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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

15 November 2007

15/11/2007 - BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #101

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 15/11/2007No-Gi

I didn’t make it to class last week, as there was a higher priority: my girlfriend. Her fortnight kicked off by getting viral labyrinthitis, which is an infection of the inner ear that completely destroys your balance, so you’re constantly dizzy and feel like you’re about to throw up. There was no way I was going to leave her like that, so arranged to work from home in order to look after her. She then had a tough interview on the Monday, still suffering slightly from the infection, which wasn’t helped by her train ticket disappearing and the guy at the ticket office being a total bastard about it (despite the fact she had her receipt and outward ticket). Finally, she then had to have a tooth pulled out the next day, which sounded nasty: lots of pain and blood. So BJJ kinda took a back seat. ;)

Had writing to finish off yesterday, which meant I missed Wednesday, but next week should hopefully bring this busy period for me to a close.

Getting into class tonight, I notice there have been a few changes. The first one was explained to me by Roger: we’re not signing in anymore on a sheet, as instead we now each get our own laminated card which will detail our attendance. The idea is to give that to the instructor when you get on the mat, who then gives it to the secretary (which today was Joanna rather than Pippa: didn’t get a chance to ask if she was just covering or if she now works there too) to mark off.

I also saw a notice saying that those 7:30am mixed classes on Mondays and Wednesdays will be discontinued after this month. Not that I could ever have made them, but a shame for those people who like training super early. I guess they must not have been popular enough to warrant a permanent place in the schedule.

Jude went through the usual fairly hefty warm-up, then moved on to what proved the only two techniques of the night. We started off with a stack pass, which I’ve done before, but never nogi. Starting in their guard and having achieved double underhooks on their legs, you grip and pull them in towards you and up. Your knee comes up, slightly to the side, then pressing your weight right down, you twist their body away from your knee with your arms, driving with your shoulder. Keep shoving your weight through until you slide into side control.

Jude then demonstrated an open guard pass. From a standing position, you control one of their hips by pressing firmly with your hand. With the other, take hold of their knee. Maintaining control of the hip throughout, throw the leg to one side and drive right through with your head, aiming to end up you’re your head on the same side as the controlled hip, basically butting them in the chest to get there, finally sliding into side control.

I think that’s when we did a bit of open guard passing, though it might have been at a different point in the lesson. I was working with one of my preferred training partners, Christina, and spent my time on the bottom trying to entangle her legs. Something I need to work on, as every time she steadily worked her way through into side control, generally by getting one of the legs isolated (I think). I need to be more offensive with the open guard from there, trapping them with my legs: in other words, like Owen does with his excellent open guard. I did try things like putting my foot into a bicep, but as I don’t really know what I’m doing there, it wasn’t especially productive.

However, I did at least feel I had more options underneath than when trying to pass. I find passing difficult enough with a gi, so without those grips it becomes nigh on impossible. I need to be much more mobile, and also use that open guard pass we were shown today more often. I was in position a couple of times, but struggled to throw the leg to one side, on trap it in some other way. Again, something I should work on. Its good to have another option for guard passing nogi, as previously I was completely stuck: at least now I can be working towards a technique and hopefully improve little by little each time.

We then went straight into free sparring, which would take up most of the lesson. I started again with Christina (IIRC), and much the same pattern took place as with the open guard passing, where I tried to drag her into my guard and she went to side control. I’m trying to work on making space under side control with my elbow, so that I can shrimp out. However, I’m still forgetting to try to go to my knees, due to focusing so much (albeit with very little success) on either getting guard back, or stepping over with my far leg to try for half guard.

As usual Christina gave me several tips, which I might have mixed together as I sparred her twice. First she reminded me of the guillotine escape we learned last time I showed up, where you raise the hips, put your head to the floor and drive forward. She could have easily choked me out a few times, but instead took pity and coached me through the escape instead. She also suggested that when trying to escape a RNC, I could try popping my head out past her armpit, given that I’m small. I was attempting to pull the arm down, move my legs round and swivel to side control, but that didn’t work too well. As ever, good to have a few options for escapes.

I also sparred Connor, who is another good training partner. Again, I spent most of my time sitting under his side control or mount, trying to make space. My elbow escape really sucks at the moment, as it tends to result in my partner getting high mount. I did go for half guard a few times, but wasn’t able to do much with it: I tried to bring my knee through, but couldn’t stop Connor getting back to either side control or mount.

Continuing to display terrible cardio, I was knackered by this point. However, I wasn’t going to be let off so easy, as like last time Jude pulled me over for a spar. Also like last time, he gave me lots of tips – definitely a good experience to roll with your instructor. The coming to knees thing under side control cropped up numerous times, which I eventually managed to do after Jude’s prompting: I need to get into the habit of going to knees and trying for the single leg, as per the drill we did earlier (you escape from side control, single leg your partner, then they do the same and it starts again).

I also found that even when my partner is going light and gives me a good position, I’m not sure what to do with it. I was sitting in guard with an arm round Jude’s head and trying to control the arm, and couldn’t think what to do next, ending up with a very half-arsed guillotine attempt. I followed that up with a sloppy try at the sit-up sweep, but as I hadn’t at all broken Jude’s base, that didn’t go anywhere. It would be great to have a private lesson and really work on sweeps and using the guard some time, as well as escapes. Will have to see how I’m looking financially next year.

Having taken a round off to try and get my breath back, I then had roll with Leo that felt pretty similar to that with Connor. I did manage to reverse him a couple of times, but they were always short-lived as I soon returned to my previous position underneath, not to mention he was going light. Still found myself caught in a few chokes, but generally felt able to be a little more mobile because Leo is closer to my size. However, as he is extremely mobile, that extra bit on my part didn’t make any difference: a good reminder that I have to use my hips more and fight harder for position.

I can’t remember too much about my final two spars with Christina and Greg, as I was completely gone by that point. Class finished with yet more exercise, which my legs refused to respond to properly, so I kind of wiggled in a poor attempt at running/jumping/sprawling etc. Definitely need to get fitter!

RGA Open Day this Saturday, which should be cool. I’m hoping two people I know are going to be able to pop down: haven’t seen either of them in a while (one for a good 15/16 years), so could be an interesting way to catch up.

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