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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

20 February 2008

20/02/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #120

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK - 20/02/2008Advanced

Inspired by what Caleb did with San Diego, I've been trying to build an interactive map of all BJJ clubs in the UK, here. Google Maps have had the 'My Maps' option for a while, where you can create your own map with placemarks (allowing full HTML in the description), but I only realised after seeing Caleb's post that it is not really easy to embed them (i.e., into a blog like this one). I've got around 55 clubs in there so far, and my initial aim is to get coverage everywhere in the UK. After that, I can start getting more detailed, trying to discover all the clubs in any one area. If anyone can help with information on a club (I'm looking for the full address, a website and a contact email), feel free to email me at gmail (my user plus @, unsurprisingly).

The dream would be for a global map, but that would take a large number of motivated people: its nevertheless possible, and I'm hoping the idea might be something we can implement at Bullshido, where that body of motivated people may exist.

Roger started with various throws – main thing I remember from that is that the arm one is seio-nage, which does sound familiar. If I ever want to be a serious competitor, then I really must give judo another go, but then I'm not entirely sure being a serious competitor is all that appealing. Will see if my gf gets funding, then I will try to get back to the Warwick class.

Guard passage with Christina was fairly defensive on top. I was mainly trying to avoid her choke attempts and stopping her getting a good grip on my collar. Thinking back to my last lesson, I tried to get my hand and arms in the way, but keeping note of my elbows so they weren't easy to shove out the way. I was also adjusting my knees so that I could retain my balance and posture, though I still ended up being pulled forward quite often. In that position, I was tending to put my hands on my head like a terrified squirrel, which probably isn't ideal, but did seem to have some defensive use. Still, need to be more proactive on top, rather than just trying to work back to posture.

She almost got an armbar at one point, though I was able to twist my elbow round so it wasn't vulnerable. However, she might have been loosening her hold at that point, as firstly she had the arm relatively isolated, and secondly we were moving off the matted area.

Underneath, I tried to be more offensive, but had trouble removing Christina's arms. I attempted to swim underneath and then push her arms off that way, but she was fully aware of what I was trying to do and left no space. Due to her control of my hips, that made any attack on my part difficult. She also managed to pass several times, though I was trying to slide back to guard as fast as I could, bringing a leg behind and in front.

Rest of technique was all about open guard sweeps, which was ideal given the problems I'd just had stopping Christina slipping round my open guard. Most useful for me was ingraining the central principle into my head. For all the sweeps was to hook their leading leg, grabbing the same side ankle. Your other leg should remain up, your knee in close, ready to move to either push on their hip, on thrust out on the side of their knee. You free hand will be trying to secure a grip on their same side sleeve. That should severely restrict their options for passing, particularly as they have to be very careful about moving their weight forward: that will make them vulnerable to a sweep.

The first sweep involved just that. Their weight is moving forward, so your free leg goes to their hip (on the inside of the leg you've trapped). Push upward with both your legs, pulling down on their sleeve, lifting them up and over your head, dropping them to one side. Maintaining your grip, roll on top of them into mount.

Next was something Christina referred to as the De la Riva sweep, presumably after the well known BJJer. From the same starting point of one leg hooked, shrimp out, aiming to try and get to their side. Your other leg should hook round their trapped leg, which you will then use to pull them in front of you. Hook the inside of their other leg (so you now have a foot inside both their legs, same side). With those hooks, grab their belt and push them forward, meaning you should find yourself straight into rear mount and ready to apply a RNC (though remember not to cross your legs when putting the hooks in, as there's an easy submission they can do from there that involves pushing on your crossed legs).

The last open guard sweep caused me a bit more trouble (though the De la Riva took me long enough to work out). This time, from the starting position you push out the knee of their free leg. Sit-up and grab round the outside of their trapped leg (must be the outside, or they can pass), gripping your own lapel. You can then stand up, and as you do, use your hooking leg to sweep their trapped leg upwards. You can then move to a single leg and drive into side control. I think: I may still have misunderstood that one.

Christina and I were about the sit out the first round of sparring, but were urged onto the mat by Roger. It was a relatively light spar, particularly as I had real difficulty initiating anything, just exchanging grips from our knees. I tried armdragging a few times, or scooting round, but to no avail. Early on, Christina dropped back for a footlock, which I tried to roll out of and push away. I managed to do so, but Christina mentioned that I was doing entirely the wrong thing, rolling the wrong way: she mercifully released the hold before I could do myself any damage. What I should have done was straighten out my leg and worked from there: e.g., the escape we learned a while back.

I almost sat out the next one, but this time Yasmine came over to ask me for a spar. I've only rolled with her once before, before she got her blue, and found her to be strong and tight. This time, it felt a lot more even, so either I've got better or she was going easy on me (I seem to remember somebody saying she had a fair bit of judo in her background). We spent a long time in guard, where I got a grip on the back of her gi and pulled her in close. Shifting around to prevent her shoving a knee into my tailbone – which she went for several times – I attempted to go for a sit-up. That didn't work the first couple of times, and neither did my switch to a kimura – before I got passed, I switched back to closed guard. Having that grip on the back of her gi, I also had a try for the cross choke Jude showed us, but couldn't get the other arm through. Finally from that position, I vaguely flailed for a guillotine, but continue to really struggle to get that anywhere near close enough to the neck in order to slide it through.

Eventually, I did manage to get the sit-up sweep, moving through to mount. I attempted to grapevine Yasmine's legs (at least I think that’s the right name: hooking round the outside of her calves with my legs), but wasn't secure enough. Again, to avoid getting swept, I brought my knees back up, aiming for her armpits. I also attempted to get an arm onto her throat, so I could go for a sleeve choke/Ezeqiuel: not been shown it yet though, so always unlikely to get anywhere with that. Still, I tend to be at a loss when it comes to mount, so good to try things out.

After some struggling and shifting around, Yasmine was able to sweep back into my guard. I had meant to swivel round to take her back, but failed to get a hook in, meaning I just flopped round to guard instead. We didn't have much of a chance to work from there, however, as time ran out.

Taking another break, it was then time to go with Tran again. He offered to have the spar start in my strongest position, which is closed guard. As with Christina, I found I couldn't shift his arms from my hips. Gradually he worked to side control, then to knee on belly. I could see that knee slowly sliding towards me, but couldn't think of a way to stop it reaching my chest. Shrimping and bucking made brief pockets of space, but not enough to escape (or at least, I wasn't able to capitalise on the tiny bit of room I made). Tran worked through to an armbar.

The spar finished the same way as last time I rolled with Tran. Though he let me start on top in side control (giving me the useful tip that if I'm gripping under his head, I should also wrap up his far arm, clasping my hands together. That makes it much tougher for your partner to get an underhook), I soon ended up under his mount. Slowly and steadily, he worked his way to an armbar. I was bucking the whole time, trying to pick my moments to knock his attempts at grabbing an arm. I also tried to shrimp, and keep my arms safe. Also like last time, Tran advised me that I was doing the right thing, staying aware, bridging etc, so its just a matter of working on that. I also feel I need to shrimp more, and get better at blocking knees coming up to a high mount.

Tonight marked my first class as a blue belt, and I was happy enough with how it went. Especially nice was that Christina said she'd noticed improvement, and that I felt like a blue in sparring now. That's exactly the kind of reassuring thing I want to hear at this point, although it will take me a while to really feel I deserve that kind of praise. But hey, always great to hear from people whose opinion I respect.

Now I just need to work out how to stop my fingers seizing up. Normally thats not a problem, as I have a mix of gi and nogi, but since the timetable changes, I'm going to be pretty much all gi for the moment. Christina mentioned there was a grip you could do using your three fingers rather than the thumb and index, so that sounds worth a try to alleviate the stress on those muscles.

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