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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

14 January 2011

14/01/2011 - RGA Aylesbury (Beginner)

Class #373
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, UK - 14/01/2011

My parents have now moved to temporary accommodation near Tring while the new place in Aylesbury is being built. I certainly can't complain about the view from my laptop: should be a pleasant way to finish off my time here, before heading off to the city (unless my girlfriend buys somewhere in Bristol before then, but I can't imagine we'll have anything sorted by March).

That also means that training has shifted yet again, although I can still stick with RGA Bucks. The difference is that rather than the High Wycombe location, I'll now be going to the one in Aylesbury, which is closer (and will obviously be even more convenient once we move to Aylesbury itself). Just like the previous time I went to the Aylesbury branch, I got lost and had to phone Kev. Hopefully that won't happen again, especially now that I've got smartphone GPS map power. :)

Tonight's lesson was essentially a repeat of this one from a few months ago (a good thing, as that was an excellent class). The open guard drill I liked so much last time had a handy addition, during the third stage where you're bringing your legs past your head then pushing off your toes to roll back into guard. You can instead continue your roll and end up on your knees, ready to initiate a takedown. This is especially helpful if your opponent is larger and has already started to drive their weight into you. Attempting to roll to guard at this point may leave you stuck halfway. If you roll the other way, to your knees, that lack of space is less of an issue.

Kev added in a useful tip about the tripod sweep, in regards to establishing that grip on the ankle. If you first hook behind their leg with your same side foot, that means they can't avoid your grip by stepping back. You can then adjust your feet into the necessary positions. As before, that then shifts into a sickle sweep if they go side on, on a De La Riva back-take if they turn too far (see my earlier write-up for details).

Specific sparring with Callum from open guard was rather one-sided, particularly when I was trying to pass. I wasn't getting anywhere, though I was at least trying to use pressure and driving my hips forward. I was mainly attempting to trap one of his legs by sitting on it, then working to pass from there. However, even when I did isolate the leg, Callum was able to use a combination of his other leg and good hip movement to recover guard, or indeed sweep me. I flew past his head, got rolled from deep half and was taken down by the very same rolling to knees move we'd just learned.

Still, it is all useful in the sense that it helps me become more familiar with the pressure I need, where to control and how to balance. The only way to improve is to fail repeatedly first, making sure I think carefully about exactly where and why I'm failing. I guess BJJ wouldn't be as much fun if it was easy. ;)

Underneath I fared slightly better, as I could use my legs to hold him off. I tried the foot in bicep tactics that I'd been playing with in Bristol, which worked for a while, but I eventually got bunched up and passed. The spider guard with a deep lasso on his arm worked better, as that gives really good control, but I wasn't able to do much with it. As Kev advised before, I still need to attempt more attacks.

Closest I got to that was looking for the De La Riva sweeps I'd been taught at GB Brum, but as ever I struggled to maintain any tension with the leg pressing into the knee. Callum had no trouble at all disengaging that pressure, controlling the leg and moving round for a pass. I also need to consider linking the sweep with that other one where you switch your legs and drive forward (which doesn't need the same pressure into the far knee).

Like Thursday classes at RGA Wycombe, the Friday class at RGA Aylesbury then moves into an extra hour of sparring. I started off with a blue belt, where the foot in bicep guard worked better. I was able to move into a triangle, and then somehow ended up in mount. My legs were unlocked, but it was clearly a dominant position. However, I then mostly just started at him, fiddling uselessly with his arm to see if it might magically trigger some memory of a submission.

Eventually I clumsily moved into a vaguely locked triangle, but the choke wasn't on. He tapped a bit later, but only because I was squishing his head, rather than any kind of actual submission. So, mounted triangles are clearly yet another technique I need to greatly improve: I did try rolling into a more conventional triangle from guard, but I think ended up back in mount, somehow.

My next partner was a white belt, who I think was a little bigger than me. Either way, after a bit of footsie against his arms from open guard, I found myself in some random positions. He was looking to choke me with his legs, but didn't have my arm. So, it was uncomfortable, particularly when he tried using his own arm to get the choke (which I have seen done), but I was able to squirm out to his side control. That led to the inevitable running escape posture, which is where I stayed until time ran out.

I was with a blue for the next roll, and the gods of jiu jitsu decided to punish me for stalling. I had my leg up defensively as my partner was looking to pass. He started to apply pressure, while I countered with my leg at a slightly awkward angle. I pushed to try and recover guard, which resulted in a loud ripping sound.

Having seen the numerous knee injury war stories passed around on forums, visions of months in hospital immediately sprung to mind. However, after that moment of panic, I realised that I wasn't screaming in agony clutching my knee, so it can't have been that bad. At this point I was hoping the noise originated from my trousers somewhere, although I couldn't see a rip.

After I gingerly squeezed my knee a few times and carefully tested if the leg could hold my weight, Kev advised that I should be ok to go light, but to stop if anything twinged. The rest of the roll was therefore gentle, so although I ended up in side control, I think that had a lot more to do with my partner's concern he might have just messed up my knee rather than any skill on my part. I don't think the injury was anything to do with him, as the main pressure came from my attempt to recover guard.

Either way, I'm not one to take risks (almost certainly a large part of the reason my game, if I can call it that, is so passive), so I sat out the rest of the sparring. Now that it is a few hours later and I've walked around, I can be more specific. The pain is in the right tendon on the back of my left knee, whatever that's called. It feels sore, but as I can still stand up and put weight on the leg, I'm hoping it will heal up ok in the next few days. I'll have to be careful not to crouch though: that definitely hurt when I just tried it.


  1. Thanks: that tendon feels pretty stiff this morning, but hopefully it will loosen up a bit with some walking around. I guess I always have the other leg. ;)