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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

12 June 2008

12/06/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #153

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 12/06/2008 - Advanced

Didn't make training yesterday for a somewhat ridiculous reason: sunburn. I don't expect to get that in the UK, but managed to go a glorious shade of lobster red a few days ago. I had a quick roll around on the floor in my gi yesterday and it was still quite painful: that will serve as a reminder to always use sun cream on a hot day (and if you ever see something called 'Sunkiller' on sale in Dominica, don't bother: does absolutely nothing to stop you getting cooked). So, decided to leave it at least another day before I risked it: will see if wearing a rash guard reduces friction.

I'd heard about Christina getting sponsorship (mainly because she told me :p), but forgot to check the site: they've added an article bigging her up, which is kinda cool. Christina also posted it on her blog. Apparently she's going to be helping Black Eagle with a gi specifically for women, so hopefully that's going to mean a well cut piece of equipment that isn't pink, for once. Not quite sure why so many companies seem to think female = pink. My sister has a similar obsession, and insists on dressing up her baby daughter in pink all the time. Not to say I don't like pink, just that particular recurring association – used to happily ride about on my girlfriends very pink, very old and very girly bike, which therefore had great inbuilt don't-steal-me defence. Campest cyclist on campus. :D

Getting back to tonight's training: Gustavo was back, and as ever he was loving the open guard sweeps. We started off with a De La Riva sweep (which means you use the hook where your foot goes around the outside of their same side leg, hooking on the inside with the instep). Your other foot goes underneath that same leg, and finally you get a cross-grip (meaning you hold it with your opposite hand) on their sleeve.

If they then try to step round to pass, you swivel and wrap your arm around their leg, going up high with your hand above their knee. Your De La Riva foot moves to press on the inside of their knee, while your other foot slides up next to it. Both your knees will be pointing in the direction of the De La Riva foot, in order to make that grip tight. Switch your hold on the sleeve to their pant leg, isolate that limb. Push on their knee with your feet, raising the other leg, knocking them over.

There was some discussion about whether to grab their pant leg or hold behind their heel. That was because last time we did something like this, Roger very specifically said you should always grab the pant leg, as it was a simple matter to just swing your foot forward to break the heel grip. Gustavo and Luciano, on the other hand, were recommend the heel grip this time. Personally, I think I found the pant leg easier to get hold of, but I guess the difference in instructor preference just means that both grips have their pros and cons.

Following on from that, Gustavo showed us an open guard pass. Grab their collar with your same side hand (note: keep your elbow in tight and arm bent, as otherwise there's a chance they could armbar you), then with the other hand, grip the fabric by their same side knee. I think you step sideways at this point, but either way, you go into a crouching position, maintaining good base. Shove their leg to the floor, then bring your opposite knee on top of their knee to trap it.

Switch the hand which was previously holding their pant leg to their same side arm, still maintaining your collar grip with the other hand. That means you can now push on their collar while simultaneously pulling up on their sleeve. This should make it more difficult for them to resist as you slide your knee under their arm, slipping round to a dominant side control (as you've now removed that pesky arm from their defences).

Specific sparring began with side control. I tried to run through a few escapes, rather than dropping into my usual practice of looking for half guard. Bridging and shrimping sort of worked, though I know Christina was definitely taking it easier than normal (she wasn't feeling too well). I also wanted to try for that one Marcio showed, where you shove your bottom into them and swing round to guard, but couldn't get into position.

On top, I settled into my favoured Tran side control, but still having trouble getting underneath my partner's arm. I've trying to switching between scarf hold and side control to facilitate that, and also to maintain the pressure, but my scarf hold isn't much cop just yet. Improving my pins would be another advantage of returning to judo: reading the Mark Law book has gone a little way to rekindle my enthusiasm for BJJ's parent style, but injuries from throws still scare me.

Specific sparring from mount came next, where again, I was playing with a few different escapes. A basic method (when their arm is under your head, wrap it up by 'combing your hair', then bridge and roll) Roy Dean shows on his Blue Belt Requirements gave me some initial success, but Christina was soon wise to it. I worked away at the elbow escape, but that tended to result in Christina going to knee on belly (I was able to sit up and roll her off at one point, but again, she was easing off a bit due to being under the weather).

On top, I kept trying to come around to one side, pulling one of their arms across and going for the neck. I could maintain that for a little while, but not really do anything with it. Then eventually, Christina would get her free arm underneath my other leg, enabling her to easily pop me up, slipping out the back door. I also tried for a wrestlers grapevine type thing (I think that's what its called), hooking her legs with my feet, but couldn't really do anything off that except hold position.

Specific sparring finished up with going from the back, where I'm still really, really bad. No idea what to do, so kind of scrabbled around Christina's neck without getting anywhere. With the positions reversed, I was a bit more proactive, working to release her legs and get to either guard, or try to wrap up a leg for half-guard. Bumping her leg up to my elbow helped, as then I could combine pressure from my arm and leg.

I normally prefer to go with certain people, but I especially wanted to stick with my trusted partners tonight: being a wimp, I was wary of the sunburn getting sandpapered by somebody's gi. That meant I went with my two of my favourite sparring partners, Christina and Christy.

I tried to work more of the open guard tips from the Roy Harris seminar, pushing with my feet and aiming to get my hand in position to get ready for pass defence. My problem here continues to be anticipating which side they're going to try for. I think I'm getting slowly better at that, but still need to work on making it a reflex action. Coordination remains a little alien, but if I keep on trying it every lesson, should get ingrained soon enough.

With Christy, lots of half-guard as always, but I also found that my posture was getting easily broken down in her guard. Roy Dean's tips on working your way back up to an upright position helped (going to their biceps and then moving back to their hips), but each time I was preparing to stiff arm into her hips, Christy managed to knock me back down again. I eventually passed to half-guard, but only because Christy went for a submission, giving me the opportunity to pass over her leg. As ever, proved to be a fun roll.

That means just the one session this week, but I should be getting in some drilling on Saturday at Warwick Uni. The Warwick Uni BJJ training group have a session planned from 12:00-14:00, so I'm looking forward to trying some of Indrek Reiland's half-guard drills. Of course, that depends on enough people showing up: would be good to have an even number this time, so nobody has to sit out.

Sunburn lasted the lesson ok: rash guard definitely helped, though my shoulder is slightly raw. Would seem that the way to quickly get rid of sunburn is to moisturise like crazy, as that almost had me ready by Wednesday. Glad I waited the extra day, or it could have been a deeply unpleasant experience!


  1. As a redhead I speak from experience-- when sunburned, take ibuprofen every 4-6 hrs. The NSAIDs really help not just with pain but with the inflammation and heat too. Have fun!

  2. Interesting, I always thought ibuprofen was just for stuff like toothache. Cheers for the tip: will have to give that a try next time I get sunburned. Well, hopefully there isn't a next time, but I'm sure I'll be silly enough in the future to forget suncream again. :)

  3. i see that you have been applying the new moves you got from your new dvds and book. i got the same experience after watching my Mike Fowler seminar. i was like a kid very excited to play with my new toys with my buddies.

  4. I'd say more that they tend to be variations (or occasionally, handy reminders) on what I already know (like the mount escape I tried), but yeah: lots of useful content on the Roy Dean DVDs I've been trying to apply in class.

    Its worked out nicely in terms of my learning arc, as I've been concentrating on basics since I started. That means the Roy Dean stuff fits in perfectly. :D

  5. No sunburn is infinitely better than sunburn ameliorated by ibuprofen.

    Yes, Austin is pretty good for BJJ-- I study with William 3 days a week, aside from the kajukenbo thing 4 days a week.

    I enjoy reading your blog, keep it up! :)