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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

20 August 2012

20/08/2012 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Back Escapes)

Class #464
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 20/08/2012

Due to an increase in my writing workload, it's been a few months since I last made it to a Monday or Friday class. Those have always been the busiest days: I'm not sure if that is because those are the longest established, or the ones advertised as 'Gracie Barra Fundamentals'. Either way, Geeza is clearly doing an incredible job of getting the word out, as tonight there were almost fifty people on the month. The number of children training at the club has increased so much that Geeza is able to offer a separate kid's class, which his son Oli is currently running (although I think he is off on a work placement or something soon, so Luke will be taking over. Which is cool, as Luke is a good teacher).

It was also good to see about five women on the mat too, although the upstairs changing room hasn't been designated as the women's changing room yet. Hopefully that will happen soon, as even two women is too many for the current small shower room allocated to Gracie Barra Bristol's female members. Perhaps in future there might even be enough for a separate women's class, which would be great, as that's a good way to help build up the numbers in a less intimidating environment (e.g., like the classes Chrissy used to run at her club in Virginia).

Geeza was busy, so passed the warm-up over to me. I've never run a warm-up with a class of almost fifty people, so that was an interesting experience. For a start, I couldn't just say "do breakfalls down the mat" as normal, because due to the numbers it wasn't as obvious when everybody had been: my classes tend to get between six and twelve people, so this was around five times as many students as I'm used to. ;)

It has been a long while since I've made it down on a Monday, so I'd almost forgotten that the fundamentals class always kicks off with some self defence. As I've mentioned many times before, that's by far my least favourite part of BJJ, because I find it neither interesting nor useful, given that self defence techniques are never tested against resistance in a sparring situation. Still, I should probably start to pay a bit more attention, as apparently some people do like learning it.

So, I'll try to start noting that part of the class down more often. Today, the self defence situation was that they've grabbed your neck from behind with both their hands. Reach across to grip the fleshy part of their opposite hand, then turn and twist. You're aiming to put them into a typical aikido style wristlock, pushing their palm towards their arm, bringing them to the ground: exactly the same thing as you would see in any TMA type class.

Once that was out of the way, we got onto the more useful material, continuing with the back position. Geeza covered a standard escape from the back, beginning with the simpler option, when they have only gripped your lapels rather than locked in the seatbelt (one arm over the shoulder, one arm under the armpit). Bridge, get your head over their shoulder, then wriggle your shoulders to the mat. Pop their hook off with your hand, step over with your leg, then grab their other leg with your nearest arm (pant leg or underhook behind their knee). From there, shrimp and move into side control.

If they do have the seatbelt grip, fall towards the open side, so their armpit arm. Again, try to wriggle your head to the mat followed by your shoulders: if your back is on the mat, it is impossible for them to occupy that space. Continue as before, grabbing their leg, shrimping, then turning towards them to establish side control.

There was also a simple escape from turtle, where you've gone for some kind of takedown but they've sprawled, so are now position in front of your turtle position. Grab for their opposite leg with your arm (otherwise they'll just spin to your back), also putting up your leg on the same side as that grabbing arm for base. You can then slide your other leg through and move into guard.

To finish off we did some king of the hill sparring from turtle, switching position if you were able to either escape or take the back. I have carefully avoided turtle for the last six months or so, as last time I went to turtle I messed up my neck. It's never been a strong position for me, but I can generally work my way back to guard. However, I'm terrible at attacking the turtle, as demonstrated by today's sparring.

I barely got anywhere, except with one person who was trying to spin to guard. That gave me the chance to move to the back and get my second hook using the Marcelo Garcia back extension. Aside from that sole success, I most tried to keep my weight on the side, but soon lost control as they re-established guard, or even worse, managed to somehow get on top as I fell off and ended up on my back.

Hopefully I'll now be able to get back into my old pattern of Monday, Tuesday then teach on Thursday. Once I've re-established that, I'll see if I can add in Friday or Wednesday, with the odd Saturday.

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