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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

25 June 2008

25/06/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #156

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 25/06/2008 - Advanced

First outing for my new Padilla & Sons single weave gi, which felt relatively comfortable. I've only washed it once and in the spin-drier for ten minutes on a low heat, so will be shrinking it a bit more with further washes. Extremely cheap at a mere £52, which combined with the quality and customer service is why I keep going back to Padilla. Will have a proper review up in a few months, after I've got some experience rolling in the single weave.

Tonight was all focused on defending against the stack pass, from two positions your partner might reach before locking their hands together and pulling your in. The first guard pass defence was from when they have a grip on the fabric by your thighs. Shrimp, then use that space to bring a leg around and under their arm, pressing your shin into their stomach with the foot hooked round the far side (reminiscent of the scissor sweep position). Shrimp again, and this time get your other leg inside their arm, coming up on your knee (I think: might be that the leg stays flat). Holding their arm, you then roll them over and come up on top, still maintaining a grip on both their sleeves.

The next guard pass defence is a little more straightforward, and this time starts from when they've grabbed your belt, coming round either side of your legs with their arms. Take a deep grip on their collar, then come up on your elbow. Your other arm will reach all the way over to their belt, grabbing it palm up. Bring your elbow to the other side of their head, bracing it against their back. Squeeze for the submission.

Guard passage started with Christina, where I immediately gave the pass from Vitor's seminar a go, but couldn't get into position. Even posturing up proved difficult: holding the sleeve didn't help much when I was unable to stay upright. Still, as we'd been saying earlier, just have to keep on trying these things until you get them right.

Underneath, I attempted to be a little more varied than just going for that sit-up sweep/kimura combo, seeing how the takedown Jude showed us yesterday might work. I was in position, but Christina knew exactly what I was going for, so easily countered it, meaning I was the one to end up on my back.

We then switched partners, so I had a chance to go with Herman, which is always cool as he's not only my weight, but similar in style. This time, I did get the takedown from yesterday, though it was fairly sloppy and I relied way too much on my arms (though I guess you kinda have to in order to get up close when they stand in your guard).

I also again tried Vitor's pass, running into a problem I'd encountered when drilling with Conor back in Belfast. While this time I got further along than with Christina, having stood up and twisted, Herman was able to shift away. I had difficulty controlling the hips in Belfast, for which Vitor's answer (if I understood correctly) was basically to put more pressure on that one side with your knee, also making good use of the control on their sleeve. I think my leg could do with being tighter too when I stand up, bringing it to their bum straight after coming to my feet. I got the stack pass a few times, but again a bit sloppy. It was from a more sideways position than usual, so I think I was probably at risk of a guillotine.

Continuing to roll with Herman in free sparring, I was definitely using my arms too much, as evidence by the fact my biceps are a bit sore now. I was holding him down in my guard, attempting to go for the butterfly guard stuff Waqi showed me at the Belfast TD. That was nogi: much harder to slip the arm through when there's the friction of all that coarse cotton. I couldn't get the sweep either, eventually switching to an elevator, which did eventually work, but once again rather sloppy.

I slowly worked from half-guard, having left a trailing leg, until I just reached that judo scarf hold before time ran out. Most important lesson for me to take from that roll, and the sparring overall, is to keep in mind Nick Gregoriades' advice: the arms are the steering wheel, the legs and hips are your engine. That reminds me to go back to working on the flower sweep, which I never really got down back when I was trying it in the beginners: legs and hips needs to be my focus. Also ties in with what Roy Harris said about the use of the legs rather than the arms being one of the big differences between purple and blue belts.

Next up was Tran, who was looking to work on flow, so rolled out when he inevitably got mount. He gave me yet another handy tip, which was when trying to free a trapped arm if they've pushed one of yours across in their guard. Bring the same side leg up to make space to get it free. If you bring the opposite leg up, you're both asking to be swept and making their control tighter. I was previously trying to counterbalance, but as Tran demonstrated, I can see how much more effective it is to bring up the same side knee. Also need to watch out for the armbar by keeping your elbow in close.

Finally, I had a light roll with Zaf – I was planning on sitting it out, having turned down Kevin (reminds me I should definitely roll with him again, as he's got good control and is around my size), but Zaf's powers of persuasion got me back to the mat. I passed with the thing where you push their legs one way, then swing in the other direction and step through (toreador? Something like that), after which I played around on top. Zaf was watching me work, though I couldn't really do anything: he rolled to his back, but despite having hooks, I was totally incapable of getting my arms into position for a choke.

Should be ok for tomorrow, when my sore arms will serve as an important reminder that power is in the lower body, not the upper. Shall have to review the flower sweep when I get the chance: Roy Dean covers it on Blue Belt Requirements, so I'll take another look at the sweeps section.

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