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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

15 May 2011

15/05/2011 - RGA Aylesbury

Class #397
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, UK - 15/05/2011

I was visiting my parents and sister at the weekend, meaning my lovely nieces were there too, which is always fun. I've no plans to have kids myself, but I do enjoy being an uncle: all the fun and cuteness of small children, none of the huge financial outlay, nappy-changing or sleepless nights. Also meant I had the new experience of helping a three year old go to the toilet (I had plenty of experience changing nappies back when I looked after her for eight months in 2009, as she wasn’t potty trained then). Top tip: make sure they've pulled their knickers down before you lift them onto the toilet. Only just noticed in time, or that could have been messy. Ahem.

The new house my parents have bought in Aylesbury is a short cycle ride from RGA Bucks, which is extremely convenient. I was lazy and got a lift in the car this time, as I wanted to get maximum toddler time, which also meant I only did the beginner class, leaving before the open mat. I intend to drop in to RGA Bucks whenever I'm at my parents' house, especially as it is so nearby. Good way to stay in touch with an awesome group of training partners, as well as being on the receiving end of a guaranteed arse-kicking (given that there are people like Callum, Draz and Sahid training there).

Kev's class was as excellent as ever, particularly as he included a couple of techniques I've been planning to teach myself, for one of my Thursday GB Bristol lessons. He started off with the right way to pull guard, which without any doubt is what I'd do should I compete again for some reason.

You have the standard collar and elbow grip from standing. Put your foot up on their elbow-side hip, then drop to your back while spinning your head towards their elbow-side foot. As you maintain the grip on their collar, that will break their posture. From here, you could potentially go straight into an attack, or simply look to close your guard, or possibly enter into an open guard.

Kev went with option number one, running through two sweeps that work well together. I'll be going into more detail on these when I come to teach them myself, but the first one is called the tripod sweep (among other things: jiu jitsu has an annoying habit of many, many names for the same thing, unlike judo). From the guard pull, you're going to slide your hands down their sleeve until you reach their cuff. Grab that tightly on either side of their wrist, clamping your elbows to your side.

This is a surprisingly difficult hold to break, and keeps them bent over. Disengage your elbow-side hand, grabbing their same side foot behind the heel (or the bottom of their trousers, being careful not to reach inside the bottom of their trouser cuff: that will get you disqualified in competition, due to the danger to your own fingers). Pull their foot and stick it to your hip, so their foot is slightly off the floor.

Your other foot goes behind their same side heel. You will then simultaneously push on their hip with your foot, yank their other foot forward with your other foot, while also holding their remaining foot in position by your hip. This should knock them backwards: thanks to your sleeve grip, you should be able to follow them up as they fall down. Pass through to side control, keeping control of their foot throughout so they can't establish some sort of guard.

However, you have a problem if they turn sideways when you attempt that sweep. The pressure and leverage is no longer right for taking them down. Fortunately, you can easily solve your problem by switching to the sickle sweep. Basically, all you do is switch the position of your feet. So, the foot that was on their hip goes behind their foot. The foot you had by their heel now goes to their hip.

That also means you have twisted to face them. Push on their hip and chop back with your foot to take them down. Again, use the sleeve grip to come up, while still pulling their foot to your hip with your hand. Also remember to still control their foot on the way up, as you don't want them to put you in guard.

Sparring was from open guard. I was with Callum, meaning that as often happens with Callum, I kept thinking I'd passed, only for him to spin through and scupper the attempt. He's really good at spinning, so I must remember to pick his brain about it next time we're both at an open mat. I need to work out how to control both his hips when I pass so that he can't simply spin away from me, going into various inverted guards and the like.

Underneath, I thought that looked like fun so I'd give it a go too. Unfortunately, I'm not anywhere as good at it, so generally just got passed instead. Still, good to try it out, as I'm relatively flexible, so don't mind my legs being over my head. I wasn't able to establish my preferred open guard, which is spider guard with a deep lasso on one arm. Callum was wise to that, so made sure I couldn't get it in deep.

That meant that although he put a knee up, I couldn't attempt the sweep I'd be practicing for when people raise a knee, because it depends on having the lasso. Hence the back up plan of spinning around. Didn't prove successful, but it's essential to not rely on just one thing, even if the one thing is a series of moves. If you can't get into your starting position, you need something else to try.

The second of my two rolls that class was with a female white belt I hadn't seen before, Hayley (Haley? I think it normally has two 'y's). She was wearing a Roger Gracie Academy gi, which either means she was visiting from HQ, or Kev sells the patched up RGA gis at his club too. Either way, she was a good training partner, and doing the right thing when I was trying to pass, stopping me from getting good control of her leg.

She also gave me an opportunity to go into instructor mode, which is always nice. My purple belt, despite being A2, is kinda long for me, so the ends dangle temptingly for anyone playing guard. She asked if it was allowed to grab the belt and use it to attack. I said that it was, unless the belt actually falls off: you can't go ahead and tie a noose round somebody's neck (although this guy tried, as you might have seen linked on some forum or other).

When we switched positions shortly afterwards, I could then demonstrate, sweeping her by bringing the end of her belt behind one of her legs and passing it to my hand. It wasn't a very good sweep, but hopefully illustrated the point. I was thinking of the de la Riva sweeps I got shown at Gracie Barra Birmingham a while ago.

Also finally picked up my contributors copy of Jiu Jitsu Style issue 2, as Callum had left one with Kev for me. If you're wondering what bits I did this time round, I provided the Barbosa DVD review and the Carlson Gracie Academy history. Good review of the whole mag by Leslie over on BJJ Grrl, which I think is due to be joined by various others. If you don't fancy a print copy, remember you can pick it up through iTunes, or there is a non-Applefied digital version over on PocketMags.


  1. I use the tripod sweep (hook sweep) a lot. The sickle sweep pairs nicely with it, but I always forget how to transition, so thanks for that :)

  2. No probs: it's a great combo, which I also often forget. I need to remember that open guard can be basic too, which it rarely feels like when someone is spinning through spider to inverted to x-guard etc. ;)