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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

11 April 2007

11/04/2007 - BJJ

Class #51

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 11/04/2007

Interesting lesson today, as unusually it was all about the half guard. Jude showed us two escapes from half guard, which surprised me: I had thought half guard instruction was normally restricted to the advanced class. Very handy to see it demonstrated, as it’s a position us beginners often end up in during side control sparring, though normally in the "cling desperately to stop them getting mount" sense rather than anything constructive.

For the first escape, Person A is in Person B’s half guard, with one arm behind Person B’s neck, the other on top of their arm. First, Person A thrusts their shoulder into Person B’s face, in order to loosen Person B’s grip on Person A’s waist, meaning that Person A can push on the shoulder and get an underhook. Person A’s free foot should be perpendicular to Person B’s body, to stop them rolling in that direction. Having got the underhook, Person A then brings the elbow of their other arm round to the side of Person B’s head. Person A then shifts their base, aiming to get the trapped foot flat on the floor. Finally, Person A uses the arm against Person B’s head to wrap up Person B’s free arm (pushing that into Person B’s cheek), posts on a knee then frees their foot, finishing in side control.

The next method Jude showed was from a similar position. This time, when Person A has got their elbow to the head and switched base, Person A pushes their knee down. Using their other leg, they reach back to push against Person B’s knees, aiming to make space to bring their trapped leg over and into mount. I got rather confused about which arm went where at this point, pulling Pedro’s arm over his head in an entirely unnecessary fashion. Still don’t think I’ve got that technique down, so will hopefully go through it again at some point.

Last technique for today was a half guard sweep. This was similar to the escape from side control in principle. Person B makes space (I think by pushing with their shoulder, but not certain), then gets the underhook, so they have a firm grip around Person A’s waist. Person B then shrimps to the same side as the underhook, coming up on their elbow and pushing through to escape. Looked comparatively simple, but having been stuck in that position a number of times before, definitely doesn’t seem that way with a fully resisting opponent’s weight on top of you! Checking YouTube, this looks fairly similar (except he grabs the arm) - that guy also has a blog, here, although appears to be in Portuguese.

Sparring began with guard passage, where I found yet again that I couldn’t make myself go for the sit-up sweep, even though my opponent was leaning right back. However, I am glad that I remembered the guard defence from yesterday, or at least the first part with the arms. That enable me to recover guard. I also felt a bit more secure in open guard, but the sweep I eventually got was kind of sloppy, and I’m not entirely certain whether it was my partner’s mistake or my technique. I ended on top, but far from smoothly.

Passing I wasn’t too crisp either. I think if I’m going for the pass where I lift my opponent up on my knee, then push my other knee to the side and dig my hip into their ankles, I need to stay lower. I keep raising up, which messes up my posture: I need to either go right up and try the standing pass, or stay low, rather than an awkward middle point. I did manage to pass, but again it was scrappy.

Against Pedro, I found it difficult to do much from underneath, as he is significantly bigger and stronger than I am. For almost the entirety of that spar, I was underneath his chest getting smothered. I was able to make enough space to breathe using my chin and legs, but only just. Right near the end, my guard opened up and Pedro went for something, whereupon I was able to scramble on top and get side control. Reversing the position is positive, but much less so if I’m not sure how I got there!

Had Pedro vaguely in position for a flower sweep a number of times, as I had a grip on his tricep and behind his neck, but couldn’t make space to swivel round. He has a weight advantage, but still – I probably should have tried harder to bridge and get the position. As with the sit-up sweep, I seem to be having trouble going for the attempt.

I took dangerously long to tap against Jon, as he had me in a firm kimura. For some reason, I decided to try and roll out of it (I think I must have got it confused with the armbar), meaning that it became all the tighter. If I’d had a less careful training partner, I could have easily screwed up my arm and been out for weeks. Lucky that my stupidity didn’t cost me this time, so hopefully this will serve as a reminder to always tap in class when a hold is locked on. Testing out an escape is not worth a busted arm.

Should be training again tomorrow, presuming the arm doesn’t turn out to be more hurt than it feels at the moment.

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