RGA Bucks (BJJ), Dan Lewis, Aylesbury, UK - 11/04/2015
I was in London on Friday, in order to (finally) sort out some bureaucracy at the Turkish Consulate in the morning. As they proved efficient, that left me most of the day to go and check out some culture. Given it's not far from the Consulate, I decided to wander through the Victoria & Albert Museum. It isn't my usual kind of thing, as I prefer paintings (though the V&A has a number of them), but it was interesting nonetheless. Still, I found the organisation too haphazard for my taste: for example, the route I took jumped from church relics to a cabinet of armour and then a bunch of doors. All interesting individually, but I like to have a sense of narrative when I go to a museum or gallery.
Thankfully that's exactly what I got at my old favourite, The National Gallery. There is currently an exhibition on Impressionism down in the Sainsbury Wing, which wouldn't normally tempt me as I don't like the Impressionists. For a start, as I find you need to step back from the paintings to appreciate them fully, it's difficult to do that in the confines of a typical gallery space. However, just like the Turner exhibition last year (another artist of whom I wouldn't count myself a fan), the carefully coherent structure made it enjoyable even for non-fans.
At 'Inventing Impressionism', it wasn't really about the Impressionists, but rather about the art dealer that can be credited with a large part of their success, Paul Durand-Ruel. The paintings exhibited were chosen to illustrate his grand plan and innovative business strategies, such as his habit of buying paintings in bulk, offering a money-back guarantee (he frequently bought paintings back after selling them) and the first ever solo shows for artists.
So if like me you're not enamoured of the Impressionists, it's a great way to look at them from a different perspective. It runs until the end of May.
After the Consulate I headed back with my father to Aylesbury, ready to train the next day at RGA Bucks. Unfortunately Kev wasn't there today, so I couldn't touch base with him, but there are of course loads of excellent training partners at RGA Bucks (and there was still a black belt on the mat, the redoubtable Sahid).
Dan took the session today, starting off with a useful recap of a fundamental scarf hold escape. The situation is that they've managed to control your arm, so you're going to lock your arms around their back. I've been shown this one a few times before, where the instructor has talked about finding a magic spot on the floating rib. I've always found that a bit tricky.
I therefore much preferred Dan's straightforward take on it. Rather than talking about floating ribs, he concentrated on the bridging motion. The key is to bridge up into them, then without putting your hips back down, swivel to the other side and roll your partner over.
Next was my favourite mount escape, the heel drag. The details I took away were firstly that when defending under mount, if you cross your hands over your neck, then that tends to mean your elbows rise up, making it easier for your opponent to move up into a higher mount. It's therefore better to go for the 'Home Alone'/Shirley Temple defence, with your hands on either side of your neck.
Finally, there was a more complex variation on the escape to butterfly. Having made the space to get a leg free, drive that up the middle, bringing your outside foot around and pushing into their hip. From there, you can go for the simplest single-x guard sweep, hooking under their leg to trap it to your shoulder and doing a technical stand-up.
Alternatively, bring their foot over to the other side, where you could go for a foot lock (unless you're me, as I steer well clear of lower body submissions, because I'm anxious about blowing out somebody's knee). The final option is a sweep into a leg drag.
Lock their leg in place by grabbing around the outside, holding just above their knee to stop them standing up. Maintain distance by pushing on their other knee, as well as their same side hip. You then want to twist towards their trapped leg side, aiming to knock them onto their bum. Basing off your free hand, you can then sit up, press their trapped knee to the mat and move into a leg drag position for the pass.
Specific sparring from the mount was mainly me trying to go for low mount, then getting gradually dislodged by larger purple and brown belts (my one stint on the bottom started with a quick heel drag on a blue belt, then a taller blue belt going into some kind of rolling back take when I tried to heel drag them).
It was still useful though, as I asked one of the brown belts - who stayed in the whole king of the hill round on the bottom - what they were doing to beat the low mount. I'm normally fairly confident about my low mount, but he blew threw it without too much difficulty.
The secret is using a leg swing motion, much like the one you do to escape north south. He uses that to make some space for his elbow, which he can then use to scoot under into half guard or deep half guard, moving into the sweep. You have to be careful you don't get your back taken (I almost managed that once, but wasn't tight enough), but looks to be a handy tactic.
I had to rush off to a family photo shoot my sister had organised, but I still had time for a roll with my training partner, another brown belt (who incidentally is among my original set of training partners at RGA HQ). He's busted his MCL, but could still spar from the back. So, we did a round from back control. The first time I managed to escape using my usual approach, but the second attempt wasn't as successful: he blocked my head and also kept me from getting to that side, then secured a good grip on my collar. I tried to reach back to pull his elbow and make space, but he managed to reaffirm the grip then get me belly down, finishing a strong choke.
Good stuff: I look forward to catching up with Kev next time. I'm keen to get in some quality training time with him, as it's been a few months since we've sparred. :)