08/04/2011 – De la Riva at Mill Hill

Class #385
RGA Mill Hill, (BJJ), Nick Brooks, Mill Hill, UK – 08/04/2011

I had intended to train in Bristol last week, but annoyingly I picked up some kind of virus. So, that ruled out BJJ, as I didn’t want to pass that around the rest of the academy (it irritates me when people come in sniffling and coughing: if you know you’re ill with something infectious, don’t train!)

That meant I would have to wait until April to get back on the mats. For an upcoming issue of Jiu Jitsu Style, Nick Brooks generously arranged an interview with Ricardo de la Riva, who is visiting the UK for a couple of seminars. Even more generously, Nick also invited me down to train beforehand at the Mill Hill academy. Packing my dictaphone (or rather, my gf’s dictaphone), I jumped on the train to London.

It has been almost three months since I hurt my knee, so I decided it was time to see if it could cope with a warm-up. The knee didn’t complain during running round the room or shrimping, so it must be on the road to recovery. I’m still wary of sparring, but that’s not a problem as long as I have sensible, considerate training partners.

Technique today was based around the flower sweep. Nick began with a straightforward method, beginning by grabbing both their sleeves. Release one of your grips and grab their same side trouser leg. Still on that side, kick your leg up into their armpit, aiming to break their posture and knock them diagonally forwards.

Continue pushing with your leg, pulling on their sleeve and lifting with that grip on their pant leg. That should enable you to roll through into mount. If they base out with a hand, you can take the opportunity to move into a triangle, bringing the leg on their basing side to curl around their head. Push them to the other side with that leg, then lock up the triangle.

You can also use different grips when you start. The orthodox version is to grab one sleeve (stopping their attempt to base out), then with your other hand, grab the opposite pant leg. However, you can also grab a sleeve, using your elbow and forearm to clamp down on their other wrist, trapping it in place (which again stops them using it to base out). On the same side as your grip, grab their pant leg, then proceed with the technique as before.

Finally, you can try a slightly different tactic from the same position. Establish your grips and go for the flower sweep. However, after you’ve kicked up into their armpit, you’re going to swivel 180 degrees, then straighten that leg. At the same time, pull on their trouser leg straight backwards (rather than lifting up, as before).

This should flatten them out, so you end up alongside them, reaching over their body to immobilise their torso, ready to move into an omoplata. Normally, you would lean over to their opposite shoulder as if whispering in their ear to apply the submission. Nick showed a slightly different variation, where making sure your leg is over their shoulder, your head goes to their opposite hip instead. Twist your hips up for the shoulder lock.

Sparring was down to Nick, who like Kev pairs people up. As he knew about my knee, he started me off with a green belt. Children are useful if you’ve got an injury, as they’re so light that it is unlikely they’re going to power into some awkward movement that jars whatever joint you’ve hurt. It also meant I could stay very relaxed, leaving openings to see what he did, while also looking to concentrate purely on technique.

Next up was an entirely different prospect, the mighty Dan Strauss, fresh off his impressive victory at Submission 1000 (despite the fact that the tournament included several black and brown belts, purple belt Dan was able to win the whole thing). He took it easy on my knee, but given he is such a high level purple, that still meant he totally dominated me. I couldn’t do anything except flop around defending.

No doubt if he’d been going full force, I would have spent the whole time tapping. However, as Dan was being nice, I mainly got a good work out due to all the spinning and twisting of my escape attempts. He also had some advice on escaping triangles, after he caught me with an americana from his guard.

I had been looking to create some kind of frame with my arm, as he had established a solid high mount and was in the process of locking in the triangle. I put my hand on my head as he rolled to guard in order to finish, hoping to wriggle my elbow back and slip my arm free. Instead, he simply twisted my arm to the side for a submission.

Dan suggested that instead, I should have grabbed his knee, driven it to the floor and then worked from there to get free. Alternatively, I could have tucked my chin to make some space, stand up, then use my knee to pry my head and arm free.

My training partner from the earlier drilling was next, Cho, a friendly white belt. Yet again, I went to the Xande open guard to avoid using my injured leg, which is mostly where we stayed (especially as, like everyone else, Cho was being careful of my left knee). Last up was a tall blue belt, who also stayed light. I got stuck in z-guard a few times, and was trying to push his knees together and to the mat. However, that mostly seemed to just present a chance for them to attack my neck, so I still need lots of work to get that pass right.

De la Riva was teaching a private at the time, before moving into a photoshoot with fellow blogger Meerkatsu, who trains at Mill Hill. It is always cool to meet internet friends in the real world: I’ve trained with Seymour a number of times now, but it’s been a while. Once Seymour had finished off his camerawork, it was my turn to put that dictaphone to use.

Thanks to David Soares kindly acting as translator, I was able to have a forty minute chat with de la Riva (I checked on the capitalisation with the man himself, in case you’ve ever wondered how to write his surname). Our conversation should be popping up in Issue 3 of Jiu Jitsu Style, once I’ve typed it up and edited it down to the requisite length.

Clint was also there: I first met him last time I trained at Mill Hill. He is in the process of raising some money for charity, as part of the fight against cancer. Clint is planning to wear a bright pink gi, also sporting a fetching pink mohawk: if you’d like to sponsor him, check out his page.

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08/04/2011 – De la Riva at Mill Hill

Class #384
RGA Mill Hill, (BJJ), Nick Brooks, Mill Hill, UK – 08/04/2011

I had intended to train in Bristol last week, but annoyingly I picked up some kind of virus. So, that ruled out BJJ, as I didn’t want to pass that around the rest of the academy (it irritates me when people come in sniffling and coughing: if you know you’re ill with something infectious, don’t train!)

That meant I would have to wait until April to get back on the mats. For an upcoming issue of Jiu Jitsu Style, Nick Brooks generously arranged an interview with Ricardo de la Riva, who is visiting the UK for a couple of seminars. Even more generously, Nick also invited me down to train beforehand at the Mill Hill academy. Packing my dictaphone (or rather, my gf’s dictaphone), I jumped on the train to London.

It has been almost three months since I hurt my knee, so I decided it was time to see if it could cope with a warm-up. The knee didn’t complain during running round the room or shrimping, so it must be on the road to recovery. I’m still wary of sparring, but that’s not a problem as long as I have sensible, considerate training partners.

Technique today was based around the flower sweep. Nick began with a straightforward method, beginning by grabbing both their sleeves. Release one of your grips and grab their same side trouser leg. Still on that side, kick your leg up into their armpit, aiming to break their posture and knock them diagonally forwards.

Continue pushing with your leg, pulling on their sleeve and lifting with that grip on their pant leg. That should enable you to roll through into mount. If they base out with a hand, you can take the opportunity to move into a triangle, bringing the leg on their basing side to curl around their head. Push them to the other side with that leg, then lock up the triangle.

You can also use different grips when you start. The orthodox version is to grab one sleeve (stopping their attempt to base out), then with your other hand, grab the opposite pant leg. However, you can also grab a sleeve, using your elbow and forearm to clamp down on their other wrist, trapping it in place (which again stops them using it to base out). On the same side as your grip, grab their pant leg, then proceed with the technique as before.

Finally, you can try a slightly different tactic from the same position. Establish your grips and go for the flower sweep. However, after you’ve kicked up into their armpit, you’re going to swivel 180 degrees, then straighten that leg. At the same time, pull on their trouser leg straight backwards (rather than lifting up, as before).

This should flatten them out, so you end up alongside them, reaching over their body to immobilise their torso, ready to move into an omoplata. Normally, you would lean over to their opposite shoulder as if whispering in their ear to apply the submission. Nick showed a slightly different variation, where making sure your leg is over their shoulder, your head goes to their opposite hip instead. Twist your hips up for the shoulder lock.

Sparring was down to Nick, who like Kev pairs people up. As he knew about my knee, he started me off with a green belt. Children are useful if you’ve got an injury, as they’re so light that it is unlikely they’re going to power into some awkward movement that jars whatever joint you’ve hurt. It also meant I could stay very relaxed, leaving openings to see what he did, while also looking to concentrate purely on technique.

Next up was an entirely different prospect, the mighty Dan Strauss, fresh off his impressive victory at Submission 1000 (despite the fact that the tournament included several black and brown belts, purple belt Dan was able to win the whole thing). He took it easy on my knee, but given he is such a high level purple, that still meant he totally dominated me. I couldn’t do anything except flop around defending.

No doubt if he’d been going full force, I would have spent the whole time tapping. However, as Dan was being nice, I mainly got a good work out due to all the spinning and twisting of my escape attempts. He also had some advice on escaping triangles, after he caught me with an americana from his guard.

I had been looking to create some kind of frame with my arm, as he had established a solid high mount and was in the process of locking in the triangle. I put my hand on my head as he rolled to guard in order to finish, hoping to wriggle my elbow back and slip my arm free. Instead, he simply twisted my arm to the side for a submission.

Dan suggested that instead, I should have grabbed his knee, driven it to the floor and then worked from there to get free. Alternatively, I could have tucked my chin to make some space, stand up, then use my knee to pry my head and arm free.

My training partner from the earlier drilling was next, Cho, a friendly white belt. Yet again, I went to the Xande open guard to avoid using my injured leg, which is mostly where we stayed (especially as, like everyone else, Cho was being careful of my left knee). Last up was a tall blue belt, who also stayed light. I got stuck in z-guard a few times, and was trying to push his knees together and to the mat. However, that mostly seemed to just present a chance for them to attack my neck, so I still need lots of work to get that pass right.

De la Riva was teaching a private at the time, before moving into a photoshoot with fellow blogger Meerkatsu, who trains at Mill Hill. It is always cool to meet internet friends in the real world: I’ve trained with Seymour a number of times now, but it’s been a while. Once Seymour had finished off his camerawork, it was my turn to put that dictaphone to use.

Thanks to fellow PhD student David Soares kindly acting as translator, I was able to have a forty minute chat with de la Riva (I checked on the capitalisation with the man himself, in case you’ve ever wondered how to write his surname). Our conversation should be popping up in Issue 3 of Jiu Jitsu Style, once I’ve typed it up and edited it down to the requisite length.

Clint was also there: I first met him last time I trained at Mill Hill. He is in the process of raising some money for charity, as part of the fight against cancer. Clint is planning to wear a bright pink gi, also sporting a fetching pink mohawk: if you’d like to sponsor him, check out his page.


23/11/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #362
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Sahid Khamlichi, High Wycombe, UK – 23/11/2010

Sahid was taking class again tonight, and after starting off with a takedown, he moved on to the flower sweep. His set up was a little different to what I’m used to, and started off in closed guard. They have the typical grip, with one hand on your collars, the other back by your hip. Swim your arms through and back towards you to knock their arms off (easier said than done, depending on their grip), bringing them forwards with your knees. Reach around their back and clasp your hands together in a gable grip, locking them to your body.

Next, release the top hand (using the other to keep control of their head), then bring it out and under their arm, so that you can put it by their head. Reclasp your hands in a gable grip: Sahid recommended having the higher hand thumb down, for a stronger hold). Straighten your legs and move your hips out to the side (in the direction of your upper arm).

Relock your legs, then lean back slightly, nudging their arm with your shoulder. Your aim is to push their arm under their head or body. If they don’t react, you can move to take their back. More likely, they will try to square back up, which is what you want. You’ve now got them locked against your torso, with their arm trapped underneath them. As before, release your gable grip, switching the upper arm to grab around their far armpit instead.

Your other arm either threads under their same side leg, or grabs the same side trouser leg, by the knee. Open your guard and kick through, so that the leg on the trouser grip side whacks into their armpit, while the other chops through. You can also lift with the arm gripping their trouser leg/under their leg, rolling through to mount.

If that all seems a bit complicated, you could also try the simpler version Callum mentioned. Grab their sleeve, then grab their knee on the other side. From here, kick through as before to get the flower sweep: you’ll be using that grip on the sleeve to stop them posting out. However, it is of course more difficult to break their posture from here than in the previous variation, where you’ve already got them bent forwards and locked close to your torso.

Alternatively, you can use Sahid’s set-up to go for an armbar. You being as above, until you get to the point where you’re gripping their far armpit. Instead of going for the sweep, walk your legs up high, until you can bring a leg over their shoulder, on their trapped arm side. That means you’re now in a position that looks a little like Eddie Bravo’s pleasantly named ‘crack head control’, except that you aren’t grabbing your own leg (p150 of Mastering the Rubber Guard). From here, you just push the head to get your leg from their shoulder to over their head, and go for the armbar. The flower sweep is still an option from here too.

In specific sparring, I as ever need to be more proactive in guard, particularly with chokes. I’m still using them as more of a threat, rather than following through. That’s probably because I don’t have any confidence in actually landing them, so something to work on: that should also make them a more effective distraction, so I can then look at attacking arms, securing overhooks or even trying Shawn Williams guard again (I had a go, but didn’t isolate Callum’s arm properly, so it wasn’t doing a whole lot).

I also need to watch my arm when they stand up. I wanted to go for my favoured handstand sweep to star sweep combination, but that doesn’t function properly if they’ve managed to grab your other arm. Callum doesn’t grab the arm initially, instead standing up with a hand on the hip: he grips it as he stands, so something I need to pay more attention to next time.

When I was on top, I was trying to drive my hips forward when he went to open guard, and see if I could grab a leg and pull up. I’m still not standing when I should, but Callum tends to go to open guard anyway, so that forced me to get off my knees. I also got into the dreaded z-guard type thing, with that frustrating knee. I tried switching to pushing on the knee…but left an arm behind for Callum to kimura.

We also chatted some more about Callum’s magazine and his plans: if you haven’t already ‘liked’ the Facebook page for Jiu Jitsu Style, check it out here for the latest news. There’s also an interview I did with him on the topic, for the FightWorks Podcast (text rather than audio).


23/11/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #361
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Sahid Khamlichi, High Wycombe, UK – 23/11/2010

Sahid was taking class again tonight, and after starting off with a takedown, he moved on to the flower sweep. His set up was a little different to what I’m used to, and started off in closed guard. They have the typical grip, with one hand on your collars, the other back by your hip. Swim your arms through and back towards you to knock their arms off (easier said than done, depending on their grip), bringing them forwards with your knees. Reach around their back and clasp your hands together in a gable grip, locking them to your body.

Next, release the top hand (using the other to keep control of their head), then bring it out and under their arm, so that you can put it by their head. Reclasp your hands in a gable grip: Sahid recommended having the higher hand thumb down, for a stronger hold). Straighten your legs and move your hips out to the side (in the direction of your upper arm).

Relock your legs, then lean back slightly, nudging their arm with your shoulder. Your aim is to push their arm under their head or body. If they don’t react, you can move to take their back. More likely, they will try to square back up, which is what you want. You’ve now got them locked against your torso, with their arm trapped underneath them. As before, release your gable grip, switching the upper arm to grab around their far armpit instead.

Your other arm either threads under their same side leg, or grabs the same side trouser leg, by the knee. Open your guard and kick through, so that the leg on the trouser grip side whacks into their armpit, while the other chops through. You can also lift with the arm gripping their trouser leg/under their leg, rolling through to mount.

If that all seems a bit complicated, you could also try the simpler version Callum mentioned. Grab their sleeve, then grab their knee on the other side. From here, kick through as before to get the flower sweep: you’ll be using that grip on the sleeve to stop them posting out. However, it is of course more difficult to break their posture from here than in the previous variation, where you’ve already got them bent forwards and locked close to your torso.

Alternatively, you can use Sahid’s set-up to go for an armbar. You being as above, until you get to the point where you’re gripping their far armpit. Instead of going for the sweep, walk your legs up high, until you can bring a leg over their shoulder, on their trapped arm side. That means you’re now in a position that looks a little like Eddie Bravo’s pleasantly named ‘crack head control’, except that you aren’t grabbing your own leg (p150 of Mastering the Rubber Guard). From here, you just push the head to get your leg from their shoulder to over their head, and go for the armbar. The flower sweep is still an option from here too.

In specific sparring, I as ever need to be more proactive in guard, particularly with chokes. I’m still using them as more of a threat, rather than following through. That’s probably because I don’t have any confidence in actually landing them, so something to work on: that should also make them a more effective distraction, so I can then look at attacking arms, securing overhooks or even trying Shawn Williams guard again (I had a go, but didn’t isolate Callum’s arm properly, so it wasn’t doing a whole lot).

I also need to watch my arm when they stand up. I wanted to go for my favoured handstand sweep to star sweep combination, but that doesn’t function properly if they’ve managed to grab your other arm. Callum doesn’t grab the arm initially, instead standing up with a hand on the hip: he grips it as he stands, so something I need to pay more attention to next time.

When I was on top, I was trying to drive my hips forward when he went to open guard, and see if I could grab a leg and pull up. I’m still not standing when I should, but Callum tends to go to open guard anyway, so that forced me to get off my knees. I also got into the dreaded z-guard type thing, with that frustrating knee. I tried switching to pushing on the knee…but left an arm behind for Callum to kimura.

We also chatted some more about Callum’s magazine and his plans: if you haven’t already ‘liked’ the Facebook page for Jiu Jitsu Style, check it out here for the latest news. There’s also an interview I did with him on the topic, for the FightWorks Podcast (text rather than audio).


12/10/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #350
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 12/10/2010

The Ultimate Fighter (UK viewers can see it on Sky Sports, and it is also up on the TUF website), does not normally get my attention, as all I ever hear about is lots of smack talk, irritating behaviour (carefully edited to make it even more annoying) and lowest common denominator sensationalism. However, this season they have something worth watching: John Danaher. I was very intrigued to not only see and hear from the great man himself, but also what kind of impact he would have on the team.

The coaches match up is in classic pro-wrestling style, with a heel (Josh Koscheck) versus a face (GSP), both men doing a good job of playing their allotted roles. Koscheck even talks about “not wanting to lose to a bunch of nerds,” while there are snippets showing GSP talking about how he used to get bullied at school. Despite the obvious tactic, it works, as it does make me keen to see Koscheck’s team lose (although at the same time, I was rooting for the sole Brit, Aaron Wilkinson, who hilariously gets subtitled due to his Mancunian accent).

Without Danaher, it would be difficult to maintain my interest. After all, there is a lot to dislike about the program, such as the way that in every single episode, they make sure to zoom in on the ring girl’s cleavage and backside. There will probably be some equally idiotic antics in the house later on too (fortunately not much so far, but I’m only at the fourth episode). Hopefully Danaher will start to get some more screen time (they do talk about him a bit in one of the ‘Aftermath’ shows) and make it all worthwhile, and there’s Dave Camarillo too (a big fan of Danaher).

I also wanted to mentioned that Chiu, one of the instructors from Gracie Barra Birmingham, is going to be teaching a class at the University of Warwick on Sunday 17th October. Shame I’ve already left the area, as that would have been cool. Hopefully that might eventually lead to a formal BJJ class: check out the Warwick BJJ Facebook group for more details.

Getting back to tonight’s class, things kicked off with an armbar from guard. Normally, you would grab the same side arm, but in this variation, you reach over for the other arm instead (known as a ‘cross-grip’). Your same side arm is instead going to reach for their opposite collar, which means you can now clamp your elbow down on their arm, giving you extra control. The armbar then proceeds as normal, with your same side foot going to their hip (on the side of the arm you’re attacking), swivel and kick your other leg up into their armpit, then bring your hip foot up over their head. Note that to clear their head, you may need to push it back with your hand, or alternatively shove into their neck.

Kev then showed a neat little trick, for when their gi is loose. On the same side as the arm you want to attack, pull their gi underneath the arm, then wrap it over the top and feed to your other hand. Pull this across and down, which will give you even greater control on their arm. You won’t be able to keep them there for ever, but it should give you a little more time to land the armbar.

The flower sweep combines well with the armbar. If they manage to block you bringing your leg over their head, switch your grip on their sleeve: most likely they’ll be leaning forward and your arm will be under their head or torso, so you’ll probably be in position to easily switch your grip on their arm already. Your other arm either reaches behind their same side knee or grabs their gi trouser leg, then kick up with one leg and chop with the other, rolling on top into mount.

Kev finished off with a basic standing guard pass. Get the usual double collar grip, then grab their same side sleeve and shove it into their hip. Step your leg up on that side, let go of the collars and yank their arm up, bringing your other leg slightly back. Having stepped back, you can now push down on their knee and break open their guard.

As soon as their guard is open, drop down to combat base, where you have one knee up in their guard, your other foot by your heel. Reach under one of their legs (it doesn’t matter too much which, but feels more natural to go for the leg opposite your raised knee) and bump it up to your shoulder. With the same hand, reach through for their collar, or if you can’t grab that (or it’s nogi), their opposite shoulder.

Making certain your other elbow is inside their knee (otherwise they might try for a triangle), drive forward and walk your legs around to the side. Keep the pressure on until you can slide past their leg and move into side control. You might also find it helpful to grab the back of their belt with your free hand and raise their hips up, making it difficult for them to use their hips.

Sparring was specific from the guard. On top, I was looking to use Colin’s pass, where as soon as they grip your collar, you grab that sleeve with your same side hand and stand up, then break their guard. It worked, but I wasn’t reacting as quickly as I should: at one point I had stood up and broken the guard open, but stayed where I was, rather than shoving a leg down and doing a big step over the top to start the pass.

A lot of the time I was finding that I am still accepting half guard, rather than driving for the full pass. From there, I kept on trying to attack the far arm, but I was too obvious about it, so they had little trouble grabbing onto some cloth to stop me easily bringing the arm out for a submission. However, it’s a good habit to get into, as that helps distract them from my efforts to get my leg free.

Underneath, I was playing around with various attacks. I need to be more careful with the scissor sweep, as I’m still tending to just end up opening my guard and helping them initiate a pass, rather than staying tight and breaking their posture properly first. I wasn’t doing enough with spider guard, as I had the arms extended but didn’t progress to a sweep, and I also totally messed up the omoplata sweep: I ended up just rolling them on top of me and giving them side control.

I did manage to get an omoplata later on, but very sloppy. I started off with my legs in completely the wrong position, underneath their head rather than out to the side. Not quite sure how I ended up there. Eventually I got them free and out to the right side, then worked into the submission, but against anyone more experienced I would have just lost the position.


12/10/2010 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #349
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 12/10/2010

The Ultimate Fighter (UK viewers can see it on Sky Sports, and it is also up on the TUF website), does not normally get my attention, as all I ever hear about is lots of smack talk, irritating behaviour (carefully edited to make it even more annoying) and lowest common denominator sensationalism. However, this season they have something worth watching: John Danaher. I was very intrigued to not only see and hear from the great man himself, but also what kind of impact he would have on the team.

The coaches match up is in classic pro-wrestling style, with a heel (Josh Koscheck) versus a face (GSP), both men doing a good job of playing their allotted roles. Koscheck even talks about “not wanting to lose to a bunch of nerds,” while there are snippets showing GSP talking about how he used to get bullied at school. Despite the obvious tactic, it works, as it does make me keen to see Koscheck’s team lose (although at the same time, I was rooting for the sole Brit, Aaron Wilkinson, who hilariously gets subtitled due to his Mancunian accent).

Without Danaher, it would be difficult to maintain my interest. After all, there is a lot to dislike about the program, such as the way that in every single episode, they make sure to zoom in on the ring girl’s cleavage and backside. There will probably be some equally idiotic antics in the house later on too (fortunately not much so far, but I’m only at the fourth episode). Hopefully Danaher will start to get some more screen time (they do talk about him a bit in one of the ‘Aftermath’ shows) and make it all worthwhile, and there’s Dave Camarillo too (a big fan of Danaher).

I also wanted to mentioned that Chiu, one of the instructors from Gracie Barra Birmingham, is going to be teaching a class at the University of Warwick on Sunday 17th October. Shame I’ve already left the area, as that would have been cool. Hopefully that might eventually lead to a formal BJJ class: check out the Warwick BJJ Facebook group for more details.

Getting back to tonight’s class, things kicked off with an armbar from guard. Normally, you would grab the same side arm, but in this variation, you reach over for the other arm instead (known as a ‘cross-grip’). Your same side arm is instead going to reach for their opposite collar, which means you can now clamp your elbow down on their arm, giving you extra control. The armbar then proceeds as normal, with your same side foot going to their hip (on the side of the arm you’re attacking), swivel and kick your other leg up into their armpit, then bring your hip foot up over their head. Note that to clear their head, you may need to push it back with your hand, or alternatively shove into their neck.

Kev then showed a neat little trick, for when their gi is loose. On the same side as the arm you want to attack, pull their gi underneath the arm, then wrap it over the top and feed to your other hand. Pull this across and down, which will give you even greater control on their arm. You won’t be able to keep them there for ever, but it should give you a little more time to land the armbar.

The flower sweep combines well with the armbar. If they manage to block you bringing your leg over their head, switch your grip on their sleeve: most likely they’ll be leaning forward and your arm will be under their head or torso, so you’ll probably be in position to easily switch your grip on their arm already. Your other arm either reaches behind their same side knee or grabs their gi trouser leg, then kick up with one leg and chop with the other, rolling on top into mount.

Kev finished off with a basic standing guard pass. Get the usual double collar grip, then grab their same side sleeve and shove it into their hip. Step your leg up on that side, let go of the collars and yank their arm up, bringing your other leg slightly back. Having stepped back, you can now push down on their knee and break open their guard.

As soon as their guard is open, drop down to combat base, where you have one knee up in their guard, your other foot by your heel. Reach under one of their legs (it doesn’t matter too much which, but feels more natural to go for the leg opposite your raised knee) and bump it up to your shoulder. With the same hand, reach through for their collar, or if you can’t grab that (or it’s nogi), their opposite shoulder.

Making certain your other elbow is inside their knee (otherwise they might try for a triangle), drive forward and walk your legs around to the side. Keep the pressure on until you can slide past their leg and move into side control. You might also find it helpful to grab the back of their belt with your free hand and raise their hips up, making it difficult for them to use their hips.

Sparring was specific from the guard. On top, I was looking to use Colin’s pass, where as soon as they grip your collar, you grab that sleeve with your same side hand and stand up, then break their guard. It worked, but I wasn’t reacting as quickly as I should: at one point I had stood up and broken the guard open, but stayed where I was, rather than shoving a leg down and doing a big step over the top to start the pass.

A lot of the time I was finding that I am still accepting half guard, rather than driving for the full pass. From there, I kept on trying to attack the far arm, but I was too obvious about it, so they had little trouble grabbing onto some cloth to stop me easily bringing the arm out for a submission. However, it’s a good habit to get into, as that helps distract them from my efforts to get my leg free.

Underneath, I was playing around with various attacks. I need to be more careful with the scissor sweep, as I’m still tending to just end up opening my guard and helping them initiate a pass, rather than staying tight and breaking their posture properly first. I wasn’t doing enough with spider guard, as I had the arms extended but didn’t progress to a sweep, and I also totally messed up the omoplata sweep: I ended up just rolling them on top of me and giving them side control.

I did manage to get an omoplata later on, but very sloppy. I started off with my legs in completely the wrong position, underneath their head rather than out to the side. Not quite sure how I ended up there. Eventually I got them free and out to the right side, then worked into the submission, but against anyone more experienced I would have just lost the position.


18/03/10 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #296
RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK – 18/03/2010

I’ve already mentioned this at length on my Facebook, but for those of you not on there yet, I recommend you check out Georgette’s thought-provoking post on the reasons why people blog, here. It has resulted in an intriguing discussion, also taking in the reasons why people compete.

To babble a bit about non-BJJ topics (if you don’t care, skip straight to the training), I also wanted to mention three BBC series I’ve really enjoyed recently. First is Last Woman Standing, the third in the series (the first two, which I talked about early last year and back in 2007, featured all-male casts). Not as much wrestling as before, unfortunately, but still great stuff, augmented by the fact it was women, so less stupid machismo.

Second, BBC4 has been discussing the history of feminism in a program simply called Women. The first one was about the second wave, which inspired me to bolster my rather limited feminist library. While I’ve always referred to myself as a feminist, it’s based on conviction rather than a grounding in the critical theory.

I’ve been meaning to delve into the main texts of feminism for a long time, as previously I’d only read The Female Eunuch (though I guess I’ve studied a bunch of relevant novels during my English BA, by authors like Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson and Virginia Woolf. Possibly could put Marion Zimmer Bradley in there too, as we did The Mists of Avalon for my favourite undergrad module, ‘Arthurian Literature and its Legacy’).

So, I’ve started reading The Second Sex, and also picked up some books by two of the people featured in the first program, Susan Brownmiller and Kate Millett. If anyone has further recommendations (e.g., Ann Oakley looked interesting, but I wasn’t sure which of her books to get, and I liked the sound of Judith Butler from a seminar I attended a few years back, as it sounded like she had some stimulating ideas on gender identity), let me know.

Finally, I love music documentaries (and comparing musical taste: as ever, mine is fully laid out over at last.fm), and BBC4 has been showcasing some brilliant examples of the genre. First was Heavy Metal Britannia, which gave me some insight into a genre I’ve never been able to engage with, despite numerous efforts. I’m looking forward to the second, Prog Rock Britania, and especially the third, Synth Britannia (as that covers my favourites period of music, from the mid-70s through to the mid-80s).
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Tonight’s class started off with the companion technique to Tuesday, a pendulum sweep. This is much simpler than the flower sweep, because your opponent has already done much of the work for you by stepping up their knee. Secure their opposite arm, then hook your same side hand underneath their raised knee.

Kick your leg on that side right up into their armpit, driving through, so that they get knocked off balance. Continue the motion by lifting up behind their knee with your underhook, then finally use your other leg to chop low (as you don’t want them to land on it). This should result in you ending up on top in mount, still with a hold of that leg.

You can also do this off the armbar, as Roy Dean demonstrates on Blue Belt Requirements. If they tuck their head, that’s when you go for the sweep. Alternatively, you can still land that armbar, by not completing the sweep. Instead, you knock them off balance as before, but this time, sit up and get them into position for an armbar from the mount. It should be easier to finish from here than the guard, because they can’t stack you (though make sure you stay tight, or they might be able to escape).

Last technique was a cross-guard sweep Kev first showed us back in January. I didn’t say much about the follow-up guard pass in my previous post, so I’ll do that now. Once you’ve knocked them down, you need to use the momentum to come up and move forward, still pulling on their sleeve. You also want to slide your inside knee over their leg, leaning your body towards them.

Having reached that position, switch their sleeve to your other hand, still pulling up. That leaves your first arm free to underhook their far armpit, further dropping your bodyweight on top of them, as well as immobilising their torso. From here, you can slide through into modified scarf hold (i.e., under the armpit rather than the head), and/or into side control.

One random thing to be aware of is that I kept getting my knee entangled inside Callum’s gi when I did this, which made it difficult to pull up on his arm properly. If that happens, switch to grabbing their elbow, drop your bodyweight down, then move into side control. Shouldn’t cause too many problems, but it caused me a bit of confusion during drilling.

Sparring was interesting, as it wasn’t just guard passage, but guard passage without submissions. That meant I could concentrate fully on passing guard without having to worry about triangles, armbars and chokes, and then underneath just think about sweeps. On top, I jumped right to my feet the first few times, to have a play around, but that generally just resulted in getting swept quicker. Callum and I had a few scrambles, where I was trying to drive my hips forward and stack him (at one point, I ended up spinning him right round, but because he kept his knees in, it didn’t help me pass).

I was still looking to pull their arm under their back, and still failing to secure a grip. I couldn’t isolate the sleeve for a cross-grip either: perhaps I need to be more forceful with that, or put my hips into it? A couple of times I had the sleeve and started to stand, but Callum easily freed his arm.

Generally, I’m still being too reactive when trying to pass guard, especially on top. That means I’m chasing after them, rather than imposing some kind of strategy they have to defend. My only successful passing tactic remains forcing half guard, locking in a gable grip, then using shoulder pressure to pass. Unfortunately, that doesn’t often work against the blues, as unlike white belts, they aren’t going to let me slide my knee through that easily.

Underneath, I wanted to go to butterfly and try to sweep, as I’d been watching a video which emphasised pressing into their chest with your forehead, something I don’t tend to do enough. However, my attempt to switch to butterfly from closed was rather sloppy, so Callum took advantage and passed. I did find myself with a belt grip over his back, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I thought I’d seen a choke after you grab their belt before, but checking back through my notes, I can only see a half guard sweep and a stack pass defence, so maybe not.

I also messed up a basic principle, which is pushing their head on the side they want to pass. Instead, I was shoving Callum’s head on the other side, which simply helped him to pass. I need to remember that wherever their legs are going, that’s the side of the head my hands need to be.

The other thing I kept trying was the flower sweep, as I had Callum in tight a few times (like on Tuesday). However, while I could grab the trouser leg, that was about as far as I got. I couldn’t isolate his arm, or get in place to kick up into the armpit properly. Still, it is good to at least get into the habit of threatening something, rather than just lying there wondering what to do.

That’s me done for this week, and I’ll also miss all of next week, yet again due to a girlfriend visit. There are things more important to me than BJJ, despite what the sheer nerdy obsession of this blog might lead you to believe. ;p

As usual when I know I won’t be training, I plan to put up a review/article or two in the meantime.