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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

31 October 2011

31/10/2011 - RGA Bucks Aylesbury New Location

Class #427
RGA Bucks, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, UK - 31/10/2011

There have been big changes since I last headed to Kev's, as he has recently opened up a full-time academy. So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to plug his school. ;)

The new venue is brilliantly located, as I discovered while walking to my parents' house after arriving into town. You can basically jump off the train at Aylesbury Station and almost immediately step onto the mats at RGA Bucks. It's in Duck Farm Court, a cluster of shops. Due to all that retail, there is ample parking, convenient if you're driving to your BJJ. Duck Farm Court is right behind Morrisons (for US readers, that's a large supermarket chain in the UK), which also means you've handily got an ATM nearby.

Roger Gracie Academy Bucks (new website in development)
Duck Farm Court
Station Way
HP20 2SQ
07904810640 (Kev)

The building itself is two floors. RGA Bucks' main matted area is on the lower floor, visible from outside because the entry is through two glass doors. If the sign above the door didn't give it away, the sight of people in gis wandering around lets you know you're in the right place. Kev's mats are really soft, so they're ideal for working your takedowns (and I think a judo class is indeed in the works). Though there are some pillars holding up the ceiling, they're all heavily padded: I didn't notice any problems with that during sparring or the warm-up. Kev has an office on the same floor, with an open window you can lean through to chat or settle up your bill.

Upstairs houses the changing rooms, along with a spacious chill-out area that reminded me of Mill Hill. You can relax on the couch while enjoying the library of BJJ DVDs and books. That might be because you're about to have an appointment with the resident physio, who I think Kev said was a back specialist. So, if you've got any niggling injuries, you don't even have to leave the premises to get some professional assistance. Which is pretty cool.

There are classes every day (except Saturday, I think, but that will probably get a class in future), with evening and daytime options. Kev is handling most of the teaching duties at the moment along with his work in the fire service, but is due to expand his staff. Most of the people who got their purple belts on the same day as me are going to become instructors: I'm looking forward to checking out Howard's class, as he's got a lot of experience in other martial arts as well as BJJ.

In the daytime, you have the pleasure of being taught by Yas Wilson, one of the top female competitors in the country who has fought at the highest levels of competition. She got silver at the Mundials this year in the purple belt division, only losing out to Mackenzie Dern. Yas has also fought at the Abu Dhabi Pro, and recently took part in the most prestigious grappling competition in the world, the ADCC. If you're in the Aylesbury area and are free during the day, then you should definitely go benefit from her wealth of competitive experience.

On top of all that, Kev himself is of course an awesome instructor, who started off in boxing, went on to get a black belt in judo, another in jeet kune do, fought a few times in MMA and has since earned a brown belt in BJJ from Roger Gracie. I really enjoyed my time as a regular student under Kev, which is why I'll be continuing to drop in whenever I'm visiting my parents. If you're in Buckinghamshire, you need to go train at RGA Bucks! :D

Getting on to the actual class, the beginner class started off as normal with some self defence. Like I've said many times before, I'm not a fan of self-defence, but I like Kev's approach. That's because he has a straightforward, realistic perspective, without any of the mystical fluff you often get in traditional martial arts at one end of the scale, or the 'hard man' posturing that plagues RBSD. There was a great example tonight during Kev's defence to a haymaker. It's something I've seen him teach before, similar to how it's shown on Gracie Combatives.

The difference is that when Kev teaches it, he will say things like "yeah, you're probably going to eat a shot when you do this." As he mentioned, you'll likely be in a pub, maybe had a few drinks. You may well even find that you don't just get hit, but knocked out, in which case you're obviously not going be able to land the technique. However, presuming you manage to stay on your feet or avoid the full force of the punch, you can then move into a side-on clinch. From there, step through into an o-goshi hip throw.

Another thing I like about how Kev teaches self defence is that he merges it nicely with the stuff I'm interested in, which is what the Gracie Academy would call 'sport' jiu jitsu (as ever, that terminology is debateable.) So after you take them down, move through to knee on belly, then secure the armbar.

Kev then went through two ways of transitioning from side control to the mount. Start by killing the near arm, switching your hips briefly to scarf hold to get that elbow up, then switch back to trap it. However you trap it, as with maintaining, getting the near elbow out of the way is key to this particular method of transitioning to mount.

Make space by shifting towards their head, then slide your knee over their belt line. To stop them blocking your slide, grab their far hip with your hand, creating a barrier with your arm. Keep sliding the knee through to the mat. If they have an arm in the way, underhook it and walk your fingers towards their head to get it out of the way. From there, you can now adjust your legs in order shift into mount and establish your grapevines.

The second transition to mount again starts from a a tight side control. You've already killed the near arm. Switch one arm to their far arm, putting the other hand to their near hip, then shift your hips right back towards their head as far as you can. This puts you in reverse scarfhold, where your elbow is either in their far armpit or wrapped underneath for control. This position also means you're blocking their view with your entire body.

That therefore stops them from seeing exactly what you're doing. When you've got up really high and are ready to go (at this point, they should almost be bridging to relieve the pressure), grab their far knee to stop them snatching mount, then bring the leg across. You can either grab your own foot and pull it across, or just squeeze it past your own arm, depending on your flexibility and how much space you've created.

I'm still injured, so sparring from side control was light. I wanted to practice Saulo's method of holding side control, as that doesn't require much use of my wrist. Instead, I can just clamp the elbow to their far side, concentrating on keeping my weight down. Still, it is much harder to transition to variations of side control when I can't use my hand properly to grip, so it wasn't a particularly dominant side control on my part.

Rolling with Kev was fun, as he was sweeping me with a whole bunch of techniques. I got reversed from his deep half guard at one point, which Kev showed me afterwards. He said the move he used is normally called the waiter sweep or the He-Man sweep: either way, good stuff. Deep half guard isn't a strong point of mine, as my approach to half guard is normally to try and get back to full guard or take the back. Still, it is something Geeza likes too, so I'm in a good place to learn it.

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