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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

14 May 2008

14/05/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #145

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 14/05/2008 - Advanced

I've been playing around with my blog today, in particular the custom search thing Google offer. That's sitting at the top right of the page, and I've set it up so that its limited to some of my favourite BJJ related sites (e.g., Bullshido, Lockflow, Grapplearts, Fightworks Podcast, Aesopian's blog, EFNsports, On the Mat, etc) along with this blog. Seems to be working ok so far, but may fiddle with it a bit more, especially if people have any decent, serious BJJ sites to recommend I can add into the list (I think I'm using about 15 at the moment).

Tonight's class was, once again, all about sparring. Surprising, as I'd expect that before a big competition, but we just had SENI (unless people are gearing up for the Mundials or something?). After a hefty Jude warm-up (lots of squats, tuck jumps and an evil new addition dubbed 'squat stars', which is a squat straight into a star jump), it was time for specific sparring.

Unfortunately, it was my least favourite type of sparring, from standing. However, Jude said that it wasn't a line-up, but a first come, first serve: you sparred when you wanted to. That was absolutely fine by me, as it meant I could wait until someone who was either small or controlled was available. I was looking for Tran or Indra, then noticed Grant was free. As I'd hoped, he didn't slam me to the floor, but focused on technique, so I didn't land too hard. Same was true of my next partner, Dean, who watched me fumble at a throw a few times before taking me down.

We then moved on to guard passage, for which I went with Tran. I managed to get myself to stand up a few times, and while I was swept soon after, I'm glad its becoming less daunting (if only slightly). Standing passes are an essential area I need to become comfortable with, so the more often I stand, the better its going to get.

Underneath I couldn't do anything, getting passed quickly. I was trying first to see if I could pull Tran in tight, and when that failed a few times, I had a go at spider guard instead. Same result.

Fortunately for me, Tran effectively turned the first free spar into technique instruction, which was awesome. As ever, lots of good tips: first thing was about open guard. I frequently will just fall to my back, as I don't see a whole lot of point in straining away from a kneeling position – I'd rather work the guard, or at least escapes. The problem with falling back is that I haven't been controlling the arms, meaning that Tran found it a simple matter to push through my half-guard into mount.

Instead, I should be getting a grip on the arms, and trying to stay in front: Tran advised that I don't want to let my partner get round to the side, for obvious reasons. Control the arms, then ideally bring your knees up inside, feet on hips (or in nogi, grab around their triceps, same le position).

As we had also done some side control specific sparring (where I was either swept or passed repeatedly), Tran gave me advice for that too. Switching to scarf hold can be a useful back-up, for which you should keep the far arm underhooked, maintaining solid control on their near arm. It is also important to press the hips as low down as possible: normally, I'd bring both my legs up toward their head, but Tran showed a different position where one leg is by the head, but the other posts closer to their side, aiming to maximise the pressure of your torso on their chest.

That scarf hold can then lead to the step-over triangle position I was shown a while ago. Push the near arm down, step right over that and their head, then triangle your legs. This puts your partner in a very uncomfortable position, and gives you the chance to attack their far arm. If they resist, squeeze.

Finally, Tran mentioned that you should never just fling you leg over when going for mount. If you do that, the person on the bottom can bridge into you, and if they time it right, they'll roll right into your guard, leaving you on the bottom instead of on top.

Tran followed up all the advice with another spar, which was fine by me as we hadn't really rolled that much due to all the cool stuff he was telling me. Things went as normal, with my attempts at half-guard failing, Tran driving through to mount, then securing a choke. I wrapped myself up in some strange positions, but that only got me armbarred: must think more productively rather than just clinging on like a terrified squirrel again.

My next free spar was with Indra, where I tried to put Tran's advice on open guard into practice. I think it definitely helped, though I did eventually end up in my usual half-guard. Also, as has happened before with Indra, I saw a chance to take her back, but couldn't get the hooks so ended back in guard. At another point, I found myself in side control, and tried to go for a an armbar. Left way too much space so she could come up into guard, then went for it again, facing towards the floor pulling the arm up underneath me.

Before I had anything, Indra called out, as she's got an injury so didn't want to exacerbate it. I doubt I would have managed to complete the armbar anyway, but definitely need to be careful if there are lingering injuries. Punching her in the face while trying to hook round her legs for a guard pass can't have helped: I was going for her leg, she moved it, which turned it into more of a left hook. She seemed ok, but silly mistake on my part!

My last spar was with Joanna, where again I went for Aesopian's long distance half guard. As before, I had trouble getting the knee in, though this time I tried to put the knee in place before locking my ankles. While I don't like to abandon any technique just because I can't get it to 'work' (as the problem then lies with me, not the technique), it did make me wonder if perhaps this works better for people with longer legs. Either way, would be sensible to try and attempt some other half-guard options too, rather than getting overly fixated on this particular variation.

As with Tran, I had difficult preventing Joanna passing my open guard, but Tran's advice definitely helped here too, as I tried to stay in front, feet on hips, controlling the arms. Somehow ripped some skin off my finger in the process, which would explain why that felt sore during the spar. Should have grown back by tomorrow, but nevertheless rubbed the abrasion with Savlon to guard against infection.

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