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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

08 April 2010

08/04/2010 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #300
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 08/04/2010

It took rather longer than I expected, but I've finally got a new job. It is up in the Midlands, so I'll be relocating to Leamington shortly. That naturally means I'll be looking to train at Gracie Barra Birmingham, which is where I originally intended to train back when I started BJJ in 2006.

I'll definitely miss training at RGA High Wycombe, as Kev has without any doubt been the most approachable instructor I've ever trained with, always ready to answer my questions (of which there are always a lot!), no matter how silly. Still, this wasn't my last lesson at Wycombe, as I still have to find a place in Leamington, and I also don't start work for a couple of weeks.

Class tonight was very similar to the one Sahid taught last week when Kev wasn't here. However, rather than show two attacks, Kev demonstrated both offence and defence. He started with a basic escape to the knees from side control. There were a couple of tweaks on how I normally try this in sparring, which are very welcome as I suck at going to the knees.

First, you need to make sure you don't end up flat, with your legs straight out behind you. Instead, as you swim through to turn to your knees, have one knee up by theirs already, with your opposite elbow by the floor. That provides you both with a frame to prevent them pressing you down, and it also means you only have to bring in one knee, rather than both at once.

Second, you don't have to expend so much energy with the takedown. Generally, I bring my outside leg up, my head on the same side pressing into them, then drive with my head and leg to push them down into side control. That isn't necessary: instead, you can just walk round towards their back. If they don't do anything, you can take their back, and if they do, you can normally just follow them and end in side control, or at least half guard.

I kept instinctually walking around to the head side, when I should have been moving in the opposite direction (it is much easier to pop into side control there, as otherwise you end up having to go all the way past their legs. That can work too, but it is adding unnecessary extra obstacles).

The next technique was, like Sahid showed, a kimura from side control. Kev's method was a little different, and also simpler. You have you arm hooked under their far arm, the other under their head, in a classic side control position. Wedge your head past their arm so that it is trapped against one side (the technique can still work if you don't or can't do this, but there is more danger of there arm slipping free), then pull up on that arm, so they're on their side.

With your other arm, push their head down and step over. You can either keep your knee raised, or put your knees on the floor, so long as your knees are pinched into them to maintain control. Finally, keeping control of their limb throughout, switch your arms, then establish a figure four grip, locking their elbow to your chest. You can then complete the kimura as normal.

Sparring with Callum from side control, I noticed he was frequently putting both arms on the near side. That kills the typical bridge and shrimp escape, as you can't bridge into them. However, it is perfect for what Saulo calls the 'running man', where you make some space by pressing on their shoulder, then spin away from them. That shoulder push should mean you outrun their attempt to take your back.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the space, so just ended up scooting around on my back. I did manage to avoid a number of submissions, but it felt very much like I was only just keeping ahead of the attacks. On the plus side, I did sort of manage Gustavo Machado's escape from north-south again, though also as before, Callum would have been able to take my back if this had been full sparring (though admittedly he was expecting me to try that, as I've been attempting it a lot when rolling with him).

On top, I didn't feel as secure as last time. My weight distribution might have been off, or Callum was simply sharper with getting his legs tucked in and making space. I had real trouble stopping him curling up and jamming his knees underneath me, which would normally indicate I wasn't keeping my weight down enough, or perhaps trying to transition into side control variations too quickly and sloppily.

I killed the near elbow at one point, but wasn't able to capitalise. I probably got too fixated on looking to push back to make space and mount, which is of course exactly what everyone is waiting for you to try. More offence on my part would have helped, as I think I was overly focused on transitions, without the helpful distraction of a submission attempt.


  1. Congrats on the new job! Especially one that's convenient to somewhere you want to train. :P

  2. Thanks!

    Relatively convenient, as I can hop on a train and get there in about forty minutes, then a ten minute walk or so (at least I think so: hopefully not a longer walk than that, or it could be tight catching the train back, as it leaves half an hour after the classes I intend to attend finish).

    Certainly rather more of a time investment than at the moment: probably a two hour round trip, rather than the mere twenty minutes or so it takes me to go to Wycombe and back. ;)

  3. Congrats on gainful employment! Always a good thing to have.

    If people are frequently getting their knees under your when you have side control top you need to keep it in your mind that your hip on the side near their legs needs to be jammed to the mat, OR you need to have that knee tucked up against them and the foot folded in under you.

    Most people who have the issue you mentioned try to manufacture pressure in side control by getting up on their toes and driving into their opponent, that's fine so long as you don't elevate your hips. Hips DOWN is your primary focus from that position if you want to maintain it.
    Also, if you make that mistake and give them space then when they pull their knees up towards you, just pop straight to Knee on Belly, spin over them, and drop into side control on the other side with them facing slightly away from you.