Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK -15/02/2007
Been listening to lots of Fightworks Podcasts today, which was an awesome way of making some very dull manual conflict checks a bit less painful. Also got me even more in the mood for BJJ. Today was escape from side control again, as expected, though a different technique. This time it was one I’d done before, so unfortunately I’ll remain confused about last lesson’s technique for a while longer.
Person B pushes up, moves their legs then shrimps out. Swivelling round, they reach for Person A’s knees, using that to pull themselves up. Raising their outer leg (so whichever one isn’t underneath Person A), they pull on Person A’s same side leg, pushing them over into side control. I found it a little difficult to move smoothly to side control, bumping over my partner’s knee before I got there. Not sure how to make that transition easier: too much space would be detrimental, but staying tight would make the problem even worse. Then again, staying tight seems to be generally preferable when on top.
Felipe followed up with a choke from the back counter, which we’ve also done variations of before, and I find fairly complex. As Person B goes for the knees, Person A sprawls, gripping round the neck with one hand, then reaching over to the opposite side and gripping Person B’s belt with the other hand. Moving round to that side, Person A switches their grip on the neck so that both arms are wrapped around Person B’s stomach. Person A then takes a deep grip on Person B’s gi collar, aiming to firmly pull their head down. Pushing with their knees and staying tight, Person A then rolls Person B on top of them face up and gets their hooks in, keeping their arms across Person B’s armpits so Person B can’t remove the hooks. Finally Person A changes grip again, securing the rear naked choke.
Sparring was purely side control this lesson, but instead of just with a partner or ‘winner stays on’ against the whole class, we were split into groups of three. I was with Chris (who drilled with me: I was apprehensive at first due to his considerable strength advantage, but he proved to be a helpful training partner, offering plenty of advice) and Kourosh, a fairly new guy (who is closer to my size).
As ever, I wanted to work the Americana, but found it difficult to get the arm down. Each time I went for it, Kourosh and Chris tended to successfully straighten out their arm, or grip me round the neck before I could push their elbow to the ground. I did secure it a few times, but only a small percentage of my total attempts. I think what I need to do is firstly better distribute my weight to prevent my opponent having space and leverage, and secondly prepare a follow-up. The obvious next step off a failed Americana would be going for mount: perhaps if I bring a knee in closer I could slip into mount if I felt the Americana wasn’t happening. Then again, at one point that’s exactly what I tried to do, but Kourosh was able to put me into his guard as I over-balanced.
Chris and I ended up on our feet several times, but stopped there, as it probably wasn’t a good idea to get into a takedown situation (given that neither of us, as far as I’m aware, is experienced in that area, not to mention spatial considerations). I was able to get the choke by finishing like we’d just drilled in class, though I don’t think I ever managed to sink it particularly tight. Unsurprisingly, it was much harder to feed the forearm into the neck against a fully resisting opponent, though I got enough in to get the choke. I also managed to get the choke after getting the back, using my hooks to flatten out my opponent when there. Forcing my forearm into their neck remained difficult, although easier when they were flattened out and were therefore less able to resist.
I had a “I saw this in the UFC once” moment against Chris, as he tried to take my back. Remembering the various fights in which that happened in the early MMA stuff I’ve seen (UFC 1-16, EF 1-4 and Pride 1-2), I raised my hips and aimed to drop Chris forward from my shoulders. To my surprise, it worked, though I cunningly stopped when Chris eventually ended up in side control – should have continued, as I’d started on the bottom. Oops.
I also managed to get a kimura for the first time, which was especially pleasing given Chris’ strength advantage, although on the other hand he was pretty knackered by that point. At another point I resisted his attempt at an Americana by getting my leg in the way – while his two arms are definitely stronger against my two arms, its more even if they are against an arm and a leg. No doubt the position would be ridiculous if more techniques were allowed, but it was a fun way to escape the Americana.
I’ll continue to concentrate on improving my weight distribution, as that remains a current weakness (or at least one of the main flaws) with my side control, both in applying submissions like the Americana and generally maintaining the position. Chris seemed fond of the half guard and kept trapping a leg, so that’s also something I need to work: at present, I simply end up wiggling away trying to get free (I’m assuming there is something more effective I could be doing, like perhaps loosening my opponents legs with a submission attempt, or perhaps a particular configuration of arms and elbows against their neck). I also need to think more carefully when on the bottom, as while I have a submission to try out from on top, I haven’t got any clear escapes in mind from underneath.
Unusually, Oli G decided he wanted to join in, so I had my first ever spar with a blue belt at RGA (I’ve previously rolled with blue belts at Bullshido throwdowns). He decided to be nice and kept it simple, taking mount rather than whipping out some excruciatingly painful lock – I resisted him for a little while, but I’m sure the delay was just because Oli was taking it easy.
Next week no-one is at home, so I’ll need to stay with my sister in London. Probably no bad thing, as it will mean I can’t waste time on the net, so might actually get some writing done after work – got plenty of notes to write up.