Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie, London, UK – 28/11/2008 - No-Gi
I haven't been along to a nogi class in a while, and it proved to be an education. In terms of technique, as is often the case in nogi, it was all takedowns. The high crotch starts by grabbing their same side arm, then drop your leading knee between their legs, hooking your opposite arm around their knee. Your head should be on the outside and raise up, while you drive forward with your read leg.
You then step around to the outside with your rear leg, grabbing their leg with both your hands, then stand up, raising their leg between yours as you do so. From there, you can drive for the takedown, but we just did the set-up. Alternatively, you can shift to the double-leg once you've dropped and got an arm round their leg. Simply switch that hand to their other leg, bringing your free same side hand around the knee you just released, then drive forward with your legs and sideways with your head to bring them down.
The rest of the class was all sparring, and this is where I found myself in some interesting situations. That's because it wasn't the usual specific sparring from a particular position, but instead specific sparring with a particular submission. Things started with only guillotines and leglocks allowed, which sounded painful: as I've mentioned before, leglocks scare me, but for that reason I'd like to get as familiar as possible with the defence. Liam proceeded to guillotine and leglock me repeatedly, though I managed to prevent the leglocks later on by triangling my legs.
Roger was about to limit us to just guillotines next, but fortunately broadened it out a little to chokes with the arms. Not that I was much better off, as I could only think of two chokes I might have any chance of applying in nogi, which were the aforementioned guillotine and an arm triangle. My attempts at the guillotine were terrible, but I did manage to work my way into a vague arm triangle position on Roberto.
Unfortunately I don't think I was on the right side of his arm (assuming that matters? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing its better to be by their shoulder than by their hand), and I couldn't get his arm pressed into his neck anyway. I tried locking the choke, realised it clearly wasn't tight enough, then attempted to nudge his arm properly onto his neck with my shoulder, which didn't get anywhere.
Next spar sounded nightmarish, as it was specific leglock sparring. I have never attempted a leglock ever, and barely know the defences, but fortunately I was with Nick Brooks, who teaches at RGA Mill Hill. As he is an experienced brown belt, I knew I could rely on his control. Of course, that also meant I was getting footlocked and leglocked over and over again. My tendency to fall back into guard or go to half-guard was a real liability, and triangling my legs to stop kneebars didn't help: he simply footlocked me instead.
It definitely makes you approach sparring differently when you know leglocks are very much in the picture, although in my case that basically means even more cautious than usual (not that caution proved of any benefit, except perhaps that I could tap quicker ;p). I'm also turtling up too readily (in general, not just nogi), which is handy for practicing choke defence, but a bad habit I need to get rid of. As I'm small and people often go easy on me, I also get a false sense of security, so that means I need to be even more careful of giving up my back too quickly.
It turned out there was only time for one round of free sparring, which naturally I sat out, having assumed there would be the usual five or six. However, the Friday nogi is only an hour, so that cuts down on sparring time. Saturday is the same, though that will provide me with the comfort of a gi: if we do choke specific sparring again, then I should be able to remember more than two options (I guess there is the anaconda too, but no way I'd remember all the steps).