27 September 2010

27/09/2010 - BJJ (Advanced)

Class #346
Gracie Barra Birmingham, (BJJ), Norby Nowak, Birmingham, UK – 27/09/2010

Before I get onto the advanced class, I just wanted to offer my congratulations to Steve Greenaway, who recently received his purple belt from Roy Dean. Steve heads up Roy’s first affiliate, which happens to be here in the UK, down in Poole. I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Roy Dean seminar in the UK last year (Steve kindly invited me), and again this year. I look forward to hearing about how Steve’s club, the Poole Martial Arts Academy, keeps growing in the future. See the vid below for what a purple belt under Roy Dean looks like: beautiful as always:

Another Roy Dean UK student who I trained with at that seminar a couple of years ago, Kirsty, also got promoted during the trip over to the US. That makes her the first female blue belt under Roy Dean in the UK: check out the video here. So, congrats to her too! :)

Norby had some new butterfly passes to show us tonight. The first one assumes that they have managed to sit up and are about to go for the sweep. Reach over their arm and back, hugging them in tight, then drive forward to put them on the mat. That hand will stay ready to loop their arm, meaning that you can potentially set up an armbar if they turn in the wrong direction. Your leg positioning is important: one leg is going to be out for base, while the one they’ve hooked will have a knee close to their bum.

The essential detail that stops them lifting you for the sweep is your hip. On the knee side, turn the hip in towards them, dropping your weight and bending their toes down, which makes it really hard for them to generate any leverage. They will probably try to go for half guard, so to prevent that, first you want to try and trap what would become their outside foot with your hip.

Their inside foot will be looking to wrap around the back of your leg. Prevent that by reaching back with your free arm, gripping their trouser leg and pinning it to the mat. Finally, make sure that the heel of the leg they want to trap is raised up so that it is touching your leg. This stops them slipping their leg around the crook of your knee.

From here, it is a relatively simple matter to lift that same knee over their pinned leg, moving through to side control. If they try to lift your leg, they basically do the job for you, so it becomes even simpler to hop over their leg and switch to side control.

If they do manage to lock their legs, then you can use a half guard pass, based around your head, specifically the top of it. You’re going to drive that directly under their chin, then raise your butt into the air. That means you’re putting your whole body weight through the top of your head into their skull. Not comfortable.

To facilitate the pass, grind it past and towards their face, so that you turn their head to one side. They should now be sufficiently distracted that the last thing they’re thinking about is their half guard lock. Free your leg and pass.

During specific sparring, I was still struggling on top, and not doing a whole lot better underneath. I was managing to connect to their legs with my hooks a little better, but nevertheless getting passed pretty quickly. I also wanted to try and work that half guard sprawl pass Norby showed us (which I think is in Stephan Keasting’s DVD too), but couldn’t seem to get them into the right position. Possibly need to get them more on their back and sort out my leg positioning.

There wasn’t too much time left for free sparring, so I just went the one round with my drilling partner, Ram. I had a few attempts at attacking the back, but failed to break through her defences: she was successfully blocking my efforts to get at her neck by crossing her arms. Instead I tried to switch to an armbar (initially I kept getting stuck in half guard during the transition, so I need to watch my lower leg), gripping the one arm with both of mine before moving into position, but again wasn’t doing too well in terms of dislodging her grip.

I was trying to move round in a semi-circle, but wasn't doing it very well: I've been shown a bunch of different ways to break the grip, but it's been so long since I found myself in a position to actually use them my memory failed me. The arm did eventually come loose, but I think that was down to force and exhaustion rather than technique.

This session is my last at Gracie Barra Birmingham, unless my girlfriend and I happen to move back to Brum at some point in the future (which is certainly possible, as we liked it when we lived in Kings Norton a couple of years ago). Norby made a point earlier of checking when I was leaving GB Brum, and then went out of his way to do a little speech at the end of class to say goodbye.

It has been really good training at the club, and gestures like Norby’s farewell speech are typical of the welcoming atmosphere. I can’t think of any other academy that better embodies the ‘family’ part of the Gracie Barra motto, particularly as Braulio’s infant son was running around the mat again. Great place to learn BJJ, which I highly recommend to anyone in the area: well-structured syllabus, awesome range of skilful training partners and attentive, generous instructors.

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