We had a huge class, including some guys who haven't been in a lot lately.
We did a tabata style warmup with burpees, mountain climbers, pushups, situps and squats. Haha, there was a bit of blowing and panting, and they boys sure looked warm ;-)
We were shown and then drilled a half guard escape which also works when someone has lockdown. Ideally, we want underhooks, then we wriggle down until we can manage a gable grip around the thighs. This pins the knees together. Our head needs to be firmly against his belly so there is no chance of chokes. Also, this helps pin the hips down. Lastly, we mule kick back/up with the trapped leg. This will pop the half guard open. If they have lockdown, it works, too. It's vastly more painful for the person holding lockdown... So much so, that if I have lockdown and I feel them going for this escape, I tend to unlock...
We did some wrestling then, but starting from specific positions, ie: half guard or with instructions to keep going without holding positions for more than 3 seconds. A few rounds of that...
Then we practiced the hip bump sweep, and where that fails because they brace, the kimura from guard. For this, I scored the biggest guy in class. Terrific. It's like smashing your hip into a tree :-) However, he did point out a way to improve my technique, and after that at least I could budge him.
At the end of class, we all had a very short round each with one of the guys who is getting close to blue belt. It was quite funny, as we tagged each other going in, and some changeovers were quite nifty.
It was my birthday and I decided I needed to spend at least part of the day doing my favourite thing. So I caught a lift with a fellow bluebelt to Geelong.
John Will was back from one of his many overseas trips and took the advanced class. He had some visitors from the UK and one from South Africa. But he still took the time to welcome the country cousins ;-) I had a chance to drill and roll with one of the guys from the UK. I didn't catch his name, but he's a nice guy and was a great partner.
Theme of the night was X-guard. First, an entry from standing. Then an entry from hooks in guard. That's one of those techniques where every arm and leg has to do something totally different. Not easy, but once the body 'knows' which way to turn, which leg to kick up and which leg provides the hook that lifts the leg, it starts working.
I've had one previous exposure to X-guard many months ago and must admit I couldn't make head or tail of it. I guess I wasn't ready at the time. This time, it made sense. We did lots of reps to get the movement pattern established. Thanks to John's excellent breakdown of the techniques and subsequent corrections where needed, it wasn't too difficult.
The next thing were two sweeps from X-guard. The first one involved grabbing the near arm (the one closer to my head) and shoving it down. Then I raise my legs and sweep my partner over the near shoulder, where I've removed the post, towards my shoulder. I then have to follow and end up sort of sitting on his leg. I think that in practise, it would depend a lot on which direction they end up rolling in, which is a bit hard to control. And then it may end up in a bit of a scramble. I may well end up back in guard actually, making this sweep a bit low percentage in my eyes.
The other sweep works by grabbing their far arm and pulling it towards our head and then it's more of a push with the legs. As we follow over, we keep hold of the leg which was on our shoulder and we keep hold of the arm. And we land in: knee ride. This sweep felt easy and it flowed, so this would be the one of choice for me. In reality, I suppose it would depend of whether I can grab hold of that far arm.
At the end of the class we did a few reps of a standing guard pass.
And, as always, there was plenty of chance for rolling. John reminded us that we should at least try to have a go at the new stuff, to see if it might be something to fit into our games. I didn't set the world on fire with submissions, but I had good solid rolls and managed several sweeps. However, I felt was was using closed guard too much. Funny, how I revert back to that in no-gi. I have been making a big effort to use more open guard, but I find it a lot easier when I can control people's sleeve. No gi = no sleeves :-) Oh well, something to work on more. But at least I didn't sit still when I had guard, I tried stuff. Even if opening up meant I'd get passed. And when I was passed, I managed a variety of side control escapes and for that I was happy indeed. One of the purple belts pointed out some useful stuff in relation to holding mount, which is one of my very weak areas. What he said will help for sure!
Then it was time for the intermediate class. As usual, the white belts came in and warmed up with rolling. I had a few good rolls and caused people a fair bit of trouble :-)
The class was about headlock escapes. Including the one I really suck at.... I said to the guy I was drilling it with: I suck at this and I'm glad that we're working on it, so I can get better at it. He looked at me and then said: well, that's a good attitude! Haha, yeah. I suppose I have two choices: I can give up on a technique which means it will definitely, positively never work for me. Or I can keep at it and welcome every opportunity to work on it, until I get it right. I think the latter idea is better.
And actually, for the first time, I pulled off that escape with a degree of success without having to use every ounce of strengty. I know now what I've been doing wrong. The escape is the one where I can't get my trapped arm's elbow to the mat. So I've hugged my opponent and have a grip around his middle. I walk into him and bridge, bridge again and if need be again so I can get my bottom hip under him. Then I bridge and rock back over my shoulders to sweep him towards my top shoulder. The imaginary line has to be between my shoulder and my head. In the past, I've tried to heave him across me to my left, which didn't work.
So we practiced that escape and two other ones, where I can suck my elbow back in. I certainly could do with extra practice on those as well :-)
It was pretty warm, not to mention humid, and it was a hot sticky evening for everyone on the mat. I was thoroughly tired when we were finished. But what a way to spend a birthday!
Oh, and it happened to be the day when my new Zero-G gi arrived from the UK. It looks very smart and I hope to be able to try it out soon. Then I'll report back!