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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

26 April 2010

26/04/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #307
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Kevin Webb, Birmingham, UK - 26/04/2010

Judging by my first fortnight, GB Brum is blessed with plenty of top notch instructors, and that's not even including the black belts. Brown belt Kevin Webb taught a brilliant class tonight, all focused on passing the half guard when they have a knee across your torso. I'm not sure it was quite z-guard, but then I'm still not entirely sure what the definition of z-guard is, so it might have been.

Anyway, for this bit of half guard passing, the situation was that they have their knee across. With the hand on that side, they're gripping your opposite collar, looking for a submission (e.g., a loop choke, something Oli G is fond of). Their other hand is gripping your same side sleeve.

The first thing you need to do is strip that grip off your collar. Keep your chest raised and forward, in good posture, or this will be hard. Your free hand takes a firm pistol grip on that sleeve, while the other one moves up to their gripping hand itself, grabbing onto the hand. This may well be a battle, as your opponent is not going to make it easy for you to get your hand up there: crawl up their arm, gradually moving your hand into position for the grip.

Once you have that double hold on their gripping hand, forcefully strip the grip by pushing away from your body while grasping their hand. Shove that hand to their chest, both hands on top, pinning it in place. This also means you can keep their back flat on the mat, and use that base to get to your feet. This should cause their knee to shift from your chest to either side of your knee.

Again, you want good posture, making certain you are driving forwards with the knee you have between their legs. Your other leg is stepped back for support, and your stance is relatively low (or at least, mine was, and Kev seemed to approve). The problem now is their remaining grip on your sleeve. The trick here is to take the slack out, by pulling your trapped wrist back towards your chest. Your other hand pistol grips their sleeve, and you then yank your trapped wrist back while simultaneously shoving your pistol grip across.

Now that your hands are free, you're going to press both hands on their knee (the one inside your legs, rather than on the outside) and drive it to the floor, moving backwards. Make some space for your trapped leg by wiggling it back and forth. As soon as you have space, in one motion, angle your knee diagonally backwards and slam it through, aiming to land on your butt cheek, rather than on your knee. If they manage to cling onto your foot, it shouldn't be too difficult to use your other foot to push your way free.

You should also find yourself basing out with a hand, over their body by their back. Make sure you don't end up putting that over their shoulder by their head, or they can take your back. Instead, you want it between their hip and their elbow. That way, you can move it up under their elbow and then use your upper body to push them to the mat, switching to a tight side control.

I really liked Kev's detailed, technical approach. Better yet, he frequently stopped the class to go over another point: every single time, he pre-empted the questions I wanted to ask. Like the other Kev I've trained under, Kevin Webb also made a point of asking the class beforehand what they wanted to work on, responding to a specific problem a purple belt was having, which turned into an excellent class. Perhaps there is something about instructors called Kevin that makes them particularly good at picking out details? ;p

Sparring was good too. I started with my drilling partner, Chris, where we maintained an enjoyably steady pace. I was looking to play around with half guard, and also see if I could establish spider guard grips (I've been looking to wrap my leg over and pull the sleeve around, for an especially tight hold). Of course, the best grip in the world doesn't help if you haven't got anywhere to go from there. Still, I am at least regularly moving into butterfly to start: good advice by Kintanon from last week.

Next was another blue belt called Peter, where again I tried to move straight to butterfly, but this time couldn't quite get it because he quickly stood up. Instead, I attempted to switch between spider guard and De La Riva. Neither was especially successful, although I did find that doggedly holding onto that spider guard on at least one sleeve helped me recover guard after he almost passed a few times.

With a white belt called Danny, I was in butterfly longer, but wasn't able to stay sitting up long enough. I need to drive forward with my forehead into their chest quicker. So instead, I took the opportunity to establish an overhook and grab his opposite collar. I was still in butterfly guard, so wanted to move to closed guard in order to work the choke from there. I got into the position I wanted, bringing the other arm over his head to try for the choke, but to no avail: something must have been off with my technique and/or positioning.

I attempted to switch to a triangle instead, shoulder walking backwards once I locked my ankles, but I didn't have sufficient head control. He stacked me, and before I could switch to some variation of an armbar, I somehow ended up in half guard. As I was already fairly crunched up underneath, deep half guard seemed like a sensible option, and I sort of got on top.

However, while I was clinging tightly as per Rob's lesson last week, that's as far as I got. Danny was pulling up on my head for a triangle, which didn't feel like too much of a risk, but I also couldn't seem to work out how to move around from there to side control. I had the same trouble during Rob's lesson, so that's definitely a technique I'd like to revisit. Still, I did at least feel relatively secure with my arms wrapped around that leg.

My last roll was with Nathan, a brown belt. I spent the majority of the roll fending off attack from either side control or knee on belly, which had also popped up in previous spars. Once again, I found myself falling into Saulo's 'running escape' survival position, with one leg over the other, knee up. Eventually, Nathan got me into mount, and with twisting arm control worked the submission.

He also had a good tip (which I think someone else mentioned recently too) about my bridging: I'm bumping up with my hips, but I'm not then using that space well enough. I need to really move those hips into the space, doing a better job of combining the bridge and the shrimp.

My girlfriend is down for the rest of this week into the bank holiday, so I'll only be training on Monday this week. Next week, given Monday will be taken for girlfriend time, that probably means I'll do the basic class on Tuesday followed by advanced on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to seeing what instructor pops up next, though I have to admit, I'd be perfectly content if Kev and Rob took all the lessons, judging by the high standard they've set so far.

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