16 Oct 2017

Review: Flamingo Knee Slicer and Spider Trap, Erin Herle

In depth look at the knee slice guard pass and a neat round up of the Spider Guard by active competitor and top ten ranked brown belt Erin Herle. This set excels in its level of depth and detail of  the knee pass and offers a good set of spider guard attacks. The techniques are ideal for those who, like Erin, require a reliable gameplan that suits the smaller grappler.

Available through Digitsu On Demand only here.
Price: $29.99

Erin Herle is an American female BJJ competitor currently ranked top ten in the world at brown belt. More than just a competitor, she has also forged a successful career as a BJJ journalist, photographer, writer, instructor and a vocal advocate for mental health issues. I was very keen to view this, her first BJJ instructional, especially as the knee slice is one of my favourite guard passing movements.

As one of the most active competitors in her division, I knew I could fully trust that every single technique has been battle tested against high level opposition. Erin herself has been coached by a number of very prominent instructors namely: Romulo Barral, Ruben Charles 'Cobrinha' and Marcelo Garcia. Their influences appear throughout the set as Erin often cites one or other of these instructors. The result is a blend of styles that Erin has made her own.

The first half of the set is dedicated to the knee slice and the second half to the spider guard. With each half, Erin builds up the basic technique with layers of additional technique that are dependent on certain opponent reactions. In some ways these sections could have been aided with a flowchart such are the many variable options. Seeing BJJ in flowchart like terms is a very useful tool, something perhaps I will write about in a later article.

The titles to some of the techniques might seem a little gimmicky - the Angry Bird for instance or the Flamingo Dive. But they make complete sense once you listen to her explanation and they help make the concept very easy to remember. One title that I really liked is the Homie Clap - you basically do a 'bro' hand shake, only in this case, you are following it up with a tight armbar submission!

Homie handclap, one way to secure the armbar control
Chapter listing 

  1. Introduction Knee Slice Concepts 
  2. Back That Thang Up 
  3. Controlling the Underhook 
  4. Flamingo Dive To Angry Bird 
  5. Flamingo To Angry Bird 
  6. Back Take Vs. Knee Shield 
  7. Back Step To Knee Slice [see sample clip below]
  8. Back Step To Monoplata 
  9. Homie Clap Arm bar 
  10. Homie To Triangle Wrist Lock 
  11. Spider Guard Fundamentals 
  12. Spider Guard Overhead Sweep 
  13. Ankle Pick to Arm Bar 
  14. Ankle Pick to Back Take 
  15. Ankle Pick to Arm Bar 2 
  16. Arm Bar Vs Throw By Pass 
  17. Shin To Shin Sweep 
  18. X-Guard Back Roll 
  19. Kneebar 
  20. Armbar 
  21. Bonus Bloopers 

Knee Slicers 
Erin opens this sub section up by explaining why she likes the knee slicer - she likes to utilise her smallness and go through the middle of the guard as opposed to around it. Being small myself, I too am attracted to this style of passing.

Erin covers a surprising amount of conceptual and technical depth with this one basic move. There were plenty of tips from these clips that have personally helped my own knee slice ability during sparring. In particular I really gained a big help from the 'Back that thing up' chapter. I would never have thought to move my hips and bum backwards just after slicing my leg through, but it makes a huge difference.

There are some details I noticed that are a bit different from conventional practice. During Erin's side control for instance her crossfacing arm will grip the gi at the very top of the far shoulder of her opponent. This serves the purpose of anchoring control over the head and shoulders while leaving her underhooking arm mobile and quick to react to changes. I wasn't used to this form of control, but I tried it in sparring and it was definitely effective. I'm still too stuck to my gable grips when in side control to make the change naturally but it’s nice to know of another gripping option when cross facing.

Cross facing, using the gi to grip for control

One very common issue I have when knee slicing is when my opponent denies me the underhook and in fact then proceeds to underhook me in response. Helpfully, Erin covers this common problem with a whole chapter. I actually think the section 'dealing with the underhook' to be the best chapter in the whole set. When I used Erin's suggested pant grip and arm placement I found it a little awkward at first to contort my arm and shoulder but once I got used to it, it is actually a great way to neutralise the opponent's attempt at underhooking you. I also took Erin's advice to try to get the opponent's back flat on the ground. Something I keep neglecting to do.


Spider Guard Attacks 
Romulo Barral's influence becomes apparent in this section as Erin explains spider guard was one of the first guard systems she learned when relatively new to the sport. Like many who take a shine to spider guard, Erin explains how she enjoyed the spider guard’s ability to control space and sweep or submit opponents who were stronger and bigger than her. I too liked the spider guard early on in my BJJ training for the same reason.

The clip below shows Erin utilising her Spider Guard game very well. It's worth noting that at 5:50 it appears Erin is flattened and in some trouble, but notice her strong spider grip still in place, it eventually allows her to re-establish the guard.

As with the other chapters, there are certain small details Erin does that are different to things I've learned. When she places her foot on the bicep, Erin likes to curl her toes over the biceps. Hence it is the higher end of her foot where the pressure is placed. Other instructors have taught me a variety of ways on where on the foot placement should be - one example is to turn your foot inwards so only the outer blade edge digs into the crook of the elbow. Most times however I have just placed the arch of my foot firmly on the bicep. When I tried Erin's toe curly version, I felt an added degree of sensitivity to the way my opponent's arms moved but arguably at the expense of some power when extending my leg. Again, it's just a minor detail that obviously works well and worth taking note of.

Toes wrap over bicep

Of the ten spider guard chapters in this set, I really liked the shin to shin sweep and the kneebar set up. Those were the chapters that connected with me the most when playing spider guard, but I'm fairly certain most folks will also love her overhead sweep and ankle pick techniques as they are big dramatic movements that will land your opponent with a satisfying thud!

Shin to shin sweep from spider, very satisfying

For a relatively short instructional (21 techniques spanning a little over one hour) Erin includes a staggering amount of detail and depth. She covers a very wide range of possible opponent reactions and counters. Personally I prefer the knee slice section as it offered me more in the way of helpful tips, but the spider guard section is really solid and has plenty to offer all levels.

Erin's delivery is crystal clear and the fun analogies and cartoony naming conventions all help to aid memory recall and remove barriers to learning what can be highly technical moves.

If, like Erin, you can identify with being the smaller person in jiu jitsu class who is a little overwhelmed at having roll with bigger people, then I think her strategy of playing spider guard (if you are on the bottom) and knee slicing (if you are on the top) to be logical areas to focus on. It certainly works for me. This instructional therefore presents an excellent reference tool for you to work on in those two areas.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



© 2015 - Distributed By Free Blogger Templates | Lyrics | Songs.pk | Download Ringtones | HD Wallpapers For Mobile