Borehamwood BJJ (Maxwell Community Centre), Seymour Yang, London, UK - 07/05/2017
Seymour Yang has been immensely important to the success of the GrappleThons, as well as an inspirational figure for me online, providing plenty of support and advice. I therefore like to support stuff he does if I can. One simple way to try and do that is travel down to his school in Borehamwood to show support in person. I last popped down to Seymour's club a year ago, for the first session at Borehamwood BJJ. He has changed venue since 2016, but it's relatively nearby to the previous location. I wanted to pop down for the 1st anniversary of the club, but I hadn't reckoned with the joys of Sunday transport in London. Blithely thinking there would be no problem (as I couldn't remember running into trouble last time), I just assumed trains from Great Missenden would be fine.
According to the website planner, there weren't any trains from Great Missenden, but you could apparently head down to Harrow-on-the-Hill via the Chiltern Line from Amersham, then bounce from the Metropolitan line to the Jubilee and finally Thameslink. The 08:39 morphed into a much slower train, throwing everything else out of whack. However, I can confirm that if you run, getting into Elstree & Borehamwood on the 10:15 from West Hampstead Thameslink is just enough time to make the start of the 10:45 class. I can also confirm that if you're 36 and crap at running, it's much better to make it in time for the 09:42 from that Thameslink and stroll in comfortably. ;)
Seymour footlocked me all over the place when we last sparred at this year's GrappleThon (and last year's, it's becoming a trend ;D), so he suggested running through some leglock material if I could make it down for the 7th May. That meant today was all about the straight ankle lock. First up, Seymour recommends that when wrapping your arm around their Achilles tendon, stick to the one arm. If you look to bolster that grip by making a figure four or grabbing with your other hand, it's likely that you'll slacken the pressure into their Achille. Instead, use the one arm to maintain the sharp 'blade' of your forearm, reaching up as if you want to grab your shoulder.
With your same side leg, put your heel on their same side hip. Your other leg tucks behind their knee, also squeezing your knees together. You're always looking to tilt in the direction of their knee (presuming you want to stick with IBJJF rules, which tends to be the most common, but certainly not the only ruleset). From there, tuck your elbow back on the gripping side, arching back as well and thrusting your hips if you need extra leverage.
You can also switch the foot across your body to your other arm, applying the same grip and trying the footlock from there. My training partner and I got a little confused at this point, as we kept turning in the other direction. You're staying with the same tilt: remember, the foot you're pushing into their hip is the side you stick with, even if you switch your footlock grip to the other side.
In terms of escaping, Seymour emphasised that your goal is to split the legs. Start by 'putting the boot on', driving your heel and pulling your toes back to give you time, then push their anchoring heel off you hip. Bring your bum over, then move forwards into mount. Alternatively, you could try pushing their top knee (so, not on the hip pushing side) with your free leg. That again splits the legs, enabling you to move forwards and into mount.
Naturally there is a counter to the counter. If they attempt to escape by pushing through with their leg, you can try to quickly switch sides, locking your arm around that pushing leg and scooting into a footlock on that side instead. This lends itself to a drill where you're repeatedly trying footlocks while your partner escapes over and over. Seymour's teaching style makes for a really nice atmosphere. He's a charismatic guy, so comes across as both confident and relaxed, cracking jokes while he runs through the techniques.
I have a whole bunch of injuries at the moment (mainly knee, fingers, tailbone and a tweaked neck), meaning I'm especially averse to sparring at the moment. Even so, when a black belt asks you, it's generally a good idea to say yes, in this case Steve (Seymour's class has a few higher belts who head down, which is cool, including Sandeep, a fellow student of Kev Capel). He took it very slow and easy as we did some specific sparring around those footlocks, working through the techniques. He spun to a belly down footlock at one point, which foxed me, but suggested the way to escape that was to try and move around behind.
Thanks very much to Seymour for letting me train again at his club today. Also, I'm impressed by how much the club has grown in just a year, very cool. Borehamwood BJJ currently has sessions twice a week, but with those ever increasing numbers, I'm sure he'll be expanding the schedule in future (though Seymour is of course a very busy man. Those rashguards don't just Meerkatsu themselves! ;D)
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