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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

13 March 2007

13/03/2007 - BJJ

Class #37

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 13/03/2007

Long day today, as my gf and I got up at 06:30 in Spain, caught our transfer at 07:15, then a flight to Stansted at 10:15, Stansted Express at 12:00 and finally I arrived back in the office around 13:30. I wasn’t technically in work, I’d just locked up my laptop etc there, so I did a bit of writing in one of the hot desk rooms – need to get stuck into it as the deadline is the 24th April.

This marks the first time I’ve ever made a Tuesday class, though should hopefully be making a few more now, as the second term of this academic year is about to finish. Felipe showed us a guard pass, which was pretty much the same as the basic standing pass, except that you didn’t stand up. Instead, the guard is broken from a kneeling position with one leg driven into the opponent’s tailbone, after which it was the same process of underhooking a leg and bringing it to the shoulder, sprawling, then stacking your opponent until you can push past the leg into side control.

My partner, Owen, was of the opinion that you don’t want to bring your knee up, as Felipe demonstrated. His point was that if you do that, you’re pushing your opponent’s knee right into your own leg, something which Rowan Cunningham also points out in his video of the same technique. However, Cunningham shows how you simply put your leg further back so that you can push your partner’s knee straight to the floor: that would seem to follow what Felipe demonstrated. Will be a useful variation to try in sparring next time.

Next up, usefully, was the relevant guard pass defence, which would presumably have some functionality against any pass coming under the leg. When Person A has underhooked the leg and is about to push forward, Person B pushes on Person A’s arm and also their ribs, both on the one side. Person B then uses this to shrimp out, getting one leg by the opposite side of Person A’s head, while the other drives into Person A’s stomach, as if you were setting up for a scissor sweep. Pushing down with the leg by Person A’s head and keeping tight with the one by their stomach, along with the grip on the arm and ribs, means that Person B can then adjust as necessary when Person A tries to move round into side control. Picking the right moment, Person B then pushes off from the arm and brings out both legs, returning to full guard. Felipe emphasised that it was very important to get both legs out at the same time, otherwise Person A would be able to complete their pass.

Sparring was ‘winner stays on’, but split into two groups – above and below 85kg. I wanted to work on maintaining good posture and keeping my head up, which I think I just about managed, although occasionally I did find myself pulled down in tight. At the same time, I wanted to try and stay calm and not waste too much energy, as I gassed far too quickly last time. This also seemed to work, as I wasn’t quite so knackered at the end of class – of course, that could have been laziness on my part.

I found that I was in position for my favoured pass over the knee, but was still having trouble finishing it. Firstly I wasn’t always able to exert enough force to push the knee right down, meaning that my partner recovered guard as I was pushing or just after I’d struggled to pin their leg. Secondly, I found that even when I did get the leg down, I got stuck in half-guard. Oli G gave me a useful tip as I was attempting to pass the half-guard, which was to use a grip in which I’m underhooking one arm and then also underhooking the head. This is more secure than the grip I had across the throat, which left me vulnerable to sweeps.

In general, I need to improve my positioning so that I’m using technique and body-weight rather than attempting to bring my very meagre strength to bear. Breaking the guard remains something I’m having considerable trouble with, which has resulted in an occasional reliance on the other person going for an armbar or something along those lines, thereby giving me space to attempt a pass. That can succeed, but also risks getting submitted, not to mention its relying on their mistake rather than being proactive and forcing the issue.

When I did pass, it was due to the trapping the leg, and I also remembered to isolate that leg by gripping with my hand, which better facilitated the process (as per the second of two Rowan Cunningham videos showing the standing pass over the leg, here). Last time I tried that, I ended up getting triangled, so this time I was more careful.

Sweeping proved difficult – I only got it once, from half-guard, against somebody who I think was still in their first few lessons. Nice to get, following the usual trap an arm and leg and then roll principle, but I doubt it would have much effect against somebody with more experience. I also tried for the elevator sweep, but was possibly too wary of the pass: the opportunity was there, as one leg was stretched out so could have been hooked. If I get the chance again, I should go for it and see what happens. Better still, we’ll drill it in class, although I should really get a handle on the sweeps we’ve already covered before trying something new.

If all goes as planned, should be an intensive week of training, as I can potentially make tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday. Great opportunity to get some in depth work on guard passing again, presuming later classes resemble today’s syllabus.

Final note to anyone who has been walking back from the Academy to Westbourne Park: take the 23 bus from the stop to the left on the other side of the road. Much quicker, even if you have to wait a while. I finally tried out the route, which appears to stop at the zebra crossing near the station. At the moment, I have a travelcard anyone, so no extra cost, but will have to weigh up speed versus cost once my Young Person’s Railcard runs out (though I think its only like 70p to take the bus with an Oyster card).


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