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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

10 July 2007

10/07/2007 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #69

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 10/07/2007Advanced

I took last week off due to flu, but felt sufficiently recovered to try out the new Tuesday one hour advanced gi class. I wasn’t 100%, but thought that as it was only an hour, that should be a good way to get back into training. Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t an ordinary session. Pretty much the whole of that one hour was spent sparring.

Things kicked off with specific sparring from side control. I was with Owen, who normally gives me a good beating with his open guard. Tonight, I was either squashed underneath his side control, or flung about on top. At least this thorough arse kicking gave me a chance to work escapes from underneath, which is exactly what I’d been hoping to focus on. I was remembering to get my forearm into position pressing against my opponent’s neck, with another forearm digging into their ribs. However, I had trouble pushing up to make any space, generally remaining trapped between Owen’s upper body and his knee.

So, I need to work my hips more, as well as bridge more often and with greater force. I also should try some different escapes, such as the one where you go for an underhook and try to get to your knees. The idea there is to feed your hand through their armpit, then reach round for the gi: I saw a video of Marcelo Garcia recently where he demonstrates this, although he’s going for the back rather than just getting to his knees.

Class then moved on to the ‘king of the hill’ set-up, by which point I was totally knackered, so took the opportunity for a slight respite. I rolled with a few people I haven’t had a chance to talk to before, including Dave (a tall guy), Machik (or however that’s spelt – Macik, perhaps? He’s an even taller guy) and someone closer to my height, Vitor. Things went much as before, though I think when I then went up against Owen again, I did at least manage to get half guard, if only briefly. From under side control, I brought my far leg over to trap one of Owen’s, then worked my way to half-guard from there. Owen soon regained control, but at least it made a change from repeated smashing while waiting to get mounted.

The last fifteen minutes was spent free sparring, where again I went with Owen. I’d expected to get entangled in open guard, but ended up in his closed guard instead. Main thing of interest for me was a triangle attempt on his part, which I just about managed to resist by grabbing hold of his knee and driving it to the floor. I think he then switched to an armbar, but probably due to his increasing fatigue, I was able to scramble free. I’d been reading JohnnyS’ tutorial on triangle escapes earlier, but was only able to remember the last one of the three.

Felipe gestured to us half-way through, indicated that he wanted Owen and I to switch partners, meaning that I rolled with Vitor instead. This proved to be a quite different spar, as while Vitor was equally capable of smashing me, he took the educational approach, offering a whole bunch of useful tips. First of all, he reminded me to keep my head up when going for the clinch, otherwise its easy for my opponent to simply drag me down. On a related note, if they grab my gi, I should respond in kind, again to avoid them simply sweeping me.

Vitor generally took it fairly easy, allowing me to try an escape from an omoplata (or it might have been an armbar?), which I vaguely remembered was to roll over. Seemed to work ok, though as I haven’t been taught that one in class yet, will need to check with an instructor at some point to make sure I’m at least working towards the right technique.

I also had the chance to try escaping a few armbars, and attempting to pass guard. In the advanced class, I find that I tend to get pulled to one side when trying to pass, normally meaning they then go for an arm or some other kind of sweep. I was able to push Vitor back down a few times (either because he’s a bit smaller than the other guys or more likely, he was taking it easy), but it didn’t take long for me to again find myself under side control and mount. As with Owen, I got stuck with my forearms in place, so I’m going to have to go over the technique carefully.

On top, it might be of use to try and see if I can simply maintain the position, as even that is proving difficult at present. I went too far forward on a number of occasions, meaning I could simply be swept, and I think I was also a little hasty in transitioning from a grip under the head and around the arm to the position where you’ve got a hand against the hip. I need to take greater care before switching, as each time I went for the hip, rather than helping my defence it seemed to provide my partner with sufficient space to shrimp out.

I’m also failing to move into a secure scarf hold, which should be a strong controlling position. Here too I’m leaving too much space, and tend to find my opponent is able to recover guard. The usual mantra of weight distribution continues to apply, so as I’ve frequently moaned in this log, I need to use position to make myself heavier in side control.

At one point I had a good grip on Vitor’s leg from underneath, so started trying to go for a single-leg takedown, but stayed far too flat, meaning he could take my back and then got some kind of armbar (I think). I should have brought a leg up and driven with my head: still, at least I remembered to go for that hold behind the knee, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever really attempted in sparring.

I had initially intended to do the beginners class straight after, but was far too knackered. If nothing else, then attending the sparring class on Tuesday should be great for my fitness. That should in turn help immensely in working technique, as then I can make more classes and last longer in sparring.

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