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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

30 May 2011

30/05/2011 - Gracie Barra Fundamentals

Class #400
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 30/05/2011

Mondays start with Gracie Barra Fundamentals, so there is often some kind of self defence element. Tonight, that was how to enter a safe clinch, stepping to one side and slightly forward, then stepping around to their side. Hug around their hips, pressing the side of your head into their chest. Put your leg behind them slightly forward, pull their hips towards you, then using your head and leg, bend their body over your leg and down to the mat.

There was another woman in class tonight, which was great to see: it would be great to have a strong female presence at Gracie Barra Bristol, so hopefully the club will continue to build up the numbers. Monica was already wearing a Zero G gi, as she had done a few months of BJJ in the past. Brand new members tend to be in the Gracie Barra gi they get with membership (must review that gi at some point, after I've spent a bit longer training in it).

The main technique tonight was opening the closed guard. Geeza had us start from a weak position, so they have already managed to get a hold of your head and pull it down to their stomach. Put your knee in the middle of their bum, moving your other knee slightly to the side. That should give you the base to move your head out sideways, though it can be easier said than done if they have a really firm hold. Return to good posture, sitting upright, straight back, one arm grabbing both their collars, the other pressing into their hip.

To open the guard, it was the classic option from the knees. Again, put your knee in the middle of their bum, then step up with the other leg. Drive all your weight through the arm you have into their hips, so that they can't adjust in either direction: if they have the ability to move, they'll be able to hold on to their closed guard. The other arm is by their chest, but only engage that fully if they try to sit up.

From here, aim to slide your hip bone along their shin, turning so that you end up becoming too wide for their feet to remain locked. Push on their knee or leg, then eventually you should be able to shift their leg off yours, pushing it to the ground ready for your pass.

Of course, this is also much easier said than done: I've been trying unsuccessfully to pass from the knees for years. My continuing inability to get this technique was borne out by the brief progressive resistance Geeza added, where from that held down position, we were to try and escape our heads and pass. We only had thirty seconds: with Monica, I couldn't even get my head free. I was then with one of the teenagers, and though I could at least free my head, I still couldn't get the guard open. I was trying Saulo’s method of stepping back in a circle, but I’m still not pinning their hips enough to create a suitable point around which to pivot.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the following advanced class, so I'm not sure if there were further guard passing insights to be had. Something I'll have to ask Geeza, as I've wanted to work out this guard pass for a long time now, especially as I'm far happier going from the knees rather than standing (although on the other hand, that's also a bad habit, as I still need to be more confident standing up to open). Either way, teaching guard passing in a month or two should be an interesting and productive challenge.

Geeza also made an interesting point about the closed guard in general. He said that you don't want to be using closed guard too much in training, as it will eventually get opened, so you might as well get familiar with open guard. There's also the point that you'll normally need to open your guard in order to attack or sweep. Geeza suggested that only time you want to hold the closed guard is when you're setting something up, or if you're competing.

Lesson finished on a very good note for me. As we were walking out, Clayton mentioned that he had some success using the americana set-up I went through last Thursday, where you switch your base and lean back as they push into your neck, then twist back to drive their hand to the mat. Really cool to hear that a student was able to apply something I taught the day before. :D

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