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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

15 April 2009

15/04/2009 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #218

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 15/04/2009 - Beginner

The weather in Looe turned out to be pretty good, at least for the first three days. Lots of sunshine and no rain, though unfortunately that also meant it was busy. Swarming with chavs too, for some reason: I guess they like Cornwall. Despite that, Looe is a beautiful place, with a gorgeous harbour and plenty of pleasant walks around the area. There is also a Rail Ale Trail you can do, where you pop into various pubs near the train line to get your leaflet stamped, sampling real ale along the way. I'm not generally a big beer drinker (I prefer wine, and sherry if I can get it), but fun nonetheless.

While I was away, Oli G very helpfully annotated one of his videos: hopefully that's going to be the start of a trend. Best of all would be audio commentaries, but not sure how easy that is to do. Either way, here's the vid:

I'd been ill last Wednesday, so as I only got back to London this Wednesday, that meant I only made the one session. Class tonight kicked off with guard passing, both from the same standing break. First secure the usual grip on both their lapels with one hand, pressing the other into their hip, aiming to hinder their movement. Step up the knee opposite to the hand on the hip, then stand up, switching your double lapel grip to a single lapel you can yank up with you.

Next, reach back with the other hand, wedge it between your back and their crossed ankles, then twist forward to break their legs open. Jude covered two options from here: first, you can reach to grab their collar and press your forearm into their neck, keeping the other elbow back as you drive your hips forward, pushing their legs out of the way for side control. Second possibility is a stack pass, so once you've opened their guard, hook round their legs and clasp your hands, stack them and gradually walk round to side control.

Jude had a slight variation on that stack pass, which was to do with the position of your knees. Once you've got a hold around both their legs and pulled them towards you, go to one knee. As you pass, ram that knee into their side, bringing the other knee up as you do so. This keeps you tight, and also adds greater pressure, which should aid your transition to side control.

Finally, Jude showed a baseball bat choke from knee-on-belly. At least I think it was a baseball bat choke, going by the grip, but then I've never done that choke before. Anyway, starts as normal: hop up to knee-on-belly from side control, using a grip on their collar and hip then doing a push up.

From here, you want to get your far hand into their far collar, thumb on top and palm up. The other grabs their near collar, this time palm down: this is where the baseball bat reference comes in, as your hands are now in the same position as if you were grasping a bat.

Sprawl back from knee-on-belly, dropping the elbow of your far arm across their throat. Walk round towards north-south, which should cause the choke to tighten and result in a tap.

Guard passing was the same old story, where I went with a couple of white belts and relaxed, waiting for them to do something. Both of them were gripping as hard as they could, meaning that the first one still held on to a sleeve he'd managed to get under my leg as I passed to top half guard. Easy enough to just pause until they got tired, putting my weight onto their face.

While it was certainly restful, it didn't help me to secure side control. As ever, I left too much space when attempting to secure a kimura, and they managed to reverse and go into my guard. I had thought that bringing my knee to the head might help, but I must have left too little pressure on their hips.

The second white belt was a little faster, as this time I made some other mistake that resulted in them being able to sit right up and go for a single leg. Again, not controlling the hips properly: I should have just stood up to try and work the standing pass, rather than going into defensive mode.

Having said that, not expending much energy meant I wasn't too tired before free sparring, which was useful as I ended up doing four in a row. That isn't normally the case, as I'll almost always sit out a few, but I kept being asked by people I wanted to spar, so that resulted in only one rest. Very rare for a wimp like me! ;p

Started with one of the blue belts, where I had a play with spider guard, but wasn't able to control them all that well. They had a knee up, so I found it difficult to off-balance them. Or rather, more difficult than usual, as my spider guard is pretty bad. My main problem with it, I think, is that I don't normally have a clear aim, as I always forget the basic sweep from there.

I also spent plenty of time under knee-on-belly and side control, which along with bottom half-guard and under mount have constituted the majority of my sparring for the past couple of years. Saulo has some interesting ideas on escaping, which I've been trying to incorporate recently, but need plenty more work. Hip movement is something I want to improve, and also avoid ending up flat on my back, which I give up far too easily.

Ben, a white belt, was next. With him, it was almost entirely half-guard, using the lockdown to push his leg back, while trying to then open up slightly to shrimp and escape. I got back to closed guard a couple of times, but like my other escapes, I have to stop being so flat. Ben eventually got through to side control towards the end: I recovered half guard again, but really should be trying to go to my knees more often from under side control, especially as I'd already spent so long in half guard already.

Up next was J-Sho, somebody I think I've only done guard passage with before, so was pleased to get a chance to roll with him. Like me, he's a fellow internet BJJ geek, but unlike me, he can back that up with a high level of BJJ, given that he's an experienced purple belt. I again ran through the usual sequence of attempting to get to guard, fail, they pass to side control, then either I get into half guard or they go to knee on belly.

I presume he was taking it fairly easy, due to being way better than me. Also, if he hadn't been testing out some kind of submission that involves wrapping my gi around my arm, most likely I would have spent a lot more time under knee-on-belly. Instead, I was trying to gradually work my arm free and get back to half-guard, normally ending up under side control instead.

Finally, I was back with the earlier blue belt again, finding myself under knee-on-belly yet again. I tried to keep in mind the principle of getting my elbow to my knee when under side control to stop them getting the knee through. This helped, but they still got their knee through plenty of times, leaving me to squirm away trying to shrimp out. Saulo has some escapes for this I've been trying, but not drilled them enough yet: hopefully with more mat time I'll start to get the hang of it.

This month is unfortunately going to be my last at RGA Kilburn, as my sister is moving again at the start of May to Cobham. I've been looking around at alternatives, because Kilburn will be too far, and there appear to be three. Nova Forca is closest, at around 5.5 miles, but the timetable doesn't quite fit. I'd also very much like to stay with RGA, so I was pleased to see that contrary to what I'd thought at first, there was an affiliate not too far away.

RGA Wimbledon (which incidentally was the first club on fellow blogger Jadon’s BJJ Pilgrimage) is about 9.5 miles, so its worth the slightly longer journey to stay with the RGA family. There is also Andy Roberts' place in Farnborough, which would be cool as then I could train with Jadon, but that's more like 20 miles I think, so probably too far.

If anyone knows buses from Cobham to any of those, I'd be interested to hear what the best routes are: I'm currently going by trains, for which it looks like RGA Wimbledon would be a 10 minute walk to Cobham station, then 34 minutes to Raynes Park, and finally a 25 minute walk to Ray Stevens club. £69 unlimited sounds reasonable, as I could make three classes from Mon-Weds, same as I've been trying to do at Jude's in Kilburn.

Also, I should be doing a major overhaul of the BJJ map soon. Simon Hayes, who has been very helpful in providing information about the Carlson Gracie clubs, suggested I split it by county, as there are now so many schools. It’s a good idea, but will take a fair bit of work, particularly as I’ve always been really, really bad at geography. Fortunately for me, unlike at school, I now have Google Maps! ;)


  1. Would be awesome if you came and trained with us, but travel might be a pain. Im sure Andy might even give you a RGA discount.

    RGA wimbledon is good though, and classes are still small and growing. Im sure you might of ran into Marcio or Ray before.

    Been to Nova forca as well, nothing wrong with them. Especially if you like warming up for 30 mins :|

  2. Yeah, I've trained with Marcio before, and really liked his classes. Not met Ray yet, but no doubt he's very good too.

    You got any thoughts on bus routes round Cobham/Epsom/Farnborough/Wimbledon, or just general transport? I always lean towards trains because I'm used to them, but I figured I might be missing some easy (and cheaper) bus options.

  3. Was forty minutes warm-up back in the day at Epsom. Kids these days, I had to walk uphill in the snow, etc. etc. ^_-

    Take care,


  4. 40 minute warm-ups definitely do not sound tempting, considering I'm a total wimp. :D

    Any chance of more commentated vids, by the way? Looks very promising!