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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

06 June 2007

06/06/2007 - BJJ

Class #58

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 06/06/2007

Really felt good to put the gi on today, which marks the first time I’ve worn it since the 26th April. Just like that day, I had a roll with Owen before class started, which reminded me how much I prefer the gi (though that’s not exactly surprising considering how little no-gi I’ve done). Unlike the throwdown rolling, I was able to pause and think due to gi grips. I also had a chance to put the side control tips from Colin into action, although I’m still not putting my hips down enough. However, I think Owen was going easy on me, as I didn’t feel much resistance transitioning to knee on belly then mount. The roll was cut short due to a private lesson, but that was fine by me – one roll was quite enough to start with!

Lesson this time round was taken by Roger Gracie, which is always nice. I get the impression he goes through techniques a little quicker than Felipe or Jude, but not sure: either way, always awesome to have a world champion teaching. There were a lot of new faces, or at least ones I hadn’t spoken to before, like Grant the prison guard, or yet another Brazilian, Italo (seem to be loads of them).

Roger went through fundamentals, starting with a double-leg takedown – mine still need a lot of work, as I think I was making noobie errors on head and leg positioning. I was partnered up with Italo, who was very new to the class (this was his second week, I think), which also meant he directed plenty of questions to Roger. Unfortunately, those questions were made and answered in Brazilian, though that’s to be expected as I don’t think Italo’s English is that great yet.

After the double-leg, Roger kept it basic, moving through scissor sweep and push sweep. In a variation on that, Roger also demonstrated how to perform a kimura from guard off a failed push sweep. Having got to the point where you trying to scissor your opponent over, you find that they have managed to base out with a hand, due to your grip on their arm being insufficient. If that happens, then maintaining a hold of their wrist, raise up and bring your arm over their elbow, looping round to grab your own wrist and make a figure-four. At the same time (I think), you shrimp out in the direction of the arm, bringing your leg up onto their back and pushing down. Finally, pull down on their upper arm, then push to get the submission.

Next up was guard passage, which as I was with a beginner proved a comparatively gentle re-entry in the Roger Gracie Academy. Italo, like most people in their first few weeks, was trying to use all his strength, clinging on with his arms and pushing down, also attempting collar chokes from within my guard. I tend to find it difficult to do much against new people who are intent on squashing me, so relaxed and waited for an opportunity. I can’t remember if I had too much success sweeping, though I did have a go at an armbar when he stood up. I hooked the leg, but didn’t bring him in close enough or raise my hips sufficiently: still, good to try something I don’t often attempt.

On top I was able to get a few passes, though as in the reverse situation, Italo was pushing hard with his arms. The double-underhooks pass worked nicely, moving through to side control. At another point, I was basically in side control, but with Italo pushing fiercely against my arms, so hadn’t managed to get the underhook on his head and arms. I don’t think that’s likely to happen too often, but probably worth me thinking of some kind of solution – I basically tried to switch base, which made me feel more secure, but still didn’t give me control of his head.

Roger then went back to drilling, taking it right back to the basics with the escape from mount. He also told us to follow up with an armbar or collar choke, which was good to try out again. The technique was immediately followed up by more sparring, this time from mount. We switched partners, so I went with Nathan, which was cool as he is one of the few faces I recognised. Also saw Herman, who is now back from his long tour, though apparently his band is off again this week (if only to the Download festival, so at least in the country).

I found it fairly straightforward underneath Nathan, at least at first, getting several sweeps using the usual principle of trap and roll. I could probably have isolated the arm better at points, but it did seem to function ok – however, as always when I spar with people my own size or less, I’m not sure if I was relying too much on force, as later I found I was straining slightly. Nevertheless, I’m pleased I was able to prevent Nathan getting high mount, though I still need to watch where I put my elbows. On the knees is no good (if I’m remembering Colin’s advice correctly), so I was trying to aim for the inner thigh instead.

On top, I was able to maintain my position, but continue to have real trouble with submission from mount. I anticipated Nathan trying to isolate one side, simply switching the arm under his head in order to base, but that didn’t help make space for subs. I did try moving my knees up, hoping to pop one of his arms up, but wasn’t able to expose the limb. So, still need to work on making space, and also use my legs and hips more to hold position so that I can raise up and use my upper body for Americana attempts and the like.

Training again tomorrow – my muscles are already complaining at being put to work after a month off, but should hopefully be ok for Thursday night.

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