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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

21 August 2008

21/08/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #173

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 21/08/2008 - Advanced

I had a light roll with Oli M (I think his surname starts with an M: anyway, the Oli who isn't the recently promoted purple belt with a penchant for Eddie Bravo stuff), which was a good way to pass some time before the lesson started. As ever I got there early, so when Oli suggested a bit of rolling, seemed like another good opportunity to work on relaxing. Flowed around through various positions, until I bowed out. Ten minutes, maybe? I can never go very long, even when its not full-on. Also had a chance to try the foot-in-armpit escape from a mounted triangle, though as we were going light, doesn't really count.

Tonight was all about the half-guard. Jude started with a choke from half-guard (top). You begin with one arm around their head, the other by their back, linking your hands in a gable grip (palm-to-palm), while they have an underhook. First, bring your top arm back, grab their lapel and pull out as much gi as you can. Drag that over to their head, feeding the fabric to the hand you have by their neck. You'll need to stay tight throughout: using your chin by their shoulder is one way of adding some extra control.

Next, slide your top arm underneath their underhook, then get that hand right past their head: Jude advised that you'll be far enough when you can see your own fingers. If you're having trouble pushing your hand through, then you can use your other arm to pull their head back, and/or move your knee further out towards their head. Once you're there, switch the gi you're holding to the hand you've worked through.

Maintaining a firm grip with the gi hand (their gi should be up by their armpit due to having been wrapped round, to which they'll also have the discomfort of their arm trapped tightly against your body), hold the back of their gi with your other hand. To finish, bring the forearm by that hand around and into their neck, then squeeze for the choke.

From the same position, you can also execute a half guard pass. Though you've established your grips, they manage to defend. So instead of the choke, your going to transfer your lower hand to their same side sleeve and pull up, while the elbow of your other arm will press into their chest. Use that pressure to get your knee free of their legs, slide it forwards, then switch your hips to move into side control.

Last technique was a brabo choke. This one is a little simpler, as it doesn't involve any gi wrapping, and is therefore also applicable to nogi. As before, they have an underhook. Reach through with your top arm as before, but this time you're just trying to get your hand as far through as possible, rather than straining the grab a lapel.

Instead, you're going to grasp around the crook of your other arm, the hand of which will then grip them by the shoulder. Squeeze, trying to bring your lower arm upwards, simultaneously pressing forward with your chest to complete the submission. If you're having trouble finishing, use the pressure to get your knee through, then step over them, moving into a sort of mount position. That should enable you to apply greater leverage.

Specific sparring was, naturally, from half guard. My partner was Paxton, who is good at getting his knee through when underneath, so I had a hard time stopping him escaping. I tried using additional pressure, getting a tight grip and then wrapping his legs with my own, but that seemed merely to delay the inevitable: the only thing I accomplished through that approach was using up more energy.

Underneath, I found I couldn't get my knee through. Paxton was blocking it effectively with his knee: not sure if I could have somehow made more space in the other direction, but I think that was blocked off by his shoulder. I also tried using my legs more offensively, trying to stay tight but releasing the half guard and pushing, which was unsurprisingly a little risky. Sort of worked at one point, as I was able to recover guard, but not reliable just yet.

Free sparring kicked off with a purple belt, Javid. He took it easy on me, taking the opportunity to give out some useful advice rather than simply crushing me. As with yesterday, good reminder on keeping the arms tight under side control, particularly when they're trying to choke you from the top: Javid said that as soon as someone grabs your collar, get your elbows in position to block the choke attempt. I can't think of many people who try to choke me from side control, so was handy to be put in that situation. He also mention going to your knees from underneath, which is still something I don't do anything like as often as I should. Too reliant on either recovering guard or snatching half-guard.

Finally, rolled with Paxton, where we ended up back in half-guard. I did eventually manage to get a sweep, lifting him over my head, but I think that might have happened because we were getting near another pair sparring, so Paxton may well have eased off in readiness to move out of the way.

Something else sparring brought up was that I really need to make better use of all of my limbs, rather than just arms or legs in isolation. I've mentioned that before, so was trying to keep the principle in mind tonight. In particular I should be making more use of my legs, pushing against my partner to make space for escapes, as well as in open guard.

Forgot my towel, which was annoying, as I don't like to delay my shower: hygiene is super-important when there are risks like staph, after all. Can shower when I get back to my sisters, but not pleasant feeling skanky on the train. Bleh.


  1. Hey Slidey,
    Thanks for the nice words, I started this blogg to help remeber the techniques shown in class. Your blogg is one of the best I've seen, and minds kinda pathetic, but it serves a purpose. haha. A lot of work as well.
    I've quetion for you.
    When rolling do you go full on or take it steady and try and work on techniques you need to master. It seemed pretty full on last week. haha

  2. Cheers, CJ!

    Your blog looks good so far: I find it really helpful to write notes on technique and what I've been doing in sparring, so hopefully you'll reap similar benefits from yours. :D

    When I'm rolling, I try to never go full-on: for me, its all about working technique, improving steadily and noting your progress. Especially when you're starting out, I think the most important thing to learn is how to relax, not worrying about who taps who.

    I babble about it more on my FAQ. ;)