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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

03 August 2010

03/08/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #329
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK – 03/08/2010

Tonight’s session was pretty much a repeat of the class Nathan ran a couple of weeks ago. Not that I’m complaining: it’s always good to review techniques, particularly when you feel you didn’t quite get to grips with them the first time round. That was true for the scarf hold attacks we ran through tonight, which had also been covered (with some modifications and variations) by Chiu recently.

The class began by revisiting the three side control transitions Nathan went through last week, starting with scarf hold, then reverse scarf hold and finally knee on belly. I tried to pay close attention to driving into their ribs rather than just dipping my head, and also staying tight when sprawling back and switching my hips. There were also some further details on moving into knee on belly from side control, in terms of the grips. As you lean slightly forward to pop up, slide one hand to their collar and straight arm into their face, while the other hand can either grip their knee or slide under their hip.

The scarf hold attacks were exactly the same as before, though Beton had a few useful adjustments to note on the second attack, where you pull up under their elbow. First, he suggested bringing the arm through further, so you aren’t just using your wrist, but cutting in with the upper part of your forearm. Second was the position of your head. Instead of posting on your forehead, Beton advised going higher on your head. The advantage is that this means your back is automatically more curved, meaning that you provide yourself with more space to pull into.

My training partner was a big white belt called Chris, who like many of the big white belts I’ve been training with recently was concerned about using too much of his weight. That’s three in a row now, so it’s good to see that at Gracie Barra Birmingham the stereotypical inconsiderate meathead white belt is not common. That meant that not only was he being cautious during drilling, but he also tried not to unduly use force during sparring.

We stuck with the same partner throughout, beginning with specific sparring, from side control. It wasn’t easy to stay on top with the size difference, so I attempted to focus on keeping control of the near elbow, jamming my other leg through to scarf if he got it free. I need to watch that I don’t lean too far forward when looking to stay tight in scarf, as especially with a big opponent, that just means I get rolled. Instead, I should be thinking of what Nathan said about driving into their ribs, which doesn’t leave you vulnerable in the same way.

Underneath, I was looking to curl up and spin, as Chris left a bit of space with his arm giving me a chance to push off them with my feet and shins. I also managed to get in a sweep when I hooked under one of his legs, but again, he wasn’t using his weight as much as he could have. If so inclined, he could easily have just crushed down and I would have been stuck.

With then moved into free sparring, where again I was looking to stay mobile and keep my legs curled in. I flung my legs up into a triangle, but Chris shrugged that off. I also tried getting my leg across, thinking of the omoplata, but failed to properly control around his back, scoot out or get the other leg into the right position. Going for the overhook also didn’t get me too far, as I didn’t have a sufficiently tight grip on his opposite collar.

I also need to be careful of some of the habits I’ve ingrained over the years, one of which is to be ready to block with my hands when they’re about to pass. Unfortunately for me, my hand was getting ready to block his hip just as he thrust his knee forward, meaning that his body weight slammed painfully through my arm, as my elbow braced against the floor, leaving my woefully unprepared wrist to bear the brunt.

Hopefully it will be ok tomorrow: I always get worried when I whack something hard during sparring, as I fear it’s going to swell up or bruise badly the next day. I’ve been stretching it since sparring finished (and as I was still able to grab and pull on the gi and grip the head, I’m taking that as a good sign), but we’ll see how my wrist feels after a night’s sleep.

My girlfriend is visiting again at the weekend, but as she is heading up on Saturday, I should be able to get in another gi basics class on Friday. Technically I could go for the no-gi, as I finish work early enough, but no-gi tends to be a last resort. Not something I enjoy anywhere near as much as gi: too much strength and speed involved, I find, and I always feel lost without those equalising grips. Then again, I haven’t seen Inception yet, so I might have to look into film times at the Apollo and check if I could squeeze it into Friday. ;)

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