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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

27 February 2016

27/02/2016 - RGA Bucks | Side Control | Escape to Guard

Class #696
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Dan Lewis, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 27/02/2016

A photo posted by Can (Jun) (@slideyfoot) on

This weekend marks my first 2016 trip to my instructor's academy, RGA Bucks. Kev was away judging BAMMA, but as usual Dan was covering. His class was fantastic. I've mentioned a few times that I need to work on open guard, based around the Ryan Hall 'Defensive Guard' DVD. That is pretty much exactly what Dan covered, based on a recent David Onuma seminar. Judging by this, I really need to get myself down to an Onuma seminar: detailed tweaks on the basics, my absolute favourite stuff to learn in BJJ! :D

Dan kicked off with one of those tweaks, related to maintaining open guard as they look to pass with a knee cut. Block with your near arm, bent at right angles to make a frame. To generate base, pop up on your other elbow. I thought that you would need to come up to your hand, but that actually doesn't help you in this situation. I do this all the time, which can work against less experienced people, but higher belts will eventually grab that basing arm and pull it.

Instead of coming up on your hand, stay on your elbow. Make sure that your shoulder is in front of your elbow. This alignment makes it much harder for them to accomplish their inevitable attempt at yanking your basing arm. Use that frame to get your near foot onto their hip, push to create distance, then re-establish guard.

At this point, there was another very handy tip, which I will be implementing immediately into my classes. Once you have the closed guard and want to break their posture, you don't have to bring your knees to your chest to do it. That's a powerful option, but it does take some energy. A considerably more efficient method is to drive your heels into their lower back instead. That achieves the same goal of knocking them forwards, while also saving your gas tank.

When it comes to escaping side control, they want to dominate your near arm. It puts you in a rubbish position if they manage to isolate it. To get your arm back, bring your heels close to your bum, then turn to replace your elbow block inside their hip. Rotate the hand of your other arm (never bring the arm past their head, that's asking to be americanaed), grabbing their shoulder.

From here, don't drive it up. Bring your elbow out, twisting your forearm into their neck and jaw. Walk your feet towards their head, then bring your knees in to recover guard. If they manage to get such a tight underhook that you can't free your neck-pressure arm, grab your far hip instead.You can then turn to apply a weak shoulder lock.

It won't be enough to make them tap, but it will make them think. Don't bring your knees in to guard yet, get that turn first. Then you can bring your knees in, continuing to apply the pressure on their shoulder. This puts you in a great attacking position. You've got the option of the overhook guard, as well as pressing armbars and shoulder clamps.

Great sparring today: the mat was a sea of purple, along with two white belts, a brown belt and a black belt. Needless to say, there were no easy rolls available! I started off with Stuart, probably my favourite guy to roll with in the whole club (apart from Kev himself, of course). Stuart is about my size and he never goes super hard. That makes for a fun spar, with plenty of movement. I was going for the kimura grip, along with trying tips from Ryan Hall. The additional tweaks from today's lesson are going to be a big help, I think.

I then had a short roll with Dan, where I was looking to attempt that knee cut counter AJ Sousa showed on BJJ Library, but didn't get into the right position. My old training partner Liam was up next. We started training at roughly the same time, but he's improved rather quicker than me, meaning while I'm still purple, he's a black belt. I imagine he wasn't going very hard, nevertheless I had a bit of a confidence boost in that I felt I held my own (he did catch me with a pressing armbar from the top of half guard, so I need to be careful of that arm in that position).

He also had some tips for holding the top position in half guard. At one point I was able to get on top and move through into a cross-face. I was trying to get the Ribeiro super-hold (cross face and underhook), so I could then bring my shin over his leg and start to pass the half guard. I think he reversed me at some point, but regardless, the tip he gave was to bring both arms under the head. That might initially feel vulnerable, but as he demonstrated, when you then drive your chest into their head, it's tight!

I finished up with two bigger purples, where I took the opportunity to work on my defence. In the first roll, I spent a lot of it with my knee driving into their and pulling on the sleeve, to stop them progressing from side control to any kind of attack. I guess it did work, but I should have probably attempted to move into some kind of escape instead of holding that so long. I was getting pretty tired by the final roll: next time, I definitely want to stick around for the yoga. I'll be back in April, when there won't be a niece's birthday to rush off to. So, yoga time! :D

The next day, I did my usual art trip. The exhibition picked for this visit was Delacroix at the National Gallery. I already knew there was a lot of it I wouldn't like (as I'm not fond of most Impressionists, especially Cézanne and Gauguin). Due to that antipathy it only took 45 mins, but assuming you don't have an allergy to Impressionism, I'd say leave about 1.5hrs to do it properly.

A photo posted by Can (Jun) (@slideyfoot) on

However, I do like Degas. It was cool to see some more Moreau too, as I enjoy the Symbolists. I also enjoyed Frederic Bazille, who I wasn't familiar with before. Plenty of bigwigs today, like Van Gogh (not a fan of his work either, except the early stuff). It was still worth it I thought (on my father's membership at least, I wouldn't have paid full price), although the exhibition felt a little flabby. In my opinion, it lacked a sufficiently coherent narrative. It bounces between landscape, religious painting, portraits and others. Then again, the intention is to show Delacroix's influence on modern art, so I guess it needs to be broad for that. Note you aren't allowed any photography, even without flash: the pics I'm using are from a book.

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