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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

05 June 2008

05/06/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #152

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Marcio Gomes, London, UK - 05/06/2008 - Advanced

Really need to start getting more sleep: I'm averaging 6.5hrs or so, which isn't enough to give my body a proper chance to recover. Last night I got back a bit before 11pm as usual, but as my laptop battery has gone nuts, I wasn't able to type up on the train. That meant writing up at home, which took a little while, then the inevitable messing about on the internet. So, finally went to bed at midnight, which is a bit crap for getting up at 06:40. Need a more healthy routine!

Awesome lesson from Marcio tonight: best I can remember in a long time, from an instructional point of view. Even the warm-up was great, as it wasn't just star-jumps and press-ups etc, but directly applicable drills. That is without any doubt the best way to warm-up, and it serves both the purpose of getting the blood flowing and ingrains technique.

The first drill exemplified that. It starts with them attacking your turtle position (on your hands and knees, but tightly bunched, so elbows touching knees) from the front (i.e., facing you). You do a wrestler's sit out, by which I mean: hook one of their arms, then bring your far leg under your near leg, coming out the side and going round to the back. They then similarly hook an arm, also grabbing the gi material by your knee, then spin to their back, aiming to recover guard. You try to pass, they turn to defend, meaning that you are now facing their turtle and the drill can start again. That also means its continuous, so you're both working non-stop.

Second drill starts with you by their side. You push your head up into their armpit, the forehead pressing on the floor. Your far leg is up, the knee of your near leg shoved into their side. Drive your near shoulder into their chin. That means you now have a good base from which you can fling your body up and over to the other side, where you repeat the motion, going back and forth.

Finally, the third drill was from standing, Grab their knees, step to one side and push their knees in the other, then go straight to knee on belly. Posting your hands a bit beyond their head, fling yourself over to the other side and again go to knee on belly. To complete the drill, move back to their knees, then restart the process going to the opposite side from before.

Marcio then added even more awesome by going through an escape from side control, which is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to cover as much as possible. For this one, they have an arm under your head, with the other by your hip. First, you need to squeeze your near arm past their armpit, so you can push on the same side shoulder with both hands. Once you've pushed to make that space, you twist so that your bottom goes up and into them, using your legs to provide the power. It’s a slightly awkward position, but you're basically rolling over your shoulder to get your bum to shove against them. You also use your near arm to keep pushing. Finally, grab the gi material by their knee with your other hand and swivel back to guard.

Next technique was a choke from top half-guard. On the same side as your trapped leg, pull their gi out of their belt. Gripping the trailing material, pull it behind their head and feed to your other hand. Yanking tight, slide your other hand down their face, taking hold of the gi material with your palm facing away from their head. Position your elbow into their chest, and with your other hand grab their opposite sleeve and pull it across their face. Press the elbow down to get them to free your leg, then press your weight forward for the choke (I think: not sure if you have to grab your own arm or something to get the sub).

I found that extremely uncomfortable, which Christina said was made worse because I was tensing up my arm. I think that was because I was scared of accidentally getting wrist locked – the position meant I was ramming my hand into the mat in an awkward position, so had to adjust quickly to stop getting into a nasty position. However, I was being silly, as I could just relax the arm and put my hand around my head. I got wrist locked by Lubo's body weight once when squashed under his side control, so that's made me extra wary of getting my wrist twisted.

Marcio then showed the defence against the clock choke, where they have taken your back. With the opposite side arm to the one they're choking with, grab their sleeve and pull it in the direction their hand is pointing. This will reduce the pressure on your neck. At the same time, grab their gi pants by the knee with your other hand. Bring your knees close to their body, switching one underneath the other. Use that position to roll them over, whereupon you can go for your own clock choke.

As you roll over, you arm is in position to trap their arm, so wrap that up. Once you've got them on their back, reach your arm around to their collar, grabbing the back of it. Your other arm grabs a lapel and goes across their throat as you move your body around to north-south, squeezing for the clock choke.

Sparring was good again today, as like yesterday there were plenty of women who matched up well with my weight (as they're all strong and technical, but without any of the occasional spasms of machismo that men occasionally suffer from). I started with Christina, who was giving me an opportunity to try the side control escape from earlier, but I didn't seize the chance. Need to ingrain that as another option: I'm too used to passively waiting for the chance to snatch half-guard, which isn't working well for me at the moment.

I also kept on trying the Roy Harris open guard defence, but still getting used to it. Things are developing slowly, so if I keep at it I should hopefully be able to apply those principles instinctively rather than having to pause and ponder which side, which hand etc.

With Christy, I always get an interesting roll, as she has a different style from most of the people I spar with (probably due to her years at Roots in Australia). I kept trying to go for the kimura as always, and also pulling her down into a tight guard. She went for a few footlocks, which I'm not sure if I defended correctly. As she fell back to go for them, I aimed to get the sole of my foot to the floor, grab her gi and pull myself forwards. That got me into top half-guard at one point, and generally seemed a good place to pass from, but I get the impression it’s a sloppy defence that probably wouldn't work against someone really driving for the submission. Could be wrong though, as I'm generally pretty clueless about footlocks (while I've no intention of going for something that could potentially fuck someone up, I would like to work on the defences so I can prevent my knee getting blown out).

Finally, I had a long roll with Joanna, who is the perfect person to work the Harris open guard techniques. She goes for a loose pass against open guard, and invariably gets it, but it gives me the opportunity to at least try to push on her neck or arm. I'm getting better at sitting up as opposed to staying flat on my back, but I wasn't very good at reacting quickly to the side she was passing. That meant a few times I was trying to push the wrong side, which is very pointless, so spent a lot of time under Joanna's side control.

I also had a chance to use something Tran showed me a little while ago. When they swing their leg over to try and get mount from side control, if you time it right, you can simply bridge into them, rolling into their guard. Worked a few times, but as you're basically capitalising on a mistake (as from what I gather, its better to either slide the knee across for mount, or grab your foot and slam it down, leaving much less space), not something I'd want to rely on. However, useful to have up your sleeve.

Quite possibly my favourite lesson this year, so I was in a great mood leaving class tonight. This Saturday I'm hoping to get through lots of reviews I've been planning, especially the next DVD release from Roy Dean, who once again very kindly sent me a review copy. There's also a bunch of books I'd like to write up, but will see how it goes.

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