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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

13 April 2010

Meerkatsu Sighting: 13/04/10 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #301
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 13/04/2010

Seymour of Meerkatsu fame was down tonight, so it was cool to finally meet and train with him (I'll talk more about that in the advanced class post). I may not be able to go meet all the great bloggers in the US yet, but I can certainly meet some of the great bloggers we've got on this side of the Atlantic. :)

The self defence section left you in knee on belly, so Kev added an armbar from there. As this results in a 'Japanese armbar' (one foot over their head and the other tucked under their side, rather than the more secure both feet on the other side), Kev noted that you need to be careful of your angle. If you fall back towards their head, that helps them effect the hitchhiker escape and turn their way to freedom. If you instead fall towards their legs, that's much more difficult.

Kev began the lesson proper with a baseball bat choke from knee on belly. He started from a side control where you have both your arms over to the far side, controlling their arm. Switch into reverse scarf hold, so that your hip is backing into their nearside arm, while your other arm is over their face, making it hard for them to see what you're doing.

Make space by shifting your hips further towards their head, then slide your knee over, as if you're going to mount. Instead of mount, you want knee on belly, grabbing their leg and a thumb inside grip on the far collar (rather than under their head, as you want to set up this choke). Be certain your base leg has the knee raised, so you can both resist their attempts to bridge and follow their movements. You also need to watch that the leg isn't close enough for them to easily hook, which would restrict your ability to move with them.

You can now grip their near collar with your other hand, close to their head. Drop your other arm onto their neck. This sets you up for the choke. To finish, bring your elbows together and squeeze, driving your weight through your top arm (I think: I always get confused with the baseball choke). You might find it useful to slide your knee off them once you've begun the choke, so you can drop more of your weight onto them. You could even drop your hip, moving into a sprawled side control for maximum pressure.

In an example of Kev's excellent class structure, the escape from knee on belly followed. Pressing on their knee with your hand is a cardinal error, as that will tend to leave a gap for them to thread behind your elbow, pull you onto your side and move into a submission. However, it is possible to do something similar with your hand, as long as your elbow remains tight to your side, leaving no gap for them to hook.

Start by pressing your nearest hand into their hip and inner thigh, so your arm remains on the inside of their leg. Bridge, and use that bit of space to immediately slip the other hand underneath their knee. This creates a frame, and also relieves some of the pressure on your stomach. Again, it is essential you tuck your elbow in tight to their side when doing this.

You can now bump them with your knee, then immediately shrimp out. As in the shrimp-to-knees drill (also relevant last week), bring one leg underneath the other and go to your knees, maintaining that pressure on their hip until you can secure a hold of their lower leg. You can now drive your shoulder under their knee and pull their lower leg towards you, taking them down and coming up in open guard.

Sparring from side control with Howard, I concentrated on cross-face pressure with my shoulder on top. I was also still looking to steadily transition to north-south, keeping my hips low, sprawling back once I got to the shoulder. I was reminded to use that shoulder pressure by a a great article Leslie linked, mentioning top pressure for small people, among a whole bunch of other tips. I'd recommend people check it out if they haven't already (especially women: it's written by Krista Scott-Dixon from, and directed at her fellow female grapplers). That reminded me of the importance of the shoulder, and also driving your weight diagonally through them, rather than just straight down.

With Seymour, a few times when I should have switched to knee on belly (like Kintanon explains here), I instead just ended up losing side control. I really, really need to get more comfortable with knee-on-belly, especially as a small guy. Again, I was looking to be slow and steady, moving to north south.

Seymour attempted an escape where he bridges and turns to face the floor: I think the size difference came into play a little here, as if he'd been bigger, that would have worked every time. However, even though I'm only a little bigger, that probably helped me drive him back down once or twice (though he still completed that escape at least once). I also really wanted the step-over triangle, but Seymour could see it coming and blocked it easily every time.

Underneath Howard, I was trying to keep in mind that bridging should be at an angle, not straight up. I also attempted that Gustavo Machado escape from north south a number of times, and did a better job of first getting one hook, but still not good enough: I slipped off and fell straight back under side control. Still, better than what has happened with Callum, where my back is wide open to being taken after attempting that escape.

Defending against Seymour's side control, I found that if he managed to pop my elbow away from his hip, hooking the foot helped hold him in place while I dug my elbow back into place. However, that feels like a bad habit, so I get the impression hooking that far foot isn't generally a good idea. Still, it did seem to help in that specific situation.

Seymour was doing a good job of killing my movement with a grip on my collar. His arm was pressed against my face, so it was difficult to shift in that direction. That meant I started considering some less orthodox escapes, which I also tried against Howard, especially what Ed Beneville calls the 'x-hands' in Strategic Guard. Didn't work, as I only half-remembered it, so I need to re-read that book (re-reading all the Beneville books
would probably be a good idea, as there is a ton of stuff in there I never think to try).

At the end of the lesson, I got a third stripe on my blue belt: always nice to get the applause and handshake. I presume Kev follows the same time-based pattern for stripes as at RGA HQ, which I think is at six month intervals for blue belts (which would be about right, as I started at RGA Wycombe in late September). It would be interesting to know how many places connect stripes directly to ability: it definitely varies.


  1. Rahr!
    Thank you for the mention!
    Well done on your stripe, good roll today and just a shame you're off soon, but hopefully I can make it up to Brum at some point soon.

  2. Congrats on the stripe! Just now catching up on the reading I missed whilst away. Well done!!!