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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

22 May 2010

Seminar: Roy Dean UK 2010

Seminar #4
Uplands School, (BJJ), Roy Dean, Poole, UK - 22/05/2010

Last year, the Roy Dean UK seminar was a relatively small affair, and I felt very lucky to be the only outsider present. I had the privilege of staying with Kirsty, Steve and Paul, getting to chat at considerable length to them and Roy on both nights, along with Rick and Glen, Roy's students. This year, things were a little different, as the seminar was over a single day and much busier, with a number of people popping down from outside the club.

That included not just one blogger, but three, as Seymour from Meerkatsu and Matt from Martial Farts/The Grappling Dummy were both down too (he lives in the area, so was able to benefit from classes with Roy earlier in the week). So, I still felt very lucky to be able to attend, but the secret is out: I'm sure these seminars are going to grow and grow over the next few years. The school itself is noticeably bigger, now with a number of blue belts. The turn-out was therefore larger too, with around thirty BJJers in attendance.

Things kicked off with a takedown, which was all leverage. Overhook their arm, pulling in your arm rather than reaching over the back. Step in front with your near leg and across, so that your foot is between their legs. Grab their far wrist with your opposite hand and drag it across. The leg you have between theirs swings back, straightened out, into their inner thigh.

At the same time, release the grip you have on their wrist and post on the floor: as you've broken their balance, they should be doing the same. Next, you put your foot back down, but position so your leg is braced behind their same side leg. Your posting hand now reaches for their ankle. Yank that up, while at the same time pressing with your leg to take them down.

From there, you can move into a straight footlock. Your arm wraps around, staying high, on their Achilles tendon. Drop back, putting your outside foot on their hip. Your other leg can stay underneath, or you can hook behind their knee (which means you can roll both ways, still staying competition legal). Also, be sure to squish your knees together.

Your other hand grabs your wrapping wrist and pulls it across, so their ankle is now nearer the crook of your elbow (but still on your forearm). Your other elbow points up into the air, at an acute diagonal angle. Roll your shoulder back on the side you've trapped their foot, look up, puff out your chest and arch your back. If you need more leverage, roll to your side, facing away from them. This gives you much more room to arch your back for the tap.

If you end up on the outside of their leg, you can also go for the knee bar. Swivel around to face their legs, stepping your inside foot through. Squat down and sit on their hips, then drop back in the direction of the leg (you don't cross over their body). Holding tight, squish your knees together, then arch your back for the submission.

Roy then did something different from last year, with a question and answer session. At first, people just asked for pointers on the technique he'd shown earlier, but when Roy specifically indicated the questions could be broader, more people piped up, including me. There were other technical queries, like Matt asking about engaging in the stand-up phase of a BJJ competition, along with non-technical musing, like somebody asking how often Roy trained early on (if you're interested, his first year was once a week, after which he was able to up it to twice, then upon moving to San Diego he could train three or four times).

Roy also talked about the massive importance of training partners, but he wasn't referring to drilling and sparring and class. He meant somebody who would train with you at home, which is a wonderful prospect, but can be tough to put into practice. Still, I do have a couple of mats at home, so it would be brilliant if I had a regular training partner to drill with at home. I continue to live in hope that my girlfriend will start to take an interest in BJJ...

My own question was about spider guard, specifically the problem I've been having recently getting to that strong control position with their sleeve around your thigh and your leg threaded through the arm. Roy emphasised the importance of getting the right angle, swinging your head to the other side, then raising your hips to reach that ideal grip.

After the first ten minute break (just about enough time to scribble all my notes, like last time: very handy part of Roy's seminar structure!), Roy moved on to maintaining side control. He used the orthodox gable grip under the head and arm, with knees in tight. He then suggested sprawling one leg back, dropping your hip so you can really press with your shoulder. That twists their upper body out of alignment, making it much tougher for them to initiate an escape.

There was then an interesting variation I hadn't seen before. With the arm you have over their far side, slide the hand palm up (I think, might have been knuckles up) under their back. If you can get this a little lower than the spot between their shoulder blades, you can then drive your weight into them, creating a strange sort of pressure-point on the spine. When it was being done to me, I had to raise up to relieve the pressure, which not only messes up bridging, but acts as a handy distraction benefitting the person on top, who can then launch attacks.

Frequently, the person underneath will push up into your neck, pushing you towards their legs (if they push towards your head, you can move your head past their elbow and work for an arm triangle). This gives you a shot at the Americana from side control. You're going to stick with a central jiu jitsu principle and flow with that motion, letting your upper body be moved backwards, but then switch your legs, basing and therefore putting your weight into them. You can now bring your hand to their wrist and switch your legs back the other way, using that momentum to press their arm to the floor, with your figure four grip established, where you can finish the submission.

From that same set up, you can move into a straight armbar from side control. As I'd expected, Roy then demonstrated the side control lockflow from last year (it is also taught on Purple Belt Requirements), shifting through the Americana, straight armbar and finally kimura. However, he also added in a nifty triangle finish, along with some points on the kimura from side control.

You've gone for an Americana, they straighten their arm, your slide into a straight armbar, and they then point their bent arm towards your legs. Clamp the arm to your chin, which also enables you to switch the other arm under, ready for a kimura. For better leverage, switch your base and face their legs. This will give you a greater range of motion.

As you switch your base, bring a knee under their elbow. That enables you to step over their head, and if they try and roll into you (which especially powerful opponents may attempt), you can happily roll with that motion. Due to bring the leg over the head, you're set up for the triangle, and even better, you still have their arm in the kimura position. This leaves you with a beautiful double attack: either complete the triangle, go for the kimura, or use one to distract them from defending the other.

Roy then looked to apply some similar principles to top half guard. They have managed to swim through for an underhook over your back. Switch your base to face their legs, getting fairly low on their body, so that one side of your rib cage is lying along their belt line. This should effectively immobilise their hips.

You can now slip an arm under their elbow, while leaning back and then reaching with the other hand to grab their wrist. From there, you could go for an Americana from half guard, but Roy prefers to push right into the straight armbar from half guard. The aim is to point their arm off at a diagonal angle, towards their head but away from their side.

That concluded the second session, and again I used the Q and A to ask about another technical niggle I've encountered over the last few months. This time it was on escaping north-south, where I've been trying to wriggle out then kick over to take the back. Roy said that while that escape is ok, he prefers to first try and get his elbows into their hips (IIRC, arms clasped, but I might be remembering incorrectly). That helps him make enough room to spin out to guard.

If you miss that position and have to just grab their belt or gi (as in the Gustavo Machado escape), you can being the taking the back escape as I've been doing. However, rather than going right over to take the back, you could be a little less ambition and end up hanging off their side. That will normally tempt your opponent to try and drive forward to come on top. Once they do, you already have one side locked, so you can just grab their free knee, lift and sweep them. Either way, you're out from under north south.

Somebody else asked about escaping knee on belly, for which Roy had a few options. The first was a little reminiscent of Saulo's DVD, but instead of the elbow, Roy wrapped his inside hand around their knee (thereby involving the usual armbar problem). You could then bolster that with your outside hand, making sure to keep your elbow down and tight by your side.

Alternatively push with the outside hand, but again keeping that elbow really tight to your side, so there isn't any space from them to reach through and take the armbar. The last option looked a bit difficult, but from what I remember, you basically want to get the person on top to shove their weight forward. Once you've tempted them to do that, by shrimping away or something, grab the knee that isn't on your stomach and lift them over, rolling to the top position. This won't work unless they've already given you that forward momentum.

After that second break, the final technical series was based around chokes. Roy began with a cross choke from the guard, with some little details that make the submission much tighter. Instead of reaching in for a deep grip while on your back, post on your elbow and sit up (and importantly, you stay sitting up, possibly even opening your guard). You can now reach really, really deep, past the back of their neck. This means that your other hand doesn't need to be so far into their collar. Bring it underneath the first arm, grip the collar then squeeze for the choke, twisting from palm up to palm down and also curling your wrists towards you.

Alternatively, from that same deep grip, you can bring the other hand to the other shoulder, grasping a handful of gi. Use that to yank them over, which will make it easier for you to circle your elbow past and around their head, into the side of their neck. As before, squeeze for the choke, though this time it is palm up/palm down, as opposed to the previous palm up/palm up variation.

The third option is sneakier, and relies upon their reaction. As before, you sit up for that super-deep grip. They're wise to it, and duck their head under, so now you're holding their same side collar, without anything pressing into their neck. Your other hand will grab their other collar, thumb inside. The cunning part is dropping your leg on the palm up side, inviting them to pass your guard.

If they take the bait, immediately run your legs around, so that you're circling towards your thumb grip. Your elbows will be coming together as you do so. You also want to turn in the direction of their head, to keep them off balance. When the time is right, squeeze your grip, and land the baseball bat choke from underneath side control.

Roy also showed a standing version of the same thing. Again, you've got a deep grip and they've brought their head underneath. Get the grip with the other thumb into their other collar, then bring your leg out and drop to your bum, then your back. They'll probably roll over the top to stop you going for that choke. Quickly move to north-south, leg over their head, driving your head and shoulder into their belt line. From here, squeeze to finish the baseball bat choke.

The last two techniques of the seminar were two chokes from side control, or at least that's where they started. They push up, and you go with it, switching to knee-on-belly. Get your hand, palm up, into their near collar, good and deep, curling the arm around. If they push on your knee, let them, as this now enables you to bring your other arm over to establish the thumb in the collar grip. Complete the baseball bat choke by dropping that elbow and straightening your first arm, your weight staying tight to their shoulders.

Even if they block your second arm, you can still complete the choke. Drop to their near side, so that you are lying parallel, but make sure you are still close to their side. This means you have a much greater range of motion for straightening your first arm against their neck, which will get the submission regardless of their attempts to block the second arm.

That was the end of the technical portion of the seminar, which now moved into an open mat for an hour. I had intended to get in some drilling and sparring with guys like Seymour and Matt, but as it turned out, after scribbling my notes and taking some pictures, I only had time for one roll. That was with one of Matt's students, who I think had been doing either JKD or MMA for a while. He's also a bit beefier than me, though having said that, most people are!

Unusually, I spent most of the roll on top, looking to use shoulder pressure to pass: there was a lot of getting to half guard, almost passing, back into my guard, almost passing, and so on. I was able to slide through to mount a couple of times, though. I tried to shift forward with my weight into his head and then walk my hand up, trying to remember Nathan's lesson on the topic, but without much effect. Still, I was at least able to maintain the mount, which is always gratifying when it is against somebody bigger.

I had a comparatively high mount, so looked to shift around into technical mount. Normally I try get my hand through to grab the collar, but it had disappeared from reach. So, I looked for the armbar instead. As often happens, that just resulted in him grabbing his hand, then managing to turn and get into my guard, then stack me.

I attempted to switch to a triangle, but without any luck. This happens almost every time I go for an armbar from mount, unless they're smaller than me, so definitely something I need to work on. Most likely I'm leaving too much space, failing to be sufficiently steady and controlled as I attempt to free the limb, or just not getting that arm tight and away from their grip properly.

When I was in his guard, I should have used something Colin showed me at the Southend Throwdown a few weeks ago. As soon as he grabbed my collar, I could have grabbed that sleeve and jumped up, ready to initiate a pass. I'm still not thinking too quickly when it comes to passing, and I remain hesitant to stand up, especially against somebody bigger.

I also found myself on top in side control, and again I should have capitalised on the situation. He wrapped both hands around my back, which opens up the possibility of moving to north south, then taking a kimura. However, I couldn't manage to strip his grip properly and secure the right position on the arm. I also got a bit fixated on stepping over for the triangle, which I think meant I ended up in guard again, but I can't remember.

It was only a one day event this year, and Roy was heading off the next morning. So, less of a chance to socialise unfortunately, but still, it was great to train with Roy again. His seminars are always packed with information, and I always come away with something useful. It was also cool to meet Matt from Martial Farts/The Grappling Dummy, and see Seymour again.

Steve's club is clearly going from strength to strength, and the affiliate in Basingstoke also looks set to grow, especially now that Kev got promoted. Poole is becoming a great place for BJJ, and then there's Matt in Bournemouth too. It will be interesting to see how the Roy Dean Academy in the UK expands in the future: things are certainly looking promising, and with Steve's guidance it has already become a popular place to train.

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  1. Hee hee, who is that flash git in your last photo?

    Great to hook up again. I just got back after a five hour drive with some very tired and wailing children - although they had a great weekend.

    Just finishing my write up now, great to train with you again and I certainly want to make Roy Dean@Poole an annual thing!

  2. That's a mythical figure representing BJJ pimpery, who sold his house in order to pay for a belt. ;)

    Cool to meet up again, and I'm looking forward to your piece, especially the pics!

  3. nice writeup matey! i will refer to yours when i want to remember the techniques.

    mine is done, just need to get home and upload it with some pics.

    then work on the video!

    nice to meet you in person, real shame we couldn't roll - next time!

    sorry again for flaking out on Saturday.

  4. No worries, Matt (I assume that's you: is Emperor Store a new alias?), and yeah, it would be cool to get in a roll next time. My gf has that friend in Poole, so I should be down again when she next goes to visit her.

    That video should be awesome, if it's up to the standard of your others: looking forward to it! :)