard; it was also used in the early days of Vale Tudo/MMA. Even today, you can still see many top athletes utilize the closed guard in competitions. This fantastic pedigree should be more than enough reason for you to study this classic guard.


Ways To Maintain The Closed Guard


The most important step in maintaining the closed guard is to ensure that you can effectively wrap your legs around your opponent’s torso. This means that you need to stay as close as possible, and your hips must remain close to your opponent’s. A good tip to generate weight when using the closed guard is to contract your glutes and lower your locked feet near the opponent’s legs. Doing this will make you heavier, which in turn make standing in your closed guard much tougher to do.

Next, you must then work on breaking down your opponent’s posture. You can do this by forcing his upper body to drop. This is usually done by grabbing the cross collar if you are playing in the Gi or simply grabbing the back of the head if it’s no-gi. You can use your other arm to control the near-side arm to prevent your opponent from basing out or framing against your body. If your opponent is stubborn and keeps their frame upright, you can collapse your leg to your chest while stripping frames. This will lower their body as well.

Executing these two simple steps can mitigate common defenses within the closed guard. If you are new to using the closed guard, focus on these tips first to get comfortable with the position. You can then move to the following steps below.


1) Cross Collar Choke

The cross choke starts by grabbing the cross collar using one hand. Make sure to keep your hand bladed and your palm facing you as you hold the collar. Try to grab as deep as you can. A good tip to know if your grip is deep enough is if your thumb can touch the back of your opponent’s neck. From here, work on shooting your other hand on the opposite collar. This is where things get complicated as most of the fight will revolve around the second hand. The second hand can be either palm up or palm down, depending on the reaction you get.

In this video, BJJ black belt Jon Thomas demonstrates his take on the cross choke from guard. Notice that he emphasizes the importance of the initial grip. He mentioned that it is also okay to change your body angle to get a tight initial grip. Once the grip is good, you can now adjust your body to expose your opponent’s vulnerable side. Jon uses a palm-down grip to grab the collar and complete the choke.


2) Scissor Sweep

If the opponent gets very defensive, you can easily switch to the scissor sweep. The critical detail here is to never let the initial cross collar grip go: this is what makes the scissor sweep a great compliment to the cross choke. Work on inserting your knee towards your opponent’s chest by opening your guard and scooting to one side. Make sure that you use the same side limb as the initial collar grip when inserting your knee. This means that if you use your right hand for the initial collar grip, you use your right leg as the wedge near the torso. Use your other hand to isolate the same side arm of your opponent for added control. Once the knee is wedged at the torso, pull your opponent’s body towards you. This makes his base lighter because his weight will be placed on your knee. You should feel him getting lighter at this point. From here, you can then scissor your legs to throw your opponent to one side, still keeping the initial collar grip from the closed guard.


Final Thoughts

The cross choke and scissor sweep are just two examples of attacks that flow naturally. This is a good starting point for beginners as the combination is thematic and does not require any explosive movement. Always remember to drill these techniques with a partner.


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