After two days on the road and an exam in the morning, I was ready for a good roll on Thursday.
It was open mat, and there weren't very many people there. I had the chance to learn a new sweep I hadn't seen, one of the blue belts was practicing it and he needed a body. Of course he showed it to me and we both had a few reps, adding increasingly more resistance. I think they called it a pendulum sweep.
I really wish I could remember more details of individual rolls, but it all seems to become a blur soon after, especially if we have several rounds in a row. And we rolled for the best part of an hour and a half.
I still don't have an answer for one of the solid white belts. He crushes me. He grabs on tight, whichever body part he can get hold of (but he likes arms), and then it's usually curtain time for me. Hey, I might get his back, but he still hauls me in. Any time I attack him this happens. He has the shoulder from hell and really good crushing pressure when on top. He is one of the few people who I don't like in my guard because he bears down and drives his shoulder into me with a smashing pass. So I have made it my goal to keep distance, stay out from under him and break his grips. I succeeded partially, but still got smashed mostly. At one time, my gi collar slipped down onto my right shoulderblade, where a fold dug into my back while he was crushing me from the top. Ouch :-) . This guy frustrates me endlessly, but it is forcing me to think of alternatives.
I had several good rolls with more senior guys. As always, they leave me some little holes and if I find them, I can work on my top game. I'm more mindful of using my hips now when I'm on the bottom, and as a result, I get out of side control more often. I've progressed from just defending to escaping. At one point, I went for an armbar from sidemount, and I managed a textbook grip break, the way John Campbell taught us at the seminar. And it worked :-)
Other than that, I'm much more weary of underhooks. The only way one of the blue belts managed to get my elbows exposed enough was to go for chokes. Sure, I defended all the chokes, but at some point, he got under my elbow and that was a one way street to an armbar.
So that was Thursday. I had a fantastic workout and felt I'd wrestled reasonably well.
Friday night, our instructor decided that we should just wrestle, and everyone thought that was pretty cool. We did five minute rounds, then had a minute off and changed partners.
Sadly, I allowed a horse-related matter to really upset me, and I couldn't get it out of my head all afternoon. I was still grizzling about it on the way to training in the evening. Not sure why, it wasn't such a big deal. Maybe I was more stressed than what I thougth with exams, watching an old friend having to disperse his horses and worrying about my own lot back home. Usually, I can compartmentalise and put negative stuff to one side. Martial Arts training really has helped me focus and be more mentally disciplined. But Friday, I was angry about some things and I couldn't shake it. And we all know we shouldn't bring baggage to training!
I had my favourite training partner for the first round. Being a little bit absent mentally, I walked straight into his usual trap, was swept like a newbie and generally felt like a klutz. Lik.. three time in a row. I felt my anger coming up. Not at him, at myself. I was allowing my baggage to ruin my training and I was getting angry. Then, my good sense kicked in, I called myself a stupid fool, reset and went at it. From then on it was fantastic. I gave him some grief before it was time out.
Next I had the tall guy who likes rubber guard. I pulled guard, broke him down and got mission control. I changed hand to the other side of his head and started to feed my foot through under his face, when he postured up. It was only on Monday when I drilled rubber guard stuff with him, that he told me that there are things like gogoplata and locoplata. So he was more than surprised when I grabbed my toe and choked him with my foot. I guess that was a gogoplata :-) . We had another roll which was fun until time was up.
Two of the rounds were with very new guys, they've only been wrestling for a few weeks, and it was their first proper roll. One is my size, the other is smaller. What a pleasant change!! Anyway, both impressed me with not spazzing but using the moves they've learned so far. Tense yes, spazzy no. I choked, armbarred and figure four'd to my heart's content. I swept and did all the things I'm supposed to be doing. But honestly, they were good because they didn't ego trip and they didn't spazz, which is more than I can say for a lot of other beginners. I told both of them they did really good.
I had a round with another blue belt who gave me a puzzle. I pulled guard and he hunkered down, elbows clamped down, head on my belly. Nothing to attack or sweep. Then I rememberd that I can push on the head. So I did and bingo! Correct answer. And he said so. From there things opened up and I tried for the sweep I've been working on while I had him broken down. Nope, no go. Then I tried my recently learned armbar setup. I succeeded in getting the knee over his shoulder and I had his arm where I wanted it, but I needed to angle off. And as he knew exactly what I was up to (he even said so - and laughed, the bastard), he wouldn't let me come across and get the right angle and eventually I lost it. He passed after a bit and then I went to my standard defenses. His comment was (yet again) that those defenses were irritating. Then it was time out. I figure if I can irritage an experience blue belt, I must be doing something right ;-) .
And last of all, I had a round with a purple belt. He's got a favourite pass he calls the loving pass. Not sure exactly what he does, but he hugs you tight and just keeps coming. What is incredible to feel with him is how he sits and chills (as he calls it) and saves energy. If I make any move, it's like he's been switched on, and he clamps tight. The only room to move is the move he wants you to make. And everytime you wriggle, bounce, try to upa, move the hips or whatever, he just clamps on that bit tighter, removing more of your space. All while using a minimum of his and a maximum of your energy. Until he's in the right spot from where he just goes for peeling out an elbow and that's the end of it. He is only about my weight. But phantastic pressure and top control. Second roll I don't remember too well. He had a go at mission control, but I managed to get out of that and pass his guard. He rolled over and I had turtle top. Couldn't attack his neck and then he swept me I think. Then it was time out.
Afterwards, a few of us stayed on for a little longer and I scored another long roll with him. It just went on and on with half a dozen changes from top to bottom, escapes, sweeps and the whole deal. I worked my arse off, but at least I wasn't squashed on the bottom very often. At one point, he threated to choke me with my own belt. We had a few laughs. Especially when he turtled and I tried to jerk him up, but he dropped down and hit the mat with his forehead. Oops :-) . I rolled out of an omoplata attempt of his and escaped an armbar. But I had a chance at all sorts of things and it flowed and went places, so it was fantastic. And he didn't have to hand me everything on a silver platter.
I'm always mindful when rolling with the senior guys, that THEY need a chance to work their stuff. I don't want to be the one getting all the benefit from it. So the better I wrestle, the more of a challenge I can be for them, the more they can pressure test their stuff.
And by the end of the night, I was in a fantastic frame of mind, the mental cobwebs blown away. Tired in body, happy in mind. Isn't BJJ a wonderful thing?