The Latvian Sniper: The Guard of Andris Brunovskis

By Matthew Gioia

Standing out amongst a sea is difficult, especially in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where everyone is constantly coming up with new techniques in order to surprise their opponents. Grappling’s most fascinating weapons such as the berimbolo, the heel hook, and even to an extent the buggy choke have completely changed the way certain positions are looked at. However it is rare for an athlete to make unorthodoxy the central component of his game, and especially rare for it to be extremely successful, yet Andris Brunovskis has been able to do quite that. A black belt under Andre Galvao, Brunovskis implemented his unique game on a myriad of opponents, winning the IBJJF World Championships at both blue and purple belt. 

Some of Brunovskis’ most notable techniques are uncommon in the modern metagame, as he has gained notoriety for his implementation of worm guard, stack passing, and the omoplata.  

Brunovskis was selected by Keenan Cornelius, the innovator of the worm guard system, to be the assistant head coach at Cornelius’ academy. It is no surprise, therefore, that Brunovskis has a phenomenal understanding of how to implement worm guard against opponents.

Whereas Cornelius almost exclusively uses his opponent’s lapel to enact worm guard, Brunovskis uses both the belt of his opponent and his lapel. While obtaining and using the lapel worm guard is more secure and allows you to break your opponent’s posture down, the belt worm guard variation is much easier to obtain, and allows greater freedom of movement. 

Once Brunovskis obtains the worm guard, his primary tactic is to insert a deep De La Riva X hook with his free foot. This significantly inhibits the movement of his opponent, as their lead leg is caught between their own lapel or belt, and both of Brunovskis’ legs. Once his opponent is trapped, Brunovskis is able to tip his opponent over and enter the mount position. 

Brunovskis attaches the deep De La Riva X hook to his opponent’s far hip and secures a grip on his opponent’s near side tricep, which prevents his opponent from making a post in order to stop his fall. Brunovskis then pulls his own legs towards his chest to off-balance his opponent, before switching his hips to sweep his opponent, securing mount in the process. 

Brunovskis’ use of the deep De La Riva X hook is not limited to worm guard, as his most consistent use of the technique comes in combination with his lasso guard.

Brunovskis inserts his lasso on Bulut’s far side, which allows Brunovskis to control the upper body of Bulut. The lasso simultaneously stops Bulut from changing his angle on Brunovskis, and forces him to remain center. Brunovskis then grips Bulut’s ankle, while elevating his own hips, forcing Bulut to sit in order to avoid the sweep.

As Bulut stands, Brunovskis releases the grip on Bulut’s tricep in order to grip Bulut’s pants, keeping Bulut in the proper range for Brunovskis to insert a De La Riva hook. When the hook is engaged Brunovskis simultaneously transitions from the pants grip to an ankle grip while also switching to a deep De La Riva X hook, elevating his hips and off-balancing Bulut. Since Bulut’s near-side hand was not controlled, he is able to post on it, preventing the sweep. Brunovskis counters this by inverting so that the back of his knee separates Bulut’s elbow from his body, creating the opening for the omoplata. 

The deep De La Riva X and lasso combination is not only applicable against a standing opponent, it is equally effective against an opponent in the combat base position.

Brunovskis inserts a deep De La Riva X hook through the space where his opponent’s knee is up, while controlling his opponent’s far side with the lasso. Once again, Brunovskis grabs his opponent’s ankle on the near side in an attempt to sweep him. When his opponent tries to maintain his base, using his near-side hand, Brunovskis removes the deep De La Riva hook and places the ball of his foot on the mat so that he is completely parallel to the mat. This motion separates his opponent’s elbow from his body and allows Brunovskis to invert into the omoplata position.

This technique is particularly effective for Brunovskis because he forces his opponent to either give up the sweep and concede points, or to try and fight the sweep by posting his free hand on the mat, leaving them vulnerable to Brunovskis’ favorite submission, the omoplata.

While the omoplata can be applied in a variety of manners and positions, Brunovskis, in particular, likes to use inversions in conjunction with his omoplata attacks. 

Brunovskis starts this sequence with a deep lasso. Using a standard De La Riva hook, as opposed to a deep De La Riva X hook, with an ankle grip, Brunovskis is able to off balance Bahiense. When Bahiense posts his hand on the mat to prevent the sweep, Brunovskis completely inverts, driving his lasso deeper in order to create the overhook of the omoplata. Bahiense attempts to stop Brunovskis from locking in the omoplata by placing his near leg in between both of Brunovskis’, but Brunovskis is able to counter with a pants grip, which allows him to lock up the omoplata. 

As the omoplata is difficult to finish against high level opponents in its most basic form, Brunovskis uses it to either sweep his opponent or progress to another variation of the omoplata, most notably, the omoplata crucifix.

Here, Brunovskis underhooks the far side shoulder of his opponent while in the omoplata. As he does this, Brunovskis positions himself so that his upper body is perpendicular to his opponent, enabling him to do a proper shoulder roll. Brunovskis releases the underhook on his opponent’s shoulder to recompose his position by creating a hook on the backside of his opponent’s near side leg in order to prevent him from turning towards Brunovskis. As his opponent attempts to drive in toward Brunovskis to free his leg, Brunovskis re-establishes the underhook while gripping his opponent’s far side collar to threaten the choke. As this is occuring, Brunovskis flexes his right hand to prevent his opponent’s near side arm from attacking his grip, before finishing with the Ezekiel Choke.

As Megaton builds his base and sits, Brunovskis obtains the underhook on Megaton’s far side, while making a grip on his far side collar to set up the choke. Brunovksis then flexes his hand on the biceps of Megaton to prevent any chance of a grip break. Brunovskis then hip escapes to change his angle, becoming more and more perpendicular to Megaton’s back in order to strengthen the choke. Using his torso, Brunovskis unbalances Megaton, who is forced to submit. 

Andris Brunovskis is one of top middleweights in the world, with a unique and submission-oriented style that captivates the imagination. With a strikingly intricate yet unorthodox style Brunovskis’ deep understanding of both balance and leverage has been instrumental in creating a unique game that can not be imitated.