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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

27 March 2007

27/03/2007 - BJJ

Class #44

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 27/03/2007

Among the many reasons I’ve heard not to train in BJJ, age comes up fairly often. Some people continue to believe that you can’t train in something like BJJ beyond your twenties, presuming that instead they’ll be forced to give their old bones a rest and take up tai chi instead.

Which is why Tony Penny is awesome. This gentleman is well into his eighties, but has recently received his blue belt from Roger Gracie. I just noticed the news on the RGA site – congrats to Tony, not only for his great personal achievement, but also the inspiration that a man of his years provides the rest of us. If you’re thinking “I’m too old for this,” or “man, my back is acting up today,” then take heart from Tony’s example – it’s never too late to start training.

Moving on to tonight’s class, Felipe went through the sit-up sweep and kimura from guard combination, which we last went through with Luciano on the 15th. Maurição was also present, and as usual was an attentive teacher, moving round the class correcting mistakes. On the sit-up sweep, it was important to note that the guard opens up before you rise to isolate the arm, and also that you make some space by scooting slightly backwards with your hips. It’s always lovely and smooth in drilling, but in sparring I tend to get stuck at the point where I’m raised up against them, due to my inability to push through my opponents resistance.

That’s where the kimura from guard comes in handy as a Plan B. Felipe went through the technique rather quicker than Jude, who seems to be a little more meticulous. I guess just a difference in teaching styles: I tend to find that I get something different out of each instructor, the multiplicity of perspectives being useful for producing a broader picture. Maurição added another detail, which was to turn you hips to make more space for the submission. Drilling with Chris, who as always was good at pointing out errors in my technique, reminded me that I need to lock down against the shoulder with my elbow. When he demonstrated what he meant on me, there was a huge difference in how much resistance I could put up if he left that shoulder free.

Sparring wasn’t king of the hill today, so I worked with Chris for the first spar. I’m still finding that the pass over the knee functions best for me, although I continue to leave my opponent too much space. That resulted in Chris twisting into various positions, at one point getting into a turtle: I went for his back, but after a bit of straining we stopped. Earlier in the spar, the positions had been reversed, but unfortunately as I was resisting, Chris hurt his knee while trying to flatten me out. Seemed ok the rest of the spar, so hopefully that won’t flare up.

Very unusually, as I went to spar with Anne, Oli G pulled me over. I assumed at first he meant I should spar somebody else in the class, but he actually meant spar him. Turned out to be useful, because as Oli is obviously far superior in technique, I could go slow, observe, and then ask what he did. That resulted in a simple but very important part of passing I realise I’ve been missing (this goes both for standing and what I call the tailbone pass): controlling the hip with one hand. I realise now that I’ve been tending to try and jump immediately into base, then struggled to open guard and often ended up getting pulled straight back down. Holding down the hip solves both those problems, as it makes my base much more secure, and also helps with opening the guard. Further proof that fundamentals are always important, even when you think you’re already sticking to the basics.

I ended up in position for an omoplata at one point, which was a useful thing to recap, but I think I’ll have to drill that again and review the Abhaya videos. As much as I try, I still can’t quite visualise the technique, so hopefully we’ll cover it in class again at some point.

Rather than having to rush off to Amersham, I’m staying with my sister this week, who lives in London. That meant that I could hang around after class for some drilling. Oli was helpful in going through triangle defence, which I worked with Chris. First, stick your hand on your head to make space. Then go for the knee near your head and grab it with both arms. Sprawl and push through, opening the legs and escaping the triangle. On top of that, Oli also helped me out with the triangle itself, with pointers like locking up the arm by pulling them in close and using my hips.

Chris noted I wasn’t pulling the arm in tight enough with armbars from guard, so I need to remember to drag that arm right up to my chest. I think I was getting a little lazy with the technique because I’m fairly happy with the drill: dangerous to ever get complacent, so that’s something I’ll have to watch.

Class finished with Anne finally getting her stripes – Maurição gave her a whole new belt, with I think three or four stripes on it. About time, as she had that year of experience in Belfast: definitely deserved, as judging by the times I’ve rolled with her, you can tell she’s at a higher level than most of the beginners.

On an entirely different note, Bullshido appears to be acting up and won't let me log in. Strange. Will just have to update my log on there tomorrow.

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