Firas Zahabi Teaches A Proactive Sumi Gaeshi
Sumi Gaeshi, translated means Corner Reversal is an extremely efficient takedown. The Sumi Gaeshi name comes from Judo where the throw is classified as a Sutemi Waza or Sacrifice Technique, meaning you will essentially be falling backwards while pulling the opponent’s weight over top of you.
Firas Zahabi is a black belt under John Danaher and is the head coach at Tristar gym, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Firas has trained many top fighters in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MIxed Martial Arts, having trained arguably the best MMA fighter of all time, George Saint Pierre. Here, Coach Firas Zahabi will demonstrate how to do what he calls the Proactive Sumi Gaeshi from a Front Headlock position!
In Judo, techniques such as Sumi Gaeshi have many variations. Every variation has a different name that more accurately describes the throw. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu though it is pretty widely accepted that any throw from standing or sweep from guard that utilizes elevation from a butterfly hook on the inside of the opponents thigh is typically considered a Sumi Gaeshi.
The technique is very versatile, being a throw or sweep that can be used from a multitude of grips and set ups. The grip that Coach Firas Zahabi will use for this variation is a Front Headlock. Notice, Coach Zahabi has his right arm wrapping the opponent’s neck, similar to a guillotine, while his left hand is through the opponent’s same side arm pit where he will then connect his hand together for control. See a complete Front Headlock Submission Mastery by Corey Guitard
The setup for this particular variation of Sumi Gaeshi, your opponent will be trying to break your guillotine grip escape from your headlock by backing up, possibly fighting your grip with his hands or holding your hips away. If the opponent is trying to take you down with a double leg or just pressuring you from the Front Headlock you would perform what Coach Firas Zahabi calls the Reactive Sumi Gaeshi. For your Proactive Sumi Gaeshi you do not have the luxury of your opponent driving into you, meaning you will have to go to him to get under his hips. To do this, Coach Firas’ first step to completing this technique is to take his left foot and to step it up between the opponent’s feet.
Once Coach Firas Zahabi has stepped forward, he will then look to level change. Level change means Firas will bend at his knees to get lower to the floor. Getting lower to the floor positions Firas under the opponents hips, giving Coach Zahabi more leverage in his takedown. As Coach Firas bends his knees to level change, his right foot will go forward and catch a butterfly hook on the inside thigh of the opponent’s same side leg. The initial forward step between the legs with Coach Firas Zahabi’s left foot coupled with the simultaneous level change and butterfly hook to the inside of the thigh with his right foot will position his hips directly under the opponents.
To complete his Sumi Gaeshi, Coach Firas Zahabi will pressure the opponent’s head down with the headlock arm as he sits back and kicks the opponent back with his butterfly hook. Once the opponent is swept overhead, Coach Zahabi maintains his butterfly hook, keeping it sticky to the inside of the opponent's thigh. Keeping his hook connected to the thigh allows Coach Firas to maintain more control of his opponent and lets him follow up to a dominant position such as mount where he can quickly transition to attacks like the mounted guillotine.
Coach Zahabi makes sure to mention that although his elbows are slightly flared out during his demonstration of the technique, in a real scenario he would keep his elbows down to his own ribs and his grip very tight on the neck. For drilling purposes Coach Firas will keep his elbows wide so some pressure is relieved on his training partner's neck allowing him more breathing room. Coach Zahabi then follows with saying it is okay to drill certain aspects of a technique more loosely and relaxed. When training certain techniques it is alright to perform certain aspects of the move more relaxed so as to increase the safety of a dangerous move or more simply to increase training longevity.