Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 13/04/2012
GB Shop Europe, with about £7 shipping). I'm not a fan of being restricted to an official uniform, but if I have to wear a GB gi, it might as well be comfortable. Judging by tonight's first outing, the Premium is an improvement over the basic model, but that may be more down to getting an A1 rather than my previous A2 (which is still a little large on me for my liking). My main concern is the shrinkage: I don't mind too much if I end up with a tiny gi, but hopefully it won't shrink too much (especially as I always wash gis at 30 degrees Celsius and hang dry).
The advanced class follows straight after the fundamentals, and kicks off with a bit of specific sparring from closed guard. That was a good reminder of how completely rubbish my guard is, both on top and bottom. Underneath, I spent most of the spar with head control, badly attempting three things: trying to either push their arm across to get my chest to their shoulder and take the back; push their arm over my leg to set up the kimura; look to get their hand to mat and overhook. Didn't get anywhere. My elbow problems didn't help, but still, I really need to come up with a better selection of options to work towards. It might be time I tried to get back to the flower sweep, which is something I never really worked out despite spending ages on it at white belt.
On top, I did at first try to stand up to keep working on my base, but as soon as my partner looked to go for sleeve control to disrupt my position, there was a shooting pain up my arm so I sat straight back down. Nothing much happened from there, except some attempts to get to combat base. I also tried to stay in a low crouch and get hold of the collar, but it was pretty much a stalemate. I eventually managed to get to top half guard, but that was off a scramble, so not at all technical.
The technique for the advanced class was, usefully, escaping technical mount. The key is getting either your arm or your elbow inserted into any space between the back of their knee and your torso. Your other hand (so, this will be the arm you have closest to the floor) needs to be grabbing your opposite collar tightly, as otherwise they'll have a clear route to choke you. Once you can get through arm into the gap behind their knee, reach through and grab your gi trousers, by your knee.
Start moving your legs towards your head, until there is an opportunity to shove their leg between yours and switch to deep half guard. From here, you can continue to run towards your head, then quickly turn the other way: this is what Jeff Glover calls the 'Homer sweep'. If your partner is wise to that and adjusts their weight accordingly, you may still be able to pop out the back.
I was a bit wary of sparring due to the complaints my elbow was making, but one of the advantages of training at GB Bristol is that Geeza is more than happy to accommodate injuries like that. So, I was able to train with two of the women present: as I've said many times, women tend to be more mature, considerate and helpful training partners, meaning they're perfect for rolling when injured. I had a relaxed roll with somebody who I think started that night (but she's also a 2nd dan in judo, so no stranger to judo), then Vikki.
As I'd failed miserably to do anything in guard earlier that class, I wanted to be a bit more varied this time, so attempted to move into butterfly guard (not very successfully, but I'll get there in the end if I keep trying it). I'm still keen to get better at that guard, as like I've said in the past, I don't think spider guard is going to be good for me long-term, given what Chiu told me about it completely mashing his fingers. Improving my closed guard is important too, along with my basic foot-on-hips guard, where I can keep working my tripod/sickle sweep combination.