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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

17 January 2008

17/01/2008 - BJJ (Beginners)

Class #114

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires & Luciano Cristovam, London, UK - 17/01/2008Beginner

I decided I wasn’t feeling well enough for the no-gi, as my head got increasingly woozy throughout Thursday 3rd: still felt crappy the following week. Its very frustrating when you almost feel well enough to train, but not quite: having weeks with no classes is not how I planned to start off the year, but then probably my fault for having a terrible diet.

I’m fed up of missing training through illness, but fortunately I seem to have almost shaken off this cold, meaning I decided I should be ok for the beginners class tonight. I’ll keep it to just the one session this week, as there’s no need to push my luck, and hopefully I’ll be fully fit next week. As I’m popping off to Bristol at the weekend rather than going up to Brum, that will give me four days in which to train. If I’m feeling sufficiently healthy, four classes would make up for missing last week and most of the week before.

In other news, Zaf mentioned on Facebook that one of the RGA guys, Goran Reljic, has signed with the UFC, which is pretty cool.

I think Will may have changed the URL of his blog, unless its been changed for ages and I just missed it. Anyway, check out his excellent blog here.

Finally, looks like Padilla & Son have got in some new stock, which is cool: hopefully that will still be the case when I next need a gi. Been very happy with my white gold weave so far.

At first I thought Luciano was going to be taking the session, but it turned out that he was in fact acting as a sort of hands on translator for Gustavo, a visiting black belt. Gustavo didn’t speak any English, so needed Luciano to both demonstrate and translate simultaneously: goes to show just how good Luciano’s English is that he could translate off the cuff.

Class began, as normal, with a throw. I hadn’t seen it before – some kind of trip (no idea what the judo name would be, but maybe someone can recognise it from this description?). Starting from the usual grip on the arm and collar, step to the left, pulling them towards you. That should leave your right foot between their legs: bring your left foot next to it, then hook their leg with your right foot (toes on the ground). Finally, push on their shoulder and pull back with your other arm to drop them to the floor.

Next Gustavo, through Luciano, demonstrated a self defence technique – that’s something we haven’t done for some time, which is fine by me (I’m in this for sport, not self defence). However, makes for a nice change, and as I wanted to take it easy this lesson, ideal timing. Your attacker has put you in a standing guillotine. Grab their hand, and with your other arm, reach over their far shoulder. Step round to that side, knock their leg forward by bashing your knee into the back of their knee, finally bringing them to the ground.

Last bit of technique for today was especially useful: escape from knee on belly. With the same side arm as the knee on your belly, grab their belt and push forward into their stomach. Shrimp out and come up on your elbow, then bring your same side leg through. Raising up – maintaining your grip on their belt – grab the back of their ankle. Push on their belt and pull back on the ankle to take them down.

After another drill for knee-on-belly (one escapes, goes to knee on belly, then the other escapes, knee-on-belly, and so on), we reached the specific sparring section of class. On top in side control, I held Tanvir in scarf hold, trying to think of how I could step over and go for a submission (I had in mind that triangle position from a while back, but couldn’t remember it properly). Eventually I overbalanced, and Tanvir was able to roll me over. I also found that, as seems to often happen, I wasn’t too effective at stopping my opponent from simply locking their arm out and pushing up when I had them under side control. I tried swimming my arm in, but ended up generally just pressing my weight down and moving my legs towards their head (moving into scarf hold). Kinda sloppy. Although not as sloppy as effectively putting myself in side control when going for an armbar: still not quite sure how I ended up there.

Underneath, I got a solid grip on Tanvir’s collar in order to keep up the pressure, but didn’t really do anything with it. I should have pushed up and tried to shrimp, but instead I concentrated too much on getting my knee under, failing to get space first. I did manage to recover guard at one point, but most of the time I was fairly inactive (largely because I was trying to take it easy, due that lingering headache rather than pure laziness. For a change. :p). Tanvir did a good job of keeping his leg away from my half guard attempt, which is normally my preferred side control escape. Must remember to use escapes in combination.

I sat in the tailbone break (my knee pressed into their tailbone, the other behind, trying to push my hip into their crossed ankles) position on top in guard passage, which didn’t set anything much up, but did mean I wasn’t expending too much effort. Tanvir went for an armbar, but as I had my free hand already behind his knee in place to defend, I was able to slip round to side control. Then again, the way in which I threw him over to pass from there meant there was loads of space, so if he’d been less knackered, Tanvir could probably have got to his knees (as Chris always does when I try and pass his guard). I also tried standing, which I think is where I got a leg pin pass after Tanvir relaxed his guard.

In my guard, I immediately jumped up and landed the sit-up sweep, then having got that, started playing with submissions (if I get a technique I’m going for, I like to try something else after sparring restarts). Going for the sit-up sweep again, I tried falling back for the kimura, but couldn’t bend the arm. When I did manage to get the figure four grip, Tanvir was able to grab his gi: even when I got that released, Tanvir was able to straighten his arm again. So, definitely something major I’m doing wrong there.

I did later get an armbar, but I think that was probably more due to Tanvir getting tired by that point. Also, possible he was going lighter, as I’d mentioned I was still ill while talking before the lesson.

Shortly after typing that up, I had the dubious pleasure of my inaugural baby-vomit down my shoulder and arm. Not that I was too bothered, as I’ve been sick down myself plenty of times back in my undergraduate days, but does remind me: always put the muslin down before bouncing babies on your shoulder!

Presuming I’m fit next week, hopefully get in four classes, but as ever, we shall see.


  1. We did side control last night. So my blog has a few of the tips that were mentioned.
    Another thing that was mentioned that I didn't put in the blog was to be dynamic between Kesa, vanilla Side Control, Knee on Belly, and North South.
    Especially when people start pushing you up, spin to north south or pop up to Knee on Belly.

  2. I'm not sure but that trip sounds like it might be a Kubi Nage Otoshi (Neck Throw Drop). That said, I'm not sure that I interpreted your description correctly.

  3. Hmm: checking JudoInfo, I think it might be Ouchi Gari (large inner reaping). That looks about right, judging by that picture.

  4. Also, I noticed your problem with the kimura from guard, once you get the figure 4 grip put your foot on their hip and spin out so that your head is on the same side as the arm you are attacking, that gives you better leverage to keep them from straightening the arm. Then just push down with your top leg and roll up on your hip for a quick trip to Kimura town.

  5. Hey Can,
    That is definitley Ouchi Gari. That is one of my favorites, cuz nobody expects you to step between their legs to trip them.
    Something a couple of judoka showed me though, is really important to make sure you keep their weight on the leg you are sweeping. One guy, at Budokwai, said to just reach up from their collar and try to get the grip on their back, and just put all your weight on that arm, hanging from it. Then you can just push them over and land in side control.

    By the way, I'm not sure if anyone has thanks you lately. But thanks for posting all this stuff. I really appreciate reading the techniques. Cheers!