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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

23 February 2010

23/02/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #290
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 23/02/2010

I had thought I was getting bored of MMA, judging by the last few UFC fights I've seen. I haven't watched an entire event in a long time. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed BAMMA 2 (British Association of Mixed Martial Arts) last weekend. Every fight was exciting, there was plenty of technically adept grappling on display, and I didn't see any of the trash talking that has become prevalent in the UFC.

It probably also helped that many of the fighters were from the lighter weight categories, which I tend to prefer watching. My personal connections also made it more interesting for me: the fight promoter was my old instructor, Jude Samuel, who is also the guy who gave me my blue belt. Paul Reed is an old student of Kevin O'Hagan (I think), who I very briefly trained with six years ago. Finally, Tom 'Kong' Watson (who didn't fight, but was repeatedly featured in a promo for the next event in May) is someone I used to see on the mats at RGA.

I especially enjoyed the final match, between veteran Paul Reed and twenty-one year old Alan Omer, an Iraqi who moved to Germany as a child. Apparently, Omer started out learning his grappling from YouTube videos (though this would seem to indicate he has been at a proper gym for some time now). They both gave an impressive demonstration of grappling: Reed has a dominant top game, while Omer looked pretty nifty on his back. Gunnar Nelson also delivered an entertaining performance: given all the hype surrounding him in both BJJ and MMA, it was cool to see him in action.

If you missed it, then BAMMA 2 is being shown again on Bravo 2 at 22:00 this Saturday, 27th February. Official website is here, but as that has the results on it, don't click through if you haven't seen the event yet. ;)

Getting back to tonight's training, Kev often begins the advanced class by asking if anybody has questions. I took the opportunity to ask if he could go through the back control he had just shown me in more detail. They're defending, with their arms tight against their neck. Reach over the top of an arm, wriggling your hand past the crook of their elbow. It may help to make a 'leopard palm' (curling the top joints of your fingers) to help drive the hand through.

Once you're past, reach under your own knee, then grab their gi, clamping your elbow to your side. If you want even more control, you can repeat on the other side, putting both their arms out of commission. Either way, the idea is that you now have an opening to go for their neck. As both of their arms are trapped, you have a couple more seconds to grab the collar or wrap the neck, as their reaction is automatically slower.

Whether you've wrapped one or both arms, you can use that position to attack with a bow and arrow choke, Kev's favourite submission from the back. Get one arm over their shoulder, gripping the opposite collar, up by their neck. Disengage the hand you have under their leg on the same side, and reach down to grab their trouser leg instead. You can now swivel to a perpendicular position, bringing one leg over their shoulder, while the other moves up their body to meet it. Cross your feet, then press down for the choke.

Kev then moved on to the triangle from guard. His first set-up depends on your partner making a basic error in the guard pass. If they reach back to push on your ankle to open your guard, hook that arm with your opposite foot. Having pull it out of the way, your other leg has a free path to pop up over their neck, after which you can move into a triangle.

Alternatively, you can set up the triangle with a scissor sweep motion. Your partner is using an orthodox grip in your guard, holding both of your lapels by your chest with one hand, while the other grasps the top of your trousers or your belt. Move out and bring your knee in as you would for a scissor sweep, but with a difference. That knee is going to go over their trouser grabbing hand: you can then push to break that grip. As soon as you do, circle the same leg up around their neck, then move into the triangle.

Finally, if they try to step round and initiate a pass to escape, grab their leg. You can then lift and roll them into an armbar, shifting your leg from the triangle over their head. It should then be a simple matter to drop back for the armbar.

Sparring started with Dan, in his guard. I have a habit at the moment of pushing for half guard, then trying to pass from there. It's better than not be able to initiate a pass at all, but still not ideal. I managed to make it to half, though I had to fight for it, as Dan was putting up plenty of resistance.

He tried to use the lockdown to get free, but I somehow ended up slipping through to mount instead: still, that was lucky, as I should have been dropping low on his hips to release my foot, then move back into the half guard position I wanted. I should also attack the arm more, to distract them: I did half-heartedly flail at an Americana, but didn't have the right position for decent leverage.

Once I made it to mount and maintained that for a while, Dan raised up and gave me a chance to go for an armbar. I left too much space, and could see I was losing it. I was sure there was something I could switch to, like an omoplata, but I didn't react quickly enough. I need to be more confident with those omoplatas, but at least I'm starting to recognise the opportunities. Like Roy Dean says on Purple Belt Requirements, it is all about the combinations.

Last roll was with a big white belt, who was aggressively pushing forward. He kept trying to attack my arms from within my guard, meaning that there were several times I'm sure I could have gone for an armbar. However, I wasn't staying tight enough: by the time I was manoeuvring to push off his hip, he had already pulled his arm free.

I also need to try out the Shawn Williams guard, which I still haven't attempted in sparring. Due to the way he was forward, that was presenting me with an entry to the SW guard, which I must remember to take next time.

Off to visit girlfriend again tomorrow, which is becoming a regular thing every other week, so again won't make it to Thursday training.

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