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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

20 July 2010

20/07/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #325
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK – 20/07/2010

Unfortunately, buses meant that yet again I didn’t make it in time for Wednesday last week. Especially annoying was that I did risk trying the 17:57 train, but as is almost always the case, it got delayed so I missed my connection to Acocks Green. It is frustrating to spend £5.90 on a ticket, only to head straight back to Leamington without having down any training. Gah. Still, this weekend my gf is off at a hen night, so I should be able to train on Saturday.

After the warm-up for the basics class today, another brown belt appeared alongside Nathan, to help out with instruction. He was wearing a patch for Victor’s academy (the green one that looks similar to GB Brum), so I’m not sure if he’s just visiting, or will be a permanent fixture from now on. At first I thought he was French, as Nathan called him ‘Beton’, but it turns own he’s actually a Brazilian called Roberto. As is so common over there, he’s known by a nickname instead, in a typically ironic sense: ‘Beton’ is the diminutive form of ‘Beto’, I think, but he’s a pretty big guy.

It wasn’t escaping this week, but attacks. He started by running through the drill to get into scarf hold from side control. You’ve already cleared their near elbow, and you’rve got one arm behind their head, the other under their far arm. Lean into them, driving your shoulder into their face, then sprawl your legs back slightly and switch your hips. Make sure you keep pressure on their ribs the whole time.

As you switch to face their head, scoop up their near arm. You can grip on the tricep, or nearer the shoulder: it’s a matter of preference, as long as that limb is trapped. Your other arm maintains control over their far arm, gripping underneath. This will set you up for two linked attacks, beginning with an armbar from scarf hold (similar to what Craig Kukuk shows on the Renzo DVD, and it also features as the first part of an extended attack sequence on Cindy Omatsu’s hard-to-find set).

Having got that control over their near arm, keep pinching it between your elbow and knee. That should leave you free to use your hand to turn their face towards your leg. This will make it difficult for them to bridge, and also make it easier for you to step your foot over their head, sliding it back to their skull. It will help if you’ve made sure to leave no space with your scarf hold, as otherwise you’ll have to step a long way with that foot.

With the same leg, twist your knee to the floor, basing with your forehead (keeping the next technique in mind, try to keep your head against their arm so they can’t bring it loose). Bring the elbow by their near arm backwards and thrust your hips forward. For this to get the tap, you need to have their elbow pinned against your hip.

If that doesn’t work, or they manage to get their near arm free, you can still get an armbar on their far arm. However, you need to have maintained control with your other arm, and you also must further control their arm with your head. Get in the same position as before, with a knee to the ground and head on the floor, but this time, bring the wrist you have underneath their far arm to just above their elbow.

Reach over with your other arm and lock your hands together. To finish, pull up with your joined hands (palm to palm, though it can work with other grips), while again thrusting with your hips. That again will bend their arm the wrong way, getting the tap. If they manage to twist their wrist, you simply need to follow their elbow with your joined hands, and pull in whatever direction their elbow doesn’t want to go.

Sparring wasn’t specific tonight, instead split into three rounds of free sparring. I started off with my training partner Sofya, who is a fair bit smaller than me, so I could practice things like guard passing and the like. I find I often end up on top with her, whereas I should instead be trying to put myself in her guard to practice more guard passing. Still, the little bit I did meant I could practice some of the details from Kev Capel’s private lesson a while back, such as shoving their leg down and behind you, while doing a big step with your own leg.

The next two spars were rather different, as first Nathan then Beton pulled me over for a roll. Naturally I got crushed by both, though I did at least get another chance to try out jnp’s ‘ball’ defence (access to his excellent training log is one very good reason to get yourself a Supporting Membership on Bullshido). I’ve been attempting it intermittently since first reading that post a few years ago. Basically, the idea is to always keep your knees close to your chest and round your back to swivel more easily, so that even when your opponent thinks they’ve past, you can try to spin back into guard. Not that I’ve got the hang of it yet, but I’ve found it a useful concept to keep in mind.

Similarly, I was also trying to keep shins and feet into arms, to help push away and recover guard. Again, that seemed to help a little, but hard to tell as higher belts tend to let you try stuff out a little (especially if you’re small like me). I still need to watch out for footlocks, as I’m not careful enough with my feet, and think about the escapes when I’m about to get caught. Not many people try them, which is good in the sense that they’re dangerous, but it does mean I’m not used to defending them. Of course, I barely compete, so things like that aren’t such a concern in my case.

I was also attempting to use Nathan’s side control escape from last lesson, but I found it difficult to get my knee into the crook of the elbow. It’s going to take some more practice to work out how to manoeuvre their arm into position around your knee when you’re all curled up on your side under side control. Leaning my head back (again, as Nathan taught last lesson) may have helped prevent getting choked, but either way, good habit to get into from that position.

As we lined up at the end, Nathan pointed at my face and said “I hope I didn’t do that.” At first I thought I might have got a cut or something, but apparently there’s a swelling under my left eye. If that blooms into a black eye, should make for an interesting impression when I help out with the degree congregation at Warwick again tomorrow! ;p


  1. Black eye = Badass LOL!
    Hmm, interesting about ball defence. Not heard of this although not too hard to imagine doing it. Hmm can't quite rmember my Bullshido password, I'll find it and check out the original description and see if it works for me next training session.

  2. Looks like it stayed under control in the end, so mostly covered by my glasses anyway. Maybe it helped intimidate graduands to hurry up to registration and get seated before the degree ceremony started. ;)