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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

29 August 2007

29/08/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #82

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 29/08/2007Beginner

August has been a strange month. Since dropping weight for the Bristol Open, I’ve been fluctuating from slightly woozy to bedridden, not really feeling 100% at any point in the past four weeks. I took last week off entirely to try and finally shake the sick feeling clogging up my head, which has at least partially paid off in that I felt well enough to train tonight. I had been considering training on Tuesday, but from what Owen said about the class, I’m glad I didn’t: apparently lots of over-enthusiastic aggressive noobs resulted in various injuries.

I was expecting to see some kind of celebratory sign to commemorate Roger’s momentous double gold at the Mundials – as there had been after he beat Waterman in his MMA debut - but there was only a congratulatory note on the whiteboard. Also hadn’t expected Roger himself to be back so soon (though he didn’t take the class, I saw him in the office): then again, it is his club, so not entirely surprising he’d want to return as soon as possible.

Maurição was taking class again, which as always meant an atypical syllabus. He began with a cool set-up for the flower sweep, which made a lot of sense. Previously, I’ve found it difficult to get in position, but Maurição showed how a flower sweep could be done off an armbar attempt. If they have their elbow too far back to get the armbar, you can instead hook round their leg and go for the flower as normal, pulling them towards you over your shoulder then rolling into mount, using one leg against their side, the other sweeping out and then back (to avoid throwing them onto your own leg).

This was followed by an armbar escape from mount which I’ve never seen before. If they are pulling back for the armbar but haven’t yet secured your wrist, immediately twist your trapped hand so its palm down and curl your arm towards their knee. At the same time, move round with your legs and turn your body over, grabbing their leg as you scramble in order to better transition to side control. Finally, put your knee into their side then swing your leg over into mount – if they try to stop you with an arm, underhook and push it out of the way.

Maurição then ran through the Americana from mount, emphasising that you should be using your weight rather than arm strength, as well as advising against the ‘monkey grip’ (holding with the thumb wrapped round). I continue to struggle with submissions from mount, generally ending up trying to maintain the position and move up to high mount, flapping uselessly at my partner’s limbs. Nevertheless, always good to have a reminder.

Sparring was from side control, where I didn’t achieve too much from top or bottom except holding position. I think I swept Dominique once or twice, and occasionally got through to mount from on top, but that was only after she very nearly caught me in full guard several times. I feel like my mobility is improving, but I continue to lack sufficient downward pressure and I’m still leaving too much space. In addition, while I’m moving a little better, I need to move more.

I’m also finding myself frequently in half-guard, which I can just about hold, but not very proactively. I’m trying to work on recovering full guard, or possibly go for some half-guard sweeps, but I’d prefer to keep things basic. That sweep Maurição showed a while back where you lift your opponent into full guard looks worth a go. I’d also like to get better with the fundamental mount and side control escapes, which continue to be weak points: I don’t make enough space under mount or side control. I did try the typical push up and shrimp out escape, but I tend to end up squashed and incapable of creating room to move.

I attempted a few submissions, mainly armbars, but was mostly going from weird places (at least to me: for example, from a poorly executed back mount missing a hook I ended up in at one point). It would probably be a better use of my time to continue ignoring submissions for the most part to concentrate on position, so that I can hopefully get to a point where I can confidently hold guard/mount/side control etc, therefore providing a good platform to launch a sub attempt.


  1. The opposite to your "over-enthusiastic n00bs" experience: last week at the Academy I was watching two blue belts - sparring? - no, that's not the word really. They were still as statues. The battle was all in the inner balance of forces. From time to time something would surface from that inner balance and there was a small movement that an outsider could see.

    Like watching grass grow but far, far more interesting.

  2. Yeah, that's definitely preferable. I find it totally unproductive when people are being super-aggressive: not only does it increase the risk of injury (as apparently happened on Tuesday night), it prevents progression. I'm always babbling how training is about learning as opposed to 'winning' or 'losing', and this is exactly why.

    If people haven't already had a thorough read of NSLightsOut awesome thread, they really, really should. ;D