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27 August 2010

27/08/2010 - BJJ (Basics)

Class #336
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Chiu Kwong Man, Birmingham, UK – 27/08/2010

Christian Graugart, the Danish brown belt who writes ShogunHQ, is planning an awesome training trip for Spring 2011: check out the preparations at BJJ Globetrotter. Should make for some excellent reading once he gets underway. For a travel-heavy blog that is both excellent and well underway, check out top BJJer Hillary Williams’ site. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but this is easily one of my favourite blogs: well-written, lots of relevant pics and an interesting angle (female world champ teaching seminars in Brazil, with plenty of anecdotes about the culture).

I plumped for the Friday class rather than Saturday, as I wanted to try and get a good chunk of work done tomorrow morning, hopefully on the way down to Bucks (nobody is home, so I’ll be catching buses and the like, so that will take around three hours total or so). Rather than sweeps, tonight it was working from the top.

Chiu showed a lot of technique tonight, so I’m not sure how much I’ve managed to remember (especially as I was the uke). Keeping that in mind, the first drill focused on getting good posture from the top. Basically, you don’t want them to move off to the side, where they could go for a sweep, try and take your back etc.

So, first thing you do when they establish their hook and put their other foot on your leg, ready to push, is pull up on the pushing foot’s heel (or gi trouser). Turn that same side hip towards them, stepping around, and turn out your other leg. Your base will be fairly wide, hips forward. At worst, this will put you square on, and at best, it could knock their hook free.

If you don’t manage that, as they’ve already sat up, wrapped an arm behind your knee, pushing on your other leg ready to sweep, you can use the next technique, a De La Riva pass. On the side they’ve hooked, grab the back of their gi collar. They’re probably going to be holding your other sleeve, so grab their sleeve in return.

Now do a big step back and around with your free leg, so you move around to their hooking side. You want to collapse your weight on them, keeping one leg back for base. Don’t go too far forward or they’ll roll you. Your free hand will thread through their legs and grab their bottom knee: it doesn’t matter if they maintain a grip on your sleeve. This will stop them turning towards you.

After that, things got more complicated, as Chiu moved into at least four different passes, based around their likely reaction, which is to lock their legs tight into half guard. IIRC, the basic pass was to get your far elbow up into their armpit, moving your hips back as far as you can. This means you’ll be putting a lot of weight on their head and upper body, blocking their view and also limiting their mobility.

That means you can concentrate on freeing your leg. Having squashed them with your upper body, you grab their knee with your free arm. Yank it towards you while pushing on their leg with your free foot. That should create some space to get your leg out, then move into side control. Exactly where you push will vary depending on how they’ve locked: possibly their top leg, their bottom leg, their knee etc. Chiu suggested experimenting.

There were several other options, like ‘skiing’ them to one side by pushing their arms to the floor, from where you could try and take the back. Alternatively, if they present the opportunity, you can step through and around to the other side. Chiu also grabbed at feet, and demonstrated how even if you aren’t allowed to kneebar, the same position can help you to pass. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite catch all the details, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to see some of those again in the coming weeks.

In specific sparring, I tried to put that into practice, with a modicum of success, though not especially smooth. I was pleased with a backstepping pass I got early on, but that was more of a lucky reflex action than a flowing technique. I found myself trying to push the leg down and circle around a few times which rarely works. Definitely need to keep on working what Chiu just showed us, though of course my sparring partner was prepared for what we’d been learning earlier.

It was good to practice half guard passing, as I’ve been slacking on that recently, probably because I’ve had quite a few smaller sparring partners. Chiu’s technique was useful, particularly his focus on getting your balance, through things like threading a hand through their legs, or putting an arm under their head and walking your hand through.

Underneath, I was looking to work the various sweeps we’ve been shown, but didn’t get too far. Generally, my arms were quickly grabbed and pushed away, making it difficult to get the grips I wanted. I played around with spinning underneath, which sort of worked at one point, as I kicked up and tried to go the other way. I say ‘sort of’, because I ended up in their guard. So, on top, but not quite the idea.

My sweeps largely failed due to my inability to get good grips with my hands. I need to work on breaking their grip, then quickly establishing my own and getting the sweeping motion going, rather than giving them a chance to settle their base. Connecting techniques would help with that, and I at least now have about four or five I can try. Judging by the last few weeks, I should also get plenty of time to drill them: hopefully we’ll do some drilling through various combinations.

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