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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 July 2013

07/07/2013 - Study Hall at Gracie Barra Bristol

Class #507
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Study Hall, Bristol, UK - 27/06/2013

For some time now, there has been a desire at the club to get in some extra drilling time. Thanks to the efforts of Geraldine, we have something Geeza calls 'study hall', which appears to be the Gracie Barra answer to an open mat. The idea is that you come to the class with an idea of what techniques you want to work on, drawing upon the experience of the higher belts.

Originally Geeza was going to be leading the class, but unfortunately he has hurt his back, meaning that Dónal oversaw the study hall instead. We started off with the same warm-up as always, after which we just paired up and started drilling. There was a section later on where Dónal ran through some other drills for those who didn't have something specific in mind, but as Mike and I knew exactly what we wanted to drill, we kept going.

It was really good to have the opportunity for focused drilling. I'm therefore fully intending to attend as many of these sessions as I can. Today, the first technique I wanted to play with was the sweep I saw Henry Akins demonstrate at the Sandy Hook seminar. The reason I liked it is that the sweep looked mechanically very simple, directly from closed guard. I don't know if it has a name, so I'll just refer to it as the Henry Akins sweep. The scenario is that they are attempting to being their pass by putting a knee in the middle of your bum, after which they will look to open your guard.

The typical reaction to that is to pop your hips across to return to guard. If they put their knee in the middle, you pop across again. This can be very frustrating for them, but it can also be tiring for you, given that you may find yourself doing this repeatedly. To break that cycle, do it a couple of times, then switch direction. When they put their knee in the middle, rather than moving towards your other knee, move away, to the other side of their knee.

You also want to have a grip on the sleeve that side, using your opposite hand. You can then pull them forward, then turn your hips in the direction of that sleeve, coming up on top. If they try to resist, you can use your free hand to base (this is why you grip with your opposite hand). Drilling with increasing resistance, it appears to be a fairly effective sweep: even if they are resisting, as long as you can control that sleeve and remember to pull them forward you can still pull off the sweep. Possibly something that might combine well with the sit-up sweep, from a teaching perspective.

Next up I wanted to play with some butterfly sweep variations I saw on the Carlos Machado DVD I reviewed recently for Jiu Jitsu Style (and speaking of upcoming DVDs, Roy Dean's much-anticipated Black Belt Requirements will be arriving in a few months. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek: I'll be excited to see the finished product. Here is the trailer). However, while it was fun to test out what I'd seen Machado show, I think I need to do a lot more work on basic butterfly first, so I soon switched back to the previous Akins sweep.

The other technique I wanted to practice was the running escape. My drilling partner Mike was playing with the stiff arm escape, something I had already been planning to teach on Tuesday, so that was fortuitous. I was also thinking of how I might connect it with the running escape, as that is still something I need to improve. After briefly drilling the stiff arm myself, I was getting twinges from my right arm again, meaning that instead I just got in some reps on the completing the running escape, using the hip thrust type thing Marcelo and Saulo both use.

First off, don't kick them in the head: I did that when I initially shoved into Mike and swung my legs through. Secondly, timing the motion isn't easy. It is something I say when I teach it, but the whole weight distribution sensitivity is key. It gets harder as you get more fatigued as well, given that shoving your hips into them like that takes a bit of energy. If they are at all bigger than you or are just good at sinking their weight, that's going to be really, really tough. But meh, lots of drilling should help. :)

Practicing with Mike on what he wanted to drill was helpful for me too. We started off just working the mechanics, then gradually built up the resistance, to see if Mike could incorporate a few different sweeps after he used the stiff arm to prevent the double underhook pass. If he is able to get into the various off-balancing open guards that he uses, it becomes a struggle to avoid being swept (which made for an interesting challenge).

I was also trying to see where the weak points in the technique might be. One thing I managed to do a few times was bring my knee over the top as soon as I felt his stiff arm pushing me off-balance. That helped me re-establish my base to turn back towards him and go for mount. If he could hook under my leg before I could that, then I was at risk of being entangled in Mike's tricky open guard, or more simply he could just scoot back quicker.

I look forward to the next study hall: it's also likely to be useful for refreshing my memory about the technique I want to teach on Tuesday, as well as offering the chance for experimenting and refining those techniques before I get to my class. All in all, a very positive addition to the Gracie Barra Bristol schedule. :D

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