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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

19 September 2008

19/09/2008 - BJJ (No-Gi)

Class #180

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 19/09/2008 - No-Gi

Elastoplast spray-on plaster definitely isn't suitable for the kind of mat and gi burns you get in BJJ, at least on the fingers. The liquid dribbles off your finger, so you can't get a sufficiently thick film to cover your exposed skin. Tried it again before training, but without positive results. So that means its back to zinc oxide tape for me, although I'll give the spray-on plaster another chance if I get mat burn on my feet (might find better purchase on a broader area like that).

I will be making it to that friend's party on Saturday, so that meant I could make the Friday no-gi class. As is often the case at no-gi, the focus was on takedowns, all from a clinch. Before we got started on technique, Jude emphasised that you should get into the habit of defending your front leg with the same side arm, which helps when blocking your partner's shoot.

For the first takedown, you have a hand on their tricep and a hand on their head, while they have the same grip on you. Cup their elbow with your tricep hand, lifting it up and over your head (the motion is like you're brushing something off your hair, as you want their arm all the way past your head). At the same time drop your opposite knee to the outside of their leg (again, on the side you gripped their tricep).

From there, you'll move round to their side, switching to your other knee to get around their leg, then shooting your same side arm around their leg. Get the crook of your elbow right up against the back of their knee, then gable grip your other hand. Stand up, raising their leg, making sure that your head is on the inside of their leg: otherwise, your head is vulnerable. Press your forehead just below their chest and into the rib, driving forward to knock them down.

The next takedown is from a slightly different position. This time, you have a grip on their tricep, but your other arm is defending your same side leg: they are facing you in the same position, mirroring your stance. Again pull their tricep arm over your head, then knock their defending arm to the side.

Drop your knee, then immediately switch and move around their back. Grab around one arm and their torso, securing a gable grip: your head will also be pressed into their side. Drive with your head and pull in with your gable grip, also pushing with your hip, breaking their posture so you can bring them to the floor.

If when you drive forward they wrap up your head for a guillotine, you can still do a takedown. Switch your grips so that you have arms around the backs of their knees, then take them down with a double leg, stepping out with your leg to facilitate the takedown.

After a bit of specific sparring which mainly involved Oli going into instructor mode (always very much appreciated, as I don't know what the hell I'm doing with takedown sparring), it was time for free sparring. I got in three rolls, all relatively similar. I spent much of it trying to escape side control, where like yesterday, I wanted to go to my knees more often. Swivelling into position is much easier in no-gi, as there is far less friction, and it makes escapes generally easier.

I also spent a lot of time in half-guard with all three of my training partners, where I tried to get my body all on one side so I could go for the back. Almost got there on Zaf, but he was able to counter. When on top, I found it impossible to get past Zaf's half-guard, as I couldn't free my leg. I tried to drive my head and shoulder into his head and raise my trapped knee, but to no avail.

With Richard, I noticed that I found it equally impossible to secure any kind of grip. While my training partners were all strong enough to basically grab a wrist and drag my arm around, I'm too weedy to attempt the same. I did try overhooking arms and pulling them in, but couldn't get it tight enough, so they slipped right out.

Then there is the problem of leglocks. I'd forgotten about those, as it doesn't happen much in gi, but as usual tapped immediately. I'm not taking any risks with dangerous submissions like that, so I'd rather restart than potentially fuck up my lower body. Of course, if there is a chance I can escape, like the hold is loose and I could push on their bum, then I'll give that a go, but I'm very trigger happy on tapping to leglocks.

Some potentially awesome news for Warwick Uni students: one of the guys on Facebook is planning to ask Braulio to see if he could start a BJJ club at the University of Warwick. If you're a student at Warwick, register your interest here. I enjoy the Warwick Uni BJJ group we've been running so far, but that's very intermittent: a proper class would obviously be way better. So, hopefully Braulio is up for it, but we'll wait and see. If not, then I was planning to go back to judo for the first time in three years anyway, so that should be a big help to my grappling, particularly stand-up.


  1. As a fellow small guy (I weighed 115 pounds this morning). I agree that I feel like I have more leverage with wrist control, etc. when a gi is used.

  2. I sometimes wonder if I should try and pack on some muscle, but firstly that's not going to happen (way too lazy for weights and the like, not to mention my diet is terrible), and secondly I'd much rather have sufficient technique that strength wouldn't matter.

    But yeah, my weediness does become especially noticeable in nogi. Much prefer the more forgiving gi environment. ;)