Cooper's MMA/Jiu Jitsu, (BJJ), Sean Cooper, Austin, TX, USA - 20/11/2012
I arrived into Austin on the 20th, finally getting to meet somebody I have been looking forward to meeting for four years now: the incomparable Georgette Oden. I'll be talking about her much more in my full Texas write-up, but I'll start with a brief summary here. We first 'met' online back in 2008, when she started training BJJ and talking about the experience on her blog. We later got emailing and connected on Facebook, with plenty of cross-blog traffic. Four years down the line, I am sat in her house typing this post, the extremely happy beneficiary of Georgette's incredible hospitality. :D
Georgette's husband Mitch also enjoys BJJ, so he took me along to the place he trains, Trainers Elite MMA. I'm not sure if they are sticking with that name, but either way, it's an excellent BJJ/MMA school run by black belt Sean Cooper. The school has a laid back vibe, stemming from Sean's friendly personality: he immediately made me feel very welcome (something of a theme on this trip: everybody is so nice!). Cooper's gym is affiliated to Cleber Luciano, whose logo could be seen all around the school as well as on the t-shirt I bought a few days later.
I wasn't able to do the warm-up due to my leg injury, so instead sat off at the side doing sit-ups and some of the exercises my physio showed me before I left on this trip. The first few techniques were takedowns, which again I couldn't really do due to my leg, though thanks to the care and consideration of my training partner Mikal I managed to slightly join in. He repeatedly checked to see if he was straining my leg, keeping everything gradual and controlled. Like Triin, he is also clearly interested in the fine details of technique. Also like Triin, he is an instructor, which perhaps explains that interest and his level of maturity.
Sean showed a simple counter to pulling guard, which also works in a few other circumstances. As they bring the leg up to push on your hip and pull guard, grab it and move the leg across your body. Continue the motion, stepping through to knee on belly. He added some little details he learned from Rickson as he wandered round during drilling, all about getting that connection with the opponent (e.g., keeping your elbows in and pressing into their pec with your fist as you grip up from standing).
He then progressed to several options against knee on belly, both starting on their back with your knees squeezed (which again my injury made difficult, but I could do the rest of the technique). Secure an over-under/harness/seatbelt grip, grab their wrist and pull it inwards, then shift your body off to the side of their turtle. Put your knee tight to them, locking in your elbow. Put your free hand out for base, then roll them towards you. You can then bring your knee over the top.
I'm not sure I fully understood that one, which has probably been further garbled in my head because I'm writing this up several days later based on what I said into a dictaphone. However, I have a better recollection of the next technique, which was an entry in the bow and arrow choke from turtle. This starts the same, with a seatbelt grip against turtle. Pull their collar out with your underhooking arm (so, the one looped past their armpit), feeding it to the hand you've threaded over their shoulder and towards their neck.
This doesn't need to be too deep, as it will be tightened when you finish the choke. Your underhooking hand (which should be free, having fed the collar) will now grab their same side wrist, using your elbow to pry their arm outwards. That should clear a space for you to insert your foot on that side, ready to establish your first hook to take the back. Switch the underhook hand from their wrist to their trouser leg. Roll through, essentially rolling backwards (I think? I said 'behind you' in my dictaphone note).
As you roll through, bring your leg across their body, preventing them sucking you into half guard. Your other leg should be looped around their same side arm, making it tough for them to defend. From there you can apply the bow and arrow choke, or switch to an armbar by pushing on their head and bringing your leg over their head.
I finished off doing some light sparring with Mikal (who incidentally also runs a blog, which we talked about later). I'm still trying to work out how best to roll without straining my leg, so ended up in a sort of modified knee shield mostly working on guard recovery. I also played with the running escape, because an instructor I'm visiting later had mentioned we'd be working that during his lesson. In Mikal's guard, I got to practice popping his foot off my hip with my elbow while gripping inside the knee, but I wasn't able to progress from there.
Again, I'll talk more about Mikal in the full Texas trip write up, as he's another amazingly hospitable member of the Texas jiu jitsu scene. There have been a lot of them on this holiday! :D