A few things are coming together for me. My brain is turning data into useful information and I'm slowly but surely working out a game plan. I'm also seeing where I've been going wrong and why. In addition to that, I've had some really great feedback this week which reinforces that I'm thinking along the correct lines. These talks and specific instruction have also been very motivating.
During rolls, these lessons have yet again been reinforced, and thanks to the fabulous guys at my school, I feel like I might actually one day turn into a bit of a grappler.
Where I've been going wrong is in several areas. First and foremost, I have been making too much use of going to turtle. I assume it started because I discovered that it's a place under the bigger guys where my breathing isn't impeded, and I could survive. I became very good at defending it, too. But of course, it's not a position with a lot of options, and certainly not a position for attacks. And what's the point of stalling? Oh, and lately, we have all been learning a lot of turtle attacks, so it's getting harder and harder to defend..
From this flea I got in my head about going to turtle as soon as I wasn't on top, I developed a habit of turning away from people. That often gives up my back. Oh, and defending my neck when someone has my back, that I'm pretty good at, too! I even escape from there regularly. But it's obviously not a good spot to be in, and if I escape, I often escape to turtle. Basically, it's a dead end.
Now, since I discovered that one of my favourite positions is guard (preferably closed), and especially since I discovererd that I can hold it well and it's feared in the school (hihi!), that's where I want to be. I am again working on that particular armbar from closed guard, and making some progress. And of course that leads right into several other submissions.
Last night during open mat, one of the blue belts pulled me up twice and gave me a big pep talk, when I turned away. He is quite right. What I want is turn in and get the guy in my guard. Even half guard. He pointed out that the worst thing that can happen is that I end up in side control. Well, that means I'll have to perfect my side control escapes. That also feeds right back into another problem I have: when I have closed guard, I'm hesitant to open for an attack, because I fear to lose it and they pass to side control. Hence my open guard sucks, because I don't use it often enough.
Ironically, I'm no longer that scared of side control, although when I end up under one of the bigger guys, it's ain't no fun at all... I have relatively good defence, and with more work on my escapes, I won't care if I end up there.
To get better side control escapes, I need to pay more attention to using my hips. I think I've mentioned that before :-) . Ah yes, the hips.... The good news is that in recent times, I have been working on that, and I know that my bumps and shrimps and hip escapes are getting more effective.
So it's all related.
Other comments that came out of the last few training sessions are positive. Hands and feet are working simultaneously, I'm stringing some stuff together, my side control is nice and tight, and generally, I'm making the guys work when we are rolling. The other thing that someone said last night was that there are two places where people go wrong when they train. One is that they don't like to tap (now that's NOT my issue), the other is that they beat themselves up too much over stuff (he wasn't looking at me, but I KNOW he was talking to me!).
Therefore I have my work cut out for me. The plan is:
make a detailed game plan
practice side control escapes
practice the armbar from hell and at least two gotos/alternatives
don't turtle, learn to fade back to open guard BEFORE they weigh me down
don't turn away from people, instead hip escape and go for guard
shut up and train (= no comparisons, no self bashing, no saying "I can't ")
I think that'll keep me busy for a while!
So what did I actually do this Wednesday & Thursday?
Wednesday lunchtime we had a tiny class. I took the warm up and then served as grappling dummy to show the other two guys some chokes. They then went off to practice those and I had some one on one time with my instructor. We worked on the armbar from hell. I still had problems with it. So we ended up deconstructing it, and working on each bit separately. I finally figured the bits where I'd gone wrong and I ended up with a working version. So happy!! We had a very brief roll after that. I did some things right, but as usual, I turtled, then had my back taken etc. I attacked his ankles, but for my troubles I ended up tapping to a lapel half nelson from some weird place he maneuvred me to. Haha, that's his favourite game.
Wednesday evening was mostly rolling. I scored one of the spazzy white belts. He caught me in an armbar and with the speed I felt it come on, I snarled at him. That did have the desired effect, he let go and he later apologised. We had another roll and he armbarred me again after a long time, this time in a more civilized fashion. Third roll he suggested to start from the bottom of side control, to work on his escapes (this was the first time I thought he is growing up and becoming a training partner!). In fact, he did have a lot of trouble getting out of my side control and sort of got stuck in switchbase. I took that as a good opportunity to show him ways of getting out. So for the first time ever, rolling with him ended in an excellent note.
I had a long roll with a purple belt. He did let me work a bit, and I had his back, had sidemount, even mount. Tried for all sorts of stuff without success. I maintained mount longer than I thought was possible so that was a plus. I tried my fancy armbar from guard, but he's wise to people angling off, so I couldn't get the setup. All in all a really good roll. There were a couple of rolls with the king of triangles. Strangely, lately, I seem to avoid his triangles pretty good. But he gets me in armbars instead. On the other hand, I know he just loooves my closed guard, and I got in lots of practice at grip fighting, breaking him down and attempting chokes. Just couldn't get near that armbar... But good stuff.
Thursday night's open mat was small, only four of us. We all had a few good rolls, but we also worked on specific stuff, and discussed various things. I had a go at trying out my armbar on one of the big blue belts. Once he postured out of it, but once I got it locked in and finished it. Yeah!! Of course, if he'd used all his strength, he might have exploded out of it. But he said it was very tight, and I did in fact end up with both his arms where I wanted them, giving me the option of armbar on the bottom arm, and cutting armbar on the bottom one. I also had a chance to go from lockdown and attempt the electric chair sweep. He thought I was trying for twister and bailed. Fast :-))) And we re-engaged from open guard and on we went... He commented on various parts of my game and made a lot of useful suggestions.
The big white belt who's been the bane of my life over recent months helped me with working on my turtle issue, and I had a chance to practice the fade back to guard and an escape out to the side if he grabs my middle when we are head to head. But somehow, I also had more success in keeping him off me, using open guard. He's a really nice guy. I know he's irritated me in the past, but hey, I irritated him as well. The only answer he had to my tight turtle was to turn me over by force. But he is aware of how much more he weighs, too, and he's never been unduly rough.
The other guy armbarred me a few times :-) But he didn't get the triangle. Not once.
I think the guys at my school are fantastic. Oh yes.