Tom Barlow & Chelsea Leah Gi & No Gi Double BJJ Seminar In Portsmouth 06/19 Review

Tom Barlow Chelsea Leah BJJ Seminar Gi 06-19

We were really pleased to hold our first BJJ seminars as a club recently, inviting Tom Barlow (3X World Champion & 2nd Degree Black Belt from Braulio Estima) and his wife Chelsea Leah (World Champion & 1st Degree Black Belt from Andre Galvao) to teach two seminars, 2 hours in the Gi and 2 hours No Gi, back to back on a sunny saturday afternoon in April.

Tom and Chelsea are located in Cambridge, England, where they teach at Rolling Dojo and run their own team called Escapology BJJ. With multiple world titles between them and a huge competition resume of wins, Their Jiu-Jitsu is super high level, world class standard and we were really looking forward to learning all they had to offer, as there was no doubt this would be the real deal, with nothing but effective knowledge full of important details being shared.

Gi Seminar: De la Riva Guard


Once everyone had arrived we got started, with the Gi seminar up first, We had chosen to focus on the De La Riva guard as having both taught for the Mendes brothers this is something I know they share a fantastic understanding of.

They started by providing a very comprehensive education on how to enter the position via a guard pull from standing, something I haven’t seen covered in a large way before with the majority of teaching usually having focused mainly on the techniques once there, so it was great to learn how to establish this position so thoroughly.

BJJ Standing Guard Pull

Their explanation of the details when demonstrating to the group was great with lots of examples and explanations of the concepts that made the techniques work, explaining not just how, but why to do the details and what the difference they made was. They were able to make things simple to understand and put into practice for everyone, a fundamental component of good teaching.

De La Riva Guard

Next once successfully on the ground they taught a sweep to the side and how to come up on top, followed by another which when the first sweep was blocked, re-routed our partner overhead, landing us into the mount. They then showed how to combine the first sweep with a berimbolo roll coming up on top into a guard smash position from which you could easily transition to the mount.

De La Riva Sweep

One method they often demonstrated or taught was lots of little mini drills to teach certain areas of a technique in isolation from the rest of it, once correctly understood and performed it could be reinserted into the technique making it work better.

Also covered was where to put the various hand and feet grips and the advantages to doing so, with the explanation of the non DLR hook leg being the working leg and how to use it effectively against the opponents attempts to pass.

Overhead Sweep Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

When not demonstrating to the class as a whole they were very active, constantly going around helping everyone with tips, corrections and information on what to do, another hall mark of excellent teaching that gets results. This is something I’ve often referred to in previous articles especially my article on what make’s a good teacher. so I was very impressed.


This led us into the next section which used a grip break against our opponent grabbing our knee into a  sweep towards the other side of the body using a push against the opponents leg whilst their posts are tied off to tip them over, a move which Tom and Chelsea refer to as the 1970’s sweep. Coming up on top into a knee slide position pinning both legs allowing us to pass to side control.

DLR Guard Sweep

Another good thing I noticed was that they never rushed their teaching, if people weren’t fully understanding a certain area or technique yet they would simply spend more time on it, rather than forcefully moving on. this flexible approach is key when teaching as its better for a student to learn one thing thoroughly than not properly learn lots of things.

They next showed how to combine this sweep with an entry to a triangle choke by doing it without a sleeve grip making the person block against the sweep with an arm post setting up the opening for a transition to the triangle.

De La Riva Guard Position

The techniques were then ended with some great info and demonstrations on how to correctly tighten and enhance triangle chokes by driving your legs in a certain way which made a huge difference to the leverage and pressure you are able to generate.

Triangle Choke

Next was the chance to test out what we had learnt against resistance with a winner stays on line up set sparring game. With a group of people including Tom (Chelsea was pregnant so unable to join in) on the ground and the rest lining up going to the next available opponent in turn, starting in De La Riva guard the aim was for the person on top to try to pass and the person underneath to sweep or submit with the winner staying on and the loser going to the back of the line. This was followed by some rounds of free sparring which Tom again joined in with, demonstrating some very elite level Jiu-Jitsu, pulling off all the techniques he and Chelsea had previously taught. This was finished up with a question and answer session where Tom and Chelsea addressed any questions we had, whether about the information shown or just Jiu-Jitsu in general.

Tom Barlow Chelsea Leah Jiu-Jitsu Seminar Pure Art BJJ Portsmouth

No Gi Seminar: Open Guard Passing 


Tom Barlow Chelsea Leah BJJ Seminar No-Gi 06-19

After a half hour lunch break and change of training gear, we started our second seminar of the day, a 2 hour No Gi Seminar with the chosen focus on passing the open guard. Tom and Chelsea started by showing how to deal with a seated opponent while standing. Tom explained how this is a common situation in No Gi due to the reduced gripping ability making them need to sit up to gain better control, whereas in the Gi we would be more likely to encounter an opponent on their back as they could attempt to take very strong controlling, sleeve and lapel grips and more easily block the guard pass from this position.

No Gi Open Guard Position

Reverse engineering this to our advantage, First off, we were taught how to transition our opponent from the seated position to their back where they would be more vulnerable to the guard pass.

No Gi Guard Pass

Once we had got our opponent here, we were shown a basic No Gi version of an x-pass attempt passing around to a 90 degree angle at which point our opponent would pull there arms and knees in posting against our hips and shoulder to block the pass.

No-Gi X-Pass

Another good factor of the way the techniques were taught were that we were usually taught the correct things to do for the person in the opposite position as the moves were all linked together with counters and transitions being based off how our partners could counter our movements and the potential holes they might leave as a opening for us, which in turn taught what to do or not to do if you were the other person defending or attacking the moves.

To counter this block we were then shown how instead of trying to force our way through the resistance of these blocking arm posts with more resistance, we could switch the angle and take the path of least resistance switching back into a knee slice pass, embodying the very essence of Jiu-Jitsu, which is to use someones energy against them by flowing around the resistance while they are still fixated and stuck in one place.

Knee Slice Pass

From the knee slice pass we were shown how to move directly into a tight side control and then how to remove their hip wedging arm using our hips to consolidate the position leaving the opponent without any arm defence in place and their hips facing away from us, leaving them unable to move straight into any escape attempts. leaving us free to move to our next transition that we were about to learn.

Side Control Pin

Next we were shown how to transition from side control into mount and how to hold a very solid mount which keeps our opponent controlled due to its structure and shape. These details were really insightful and made a great difference to our mount retention.

Full Mount Position BJJ

Now that we had mount were we shown how to move into a monoplata submission based off of their arm being stuck on the outside of our mount by transitioning to trap this arm up under our hips and using a twisting motion we could force the shoulder into over rotation and result in a shoulder lock.


To finish off our techniques the opponent defended against this attempt by bringing their arm to the inside and we we shown how to move it into a figure 4 or gift wrap position and then transition to the back mount. Shown in the video below.

Figure 4 Back Take From Mount

As with the Gi session we then finished up with some rolling this time No Gi starting from the open guard position we covered earlier which Tom again joined in with, and this was again followed by a question and answer session based on either what we had just covered or any other Jiu-Jitsu questions people had.

It was a really great and enjoyable seminar full of information and expert knowledge, which we all learnt a huge amount from.

We were so impressed that we later decided to affiliate our club with them so we could continue learning from them on a regular basis. And are now really looking forward to their next visit!

If you would like to be a part of it, why not come along and try out a free trial class with us and find out just how effective Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for yourself! All you need to do is send us a message on our Contact Form now!

Adam Sparrow, Tom Barlow, Chelsea Leah, BJJ

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