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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

28 May 2010

28/05/2010 - BJJ (Basic)

Class #314
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Chiu Kwong Man, Birmingham, UK - 28/05/2010

The gi class followed directly after, and somewhat bizarrely, I found myself being asked to take the warm-up. I was the only blue belt there, so I guess it goes by seniority, though unfortunately in my case, the colour doesn't really indicate anything other than time, as I'm pretty mediocre for a blue.

That mediocrity apparently extends to my warm-ups, as when it came to the backwards breakfall, I wasn't doing it right. Instead of dropping back and rolling over the shoulder, Chiu came back at that point to emphasise that you need to properly break the fall first. It shouldn't be a continuous roll: drop back and slap the mat with both hands, legs in the air, but not rolling all the way over.

I was also not much of an uke for Chiu, as he had to switch me for somebody else a few times during technique demonstration (that might have been because I was too short, but most likely because of my poorly executed open guard). Much easier when I can just stand, watch and take mental notes! ;)

Class tonight focused on something else I've been watching on Braulio videos, spider guard. However, it was passing the spider guard rather than using it, although the bottom person did have a chance to practice a bit in the course of drilling. Chiu built things up gradually, starting by them simply putting their knees up and feet in the air, holding your sleeve. You hold their knees and step back, putting their feet flat on the floor.

Next they were allowed to put their feet in your biceps while holding your sleeves, which makes things a little more difficult. This time, you pistol grip low on their trousers. Steadily step back with a good, low posture, until you can get you arms straighter, so they aren't creating a right angle by pushing into your bicep.

You can then twist inwards with those grips and press down, which should slide their feet off your arms. It is difficult for them to maintain much of a hold with their feet from their, as long as you step back: don't just try and twist inwards before stepping back, or it won't do any good. Similarly, this won't help you if they still have your arm bent.

Finally, the worst case scenario: they have managed to pull on one arm, pressing into the other arm with their foot to stretch you out. That straightens your arm, so that they can then yank your sleeve across their thigh, circling their leg around and threading it through your arm. This is exactly the position I've been looking to get from Braulio's video, so it was useful to have a chance to practice the right grip, when it was my turn to be on the bottom.

Ideally, you want to pre-empt them before they can secure that hold. Circle your hand around behind their leg, then make a knife hand pointing in the direction of their head. You could grip closer by their bum, but that is more at risk of being pulled back into their grasp, enabling them to re-establish the position they want.

If you get caught in that grip, similar principles from earlier still apply. Crouching low with good posture, move backwards. In what Chiu described as a coiling spring, that should give you the leverage to then immediately follow the step back by bringing your arm back too, then circling around as before.

Another option is to sneak your grips around to their calves, so you're underneath their legs. They probably won't let you do this, or at least not on both legs, so some stealth may be required. You can try straightening your arm as you circling round, to help you get the leverage, and again stepping back helps. You can also bring your knee to bear, pressing behind their leg to give you the space for the grip. Be careful though, as they may catch on and stop you.

Once you've got both grips in place, you can push your arms out, driving forwards so that their feet move towards their head. Drop down to their bum and stay tight, so they don't have any space to move back into guard. From here, you should be able to press forward and pass, or at least get them into turtle from where you can begin to attack.

Again, no sparring, though lots of people stay on afterwards for the open mat. Unfortunately, you need to be on a more expensive subscription programme to take part: I'm only on the standard £60 a month, rather than the £75 premium or £90 black belt options. Still, that's by choice, as I want to avoid the temptation to train more than twice a week, as my writing commitments would definitely suffer especially now I've also got a full-time job. ;)

My fingers will be sore tomorrow too, especially having been the uke for most of the class. As Chiu mentioned, he doesn't use spider guard much these days because it is so hard on the fingers, along with the knees. Something to keep in mind, especially as I am keen to keep training well into my old age, so want to avoid anything which ups the risk of chronic injuries.

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