Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fuji Kassen gi and gis in general..

After much back and forth and roaming the net, I decided on a Fuji Kassen. Here in Australia, we don't have such a huge choice available. We can, of course, order from USA or Europe, but the cost of postage for a gi is approximately USD40, and that adds significantly to the total cost. It also depends on the exchange rate, and can turn into an expensive way of buying a gi.

What I have in the way of gis:
- size 5 judo gi (Jols) which was my first when I didn't know better. It is way too big and marked for ebay.
- A2 Padilla & Sons Gold weave gi. Sadly, too small after shrinkage and marked for ebay.
- A3 Atama (single??), bought 2nd hand on Oz ebay. Feels like armour, terribly stiff as I air dry my gis, but good fit. However, I hate the seam on the back. My comp gi to date, but is starting to show some worn patches on the collar. Otherwise, holding up well and getting used 2-3 times/week
- A3 Fuji single weave gi. Bought new in OZ. Not quite as nice a fit as the Atama, but next nicest. No seam on the back. Holding up really well getting used 2-3 times/week
- A3 Gameness single weave gi. Bought second hadn on Oz ebay. Hate it because it doesn't fit me well and the material is very thin. That together with the stiff as a board collar is a recipe for making it fall off while I wrestle, although the fit is good. Don't like the pants at all. Marked for disposal on ebay
-A2 Shoyoroll gi. Batch 6, blue. Am not yet allowed to wear it (have to wait until blue belt :-( ). Wanted a white one, but my size was sold out too fast, so bought this on spec. Much longer in the sleeves than some of the others, had to wash it on 60deg.C to get them to shrink so I can wear it. The pants fit nice and I wear them sometimes (I figure if we are allowed black pans with a white gi top, I can wear blue ones). So I haven't battle tested this Gi yet.

As I have three gis which are all but useless to me and one I can't wear yet, I decided to get another so I have three in a rotation. As I train 5 or 6 times per week (twice on Wednesdays), I really need the three.

I was lusting after several nice looking gis, but with overseas postage, conversion rates and the longer wait I decided against it at this point in time.

So I ordered and received the A3 Fuji Kassen. It's available in OZ, so the postage cost is ok. And the white gi with the moderate patches looks pretty good. I love black and red, so the patches appeal to me and they are not over the top. The A3 Kassen is pretty much the same size as the A3 single weave Fuji, except that the sleeves are still a bit longer. It's had a wash at 30 and a wash at 40 deg.C. So they may shrink a touch more yet, which is fine. The pants did shrink a bit, too, but are fine. I've replaced the cloth ties on the pants with cotton string as I can't stand cloth ties. It needs a musclebound contortionist to do them up.

The pants have reinforcement all the way down and feel very robust, a bit like armour. One minor bitch I have is that the stitching at the edge at the top (where the string passes through) has let go on one side. So I need to fix that with the sewing machine. But I consider that minor. The fit is good for me.

The jacket feels nice, and the collar is just right. I've only had one roll in it, and that was after the first nearly cold wash, so the jacket was still a bit big then. It looks as though it has shrunk just a tad more so I think it will fit well now. The weave is supposed to be some kind of pearl weave. Looks and feels good, and I do like it better than the single weave.

All in all, this gi seems pretty nice. I will take some photos and measurements shortly and post them.

back control techniques and other stuff

The Monday night class started with the pre grading speech. There will be a grading on Saturday, and there are half a dozen white belt guys going for their first stripe, and a couple for their second and third. And one of the blue belts is to be put through his paces with a view to purple. That should be fun to watch and participate in :-). It will be the first grading for me where I don't have to perform, I'm nowhere near a coloured belt yet, and already have four stripes, so I'm not up for testing and I can just enjoy. I can help put the rest of them through their paces!

So there was much going over basic drills for the four white belt guys, and the rest of us did the same, but mixed it up with a bit of rolling, starting at the drop of a hat from whatever position we happened to be in. That's always good fun.

For a change, there was another woman in class. She's a karate black belt and has four stripes on her white belt in BJJ, but hasn't trained for about a year or so. We were partnered up. I helped her chips some of the rust off, and we had a good time. I shamelessly worked my top game, too :-)

At some stage we did a few reps of armbar from mount. Then we spend some time on back control. What makes a good seat belt grip, and why correct hand positioning is so crucial for getting chokes. We were shown several ways of changing grips when the opponent tries to peel your hand off. Finally, we did a drill on maintaining back control. If my partner rolls to one side to get his back to the floor or to roll over away from me, generally I lose my bottom hook. Instead of fighting for it and risk losing my chest attachment to his back, I push off that bottom leg, to drive the top knee forward. Then I use the back of the knee like a hook to pull him back on top of me wich allows me to get the second hook in. It looked complicated, but feels good. As I have always had a lot of problems maintaining back control, I think this may help a lot.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Z-guard sweep, armlock and armdrags

Saturday lunchtime class only consisted of a bluebelt, myself and three of the very new guys.

The threesome were taken to one side to work on guard passing and some basic attacks from guard.

We were introduced to Z-guard. I'd only seen in in pictures and seeing I'm busy with plenty of other guard types which I have yet to master, I had never given it much of a second look. So we worked on the basic position and what it's control points are. It is really a subset of halfguard, and a pretty open version. The leg that's across the belly is in certain danger of leg attacks, so that's something to be mindful of.

We started learning a sweep. Say my partner is kneeling in front of me. I have Z-guard on him with my right hip on the floor, my right leg hooked behind his right knee and my left shin across his belly with me left foot on his right hip. I need to grab his left sleeve with my left hand so he can't post. I reach for his left pant leg with my right hand, so I can stop him from bracing out. Using my left hook against his right hip pushing to his left (the way I'm facing) and my right leg to pull his right leg to his right, I unbalance him to his left. This felt a bit awkward at first, and it took a few reps to get the hang of it.

Next we learned that if he braces with his left hand, we can attack with a figure four armlock. To start that, I need to grab his left wrist with my right hand to secure it. I need to shoot my left leg through (straighten it), so my knee is no longer between him and myself. At the same time, I sit up into him, to attach my left shoulder to his left shoulder and reach over with my left arm. This allows me then to fall back and as I do that, I grab my right wrist with my left for a figure four.

Then we were shown two variations of an arm drag to get to the back. One was a basic arm drag. I grab his right sleeve with my left, cup under his bicep with my right, pull and attach myself to his right shoulder and go for a seatbelt grip. The second variation is for where he has a grip with his right arm or he is leaning into me hard. I grab his right sleeve with me left hand, push him up with my right and insert my knee into the crook of his right elbow. Holding onto his sleeve, I can use my knee to push his arm away from his body. This creates a gap under his armpit. Into this gap, I push my right hand. I pull up with my right while using my shin and my left arm to elevate his right arm. Then I straighten my legs and duck under his arm to get his back. That sounds complicated, but is actually quite easy to do.

The rest of the class, we took turns from Z-guard, trying for the sweep, the armlock or one of the armdrags.

I've found myself in Z-guard a few times by accident, usually when someone was starting to pass and I gut my shin across. While I don't think I'm ready to successfully implement a Z-guard game, it gives me a few options if I'm in that position. If nothing else, I can threaten my opponent, so he will have less chance to pass my guard, and it might open something up. But I'll give it a crack, as I think the armdrag might work on some of the bigger folks, and the open guard is something I want to spend more time with anyway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

lots and lots of rolling

After two days on the road and an exam in the morning, I was ready for a good roll on Thursday.

It was open mat, and there weren't very many people there. I had the chance to learn a new sweep I hadn't seen, one of the blue belts was practicing it and he needed a body. Of course he showed it to me and we both had a few reps, adding increasingly more resistance. I think they called it a pendulum sweep.

I really wish I could remember more details of individual rolls, but it all seems to become a blur soon after, especially if we have several rounds in a row. And we rolled for the best part of an hour and a half.

I still don't have an answer for one of the solid white belts. He crushes me. He grabs on tight, whichever body part he can get hold of (but he likes arms), and then it's usually curtain time for me. Hey, I might get his back, but he still hauls me in. Any time I attack him this happens. He has the shoulder from hell and really good crushing pressure when on top. He is one of the few people who I don't like in my guard because he bears down and drives his shoulder into me with a smashing pass. So I have made it my goal to keep distance, stay out from under him and break his grips. I succeeded partially, but still got smashed mostly. At one time, my gi collar slipped down onto my right shoulderblade, where a fold dug into my back while he was crushing me from the top. Ouch :-) . This guy frustrates me endlessly, but it is forcing me to think of alternatives.

I had several good rolls with more senior guys. As always, they leave me some little holes and if I find them, I can work on my top game. I'm more mindful of using my hips now when I'm on the bottom, and as a result, I get out of side control more often. I've progressed from just defending to escaping. At one point, I went for an armbar from sidemount, and I managed a textbook grip break, the way John Campbell taught us at the seminar. And it worked :-)

Other than that, I'm much more weary of underhooks. The only way one of the blue belts managed to get my elbows exposed enough was to go for chokes. Sure, I defended all the chokes, but at some point, he got under my elbow and that was a one way street to an armbar.

So that was Thursday. I had a fantastic workout and felt I'd wrestled reasonably well.

Friday night, our instructor decided that we should just wrestle, and everyone thought that was pretty cool. We did five minute rounds, then had a minute off and changed partners.

Sadly, I allowed a horse-related matter to really upset me, and I couldn't get it out of my head all afternoon. I was still grizzling about it on the way to training in the evening. Not sure why, it wasn't such a big deal. Maybe I was more stressed than what I thougth with exams, watching an old friend having to disperse his horses and worrying about my own lot back home. Usually, I can compartmentalise and put negative stuff to one side. Martial Arts training really has helped me focus and be more mentally disciplined. But Friday, I was angry about some things and I couldn't shake it. And we all know we shouldn't bring baggage to training!

I had my favourite training partner for the first round. Being a little bit absent mentally, I walked straight into his usual trap, was swept like a newbie and generally felt like a klutz. Lik.. three time in a row. I felt my anger coming up. Not at him, at myself. I was allowing my baggage to ruin my training and I was getting angry. Then, my good sense kicked in, I called myself a stupid fool, reset and went at it. From then on it was fantastic. I gave him some grief before it was time out.

Next I had the tall guy who likes rubber guard. I pulled guard, broke him down and got mission control. I changed hand to the other side of his head and started to feed my foot through under his face, when he postured up. It was only on Monday when I drilled rubber guard stuff with him, that he told me that there are things like gogoplata and locoplata. So he was more than surprised when I grabbed my toe and choked him with my foot. I guess that was a gogoplata :-) . We had another roll which was fun until time was up.

Two of the rounds were with very new guys, they've only been wrestling for a few weeks, and it was their first proper roll. One is my size, the other is smaller. What a pleasant change!! Anyway, both impressed me with not spazzing but using the moves they've learned so far. Tense yes, spazzy no. I choked, armbarred and figure four'd to my heart's content. I swept and did all the things I'm supposed to be doing. But honestly, they were good because they didn't ego trip and they didn't spazz, which is more than I can say for a lot of other beginners. I told both of them they did really good.

I had a round with another blue belt who gave me a puzzle. I pulled guard and he hunkered down, elbows clamped down, head on my belly. Nothing to attack or sweep. Then I rememberd that I can push on the head. So I did and bingo! Correct answer. And he said so. From there things opened up and I tried for the sweep I've been working on while I had him broken down. Nope, no go. Then I tried my recently learned armbar setup. I succeeded in getting the knee over his shoulder and I had his arm where I wanted it, but I needed to angle off. And as he knew exactly what I was up to (he even said so - and laughed, the bastard), he wouldn't let me come across and get the right angle and eventually I lost it. He passed after a bit and then I went to my standard defenses. His comment was (yet again) that those defenses were irritating. Then it was time out. I figure if I can irritage an experience blue belt, I must be doing something right ;-) .

And last of all, I had a round with a purple belt. He's got a favourite pass he calls the loving pass. Not sure exactly what he does, but he hugs you tight and just keeps coming. What is incredible to feel with him is how he sits and chills (as he calls it) and saves energy. If I make any move, it's like he's been switched on, and he clamps tight. The only room to move is the move he wants you to make. And everytime you wriggle, bounce, try to upa, move the hips or whatever, he just clamps on that bit tighter, removing more of your space. All while using a minimum of his and a maximum of your energy. Until he's in the right spot from where he just goes for peeling out an elbow and that's the end of it. He is only about my weight. But phantastic pressure and top control. Second roll I don't remember too well. He had a go at mission control, but I managed to get out of that and pass his guard. He rolled over and I had turtle top. Couldn't attack his neck and then he swept me I think. Then it was time out.

Afterwards, a few of us stayed on for a little longer and I scored another long roll with him. It just went on and on with half a dozen changes from top to bottom, escapes, sweeps and the whole deal. I worked my arse off, but at least I wasn't squashed on the bottom very often. At one point, he threated to choke me with my own belt. We had a few laughs. Especially when he turtled and I tried to jerk him up, but he dropped down and hit the mat with his forehead. Oops :-) . I rolled out of an omoplata attempt of his and escaped an armbar. But I had a chance at all sorts of things and it flowed and went places, so it was fantastic. And he didn't have to hand me everything on a silver platter.

I'm always mindful when rolling with the senior guys, that THEY need a chance to work their stuff. I don't want to be the one getting all the benefit from it. So the better I wrestle, the more of a challenge I can be for them, the more they can pressure test their stuff.

And by the end of the night, I was in a fantastic frame of mind, the mental cobwebs blown away. Tired in body, happy in mind. Isn't BJJ a wonderful thing?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

played with rubber guard

Monday night, we played around a bit with rubber guard stuff. I was partnered with one of the tall white belt guys who actually uses mission control a lot during wrestling.

It's been a little while since we did go over RG moves and it was pretty much a refresher on the whole progression of moves from mission control via zombie to new york. I always forget all the other crazy names, but the next step is to feed the foot under his neck and go to jiu claw and omoplata.

It's funny how two people remember different bits when they see a demonstration. I remembered some details which my partner had forgotten, and he helped me with bit I didn't recall. Between us, we did pretty well :-). In the end, we did the sequence against a little bit of resistance and just got some reps in.

We did a little bit of rolling at the end. Without remembering many details, I know I certainly didn't set the world on fire.

I didn't get to the Wednesday classes because I was away for two days, looking at horses. I also had an exam for uni first thing on Thursday morning, so while I could have maybe made it to the Wednesday evening class, I chose to stay home and brush on on the subject.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the rest of the week

Friday evening was another smallish class. Aside from one brand new guy, we were all four stripes plus, so for a change, I was very much on the left side of the line up.

We revised the heart attack sweep from open (hooks in) guard. I worked with one of the bigger guys. That ensured I did it right, for otherwise... he no move! Done right, it feels very easy :-)

Then we worked on a sequence. Again, starting in open guard. We get double underhooks and stretch him out. Then we go for a cutting armbar by grabbing over his left shoulder with a gable grib and wriggling upwards. His reaction will be to turn his hand and retract his arm, which brings his elbow down our centreline. At this time, we cup this left elbow with our left hand, hip out to the right and get his left elbow to the floor on our left side. The we reach over the top with our right arm and grab his chin. Really, we want a gable grip on his chin, but we may need to lift/move our hip to get the left arm free to do so. We need to pin him down on us tightly and then hip out two or three times to the left until we feel that he is "over the hill". From here, it's easy to sweep him over to our right and move to side control.

Landing there, we go straight to a gable grip around the bottom of his neck and under his left arm and pin him to us. From here, there are a couple of options to go to armbar. We experimented with this a bit, and depending on body size and the size of the guy on the bottom, it might be easier to step over his middle with our left foot while controlling the head with our elbow (and then step over the head) or possibly to step with the the foot over the head first and the leave the left foot against his side.

We also discovered that if you can snare his left lapel with your right hand, you can pull him over with that instead of by his chin. That's nearly a choke in itself, but as he's swept over, he's in a perfect position for a lapel half nelson choke.

After class, some free wrestling. I watched the new guy spazz on one of the blue belts. Scary.

Then I was lucky enough to be able to spend a fair bit of time with one of the blue belts. He gave me some openings, so I worked on my attacks. Managed some nice transitions and actually felt semi-competent :-). I always can think of an attack now. But chokes seem to come the easiest. I should be working on armbars, but I guess if I attack with chokes, that opens up elbows and that might lead to armbars.

A little later one, that exact point was proven. He was hunting for armbars, and as I'm getting pretty good at defending and protecting my elbows (beware his underhooks!), he then went for chokes. Although I knew I would expose my elbows, I still had to defend the chokes. So I was armbarred :-)

But that really helped make stuff sink in.

The Saturday midday class consisted of myself and three fairly new guys. I took the warm up.

With a grading coming up in a few weeks, they needed to work on their four basic drills. I was the grappling dummy for demonstration purposes. Then, in turns, I ended up working with each of the guys. Oh, they tried so hard to do it right, and they use so much strength. Well, less than two years ago, I was just as tense, and it is good to be reminded sometimes. I did my best to help them get good base, correct positioning and transitions. And I reminded them to breathe, smile and relax :-).

Every time I see something "basic" demonstrated, I see some little thing I've missed before (or which I've forgotten about). Today, it was another simple little thing: someone has mount on me and I want to bridge and roll. I want to catch their right arm to remove their chance of posting. The most effective way to catch it is to get an overhook and trap their elbow. To get space to move my left arm up and over their arm, I move my head across towards my right (towards their left arm). That small movement really makes it easier to move my left arm.

I also use running through the basic drills as an opportunity to polish my moves and to really work on good hip movement. There was a time when I was disappointed if I had to do basic drills instead of being allowed to wrestle. But I have realised there is much below the surface. There is so much room for improvement in the moves that make up those drills. So I apply myself fully and instead of resenting the drills, I welcome the chance to improve my technique.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

open mat fun

Thurday night open mat was a small affair with only four of us turning up.

There were two heavyish/strong guys and a young fast one, so I was pretty much expecting to get steamrolled the whole time.

I think I can't claim a single sub for the whole evening, but I succeeded in lots of escapes, I had good positions several times and I certainly attempted numerous submissions. I came close with several of my chokes. I didn't spend the whole evening mounted or turtled, which made a nice change. Sure, I still got manhandled, and I had to endure the indignity of the famous turtle turnover maneuver. But I repaid him by escaping out the back door and while he scambled away, I went after him and then snapped him down to turtle. So all in all I enjoyed myself and came away with a few new ideas on how to give the boys a hard time next time.

I tried to get the armbar setup from guard a few times. With the big boys I find it hard to pin them down to me, but I'm getting closer to getting it right. Once I actually succeeded, only to have the guy power out of it right at the end (I made a mistake). But that was success in a way as I usually find it harder to get myself in position and maintain pressure all the way than the actual technique.

I also frustrated the hell out of the young guy by keeping elbows and knees in and giving him nothing. He's a young and explosive and very competitive, but out of condition (had time off due to injury..), and half way through the second roll, when I wore him down in guard, he quit. Well, he had spent a ton of energy earlier trying to pass my closed guard by standing up and yanking and pulling. I see that loads of times with the less experienced guys, they try to power out of everything. Sometimes they get away with it, but until they learn to used technique instead of brute force, it's a hit and miss affair.

Yeah, interesting evening :-)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

armbars - I shall own you!!

No class on Monday because of the Queen's Birthday holiday.

Wednesday, I went to the lunchtime class only, as I decided to stay home in the evening and study for my Thursday exam.

So, Wednesday...  We had a small class with only three there, including a "slightly damaged" blue belt. For me: more armbar practice. I'm still making adjustments to tighten things up, and the small classes gives me plenty of one on one time to really get this right.

The third guy there is very new and is busy learning the basic drills. However, it seems he's been doing a bunch of wrestling with his friends, so far from being a puppy on the mat, he can move. I know this first hand, as I was given him for a free wrestle for a bit. I wasn't sure whether the idea was to throw me to the sharks or him ;-)

He fast. He strong. But he leave lotsa gaps :-) . First roll, I snapped him down and got a collar choke from the top. Second roll. Not so lucky. As usual, cannot remember the details. I did have in my guard at some point, but when I opened for an attack, he was through. I easily got out of his side control, and he couldn't keep mount, and all his attacks didn't succeed. But like all the young guys, he's so damn fast! Anyway were called to stop. But it had been fun and I really enjoyed it.

Then we both did an armbar from mount drill on our obliging blue belt. And to my surprise, my spinning armbars, the bane of my life on previous occasions, didn't feel too bad. I might just be able to do this thing now. I might even be tempted into trying it on the mat some day. Worst case, I fail and end up on the bottom.

So that was a good class for me and I'm back to thinking that one day, I might be better than useless on the mat :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

room for improvement

The Wednesday night class was mostly free guard passing and then rolling. Same as during open mat Thursday night, there wasn't anything special. I felt a bit ordinary and consequently, my wrestling was sub par. Got stuck under some of the bigger guys, and even if not stuck, didn't seem to be able to move my hips. But even from better spots, I was just being muscled around.

I did surprise myself by sinking a few collar chokes, both from back control and turtle top. The ridiculous thing was that I wanted to work on armbars and sweeps. Sadly, there weren't too many opportunities, and I missed the few I had. But the chokes just appeared and I too them. So I guess that was something good, even if that wasn't the goal I'd set myself.

The Saturday class consisted of myself, a two striper and two really new guys. Basically, we worked on basic drills with the new guys. I had a chance to work on my armbars from guard for a bit and I've figured what was giving me so much trouble before. I wasn't pushing off his hip with my foot enough. With that in mind, further drilling showed a bit more promise.

At the end of class, had a short wrestle with the two striper. I distinguished myself by losing my right hand inside my sleeve when he pulled on it while I was in his guard, and not being able to get it back. Having totally diasabled my right arm, he wrapped the sleeve around my neck. No, I didn't get choked, but damn, I could not get out of his guard. It was sooo embarrassing, because it was time just as I was making some progress. I felt such a dork.

So the whole latter half of the week seemed a bit of a blur with an overwhelming feeling at the end that I need to improve. A lot.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

...and more armbars

Armbars from guard for me today. Just like last Wednesday afternoon, there were only three of us. Inbetween helping the brandnew guy, the other two of us had mini private sessions. And my session revolved around armbars from guard. If I could have picked a subject, this would have been it.

After being shown the whole thing again, I was sent of with my partner to practice. All he had to do was offer some resistance and stuff me about. That was very frustrating. He was great, because he didn't use brute force, but made it sufficiently hard by clamping down elbows, grabbing my arms, sitting up, try to pass my guard etc that it was a challenge. The really funny thing is that I accidentally swept him three times. For someone who couldn't sweep for love or money, that was amazing. Well, as I said, I have been working on a sweep from the same setup, and obviously, that's coming together :-)

Anyway, the last couple of times I managed to clamp him down and I got nice tight armbars. Only, it sort of happened and I still didn't "get" how it was happening.

I had another stint with the instructor and we troubleshot the whole thing again. My main problem was that I couldn't get a decent cut, the leg across his back wasn't high enough, and I could not get my other leg on his shoulder. I was under the impression I had to angle off more, but while having him locked down on me, I just couldn't move myself across, other than in wriggles and shuffles that were too slow. Ok, it turned out I had it wrong. The trick isn't to angle off as far as possible. The foot on his far hip pushes me away from him rather than trying to create more angle. That bit of extra space allows my legs to do what I want: the near one across his back nice and high, the far one over his shoulder and clamping down.

Once I had this setup, there was so much control, and I can in fact attack either arm. But for the armbar, a little rotation of my hand onto his head, and I can easily swing my leg across his face for an armbar.

I think I might just have figured this out now!

I understand from what I hear that my closed guard is not a nice place to be, so if I can add some armbars to the unpleasantness, that'll be great :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

chokes and teaching

Monday night we had a medium sized class with lots of beginners. With people away, one of the blue belts was taking the class and I was the next most senior person present, so I was the honorary grappling demo dummy again (that seems to happen often lately).

We went over a couple of chokes from guard. One was what I'd call a box choke. Say I have my right hand deep in their right collar and I break my partner down. I can bring the left arm across the back of his head, grab the material of my gi near my right elbow and push my right elbow up while pulling the left elbow down. Sounds almost too simple to work. I don't think it would work on a savvy opponent, but being a trachea choke, it comes on pretty quick, so if they were pulled down hard and didn't notice what you are up to until it's on, it might work. Interesting alternative to a cross lapel choke.

Next one was in fact a cross lapel choke, but with a different setup. Starting again with my right hand well inside his collar, I push off with my left foot on his right hip and swivel my upper body to my right, bringing my right leg across his back. Basically, I threaten an armbar or sweep. As he pushes back into me, I wing up my right elbow under his chin and grab a bit of gi material on his left shoulder with my left hand. Proceed to cross lapel choke. This could also work with my left hand reaching over my right, if he happened to not tuck his chin.

I think this one is good, I'll give it a try.

The third choke was from back control. Actually, I'm not sure what it's called. Could be a clock choke? If I'm behind my partner, hooks in, and a seat belt grip with my right arm over his shoulder and my left arm under his left arm, I insert my right hand into his left collar. I can use my left hand to open it up so I get my right hand nice and deep. Then I grab the right collar about half way down his chest with my left hand. The left holds or pulls down slightly, the right arm pulls the left collar tight around his neck in a clockwise fashion. I can also bend my wrist towards his feet, to bring the bony part of my wrist (thumb side) into his windpipe harder.

I was working with a brand new guy, it was only his second class, so I spent a lot of time talking him through stuff. He hadn't seen full guard once, and back control never. That made it a bit entertaining, but we managed ok.

For the second half of the class, I was handed the two newbies to take them through the keep the mount drill. However, as they were unfamilar with all positions bar closed guard and back control, I showed them long base side control, mount and transitions first, also what to look out for when on the bottom. I think we actually got through the whole drill once by the time the class was over.

So it was a sort of quiet and low energy class for me. In some ways I didn't mind.

It was funny to watch the two guys. They both tried very hard but couldn't help look longingly when the others started to wrestle. I laughed and said they need to learn to crawl before they can run, and if they were let loose with those guys, they'd get mauled and have their arms ripped out :-))). But I promised they'll soon be rolling if they get their basics happening.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

idiot's guide to armbars

If ever someone writes a book of that title, I shall buy it. I just don't seem to get it.

The other day in rolling I nearly managed an armbar from sidemount. That was encouraging. BUT. I like closed guard and I cannot seem to get my body organised to do armbars from guard. Ok, I manage triangles, and once I have a triangle, I can get an armbar. But the set up from guard straight to armbar is something I just can't seem to get right. There is always something missing and I tend to have my guard passed as a result.

Yesterday, we did armbars from guard. That made me happy, as I really, really want to work on this. And in fact, we were shown a few extra little things which should make it more successful. Interestingly, we started with getting our partner's arm across our chest much in the same way as I've recently been working on to get a sweep. Say I have him in my guard and I want to get his right arm across. I'll look for a sleeve grip with my right hand. I'll go for a grip on the sleeve at the back of his elbow (or cup the elbow) with my left. Then I put my left leg to the floor and push up off it, turning my hips a little to the right, while I pull on his arm. This elongates him towards my right shoulder and brings his right elbow across my middle. As soon as that happens, I clamp my left arm across his back and grip the back of his left armpit. He will probably pull back away from me to try to get his right arm back, but by pinning him against me with my left arm and keeping a grip on his forearm or sleeve with my right hand, he can't pull his arm out. If I can pull my left elbow down tight, it's even better.

If I were to sweep, I'd hip yout to the right a couple of times to load him up, and then roll him backwards.

But for the armbar, I need to put my left foot on his right hip. Pushing off it, I bring my right leg up towards his armpit and across his shoulders. I also need my left hand on his forearm, so that both hands are pinning it to my chest.

The additional thing we were shown was to place the back of the left knee on his shoulder, so that my left leg can clamp down. This stops him from pushing forward or pulling out. The combined pressure of the left leg on the shoulder and the right leg across his shoulders from the other side made it very uncomfortable for the person in guard, and nearly impossible to pull out of (even if I let go of his right forearm with my hands). To finish, I could push on his head with my left hand and bring my left leg across.

The crucial thing, and that's what I had the most problems with, was to get angled off enough to have a good cut across with my right leg and make it easy to bring the left leg over his head to finish.  I don't know whythat's so hard, but I really had issues with moving to the correct position. So I'll have to work on that some more. But with the extra details on how to set up, and how to use the left knee over his shoulder, I think I have something more to work with now. I really want to master this, because I love closed guard.

After class, a couple of us stayed on a bit longer. We had a few rolls. I was mostly happy as I managed to move around, managed to re-insert knees by moving hips and even escaped some really bad spots. One of the guys is a big purple belt. Still, I got out from under him and even on top. I've never been able to do that before. I fished for a figure four a couple of times which didn't happen, but at least I see the opportunities now. As always I ended up in turtle as some point, and at some time with him on my back. But in the end, he rolled me over and choked me in something called a T choke, which I'd never heard of or seen. He said he went for that because the opportunity came up and all the other choke attempts failed. He said a couple of other kind things about how I went, so that was nice.

He then showed us the choke and we tried it, but it's something I have to go over again and clarify in my own mind :-) All I know is it's damn effective. I could feel him grabbing my collar and as I went over, there was no way to avoid it. And boy, was it tight. One of those "make the top of your head pop off" type of collar chokes.

When he rolled with one of the other guys, there was a progression of arm attacks ending in an omoplata from a setup I hadn't seen. That led to him showing us a few details, and some general observations on how to use weight to control your opponent. He showed that by sitting on someone's shoulder, with the arm between his legs. And with pretty much all his weight pinning down that shoulder, there is no getting up for the bottom guy and a number of attack options open up.

It's a position which I know how to get to a couple of different ways. One is if someone rolls out of an attempted omoplata, the other is if I have side control and I switch my hips to face the bottom guy's hips. As I move towards his head, I can usually peel his elbow out, step back over his arm and come to sit on the shoulder while holding his arm between my legs and pulling up. Having secured the position, I have several options. For example, roll forward into omoplata. Or, keeping the pressure on his shoulder, I turn into him, walking around his head, which tips him over, and I go for an omoplata when I get to the other side. Alternatively, from the trapped shoulder position, I can transition to mount.

So that gave me a lot of food for thought. The principle of pouring your weight into your partner in one important spot (for example the head or a shoulder), rather than weighing him down ineffectively by applying it all over is one we discussed in class on Wednesday, too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

top game???

Tonight, we had a medium sized class. We went straight to rolling, so it was a bit like open mat last night. The first couple of rounds we did with the gi, then we went to no gi.

First up, I had the big guy who manhandled me last week ;-) . Well, he sort of did again, using all his strength, he ended in mount and put on a figure four. As it was technically correct, I didn't struggle and tapped to it fast. Then we went again. He pulled guard this time. Did a pretty good job of breaking my posture, but no luck sweeping for him. Eventually I passed his guard but did something dumb and tripped myself so he got my back. Yes, I got out of that, went to turtle, then he had sidemount. I managed to get an arm under his leg and came out at the back. Probably not an elegant looking move, but I ended up on top. I think I got as far as sidemount when he just sat up and tipped me over. I did manage to threaten his arm but the guy has arms of iron, so no cigar. Eventually, we ended up with me in his guard again. He was mucking around with my arms, trying to pull me down. but nothing was happening. So I asked what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to sweep. I said that wouldn't work from there because my knees were splayed out for good base, and I could get an arm out to brace if I needed to. So I showed him the sweep I've been working on and we repeated that a couple of times so he could get the feel. And we left it at that.

I had one brief roll with another white belt guy, my level. He usually gets me because he has heavy, tight control. He's related to anacondas, he always traps some part of people's anatomy, coils around it and then drags them in. I'm no match for his strength. But today, the grappling gods were on my side. I did something right, and although he'd trapped part of me, I ended up on top, and as he lifted his head, I put my arm around it. I managed to wriggle the other hand into position to grab my fingers. And from there, no matter where he wriggled, the choke just went tighter, and that was him done. It's something I've never tried before, and I'm pleased that I recognised the opportunity when I saw his head come up. Some of the stuff I've been learning must be in my head and available for recall. That's pleasing to know...

I had another opportunity for a front choke, but from half guard bottom in my next roll with one of the blue belts. I love rolling with him because he is no stronger than I am and about my size. He has evil triangles and is full of armbars, too. Anyway, as we started, he ended up in my guard. I tried a figure four which wasn't far off working. He started passing my guard but I managed half guard. Again, went for a figure four and as he was leaning across, I went for a front choke. He defended by driving his shoulder down so I couldn't get the other hand in. So I went back for a figure four, and then back to the choke. I could have swept him towards the choking side, as I had his neck right down and his balance was tipping. But I felt bad about tipping him forward over his head so I didn't and then he pulled out. And told me I should have swept him :-))

From there I don't know how it went, but I stuffed up somewhere and found myself in a reverse triangle. I was rewared for my efforts with a "good roll".

We have a really big guy (twice my size) who has been away recently. Well, he was back tonight, so my turn to get squashed did come. We laughed as we started and told him he looks at me like a cat about to have a mouse to play with. There was a grab and a drag and I was fighting his legs. He likes open guard. Don't know if he changed his mind and went to closed guard or whether he swept me first but I scrambled and then ended up there. Of course I can't open his closed guard. But he wanted to play rubber guard and I wouldn't have it, defending my arms and not letting him get lockdown. That was almost a win :-) So he went back to open guard. I do not remember how or where we had another scramble, but I actually got his back. I recall smacking him in the head in the process (not too hard..). But the seat belt grip went on and I had a hook in, feeling all smug by that time. About 3 seconds later, he'd wiped me off his back like a dog would wipe off a beetle. And then he was on top and then it was... finished with engines for me. But.... I was happy.

A good evening for me. Plenty of things I need to work on, but a few things are coming together. I'm even getting the feeling that I'm on the verge of developing a top game. Goodness!

mini gym

I finally bought a new little compact camera. To try it out, I took pictures of cats, horses, dogs etc. But I finally also took a photo of my mini-gym.

(...and still figuring how to get rid of those stupid looking white borders!)

open mat Thursday

Thursday night was open mat.

For a warmup, I had a few slow rolls with a guy I knew I could help. So we stopped often and went over stuff. We also revised a sweep which we'd been shown a few weeks ago that he had trouble with.

We went no gi after that. I had several rolls with one of the blue belts. We didn't go full on, but not really slow either. I had ample time to try for things, and surprised myself with never running out of things to do and places to go. Once I even went from an armbar attempt to a figure four, just because it was there looking at me. Ok, I got my grips mixed up for a second, but soon had that sorted and it was a goer. Other than that, I was hunting for figure fours from top and bottom. I think I managed a sweep in there somewhere. I'm certainly using my feet to hook, push and pull independently of my arm. A couple of times we stopped and he showed me how to make an adjustment to improve something, mostly the sweeps.

I had a couple of rounds with one of the purple belts after that. One round ended swiftly because I did something dumb (as I do..). One round was ho-hum and all weird and mixed up positions which we had to abandon because we rolled into someone.

Eventually, we had one long round with lots of good stuff. I managed to get straight to half guard top and avoided his underhooks for a bit, and when he got them, I must have been effective in my control of his head, because he coldn't get me off. I managed to get to mount and was doing a reasonable job peeling his elbow out. I was experimenting with using a foot on his hip, and that sort of worked. Anyway, couldn't finish that and eventually he rolled me. I used my knees well, and easily got guard or at least half guard back several times through the roll. Used half guard bottom effectively and went hunting for arms from there. Somehow or other we rolled over and I trapped an arm plus I saw a crucifix. Only I couldn't figure how to effectively threaten his near arm. And as there was no collar to choke him with, eventually he got out of that. That's about all I remember. It finished with me getting armbarred, I think. But it was great because I had so many opportunities to go for things. And I seemed to have a lot of time to think. I sometimes made little adjustments, like when we were fighting for who would get a foot in where. The best thing was that he said he enjoyed the roll and I made him work really hard.

Looks like I'm back to enjoying myself thoroughly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday double

As it is the end of my first semester already (only swot vac and exam weeks still to go), there are no more lectures on Wednesdays. Which means I can get to the lunchtime BJJ class AND the evening one!

The lunchtime class was tiny. There was one of the young guys, 3 striper, and a completely new guy and myself. I took the warm up. Us two more experienced types took the newbie in turns, teaching him basic drills and moves. The rest of the time we had private time with Sensei, working on particular stuff and having a bit of a wrestle. My first go was frustrating, as I ended up on the bottom of switch back side control about as fast as I can write this, and I had a great deal of trouble getting my elbow in. Anyway, it wasn't long before I was done in after that and the rest of that session was a post mortem of where I could have done better. He sent me off with the words: have a think about it.

Then it was a turn with the new guy for me, my job was to show him the basic under the leg pass and the guardwork drill. I got so wrapped up in this that it seemed no time until I was called over again. And when he asked me if I'd thought about it, I went huh? (But at least remembered later that day what it was!)

The next little wrestle went better. I actually moved somewhat intelligently at times, and escaped his back control, defended from turtle for a bit before he got my back again. After a time, the inevitable choke came. But this time, I earned some good words. For simultaneously defending his arms and attacking his legs. He said he really was concerned about an ankle lock and he had a hell of a time to finally get an arm in where he could grab the choke. After that, I had a chance to work on some stuff from the top. Not that much happened and his defence makes mine look sick, but I did get the chance to have a play and even tried for knee ride at one point. That's unheard of for me ;-) . Then we did some more postmortem on the whole thing and had a quick look at a way to bridge and roll someone if they get high mount. It was a really, really useful session.

Wednesday night was on some rubberguard stuff. A refresher for some of us, but new stuff to some who were there. Basically, how to use the jaws of life to get double underhooks once we have lockdown. Then, whip up and go for the old school sweep. We made a mini drill out of that, once we had the sweep, we ended up in half guard top, and then our partner would go through the whip up and sweep...

Then we did the alternative where we go to dogfight, and as he pushes back into us we bring our free knee close to his trapped one, reach under for his leg and sweep him over the top of us. We drilled that for a bit, also going back and forth.

The rest of the class was wrestling. I had an excellent long roll with a guy about my size with a fair amount of grappling experience. Lots of fun, heaps of tumbling over one another, I managed sweeps, I went for several attacks and in the end he caught me somehow which I can't remember. I had another brief roll with a one striper and front choked him within less than a minute, but I did show him where he made his mistake afterwards.

Another great class. I was still a bit short on energy, I guess that's the remnants of the cobwebs from last week. But it's all good. I'm back to believing that I have learned a few things and that I'm not hopeless after all!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

escaping side control

On Monday, side control escapes were the theme.

We had a medium sized class of mixed levels, and I ended up with a fairly new guy. He's still apologising for all sorts of things, but I'm working on him ;-). He made a real effort and listened to me when I helped him. Good to work with.

Starting in short base side control, the first escape began with a hip bump into his knee, so I could get my lower elbow past his hip and against my body. That was followed by a bridge to make the space to bring my arm out on his far hip. Now I had both arms on his far side, sort of like a forklift. Next move was another hard bridge and a slight twist towards him. It moved him up a bit and me out from under him, so that I could "see the light" on his far side. Holding on to his arm, I had to spin around towards his head, ending up face down while holding his upper arm. It was necessary to keep pressure on his shoulder, and we ended up with him turtled and myself nearly front on, with my arm still inserted under his. From here it was easy to go for a collar choke or a head arm choke.

Next scenario was if the top person switches out their legs before I could bump them forward and escape out their far side. Switched out, he is well based to the front, but has nothing at hisback, so could I sit up. I found I needed to raise my legs up, and then kick out or swing them back down, to get a pendulum effect. Also, I needed to brace out on one arm. But once I started, it was easy to tip him over all the way and end up with me in side control top.

Another option from that switchback scenario: if my arm (the one near his hips) didn't end up on his far side, and was in danger of getting attacked, I reached over his back and made a gable grip with the other hand. Then I walked into him, pinned him to me and swept him over. Very much like the headlock escape.

We played with this a little, changing from getting the arm through or not, and from the top person staying in side contol to going to switchback.

Lastly, we revisited a sidecontrol escape which John Will had taught us at a seminar last year. I didn't "get it" at the time, but this time, it made sense and I think it would work for me, excepting maybe with a really big guy. This one is useful where the top guy has his elbow against your head, and your top arm is trapped outside (you couldn't get your elbow wedged against his hip). Say he is positioned with his head on my left side. I had to reach over my head with my exposed right arm, and grab his gi near his left elbow. Then I had to bridge up and to my left, punching his elbow as far away from me as I could, while I roll onto my left side. As he pulled his arm back in, I needed to get my left arm under me so I could roll to my right and end up face down under him. The tricky part was to get my right arm around his right arm. But after the bridge, there was a lot of space to get my arm in. Ideally, I wanted my left arm between his legs, cupping his left thigh. Last step: looking left towards his feet, I got to my knees, and raising my butt, I rolled towards my right shoulder (that's why it was important to look to the left). As I became a "hill", he rolled off. As I rolled over, I still had hold of his right arm, and could attack it with several techniques, for example a figure four.

It really was great to revisit that escape. It's fairly technical, but you end up in a good attacking position, and it's not a sweep anyone expects.

We did a few minutes of wrestling, for which I had the same partner. I pulled guard to work on my attacks from guard. I still didn't feel my usual self, too stiff and too tired to do much, so when he made a good attempt at a guard pass, I didn't fight it too much. That was as much because I was tired as it was to let him work a bit :-). But I managed a couple of sweeps, one from half guard, one from guard. And he managed a textbook escape from side control like we had just drilled. So that was excellent and I didn't fail to tell him that.

For part of the night I scored the job of being demo grappling dummy. All in all a good evening, and those escapes certainly are pretty useful.