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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

11 March 2011

11/03/2011 - Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #380
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 11/03/2011

My leg has healed up enough that I wanted to make it down to GB Bristol this week, as I was making one of my regular visits to my girlfriend. She's still looking to buy a house, and we thought she had one, but as seems common with houses, it has run into various problems after the survey (we tried to buy a house in Birmingham several years ago, but had two fall through on us). Nevertheless, we're determined to get a place in Bristol in the near future, whether it is the current one or somewhere nearby.

The club has grown every time I've been along to train, but it was especially noticeable today. The new gym is almost ready, which is a very good thing as class tonight was enormous. An entire roomful of people in gis was waiting to train when I got there, with an assortment of blues and a purple along with all the whites, plus a few children (no women as yet, but I'm sure they will start to appear once the club gets going). I could have taken the bus, but during my previous stint living in Bristol six or seven years ago, I developed an intense hatred of the 48, which almost never turned up. So, I often prefer to walk, even if it takes an hour or two.

After some work on takedowns, Geeza took us through the anaconda choke. It is similar to the choke he showed us last time, except that you don't grab a collar. They are turtled, and you are reaching your arm past their neck and under their armpit. That should result in their head being tightly pressed against the crook of your elbow. Get your hand through as far as you can, because next you're going to grab the bicep of your other arm.

That second arm is going to reach other their back. Bring your locked arms towards their other side, so that you suck their arm in, knocking it inside their body due to the grip you've established with your arms. The idea here is to prevent them using their arm to base out. You now have space on that side to dive your head forward, then roll them past your head (be careful on your head placement, as you don't want to slam somebody into your own face: get it firmly into the space you've created).

This leaves you facing the ceiling, as are they. Run towards their legs, so that your body curls inwards, and hook one of their legs. Pull that leg to their head with your leg, while also squeezing with your grip. Geeza didn't emphasise arching upwards like with the choke from last time, so presumably that isn't as relevant to this technique.

Having learned the attack, it was now time to learn an anaconda choke defence, with an early and late variation. If they haven't managed to roll you yet, then simply grab their choking elbow to make space, then base out with your other arm to prevent them rolling you in that direction. On the opposite side, base out with your leg: that blocks off either route, so they can't finish the choke.

If you're too late and they've already rolled you over, make sure they can't hook your leg. As they run towards your legs, you're going to run in the other direction. Like before, make space to breathe by pulling behind their elbow. You're looking for an opportunity to turn to your knees, which may come once they get tired of running after your legs (especially if they're burning out their arms by squeezing too early).

My knee injury meant that I was very wary of sparring, but I also felt that it had got to the point where I could at least spar lightly. So, Geeza suggested I do specific sparring with the three children who were present, which works out well: they're light enough that it is unlikely they would do any damage to my injury.

That also meant my first ever roll as a purple belt was with a twelve-year old who had never done jiu jitsu before, meaning I was looking to give him some advice about the basics of half-guard. Hopefully I didn't throw too much information at him: I tend to get excited and babble, but he at least seemed to get something useful from it. Of course, he may have just thought he'd better be polite to the strange man with the big sideburns jabbering on at him. ;)

I also had a free roll with a small white belt, which I was bit more nervous about due to the knee. However, moving into the same Xande open guard I used last time I rolled with a Bristol white belt seemed to work out ok, pulling on their same side sleeve and collar with my hands. Of course, I couldn't do it properly, as my injured leg wasn't on their other hip. That meant I had control from my healthy leg in their bicep, but couldn't move into sweeps or attacks, because for that I need the other leg.

Nevertheless, it meant I got what I was looking for out of the spar, which was a chance to practice my hip movement, grips and guard retention. I was able to move my working leg around, sometimes pushing off their hip, sometimes using my knee as a barrier, or moving my hand to block their hip. It also showed me that there is a way I can still spar, although my knee did twinge a couple of times when he was looking to go for a guard pass. So, I'll have to be careful, and stick with small people who are relatively controlled.

It was also nice to have a few people congratulate me on the purple (and especially cool to see Donal, a guy I first met along with his brother at GB Brum), along with the more scary comments. For example, during sparring I would hear things like "yeah, but you're a purple," indicating I had some magic powers that would undo anything they tried. Understandable, as a few months ago I would think the same thing rolling with a purple, but at least in my case, those powers are looking distinctly less magical since they let me into the club on Sunday.

If the guy from Downend is reading, I hope your leg heals up ok: never fun to get injured during your first lesson! :)


  1. Good luck house hunting!! :)

  2. It was nice of you not to use your magic, Purple Belt Powers on them.

  3. If anyone knows how to switch those on, let me know: I haven't found the right button yet, so I still seem to be at the same skill level I was a couple of weeks ago. ;p