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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

17 September 2009

17/09/2009 - RGA High Wycombe

Class #240

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 17/09/2009

I got back from Turkey last night: as usual, I'll do a write-up later, sticking in the link once its done. My gf and I spent a little under three weeks wandering over my father's country, bookended by the city where he grew up, Istanbul. I haven't been in over eight years, so it was very interesting to see what's changed (most notably a whole load of trams which weren't there before), along with all the places I've not visited before around the rest of Turkey (like Kaş, Antalya, Pamukkale etc).

While that was of course a great trip, it also meant that I missed lots of training. I try not to go more than two weeks without BJJ, so the day after I got back, I headed down to the Roger Gracie affiliate in High Wycombe. As I'll be staying with my parent's until I get that ever-elusive job, RGA High Wycombe is only five miles away. This time round I got a lift from my gf, but I'll hopefully be able to cycle it in the not-too-distant future. Cryer's Hill should certainly make for a workout on the way back!

RGA High Wycombe isn't the easiest place to find, especially as the Google Map was a little confusing. It appears that a car park has popped up which Google didn't notice, so that the roundabout where it says "third exit to Temple Street" doesn't make sense. If you happen to be coming off the A40 or A4128, its the exit after the two that head to the car park (the second is deliveries only).

Union St also appears a bit vague, as that sent us into a bus station. Drive past that instead, then once you're onto Desborough Road, it makes more sense. Turn into Green Street, then go to the end of Leigh Street. When you see those gates at the end, you should be near a tunnel on the right. There are signs for 'HWABC', which stands for 'High Wycombe Amateur Boxing Club'. RGA High Wycombe is in there, so you follow the tunnel and turn left, then up the stairs (a few more HWABC signs are dotted around helping you along the way).

It was good to see Kev again, who has received his brown belt since I last trained with him at RGA HQ. He has been teaching in High Wycombe since January this year, having already begun teaching in Aylesbury a bit earlier. Classes at RGA High Wycombe are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting with an hour for beginners at 19:00, then the advanced class after that. I'm not sure what happens on Tuesday yet, but on Thursday, its an hour of free sparring.

The beginners class started off with a fairly brief warm-up, consisting of the usual shrimping, breakfalling and lizard walk (at least that's how I first heard it titled: its the one where you start with your left arm forward and left leg back, while your right knee is touching your right elbow. You then go up the room switching that position, doing a press-up motion as you change from left to right).

Technique was good and basic, covering the triangle from guard. Kev demonstrated the simplest set-up, which is to grab both wrists, then push one back. Bring your same side thigh to their neck, making sure to completely clear the arm your just pushed into their chest. Lock your feet together: it is important that from then on, you never leave them space to posture up and escape.

To finish, you need to readjust so that the leg you brought up goes directly across their leg, locking your shin behind your other knee. The easiest way to do that is grab the shin in question and pull it back, until you're able to put it behind your knee. This creates the triangle position, after which you can then squeeze your knees together and raise your hips for the tap (you may also need to pull down on their head).

Kev also mentioned several useful tips for getting to the triangle. If you aren't able to bring both your legs up straightaway, you can take the slower route, pushing off their hip with your free foot. That will give you additional lift, so you can get your other thigh right up to their neck.

You then have two main options for swivelling (it is a good idea to create an angle, as finishing the triangle square on is tough). First, you can grab your shin to maintain control, then use your free foot to push off the floor and turn. Alternately, you can try the Ryan Hall method, which is to underhook their arm, using that as a pivot point instead.

Having shown the submission, Kev followed up with two triangle defences. The first was for when they haven't yet locked on the triangle, but you find yourself with one arm in-between their legs, the other outside. This is dangerous, as you are presenting your opponent with an opportunity to triangle you.

If that happens, immediately reach across their body with your free hand, as if you were throwing a left or right hook. At the same time, drive off your toes, so that you end up turning your body around their leg. It is important you don't just rely on your arm, as that won't provide enough power to pop open their ankles (if they've already locked them). Keep moving through until you can slide into side control, remembering to pressure with your hips.

The second triangle defence is for when you've been caught. Their legs are in place and locked. Grab their collar with the arm in-between their legs (if they're controlling that arm, you'll have to wriggle it free, or this defence is dead in the water). Grip the back of their gi pants with your other hand, in order to prevent them moving their hips.

Jump up to your feet and push their collar to the floor, thereby driving the edge across their throat. That pressure should be enough to get them to open their legs, whereupon you can initiate a pass: if not, you may be able to submit them from here. Be careful that you maintain that hold on their pants: otherwise, your arm is outstretched, so if their hips are free, they can swivel into an armbar.

The nogi option is to just drive your hand into their throat, using the part between your thumb and forefinger (which I think is called the 'cagina'): this has acquired the unfortunate name of the 'rape choke'. Not sure if there is a more pleasant term.

Specific sparring from guard finished off the beginners class, where I found I was just about able to pass my partner's guard, but in a rather sloppy fashion, and mainly because he was very active in going for submissions. That paid off for him when we moved to his guard, as I got caught with a kimura (which surprised me: I didn't think he was in position, so need to be careful), and he also managed to swiftly spin into a rear naked choke.

I had a more measured roll with Joel, a big blue belt, possibly because he wasn't using his strength due to the size difference. Most of the spar was spent in my open guard, as I tried to grip either his sleeves or lapels, pushing his arms and hips with my feet. When he eventually managed to start passing into side control, I tried pushing on his head and shoulder to recover guard. That worked for a little while, but it was only holding off the inevitable. I should also have probably concentrated more on actually pushing on the head, rather than just wedging my arm against it.

The next hour was all free sparring, divided into six minute rounds with two minutes rest in between. I got to roll with almost everyone, but had to leave early in order to catch my lift. Generally I was spending a lot of time under either side control or half guard, staying too flat on my back in both positions. I also need to be less passive: I'm too content to just lie their and wait. While that does conserve energy, which is handy when you're sparring for an hour, it makes for a dull roll.

The main problem, however, was the old one of guard passing. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts at the Roy Dean pass, but really I to stand up. I've been saying it for years, but it remains a sticking point. So next time, particularly as there is so much sparring time, I'll have to force myself to stand, working on the component parts (e.g., grip, getting to one knee, how to stand, base etc).

My leg also cramped up, which is an irritation I've had a few times, especially when I'm reaching for half guard. This time it happened while sparring with Kevin, which was probably a good thing as he is the most experienced, and therefore most relaxed. Hopefully that cramp won't happen so often once I get back into the swing of things, particularly as I settle into cycling.

Cycling definitely appeals, as the area surrounding the gym isn't especially pleasant. I can't say I much enjoyed waiting for my lift, while a succession of distinctly dodgy looking blokes wandered past. So, being able to immediately cycle off would be good!


  1. nice to hear (??) from you again, slidey.
    i'm sure you'll be back to your old form in a couple of sessions. ;)

  2. Cheers - nice to be back into training!

    Unfortunately, this pretty much is my old form. Still, I'm hopeful that because Kev's sessions include so much mat time I'll be able to finally face down my problems with guard passing. We'll see how that goes. ;)

    By the way, does your blog have comments disabled? I tried to put up a comment a while back, but didn't seem to function properly.

  3. hmmm...
    I don't think so - I saw that comment you made regarding not seeing too many Carlson Gracie BJJ bloggers around (was this the one you were referring to?)
    Anyways, so kind of you to try and leave a comment. I'll check my settings in any case.

  4. Nope, it was after that comment. When I clicked on 'post a comment' over at your blog, nothing happened, so could be your settings (or maybe something at my end, like the browser, though Firefox normally works fine with blogger).

  5. Got it...I've accidentally disabled it. It's enabled now so comment away. ;)