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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

20 April 2009

20/04/2009 - BJJ (RGA Kilburn)

Class #219

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 20/04/2009 - Beginner

Tonight's class focused on takedowns: as most of the people training had little familiarity with bringing someone down to the mat, Jude introduced various drills to ingrain the concept of getting underneath. First it was basic wrestling, shooting in and going for the legs, then shuttle runs in groups of three, where the person in the middle did ten hip throws on each of their partners before swapping.

Rest of class was given over to sparring, beginning with guard passage. I started on my back, which isn't often the case, so that gave me a chance to try and work some attacks and sweeps. Emphasis on 'try': I keep letting myself get into the old passive mentality and wait for my partner to do something. That can be of some use with the blue belts, but with a white belt, they're liable to sit there straining.

Also, I'm not capitalising on what I'm being given by my partner. The first white belt I went with was pushing as hard as he could with his arms, leaning back at various points, then standing and leaning all the way forward. I'm sure I'm supposed to be able to use that, but I'm still bad at reacting to force.

When I try for the sit up sweep, the arms are there shoving me back. It is also probably that I'm not being proactive enough, and attempting something like putting my foot on their hip to swivel to a better attacking angle. Definitely need to open my guard more, rather than just lying there in closed guard waiting to see what happens. Kintanon had some ideas a while back, which I think I've also seen on Saulo's set, so will take another look at the attacks on there.

As ever, I'm also stalling a lot in half guard. Like with closed guard, I need to open up more, using one foot to lock their leg and then shrimping onto my side. Getting the diagonal half guard recovery back to full guard would be good too, but I've been struggling with that so far. Rich got it perfectly when I was watching him spar later on, which reminds me I should be going for it more.

That white belt eventually passed, meaning I was back on top with my next partner, John. For once, it was pretty straightforward, as he went for an armbar but left too much space. That meant I could just move around to the side, pressuring with my hips and shoulders to drive into side control. Rare I get that opportunity, but good to practice taking it when somebody presents it to me.

Finally for guard passage, I was with one of the big guys, about the same size as Rodrigo. Also like Rodrigo, he was careful not to use his considerable strength: always great to see a white belt who understands that its about technique, not power.

He was so big I could only just get my guard closed, so almost immediately went to open guard instead. Although Jude tried coaching me through proper spider guard control, I wasn't able to keep the white belt at bay, so they eventually passed. Again, I need to actually go for something from open guard, as I can't afford to be as passive as in closed guard. It becomes a far more dynamic position when your ankles aren't locked together.

First free spar was with John, where yet again I was in half-guard most of the time, occasionally recovering back to half-guard if he managed to get to side control or mount. Same points as earlier, which is that I need to be a bit more open and get onto my side, rather than using a lockdown to push their leg back, adjust to a more secure half-guard, they get a bit forward, lockdown, adjust...over and over again.

Last spar of the class was with Rich. He keeps catching me in Ezequiel chokes: I asked if I was doing something to make that easier, and Rich said I've been lifting my head when under mount. That gives him plenty of space to get an arm underneath to set up the choke.

So, obvious lesson there is to keep my head glued to the floor to leave no room for the cross face. I remembered to do that under side control, as per Saulo's advice on his DVD, but clearly forgot when it came to mount.

I'm also constantly finding myself under high mount with Rich, which is definitely not a good place to be. Its useful to work my escapes from there, but there must also be some mistake I'm making which enables him to keep getting there. I'll have to pay more attention next time, and defend more carefully from mount.

In the changing rooms after class, the aforementioned big guy gave me a nice compliment: he commented how Rodrigo had said I'm a good person to roll with, because I stay relaxed and don't use strength. That was great to hear, as being a person people want to spar is a major goal for me. Of course, I don't have the option of using strength anyway, but its still gratifying to hear that somebody finds me a useful training partner.

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