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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

19 April 2007

19/04/2007 - BJJ

Class #55

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Nick Gregoriades, London, UK - 19/04/2007

Another class with an instructor I’ve not experienced before, this time one of the brown belts, Nick Gregoriades (be sure to check out his blog). Instead of side control, his focus was on guard pass defence. The first one was slightly similar to what we’ve done before, but different set-up. Person A goes for the guard pass, and as they reach to grab the gi collar, Person B blocks their wrist, taking a firm hold of the fabric by Person A’s elbow at the same time. Person B then pushes that arm right down between their legs, comes up slightly on the same side elbow, then shrimps out. Having made space, Person B then brings their outside leg back in, swivelling into guard.

I felt I wasn’t being quite tight enough with this, and also needed to shrimp more. Could probably do with pushing further on that arm as well, so as to better facilitate the sweep. Kourosh had done the technique on Tuesday, so was able to offer some helpful tips on positioning, which was also true of our next drill.

The second guard pass defence was entirely different. As Person A comes round to pass, pushing under the leg, Person B grabs their own knee with the same side arm to block Person A, also raising their hips right up. As Person A continues to push, Person B uses that momentum to roll over their opposite shoulder (the motion is exactly like a backwards breakfall), coming to their knees. As they roll, Nick noted its important to keep the arms out to the side, to stop Person A taking your back. It also means you’re ready to go for a leg when you come up to your knees, doing the usual grab, yank and move into side control. I keep going for the wrong side with the single leg, so that’s something I’ll need to drill some more.

Sparring, which unsurprisingly was guard passage, went pretty well today. I started off with Kourosh, and had some success with the elevator sweep. I don’t think I was doing the technique quite right though, as I was still having to use a fair bit of force to get him over. I also need to remember to trap his arm, as I kept forgetting, meaning that he could simply base out to resist my sweep attempts. I had a few attempts at the push sweep too, which didn’t come off but I think did help prepare a follow-up sweep. Flower sweep continues to be a problem, though I made a small bit of progress as I got in position and lifted my partner off the ground (although Kourosh recovered his position fairly easily, his base being sufficiently steady).

I passed with the technique from BJ Penn’s site again, which is working well for me. While on the one hand that’s good, on the other I need to be careful I don’t start to rely on it too much, as otherwise I’ll find anyone proficient at the defence impossible to pass. With Kourosh I got round his guard a few times, but with Chris I continue to leave too much space when coming past, meaning he can get to his knees and escape. I tried to grab the head as I was getting the legs out the way, but I think I keep raising up and round the legs rather than driving down and pushing into side control. That’s even more the case when I’m trying to escape an armbar, which happened with Chris a few times.

When Chris was in my guard, something very weird happened. He had me stacked and almost got through, but I managed to get a knee into his stomach before he could pass. After a bit of swivelling, I somehow went from being underneath to side control, and I’m still not sure quite how. I realised afterwards Nick had been telling me to try the guard pass defence he’d shown us earlier in class, which I didn’t think to attempt. As he said, that would have been the intelligent thing to do, so I must keep in mind that its rather pointless to learn a technique in class but then never test it out in sparring. I then tried butterfly guard, but time ran out before I had the opportunity to see how it went.

Unusually, class finished off with some breathing exercises, with Nick telling us to sit cross-legged, close our eyes and concentrate on the air flowing in and out. Judging by his blog, meditative practice of this nature is something he's personally found helpful with his BJJ. In addition, he told us to visualise the techniques we’d just learned in class, which was a different approach to other instructors I’ve had. Also thought it was nice of him to ask my name as we did the hand shaking thing at the end of the class – I presume he did that to all the people he didn’t recognise, but it’s a pleasant personal touch.

Back to term-time next week, so I’ll only get to train twice, then off to Barbados. Will be painful not training BJJ again until 6th June, but then I’m going on a Caribbean holiday instead, so not exactly a cause for complaint!

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