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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

17 March 2007

17/03/2007 - BJJ

Class #40

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 17/03/2007

Interesting class, as today we had the pleasant surprise of being taught by Roger Gracie’s father, 7th degree black belt and founder of Gracie Barra UK, Maurição Gomes. He ran his class a bit different from Jude, Felipe or his son, adding in some warm-up exercises I don’t think I’ve ever done before. For example, one where you are squatting with your hands on the floor, bouncing slightly, bring a leg back on each bounce. We also did ones I am familiar with but have never done in class, like hindu press-ups (or ‘divebomber press-ups’).

Maurição started off with an arm throw, which is accomplished by pulling an arm in tight, then underhooking, using that to lift your opponent up onto your back then drop them off to one side. I kept accidentally putting my shoulder into it instead, which meant I had the arm too high. Maurição added the variation of getting an arm bar, which seems to be the basic submission after a takedown (at least judging by the throws we’ve done so far, tending to end with control on the arm).

Next was a method of moving from side control to mount. Twisting away from the head (like in my preferred Americana set-up), you push up the elbow nearest to you, then press the inside of your opponent’s own elbow into their neck, returning to side control and trapping that arm with one of your own. This should then facilitate shifting through to full mount. I’m not quite sure what the principle was, but at least I didn’t have too much difficulty with performing the drill.

Maurição then showed us a single leg escape from side control. Person B shrimps out, going to their knees. They then reach over for the opposite leg (I tried to remember it as the one my chin points towards, which is a bit random but appeared to help), posting up a leg and wrapping both legs round, then pulling that leg towards you while thrusting with your head and shoulder around the other side. This should enable you to push through for side control. That escape also leant itself well to drilling, as it could be done continuously in a pair. Unfortunately I was in a three, so couldn’t drill quite as much as normal, but still got plenty of chance to practice (I was with two of the Polish people, Radik and Christina, who proceeded to chat in Polish, understandably).

Sparring began with winner stays on guard passing. I really need to get some more options when it comes to passing, as I still only have two to go for. I was able to keep my posture and base, and resisted submissions, but didn’t have much success in a proactive sense. I thought that the first guy (Chiago? Something like that) was going to go for the arm bar, and I was all ready to escape and push round, but then he somehow swept me. I asked what I did wrong, but I guess he’s not used to being asked, as he had no idea so couldn’t offer any advice.

Next I was with Radik, but time ran out before we had a chance to reach a conclusion. The lesson moved on to one-on-one side control. Radik is clearly a lot stronger than me, and was thrashing away underneath side control – initially, he was able to throw me off basically by exerting lots of energy. However, I was able to maintain position after that, holding on to a leg to try and keep him in place, picking my moment to move into full mount. My usual Americana attempt was unsuccessful, as Radik had no trouble powering out and straightening his arm.

On the bottom, I had trouble stopping Radik bursting through my defences. However, I was able to hold him in half-guard once I got a leg, and tried to keep working so I’d learn something. I thought there were a few openings to try and throw him over, but I don’t know sufficient technique, and certainly don’t have enough strength to power through (though that was be an extremely bad habit to get into anyway). Mainly, I was trying to push my leg through to get full guard, but struggled to make space for shrimping.

Maurição is an attentive teacher, although that may have been helped by the smaller class size this time round. He frequently checked up on everyone’s technique during drilling, making me think of the old stories about Royce only being able to say “Stop!” and “like this.” Of course, Maurição’s English is much better than that, but he still repeatedly called out “Stop!” in order to correct somebody’s position. I didn’t get the pleasure of any personal attention, but as I was in a three I did get to have a good look at Maurição polishing my two partner’s drilling. Small tips like keeping your feet in together when throwing, or staying close and not bending your back when attempting takedowns.

I continue to be rather limited in my guard passing and side control, so need to work on refining the techniques I do know, then adding a couple more so I have some further options. Better still would be developing follow-ups when I fail to pull off a particular move. What’s great about the beginners class is the chance to get stuck in to the basics, so I should try and get my cardio up so that when I move to the advanced class, I can make both. Of course, should still be a fair while before my third strip – if it follows the purely chronological pattern, then I’d get it in April, but if there is skill involved, will be much much longer. My guard passage and mount remain especially poor, though I’m making slight progress with the guard.

As it was a Saturday, I could relax and hang around afterwards – no need to rush off to Birmingham, as my gf only gets back tomorrow. Still need to make sure I don’t leave the guinea pig all lonely, but that gives me enough time to take a look at the advanced class. On Saturday’s that all sparring, so I got to watch two purple belts calmly analysing each other while one hung suspended by his legs, eventually sweeping from a submission attempt. In addition, cool to see Jude what looked like some kind of omoplata sweep from that same standing position – possible what he was referring to on Wednesday? Also cool that he remembered my name, having a brief chat as he went to check something behind the desk.

Reminds me that I wanted to ask if I’d be able to book a private lesson with him when my direct debit is paused in May, or have to wait until after. I’m on holiday for most of that month, but would have a week and a bit to attend a private. As I’ll be saving £90, seems like an excellent time to give it a try.

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