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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

01 April 2008

01/04/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #133

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 01/04/2008Advanced

I've been bitching about my sore thumb for over a month now, so it’s a shame I didn't read this useful post about rehabilitating damaged fingers and toes. I don't remember icing it, as I didn't think it was all that serious, but should remember to do that next time I take a similar knock. The old RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) advice is an acronym I see fairly often, and has helped me in the past. Christina mentioned tonight that Rosi had interviewed her recently for Fighters Only, which is pretty cool: check out her blog post.

My home session this week reminded of something I probably should have paid more attention to earlier: its kinda difficult to demonstrate when there are only two of you. The limited space also made itself felt more strongly, as I was trying to show that side control escape where you come to your knees, but kept going off the mats. So from now I think I'll mainly stick to showing my gf things from the guard, and drilling those.

Jude started with a butterfly guard pass (their instep is tucked inside each of your thighs). First, grab behind their gi, using that to push them backwards. Your knee on the other side then come up, keeping your foot tight to their body, with your other hand gripping their sleeve. Step back with your other leg, then come round on the foot you've got tight against them, aiming to push your body against their leg, which combined with yanking on the sleeve should give you the space to come round and into side control. I think: still not sure on the grips.

Secondly, we did a hook guard pass ('hook guard', apparently, is when you've got your leg wrapped over and under an arm). The person underneath has their leg wrapped round your arm, with their other foot on your hip, gripping your same side sleeve. First you circle your hand round to grip their sleeve, which means you are now in control of that arm instead of them. Next, you need to keep the elbow of the arm their leg is around tight to your side: this prevents them kicking the leg through and potentially going for a triangle.

With the arm hooked by their leg, reach over with your hand to grab the bottom of their other trouser leg. Raise your posture up, then spread your arms right out (Christina, keeping the children's TV theme going for technique description, called this the "It's me!" motion). That should spin them round close to your legs, meaning you can easily move your knee onto their stomach, or drop through to side control.

Specific sparring began with guard passage, where I had the usual experience in Christina's guard of defending against choke attempts. Jude was keeping these comparatively short, so she didn't quite get the chance to finish her attack: we went into the wall as she was trying to manoeuvre my gi into position, and time ran out before we could move away from the wall, then return to the same position.

Underneath, I tried to raise up, to prevent her from standing. That worked for a little while, as I attempted to grab onto something to keep me upright, but inevitably got shoved back down. Eventually, Christina was able to stand, so I switched to open guard to try and prevent her passing. I think I'm beginning to make some small headway with establishing better grips, but still haven't got the principle down yet. I need to make sure I'm controlling a sleeve and a hip, so that I don't keep getting passed so readily. I also want to try this hooking round the arm thing more often, as well as the De La Riva (where you do the same, but wrapping around and inside their leg instead of an arm).

We then went from open guard, which I found even tougher. It was similar to when I sparred with Alex the brown belt, just at a slightly less rapid rate. I had some idea of how Christina was sweeping me, but will have to continue to work at the position before I establish my balance. I also need to better control the knees, as I was finding that difficult, and utilise the sweeps we'd just be shown in class.

Christina did exactly that to me a few times when I was on the bottom, and I had difficulty maintaining any sort of control. I played with butterfly and spider guard, but didn't have much success with each. However, it was useful to further attempt to ingrain that principle of controlling a hip and a sleeve, trying to switch around to make sure I could push away and make space, helping to prevent the pass.

Finally for specific sparring, we went from side control. I actually felt happier here, which is a big change from before. On top, if I get into Tran's patented gable grip under the head and arm, pulling my opponent into my knees, I feel relatively secure. However, I'm still unable to then do anything off that position: Christina said she found it difficult to move, so was waiting for me to do something. As it would have been pointless for me to just lie there, I did attempt to shift around, which is when Christina sprang into action and escaped, generally by turning to her knees. So, I'm getting better at maintaining a position, now I need to work out the next step.

Underneath, I was able to snatch the half-guard, but Christina soon grew wise to that, and prevented me from going to my usual escapes by controlling my leg. Grant does this to me as well, and I haven't yet worked out a decent counter. I tend to get bunched up by trying to bring my other leg into play, shrimping to make space. Jude tried coaching me through the escape, urging me to come to my knees, but I wasn't able to make the space. Getting to my knees is still an unnatural motion for me, and that needs to change: it’s a fundamental escape I currently lack in my toolbox.

For free sparring, I started off with Herman. As we're both relatively passive, this ended up in guard, with Herman staying mostly defensive, while I yet again aimed to pry the elbow. I tried bringing my knee into play, but that made me vulnerable to a pass. I had trouble dragging the arm to my chest, which is what I need to do in order to follow the technique demonstrated in the Beneville book. I'd also like to be able to switch to a sweep, so need to work on my positioning: I'm too readily getting flattened out, rather than having my hips and knees in place to launch some kind of offence.

At several points, I ended up dangling around Herman's side a few times, trying to get into an armbar, but as ever couldn't complete the technique. I think I'm failing to put my hips into it, and not keeping my legs tight enough when making the attempt. Half-guard was a common position for me, and felt a little more offensive than usual as Herman doesn't have a weight advantage like most of my sparring partners. However, I still couldn't isolate an arm, or quite initiate a sweep (though I was able to switch back to closed guard).

Paxton appears to have worked out my defensive guard game, as he inevitably ends up either in mount with a good grip on my arm, or takes my back. I need to watch it when someone grabs my arm and pulls it across my body: I wasn't being careful enough with Paxton, as he managed to roll me into mount with that dominant hold. That made my escape difficult, even when I got my legs ready for half-guard. I did eventually manage to roll out of mount, but because he had that good control of my arm, it was simple for Paxton to apply the armbar. I must remember to free my limbs before doing something like that, or being very quick on coming up to defend the armbar (however, as ever prevention is better than the cure, to somewhat misuse a cliché).

Temperature outside was much hotter today than usual, which is presumably why I felt very hot training today. I was completely drained after sparring, drenched in sweat, so couldn't make more than two spars. Normally I feel as if I might be able to squeeze in a third light roll, but this time I had nothing left.

Hopefully train again tomorrow, as I'd really like to make three classes this week. There is probably going to be a tube strike from the 6th-9th April, which will severely mess up my training. If I can get three in, then I'll have had six sessions in the past fortnight: that will mean that if I only make one next week, it won't be quite so annoying.


  1. Can,
    Good to hear you're getting to grips with a solid side mount. I picked that up from Renzo's; I'll also show you a nice tight submission from there next time we roll. Then you can start subbing without a greater chance of losing position!

    I love the side control as it's a relatively safe position to dominant from. There are numerous tight/quality moves from there.


  2. Cool - will have to take you up on that when I get back!

    Not training tonight as I'm giving the knee a rest, but as the tube strike has been cancelled, should be able to make a bunch of lessons again next week (assuming the knee doesn't get worse).