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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a brown belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

27 May 2020

27/05/2020 - Solo drills continuing through coronavirus lockdown

Class #1235
Artemis BJJ (my living room), Bristol, UK - 27/05/2020



The solo drills sessions over Zoom (twice a week, plus private lessons) have been ranging between about 25 minutes to 30 minutes, followed by a technique of anywhere between 4 minutes to 10 minutes. I get certain regulars each time, which is handy as then I don't need to explain the drills as much. There are normally nine drills each session, which I could increase if I wasn't spending time explaining. Then again, the reason I'm explaining is that I often add in tweaks to existing drills, or new ones.

To that end, I've been both reviewing the Priit grilled chicken/shell guard material I've already got (thanks to that long weekend seminar a while ago), as well as buying his instructional on the topic. I hate buying from BJJ Fanatics because their marketing is so shady, but with one of their ever-present discounts it was at least a slightly less insane price than usual. The platform it's sold on aside, the instructional is good. Priit's penchant for talking too much is controlled a little, plus you can just skip ahead when he gets into lecture mode.

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As I've been drilling so much #PriitGuard in my @ArtemisBJJ solo drills sessions over Zoom, I thought it was time I finally bought @jitsvulcan 's instructional on the topic (BJJ Fanatics has horrifically bad marketing, but some great content, like Priit and Danaher). ☺ Having done several 12hr Priit seminar weekends and numerous @bjjglobetrotters camps, I was curious to see how his teaching style translated to DVD/video instruction (especially as my friend @meerkatsu recommended it). Turns out, pretty well, judging by the first part of the #GrilledChicken set. 😀 As usual, BJJ Fanatics unnecessarily divides them into four short chunks instead of one or two larger ones, but this is good stuff. For those who aren't keen on the "sit down and lecture" approach (as opposed to "talk while physically demonstrating", which I greatly prefer), the video medium very handily means you can skip ahead. Therefore both pro and anti lecture approaches can coexist. 😉 Very good summary on this first of four chunks (32 mins), which should help me refine the drills I've been doing. Also some excellent practical tips, like holding your partner's feet and guiding them into an invert (something my student Paulina has done in the past too, when helping people with invert spins). 👍 Unlike many people, Priit makes a point of citing his primary sources at length, of which I very much approve. Specifically for #GrilledChickenGuard, that's a 2013 match between Braulio and Galvao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gui5wWJA4gI&t=3m11s This is what originally inspired Priit to develop what he calls the grilled chicken guard (I prefer the term shell guard, but grilled chicken is admittedly memorable and at this point a well known moniker). In that match, Braulio (one of my old instructors, #namedrop 😜) almost entirely neutralises Galvao with his guardwork. ___________________________________ I look forward to the rest of the set, it's promising so far. 😎 #SlideyReview #ZoomBJJ #ArtemisBJJOnline #SlideyStarTrek #StarTrekBJJ #SlideySpats #GrilledChickenBJJ

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I've so far found two drills in particular that have been useful thanks to the DVD. Firstly, what I've been referring to as the wrist frame and circle. That is similar to framing off them a la Defensive Guard when you are looking to retain guard from sitting guard etc, with the addition of coming up to Priit's 'active turtle' and circle to create enough distance to get your guard back. Secondly, one I haven't yet tried builds on that, with an invert. Priit doesn't spend much time on that, but what he shows is enough for me to turn it into a drill.

Along with grilled chicken/shell guard, I've been looking further into my favourite position, the running escape. Priit had a video up about that too, from 2019, where he tweaks it a little. I normally have my knee up, everything curled in tight. Priit's 2019 change is that the knees are together, which he suggests can make it tougher for you to get pulled backwards, or put into the cradle position. That's useful, as getting pulled backwards is the most common way people attempt to break my running escape, especially if they are stronger than me. I'm therefore looking forward to testing this out in sparring.

I do feel more vulnerable due to that knee barrier being removed, as it's easier for them to step over. However, that could potentially be countered in a similar way to when they step over against panda. I could underhook their leg and move directly into the turn and pass, rather than going to panda first (as my Beltchecker.com friend Vince Choo suggested, he's a black belt teaching in Malaysia). Again, something I want to test in sparring. Interestingly, Priit has been thinking about renaming the position half turtle rather than running escape, which isn't a bad idea.



I've managed to keep up my home workouts routine three times a week, with 3 sets of 10 press-ups, 10 twisting crunches and 10 single leg squats, followed by 10 military kettlebell presses (bottoms up, as I've only got a 6kg kettlebell at the moment, waiting for my 20kg to arrive), bottoms up front squat and then v-ups. I should also take this opportunity to clear up some of my blog post backlog, there are a bunch. We'll see if I actually do it, or just say I'll do it. :P

26 April 2020

26/04/2020 - Zoom classes update, plus thoughts on the future of online BJJ

Article #25, by Can Sönmez
Class #1234
Artemis BJJ (my living room), Bristol, UK - 26/04/2020



Insomnia as usual, so I'll take the opportunity to chat about how the shift to online teaching only has been going for me here in Bristol. I've been doing it for a month now, as I have a housemate willing to be my uke. I've been using Zoom to teach group and private lessons since the lockdown got serious in the UK a month ago. Internet connection while streaming has stayed steady, which surprised me considering my wifi is pretty rubbish.

The recording function on Zoom is terrible: it's supposed to upload to Zoom's cloud storage, but so far has just resulted in unwatchable vids (though the quality while I'm initially streaming seems to be fine). I therefore record it on my phone instead, then upload that to unlisted YouTube links I can send to my students (as lots of them don't watch live, they prefer to check it out later, judging by the view numbers on the YouTube vids). The full vids are between 20 to 30 minutes long, though as my uke doesn't like to be on public footage, those are just for members. 😉

The main problem is naturally the lack of physical feedback. I have got a few sufficiently motivated students that have been doing Zoom private lessons and give good verbal feedback, plus I can see what they're doing and correct (thanks to the gallery view in Zoom), but most of them don't have a drilling partner, which unsurprisingly makes that a lot less useful. Interestingly, one of the most committed private lesson students is somebody who I hadn't often seen in my classes pre-lockdown: she usually goes to the nogi and women's class. I'll be curious to see if she will pop up in my classes when normal training resumes (I hope so, she's a good student, a promising blue belt).



I have modified how I teach a little as a result of the move to online-only. I demonstrate the technique for longer, also taking time to show it solo. In a normal class, I'd just teach one technique with one variation, then do a lot of drilling. With Zoom, I'll show multiple variations and some related techniques, plus anything else people ask about.

After that, I do solo drills (like shrimping, bridging, grilled chicken, turn to knees, back step etc), bunch of repetitions so people can follow along. The handy thing with that is I get a little work-out too: I have considered doing that section for longer (at the mo, isn't usually more than a few mins). So yeah, I need to ask if people want that solo drill section to be longer or not. I then finish up with stretching, which again is useful for me. That's something else I could potentially do for longer, as there isn't the same time constraint as in a 'normal' class.



I think that is one positive outcome of the lockdown. All sensible BJJ schools have now engaged with some kind of online training as a result, which is making everybody more familiar with the options available. That also means we are all getting a lot of hands-on experience with what works best online: the long-term repercussions for our sport could be significant, with a whole generation of BJJ teachers becoming very familiar with both the technology and pedagogy of teaching online.

Before lockdown, online training was something a few big names were able to use as an income stream, putting up technique videos relatively similar to what you get on a DVD. Now, I think that is going to open up, as so many of us are running full classes on Zoom, or recording full classes and uploading them. That experience and knowledge is still going to be there when the lockdown is lifted. In an ideal world, it will provide us all with a whole new potential income stream, or at least a way to increase the value of what we can offer to our students.



I was surprised when an ex-student of mine (who now lives in Australia) suggested she'd be interested in paying to just have private lessons, as I'd mentioned I was doing them for my current students. I'm not at a level yet where doing that separately would make sense, BUT it wouldn't be difficult to simply live stream my in-person classes (once those start up again). I could set up some low payment option for people like her, who have an interest in doing distance learning.

Though yeah, I'd need a wifi connection at the gym for that, probably. I could try the data on my phone, but I'm not sure my data package is beefy enough to handle repeated live streaming. It's something I've considered in the past, but the experience of Zoom classes has done a lot of clarify the idea for me. Watch this space! 😁

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01 April 2020

01/04/2020 Zoom classes online from my living room

Class #1233
Artemis BJJ (my living room), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 01/04/2020



A couple of weeks ago the govt changed their strategy and the UKBJJA advice therefore also changed. i therefore temporarily shut both of the Artemis BJJ locations in order to follow that guidance: I won't open them back up again until the UKBJJA advice tells me to.

Instead, I've been teaching classes online from my living room, as fortunately I have both mats and I live with somebody willing to let me demonstrate on them. Zoom has been pretty good so far as a method for teaching, both group classes and private classes. However, as my demo partner doesn't like to be seen in public vids, I have only been uploading the full vids to the private Artemis BJJ member groups.

Still, I was able to get some clips, along with some solo drilling footage. I'm not sure I'll put up many posts while we're in lockdown, we'll see. For today at least, I'll embed that footage that I can, which are clips from a private lesson, plus some drills. :D