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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

26 April 2007

26/04/2007 - BJJ - Last class for a month

Class #57

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 26/04/2007

My last class for a month focused on escapes from scarf hold, which I’d been hoping we’d go over, as I often find myself in that position when under side control. For the first variation, Person B twists away from Person A, aiming to free an elbow, also tucking their chin close to the chest. Having made space, Person B then hooks their outside leg around one of Person A’s (hooking with the leg nearest to Person A is no use, as that puts Person B in an even more awkward position). Next, Person B grips the back of Person A’s gi and pushes their head to the floor, trying to come up on their front as they do so. Basing out with their hands, Person B then drives forward to break Person A’s headlock, wraps an arm around Person A’s head, then rolls over in the other direction. Finally, Person B gets both their hooks in and applies the rear naked choke.

For the second variation, Person B tries to bring their trapped arm into Person A’s neck, using their other arm as a support (placing the wrist of the trapped arm into the grip of the other arm). This makes it much more difficult for Person A to apply pressure. Person B then moves round with their legs towards Person A’s head. Once they’ve got far enough around, Person B raises the outside leg right up to Person A’s neck, then pulls down, ending up with Person A on their side and Person B behind. Person B moves the knee closest to Person A’s head up to meet it, then with the other makes a big step right over Person A’s body, immediately bringing their foot in tight to Person A’s stomach. To break the headlock, Person B puts a forearm into Person A’s neck, then pushes their wrist with the other arm (so the same motion as the initial part of the escape), also lifting their head and driving forward. Once the grip is broken, Person B maintains control of the arm, steps over Person A’s head and finally drops back for the armbar.

Sparring was from side control, and as ever I was making the same mistake: leaving too much space. Part of the reason I’ve been finding this so difficult is that I’m both small and weak, so can’t bring size or strength to bear. However, that’s no excuse for poor technique. I was attempting to switch base and go for mount, but kept raising up too much, and switching in the wrong direction. I also need to watch my position once I’ve switched base, so that there’s room to bring my leg over. I had the opportunity to take the back a few times, but was unable to get my hooks in, meaning that I was unceremoniously dumped on the ground.

Oli suggested that I should think about controlling the opposite hip with my elbow, and also grip behind the gi for a firm hold. I also need to remember how to position myself in order to maximise my meagre weight, pressing my chest into my opponent’s chest and ribs.

As I’m going to be off until June (except for Birmingham Throwdown on the 26th May, but that’s not a lesson), now seems a good time to reflect on the past few months. I’m most comfortable in guard, as from that position I have the most options. I’ve recently been using the elevator and push sweep, and also keeping tight with my knees if my partner starts to pass my guard. However, I’m not attempting the scissor sweep enough, which might help set up the push sweep, and I’m also continuing to avoid the sit-up and flower sweep. Both of those are useful for preparing submissions if they fail (kimura and armbar respectively), so I have to get used to at least trying those techniques.

I’m also feeling more confident when in someone else’s guard. My long-running problem of limited passing options seems to have lessened, as the tailbone pass from BJ Penn’s site has proved comparatively successful. However, I shouldn’t neglect the standing pass, and most importantly, I have to work on keeping my weight down when passing. Even if I develop a guard game, that still means that at best I’ll end up in either side control or mount, both of which require good use of weight in order to be effective.

This could be slightly rectified by developing submissions from the guard, something I very rarely go for, but that would merely avoid the problem. Every time I’m on top in mount and side control, I need to be thinking hard about how to distribute my weight. I also need to revise techniques from side control, particularly how to transition from side control to mount.

Of course, that would still leave me with a poor mount – I have had some small success with the Americana and kimura from side control, but mainly against people either my size or smaller. I’ve also been finding those submissions less effective as time has gone on, presumably due to everyone else improving their defences.

As to escapes from side control, mount, half-guard and so on, those are all aspects of BJJ I need to work on. However, I’ve mainly found myself on top, because we’ve tended to do ‘king of the hill’ sparring. Due to my inability to maintain mount and side control, that means that I’ve rapidly been going from partner to partner, especially evident today. I did at least hold position for a little longer with some people, but its that same problem of leaving too much space every time.

Therefore, my plan for the next month is to have a thorough read of Mastering Jujitsu, as well as going through my notes and trying to break down my rather sprawling technical descriptions. That task should be made easier by refreshing my memory with videos, in particularly Rowan Cunningham’s Abhaya tutorials from Google Video.

My direct debit is paused for the next month, as I’m off to Barbados on 4th May, returning to the UK on 18th May. Various social events, like my gf’s birthday, will take up the following week, so my next training is likely to be either ZSK or the Birmingham throwdown. I’ll see if I can fit in some MMA, or perhaps even wrestling, but it may well be that the next proper grappling class I get to will be RGA on 6th June.

I seem to have picked up bruises, aches, rashes and cuts on my ribs, hands, fingers, feet, legs and even face, so if nothing else, the time off might give my body a chance to recover!

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