Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 01/05/2008 - Advanced
The more I read by Roy Dean, the more I'm impressed. I already like his videos and blog, and now I've been enjoying his free online book, An Uchideshi Experience. Anyone who has read Angry White Pyjamas (my review of that here) will remember that an uchideshi is a live-in student. Dean's writing is a little later (1999) than Angry White Pyjamas, and also considerably more informed: unlike Robert Twigger, Dean was already an experienced martial artist. Even better, he had begun his training in BJJ, so brings a much more critical eye to traditional martial arts. He provides a balanced perspective on both their benefits and their flaws, with particular regard to aikido.
As I've mentioned before in this blog, I'm trying to pull together a long post on BJJ history (which will link back to the ones I've already done on the early UFCs). For that, I'm mainly drawing on Mastering Jujitsu and The Gracie Way, so things like An Uchideshi Experience - given the time of writing – are going to be very useful for broadening my sources. Look forward to getting to Dean's thoughts on the SEG era of the UFC, as in keeping with most non-Brazilians who began BJJ in the 1990s, he was inspired to take up the sport by Royce Gracie's MMA victories.
Tonight's class was, in contrast to yesterday, technique heavy. Maurição kind of did what he did yesterday, but this time with careful explanation and clearer goals for us to practice, as opposed to the more conceptual approach last lesson. The pattern was to first do a specific spar, then work a technique from that position, which proved a good structure.
Sparring from the mount with Herman, I was able to escape ok, especially doing my usual half guard, then shifting to full guard by pushing the leg away and slipping under. However, on top I was much less successful. I did at least get to try different things, attempting to secure my leg under his head to get into the mounted triangle position, where my intention was either to go for an armbar from there or finish the triangle. Unfortunately, I was leaving way too much space, so either got swept or Herman was able to escape.
Maurição then instructed us on maintaining mount. The scenario was that they have managed to get an elbow between your knee and their side. Get hold of their other elbow and drag it back, aiming to shove their arm across their own throat. With the same side knee, shift up towards their head, raising up slightly with your other leg (but keeping the foot tight to their side, leaving no space for them to try and underhook it). Also make sure your hips are on them, keeping the pressure.
You can then either go for the armbar, or there was some kind of choke Maurição showed us. I don't think I quite understood it, but from what I can remember, you open up their collar with one hand, bring your other hand under their head, feed the collar through, grab their other collar and secure the choke. I'm pretty sure I got it wrong, though, as it didn't feel very tight.
We then moved on to sparring from half-guard. I went for submissions, mainly the kimura, but couldn't secure Herman's arm. I also tried switching to a straight armbar, but wasn't in position to apply enough leverage. Underneath, I was doing much the same thing as from under mount, using the half guard to try to recover full guard. I also attempted shifting to deep half guard (so up by Herman's legs), which again didn't yield much as I wasn't quite sure what to go for. At another point, I'm sure I was in position for some kind of sweep, with my legs under, but again, couldn't think how to finish.
The technique was two half guard passes. For the first one, you sit back on their leg. As they raise up their torso, you shove it down with one arm. With the other, press their knee to the floor (this will be the knee you were previously sitting on, so its already down by the ground). Having got control of that knee, bring your knee over, then keeping the pressure with your hips, slide through to side control.
Second method was for when you're closer to them. They'll most likely try to bring their arm to bear for the underhook, so control that and squash it into their body. Your free knee presses into their hip, blocking the movement of their leg. You then slip your trapped foot out and move to side control. I think: feels like I'm missing something there.
Our last bit of specific sparring was from open guard. With passing, I kinda swung my way past a few times, but not all that securely: had we been free sparring, I don't think Herman would have had too much trouble coming to his knees and getting up, or going to guard. I also got the sprawl pass again, but need to both control the legs better and improve what Brian called 'rock climbing' at the Oxford TD (i.e., pulling myself up his body into side control).
Underneath, I was trying spider guard, but as has been a recurring problem today, wasn't totally clear on what I was trying to achieve. I really need to review the sweeps from open and half guard, as I can normally get to some semblance of the position. Now I need to clarify my goals once I reach that point in the spar.
Maurição then showed how to pass the open guard. This is something I've seen Gustavo demonstrate, and it’s a technique I like (though haven't quite used it successfully yet, probably again due to problems with pressing my limited weight downwards). They have spider guard. You circle your arms underneath and grip behind their knees. Stack them up (by pushing their legs back), aiming to get their knees to their shoulders. Sit on the back of their thighs, thrusting your hips forward and keeping the pressure downwards. Then simultaneously slip to the side and thrust their legs out the way, sliding into side control.
Free sparring with Herman was quite fun, as I went for lots of submissions. I started with an attempted guillotine, but only had one arm in and couldn't secure it. I tried switching to a kimura but couldn't get the arm, and then as Herman came to his knees at one point, I even went for a brabo choke. I think I did it totally wrong, so definitely need to refresh my memory on that one: got the spinning to your back bit, but think my grip on the neck was incorrect.
I also tried for a triangle, as I worked to get my leg over Herman's arm while pulling the other one forward, but left too much space. I need to thrust my hips up more, and perhaps swivel round. I remembered to try for the armbar, but didn't have enough of a hold with my legs to stop Herman from pulling out. I really wanted to go for an omoplata too, but couldn't get the position to swing my leg over and wrap up the arm. Enjoyable, but repeatedly sloppy technique on my part.
My next free spar was quite different, as it was a great deal less mobile. I was with Andy, a white belt who had a bit of size on me. While underneath, he tried to crush my head into his side, which was random: I got my leg around his head and then used the pressure to gradually pry his arm off my head. I'm not sure if he could have got a submission out of that, but presumably was just trying stuff to see if it worked.
I eventually ended up under mount, but was able to sweep him when he went for a choke. However, he was dead keen to get that submission, so held on tightly to his grips as I rolled him into guard. I wrapped up his arms and postured up, so felt fairly confident I was safe. He gave it a good try, though, and definitely wasn't comfortable. That also made me think about what point do you tap on a choke: I didn't feel I was in danger, though it definitely wasn't a fun position to be in. I probably should have also been pressing his elbows in more, rather than just wrapping and posturing.
It was clear that he didn't want to let go, and that I was going to be able to sit there and resist while he strained, so I advised him to try something else. However, by that point the time was about to run out. I didn't fancy another roll after that, so sat out the last round of sparring to get some water.
Next bit of training should hopefully be the inaugural meeting of the Warwick Uni BJJ group, which will give me the chance for loads of drilling. Will see how the organisation goes, but could be the start of something really handy.