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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

25 July 2007

25/07/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #75

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 25/07/2007Beginners

There was a lot of talent in the room when I walked in, as a bunch of black belts – including both Felipe and Roger - grappled on the mats, while Maurição looked on. I recognised Leo, who I’m still sure must have some kind of judo in his background: he landed a number of throws on his sparring partners. The other Brazilian I’ve noticed over the past few weeks with blonde hair was also on the mats, and as I’d suspected is yet another black belt.

Roger took the class today, and kicked off with the basic trip, osoto gari. He taught it slightly differently to how I’ve seen before, as normally the process is to step past your opponent, then drag them in that direction, pulling down on their arm and up on their shoulder. Roger’s version was to step through and then pull your partner tight into your chest, so you end up standing parallel, before sweeping the leg to take them down. Always good to have a few variations, even if I continue to be less than keen on throws.

That was followed by the usual armbar from guard. Although I’ve been shown the submission plenty of times, there were plenty of useful reminders. Keep the knee tight as you post off the other hip, and make sure you really push out your own hips. If you don’t shrimp enough, then it’s going to be difficult to break their posture. Also, use your hand to push their head into place, which makes it easier to get your leg over the top.

Roger then demonstrated my favoured tailbone guard break, following the same pattern as BJ Penn: very cool, as I’ve been hoping we’d get to see this sequence in class. Get a firm hold on their belt, put a knee into their tailbone, then straighten your arms and push up and back. At the same time, your should have your other leg as far back as possible, in order to drive your hip into their crossed feet, breaking their guard.

As soon as their guard opens, you can then perform a stack pass. Slip your arms underneath both legs (I think one at a time, but not sure), get a secure gable grip then drag them towards you. Stack your opponent, aiming to push their knee right into their face (or alternately, use your shoulder). Once you’ve decided which way to pass, grab their collar with the same side hand. Move round, and with the other hand lift their hips, maintaining heavy downwards pressure. Keep pushing until eventually you drive past their leg and transition to side control.

Specific sparring from guard started off with Nathan, who I haven’t seen in a while as he’s been off doing voluntary work abroad. He’s about my weight, so always a handy training partner. His guard has definitely got tougher to pass, as I had some trouble getting through, though I think I managed to get the stack once or twice. I’m keep leaving my arm vulnerable when attempting to break the guard, so need to pay closer attention to the positioning of my elbow. Nathan was able to break my posture a few times, so that’s also somewhere I need to be careful: keep back straight and look up, with a wide base.

I managed to get a sit-up sweep when Nathan was in my guard, but it was rather sloppy – I drove my own elbow into the floor in the process. I need to be smoother on that sweep, pulling their arm in tighter, and also keep in mind the possibility of switching to a kimura, which I often forget if I fail to get the sit-up. I also must remember to go to my knees if I find myself underneath with plenty of space. The only reason I did so against Nathan was due to a reminder from Roger, so that’s something to ingrain.

Class finished up with specific sparring from mount. My next partner was Ivan, who I haven’t sparred before – judging by his accent, he’s American, or possibly just learned his English from an American (there’s a French girl in my office who has an American accent for that reason). I didn’t have too many problems under mount, successfully sweeping him a few times, but found it very difficult to maintain mount when I was on top. Ivan was repeatedly able to get double underhooks and sweep me, so clearly that’s an area I need to work on. Getting better control of my opponent’s arms would help with that, and also being careful not to lean too far forward. I tend to end up in a position where I’ve got an arm under their head while using the other to base out – that’s worked for me on occasion, but here it just resulted in continuous sweeping.

The sign-up sheet for the Bristol Open is up, so I put my name down for the under 64kg. Apparently there will be a coach to take us there and back on the day, so I shouldn’t have to worry about accommodation. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble making weight, as I’ve been maintaining about 61.5kg (without a gi), which is ideally where I want to be for the competition. That would mean I should weigh in about 63.5kg, so I’m giving myself 0.5kg leeway.

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