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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

01 November 2014

01/11/2014 - RGA Bucks | The Back | Turtle Turnovers & Crucifix

Class #601
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 01/11/2014

This week marks another family birthday, which means I get to enjoy three of the best things in life: my family's hospitality, great art and jiu jitsu (if you understandably only care about the third, click here). As I happened to be in London for Friday afternoon, I took advantage of the numerous tours offered by the Tate Britain.

The first of those tours was digital, via an app on my phone. The Tate Britain have a '500 Years of British Art' tour available on the app store, for the excellent price of free. Its intention is to walk you through a representative selection of another representative selection. The Tate has curated several rooms to display a chronological circuit of British Art. Handily, the period covered by each room glints at you from the floor, though sometimes it requires a bit of wandering to work out which exit has the relevant number.

You get around three paintings discussed per room, between one to two minutes each time. Occasionally there is some extra content, like a contemporary artist discussing the work, or some historical background. For example, an expert on 18th century ballet to flesh out the pose struck by Giovanna Baccelli in Gainsborough's famous portrait, or Damien Hirst's opinion on 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion' by Francis Bacon.

That commentary is quite good, but there is an annoying downside to the audio guide. Normally when you play audio, you can switch off your screen. Not with this app. It insists on keeping your screen on, a major battery drain if you're a fellow user of phones in the 'ridiculously-huge' category. A less irksome problem is that this app is massive (158mb), but that's easily solved by downloading it over WiFi before you get to the gallery. There is apparently a Tate wifi network, but I couldn't get it to work last time I tried.

The guide shows you a full-screen picture of the painting when it plays the audio snippet, so you could quite happily do a tour from the comfort of your phone (though of course you're missing out on all the cool details you get from seeing the painting in person. The texture of the paint, the swerve of brush strokes, the individual flecks of pigment close to your eye).

I also joined a couple of the guided tours (again entirely free), which are mostly on the hour. I've been on the 15:00 tour that focuses on Turner before, so as I'm feeling rather full of Turner (perhaps due to the recent film, there's been lots on TV and I went to the Late Turner exhibition during my last visit), I opted for the 14:00 and 16:00 tours instead.

The 14:00 tour is a general one, covering those same chronological rooms as the app. Guides will vary in quality, but the knowledgeable and efficient woman leading it today was good. She checked with the group if they wanted to cover anything pre-Victorian, deciding to therefore concentrate on the 19th and early 20th century when nobody made much of a response. It was interesting to learn more about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (a rare exception to the normally narrow range of my art taste, which is almost entirely 1450-1700), followed by an examination of several painters I've conveniently enjoyed via BBC Four recently (Andrew Graham-Dixon did a good series on war artists: it was cool to see the Bombergs, Sickerts and Spencers in situ. Though I can't remember who did the Stanley Spencer documentary: that was earlier, but quite possibly Graham-Dixon again as he does a lot of the BBC Four art presenting).

Also, chatting to a friend afterwards, she asked me if I had any favourite paintings from the Tate. That led to an excellent couple of hours wandering around the Tate website: I hadn't realised just how fantastic they are on the digital front, with lots of interactivity and info. Hence why when somebody asks me that now, I can simply post a link. ;)

Getting on to the jiu jitsu, Kev's Saturday class at RGA Bucks focused on attacking the back, a topic still fresh in my mind due to September. He started off with two simple attacks from the back, the rear naked choke and what I refer to as the sliding choke. You reach over their shoulder and grab high on their opposite collar, while your second hand slides past their armpit and again grasps the far collar. Pull the collar tight around the neck with your shoulder arm, while your armpit arm pulls its collar down.

That then moved into several options against the turtle. First off was a basic turnover, reaching underneath them for their far collar, a bit under their chest. Be careful of your elbow as you don't want them to hook it and roll you. Should they get some kind of grip on it, you can lean down and make yourselft heavy. If that's not enough, you can move all the way round to the other side and block their roll with your knee.

Assuming you avoid their grip, pull your elbow back. Sit back on the opposite side, then roll them over into back control. Should you have any trouble getting the second hook in place, use what Marcelo Garcia calls a 'hip extension' to make that available.

Next up was something I recognised from Levo's video as the three-quarter nelson, this time used for a turnover. Secure that grip, with one arm behind their head and the other under their armpit, linking the two with a gable grip. On the side of the gable grip, wedge the knee nearest their head (if you turned and had both knees against them) behind their knee. Shove your knee back towards their legs, using your three-quarter nelson to turn them. At this point you can pull on their shoulder, then adjust your other arm into a single-arm choke.

To finish, Kev went through a crucifix entry. He drives the knee in behind their elbow as normal, flaring it out and trapping their arm between his legs. Controlling their other wrist with your same side hand, you can then roll over their wrist-side shoulder to move into the face-up crucifix. It's a similar motion to when you roll for the reverse omoplata on the near shoulder, except that you're doing that tight turn over the far shoulder instead.

To finish, Kev demonstrated a straight armbar from the kneeling crucifix. I find it hard to get the right spot for those, but Kev offered the handy pointer during his demo that your hips go by their shoulder. Sprawl from there and press down. Avoid moving too far back or you'll lose their elbow and enable them to free their arm. As long as you don't do that, their typical escape is to curl their arm back, which gives you the opening to roll into the crucifix or the reverse omoplata.

Sparring is one of the main benefits I get from regularly heading back to my home club. At RGA Bucks, there are lots of higher belts to smash me, not to mention fellow purples equally happy to crush, along with loads of tough blue belts ready to squish me too. I rolled with a couple of blues, a purple, a brown and a black belt, so got to experience the full range of being squashed under side control and people attacking my back.

It seems those two positions are invariably where I end up when I spar anybody bigger and/or better than me, so I'm relatively comfortable. On the plus side, I wasn't relying as heavily on the running escape, trying to switch to the stiff-arm and attempting some standard bridge and shrimp escapes from under side control. As always Kev got into north-south, so I had a chance to try the escapes from last Saturday. I couldn't get into position for the head push, but did vaguely try the knee into the arm. I could only get one arm, but worth trying again. I also tried to get into position with a blue belt later, but they switched back to side control before I had a chance to go for a north-south escape.

I also finally remembered to go for that double-trap of the arms when they're on my back, clamping their armpit arm with my elbow and using my hand to grab their other sleeve. Although I was fighting off a deep choke during my last roll, mostly by pushing on the elbow: I doubt I would have gotten out if I hadn't had a strength advantage.

Back escapes have been a major weakness for me, so I'm pleased I felt a bit more confident there today, if only slightly. My other big weakness was still very much in evidence, the guard. I'm getting passed way too easily (almost every time, it was my own favourite pass, the knee cut). I have trouble keeping some kind of control over people when they're in my open guard. I can entangle one side slightly, but not enough. I tried the mawashi grip a few times, but didn't establish it properly. Going for that modified spider guard was useful as a goal, though it didn't yield any success today. Fortunately, I'll get to think long and hard about guard in a couple of months, as we'll be back into the three months of different guards at Artemis BJJ in a little while.

Today I also received what may be the best compliment I've ever had after sparring: "You smell like christmas." I suspect that's because I was wearing my Datsusara HCG-03, which has experienced the magic of Georgette's washing machine. That magic is strong, as it appears to have lingered on two years after my Datsusara passed through her detergent (at least that's what she claims it is: I remain convinced it can't be anything so mundane. Must all be rainbows and unicorns). Unless she meant it in more of a Trading Places "smell like xmas" sense, so booze and wee. I'll stick with my first thought. ;D

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