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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

13 August 2008

13/08/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #170

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Nick Gregoriades, London, UK - 13/08/2008 - Advanced

Those of you who read about the Oxford Throwdown may remember Jadon: he has now started his own training blog, which you can check out here. Especially useful if you're thinking of training with Andy Roberts in Guildford (soon moving to a larger premises in Farnborough), a Roger Gracie brown belt, experienced competitor and Jadon's instructor.

Keeping on the topic of cool blogs, Matt from Martial Farts just posted up this great interview with Caleb, of Fightworks Podcast fame. Interesting stuff, such as his points on competition, and I like that he emphasised relaxing and shrimping as the two things every beginner should work on.

He has also put up a video of the quarter-guard technique he mentioned earlier, which I tried briefly in sparring, but need to watch a few more times. I don't think I'm using the right arm, grabbing the leg in the correct way, or getting that knock with the hip right. As there is now video to check, should hopefully be able to better visualise what I'm supposed to be doing.

For the technique tonight, Nick showed us an armbar from side control. Trying not to be too obvious about your intentions, keep their near hand under some kind of control. Your knee nearest their legs will then shift up slightly, staying tight, while you grip deep around their far arm, reaching under as much as you can.

Your leg nearest their head now steps out, while your leg folds against their side: the foot should be up toward their face. This, coupled with the tight grip on their far arm, will help prevent them turning out of the armbar. Bring your raised leg over their head, keeping the foot close to them. The other leg will also come out, scooping their arm with your knee as you do so (maintain control of that arm all the way through the technique), putting them in position for the armbar. Drop back for the submission.

Specific sparring was done twice, first before the technique with your partner, then king of the hill. Both times I did much the same thing, continuing to work on transitioning from side control to scarf hold and back again. I also attempted reverse scarf hold, where you are facing their knees, but still needs work. I was trying to keep my weight down and make space by moving backwards, but could not clear enough room to bring my knee through for mount. However, it was good to practice being mobile on top: seems to be improving, though at various points both Bruno and Joanna were able to escape because I left too much room.

Underneath, I built on the drilling from Sunday, with the spinout side control escape and Nick's earlier technique where you roll them over your back. The spinout remains problematic, as I end up on my side, and wasn't able to drive through with my shoulder as with Rosie: I'm pretty sure that's just a matter of force, so very unreliable. I had the same sloppy approach to the other side control escape, coming up on my knees instead of toes. I did manage to get Joanna over, but didn't stay tight, and again I doubt it would have worked against anybody heavier or simply putting up more resistance: Joanna tends to stay fairly relaxed in sparring.

In free sparring, I again found myself in side control, open guard and half-guard most of the time, trying the same escapes again. I wanted to go for the De La Riva sweep Rosie had showed me, but couldn't get into position, getting passed instead. It does at least mean I've got some kind of specific goal when in open guard now, which was largely missing previously.

Zaf went to his back, as he normally does with me due to the huge strength discrepancy, putting me in lockdown. I wasn't totally certain how to neutralise that, so tried sitting back on his legs. Not especially successful, and found myself in a footlock, pushing on Zaf's bum to escape (like Bruno had shown me a while back).

Zaf also advised me on keeping control in guard, getting my legs up high and forcing my partner down. I'm always wary of anything that requires strength (because its not something I can ever rely on, being weedy), but its important to be able to strike a balance. Some force is required in situations like that, but as ever I want to stay relaxed and technical.

Surprisingly, the tape I had round my toes and foot to protect the mat burn I acquired on Sunday held out. I had purchased a bottle of that liquid plaster Zaf recommended earlier, but didn't need to use it. Judging by that, it would seem that while tape doesn't seem to last very long on the fingers, its ok for the toes. The same tape I'd wrapped around on Sunday was still going strong, despite having got wet from the shower. I'd expected it to come loose in sparring.

Should be in again tomorrow, where hopefully we'll work some side control escapes. Would be great to get a refresh on the one Nick showed us before, but will wait and see what happens. Might be good to have a basic open guard lesson too, or perhaps some work on passing half-guard. I was struggling to remember Maurição's tips when with Zaf, so something I need to read back in my blog.


  1. Hello! I just wanted to say I've really been enjoying reading your blog especially your beginners FAQ.I've found that really, really helpful in my training. So thanks for putting the time in and putting it up here.
    I started BJJ a couple of months ago at the RGA Mill Hill branch and I can't get enough of it. The Martial Farts blog is written by my best mate who is selfishly still living in Japan hahaha so it's cool to see it come up in here :)

    Anyway, Keep up the good work!


  2. Thanks! Glad the FAQ has been useful. :D

    Are you going to the open day thingy at RGA on Saturday? I can't make it unfortunately, which is a shame, as would have been nice to meet some of the people from the various affiliates.

  3. Yeah. I'm heading down there, really looking forward to it. Should be fun. Good luck with the house hunting :)