Dartford BJJ continues its commitment to provide quarterly Women’s BJJ Open Mats and is pleased to announce that the first of 2010’s sessions will be hosted on Sunday, 7 February 2010:
Date: 7 February 2010
Time: 12:00 – 15:00
Location: Dartford BJJ
Address: West Hill House, 62 West Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 2EU map
Women, 16 and over, are welcome for an informal afternoon of drills and sparring with kindred BJJ-women. Previous BJJ-experience is not necessary (our November ’09 open mat included absolute beginners, white to purple belts and champions from 2009 competitions).
By car. If travelling by car, checkout the RAC Route Planner (destination post code is DA1 2EU). Free parking is available. The club is located on the first floor, via stairs to the roof. A banner for the club is visible from the parking lot.
By train. If travelling by train, the Academy may be reached by cab (queue just outside Dartford Rail Station). The journey to West Hill House, where the Academy is located, will cost about £3.50. The cabbie may know West Hill House as ‘the old YMCA’. Alternatively, the Academy is about a 15 minute walk from Dartford Rail Station. Leave the station and cross over the foot bridge. Continue on and veer left through a short alley way. Turn right when leaving the alley and enter the High Street. Carry on to the cross walk and climb the hill (West Hill). Turn left into Tower Road, and left after the pub. Follow the parking lot to the end. The Academy is located on the first floor which is accessed by a set of stairs that are surrounded by wooden fence (a large banner is visible from the parking lot).
Dartford BJJ was pleased to open its doors, today, for its second quarterly Women’s BJJ Open Mat. The session was well attended and included a good spread of experience levels, from absolute beginners to white, blue and purple belts, not to mention champs from this year’s British and Kent Opens. With thirteen women representing over half a dozen teams, the Open Mat was well attended, especially when considering the small size of the British women’s BJJ community and accounting for women unable to make it due to injuries, illness and work commitments.
We trained for three hours. We started with a short warm-up and then participants shared a technique, which the group then drilled for five minutes. The last two hours was spent sparring for five minute rounds and swapping our partners between rounds. The atmosphere could not have been better! I am utterly amazed by the sisterliness of this community. Not only were the more experienced players very welcoming to working with the two absolute beginners, but the happy buzz during the sparring was really something to behold (ladies, I think we might’ve gotten two new converts to our ranks – whoop!). Bear in mind, that we all come from different teams and are likely to meet each other in competition at some point, either in our divisions or the absolute, but that is really put to one side as the ladies get stuck in and just enjoy working with one another, as for many of us, it is a rare treat to work with other female players. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I echo the sentiments of the group when I write that I love my BJJ brothers and I appreciate all that I learn from training with them, but it is a great learning opportunity for us to work our skills against people of similar size and strength without all the ‘baggage’ of competition. Likewise, I believe that, because of the pressures women – and perhaps smaller players more generally – face, in working a kick ass defence against bigger and stronger opponents in day-to-day training, female players’ games are that little bit different in a broad sense and I certainly came up against some unexpected and super smooth moves today that I’ve not encountered. It isn’t better or worse or even really ‘women’s jiu jitsu’, but it is smaller persons’ BJJ (even the heavier ladies will be outweighed by many of the guys) and it is exciting to get into a room full of it and work through problems in a whole new way.
I am truly grateful for and humbled by the support of the ladies who were able to make it to the Open Mat and I look forward to organising another, with Coach’s blessing, for Q1 2010. Until then, kick ass in Lisbon, ladies – you seriously rock!
Last week I was very excited to go ‘back to basics’ and begin at the beginning in Dartford BJJ‘s new Gracie Combatives class. Coach has always included an element of Gracie Jiu Jitsu self defence in our BJJ and MMA classes; his passion for this area has led to a formal Combatives class on Wednesday evenings. While I love rolling, sparring and working on developing my technique versus a skilled/BJJ-knowledgeable opponent, I have a lot of time for the less sporty side of BJJ: I’ve always been interested in effective self defence and began my martial arts journey in a ‘Women’s Empowerment Self Defence’ class and then progressed to Shorinji Kempo, a traditional Japanese art with a self defence focus.
The Combatives class is tailor-made for people new to martial arts and particularly for women interested in self defence and/or getting fit. Training is extremely chilled out and builds from a very fundamental base and so is appropriate for people just starting out (as well as for more veteran martial artists interested in rethinking their basics). The emphasis on core self defence techniques and body movements, rather than on ‘jiu jitsufied’ movement and counter movement, and the absence of sparring, allows women new to martial arts to develop their skills, physical ability and confidence while helping to overcome barriers around personal space before, perhaps, choosing to get stuck into a BJJ class and roll all around the floor with sweaty animals (ladies, believe me when I say, it is more fun than you might imagine).
Our first class was a mix of adults and juniors and included a heavy dose of blue and purple belts as well as juniors and complete novices. We are following the Gracie methodology of building up a series of self defence techniques that, while effective in their own right, further teach basic principles of movement to condition and prepare the body for the sort of BJJ training that readers may be more familiar with. So, we drilled three techniques which reinforced foot work and posture:
1) Counter to a choke from standing.
2) Counter to a grab to the shirt.
3) Counter to a ‘noogie’ style head lock.
Each technique relied on similar foot work, but along different planes, as well as working balance, core strength and posture. Yes, these techniques are very ‘basic’, but I personally quite enjoy picking apart the fundamentals and considering them in the light of my existing understandings. I am absolutely pumped to be working through Combatives in a methodical way and look forward to building on these techniques this week. For my partner, who was in her third class, these techniques, drilled in a very non-aggressive and compliant manner, were a great way for her to rep fundamental principles.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an effective self defence martial art and an excellent way to get fit for men and women of all ages and abilities. Dave Birkett will lead a seminar in this exciting art on 12 December 2009 between 13:00 and 16:00 at the Aberaeron Leisure Centre. The cost of the seminar is £20.
Dave, head of the Dartford BJJ martial arts academy, is a seasoned martial artist with over two decades experience. Dartford BJJ is affiliated with the Mauricio Gomes / Marc Walder Team and Dave teaches Brazilian (Gracie) Jiu Jitsu for both competition and self defence.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a cutting edge martial art developed from traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu by the Gracie family of Brazil. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is famous for its devastating ground fighting techniques. This art was specifically developed to allow the smaller person to defeat the larger through the use of leverage and technique. Gaining superior position over an opponent, and applying myriad chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations is the foundation of this fun martial art.
Check out the event page on Facebook or contact Graham on 07917 676423 for more information.
I feel amazing! Epiphany while skipping! Letting go and operating in a state of detachment enhances ability (by avoiding fear and existing in the now). I’ve understood this, on a cerebral level, for some time and Coach, Marc Walder and other more senior martial artists I have the pleasure and privilege to train with have repeatedly emphasised this in classes, seminars and personal tuition. From my own meager competition experience I’ve had practical experience with being ‘in the zone’, but I find it terribly difficult to relax in regular BJJ practice.
I appreciate why this is, and my tension is particularly apparent when I go on the offensive. I’ve spent the last 4-5 years on the mats primarily in defensive mode, and I have a reasonable amount of confidence in my defence, feeling pretty comfortable with larger, stronger and less skilled opponents and offering, at least, annoying resistance for some (many?, perhaps that’s going too far) opponents that are larger, stronger and of a similar or greater skill level. However, I rarely ‘close the deal’ and submit these opponents.
A major barrier to my offence is my self-consciousness at being outside my comfort zone and the associated fear that comes with feeling exposed, ignorant and out of one’s depth. This manifests in gritted teeth, tensed muscles and essentially my whole bod telegraphs that I am up to something. This clearly isn’t optimal for working ‘multi-pronged’ attacks and flowing with whatever the opponent makes available. I’m aware that I have this problem, but struggle to overcome, and here is it is clearly my ego getting in the way; fear, self-consciousness, attachment, all bugbears to adapting competently to the fluid opportunities of a spar.
This evening I turned this around a wee bit and ‘skipped with detachment’. I’ve been working on flexibility, in particular working towards full side and box splits. This is a goal I’d hoped to achieve before last Christmas, but that plan was scuppered by MCL/cartilage injury. Ever since I matted my basement a few months ago and my knee has felt up to it, I’ve been trying to stick to a daily stretch routine. Today, I warmed up for my stretch with some skipping. Skipping can be boring, so I had fat ‘phones on and big dance beats pumping. I tried to make the whole thing more fun by skipping 3 times on both feet, twice on the right, twice on the left and back to both feet. I was absolutely sucking out! I took the speed right down and practiced just moving between each leg for 5 minutes, then started to build up the speed of skip and alternation and, then, the strangest thing. I noticed I was switching between feet every two beats at a quick pace – no problemo. It seemed that I’d tuned out *trying* to skip on alternate feet and just started bouncing to the beat and it was easy. As soon as I became aware of what I was doing and thought ‘I gotta keep it up’, I’d lose it. As soon as I became attached to the skipping routine my jaws clenched, my brow furrowed, my bod tensed up and I lost the groove. I kept working and after 30 minutes was happily skipping and transitioning between alternate feet, different variations of beats and etc with a lot less getting tangled up in the rope. I *felt* the difference between being all uptight about ‘having to do it right’ and, in Coach’s words, ‘doing it like it doesn’t matter’. Now I *know* what he meant. I am so very excited about this! I could absolutely identify when I was just enjoying what was happening and bouncing along and when I got too attached to keeping the skip going (and so ruined it). Was almost like that point just before sleep, when you’re not entirely conscious of yourself and your worries, cares or wishes and sort of floating in a limbo of consciousness/unconsciousness. I’m well chuffed with my wonderful little breakthrough.
Now the hard part, putting this into practice on the mats. We shall see, no doubt about it though, I love this journey.