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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

19 January 2016

19/01/2016 - Salsa Souls at Riproar in Bristol | Cross Body Lead

Class #009
Salsa Souls (Salsa), Riproar Club, Jo Kryulko, Bristol, UK - 19/01/2016

Tuesday is shaping up be the most fitness intensive day of my week. Starts off with an hour of kettlebells, then an hour of BJJ open mat, until finally two hours of salsa dancing. My knee was a bit sore after open mat, so I'll have to keep an eye on that. My neck too, so I'll try toning down the sparring for the rest of this week. I'll be in Verona for the Tamara de Lempicka show on Sunday anyway. Speaking of which, you should donate to the charity GrappleThon in support of One25! Tamara would. ;P

Also, now I know the teacher's name, my OCD need to record everything is satisfied. Yay! Anyway, tonight was mainly about the cross body lead. Jo had a good way teaching this: step on the train, step on the platform, turn. At least, I got that first bit, but couldn't see her feet on the second part. That's one of the downsides of a big, popular class: too many bodies in the way of the teachers' feet. ;)

Fortunately for me, my girlfriend is a lot more willing to ask than I am, so she brought Jo over during the free dancing bit at the end. That massively helped, as Jo went through the technique in detail, as well as a bunch of other refinements to what I'd been doing. First off - and this is pretty important, so I was lucky I got this corrected early - is how to lead your partner. When you've got that closer hold on them (which I'm sure has a name, but I don't know it yet: I have my hand on her shoulder blade under her arm, while she grips my other hand, curling her fingers over the back of my hand), make sure your shoulder-blade hand is in the middle of their shoulder blades. I'd been putting it too low, on the ribs.

With it between the shoulder blades, you can lead more effectively. It enables you to not only indicate side to side, but also back and forward. With your fingers in between their shoulder blades, the heel of your palm will be on their side. Use that to push back on them - gently! - to indicate when you want them to go backwards. Also, I was getting confused about leading on the basic back step, though when you realise it's pretty obvious. If they are going backwards, you need to push them backwards, not pull them towards you. I had been pulling towards me because when I step back, that's the direction I'm going. D'oh. :)

Previously with the cross-body lead, I had gone the wrong way. Every. Single. Time. Particularly when Jo picked me to demonstrate on, when I kept on going the wrong way even though she was correcting me. Clearly takes a lot to get that through my thick skull. So, assuming I am now remembering this properly, it goes like this (from that close grip):

• Rock forward on your left
• Step with your right, turning the foot perpendicular to your left
• Bring your left back in line with the right
• As you do that, steer your partner around to line up with you
• Rock sideways on your right
• Step your left back, at right angles
• Bring your partner back in line

I think? I am still not entirely sure, need to film myself doing this, like I did back in 2008 with the steps (e.g, this, from my first salsa class). The teachers are very keen for everybody to try and dance with somebody from the other class (the beginners join up with the intermediate/advanced for the free dancey bit at the end), but I'm not keen at the moment. I'm especially not keen if it's that close hold: if I get forced to dance with anyone other than my gf, I'll make sure if that's beach ball holding frame, so I can keep them safely at arms length. I've mentioned this before, but very weirdly given I've been doing Brazilian jiu jitsu for a decade, I hate being touched. Then again, if I've been able to get used to it in BJJ, should hopefully be able to do the same with salsa. :D

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