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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

09 August 2007

09/08/2007 - BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #79

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 09/08/2007No-Gi

Still felt a little dodgy during the day, but didn’t want to miss yet another advanced class: its been over a fortnight since my last one. As we were going to have the pleasure of Maurição teaching again, I’m glad I decided to turn up. Also meant I could pick up my shiny bronze medal, which is more elaborate than I expected: little picture and ‘Bristol Open 2007’ written on it, making for an attractive souvenir of my first event.

He started with a technique for switching to the back from an over under clinch (which I think the name for when you’ve got one hand on their head, the other on their bicep – its in Mastering Jujitsu, but haven’t got my copy with me). Duck underneath the bicep you’re holding, maintaining that grip without moving the arm, then move round behind them and grab them around the waist.

To change this into a take down and arm triangle, the technique is slightly different. Your grip on the bicep stays in place rather than moving down to their waist, and you use your foot to push against their heel, fall back and take them down. Due to your hold on the arm, you can shove that across their neck and move to a sort of scarf hold as you go down. Bring one arm underneath their neck, pressing with the forearm, then grab your own bicep. Your head should be pressed into their’s, also driving your hips forward while sticking close to their body. To tighten the triangle, you can either put your hand to your forehead, grab your own head, or bring your hand to your ear. I was having some trouble getting my training partner Rodney’s arm into his throat, but eventually managed it with some adjusting and greater pressure from my head.

Next we did a drill for holding guard. As there is no gi to provide handles, you need to keep hold of the head and pull it into your chest, ideally then grabbing your own shin in order to move into a submission. To escape from the opposite position, push on their elbows, or come up underneath their arms. At least that’s what I tried to do during the resistance drilling, which sort of worked, but not with much consistency. A position I definitely need to work, as I often end up getting stuck there.

The final technique was a standing pass, which I’ll call a single leg stack pass. It follows a similar principle to the normal stack pass, but this time its from standing and only focuses on the one leg. Once you’ve stood up and opened their guard, gable grip low on their leg, staying very tight. Lean your weight forward, aiming to drive their leg into their face, and push through until you can slide into side control.

Sparring was in a line, with everyone facing each other then moving one person to the right. I think I sparred about four or five people in total this way, and felt a bit more comfortable than normal. I started off with Oli, who took it fairly easy on me, turtling from the off. We then shifted through various positions, generally involving me getting squashed as usual, but he mentioned that I was basically doing the right thing in my attempts to escape. However, when someone’s turtling I should go for a grip under their arm and around their head, rather than the hold around the waist I was using, which is less useful.

For all my next spars, I pulled guard. That didn’t help too much against Vitor, who got me in a bunch of submissions, some of them coming from random places like a triangle as I was popping out from behind him. With everyone else, I generally then ended up holding half-guard for the duration of the spar, which is better than getting squished, but not hugely constructive at the moment. I need to improve my sweeps from there, and returning to full guard. With Stuart, I held closed guard for a little while, attempting to slip my arm round for a guillotine at one point, but as tends to happen with that submission I couldn’t get the other arm into position so had to release.

Vaguely similar thing happened with Greg, although I just stayed in half guard, having been unsuccessful in pulling full guard. He moved into mount at some point, under which I remained defensive but again not very proactive, just bridging every time he started going for a submission. Finally, with a guy who I think is called Nana, I stuck with half guard until time ran out. I tried grabbing his foot a few times, and was able to stop him scraping my half guard open by pulling his other foot out of position. Right at the end I rolled over on top, but didn’t get the chance to see what would have happened next (probably some kind of arm submission, as I was clinging on to try and rescue my arm but would most likely have lost that grip in a few minutes).

So, pulling guard seems a much more constructive tactic for me than trying to move into a position on top, which has failed every time so far. Of course it’s a bit different from knees, but the principle applies to standing too: my throws suck, so I imagine pulling guard is probably going to be more productive. However, working on my throws would also be sensible, particular if pulling guard loses points (like it did in Bristol), not to mention its easy enough to fuck up if you’re as inexperienced in stand-up as I am.

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