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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

09 November 2011

09/11/2011 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Guillotine Defence)

Class #431
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 09/11/2011

I'm not a fan of flashy gis: as I've said repeatedly over the years (summarised here), I like a gi that is plain, white and functional. However, I AM a fan of Scramble (awesome hoodies, for a start), so for those of you who do like a bit more bling in your gi, check out Seymour's review of Scramble's first entry into the gi market, here. It is unfortunately pre-order and limited release, but I think that is just until the gi side of Scramble becomes financially viable. The pre-order opens at 11:11 on the 11th November, either through the Scramble website for the UK, or Budovideos in the US, here (ignore what it says about being out of stock, the pre-order hasn't started yet).

I was a little bit wary of the lesson tonight, as Geeza was teaching guillotine defence. I haven't trained much over the last few weeks since injuring my neck and wrist, so this would be a test of how much I've recovered. I was hoping that three weeks was long enough.

Geeza began with a simple early defence. He described it as imagining there was a yellow rectangle drawn on your torso, with the corners made up of your hips and nipples. If you imagine the same thing on your partner, with a red line drawn down the middle of each, you want to keep those lines in the same place. In other words, don't let them get an angle to sit up and loop an arm over. So, cage their hips with your knees and elbows, keep moving to stay square on if they try to hip out, block their attempts to sit up with your hands, etc.

A 'middle' defence is to raise your head up if they do get an arm over, but haven't yet locked their hands. That should give you the space to work your head free. If you're a bit later and they lock their hands, they will also most likely have opened their guard. That means you can push down on their knee and hop over to side control, so that your head is now on their far side.

Reach underneath their head and drive your shoulder into their neck. Turn your body towards their legs, then keep increasing the shoulder pressure. This should either make them tap or let go, as the pressure immediately drops if they release their grip on your head.

There is a similar principle at work for the late defence, which is the one I'm familiar with. This time, the guillotine is fully locked on and they've also managed to close their guard. You're in trouble. With your same side hand, grab their wrist and free up some breathing room. Your other arm will loop under their head, so you can again drive your shoulder into their neck.

Come right up on your legs to increase that pressure, so your bum is now in the air. Continue driving forward, until the pressure either makes them tap or release their grip. You should then be able to pop your head free.

Sparring started off with a white belt I haven't rolled with before. He was mainly looking to get advice, so we had a pretty relaxed roll, where I went from positions he wanted to work on. I always relish the chance to get in more practice at teaching, so that was cool.

The next white belt was more active: normally I can just flop back straight into spider guard, but he immediately started running around to side control before I had the chance. As normally happens with more intense rolls, I go hyper-defensive, as I try not to try and match their pace when that happens (mainly because my fitness sucks and I'm lazy). That meant a lot of running escape posture, combined with going to turtle.

I'm still failing to use the running escape properly, as I'm not good at moving from the survival position back into guard. Normally I'll just end up back under side control. I was able to hook the leg once or twice for half guard, but almost always it was a crappy quarter guard, so they got their leg free again. I did finally catch it later on and recover full guard, then looked to work on breaking posture and get the overhook from there.

Going to turtle is quite fun, though I don't know a lot of things to do from there. My go-to is either recover guard by sitting through, or try and hook an arm and roll them. I'd be tempted to check out some of the more esoteric stuff, like Telles stuff, but that's probably a bit beyond me right now. Also, going to turtle isn't something I want to get too comfortable with, as I'd rather get better at quickly getting back to guard from there.

Unfortunately for my neck, lots of turtling under a more aggressive white belt is exactly how I injured it a few weeks ago. This time, I didn't make the mistake of driving their whole weight through my neck while trying that arm-grab reversal, but it still felt sore after sparring. It felt the same way last time, so I'm a bit worried it will stiffen right back up tomorrow morning. We'll see: if it does, lesson learned, and I'll leave it even longer before trying full sparring again. It would also probably indicate I should be less eager to turtle up. ;)

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