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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

23 October 2008

23/10/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #188

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 23/10/2008 - Advanced

To quickly mention The Grapplers Guide again: those pricey lifetime memberships are currently 50% off, so that's $67 rather than $130 or so. Apparently the offer is only good until the 26th October, so if you've been thinking about signing up but were put off by the cost, looks like now would be a good time to snap up a membership.

I was part of a group giving a presentation at work which seemed to go down well (there were four teams set up in a friendly competition, which our group won by a hefty margin), so that put me in a good mood. Also looking forward to the salsa social tomorrow (Latin Night, which I've never been to: I don't think its been around at uni all that long, but then nights seem to constantly shift. The only one still around that I can remember from 1999 is Top Banana), though it’s a real shame my girlfriend can't make it.

Also finally had a chance to peek into the Carlos Gracie book written by Roger's mum, through Caleb's translation of an excerpt over on the Fightworks Podcast. I'm eagerly awaiting an English translation, which should serve to beef up my BJJ history post (the more reputable sources the better, as with any piece of research).

No technique today, kicking off the sparring with stand-up, where I tend to paw aimlessly at my training partner. I do at least have a few vague ideas of what to try out, like certain throws and a few takedowns Jude has shown us in the past, but its still extremely ineffectual on my part. A small improvement on doing basically nothing when it came to stand-up, though.

After switching partners to a white belt named Adrian (who I still couldn't do anything with when it came to stand-up), Jude moved us on to guard passage. I had more success than normal here, perhaps because its been a while since I rolled with someone of comparable size but less experience. I managed to get to half guard a couple of times, and used the pass Roger showed us earlier this month, where you basically swing your free leg over and sit next to them. I'll need to review what I wrote there, as I was pretty sloppy, missing details on head control and the like. It worked, but I think I was leaving myself open to getting reversed.

In back mount, I had an idea of what to do due to the numerous lessons we've had on the position recently, but couldn't get my hands in place to get a choke set up. Went for the judo turnover again, which just about worked, but I need to really think about hand placement for chokes, and also keeping my weight down properly.

Underneath I felt a lot more comfortable, generally trapping a leg then trying to twist into top half guard. I was also looking to wrap up an arm and roll them over to move into side control or scarf hold, but didn't quite manage the leverage. I sort of got there once, but that was more about scrambling and luck than any kind of conscious technical progression.

Free sparring was fairly relaxed again, as both my partners were injured. Alex, a very good brown belt, messed up his shoulder and upper arm a while ago, so had one hand tucked into his belt. I was careful to avoid putting any pressure on his shoulder, though he still was able to dance around my open guard. I think I surprised him when I used the Tran side control escape (wait for them to try to mount, then bridge into them and roll into their guard), but again, he had one hand tucked into his belt and was going light. Even so, nice to continue landing that escape.

Helen's nose was sore from yesterday, so again I was trying not to do anything that would jar her face, most of the spar staying in open guard. I was aiming to get De La Riva, and possibly go for one of the four open guard sweeps I've been looking at recently (hook, sickle, star and handstand), but still need to work on my positioning in order to set them up.

While watching me squirm under her knee-on-belly, Helen had some very useful advice about escaping knee on belly. Rather than straining to you’re your partner off you, remember the principle of moving yourself rather you’re your opponent. In this instance, place your hand on their knee to block it, ideally getting their foot onto the floor, then shrimp away.

Another thing Helen mentioned was something her instructor had been told by his instructor, apparently, which was to be like a tube of toothpaste. I.e., squeeze out of the sides, which makes for a helpful analogy.

Hopefully will be popping down to judo on Sunday, but may go for a meal with my gf instead. My evenings have become rather full since term started: I would normally then train judo on Monday, but I have a poetry reading to attend (Mark Doty, whose work is potentially relevant to my writing).


  1. quick question about the grapplers guide. Have you signed up for it, and have you heard any good stuff from it?

  2. Armbar from the back and Giftwrap sweep from guard.
    You should be using them both.
    Nice thing about that armbar is that you only need one hook in, attack the arm on the same side as your hook. Once you get some grip on the arm put your other shin on the back of your opponents neck and roll them over to finish.
    Combo that with fighting for the chokes and the second hook.

    The gift wrap sweep will put you in mount on all kinds of people if you can trap them in guard and break them down for a second. Just shrimp out a little to one side and reach over the back of their neck and fish for the wrist of the same side arm you are using. (If you are reaching with your right arm you'll be grabbing their left wrist, which is on your right side if that makes sense) then just spin perpendicular to them with your head on the opposite side from the trapped arm and push with your leg, pull with your arm. Easy as can be.
    Combo it with armbar and triangle attempts as well as your basic situp sweep for extra fun.

  3. Yes, I've been signed up on there for a while now (though admittedly I didn't have to pay that fee). I've written a review of the site here, if you want some in-depth thoughts on what you get for the price (there's a drop down index of all my reviews in the top left of the blog).

    In short, I'd say if you have the money and time, its well worth it: stuffed with useful resources, most significantly an ever-expanding library of technique videos. If you compare the cost with a similarly priced instructional DVD set, then The Grapplers Guide gives you much more for your money.