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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

05 August 2011

05/08/2011 - Gracie Barra Fundamentals

Class #412
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 05/08/2011

Tonight was a bit special, as we had some visitors from RGA HQ. It was particularly special for me, because those two visitors are old friends of mine, Dominique and Darren (who for some reason I always knew as Gary ;p). Dom is the first person I ever sparred with in BJJ, back in November 2006. She's an awesome training partner, so I was looking forward to rolling with her again.

It was also great to catch up on what's been happening at RGA since I left. From what Darren said, most of my regular training partners are still there, proudly wearing purple belts: Dom and Darren of course, along with Paxton, Owen, Zaf, Joanna and others. Given the high rate of attrition, it was cool to hear they've all managed to stick with the sport. Apparently other RGA HQers may be visiting in future, like my first instructor, Oli: looking forward to that! :)

In terms of technique, tonight the focus was on the turtle position. First, Geeza went through several options for attacking the turtle. I'm not sure I remember all of them, as I didn't get a chance to scribble down notes between the two classes, but IIIRC they all began by leaning into them, hip to hip. Your arm is over their far side, torso a bit above their hips. The aim is to maximise the pressure into their body, keeping them squashed in turtle so they can't spin to guard.

Your knee presses into their knee, while your outside leg posts for supports. If they've left any space by their elbows, wedge your arm in, reaching through with your hand. You're going to bring your other hand in by their shoulder, linking your hands under their neck. Be careful that you don't get rolled when you reach that arm in by their elbow: if they try, you could attempt to use your knee to prevent their roll.

Another option, if you can't get a hand in past their elbow, is to instead try and grab their lapels. Once you have the head and arm grip (or their lapels) and haven't been rolled, bring your outside knee next to them. You'll use that as a point over which to roll them, pulling them into back mount, then establishing your hooks. Not sure I've quite remembered that right, though.

There were at least two other options. I think one involved switching your knees, so that the posting knee becomes the one pressing into their knee. Your remaining leg then straightens out, after which you drop back and roll them from them, bringing your straightened leg over. Finally, there was something about scissoring your legs, but I didn't quite catch that one (as I was the uke).

Finally there was a bonus option for attacking the turtle, which was to simply crouch over them, grab their belt and lift them up. You then immediately insert your hooks into the space you've created. This one is particularly useful when you have somebody turtling really tightly, so there is nothing open to establish a grip.

That was followed by some specific sparring, first with your partner, then king of the hill. We spent a minute each in turtle, where the aim was to either retain the position or recover guard. I found that I could generally swivel to half guard from under turtle, as that is often a tough position to open up. As soon as the person on top creates some space, the person on the bottom will immediately try to turn.

On top, I was looking to stay as tight as I could, pressing my weight down. I was also moving around, going from side to side. A few times I wanted to attempt that old judo turnover I learned before I started BJJ, but for that you need to reach under and grab a leg and an arm. There wasn't enough space for my hands to wriggle through and get a grip.

Instead, I found that quite often, people would leave enough space that I could simply wedge my heel in by their knee, then gradually kick through to establish my first hook. From there it was much less difficult than before to create more space and get in the second hook. However, getting in that first hook is normally the hard part, so I was surprised I was able to get it in place. Could be that people weren't as familiar with the position, so didn't go to attack my leg or something like that (though having said that, lots of people spun to half guard too as I looked to make space).

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