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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

13 September 2007

13/09/2007 - BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #86

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Luciano Cristovam, London, UK - 13/09/2007No-Gi

I had assumed tonight’s class would be taken by Felipe as usual, given that he was teaching the kids session beforehand, but instead Luciano was in charge of training. It seems Luciano has a penchant for the complex, as well as being keen to get everyone sparring as much as possible: even part of the drilling involved a fair bit of resistance. We did some pummelling (which I think is the right term when you both start in a clinch, then fight for the double underhooks), which was then immediately followed by takedown specific sparring.

As ever when we do takedowns, I wasn’t really going for takedowns myself: I’m pretty much clueless standing up, particularly no-gi, so I took it slow and tried to take in what the other person was doing. I tried to get to a clinch position and stop them grabbing a leg, and also had a brief attempt at one of the moves we were shown a while back, where you push on their hips. Didn’t quite remember what to do, unfortunately, but still good to do at least one proactive thing. Generally my attempt to observe weren’t all that successful, as I often wasn’t able to follow how they got the takedown due to the speed. Still, I’m starting to get some idea of footwork and the like when standing up, in a very very limited sense, so that’s progress.

The techniques almost went straight over my head, kicking off with Aesopian’s favourite, the reverse omoplata. As they go for your legs, you sprawl back and move round to their back. Bring your right arm underneath and grab their right wrist, then slip your left hand under their left armpit to grab your own wrist. Your right knee then slides in close to their arm, after which you then use that to push their arm out. Wrap your left leg round to pull it back, then triangle that arm making sure your left leg is on top (I think: this part especially kept confusing me).

You then release your grip on their arm and roll over your right shoulder. They’ll have to roll with you, or be forced to tap there and then. Make sure you get your arm (right, I think) across them so they can’t just sit up, then come to you knees. I think you then continue the motion twisting their arm until they tap from the pressure on their shoulder, but again, not too clear on the mechanics.

The next technique, to my surprise, was even more complicated. This time Luciano showed us a rolling footlock, in which you’re standing in their open guard. Grab one of their feet, thumb on top and figures on their sole. Trap their other leg between your own legs: its important that stays secured. You then roll over your shoulder, keep the hold on the foot (which I found difficult: it was hard to stop myself instinctively letting go of the foot to put an arm down for the roll). You should now be triangling their leg with a firm grip on their foot. Bring your other hand in to grasp your own wrist, making a figure four, then push their toes away from you for the tap.

I kept pushing in the wrong direction: I can remember that pushing up or down was wrong, so I think it was a sort of twisting motion where their toes go forward and heel back. I also wasn’t securing the ankle properly, so need to remember to keep that tight.

As with the takedown sparring, we then lined up against the wall again, and for a moment I thought Luciano might do specific footlock sparring or something, which would be terrifying. However, turned out that it was already time for full free sparring: there was still half the lesson (45 minutes) to go at this point. Fortunately, the class was also sufficiently large that no everyone could spar at the same time, meaning we did it in shifts. There were seven rounds in total, and I alternated between sitting out and sparring, getting three spars overall.

Things kicked off with Chris, who as I’ve mentioned a few times I’ve been wanting to spar more frequently. As ever, I ended up in half-guard, from which I still found I was basically just clinging on. I can get a fairly strong triangle on the leg, but not much else. I also got double underhooks, but couldn’t really do much with it. My aim was to try and get my head to the same side as the isolated leg in order to take the back, but like every other time, my head was on the opposite side. From there I should be able to sweep by coming up on my elbow, but I tended to be low on their body and quite flat, which made it difficult.

Chris said afterwards that his preferred method of getting past half-guard was to underhook, bring the hip in, and then move past the hip. Or something like that: I’ll need to drill it with him some time to get the technique right, which is unfortunately difficult as I’m never about after training.

After sitting out, I then followed my plan of next going with somebody my own weight, rolling with Nathan. Again, I spent a lot of it in half-guard, but also had a drawn out open guard battle, which was good to work. I was able to prevent Nathan passing for a fair while, slipping my knee into his stomach or getting my hands onto his side and armpit (though that isn’t quite so effective without a gi to grab). However, he did eventually get through to mount, where I did the step over thing from Belfast to recover my half-guard.

Nathan had a hold of my arm a few times, but due to the sweat I was able to slide out each time. That’s something I’m beginning to rely on in no-gi, so I’ll have to watch that: while the slicker bodies in no-gi certainly makes escapes from that kind of thing easier, I should still be concentrating on proper arm positioning and escapes, not just sweat.

Finally, I went with Gavin, a quiet blue belt whose name I only found out at the Bristol Open. He was unsurprisingly more technical than either Chris or Nathan, and it was rather harder to maintain the half-guard on him. In particular, he did something where he was able to get the knee of the leg I was triangling right up underneath me, meaning that I either had to let go of my half-guard or get passed: I should have done the former, but ended up with the latter. Gavin was going pretty easy on me, so only submitted me twice, which gave me a chance to try defending from the bottom. Not sure if I was especially successful, as I can’t tell how much he was letting me get away with. Still, felt like a productive spar, and I’ll have to be careful of that knee when in half-guard.

I had to make sure I wasn’t home too late tonight, as there is some early morning training at work I can’t afford to miss, so didn’t do the beginners session. Having trouble doubling up, but then as long as I get two classes in, I’m not too bothered: anything from two to four is fine. Also, I may well get the chance to train on Friday too, so that would be at least three.

Generally, same points from yesterday apply: must work those few fundamental sweeps and escapes from half-guard, and also concentrate on recovering full guard. In addition I shouldn’t neglect the top game, so it would be worth attempting to get on top occasionally: I did that briefly with Gavin, so need to keep varying like that. Overall I’m pleased that I went with three spars of respectively someone bigger, someone the same size and someone much more skilled (i.e., a blue), which was my stated intention yesterday. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep that up.

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