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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

12 June 2011

12/06/2011 - Teaching (Open Mat)

Teaching #006
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 12/06/2011

I headed off to London on Saturday for a friend's birthday party, getting up at 5am in order to wander over to the Megabus stop for about 06:45 (Colston Hall is about a 40 or 50 minute walk, which isn't too bad. I could have cycled, but I didn't trust that the bike would still be there when I got back at 9pm!). The party was at midday, so I went to my favourite place in London to kill time, the glorious National Gallery. I was surprised to get a call from Geeza while enjoying the section on the Italian sixteenth century.

After hastily speed-walking out into the hallway, it turned out Geeza was going to be away on Sunday and Miles was also busy (I think), meaning he wanted to check if I'd be ok to run the class. Sunday sessions are open mat, so that didn't involve too much on my part: just going through the warm-up, then organising sparring. Still, it meant I could play with a few more drills after we'd finished the Gracie Barra warm-up of star jumps and sit-ups.

In my Thursday classes, I've been adding in BJJ-specific drills, which I'm also trying to use as a recap of previous lessons. So far, that's been continuous side control escapes to knees, then one from mount, turning from side to side into technical mount as they try to roll free. Today I put in a third, a simple stand-up in guard. I had everyone do each one for about a minute each: I'll play around with timings to see what works best in future.

I also changed the shrimping slightly, to emphasise the application: rather than just shrimping down the mat, I put everyone into pairs. One person stands with their feet by their partner's armpits, while the other shrimps, then their partner walks back up into their armpits. That means you have to shrimp further and more accurately, as well as make more use of your arms against their legs.

There are two hours to play with on Sundays, as that is normally an hour of gi, followed by another hour no-gi. As I was taking the class, it was all gi (I don't have the Gracie Barra no-gi kit, given that I don't plan on attending the Wednesday evening no-gi class), so I used the first hour for specific sparring. There were only five people there, one of whom had to head off later. I could have two people down, everyone else lined up against the wall, including me when an extra person was needed. We went through side control, mount and guard.

At first I tried counting people off into two groups, of 1s and 2s, but that doesn't work so well with five (unless the fifth person is me, so it worked ok once there were only four). When the 2s are down, that's fine because there are three partners to cycle. However, that leaves three 1s, so even if I join in (as I did at points), there still aren't any spare partners to cycle. So, in that situation, better to just pick a pair, then perhaps have two people take it in turns to be in the pair that is down.

Alternatively I could have paired people up, but I'm keen to make sure people get a range of partners when working specific sparring, as that way they can deal with different pressures, intensity, body types etc. Having said that, pairing up for free sparring makes sense. Unless there is a considerable disparity in size or skill, there isn't normally that clearly defined and regularly occurring end point you get when doing specific sparring.

Free sparring took up the second half, where I think everybody ended up sparring everybody else, as there were only a handful of us. I divided it up into five minute rounds, then finished with the usual stretch out at the end. It was good to get in a few rolls myself: I've not quite worked out how to record my teaching on the training spreadsheet, as so far I haven't been counting it amongst my total training hours. I probably will eventually, perhaps with a separate teaching column or something. I can geek out about it later. :)

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