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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

19 November 2009

19/11/2009 - BJJ

Class #262

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 19/11/2009

I haven't been to a Thursday session in a couple of weeks, and I'd forgotten that sometimes there aren't many blue belts present. Tonight, as has happened before, I was the only non-white belt student there, which was unfortunate. On the other hand, that had the fantastic side-effect of getting Kev as my training partner, which was awesome. Like I said in my article a little while ago, nothing beats having your instructor as a training partner: sort of like a private lesson within a group lesson. :D

Kev's turtle theme continued, with the same drill on maintaining chest to back contact starting off the lesson. That was followed by one of the defences I used on Tuesday, trapping the arm and escaping from the turtle. It's very simple: if they reach too far with their arm while you're in turtle, wrap your arm behind the elbow, also securing their wrist or sleeve with your other hand. You then roll in the direction of their trapped arm, flipping them over your back, meaning you end up on top in side control.

To aid that roll, you can kick your leg nearest to them backwards, dropping that side towards the floor. As they are effectively using you for base, that knock their balance, making it easier to bring them over you. For further assistance, you can also use your other arm to shove them as they go over. Essentially, you're spinning on the spot, rather than a big roll to the side.

Also, make sure that when you move to side control, turn towards their legs, not their head. If you turn towards their head, you'll roll yourself right off their body, and they might even have a chance to take your back. So instead, keep your weight pressed into them, then turn towards their legs.

Kev's choice of counterpoint tonight was a clock choke, using a version he learned from Felipe Souza. Reach under their same side armpit with your far arm and open up their same side collar. Feed that to your other hand, after you've reached over their near shoulder to get it into position. With your far side arm, grab their collar, meaning that you have the same kind of grip as a lapel choke.

Keeping your weight down, switch your hips and walk towards their head, in a repeating process of bringing one leg under, then the over leg over (hence the name 'clock choke', where you act as one of the hands on the clock face). If they somehow manage to roll you over, because you have that lapel choke grip, you may still be able to finish the submission.

In specific sparring, I unsurprisingly didn't have a great deal of success against Kev, but I did get plenty of success. On top, I need to try attacking more, rather than just switching position. I also need to be careful of getting my knee anywhere near the middle of his legs (as that results in a kneebar opportunity), and it is also dangerous to have them facing your legs. That's because they are then better able to go for a double leg, or various other escapes Kev used on me (like the one where you get your head between their legs and flip them up and off into side control).

Underneath, I felt more comfortable, but again got repeatedly rolled and my back taken. However, I was at least doing the right thing. I asked Kev if I should be trying to turn to face his legs, and he agreed that was a sensible defensive strategy. Firstly it means they can't insert their hooks, and secondly (as above) you can attack with double legs, as well as having a greater chance to roll back into guard.

Naturally this worked a lot better when I was with the white belts, as they leave much more space than brown belts like Kev. So, I was able to roll back into guard a few times, but a little sloppy on several occasions. With someone more experience, I think they probably would have been able to get into side control before I could re-establish closed guard.

I decided to stick around for the hour of sparring tonight, as I wasn't able to make the advanced class on Tuesday. Kev began with a brief bit of guard passage, where one of the white belts kept trying to go into rubber guard. Posturing up seemed to neutralise that threat, but again, with someone more experienced (especially with the rubber guard), I'd run into problems, as I'm not used to facing it.

I also sparred that same white belt a bit later in free sparring, and was able to control him in his guard, and also passed to half guard and then mount a couple of times. Using shoulder pressure definitely helped, as long as I made sure to stop any underhooks. However, I did have the rare advantage of size, which definitely made a difference: with somebody bigger, I'd have a much tougher time pressing them back down when they tried to sit up in guard.

I wanted to give the advice from David Onuma's great instructional video a try, as it looked like a handy grip from the guard. I didn't get very far though, as I didn't do a good enough job of breaking down my partner's posture when in my guard. Still, it did at least inspire me to try an armbar, which I hardly ever attempt: definitely something I need to go for more often, as it is such an important submission from the guard.

Kev added in a bit of grip fighting, then I had another chance to spar the instructor, which is always great. That mostly stayed in his guard, while I attempted to maintain good posture and not get swept. As ever, I have to try standing up more often, rather than relying on the safety of my knees.

Last spar was with Trev, whose long, flexible legs are always dangerous. I was just about able to fend him off, trying to keep my knees near my chest when he moved into my open guard. When he did eventually pass into half guard, I managed to get an underhook on the same side as the trapped leg, but couldn't quite manage to get up onto my side (I tried bumping him forward with the underhook, but without much luck).

I also narrowly avoided getting triangled once he got to mount: only my knee and framing arms stopped him, as when he tried to roll into a triangle from guard, I was in position to break free. However, in mount, it was just that wedged in knee, so no real technique on my part. Had the spar gone on longer, I'm sure he would have eventually landed that triangle.

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