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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

21 December 2006

21/12/2006 - BJJ (evening)

Class #16

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK – 21/12/2006

Having enjoyed myself at the Velázquez exhibition, I arrived for the next class to again see hardly anyone there: just Harry and I. We had a good chat about his previous MA experience (not just wing chun, but apparently he was pretty damn good at TKD back in his youth, later moving on to Thai boxing. In fact, turns out he went to Coventry uni, so knows the guy I’m familiar with from the Warwick class, Lucky). I then had a talk to Dava, who was there with a friend of his – like many of the people I started with, he’s also got his stripe recently, though hasn’t been able to make it much this month.

The advanced class ran over a bit, meaning the beginners were warming up round the outside as the seniors were warming down on the inside. Felipe mentioned to me before the session started as I was waiting, after I said I’d been at Roger’s class earlier and noticed the differences in teaching style, that the black belts get together to plan sessions at the start of the week. That would explain the consistencies from class to class.

After drilling the double and single leg takedowns, Felipe worked through two techniques I’ve been wanting to drill in class: the sit-up sweep and the tailbone pass. I was already pretty familiar with the sit-up sweep, having used it successfully in earlier classes, so didn’t need to ask many questions (Oli wondered if that was from my earlier MMA, but the only things that I can remember from the sixteen or so classes I went to over the past three years are submissions. I don’t think I ever worked position before starting BJJ).

I’m still having major problems getting the tailbone pass to work, though I was useful having one of the most experienced white belts, Aika, to drill with. She gave me plenty of tips, such as on the collar choke Felipe added on (to be used when Person A flops forward in Person B’s guard, bringing their neck in range). She also mentioned that the A1 gi she was wearing was intended for 160-165cm people, so probably slightly too small for me. I had been thinking of getting one, but if that’s accurate (though I think it might vary a bit from brand to brand), I’d need an A2 if buying from the US (I’m 5’7).

Sparring was by the line-up system again, which I’m not too fond of – tends to mean that I only get to work passing, normally ending up in a war of attrition rather than technique. That’s exactly what happened with the first two people I attempted to pass, Del and Dava. I did put up plenty of resistance in both cases, and had a chance to pass each time the same way. On both, I managed to underhook both legs, but couldn’t capitalise, getting pulled forward and basically stuck. They also both tried collar chokes, which I was able to resist by simple looking up and raising my posture, and a triangle, which I could stop by either getting both arms in or both arms out. Dava made it very uncomfortable, though – despite not having either arm, merely my head, my face was shoved first into his crotch then into gi fabric, making it a little hard to breath at one point. The fatigue was a major factor too, but I decided not to tap simply from being tired – its probably a good idea to practice rolling while exhausted.

Finally I rolled with Aika. I was expecting to get thoroughly schooled, as she’s been in the advanced class for at least a couple of months now. However, I was able to both pass and sweep her (scissor wasn’t too effective this time round, and I wasn’t quick enough to go for the armbar variation), getting the pass from an armbar escape and then a sort of sweep from half-guard (similar to when I rolled with Dominique yesterday). I’d like to be able to say it was my technique that meant I could do well against someone with much more experience, but I’m assuming the size difference had rather more to do with. I’m a small, weedy guy at about 64kg, but that’s still over 10kg more than Aika, who’s even smaller at 53kg.

Still, meant I could finish class feeling good about myself, size difference or not, therefore providing a positive note to finish this year’s training. Looking forward to starting up again on 3rd January, though its annoying to have almost a fortnight off training. I don’t think there is anywhere I can go nearby to get some rolling in, though I could try and get something going with friends in Birmingham – maybe book out the activities room at Warwick if I can convince Paddy that he really does enjoy groundwork. Alternately, my gf might be willing to drill a few techniques, so that could be worth a try.

Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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