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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 July 2010

13/07/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #324
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK – 13/07/2010

July hasn’t been a good month for BJJ so far, due to the buses. For the second week in a row, I only managed to make it to Tuesday because that is the only class that starts late enough and finishes sufficiently early. This class may make it three weeks in a row, unless I can find a way to get to the station in time tomorrow (even more unlikely now that there are a second set of roadworks on the bus route).

However, putting that into perspective, Kevin Webb came down with a serious medical condition in the last couple of weeks. I hope he makes a full and swift recovery: not only is he an excellent instructor, but a really nice guy, with great jiu jitsu too. It will be good to see him back on the mats.

Class tonight was, again, side control escapes. This time, it was even more useful than usual, because Nathan was looking at just the sort of position I frequently get stuck in. To start with, Nathan drilled a side control escape from when they have both their hands on the near side. Turn so that you’re on your side, then try to keep turning to your knees. It is essential that you keep your lower elbow tucked, ready to block any attempt by them to establish a hook, and similarly defend with your upper elbow. You also need to keep it close, so it isn’t vulnerable to attacks.

Having drilled that a few times, Nathan progressed to slightly different position, which is the one I often end up in. You are underneath side control, on your side. They have one arm under your neck, trying to reach for your collar. The other is looking to move past your hip, and possible isolate your arm for a submission.

To stop them getting your collar, arch your head back. You also need to make sure that your upper elbow stays by your hip, blocking any attempt by them to wriggle them arm through. Also bring your top knee up to your hip, which should both limit their movement and help prevent them sliding a knee through.

The next step is to grab the arm they have by your hip with both your hands, pushing it down, straightening your arms. Shrimp your hips into them to make space, then bring your top knee under their arm, so that your shin is pressing firmly into the crook of their elbow. You can now just hold with your bottom arm, pulling their sleeve towards you, so you’re creating enough tension on their arm that they can’t circle it free.

Keep shrimping back into them and pressing with your shin, until you can bring your other foot to the crook of their elbow. Once you’ve got that secured, you can push them even further, shoving on their head too if you need to make further space. This should enable you to slip your top knee past their hip. From there, you can establish guard, or possibly even go for a triangle.

This reminded me a bit of the ‘shin-in-elbow trick’ from Beneville’s Strategic Guard, which I brought up from home when I visited my parents last weekend. I’ll have to look that over again, and see if it helps ingrain the technique into my memory.

During specific sparring, I was still getting stuck underneath in a similar position. I was trying to be proactive, bridging and shrimping, but my timing is off, and I don’t think I’m adjusting as well as I should to their movements on top. I’m not getting that scarf hold escape at all: I think I might be failing to combine the shrimp with the straight-arming into their collar, and I also think I’m continuing to push to the side too much rather than straight up.

On top, I’m not getting that near elbow back when they free it. I had a go at collapsing my weight onto it, but I think I ended up just shifting off to the side instead, which wasn’t a whole lot of use. Also, I got straight-armed when I tried to shift to scarf hold, and eventually rolled. That happens quite often too.

So, I took the opportunity to ask Nathan what he tended to do in that situation. His response turned out to be relatively simple: grab their far elbow with the hand closest to their head, gripping around the elbow joint, so that your knuckles are facing away, fingers clasping around to the crook of their elbow. Twist and pull that towards you, while stepping over their head. From here, you can continue to attack the arm, or move round to establish side control on the other side.

When I saw Nathan demonstrate this on somebody else later on, he walked right round, scooping up their other arm to go for an arm triangle. Looks like a nifty response, so something I’d like to drill if I get the chance.

Hopefully I’ll be training tomorrow, but if not, I guess it will be next Tuesday again. There is a different bus that leaves ten minutes earlier, so I’ll give that a go. Annoyingly I’ll have to pay extra, as it isn’t covered by my bus pass (different bus company), but worth it if it means I can regularly make the Wednesday or Monday again. £60 for four lessons a month isn’t great, and only an hour a week is certainly far from ideal. So, fingers crossed I can get it back up to two a week and a least two and a half hours.

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