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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

12 December 2007

12/12/2007 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #109

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 12/12/2007Beginner

The Fightworks Podcast is going through the Best BJJ Blogs of the Year again (previous list here), but this time Caleb has stuck up a poll. You can vote here: looking through that group, I’d say Aesopian’s blog is still the obvious one deserving of the title, though personally I’m fond of Christina’s ( and Nick G’s (, soon to move to plain As I’ve only got the one vote, I went for Christina, but looks as though Aesopian should clinch it. Also cool to see a bunch of blogs I’ve not read before, so will have to give those a good look: plenty there to fill a train journey. ;)

Didn’t manage to train on Saturday after all: I was feeling a bit shitty in the morning, and traffic delayed us on the drive into London (as the whole family was coming to visit my sister and her baby, my mother decided to take the car). My niece is a lot more active now, and all that milk is starting to fill her out: amazing how much babies change in just a week. Will pop in on her yet again next Friday. :D

Tonight’s class (having also just visited my niece: they’re only babies once, so I reckon getting as much time with her as possible is probably wise, not to mention interesting) went over a number of techniques I’m fairly familiar with, but as always its great to go over fundamentals.

After a drill where you block a punch on your guard and go to a throw, Roger started with the scissor sweep, followed by the push sweep in case that fails. Useful tip I haven’t put into practice before is to lean back before trying to roll them into mount: that provides additional leverage, as far as I can tell.

Final variation on that technique was an armbar from guard, which I don’t think we’ve done before, but I recognised it from the Rowan Cunningham Abhaya vid. If the push sweep doesn’t work, put the leg you were previously using to push on their knee onto their hip instead. Straighten out your other leg, then proceed as normal with the armbar: bring that leg up and push them off balance, pushing off the other hip, then bringing your leg over their head to lock in the armbar.

That meant it was time for guard passage, working with my training partner Paxton (been a long while since I last had a class with him: good to see all those injuries have cleared up). I tried to go for a sit-up sweep a few times, but failed to commit, and I’m still not automatically going for the kimura if it messes up, a habit I need to drill into myself. Generally I ended up going to a sloppy open guard, a leg flailing about near Paxton’s head, until he pushed through. Particularly considering tonight’s class, I need to progress from just attempting the odd sweep to going through a chain if one fails, like scissor -> push sweep -> armbar.

Last technique of the class was a side control escape, something else I’m always happy to go over. This time it was the one where you come to your knees, which for this escape becomes functional when the person on top moves their arm to block your hips. Reach underneath their far armpit, swivel to your front, bring your knees up, grab their leg, driving with your head. Also raise whichever of your legs is on the same side as your head, pushing forward and lifting to drop them under your side control.

Sparring from side control followed the familiar pattern. On top, I was unable to hold my position, soon getting rolled over. My problem here, I think, is that I’m not switching around enough. As a small guy, I need to be more mobile on top, perhaps trying to move to knee on belly or something, so that the other person is kept on the defensive. Paxton did mention that when I got to certain positions, like scarf hold, it felt tight, but that’s not enough: just waiting there, I’m eventually going to get reversed.

Underneath I felt more confident, trying to go for that escape we went over recently, where you bridge and shrimp until you can slip your knee through to recover guard. I couldn’t quite get that, as Paxton’s side control was fairly tight, but I was eventually able to get half guard. From there, I attempted to move to a sweep, but had trouble getting into position. I thought it was then all over as Paxton seemed about to get an Americana, but I was able to keep my arm straight without too much effort. I didn’t realise at the time, but I think that was because I had the shoulder free, so was able to adjust in order to relieve the pressure.

Eventually I rolled Paxton into guard (at least I think that was side control sparring rather than the guard passage from earlier), though he had a fist firmly into my throat just before that. Had we continued, he may have got the submission, but then on top I would have had a much better base from which to resist. Probably would depend on whether or not I could posture up, instead of getting held down and therefore less able to resist.

Plan to train again tomorrow: I had thought about finally giving my Bullshido shorts a test run, but they’re still up in Birmingham. Maybe next week.

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