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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

18 January 2007

18/01/2007 - BJJ

Class #22

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK – 18/01/2007

Trains were fucked today due to gale force winds across the country, so I decided to leave an hour earlier than usual. I normally get to class ridiculously early anyway, so though that even if the trains were completely nuts, there was no way I’d be late if I gave myself almost three hours to get there. Turns out I was right, getting to class about 75mins before class (normally I’d be there between 30-50mins early).

Felipe took the class, which means it’s the first one by him I’ve attended this year. Tonight we covered three variations on the collar choke from mount. Each time the technique began with Person B tightly gripping their own shoulders with their arms. Person A opened up one of Person B’s lapels, then fed their hand through for a deep grip on Person B’s collar by their neck. The first variation was for Person A to then feed their other hand underneath the arm they’d already put through, securing a grip on the opposite collar. Twisting their grip, making sure their elbows were as close to the ground as possible, Person A moved their head towards the ground and squeezed for the choke. Here's a video of Aaron Fruitstone demonstrating.

The second variation was to go for an armbar instead. Having got one arm through, Person A then pushes Person B’s opposite arm across, pressing it against Person B with a shoulder. Keeping the pressure on and retaining their grip on the collar, Person A then circles round with their leg until they’re in position to bring the leg over. Felipe paused to point out the central importance of always bringing the leg over before you drop back for the armbar. So, first the leg goes over, after which Person A shifts their grip from Person B’s collar to their own, securing the arm and dropping back for the armbar. Here's Rowan Cunningham demonstrating the same technique.

Here's another video of the armbar, this time demonstrated by black belt John Will. He also covers the collar choke in the process: lots of useful pointers in the course of his demonstration.

I was working this technique with Anne, a French girl who already had a year of experience in Belfast before she started at RGA. We found that it was difficult to get the space if Person B was holding their shoulders really tight, for which Oli G advised Person A bringing their knees up for a high mount to loosen up the arms. Alternately, Person A could drop their weight and trap the arms between their own arms and legs, pushing until they have brought Person B’s arms over Person B’s head.

Finally, from the position of getting one arm through, Person A brings the other arm to the side of Person B’s head and presses back with the elbow. The aim is to raise Person B’s head, so that there is enough space to get a grip on the collar. As before, Person A then twists their grip, gets their elbows down and leans forward (head to floor) to get the choke.

Class finished with specific sparring I haven’t done before: from mount, where the top person had to submit the bottom, while the bottom had to escape into Person A’s guard. This proved very interesting, as everyone, from the senior whites to total noobies, had a much much weaker mount in comparison to when they were underneath the mount. I wasn’t able to submit anyone from on top, but I think I had a 100% success rate from underneath (unless I’m forgetting something, but either way, it was definitely in the majority). This wasn’t unusual, from what I could see – as we were doing ‘winner stays on’ sparring, the disparity was even more noticeable. Whereas normally (such as in sidemount specific sparring) the more experienced people constantly stayed on, in mount sparring it was fairly even across the class.

It was rare for anyone to take more than 30 seconds or so to reverse the person on top. That meant if you were successful, it was often preferable to ask to go on top instead. I got into a pattern of reversing three times, then going on top, except when I knew the person was much better than me. For example, I already knew that Anne was good, so elected to stay on the bottom. As I’d expected, she put up much more of a fight than the others, going for the armbar several times, though I did eventually manage to get the sweep. The same was true of an Indian guy called Ramis (I think), who also held me down for a fair while before getting swept.

I think the reason is that most of the beginner classes end with specific sparring based around a guard pass. That meant that we were all familiar with the principle of sweeping – isolate the legs of the chair – but almost entirely unfamiliar with being in mount, because as soon as we passed, that’s where the spar normally stopped.

I only managed to maintain mount for a long time against Hamid, who was only on his second session so hadn’t yet learned to isolate a leg and an arm on one side in order to sweep. It was fairly easy to get in tight hooks and ride him, so I thought I’d try for something I’d never get against someone with experience, an americana. I couldn’t get it against Hamid either, but I did at least have a chance to work it.

So a good class today. Still really need to work the guard pass, but I’m sure I’ll get plenty of opportunity to do so in later classes, possibly on Saturday. I also need to get some idea of what the fuck to do when in mount – I was attempting armbars and americanas, neither of which worked. I should really have gone for the chokes we were shown earlier, but as everyone was expecting that, arms were being held very tightly.

Next session should be Saturday, so getting in four sessions this week. Hopefully will be able to make it up to Birmingham without waiting until late evening, as the Just 15 ticket timings have changed – not sure on Saturdays, though.

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