So it's been a while. Funny how life gets in the way of writing blogs, isn't it?
I've felt intermittently guilty about not writing updates, but as I only barely managed to write notes about classes I went to, and I'm now too far behind with this blog .... So I've resolved to can the guilt trip. A quick update about things I've been up to and we'll see how I get on in the future :-)
Firstly, and most importantly, I've been busy training. There wasn't time to write about it, there wasn't time to go to the gym, but there was time to train. Oh yeah. There was a bit of time off over the Easter holidays but that aside, I've been getting in 4-5 sessions of BJJ every week. What's also great is that I've been meeting with the guys from the now disbanded PFS classes, and we've been doing a bit of no-gi grappling for fun. It's great to catch up with them and it's good to get some extra rolls in, with a group of guys I know and trust (as in: trust to not break my limbs by spazzing or stupidity!).
During the last few weeks, we've done a bit less rubberguard stuff in our BJJ classes. Unfortunately, one of the guys who teaches was injured and is out for a few weeks. Also, we've had a recent influx of newbies, so there is a bit more emphasis on basic stuff again. The other night in class, the unthinkable happened: a new girl turned up :-). There is another girl who trains once or twice a week, which is great, but to see a new face is awesome. Hope she sticks around, she seems nice. Most of the new guys who recently started are heavier than me. Oh well, I'm used to getting squished ;-)
We did a series on chokes, both gi and no gi chokes. The class on no-gi chokes from turtle top included the anaconda choke, the D'arce choke and a spinning choke. As I'm successful in getting turtle top position more and more often, these are useful for me. Of course, I need lots more practice... Tying in with that of course is the crucifix setup and a rolling armbar which one of the blue belts showed me during open mat last night.
On the other hand, I also go to turtle often. Yep, I get that a lot more often than turtle top :-). I learned (well, re-learned) a reversal from there, if the top guy sticks an arm in too far. If I can overhook it and drop that shoulder to the ground, I can roll over, effectively sweeping him right into switchback side control. I'm really glad I was shown that move, I'm bound to use it.
All in all, my wrestling is slowly improving. Ups and downs I have. I get embarrassed about the more and more frequent talk about a blue belt which is addressed to me. I feel I'm sooo far away from that milestone.
So when, like last night, I get squashed and choked by a new whitebelt, I feel I should never have a coloured belt |-). In my defence I say that while new to BJJ, he's evidently an experienced martial artist with good reflexes and balance and he outweighs me by a lot with strength to match. But hey, that's no excuse. What I'm pleased with is that I could rein in my little ego when I got to mount in another roll. Instead of choking him, I showed him a couple of escapes.
One evening we had a visit from a four stripe white belt from another school. Tough looking he was, with shaved head, tatts and a well worn gi :-). Uh-ooh I thought. We started from knees, I snapped him down, got his collar and choked him while he turtled with a collar choke we learned the week before. Whooo-hoo! In a later round with him, I didn't fare quite so well, but at least I had good position once and made him work every step of the way. He was most complimentary both rounds. So that was good fun.
One other evening, whilst getting what I felt was a thorough mauling from one of the blue belts, we were stopped by Sensei. Whether I was muttering or just looking dejected, I'm not quite sure, but I was on the bottom! In any case, he said that I was going really well. And that he wished he had video footage of me from a year ago and now so he could show me just how far I've come. Well, that was nice, and I probably grinned like a daft fool. Need I mention that we continued the maul (roll) which ended in an inevitable armbar?
I still spend much time on the bottom. My turtle defence is pretty good. I escape mount and side control better and better, even under the bigger guys. There was an occasion last night where I ended up mounted after some reversal. He hadn't started to settle and I had already rolled to my side, got the knee up and was beginning to escape. It surprised me how fluent and natural that felt.
I'm having a fair bit of success with using the lockdown and stuff from there, even sweeps. After class and during open mat, I've had a chance to spend some time on alternatives to the basic sweeps from closed guard. I'm starting to see the larger picture and I'm more concerned with the principles now than with individual grips or positions. But yes, sweeps are not yet my strong point. But one good thing is that people generally hate my closed guard. Oh yes, and I'm getting better at getting it back, too.
So many different things to work on. So many loose threads. Sometimes I can connect them, but occasionally I still draw a blank, primarily when I finally get a good position :-). I think I'm going to have to decide on one or two subs which I'll work for every time, until they become "mine", as someone put it last night. That would give me a bit of a game plan.
It's a fine line to walk, being realistic about oneself. Stay humble ... but avoid putting oneself down all the time. Be gleeful about a good move, a successful sub, a great escape ... but not get a swollen head. Give praise freely ... but also accept praise when due. Have high expectations and goals for oneself ... but instead of falling into despair when we feel we fall short, buckle down and get to work. Admire the clever move or good game of your partners ... but not be envious. Know when to hang in there when in a crappy spot ... but know when to tap to a correctly applied sub to give credit to your partner and avoid injury. All these are hard. But then nobody promised that learning BJJ would be a walk in the park, on any level.
The end of April 2010 means that I've been training BJJ for 18 months now. As I sit here with lots of fresh bruises from last night, and lots to think about, I am looking forward to my next class later tonight. That's how it should be :-)