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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

26 June 2008

26/06/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #157

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 26/06/2008 - Advanced

Not too much to report this lesson, as we did the same technique as yesterday. However, that did mean that I now know you definitely come up on that knee, as I wasn't sure last night. Also emphasised that you straighten your legs out first on their biceps, grab their sleeves and shrimp out: I didn't note the sleeve grabbing clearly enough previously.

Christina wasn't there, but fortunately for me, Christy was, so I still had a good drilling partner. On the down side, she mentioned that she'll be returning to Australia in a few months, which is a shame: I've enjoyed our rolls, as she's close to my size and has a style distinct from everyone else I spar regularly.

There was another load of specific sparring straight after the warm-up, moving through side control, then mount, finishing with rear mount. I think my most comfortable position was side control, as I had an idea of what to do both from underneath and on top. I spent most of the first part on top trying to get into that judo scarf hold again, but once I got there was swept. Aside from my lack of technique, might also be what Dan was telling me about at the Warwick Uni BJJ training group. His comparison for weight distribution in scarf hold was that its worse to be like a plank, even though that control might be tight and heavy: sinking into them like a sack of potatoes is preferable, as that way you're harder to sweep. I'm not quite certain how to achieve the latter, but the analogy seemed apt.

Underneath, I as ever was working to try and go to half guard, and also see if I could get my knee through. I need to bridge and shrimp more, as currently I'm not making much space, relying instead too heavily on going to half-guard. Alternately, I'm waiting til they make a mistake in going to knee on belly, or try and swing the leg over for the Tran escape. The latter didn't work for me today, as Christy got the leg through quickly, and also tended to have control of my hips and/or legs.

On top of mount I was pretty terrible. Christy was having no trouble rolling me off, even getting her legs right up so I was squished onto my front, leaving my leg exposed for a lock (or I assume so: foot locks scare me, so I tend to tap very quickly, particularly in specific sparring when there is a predetermined end goal anyway). Christy mentioned that if she's about to sweep me, I should try counterbalancing by putting my bodyweight to the other side, leading with my head.

Underneath I felt a lot more comfortable, going to half guard even more than with side control. I tried the step-over foot drag, which worked several times, although I need to be a lot more proactive in half-guard. Christy was often raising up her trapped leg, making it difficult to maintain control. I was able to just about get it to the floor again and shift my hips around, but normally that would end up with her knee being much further through than before.

Worst of all without any doubt was my woeful attempt to hold rear mount. Every single time, as has happened with all my previous partners from this position, Christy simply bridged and moved to one side. I had no idea how to stop her: couldn't seem to get my hips back under to follow. The only time I got any kind of control was when I moved to a body triangle, but I didn't quite have it locked in, Christy eventually making space to get out.

Escaping rear mount was much easier. I tried the 'Shirley Temple' defence Ais showed me at the Belfast Throwdown last weekend. Clamping my hands to my jaw helped prevent the choke, but I was less successful moving down towards Christy's leg to try and spin round to her guard. A combination of sweat and fatigue meant I made it in the end, but it wasn't especially technical on my part.

Free sparring started with Tanvir, where I was determined to try and avoid using my arms too much. I'm not sure that entirely worked, but I at least wasn't sitting in guard clinging on with my arms. I got through to side control after Tanvir tried a submission, then pushed his knees down to one side to pass. However, I was sloppy, so Tanvir very almost got his knee back through: must keep better control of the knees if I want to mount like that.

Finally, rolled with Christy, and yet again spent most of it in half guard. I really, really need to work out more options than holding onto the leg looking to slip back to full guard. I remember getting one sweep, but that was only because Christy raised her knee near my arm, so I could lift that up to come out on top. Like Tran suggested to me yesterday, working to get up on my side could be a useful goal for me in half-guard, so I'll think I try and work on that.

I also still want to improve my open guard. I think once I feel comfortable there, I'll be a lot happier trying submissions, as then I'll be able to recover when I mess up. Closest I came to anything like that today was from scarf hold, where I was trying to trap Christy's arm. I did eventually get my leg on top of it, but she successfully worked her way free, so I clearly didn't have my weight down properly.

My right bicep is now very sore, possibly in part due to the awkward position in which that stack pass defence puts it. Still, I'll glad I trained, as I had been feeling a little crappy earlier today: I've now got until next Tuesday to recover, when I'll hopefully have a working pair of arms again.


  1. Nice blog about your training in BJJ. I have been training since Nov. 2006 as well. Keep on training!

  2. Thanks!

    Cool to have someone from Roy Dean's place reading this: judging by the DVDs, I'd love to drop in for a class some time.

    Might be a bit tough to get out there, though, as if I made it to the US, I'd be relying on public transport. I'm told Bend isn't all that easy to navigate by bus, particularly as they apparently stop running in the early evening?

  3. If you ever made it to Bend, you wouldn't have to worry about transportation. I can take care of that.

  4. Cool - that would be enormously kind of you. Will definitely take you up on that if I make it out to Bend! :D

    Current (and still quite vague) plan is to wander around California (San Francisco, LA and hopefully San Diego), and I was trying to work out how to fit Bend into that.

    Although if my gf came along, may be difficult to convince her we need to make a rather long detour so I can roll around with sweaty men. ;p

    Reading Roy's blog, looked like the scenery was great, so I might try the "but its a skiing resort!" angle.