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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

27 March 2011

27/03/2011 - RGA Aylesbury (Open Mat)

Class #384
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, UK - 27/03/2011

Had something of a transportation mix-up, meaning I missed almost all of the first lesson. Unfortunate, but at least it gives my knee a bit more time to rest. Also, those transportation issues should hopefully soon be a thing of the past. In about a month, I will be in Aylesbury, cycling distance from RGA Bucks. Then once I finally find a house in Bristol, I'll be within walking or cycling distance of Gracie Barra Bristol. No more relying on cars or buses! Hooray! Good fitness too. :D

I also watched the Pan Jiu Jitsu stream yesterday. That first day was free, while the second cost $10 (though I left to go visit my sister and nieces after training, so didn't see it). Enjoyable stuff, with particularly good commentary by Rafael Lovato Jr (especially as I think that might have been his first time: he definitely needs to be brought back as a permanent member of the commentary team).

It was great to see a few women's matches on Saturday, but I was disappointed that they kept switching to the men in the middle of female fights. For example, in one of Gabi Garcia's matches, it switched over twice. As there was a split screen available, I would have liked to see more women's fights, rather than the men swamping the coverage even when women's fights were available for viewing. Update: For an excellent write-up of the women's results, go here.

The dream would be multiple cameras so you could pick which match you wanted to follow, like when the BBC broadcast the last Olympics. However, that will be a long way off, and no doubt require lots of funds: for now, I guess we should all be thankful that companies like Budovideos are still willing to offer streams for free (and the paid stream on Sunday was only $10).

Unfortunately, current world champ Hillary Williams was hurt by a calf-slicer in her absolute fight: I see on her Facebook that she did fight the next day, but ran into the mighty Hannette Staack. Best of luck to Williams with her recovery: I'm sure she'll be back fighting for the gold soon. Oli Geddes from RGA and Geeza from GB Bristol are both competing too, so I look forward to hearing how they did (probably on Facebook).

Speaking of gold medals, one of those was placed around the neck of my training partner Yasmine Wilson that same day. She is the first ever British woman to win the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials, beating a tough brown belt and a top UK purple belt. As a result, Yas landed a paid flight to the main competition over in Abu Dhabi itself, with accommodation provided: very well done to her! Draz fought well too and got the bronze, with another member of RGA Bucks (who I haven't trained with yet) also medalling.

When I arrived at the Neil McLeod Academy (the home of RGA Bucks), the beginners class had entered the sparring phase. As I finished getting changed, the round finished, and it shifted to king of the hill. I took the opportunity to ask each of the two white belt women if they'd like to spar. I'm not sure what they thought of some random unshaven purple belt saying "fancy a roll?", but fortunately, they were both willing to indulge me.

I've said many times in the past that I prefer to roll with women, as they tend to be more mature, considerate training partners. If I'm injured, that's especially important. Michelle and Stacey were both careful not to aggravate my knee injury, keeping a relaxed pace, for which I'm grateful. That gave me the chance to ease myself back into playing closed guard: this is the first time I've ventured beyond either half guard or a one-legged open guard with the injury.

Kev had left earlier to pick up his son (I think? Something like that), meaning that there was a short lull before the competition class. That meant I could have another roll, with that same white belt I sparred last time (who has also proved to be a considerate training partner: must get his name next time we train). I suggested giving flow rolling a try, which he hadn't done before, but was happy to try it.

If you're not familiar with flow rolling, it is basically a form a sparring where the idea is to work on movement, timing and transitions, staying calm and controlled. As well as a useful exercise, flow rolling can also function as a great warm-up. I first learned it from Nic Gregoriades, and tried to remember the rules he put forward.

So, that meant we didn't hold any grips, and also made sure not to stay in one position just clamping down for too long (e.g., if you're in side control and have them stuck, switch to north-south, knee-on-belly, back to side control, mount, other side, etc). For something similar, check out Christian Graugart's thirty-seven minute long video on 'slow rolling', here.

Once Kev returned, the competition class got into gear. As everybody was sparring from standing, I decided against risking my knee. It also meant that there wasn't room to do any sparring at a lighter pace, at least not safely (I had intended to do some relaxed rolling with Adill, who is also injured). However, that did at least give me a chance to try and work out the points for each round. As I'm now a purple, it would be fun to go on a refereeing course or something, so I'll have to keep an eye out for the next one.

There was still time for some open mat at the end, so like before, I wanted to improve my understanding of leg locks. As Yas had won her gold medal with an ankle lock, that seemed like a good one to drill. She gave out plenty of handy tips to Sahid and I, after which we noticed Kev was demonstrating the very same technique up the other end of the mat. So, that provided us all with a chance to get Kev to go through the mechanics.

If I understood Kev and Yas correctly, this particular variation on the ankle lock begins by wrapping your arm around their ankle, as you would do for a standard Achilles lock. With your wrapping hand, grab your own gi collar, and make sure you have secured their ankle tightly. Having trapped that leg, drop back, then bring your inside leg over theirs (if they've grabbed your collar, simply bring your inside leg over that arm). It is very important you only do this with your inside leg: if you bring your outside leg over theirs, you're liable to get disqualified in IBJJF competitions.

You can now turn towards their trapped ankle side, so that you're facing the floor, with their ankle still trapped. To finish the submission, simply sprawl your legs back towards them and arch your back. Though this is technically an ankle lock due to your grips, the pressure will probably be on their knee.

Kev had several follow ups too, but I wanted to make sure I got the basic details of the submission down, so concentrated on that. Still, I did take some quick notes on the rest of the sequence and 'what ifs': if they wriggle their foot free, turn and pass their guard. If they stand and put the sole of their trapped foot to the floor, go to x-guard, sweep them, then you can go for the ankle lock again.

Finally, if they have pulled themselves up on your gi and are basing out with their other hand, grab the sleeve of that basing hand and yank them back off balance. There are of course a lot more details, but I'll look to iron those out once I've got a handle on the lock (which will be a good while). Also, if you're a Facebook friend of Kev's, he's put up the video of Yas using this technique at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials (not sure if that will later appear on YouTube or not).


  1. Interesting point about women training partners. I prefered rolling with some of my old korean training partners for the same reason. When injured your after a conservative, technical roll.

  2. Yeah, I think I'd probably enjoy training somewhere like Japan or Korea, as I'm guessing the average size of people over there is a good bit smaller than it is over here.

    There are several Chinese (or possibly somewhere else in Asia, like Singapore: didn't get much of a chance to chat with them) guys who recently joined Gracie Barra Bristol, so I'm looking forward to training with all of them again.

  3. Its worth heading out, the jiujitsu approach is more laid back and Holistic at least in SK and Japan.

    Being 100kg I was the biggest guy in the gym, but they remained relaxed and technical. Where as here people tie up, panic and meet force with force. Every roll has to be a win etc.

  4. I've heard the relaxed rolling thing about Brazil too, which is appealing. Though if I had a choice between a holiday to Brazil or to Japan, I'd go for Japan every time. Shame it's a bit pricey.

  5. Cup Ramen, 100 Yen stores and Hostels are the key

  6. Hello,

    Interesting comments on the commentary of the Pan-ams on Saturday. I had the complete opposite experience (as I've said on my blog) but I don't think it was Rafeal Lovato Jr. commentating for the couple of hours I managed to squeeze during a busy Sunday. The commentators didn't seem to say anything other than tell us the names of people fighting, but it was still good to see some good BB matches for free!
    I hope your move to Bristol goes well. We will probably run into each other at some point as I plan on getting down to GBB(ristol) in April or May, as I am leaving Berlin next week.


  7. @Andy: Cool! Will be good to see you there. Presumably you're going to be training at GB Bath normally, so that would just be a visit over to Bristol?

    Yes, there was definitely a big jump in commentary quality when Lovato stepped in. You might have seen it early on, when Budo Jake was commentating: he was ok, but nowhere near as good as Shawn Williams, Caleb or Lovato (which is understandable, as I don't think he has their experience).

    I'll have to check out the relevant post on your blog: I think I'm up to Day 44 at the moment.

  8. Yes I did watch it very early on. Probably was Budo Jake.

    Yes I'll be based in Bath for the next year (my final year of university) but hope to get over every so often as Bath is quite a small club (but strong!) and it's always good to mix up who you roll with.

  9. @Andy: Always good to experience a mix of training partners and teaching styles. That's been the best thing about travelling around lots of different clubs over the last few years (though it will be nice to finally settle down somewhere, presuming the move to Bristol goes ok).

    I haven't trained at GB Bath yet, but I did very much like the town when I went there for a friend's wedding last year. I'm looking around for jobs at universities, and Bath Uni is definitely on the list. :)