Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 25/03/2008 – Advanced
The Cranach exhibition was of a high standard, as you'd expect from the Royal Academy (though I think this is merely my second or third visit: I've been to the Turkish one they had a while back, and possibly one other, but can't remember). I read an article somewhere that had somebody in a controlling position at the National Gallery stating that the role of exhibitions shouldn't be to simply run 'greatest hits' of famous artists, but rather to introduce people to new work. I'm not sure I agree: the vast majority of visitors don't have the luxury of travelling to the numerous different galleries spread around the world that such exhibitions draw upon, so I'm perfectly happy with the 'greatest hits' model. Perhaps I'm wrong on the demographic. Either way: Cranach is worth your time, and the audio guide was excellent, just like last time.
That was followed up by a meal at The Big Easy with a bunch of people from RGA. I wouldn't normally be able to make that, as its on a Friday, but this particular Easter Weekend I've staying at my sister's, who is on holiday. So, great to have the opportunity to talk at greater length. I do a lot of chatting at the academy, but its rare that I get to attend a proper social event. Of course, I still managed to get lost beforehand, even after Christina gave me directions, but I was only thirty minutes late. ;)
Training with my gf continues to be a good way to drill the basics. That's even more true since the past couple of weeks, as she has been wanting to go over the same thing, which is great for really working the fundamentals. So since , that means we've only covered recovering guard from side control, transition to mount from side, cross choke from mount and guard, defence against cross choke and the trap and roll escape from mount. This Monday I also showed her the basic armbar from guard (along with the escape) so we could start using that as a drill to warm-up.
Back to training tonight, this was the first Tuesday I'd made in some time, and only the second advanced Tuesday. Since my first, the class is now back to 1.5hrs: I think the Friday nogi might be only an hour, but not sure. Jude arrived back from Spain recently, so good to have him teaching again: though his tough warm-ups are often a bit painful for a wimp like me, I find his detailed teaching style very helpful. Both the techniques, finally, started from closed guard, which makes a nice change from the constant open guard work we've been doing with Gustavo (though conversely, its also important to see stuff from my weaker positions).
First, Jude showed us a sweep: no idea what the name is, so if anyone recognises it from the description, let me know! Grab their sleeve with both hands, one high and one low, then pull them down towards you, slipping your grip to their lower sleeve once they're in close (can hold them there with your legs). Swivel to the side and with your other arm, grab their same side gi trousers, as low down as you can.
Pull their leg up to your head, also putting your opposite leg down, keeping it tight. Using the grip you have on their trousers, bring their leg up and roll them over into your mount. Note that you'll need to maintain a good hold on their sleeve, as otherwise they can get their elbow to the floor and prevent the sweep.
The next technique was a triangle set-up starting from closed guard. You start with a cross-grip (grabbing their opposite sleeve), then with your other hand grab the fabric on their same side knee. Still on that same side, open your guard and bring your foot to their hip. Use that to shrimp out, bringing your other knee up under their arm on the inside (if you bring it up by the outside, they can wrap it with their arm and start to pass).
With the foot on their hip, push them backwards: this should stretch them out sufficiently that you can get your other foot into their bicep. Pull the sleeve you're holding across their body as well as towards you, which then means you can slip the leg pressing into their bicep over the back of their neck. Finally, hook that ankle with your other leg and squeeze for the triangle.
Guard passage began with Tanvir, who has recently moved up to the advanced class. That's good news for me, as he is around my size, perhaps even a little smaller. On top, I stayed in my usual defensive posture for much of the roll, though I did eventually force myself to stand up a few times. I shoved my hips forward like Christina often does against me (very successful: she frequently passes from there), but I couldn't quite get the position.
At one point I did manage the sprawl pass when Tanvir opened his guard to go for an attack, but yet again it was fairly sloppy on my part. I need to think more about slipping down their legs and wrapping them up, as otherwise I'm leaving myself vulnerable for sweeps etc. When we restarted, I cunningly put myself in a triangle: I was in the armbar escape position, but I think had my arms mixed up, meaning that when I jerked out an armbar, I still had one left in. Not clever, but fortunately for me, Tanvir didn't capitalise and I managed to escape. Still, good to be reminded of the very basics – always have either two arms in or two arms out!
Underneath I kept going for the kimura, but as before I could only get to the figure four grip, no further. I need to both work on getting that grip free, or alternately use it to set up a sweep. I think the problem I have with turning it into a sweep is that I don't have my hips under my partner properly. Might also be worth switching to some other attack: even if the kimura isn't available, I'm sure I should be able to do something with a solid figure four grip, just need to work out what.
Having had so much trouble with my open guard recently, I tried another tactic: don't let them stand up. However, I think I was mainly using strength, as I grabbed onto a collar and pulled Tanvir down towards me, then attacked the arm to try for a kimura. I should use my legs more to do that, as I get the impression it was only having any effect because Tanvir is around my size. That means it’s a silly tactic, because it won't work against anybody bigger than me. I also tried cinching on a guillotine, but while I could get one arm under, I couldn't then get a good enough grip to pull it tight with the other arm.
My spar with Herman went almost exactly the same way, from what I remember, both on top and underneath. Again, Herman is around my size, so I was also able to pull him down towards me, attacking the arm for a kimura. At one point he stood straight up and I dangled off him. I didn't want to let go and switch to open guard, so had a play around to see if I could bring him down from there. However, I probably should have taken it as an opportunity to work open guard some more, as I've still got the same unresolved problems from before. Time ran out before anything happened, but must remember next time somebody stands up completely to practice my open guard.
In free sparring, I began with Paxton, who showed me a triangle escape before we started. He had been rolling with Leo, who said that gripping around behind his back with the trapped arm wasn't such a bad idea, to at least hold them off for a bit. However, the main escape was to grab the top of their knee with both hand, pull that to the floor, then drive through to escape.
We decided to go from guard, which he passed without too much trouble. I couldn't quite get half-guard, having merely got a weak grip around his ankle instead of knee. I also attempted to get in the 'paw' (bent hand around the upper arm, bringing the wrist into it too), but I think my half-guard was too weak for it to be a viable position. It simply meant that Paxton made several attempts to throw an Americana on the arm, so I switched to a more defensive posture.
Once he eventually pushed through to mount, Paxton stayed tight. I had a foot trapped, so tried bumping and rolling a few times, but his arm was out of reach. Then I realised he was staying very tight on the other side, so quickly switched to that: having been used to defending the one side, I think that took him slightly by surprise, as I rolled back into his guard. Time ran out before we could go any further.
I finished up with Grant, who as ever squashed me without too much effort. I was having real trouble sliding my knee under, as well as chasing around his trailing leg to try and lock in half-guard. He was keeping his legs well away, and eventually went to full mount. I bucked away to stop him getting a good hold, but again couldn't get my legs into position for half-guard. He got some kind of grip on my collar and wrapped up a limb with my gi, and I thought I was about to be choked. However, either he eased off, content he had the position and didn't need to go for the choke, or it was looser than I thought: either way, I managed to slip out.
At the end of class, Grant finally got his blue, which has been long overdue. He's been totally dominating me every time we rolled ever since I first sparred him, and observing his sparring with other people, he's given a good account of himself against better opposition too. Despite being a fairly strong guy, he's also quite technical, so it was good to see him get the promotion.
BJJGrrl: BJJ for Women
Rolling Guide for Beginners
Cane Prevost's Advice
jnp's Grappling Principles
25 March 2008