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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

03 December 2008

03/12/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #200

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Nick Gregoriades, London, UK – 03/12/2008 - Advanced

I'm probably not going to get all that much BJJ in over December, as I'm off to Amsterdam next week (I had wanted to go a bit later, to coincide with a trip Christina said she was planning with a bunch of other people, but unfortunately next week is the only time both my gf and I can make), and my usual training days of Wednesday and Thursday are also where Christmas falls this year. Depends when the Academy is open too, but I'm guessing I'll make seven classes at most this month. We'll see: hopefully I'll make more, but that's already a best case scenario. Then again, December is always a lean month, like February, so can't be helped.

Class tonight kicked off with some side control sparring. I was able to stay on top of Indra, but found it difficult to deal with her arms pushing me away. My solution was to try and shift through to north-south, but I'm not sure how securely I was holding her. I also wasn't doing anything except maintaining my position, rather than moving through for a submission, or transitioning to mount. Being able to stay in control isn't a bad thing, but I need to be more pro-active, as it isn't enough: if I'm not able to submit or move to a more dominant position, then I'm simply delaying their escape and forcing a stalemate, rather than doing anything useful.

Underneath, I worked my way to half-guard, then eventually managed to recover full guard. Indra had my arm trapped, which meant I couldn't shift through to the other side properly, but once I got that arm free I was able to wriggle my legs into position. I'm still staying too flat under side control: I want to improve my bridge, such as with a tip I heard earlier about pushing at an angle rather than just straight up.

Nick's technique was based around your opponent trying to escape to their knees from under side control. He first showed two basic ways to recounter a side control escape: either get their shoulders flat to the mat, or cup the elbow on which they're posting and pull back with both hands. If they do manage to get to your knee, immediately sprawl the other leg back to make sure they can't grab it.

You are now in position to make a submission attempt, the clock choke. Sprawling with your legs, put your hips directly onto the back of their neck, and sink your weight down as much as possible, making it difficult for them to raise their head. Next, bring your arm over their back and grip their collar, opening it up. Be careful when you bring your arm through that you don't go too far underneath them: there is a risk that they could trap your elbow and try to roll you.

Once you've opened up the collar, you can feed it to your other hand, which you bring around their neck. Your grip shouldn't be too deep on the collar, as you want to bring that collar across their neck, using it as a blade to dig into their neck. Your other hand grabs their wrist, threading it around their arm.

Here is where the clock analogy comes in: your legs will form the hands, while their turtled body is the clock face. Step over with your top leg, slip your other leg underneath, then step over again, repeating the process until you get the tap. The choke is created by the weight of your body pressing their neck into that stretch of fabric you've brought across their throat. While you need to keep that taut, as with so many situations in BJJ, it is your body weight which effects the submission, not the strength of your arm pulling up on their collar.

An alternative is to transition, using a kimura grip on their arm. You're in the same sprawled position as before, but this time thread your arm around their to grab their wrist, then bring your other arm over their face and grab your own wrist. Pull up and trap their shoulder against your chest as tightly as possible, then fall back, rolling them towards you at the same time.

To complete the transition, shrimp away, switch your hips by sliding one leg under the other, then move your knee onto their stomach. From here, you have numerous options, such as going for an armbar, stepping over their head to go for a kimura, or possibly move through to mount, depending on their defence. I personally found the switch to getting a knee onto the stomach difficult: it felt as if I had to struggle to get onto my knee, leaving way too much space in the process. Clearly I have work to do on improving my balance, shrimping and shifting my hips.

Nick demonstrated once again that he is a forward thinking instructor, stopping the class to show a different grip one of the purple belts tried immediately after drilling that technique. Instead of going over their face, you can also go under their neck and grab your own wrist.

For free sparring my first partner was an experienced purple belt called Paul, though he clearly was going easy. At one point he was in my guard and not really resisting, so I had a vague attempt at a loop choke, but it felt a bit stupid to aggressively try and shove it on: after all, he was letting me have it. Next time I'm in that situation, I need to remember to try and do the submission as technically as I can, then see how they manage to block it, rather than just flail about in confusion, as I seem to do at the moment.

My second and last roll was with Tran, who squished me under his knee-on-belly. He had me that choke where you move around and submit them by twist the collars in the process (so sort of like the clock choke, though I'm assuming its got a different name). I was being too complacent in my defence, because I had an arm in between his, but I should have been thinking more about tucking my chin.

I also made a sloppy attempt at emulating something I'd seen on a clip of Saulo Ribeiro's highly regarded Jiu Jitsu Revolution, where you trap one leg from a kneeling position, but clearly need to watch it again. I merely ended up giving Tran a sweep repeatedly: I have to keep my weight on him and apply pressure. Still, clip looked useful (when its done right, which I very obviously wasn't), as I really struggle with my guard passing, so am keen to develop basics from that situation.

There were a lot of world-class black belts in the room, with one corner of the mats occupied by Braulio, Lagarto and Roger sparring each other. On top of that, Maurição is back in the country: I think he's only just arrived, as there were a load of suitcases in the entrance hall. Hopefully I'll get the chance to be taught by him again before he heads back to Brazil, as his classes are always interesting, due to his vast experience.

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