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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

18 June 2008

18/06/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #154

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 18/06/2008 - Advanced

Last Saturday, there was another meeting of the Warwick Uni BJJ training group, although like last time, drilling had to alternate due to odd numbers. Dan, a judo guy, gave me some useful tips on holding a solid scarf hold (e.g., grab your own thigh after wrapping your arm under their head). We ran through passing and mount escape drills for most of the session, sticking to the very basics (stand-up, break the guard, go over the leg or go under the leg, then pass and get mount, after which they trap and roll, meaning its now their turn to pass). I really enjoy drills where its continuous, so have been trying to add as many as possible to my mental inventory.

Think they'll be meeting up again this weekend, but I'll be off in Belfast for the second Belfast throwdown. The first one was really cool, so looking forward to this one. I'm told there could be a small female purple belt present, which would be awesome: I'm sure she's found various things that work well for smaller people on her way to the purple, so I'll be looking to pick her brain.

That does mean that I'll just be going to the one class at RGA this week, although there's a Vitor Estima seminar right after the TD, so I should still get two chunks of instruction. Next week, I'm doing a four-day training course for work, so hopefully that will mean I can also get four sessions of BJJ in: that would make up for only making two RGA classes over the last fortnight.

The warm-up moved straight into specific sparring. On top in side control, I still need to work on keeping my hips low, and I'm also continuing to have difficult getting my knee under their near elbow. I can hold my partner in the tight Tran side control, but at present its mainly relying on my arms, which are weak compared to my legs and hips: need to bring my more powerful lower body into the equation. I also need to be more fluid, as at present, I immediately lose the position once my partner manages to make some space. Instead, I should be trying to transition to another variation of side control as they attempt to escape.

Underneath, I successfully used another of Tran's techniques a few times, bridging into them as they swing a leg over, ending up in their guard. However, most of the time I was lying squashed under Christina's knee-on-belly, which I need to improve my defences against. I'm currently doing a lot of waiting, jamming my arms into place until I feel secure, but that is neither proactive nor effective.

That moved on to guard, where I'm being too predictable on the bottom. Christina knows I'm going to try the sit-up sweep then attack her arms. I did try to throw in a guillotine, but not going anyway with that: also need to keep in mind Roy Dean's point on moving your hips back first. I need to try some more options, like going back to some of the sweep positions I used to try in the beginners class, combining that with choke attempts. Again, Roy Dean's DVD is good for that, so will be studying it carefully to refresh my memory.

When Christina inevitably broke my guard open, my legs seemed to turn into useless rags flopping pathetically as she walked through them into side control. I must remember to raise my upper body when in open guard, and also clamp my feet to their hips. I'm not putting anywhere near enough pressure on my opponent in this position, but I am at least trying to work it regularly. Repeat viewing of the Roy Harris seminar should help, and has already given me some guidance.

On top, not going anyway, so still must try to stand more. I'm having trouble getting to a place where I feel stable enough to pop up, as Christina is good at keeping me off balance and making it hard for me to maintain decent posture. Not to mention my posture is pretty poo in the first place, and I tend to slip into a defensive mode very quickly.

Tonight's technique was relatively basic (always a good thing), focusing on the armbar from mount. The starting position is that they're defending by grabbing their collars with both hands crossed over their neck. You grab a sleeve with both of your hands, driving it towards the side of their face closest to their hand. As you do that, move up under that elbow, raising up your opposite leg. Drive your hips forward, and make sure your stomach is pressing into the top of their elbow.

Their hand and wrist are now pressed uncomfortably into the ground, whereupon you pull their sleeve away from their body to break the grip (if that proves difficult, switch a hand to the inside of their wrist, using the extra leverage to remove their hold). Step over their head, still pressing your weight down and hips forward, then securing their arm, drop back for the submission.

The next variation is to pull their gi up and out, leaving you with a length of fabric. Wrap that over the wrist they have on top with your same side hand, then worm your other hand through (if you have trouble doing that, use the knuckles of your fingers to dig your way in) and grasp the gi material you've just pulled over their limb.

Put the leg on the same side as your gripping hand under their elbow, so that your foot is by your face, knee pointing outwards. Raise your other knee up, shifting your weight heavily onto their chest. Post your free hand on the opposite side of their head, staying tight, then isolate their already locked up arm, step over their head and drop back for the submission.

My first free spar was against Melissa, who I haven't sparred before. She's fairly aggressive, working hard for the pass, so was a good partner to work my half-guard and full guard. I pulled half-guard immediately (I was going for full-guard, but normally only get half-guard from the knees), where I eventually moved into full-guard. I again found myself in deep half guard without being certain how to proceed, but did at least manage to then get my knee through for full guard.

Again, I went for the sit-up and kimura, not getting either. However, that did seem to break her posture, whereupon I also had a go at the guillotine, like against Christina. I tried to work my arm through for a reverse kimura, but couldn't quite get the grip: Melissa simply straightened her arm and put it out of danger from that submission. Trying to transition to a triangle, I didn't really get anywhere, but was good to work some different attacks from normal. Another reminder that I need to develop more options that just the sit-up to kimura combination.

With Christina, I spent most of the time fruitlessly flailing around on her turtle. I was attempting to get a grip on her far arm and leg to go for a judo turnover, but couldn't get the hands through. I then thought maybe isolate an arm, but that simply resulting in getting turned over. I think that attacking mount and the turtle are my worst positions right now, along with open guard.

Finally with Tran, as almost always I was underneath struggling to maintain my half-guard, until he eventually passed. Tran seems to have got a bit bored of squashing me in mount, so more recently has been rolling through to guard. From there, he gave me a handy tip for passing. As soon as you get a knee through, push it into their leg with your elbow and widen your base. That will help to initiate the pass: from that position I tend to get a little wary of being swept, so Tran's advice should prove useful (he's already been a massive help for my side control).

Looking forward to Belfast and the Vitor Estima seminar: now just need to work out something to do while Mark is in Dublin sorting out his new house. Should be some museums or art galleries I can wander round for a few hours, given it’s the capital: I'll have to check the internet and see what's available. My gf recommended free tours round the town hall, so that might be a good option.


  1. Ahh... that bit with wrapping their gi around their wrist on the way to armbar from the mount... very interesting! Alas my next gi class isn't until Monday! I'll have to try that. Thanks :)

  2. Definitely worth a go. I haven't tried it in sparring yet, but I'm interested to see how easy it is to get some of their gi material free to facilitate the grip.

    When drilling, I was pulling their gi through from behind and underneath me, then yanking it up between my legs, which was a little awkward (meant I had to raise up slightly from mount): I'm guessing it works better if their gi is already loose and available to grab.

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