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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

04 December 2008

04/12/2008 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #201

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Roger Gracie & Nick Gregoriades, London, UK – 04/12/2008 - Advanced

Just in time for Christmas, there's a stock clearance of old Black Eagle BJJ gis: £25 rather than £60, which is a hefty discount. As it’s a stock clearance, that means it is only the less common sizes, which at present (I'm guessing these are liable to disappear, but hopefully not before I've put this post up) means 150cm (£20: all the rest are £25), 160cm, 190cm and 200cm. So, if you're below or above average height – about 174cm for the UK, I think - you're in luck.

Speaking of money, looks like I may well have to tighten my belt after this month, as its possible the credit crunch is going to mean I'm made redundant. Had a meeting about it today, where they said how I was on the 'at risk' list, but I'm guessing its just a way of trying to soften the blow. Best case scenario is that I either keep my job or get redeployed somewhere else in the company, but it makes sense to prepare for the worst. I have a small amount of savings, which would help a little, but as BJJ is one of my big expenses, that will mean I have to quit training at RGA. Obviously I don't want to, but it would be stupid to pay £100 a month if I'm unemployed.

Anyway, I'll at least be training the rest of this month, as I've already paid. If all else fails, I'll have judo at Warwick Uni to fall back on, but there are also possibilities in Birmingham and Cov once I find a new job. Shall have to see how things go: hopefully I'll either keep my job, or be able to find a new one quickly. I'd imagine I won't stay in London if I do get laid off, which will be a wrench as I really like training at RGA, and will miss all the great training partners I've had over the past two years.

So, training was especially welcome tonight to take my mind off things. Nick took the first part of class, running us through the warm-up, then some specific sparring. First it was guard passage, where I began with Joanna, who I haven't trained with in several months. Underneath, I was trying to work my open guard, pushing her hips away with my feet while simultaneously pulling her sleeve in with arms. I felt I managed to get that importance bend at the waist better than usual, though I wasn't able to shift into the hook sweep.

I also didn't get the handstand sweep the first time round, but was able to land it the second time. The deciding factor appeared to be that it came after a series of other sweep attempts, and I'd also vaguely looked for the armbar, but wasn't anywhere near getting her into position. Varying my attacks makes sense, so I should try it more often.

On top, I wasn't really getting anywhere. I kept on trying to get the guard break from that same Saulo Ribeiro clip I mentioned yesterday, but couldn't manage to open up anybody's legs with it. I can get my knee in and leg up, but then don't seem to be able to circle round and use my back to prise their legs apart: something to work on, as the only way to get better is keep on trying it.

Roger took over to teach a guard pass, which was handy given my earlier problems. You first need to get one of their legs in between yours: as Nick mentioned during drilling (he was extremely helpful when he saw I was having problems with the technique), for guard passing you don't want either both of their legs inside or outside of yours.

In attempting to prevent a guard pass, they will probably put their knee up: otherwise you can move over that leg. This pass assumes they do so, upon which you reach around with your same side arm and grab their belt, pulling in tightly and crushing your weight down. Your other arm presses down the knee between your legs, straightening your arm and using your weight to trap it to the floor and step your knee over.

Now that you have both knees by the one leg, pressing your weight down, the main obstacle to your pass is their foot. Keeping maximum pressure with your shoulders on their knee, raise up your hips and quickly move over their foot. It is essential to keep the shoulder pressure, or they'll be able to swivel and perhaps recover their guard or escape. To finish, move round, maintaining your weight down onto them all the way, until you can slip through into side control.

Sparred from that position with Roberto, where I wasn't too successful on top, though I think I managed to squeeze past once or twice (rather sloppily, just driving forward: I tried the guard pass we'd just been shown, but I need more practice with it). Underneath I felt more comfortable, getting a few sweeps, but that was mainly because Roberto was keeping his weight relatively high and occasionally leaning to one side, so I was able to take advantage with my legs.

In free sparring I was with Roberto again, and spent lots of time in half-guard, trying to get around to the other side of his body. I got the arm-sweep once, but after working fruitlessly for the kimura from top half guard, I found myself right back underneath, unable to finish the submission. Later on I crawled round to his back after he left an opening, but there wasn't enough time to finish a choke (though I doubt I would have got it anyway, as I don't think it was tight enough).

Finished up with Joanna, after watching her spar with Maurição. He gave out a useful tip on guard passing, in relation to the ankle grab sweep. When you stand, keep your knees close their body. This is because if they then drop their hips to try for the ankle grab sweep, you'll be ready, and can squeeze their knees together with your own. That then means you can twist to the side and move around their legs, getting your guard pass underway.

As before I was trying open guard sweeps, as well as half-guard. I managed to get on top from a reversal, but as in guard passage, I couldn't get any further, unable to prise Joanna's grip apart. She eventually got to my back and started working for a choke, but I had my legs triangled around hers, which proved enough of a barrier to build my defence. Time ran out before we reached a conclusion, so I'm not sure whether she would have eventually choke me anyway, or if I was in position to spin back to top.

I'll be training again on Tuesday before my trip to Amsterdam, which is a bit less pleasant now that I can't spend as freely as I might due to the job worries. The meeting with my boss tomorrow should clarify things, so I'll know whether there's a realistic chance of keeping my job, as well as the relative size of the redundancy package if there isn't. Have to hope it will be enough to cover job hunting, which is going to be tough as I'll be looking for well-paid part-time work due to writing commitments.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about that Slidey. However, when one door closes (if it does) many more open.

    Besides BJJ will always be there:]

  2. I thought they gonna cut membership price because of credit crunch and everything))

  3. I just wanted to say that I hope things work out. Having to give up training for any period of time is not something I'd take very well, and can't imagine what you're feeling.

  4. Thanks all - hopefully I'll be able to find something else soon enough that I don't have to stop completely.

    One of the good things about writing a thesis related to cancer and AIDS is that you can generally put things in perspective: there are much worse things than losing your job. :)