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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

09 May 2011

09/05/2011 - Gracie Barra Fundamentals

Class #394
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 09/05/2011

I've now started work on the house in Bristol, though we can't move in properly for a while, as there is still plenty of work to be done on the roof, the floors, the bricks and various other niggles. As I know absolutely nothing about DIY, it's been an interesting process. Fortunately, my gf's father knows plenty, so I've been following his lead. I managed to lift up a few of the boards myself, although I'm not sure if that was down to me or the vast array of specialised tools in my gf's father's shed.

Gracie Barra Bristol has now officially opened (which rather handily is right around the corner). That means the club is moving into the massive gym which has been built next to the small one Geeza started off with. This was my first time seeing the finished building: really impressive, very professional looking. It is without any doubt the best looking BJJ facility I've been in so far.

There were plenty of people present for the first day of Geeza's new timetable, which now offers classes every day except Saturday. The Gracie Barra curriculum is heavily featured: Monday's class is from Gracie Barra Fundamentals, lasting for an hour, followed immediately by Gracie Barra Advanced.

Geeza started things off with a bit of self defence, related to standing up in base. This is the same technique Kev has taught in the past up at RGA Bucks, again based off the GB Fundamentals syllabus. The scenario is that you've been pushed over, so you breakfall, then move into a defensive posture on the ground (same as when you're about to stand up in base). Basing off your hand and opposite foot, kick their front with your same side foot. Kick them again for distance, then stand up in base.

Next up was the scissor sweep, followed by the basic cross-choke from guard. Both of those gave me a chance to go into instructor mode, as I was drilling with a fairly new white belt. Geeza also added a useful detail on the cross choke, which is to grab two layers of cloth when you grip, rather than just holding around the collar.

He also made some points about breaking down their posture, if they are pushing their arms straight into your torso. Having established the first grip for the choke, you can press your elbow into the back of theirs, into order to bend their arm. At the same time, grab the cloth by their other elbow and pull: this should help bend that other arm. Finally, you'll also be bringing your knees to your chest, also at the same time.

There wasn't any sparring for the Fundamentals class, but then as I left, I noticed that the following Advanced class went straight into specific sparring from guard. At the end of class, I was on the receiving end of an extremely warm welcome from Geeza, who officially introduced me to the rest of the club (some of whom have met me before, as I've been popping down intermittently since last October). Geeza was rather flattering, so hopefully people won't be too disappointed with the reality when I teach the class on Thursday. ;)

I'll talk more about what I'm intending to teach in the post for Thursday, but obviously I've got lots to say on the topic: I like to plan things carefully, so we'll see how the lesson works out.


  1. What is your take on the Gracie Barra Fundamentals DVD Volume 1 (4 DVDs each 4 weeks long)? Have you seen them?

    1. I think I have watched them, or at least partially, but it was a while ago. They're probably useful if you're a Gracie Barra student/teacher and want to brush up on the course, but for beginners generally, the one I always recommend is Roy Dean's Blue Belt Requirements.