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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

22 February 2007

22/02/2007 - BJJ

Class #32

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK -22/02/2007

As expected, class continued to focus on the mount. This time, there was more emphasis on escapes. Felipe began with the same escape from mount as yesterday, then moved on to the shrimping escape. Person B shrimps to one side, pushing on the knee and aiming to get their knee past Person A’s knee. Person B then shrimps to the other side until they are able to get out their other knee, bringing their legs together into guard.

A variation which combined the two was to run through the previous escape (trap an arm and a leg, bridge and roll), but find that Person A managed to free their foot and base out. As soon as that happens, Person B should bring their same side foot underneath Person A’s knee, hooking round, using that to get their knee through, following the same process as the shrimp escape from then on.

While we were drilling, Kourosh showed me another option he’d seen in an earlier class. Person B brings their far leg all the way over to the other side of Person A’s near leg. Person B then brings the other leg under, wrapping up Person A’s leg and moving into half guard. From there, they then shrimp as before.

Sparring was all from the mount again, although unfortunately it was winner stays on despite the much smaller class size. As before, I found myself generally going up against bigger and stronger people, but had a little more success than yesterday. However, I think that’s mainly because I was mainly just bunching myself up and trying not to get swept, rather than really pushing for a submission. As before, I tried the Americana a few times, but never quite managed to get the arm all the way down. I also tried switching to side control, but didn’t fare any better – also, that kind of defeats the object of specific sparring from mount, so with hindsight not much point in me doing it!

I had an opportunity to finally try and work the techniques from class when I went up against Mario (or was it Marcio? One of those names), who had managed to armbar me yesterday. Clearly he’d been dominating from the bottom, so asked if I wanted to go on the bottom instead this time round. Would be my only chance to go from underneath that lesson, so I took the opportunity. However, I made an elemental error early on, which was not digging my elbows into his thighs to stop him moving up into a high mount. That meant I spent the rest of the spar trying not to get stuck in an Americana or a choke, bucking Mario off-balance each time he went for a sub. He did manage to almost get the Americana a few times, which I managed to (at least initially) defend by swivelling onto my side.

Failing to trap an arm or get the shrimp, I decided to go for the move to half-guard from earlier. That worked a treat, but unfortunately, I simply remained in that position, unable to work my way up the knee. Mario eventually got the Americana (think he used a slightly different grip higher up the arm). I asked him afterwards how I could improve that position, and he gave me a useful tip: shove the knee as soon as you get the space.

This made me realise that I’ve reached a similar impasse with mount that I suffered from a while back when passing the guard. Previously, I had been afraid to stand up to pass, as I was too worried about getting swept, armbarred, triangled etc. With mount, I’m currently scared to put my arms in a vulnerable position, which means I’m struggling to force myself to really commit to submissions or escape properly (due to fear of Americana etc). I overcame the aversion to standing, so now need to overcome this problem.

Also, I’m uncertain if going to half-guard is a good idea at present. Firstly, I don’t know how to use it properly, and secondly, Felipe didn’t seem pleased when he saw another beginner use it from the bottom. His point was that as beginners, we need to focus on getting back to full guard rather than sweeps from half-guard. Therefore, think I’ll leave half-guard for later (unless I get really desperate, when I guess its worth giving a go even if I’m not too sure about it).

Found out while chatting in the changing rooms that apparently four stripe whites can go to beginner classes, so aren’t restricted to the advanced class like I’d thought. In addition, I may be wrong on the stripe system, going by Mario’s experience – unless I misunderstood him, he’s been training pretty regularly since July 2006 but still hasn’t got his third stripe. I’m guessing there’s more to it (I assumed he must have had long periods off or something), as that seemed confusing.

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