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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

01 April 2009

01/04/2009 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #215

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 01/04/2009 - Beginner

Mark has announced the Belfast Throwdown for this year, which should be awesome. I loved it the past two times, so I'd expect it to be just as good in 2009. Of course, getting made redundant last year and still job hunting does mean I have to be a little careful with things like holidays, but I'm sure I can at least make the short hop to Northern Ireland. Please post on the thread if you're interested in coming along too, particularly as we still need to set a date: everyone welcome! :D

My ear appears to have got bashed up either yesterday or the day before, but not cauliflower: the bit between the lope and my skull was cut (by the time I noticed it, there was a scab). This would therefore be the perfect time to wear my headgear, but I've cleverly left that in Coventry. So instead, I sported some zinc oxide tape around my lower ear.

Guard passage went pretty badly, as usual. I was almost past twice in a row against white belts, but on both occasions couldn't capitalise on a good position with sufficient pressure to get to side control. First I was on top of half guard, but then somehow gave up my back, then I had my partner's legs over their head and was trying to squeeze past, but managed to get reversed under side control. The only successful pass was with a blue belt who was going for an armbar, but even that was mainly because time was running out so he wasn't really pushing it.

Technique tonight, presumably because of a competition on Saturday, was how to correctly pull guard (the Kilburn branch of RGA is still very new, so the beginners haven't got to grips with takedowns yet. However, there is a wrestling class on Saturdays, so you'd hope the people seriously interested in competing will take advantage of that).

Having got a grip on their lapel and sleeve, start by putting your foot on their same side hip, keeping the leg straight. Drop to your back, swivelling as you go and keeping your leg rigid. This should knock them sideways, so that they essentially slip down a groove right into your guard, making it easy for you to wrap your legs into position.

That was followed by how to go straight into an armbar (as you already begin with a grip on their arm). This involves more swivelling: try to put your head by their leg. Finally, bring the other leg over their neck instead of around their torso. From there, raise your hips and go for the armbar.

Last technique was the clock choke again, then a variation, where you get the same choke off a kimura from side control. If when going for the kimura they manage to resist and go to their knees, follow them round. As you'll still have your arm inside, you're in perfect position to grab their lapel, open it out, then go for the clock choke as usual (feed lapel to other hand, use first hand to grab remaining lapel, shift hips onto their neck, head on floor, then walk round for the submission).

Sparring with Rich, I managed to get the Tran side control escape where you bridge as they go for mount, which is still working well for me. My escapes from the mounted triangle have been considerably less successful: I can never get my foot onto their arm in order to push my way free, though admittedly its a tough position to reverse.

A bigger blue belt called Alan was next. I again landed Tran's escape, but I think Alan was going light, due to that size difference. I was unable to extricate myself from his scarf hold or knee-on-belly, though with the latter, I did have a go at wrapping his foot and grabbing behind his gi. Didn't stop me getting choked.

I was chatting to Jude about how I didn't feel any need to compete, because I still have so much to work on just sparring in class. I mentioned how my guard passing in particular was terrible, so Jude, being the awesome instructor he is, offered to run through some tips after tonight's session ended. That also meant I could help out one of the white belts who is competing, acting as a training dummy so he could better prepare for a tournament this weekend.

The major point I've been missing, which should hopefully make a big different to my guard passing, is that I need to get my hips forward as soon as a I raise a leg. So far, I've been thinking about driving the hips once I've stood up (though I've not even been doing that well), which means that as I try to get to my feet, my posture has been poor, leaning forward too much.

Jude also showed a slightly different way of opening the guard from standing. Normally, I try to step back and push their leg to the mat, aiming to hold it in place with my arm before replacing that pressure with my leg, moving on to the leg pin pass.

Jude noted the basic principle that a leg is always stronger than an arm, so instead of prising the leg free with an arm, he instead broke the guard with his knee. I'm not sure I quite got the details, but it involved bending your knee into their leg, so that you gradually broke the guard open, also leaving you in position where your knee was already on the mat over their leg (so again, set up for the leg pin pass).

John, a purple who wasn't training that night, prefers to either step back and push the leg off, or alternately, Mauricio's version where you put your knee right in their tailbone, then sit back down. If you get your knee in just the right spot, that will then force their guard open around your knee: their simply isn't enough space for them to keep a closed guard once your knee is wedged through.

John also emphasised getting a cross-grip on their arm, or in other words, grabbing their opposite sleeve. That means you can then put your leg forward on that side with impunity, as they'll have nothing to hook it with. John also said that after you've secured that hold, use your free arm to make certain they don't get any grip with their other arm.

All great advice, which should definitely make a different to my guard passing. Even at the most pessimistic level, it sure can't get any worse! ;)

As I was heading to the changing rooms, one of the regulars addressed me as slideyfoot, because he recognised me from the blog. Always cool when that happens (and if they're reading, the link for Passing the Guard is here: new revised edition which I'm very much looking forward to, having long wanted to get hold of the original due to the extremely high regard it appears to have generated).

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