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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

14 June 2007

14/06/2007 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #62

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 14/06/2007Beginner

I didn’t get much sleep last night, which could have been from the unfamiliar bed, lack of food or maybe just excitement at getting the third stripe (yeah, I remain a small child at heart ;P). Whichever, I was feeling pretty knackered today, so glad I decided to leave the no-gi until next week. Also would be good to try and make the beginners class on Thursday, as there are people I wouldn’t see otherwise, like Chris, who’s been an excellent training partner so far.

Felipe focused on guard passage, starting with a basic trip. It has been a little while since I last did it, which apparently was long enough for my mind to go completely blank when drilling. So, best write it down: grab deep in their collar with your opposite hand, gripping above the elbow with the other. Push them off-balance, and at the same time step forward between their legs. Remove your grip from the elbow and hoist their same-side leg up to your hip. Swing your other leg through and chop away behind their remaining leg, also pushing on the collar – this will drop them to the floor.

The next step is passing underneath the leg – step back, hook a leg, stack your opponent, then drive through into side control. This also reminded me of the ‘control position’, which I read about last month in Mastering Jujitsu. In short, that means you’ve got a good base, crouching low, one arm underneath their leg, the other trapping their shin. Felipe also demonstrated the usual leg pin pass, which again reminded me how important it was to stay tight and keep your weight pressed down. I never use the pass underneath the leg, so that’s something I should give a try: normally I’m too wary of triangles, and aim for double-underhooks instead.

Sparring was guard passage, split into weight groups, and like last time in the beginners class, I found that there were a good number of people new to the class. That enabled me to finally go for those techniques I’ve been moaning about for months. I tried the flower sweep a number of times, and did eventually get it, which I think is a first. I need to remember to post on the head, and perhaps also try using an armwrap – something I’m not quite comfortable with yet. Pulling them in closer would help too.

I also landed another of my perpetual worries, the sit-up sweep, and on another occasion managed to switch to a kimura, as my partner had his arm leaning in towards me. Although all of them were kinda sloppy, and against people who had probably never seen the technique before, I’m still glad I finally followed through on an attempt, rather than hesitating and thereby losing the opportunity. Andrew, another beginner, was clinging on very firmly to a collar choke attempt, which always seem to be fairly simple to resist in the beginners class. Having said that, I remember Diccon (noted that was the name on the register, so must be the right spelling) getting me in a very tight choke – think he managed that by raising up and getting really deep in the collar with a good bit of fabric, but not sure.

Herman and Ramis are a bit more experienced, meaning I had a tougher roll against those two. I had a chance to work my defence against both, recovering guard, although with Herman I was lucky as I think he rotated too far: I reckon he could have dropped into side control before spinning. Would be good to give spider guard a go, although I need to be careful I don’t get ahead of myself – after all, I’ve only seen it once, and that was how to pass it rather than hold the position. Oli’s words of wisdom on the scissor and push sweep being less effective as you progress rang true, as while I had the scissor locked in, I couldn’t budge Ramis. I tried switching to push and elevator, but with the same result – I did at least manage to recover guard. I think one of my problems here is that I’m not pulling my partner in and up, meaning they can keep their centre of gravity low and base strong. Along with my technique being pants, of course.

I had intended to do some drilling with Oli at the end of class, as I’m staying at my sisters this week, but cunningly forgot. Being knackered from the sparring probably didn’t help my memory: judging by my current crappy fitness, three in two days looks like my maximum, but we’ll see how it goes.


  1. What's this about a third stripe??? Congrats! While you are still languishing among us incompetents, you're... well, slightly less incompetent???

    Seriously, congrats.

  2. Cheers Steve, although I'm still not entirely sure if ability comes into it - the first two stripes were definitely based purely on time, as everyone at RGA seems to get them after around four months of regular training. The third one seems to vary a fair bit, so its possible ability comes into it, but hard to tell.

    Either way, still feeling pretty incompetent. ;)