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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

02 July 2008

02/07/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #159

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 02/07/2008 - Advanced

I'm currently planning a trip to the US, though its all very vague at the moment. Ideally I'd go next September, but that might be delayed until the year after. I definitely want to get to LA, as I have a friend there, but might also pop over to Indiana, due again to knowing people in the area. I'm thinking of doing San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, which would give me plenty of training options: so far, I like the look of Hollywood BJJ in LA, and there's plenty of BJJ to choose from in San Diego (where the beach should be enough to occupy my gf). If we also went to Indiana, then I'd be flying into Chicago, where again there's plenty of good clubs. From what I've seen in Indiana, looks to be mostly under Caique, so will have to see if I can get there from where our friends are in that state. Any advice from Americans reading this would be welcome. :D

No technique today, unfortunately, although class did start with a couple of cool drills. As you might have already gathered from previous entries in this blog, I'm very fond of the progressive resistance ethos made famous by Matt Thornton, and tonight Gustavo kind of put that into effect, at least at the start of the lesson.

Instead of normal guard passage, the person on top could only stall. That made for an interesting experience, as I knew I didn't even have to bother trying standing up or passing, I could simply concentrate on spreading my knees for a good base, then aiming to press my elbows towards them for defence. I also kept in mind Tran's advice about bringing up the same side knee if your partner isolates an arm, which helped me to recover my posture.

That also made for a pleasant experience underneath, as I knew my partner wasn't going to pass. So instead, I could happily try for various submissions and sweeps: it was like having an invincible guard. Paxton was sufficiently tight that I struggled to get anything much, but I did find that once again when I'm trying the flower sweep, I'm thinking too much about sideways and not enough about up. Next time, I'll try to bring my leg to my opposite shoulder rather than past my hip, and see if that helps the motion. Despite having played around with the flower sweep pretty much since I've started, I've yet to get the hang of it.

The focus then changed to purely trying to stand up and break open your partner's guard. This really emphasised the importance of driving your hips forward. Paxton was good at doing that, and I found it very difficult to stop him simply shoving my legs out of the way, much like when I spar with Christina (who wasn't there, hence why I was drilling with Paxton instead). I did manage a sort of elevator sweep at one point, but that's the only thing I got from the bottom.

On top, I couldn't get anywhere: when I did finally manage to get into position to drive my hips forward, I think I must have overbalanced with my torso, as I then found myself flying over Paxton's head and under his mount. As ever, my guard passage really, really sucks, partially because I'm too complacent, so will often just sit there defending as my partner tries to choke me. They inevitably get either a sweep or armbar from that position.

The rest of the class was spent sparring, beginning with guard passage. I decided to give my arm a bit of rest, and caught up with Gary. I didn't realise the whole time would be guard passage, as normally there would be at least one technique, but not today.

That meant I was ready to do at least three rolls in the free sparring, going with Tran, Joanna and Jason. As normal I soon found myself in half-guard with Tran, from which he steadily worked for an armbar (having got a kimura fairly quickly). He isolated the arm and was dropping back to finish, but I managed to wrap my arms around his leg. I'd assumed that it would only temporarily hold him off, but the grip proved solid enough that I could brace against his leg. I was trying to swivel and get on top, but couldn't seem to switch my hips, possibly because Tran was controlling me with his legs. Time ran out, though I'm sure Tran would have eventually secured that armbar.

I also fell into a familiar pattern with Joanna, who always slices straight through my open guard. Again, I managed to snatch half guard, though once under side control, I misjudged the Tran escape and ended under mount. However, that was ok as I could then do the step-over heel drag to get back to half-guard. At some point I ended up on top in half-guard, but that became a stalemate again. Like with Indra yesterday, I was trying to get my knee under Joanna's arm to work for a better position. I really need to develop some more options, as I almost find myself going for that when either in half-guard or side control. Trying to kimura the far arm is one possibility, but I'd rather have some further positional techniques: something for me to look into.

Finally, I had a light roll with Jason, who was resting his injured knee. Due to that, he stayed in half-guard, where I again did much the same thing as I'd done against Joanna. I took the opportunity to try and adjust my position when I felt myself getting swept, so that I landed in half-guard rather than them mounting or putting me in side control. Useful habit to get into, even if Jason was going easy.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a more typical lesson with a good bit of technique: the spider guard stuff from Jude was good yesterday, so that's something for me to try and put into practice next time I'm working open guard.


  1. Couldn't tell you anything about the west coast, or even Indiana, but the nations capital isn't a bad place to visit. Good clubs, pretty nice site seeing, and some pretty good jiu jitsu clubs as well. Two biggest would be Lloyd Irvin, and Yamasaki. Btw, Hollywood bjj is where Genki Sudo trained, is it not?

  2. Yeah, one of the guys here at RGA used to be at Yamasaki when he lived in DC. He was also urging me to check out New York, but then as he's from there, probably unsurprising. ;)

    However, I'm pretty sure I'll be heading for the West Coast, although New York is definitely on my list of places to check out in the US.

    No idea on Genki Sudo, but what appealed to me about Hollywood BJJ is that I keep hearing how technical and friendly it is. Always a big plus for me: really like a place that focuses on technique.

    I'd also love to check out Roy Dean in Bend, but I think that's going to be a bit tough to reach. I don't drive, so I'll be relying on public transport, which I'm told is unfortunately a little crappy in the US.

  3. Can,
    I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I trained at Renzo's academy. Renzo is a geezer. Apparently he doesn't spend as much time teaching there now but I'm sure it will still be a buzz to train there. I'd defintely recommend New York City. I stayed at a youth hostel and that made the journey more memoriable as well.