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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

11 August 2010

11/08/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #332
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Norby Nowak, Birmingham, UK – 11/08/2010

There was more De La Riva action tonight, beginning with the same sweep Nathan taught yesterday. I felt it more on my wrist today, so had to make sure I was sweeping the other side to avoid too much strain. A key point I hadn’t been doing enough last time was keeping the leg straight all the way through, rather than straightening as you pull them other. That means their posture remains broken, making it easier to roll them to the mat. Also, I found myself ending up in a better position for some reason, as I didn’t have to clear the leg in the same way.

The second De La Riva sweep was a little different. This time, once you get to the point where you’re sitting up and switching their sleeve to your arm under their leg, they use their other hand to push down, then yank their trapped arm free. In response, you grab the sleeve of that other hand instead, which sets up you for a different sweep.

Having secured that grip, swivel towards their other leg and reach through with your free arm, so that you’re gripping around their inner thigh. Your legs will now be on either side of the first leg you attacked, meaning you can now lock them together, clamping your knees tight. Continue the spin to knock them over, so that you end up on top.

There isn’t much they can do to block you except swing one leg over. You can pass under the leg, shoving through with your shoulder, as if you were executing a single underhook pass. Alternatively, go in the other direction, twisting so that you legs touch the floor and you’re facing the ceiling. This clears their leg by spinning over the top of it.

One thing to note is that you maintain that grip on their sleeve throughout. That means that if you use the usual grip, where you make a pocket of their sleeve with your thumb and hook it round your fingers, it can be painful as you spin and roll with the sweep. A pistol grip is much kinder on your fingers, but less secure.

That also meant I was feeling the strain in my wrist even more with the second sweep. Either side involved some tension on both wrists, so I had to be careful. It also showed me that it hadn’t sufficiently recovered to risk in sparring. So, I sat out of specific De La Riva rolling, instead watching how people swept and passed. Bradley was particularly instructive, as his passing functioned by swinging his leg backwards, looking to step through, with smooth technique. I tend to try and stay close and crush forward, but watching other people try that, Bradley’s approach appeared to be far more successful.

When it came to free sparring, I could guard my wrist more carefully, so did a few rolls with people I felt I could trust not to slam into my injury. That automatically meant they were going light, but it was still a useful exercise, as like yesterday I had to rely on my legs to try and control my partner. I was also even more conscious of keeping my knees close to my chest to stop them passing, and attempted to keep in mind the option of rolling backwards over my shoulder to recover guard (though that didn’t work too well).

In open guard, that was ok, and I also found I could still work to try and escape from side control with just the one arm too, as long as I pre-emptively made enough space with my knee. However, when I ended up on top in half guard, it was much tougher without the use of both arms, as normally I’d lock them around the head and armpit and use shoulder pressure to try and pass. Still, that did mean I was more relaxed, jumping over to see if I could dislodge my leg by moving to the other side (though again, that wasn’t particularly successful).

I also had a good long chat with Christian, who had some interesting info about the new central location for Gracie Barra Birmingham. Apparently, it’s huge, on two floors, with the top floor featuring a mat triple the size of the one at Stevie B’s (which isn’t exactly small). There’s also going to be a cage, and various martial arts on offer, like muay thai, wrestling and MMA besides the core of BJJ. It will also be right by Five Ways station, which is very handy.

Hopefully my wrist has now been sufficiently rested, although given that I have to do a lot of typing both for my job and writing commitments after work, I’m never going to be able to avoid using it completely. So, we’ll see if it’s any better by next Tuesday.


  1. Your mention of the "Rolling over your shoulder" option for retaining guard made me think of this:

    This is the correct way to use that to retain guard. It's not the same as doing a backward roll and turtling or something like that. It's a very specific method of maintaining guard and it has an accompanying set of techniques that go with it. I think you'll like it.
    I also have some video footage of me rolling with a couple of athletic noobs that I'll be posting and deconstructing over on my blog tomorrow for you and Leslie from BJJ Grrl.

  2. Yeah, I think last time I tried it I just ended up turtling, which isn't the idea. I often forget it's an option, so something I plan to work on.

    Looking forward to those vids and deconstruction posts. :)

  3. Videos are up, nothing particularly fancy. Mostly just talking about how I use my knees, hips, and feet to keep larger people from settling in on me and some examples of how you should use trickery against noobs.

    I'm interested in your comments on the,.

  4. Cool - I'll try and make some time to look at them properly, though seeing how this current chapter of the thesis is going and an upcoming trip to Wales, may be in a little while.

    I'll try to remember to download the vids off YouTube before I go, as then I can take a look on the train.