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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

02 April 2008

02/04/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #134

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 02/04/2008Advanced

There was another mammoth session of guard passage at the start of today's class, but after a few rounds, my knee was acting up. I'd noticed it earlier when doing backwards rolls during the warm-up, where I had to gingerly roll mainly with my arms to avoid slamming that left knee into the mat too much. I hadn't thought it would be a problem when I smacked my kneecap yesterday while trying to pass Paxton's guard, but its clearly still sore. So, rather than risk injury, I sat out most of guard passage, as I find that tends to put a lot of pressure on the knee, at least in the defensive mode I often get stuck in when on top.

In the three or four spars before sitting out, I was generally trying to keep my posture upright, raising my head and looking to the ceiling to put my back in alignment. I also found I was shooting my leg backwards to stop people grabbing the knee. As ever, that was just delaying the inevitable, so I absolutely have to start standing more: an old aversion problem, which has never really gone away.

Once specific sparring was over, Gustavo showed us one of his many open guard sweeps. Start by gripping their opposite sleeve. With the same side leg, bring that right over to push up into the same armpit of the sleeve you're controlling. With your other arm (which will therefore be on the same side as the gripped sleeve), grab the bottom of their gi trousers. Your free leg pushes on the inside of their same side knee, breaking down their posture. As they try to raise up, push their knee out, press your foot into their arm, and drag on the bottom of their leg. That should knock them to the ground, at which point you immediately bring your leg back from their armpit, standing up and moving round their leg (which you still control, due to the trouser grip), driving into knee-on-belly.

I was still a bit worried about my knee, so decided to stick with smaller people for free sparring today. My hope was that I could then stay on the bottom, keeping my knee unpressured. I kicked off with Tanvir, and as usual went for the kimura. I think I need to start broadening out my submission attempts, as that is getting rather predictable: chokes would be a good thing to work on, as well as fundamentals like triangles and armbars (I don't seem to be very good at using my legs to attack, so would like to improve that part of my game).

I eventually ended up on top in half-guard, I think from a sit-up sweep, and continued to work for the kimura. I was in position, having my knee up into his armpit and a firm grip round the arm (though I had some initial trouble bending the arm, which meant I thought about the straight armbar, but didn't have the leverage). I raised up and tried to isolate the arm, but failed to maintain a tight hold on Tanvir's shoulder. That meant I ended up on my back, but was still able to move through to a kimura from guard. I need to work on really dragging the arm into my chest and locking up their shoulder.

Next, I sparred Indra, which ended up going a bit open guard at first, though I couldn't quite keep her at bay. She almost passed, but I was able to shift to half guard. At one point I was working for the kimura again, so not sure if that was from under half guard or full guard: probably a bit pointless trying from half guard. However, as I found myself up on my side, I had a go at moving round to take the back. I continue to have trouble getting my leg right over to establish a hook, but after some struggling found myself taking Indra's back.

I couldn't get my hands through to go for a choke, and I was also in danger of losing my hooks. My attempt at an armbar was pretty sloppy, so I think I ended up back under guard going for the kimura. However, I did at least manage to get the hooks in and briefly stretch Indra out, which is more than I normally achieve, but need to work on getting the RNC, or alternately transitioning to the armbar from there. I'm still tending to flail randomly for armbars if I think I see an opportunity, rather than carefully get position before submission.

Finally, I rolled with Pippa. I wanted to try and stay on the bottom if possible, as I don't often get the chance to do that with somebody lighter than me. Proved a good opportunity to work my half-guard, though I still can't get that 'paw' thing operational. Pippa was able to secure a decent grip around my head, neutralising my efforts. I'm not sure how I got there (can't remember if this was from guard or not), but I ended up in mount with Pippa's arm over her own throat. I thought that maybe that would give me a chance for an arm triangle, but I don't think I had her forearm pressed against her neck: wrapping an arm round and then squeezing for the sub wasn't going anyway.

Pippa's arm somehow got trapped between my legs at a random angle in mount towards the end. I was sitting there looking at it, sure I must be able to do something, then finally spun round to go for the armbar. Despite the arm already sitting stuck between my legs, I somehow managed to pull the arm free from danger, flopping back with no limb to pull on. I kinda snatched Pippa's arm back between them, but she was already busy laughing, so not exactly a skilled submission attempt there on my part. ;p

I'd like to train again tomorrow, so I can fit in three before the Tube strike next week, but not sure my knee can take it. I'll bring my gi with me to work just in case and see how I feel.


  1. Hello,

    I am traveling down to London this week to see some of my family, and was hoping to get in a few training sessions at the RGA while I was down there.

    I have been doing no-gi for about 2 1/2 years at Next Gen Liverpool and got my blue belt before Christmas, with a bit of gi and judo along the way.

    Currently aiming for the Friday daytime gi and evening no-gi, and the Saturday advanced gi class.

    Your blog was pretty useful in breaking down the information on the general format of the gi classes, I was wondering how different the no-gi lessons were?


  2. Hiya Mark,

    Glad its been of use!

    Nogi classes used to be like this, but I'm told that since they shifted to Thursday, there have been a number of changes.

    Main one is that, as per the timetable, they're now only an hour long. From what Indra and Christina tell me, its a sparring class now, so warm-up, specific sparring and then straight into free rolling.

    However, I'm also told that they often run over, as there isn't a class immediately afterwards. So presumably, that means lots of people hang around for a while to get in some more sparring.

    I'd advise you call ahead to let people know you're coming down: number is 0208 960 1112 (Mon-Thu 1pm-9pm, then Fri-Sat 1pm-4pm), and you should come through to Joanna.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Thanks for the links,

    With people getting ready for the Gracie Invitational I am guessing they are upping their training intensity, which will make getting a couple of sessions in well worth it.

    I did phone the academy a while back, Joanna went through how much it would cost and what classes you can go to if you are a blue.



  4. Ah, cool. Let me know if you have any probs: I don't normally train Fridays or Saturdays, but happy to help if you need further info. :)

  5. Kimura from under Half-Guard = Sweep.

    Look for the Kimura when your head ends up on the opposite side of your opponent from the trapped leg. Work to Kimura that arm. Once you get the grip roll onto your back, then onto the other shoulder to try to finish. if they don't roll forward and over for the sweep then they have to tap to the kimura. Just keep the half guard tight to avoid haveing them slip out to side-control.

  6. Cheers - I'll have to experiment with that. I've never really thought about submission from under half-guard, but particularly if it works into a sweep, sounds like a good plan.

    Need to work on not getting crushed flat on my back, though: still trying that paw thing to keep their arm away from getting a good grip under my head, but haven't quite got it sorted yet.