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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

12 January 2010

12/01/2010 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #274

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 12/01/2010

Grr. That is now three sessions in a row I've been unable to make at Wycombe due to crappy weather. Buckinghamshire has been buried in snow since late December, in the coldest winter since 1981 (IIRC). Most annoying. On the plus side, the guy who made that awesome Functional Half Guard video a few years back has just started a blog. Check out Indrek's site here (which I noticed thanks to Aesopian: if you haven't subscribed to either his Twitter or Facebook, do so now.)

There has been a change to the beginner classes for 2010, which is that they'll now (unfortunately for me, but good for any less wimpy, sensible BJJer who wants to improve their throwing) include takedowns at the start. Previously, the throwing was in the advanced class, so it isn't too much of a shift.

I don't normally bother commenting on throws, but this one was interesting in that it moved into an Achilles lock. Foot locks and white belts aren't something I like to see together, but they are allowed to use a straight footlock like this (so be warned if you thought you were safe from lower body submissions at a white belt tournament!)

First technique after that was a simple cross-guard sweep. Cross-guard is basically straightforward open guard: you have a cross-grip on their sleeve (cross-grip is grabbing the opposite sleeve). On the cross-gripped side, you also have your same side foot into that hip, and you're holding their ankle with your same side hand. Your other foot hooks behind their other knee.

From here, the sweep isn't complex. Clamp the foot you're holding with your hand to your hip, pushing them a little backwards with your foot to make that easier. Note that you don't want to lift their foot any higher than your hip: it only needs to be slightly off the ground. You can now keep pushing on their hip and slightly on their arm, moving them a little sideways to create some torsion.

Remember to keep your other hook tense, as you don't want them to free that leg and step around, because that will enable them to regain their balance. Once you knock them down, because you have that grip on their sleeve, you can pull yourself up as they go back, moving through into side control. Should you lose your sleeve grip, the sweep is still there, but it will be harder to sit up and move through to side control.

Kev then moved on to an open guard pass, known as the 'toreador' (sometimes misspelled as 'toreandor') or 'bull fighter' pass. Begin by securing a firm grip on the inside of their knees, bringing your elbows in (you don’t want to leave them space to get spider guard). Step your outside foot to the side, swinging your other leg back (to stop them catching it in half guard), pushing their nearest leg backwards at the same time. Maintain your grips on their knees throughout, before moving forward into knee on belly.

Of course, that is a lot easier said than done, especially when you're absolutely terrible at passing guard like me. From what I can tell, you don't want to step too far with that outside leg, as otherwise they might be able to get a leg in the way. However, like I said, my guard passing is really bad, so definitely possible I misunderstood.

There is then a variation, where instead of moving into knee on belly, you drop your shoulder onto their stomach, keeping your legs back so you end up on your toes. This is a bit more dynamic, and you're moving further to the side. If you're drilling this, be careful you don't knock all the wind out of your partner.

The last twenty five minutes of the lesson was tough, as Kev had us do the open guard drill again. That starts with both hands tucked into your belt, then just one, then both hands free. It makes for an intensive cardio workout for both people, as you're constantly spinning on the floor (hard on the abs) or running around in a circle (hard on the legs).

My passing was completely useless, even with both my hands. Fortunately I was with Kev, so he could immediately diagnose the central problem: I fail to drive my hips forward and put my training partner under pressure. I was being super-cautious as usual, so tended to stay back, then when I did tentatively make my move, it was easy for Kev to set up a sweep and roll me.

I was being similarly passive on the bottom, though I always feel much more comfortable in guard. Still, I have to threaten with something, rather than just trying to hold them there. As with most of my long-running problems, this is nothing new. I need to really focus on making some kind of offensive move from guard, so that the initiative isn't completely with my training partner.

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