27/04/2009 – BJJ (RGA Kilburn)

Class #222

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 27/04/2009Beginner

Almost forgot to mention: there is a throwdown in Farnborough this Sunday, with a nominal £5 mat fee. So, if anybody fancies meeting up for a roll, now’s your chance. Would be great to see people, if there’s anyone reading this blog who can make it down to spar (or just drill: I normally spend a good chunk of throwdowns drilling stuff I’ve not had a chance to practice much in class). Full details on Jadon’s Bullshido thread.

This will be my last week training at Kilburn, so I plan to train Monday and Wednesday (tomorrow I’ve got some work I need to get sorted). I’ll be sad to leave, as its been a great few months continuing to learn from Jude. Hopefully I’ll get back to London at some point in the future, but no idea when that will be, especially as my gf hates the idea of living in the capital (expensive, dangerous, commuting on the Tube is horrible, etc).

During guard passage, I was having a play with the triangle, thought my set-ups remain terrible and my execution sufficiently sloppy that I can never secure the submission. With my first training partner, a white belt called Ben, I had my legs up and crossed, but didn’t underhook the leg, so he could happily stand up with me sitting by his head. Fortunately he’s one of the more sensible white belts, so didn’t Rampage-slam me, instead carefully kneeling back down.

Similarly with Rodrigo, I again couldn’t lock the triangle properly. I got a bit further this time, having managed to get into position with my legs secured by his head and arm through, but still couldn’t finish. Of course he’s much bigger than me, but there was clearly something wrong with my mechanics given how easily he escaped.

Finally, I went with Rich, but was thinking too much about trying out the reverse De La Riva I’d wanted to attempt last lesson. What I should have been concentrating on instead was making sure I pushed his hips away with my legs as soon as my guard was open, as otherwise its a simple matter for him to pass.

Jude then went through the same underhook cross choke and triangle combination from last week, then moved on to a triangle from spider guard. From closed guard, you uncross your legs and put your feet on their hips. Grab their sleeves, then shrimp out to make enough space for your foot onto their same side bicep. The other foot stays on their hip.

You’re now going to pull them in, kicking the foot on their bicep through to instead go over the back of their neck. You can now bring your other leg up for the triangle position, keeping their other arm by your chest and inside your leg.

That’s what I should have been doing when sparring Rodrigo and Ben earlier, so its handy to see the set-up. I also think I may be too bunched up, meaning I’m already half-stacked, whereas I should be scooting back and swivelling for better leverage. I’m keen to improve submissions that use my legs rather than my arms, given that my arms are puny (not that my legs are much better, but still much stronger than my upper body).

In free sparring I ended up against Ben twice. The first time I spent most of it in an Americana, but fortunately for me, Ben was trying to apply it with one of his arms still under my head. I felt fairly safe, as he didn’t have the leverage from there, but a good reminder to be more careful with my arm when I’m under half guard or side control. I made sure to tell him, so I doubt I’ll get off that lightly if there’s a next time. 😉

Our second spar was the other way round, where instead I was in top half-guard for much of the time. I was looking for the kimura, but couldn’t get into position. I then saw a possible opportunity for that whizzer armbar I saw Saulo do on his DVD, but again I didn’t quite get in the proper place. Still, as I often find myself with a whizzer in top half guard, its something I’d like to try again.

Same thing happened with Rich, with the difference that it happened right at the end of the spar. Previously, he’d got me into high mount yet again, and I’d also been under side control for a while. As he was passing I threw my legs up by his legs, but while I was able to triangle them, I don’t think I had anything so soon let go. Like always, basics must remain the focus: I definitely need to follow my own advice on that in guard, making sure I’m using my legs a lot more to off-balance and break posture.

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22/04/2009 – BJJ (RGA Kilburn)

Class #221

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 22/04/2009Beginner

There wasn’t a lot of technique today, just the half-guard choke from yesterday. Sparring started with guard passage, where I had the interesting experience of rolling with somebody smaller than me, which doesn’t happen often. As ever, I spent most of my time on the bottom in half guard, aiming to shrimp in order to recover full guard.

I’m trying to rely less on having my legs closed all the time, instead just hooking their outside leg and using that as a base to shrimp. Got back to full guard a few times that way, but as my partner wasn’t locking my upper body, that was probably less difficult than it would normally be.

My next partner was a high level blue belt, who is always really helpful. This time, they gave me various tips based on what they’ve observed from rolling with me, which is awesome: I don’t think anyone has done that for me before.

Main thing was to react to what they were doing, rather than have something in mind that I then constantly look to apply. Related to that, I need to use my legs a lot more when in guard, pulling them in, and also pushing them away once my guard is opened.

Finally for guard passage, I went with the teenager again, so this time I was the one giving advice. As with most people who are still fairly new, that was largely related to not leaving space when on top, using your hips and making sure that you trap the leg all the way through the knee pin pass. She was repeatedly easing the pressure midway through her passing, which meant my knee was free. Its something I do too: that’s one of the great things about helping others, as it helps you realise your mistakes in turn.

Free sparring was up next, where I return to spar with the blue belt from earlier. That proved to be a continuation of guard passage, as they urged me to react to their positioning. For example, when they’re crouched in front of you without good base, simply push them over with your legs and pop up to mount. I’m prone to staying on my back and waiting, rather than seizing opportunities like that.

Class finished with another spar with the teenager, after which I got a load of useful advice from the blue belt. I’d said I was having trouble with passing the spider guard, so they showed me three ways of passing, depending on what the leg is doing.

If its completely straight – a mistake – your hand circles underneath to break the grip, then you drive your hips into the leg and slide down to side control. If its bent, you again circle your arm to break the grip, then bring your same side knee into the back of their leg. Use that to press down and trap the limb, after which you can initiate your pass.

Finally, there was a reminder of Jude’s pass, where you get both hands on the leg, yank up, then slide your knee into their ribs. Very helpful to have a reminder on all of those, so now I just need to make sure I remember to try them when I’m caught in spider guard.


21/04/2009 – BJJ (RGA Kilburn)

Class #220

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 21/04/2009Beginner

Opening technique tonight was a cross choke from half guard, when they’re in the process of passing. You have a grip on their collar, but then they get past one of your legs. The choke is still an option, so switch to half guard, then put your other thumb under the back of their collar. Swivel to their knee, looping your arm over their head as you do now. Move back to the centre and squeeze for the submission.

I mentioned yesterday that I was having trouble getting into a good controlling position from guard. Luckily for me, that is exactly what followed: awesome!

Jude started by demonstrating how to remove their grip when they’ve grabbed your gi. There are numerous options, the simplest of which is to grab the end of their sleeve, fingers on top, then put your thumbs under their wrist. You could also use a pistol grip (grasping a handful of their gi in your fist). Either way, drive straight up to remove their hand.

Alternatively, you can figure-four their wrist, by putting one hand on top, then feeding your other hand underneath and grabbing your own wrist. Again, push up from here.

Two traditional ways to get rid of that grip are to hold your own collars and pull them apart (if they are grasping both your collars with one hand), or a more complicated process. That begins by grabbing their sleeve again with your opposite hand, then bringing your other arm underneath. Reach right through with that arm, aiming to prise off their grip that way.

Now that the arm is loose, Jude’s next technique can come into play, a variation on the cross choke from guard. First of all, you need to get an overhook on their arm. As soon as you remove their grip, pull their arm down to your armpit and also bring your knees back (don’t just rely on your arms to get them in close).

You can now bring your arm over theirs, then reach underneath and through to grab their far collar. With your free hand, grip the back of their collar, then bring your arm past their face. Bring the forearm against their throat, then complete the choke.

Best of all, you can follow this technique up with another, the triangle. If they realise what you’re doing after your first grip, its likely they will defend by putting their free hand against the side of their face. While that blocks the cross-choke, the position of their arm means you can now push their elbow back, then bring your same side leg over their head.

Make sure you get that leg past their arm: if they still have their hand on your leg, they may be able to defend the submission. Once the leg is in place, bring your other leg up and lock (just cross your ankles: don’t worry about triangling your legs yet). As soon as its secure, you can let go with your hands, then raise your hips. This will bring their arm up, making it easier to push it across their body.

Now you can get into position for the triangle. Grab the shin you have across their neck to hold them in place, then put your other foot on their hip. Swivel until you have the right angle to bring your free leg over your other shin, then lock on the triangle. Squeeze for the submission, pulling down on your shin if you need extra leverage.

Class is thirty minutes shorter on Tuesday, so there wasn’t quite so much sparring. However, I did get in three free spars, the first and last with the same blue belt. I was mostly looking to play with reverse De La Riva, as I’d seen Saulo recommend it as a holding position in both his DVD and book. Didn’t get as much of a chance to practice as I’d hoped, because my partner stayed low rather than standing up, but still helpful to work out the grips.

In between those two rolls, I had a relaxed spar with a teenager that was there: because I’m the smallest person in class, I offered to train with her. I tried to give some helpful tips, mainly on keeping her hips down when on top, and also walked her through the knee pin pass. Hopefully it was of some use to her: certainly of use to me, as I always relish the opportunity to practice teaching (not only would I love to teach BJJ some day, but its also a skill I’m looking to develop generally for my career options too).


20/04/2009 – BJJ (RGA Kilburn)

Class #219

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 20/04/2009Beginner

Tonight’s class focused on takedowns: as most of the people training had little familiarity with bringing someone down to the mat, Jude introduced various drills to ingrain the concept of getting underneath. First it was basic wrestling, shooting in and going for the legs, then shuttle runs in groups of three, where the person in the middle did ten hip throws on each of their partners before swapping.

Rest of class was given over to sparring, beginning with guard passage. I started on my back, which isn’t often the case, so that gave me a chance to try and work some attacks and sweeps. Emphasis on ‘try’: I keep letting myself get into the old passive mentality and wait for my partner to do something. That can be of some use with the blue belts, but with a white belt, they’re liable to sit there straining.

Also, I’m not capitalising on what I’m being given by my partner. The first white belt I went with was pushing as hard as he could with his arms, leaning back at various points, then standing and leaning all the way forward. I’m sure I’m supposed to be able to use that, but I’m still bad at reacting to force.

When I try for the sit up sweep, the arms are there shoving me back. It is also probably that I’m not being proactive enough, and attempting something like putting my foot on their hip to swivel to a better attacking angle. Definitely need to open my guard more, rather than just lying there in closed guard waiting to see what happens. Kintanon had some ideas a while back, which I think I’ve also seen on Saulo’s set, so will take another look at the attacks on there.

As ever, I’m also stalling a lot in half guard. Like with closed guard, I need to open up more, using one foot to lock their leg and then shrimping onto my side. Getting the diagonal half guard recovery back to full guard would be good too, but I’ve been struggling with that so far. Rich got it perfectly when I was watching him spar later on, which reminds me I should be going for it more.

That white belt eventually passed, meaning I was back on top with my next partner, John. For once, it was pretty straightforward, as he went for an armbar but left too much space. That meant I could just move around to the side, pressuring with my hips and shoulders to drive into side control. Rare I get that opportunity, but good to practice taking it when somebody presents it to me.

Finally for guard passage, I was with one of the big guys, about the same size as Rodrigo. Also like Rodrigo, he was careful not to use his considerable strength: always great to see a white belt who understands that its about technique, not power.

He was so big I could only just get my guard closed, so almost immediately went to open guard instead. Although Jude tried coaching me through proper spider guard control, I wasn’t able to keep the white belt at bay, so they eventually passed. Again, I need to actually go for something from open guard, as I can’t afford to be as passive as in closed guard. It becomes a far more dynamic position when your ankles aren’t locked together.

First free spar was with John, where yet again I was in half-guard most of the time, occasionally recovering back to half-guard if he managed to get to side control or mount. Same points as earlier, which is that I need to be a bit more open and get onto my side, rather than using a lockdown to push their leg back, adjust to a more secure half-guard, they get a bit forward, lockdown, adjust…over and over again.

Last spar of the class was with Rich. He keeps catching me in Ezequiel chokes: I asked if I was doing something to make that easier, and Rich said I’ve been lifting my head when under mount. That gives him plenty of space to get an arm underneath to set up the choke.

So, obvious lesson there is to keep my head glued to the floor to leave no room for the cross face. I remembered to do that under side control, as per Saulo’s advice on his DVD, but clearly forgot when it came to mount.

I’m also constantly finding myself under high mount with Rich, which is definitely not a good place to be. Its useful to work my escapes from there, but there must also be some mistake I’m making which enables him to keep getting there. I’ll have to pay more attention next time, and defend more carefully from mount.

In the changing rooms after class, the aforementioned big guy gave me a nice compliment: he commented how Rodrigo had said I’m a good person to roll with, because I stay relaxed and don’t use strength. That was great to hear, as being a person people want to spar is a major goal for me. Of course, I don’t have the option of using strength anyway, but its still gratifying to hear that somebody finds me a useful training partner.


15/04/2009 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #218

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 15/04/2009Beginner

The weather in Looe turned out to be pretty good, at least for the first three days. Lots of sunshine and no rain, though unfortunately that also meant it was busy. Swarming with chavs too, for some reason: I guess they like Cornwall. Despite that, Looe is a beautiful place, with a gorgeous harbour and plenty of pleasant walks around the area. There is also a Rail Ale Trail you can do, where you pop into various pubs near the train line to get your leaflet stamped, sampling real ale along the way. I’m not generally a big beer drinker (I prefer wine, and sherry if I can get it), but fun nonetheless.

While I was away, Oli G very helpfully annotated one of his videos: hopefully that’s going to be the start of a trend. Best of all would be audio commentaries, but not sure how easy that is to do. Either way, here’s the vid:

I’d been ill last Wednesday, so as I only got back to London this Wednesday, that meant I only made the one session. Class tonight kicked off with guard passing, both from the same standing break. First secure the usual grip on both their lapels with one hand, pressing the other into their hip, aiming to hinder their movement. Step up the knee opposite to the hand on the hip, then stand up, switching your double lapel grip to a single lapel you can yank up with you.

Next, reach back with the other hand, wedge it between your back and their crossed ankles, then twist forward to break their legs open. Jude covered two options from here: first, you can reach to grab their collar and press your forearm into their neck, keeping the other elbow back as you drive your hips forward, pushing their legs out of the way for side control. Second possibility is a stack pass, so once you’ve opened their guard, hook round their legs and clasp your hands, stack them and gradually walk round to side control.

Jude had a slight variation on that stack pass, which was to do with the position of your knees. Once you’ve got a hold around both their legs and pulled them towards you, go to one knee. As you pass, ram that knee into their side, bringing the other knee up as you do so. This keeps you tight, and also adds greater pressure, which should aid your transition to side control.

Finally, Jude showed a baseball bat choke from knee-on-belly. At least I think it was a baseball bat choke, going by the grip, but then I’ve never done that choke before. Anyway, starts as normal: hop up to knee-on-belly from side control, using a grip on their collar and hip then doing a push up.

From here, you want to get your far hand into their far collar, thumb on top and palm up. The other grabs their near collar, this time palm down: this is where the baseball bat reference comes in, as your hands are now in the same position as if you were grasping a bat.

Sprawl back from knee-on-belly, dropping the elbow of your far arm across their throat. Walk round towards north-south, which should cause the choke to tighten and result in a tap.

Guard passing was the same old story, where I went with a couple of white belts and relaxed, waiting for them to do something. Both of them were gripping as hard as they could, meaning that the first one still held on to a sleeve he’d managed to get under my leg as I passed to top half guard. Easy enough to just pause until they got tired, putting my weight onto their face.

While it was certainly restful, it didn’t help me to secure side control. As ever, I left too much space when attempting to secure a kimura, and they managed to reverse and go into my guard. I had thought that bringing my knee to the head might help, but I must have left too little pressure on their hips.

The second white belt was a little faster, as this time I made some other mistake that resulted in them being able to sit right up and go for a single leg. Again, not controlling the hips properly: I should have just stood up to try and work the standing pass, rather than going into defensive mode.

Having said that, not expending much energy meant I wasn’t too tired before free sparring, which was useful as I ended up doing four in a row. That isn’t normally the case, as I’ll almost always sit out a few, but I kept being asked by people I wanted to spar, so that resulted in only one rest. Very rare for a wimp like me! ;p

Started with one of the blue belts, where I had a play with spider guard, but wasn’t able to control them all that well. They had a knee up, so I found it difficult to off-balance them. Or rather, more difficult than usual, as my spider guard is pretty bad. My main problem with it, I think, is that I don’t normally have a clear aim, as I always forget the basic sweep from there.

I also spent plenty of time under knee-on-belly and side control, which along with bottom half-guard and under mount have constituted the majority of my sparring for the past couple of years. Saulo has some interesting ideas on escaping, which I’ve been trying to incorporate recently, but need plenty more work. Hip movement is something I want to improve, and also avoid ending up flat on my back, which I give up far too easily.

Ben, a white belt, was next. With him, it was almost entirely half-guard, using the lockdown to push his leg back, while trying to then open up slightly to shrimp and escape. I got back to closed guard a couple of times, but like my other escapes, I have to stop being so flat. Ben eventually got through to side control towards the end: I recovered half guard again, but really should be trying to go to my knees more often from under side control, especially as I’d already spent so long in half guard already.

Up next was J-Sho, somebody I think I’ve only done guard passage with before, so was pleased to get a chance to roll with him. Like me, he’s a fellow internet BJJ geek, but unlike me, he can back that up with a high level of BJJ, given that he’s an experienced purple belt. I again ran through the usual sequence of attempting to get to guard, fail, they pass to side control, then either I get into half guard or they go to knee on belly.

I presume he was taking it fairly easy, due to being way better than me. Also, if he hadn’t been testing out some kind of submission that involves wrapping my gi around my arm, most likely I would have spent a lot more time under knee-on-belly. Instead, I was trying to gradually work my arm free and get back to half-guard, normally ending up under side control instead.

Finally, I was back with the earlier blue belt again, finding myself under knee-on-belly yet again. I tried to keep in mind the principle of getting my elbow to my knee when under side control to stop them getting the knee through. This helped, but they still got their knee through plenty of times, leaving me to squirm away trying to shrimp out. Saulo has some escapes for this I’ve been trying, but not drilled them enough yet: hopefully with more mat time I’ll start to get the hang of it.

This month is unfortunately going to be my last at RGA Kilburn, as my sister is moving again at the start of May to Cobham. I’ve been looking around at alternatives, because Kilburn will be too far, and there appear to be three. Nova Forca is closest, at around 5.5 miles, but the timetable doesn’t quite fit. I’d also very much like to stay with RGA, so I was pleased to see that contrary to what I’d thought at first, there was an affiliate not too far away.

RGA Wimbledon (which incidentally was the first club on fellow blogger Jadon’s BJJ Pilgrimage) is about 9.5 miles, so its worth the slightly longer journey to stay with the RGA family. There is also Andy Roberts’ place in Farnborough, which would be cool as then I could train with Jadon, but that’s more like 20 miles I think, so probably too far.

If anyone knows buses from Cobham to any of those, I’d be interested to hear what the best routes are: I’m currently going by trains, for which it looks like RGA Wimbledon would be a 10 minute walk to Cobham station, then 34 minutes to Raynes Park, and finally a 25 minute walk to Ray Stevens club. £69 unlimited sounds reasonable, as I could make three classes from Mon-Weds, same as I’ve been trying to do at Jude’s in Kilburn.

Also, I should be doing a major overhaul of the BJJ map soon. Simon Hayes, who has been very helpful in providing information about the Carlson Gracie clubs, suggested I split it by county, as there are now so many schools. It’s a good idea, but will take a fair bit of work, particularly as I’ve always been really, really bad at geography. Fortunately for me, unlike at school, I now have Google Maps! 😉


07/04/2009 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #217

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 07/04/2009Beginner

I was still feeling a bit sore from yesterday, after all that half-guarding, but fortunately Tuesdays are only an hour. Technique started the same as yesterday, with a half guard pass. Jude mentioned a useful additional tip when I asked, which was to push your body forward if you’re having trouble getting the shoulder under their chin. That will result in pressure on their face, which will have a similar distracting result.

Also slightly different from yesterday was the option of passing to side control rather than mount. Before passing, bring your legs towards the side you want to reach. Once you’ve freed your leg by prying it loose, your knee should point off to the side: you then slip through into side control.

The cross choke from mount was the same as usual, with points like bringing your head down to the same side as your top arm. Jude also demonstrated two different grips for the second hand: either palm down with the thumb in their collar, then dropping the elbow across, or alternately knife-handing your way down their face to reach the collar. There was also a third, where you lift up their head, grip behind then loop your arm over into place, but Jude noted that required a fair bit of strength.

While sparring from mount I concentrated on maintaining my position, using my feet and knees to squeeze my way up their body. Normally I wrap my arm under their head and then cling on there, so I wanted to try a more upright posture this time, working my knees under their armpits.

I still couldn’t get anything, as I wasn’t able to dig my way past Rich’s clamped arms. There was the option of shoving my gi in his face, which Rich suggested, but that is purely about causing your partner pain, with the coarse gi material acting as sandpaper. Not very pleasant, and not something I’m willing to do to a training partner. I’d much rather develop a ‘clean’ method of getting past the arms, rather than relying on their pain tolerance being low.

To that end, I tried Roger’s technique, where you put your hand in front of the arms, then drive it through with your hip on the elbow. That sort of worked, though I generally either got swept, couldn’t get a deep enough hold, or wasn’t able to secure the second grip. Spent both rounds on top, as Rich has hurt his thigh.

Next was guard passage, with one of the white belts. I was looking for collar chokes, but I’m bad at setting them. Simply grabbing a collar and hoping is not too productive, so I’ll need to think carefully about how I can work the submission. Same goes for triangle chokes, though I at least have some vague idea of how I want to enter into those (e.g., spider guard, like Renzo shows).

I’m also not getting my sweeps when they stand in my guard: relying too heavily on the handstand, which they’re generally avoiding by basing forward. That should mean I can then pull their torso down for chokes and armbars, but again that would require some actual submission skills on my part. 😉

On their knees, I need to be more explosive with my sit-up sweep. Back as a white belt, that used to be my highest percentage attack, but only very rarely land it these days. I could try going for the elbow rather than the shoulder, like Saulo shows it (IIRC), or just greater commitment when driving for the reversal.

My first free spar was with a white belt named Fabio, who for once is closer to my size. That meant I had a lot more options, so tried a bunch of different attacks. Still mainly looking at cross-chokes and triangles, with a brief attempt at a guillotine. As ever I spent some of it in half-guard, almost taking his back but then somehow ending up underneath him with my head by his legs. My back control remains terrible: almost always find myself on the bottom in some ridiculous position, or just guard.

Finally, there was a much bigger white belt, Rodrigo. However, he didn’t use his size advantage, instead trying to stay technical, which was good to see. Though he was going very light, I still wasn’t able to do all that much. I had a go at a triangle and armbar from mount, but on both occasions left way too much space, so it was a simple matter for Rodrigo to escape.

I had intended to train on Wednesday, but writing this up Wednesday morning, I feel like crap. So, won’t be training again until I get back from Cornwall, next Wednesday. Shame to not make my intended three a week, but if I tried tonight, I would feel much, much worse, even assuming I made it through the session pumped up on medication.


06/04/2009 – BJJ (Beginner)

Class #216

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK – 06/04/2009Beginner

Tonight’s class was perfect for me, as Jude went through several basic half guard techniques. I wasn’t expecting to see that for a while, as Kilburn is mostly beginners, but nevertheless very useful stuff from my perspective.

Jude began with the fundamental half guard pass where you squeeze your knee through by trapping their leg. Start by getting one arm under their head and the other past their armpit, gable gripping your hands. Having secured that grip, drive your shoulder under their chin: this is essential, as the pass will be difficult without that heavy pressure.

Slide your free knee towards their other armpit, while coming up on the toes of your trapped foot. Once your free foot has enough space, bring it over their leg and push into their calf. At the same time, try to squeeze your trapped leg out of their half-guard, shoving your shoving under their chin the whole time.

I’ve always had trouble with this escape, but the way Jude showed this as really shoving that leg off of yours was helpful. Previously I thought the foot on the calf was more of a block, but I see now its a push. The combination of that push with the pull of your trapped leg is one of the important details I’d been missing.

Next, Jude demonstrated recovering guard from half-guard. That is something I’ve been trying to do for a while, so was especially pleased to see it broken down. You’re underneath half guard, with your head on the opposite side to the leg you’ve trapped, with your forearm pressing into their throat.

Clamp down on their calf with your inside leg. Bring your other foot out slightly to bridge, then block their hip with your hand. Using space you’ve just created, bring your inside knee through and replace guard. In other words, this is exactly like recovering guard from mount, in terms of mechanics, in that the shrimp is all-important. As ever, its in the hips.

That then moved on to taking the back from half guard, using what I’ve seen referred to as ‘deep half-guard‘. You’ll be shrimping again, same as before, but this time, you aren’t aiming to recover guard. Instead, once you’ve made space with your bridge, swim the arm you have against their throat under their armpit instead, securing the underhook.

You can now knock them forward with that arm, aiming to slip down towards their leg, coming onto your side. Make sure your head is also free, on the same side as their trapped leg. To finish, link both arms behind their trapped knee and knock them forward again. That should kill their balance, leaving you to move to your knees, then take their back.

Sparring from half-guard I didn’t have much success applying the technique, but then that’s to be expected when everybody knows what you’re going for. I’m still tending to stall in half-guard, but at least I now have some further options, which don’t require me to get my head on the same side as their trapped leg. I’m getting too flattened out, and being too cautious about controlling them with just one leg (which would give me the option of bridging off the other).

On top, I’m leaving too much space and not getting my hips down enough. I’m also having trouble dealing with the arm in my throat: that is currently preventing me putting enough pressure with my shoulder into their throat. I repeatedly found that Rich opened up space with his forearm, then got to his side. From there it was a simple matter for him to either reach his knees or reverse me.

Guard passage also followed a typical pattern, though again, I do now have clearer goals thanks to Jude’s help last week. Getting the knee up and hips forward is the first aim, then I need to establish better base when I stand. I also need to do a much better job of stripping their grips, or preventing them altogether. My posture must improve for that, as currently I’m being broken down too easily.

Underneath guard, I was trying cross-chokes and triangles, but without being sufficiently tight. With the triangle, I couldn’t lock my legs properly, swiftly getting stacked and losing the position. I also had a quick go at a guillotine from half-guard top, in the hope that might help the pass, but again that didn’t go anywhere. Not to mention my sparring partner, a relatively stocky white belt, was taking it easy anyway, as he was concerned about the size difference.

Full sparring with Rich led to yet more stalling in half-guard, and I’m also giving up mount way too easily. I need to get into a better defensive posture quicker, rather than looking to snatch half-guard, ending up flat and without many options if I miss it.

Finally, I was with another big white belt looking to try and avoid using his considerable weight advantage. This time I was quite happy to at least have half guard to keep some kind of control, and after a cycle of him making a few steps towards passing before I readjusted to regain a more solid half-guard, I managed to get on top. After passing to side control, I was looking to switch to half-guard and step over for an armbar, but time ran out. Doubtful I would have got anything anyway, but always fun to try.

I’m looking to get in three again this week, especially as I’ll only have one evening free next week. We’ll see how my body holds up, and if my sister has to work late on Tuesday or Wednesday.