Popeyed hard balancing

Popeyed - seriously cool circus balancing

Both gorilla sweeps and ninja sweeps are applied when your opponent is supporting his own weight. When your opponent’s weight is supported by you, it is time to consider circus sweeps.

The mental image for a circus sweep is the circus act where one performer is balancing on top of another performer. The top person’s ability to stay on top depends upon his balance and the degree to which the bottom person makes a stable platform.

The idea behind circus sweeps is simple. Make yourself into an unstable platform so your opponent loses balance and falls. There are two cases to consider; your opponent has more weight on you and less on the ground, and the converse when less weight is on you and more is on the ground.

Most weight on you: When your opponent has most of his weight on you, you can easily sweep him by removing any of his potential posts and rolling your body. If your opponent stays connected to your body he will fall. The key point to remember is to keep his weight on you and don’t allow your opponent to shift his weight back to the ground.

Here is an example of this type of sweep in competition. Collapsing the opponent’s elbow removes his post and allows the roll to take him over.

Most weight on the ground: You need to get yourself under your opponent to perform a circus sweep when your opponent has most of his weight on the ground but has some weight on you. Applying upwards pressure when under your opponent is an effective way to off balance him. Most x-guard, deep butterfly halfguard and inverted guard sweeps use the principle of upwards pressure when under your opponent.

Christian Graugart made a good post with a detailed video on deep butterfly halfguard a few months ago. Check it out. Christian covers getting under your opponent and applying the upwards pressure needed to sweep.

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.

I noticed that myself and other students often attempt to force sweeps inappropriately. It’s not just that the timing of the mechanics of the sweep is wrong, it’s that the sweep is completely inappropriate for the situation. Consider attempting a butterfly hook sweep against an opponent who is kneeling with his hips low to the mat — it’s not going to happen.

The next few posts are going to outline several different types of sweeps and when you should use them.

Gorilla Sweeps. Every club has at least one student built like a gorilla. These are the types of sweeps favoured by that student. Brute force helps a lot with these sweeps. A novice will use raw power. A more experienced student will use more leverage, but there is still brute force involved.

Objective 1: Your opponent has several contact points with the ground. Draw a circle around these points. If his head and upper body is inside this circle then he has good base. If his head is outside this circle then he is unstable. The goal at this stage is to make your opponent unstable.

Brute force can be used to move your opponent’s head outside the circle. Misdirection — push then pull is another approach that can use less force but requires good timing. Manipulating the contact points can change the shape of the circle so that less brute force is needed to move the head.

Objective 2: With your opponent in an unstable position, a small amount of force will cause him to fall. Anticipate how he will post a limb when he falls. You must control this limb and prevent him from using it to post.

Objective 3: With his potential post controlled and in an unstable position, a small amount of force is all that is needed to make your opponent fall. When he falls, come to the top position to complete the sweep or reversal.

Using these three objectives as a broad outline should make it easier to understand why many sweeps work, and what went wrong when they fail. You should be familiar with several sweeps that fall into the gorilla sweep category: scissor sweep, hip bump sweep, tripod sweep; as well as several reversals such as the bridge and roll from mount.

You should also recognise several sweeps and reversals that don’t fit into this category: Homer Simpson sweep from deep half guard, escaping side control by turning to your knees, many half guard sweeps. These will be covered in future posts.

Here’s a short video on sweeps that I made to test the camera I’m using. There are some audio problems with over modulation, but I hope to have these fixed for the next video.