If you’ve watched an EBI event at any point then you most certainly have taken notice of the overtime rounds. The basic idea is that to determine a draw, you start off from a dominant position. The point is to try and submit, at least until the opponent finds a way out. THen you reverse and you need to be the one trying to defend and escape. It’ a great concept that many other organizations have since adopted. The two overtime positions usually at play are back control and the spider web position. We’ll take a deeper look into the second one, trying to determine just what makes it such a dominant attacking spot.
The beautiful thing about BJJ is all the ways in which you can adapt its’ many techniques. If something doesn’t work for you do not abandon it. Instead, look to modify it and mold it to your needs. The trick is just to remember that things are effective for a reason. If you move very far away you’ll most likely suffer failure. But changing small things here an there can only make something work much better for you. In certain case,s it’s going to end up working better for everyone. Once such example is the spider web position, which was originally just an armbar adjustment. Today, its’ one of the top position to be in, with tons of control and easy submission opportunities.
The spider web position, as you might conclude from the name, comes to us courtesy of 10th PLanet Jiu-Jitsu. It’s one of those positions that’s not as fancy as the rubber guard nor as famous as the Twister. However, it is a position that works and it does so at the highest levels of Jiu-Jitsu. And for all you 10th planet critics out there, yes it does work perfectly in the Gi as well. You can look at the spider web as just a way to increase your armbar finishing rate, or you can practice it as a position of control.
If there’s someone that understands the 10th Planet system, it’s Eddie Bravo’s black belt, Brandon McCaghren. He just released an extremely comprehensive guide into one of the 10th PLanet Jiu-Jitsu basics. Here’s a comprehensive review of what to expect from the “Rubber Guard: The Meathook” instructional DVD!
The Spider Web Concept
Picture yourself in the mount. You decide to go fora BJJ classic, the armbar from full mount. You do the setup and end up at the perfect position for an armbar. However, somewhere along the way, the opponent figured out what’s going on and slapped a defense on. Now you’re in a great position to attack if only you could isolate that arm. Stay there long enough without doing anything and your opponent is eventually going to figure a way out. Actually, there are several ways out and they’re fairly easy.
The usual armbar position has you on your butt, hooking the arm you’re trying to isolate with the arm that’s closer to the opponent’s hips. The other arm is usually trying to help break the defensive grips, while the legs are over the head and neck, respectively. This is where most armbar finishing battles take place.
That’s where the spider web position shines. What you basically need to do is switch the arms. Look to insert the arm that’s closer to your opponent’s head into their elbow crease. To enhance control over the arm, you have to grab your opposite side hip with the palm. The goal is to have your elbow control their arm, while your palm holds your hip. The legs stay in the usual manner, over the head and neck. The second arm, though, has a different task. The aim is to lie on your side and use that arm to hook the nearest leg, under the thigh and all the way back up. Now, you’re in the spider web and the fun can begin!
Analyzing The Spider Web Position
It is clear that the spider web position is a very dominant way of controlling and, ultimately, finishing the armbar. But why do these small adjustments change the dynamics of the position so much? Do they really offer an advantage over your opponents? How about using the spider web position to transition into other means of attack? Is it too early for me to look into learning this position? The answers are as follows:
Mechanical Advantage And Control
The reason that the spider web is such a tight position is in the hooks. Eddie Bravo, the founder of this position, refers to them as deep hooks. Basically, the reason you’re holding their arm elbow deep is to reach your hip. The reason for this, in turn, is to get a tight control over the arm and an even easier defense break when the time comes.
Secondly, there’s the hook on the leg. Hooking an opponent’s thigh removes the ability of hip movement. This means escaping is not going to work until they get their leg back. In terms of extra control, once you have the leg hooked, the aim is to connect both your hands. A gable grip is a way to go here. Now, you have an opponent deep into an armbar, with their leg trapped and bent, taking away all movement possibilities. Crushing discomfort is just an added benefit.
Another great aspect of the spider web is that the much-utilized hitchhiker escape simply doesn’t work. There’s a simple mechanical reason for this. The fact that you’re using the outside arm for the deep hook, forces their elbow towards their hips which makes the hitchhiker escape useless. There’s simply no way to rotate the head enough without tearing away the shoulder completely.
So, the options to finish the match. Of course, the first choice submission is the armbar. There are several ways to break the grips, each more effective than the other. Special mention to the Douchebag grip break, which is unstoppable as its name is appropriate. FInsihng the armbar might require you to go on the back in a quest for better leverage. The fact that you have the leg trapped means you’re completely safe from being stacked. When the grip breaks, remember to use both hands to control the wrist. This keeps the leg hooked while taking away all options of resistance.
In situations where the opponent’s grips are unbreakable (not likely with the Douchebag) there are simple follow-up options. Namely, sometimes people are going to look to get up on their knees by trying to remove one of your legs. This opens up enough space for you to thread the shin of the leg that’s on the chest over their shoulder. Boom, you have an instant triangle, not to mention still keeping the armbar option.
And, for all, you brown belts and above, who like to play by IBJJF rules here’s a sneaky one. The opponent has their arms gripping for dear life? No problem, just throw the shin of your inside leg over the arm you’re attacking. Use the other leg to make a triangle and you have the tightest biceps slicer you’ll ever get.
Entries Into The Spider Web
Getting to the spiderweb is where things get really fun. Namely, despite your usual mount/S-mount entry, there are several other ways to get to the position.
One great option is to get there from the back. When things are not working out for you from the back, look to transition to the spiderweb. You’ll need to angle off your body slightly to the “under” side and keep the seatbelt grip in as long as possible. Once you have the angle, get the “over” arm inside their arm and get the deep hook. All that’s left is to get eh leg over their head and hook the leg.
A very cool entry option is also the rolling entry. Off an arm drag (or against the turtle) look to have one leg hook in. The goal is to place your forehead on the mats and place the deep hook in (while upside down). From there, look toward the opponent’s feet, grab their foot with your free arm and roll over your shoulder. While in transition, look to place the leg hook in and finish by throwing the second leg over their head.
If things are not working out for you from the spiderweb (which is unlikely) you can always look to transition out. We already covered the triangle as an option. Now, we’ll look at other dominant positions available.
One thing you can easily go for is the back. All you need to do is give your opponent the possibility to move in the desired direction. To achieve this, simply take your leg off their head. they’ll attempt to get up immediately, allowing you to get a seatbelt on and look to finish from the back.
A very cool transition option is into the honey hole position. When stuck in a spider web, look to place the knee of your inside leg all the way on the mat and against their hips. Keep a tight control and try to pull their leg and arm together as tight as possible. The opponent’s reaction is going to be to open up, which will allow you to release the deep hook and throw the leg that’s over the head over their near side leg. From there you’re just a butt scoot away from the honey hole and a reverse heel hook.
To sum it all up, let’s give all fo you beginners some peace of mind. Yes, the spider web is applicable to all belts out there. Al it takes is a basic understanding of the armbar submission. So, if you have more than six months experience, and you like armbars you should look into the spider web position. Just remember to stay away from biceps slicers if you’re training and competing under IBJJF rules. At least until you’re a brown belt.
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