Sunday, July 17, 2011

yikes, I'm getting behind...

I just realised that my last (real) post was back in the middle of June. Time is just running away on me...

I finished all my work and all my exams for uni. Got my results and I'm quite happy :-) Since then, I've had a house full of visitors and I'm still working, so I haven't really had holidays. I've just had time off from uni, haha. And I'm due to go back on August 1. But I'm not complaining, I'm having a lot of fun.

The only thing which I'm not happy about is the dreadful weather. It's cold, wet, windy and generally miserable and grey. Not many opportunities to go and ride horses or enjoy any other outdoors activities. And cold toes at the beginning of every BJJ class. That does tend to pass though ;-)

Due to a wedding today, I didn't get a chance to go to the small comp in Melbourne yesterday. But there are two big ones coming up in September. There is The Gathering on September 10 and the Pan Pacs the weekend after.

I've been working on a few things lately, and I think I finally have some kind of game plan I can call my own. So it will be very interesting to see how that will affect my grappling at the comps. So far, I just went with the flow in the comps I've been to.

Strangely, back control is crystallizing out as one of my got-to positions, and I'm having more and more luck with not only getting there, but actually holding it. And I get submissions, too. In addition, I have learned to transition to other positions, like closed guard or technical mount, if I feel I'm losing back control, and from eithe of those, I can get the back again. That is making an enormous amount of difference.

I continue to fall into the trap of thinking I'm hopeless (will never be a grappler's armpit, blah blah..), and then I surprise myself with getting submissions from unexpected places. Or hearing from people that they will give up positions, just so they don't end up in my guard (or with me on their back), because it's a horribly dangerous place to be. Then I go: Oh! Maybe I AM doing something right. Aw, BJJ is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one :-)

I've booked in for the girls grappling day in late August. It will be very interesting to roll with a bunch of women. As I only have guys in my school, I absolutely have no idea how I stack up against female blue belts. I have rolled with a couple of female blues at John Will's school late last year, and did well. But of course, friendly rolls are a different ballgame to comps. So it will be very constructive for me to actually roll with women in the lead up to the two comps in September.

I had a good learning experience the other day. For the first time in a little while, I ended up rolling with a very new white belt, considerably bigger and stronger than myself. For the first time since starting BJJ, I didn't spend the whole roll worrying about his strength and being defensive. That in itself is a huge leap forward. He wasn't spazzing too much, but he just poured out a huge amount of force. Tried to choke me from within my guard, etc etc. This time, instead of pretty much panicking, I started attacking him. Sometime in the process, I ended up in mount on him and started on my latest favourite technique (cross lapel choke from mount). Got rolled in the end, but had the grips in deep and choked him from within my guard. I can't say how much of a difference that made, knowing that this is possible. I have spent so much time just whining about the size/strength of the guys, defending and staying in under and eventually getting squashed or muscled into submission by some sloppy technique. The watershed in this piece of mental progress was letting go and moving. For example, insteading of hanging on to a close guard which was about to get stacked or passed, I can now open, put feet on hips and push to get distance or transition or attack. I guess it's all part of the overall learning curve. Took me long enough!!

Due to our instructor being away, I've been teaching a couple of classes most weeks. That is a good learning experience, too. It's hard to troubleshoot problems for people with vastly different body shapes. It's also hard to teach new white belt guys how to rolls light :-)) But it's happening!


  1. Cool - I'd be interested in hearing more about how and what you teach. Always fun to compare notes. :D

  2. Hi Slidey :-)

    Usually I just get roped in to teach the odd class here or there, and I often just pick a technique or two which works in with positions we are currently working on in class.

    This time is different, as I knew I would be taking two classes per week for a whole month. I was asked to go over our fourth stripe syllabus and work on anything I deemed to fit in with that. Syllabus techniques include standing guard pass, three headlock escapes, knee ride escape, knee-elbow mount escape and a half guard pass. So that's left me with a fair amount of stuff to work on.

    But in essence, when I teach a class, I do a brief warm up (or get one of the guys to take it). Then I'll generally have them flow/slow roll for some ten minutes or so. And I go around reminding people that this IS slow rolling. It's my declared mission to get everyone to a point where they can roll at 20%. I take care to separate the muscle men ;-) Often, I get in on the act, and demonstrate, because they sometimes need to feel what I mean!!

    Then we might work on technique for a bit. I show normal speed, then go through in steps with explanations a couple of times and then have them drill it. I go around and check how people are getting on with it and help where necessary.

    After one or two techniques (usually related), we do some more slow rolling, where I encourage them to go for the technique just learned, but avoid submissions otherwise (or let them go).

    At the end, we do a few minutes of rolling to submissions, but still encourage them to roll with technique, feeling and to have fun. I encourage everyone to ask questions, and to experiment with the new techniques.

    The lesson will also depend on who turns up. If I had planned something but only get two total beginners, then I'll change my plan and do basics. If on the other hand, I get three coloured belts to turn up and nobody else, I just declare it open mat :-)

    I still have so much to learn, and I'm always concerned that I teach people the correct things. Which is why I stick to teaching things which I'm quite familiar with.

  3. Thanks: interesting stuff. I do something comparable, in that I get people to do the techniques we've just learned with progressive resistance before we move into the specific sparring.

    I can also sometimes find it difficult to get people to realise what level of intensity they should be striving for: relaxed enough to work the technique and iron out problems, but resisting enough to actually expose those problems in the first place.

    Like you, I try constantly reminding people "let your partner work," "don't just give them the technique," "remember you're only trying to isolate their mistakes" etc, but I'm not sure that always gets the results I want to see.

    Ideally I'd have a chance to do a lesson on just slow rolling and progressive resistance, to really drill it home. Although that would of course need everybody to show up: the make-up of the class normally shifts each week slightly. Though I guess if you can build up a core of people who know the ropes, that should do it. :)

    I can sympathise with the open mat thing, as sparring is a great way to level things out. Even if I'm not sure I've explained everything I wanted to during technique or I don't feel they've quite got as much out of the progressive resistance as I'd hoped, at least I know they will get a good twenty to thirty minutes of working that specific position at the end of class.