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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

12 January 2009

12/01/2009 - BJJ (Intermediate)

Class #209

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Maurição Gomes, London, UK - 12/01/2009 - Intermediate

Tonight was concentrated on guard passing, which continues to be my worst area. Maurição stuck with the basics, beginning with a straightforward standing guard pass. Post your hands on their chest, spring up to your feet, also grabbing one of their sleeves. Push their knee on the other side off your hip, bouncing to help dislodge their hold.

Once that limb is loose, immediately clamp their knee to the floor, bringing your own knee over the top to pin their leg. Swing your other leg behind you, then put your nearest hand by their hip, in order to block them. Shift your first leg under the other, staying sprawled out: don’t bring your knees up to their side yet, as that gives them a window of opportunity to get their knee through and escape.

If they put up resistance when you try the leg pin pass - e.g., block your knee, shrimp onto their side etc – then you can switch to a different guard pass. Get your same side arm under their leg, grabbing their opposite collar (palm down, so your fingers are on top). From this position, you can either move around past that trapped leg, shifting your hips and keeping the pressure on to slip through, or try moving round the other side.

Specific sparring with Justin was rather one-sided, as he had no problems at all either passing my guard or sweeping me. I attempted the hook sweep as usual, though need to be careful I’m not too exuberant when disengaging closed guard: I ended up flinging myself right off and Justin simply used gravity to go straight to side control.

I tried my favoured (but almost always ineffectual) kneeling guard break, but wasn’t able to open up Justin’s guard. Nick G stepped in at this point, noting that its difficult to keep control of their hips with that technique, especially if they have a size advantage. He suggested I should instead be trying to stand more often, and also briefly demonstrated another kneeling option. Your posture stays low, grabbing the gi material on their sides, after which you gradually work your knee through: Nick noted that you have to be very wary of chokes when doing that.

Next up was side control, this time with Liam. Again, on top I was being flung off or reversed with ease: I kept overbalancing, and I’m still not mobile enough in transitioning. I had a go at the knee-on-chest Maurição showed us last week, but not getting that knee in right yet. I’ll keep practicing, as I’m keen to establish an option that doesn’t require you to get their elbow clear first, along with the typical pass which does.

Underneath I was more comfortable, shifting around and following Liam to prevent the pass, but nothing more than that. I was simply holding him off rather than getting near to escaping. That continued into free sparring, which unfortunately today was a continuous line-up rather than picking our own partners. I spent almost the whole of that thirty minutes in half-guard, which was ok if my partner wasn’t too big, but I got smashed when trying that against the beefy Polish guys.

In the midst of that smashing, the second of the Poles was looking for a guillotining, but ended up face cranking me instead. I didn’t want to tap to that, as its not going to help him against anyone his size or bigger so bad habit to get into, but on the other hand, I probably should have just saved myself some pain and restarted. Eventually slipped out, but my face and neck were a little sore at the end of class.

Most useful tip was when I went with Nick. He disdainfully looked at my “flop on the floor” approach to sparring from the knees, advising me that I have to ensure I establish some grips, even if I’m planning to pull guard. I also need to prevent my partner from getting grips: I’m way too complacent when going from knees, as I pretty much assume I’m going to be defending for the majority of the spar, so don’t pay much attention to their opening grips. Something to rectify.

Finally, Nick also had some advice for the mounted triangle. He let me get to mount in order to see what I’d do, but noted that once I’d got a leg under their head, I was raising up my other leg in order to lock on the triangle. That’s a mistake, as it gives your partner the chance to escape: you should keep your hips down and weight low all the way through the technique. So instead of lifting your leg to try and get it around your foot, pull your ankle back enough that you can slot it into place behind your other knee.

Should be training again on Wednesday, but I have some preparation to do for a job interview next week, so may stay at home in order to work some more on that. Depends how far I get tomorrow night.


  1. I'm going to be living in Seville Spain, and i have NO idea what i'm going to do about training lol... but i will be competing at the European Championships 10 days after i get there.. will you be competing by any chance?

    i leave tuesday any suggestions for me?

  2. "I’m way too complacent when going from knees, as I pretty much assume I’m going to be defending for the majority of the spar, so don’t pay much attention to their opening grips. Something to rectify."

    Ooo, that sounds like me, too. If I know I'm going to get shoved backwards or flung forward to start, I don't do much, either. You're right, something to rectify.

    Good luck with the job interview!

  3. Thanks! Part 1 of 2, so got another one after this if I do ok in the test.