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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

07 June 2007

07/06/2007 - BJJ

Class #59

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 07/06/2007

Today’s session was huge – must have been at least thirty people, meaning that there was barely room to move. It did however mean that there were plenty of training partners my size, which made for a pleasant change. Also got to see a few guys I’ve not seen in a while, like Chris, who has actually managed to make Saturdays now. ;)

The warm-up was fairly intensive this time round, with lots of press-ups and the like, after which we got into drilling. Felipe started off with a collar choke from guard, following it up with a scissor sweep in case the choke attempt was blocked. You start by feeding one hand deep into their collar, aiming to get right behind their head, four fingers in and the thumb on top. Your other arm goes underneath, with the same grip. To finish, twist your hands so they are facing palm towards you, while at the same time pulling your opponent towards you. Yuvi, the guy I was working with, noted that I needed to bring my elbows closer together, which was a useful pointer – this is why I’ve no wish to abandon the beginners class any time soon, as I can always do with work on the fundamentals.

If they manage to block your second arm before you can bring it in to choke, you can move to a scissor sweep. Maintaining your grip in their collar, grab their elbow with your other hand, then perform the scissor sweep as normal. I wasn’t entirely certain whether its better to grip the wrist and pull it in tight to your chest, or go for the elbow. Normally I’d grab the wrist, but I think Felipe showed it with the elbow. Something I need to check.

Finally, Felipe also demonstrated an entirely different option from a failed scissor sweep, taking the back from guard. If they resist your scissor sweep, push them back with your shin and arm to make space. One knee should now be raised, with a hand on the floor: the position is exactly the same as the standard way to get up (knee up, leg out, arm above knee. Put hand on floor, step back and up). So, as with that basic move, your straight leg comes back and you raise up. At the same time, you grab their gi and swing their head to the floor, immediately rushing round to their back, getting both arms underneath and around their waist. I think I was initially grabbing too high – Oli demonstrated how you should stay further back, bringing your hips down to their feet.

As it was an enormous class, we unsurprisingly did ‘king of the hill’ sparring. Unusually, the class was split into three groups, one of them being under 65kg. As it happens, I’m about 64/65kg, so that’s perfect for me. This showed in that I found it much easier to maintain position than normal, though that was definitely helped by the fact there were a number of newish people in the group (except for Anne and Jon, but both of them were coming back after some time away).

For I think pretty much the first time ever, I stayed on for five rounds, which was very unusual for me, although guard is easily my most comfortable position. Rolling with new people meant I could work on relaxing, so I lay back and waited. As with yesterdays noobie roll, the new guys were clinging on and pushing with all their strength, also trying to get collar chokes from within my guard. However, while I felt quite dominant, I was making mistakes, mainly going for the scissor sweep. Ironically, I was missing out the same step I noticed Yuvi forgetting earlier, which was pulling your opponent in close to you to raise them off the ground. That meant that I kept going for a scissor, but finding myself stuck because their centre of gravity was low to the ground with a strong base.

I eventually got the scissor on the two recent joiners, after which it became a lot tougher. First up was Jonathan, against whom I ended up in half-guard. I tried to go for a sweep, having secured double-underhooks, but kept leaving his arm free, and I also don’t think I was shrimping out to the side far enough or raising up. That’s definitely another technique I need to revise. As I was struggling away with the sweep, Jon moved up to my chest, pressing his weight down. He almost got his foot free a few times, but I managed to hold on, readjusting my legs. I also had some coaching from Oli at this point, who urged me to push his knee in order to stabilise my half guard.

However, Jon successfully trapped my arm in a figure-four grip, which at first didn’t worry me until I remember I was in half rather than full guard. I thought he’d be able to finish the submission off, but either he didn’t has as good a hold as I’d thought, or I was blocking it with my head. Either way, I freed my arm and then finally got the half-guard sweep I’d been looking for, albeit rather sloppily.

Finally I rolled with Anne, and as she was able to stand up in my guard, I decided I’d try to play open guard (after failing to get the flower sweep, which continues to elude me: yet another technique that requires serious revision on my part). My aim was to get my feet into her hips and lift her over, or failing that try for an elevator, or perhaps an armbar. What happened instead was that I got a leg stuck by her head, which she had little trouble passing into side mount.

I’d already rolled with Anne earlier in the session, as we were one of the initial two pairs to spar. Like many people in the advanced class, or at least going by Owen, she had a decent open guard, and at one point I thought she was going to scissor sweep me using my arms as leverage. I managed to retain my balance, and after some struggling got double underhooks on her legs, pulling her in tight, grabbing a shoulder and passing through to side control. This pass seems to have been working fairly well for me from open guard, but it does seem to need a bit of luck at the moment. I still don’t feel entirely confident in that position, but at least I now have some options, unlike the first time I encountered open guard against Owen.

Good session on the scissor sweep, which for once I then used extensively in sparring. Can’t really claim that’s me being a sensible student and applying what we drilled to rolling though, as I tend to go for the scissor anyway. My normal next step of moving to a push sweep wasn’t too successful today, and I also had no luck with the kimura, even though the opportunity did seem to present itself a few times. I’d like to have gone for the sit-up sweep, but as usual couldn’t overcome that hesitation – an arm pressing down on me compounded that problem. Finally, I need to work on removing grips: that would make going for sweeps much easier, as I’d be able to break through blocking arms, or at least have the option.

Should be training again next week, same two classes as usual. Possibly get in a class of ZSK, but not sure yet. Until then, got a stag party to go to, having managed to get my girlfriend invited, which was extremely satisfying. Striking a blow against sexism, one stag party at a time! Cheesy

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