THE "ROYAL" SPIDER GUARD
In every BJJ position there are numerous small details that can lead to the position alone becoming much easier for you to keep. At the same time, the position becomes more threatening to your opponent and opens up additional opportunities for submissions. The position itself when properly applied can make him want to move in a way that gives you submission opportunities.
This is what Rickson Gracie calls Invisible Jiu Jitsu, and what Rigan Machado calls "Royal" positioning. Often the details are difficult even for an experienced observer to see, and can only be felt.
"Royalize" your positions, including the various guards. Once you have successfully royalized one position, you will have the desire and confidence to do the same with all others.
From closed guard, get grips on both his sleeves. Turn the palms up, lock your elbows to your sides. Put both feet on the floor, turn on your R side and bring your L knee and shin inside his R arm so both knees are together, creating a barrier. Place your L foot on his R hip and turn the knee out to your L. Bring the R knee through, foot on L hip. Keep elbows in tight, flare knees out so he should have difficulty passing to either side.
Push off your R foot as you turn onto your R side and move your hips back so you are at 90 degrees to him on your side. This should create a big gap between his torso and his R arm, so that you can thread your L foot over his arm, and under his armpit. Thrust your foot through and pull it back so you can use it as a hook behind his shoulder to pull him in. Keep your L grip high up on the crease between your thigh and your hip with no space for him to circle his hand or pull it out and break the grip.
This is known as the "leg lasso" in many BJJ circles (including the big BJJ circle called the internet).
Square up to him and put your R foot in his bicep/elbow. Push him away with your R foot and use your L instep and grip to pull him in. He should NOT feel stable, but uncomfortable and off balance. His shoulders should be twisted. He should feel that he needs to stand up to keep his balance. Let him stand.
Learn to "steer" him from this position. If tries to pass around to your R, push his L elbow far out in that direction with your R foot, at the same time pulling him forward with your L foot and the lasso. If he comes around to your L, pull his L elbow down to the ground using the lasso While lifting his R elbow with your R foot. You should be able to block his passing attempts and perhaps sweep him just like this.
Most Jiu Jitsu people know how important it is to be able to get and keep a dominant position, like side control, mount, or kneeride. A much smaller number apply the same philosophy to the various guards, though the principle is just as applicable. Learn to maintain the spider guard, and all others, to make it impossible for the opponent to escape.
Use your legs and grips to make him step forward , feet parallel, within reach of your hands. Release your grips and grab his ankles, as low as possible. Drive over and forward with your hips, similar to the basic back sweep from closed guard. Grab his collar and go to mount.
Bring him forward as before. Your R foot moves to his L hip. Pull him forward and directly overhead. You must get his centre of gravity right over you. Use the R foot to lift him, then push his hip up as you use the lasso to pull his L shoulder down. He more or less spins in mid air, the lasso pulling him onto his R shoulder. Use your L knee to pin his R arm so he cannot roll away from you. Push his L hand to the floor with your R hand as you come to your knees and consolidate side control.
Use your legs and grips to bring his L foot forward. Grab the ankle with your R hand. Your R foot goes to his hip. Now your L foot goes to his hip as you turn onto your R side. You R leg drops to the floor and hooks behind his R ankle. Push with the L foot and you pull his L ankle with your R hand and reap his L leg with your R. AS he falls, bring your L leg back to come to your knees. You may be able to use your L heel to trap and extend his R leg so you end up on your knees with his R leg trapped in top half guard.
RIGAN'S SWEEP TO SIDE CONTROL
Move your R foot to under his R arm, near his hip. Keep the L grip tight, but drive your L leg all the way through, invite him to go to side control on your R. AS he does, grab the pants of his R leg, lift it as you roll to your L, using the grip to pull him over he top of you to finish in side control.
This sweep is a fine example of STRATEGY. You let him get what he wants, or thinks he wants, but in a way that gives you what you want.
At an intermediate level, you fight your opponent to get the underhook. At a more advanced level, you let him get the underhook, but clamp down on it with your overhook and hook sweep him to that side.
Here, you give him the pass because that actually sets up the sweep. The harder and faster he tries to pass, the easier the sweep becomes.
ARM TRIANGLE SWEEP
You have spider guard. You cannot bring him towards you because he is backing away. Hook the outside of his R ankle with the instep of your R foot. Spin, to invert, and reach for his R ankle with your R hand pulling yourself in until you can hook his R ankle with you R elbow. You still have your L grip. Pull your L shin down until it is horizontal, hook you L ankle with the back of you R knee. Pull down on his R arm with your L grip and your legs and lift his R with your R hand. He should fall forward onto his L shoulder. Follow him over and sit up, weight on your L hip and thigh trapping his arm, shins out to the R similar to an omoplata position ("hula hula legs"). Consolidate your side control.
ALTERNATE SIDE SPIDER GUARD SWEEP
You get the feet on hips from closed guard but when you attempt to get the lasso, he pulls his R elbow to his hip leaving you no space to get your foot under his R armpit. Instead, Keep the grips but thread your L foot under his L arm pit. Square up to him, get your shin through so you will be sweeping him with thee top third of your shin nearest the knee (using hip flexors) rather than using the quads to straighten the knee. R foot goes to the floor. Push with the R foot and kick his R shoulder with your L leg to the side of your L ear. He should fall onto his R shoulder to your L. Trap his R arm with your L knee/thigh as before and consolidate side control.
ARM DRAG TO BACK
He stays on his knees and is pulling back. Turn on your R side and straighten you body, pulling your head and shoulders back away from him. You are trying to get his R hand across your centreline without him realising it, setting up an arm drag. Once you have achieved this, extricate your L leg from the lasso and sit up , L leg to the outside, grabbing his R tricep with your R hand and grabbing his lattismus dorsi with your L hand Come up on your R knee and get a seat belt grip. then take you weight off the knee and put it on his R shoulder, so he collapses onto it. Hip escape backward so you can get his back while on your R side ("master" side, with the top arm underhooked), rather than rolling him over you. Set your hooks and consolidate back control.
This guard is really flexible with a huge number of techniques coming off it, dozens of sweeps, triangles, omoplatas, back takes, armbars, etc. Search "leg lasso" on Youtube once you have drilled the techniques above and mastered them. You need to master fundamentals, not have an encyclopedia of techniques you aren't that good at.
I asked John about grip training, how to make your grip more effective, etc. He replied that he didn't think it was a great idea as it is as likely to cause later problems as it is to strengthen your grip. We need balance in our lives and not to end up with 20 gold medals but a physical wreck at 40 with no prospects.
Learn to apply the lessons you learn in mastering one technique to all the other techniques. And learn to apply those lessons to areas outside martial arts.
Learn to really observe. Some of the oldtimers in the US can see a technique once and shortly thereafter have understood it well enough to be able to apply it in sparring. Not perfectly, but adequately.
People fail on the mat and in other areas of life because they do not respect the process. You may have an end game (knowing where you want to end up is essential for strategy) but if there are six steps to get there you must put 100% of your effort into the first step. Then (and only then) the second, etc. until you reach your final goal.
People want to rush to the end (living in the future) or oversweep (remaining too long in the past). Live and roll in the moment. Do not fall behind or get ahead of the timeline. Respect the process.
Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got - Jay Abraham
The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Mushashi
"You let go of that grip and your mother falls off of a cliff...and dies!!!" - Kurt Osiander
(Kurt is awesome. Check him out on Youtube. Good free instructional clips. He swears a fair bit).