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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

14 August 2008

14/08/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #171

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Gustavo Dos Santos Pires, London, UK - 14/08/2008 - Advanced

My gf got funding for her MA at Warwick, so that should hopefully mean loads more training in the future for me. As she will need to get lots of work done, makes sense if I go and spend the first half on the day on campus. In terms of training, it will be way easier to make Warwick Uni BJJ sessions once we move closer, and I also plan to give judo another go (though I remain concerned about injury due to last time, so will be extra-careful).

Tonight's class featured lots of sparring, as often seems to be the case with Gustavo. Very unusually, we started off with full-on sparring, from our feet, so effectively like a competition. I'm always wary of throws, so I was looking to pull guard as soon as possible. My first partner was a rather keen blue belt, meaning that I was sitting in guard looking to see if I could nab his arm somehow. Eventually ended up in half-guard and swept him, but fell straight into a tight choke.

I don't think I tapped (unless it was reflex or something, as the choke was quite forceful), but either way looks like he thought I did, so eased off. Should have stayed on, but he seemed happy to leave, meaning I could then get swiftly passed by my next partner. Also reminds me to be careful of chokes from half-guard: not sure if the usual defence works as well, as I can't then base up so easily. Something to think about.

Gustavo then showed one of his seemingly endless repertoire of open guard sweeps. You have both their sleeves, they're on their knees. Bring one leg over an arm, then hook under the other arm. Sit up and straighten that same leg, pushing off with your other leg, sweeping them to one side.

If they resist, then immediately switch to the other side, driving forward with your legs and pulling on their arms, putting them on their back. Gustavo described it as an osoto-gari motion, as its effectively a throw from your knees. Judging from drilling with Tanvir, it relies a lot on momentum: swinging first one way, then the opposite. I think you also need to push on their arm with your knee, keeping their sleeve tight to reduce their ability to resist.

Specific sparring was guard passage, where I'm still not standing up: this particularly becomes a problem for me when I'm against bigger guys (i.e., almost everyone in the class), as I just get pulled down again when I start to stand. I need to overcome that, just get up and then gradually develop a better base. Instead, I was defending once again, and got my nose squished by Alex (who was going for a triangle, but due to my position wrenched the nose straight up instead), then armbarred by Justin (a variation where he had the arm wrapped up so my hand was by his back).

For free sparring my partner was Tanvir, who has recently received his blue belt, which is cool. Less cool is that he unfortunately broke his ribs a while back, so I was being extra careful to avoid that side. As it turned out, most of the spar was open guard anyway, so the ribs weren't a problem.

I tried to get into the De La Riva, so I could attempt the sweep from Sunday, but found it difficult to keep control long enough to wrap up Tanvir's legs. While I could keep an instep hooked, he was able to keep moving and stepping back, meaning I generally just had control of one leg and one arm.

He later got into my half-guard, where after some wiggling I was able to get on top. Again, I was looking to avoid placing my weight on my ribs, but I doubt it made much difference to my technique: if it did have an impact, that would have been more than mitigated by the care Tanvir himself was no doubt taking with his injury, which must have hampered certain movements.

The roll also reminded me that I haven't got a clue what to do with submissions. I found myself in a mounted triangle, but was left pondering what to do with the arm, eventually getting rolled over as I first tried to cinch the triangle from guard, then switched to an equally sloppy armbar attempt. Very unusual for me to be in position for a submission, and it really shows. At present I'm more than happy to keep working defence, but worth remembering that I will need to develop some kind of facility with submissions later on.

My next and final sparring partner was Joanna, where we both spun about through open, half and full guard, with occasional forays into side control. As with Tanvir, I couldn't control Joanna's leg sufficiently in open guard, normally just getting the one leg, so she could simply pass with the free limb. I also gave up my back, which is an extremely bad habit I do not want to develop: must go to my knees more, rather than always wanting to recover guard or half-guard.

I got cramp in my right leg in the midst of holding half-guard, which was annoying. Was just about to keep control by using my other leg to hook, but I could see that being a problem if I ever compete again. I don't get cramp too often, but does occasionally happen, almost always in that exact situation. Not sure if it was exacerbated by all the open guard with Tanvir, or if its just something that can happen towards to end of a long sparring class.

Shame that I'll miss out on the affiliate open day on Saturday, but I'll hopefully be busy house-hunting in Leamington, Kenilworth and Canley. Would be good to find accommodation soon, so that we can move in and I can at long last get into all the various sports on offer on campus. Judo of course, but I'd love to try out archery, and I haven't done any fencing since I was about twelve. Might even return to horse-riding, if there is the option, as I enjoyed the little bit I did back in the day (again, was pretty young when I did it on a regular basis: wonder if my helmet still fits…).


  1. hey, its been a while since i visited your blog. Your still adding some good articles. Keep up the work. Your blog looks really good.

  2. Thanks!

    Should have the big BJJ history post up soon, so no plans to stop sticking up huge mounds of texts just yet. ;)