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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

18 July 2007

18/07/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #73

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Marcio Gomes, London, UK - 18/07/2007Beginners

Ended up not making the Tuesday sparring class after all, because I forgot I had a dentists appointment that day. Finally got my third wisdom tooth extracted, which has been bothering me for years, but that meant that I apparently couldn’t do “vigorous exercise”, as that would raise my blood pressure and therefore cause excessive bleeding.

Today I had yet another excuse, though somewhat random: I had to bake a cake. No, really. It’s a thing my department does every week, which due to the size of our branch means that people generally end up doing it once a year each. This week its my turn.

Still, I could at least fit in the beginners, and that would give my tooth (or rather, my gum) a bit more time to recover. Class was taken by Marcio, unusually, who I first met back at the Brighton Throwdown - the website for his club can be found here. I was looking forward to seeing what a typical Gracie Barra Brighton class would be like: as it turned out, fairly similar to the normal RGA session.

Marcio ran through double legs (for which he initially gave the Portuguese term, which is baiana), starting off with the one where you fling the arms up then drop down, followed by the same takedown we did in no-gi last week (underhooks, pull in their hips, push against their chest with your head). Important point Marcio noted when he me doing it wrong was to get a good grip on your wrists: i.e., clamp one hand onto your other wrist to secure the hold, rather than just gripping your opponent around their waist.

Using a vaguely similar principle, Marcio then moved to escapes from side control. The first one I don’t think I’ve seen before, though its similar to the escape where you come to your knees. Both escapes we saw tonight were dependant on the other person’s grip: this initial technique was for when they gripped under your head and arm. Apparently, this is the less ‘correct’ way to hold side control. From that position, you push up with the forearm under their neck, then slide your other hand over your chest and on top of their back, palm down. You then follow that arm, pushing away from the neck and spinning over onto their back with their head under your chest.

The second method is the one I’m more familiar with, which operates from the ‘right’ way to hold side control (or perhaps its just the more common way?) Instead of the grip under the head and arm, this time it was the grip under the head with the other hand by their hip. Escaping this time involves getting an underhook as before, but also getting an underhook with the forearm that was against their neck. At the same time, you should be driving forward and through with your head, eventually coming to your knees.

My partner throughout was a second stripe called Ian, who started before me in September, but has had a few months off. Sparring began from side control, as you’d expect – I managed to get half guard a few times, which seemed to be the main way I escaped. However, I think Ian was a little rusty from his time off, so don’t think that’s an indication of improved technique on my part: I was still having trouble making space, but capable of wrapping up his leg as he attempted to move into mount.

On top I got mount a couple of times, but I also got swept. Ian is about 10kg heavier than me, but still my positioning on top remains sloppy. I did at least try and transition, moving round the north-south, but I continue to find it difficult moving into scarf hold and staying there. Scarf hold is supposed to be a very strong controlling position, so I’m clearly doing something very wrong if I’m so unstable with that pin.

Next we went from mount. Ian couldn’t remember having done mount escapes before at all, which meant I was able to pretty much hold him in place for most of the time by switching hands by his head, keeping my legs tight and staying low. Once I realised he was unsure of what the escapes were, I quickly went through the upa and elbow escape (which I’ve been referring to as shrimping out – think it’s the same thing, but could be getting my terminology mixed up), which seemed to refresh his memory.

However, on several occasions he effectively gave me his back, but I wasn’t able to get my hooks in and therefore ended up in guard. That definitely shouldn’t be happening, so I need to work on staying tight if the person underneath tries to spin round. Its not a position I find myself in often, which no doubt contributes to my crapness at adjusting, but that’s no excuse for sloppy technique. I managed to get an armbar at one point, which was nice, but that was because he didn’t realise I was trapping his arm with my chest: perhaps he hasn’t seen that set-up for a while. Either way, think it was again due to his time off rather than skill on my part.

I’m not sure I actually got a chance to work from underneath mount at that point, but soon did during the next spar, which (unless I misunderstood Marcio, which is certainly possible) started from guard, then just kept going. I got half-guard a couple of times, but completely failed to get the sit-up sweep despite a good opportunity. I probably should have gone for the kimura at that point, but either forgot or was pushed back down with sufficient speed that Ian could negate the attempt. We finished up with me struggling to escape mount, at one point popping out through his legs, though I think he then recovered his position via side control.

Should hopefully be training twice again tomorrow – cake baking should be interesting. I normally do the same thing, but as I’m a shockingly bad cook, may well still mess it up. But hey, I’m not the one who has to eat it...

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