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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

25 October 2007

25/10/2007 - BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #98

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Felipe Souza, London, UK - 25/10/2007No-Gi

I’ve been rather light on training this week, with just one session. Probably a good thing too, as I’ve got two niggling injuries at the moment: first that elbow (which I think is probably RSI), and secondly the mole removal scar. I thought the burn mark had healed up by now, but this session proved it was still fairly raw.

Still no Chris, or indeed any of the people I normally chat to before the session: maybe the cold is tempting people to stay at home? So instead, I paired up with one of the guys from the beginners class, Tomasz (if I’m spelling that right), who recently got his third stripe. After going through the takedowns from last week, we moved on to passing the half guard.

Underhook the opposite arm to your trapped leg, securing their head with your other arm so they can’t turn, also driving your shoulder into their face. Move your free leg to the side, also shifting your weight, until you drive their knee to the floor. Once you can reach, use foot of your free leg to grip inside the calf (or was it knee?) of the leg they’re trapping you with. Push off, raising your hips slightly, until you can pull your leg out of the half guard. As soon as your knee is free, aim to drive it to the ground and get mount.

While you will have to raise your hips to get that leg out, you don’t want to stay in that position long as there is the danger of being swept. So, get your hips back down quickly. If they try to block your knee as you bring it through, switch to side control instead of mount.

Most of the session was taken up by sparring, beginning with specific work from half guard. As seems to often happen in the advanced class, unsurprisingly given my limited technique and even more limited strength, I’m almost immediately swept every time. Therefore I’ve been trying to focus closely on what they’re doing, but still need to pay more attention as I don’t always understand why I’m suddenly on my back. I did try the half guard pass we just learned, but couldn’t manage to move my leg to the side so that their knee gets driven to the floor. Felipe advised that I should be locking up their leg more when on top: I need to improve my mobility when doing that, as at present when locking my legs around theirs on top, I end up getting stuck in position.

Free sparring tends to provide plenty of handy tips, which was especially true today as we did a fair bit of it. I spent most of my time underneath either mount, side control or knee on belly, beginning with Christina. She gave me the useful advice that when trying to escape knee on belly, I should be both bridging and attempting to push the knee off the side: I was tending to do either one or the other.

Nick (the guy I drilled with last week) literally flung me backwards at one point when I was flailing about from knees. That dominance continued into the spar, where I was often struggling to breath under knee on belly with a forearm thrust across my neck. Repeated bridging helped up to a point, but eventually Nick was in such a high mount with solid control of my arms that I ran out of options.

Romulo, who I’m guessing is Brazilian, went a little easier on me. He also gave some good advice on being careful of my arms: at one point I reached over with my far arm, which was foolish as that is pretty much asking to be choked.

Alex, one of the brown belts, also took it easy on me, meaning that I could pop out the back a couple of times. Not sure if that’s something to be investigating, given that people are going to increasingly go harder on me (though as a white belt, an occasional advantage is that people will be nice to you. Well, some people ;p). Continuing to bridge every time they looked like they were about to work a position helped my escapes, but not really my position.

My final spar provided some advice on that problem. Connor reminded me that when bridging, you should take the opportunity to shrimp while your opponent is off balance. I’ve been focusing too much on just bridging repeatedly to try and stop them getting a firm hold, rather than counter-attacking: I’m not an aggressive person and I’m also small, meaning I naturally fall into a defensive mode. While I’m perfectly happy to remain defensive, I still need to try and react when defending rather than just trying to stay in a neutral position.

I noticed shortly before sparring Connor that the scab on my back was coming off, so decided that going on to the beginners probably wouldn’t be a good move. I’d been chatting to a guy on Sherdog about trying out RGA, but not sure whether or not he made it: either way, didn’t much fancy bleeding all over my gi again. ;)

My sister mentioned some kind of silicon plaster called Compede I’ll have to check out: not only was my back already sore from the burn mark getting rubbed raw, but it also didn’t much like water. The few drops that got onto it in the shower noticeably stung, so a decent heavy-duty water-proof plaster is going to be essential if I want to keep training while my back heals.

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