Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Leonardo Leite, London, UK - 21/06/2007 – No-Gi
Recently there have been a bunch of Brazilian guys I haven’t seen before hanging around the academy, who I presumed were friends of Felipe or Roger visiting. One of them wears a black belt, and is apparently called Leo: Zaf mentioned that he was here to prepare for the Mundials. He was also helping out with teaching, and took both classes today.
Leo is clearly keen on fitness, running everyone through a load of different exercises before we got on to the main technical section. Today also marked my first no-gi class, which I was a little apprehensive about, but also excited as its something quite different from anything I’ve done before. Its also the first time I’ve really had a chance to use my rash guard – breakfalling seems a lot more painful, and there is nothing to wipe your sweat on, but it is a lot more comfortable than a bulky gi jacket.
Leo began with two takedowns, both from an over-under clinch. You start with one hand behind your partner’s head (as opposed to neck: if you grip the neck, that gives them more opportunity to resist), the other hand on the inside of their arm, gripping their bicep. Pull them down and to the side using both your holds, keeping them tight as you do so. Keep going in both directions until they try to raise up, whereupon you step a knee in between their legs, duck down, grab behind and beneath their bum, then raise up and sideways for the double leg.
Next variation is if they’ve got a hold on your wrist with their same side arm. You twist your hand out and around, coming through with your other arm to grab their tricep on their gripping arm. Pull that down and past you, simultaneously stepping in tight with your knee between their legs. Switch your grip to behind them as before, but this time move the knee that was between their legs to the outside, you head on the other side, then drop them over that knee.
Leo followed this up with ‘king of the hill’ sparring, which unusually for me was takedowns from standing. I didn’t have much of an idea what to do, so tried to observe what everyone else was doing carefully. I attempted to get a clinch and try to get my hips back, but generally got either swept by my leg, or at one point someone did some sort of sacrifice throw (I think: not sure what the right term is, but he ended up alongside me). It’s going to take a long time to get used to takedowns, but it would seem one thing of importance from today was to be more careful of my leg position.
The lesson then moved into side control. The technique was Americana from side control, followed by a kimura. You begin with the usual arm underneath their head and other one slipped past their arm. The arm under their head reaches right up into their armpit, which you then use to pull them in tight. Your shoulder then digs into their face and arm, aiming to get it down to the ground. Once its isolated – helped by their more vulnerable position on their side – switch you elbow to the other side of their head, grab the wrist, then slip your other arm underneath by their elbow joint to go for the Americana.
If they manage to overhook your arm first, you can instead go for a kimura from side control. Using your grip on the arm, pull them in even tighter, so that they go up on their side, then step round and brace your knee against their back, to stop them getting their shoulders back to the ground. Switch your hold on their arm, then twist round for the kimura.
Next we did some specific sparring from side control. I was with Zaf, who is significantly stronger than me, but proved a good training partner nonetheless. Like he’d mentioned to Ben some months ago, he gave me tips on getting my weight down in side control. Recently, I’ve been sprawling out on one leg, bringing the knee of the other into their hips. Zaf advised that instead, I should sprawl out with both legs, coming up on my toes and driving down with my hips. If I need to block their hips, I can simply twist and press my own hip downwards, or bring the knee in as necessary (though this may well remove some of the pressure from my side control, unlike using the hip).
In free sparring, I was able to mount Zaf a few times and maintain the position, but that was it. My attempts to walk up into high mount and see if I could free a limb for an Americana or armbar met with little success. I also imagine Zaf could have easily thrown me off if he’d used his considerable reserves of power. I tried to switch into knee on belly before transitioning to mount, but I think I mostly just swung my leg over, which isn’t a good habit. I attempted to open up some space with my hips first, by shunting towards his head, which seemed to help a little.
My second partner was Oli, who unsurprisingly had little trouble subbing me from various positions. I resisted his RNC attempt for a while, trying to bridge up from his back mount and pull on his choking arm, but he methodically worked his other arm into position for the choke. However, I’m glad that I at least have something to go for rather than simply flail about aimlessly: should improve over time. I’m expecting to get a lot of practice doing escapes.
Finally, I rolled with Alex, a brown belt. I don’t think I approached it as well as I could have, as I think I was a little overawed, so played it cautious. He caught me in a series of submissions, as you’d expect. Next time, I want to concentrate more carefully on what he’s doing to try and figure out how he does it, or at least pick up some tips, rather than just backing off all the time.
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jnp's Grappling Principles
21 June 2007