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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

05 May 2010

05/05/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #308
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Rob Stevens, Birmingham, UK - 05/05/2010

I spent my bank holiday with my girlfriend, up in Louth visiting our friends' new house: lovely place. Its also the big election tomorrow, so should be interesting to see who comes out on top. I'll vote Lib Dem as always, but this time it might actually count for something, which would be novel.

Another session with Rob tonight, this time looking at mount. It was especially good for me, as it was low mount with grapevines, my preferred option from there. Rob began by showing how to maintain the mount. Your hips should be pressing into them, while your feet go back under their legs. You can hook in conventional grapevines if you want, or cross your feet (as Kev recommended at RGA Wycombe). Rob's favoured method is to press the soles of his feet together, knees off the floor, making sure that all your weight it really driving through your partner.

Rob then demonstrated how to properly slip your arm under their head: again, this is something I like to do from mount, so should prove very useful. The key is to not simply hook under their head, but to reach right to the opposite shoulder, grabbing a handful of gi (alternatively, you can hook your fingers under the armpit, which also works for nogi). Your other hand is out for base.

So, if they try and bridge towards the elbow of your wrapping arm (very likely), you can bring your free arm to that side for base. Another advantage of gripping that shoulder is the ability to yank that back underneath you, especially if they bridge so explosively that you find your weight shifting off them.

That position with the knees off the ground also helps when it comes to moving into high mount, to secure an armbar. Lean to your basing arm side, providing you with the room to bring your other knee up. Gradually walk your knees into high mount, pressing your feet into their sides, squeezing in with your legs to suck up any space. Once you've got right up into their armpits, you can raise up and drive your hips forward. In this position, they can't easily bridge, and they also don't have any power with their arms.

That also means you can reach through with an arm, grasping their opposite shoulder (or indeed their gi, which enables you to switch to a choke if you want). Push the arm they have on that side across their body, then lean forward to trap it with your upper body. You can now slide your knee on the shoulder grip side right up to their head, staying tight.

With your free arm, grab below the elbow of their opposite arm and pull it across. You want to make sure they can't use this arm to defend, so if you can squish that arm against you and put their hand well away from any possible blocking positions, so much the better. Pulling that arm in also gives you room to bring your other foot to their head on that side, doglegging as with the usual armbar setup (your leg is curled in towards them, so you're leaving as little space as possible).

Gradually bring your shoulder grip side leg past their head, keeping it tight, until you can cross your feet and drop back for the armbar. If they put up any resistance, you can always move in a semi circle towards their head and then to their legs, which should pop their arm free into position for a submission.

Sparring started off specific again, from mount, with people numbered one, two and three as before. That is preferable to the usual king of the hill, as it means everyone is guaranteed at least five minutes underneath mount, because each number does a round in that position. I went with about four or five people I think when I was on my back, generally managing to bounce them enough to make space, then shoving a knee through. That works especially well when people are going for an attack.

The last person was quite big, so that was a little more difficult, although he was also less experienced. I tried Rob's suggestion from last lesson, where you block their stomach with a forearm and then use your other arm to lift their leg into half guard. I couldn't quite get my arm into place to lift the leg, so I'll need to work on that technique some more.

I later made a mistake when bridging, as I thought I'd managed to bump him forward enough to make space and get a knee through. Instead, I basically just helped him shift into high mount. Time ran out before he could get into place for a submission, but I suspect I may well have found myself tapping if that had gone on longer.

On top, I was getting put back into half guard most of the time, although at least I wasn't getting shunted off as sometimes happens all too frequently. Still, it was good to have Rob's technique to practice, but I struggled to get my knees up into their armpits. Possibly I was being too impatient and not securing a sufficiently solid mount first: my grapevines weren't as solid as I'd have liked, and I had trouble getting into Rob's preferred position with the soles of my feet touching. Driving more weight through my hips would have helped too.

I was again looking for butterfly during free sparring, scooting forward and looking to get an under and overhook. I could get the hooks on the legs, and finally remembered to press my forehead into their chest, but had much less success getting control of their arms. I also need to watch my knee position, and being more careful with my legs, as my partners were managing to back out too easily.

As a result I kept ending up in open guard when trying that, where I sought to secure that spider guard grip. Same old problem of not really doing anything once I'd got it, which was also the case with De La Riva (though I did briefly look to spin around to their back, but couldn't get my leg in place to start the process).

There was a female BJJer present for the first time since I've been at GB Brum (at least in the advanced class: I've seen a few in the beginners class which runs beforehand), but unfortunately she was only visiting. Still, it was nice to finally roll with a woman again, and also gave me a chance to practice my closed guard. I got into the overhook grip I tend to look for, but couldn't quite move into a triangle properly: I need to get a better angle.

On top of that, I should be a little less eager to immediately try and lock the triangle, instead just having the ankles crossed, then wriggling back on my shoulders until I've made enough space. Head control is something I keep forgetting too, though I sort of snatched at it this time. I think she had some kind of neck injury, as what I thought was an attempt to escape was actually an indication to stop (fortunately I realised in time!)

Obviously I also spent plenty of time under side control too. I got the running man escape, which was good, although the second time I tried it with someone else, I did it wrong and ended up giving my back. Not so good. That did give me some practice at escaping chokes, although I think my partner was going fairly easy on me (as he's a little bigger). I was trying to ease the pressure of the collar grip by gripping low on the same lapel then wrapping it under my leg. However, I'm not sure that was the right time to use that particular defence, as it is something Kev showed specifically against the bow and arrow choke.

Also like last time, I kept finding myself stepping over my leg with the knee up, from a half-remembered picture in Jiu Jitsu University. I really need to double check the survival section, to check if I'm doing it right.

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