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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

12 July 2007

12/07/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #72

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 12/07/2007Beginners

Bad news for my bashed up chin in the beginners class, as the session was all about scarf hold escapes, some of which end with a rear naked choke. However, my training partners Ben and Grant took it easy on the submission, so hopefully the growing bruise on my chin will now have some time to heal before next week.

The lesson was an exact repeat of the Big Brother session we had back in January, though minus the cameras and in a slightly different order. Good to get a refresh on those scarf hold escapes, as I realised I’d forgotten a rather essential part of the first one: making a frame.

For the first, you pull your trapped elbow to the ground, then grab your other wrist to make a frame against your partner’s neck. Move your legs towards your head, then sit up and bring your leg over their head, driving through to put Person A on their side. Swing your leg right over, then slide your heel right into their stomach. Again making a frame with your arms, push against their face to break their grip around your head, isolate an arm, step over and go for the armbar.

Second one is what I had trouble with last time. Free your elbow and get double underhooks, making a ‘gable grip’ (palm to palm with fingers wrapped round the edge, no thumb), then digging the side of your hand into their floating rib. Staying close to them, push a leg into their upper thigh, then bridge slightly. Using your knee and the gable grip, lift them up one way, then roll them in the other direction, ending up with them on their side as before. Finish the same way.

The third escape is a little different. This time when you drive your trapped elbow to the floor, you stick very close to them and bring your far leg over to hook round their near leg. Your free arm comes over their shoulder and past their face, meaning your end up on one knee, then push up with your arms to break their grip. Having already got a hook in, reach under their armpit and grab a collar, then roll them into rear mount, secure your hooks, then apply the rear naked choke.

Beginners class is normally a little less knackering because its both shorter and the people I spar tend to be fairly new to BJJ. However, this time I was rolling with two other third stripes, so was equally squashed (though it was guard passage, so there was a predetermined end to the beating). Grant dominated both Ben and I, whereas Ben had little trouble slapping on a smooth armbar when we sparred. Grant gave me some hints on where to grip, saying that it was a good idea to grab the collars with one hand and the belt with the other: staggering your hands like this makes it harder for your opponent to pull you down towards them.

My passing isn’t at all up to scratch against anybody with experience. If I try my favoured guard break where I press in the tailbone, bring a knee out and push back, I tend to get swept or armbarred due to my overly exposed arm. Standing up also inevitably ends up in a sweep. So, those still need lots of work: as Gary warned me, all my mistakes have been made very clear in the advanced class, or against anybody who’s been at RGA long enough to capitalise on sloppy technique.

Should be training again next Tuesday – this time I know it’s a sparring class in advance, but I still doubt I’ll have any energy left for the beginners class after. So, probably going to stick to four or five classes until my cardio improves.


  1. I know your pain well! Passing guard continues to be one of the basics that I work time and again. It feels sometimes that I'll never get it.

    I continue to attempt the very same guard pass you're talking about. I inevitably end up with an experienced opponent opening and then closing their legs around my arms, effectively pinning them inside. Or they pull their knees through and get my arms out wide. Frustating. Nothing to do but continue to train. :)

  2. Yeah, I tend to see it as paying my dues as a white belt. Get beat up over and over again, each time hopefully taking away some small morsel of advice. Eventually that should result in improved technique, but its going to take a while.