Previously we looked at the principles behind gorilla sweeps. Gorilla sweeps rely on using force to destabilise your opponent’s balance so a sweep can then be easily applied. But what if you can’t destabilise your opponent? Continuing with a gorilla type sweep is futile so you need to switch to a different type of sweep.
The ninja sweep is where you improve your position without your opponent changing position. Examples are taking your opponent’s back from closed guard, escaping side control by turning to your knees, the Homer Simpson sweep from deep half guard. In each of these examples, your position has improved relative to your opponent while your opponent’s position hasn’t really changed.
When performing a ninja sweep, you improve your position but you do not always end up in a traditional position such as back control or side control top. Often you simple end up in a position which allows you to apply more leverage than you could from the guard position. Consider starting in closed guard. Your opponent has both knees on the mat. If you jump backwards to your feet you are in a more advantageous position as you are now on both feet while your opponent is still on his knees. From here you have more leverage to apply a gorilla type sweep.
There are two objectives to performing a ninja sweep:
Objective 1: Your opponent must be supporting his own weight and should be relatively immobile. Both knees down and insteps on the mat is best. The concept is similar to being flat footed when standing.
Objective 2: Your opponent should not be able to use his arms (or other body parts) to prevent you from changing your position. This can be achieved directly by controlling his wrists or elbows. Or indirectly by making him use his arms for another purpose, e.g. as a post or gripping part of your body that you don’t intend to move.
When both these objectives are met it is time to move and improve your position.
Here is a competition example of this type of sweep. My opponent’s base is wide and low which prevents gorilla sweeps. Applying a small amount of upwards pressure allows me to backroll and improve my position to achieve an easy takedown and pass to side control.
A gorilla sweep is an excellent set up to a ninja sweep. The defence to a gorilla sweep is to not allow your balance to be compromised. By sinking your weight low or by extending posts, you make yourself very stable. A side effect of this stability is that it also makes you immobile and slow to move. This is the perfect opportunity for a ninja sweep.