Thursday, 15 August 2013

Letters from Nova Forca

The following is a review of Tuesday night’s class at Nova Forca as seen by two different people. (Myself and Jadon).There’s some overlap here, the kind you might get in a Tarantino Film (Think Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction) but I think it makes for interesting reading.


Another very well attended class last night at Nova Forca’s new venue as again there were 40+ guys on the mat. Due to the restriction in mat space the normal brutal warm up workout was slightly less brutal but still enough to get me sweating profusely in my shiny new BJJ gi. So I’m no longer that Judo guy who does a bit of BJJ I am now just another BJJ white belt beginner.

The first, and as it turned out, the only technique we were taught was a very interesting combination of techniques. Starting off my back I apply an armbar but they pull their arm out, I then attack with a triangle but they defend by clamping their arm to their leg so I switch to an omoplata which they then cartwheel out of I then sit up and grab their trapped arm and roll them over into a mounted triangle. When Ricardo first started showing the technique I thought there was no way I was going to remember this or be able to put the moves together but I was pleasantly surprised how well I did and loved how these techniques just flowed in to one another.

A quick water break before we started sparring and first up I was paired with a big white belt who said he fought MMA. This was a tough roll for me. I spent a long time trying to pass his legs to get side control but he was defending well. I did manage to get to half guard but his sweeps were good and before I knew it I was on my back trying to stop him from passing. When he passed he quickly went knee on belly before mounting and then subbed me with a mounted triangle. We started again with the result pretty much the same, he passed my guard, went knee on belly and this time was looking for an armbar. However I was able to defend against this but he switched to another triangle and I tapped again. I smiled afterwards because I had been caught twice by my favourite submission.

My next roll was with a four stripe white belt who Jadon had just finished rolling with. This was quite a technical back and forth type of roll although he definitely had the best of it. He used the stack pass twice to get past my guard but in trying to secure the armbar I was able to reverse and even mounted him. When the bell went he almost had me with an armbar, so I was definitely saved by the bell.

I paired up with Jadon for my next roll and even though we have rolled before at Judo we’ve never really had a proper go at each other. He straight away secured a grip on my collar which left me feeling threatened; I tried to pull guard but he pushed my legs down and jumped over them in to full mount. He then takes a grip on my collar again and I am too preoccupied with trying to fight off his other hand to look for any escapes. After a few seconds he gets the cross collar choke in and slowly tightens it up for the tap. We restart and this time I decide to attack and almost pass his guard but he managed to get to half guard and then sweeps me to mount. From there he sinks in another choke, this time an Ezekial and I tap. We start again, with me on the bottom but Jadon grabs my leg and sinks in an Achilles lock. Apparently I was defending against this by holding him upright and not giving him the leverage to apply it but foolishly let go of him, definitely a white belt beginner move. Just before the bell went I attacked Jadon with an attempted stack pass and he rolled out in to turtle. I immediately attacked the turtle and was looking for a triangle turnover but the bell sounded before I could finish the move.

My last roll of the night was with another white belt who had been training for two years. This was a fairly even roll with most of the time spent trying to pass his guard. I got to half guard on several occasions but every time I thought I had passed he managed to escape again.

So I didn’t manage to submit anyone tonight but I did get subbed a lot myself. What I realise I need to work on are the following:

• Guard/half guard passing
• Defence against knee on belly
• Escaping from the mount.

Jadon also mentioned that I need to get tighter when I try to control my opponent legs. By leaving gaps they are able to pull me into half or full guard and immediately attack with sweeps.

The class ended with one of the blue belts getting promoted to Purple. At Nova Forca they favour belt whipping as a way of celebrating such things. I’ve seen a couple before but the guy being whipped has always worn a gi. However for Purple belt and up you don’t get the protection of a gi jacket which makes it that little bit more brutal, as you can see below.


Myself and Stuart made our way to Nova Forca in their new temporary residence in Epsom. It was a relatively small room packed with people, not even enough room for people to do sprawls. Nova Forca is a friendly club known for their hard "warm ups" and high standard of students. The warm up was luckily light due to space constraints but would be considered tough by any other standards. Myself and Stuart paired up to drill the series of moves Ricardo demonstrated. From bottom, you attacked the armbar, they pulled their arm out so you transition to triangle, they wrap their arm around your leg and posture up so you then you spin 180 and go for the omoplata, they cartwheel over to escape and you then sit up and grab their trapped arm and roll them over into a mounted triangle!. Ricardo had to show it several times, as its quite a long flow drill. But nice as it gave a chance to drill many different fundamental moves.

We then moved onto sparring.

1st spar:
I paired up with a 4 stripe white belt, he was solid and had a good guard game. I could pass his guard but couldn't keep him pinned. He gave my guard a hard time and I was on the defensive for a lot of it. I did manage to land a straight Achilles lock which he tapped quickly to. The bell ended with him giving me a hard time in half guard, I was going for a Kimura but he had it locked down. Ricardo came round and showed him how to rip his arm out of it.

2nd spar:
I paired with a blue belt of similar size. His posture indicated he was going to play guard, he put in a baseball bat choke grip early on but I didn't think to much of it as he has to spin to put it on. I go to pass which happens suspiciously easily, I land in side control and I can see his plan now with the baseball bat choke. His now got the angle he needs but from underneath he wont have a great deal of leverage and I can just turn out of it. So I carry on working on top, he then throws his legs up which lock me in place and the choke starts getting tight. I try to hold on hoping he will burn his fore arms out, but they don't and I have to tap. Feeling abit light headed!. He is pretty dominant the rest of the roll but I survive until he lands a triangle, I defend the choke but he then attacks the arm and I have to tap.

3rd spar:
Stuart and I decide to pair up as our rolls are always fairly constrained in the judo club. We both hate knee wrestling and our body language indicates whether we want to play guard or top. Initially he goes for guard, I stand (as I am not often allowed in judo) and push his legs underneath me quickly to land in mount. Its not a tight pass but its quite quick and can catch people unawares. I sit in S mount, as I anticipate he may roll me off so I can try grab his arm. I work for my favourite move, cross choke. I get the 1st hand in deep but he defends well and I cant get the 2nd hand in as deep as I like. But I get enough top pressure and eventually get the tap. We restart and Stuart attacks from on top, he pretty much passes my guard but leaves abit of room before getting side control tight and Im able to retain guard. I am able to sweep from half guard and pass to mount, he defends his collar well so I decide to go for an Ezekial (named after a Judoka) which I hope he isn't as familiar on how to defend, it works out and I get the tap. I then decide its my turn again to go on top, and I had pre decided I wanted to go for a straight Achilles lock (my 2nd favourite sub) as we arnt allowed to train these in Judo but it can be very effective and good practise for other leg locks. Initially he has the defence in perfect but keep me curled up by holding my collar, but unfortunately didn't realise his instinct was correct and lets go. I put it on abit high on his leg so the lock doesn't come on fully, however with this move even done loose it can crush the lower calf. The next roll and Stuart is on top again and is going for a solid stack pass, my defence is ok but he is going to pass so I decide to roll back into turtle. He is straight on me and has grips in my collar for a choke, luckily for me time runs out.

4th spar:
Another 4 stripe white belt. This guy has a serious top game and he wrecks me. Quickly getting me with a north south choke I had no idea on how to escape. Then a arm triangle from mount. I go for a straight Achilles but he has a super solid defence. I try my leap frog pass on him and he sweeps me!. The rest of the roll is survival at best, I try a few sweeps but he is able to scramble out. Great fun!

The class finished with a guy getting promoted to purple which is a big occasion at any club. Nova Forca are one of the BJJ clubs that follow the tradition of belt whipping. This guy was massive and was in seriously good shape, he has to do it without the jacket. The belt whipping was savage!, with a few spots bleeding and some bruises already going black. I gave him a good one but nothing compared to the others. This is the first whipping Ive seen and it was pretty brutal. An interesting tradition but not one I am keen on experiencing.

All in all a very good training session, I feel myself getting abit sharper on the ground. The more I tap the better I feel as its highlighting my weaknesses. I have still got some work to do before I get back to my old form. Timing, pressure and my guard all need to be improved.