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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

08 October 2008

08/10/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #183

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK – 08/10/2008 - Advanced

Its nice to finally escape packing, lifting, unpacking and cleaning, getting back to training instead. Judo was a good start, but unless something drastic changes, groundwork will always be where I'm most happy. So, great to be back in a BJJ class after the dull monotony of house moving.

Tonight's session was huge, the most people I've seen on the mat in a long time. It’s a testament to just how big those mats are that everybody had just about enough room to work, though we were definitely knocking into each other more often than normal. Was also cool to have Roger taking class again, chatting amiably before the lesson to his students.

As Roger has been focusing a lot on judo for a while now, with the help of Ray Stevens, he often incorporates a greater degree of throws than some of the other instructors. That was fitting, given that I've got back to judo myself this week: Roger even covered the same throws I'd gone through on Monday. He also showed some nifty looking trips, which are all about timing.

For the first one, you catch their leg mid-step, before they can put the foot down, dragging it out. That wrecks their balance, meaning you can then use your grips on their sleeve and collar to take them down. The other trip was similar, except this time, you grabbed their same side leg before they put their foot down, lifting it up and pushing on their shoulder, again aiming to knock them down.

Christina's arm is still a bit dodgy, as she had that nasty injury a little while back, so she was taking it fairly easy. Gave me a chance to have a go at the push sweep, though I didn't get it, and also continue attempting Nick G's two-on-one grip to go for sweeps. On top, I was trying to stand up and drive my hips forward, which I think is progressing, as I stood up most of the time rather than just sitting in my usual defensive posture during guard passage.

Techniques were all related to half-guard, with Roger demonstrated two half guard passes. The starting position was that you're standing, while they have sat up and wrapped around one leg: however, same principle applies if you're on top of them in half guard. Grip their knee and also the back of their gi, pushing down on both. Next, swing your free leg over and drop down beside them, shifting your grip from the back of their gi to their shoulder, driving your own shoulder firmly underneath their chin and into their neck.

This will stop them moving their head: without that head control, they could simply bridge into you and roll into top half guard. Once you've established that position, you can shuffle your hips back, then kick out their bottom leg, freeing your own limb in order to move into side control.

The next technique confused me a bit, but then as its only legal for brown belts and up anyway, not too much of a concern for me at this point. If they manage to get their head through so you can't secure the above controlling method, you can instead push yourself up on your hand and sit on their chest, facing their knees. If they have their legs loosely locked, you can hook the top leg and drop back for a knee bar. If their legs are tightly triangled, you can still drop back, but this time go for a figure four footlock. Something I'll have to review once I get to brown, which is a very long way off! ;)

I kicked off free sparring with Christina, where again I tried to use Nick G's open guard sweeps, but ended up in side control attempting to escape. I'm still not being pro-active enough under side control, so must concentrate on bridging forcefully, shrimping immediately afterwards, as well as trying to go to my knees. I have a tendency to just sit there and wait, which isn't going to help me improve technique.

Followed that up with Helen, where I was generally swivelling into half-guard as much as possible. I used Indrek Reiland's 'paw' concept to try and control her arms, but couldn't manoeuvre into the arm sweep I was looking for. I think I need to redouble my efforts to use half guard as a method of recovering full guard: that's discussed in Strategic Guard, which should be easier to look over now I finally have access to a scanner.

Session finished off with another free spar with Christina, after which there were some big promotions. First, Tran finally got his purple belt, to much cheering and whooping, followed by Bruno getting his brown, to an equally raucous reception. RGA is absolutely stuffed with senior belts now, so the future looks bright. There are already a bunch of affiliates, so I would expect many more as those purples and browns either start opening up their satellite academies straightaway, or wait until the black belt.

My back has been sore this week, which I assume is due to all the lifting during the move along with cleaning, and possibly that new bag I bought. Its a decent backpack, but the waist strap appears to be meant for fatter people, so I'll have to sew it up to make it cinch properly. Could also be that the judo didn't help, but either way, I'll be trying to avoid any further strain. Hoping to get in two sessions of judo on top of the two BJJ classes next week (along with a bit of salsa dancing, which should be fun), so may take my body a little while to settle into the new schedule.


  1. do you only spar with ladies?

  2. I prefer to. Partly that's because I'm small and women tend to be closest to my size, but I also find (at least in my experience so far) that women are generally more mature, considerate and helpful training partners than men.

    Hence why you'll see Christina pop up regularly in this blog: she's my most regular training partner by far, and has massively helped my BJJ.

    There are a few guys I also spar with regularly (Tanvir, Herman, Tran etc - like Christina, Tran's advice has also directly helped me improve), but I'm picky: if I think anyone is an injury risk (i.e., lacks control), I'll avoid them. BJJ is too much fun (not to mention expensive) for some meathead to cause me to miss class.