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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

16 October 2008

16/10/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #186

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 16/10/2008 - Advanced

Work has now apparently blocked a whole load of things that is going to make it slightly more annoying to update, like Google Docs (where I host my spreadsheet). Grr. Still, just means I need to remind myself when I get back home rather than doing it in my lunch break. Far more aggravating is that Google Reader doesn't appear to function at work now, which means I miss out on reading through all those great blogs when eating soup. Blogger has issues too, meaning I can't play with comments and the like. Hopefully its just a temporary thing. :(

I had an interesting chat with Dean before the lesson, who seems to have thought really carefully about BJJ on a theoretical level. He was warming up with some solo drills to improve hip movement, and when I asked what he was doing, discussed how it was something he'd done at the Rickson class in Kent. The idea was to try and replicate the kind of positions and motions you encounter in BJJ: shifting your hips forward and side to side (escaping side control, sweeping etc), shimmying backwards on your shoulders (as if you're being stacked) and the like.

He showed me the application, and like Tran yesterday, emphasised understanding the situation and moving with what your partner gives you: e.g., they're in your open guard, you grab their elbows, pull them forward and roll to sweep (not quite sure exactly what he did, but looked effective). That conceptual focus makes me want to take a good look at the various drill videos on The Grapplers Guide, so I can try them out on Sunday.

Class today was based around the clock choke. First, Jude showed us the straightforward clock choke from the back, where your partner has turtled up. Reach under their same side armpit with your far arm and open up their same side collar. Feed that to your other hand, after you've reached over their other arm to get it into position. With your far side arm, switch to either their same side wrist, or the opposite collar.

Keeping your weight down, walk your legs around to their far side, also posting your head on the floor and pull on their collar. Eventually this should result in a choke. Alternately, you could also switch your hips and walk through that way, if you don't want to use your head (Alex, one of the brown belts, prefers this method, apparently).

A variation on the clock choke crops up if they try to defend by turning their head into you and moving to their side. Having secured your grips, step over to their far side, then complete their turn and roll them over. However, you don't want to stay underneath them, but instead come up on their other side, using the foot you rolled them with to establish a hook on their body. Shift back, so that you can sit up and grab their leg with your free arm. Finally, get your free knee out and up, so that you can press it behind their head. To get the choke, pull on their collar and trouser leg, simultaneously pushing with your knee.

Jude followed that up with a defence against the clock choke, but I didn't actually get a chance to drill it, because we ran over on the previous technique (think we must have forgotten to switch or something). However, IIRC from observation, you turn your head, trap their leg into half-guard, then grab their other leg with your arm to roll them over and end up on top. Very possible I've got that either mixed up or missed out lots of important details, but I think that was the gist of it.

Sparring from that position, I found that when I was going for the choke, I kept on coming up on the wrong side, so couldn't get my knee to their head or grab their leg. Underneath, I was just about able to escape by snatching half-guard, although I had to scramble to chase after my partner's legs as they walked round for the clock choke.

With Tran, I couldn't do anything at all when attacking, but defending felt much as usual, as I always end up either under mount or back mount when sparring Tran anyway. I noticed after that spar the strain defending back mount puts on my knees, which I presume means I'm using my knees too much, rather than concentrating on good hip movement. Always worrying when the knees get a bit battered, as I'm told injuries to the kneecap take ages to heal, and may not recover fully.

My first free spar, with Yas, proved similar, as I again found myself defending for much of it. Like with Tran, I worked on getting my hands into her arm to prevent a choke, then gradually turning after establishing some kind of half-guard to return ideally to either guard, or at least under mount. I found it difficult to get any kind of open guard when she stood up and moved round: I've got about four sweeps I want to work on from open guard, but those may have to wait until Sunday to get some proper drilling in.

Next I rolled with Helen, where I was underneath half guard for much of it, along with knee-on-belly. I struggle to escape the latter position, normally aiming to shrimp and try to trap a leg, but its rarely effective: escapes tend to occur when the person on top tries something and leaves enough space. Helen's tips for escaping knee-on-belly were basically to get on your side. She also described some kind of sweep, where you reach up around their knee and grab behind them, holding onto their belt, using that for leverage.

I finished off by going with Tran a second time: although it was a free spar rather than specific now, same thing happened, as I defended under back mount. I eventually managed to roll to under mount, and at one point got the Tran side control escape on the man who'd shown it to me originally, which made him smile (although he reversed me back under his mount almost immediately). I'm tending to defend chokes by getting my knuckles in the way and pushing back: still not entirely sure about the viability of that defence, as it seems a bit cheap and sloppy.

Looking forward to Sunday drilling, so hopefully the landlord is going to contact me at some point. I've had a couple of missed calls from a private number (which frustratingly means I can't call it back), each time when I've either been in the Tube or training. If I don't hear from them on Friday, I'll try ringing on Saturday to make sure they know when I'm in (as they only live a short distance away). Definitely don't want to miss out on my Sunday drilling!

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