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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

19 March 2008

19/03/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #128

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 19/03/2008Advanced

I've been wondering why the Google Video technique clips weren't loading properly in my technique summary, and I think they've changed the embed HTML. So, updated the ones I put in the summary, meaning they should hopefully be working ok now.

Randomly met somebody I'd first chatted to on the internet a year or two, who happened to be heading to RGA himself. Milan is organising a competition for the 22nd March, Grapplers Showdown, which will have the unusual feature of the participants deciding whether they want to go gi, nogi or some combination of the two (e.g., jacket and shorts like in Sambo). He was on his way to pick up the entry fees from RGA, which gave me the chance to chat. Always fun when people you've only seen as words on a screen step out of the internet into the real world.

After we'd been through another hefty warm-up by Oli, followed by throws and takedown sparring (which I could do without, but has to be there due to competition), it was time for some guard passage. I'm continuing to have problems with my open guard, getting passed without much trouble. I had a go at swivelling my hips and bringing my top leg over, as at the start of Ed Beneville's The Guard, but that’s going to need plenty more drilling on my part before I get it down. Christina recommended working spider guard: I'll need to concentrate on getting that sleeve grip quickly if I find myself being pushed into open guard.

On top, I again ended up very defensive, warding off Christina's attempts at triangles and chokes, trying to keep my posture and balance. Standing to try a pass would be good, although there are a couple of things I still want to iron out when taking a defensive posture in guard. In particular, I'm not very good at controlling their upper torso: I've been trying to press my weight on my arm against their chest, as Jude showed me a while back, but Christina didn't find it too difficult to get past that arm and sit-up. That meant I was reduced to leaning forward with my forearm to shove her back down, which then left me vulnerable to choke attempts and broke my posture.

Switching partners, I had a chance to roll with Indra. She was going a little lighter than Christina, though I still found my open guard lacking. I managed to get into spider guard a couple of times, even getting a sweep at one point, but it was very sloppy on my part. Like last lesson, I need to work distance, perhaps have a go at the De La Riva hook, and be more careful when they stand up in my guard. I'm tending to just drop back and put my feet in their hips, which leads to them passing. Instead, I should be thinking about that sleeve grip too, setting myself up to secure spider guard.

I also tried for the kimura, attempting to pry the elbow like I'd seen in the Beneville book (foot against the hip, pressing the back of the elbow with my knee, than using my hands to cup the elbow and pulling back). However, I wasn't getting the elbow solidly to my chest like Beneville demonstrates, and when I did occasionally get the figure four grip, I wasn't in position to shrimp out and attack the arm.

Tonight's technique was a method of taking the back from guard. First, you bump them forward with your legs, then secure double underhooks with your arm, linking your hands together. Use that to pull them up, so that you can slide your legs down, triangling their body. Pull them up again, coming up onto your side, then rising on your elbow to slip round and take the back.

Free sparring with Indra, I again tried to get that kimura by prying the elbow, with much the same results as before. Might help if I shrimp more to improve my positioning, rather than clinging on to the arm and hoping to somehow sweep or submit from there. I also found myself randomly trying to take Indra's back, but couldn't get my second hook in, meaning she ended up on her side. I wasn't able to do much except hold her there for a bit: think it was a sort of half guard, but felt looser than that.

Next I rolled with Pippa, yet again trying hard for that kimura. I went through a whole bunch of positions, and I'm not quite sure of the order: think I started off in guard, working for the kimura, then ended up on top of her half guard. I managed to get my knee into her armpit, but couldn't initially get a hold of her arm. I'm sure there must have been some more options from there, but I only know the kimura or Americana, so was at a loss when I didn't have the arm. Eventually I got a figure four and started to twist, but Pippa almost spun free. IIRC, we then ended back in guard, where I was still twisting, until going to mount. Finally, I was able to raise her up and sufficiently torque her shoulder to get the tap.

Almost immediately after we restarted, I fell right into a guillotine. Raising my bum high in the air and walking forward, I was able to avoid the choke, also getting my hand into Pippa's grip. She didn't quite have it on, but at the same time I wasn't able to escape. Time ran out before we reached a conclusion, but that reminds me to work on my guillotine escapes. I had space, but couldn't capitalise on it to free my neck.

As I'm staying at my sister's this week (she's on holiday, but lent me some keys), I wasn't in any rush to leave. That meant I had a chance to do some drilling with Zaf, followed by some light sparring. Zaf is a store of technical knowledge, from which he pulled out a sweep from guard I hadn't seen before.

If I understood Zaf correctly, you start by getting a good grip on the back of their gi. With your free arm, underhook and grasp your other sleeve. On the underhook side, use your leg to hook round the back of their knee. Finally, sweep them over in that direction…I think. Would have to check with Zaf.

He also showed me a defensive posture for under side control, where you get a deep grip on your own collar with your hand, then with your free hand grip the other sleeve. Keeping your elbows in tight, that makes it difficult for the person on top to do anything much to you, similar to grabbing both your collars when under mount.

Finally, I asked Zaf to go through the 'paw' concept in half guard, which I'd seen earlier on a video linked at Sherdog. Having a look at the first part of the free instructional, would seem to give me another option in half-guard, which is always welcome, as I often end up just sitting there unsure what to do. The basic idea is to get on your side, secure an underhook, and hold off their other arm with a 'paw' grip: Indrek does a great job of explaining it in his video. One thing I was missing when going through it in my head was bringing my outside knee into their stomach when the opportunity presented itself, facilitating the recovery of my guard.

Zaf and I did a bit of light sparring, where I had a play with the paw in half guard, and also kept on with the attempts at kimura. I couldn't break Zaf's grip, however, so still need to keep working on that. I also gave the reverse kimura grip I'd seen in Beneville, which is an option which would be good to try more often, just for variety.

Finally, picked up my blue belt certification from Joanna. They'd accidentally put in 14th January rather than February, but no biggy: its only a month off. Nice to have something official, as back when I was grading in ZSK, I always forgot to ask for my certificates. My ZSK brown belt one is knocking around somewhere, but not sure when, if ever, I'll get round to asking my old instructor if he's still got it somewhere.


  1. Blue belt certification? Congratulations!!

  2. Cheers! Nice to have something concrete: I didn't think to snap a photo back on 14th Feb when I got the blue, so will have to remember when the purple comes around. Of course, that's long way off. ;)