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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

05 March 2008

05/03/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #124

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 05/03/2008Advanced

Felipe has started up a new club (which he's calling the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School), which is cool - he's going to be running classes at two locations:

Willesden Sports Centre
Donnington Road
NW10 3QX

Spring Health Club
81 Belsize Park Gardens,

When I last looked the website wasn't up and running yet (when it is, it will be here), but there's a Facebook group in the meantime. Contact Felipe through that for more info: he had an opening workshop at the weekend, which no doubt went well.

Speaking of websites, SteveBJJ has changed his URL, dropping off the '' bit: its now simply Also, the map is still growing, and that world map I mentioned is expanding steadily: one of the posters from Sherdog posted up a link there and on a German board, Kampfkunst.

One last link I can't fail to mention, from the EFN: CGJJ Stories from Abroad. Its been sitting there for a while, but I hadn't checked the thread until this morning, Jadon having advised me to take a look at the Oxford TD. Very glad I did, as it is easily one of the most entertaining things I've read on the internet in ages: loads of great stories about CGJJ's training around the world, often related to his career in the film industry. But don't take my word for it, go look at the thread!

Had another BJJ session with my gf on Monday, and ordered some cheap mats last Sunday (hopefully arrive within the next two weeks). I had wanted to go for Swain or something similarly swish, but my powers of persuasion aren't quite up to the challenge of convincing my gf I really need to spend £150 or so on some mats. So ended up with the jigsaws from eBay for around £30 instead (shipping was £8.99 in total, rather than per mat): will see if two mats do the job. If not, can always order another two, which would just about still fit in the living room. Will see how they are when they arrive, assuming this Knockdown Ltd place isn't dodgy: seems to have good feedback (99.8% after around 8000 transactions), so can but hope.

Class tonight again had the hefty warm up, with the dreaded tuck jumps, but strangely enough, no shrimping or bridging. First technique was yet again something bizarre where you wrap up the legs: clearly Gustavo is fond of that position. This was another sweep from open guard (De la Riva guard? Still not entirely sure what that is). You start with them up on one leg with a knee on the floor. You wrap your same side leg around the leg they have up, coming round the outside and hooking your foot into their inner thigh. Your other leg goes past the inside of their same side leg, hooking right near their butt. The arm you have on that side grabs their same side sleeve, while your other arm is gripping (again on the same side) their ankle.

To sweep them, you're going to push their sleeve between their legs, simultaneously pulling on their butt (I think: might have been inner thigh). Your other leg helps to lever them over, and as you do so, switch grips on their sleeve to your other arm. That will give you greater control when you move into side control.

We then moved on to another mammoth guard passage session. I wanted to try and work the guard pass more thoughtfully, but as before ended up just trying to keep my balance and anticipate what the other person was doing as they tried (and eventually succeeded) in sweeping me. I started off with Harry, maintaining posture for a while, until he drew me into a triangle. I still had both arms in, so wasn't too worried, when suddenly he was tapping. At first, I thought maybe he'd got so bored that he wanted to go with someone else, but sparring him again later, I think I must have unintentionally been pressing on an injured knee (which I wasn't aware of the first time round).

That meant I was in the rare position of being on my back for king of the hill guard passage. Yasmine was my next partner, someone I like sparring as she doesn't have size on me, and is a bit better than me. We went back and forth for a good while, I still trying to go for that sit-up sweep. I need to work out how to best release the grip of one arm and then attack: I haven't yet got that double grip and lift on the sleeve to work, so will keep trying. I also need to attempt the armbar more often, as she was leaning forward with the one arm, so it was an option I could have tried out. Though I managed to recover guard once or twice, she got round to side control in the end.

The most notable spar was with Jude, who come along to class a bit later. Its always enormously useful to roll with Jude, as he gives out loads of tips when he's got someone as obviously crappy at passing as I am. First thing was my hand positioning. I had them both pressing down on the hips, thinking to control them, but that meant Jude could easily sit up in guard. He showed how I should have one hand over a hip, the other gripping and twisting his lapels higher up. To maintain control, I can bring my weight over an arm, depending on if my opponent is trying to bring their upper torso into play or use their hips.

Jude also advised that to escape a grip on my sleeve I can circle my arm around the outside of the one gripping, and finally he gave me some pointers on triangle escapes. At first, I was thinking of bringing one around, pushing on his belt and posturing up, but then that helps him apply the triangle as I don't have a blocking arm anymore. Instead, I should use that extra arm to prise open his legs, using my elbow and shoulder in unison.

I had intended to spar Christina in free sparring, but she wasn't available, so instead I ended up with Chris Foran. I haven't rolled with him in a long time, mainly because he's quite a bit bigger than I am. The spar went in the time-honoured pattern of me getting squashed under side control, struggling to get half guard, then clinging on to that. I just about managed to avoid getting choked, mostly crawling around under Chris scrabbling to maintain my half-guard until time ran out. I shrimped around a bit to see if I could pop out into full guard, but unsuccessfully.

Similar thing happened with what proved to be my final spar, against Tran. I managed to grab half-guard from side control and squirm away from chokes, but not much else. I'm pleased I did at least stop ending up in knee on belly, though that was probably because Tran was going a bit lighter. I need to shrimp more when under half guard, as I think I'm too static, concentrating on grabbing that leg and then flopping about ineffectually.

As I wasn't going to be able to get a lift home until around later than normal anyway, I was in no hurry to catch my train. That meant I could hang around after class, which meant I could do a bit of drilling with Christina. We practiced some side control escapes, during the course of which she showed me something handy she'd been taught by Nick Brooks. Under side control, step the near leg towards your head, on its own. Bridge up, and use that space to bring your other leg underneath the first, coming to your knees. Its sort of like the basic breakdance step where you swivel your legs underneath you: that’s something I've not done since the early days of uni, but the principle proved helpful.

Tran also mentioned that blogger apparently has a limit on its blogs, after which you have to pay, so I'll have to check that out. I guess if thats the case, I could always just start a new blog if I find myself at the limit, or move some of my older non-BJJ posts to another site. Will see what my options are when I get to that point: I like the interface on blogger, so if I can't just make multiple blogs, I may well stump up the cash (if its not extortionate). Maybe there's an extra advertising option to help or something? But meh: hopefully a long way off.


  1. Guten Morgen!

    What you mentioned here:

    "You wrap your same side leg around the leg they have up, coming round the outside and hooking your foot into their inner thigh."

    Is the exact definition of the De La Riva hook, which makes the guard a DLR guard, which is of course a type of open guard.
    That hook is the key and there are many variations on what you do with the other leg and especially the grips, which might have added to your confusion.
    Most important is to exert pressure with the hooks asap, then it can be a pain to deal with.
    One of your smaller purples (Andrew?) is really good at it, he swept me about half a dozen times when I trained there a few weeks back. Maybe you can watch him a bit during free sparring.



  2. Vielen Dank, Ben! I think that's what Christina was trying to tell me during drilling, but I didn't quite understand at the time. Clearly, Gustavo is very fond of that De La Riva hook, as he keeps teaching stuff based off it. Did De La Riva invent the technique, or is he just the most famous person to use it effectively? I'll have a look round on the web before I add it to my glossary. :)

    I've only rolled with two smaller purple belts, Kevin and Leo (though I'm the only person who calls him that: everyone else uses his nickname, Xurume). Not aware of any Andrew, but then I very rarely roll with anybody above blue: one of the other RGA people who reads this blog might know him, though. Tran?

  3. Andrew is Jedrzej, Andrew being our best effort at pronunciation. He's a small polish guy who is mostly known for his top game and his half-guard sweeps, but it's possible he's been playing around with the de la riva guard a little bit whilst I haven't been paying attention.

    Either way, just so you know.

    Take care,


  4. Yes...Andy is the one that really has a solid top game. Although I don't ever recall him playing around in the De La Riva guard; it could be his new thing.

    I'm sure you will know who he is when you sparr with him and end up on the bbottom getting squashed!


  5. Cheers guys - I guess he might have just been testing out what we drilled earlier, seeing how Gustavo has focused so heavily on De La Riva stuff recently.