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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

28 May 2009

28/05/2009 - Nova Força

Class #226

Nova Força Epsom (BJJ), Ricardo Da Silva, Epsom, UK - 28/05/2009

As my gf is off to a hen night this week, that meant that I had some extra time spare this week, which I naturally used to get a bit more training. Today Ricardo's focus was on takedowns, which is by far my least favourite (albeit important, if you're big on competition) part of BJJ class, but fortunately doesn't happen too often.

I was flung around all over the place in takedown sparring, which reminded me how awful I am at stand-up grappling. I'm always passive when sparring, but when it comes to stand-up, I might as well be asleep. Also kept making the same mistake with one guy (who possibly had judo in his background, but then it doesn't take any skill to throw me), where I was looking to step around when he went for a throw to counter-attack. Failed miserably, as he could obviously see it coming, and simply adjusted to throw me with something else.

Techniques were also all takedowns, from the over-under clinch. Each one began by pushing down on the elbow, then dropping your bodyweight right down to break their posture. Your opposite knee goes to the floor, while your hand switches from their elbow to the back of their knee.

Having secured their leg, stand back up pulling it along with you, then use your same side heel to trip them. Immediately step one leg back as they hit the floor, as otherwise they may be able to go for a basic ankle-grab sweep.

If you're having trouble keeping hold of their leg after you've dropped down, then hook your same side foot around to help. Drive diagonally forwards, with your arm out in a Superman type position. The reason you want to do that is so your weight ends up in the right place: if you don't drive properly with the takedown, they may be able to roll you to mount, as your weight won't be in the right place to control them.

Finally, there was a variation where you've managed to go through all the steps and lift their leg off the floor, but they kick their leg free. If that happens, swivel in and hip throw them.

I had been planning to practice triangles again, working on things like head control, but I was sparring progressively senior belts (a purple, brown and black), so that wasn't viable. Instead, I concentrated on defence, trying to keep my elbows in, avoid the cross-face (especially under side control, as per Saulo's DVD) and connect my elbow and knee, again like Saulo shows. Seemed to help, though as before, my knee-on-belly escapes still need a lot of work.

As it was all higher belts, they went easy on me, which did give me a brief opportunity to try and implement some of things I wanted to improve on triangles. I attempted to secure head control, but I think I'm holding too low on the head: should be higher up, like a muay thai clinch, so that I have more leverage.

Brown-belt Tim also showed me a good sweep from spider guard. IIRC, you have your shin into their stomach, knee pointing out. You other leg wraps up their same side arm, simultaneously gripping their sleeve with your same side hand. The idea is to get them to try and pass to the open side. You can then grab their leg with your free hand, using that and your shin to roll on top.

I'm also attempting to be more mobile in open guard, rotating on my shoulders to try and recover guard. Still needs a lot of work, but those SBG drills along with the shoulder rolls Ricardo does in his warm-up have helped a lot. Ricardo himself exposed the weaknesses in my half-guard when I was sparring him, as he broke it open like it was tissue paper. Of course, he's far stronger than me, but I doubt he needed any of that muscle: I need to be less static when using half-guard, and get on my side faster.

Yet again there were belt whippings at the end of class, meaning that there's only been one class out of the four I've attended so far without communal flogging. Definitely something they're keen on at Nova Força, and it doesn't even require a promotion: if its your birthday (as was the case today for two unfortunates), you're in line for the gauntlet. Interesting thread on the topic I was reading recently on NHBGear, which turned out fairly similar to the EFN one from a while back.

While I was getting my bike ready to leave, one of the people there recognised me from my blog (which is always cool), and mentioned a club to add to my map. UK BJJ really has grown exponentially even in the short time I've been training, and that goes for Nova Força too: a purple there is now running a location in Haslemere.


  1. I'm just a know-nothing white belt, but my experience definitely supports a high grip on the head for triangles. This not only helps finish the choke (which has helped me tremendously lately), but also helps prevent them from posturing up (which can leave you in that awkward dangling position).

    One time I was sparring against a tall, skinny guy. I locked up the triangle and he said, "Oh $#!%." Then he stood up and I was dangling upside down and I said the exact same thing. Ended up finishing the choke on him, but definitely reinforced the head control thing for me.

    Oh, and I was inspired by a Sherdog thread to start a BJJ training diary at It's still a work in progress, and I hope to keep updating it as well as maybe get a post in or two explaining where I'm coming from and where I'm training, etc. Just in case you need more Google reader fodder (though I'm not sure whether it'll be worth anybody's time).

  2. Cheers Matt - I'm always looking for more BJJ blogs to add to the index, not to mention handy breakfast reading. ;)