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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

15 March 2007

15/03/2007 - BJJ

Class #39

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Luciano Cristovam, London, UK - 15/03/2007

No Felipe today, as he left after the advanced class, meaning I had my third ever lesson under a purple belt. Luciano ran a more fitness intensive class than Felipe, adding in a bunch of star jumps, sit-ups, press-ups, squats etc to the usual running round warm-up.

Technique-wise, however, things continued where Jude and Felipe had left off, focusing on the guard. After going through the double-leg again, Luciano showed us the sit-up sweep, which is always good to drill. Points I need to keep in mind are getting my arm-pit right up to their shoulder and pushing up with the hips. I almost never go for the sit-up in sparring, as I keep being too worried that I can’t raise up far enough and quick enough before I get passed.

Keeping the kimura (which Luciano demonstrated next) in mind may help me overcome that niggling fear of raising up. I must remember to push the arm out and away from easy handholds – Chris helped to drum that into my skull by grabbing onto my gi if I didn’t get his arm out far enough. I also found that I had trouble bending his arm: I kept putting the figure four on too loosely, and sometimes even forgetting because I was concentrating on getting the arm out to the side. Another tip is how to break Person A’s grip if they are holding you down in guard by both lapels: simply reach underneath with both hands and push upwards against the inside of their wrists.

Finally, Luciano went through the armbar from guard, which I’ll write down here again to remind myself. Person B isolates an arm, grabbing the wrist with their same side arm, then coming underneath Person A’s other arm to grip the elbow. Importantly, Person B then drags that arm right over to the opposite side. Next, Person B puts their foot on the same hip as the isolated arm, pushing off that so they can make room for their other leg. This pushes down on Person A, aiming to break their posture, so it becomes easier to bring the leg which was on a hip round Person A’s head, then secure the armbar, remembering not to cross the legs.

Luciano didn’t mention raising the hips by pushing off Person A’s hip, but that may be because he prefers a slightly different set-up (or perhaps he thought it was obvious).

Sparring was with just the one person, which I prefer. I started off with a guy called Jude (not the instructor, obviously!), who has a bit of a size advantage. This showed when he was in my guard, as I had real trouble pulling him down, meaning I couldn’t get off the scissor and flower sweeps I wanted to try. What I should have done was do that grip break Luciano showed us (coming up underneath and in-between the hands), then gone for a sit-up sweep and/or kimura. Alternately, I could have tried an armbar, but wasn’t brave enough: I absolutely must get more comfortable with opening my guard, as its acting as a hindrance to certain techniques.

I didn’t manage anything from the bottom, merely resisting for a while before getting passed, but I did have some success on top. Jude was really working for the ankle grab sweep when I stood up, but I didn’t have too much trouble maintaining base – it could just be us beginners haven’t sufficiently familiarised ourselves with standing sweeps, but so far I haven’t found it overly difficult to resist. I was eventually able to get round into side control, as Jude gave me sufficient space to move round his legs.

It seems I’m still waiting for mistakes when passing, however, when I should be forcing the issue. I need to work on my guard breaks, although I am at least standing up more readily now, so that’s progress from my previous hesitancy. Something else I need to be careful of is, conversely, letting my opponent too close I’m in their guard. At one point, Jude was able to put on a fairly uncomfortable crush against my face – though I managed to escape after some struggling, I can see that being a potential submission if I’m not careful and don’t remain calm.

I wanted to go against someone my own weight and build next, so made a beeline for Nathan. We had switched from guard-passing to side control sparring, where I had some success. As in the past, I was getting the Americana repeatedly, though I need to remember to shrimp away from the head, then grab the wrist with my hand nearest their head (I think: occasionally mix those up). At one point I thought Nathan was going to get out of it, but I kept cranking and got the sub. Not sure if that would have worked against somebody stronger, and I also think I need to think more carefully about how to get the Americana from a tighter twist, such as when my opponent has managed to turn to their side and brought their arm in close.

I wanted to try something else after getting the Americana, as otherwise I wasn’t learning anything. Unfortunately, my mind went completely blank when trying to remember any other submissions, though that meant I could go for the mount instead. As with the guard, I found I was waiting for mistakes, although I was able to maintain my position when Nathan went for sweeps.

Underneath side control, I attempted the push up and shrimp out escape. However, Nathan was good at stopping that by moving round quickly and going for scarf hold. He also attempted some kind of twisting collar choke that involved stepping round into North/South – this is something Jeff also went for some time ago. I was able to stop him (only just, though) by keeping a firm grip on his gi and moving round in the same direction, so the choke could never quite go on. Probably due to fatigue, Nathan left space each time, meaning that I was able to come to my knees the first time and push down into side control. On the second occasion I was much more sloppy: when I found some space, I basically rushed forward and ended up in Nathan’s guard. Not exactly sure how that happened, but it definitely wouldn’t work against anybody either stronger than me or good at keeping their weight down in side control. I also need to get better at stopping the guy on top moving round – I don’t think I was getting my knee in the way as much as I should, although grabbing onto a hip seemed to have some effect.

Plan to train again on Saturday, which means I’ll get in four lessons this week. More than makes up for the crappy trains last Wednesday, so I’m glad my gf’s travel arrangements mean I have the opportunity!

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