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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

15 October 2008

15/10/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #185

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK – 15/10/2008 - Advanced

I've stepped up my physical activity now that term has got underway, which should eventually result in judo and BJJ twice a week each along with a session of salsa dancing (I had my first ever salsa lesson yesterday). So far I've only made judo on Mondays (this week and the one before), but as my gf is away this weekend, I should definitely make it to the Sunday judo lesson too.

On the same day, there should also be another Warwick Uni BJJ meeting: the activities room is booked from 16:00-17:00 for this Sunday, if you're interested in popping along. Might also get to go from 17:00-18:00, but that depends on if judo is running the women's only class this year (I hope they are, as that would be useful for getting my gf more involved). Josh, a first year at Warwick who trains his BJJ with Nick Brooks in Mill Hill, has been inquiring about getting Braulio Estima over to teach, and apparently Braulio is interested in doing so. That would be awesome, so head over to the Facebook group and let Josh know if you would attend that class (to get an idea of numbers). I'm not sure how feasible a proper Warwick University BJJ sports club is, but it would be cool if it happens. The more support, the more likely, so if you'd like to see it, tell Josh! ;)

Getting back to RGA tonight, Roger went through lots and lots of stand-up. I've said before that he's keen on incorporating judo, and that was especially clear today. We went up and down the room multiple times throwing, then did takedown sparring, with one person attacking while the other defends. Even in free sparring, we unusually started from standing at several points (though in my case that just meant either I or my partner pulled guard).

The technique was about how to finish a guard pass once you have your knee up and onto them. Roger particularly stressed the central principle of putting your weight on your partner rather than on the floor. So, rather than having your foot on the mat, lift it up so that you're driving your weight through your knee and into their stomach. The same thing applies as you're passing: don't just bring your knee straight to the floor, but slide it back along their leg, pressing your hip into them all the way through.

To go through the technique itself: you have your knee on their stomach, between their legs. Grip their collar with your same side hand, grabbing their other sleeve with your other hand. Your free foot is based out to the side, knee up – again, the idea is to get as much of your weight pressed into them as possible.

Pull up on their sleeve, push down on their collar and slide your knee along their leg, leaning back slightly to avoid being swept (but not too much, or you'll overbalance). Also make sure to use the elbow of your arm holding the collar to block their knee: they will try to bring their knee on top of yours if you leave any space, which will mess up your pass. Keep sliding your knee back along their leg and pressing your hip down, until eventually you can slip through and into side control.

We did some specific sparring from that position with your knee through, followed up by sparring from mount. I didn't really get anywhere either time, although I was with a recently promoted purple belt, Ludmil, so that's unsurprising. I did manage to grab the leg for a sweep from the knee through position, but I'm pretty sure he let me have it.

On top of mount, I was getting absolutely nowhere. Each time I tried to shift my knees up, and each time Ludmil just watched me inch up, then slipped out the back: I couldn't seem to do anything about it. Still much happier in side control or scarf hold than mount, although my top game in general remains poor.

My first free spar was with Tran, where I tried to put Roger's advice on keeping your weight on your opponent to use. However, there was another tip I needed to put into practice, which was provided by Tran: get your base, then if you can't pass, analyse why. The reason I was stuck was because while I had a grip on both Tran's collars, he also had a grip on both my sleeves, as well as getting his legs into position. Either way I was liable to get swept, so afterwards Tran suggested that I should have stripped one of his grips, then worked from there: with both sides locked up, I couldn't do anything.

Next I got a chance to go with Anne, which was cool, as I thought she was still in Brighton. I haven't seen her since SENI, so its great to have her back at RGA…but she is about to move even further away, to Tokyo. Getting to be a very well-travelled Frenchwoman! ;)

We started from standing, but Anne soon pulled guard. I managed to get through to half-guard top then tried to take her back, but made the mistake of leaving my foot dangling. I wasn't intending to go for a body triangle, instead aiming for the 'stamp and clamp' armbar from the back Nick G showed us a while ago. However, I ended up in a sloppy body triangle with aforementioned vulnerable foot, so Anne simply trapped it and subbed me by squeezing: yet another reminder to be extra careful of that trailing foot.

I later managed to pass half-guard again, this time moving into mount. The same situation I had with Ludmil happened, where I was just crawling up higher in mount without getting anything, but this time I thought I saw an opening for a mounted triangle. I got one leg under Anne's head, and was working towards locking it over my other leg when she tapped. I hadn't got anywhere near a mounted triangle, but Anne's wrist had been in an awkward position, so an entirely unintentional end to that part of that spar.

My next spar was with Indra, where as ever with Indra, I couldn't fully pass her guard. Each time I thought I was passed, she got to her side and escape: I find it almost impossible to flatten her out. I tried a few open guard sweeps, but was reminded of an important lesson: keep both yourself and your partner safe when sparring. I was going for some silly sweep or other without being entirely sure of what I was doing, and didn't notice Indra's neck was in a vulnerable position.

Fortunately she stopped me before I did any harm, but it was worryingly close. Being a good training partner is a high priority for me, so I really, really hate even almost hurting my rolling partners: must be more careful next time. Indra seemed fine, but I (and more importantly, my training partner) may not be so fortunate next time. I need to be more aware of their position as well as my own when executing any kind of technique, especially if I'm not totally clear of where they're going to end up.

Should be training again tomorrow, then I've got judo and Warwick Uni BJJ drilling to look forward to this Sunday, which should be cool. My new landlord is also supposed to be coming round at some point on the weekend, so hopefully that will be on Saturday: as long as they ring me first, should be fine, as its walking distance from the university.

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