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.