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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

04 January 2007

04/01/2007 - BJJ

Class #18

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Luciano Cristovam, London, UK – 04/01/2007

When I arrived, I was rather surprised to see the advanced class still getting changed. For a moment I thought the class times might have changed or something, but turns out the power only came back on 10 minutes before I got there, having been off since 16:30. This meant that the advanced class and the beginners class were running side by side for about 40mins with a few belts down the middle to divide the groups. A little cramped, to say the least, but we mainly did warm-ups, so wasn’t too bad.

Luciano ran class again, which pleased me because it meant I should have another chance to drill the omoplata. He began with the ‘self-defence’ thing again, which I’m not too keen on, but moved swiftly on to the kimura. I’ve done this before in MMA, but quite some time ago, and the set-up this time was much better. Person B grabs Person A’s right wrist with their left hand, sitting up and bringing their right hand thumb-first round the back of Person A’s right arm. Person B then grabs their own left wrist with their right hand, using the leverage this creates (i.e., the right arm wrapped round isolates Person A’s joint) to push Person’s arm with their left hand. Person B continues pushing with their left hand, also using their leg to further drive Person A downwards, until Person A taps.

As I’d hoped, Luciano then demonstrated the omoplata again. This time, however, it was much simpler (though perhaps the previous lesson helped, despite my inability to remember the set-up properly). If the kimura failed, Person A managing to straighten out his arm, Person B brings their right leg out under Person A’s head. Person B then moves their left leg over the top of Person A’s right arm, the foot near Person A’s head, using their right leg to secure a triangle on the arm. Keeping Person A’s right arm bent round the leg, Person B sits up and grabs hold of Person A’s far side (the left, in this case). Person B then tries to improve their position by pulling Person A out to the right, aiming to drive Person A’s shoulder down and eventually flatten them out. This makes it easier to thrust the hips forward at a forty-five degree angle in the direction of Person A, until they tap from the pain in their shoulder.

Unlike last session, I was able to at least drill the technique, though I still had some trouble getting the right angle with my hips for the tap. Oli G came over to give me further advice: as I’d been going the wrong way, his correction certainly helped!

Sparring was as usual passing and sweeping, though I didn’t have too much success. I was up against Paul, who I think is an Aussie (had a Gracie Barra Sydney gi on, IIRC), and has plenty more experience than normal for a beginner. If I understood him correctly, he’s been going off and on to BJJ for years, just never consistently enough to progress up the ranks. Still, it was clearly sufficient to deal with my mediocre efforts. I couldn’t get anything on him, as he had no problem blocking my attempts to scissor and sit-up sweep. I probably should have tried to go for the flower sweep too, and as I keep finding myself in a position where I have one leg between theirs as they’re rising up, learning the elevator (which frankly I’ve only heard of due to Jeff Blatnick commentating on the early UFCs) might be useful too. I did at least resist his pass for a while, though I think he may have been going easy on me.

That was confirmed when we changed positions. I was struggling yet again with the tailbone pass, so Paul advised me to drive my elbows into his inner thighs. I think I’ve been gripping too high for the pass, up on the lower part of the gi jacket when I should be going for the top of the trousers close to the hips: that should help with leverage. I wasn’t able to get my knee through like I did yesterday against Herman (turns out Herman trains every day, which would explain his improvement, but tends to have long gaps), as Paul’s closed guard was too tight. Standing up I’m still entirely ineffectual, generally ending back down on my knees.

This was followed by an ego boost against Basil, though the specific sparring was now from side control rather than guard. I had little trouble switching to guard when underneath, and similarly found it fairly straightforward to move into mount when on top - he left plenty of space, unsurprising considering he's never been in side control before. In hindsight, I probably should have gone for something else, like an Americana, as I don’t think I really learned too much simply passing and getting into guard (would that still be pulling guard, if I’m shifting into it from under side control?) against somebody new to the position.

On the other hand, it did give me a chance to teach, as Basil had only been to four classes whereas this was my twentieth. It also confirms what I think one of the quality BJJ posters on Bullshido (NSLightsOut, jnp, Yrkoon9 etc) said about it being in your interest to help out the less experienced as much as possible, as this results in better training partners for you. Having advised Basil to put his knee into my side when he’s underneath, I did indeed find it more difficult to mount and therefore got more out of the roll. A low-level but nonetheless quantifiable example.

Tonight was the first time I’d worn my gum shield when rolling, having been inspired by a chat to Daniel about him getting whacked in the teeth a few lessons back. Needless to say, he now wears a gum shield every spar. Basil noticed there was a bit of blood in my gum shield, which often happens as my teeth are crappy. Turns out the guy is a dentist, who then proceeded to give me a lecture about flossing, once we'd finished and were in the changing rooms. Fair enough, though, as I’m far too lazy with that kind of thing – you only get one set of teeth, after all.

I asked Luciano about prices for the Carlinhos seminar, but he didn’t know. Oli G, on the other hand, said he’d heard it was £15 for RGA students, though £25 was more likely. Should be training next Wednesday as normal, with the first ZSK session of 2007 on Tuesday. There is supposed to be a ‘taster session’ on Sunday, which I suggested a few months back, but don’t think I’ll be needed to attend. Could be that BJJ is already improving my fitness, as I spent five minutes sprinting from Edgware Road to Marylebone, just managing to catch my train back to Amersham. Being a wimp, normally I’d get a stitch.

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