Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Nick Gregoriades, London, UK – 29/11/2008 - Advanced
I'd resigned myself to missing class today, as I didn't get the train I wanted from Amersham and had therefore assumed I wouldn't make it. However, the next train was earlier than I thought, so I managed to get down to the Academy with twenty minutes to spare (my habit of leaving lots of time for getting anywhere comes in really handy sometimes).
The Saturday class was fairly busy, with a bunch of my favourite sparring partners in attendance, so that was cool. Several people I haven't seen in a little while too, like Paxton and Bruno, who are both good to train with. There was no technique today, as on Saturdays it is all rolling after the warm-up. I started with Paxton, where I soon found myself in half-guard looking to either go for the sweep where you grab their opposite arm and roll them over their trapped leg, or full guard.
My problem was that I tended to be on the wrong side for that to work effectively, so spent most of my time trying to manoeuvre my upper body to the other side of their torso. I'm also still being too flat under side control: need to work harder on raising up a shoulder to prevent them crushing me down too easily. It might also be beneficial to put more pressure on their neck with my forearm, but I'm not overly fond of that kind of thing: seems 'dirty'.
Next up was Zahir, one of the white belts, though he's been here for a while now (I can remember rolling with him almost two years ago). As ever I was looking to escape from side control, got to half-guard, whereupon Zahir looked for a kimura. I didn't have much trouble keeping my arm straight and eventually reversing to get on top, but I definitely need to be careful of leaving my arm vulnerable: plenty of other people who could have capitalised on that quickly. I didn't have much time to do anything in top half guard, though I had a brief search for my own kimura. No luck there, as his arm was in a secure defensive position.
With Bruno, I'm always guaranteed a very relaxed sparring partner, though as a brown belt he doesn't need to expend much energy when rolling with a low blue belt like me. Again I was working in half-guard a lot, also trying to wriggle free from both side control and knee-on-belly. I kept in mind that I shouldn't turtle if at all possible, so successfully avoided giving up my back too easily.
Finally (the class on Saturday is only an hour long, like the class yesterday), I had a roll with Helen, with my own internal rule that I wasn't allowed to go for half-guard from open-guard, which is what happens frequently when we spar. That meant I instead found I was using my knees a lot more to push her away, aiming to wedge them into her hips, as well as spinning about trying to push on her hips. The rule didn't last once we got out of open guard, as I inevitably found myself in half-guard yet again. Next time, need to be better about my rule, or at least work harder for full guard. ;)
Of course, that's not to say that it is easy to get half-guard on Helen, as she's a purple belt, but she is a good ten kilograms lighter than me. I am normally under side control, knee-on-belly or half guard with her, interspersed by brief periods of open guard followed by half guard. This time, I was a lot more varied with my open guard, so avoiding the half-guard appeared to be a useful exercise.
Straight up to Leamington after that: I had wanted to go and have a drink with the ZSK guys, as there's a grading in St John's Wood, but the trains are messed up. Looking at the route, it would involve lots of buses, so that would mean I'd spent a while wandering around lost trying to work out where the hell I should be going. Didn't really have the time before my train to Leam, so had to pass. Will have to see if I can make it to the ZSK social tomorrow, but my girlfriend wants to go to a ceilidh at the same time.