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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

07 May 2012

07/05/2012 - Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #456
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai ‘Geeza’ Holt, Bristol, UK - 07/05/2012

I was pretty ineffectual tonight, but then that’s jiu jitsu: some days your game feels great, other days you feel like a white belt. I couldn’t even remember blocking kicks from technical stand up properly, which as much as I find self defence very boring still isn’t something I should be forgetting.

The main technique for tonight was the pendulum sweep. Geeza likes to hook under the leg when they lift it off the mat, which helps set you up to swing your leg and hips out. Keep your head close to the hooking hand, then kick into armpit and tuck your swung leg underneath. From there, you can also switch to an armbar from guard, or indeed use your grip on the leg to finish up in a mounted armbar.

During sparring, I had a chance to play in guard, so there were a couple of basic sweeps I wanted to try. That mainly involved grabbing the knee, which isn’t something I’ve done much in the past. However, I’m looking to expand my guard game from “sit there and wait”, so sweeps seemed a good area to revisit. I did land it once, but that was against a fairly small white belt.

When passing, I tried to follow my own advice and stand up. I also made sure to grab an arm first in order to make their sweep counters more difficult. However, my posture is still far too bent forwards, as I’m tending to linger too long with the grip on the collars, rather than getting upright and thrusting my hips forwards.

I also had the common experience of a big strong beginner, who was going all out with strength. The goal for the person on top was to simply open the person on the bottom’s legs, which he did with relative ease. Now, in that situation I feel a bit silly telling somebody they shouldn’t rely on their strength: after all, from their perspective, it just worked great. Still, I think it is useful to advise people that by using strength you’ll blow your energy quickly and also struggle against anybody as strong or stronger, so I mentioned it anyway.


  1. Hi Can,

    I'm going through a similar thing with a young guy in my class who is awesomely strong but I'm trying to get him to polish up his technique 'cause one day he'll be in competition against a guy his strength and he won't have a clue what to do. Difficult telling a guy to go against his bodies natural inclination though :o|

  2. It's difficult, because strength isn't a bad thing. Quite the opposite, it's a huge asset. However, it should be kept in reserve for when you need it, rather than relied upon.

    At least that's the argument I tend to use. If someone has just successfully smashed my guard with strength, I feel a bit silly saying that, but hopefully it's still useful advice. ;)