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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2014 Can Sönmez

15 June 2010

15/06/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #319
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK - 15/06/2010

I couldn’t make the advanced gi on Monday, so did my usual backup of the basics Tuesday class. That also has the advantage of starting later, so even though I stayed on at work for thirty minutes, I didn’t having any trouble getting to Leamington train station to get to Acocks Green in time.


As I walked in GB Brum, Kevin was showing a useful looking escape from side control to the advanced no-gi class. I didn’t see it from the start, so probably missed some details, but it looked as though they have a normal side control. You keep your elbows in, grasping their underhooking arm with both hands, on either side of the shoulder. That means you can also use the lower part of your arm against their neck if required: Kevin noted that you should never rely on just your wrist or hand, as they can simply collapse that with their weight.

You’re then going to make a powerful bridge, by bringing your heels right to your bum. That gives you some extra force, as you aim to either bridge them right off, or at least make enough space to get your knee in. Due to your elbows both moving beneath their torso, that makes it more difficult for them to collapse their weight back down. Shame I didn’t see it from the start, as it looked interesting.

Nathan’s class began with several drills, which are always useful. For example, where you stand up in their guard, with a grip of both collars, the other hand driving their same side sleeve into their opposite hip. This controls that arm and also helps to immobilise their hips. As you stand up, you let go of the collars, pulling the arm up, but also keeping your elbow inside their knee.

Make sure you drive your hips forward too, to keep the pressure on: something I often forget to do. My passing remains terrible: it would be good to get some guard passing classes at some point again, as it feels like it’s been a while. That also reminds me to review my notes from Kev Capel’s private a while back, which presented a good set of tools for passing.

The main part of Nathan’s basics session was focused on side control. He began with a transition to mount, similar to what he’s shown before. You have a tight side control, and have already cleared their near elbow. First, shift your hips up towards their head, getting as tight as possible. Walk the hand that is under their far arm towards their head, until you can reach the top of their skull.

You can then slide your knee onto their stomach, but don’t go all the way to the floor yet. Keep twisting towards the area you just vacated, to bend their body and make it more difficult for them to bridge. You can also move up towards their head, staying tight. Once you’re secure, go to full mount, and there is the possibility of either digging their arm into position for an arm triangle, or setting up an armbar by getting a good high mount.

Nathan then demonstrated how to move into a triangle from side control. This isn’t the option I like to try where you step over their head from scarf hold, but instead a transition straight into a mounted submission. As before, you have a solid side control, and have cleared their near elbow. Also as before, you want to shift your hips towards their head, then walk your hand underneath their far arm.

This time, you’re going to manoeuvre that arm to the ground, pressing their wrist to the mat with your hand. You can then feed it to the hand you have under their head. Next, drive your hips forward and straighten your arm. That will prevent them turning their head, and it also puts them on their side. Be certain to keep that near arm of theirs trapped, so they aren’t able to pull their elbow free.

Now put your free hand on their torso, using that as a post to swing your leg over and sit on them. You then want to slide it over the arm you’re gripping, at which point you can let go to pull their head up and towards you. That should provide enough room to wrap your leg under their head, meaning that their recently freed arm is of no real use to them. Grab your ankle to maintain the grip.

Lean forward and post with your free hand, in order to get the space to then lock up the triangle with your other leg. From here, you can either go for the triangle, attack their arm, or indeed go for a wristlock. Your weight is on their neck, and their bridges aren’t going to be very effective, as their hips are so far away.

Finally, Nathan switched perspective for an escape from side control. This time, it’s your elbow that’s been cleared out the way, so the first thing you need to do is get it back. Start by digging the hand near their head into their jaw line, knuckles first, until you can slide the forearm under their neck. You can then grip around their shoulder blade and pry their head up, by lifting your wrist and thereby driving your forearm into their neck.

This is unpleasant (meaning that I try not to be too gung ho with this in drilling: fortunately, my training partner tonight was of a similar mindset), so you’ll suddenly find you have some space to free your trapped elbow. You can then shrimp out, bring your knee in and recover guard. That forearm against their neck will make it difficult for them to bring their weight down, while the elbow by their hip prevents their motion forwards.

Specific sparring was unusual, in that for once most of my training partners were either my size or smaller. There also weren’t any other blue belts there this time round: Gary normally attends the Tuesday basics, but I guess he must have been teaching at his kickboxing club or something. So, that meant I had a chance to practice both on top and on the bottom.

On top, I tried moving into reverse scarf hold to mount, which worked nicely the first time, but then that was against somebody a fair bit smaller (I did try to focus on technique, but it is always hard to know if you’ve managed to avoid using a size advantage, especially if you’re not used to having one). The second time, I don’t think I controlled their torso well enough, as they were able to get onto their side. I should probably have made better use of the arm by their head, and perhaps grabbed a knee or something before they managed to turn.

Underneath, I looked to put Norby’s advice from Saturday into practice, especially as I was starting from the worst position possible, with both of my arms clear. Again, that worked a few times, but I think I wasn’t always concentrating enough on bending their head towards their shoulder coupled with a firm bridge. It is definitely good to have that option for when they’ve managed to isolate your far arm, so something I’ll be looking to try more often (though it is of course much more difficult against bigger people, especially if they’re more experienced).

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