BJJ 22 March

I went back to jiu jitsu after missing loads again due to stupid health reasons. I was the only one there! Those wise Japanese are all in bed snoozing. But I’m getting the drop on them with some private training with a black belt!

We worked on loads of stuff and I got to pick his brain big time.

Some random notes to help myself remember:

I asked about the X-guard to help clear some things for me. He went over the basics, including the setup… from half guard, I can try the fabio sweep, tipping over to the side. They counter by posting a leg out, I scoot under and grab firmly, thus starting the X-guard. Important to pinch the leg between my bicep and my hand so that they can’t just step over and escape. He says it is popular in Brazil (or was the last time he went) not to use the X shape with your feet anymore, but to kind of stagger them, like a Z. So your inside leg, the top of your foot/shin presses into the back of their knee. Your outside leg, facing the same way, the sole of your foot presses against the underside of their knee, pinning the leg between your feet. Then just kick out hard and make sure you have control of their arm so that they can’t post, for the sweep. Alternate setup is from quarter guard. Also, turning my body away, which seems counter intuitive, is essential for taking their balance. Turning my body is more powerful than just pushing or pulling with my arms.

Left or Right?
Nothing major, but my coach said something interesting… he doesn’t think in terms of what is his good or bad side (i.e. I only work sweeps to my left, etc.) but he thinks in terms of the opponent’s side. So if the right side is presented to him, he has certian things he likes to do. If the left side, he has different moves. I kind of liked that way of thinking. You don’t need to be ambidextrous with all techniques, but you need techniques for each side.

So essential in pulling off those submissions which seem so effortless and catch people by surprise… the combinations. Setting up one while thinking about the next one in your mind, so that as they defend, they fall for it. He did a bunch on me that I can’t really remember, but there are some really basic ones I have to keep in mind. Collar choke from mount to armbar. Knee-on-belly to far side armbar. Far side armbar defense to mount.

Collar Chokes
I asked him about the really basic choke, which I had learnt kind of by osmosis but never really had explained to me. I need to remember: Put first hand in palm up, grip collar. Other hand goes over head, thumb in collar, and press on face with elbow. Ouch. Create the space and then put forearm across throat. Squeeze. From mount, I can pitch forward and post on my head, come up to my toes for extra pressure. If they defend, scoot the mount up higher to raise their arms above their shoulders so they have less power. If there arms are too far away from their core I can go for the armbar. From half guard, if I’m quick, I can use that choke almost like an armdrag, me scooting out to the side, them faceplanting on the mat, where I can take the back or finish the choke.

Many times today as soon as we started sparring, the very first movement, he would stop me and say “No!” I need to put it on even from the start. First move is so important. For example, when playing open guard, I shouldn’t sit with both knees up. Two targets for him to grab. One knee up, elbow on knee, one knee down / open. And also, not to let him get basically any grip on me at all. To see it coming and fight it off or turn it into my own grip on his arm.

Guard Passing
Basics!Remember to keep control of the legs the whole time, even when in side control. Lift the legs to counter his shrimping. Shoulder pressure is not just pressure for the sake of it, it’s directed pressure… like a shoulder barge to pin them on their back so that I can pass. When passing, think “big” with my legs. Walk (run) them around in a big circle, keeping my legs away from their arms or legs, so they can’t grab me or draw me into half / full guard. Blast around, keeping that shoulder pressure and describing a wide arc with my toes on the mat. Also, reminding myself to use my body and not just my arms… for example if he traps my arm while passing, forget the arm and pressure him with my chest, shoulder, head… anything!

Ridiculously important for keeping control in almost any position. My coach is really great at pummeling with his legs, too. Not letting you get any purchase when you are on your back. Every time I try to pull him into guard or half guard, his legs are spinning off and away from me and coming back in a position of control for him, just like when you pummel for underhooks with your arms.

We sparred from the feet. I suggested to do standup with the class every lesson, and he agreed, but said it was slightly more dangerous for beginners, more chance of injury, so we need to practice lots of ukemi (falling) too. He says standup is soo important for the physical aspect that it gives you, and that people who always roll from the knees end up lazy, mega-technical, and not as strong as people who regularly practice their wrestling or tachi-waza. I was like, no shit, that’s why I go to a different bloody place to learn judo every week! He showed me a very nice takedown. Scoot down for the single leg, grab it deep under the knee, stand up, so if my left arm is hooked under their right leg, lift it high up. Get a grip on the part of the gi that hangs down below the belt with that same left hand. They are having to balance on one leg at this point. Then bring my right arm in and under the leg to switch the gi to that hand. My left hand then goes around their waist, gets a grip, and then I can pull them back and around to the ground very easily.

Shit, that wasn’t even half the stuff, and it was loads! Free private lessons are awesome…

Damien Maia – Science of Jiu Jitsu

I watched some of Damien Maia’s Science of Jiu Jitsu, which you can buy here.

It was pretty good. His explanations were sometimes a little hesitant but I think that’s because he is speaking English rather than his native language. And more power to him, very impressive. I am sure later instructionals when his English has improved will be even better.

There were a few pointers he gave about the triangle that I liked.

– He pointed out something we all know but was good to get a solid reminder. When the opponent’s elbow is close to the body (“closed” as he called it) they have power. When the elbow is brought out, like a chicken wing, it loses a lot of power (“open”.)

– A recurring theme, then, was rather than fight an opponent’s grip on your pants by grabbing at his gi on the wrist and yanking, you should instead open his elbow so that he has less power, and then kick your legs. Much easier.

– Countering the half guard pass, somewhere I find myself a lot: You are on your right side, opponent is passing to your right. You have the half guard on his right leg, he has right underhook. As he puts his weight on your body and grips your inside right pant leg to pin your leg to the floor and pass, you grip his wrist with your right hand and straightarm him. Using the straight arm gives you more stability than a bent arm. It is structurally stronger (but only in certain situations.) Maintain this grip and straight arm, then kick your right leg out and over his head. The triangle is there for you already. You can only do this when his weight is up and on you, as he is passing. If he is sitting low to the floor you don’t really have room to manouvre.

– Another triangle setup: after a failed hip bump, he moves his hand back to counterbalance, you slap on the triangle. More detail: I hip bump to my right. My right arm on the floor, hips pushing into his left side. He puts his left arm back to post out on the floor. I continue the turn until my chest is facing the floor. Then, I have space to bring my right leg out from under his arm, then spin back around and onto my back, pulling him down into the triangle.

Goal is to try these out next training session. My triangle is coming along well, so the more I can add to it, the better it will be.


Andre Galvao Seminar

I got my hands on this cool video, Andre Galvao, BJJ legend, giving a seminar somewhere in Japan. Here is a clip from a fantastic documentary called “Arte Suave” where you can see his innovative and enjoyable-looking training.

He outlines some pretty sweet techniques, three of which I will stick here for posterity. Hopefully the act of writing them down will help me remember them. There are two half guard sweeps which is great because I really feel my half guard needs some work lately and gets too easily passed.

1) Rolling Sweep
From half guard. I’m on my right side, right leg in between his legs, left leg up in the right side of his body. If I don’t have any space I need to frame up on him (push him away with my forearms) to get some space to work with. I grab his gi at the wrist on his left arm with my left arm. My right arm grips the folds in his gi pants on his left knee. Initially I try a kind of scissors sweep, getting some action/reaction going on. As he pushes back against me to stop the scissors sweep, I use that, switch my left hand grip under and to the inside of their wrist (so that I can pull the arm towards me easier.) I arc their arm over my body, pulling their weight over me. As I bring their arm down to the mat, at the last minute I thrust it away and down, taking away any possible base, and roll over my shoulder for the sweep, landing on top in half guard.

2) Half to back
Almost the same setup as before, except my grip is left hand in the collar, right hand gripping their left knee. I push and pull, get them up over me on my knees, then quickly shove my right hand, and thus their left leg, away and down from me, kicking my legs out, and rolling their back towards me. Then get the hooks in and take the back. Sounds weird but looks great on video, and I can’t wait to try it.

3) Counter against passing half guard sweep
I’m on my right side, they are passing towards my right. As the knee comes through my legs, I hook my right foot on their right thigh, so that my knee is gripping his knee, kind of. Foot curled around their leg. Then I secure his gi at his left wrist with my right hand. My left hand is in his left collar. Put my left leg on the floor, pull him over me, stuff his arm down between his legs and roll over my shoulder for the sweep.

I really want to try these out next time I roll.

While googling for Andre Galvao I found this cool video, I’m going to have to see if this is as easy as it looks, too.

BJJ thoughts

Time for a break. I’ve been going every other day for a week or so. Doesn’t sound like much but my right knee is complaining loudly. It’s communicating with me like some kind of wild animal by puffing up, turning red, and making strange noises.

However I went out with a bang last night.

First an outline of a good half guard pass to help me remember.

My right leg is trapped in half guard, I am on top. I turn my hips to the right and sit down, after jamming my left knee up above their hip. Keep my butt away from them so I have a base. Left arm goes over their right shoulder and grips the gi behind their neck. Forearm pressure to keep their face looking up or to their left, to prevent them shrimping. Walk my right foot up bit by bit until it is right up to their butt, so my knee is up in the air and they have to fight to keep the half guard. Push their legs / knees down with my right hand so their legs are now wrapped around my calf. Then, post out with my right hand over their body, ideally underhooked under their left arm. Raise up enough to switch my hips out, so that I’m on my right side, probably with just my foot left trapped. Right knee on the ground, left leg posted out. Now change my grip… move left hand from behind neck to grabbing their right arm, pistol grip on the sleeve. Pull their arm tight to my chest. Free the leg, turn to side control, using my grip on their sleeve to control their movement until I am stable.

Had some average rolls, although got a triangle on a the blue belt that went to Brazil and managed to sweep him with it but the buzzer went before I could finish it. He probably would have escaped anyway.

I’m loving the higher belts who have taken a month off training (when I’ve been training my arse off) and come back rusty. I had a great roll with a purple belt. For the first 5 minutes I was just surviving. Then in the last minute, I was playing (awful) spider / de la riva guard and I noticed he was standing with his feet too close together. Quicker than you can say “schoolgirls underpants”, I sat up, trapped his lower legs by closing my guard around both of them (I have long legs), then hugged his knees before posting out and totally taking his ass DOWN. YEAH. A bit after that, we scrambled and he managed to stand up with my leg still draped over his shoulder. Quicker than you can say “Rumina Sato is pretty nifty”, I flying triangled his ASS. Or rather his face/neck. He had to lower me slowly to the ground where he rode out the last 5 seconds on the timer. Natch!

It was fun though. I really am not an egotistical person at all (it’s difficult for me though, being so incredibly handsome and intelligent.), but one of the things I love about BJJ is when everything goes right for a change, and people happen to be watching. There’s nothing worse than pulling off the ultimate sweep of doom on a higher belt and looking up only to find nobody saw it. So I like it when you do something or have a good roll and there happen to be a few people watching, and they make various hooting and / or howling noises whilst banging their hands together.