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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

10 November 2006

09/11/2006 - BJJ

Class #2

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK – 09/11/2006

The Hammersmith & City line was a little pants today, which wasn’t helped by people holding up the ticket queue at Blackfriars: only every seems to happen when I’m in a hurry! Train down to Farringdon was fine, but from there to Westbourne Park was a little delayed. Still, I’d left enough time to make it to the Academy with about 10 minutes to spare, leaving me room to get changed and pop to the loo. Had another chat with Ben, just before class started.

Similar lesson plan today, with a couple of variations. No sprints on the warm-up, and instead of the breakfalling/shrimping up the room, we did hip throws (o-goshi, if I’ve looked that term up correctly) in pairs. As with yesterday, I was teamed up with a woman, which I definitely prefer – generally more mature, less macho bullshit and more considerate training partners. This time it was Indra (name has nothing to do with the Hindu god, apparently, just cool parents), who has been along to BJJ for about 4 months (I think, might have been longer), having also done a few months of MMA back in America before she moved here.

Felipe then moved on to the same drills as yesterday (though he had Olly explain the process, presumably to work on his instructing), starting with sweep from closed guard, then the counter and pass. That was then followed by specific sparring, with the same rules as before: Person A in Person B’s guard, Person A trying to pass and Person B trying to sweep/submit.

I think my approach this time was much better, and as a result I got a lot more out of the sparring. I wasn’t simply struggling in collar choke, although I did have a lot of trouble when on top. I ended up pretty much just defending my position, attempting to anticipate attempts at triangles, passes etc by moving round with my legs, but getting nowhere close to passing. With Indra, this tended to end with me getting rolled over as she worked round to the side.

I provided slightly more of a challenge when on the bottom, though still eventually getting passed. I tried to remember the Fundamental 5 thread I’d read earlier, with a mnemonic of ‘HALF 9E’ (hips/hunchback, arms between me and opponent, look and feel for their position, 90% hip 10% upper body strength and finally escape), though I ended up focusing mainly on the hips/hunchback part. I’m not sure if it made a difference from last time, but I was at least able to go for triangles (badly), and found myself in a vague armbar position hanging off Indra, but couldn’t finish it (not to mention I imagine she was taking it easy with me). Trying to remember to raise questions after rolling, I asked Indra if there was anything I could do when stacked (the position in which bottom person is getting their legs squished onto their chest by the top person, if I’ve got that terminology right). She wasn’t sure, so mentioned it to Felipe, who demonstrated how the bottom person could push on the elbow of the top guy and twist to one side to dislodge them (I think – I may not have understood properly).

I then switched partners to Ben, who with a 30kg weight and significant height advantage would be a quite different prospect. Dominique had been a bit shorter than me, while Indra is roughly the same build, perhaps a little taller. I had lot more trouble with Ben, though I did at least get to try and defend a range of attacks while on top, as Ben tried to triangle and sweep me (swept me no problem, though I don’t think I ended up in any submissions. Of course, sweeping was the point, so that’s unsurprising). On the bottom I probably fared worse this time, again tending to try and throw my legs round his neck. Might have helped if I’d actually caught his arm at some point rather than just dangling by his head.

Felipe next put us into groups of three (winner stays on bottom, loser switches with third guy), where again I was teamed up with Ben, and an Asian guy called Kay (sp?). Kay was closer to my build, though I think a bit beefier, and seemed fairly skilled. I didn’t get too far with him, generally just getting swept or passed very quickly. He also did this strange motion when attempting a standing guard pass, where he turned to one side and then thrust himself against the legs. I’m not sure if that was to unbalance the guy on the bottom, or perhaps open up their guard, but stuck in my mind afterwards.

I forgot to mention last time that the class finishes with a warm down, something which is all too lacking in a number of places I’ve tried out, so definitely a plus point in the Roger Gracie Academy’s favour (walk round to cool off, then stretch out the neck, arms, legs and back). As before, everyone shaking everyone else’s hand marked the end of the session.

All in all, I felt I’d got a lot more out of class today, and appreciated the chance to work the same position as yesterday. Submissions and the like are a long way off for me, so I’m looking to continue working my positioning and defence. Still need to get conditioned, as my ankles are sore from attempting to hold closed guard, and I can also feel the abrasions on my fingers from gripping the gi and getting it ripped out of my grasp.

The changing room wasn’t so packed today, despite the class appearing to be every bit as full, which either means people are being skanky and not showering because it finishes later, or I simply thought there were more people than there actually were. Did mean I got to shower and change without having to queue to get to my clothes, which was definitely a plus point.

Walked to Westbourne Park station with Ben, having a pleasant chat with him – will have to look into socials, as it would be good if the club goes out drinking together or something like that. There is a pub fairly nearby, so will have to see. I’m training again on Saturday, due to friend’s birthday party that night, but then won’t train again until Thursday – have an open day at Warwick to go to with my gf. Be most excellent if I can get her to come back to uni for a Masters, as then its less train travel for me, improved social life at Warwick and of course academic fulfilment for her (she’s always kicked arse at essays and creative writing, so would be shame if she stopped at BA).

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