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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

26 November 2008

26/11/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #196

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Nick Gregoriades, London, UK – 26/11/2008 - Advanced

No judo this week, as I wanted to save myself for the extra BJJ training I was planning to get in, with four sessions rather than my normal two. I also didn't get to salsa, which wasn't intentional: something more important came up. Still, should be able to make it to the final class next week, where I might check if there is anywhere friendly I can go continue learning salsa in the university holidays.

The Fightworks Podcast is running its third BJJ Blog of the Year contest, with some pretty decent prizes. I can vouch for the Padilla & Sons gi, as I've been very happy with mine, and The Gracie Way is also an enjoyable read, if heavily biased: my review up here. I've heard lots of good things about the Renzo documentary too: should be able to review that in the not-too-distant future, as I pre-ordered it, so waiting for it to drop through my letterbox.

I would expect Aesopian to win again this year, though Val Worthington's blog looked competitive for much of the poll. I'm not sure where I'll vote this year: I went for Christina's blog last time, so may well vote for her again, though The Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood is also deserving. Both of those are not only interesting to read, but they give helpful advice too, as well as being well-written.

I've also enjoyed Georgette's blog, BJJ Grrl and Chasing the Blue, with the recently launched Blogoplata like a great one for the future. Lots of other deserving blogs too, like Steve, Jadon, BJJ-Asia…I could go on. Voting hasn't started yet, though for some reason lots of readers from one particular blog stuffing the Fightworks page full of comments. Laudable enthusiasm, but a bit pointless as its only nominating at the moment: only need to post the link up once. ;)

Class tonight was based around mount, in particular the armbar from mount. Generally they're going to have their arms and hands tight, elbows down, so you first task is to make some space. There are various ways of doing that – Nick quickly ran through three – but the one that looked most useful to me was to wrap around their head and elbow, then twist, immediately shoving your knee into the gap that created. You then need to get up as high as you can: squeeze your feet and knees tight into their sides, then post on your hands and slide up (as Oli noted, I was tending to waddle my way up instead, which is not only lacking in grace, but leaves way too much space and time for your partner).

Once you've secured that high position, you need to get a good angle. Bring your knee close to their head (which knee depends on which arm they have on top: you want your knee on the same side), turning your body to face across their body. To be certain of a solid base, you then want to get your other foot to their head, although the important detail there is not the foot, but getting your thigh underneath their shoulder: that position is called 's-mount', I think. This should further 'tighten the screw', to use Nick's preferred metaphor.

Now you need to get their arm free. Hook underneath their wrist (not the crook of their elbow, as that simply makes things harder for you) then yank it free. Straight away, bring the arm really tight to your body. The next part is a variation on the usual technique, which Nick told us he's found has greatly aided him in finishing the submission: rather than bringing your foot over their head, slide your knee across their face instead. This has the major advantage of not raising your hips off them, which therefore keeps gravity on your side and gives them no space.

To finish, you don't even need to drop back, but can raise the arm from your seated position to get the armbar. You can fall back if you want in the orthodox manner, but Nick's version means that if you mess up, you're in a far less vulnerable position. If you fall back and don't get the arm, they're likely to spin through to your guard. If you don't fall back and stay upright, as per Nick's suggestion, you should be able to go back to mount and try something else.

Specific sparring from mount with Helen went predictably badly on top, where I couldn't keep my position very well, and even if I could, I wasn't able to do anything but maintain. Roger's advice about using your head as an extra hand is useful, so I've been trying to develop that: not quite there yet, but it is definitely helping. Nevertheless, I kept finding that Helen was able to get her knees through and push me back into her guard. To stop that, she advised that I should just step over her leg and twist to the side, aiming for an s-mount position.

Nick then lined us up against the wall and matched us up. Fortunately for my wimpy nature, I had a chance to rest, as I was in a three and it was winner stays on, sparring from mount again. When I did get into the fray, I wasn't able to stay on top for very long, though I did at least move into a vague triangle position from mount. However, it was way too loose, so my partner Roberto had little trouble spinning to guard. I doubt I would have been able to triangle from there, or switch to something else, but I it's still better than being swept to guard with nothing (though finishing from mount would obviously be preferable).

Underneath, I was far more comfortable, working for half-guard. My partner this time, whose name I didn't catch, was doggedly blocking my attempting to shrimp around the leg I'd triangled, but I eventually managed to push them off mount with my other knee. Sloppy on my part and rather spur-of-the-moment, so it wouldn't normally succeed, but perhaps something to keep in mind. Either way, a good lesson that I should be using all my limbs if possible.

I was even lazier than usual when it came to free sparring, only sparring once, with Tran. As always I soon found myself defending chokes from mount. I'm happy enough in that position, but need to work on protecting my neck properly if they are then able to take my back. I tried to roll Tran, and then get my back flat to the floor when he was trying to choke, but messed up, as he then switched to get a knee into my back and choke from there. Admittedly wearing a judo gi doesn't help when getting collar choked, as there is rather more cloth to get strangled with, but on the other hand, that's probably helpful in improving my defence: less room for error on my part.

As I was saying to Owen after class, I need to establish a new group of sparring partners. I've always been paranoid about injury, so tend to limit my rolling to people I feel I can trust. However, many of my favourite partners are no longer regular – Christina, Joanna, Indra, Tanvir and Herman all haven't been on the mats much in recent months (or at least not at the same time as me), which means I have to be less picky, until I can re-establish some trusted partners. My bare minimum of rolls should be two, and even that is rather low: three would be better.

I should be training four times this week, so that also meant I wasn't too bothered about the amount of sparring, but shall have to make certain of at least that meagre two tomorrow, preferably three.


  1. Slidey,

    Just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for adding me to your reader! I've listed you on my Blogroll. Keep up the good stuff.


  2. No probs, Jay: one of the nicest side-effects of the annual Best Blog contest is that it often serves to publicise decent new ones I haven't seen before. Keep up the good work! :D

  3. maybe not that great! i have been posting at a furious pace because when i started the blog i had a couple very long articles i'd worked on for a while and i've been breaking them into pieces and editing. after the next few articles will probably slow down to a pace more reasonable.

    thanks for the nice comments, though! fwiw, if it was up to me i'd probably vote for yours this year, but i'm a sucker for lots of updates and good writing.