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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

31 October 2007

31/10/2007 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #99

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 31/10/2007Advanced

My first experience teaching an academic seminar earlier this week went ok: I had the usual problems of getting people to talk and then the same people speaking up each time, but that’s to be expected. Next time, I think I’ll bring in more quotes to hopefully kick-start discussion. However, the next one is about two of the most famous poets of the 20th Century, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, so I’m expecting the students to already have some ideas about their work. Or at least more familiarity than they might be expected to have with a poet like Peter Reading. ;)

I bought myself some Compeed (apparently I spelled it wrong earlier) after the seminar from the university pharmacy (which reassuringly hasn’t changed at all since I started way back in 1999, unlike almost everything else). They’re normally used for blisters, and were the first thing my sister recommended when I mentioned I was looking for a heavy duty plaster. That went on (though probably not as securely as it should have been, given I was doing it myself and its an awkward place on my back) in the afternoon, so its supposed to now last for two to three days. We’ll see how it copes with BJJ.

Class today was with Roger, and was probably the most knackered I’ve been in a long time. Things kicked off with a sprawl drill, where one person dived for the other’s legs, they sprawled, then moved round to take their back. Important point to note here was keeping your weight down by dropping your hips, as well as staying back: if you weight is too far forward, they have an opportunity to flip you over their head or shoulder.

That then moved to maintaining back mount. If the person underneath you tries to roll out, follow them round with your legs. Then if they’ve managed to turn to one side, you can put them in side control. If they then try to turn back, you can try and get your far leg in and hook a leg. Triangle that with your other leg, then work for the second hook. You may need to roll onto your back first, then go for a choke to occupy their arms, leaving you with less resistance to put in a hook. Also note that when you’ve take their back, you can also slip in that hook when they try and push up, as that should leave a gap for you to exploit.

That was pretty much it for the technical side of things: rest of class was all about sparring. We kicked off, unsurprisingly, with specific sparring from back mount. I was with Tom (I’m guessing that’s short for a non-English name, judging by the accent, but could be wrong) who looked big and strong, but proved nonetheless to be fairly genial and helpful. I couldn’t do much either on his back or underneath, although in his back mount I could at least go for the escape from a RNC. Not that it was especially successful, as I couldn’t bridge up enough or trap his arms, but nevertheless always good to work a technique. We then did more from back mount, but this time with hooks already in: in Tom’s back mount I got smashed, whereas when he was in mine, I just couldn’t get that forearm into his neck, getting eventually swept every time.

That meant it was time for free sparring, starting with Christina, Unusually (and I’d guess the reason we ended up there was because she wanted to work the position), I spent most of it in her guard. My passing is bad enough against other white belts, so I didn’t get anywhere, but that still meant I could test out my submissions escapes. I pulled out of a couple of armbars (though rather sloppily), and also used that escape where you grab a knee a push to get out of a triangle (though she told me afterwards she didn’t really have it on anyway, so that obviously helped!) Christina gave me some advice on escaping cross-chokes, which I understood correctly was to just cross your arms over theirs, as well as an armbar defence. Again presuming I didn’t misinterpret what she said, you simply bring your elbows down by their hips before they can swing themselves into position.

With Pippa, I immediately found myself in the familiar situation of being squashed under side control. Although Pippa is small (about comparable to Aika, maybe a little smaller), I found that because she didn’t leave any space and distributed her weight well, there were no gaps for me to exploit. That negated my attempts to step the far leg over for half guard, and while I had a forearm firmly into her throat, I struggled to make space to shrimp. Eventually I got on top in guard, which I spent mainly resisting her attempts to choke me with my own gi.

I thought that was it, as I was really feeling my crap cardio at this point, but I wasn’t getting off that easy. There was yet more specific sparring from back mount, where again I worked with Pippa. I generally had more success underneath than on top, reversing her once or twice, like when it went to mount, but only due to size: having said that, she choked sub me a few times, which reminded me to defend my neck more carefully. On top I had trouble getting my hooks in, and when I did, she often got back to guard or half guard.

Still wasn’t over, as there was time for yet another spar with Tom, changing to mount. I got thoroughly squashed, even tapping at one point because I was submerged in his armpit and had a face full of gi. In fact, that almost happened twice, but the second one just rubbed painfully against my eye rather than choking me. On top, I couldn’t do anything, but Tom did give me a useful tip that if I’m staying close with an arm under his head and he’s trapped it, I should bring the other arm across for balance.

Crawling back to the changing room, I checked to see how the Compeed plaster was doing. At first I thought it had fallen off, but on closer inspection (difficult when twisted round in a mirror in such a way that I could only just see it), that was a bit of packaging I must have forgotten to remove. So hopefully this will last through Thursday’s training.


  1. Newjackprofessor says...

    I am glad that your seminar turned out okay. It is not cool when students refuse to participate in their own education, but as you know it comes with the territory.

  2. Cheers - I can't really complain though, as I often found it tough to speak in seminars when I was an undergrad. Depended very much on the tutor managing to generate a good atmosphere, so that's something I'll try to work on for the next seminar in January. I'm a lot more on top of the subject for that one, and I expect the students will be too, so hopefully that should be rather noisier. :D