Thursday, November 12, 2009

ripping arms off...

Summer has arrived. I think we must have skipped the spring again, as it seems like we only had cold weather so far. Yesterdays' lunchtime class was rather a bit on the hot side. The Monday evening classes hat been quite warm, too, but yesterday's BJJ class really made the sweat run...

I have not been happy with my armbars from mount. Never quite got the hang of those, and therefore never used them while rolling. I know I used to leave too much space, do it too slow. Just felt terrible. And then yesterday, Sensei observed one of my crappy armbars from mount. That was it, armbar practice coming your way, girl. Oh-oh....

Part of me cringed, like I do when I need to do something I'm not good at and know it. The other part said GOODY! Here is my chance to say goodbye to crappy armbars and hallo to decent ones. In any case, I knew I was in for some work.

There were only four of us in the class, a big blue belt, a huge 4-stripe white belt, and a the guy who is often my training partner and fellow 3-striper. Sensei announced that I would be doing armbars on everyone, 20 on each of the guys and they had to say if I did it wrong. With plenty of feedback from Sensei and the respective armbar victim, I found the problems and addressed them.

By the time I had done 60+ armbars I felt hot and tired but things were definitely improving. Interestingly, I've always preferred to do them on someone's right arm. But because I'd been doing them wrong, now it was actually easier to get them right on the other side. My brain wasn't clogged up with incorrect movement patterns I suppose. So I managed several really tight armbars to the left arm of my victims, whereas the other side still needs polishing.

Where I was going wrong was not enough weight on the hands as I stepped over. I didn't lean on my hands enough, and it caused me to take a little step near his head before stepping over, which slowed it down and pushed my body up. The other issue was that I was unaware of the extra step and then it took some work to get out of the habit. Sensei pointed out the truth in the saying "practice doesn't make perfect - perfect practice make perfect!". Having practiced crappy armbars, now I have to first unlearn the crap before I can learn good ones. Sigh.

Anyway, the other thing which caused me problems was a bit of a fear of kicking my partner in the head during the step over. So I was hesitant, which made it slow and awkward. I got into severe trouble over "hesitant" and "careful" ;-). Oh well, I guess I've been accidentally kicked in the head several times myself and lived. It's not that we want to kick each other, but sometimes trying to be "nice" actually ruins good techniques. Ironically, if I do it smooth and fast, there is a lot less chance of kicking my partner. Right!

And finally, my grips weren't good. Once I concentrated on the correct grip near his elbow with both hands, that automatically pulled his arm in tighter for better control. That, combined with aiming to sit on his shoulder before sitting back finally gave me the nice tight control I'd been lacking. Even on the big barrel chested guys this works. All it needed then was to close the knees, pull the heels in and we had armbars that worked.

Success! Now I can successfully rip arms off from mount :-)

The rest of the class was free rolling. Despite the heat, this was pretty enjoyable. I had the bluebelt guy who didn't use all of his weight and he gave me little openings so I work not only on escapes, but on positional changes. I had his back several times but couldn't work any choke because he protected himself well. Sensei walked past and showed me an alternative rear naked choke where you use the knuckle of your thumb to work the hand in. Once the hard base of the thumb is against his windpipe, a little turn of hand will bring it into play. That was interesting, but the best part of the rolling was the opportunity to flow from one position to the next, to recognise openings and submission possibilities. At one point I tried a crucifix, but he grabbed my leg and I ended up in strife. On another occasion, I nearly succeeded in a modified crucifix without looking for it, and he reckoned that might have potential. But to be fair, I was swept, rolled, reversed and controlled a fair bit of the time, and if it hadn't been for the little openings, I would have been mat pizza in due course :-))) All in all, the sort of roll where you walk away happy and with a headful of stuff for next time. Thanks, mate!

An excellent class and well worth the large puddles of sweat I left everywhere!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm back!

My arm is better and I couldn't stand staying home another day :-))

We had a relatively easy class. A a senior guy took us two 3-stripers through the 4-stripe syllabus stuff. 3 armlock escapes as well as an escape from side control, escape from mount, escape from knee ride, pass half guard to mount and standing guard pass.

The escape from knee ride we had worked on some months ago, and I can remember that I couldn't get it together at the time. This time, however, it seemed obvious and drilling it gave me no issues whatever. Same for my partner, who commented that we must have learned something in the meantime :-).

I had been reading up on alternative knee ride escapes as I had been convince that this one wouldn't work for me. It's the one where you grab the guy's pant leg near his upright knee with your near hand (supported with the far one if necessary), then push his knee off you belly with your left while you hip escape away and turn into him. You grab his right foot with your left hand and pull it to the inside or outside (depending on where it is) while bracing up on your right arm to get to your knees. Holding on to the foot, you push into him to make him tip over backwards, a bit like a modified single leg from the knees. Anyway, after going through it all again, it works, and I'm pretty pleased about that.

The standing guard pass isn't my thing. I sometimes have a dodgy lower back, and while I can stand up, there is no way I can lift the guy up onto my knees. Just won't happen. Yes, I've started doing squats and I hope to get there some day, but for now I went through the motions with my partner's back on the floor. I found if I jolt around enough, he still opens his guard ;-)

The headlock escapes are reasonably technical, but I think I can work them out. I'm not sure how I would fare in a roll with one of the two really big guys, but the sweep version, while painful with a big guy (ahh, my ribs!!) should work if I get my technique right. And I think I understand the critical parts of it now. The other two escapes will be a challenge against a big guy with big strong arms, when they are clamped around my neck with their weight on my chest. Yes, I know good technique helps, but if they drive their considerable weight onto me, I find all escapes hard going.

Even the vanilla mount escape (elbow to knee, hip escape, go to half guard, hip escape the other way, go to guard) is tough against a big guy, unless I turn into him and get my side to the mat before he establishes his position. Even when he's not attacking me, it's hard. But then I'm talking a guy about twice my size. I think positive here, if I can escape his mount, I can escape anyones!

We had a bit of rolling afterwards. As my partner's neck was a bit sore and my shoulder in recuperation mode, we agreed to go easy. Still ended up in crazy positions. Managed a collar choke from the back. Then had to tap out, just because my left arm screamed, and that was without an actual submission attempt. But other than that, the arm behaved very well and I was pleased. I made some stupid mistake not retrieving my arm from around his neck when I had lost control over him, and it hadn't been time out, that would have been another submission, and well deserved. So good to roll with a considerate partner and we both had several laughs and learned something.

Had an enjoyable class and I'm so happy to be back :-))