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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

12 September 2007

12/09/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #85
Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 12/09/2007Beginners

As I missed last week due to a great trip in Devon (decided against Lake District, and turned out well: blazing hot in Devon, so even managed to get a decent tan), wanted to definitely make the Tuesday. However, I then got bogged down in writing commitments, meaning I needed all of Tuesday to make my way through some more Lowell. I’m also due to teach a whole bunch of seminars in the next couple of months, which is cool, but does require a fair bit of preparation. I’ve got one for work, another one somewhere else I should get paid for, and finally two academic seminars, which are my main concern. I've long wanted to teach at university, so I’m looking forward to the experience: hopefully will be able to learn a lot about the whole process, which up til now I’ve only seen as a student (well, unless you count teaching some ZSK classes, but that really isn’t the same).

Class tonight was my first session with Jude for ages, so that was cool as I always enjoy his highly detailed instruction. I partnered up with Yasmine this time round, which I haven’t done before, so that was also cool: I’ve chatted to her briefly at the Bristol Open, but not had a chance to drill or spar before this lesson.

Jude kicked off with a hip throw, doing it slightly differently with a step to the side before you lift them up onto your hip. Initially I got a bit confused as I’m used to doing the technique more straight on, but eventually got the hang of that extra motion. That lead into the usual armbar from mount, leaning in after the take down, hand for balance, leg over and drop back for the sub.

Next up, we went through one of my favourite techniques, the scissor sweep. I still need to concentrate on really pulling them forward, shrimping out more and then getting my opponent up onto my leg by drawing my elbows high, so it was good to get some drilling done. I also wasn’t getting my shin smoothly into their stomach when I switched to my left arm. Instead, I kind of ended up sweeping with just a knee pressed in, which is not a good habit to get into as I’m sure that would fuck up if I made the same mistake outside of drilling. Finally there was a reminder to come up on my elbow in order to shrimp out, which I don’t always remember to do.

Building on the preceding drill, Jude then moved on to armbar from mount using a choke attempt set up. Having got the scissor sweep, your hand stays in their collar. Move your knee up, lean your weight into them, other leg up and tight to their side, then bring the other knee over. Feed your free arm under theirs, and then drop back for the sub.

Jude gave a useful demonstration on how to break their grip if you’ve got a good hold but they’re defending by bringing their arms together. With your arms underneath, lean towards their head until you’ve effectively got one of their arms in an Americana-type position. That should be sufficiently uncomfortable that you can peel their arm free, then swing round and back to complete the armbar – the motion is therefore a semi-circle.

Sparring was Yasmine was interesting, as we were comparatively even: she’s a four stripe so has a bit more experience and skill than me, but I have about 8 or 9kg on her. We were doing guard passage, and from the bottom I managed to get a sit-up sweep once or twice, though I still need to go for that more often, as I’m too tentative, which gives them the opportunity to attack. I also tried for the single leg takedown after Yasmine stood up in my guard, but didn’t quite make it. I was almost there, as I had hold of her leg and was trying to move through to side control, but failed to push her into position, her sprawl proving effective. We ended up with her taking my back, I attempt to roll out, then we stopped as this was only specific sparring. Would have been interesting to continue at that stage, though that of course would defeat the object of specific sparring.

As has been true of my sparring for a while now, I eventually found myself in half-guard. I continue to get stuck underneath, with my legs wrapped round their right leg, but my body twisted by their left arm. Where I’d rather be is by the same side leg and arm, as that would give me a chance to go for underhooks and take their back. With Yasmine, I clung on for a while looking to see what I could do before eventually getting passed.

Yasmine was also good at preventing my initial grips: I normally immediately try to grab an arm and a collar, but she was frequently able to neutralise my attempt, meaning I only got one or the other, which isn’t a sufficiently strong position to go for my usual sweeps (or at least not with my limited understanding of methodology). I think she was basically just pulling her arm back before I could grab it a lot of the time, but would be good to spar her again and watch out for it. Should probably have asked her afterwards – I notice I haven’t been doing that as often as I need to, so must get back into the habit.

On top I got past her guard a few times, but I’m still relying too heavily on using a tailbone break, then either trying for a stack pass or a leg pin pass. The latter worked a few times, but Yasmine had a fairly good defence, so it took some struggling on my part. I think I might have not been isolating her hips sufficiently, and also not using my weight enough.

Switching people, I sought out one of my regular sparring partners, Nathan: he and Dominique are by far the two people I spend the most time rolling against (I roll a fair bit with Chris too as I often like to drill with him due to his excellent habit of correcting mistakes and giving pointers, though like I mentioned last time, need to spar him more often for that same reason).

Things were fairly similar as with Yasmine, though I had more luck under half-guard. This time, I went for a sort of rubber guard thing to maintain the position (i.e., I grabbed my leg: have yet to look into rubber guard properly, so that’s about as complex as mine gets). That proved useful, as that secure hold meant I could gradually work my knee through and recover full guard.

I also had a concerted go at an armbar from standing guard. I remembered to walk my legs up in order to break Nathan’s posture and pull him towards him, got a decent hold on his arm, but couldn’t break his grip. I was trying to think how what we’d just learned about armbar from mount might apply, but hanging upside down feels rather different to sitting on top of them, so ended up just pulling ineffectually. Still, Nathan said afterwards I was fairly close with it, so will have to work on that: could do with grabbing Oli or one of the other instructors to get some pointers.

Those two spars completely knackered me out, so I decided against the advanced class. I keep wimping out, but the excuses of lack of sleep (for some reason I had real trouble nodding off last night) and general crap health recently mean that I’m keen to just get through a month of training at least twice a week. Four may be too ambitious for my body at the moment.

Will be in again tomorrow, aiming for the no-gi and the beginners, but would be content with just the no-gi if I again find I’ve got nothing left for the second class. Also looking forward to trying out my new Padilla & Sons gi, which arrived recently: giving it a cold wash at the moment to shrink it. Once I've given it a good test run, I can stick all the details into a review (although it almost feels redundant considering how awesome the Smash Pass review was - after all, thats what convinced me to buy that gi in the first place).

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