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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

04 October 2007

04/10/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #94

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 04/10/2007Beginners

I had been expecting another spar in the no-gi, so was feeling entirely fresh for the beginners, especially as there is that period while you wait for them to warm-up. I joined in for the throws, introducing myself to a newish guy going by the distinctive moniker of Abs. However, as he’s a fair bit heavier than me (85kg), I was happy enough to later switch to Rohit, who’s 73kg.

First technique Felipe showed us was taking the back from guard. If they have an arm gripping your lapel, break that hold, maintaining your own grasp on their arm. Pull that arm right across your body, then reach all the way over their back to the far armpit. Having secured that hold, open your guard and base out on your other arm. Use that to swivel up towards their back, bringing your leg out and in to hook their leg. Make sure that as you do this you maintain the pressure with your shoulder into their arm, so they can’t spin back to guard. Having got one hook in and your other leg across, establish both hooks, and as you’ve already got an arm by their armpit, you can transition to an over-under grip (at least I think that’s what its called: under the armpit, then with the other arm come under the neck). Stretch them out by pushing your hips into the centre of their back, then go for the rear naked choke.

A variation on that is if when you try to pull their arm across and go for the back, they manage to get their other arm onto your neck. That stops you taking their back, but you can instead go for an armbar. Pushing off the same hip as the arm you’ve gripped, swivel in the direction of their hand (so opposite to how you’d normally swivel with armbar from guard). Push on their head, then bring your other leg over to get into position for the sub. That should then leave you set to put on the armbar.

Sparring was guard passage, split into groups of over 82kg and under. That meant there were a fair few bigger guys in my group, who had up 17 or so kilograms on me. There are a couple of people who are strong and aggressive, so I normally just relax and see what they do: I’ve no wish to get injured by enthusiastic beginners. Seon is always good to spar with, as while he’s very aggressive, he’s not that big, so there’s not so much chance of injury. He’s also pretty good – I’ve yet to pass his guard (although I am crap at passing, so that’s not saying all that much :p). I occasionally come close, but can never secure it – in effect, the specific sparring was similar to yesterday’s session.

However, the important difference today was that I felt I was focusing better on working technique rather than just reacting. Admittedly this was more the case in the no-gi class, as I took a very relaxed approach to sparring in the beginners, but I still learned several useful things. In particular, I asked Oli about making that final transition from almost-past to side control, and he suggested that in order to pass the guard (when I’m nearly through), I could shove a knee tight across their bottom, then putting an arm on the other side. That way, I can trap both their hips and prevent shrimping, meaning that its then easier to switch base into scarf hold and pass.

Grant also showed me something handy after class, which he wanted to demonstrate because he’d been getting a sweep regularly on me and others. This looked like a variation on the flower sweep, for use when your opponent is attempting the tailbone break. Grab the arm they got on your chest, putting your foot by the knee they’re trying to press into you, and finally grab their other leg. You should then be able to move your leg up into their armpit as usual with the flower, pulling on the leg and arm to roll them other and get mount. Looks like its something worth practicing, and also something I should learn to defend (I guess by keeping my elbows tight and as far back as possible).

A couple of stripes were awarded at the end: they’ve been coming thick and fast with all the new people joining up. As normal when I’m about to leave, I was trying to loosen the drawstring on my gi trousers so I could get into the shower quicker, when I noticed that the last person Felipe had announced wasn’t moving forward to pick up their stripe. Following his gaze, I realised that person was me, so the fourth stripe must be down to time, as with the other three (I'll have been here a year next month). Still nice to get it of course, but I’m a long way off blue belt – my top game sucks (both mount and side control), I don’t have any submissions (except occasionally if I have a significant weight advantage, and even then only a handful sloppily executed), I struggle to pass and I have absolutely no stand-up. Not that my bottom game is much better, but I do feel a little more comfortable there, which seems to often be the case with smaller people – we spend most of our time there!

Due to the Wednesday social, I'll just train the beginners next week. On Thursday and Friday I'll be at that work conference, so can't make the normal no-gi and beginners double. Still, one class is better than none, though it does mean yet again I'm not making the advanced gi session.

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