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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

06 June 2011

06/06/2011 - Gracie Barra Fundamentals

Class #402
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 06/06/2011

First off, I wanted to mention the awesome achievement by a training partner of mine up at RGA Bucks. Yas Wilson won the silver medal in her purple belt weight category at the Mundials, facing heavy favourite Mackenzie Dern in the final. Very cool news, so many congratulations to Yas, and of course her instructor, Kev Capel. In case you missed the vids of Yas teaching, Kev has recently put up a number of posts on the RGA Bucks blog: Yas teaching here, Kev teaching here, along with a note on Yas' historic accomplishment here.

I wasn't able to watch any of the Mundials at the weekend, as I was at the Hay Festival on the Saturday, then working on the house on the Sunday. However, I was able to read a few excellent write-ups today, most notably Jen Flannery's sterling work on the Grappling Girls Guild. That has become the place to go if you want some analysis of the women's results, so I hope Jen can maintain it over the coming years. Discussion about the men seems to be readily available on the forums, but there is far too little talk of the women.

Class at Gracie Barra Bristol tonight was fundamentals, meaning it is from the Gracie Barra syllabus again. The self defence bit was a takedown from a headlock, where you turn your head towards them, grabbing their hip and pushing your other hand into the back of their knee. Take them down into side control, basing out with your hands immediately. Shift a knee up to their head, stepping the other leg over and bringing it tight to their hip. Make a frame on their neck to push up and free your head, finishing with an armbar.

The main technique followed on from last Monday, as it was another guard break, but this time from standing. As before, you start in their guard, where they've trapped your head. Put one knee in the middle of their bum, the other back. On the side of the leg you have back, slide your head out sideways and return to a good upright posture.

Grab their same side collar with each of your hands, then swinging your head like a pendulum, use the momentum to come to your feet. You stay in a sort of horse stance or crouch, your elbows resting on your knees, head slightly forward, pulling on their collars. This is a very stable position: it is difficult for them to sweep you from here, which we tested thoroughly during drilling.

To actually get the guard open, if they don't open it already in order to go for a sweep, release one collar and raise up, tucking the elbow of the other arm inside their leg (to avoid offering them a triangle). Reach back with your free hand, inserting it by their locked feet. Turn your body and bring your arm under their leg, aiming to pop their legs open. As soon as the guard is open, sink down and bring up one knee, so they can't re-establish their closed guard.

To finish, Geeza had everyone drill this for thirty seconds each again, just trying to open the guard. I was able to free my head and get to the crouching position, but to achieve the next stage was tough. Although the crouch is very stable, as soon as you try to raise up, it feels much more vulnerable. The closest I got was simply having my arm stuck. Nevertheless, looks like an excellent position to work on, as that stable base should prove useful.

Underneath, I was generally looking to either get an arm-wrap or see if I could disrupt their base by pulling them forward. I also tried the option of shifting my bum over their knee every time they tried to move it in order to initiate a guard break. I'm particularly keen to practice that side of things, as it's something I'll be teaching when I get to the maintaining lesson in the closed guard series later this month (next week is attacking mount, then escaping, then it will be on to closed guard).

I'm not sure if I'll get in another class before Thursday, so we'll see how the house is progressing. The floor is getting closer to being back down, which will be great as then we can finally move in the furniture and live in the house. That should immediately result in more training, as I'll be permanently round the corner.

I was also very pleased, once again, to hear two white belts tell me that they'd had been able to use what I taught them in the maintaining mount lesson last week. Most interesting was that the Saulo method, where you 'ride' the mount, was included in that: one of the taller white belts said he's been finding it particularly helpful. Cool stuff, as it means I managed to teach something I don't use myself in a sufficiently comprehensible manner that somebody else could apply it to their own game. :)

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