Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 20/03/2008 – Advanced
Bit sore from yesterday, and always a little strange sleeping in the sofabed at my sister's place. My thumb is also still acting up, a month after the Oxford TD. Might have to look into that if it doesn't clear up soon.
Following the warm-up, we moved on to specific sparring from side control. On top, Tran's advice has made a big difference for me, as I feel a lot more able to maintain the position. Christina did eventually escape a couple of times, but that makes a contrast to the previous situation in which I was constantly getting thrown off with little effort required by my partner. However, I'm not yet able to be too proactive from on top, as I keep just trying to free their elbow and trap the arm to make space for mount. That didn't work against Christina, so on several occasions I was flinging my leg over and getting trapped in her half guard.
The first technique was way of getting an armbar from side control, transitioning to mount to do so. Get a knee into their arm and shove that up towards the head. If I remember correctly (and this confused the hell out of me, so I'm not sure I do), you end up facing towards their knees. Shift up onto them slightly, them swing your far leg behind you and right over their head. That should enable you to swivel into position to get a leg under their head, your other leg staying tight. I think at some point you must also grab an arm, as that ends up trapped for a straight armbar, but can't recall how, so will have to double check with Christina. You've also got the option of shifting to a triangle.
That was followed by one a little easier to understand, again ending up with an armbar. Press their arm down to the ground, then bring your near leg over the top to trap it. Grip the sleeve, then with the same leg, step over their head. Slip the other leg underneath their head: as before, this then leaves their arm stuck, and vulnerable to a straight armbar by pressing it against your leg, using the elbow as a fulcrum. Again, you also have the option of changing to a triangle.
Free sparring became more of a drilling session to start with, which was absolutely fine by me as it gave me a chance to look in closer depth at some of the problems I'm having with open guard. Christina has no trouble passing, for a number of reasons that became clear during the session. First, when she stands and breaks my guard, I'm not stopping her from shoving her hips forward. That bunches me up, and makes it easy for her to pass. What I should be doing is pushing her away from me, using my legs.
Secondly, I need to secure a grip on a sleeve. One effective way of pushing the passer away, as Christina showed me when I tried to pass her guard, is to immediately get a leg into the arm and shove. I was steadily trying to put Christina's advice into practice, but there's a long way for me to go yet. I'm continuing to fail at creating distance, and even when I do get a leg into the arm, I don't manage to keep it there for long.
Christina also mentioned I was lying a bit flat, the third problem. I must keep in mind the BJJ principle of never lying flat, curling up slightly instead or going to one side. I also want to take another look at the Beneville book, as that kicks off with defences from standing guard, helpfully predicated off hip and leg movement drills.
We spent about two rounds doing that, I think: either way, proved very helpful. Christina continues to be an awesome training partner, which is a real help to a beginner like me (I may have a blue belt now, but I'd still count myself as pretty much a beginner, as I've not even been training 18 months yet). Its so important to get good training partners – makes a massive difference to your progress. Hence it’s a shame a lot of the other cool people I used to regularly train with (like Nathan and Chris) don't make the same days as me anymore (in fact, don't think Chris trains at all right now, due to some injury or other: Nathan may be bogged down in uni work).
Finished off the lesson with a brief bit of light sparring against Grant, who always totally outclasses me, but is nice about it. I tried snatching the half-guard, but couldn't quite get it, spinning around under side control instead until he managed to get mount. Time ran out before he could consolidate, but I'm pretty sure he would have eventually caught me in something. Definitely a prime candidate for a blue (not that I'm much of a challenge: also saw him showing good control with various other blues), so hopefully he'll get that soon.
I was thinking about training tomorrow, but looking at the trains, far too much of a pain to get there. A lot of tube lines are down, so I'd have to meander about getting lost on the bus network. So instead, I plan to go to the Cranach exhibition at the Royal Academy, and then meet up with Christina, Lorenzo, Zaf and a few others for a meal a bit later, which Christina kindly invited me to after the lesson.
One other thing I should mention, which hasn't really occurred to me before despite the frequent warnings on the Fightworks Podcast, is to be better prepared for staph infections and the like. I have some abrasion on my neck which has scabbed up, and off-handedly mentioned it to Oli, who immediately asked if I'd put any anti-septic cream on it. Something I should have thought of earlier, and did after class (borrowing some Savlon from Christina): bought myself a tube on the way to my sisters, which I'll be keeping in my bag to rub on any other cuts etc I pick up in the future. The RGA mats are clean, so from what I'm told there hasn't been a problem with staph, but makes sense to be careful.