Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 27/03/2008 – Advanced
My body was suspiciously fine today, despite the Jude special yesterday, so I'm expecting to be in lots of pain tomorrow: that two day delay could be unpleasant. However, I still managed to make myself uncomfortable before the lesson, thanks to a rather well catered early morning meeting at work. There were the usual grapes and stuff on the table, but encased in some tin foil waited some deliciously hot bacon and sausage baguettes. They sat staring at me all through the discussion, meaning I ended up eating about four sections, which really wasn't a good idea.
That filled me up so much that I had trouble getting through my lunch, which consisted of a banana, a ham sandwich, and then a bunch of chocolate. Again, not a clever plan. I could feel all that junk food churning around my stomach once I got to training and during the warm-up, but fortunately for me, Gustavo was taking it, so slightly lighter than yesterday. However, Jude must be rubbing off on him, as there were still lots of press-ups, sit ups, and those evil leg exercises where you lie back on the floor, swinging your legs up and down alternately.
I was pleased that there was no stand-up sparring this time, kicking off instead with guard passage. I stayed defensive both on top and underneath, readjusting my knees to prevent sweeps, and defending my neck to ward off chokes (remembering Tran's advice about putting the hand higher on my head). I tried standing at one point, but as usual that didn't go anywhere and I ended up right back down in guard. Like I mentioned a few lessons ago, I'm still finding that I will either get an arm yanked down and put off balance, or alternately get squish to one side by their knees in a sort of open guard. I can just about deal with the first one, working myself back to better posture, but I'm less clear on how to properly counter the second. I guess again attempt to work back to a 'safe' position, but I wasn't feeling secure against those knees.
On the bottom, I tried to pull Paxton down towards me, but like Christina, his arms remained firm, preventing motion on my part. I don't think the spar got much further than that, from what I can remember.
The next spar was from half-guard, for which I went with Owen. I felt surprisingly comfortable on top, getting that same grip Tran showed me for side control (underhook the head with one arm, going under their far elbow with the other, link hands tightly, then pull them in towards you, crushing your hips down). I also tried to block any movement of Owen's near arm by pressing my hip right down, which seemed to work ok. I think I managed to hold the position for the whole spar, but can't quite remember. It felt solid, but not proactive: I could lift Owen's elbow up using my grip, but was unable to then secure any kind of kimura/Americana. Even getting my knee into his armpit didn't seem to help that much, as I couldn't isolate the arm when shifting my hands over to try for a figure four.
On the bottom was a different story, as I couldn't stop Owen crushing down on me. I'm still trying for that paw thing from Indrek's 'Functional Half Guard' instructional, and still getting it wrong. It does at least give me something to work for, and feels like I gain a little more space, but I'm clearly continuing to do something wrong, as I can't keep them off me for long. I also cunningly almost put myself in an arm triangle by reaching an arm over my face towards the end, which is a big no-no: time ran out before Owen got the inevitable submission.
Technique, as is so frequently the case with Gustavo, was another open guard sweep. Although at first it looked complex, it turned out to be a bit more comprehensible than before. You put your same side leg over their arm, also hooking the same foot underneath their leg. Simultaneously secure a grip on their same side sleeve with your same side hand, pulling it around the bottom of your leg.
If they now try and sprawl back, you can sit up into them. Switch the grip on their sleeve to your other hand, then with your free arm come around their head (keeping it on the inside of your arm), reaching for their gi on the other side. Pull on that gi, while also yanking on the sleeve and kicking up with the leg. That should fling them into a position perpendicular to your body, leaving you sat on their arm facing away. Finish by quickly spinning to side control.
Open guard sparring wasn't overly productive for me. I went with Alex, a brown belt, who must have got bored from how easy it was to either sweep me or pass my open guard. On top, I couldn't do anything, while on the bottom, I had a go at keeping my knees tight to try and hold onto guard when on the bottom, and also the spinning around thing from Beneville, which were good to practice, but I don't think I got anywhere with either tactic. I also tried to lock in a De La Riva, but my legs might as well have been made from wet tissue paper for all the good they did. Of course, that's kinda unavoidable when you're with a brown belt: I need to come up with a better way of using my time when against people who are immensely superior in skill. Perhaps focusing it down onto small things, like hand position and the like, and also observing them more closely to see how they do a technique, in case there's a chance I could give it a go when the positions are reversed.
My first free spar was with Paxton. I can't remember how, but Paxton took my back and tried to sink in a rear naked choke. I stayed calm, and thought how to work my way free. I wanted to knock off at least one of his hooks, prevent him from getting both arms in position, and maintain some kind of breathing space. I was also trying to twist my head towards the choking arm: not sure if I'm remembering that correctly. We spun around for a bit, at various points putting me on my front: perhaps I should have turtled up there? Not a position I'm familiar with.
I thought Paxton was about to complete the submission when he got a good hold of my gi, but I must have had sufficient space, as I eventually managed to work past one of his hooks and turn round into his guard. Time ran out shortly after that.
I sat out the next round, and was about to sit out the one following as my arm was feeling sore (and naturally I was feeling tired and lazy), so initially turned down one of the purple belt's offers of a spar. However, I later gave in, particularly when I realised it was Bruno asking me: I remember him instructing way back with Cesar, so presumed he'd probably go light if he's used to teaching beginners. He did indeed show good control, taking it easy on me, while I tried to work out of various positions. Again, I can't imagine it was too interesting for him, but at least I provided slightly more entertainment than sitting against the wall. ;)
Finally, similar thing happened with Rodney. I had been planning to sit out, but then as I wasn't all that tired by that point, accepted when he asked if I fancied another light roll for the last one. I started in side control, applying the Tran tactic, which again worked well (though Rodney was going light). I managed to work my hip to the inside of his near arm, which meant I could shift back and transition through knee-on-belly to mount. I tried prying up the arm, but made the mistake of not capitalising on the space by moving up my knees. I also had both arms wrapped up, meaning Rodney had little trouble sweeping me into guard. Same story as before, as there I found it difficult to break down his posture due to his solid grasp of my hips, shortly after which time ran out.
I mentioned to Joanna I might be able to help out at the SENI, as while I've got no intentions of competing, it would be interesting to get involved in the admin etc. I doubt I'll have that weekend free, but on the off-chance my gf is busy then, I'll have a chance to experience what is involved in running a tournament.
BJJGrrl: BJJ for Women
jnp's Grappling Principles
27 March 2008