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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

21 November 2007

21/11/2007 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #103

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 21/11/2007Advanced

Didn’t make my usual train today, but no problem because I normally get there super early, so still made it on time. Its been a strange week, as it started with a rather strident email. However, in person turned out to be rather less problematic. I'm much happier sticking with English Lit, focusing on poetic form, rather than philosophical theory for which I lack the relevant grounding.

Class started with a whole bunch of throws, for which I was paired up with one of the numerous tough Poles who train at RGA. He still tried to help out with advice, but even in drilling went fairly hard. So I was glad that I didn’t ended up paired with him for the rest of the class, as sparring would have been painful!

We did a bit of takedown specific sparring from a line up, probably because the Northern Open is on the Sunday. I never quite know what to do standing up, so tried fighting off grips for a while, which eventually ended up with me on the floor. Fortunately I was with senior belts each time, so they weren’t too concerned about slamming the crap out of me. Also got a tip from a brown belt that as soon as they have grips on you, make sure you establish grips on them: I was still flailing around trying to remove his grips at this point.

We then did a bit of guard passage, for which I was paired up with Christina, one of my favourite people to spar. Her tip from a while back about keeping my elbows pushed towards me knees proved a decent defence from inside her guard. Not very active, but did stop me getting armbarred, and mostly avoided chokes by staying aware of her attempts to grip (though I nevertheless got caught in a cross choke eventually).

Underneath, I wasn’t able to do a whole lot, generally under up in Christina’s knee-on-belly. I had a go at a sweep, but she could see it coming a mile off. I need to work on breaking their posture, pulling them in close, and setting up my sweeps better. At the moment its too obvious, and by opening my guard I merely end up giving them the opportunity to pass, rather than something offensive on my part.

Roger followed that up by showing up the transition from side control to mount. I think I’ve seen it a few times before, but always worth going over, particularly as my side control (not to mention top game in general) is terrible. You start in side, with an arm under their hand and under the far armpit. First thing you need to do is trap their near arm, for which Roger showed two methods. First one is to dig your knee right underneath, then slide in tight with both your knees, so that their arm is shoved up by their head, over your knee. The other way is to switch your base, pushing their elbow up with the other knee, then having created that gap, slide your remaining knee underneath and by their head, ending in the same position as before.

Once you’ve done that, you want to really crush your chest into their face, in order to make them sufficiently uncomfortable so you can get your head around their arm (so towards their legs rather than head). Christina then said I should get in a sort of RNC choke position on their arm, so basically grab my bicep with one arm, getting the other behind theirs, finally locking it all in with my head. That should wrap them up tight, leaving you the space to slide your knee up onto them stomach (or as high as you can get it. The further away from their attempts to get you in half guard, the better), then drive through for mount.

Unless I’ve forgotten something, that turned out to be the sole technique of the lesson (well, aside from the throws), moving into side control sparring. Again, I did this with Christina, where I felt a little more comfortable on top and on bottom. From the top, I tried to transition between north-south and side control, seeing if I could maintain the position and keep my weight down. I mostly managed to hold her in place, but still left space a few times, meaning Christina was able to come up to her knees. I made some vague attempts at trapping her arm to move to mount, but couldn’t loosen it up sufficiently.

Underneath, I attempted to recover my guard, but didn’t get too far. It was either in this spar or the guard passage that Christina got an armbar from knee-on-belly: something I need to watch out for when trying to escape by bridging and aiming to pop out behind her (seemed like a somewhat precarious escape to try, but Christina assured me I was going in the right direction during that spar). I’m still having problems making space to then go to knees or recover guard, so need to work the elbow into their hips more.

Free sparring came next, but as this was a big class, not everyone could go at the same time. That was fine with me, so I was more than happy to wait my turn with the other white belts. I started off with Connor, who’s another person I like to spar, as he tends to go fairly easy and give out advice, which is always much appreciated. As earlier with Christina, I found myself spending a lot of the spar staying defensive in his guard, and also trying to move round into his half guard. I was getting there, with elbows in the right place, but didn’t quite have my foot right up against his tailbone. Connor advised getting that foot in position and then trying to push his knee away with my elbow, or alternately bringing my other leg up to pry the trapped leg free.

After another break, I finished with yet another of the people I like to spar, Joanna. However, she’d been going continuously, and had just rolled with a big brown belt, so must have been getting tired. That would explain why I felt I was able to use my open guard a little more effectively than usual. I also tried to implement the principle of keeping them off balance I’d read in this promising thread, as well as getting a firmer grip on their ankle. Normally I end up wiggling my legs around without much purpose, but this time I made a conscious effort to attack the knees and try to control their legs. I still need to focus on swivelling my hips so I can get my knee into their stomach and prevent them passing, though I felt with Joanna I was having some success stopping her side control with my legs. Then again, along with the fact she was probably a bit fatigued from all those other spars, we did keep going into the wall, so that meant we had to keep restarting before she had a chance to establish control.

Plan to train again in the nogi as usual, and perhaps even the Friday beginners class. Unlike last month, its been a while since I’ve made a beginners, so that might make for an interesting change of pace.

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