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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 November 2009

17/11/2009 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #261

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 17/11/2009

If you enjoyed the No Gi Worlds live stream last week, then I just encountered something else which might interest you. Chatting in this thread, one of the posters brought up the fact that his instructor has a webcam running the whole class. Even better, the results are available for anyone to see, on this site, which also has a few archived classes as well as live broadcasts.

It looks to be very much Gracie jiu jitsu rather than typical BJJ, so plenty of self defence included. Normally I'd skip that section of class, but by a strange coincidence, the technique he shows here is actually one I could have used at the weekend, because some guy in a club bear hugged me from behind and lifted me up. I'm pretty sure he was just being exuberant (he was dancing with one of the girls in our party) rather than malicious, but it did make me wonder what I could do in a less benign situation. Thanks to that online class, now I know. ;)

In terms of RGA High Wycombe, tonight Kev focused on the turtle. This is something that was a major part of training in the few judo sessions I've attended, but doesn't crop up so often in BJJ. Kev began with a drill, where the aim was to practice maintaining chest to back contact at all times, legs sprawled back and hips down. You and your partner take it in turns to spin around the back, moving to different positions, for a couple of minutes.

Kev followed that with the wrestler's sit-out, adding the point that you should move backwards a little first. That should disrupt their base, and give you slightly more space to effect your escape. As Kev mentioned, this technique is tough to achieve in sparring, so requires a lot of practice: any additional tips should prove useful.

Shifting to the top, Kev demonstrated a method for taking the back when attacking the turtle, starting from their side. Begin by chopping your hand into the space between their far leg and arm. You want to wedge your arm down by their thigh, making sure to keep your elbow back: otherwise, they might be able to trap that limb and roll you over.

Having secured that grip, roll them towards you, on top of the foot you have closest to their head. This is so you can then immediately insert that foot by their thigh as they try to turn away, establishing a hook. If they do not turn away, then they're essentially giving your their back, so you can insert your hooks from there.

Once you've got that first hook in as they turn away, you can then wedge in the second hook. Here again you may need to knife hand their far knee, in order to create a wedge to make space for your foot. With both hooks in, you're in a great position, so can flatten them out, go for a submission, or roll them over and work for the rear naked choke.

Specific sparring from that position, I was initially comfortable rolling back to half guard and guard, but then my training partner tightened up. He then managed to turn me over or shift to side control repeatedly, such as by grabbing my foot and arm. This isn't a position I'm too familiar with, so it was useful having that intensive specific spar, being able to carefully isolate how to stay tight, where to move, and what angles to create.

When attacking, I was trying to develop good control, keeping my chest in contact with their back. I first attempted to get my hands into the back of the collar, so I could pull back to create some space. That was overly ambitious, I think, as my partner had far too much leverage for that to do any good. Getting the cloth by his armpits might have been better, though I was constantly wary of getting my arms trapped.

During king of the hill, it was nice to roll with a couple of white belts, where suddenly there was much more space. They also made the mistake of leaving their arm in, meaning that it was a simple matter to trap that arm with my own, then roll them and end up on top in side control (though of course I said afterwards that they need to make sure I can't lock that arm).

They also put their knee in the middle of my bum, which is another mistake. As Kev pointed out earlier, this opens you up to getting kneebarred, as the person turtling can reach between their legs and get hold of your foot. I never go for leg attacks (and you can't do that against white belts anyway), but it's something to keep in mind when in the turtle.

Unlike normal, I didn't stay for the advanced class tonight, as I wanted to make sure I got back home in time to help my gf with her job interview tomorrow. Some things are higher priority than BJJ! ;)


  1. The wrestler's sit-out is what I always refer to as a "switch." I try for it a lot but don't often get it; I'll have to try that moving backwards first part next time. Space is usually very limited under there.

  2. I can't think of when I last attempted it: yesterday I found I was mainly staying tight when in the turtle, trying to shift round without leaving any limbs or grips exposed, so I could get into position to roll into guard.

    Like Kev says, the sit-out is tough to get, as you have to do it explosively with full commitment: given my passivity, that's something I'm really bad at. ;)