29 May 2008

29/05/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #150

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Marcio Gomes, London, UK - 29/05/2008 - Advanced

If anyone fancies buying a Katama gi, I'll happily sell you mine for £30 (its allegedly worth £90, or so I was told when I signed up and got it included in the joining package). Its still in perfectly good condition, but too coarse for my liking. The label says 180/5, which I assume means its for people 180cm in height: however, seems to fit me ok, and I'm more like 170cm. Trousers have also shrunk sufficiently that I don't think they'd be too comfy on anyone much taller than me.

My hand is still feeling kinda sore from getting crushed by the combined bodyweight of my training partner and I last week, but hopefully that will have recovered by the next lesson. That was joined today by some kind of bruise on both legs, around the knee and upper shin. My right shin and knee was a bit painful from attempting the single stack pass yesterday, which got worse as I tried it again tonight during guard passage. Having decided to give that leg a rest, I welcome the opportunity to go on the bottom when offered the choice. However, I somehow managed to bust up the other knee while trying to recover guard, so ended up sitting out the rest of specific sparring.

Marcio was taking the session again today, going through butterfly guard sweeps. He began with two variations, starting from closed guard. Grab behind both their elbows and pull them forward, shrimping out by pushing off their hip. Bring the same foot you used for that towards them, aiming to hook inside their inner thigh with your instep. Shrimp again with your other foot, getting that one between their legs too (though this one isn't hooking, positioned on the floor with the sole of your foot facing your other foot). Finally, secure a grip behind their back with the arm on the same side as your first hook (maintain the grip on their elbow with your other hand).

You're now ready to sweep. Lean back, keeping them tight, then flick up with your initial hook, bringing your other leg underneath the hooking leg. If you've timed that right, you'll roll on top. Marcio emphasised here how a lot of people make the mistake of not first bringing their partner in close, so end up getting passed instead of completing the sweep.

If they post up their leg in an attempt to prevent the pass once you've pulled them forward and established your hooks, wrap that ankle up with your same side arm. You'll now switch your legs, so that the leg which was hooking goes to the floor, while the other hooks near their bottom. Using your grasp on their leg and that hook, lift and roll them to your side, ending up in side control.

Marcio finished with some points on the butterfly guard positioning. You already have butterfly guard with both insteps hooked around your partner's inner thighs. Your partner is staying low, gripping near your armpits. In order to move into position to sweep, you'll need to shrimp and slip an arm underneath their's, grabbing a handful of gi (either by their side, armpit or back). Having established that hold, push forward with your feet and come forward, bringing your other arm around their back.

Important point to note here is that you don't come up with your head on their shoulder: if you do that, they can push you right back down. Instead, you should come up pushing your forehead into their chest. This makes it much more difficult for them to shove you back down. Also, if they do manage to then get into place to push you down, you're ready to effect the sweep detailed above.

My knees and shins were still feeling sore, so I wasn't too up for sparring. However, as my fave training partner Christina is back now, I knew I had someone I could go light with, and could trust to not suddenly smash my legs into the mat. She was looking to work that sweep – which she got – while I looked to try and find a way to pass the open guard. I tried wrapping up both her legs, but I think I was too low. I also tried bringing her feet back, but didn't manage to transition from that to the pass where you swing their knees out the way and move to the side. Finally, I attempted the one where you drive their knees into their chest and sit on them, but wasn't able to slip past to side control: think that's my usual problem of weight distribution, as well as not quite getting in the right place to apply pressure.

Generally open guard causes me problems whether I'm on top or bottom, but the only way to overcome that difficulty is by failing repeatedly, until eventually I can resolve all those little mistakes and start to get somewhere. Christina proved to be my only spar today, so didn't get the chance to practice it some more, but I don't think my legs were up to anymore sparring anyway. I won't be training again for a week, so that's hopefully enough time to recover. I should probably be getting more sleep too, as that's essential for the healing process.

Even more gradings after this session, though just stripes this time. Tran, Christina, her husband Lorenzo and Mike all got another stripe on their blue belts, which was cool as that includes two of my most regular training partners. This session also reminded me just how good an instructor Marcio is: really detailed, attentive, and the only BJJ teacher I've been taught by who is close to my size (though he's a fair bit beefier). If I lived in Brighton, I'd definitely train with him at Gracie Barra Brighton.


  1. I'm not sure if you are accident prone or just a little bit on the wussy side, but you always seem to be missing class for injury related stuff. Half the time I'm rolling into class with jammed/broken fingers, pulled muscles, sore elbows and knees, sore hips... I'm in almost continual pain and still hit up class. When I miss it's always due to work or transportation problems.

  2. A large bit on the wussy side: anything hurts, I stop. I won't miss class unless its especially nasty, but I won't spar with injuries (or, like today, I'll limit sparring to people I trust).

  3. Ah, now I see what you meant: when I say "won't be training for a week", that's normal: I train Weds and Thurs, so there's always about a week between sessions. So not missing any classes.

    But yeah, I'm still wussy. :p

  4. Ahh, training back to back days must aggravate stuff too. I train Monday, Thursday, Friday and the Friday workout is not truly a BJJ workout, it's me working out with some friends of mine, so it's about half as intense as a BJJ class. Gives me more rest time between classes. I would hate doing back to backs.

  5. Yeah, its a pain: ideally, I'd do something like Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and maybe Saturday (or perhaps miss the Monday instead), but as I'm only in London Wednesday and Thursday evenings during term-time, have to do consecutive days. On the plus side, it does mean there is a good long rest period between Thursday and the following Wednesday.

    Hopefully I'll be living in one place at some point in the future, as I definitely don't fancy constant back to backs once I get past 30. ;)