Saturday, January 29, 2011

hit and miss

The hardest, yet most fun part of this blog is to think up titles. Sometimes I can't think of something clever to say, other times it's easy :-)

Another whole week has passed. It was a shorter week than usual (from a training point of view) as we missed the two Wednesday classes because that was the Australia Day holiday. I also didn't make it to Geelong this week, because one of my cats hurt it's leg. So it was off to the vets with the furry critter. Poor sod has a broken toe, but the leg is ok.

Monday night's class was yet again on back contol escapes. Again, we did a bit of drilling the escape from back control, from mount and then from half guard, then sweeping to side control, go to north/south and do the boatramp to get back control. Rinse and repeat. Then we did positional rolling, starting from the back with hooks in but hands on shoulders. Everyone had a turn with everyone else. Good news is that I had a lot more success with this than last week, both holding the back and doing chokes and getting out. Even the bigger guys were more "manageable". Most memorable part of the night (for me) was when I started the last roll with one of the beast men, my nemesis. He'd waved me over with that look of "step here, I will end your suffering quickly" :-). As I sat down to take his back, I showed him my hands and said: "See these? They are KILLER hands". Beware!". So we start. And I was going to have that choke. One way or another. It took some doing, but I choked him. Yeah! Killer hands! :-)

Thursday and Saturday morning we did something a bit different. We were paired up. One partner put on boxing gloves. Then we practiced mount escapes with a few variations. First just a bridge and roll, then a frame and push on his hip while hip escaping. The latter works well if they sit back to take a good swing. Aim for both scenarios was to get to our feet and back away. So it was either pass guard and back away or shrimp out and then do a technical standup.

Today we also had a play with the scenario where someone punches while in our closed guard, and then in our open guard. We drilled that for a bit and eventually went to rolling from open guard where the person with gloves on can strike, the other must wrestle only.

It is just amazing how much the game changes when we need to watch out for punches. A lot of stuff came flooding back to me. It's over a year now since I've done any standup/punching but I seem to remember how to cover up :-) Mixing punching with wrestling is highly interesting, and I think it gives you much greater awareness of where your opponents hands are. From a self defence point of view, this is a reality check for sure.

Friday night's open mat was good fun. I had my arse kicked big time by a senior blue and a purple belt. I got out of a bit of stuff but I really, really need to think of my legs!! They are constantly under attack now and I still don't see it coming early enough. I did some interesting thing where I nearly ended up getting back control after I had my guard passed when my partner had his back towards my head. I was pushing on his head, shrimping backwards and then grabbed hold of his top arm. It nearly worked, and he commented on it later. Something I will investigate further..

I'm pleased that I'm feeling opportunities to sweep, and consciously make the necessary adjustment to get them. That is a vast step forward for me. The other thing which is finally happening is that look ahead for submissions. An example: after several rear chokes I wanted to chase something else. Got to mount and decided on a triangle, so I set up for getting a leg over one arm and then went straight for the triangle. Another: while rolling with one partner wearing gloves and punching, I decided on armbars, one each side. Did the first one from guard, the second one from mount. And I was the one wearing the gloves :-) 

I'm in the fortunate position to have two white belt guys (good three stripers) who are my size and a bit smaller. Both are nice and quick, so they can be quite a threat, and both have caught me on occasion. What is great about rolling with them is that I can work on sweeps. And because I get top control relatively often, I feel my top game developing. On the one hand, I feel a bit of a bastard because I've smashed and choked and armbarred my way through them all week. On the other hand, I certainly have paid my dues in that respect for quite a long time. I need to work on attacking, sweeping, smashing. So why should I feel bad about it, when I'm not unduly rough or arrogant about it? I miss no opportunity to tell them when they have done something well or when they have really threatened me. And if one of them legitimately gets a sub, I won't thrash out of it, I will tap. For their sake and mine.

We all have ups and downs. Sometimes we think we have a down when in fact all is well, but people around us have an up. I was trying to explain that to someone the other day. Just because some technique worked for us for a while, doesn't mean it will work forever or on everyone. For starters, our partners in the dojo learn which our fave moves are and they learn how to avoid or get out of them. Then we have to get better, more cunning in the set up or move on to a new technique to catch them out. It's a constant evolution. And that's how we have to see it. That constant pressure evolves our game. And that is why tapping is part of the learning curve. We pressure test our technique in live rolls. We must try and we must fail until we find what works. And then we have to keep on evolving our game to stay ahead. Everyone around us on the mat also evolves. Everyone has their own direction and speed though. So at times we come up against seemingly insurmountable difficulties (like me with my nemesis!). Well, we just have to keep trying new stuff and learn from our mistakes until eventually, the previously inconquerable becomes merely another step in our evolution.

As we grow our trickbag of techniques, or balance, strength, resilience and general knowledge, we also grow as a person. This growth can't happen while we are motivated by the number of taps we get. It can only happen if we look at everything that happens as a learning opportunity. So what if I haven't tapped anyone all night, or even all week? It's totally irrelevant. I don't need to hang my head in shame if I spent all week improving myself.

Oh, and next time I'll feel down in the dumps, I will come back and read that :-)

But for now, I'm looking back on another fun week, where the world was in order because some of the time I had my arse kicked and some of the time, I kicked arse. Beware the killer hands, you big brutes!!

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