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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

08 May 2008

08/05/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #144

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 08/05/2008 - Advanced

Today marks 1.5 years since my first BJJ class, and I can see there is still plenty that I had trouble with back in November 2006 that continues to cause me problems now. Guard passing is the big one, though Brian's sprawl pass has helped a little on that: still need to force myself to stand up more, but I think that's steadily getting better. It’s a shame I missed Maurição's class on breaking the guard last week, as it wasn't on a day I could make, but hopefully that will be covered again at some point. My top game is bad in general, but passing the guard is the weakest part, followed by submissions from mount (my subs from side control are crappy too, but at least I have a few I can go for).

My regular training partner Christina is off in the US at the moment, so I'm in the unfamiliar position of having to search for someone to drill with. Yesterday that was with Indra, who is a good substitute (similarly mature and interested in working out the fine points of a technique), but I'm not always quick enough to catch her eye. Today, none of my regular training partners were there anyway, although as it turned out, we didn't do any technique.

Instead, Maurição decided to have a sparring class. We began with three specific spars in a row, with the same partner. I found myself with Jalal, who must have found it a little dull, as he had no trouble whatsoever in the first specific spar, from rear mount. I could do absolutely nothing when I was sat in position to choke him, as my hook was completely ineffectual: he brushed it away like it was nothing. I had no idea how to stop him, so repeatedly got in position, felt him twist and remove my hook, then escape my grip. I was even more helpless when the situation was reversed, unable to put up any resistance to Jalal's chokes.

My heart sank when I heard the next specific spar was knee-on-belly, as that could be rather painful. However, turned out to be much better than rear mount, at least when I was on the bottom. On top, I once again couldn't control Jalal at all: I tried posturing up, pressing my weight down, shifting to the other side, but to no avail. The position felt completely alien to me: I have never ended up there in sparring, so I probably should have been thinking about sliding through to mount. Jalal noted that I should keep my foot off the floor to put as much pressure through my knee as possible, and also need to be careful I don't lean forward too much, as its then a simple matter to roll me over.

Underneath, I had more of an idea what to do, working for half-guard, shrimping and bridging. Jalal had a choke at one point, but I was able to get an arm in the way to prevent him locking it in. While uncomfortable, I found that I could brace my arm into position, stopping him from squeezing my neck (though my face did get a bit squashed several times during out specific spars). I even found myself popping out the back door at one point, having got half-guard and then gone between his legs, but not quite sure how I ended up there.

Half-guard is where I normally find myself during sparring, so I was relieved that we'd be doing the third specific spar from there. On top, I was again pretty useless, as Jalal turned to his side and pulled out, or rolled me over. He advised that I could try posting on my head to create additional pressure, which is something I haven't attempted before. I was thinking of the passes Maurição showed us earlier, but clearly I have a lot of work to do before I can use those effectively.

Underneath, I clung to half-guard, continuing my attempts to follow Aesopian's videos. I still can't get that knee in, but am finding myself in what Aesopian calls deep half guard more frequently now. Must look into sweeps from there, as at present I grabbing the leg and then looking confused. Squirrel-fu is helping to keep me safe, but very passive.

We did some guard passage after that in a king of the hill line-up, though I only rolled twice. I was knackered by this point, so reverted back to my usual defensive posture avoiding chokes. Others were a little more competitive, as the purple belt I'd just rolled with cracked Radek right in the eyebrow with his heel, making a nasty cut. Radek headed off to hospital shortly afterwards, where I imagine he'll be getting a fair few stitches. Hopefully he'll heal up ok.

Maurição then paired us up. I was put against a guy named Simon, who I haven't seen before. Either he was tired or going light, as I didn't feel I was in too much danger under his side control, eventually getting half-guard and again curling up tight against his leg. As before, I tried to think of some kind of sweep, lifting his trapped leg up and getting a grip on the other one with my arms, but not clear on the proper technique.

Things finished up with Grant, who as always schooled me: armbars, chokes etc. Shame there weren't any small people in class at all, but then I have been spoiled at RGA, given that normally there are a reasonable number of people my size and lower.

At the end of class, Maurição made a brief speech about how you shouldn't get over aggressive in class, as its not a competition. Going rough will soon mean you run out of training partners. It’s a sentiment I certainly agree with, but made me wonder what prompted him to want to prove that point through lots of sparring (although he might have just been emphasising the point due to Radek's hospitalisation).

Just as people were about to get up to shake hands, Maurição pulled a purple belt out of his gi to give to Connor, who's been a blue belt for a good long time now. Presumably the high level blues like Gavin, Oli and Tran won't be too far behind. Also, speaking of purples, Luciano is back from Brazil, though he obviously won't be training for a while given the recent surgery.


  1. The most important thing is that youre thinking of your weaknesses in an attempt to improve them. This is something that lots DONT do. Keep training hard and you will see your progress

  2. When you get in deep halfguard and have a grip on their leg you should be able to lift their trapped leg and shrug it over so that you are behind them. From there you can keep a deathgrip on the leg with your legs and switch your hands to a body lock, then release your legs and transition to the back.
    Also, if they posture up onto their heels when you get a deep halfguard you can keep your deathgrip on the leg, release the halfguard and drive forward, if you are quick you can get to side control, if not you end up in halfguard top.
    Just watch out for Brabo/Darce chokes.