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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

07 August 2008

07/08/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #169

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 07/08/2008 - Advanced

I got a pleasant PM from someone on Sherdog this morning, saying they'd found this blog useful, and in particular were wondering if I could send them a copy of the spreadsheet I use to track my attendance (the offline version is way more geeky, with a load more formulae, tabs and even graphs ;p). That means I've now got a template version, so if anyone else wants one, let me know.

My face was raw from yesterday, probably from defending chokes in free sparring, and it was going to get some more gi action tonight: Jude focused on chokes from the guard. As is often the case, he started with the fundamental position, then demonstrated variations depending on how your partner defends.

The initial cross choke from guard we worked on tonight started with you opening up your partner's lapels, pulling them out of their belt, keeping a firm grip on one with your same side hand. Bring them forwards with your legs, then keep them down by using your free arm to clamp over their back. The hand grasping their gi will now punch up and past their armpit, aiming to feed the end of the gi to your other hand.

Push off their hip and shrimp, bringing your free hand past their throat. Switch the gi back to that hand, so you now have secure control over their neck. The hand which is therefore now free again grabs the gi material by their shoulder, on the opposite side of their neck to your other hand, pressing both forearms into their throat. Squeeze for the choke.

Next the first cross choke variation. You've got them wrapped up, ready to bring your other hand through to finish off the choke. However, this time they've managed to get their hand in place on their face to block you. To counter that, push the elbow of that arm away from you and come up on your side slightly, while still holding the gi you've looped around their head. Your free arm is going to press on the back of their head (not directly on the back, but towards their ear), pushing their head a bit sideways. Pull on the gi with your gripping hand as you do so for the choke.

Finally, the last variation is a way of taking the back. Again, you're ready to choke, but this time instead of defending with a hand, they get their whole head to the other side of your head, preventing the choke. That presents you with two ways to take their back.

You could shrimp out, bringing the leg over, locking in the body triangle and then putting in your hooks, putting you on top of them, back mounted. Or you could reach for the far elbow, pull it up and back, twisting them towards you, which should enable you to spin them into rear mount, with both of your backs facing the floor.

I started on my back during king of the hill guard passage, which hasn't happened for a while. Lorenzo didn't have much trouble passing, but did put me in that quarter guard position I've been playing with recently since Rob T suggested it. I thought I could try Matt's sweep, but I think I went for the knee with the wrong arm. Against a guy as strong as Lorenzo, the technique needed to be perfect, which very clearly mine wasn't, but at least I've now given it a go. Something to improve next time I find myself in quarter-guard (which reminds me, must add that to the glossary - in short, like half guard, but you only have their foot).

With mount, I thought I'd attempt the same strategy that had worked well with Anthony a few lessons ago, but no such luck tonight. I was rolled pretty easily, and my balance was poor. I also wasn't attacking, which meant I was basically waiting to be swept. So, will need to think more carefully about how to be proactive when wrapping my legs around their's, trying to get my feet under their bum in mount.

Finally in side control, I felt more comfortable. I'm continuing to work on switching between side control and scarf hold, but keep forgetting that I should be using that transition to shift up towards their head, getting their arm out of the way and thereby making space to mount. I'm getting better and remembering to keep my head down and close to their's, which should help to make my scarf hold heavier.

Free sparring started with Christina, who as always drove through to knee-on-belly while I tried to escape. I again attempted to shift to quarter-guard, but couldn't get my feet into position. I tried reaching through with my arm to push on the ankle, but didn't do it carefully, so was asking to get armbarred rather than effecting any kind of productive escape.

In relation to that, Christina gave me a useful reminder that I really need to be more careful of my arm. Had we been in a competition, she would have slapped it on several times, but because she's a good training partner, my joints were mercifully left intact. However, I need to keep the distinction in mind – I've often said you shouldn't treat class like a competition (an essential point many beginners miss, I feel), but its also important to remember that class is different from competition, so I shouldn't allow myself to get complacent about dangling my arm in dangerous positions.

Last roll was with a visiting Irish purple belt named John, who sought me out because we're the same size. He took it relatively easy, eventually ending up mounting me. I tried to elbow escape, as well as pushing on his foot to see if I could snatch half guard, but to no avail. I was also bridging a lot to knock his submissions attempts off-balance. That was working ok right up until he got set up for a mounted triangle. I wasn't quite sure how to get free, so had a go at curling my body in close and bringing my legs to his arms.

This might have worked better if I'd been going somewhere specific rather than just flailing hopefully looking for a grip. John then helpfully explained one option to start an escape, which is to grab an arm with your trapped arm, then bring your foot through utilising that grip. You can then push back and roll upright: although you will most likely still be in a triangle, its far preferable to be resisting against one from guard – where you have some kind of base – then against one from mount.

There's going to be an open day at the Roger Gracie Academy on 16th August, where all the affiliate schools (so places like the Vie Academy, Nick Brooks in Mill Hill, Andy Roberts in Guildford etc) will be popping down for a visit. Shame I can't make that, as its on a weekend, but I am planning to make Andy's opening seminar for his new venue in Farnborough. Should be early September.

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