Monday, February 28, 2011

busy, busy... but have progress to report

My holidays are over. I'm back at uni and I'll be starting part time work as well. I still have some 28 horses at home and of course, I also train BJJ - about six times per week! That aside I'm trying to get a bit more painting done on the house, too. But I keep getting interrupted by bad weather anyway...

I feel a bit like a juggler at the moment, trying to keep everything up and not dropping anything :-)

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After realising that I was going too hard and for the wrong reasons last Monday, I made an effort to ease off. I think that bore fruit. For me, it meant that I moved better, which showed up a lot during open mat, but really, any time I rolled. For my partners it was probably also better :-)

The week was a bit shorter than usual, as there was no class on Saturday.

One evening, I was partnered with a guy who was having one of those days when you think you are useless, and he really looked discouraged and upset. I didn't coddle him, but I ensured that I didn't smash him, either. Also, every time he made a good attempt, I told him so. Yes, I let him get sweeps, but only if he set them up right. I was hyper aware of not going hard to keep the upper hand. Instead, I let him work to good positions and then I defended and reversed. That way, we both benefitted. And when we finished up, I think his confidence had been restored a little.

During the week, the white belts worked on figure fours from side control, the rest of use started from half guard top and then we looked at a roll to finish the submission. One day, we went over a sequence from mount escape to half guard to lockdown and then how to sweep from there (three different ways).

I used some time during open mat to try out some of the back control transistions and subs from the Ryan Hall DVD set. Hey, that was fun, I finally got to try out the crutch lock and roll :-) That is so cool! The young guy I conscripted for the purpose thought so, too. Anyway, for his troubles I showed him two gi chokes which really lit his eyes up. Some of the other guys started hovering but I told them no, they have to wait (the young guy I did show is smaller and lighter than all of them, so I figure it's fair to give him a couple of extra "tools". Plus, us lighter people have to stick together ;-) ).

And it's not like I don't show everyone stuff anyway...

Another positive thing.. also during open mat: I started rolling with a fairly new guy and managed to get him to roll slowly, flowly and controlled. Had ro remind him a few times, but it did work. And he was amazed, because all of a sudden, he had time to notice opportunities, had time to try new moves and all that sort of stuff. A few times we stopped when he had questions. It was really good.

For me, that was way better than what I did to him ealier in the week....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

of turtles and silly fools with egos...

I got lucky. My cold didn't pan out to be a bad one and I felt quite good by Monday evening, so I went to training. I didn't even feel out of breath or tired. Good stuff!

We had a pretty large class. One guy had returned from a broken thumb and it was good to see him back again.

We briefly revisited the turtle attacks from last week: clock choke and crucifix. I got myself a purple belt to drill with. He hadn't seen the alternate roll to crucifix and I had trouble explaining it from the bottom :-) Sensei to the rescue!

We then looked at transitioning from the front to the side to the dovetail position and how to unturtle the turtle by cupping the far knee while loading the near hip and pulling him to 5 o'clock. Having pulled him off base and so exposed him to attacks, we looked at a figure four, or if he defends and turtles, start over again. All in a sort of drill, sort of see-what-happens scenario.

I discovered a way to go back to turtle if he threatens my arm. To begin with, I felt pinned and exposed when he turned me over from turtle and hunted for my arm. But I found if I stretched out the leg nearest him and dropped that hip to the floor, I could easily re-turtle. That was my genius moment for the evening.

Us blue belts got sent out and the rest was instructed to roll, which they did with relish. As people were tapped out, we went in. There was a guy I had had problems with in the past, because though he is new, he is fast, strong and goes hard as nails. So if I could have picked one I didn't fancy rolling with, it was him. I'm such a chicken at times.... I've really struggled with him in the past. So guess what, he tapped out this other white belt and it was my turn with him next.

What ensued lasted the whole time until the end of class. I tried for a snap down but failed, and then it wasn't hard to pull guard after that. From sheer strength, he avoided my high guard armbar attemps. But of course it means my technique wasn't good enough, too. I looked for other attacks but I will admit that I was too concerned keeping my guard closed to control him and not enough to hunt for submissions. Finally, I had opened up to attack his arm and he passed to half guard. I tried for deep half but didn't quite succeed  and he eventually got my back. I managed to turtle and so he had time to try out the new stuff from the class. However, I easily defended all of that. Finally, I got back to bottom half and lockdown. And there I got stuck. I tried to sweep, I tried to get out. But the bottom line was this: I was too cowardly to open my lockdown and look for opportunites. I was so concerned about not getting into a worse spot that I mucked around and hung in and wasted my and his time. Then time was called.

On the one hand, I was happy that I can defend well and even threaten a guy bigger, faster and stonger than myself. On the other hand, I was pissed that I couldn't do better. And there lies the crux of the matter. Instead of saying "who cares" and go all out for something interesting, I was worried about "losing". Dammit!! I was worried about getting squashed and tapped out. And I'm not talking about getting hurt, at no time did I feel I needed to protect myself from a spazzy uncontrolled white belt. Yes, he was going too hard. Yes, he was frantically hunting for stuff. But hey, I'm big and old and ugly enough to not expose my precious limbs. The honest truth in hindsight is that I was too chicken to play and experiment because I didn't want to risk getting into inferior positions, or "losing". Bah!

My first response after was to ask Sensei about a bottom halfguard escape. As he began to show me one, I couldn't help but say: I've just answered my own question: I should have opened lockdown and gone for something. And it turned out, the two escapes he showed me, I already knew. AAARRGGHHH!

I am such an idiot.

We then had a brief talk about me needing to stop worrying about things, and if need be, deliberately letting things go and tap. Ain't the ego such a fantastic thing??

And here is little old me bitching about the guys going too hard and needing to learn to roll slow. Time to eat my own words and choke on them!

I have a drive home that takes about a half hour. Plenty of time to reflect on things. Boy, did I do some reflecting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

choking turtles and other funny business

I didn't go to class last Thursday. When I turned up for open mat on Friday, I was told that the guys missed me... AAAAWWWW!


I also heard that the Wednesday night class was well received. Obviously it was talked about and given the seal of approval by the participants as well as our instructor. How good is that??

The joint mobility warm up I gave them also had chins wagging. I heard I made them do such terribly(!) complicated arm movements and other weird stuff. It was soooo hard. Sensei asked if I made them do my favourite weird and complicated arm movments, but when I explained that all I expected were figure eights, we both had a good laugh. But I got talking to one of the Karate BBs who has done some FlowFit and wanted to know if I knew of it. As it happens, I do have that DVD, as well as some others. So we might get our heads together some day. From there we started talking about kettlebells etc.

Ha, it's funny how one experimental evening class has led on to so many other things.

Anyway, I took open mat easy because I didn't feel so fantabulously fit and well. I suspected the beginnings of a cold, and that prediction has in fact come true :-(

So I started by slow rolling with the nemesis, and I think we did some really good stuff. He is very controlled and we got a great flow going, with loads of good transitions. Terrific warm up. We laughed, as after 10 minutes, we had warmed up and learned something in the process. The other guys were heaving and panting. I'm not saying they didn't learn anything... Anyway, we proceeded to a normal speed roll with submissions, and I promptly fell victim to his methodical crushing annihilations. Sorry, I have bright moments, but overall he still kills me. That's why I gave him that nickname. But pssst! don't tell him ;-) And when I grow up, I'll crush him!

I had a couple of rolls with another white belt. Similar size, a bit less experience. He rolls more open, and by being more aggessive, he opens stuff up. So with him, I tend to have much more luck, not just escaping, but everything else. I often catch him in subs, too. Mind, he will give me hell's own trouble once his escapes get better and he learns to be tighter. He had a few question regarding (you guessed it) escapes, so at the end, I showed him a few things to help escape mount and side control, emphasizing that he should start escaping before his opponent settles. He did very passable hip elbow escapes at the end.

On Saturday, Sensei asked me to take the warm up, and just do joint mobility stuff. Haha, more figure eights for the guys... More frowns. I also asked for figure eights using the hips. Oh dear. Haha. And then, to annoy them, I said that with a bit of practice, they would make reasonable belly dancers. Sensei thought that was funny, and pointed out that the other lady who used to come and grapple teaches that in her spare time. Foolishly, I replied that I, too, used to bellydance. That brough a chorus of "oh No!" from the ranks. :-)

Then, in the spirit of the era of experimentation and crazy stuff, we were told to wrestle (lightly), but with a twist. We had to start by lying belly down on the floor, facing each other and gripping hands. Then, imagining we had to stay low like in a commando crawl, we had to try to submit each other. As there were "imaginary machine guns" at about Sensei's eye level (sitting down), it was imperative NOT to sit up. In fact, any body part sticking up was "shot".  At one point I lifted my partner's leg with a hook from guard bottom, just so it would be shot at. :-) Mean. Ha. And then was just getting around to choking him when we had to stop.

After all that folly, we were paired up and worked on attacking turtles with clock chokes and crucifixes. I think I have this clock choke business pretty worked out. And I even managed to roll over well to get the crucifix. The only thing that went wrong was an elbow I got to the side of the head. But it was purely accidental, and I forgave him immediately.

For the last few minutes, we wrestled. Though I wasn't feeling totally fantastic, feeling the advancing cold, I made a thoroughly good job of dominating my poor partner. It is soooo nice to be paired with someone about my size. Sweeps work! At one point I got some overhook on his arm from guard bottom, with my hand in the opposite collar. But somehow I couldn' finish the choke. So I swept him and finished it from mount. I probably couldn't keep the dumb grin off my face. I'm just not used to actually stringing stuff together, let alone plan ahead. And a similar thing happened again. Lots of time to think. My partner fell into white belt habits again, straining hard. But for a change, I didn't just strain against him, instead I worked around it. So that felt really good and made for a nice finish to the week.

And now it's Sunday night, my nose is running, my eyes watering and I'm hoping that by tomrrow night I'll be ok. But probably it'll take another day. Meanwhile, I'm working my way through watching the Ryan Hall DVDs. Really good stuff, can't wait to try it all out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

turtles, deep half and slow rolling

I didn't head to Geelong this week, and I missed out on training tonight. So it's just been three classes so far this week. Booooh!

I just wasn't up to the double session at G'town, followed by the Wednesday double. It's hard slog for me and I've learned to listen to my body a little these days. The last thing I want to do is burn myself out, this is a marathon, not a sprint. With the high humidity, all classes are tough anyway. So, with a bleeding heart, I gave it a miss....

Anyway, Monday night we did some more work on entries to the deep half guard. I drilled with one of the guys who missed all the deep half sessions so far, so I helped him with things. And unlike last week, my rollover to a single leg worked fine this time. So I was happy with that. I guess I just needed to get some more reps in.

We rolled for a fair while. Interestingly, I got people's backs a couple of times, at least the seat belt grip. I experimented with the stuff I learned on the Ryan Hall Back Attacks dvds, trying to pin myself to their back. Through I can't say it was great, I definitely felt like I had more control, and both guys had to work very hard to escape, even though I wasn't positioned very well and didn't have hooks in. Goody. That aside, one of the guys was hunting for leg locks and caught me several times. This needs work! Much better were several of my escapes out of his armbar attempts. And I got high closed guard on him, controlled his far arm and got very close to taking his back or doing a figure four. He commented later that he had great trouble and he thinks I'm very strong.

That was meant as a compliment, however, I don't really want to hear that I'm using strength. On the other hand, if I can manage to continue to improve my technique, then decent arm strength will be an attribute I can throw into the mix when skills are more even.

On Wednesday, we worked on attacking the turtle. Transitions from head to head to the side, clock choke and crucifix. It was a very intensive session. I finally figured the correct way for that transition. I had been circling out and around in an attempt to get to the side and drive my knee between his elbow and thigh. Turned out I need to drive the knee straight forward against his thigh, then angle off. That angling off and driving the knee in gives the necessary penetration. The pushing and twisting motion does the trick. Also, by going straight, I'm not telegraphing the move and take less time. So he has too little time to block me with the arm on that side. Big light bulb went on!! That aside, it felt a lot neater, tighter and faster. And on the way through, my hip lands on the back of his head, keeping him busy...

The clock choke I had learned before, but I was very glad to review it. A few more little things dropped into place in my head. And my first choke attempt resulted in a very fast and strong tap, and someone with red eyes (momentarily, thank goodness). Main thing to remember there is to slide down before switching the hips out. I certainly didn't need to walk very far around the clock to get the tap..

Finally, we looked at the crucifix. How to set up the trapped arm and switch it so that his hand points to his feet (because once rolled over, it gives me far better control over his upper body). It took me a bit of brain pain to work out how to move the legs to get that switch, but once I sorted my brain and my limbs, it was obvious and easy. We looked at two possibilities for chokes from the crucifix position and drilled both.

As I said, it was an intense session. So many aha moments, and not a new technique learned :-)

Wednesday night, it fell to me to take class. My instructions were to get the white belt guys to drill their respective syllabus stuff and roll the rest of the time.

I felt it was the perfect opportunity for an experiment. I had read Christian Graugart's blog post about slow rolling, and the drills he uses to teach people how to do it. So when we started class, I told the guys that I was going to use them for an experiment.

We did a very light warm up with just joint rotations, then I explained the chess drill and we all had a go, swapping partners a couple of times. Everyone was a bit tentative at first, but soon got the idea. Participants varied from experienced blue belts through to relatively new white belts. It wasn't long before everyone was experimenting...

We put in 20 minutes or so of drilling the basics as instructed, then went back to the slow rolling drills. The monkey drill was next. I was so busy experimenting with this crazy stuff that I didn't spend much time watching the others, but I did hear some laughing. We ended up with another round of the chess drill.

All in all it seemed well received and I think I've given them something to think about and to play with. They seemed interested to follow it up another time also. So I'm having great hopes that this will be a useful tool to get our group to understand and employ slow rolling.

Here is Christian's excellent instructional video on slow rolling:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

a determined sack of potatoes

I've had a week of ups and downs. Some days I felt I did great, other days, I felt like I'm the world's greatest klutz.

My open mat was fantastic. I moved well, I rolled methodical, controlled and had fun. I hit sweeps, a couple of subs and had some great aha! moments when we tried out stuff on one another. I actually went home that evening, thinking how great it is that some distant and hitherto unrelated techniques and positions suddenly all start to knit together. I even felt like I'm onto something resembling a deadly game plan which will make me a force to be reckoned with in the next comp. I didn't go as far as thinking I'm fantastic, but I really felt great about my wrestling.

Comes Saturday... Working on deep half entries and sweeps. Stuff that worked for me earlier in the week is suddenly not working any more. And new stuff had a hard time fitering into my head. I thought I got it, but when I tried to drill it, I was just a bundle of awkwardness. A klutz.

In horserideing, someone who sits on a horse looking shitty and awkward, we say that he/she sits like a sack of potatoes. Think bulging, lumpy sack with no balance. Ugly and ungraceful.

Well, I felt like a sack of potatoes on the mat.

And then I wrestled. I was destroyed by my fellow blue belt. I'm sure a sack of potoatoes would have put up a better show than what I did!! It was horrible. I was truly disgusted with myself. There were no sweeps (except the several he did to me!), there weren't even any decent escapes. There was only awkwardness and missed opportunities. He went a little harder than what I expected. But hey, THAT should not be an issue. And it sure isn't an excuse for me.

I certainly wasn't happy with myself. But at least I didn't get all pissy with myself about it, I managed to shrug it off.

As we sat in the line up after finishing, Sensei said a few things. He said he was happy with the wrestling he'd seen from everyone. He also said a few things about his expectations of people. He reminded the white belts that it's a journey. That to get their fourth stripe, they need to be able to demonstrate correct techniques, but they also have to show 20 different techniques while wrestling. Not necessarily succeed, but make a valid try which shows they know when and how to use it. Then he went on to say that to get a coloured belt, we are expected to show not only correct techniques, and the ability to apply them, but also a certain mindset and the ability to persevere. Finally, he added that he compares his BJJ blue belts with his Karate black belts. Not so much in terms of technical knowledge (the Karate students to have to know a lot more stuff), but certainly in terms of dedication and determination.

That blew me away.

Friday, February 11, 2011

four days... six classes

Ok, ok. I've already admitted to being an addict. What else can I say??

In Monday night's class we worked on half guard and lockdown escapes.

Tuesday evening I went to Geelong. I took two of our three stripe guys with me who wanted to try the intermediate class. And another one of ours met us down there.

First up was the advanced class. John showed us some variations of a sweep from hooks in (in USA known as butterfly guard). We drilled first the movement pattern, then worked on positioning and locking ourselves to our opponent using the hook, the knee and the grip on the belt on his back. Finally, we looked at several possibilities for blocking his free arm from posting. There was the overhook, underhook with grip on the sleeve near the tricep. Another possibility is to grab the sleeve, push down hard and scoot our butt next to it. Finally, if we can't get the arm, we can push the neck away with the forearm, reach over his back to grab cloth and sweep him over his head.

The intermediate class was about side control escape to knees, controlling the top, changing position and finally attacking with a rolling lapel half nelson choke.

Of course, there was much wrestling during the classes. I was caught in a knee bar once, in some chokes, too. Tried hard to get the hooks in sweep we did in class, but just couldn't set it up/get to the starting position. But I did manage some other sweeps, caught a front choke, and an armbar on the hugest guy in the intermediate class. This guy is huge :-) 

I found though that I was going too hard, too fast. One guy actually remarked on that. Shame on me, I should know better. And because I'm not taking the time, I'm rushing instead of thinking and my wrestling is worse. That aside, I suspect I'm muscling stuff. Not good. I was hoping that by doing so many sessions and being tired as a result, I would stop doing it, but it's not yet working.

Wednesday, back on the mat at the home dojo by lunchtime, I was fatigued. And still going hard. I must have too much bloody energy. Didn't help with much with one of the tall, strong white belts. Made a mistake and he got my back. Guys with super long legs are hard to get off my back!! So I tapped to a back choke. Second round went much more my way, but it was time out before I could do something nasty to him. Another guy I caught in an armbar after totally frustrating him with high closed guard. Yet another, newer guy, I shamelessly dominated and submitted several times. That led to some funny remarks from our sensei about my aggressiveness. Hrrmpf. It's one thing being called troublesome, but I feel that warning guys that I'm mean, that just isn't fair ;-)

Aside from a lot of wrestling, we did some deep half guard entries and a rolling sweep to a single leg. After that class, I felt totally wasted. And I noticed that if I get tired, I don't slow down (much), but I do revert to "safe" stuff, which in my case is closed guard and my favourite attacks from there.

Wednesday night's class was taken by one of the blue belts and we drilled four complimentary attacks from north/south: the N/S choke, anaconda choke, d'Arce choke and figure four/kimura. I was kind of glad there was no wrestling, as I was just about dead on my feet :-)

Thursday was about escapes from switch base side control and headlock control. Both involved getting my near hip close, bridge up, get under his hip and roll him over. We also did a little drill where we used that escape from headlock control, but just as we bridge our partner onto his head, he lightens his feet and jumps over to get headlock control on the other side.

Oh, and we wrestled some more. To my shame I have to admit I was rushing again. This led to being taken apart by one of the purple belts. Just wasn't thinking straight, to the point of launching a half-assed attack on his neck while he's busy passing to side control. Where I should have just concentrated on escaping side control, even before he arrived there. Doh. Only good thing I can say about those rolls is that I was very successful in defending back attacks. However, it would have been better if I hadn't given up my back in the first place...

What was nice is that I avoided several triangle attempts from our resident master of triangles. I managed to pass his horrible guard without getting triangled or swept. However, then I proceeded to waste my time trying to peel one of his arms out from side control when I should have just done something else. I get so stuck on one thing, I fail to see other possibilities. Result: he escaped. I can be such a meat-head...

We finished off by doing some drills to maintain back control. I find I'm a lot more successful in maintaining a good seat belt grip nowadays, and that makes things so much easier.

I guess I'll have plenty of stuff to work in in open mat tonight :-) And top of the list: slow down and use technique!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

where are all the grappling women?

I was hoping to compete in a small grappling comp last weekend. I recently joined the Victorian Wrestling Association because they run several grappling tourneys per year in the Melbourne area. There was a comp on Sunday and I put my name down for it. Sadly, no other women entered. :-(

I'm hoping there will be some female competitors at future events. On April 10, they are running the Australia Cup, which will include grappling and pankration matches. This will be run under FILA rules. More details are on the AusPankration Website.

Ok, girls, pull your fingers out and enter!!!

I've been in touch with Jack from VWA. He suggested something else of interest. On March 5, there will be refereeing clinics in Melbourne for grappling and combat grappling. His argument is that a female referee may have a positive effect in drawing more women into the sport. Well, the question is whethere I have the necessary experience to be useful as a potential ref. But it certainly sounds interesting.

That aside, there is a More Grappling Round Robin Grappling tourney coming up at Dominance MMA in Melbourne, also on the 5th March.

The Victorian BJJ Championships are scheduled for March 18-20. Also in Melbourne. That will be gi and no gi.

And looking further down the track, the date has already been set for The Gathering, which are the Will Machado Championships:

P.S.: the lack of female competitors does of course raise the question whether mixed matches should be allowed. This is just being discussed over at Georgette's blog. I personally don't have an issue with it. In fact, the no gi More Grappling RR in 2010 which I competed in was mixed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

great escapes

We spent two days last week on side control escapes. It was mostly about escaping from short base side control when your opponent has a nice tight gable grip under your far shoulder, and your far arm is exposed.

In all cases, the first job was to get the near elbow back. If they have good, tight control, they will have it blocked between the back of their elbow and their hip. Essentially, what it takes is a little hip escape towards their hip, with the aim of pivoting my body around my bellybutton. This will move my head and right shoulder away from their near hip a fraction. If, at the same time, I suck in my elbow, I'm nearly always able to get it back in so that I can put my forearm against their near hip. That in itself was a bit aha! moment for me, because I always have struggled with getting my elbow back in.

One of the escapes involved bridging and getting the head free so I can pivot around their far arm and end up head to head. The other one was if I can't get the head free. In that case, I trap a leg. I need to get the arm that was wedged against their hip between their legs. Then I grab the pant leg of the far leg until I can hook my far leg over it and effectively go to half guard. The rest is a hip escape or two under them, grab the near pant leg and sweep. That seemed so very hard at first, until I realised that the more they try to hug you tight to hang on, the easier it is!

Later on, I learned another version which works if they are so tight I can't get the bridge to make any space for my head or arm to move. I wriggle up until I can get my butt between their legs. So instead of having their one knee against my shoulder and the lower one against my hip, the lower one is now more near my upper thigh. From that position, I can fish for his lower leg with my closest leg. As soon as I can, I get my heel over his leg. I use that control to also get my other leg over his. Next step needs a bit of wriggling until I can step my nearer leg between my far one and his trapped one so that the toes are under his leg. This hook now pushes up to control while I insert my far foot also below his thigh. So now I have two hooks under his leg. I can lift with both and get him into my hooks in (aka butterfly) guard. That sounds dreadfully complicated, and I was very confused when I first saw it. But it made perfect sense once I tried. It's just a case of getting the opponent low enough that I can systematically step my feet across until I have two hooks under his leg.

So most of the first part of the week was mount escapes and side control escapes. Drills and positional rolling. I know I always say it sucks (especially when it's hot - and it was!). But escapes are SO important, and there were several new concepts for me to absorb.

I took one class during the week. I made everyone work on their syllabus stuff and helped where needed. Aside from that, we rolled a fair bit. It was good to see one of the blue belts back on the mat who had been away for several months. He beat my arse, but so what :-)

I used open mat to go over some of the side control escapes again with Ben. Also, I showed him the kimura control from the back which I'd seen on Ryan Hall's DVD (more about that in another post when I've seen the whole set). I wanted to have a feel of how effective this is, and we were both surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Saturday class had a new theme: knee ride. We did a couple of drills to work on transitions to knee ride from side control. It also gave me a chance to get in reps of the near armbar from knee ride. Another thing which I could never do properly in the past. For some weird reason (and somewhat unexpectedly), on Saturday my armbars were neat and tight. Not only that, I was able to help my partner a lot with it as well.

Knee ride is a position I never used, because I didn't feel I had enough balance or control. But I'm working my way in from the edges. Every time we do knee ride stuff in class, it feels better. So I welcome every opportunity to learn more about it. One of the drills we did really fits in with my game. We went from knee ride to a slide across with the knee, then knee to the far armpit for high mount while taking the near arm across. We block that arm with our chest and have a lovely high mount with possibilities for armwrap to choke, armwrap to armbar or just plain armbar or head/arm choke.

Rolling-wise it was a mixed week. On the one hand, I had a lot of success in stringing together high guard to sweeps to mount to armbar attempts, or high guard to armbar attempts or take the back and get chokes. But in open mat I was choked three times in a row. Two front chokes and a rear choke. Seems like I need to sharpen my choke defense.... What else? My nemesis walked all over me in open mat as well, yet, another day we rolled for a long time. No, I couldn't submit him, but I made several attempts which threatened him, and I succcessfully used open guard to keep him at bay. Also, my escapes worked a treat, which I needed because he swept me several times. We called it a draw after quite some time. For me, that's a big win. That was in many ways more satisfying than the way I manhandled a couple of the lighter guys during the week.

It is funny how at the moment, I don't have a gameplan like I seemed to have until recently. In a way, so many other avenues are opening up. I never needed to worry what to do from mount, because I never got there, or couldn't hold it for more than two seconds. All I had were attacks from closed guard and the rear choke if I managed to do an armdrag to get to the back. Suddenly, I'm finding myself in top positions. And strangely, I usually can think of a thing or two to do from there :-) So I feel like I'm spoilt for choice.

Time to go and sit down with my written game plans again. With a comp coming up in two months, I better get my head around some sort of game plan!

But I do want to work on back control more, and that's the reason I bought the Ryan Hall Back Attacks set. Already, I'm using bits and pieces here and there. Anyway, I'll write about that another time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

boxing gloves and mouth guards

It was hot in class last night. It had been stinking hot all day until the clouds came over. Then the temperature dropped from about 40 degrees C to just over thirty. But the sprinkle of rain sent the humidity through the roof, so it wasn't exactly a relief. I assume that training in Rio would feel similar :-) It was horrible in the dojo, and wile we took of the gi tops straight away, it was a sweat-fest. The joys of summer...

I was paired with my nemesis (hope he never reads this blog ;-) ). My job was to help him with his third and fourth stripe syllabus stuff. Armbars, armlocks and headlock escapes. As always, I found it harder to explain than to do it myself. However, thinking about it to help me explain a technique probably makes me understand it better in the long run. But I did manage to help him with several things and he got a lot of reps in.

That took up most of the class, everyobody working in pairs and groups on stuff they needed. Towards the end, we were sent to get the boxing gloves and mouthguards and do a bit more striking mixed in during rolling.

After going through the guys smaller than me like a dose of salts last week, and feeling (only very mildly) guilty about it, I sort of half expected the system to take revenge on me by sending me someone bigger. And as I pulled into the parking lot I had a fleeting thought of how horrible it would be to be under the nemesis while he's trying to hit me, too. I dropped that thought in horror.

So of course I ended up trading blows with him. Can the instructor read my mind? I think he can, sometimes...

In the end it wasn't so bad. I managed to hit him a few times, and locked him up in my guard. Funny how the threat of being hit curtails some techniques. For the first time in ages, I managed to threaten him with an armbar from guard. Didn't get it, but had him worried. Had more luck keeping him off with open guard, and managed to stand up and back away once. So all in all, more success than I expected. But a far cry from beating up the smaller guys. Ha.

Interestingly, I'm not bothered by the mouthguard. I used to wear one when I did stand up sparring during Karate and PFS classes, but haven't worn one in BJJ, not even in comps. Don't know, always figured it would annoy the hell out of me while rolling. But having worn it on and off for the last week, and grappled fairly hard while wearing it, I've come to the conclusion it's no big deal. So maybe I should make a habit of wearing it at least some of the time so that I'm ok with it in comps. Wouldn't be a bad idea, I suppose.