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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

18 October 2007

18/10/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #97

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 18/10/2007Beginners

Having had my usual three spars and finishing with a rest, I felt ok for the beginners. I noticed there was a new girl in class: any reduction in the machismo level is always excellent news (though having said that, RGA has a very good atmosphere, perhaps because its got a fairly high number of women training). Turns out she was Chet’s cousin and Tamvin’s sister, which is kinda cool: nice to see more of the family getting into the BJJ.

It was only Navreet’s third lesson, so that gave me a chance to try and act as teacher. Attempting to demonstrate a technique to someone else is a good way of thinking more carefully about it yourself, and considering October is teaching month for me anyway with all those seminars, I can do with the practice.

Things kicked off with passing the guard. Felipe started with the one where you grab both collars with one hand, the other low, with elbow in. Put your knee into their tailbone then push backwards to open up the guard (stepping back with the other leg), slip a hand under, stack them then move round for the pass. That was followed up by the other option, which is to put your knee up – this will either give you the required space to move your arm in, or sufficient leverage to push their leg down and break the guard.

Important points to note are keeping your elbows in tight: with elbows out, you become much easier to sweep and/or pull down. Usual points about using your weight effectively and solidly securing the collar also worth going over again.

Next were a few basic submissions, starting with the collar choke. Get a deep grip on their opposite collar, palm up with thumb gripping outside and fingers in, then get the same grip with your other arm, slipping it under the first. Pull them in, twisting your hands so the thumbs come towards you, while at the same time sitting up to increase the pressure.

A variation if you couldn’t quite get that second grip was to come over and grab the shoulder instead. Not sure I understood it properly, though: as far as I could tell, it was just grab shoulder and use that to press the forearm into their neck, but I think I may well have misinterpreted. Will have to ask about that one.

Finally, if they push your bicep down to prevent you getting your second grip, swivel the trapped arm inside theirs, free it and grab their wrist, pinning their hand to the floor. Release the grip on the shoulder, then go for the kimura from guard.

I kicked off sparring with Navreet, and as this was only her third class and she’d seen a guard pass for the first time that day, I wasn’t going too hard (especially as she’s quite a bit smaller than me). Its really pointless imposing yourself on new people, and probably very off-putting for them – I’d much rather go easier at first, which would then hopefully result in a better training partner down the line. Not that I completely stopped resisting, and I did go for a sweep a couple of times when on the bottom.

I was surprised to get some passes against Chet, as I’ve really been struggling on top in guard recently in both the beginners and advanced. Then again, it was mainly when he was going for something that meant he gave me enough space to get double underhooks. That tailbone pass remains the only one I’m having any success with, on the rare occasion I’m able to pass: absolutely must put more work into the standing pass. I did try it a few times today, but to little effect.

Underneath, I found Chet a lot tougher. I managed to get a decent scissor sweep at one point, but again I think that was because Chet was moving his weight forward. I repeatedly tried to do that sweep Grant showed me, but I’m clearly still missing some important details, as Chet didn’t budge.

Generally, I think underneath I need to pull people in tight, using my legs, rather than just sitting there with a collar and sleeve grip. I also want to concentrate harder on my sit-up sweep. There was a private lesson before the no-gi Roger was taking, in which he went through the sit-up: that reminded me I’m not raising my hips anywhere near enough. I tend to just shove with my leg, which unsurprisingly doesn’t get me too far.

I finished up sparring with Yuvi, where it largely ended up in stalemate (IIRC). On top I had great trouble loosening his guard, although I did get double underhooks once. Underneath, I tried a bunch of sweeps, but again didn’t pull him in close like I should. That meant my attempt at an elevator went nowhere, though I had a firm hook, and my sit-up sweep was especially poor. I ended up pitting my weedy calf against all of Yuvi’s weight and muscle. My calf lost: almost immediately after the shoddy sweep effort, my muscle completely cramped up, so that it felt like a small rodent was stuck inside my leg. I had to stop sparring at that point, and spent the rest of the day limping, entirely due to my own crappy technique. Hence why a lift from Chet was especially appreciated! :D

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