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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

07 May 2008

07/05/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #143

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 07/05/2008 - Advanced

That Warwick Uni BJJ training group I talked about earlier in the blog had its first meet-up last Sunday. At present, its just me, Rosie and Tom that are actively training BJJ (Rosie and Tom are both with Braulio at GB Brum, though neither of them were able to make it for the first session), but as I mainly wanted to drill some basic escapes, that didn't matter. To mention Roy Dean yet again: as a Roy Harris black belt, he has a clearly laid out syllabus from white to blue, which is going to be useful in terms of drilling (e.g., the videos demonstrating escapes from side control and mount). I recommended both those videos to the two beginners, Aidi and Andrew: I'm really looking forward to Dean's Blue Belt Requirements DVD, which should hopefully be out soon.

Tonight's class featured a hefty warm-up interspersed with guard passage. I was with Liam, and spent most of my time curled up in half guard. I was recently watching the instructional videos Aesopian put out, which build nicely on the earlier Indrek Reiland material. My goal was to try and implement the basic details from the first video, where the main problem I'm having is getting my knee into position on their hip. However, just having something to go for was very helpful, as all too often I'll just be clinging on in half guard rather than aiming for anything in particular.

After some more throwing and warm-up exercises, we switched partners. Instead of playing lots of half guard with Joanna, I thought I'd take the opportunity to work on my spider guard instead. She was having little trouble coming round to the side opposite to the arm I was wrapping, so I need to improve my defences on that side. I also need to make space, shrimping off that arm more so my partner can't close the distance so easily. I did drill a bit of the Massey spider guard stuff, but didn't expect to get close to doing any of that: while it remains a goal I'm keeping in mind, my initial challenge is to work out distancing, posture and the control points in spider guard.

Technique was based around the butterfly guard, with two butterfly guard sweeps. The basic position for both was to have one knee up, hooking inside their leg. For the first one, you then get a low underhook on their back with the same side arm as the upright knee. Grab their opposite arm and pull it between their legs. Bring your non-hooking leg underneath the other, then twisting their torso with your grip on the arm, fling them over with your hook into side control.

I found the second sweep a little easier. Again, you're up on one knee with an underhook on the same side. This time, you grab their sleeve and elbow, pulling that across your body, then bringing them tight to stop them freeing their arm, immediately bring your arm around their back. Link up your hands and yank them forwards, rocking back, then again lifting your hooking leg up to fling them over into side control. You keep your hands linked: I found that helped when hopping my legs round into side control, as I could then transition straight into my preferred grip.

I kicked off free sparring with my drilling partner, Indra. Again, I was trying for that half-guard, but kept forgetting about the knee. I was able to duck under for a deep half guard, but couldn't get anything on Indra's leg to go for a sweep (not to mention I couldn't really remember what to do for the sweep anyway). Much the same thing happened with Pippa, although I did at least pull her leg into position. Or at least, I thought I was: as she can happily do the splits, that made the technique rather more difficult to pull off.

I remembered this time to try for the knee, but whenever I tried to wedge it into place, I found I was loosening my locked ankles. I think I may be trying to put the knee in too high: Aesopian mentions in his video that its meant to be shallow on the hip. I also used the double paw concept, which Aesopian includes as a central part of control from what he calls 'long distance half guard'.

Finally, I had a roll with Zaf, who was recovering from an illness. He normally goes really easy on me anyway, but that was especially true today. I tried to take his back, but couldn't establish my hooks. Under a sort of semi-side control, I had a chance to try spider guard again, which enabled me to push back round into some semblance of a guard (though again, this was against very little resistance). I have to remember to shrimp when using spider guard. Always comes back to hip movement in BJJ, like I was saying to Aidi and Andrew during our Warwick Uni drilling.

I briefly attempted the spinout escape from side control Roy Dean shows in his video, but I hadn't made enough space to do it properly. Need to make sure I've 'cracked the door open', as Dean puts it. Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to work Aesopian's half guard as well as again go over Dean's escapes at the next meeting of the Warwick Uni training group.

The Hammersmith & City completely fucked up during and after training tonight, but that does at least mean I know which bus to get next time (thanks to the helpful staff member at the station, who was giving out travel advice to the people milling around hopeful the line would start running again). From Westbourne Park, if you walk back in the direction of the Academy, keep heading straight along the road until you come to a T-junction. Cross over, turn left and you'll see a bus stop. I was heading to Edgware Road, so took the number 18 to Euston, which stops right outside Edgware Road (handily announces the stations, and took about 10 minutes or so, IIRC).


  1. Are you pulling regular half-guard then trying to get your knee in while keeping your legs locked? IMHO you should really just open your legs and insert the knee, then relock your ankles.

  2. Yeah, I've been attempting to get the knee in while my ankles are locked. Opening, inserting knee, then locking ankles sounds worth a go, so will try that next lesson: cheers for the tip!