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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

22 August 2011

22/08/2011 - Gracie Barra Fundamentals (Closed Guard)

Class #414
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 22/08/2011

I haven't made it to a normal class for a while, so it was good to get back to being the student rather than the instructor. Tonight, Geeza began with lots of breakfalling: he got everybody to stand in a circle, then called out either 'straight', 'left' or 'right', at which point you breakfalled backwards or to either side. That was followed by a technical stand-up, which again was split. It was either the standard one, where you step back a leg and come up, or going forwards, where you thrust your hips to come up on your knee, swivel the leg behind then come up. I'm guessing that was from the self defence bit of Gracie Barra Fundamentals, or Geeza just fancied doing something more self defence oriented to start off the beginner session (like Kev often does at RGA Bucks).

Getting on to the more enjoyable side of things, Geeza went through a couple of options from the pendulum sweep position, when they raise one knee. At first, I thought he was doing the usual flower sweep set-up: grab their elbow, swivel, kick up into their armpit on the raised knee side, then chop their other leg to come up in mount. However, this technique was slightly different.

The first part was much the same, as you swivel and get up high into their armpit with your leg. Where it differs is that you're almost entirely relying on the momentum you generate with that kick. Instead of using your other leg to chop low into their knee, you just curl your heel back to touch your own leg and sit up.

That was followed by a simple armbar option, where instead of curling the leg and sitting up, bring it over their head and go for the submission. As ever, make sure their thumb is pointing up, don't cross your legs and keep pressing down with your feet to lock them.

Two final points worth noting are firstly a general principle, which is to always sweep away from their raised knee. Otherwise they have too much base, so will be able to easily resist. The second point is that if you hook underneath their raised knee with your arm, be careful: they can put their knee down, trapping your arm and making it vulnerable to an armbar of their own. Therefore make sure you do something with that hooking arm, moving right into a sweep or submission attempt.

Specific sparring was from that same position: they have raised a knee in your closed guard, so you are hooking under their leg and also gripping their elbow on the other side with your other arm. I was as usual terrible on top. initially getting swept pretty quickly by one of the blue belts, who used a nice hip switch and grip change. The second time round I concentrated on keeping my elbows in and maintaining good posture, which helped, but as I've said to myself a bazillion times in the past, that's just delaying the inevitable. Stand up!

Underneath, I wanted to move into half guard, as I'm teaching that again this week. I think I've said this before, but teaching has been very useful for upping my commitment to coming into sparring with a plan. It is something I've always done, but now I've got the added motivation of wanting to better understand techniques I'm intending to teach.

The difficulty working from half guard, or at least the basic version I want to teach, is getting up on your side. If they can block your underhook and get a solid cross-face, it is tough to recover. I tried playing around with the lockdown to move Clayton's base, which meant a few times I was able to get my knee in and create some space. However, I didn't establish a sufficiently strong underhook.

What I should have done is taken note of what Caio Terra shows in his DVD, getting your shoulder right into their armpit. He doesn't block the cross-face, interestingly, instead having his free elbow right back and his underhooking shoulder driving towards the mat. Still, I was pleased that Clayton basically used exactly what I taught last week about passing the guard to shut me down. :)

Against another blue, I ended up in closed guard, and worked on moving my legs up. I have fallen out of the habit of doing that a bit, because I would get punished for doing it when rolling with Howard at RGA Bucks. Every time I tried it on him, he'd just take the opportunity to put a knee in the middle and open my guard. Still, I do find it helpful to bring their upper body down. From there, I need to work some kind of submission series, preferably chokes. Something I want to work on the next time I teach closed guard, a few months down the line.

As I have a teaching plan laid out that covers the major positions (or at least the ones I think are major), this should hopefully mean that I'll be able to not only build up a series of lessons I can keep refining, but also build up my own game into something more complete. Fun stuff.

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