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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 August 2009

20/08/2009 - BJJ

Class #238

Combat Athletics, (BJJ), Rich Green, Coventry, UK - 20/08/2009

Pippa, one of the women I used to train with at RGA, is in the process of setting up a special seminar specifically for women who have never trained in BJJ. If you're female and have any interest in grappling, check out Pippa's thread on the EFN. If you're a guy, then this is the perfect opportunity to try and introduce your girlfriend, wife, mother, sister or female friends to the sport. Venue should be London, but all details to be confirmed in the aforementioned thread.

I made another trip down Combat Athletics today, but unfortunately Rich had to leave before class started, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond his control. However, he very kindly said that the people who had shown up were free to use the mats for the rest of the day, telling one of them how to lock up.

That is another of the advantages of training here in Canley: Rich is a generous teacher, as you can tell from the low price and days like this. He pointed out that there was some experience on the mat, so people should feel free to share tips and ask for advice.

That led him to amusingly refer to me as "half-way to purple belt," which has to be one of the biggest exaggerations I've heard in a long time. Still, it was true that I'd probably been doing this a few more years than most of the people there, as its still a newish club. Always happy to help, either way.

My gi was in my bag as usual, so I wanted to make up for not getting a chance to roll with Steve on Tuesday. After finishing my warm-up (just stretching, really: walking briskly to the club was enough to get my blood flowing), we went straight into sparring. I stayed with Steve the whole time, doing three rolls over the course of about thirty to forty minutes.

As often happens when there is no instructor, its easy to end up sitting on the mats chatting: that happens at throwdowns all the time. I wanted to make sure I got in a good chunk of sparring. That's because after next week I'm on holiday, and when I get back, I'm not entirely sure where (or even if) I'm going to be able to train.

In keeping with my rolling plans of the previous few weeks, I wanted to continue looking for triangles. Both Steve and I were wearing a gi, which made things easier, as that provides a lot more grips. I was hoping to put into practice what I'd seen from Ryan Hall, and perhaps also give the 'stage 1.5' set-up from Gracie Combatives a try.

I also wanted to combine techniques better, as per Purple Belt Requirements, but failing to get that smooth transition from triangle to armbar. I missed an opportunity from the guard, and then a chance to switch back to a triangle passed me by as well. Quicker reactions would help there, or better still, recognising the opening just before it happens rather than midway through.

I finally had the opportunity to lock on the triangle, concentrating on head control, keeping my hips back and getting an underhook on the untrapped arm. As Ryan Hall demonstrates, that helps to spin in order to get a better angle, which seemed to do the trick (though Steve may have been easing off at that point, seeing as we were quite close to another pair sparring).

Steve had been repeatedly leaving one of his arms in close when trying to pass, which is what gave me the opening to fling my leg up into a triangle. He asked for advice on passing the guard, so I ran through the basic method of standing up while maintaining hip pressure, stepping a leg back and opening the guard. I'm always careful to emphasise that my own guard passing is terrible when people ask me about how to pass, but hopefully it was of some use to him.

He definitely became harder to triangle as a result, and stood up much more than in the first roll. I was playing around with the usual sweeps (reverse de la Riva as per Saulo, along with the standard ankle grab, hook sweep and handstand sweep), but not very successfully. However, my poor open guard was useful in this instance, as it gave Steve a chance to work his guard passing posture.

Choking from the guard remains a weakness in my already woefully limited submission repertoire. I attempted it from the overhook position, and also seeing if I could loop an arm around the back. No luck. I can establish a deep grip with the first hand, but finishing with the second hand is the hard part. Much more work required on my part.

My attempts to pass the guard were pretty crappy. I again wanted to work on the guard break Roy Dean showed me after we rolled at his seminar, but still struggling. I think the problem is that when I bring my knee in, I'm inserting it too low, past the tailbone. I'm also not getting the acute angle he mentions on Purple Belt Requirements (its at the start of the leglock section, where the guard break is meant to set up a heel hook: naturally I'm just interested in the break).

I had little success sweeping from guard: the few times I did get to the top position it was fairly sloppy. Under half guard, I had a play with wrapping the gi around his back, seeing if I could use that grip in lieu of the arm when going for Indrek's arm sweep. Not much luck, so either that doesn't work as a substitute, or I just wasn't able to apply it properly. Perhaps I could try and use it to wrap up the arm?

I also failed to take the back, despite a few opportunities. I can never manage to get into position where I feel its possible to get up on my elbow and spin over. Alternately, I could just be trying to go for the back way too early, rather than establishing a solid base first. The Gracie Combatives method looked interesting, so will check that out again.

Occasionally I found mysef squashed under half guard, but was able to use the lockdown to break Steve's posture, moving him back and giving myself some breathing room. That is pretty much the only time I use anything from 10th Planet, but I do find it useful for moving them around when they're putting pressure on top.

When I found myself on top, I had my usual problem of what submission to try. I felt I could get into a relatively stable mount, grapevining the legs, hooking the head and driving my hips down. From there, I need to progress into some kind of attack: a choke would be ideal, but I need to establish the grips first. I might try to use Roger's method he taught at RGA, where you wedge your choking hand in place on their collar by shoving your hip into the elbow.

Not able to get anything from the standard mount, I instead began looking for armbars from modified mount. I managed it once, as Steve was rolling away, locking it on belly-down, but something I just snatched at rather than controlled properly. I was happier with the armbar I used at the end of our third roll, as that time I think I kept my knees together better, leaving less space. Even so, not as tight as I'd have liked, as Steve still had some room to try and escape.

I should be training again next Monday, then my last lesson on Tuesday. Slight possibility I'll be able to get in some extra time with Rich too, which would be cool.

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