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Technique Creep Stalking: Saddle Play in the Gi

No gi has been the rage the last few years (or is it more gi is on the decline?), and one big advancement to the meta has been the development of leg locks. How’s it getting adapted to the gi though? Some recent matches provide some clues.

Why pass guard when you can do this? With all these fancy leg locks going around these days, The grappling community has become especially cognizant of one particular position, the Saddle. Many leg lockers now know that securing this position on your opponent can be the gateway to a whole host of leg attacks.

For those of you still wondering what the Saddle is, here’s a quick primer on some of entries into the position. (*You can explore the finishes from here on your own)

BJJ has no end, and we have begun to not only see the Saddle being used increasingly in the gi, but the entries into the Saddle are also evolving to factor in gi grips. Things are still in its infancy but here are some Saddle entries in the gi from some recent matches.

First up, in a match between Romario Teodoro and Francisco Cuneo, we can see how the floating passer is trapped momentarily during posting, as the guarder switches his legs into the Saddle position.

Secondly, in another recent match between James Puopolo and Wellington Peroto, we see a well known nogi transition , from Single Leg X to the Saddle, being pulled off in the gi. As usual, the passer inadvertently makes his legs “light” by posting, resulting in weight being shifted on to his hands. This allows the guarder to use his arms to prop up the floating pass as the legs switch to the Saddle.


Finally, in this match between Michael Liera Jr. and John Combs, we see Lieira skip the SLX position completely, instead making the entry right off the DLR. Again, taking advantage of the momentary window where Combs’ legs are light from posting, Lieira is able to use his arm & pant grip to push up Comb’s leg (something you normally cannot as you are mechanically weak on the bottom here) and pass his legs right through into a Saddle.

“Trapping a floater” is an important re-counter to have against modern day standing passers, and while we mainly see a sweep being the most common outcome from successfully trapping a poster (see Adam Wardzinski video below), it looks like elite BJJ players are starting to incorporate Saddle entries to lead to some deadly leg finishes.

OCD me couldn’t let go as to how Adam swept the best floating passer around, so I made a mini study. And there you have it, skillz beats skillz.Part 2 of Study -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IbpyP0gI6ARelated mini-studies:https://www.facebook.com/bjjscout/videos/1257317784421941/https://www.facebook.com/bjjscout/videos/2298039037184214/

Posted by BJJ Scout on Thursday, March 28, 2019

Given the grips you can get on the pant leg, the opportunity to “lift the legs” to get the Saddle can come from potentially more situations (50/50, 1/2 guard). The control from the grips also means the transition can come a lot slower rather than a quick switch that is often required in a no gi situation where speed is key. A lot of this remains to be explored, so if you find something interesting, do let us know!

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