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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

02 February 2005

Training Log: Zhuan Shu Kuan

(Since the hapkido place, I went along to Heathrow MMA again in January with the Tung Fu guys (apparently it is due to become a proper class soon). On Tuesday (01/02/05), I went back to my old Zhuan Shu Kuan class, which hopefully marks the beginning of my return to regular training there (I’ve been a few times since leaving uni, but very intermittent – 4 or 5 times at most). I was looking forward to venting my frustrations at the university bureaucracy…)

University of Warwick Zhuan Shu Kuan, (ZSK), Rod Richardson, Coventry, UK - 01/02/2005

At first, it looked like I might have to take the class as the highest grade there, but thankfully another brown belt, Babs, eventually turned up – I was more than happy to leave her to do the teaching! The warm up began as normal with jumps/tuck jumps/star jumps, after which Babs got everyone to run round the room, calling out numbers for various actions like touch the ground with left hand, 10 press-ups, 10 sit-ups etc. This went on until we’d reached around 60 press-ups, sit-ups and leg-raisers, whereupon we moved back to the conventional stretching exercises I’d been doing since 1999, ending with attempts at box splits (always fun).

However, after the warm-up and the entrance of the main instructor (Rod), I spent the rest of the lesson going through the brown belt fixed spar with Babs, which consisted of various throws based on an attacker throwing a right punch. For example, the attacker punches, knife hand block and uppercut, grab wrist and move in close, drop down, pull arm down and tight, then dip and throw opponent over your back. Not being a fan of throws, I tended to mess these up – fortunately, I won’t be grading for a long while yet, as I’ll (usually) be turning up to just one ZSK class a week. Also meant I got to work my breakfalls, which is why my elbow doesn’t like me at the moment (suffice to say, I'm as good at breakfalls as I am at throws) – still, nice to have some decent mats again!

Normally, the class would be a bit diferent (like in this old thread from Tung-Fu). They always start with a warm-up, which will vary. However, normally it will be a load of press-ups, sit-ups, leg-raisers etc followed by stretching, as in Babs’ class. Sometimes Glen (the other main instructor, who takes the Sunday classes) has what he calls a 'turkey-burn' which is basically non-stop exercise for the first 30mins to an hour of the class, which can get almost sadistic - not a favourite of mine! But thats infrequent.

After that, again it varies, but thinking back to when I started it was usually linework - punches/kicks/elbows/blocks in riding stance, forward stance, back stance etc. Depending on the day and the venue, this is sometimes exchanges for two person drills to improve things like conditioning, flexibility etc - e.g., a conditioning drill would be something like one person kicks to the head, the other person takes it on their forearms, then switch. It can also be less painful, with the much more agreeable kicking eachothers ribs alternately. For flexibility, it would be something like one person moves in and crescents, the other moves back, then vice versa - this oftens gets a spinning crescent added to it.

If its near a grading, we'll also go through the syllabus during class, which would be forms (all from long fist, I believe), compulsories (mostly kicks from back stance, but varies depending on grade) and fixed spar (set two man offensive/defensive drills - e.g., one person steps forward with a punch/kick, other blocks. This again varies with grade, eventually becoming throws etc, as I was reminded on Tuesday).

On Thursdays, we do a lot of pad work. Generally this will involve moving round a circle doing different things at certain points. E.g, punching combos, front/turning/side kicks, or when Rod is feeling more spectacular, he might add some jumping/spinning kicks to the routine. There also used to be an exercise where the room is split into four corners, which feature punches only, kicks only, grappling (generally no submissions, though, so I guess thats more wrestling) and all combined (though unless the individual has some groundwork experience, they will generally stay standing up in a free spar - while the instructors are both familiar with the ground, it isn't often taught in class).

At the end of the class, there is usually a free spar (although there wasn’t on Tuesday, presumably because the grading is in March), depending on the point in the year and the ratio of beginners to seniors. The colour belts line up on one side, and then the beginners choose one, after which there is a free spar – occasionally, the beginners will sit out after a few rounds, then the colour belts will spar eachother. The contact varies depending on the level of the people sparring, so I personally, being a bit of a wuss, managed to keep things mostly semi up until I got a bit higher in grade. Which is when I started getting knocked out. Ahem.

From what I gathered on Tuesday, the heavy contact sparring for the higher belts has been re-instituted on Thursdays, so I may be getting a third chance to involuntarily hit the floor.

Looking to train again on Sunday, and also hoping to check out the Birmingham Uni Judo club on a following Sunday, depending if the captain, Tina, replies to my last email.

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