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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

20 December 2006

20/12/2006 - BJJ

Class #14

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 20/12/2006

Session went pretty much as well as it possibly could have for me tonight, so I left class happy. Over the past month and a bit, I’ve been focusing my efforts on developing options for sweeps and passes, and its paid off.

Jude didn’t run as fitness intensive a class today, perhaps because there were less people around due to it being near christmas. Unusually from my limited experience under him, he started off with technique drills, going through the basic standing pass and counter that I learned during my first session back in November. Its always useful going over the basics, particularly with a different instructor, as Jude added a few details I either missed or forgot from when Felipe showed the same techniques earlier. Firstly, when standing from the pass, Person A releases one of the collars they’re gripping with one hand, pulling up on the remaining collar instead, keeping their back straight. This unbalances Person B by twisting them over to the side. Secondly, Jude pointed out that the pass finishes differently depending on if you loop your arm under the leg or if you simply push the leg off your hip. When looping the arm, Person A then reaches round the leg for Person B’s opposite collar and pushes down and round. When pushing the leg off the hip, Person A traps Person B’s leg with their shin, then switches their base in order to pass.

As has happened quite often the past few sessions, I worked with Dominique, which provides me with a reassuring sense of continuity as she’s the first person I ever drilled and rolled with. Its also been a useful way of marking my progress, as I can measure how I do against her in rolling. This time round, I got exactly what I wanted: scissor sweep. Thanks to Aesopian and Rowan Cunningham’s tutorials (found by Aesopian, so he deserves two helpings of thanks), I managed to get this on both Dominique and the next person I sparred, a long-haired Asian guy called Herman. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been working sweeps and passes for a month and a bit now, carefully reading through info on the flower sweep, sit-up sweep and scissor sweep, as well as looking at videos. I’ve also had the chance to use the first two before in class (though I’ve only ever got the sit-up sweep to work before), with additional drilling on the flower sweep at the Bullshido throwdown a couple of weeks ago.

Even more satisfying was that I managed to pass both Dominique and Herman. On Dominique, I think it was the basic pass, which took me a while to get, but I did eventually get through. With Herman, something Marcio taught me at the throwdown worked out perfectly. I was trying the tailbone pass again, but as Marcio had said, you don’t have to complete it, just get enough space to underhook the legs with both arms. That’s exactly what I did, pushing forward to grab Herman’s gi, pulling myself round for the pass. I’m also pleased that I now have at least three options to try from the bottom (flower, scissor and sit-up) as well as two from the top (basic and tailbone).

However, there are unsurprisingly still plenty of aspects of those sweeps and passes I need to work on. With the scissor, I wasn’t pulling my partner on to me like I should, as demonstrated by Rowan in his Abhaya vid and Aesopian, where he mentions using ‘judo elbows’. I also didn’t come up on one elbow like Rowan demonstrated, or at least its not something I was thinking about as I should have done: I did get the sweep, so either I did it those times without realising, or got lucky. Also worth noting that there is a bit of a size difference between Dominique and I (though I’m fairly small, so its not too much), and I think Herman is effectively a beginner – I didn’t quite get what he said, but IIRC, he did BJJ eight months ago but hasn’t been able to go back since, so not entirely certain as to the extent of his experience.

What I want to work on now, besides improving the scissor, flower (thanks GoldenJonas for that link) and sit-up sweeps along with the guard passes, is to build on options if I don’t get the sweep. During rolling tonight, I shifted between the sweeps (trying both left and right) when they didn’t work at first, and also tried the armbar follow-up from Abhaya, but will need plenty more practice before I get them drilled in. Aesopian's ‘Stupid Simple Sweep’ off a failed scissor also looks worth drilling, so I’ll keep that in mind too.

The class was rounded off nicely by Jude calling out my name at the end, to receive my first stripe. He got my name wrong, but that’s to be expected – its written ‘Can’, which any reasonable person would read as the ‘can’ in ‘tin-can’. Its Turkish, so actually pronounced like the ‘jun’ in ‘junction’, but that’s certainly not clear from the way its written!

Felt good to go up and get applauded, with a handshake from Jude, then congratulations from the rest of class. I’m still not entirely sure whether the stripe thing is based on ability or simply on time spent at the club: I’ve heard conflicting reports, but either way, I was smiling. May only be a stripe, but really put the icing on a successful bit of rolling.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and go along to both the day and the evening class, as I’m not working Thursday. Pippa mentioned that there is also going to be a class on Saturday, which I didn’t realise, so I’ll try to make that one too. Another option has cropped up recently near where I am in Birmingham, on the MMA side of things rather than BJJ. A guy on Myspace randomly messaged me several months ago about a wrestling club, the times of which I unfortunately couldn’t make. He said there should be another class starting up, so I emailed him again two days ago to check if it was running yet. Apparently not, as he got injured, but he did instead give me the details for the MMA place he trains, which as it turns out is a short walk from my flat! Met the instructor yesterday, so should be trying out a class at F’s Freestyle on 13th Jan (they’re closed over christmas, and I’ve got an anniversary meal on the 6th). Hoping to tempt my gf down, which would be very cool, though she’s going to take some convincing.

To finish on a random comedy note, just came across this from last year (so may well not be new to people, but it was to me): only really makes sense if you’re from the UK.

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