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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

15 August 2007

15/08/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #81

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 15/08/2007Beginner

Noticed last Friday that Nick G’s class at the Vie Gym has its own site, under Roger Gracie Vie Academy. Its on 122 Clerkenwell Road, which isn’t too far from Farringdon tube station. As my department is moving to an office in Farringdon, I’d like to finally pop down to one of the classes – Nick is a great instructor, and I’m told the classes are still comparatively small so you get plenty of attention. Didn’t see Nick listed under the instructors, but presumably that’s just a mistake: I thought he and Helio were the main teachers there, but perhaps I’m wrong.

Anyway, getting back to tonight’s class at RGA. Like last time, Maurição focused on the arm triangle, with a different set-up. First, he showed how to get the arm triangle from half guard. If they move to one side, you take that opportunity to wrap up their arm, gripping behind their head and thereby clamping their arm to their skull. Open your half guard, bridge up, then roll over. Transition to side control as you do so, still maintaining a firm hold on their head and arm. As before, your forearm should be as far under their neck as possible (this will be the arm that is wrapped around their head already), gripping your other bicep. To tighten the hold, grip your forehead, past your ear or on their head depending on your preference and how far you can get your arm. Personally, I found that gripping past my ear resulted in the firmest grip.

Finally, squeeze your arms together, also pressing forwards with your hips. This should result in a choke. Like last time, however, I had some problems applying the technique, I think because I wasn’t getting my forearm far enough through. My arm triangle seemed to be working better as the class went on: one thing to note is that this can be a slow choke, so keep squeezing.

Next, Maurição demonstrated the same technique, but instead of half guard, he showed us the arm triangle from closed guard. Pull their arm across their body, then wrap it up against their cheek as before, tightly gripping behind their head. Open your guard and use a leg to chop away at one of their’s, in a motion similar to the scissor sweep. Roll over and switch to side control, then apply the arm triangle in the same way as before.

Sparring was, somewhat bizarrely, from a half guard we weren’t allowed to close, instead just holding their leg with one as to opposed to two of ours. Nevertheless, this proved to be quite enough to stop me passing Dominique’s guard. I tried pulling my foot in close to her tailbone and basing out, but there was no way I could get it free. I perhaps should have instead tried keep a tight hold on her upper body then use my leg to free myself, or possibly a submission (though the object was expressly to get to mount, so that would probably have been counterproductive).

Dominique had similar trouble getting past my half guard, and I was able to sweep her a few times, mainly by gripping behind the head and rolling over. As ever when I’m with someone who has the rare distinction of being even smaller than me, I’m never sure if its technique or force on my part. Dominique did say that I’d gone for the sweep at the right moment when she was off-balance, but I think my slight additional weight probably had an important part to play.

Class finished with sparring from mount. Neither Dominique or I could do anything much from on top: I tried pulling myself up on her head to open up her arms, but that didn’t work. I also attempted an armbar later on, but Dominique managed to pop out from under my leg. Generally trying to crush my weight down gave me a fairly secure position, but not much else.

From underneath, I swept Dominique a few times, though that was mainly because she was going for a choke and wrapped up my head, meaning she couldn’t use her hands to base out. I also tried to shrimp out and recover guard, which sort of worked, although when using that to get to half guard, I managed to effectively throw myself groin-first onto Dominique’s knee. Not a sensible plan: I didn’t whack myself too hard, but given the area involved still felt it!

Still need work on mount escapes, as I’m not yet making enough space when shrimping. I also clearly need plenty of improvement on passing half guard, as I couldn’t even get past when the person holding it wasn’t allowed to fully close their legs. My submissions on top remain non-existent – getting them to expose one of their limbs is the part I’m finding difficult at the moment, so perhaps I should try going for the neck more often, if only to get them to defend.

I’m off to the Belfast Throwdown on Friday, so decided to give the advanced class a miss, as I’m sure sod’s law would mean I’d pick up an injury just before flying out. Typing this up back at my sister’s, I’m glad I left early, as that niggling cold has popped up again, making me feel feverish. My immune system’s complete lack of any defence is getting very frustrating – it seems I’ve spent most of the summer suffering from varying degrees of illness. Grr.

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