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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

18 September 2008

18/09/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #179

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 18/09/2008 - Advanced

As all that open guard yesterday once again ripped the skin off my finger knuckle, I finally had a chance to use the Elastoplast spray-on plaster I bought a while back, after Zaf recommended it. Unfortunately, I don't think I applied it correctly: first time a bit dribbled vaguely onto my finger, while my two attempts to do it properly just fizzed a slightly larger puddle onto the finger joint. I need to try it again, with a more forceful, prolonged spray, to give it a proper test.

Jude's session would provide plenty of opportunity for abrasion, as it was all about spider guard. I can feel the soreness in the tips of my fingers as I type this from all the gripping. All techniques tonight, as yesterday, were sweeps, which is great as my open guard remains almost entirely useless (though not as bad as my even more terrible guard passing: more on that later).

After giving out a general tip on spider guard (always have one leg pushed straight into their arm and the other back: if they're both back, you're asking to be stacked and passed, if they're both forward, your partner will simply pull your legs to the floor then pass that way), we moved on to the first sweep.

This initial spider guard sweep is for when the other person hasn't yet stood up, but has one knee raised. They have a grip on your trouser legs, while you have one leg straightened out and pressing into their arm (on the same side as the leg they have raised up), while the other is pulled back. First thing you need to do is free your straightened leg. To do that, bring your straight leg back and your other leg straight, then kick out the first leg, breaking their grip. That means you can then use the momentum of swivelling the legs, to immediately bring your free leg and wrap it around their raised leg.

Your other leg will now be pressing on their hip, while you maintain a firm grip on their same side arm. Raise up, then bring their same side arm underneath their raised leg, feeding the sleeve through to your opposite arm. Use that hold to drag their arm right across their body, while with your other arm you'll grip over their back (make sure you bring the arm around the far side of their head, or they can resist the sweep) and pull there too. Then with your free leg push on their knee, while at the same side raising their hooked knee up with your foot. This will roll them to one side, whereupon you can move into side control.

The same principle works when they stand up. The spider guard sweep will operate in a similar fashion, again freeing your foot by kicking out of their grip. As before, use the same leg to hook behind their knee, feeding the same side sleeve underneath their knee and through to your other hand. You will also need to push with your other foot against their knee, breaking their posture.

Drag their arm right across their body, as before: as you're pulling them down, that will also make it easier to get the same grip across their back. Keep pushing on their other knee, then like the first sweep, pull on the arm and back of their gi while lifting their knee for the sweep.

A more basic spider guard sweep leads into the final variation. The basic version is to first free a foot from your partner's grip, then push your other leg as straight and high as possible into their arm. Drag their opposite arm firmly across their body, using the leg you just released to chop against their knee to sweep them over.

The complicated version switches the legs around. They have a raised knee, but this time, you are going to free the opposite foot. Hook that under the raised knee, then as with the basic sweep, get the remaining foot you have in their bicep as straight and high as possible, dragging their opposite arm right across their body. Lift up on the knee and sweep them over, then you have to kind of kick across their body to land in side control, with a rather acrobatic motion compared to previously.

I had difficulty generating the momentum to roll them over, and also ended up falling into half guard when trying to complete the sweep. Still, very useful to have some more open guard options, as judging by my woeful specific sparring yesterday, something I very much need.

Equally woeful was my guard passing today, though that's nothing new. The problem is the usual one of not confidently standing up and pushing forward. Instead, I kept going into defensive mode, effectively waiting to be swept. Like Jude said when I sparred him, you do need to actually try and pass. I made some half-hearted attempts at standing up, but inevitably collapsed back to my knees if I wasn't immediately swept. Main thing is to force myself to stand: whether I then get swept or not, I'll never develop good guard passing if I don’t feel comfortable getting to my feet, so needs to be done.

Free sparring revolved around my favoured escapes, sitting under side control looking to better my forearm position, then work to extricate myself or move on top. I tried to go to my knees a few times, which sort of worked, but it was rather sloppy, and I never got sufficient purchase on a knee to drive forward (though I should have been driving forward with greater force anyway). That was the case for smaller partners like Helen and for bigger people like Owen. Still, I'm glad I'm at least starting to make the attempt to go to knees more often, rather than spending the entire spar lying under side control waiting for something to happen.

Tran's side control escape worked a couple of times on Joanna, but generally I was shrimping away or trying to get to knees, which led to some awkward positions with Owen (such as where I almost neck-cranked myself as he briefly had me in a sort of crucifix type thing, I think. Not entirely sure on the terminology), whereas Helen simply took my back. I also, again as usual, spent plenty of time in half guard, though Owen released my grip by effectively attacking the foot, meaning I couldn't hold the position.

My spray-on plaster didn't make it past drilling, have already come off after we'd gone through spider guard. I'm hoping that was just because both quantity and accuracy were lacking, but will see if spraying for longer and with greater care makes a difference next time. The headguard, on the other hand, held up well, and again I didn't find it especially uncomfortable. At one point, when Owen had my head between his knees in north-south, it saved my ears from a crushing (though then again, that might have meant I would have responded differently had I been bereft of the plastic armour round my head).

Just as the warm-down finished, Jude decided to extend the session by having the white belts from the beginners class do guard passage with us. I got a big guy who (judging by the name on his gi) was called Rami. Fortunately, he was relatively controlled: I didn't get much on him except a scissor sweep. I was able to stick him in half-guard for much of the specific spar, but I don't think he's had much experience with it yet, so that's presumably why he found it difficult to pass (my leg cramped up part-way through again, but recovered enough that I could hold a loose triangle on the leg).

Also gave me a chance to try and work for that two-on-one grip Nick spoke about yesterday, then attempt to break their posture by pulling forward, elbows in tight, and pushing on the hip. I couldn't quite get into position, but if I at least develop the habit of trying the two-on-one, should be beneficial in the long run.

On top, I again was completely unable to do anything. He swept me with an elevator, I think, and reversed me some other way later on, IIRC. I sat in defensive posture for a while too, which perplexed him: he asked what I was doing with my hands (which were on my head, ready to defend against chokes), so I guess the beginners tend to stick with offence.

Might train tomorrow in the Friday nogi (though I'll have to wear a t-shirt, as my rash guard is up in Birmingham), but depends on weekend arrangements. I'm hoping to go to a friend's party on Saturday – therefore leaving the Friday free for training - but bureaucratic annoyances with moving house may scupper those plans.

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