It was the last week before the holidays, and a shorter week than normal. The school is closed until the second Monday in January. Hm, I miss it already... But there are plans to get together for a bit of wresting and cardio work before then!
Monday night's class was about rubber guard stuff. It was mainly a revision of what we went over so far and a chance for everyone to get a few more reps in, particularly the transitions between the positions.
We also learned a new attack. Well, one that I hadn't seen. Please don't ask me for the name of this.... But essentially it's a triangle from New York. Nice and easy. All I need is to get him to post the arm to the floor on the side where I have my foot on his hip. I grab the wrist, adjust my hip and thread my foot over his arm. Then the leg goes on his shoulder and with a few grip adjustments and getting a cut across the back of his neck with my lower leg... triangle. Beautiful.
We did a little bit of wrestling and I did pull off a triangle from that setup.
Wednesday was our last class for the year. After a tabata warmup we were shown and drilled a couple of techniques and had rolls inbetween.
We did the hooks in (butterfly) guard to x-guard transition and one of the sweeps from there. We also did a double leg takedown with a leg trip.
Rolling was just plain good fun. I had one of the newer white belts for a bit. I did my best to tread that fine line between attacking him and working my game and letting him have some fun, too. It's kind of weird to tell someone what he could try to counter what I'm doing. A bit like playing chess against yourself :-) And of course it gives me the chance to work my escapes after I've allowed him him get into a dominant position.
I had to work much harder with one of the purple belts. I spent most of the time defending there :-) However, I managed a couple of sweeps, one from halfguard where miraculously I ended up in high mount. When my brain registered that I had a leg over one of his arms, I converted that to a mounted triangle. Bingo! I have no idea how that sweep worked. All I remember is the feeling of moving well, pausing because I was surprised and then recognising the opportunity. And the triangle was tight, he told me. After that, I was paid back handsomely with figure fours and armbars. Good times!
A couple of things are happening. Firstly, I am starting to get sweeps. No specific ones, but all sorts from all sorts of places. I had all but given up on sweeps, because I just couldn't make them work like 99% of the time. I'm not sure if it's a result of moving my hips better, allowing me to get under people, or because I can feel opportunities and make the necessary adjustments. Probably all of the above. It is as though a whole bunch of little puzzle pieces are suddenly fitting together and I'm starting to get the bigger picture.
The same is the case with recognising submissions. Oh, there are still loads of times when I'm in a good spot and I go: ah, what was the xyz sub from here, which arm/leg does what, doh?? BUT. Increasingly, I get to some position, or rather, I'm in the process of getting to that position when an attack pops into my head and my hands and legs seem to know what to do.
Revisiting techniques: I've found so often lately that things which didn't work for me in the past suddenly make sense now. Make sense and actually work for me. So I did know the puzzle pieces, but they didn't make sense to me, or I couln't fit them into the section of the whole picture I was working on. The other thing about revisiting techniques is that even if I was already successfully using that technique, I'm discovering ways to make it work better, tighter, faster. Or hit it from a different position, or help me see a related technique.
I suppose it's all part of a natural progression. As a result I'm moving more efficiently and I have more time to think and react. That in turn means I'm no longer just defending and getting a seeing to. Goodness knows, that stage lasted long enough for me! And obviously I still get nailed regularly, even by bigger white belts. But I'm spending a lot more time working attacks and giving others a hard time :-). That translates to much more fun.
My next goal is to start stringing techniques together. To use one attack to elicit a specific response which is the setup for my next technique. So far I'm merely reacting to my opponents moves. I certainly can go from one attack to another depending on his defence, but I am not yet chaining things together or setting traps.
I'm still relying on closed guard too much. On the one hand, I have good attacks from there, so it's my main game. On the other hand, I really, really want to be a better open guard player so that I have more options.
What I am pleased about is that I have good defence and a number of escapes from every bad position. So I'm not too scared to experiment, because if I fail, I know I have a good chance to recover from the inferior position I'll land in. What I'm less pleased about is that my top game is still pretty underdeveloped. But that's starting to improve, too.
So I have loads of things to work on next year. I intend to 1. have a load of fun, 2. get better and 3. compete again and do well.