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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

10 August 2010

10/08/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #331
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Nathan Roberts, Birmingham, UK – 10/08/2010

I’ve been chatting to Andrew (an old friend of mine who now lives in Birmingham) about BJJ for a while, and tonight he decided to pop along and give it a try. I haven’t seen him in a while, so it was nice to both introduce a friend to the sport, as well as just having a chat.

His first class would prove to be a little challenging for a beginner, as it was based around the De La Riva guard. Nathan built up to the main technique gradually, beginning with some movement drills to get people more familiar with using their legs to control an opponent. Shrimping forwards down the mat was followed by grabbing both of your partner’s sleeves, putting both feet on their hips, then pulling them forward. The idea was to gauge their weight, then balance them on your feet, using leverage rather than strength.

Another good exercise was kneeling next to your partner, then dipping your shoulder and rolling over their leg, swinging your own legs. Using your legs to push against their sides, you roll to the other side and come back to your knees, without using your hands.

Finally, Nathan had a handy drill where you lie on the mat, while your partner stands in front of your feet. You then hook your feet behind their legs, keeping your feet tense. They will step backwards slowly, while you will use those hooks to pull yourself along with them.

This fed right into the technique, which was a De La Riva sweep. Before the technique itself, Nathan went through a method for moving into De La Riva. You are holding both of their sleeves, with your feet on their hips. Being by swinging one leg out and around the back of their knee, hooking your foot around their inner thigh. You should swivel towards their leg while doing so, meaning that your hips are no longer square to theirs.

You can now release the grip on their same side sleeve, dropping that hand to the ankle of their trapped leg (or the pant leg, depending on your preference). Your other foot will slide down their leg, just above the knee, and push. This should force them to step back, and disrupt their balance.

Sit up, then drop your hooking foot to the floor, transferring the control to your same side arm, which will wrap around their leg. Feed their other sleeve to the hand you now have behind their leg. That leaves the other hand free to grab their same side collar.

That sets up the sweep. Still pushing on their knee with your foot, pull downwards and up past your head on their gi, rolling towards the collar-grip side. This isn’t a strength move, but about leverage and momentum. Keep rolling until you’re on top of them, maintain steady pressure. Maintain your collar grip, which will now slip further behind their head. Move around towards their head, past their leg, settling into side control.

Watch out for their arm: if you’re not careful and their limb is free, they can use that to push off your side and spin away. So, you want to both block their hip with your hand, and also keep your weight down, driving a shoulder into their face to keep the pressure on them.

As my left wrist is still quite sore from getting whacked last Tuesday, I was glad that sparring was almost entirely with small people. That meant I could rest my left hand, which also meant open guard became more of a challenge, as I couldn’t secure a proper grip on their left sleeve.

I was mainly trying to practice open guard, using my legs, and also still working on jnp’s ball technique. With the one bigger partner, I ended up in closed guard most of the time instead, where I definitely missed having the use of my left hand for grips, but fortunately I think he was taking it a little easier than normal, as I mentioned my left wrist was knackered.

Sparring tomorrow may be a tougher proposition, as I won’t be able to keep the pace light and steady in the same way. So I may have to either skip sparring, or hope that there are a few people there I can trust to take it easy, so I don’t make my wrist any worse (not that it’s terrible, but

Strangely enough, I saw another face I knew in the changing rooms after class, Brad, who I met back when I spent a month at Combat Athletics in Canley. He’s been training regularly for a while now at GB Brum, though I think he mostly sticks to the no-gi sessions, which is why I haven’t seen him around before now.

Should be training again tomorrow, as I’m able to get off work thirty minutes earlier, which gives me time to make the right bus to get my train connection. Hopefully Andrew will enjoy the Foundation class on Saturday (should be a bit less steep a learning curve than De La Riva!)

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