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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 May 2016

07/05/2016 - First Class at Meerkatsu's Borehamwood BJJ

Class #719
Borehamwood BJJ (The Venue), Seymour Yang, London, UK - 01/05/2016

The mighty Meerkatsu has launched his own Brazilian jiu jitsu school, the straightforwardly named Borehamwood BJJ, in the eponymous part of London. Check out the website here.

Seymour has been a huge help with all the GrappleThons I've run, so I was keen to support his new venture. A few hours on the Megabus later, I was en route to Kentish Town up the Northern Line. From there, grab a Thameslink train to Elstree: your Oyster card is valid all the way.

A photo posted by @meerkatsu on

Head out the station, off to the right and onto the main high street. Keep walking until you get to Borehamwood BJJ's somewhat confusingly named base, The Venue (about 15 minutes on foot). It's a large, well appointed leisure centre, with excellent changing facilities, showers and everything else you would expect at a good sports centre.

Borehamwood BJJ is upstairs in Studio 1, past the treatment rooms. This is normally used for dance: it turns into a Brazilian jiu jitsu school by spreading jigsaw mats across the centre of the room. That provides a decent sized space for grappling. You could probably have up to ten people rolling, eight comfortably. There is plenty of room for more mats, should the classes grow larger.

I arrived just as Seymour was finishing off his kids class. The plan is to have a kids session (6 to 11 year olds) from 12:30 to 13:30, then adults straight after through until 15:00. For this free opening class, Seymour had a 30 minute split between them, which was handy as I could take the opportunity to have a chat.

Adults began at 14:00, focusing on the absolute basics. Seymour kicked off with some stretching and calisthenics, before the first of the fundamentals: technical stand up. That was followed by shrimping and bridging. You would think that after almost a decade of BJJ, I would have nothing left to learn about such basic moves. You would be wrong: even on the simplest techniques, you can always learn something, as everybody has different tweaks and ways of teaching.

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

With the shrimp, I normally start on my back, pushing off both feet, a slight turn, then driving the hips back. I prefer Seymour's method of demonstrating, which I'm going to adopt as I think it is a better way to reach beginners. Start on your back, with one knee raised. Push off with that leg, dragging the other leg as you thrust out your hips, curving your body.

While it is possible to shrimp off both feet, Seymour's version is exactly the way you would do it to escape from under mount. I'll therefore be sticking that into the warm-up drills when I next teach shrimping mount escapes.

The second basic technique was bridging, where again Seymour used a variation I hadn't seen before. I split bridging drills into three: straight bridge (directly up and down), angled bridge (going up at an angle with your hips tilted) and turning bridge, where you rotate over your shoulder. Seymour did a modified straight bridge. After he drove up, he did a sharp twist with his shoulders, looking over his shoulder. The idea is to knock them off balance, almost like a punch.

Everybody had a chance to drill, followed by some specific sparring from mount. Class finished up by introducing the idea of guard, as Seymour and another black belt sparred for a minute. Seymour narrated at various points, an excellent idea to help the beginners understand what was going on.

As I expected given Seymour's popularity, there were plenty of higher belts in attendance, particularly friends from Seymor's own instructor's club, Mill Hill BJJ (head coach Nick Brooks himself was on hand to take pics, as he has a knee injury at the moment).

I look forward to seeing Borehamwood BJJ grow over the next few years. With Seymour's experienced and friendly guidance, I'm sure it will soon be a thriving hub for BJJ. :D

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