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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 September 2011

05/09/2011 - Q & A at Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #417
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 05/09/2011

As some of you may know, I write the team history articles for Jiu Jitsu Style magazine. So far, I've been running through the major teams in a vaguely chronological fashion. However, I'm soon going to get to a point where I'm not completely certain of the dates: it doesn't matter all that much which order I do them in, but it did make me wonder what the exact dates were. That's why I thought I'd start compiling a BJJ Team Index. That should help me work out which team to do next. Ideally, I'd also be able to indicate all the connections somehow (e.g., Alliance > Brasa > Atos), but I haven't worked out the best way to lay it out yet on a spreadsheet. If you can help with clarifying any of the info, or adding more teams, let me know. :)

I also managed to add that Facebook 'like' button at the bottom of each post in my blog, which I've been wondering how to do. There is a relatively simple tutorial here, which worked for me (though note that the initial version of the code will mean it only appears in individual posts: if you want it on the home page of your blog, like I've set it up, scroll further down into that guy's post, where he tells you how).

I managed to get myself sun-burned all across my back and shoulders during the Weymouth trip last week, mainly due to building sand castles and digging big holes in the beach (yes, I am five ;p). That meant I wasn't planning to go to BJJ tonight, as abrasive gi + sun burn tends to = lots of pain. However, in the text message Geeza sends out before every lesson, he said that tonight it was Q & A. I remember the last time he ran one of those, and it was awesome. Hence sun-burn or not, I wanted to be there.

Geeza kicked off by answering Guy's question about wristlocks. Geeza started by discussing wristlock defence. His central point was that in essence, it is quite easy. You just make a tight fist with your hand, which is almost impossible to wrist lock. You're still at risk if you're gripping a gi with your fist, as you will often have a few fingers extended in the course of making a grip. Hence why in terms of avoiding wristlocks, it is safer to grip really, really tight.

Geeza also showed some basic wristlock attacks, starting with side control. If they are swimming for underhook to begin their escape, that's a perfect moment to go for a wristlock. Immobilise their arm by grabbing the elbow and slipping your other hand over their bicep. You need to time it so that you can press your weight down on the back of their hand, before they can wriggle it into a safer position. From there, simply shift your weight so that you're driving into their knuckles and bending their hand towards their forearm.

You can also do several things from within a triangle, because the arm is isolated. That makes it vulnerable to a bent armlock (pull on the wrist to bring it to either side of your body), an armbar, or a wristlock. Geeza's wristlock involved pressing on the back of their hand with both thumbs and twisting it slightly. If anyone is interested in wristlocks for BJJ, I'd recommend checking out Roy Dean's Art of the Wristlock.

The second question for the opening hour of the question and answer session was how to get out of what I think Geeza called a side choke, which I'd refer to as an arm triangle. Begin by trapping their arm next to their head, using your own head to lock it in place. It is key that their arm is pressing into their neck: you're going to be using that to block off one side.

Bring your arm on the other side underneath their head: this is what will block off the other side. Link your hands together, moving to side control, pressing a knee into their back. Your other leg is out for base. From here, gradually sink down with your hips, squeezing your elbows together. That should eventually result in a choke.

To escape the arm triangle, roll towards the open side. Your aim is to make a little bit of space, so that you're no longer in immediate danger of being choke. From there, bridge and bring your trapped arm out and around their head, so that it is no longer pressing into your neck. Be careful though, as if you put an arm on the far side of their head, they can trap it and start moving for a north-south kimura.

Finally for the beginner class, Geeza answered a question from Arnaud about finishing off armbars from mount when they have their hands locked together. Geeza responded with a strategic method, which wears them out before breaking the grip. You are about the sink the armbar, but they have managed to lock their hands. Reach through to grab their belt, palm up.

With your other hand (nearest their legs), grab their trouser leg. Lean towards that leg, which will make them sit up. Let them come up slightly, then push down on neck with your leg. Keep doing it to soften them up, then eventually move your hand from their leg to under their wrist, and break their grip.

I had texted a question earlier, which Geeza told me he'd cover at the start of the advanced class. I needed to leave after that, so for the sparring that always opens the advanced classes, I did a bit of guard passage with one of the children (I was being wimpy due to my sunburn.) Given that I was rolling with a small child, I had a chance to practice my teaching, as I tried to coach him through a guard pass. I'm not sure if I've worked out the right balance between encouraging children and providing enough resistance for them to have a meaningful spar, but good to get a chance to build my experience doing that.

Onto my question. For the next three weeks, I'm going to be teaching back mount, in my usual maintaining, escaping and attacking pattern. As the attacking lesson is the one I'm most keen to get right (as I've arranged for my girlfriend and one of her female friends to attend that night), I wanted to ask a question about entries into the rear naked choke

I was specifically interested in a way of getting to the neck without being nasty. Geeza's 'nice' option was to use the gi instead. Rather than a typical rear naked choke, work the gi collar across their neck (easier than arm, as it is much thinner), then you can do a variation on the RNC where you pull on their gi with one hand, threading the other between their arm and head.

A less pleasant option is to make a fist with your index finger slightly raised, then rub that along where their jaw line starts, working it under their neck. This is particularly effective if you do it on both sides at the same time. I'm uncomfortable with the nastiness, as I'm a big believer in Saulo's mantra of "treating your training partner like your best friend", but if you're happy to use the jaw dig, it does work.