Duckunder Counter to the Berimbolo: A BJJ Tutorial
If you're having trouble dealing with a training partner who's really good with a berimbolo, you're certainly not alone. This technique has burst onto the BJJ competition scene and perplexed white and black belts alike (assuming the practitioner attempting it actually knows how to berimbolo). Berimbolo goes from the bottom to the back in a complicated rolling and inverting series of movements that can be extremely hard to read and understand, much less prevent and counter. Here is one high percentage technique that leads you right into a leg drag pass (and your own possible back take or guard pass). Let's get started!
Duckunder to leg drag
Let's start by assuming that your partner is very good at this position, and has already started to turn the corner toward your back. They're beginning with a cross grip on your belt and a normal De La Riva guard grip on your ankle. Note: the person has not yet established deep De La Riva hooks in this scenario. A conventional leg drag pass is always an option if your partner is lazy with the leg that's controlling your far hip, but assuming that's not the case, it can be quite challenging to simply drag their leg across to pass. Enter the duckunder pass. Step back with your far leg (it's my left leg in the video) so that your base is extremely wide, and your partner can't push you away any further. While controllling the outside of your pants with your left hand, dive your right arm under their legs, letting go of the pants grip so that you can post with your left arm. Making sure that your right armpit/triceps is driving your partner's legs back, reach for their lapel with your right hand, completing a "leg staple" that leads you right into a leg drag position. Controlling the biceps with the left hand is ideal in order to finish the guard pass, or else your partner can turn away (in which case you might be able to get their back, but the guard pass to side control is a sure thing here).
Here's more of a full speed video, so you can get the gist of the technique in one motion. Note that I'm still extremely careful to let my partner's foot go free during the transition down from De La Riva guard to leg drag; otherwise, your partner's foot can be injured very easily. In this technique, I start with a belt anchor grip with my right hand, making my partner's hip movement considerably more difficult. I have to release the belt grip as I am entering into the duckunder move described above, though, and then swim that arm completely back in, keeping that constant pressure against their legs with my triceps. Again, I prefer to "staple" the legs back with the lapel grip, but whether you have a different preferred leg drag pass finish method or not, that's entirely up to you. In this case, you might opt to allow your partner to start turning away, although your leg staple and lapel grip will slow this down enough so that you can establish a basic "harness" back control position before shooting both hooks in to finish taking the back. Otherwise, they might not even bother turning away, and you'll just end up in side control as before.
Favorite back take
Sport jiu jitsu is a beautiful game that continues to evolve rapidly, and even more so now with the ubiquity of the Internet and smartphone use. If a move is hit in competition for the first time one day, you can bet someone will be drilling it or trying it on the mat the next day, and trying to learn how to counter it within a week or two. Instead of being frustrated by new positions always popping up, I'm constantly delighted by the opportunities presented to improve my own game, and by this constantly changing chessboard we have in front of us on the mats in BJJ. The berimbolo is one of the more recent innovations that I've enjoyed learning to counter (only after learning the basic mechanics myself), and there will be loads more positions that are equally frustrating at first, but ultimately help keep the challenge level high and fresh for all of us!
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