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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

31 January 2007

31/01/2007 - BJJ

Class #26

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK – 31/01/2007

Wimped out of ZSK again, as for the umpteenth time this winter I got some kind of cold. I reckon it might be because I haven’t been getting enough sleep – too much time spent pissing around on the internet late at night! Will have to watch that from now on.

For the second time in my few months at RGA, Roger took class. He mainly focused on armbars, first combining it with a hip throw (after throwing, maintain control of the arm, lean on them with a knee, then using your hand for balance, put your foot round and then secure the armbar) then showing two variations from guard.

I realised that I’ve been thinking of the armbar from guard incorrectly up until now, as I thought the important part was to get your leg into their armpit and drag them over. I found I was having some problems drilling it with Hamid, so asked Roger to help. Firstly, it would appear Hamid had his knees fairly close together and was leaning forward – that makes the armbar more difficult, but means that he is easier to sweep to one side. If as is more usual the other person is sitting back with knees out to the side, then you start off by putting your leg up on their hip (same side as whichever arm is being isolated). This is where the important part I was missing comes in: you then push off their hip, raising your own hips up sufficiently so you can bring your leg right over their head to secure the armbar. There is still some pressure from your other leg under their armpit, but it isn’t as pivotal as I thought.

Roger also explained why you shouldn’t cross your legs during an armbar, something else I’d been wondering about. If I understood him correctly, the reason is that this leaves space, because when you go for an armbar, you end up stretching out your legs for pressure. This doesn’t happen if you keep your legs uncrossed, and that enables you to curl your feet straight down rather than extending your legs out.

Next Roger demonstrated a variation, if your opponent has begun to stand up. I don’t think I quite got this one right, but first you hook your arm around the raised leg, as much as possible. As before, you then swing the legs round into position for an armbar. If you can get the submission, the technique necessarily ends there. If they’re able to defend, then you can straighten out the arm you have round their knee, push up and roll them over, going for the armbar again with them in a more vulnerable position. Useful to know, as that looked like it would help with sweeping too.

Hamid had a tendency to try and muscle his way through sparring, gripping on very tightly. This was showcased a number of times, particularly when he was going for an armbar. The first time, I ended up behind him with my arm still in, and the second time I had passed his guard almost into side control, but he was still clinging on tightly to my arm between his legs. I’m not quite sure what would happen in competition – at our current level, we’d probably just keep straining, but I assume someone with more experience would be able to use that grip to transition to a different submission.

I was able to get the scissor sweep a few times, which pleased me, and hopefully means I’m getting better at timing. Then again, I frequently misjudged, which meant Hamid got a knee through and ended up in my half-guard. This is definitely a position I want to work on, especially sweeps, as he eventually got to side-control each time. I attempted to shrimp back into guard at one point, which I’m not sure if I got, but in general I was getting passed from that position.

Roger then announced we were going to shift into mount sparring, changing partners. I was with a new person in a swish red gi, Simona. I’m not sure if she’s done stuff before, as she did mention something about ‘remembering’ (or might have been ‘forgetting’), but this was her second session at RGA. She started on top, and was fairly easy to sweep, particularly as she kept trying to grab me with both arms, meaning I could simply turn to the side. At another point she went for an armbar (which again indicates she might have done something before), but only had it on loosely so I could pull out and go to side control.

However, despite my dominance on top, I wasn’t able to get a submission. I tried going for an arm a few times, but never managed to get it trapped. As is so often the case, I probably should have thought about what we covered last time and tried that set-up where you trap the arm with your body. Next roll, hopefully I’ll be able to remember.

When we switched, she immediately swept me the first time, which seems to happen frequently. However, she didn’t have any luck sweeping me the second time. I think this was because she wasn’t isolating an arm – I could keep basing out with one or the other arm as she tried to buck me off. I attempted to then use my limited knowledge to advise her to go for an arm (finally got to use the chair analogy on someone), but didn’t quite work. She certainly went for an arm, but ended up swivelling right over underneath me, meaning I could go for a rear naked choke. Didn’t sink it in (I’m still really crappy from the back), though I did at least get my hooks in and stretch her out.

So, I want to have a look at some basic half-guard sweeps, if such a thing exists, or alternately look at escapes and getting back to guard - I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Also need to continue working my passing, as I had trouble standing up against Hamid – I had a go at the one where you raise up in order to put a knee through, but failed to get it right. This session, I was more successful with sweeps than I was with passes, though I think I managed it a couple of times. Sit-up sweeps still aren’t working for me, even though at several points Hamid actually pulled me up into position. I’m not sure if I just lack the speed or some crucial aspect of the technique, but something continues to go wrong there.

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