Friday, July 30, 2010

open mat

After nearly six straight hours of lectures and lab sessions at uni, I was ready for some physical activity by the end of the day.

I'm still working on not giving my back and avoiding going to turtle. That's working pretty well now, and it's making me more active in re-guarding. Of course it means I get flattened more often. But that's a great incentive to get out, isn't it ;-) I have no choice but to have active hips. Interesting to see that I lacked strength there so I didn't ever use them effectively for shrimping and bridging. I don't know if they got strong first and so I improved my technique, or whether using better technique made them stronger. Probably both. Anyway, I feel much more effective now.

Yeah, so as usual I spent a fair bit of time under large white belts. Mostly, they get nothing on me, but every time I finally escape and get somewhere, I tend to get swept or otherwise manhandled and dragged floorside. I had a brief moment of frustration and had to remind myself sternly that BJJ = FUN. And that the only pressure is the pressure I put on myself. After that: cool. I even swept my large nemesis. Twice. I know I frustrate him endlessly, because he can't get much, and he pins me because that's what he knows. But once, he set up a figure four from mount with good base. I could not roll him and I couldn't get my arm back, and he really did it with perfect pressure. I absolutely complimented him for it!!

A bit later, he tried to triangle me, but as always, I just pass him at that point. So we worked on his triangles for a bit, which I think will help him.

I had several rolls with a purple belt. As always, I still walk into traps. I do recognise them a bit earlier now, so sometimes I can get out. But woe betide if he gets an underhook, no matter where you start, it's a one way street to an armbar.... I got swept and hated myself for being so easy to sweep. That was the bad bits. The good bits were me getting out of some armbar attempts. One roll started with him in my guard and as he was stepping over my leg, I snared his arm behind his back. I held on doggedly and we rolled twice, but I did pull off the figure four from half guard eventually. Then I had to tap to a few more armbars. A couple of times we stopped when he pointed out something. Like a sweep I just didn't see. Oh yeah, I did manage another submission. Can't remember how it came about, I think I was in sidemount and attacking his arm when I realised his neck was exposed. I moved more behind and put on an RNC. I think it's great that I sometimes see an alternative. Evidently, some things got stuck in the sieve which is called my brain.

As always, rolling with this guy is just the best thing. He had some time off, and I'm so glad he's back.

I was alternatively armbarred or triangled by our longlegged bluebelted king of triangles. I don't know, I'd recently been doing pretty good defending his triangles, but he has now found other ways of making them work. So I have to work out more ways of defending. Or better, not getting in there in the first place. But sheesh, he just has a knack of grabbing an arm and shove!, it's moved and his leg is over your shoulder and you just think: how in hell did he do that?? But in any case, I did thwart him several times, and once I had him in my guard, the boot was on the other foot. I can break him down well but I wasn't confident to try an armbar. So mission control worked a treat, then I went for omoplata. He tried to roll out. I decided to stop that and keep trying for the finish instead of allowing the roll and then sitting on his shoulder. But I stuffed up and then he stepped over and after some weird position I found myself in an ever so familiar triangle :-). One of the purple belts was watching and gave me a couple of pointers in finishing the omoplata. Also he said that while you should let go of stuff, sometimes it's good to keep trying because it helps you troubleshoot and work out how to finish. Basically, you have to make mistakes in learning how to make it perfect. And that's what open mat is perfect for.

figure fours and rolling

The Wednesday lunchtime class was small again. We worked on figure four armlocks (kimuras) from different positions, mainly mount and guard. Got lots of reps in :-) Also had a play with doing a figure four from guard and how to transition that to omoplata.

We tried out and drilled a figure four from a different setup. From mount, say I have pushed his left arm to the floor, got  my left elbow against his head and I've started a figure four. He defends by straightening his arm. My right forearm is already under his arm. I scoop his upper arm up and hug it to me as I sit up to bring my right heel againt his belly and my left knee against his upper back. I need to also post my left hand on the floor next to his head. If I sort of slide my elbow up and across his neck, maintaining the pressure, it works best. Pushing on his neck and lifting his left arm turns him on right side. As I bring his arm up, I maintain the pressure above his elbow. His forearm will be resting against my neck. So this is pretty much a cutting armbar. If he doesn't tap to that, I can reach up over my head with my left hand, take his wrist and turn it so that his forearm points to his head. As I pull his arm over my head, I lock my hands in a figure four. My right knee is also against his shoulder, pushing against it, which puts even more pressure on the elbow joint.

I was a bit late for the evening session because of lectures, so I missed the warmup. But since I'd sprinted across the uni carpark to get back to my car, I figured I was ok :-).  Also, we did some pummeling, first slow then going hard for double underhooks. So I was well warm by the time we started with round from standing. Ah yes, we also drilled some double leg entries for a bit.

For the first time for a long time, I had to tap to someone on top of me in side control :-( . Not that I was panicking, he flattened me out and I though it was ok, but then I decided that it wasn't worth the trouble, as breathing really was a chore. It was a biggish new fellow who thinks it's useful to drape himself over smaller folks like a big heavy blanket. It all started because I couldn't take him down so I pulled guard. Using weight and force, he pushed my ankle across and passed my guard, dropping his full weight on me. Ok, my fault for letting him pass I guess. But what pissed me off what that he was obviously pleased he tapped me with his weight. OK. Whatever makes him happy. If a scoring taps is more important than learning technique, then he's on the right track. We went again, and again I couldn't take him down and he kept ripping my grips off, and backing off. I finally got near enough and pulled guard again, but this time I managed half guard as we came crashing down and was looking to giving him some grief when it was time out. I'm really not fond of pulling guard, but big white belt guys who have little control make me fear for my bones, so pulling guard seems the least hazardous.

I had another guy for the next round, he does not come to classes often, but I like rolling with him. He's about my size and has control. First roll I pulled guard because I know he has takedowns :-) Mucked something up, for which my memory fails me and ended tapping somehow. Started again. He got grips and started some fancy throw which I partially evaded, but it resulted in both of us momentarily standing on my right foot and going forward. Only problem is it's designed to lift the heel as it rolls over the front. With all that weight, heel stayed down.... As I was going 'oh-oh!', I managed to twist it a bit, but still I tweaked it as we went down. I said something under my breath. He asked if I was ok, I wriggled the foot/toes and said yes. This time, I managed to get closed guard on him, after passing his guard at one point with a nifty maneuvre involving pinning down his hand, just to be reversed... Anyway, I'm happy with closed guard :-) I went for a cross lapel choke, but as he defended, there was an armbar looking at me, and I landed it. I was somewhat happy, as I'm really working on armbars at present.

I decided against further rounds from standing, as the foot was hurting a bit. I scored a blue belt who has stitches in the top of his head, so we went to one side and I started in his closed guard. I was painfully reminded that I still have little defense against the hip bump sweep.  He also pointed out a small detail about breaking people down in guard once they have good grips and nearly straight arms.

My foot hurt the next day, I think I sprained/strained stuff on the bottom between the heel and the toes, but the ankle is also a little swollen. Ice. And some of my trusty minty-smelling horse liniment :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

just chokes

Small class Monday night. Was paired with one of the newer guys, who is the only one lighter than I am. Not that it mattered.

We did cross lapel chokes from mount. And as you are likely to get bridged and rolled, we went over that also. The main things that came out of it: if you are the choker, make sure there is a knee is on a shoulder, and that the opposite arm is well posted once the first hand is in the collar. And when committing the second hand, it has to be done quickly. The danger time is between removing the post and getting the grip on the opposite collar. Once the grip is in, it doesn't matter if we get rolled, as we can finish the choke from guard.

The important thing for the person on the bottom is to bridge up straight. What we want is to stretch them out above us as far as possible. And we don't want the hand that posts across our centre line. The more I bridge up, the less chance of that happening. This way, his support is an uneven sided triangle, with the longest side being between the posted arm and the opposite leg. That will give him least stability when I roll that way after the bridge. In the past I'd been under the impression that we should bridge and roll over our shoulder on the side where he doesn't have the post. But bridging up straight really does make his position more unstable for the roll.

Then we drilled cross lapel choke from guard and half lapel nelson choke from side mount.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

when things go click!

Saturday lunchtime class only saw three of us turn up. The other two are fairly new. And so keen :-))

I took the warm up again and served as the grappling dummy. We started off with a bit of light rolling. The two guys are my size and smaller. One of them I can actually muscle around. Wow. Not that I want to!!

The only time before where I was going easy and steady was when we had the odd girl or lady turn up for training. Or with a brand spanking new guy. All the guys, after a few classes, tend to go hard and fast (sigh), so I really don't see a point in going easy on them. Coming back to the two guys on Saturday... For the first time ever, despite the fact that they both tried really hard, I didn't have the urge to either just protect myself, or go hard for a sub. I had a bit of a play with my guard attacks, but then eased back to allow them to work stuff. That in itself was a revelation. I really felt like I was in a position to be generous. I don't mean that to sound condescending at all. I know that when I started, the senior guys did it for me all the time. And now the time has come that I can return the favour. Click!

We then did a drill working on using hooks to sweep our partner from side to side. The boys went off to practice, and I practiced on our instructor. That one on one time is gold. I've neve had much luck with hooks for sweeping. Hooks, yes. Using them for sweeping, no. But now I know where I've been going wrong. I wasn't using the hook at the end of the lever in all cases AND I was pushing back instead of pulling forward with them. What a difference that made!! Click!

Then we had a roll. I was all gung ho and went straight for an arm drag and on his back. Got one hook in, a cross collar grip and managed to grab the other collar low down. Posted my head on the floor and went for the choke. Nada. Then thought maybe I better get the other hook in. In case he starts rolling over. Nope. But then he wanted to know what I was trying to do. Hmm. I explained and we deconstructed the situation. Turned out that all I needed to do was put weight on his other shoulder and/or roll over. I tried the roll over. Choke!! Click!

Then we called the boys over and we drilled the hooking sweep if the person posts a leg to pass guard. I realise that one reason I'd made hard work of this sweep in the past is incorrect technique. I made the same mistake the boys made. When I open my legs, and rest my thigh on his posted leg, I do not want to hip escape towards that side. Instead I want to move up in relation to him. So it's a shuffle up which works because my weigh is supported by his posted leg and by me pulling on his collar. Then I'm lined up well for getting the hook in, pull him down and flip him over. I knew exactly what we were talking about, but I could see the boys had trouble seeing the difference. Well, they, too, will figure it out when they are ready. There is only so much the brain can absorb, and stuff escapes me all the time. When we revisit a technique later, I then have the Eureka! moment. I jokingly asked when we finish learning something new about a "basic" technique. Click!

The boys went to practice that some more and I had more rolls with the instructor. Most of them involved me being on the bottom. Needless to say, the armdrag setup didn't work a second time... I absolutely refused to ball up and turtle, and paid for it dearly in side control and knee ride. So heavy. But I got out several times. Once I actually rolled out and disengaged completely. What a change from the usual systematic squashings. And the subs I was caught in weren't his standard fare. He said after that I gave him nothing, he had to deviate from his usual game to find things, and he had to really work for it. And that my escapes are very good, too.

Then, when we lined up after class, he complimented the guys on being "squirrely". To me he said I'm wrestling at blue belt level. And that it is time to tee up an assessment with John Will, either at the comp in September or another time, with a view to going for my blue belt. Shock! But.... whoohee!!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

a week of sticking to a plan

It's been an interesting week for me. It didn't have the best start because one of my cats got under a car, and I thought I'd lose him. A trip to the vet confirmed a fractured pelvis, but legs ok. So we were sent home with analgesics and anti-inflammatories and instructions to confine him and watch for his plumbing to work properly. He's doing great. Obviously, he hasn't used up his nine lives yet..

In training on Monday, we went over sweeps again, then we did some free guard passing and a bit of rolling. Nothing special came out of it. I know my closed guard is not a place people like to be :-) I'm concentrating on getting angles and setting up stuff.

Wednesday lunchtime, there were only three of us. I took the warm up. I got to roll with the newish guy. He's a reasonably big boy and he is quite fast and aggressive. Lots of backyard wrestling with his mates.... He's all muscle, not much technique yet, and I have to admit that I felt a bit sluggish and had nothing to put up against him. A bit sad, really. I think all that I managed was some attempts from closed guard, but as soon as I opened to go for a triangle, he powered out and passed. Then I had a roll with our instructor and just got flattened. The only good thing which came out of it was that I  resisted the temptation to turtle a couple of times, and put up with being flattened in side control. Side control bottom with him really sucks, too. At one point, he got my back, not because I gave it up, but he took it. He completely controlled my balance, I went this way and that at his mercy. Never mind I defended his chokes for a bit, after being toyed with, he caught me with his favourite lapel half nelson. I felt totally hopeless. However, I reminded myself strongly of my new motto (shut up and train!), and focussed on being successful in resisting the urge to turtle or give up my back.

Wednesday evening we had another small class. The newbies were taken aside to learn some stuff, the other three, including myself, went and rolled in turns. Again, put up with side control or mount rather than turning my back, and found I managed several side control escapes, and got guard. Had a fair crack at attacking from closed guard, going from choke to armbar attempt to triangle attempts. I feel they were getting closer to working than what I usually manage. I had a long roll with one of the purple belts at the end which gave me a lot of chances to change positions, try attacks and escape stuff. I actually felt like I knew what I was doing :-)

Thursday open mat was a small affair again. It started off with someone showing an escape from switch back side control, which is what he did to me on Wednesday, so it was good to figure how it's done. It involves bridging up and bringing a knee under his hip. Then bridge up again and push into him to sweep him backwards. Works a treat, even on a bigger guy. Much easier than the escape where I grab around his waist, walk into him and then bridge him toward my far shoulder.

Rolling on Thusday followed the same theme as before: avoid turtling, avoid giving up the back. And if I end up in turtle anyway, get the hell out. With one of the big whitebelts this resulted in getting him back into my guard (inbetween getting flattened in side control our mount), and having a chance at some attacks. I succeeded in breaking him down and came near some armbars. Inside his guard, I passed when he attempted to triangle me. As I went to side control, we went to practicing the side control escape. Several rolls with the other white belt guy went similar. I complimented him on his fantastic tight game. He just smothers me. I don't have a real answer to him, but I am making inroads in threatening him. Feedback from both is that I'm hard to pin in bad positions and and that it's hard to get a sub. I used to worry about their weight and getting stuck on the bottom. I still get flattened, but now using my energies to avoid or reverse the situation instead of moping about it and getting frustrated. Later on, I had the chance to show one of them the turtle escape I learned last Thursday. Finally, I had several rolls with a purple belt. He corrected my loose knee when I attempted mission control. Once that was fixed, I was much more successful. He did roll out of my omoplata attempt, and then we went into a discussion of what attacks are open from there. Great rolls. He is slow, methodical and tight. If I do something right, I get near getting it. If I do it wrong, I get into trouble :-) He doesn't steamroll me, but I have to work my arse off.

He also reminded me that it's a good idea to try new things on the less experienced people, to allow it to work. If I try new stuff on the senior guys, I won't pull it off and then I'll never learn it properly or I'll think it won't work.

Friday night we did single and double leg takedowns and a wrist grab to get a two on one hold on an arm. From there, we can go to single or double or take the back. It's weird how I still get the willies when I think of takedowns... But it was actually a great practice session. I scored a good partner to drill with and a few things fell into place in my head. It's not like I've never drilled takedowns before, but something of the new info, combined with what was already embedded in my brain made sense, and drilling felt good.

the end of last week roundup

I was busy doing bookwork and preparing stuff for tax returns, so I couldn't be motivated to update my blogs. I still went to training, and I still wrote up my training diary, but writing something witty or relevant here was too much of an ask :-)

Anyway, after all the general insights of last wee, the Friday and Saturday I tried to put all that into action.

I was lucky in that we spent a lot of time on working from guard last Friday night, so I had lots of practice at beaking down postures and setting up angles with a view to armbars or triangle. On Saturday, we did sweeps: the simple sweep and the leg grab rollover sweep.

Wrestling on Friday was ok and I felt I did a few things right. A good long roll with one of the purple belts allowed me to again work on my guard attacks. I managed a tight mission control and attempted the omoplata from there, but first he blocked my bottom foot and then he postured out of it. But I went for the triangle and that worked. It's nice to see that I can now consistently think of alternatives.

Wrestling on Saturday wasn't so much of a success. I new white belt had a grip in my collar I couldn't dislodge, until someone showed me a different way. Then I nearly passed his guard and wasted time fighting a grip of his which was irrelevant, because it wasn't a threat. I felt disappointed that I needed such basic pointers. The good thing that came out of it was I learned a new pass. I started off low in his opened guard and had managed to secure his right arm to the floor, with my left knee pinning his right knee to the floor. His left hand was in my collar, but my right arm was free to reach across him. So the guard pass is to jam his right hand against his hip and attempt to feed it underneath him to my right hand, while keeping my hips low and facing down, and left elbow needs to be against the left side of his head, to stop him rotating with me.

I was a bit disappointed leaving on Saturday, but I think the resolutions I made earlier in the week are working. The disappointment faded and I concentrated on thinking about the new bits learned.

Friday, July 16, 2010

general insights and the week so far

A few things are coming together for me. My brain is turning data into useful information and I'm slowly but surely working out a game plan. I'm also seeing where I've been going wrong and why. In addition to that, I've had some really great feedback this week which reinforces that I'm thinking along the correct lines. These talks and specific instruction have also been very motivating.

During rolls, these lessons have yet again been reinforced, and thanks to the fabulous guys at my school, I feel like I might actually one day turn into a bit of a grappler.

Where I've been going wrong is in several areas. First and foremost, I have been making too much use of going to turtle. I assume it started because I discovered that it's a place under the bigger guys where my breathing isn't impeded, and I could survive. I became very good at defending it, too. But of course, it's not a position with a lot of options, and certainly not a position for attacks. And what's the point of stalling? Oh, and lately, we have all been learning a lot of turtle attacks, so it's getting harder and harder to defend..

From this flea I got in my head about going to turtle as soon as I wasn't on top, I developed a habit of turning away from people. That often gives up my back. Oh, and defending my neck when someone has my back, that I'm pretty good at, too! I even escape from there regularly. But it's obviously not a good spot to be in, and if I escape, I often escape to turtle. Basically, it's a dead end.

Now, since I discovered that one of my favourite positions is guard (preferably closed), and especially since I discovererd that I can hold it well and it's feared in the school (hihi!), that's where I want to be. I am again working on that particular armbar from closed guard, and making some progress. And of course that leads right into several other submissions.

Last night during open mat, one of the blue belts pulled me up twice and gave me a big pep talk, when I turned away. He is quite right. What I want is turn in and get the guy in my guard. Even half guard. He pointed out that the worst thing that can happen is that I end up in side control. Well, that means I'll have to perfect my side control escapes. That also feeds right back into another problem I have: when I have closed guard, I'm hesitant to open for an attack, because I fear to lose it and they pass to side control. Hence my open guard sucks, because I don't use it often enough.

Ironically, I'm no longer that scared of side control, although when I end up under one of the bigger guys, it's ain't no fun at all... I have relatively good defence, and with more work on my escapes, I won't care if I end up there.
To get better side control escapes, I need to pay more attention to using my hips. I think I've mentioned that before :-) . Ah yes, the hips.... The good news is that in recent times, I have been working on that, and I know that my bumps and shrimps and hip escapes are getting more effective.

So it's all related.

Other comments that came out of the last few training sessions are positive. Hands and feet are working simultaneously, I'm stringing some stuff together, my side control is nice and tight, and generally, I'm making the guys work when we are rolling. The other thing that someone said last night was that there are two places where people go wrong when they train. One is that they don't like to tap (now that's NOT my issue), the other is that they beat themselves up too much over stuff (he wasn't looking at me, but I KNOW he was talking to me!).

Therefore I have my work cut out for me. The plan is:
make a detailed game plan
practice side control escapes
practice the armbar from hell and at least two gotos/alternatives
don't turtle, learn to fade back to open guard BEFORE they weigh me down
don't turn away from people, instead hip escape and go for guard
shut up and train (= no comparisons, no self bashing, no saying "I can't ")

I think that'll keep me busy for a while!

So what did I actually do this Wednesday & Thursday?

Wednesday lunchtime we had a tiny class. I took the warm up and then served as grappling dummy to show the other two guys some chokes. They then went off to practice those and I had some one on one time with my instructor. We worked on the armbar from hell. I still had problems with it. So we ended up deconstructing it, and working on each bit separately. I finally figured the bits where I'd gone wrong and I ended up with a working version. So happy!! We had a very brief roll after that. I did some things right, but as usual, I turtled, then had my back taken etc. I attacked his ankles, but for my troubles I ended up tapping to a lapel half nelson from some weird place he maneuvred me to. Haha, that's his favourite game.

Wednesday evening was mostly rolling. I scored one of the spazzy white belts. He caught me in an armbar and with the speed I felt it come on, I snarled at him. That did have the desired effect, he let go and he later apologised. We had another roll and he armbarred me again after a long time, this time in a more civilized fashion. Third roll he suggested to start from the bottom of side control, to work on his escapes (this was the first time I thought he is growing up and becoming a training partner!). In fact, he did have a lot of trouble getting out of my side control and sort of got stuck in switchbase. I took that as a good opportunity to show him ways of getting out. So for the first time ever, rolling with him ended in an excellent note.

I had a long roll with a purple belt. He did let me work a bit, and I had his back, had sidemount, even mount. Tried for all sorts of stuff without success. I maintained mount longer than I thought was possible so that was a plus. I tried my fancy armbar from guard, but he's wise to people angling off, so I couldn't get the setup. All in all a really good roll. There were a couple of rolls with the king of triangles. Strangely, lately, I seem to avoid his triangles pretty good. But he gets me in armbars instead. On the other hand, I know he just loooves my closed guard, and I got in lots of practice at grip fighting, breaking him down and attempting chokes. Just couldn't get near that armbar... But good stuff.

Thursday night's open mat was small, only four of us. We all had a few good rolls, but we also worked on specific stuff, and discussed various things. I had a go at trying out my armbar on one of the big blue belts. Once he postured out of it, but once I got it locked in and finished it. Yeah!! Of course, if he'd used all his strength, he might have exploded out of it. But he said it was very tight, and I did in fact end up with both his arms where I wanted them, giving me the option of armbar on the bottom arm, and cutting armbar on the bottom one. I also had a chance to go from lockdown and attempt the electric chair sweep. He thought I was trying for twister and bailed. Fast :-))) And we re-engaged from open guard and on we went... He commented on various parts of my game and made a lot of useful suggestions.

The big white belt who's been the bane of my life over recent months helped me with working on my turtle issue, and I had a chance to practice the fade back to guard and an escape out to the side if he grabs my middle when we are head to head. But somehow, I also had more success in keeping him off me, using open guard. He's a really nice guy. I know he's irritated me in the past, but hey, I irritated him as well. The only answer he had to my tight turtle was to turn me over by force. But he is aware of how much more he weighs, too, and he's never been unduly rough.

The other guy armbarred me a few times :-) But he didn't get the triangle. Not once.

I think the guys at my school are fantastic. Oh yes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

closed guard

In Monday night's class, we did a flow drill and then some rolling. It was a pretty relaxed medium sized class. For a change, there was another woman, and we were partnered for the drill and the first roll.

The drill started with our partner in mount. We escape from mount by trapping one of his feet with our opposite heel to get to half guard. From there we go to lockdown with underhooks and do a whip so that our head comes out the side opposite to his trapped leg. Then we push against his armpit to get to electric chair, but instead of finishing that, we sweep to side control, making sure we take the leg with us and holding it while we establish a tight side control. Then we let go of the leg, take mount and repeat with the partner doing the relevant moves.

I had several rolls and it seemed that I had excellent energy (mental and physical!). Someone even commented that I was "aggressive", but it was more that I was in an excellent frame of mind and really went for it. I had the whiff of success and wanted mooooaaare! So I had a lot of fun. I seemed to hit closed guard and boy, did I make people pay for being in there :-). I hit a sweep but aside from that, most other attempts failed. I think the problem I have is that 1. I'm too comfortable there. And 2. I hesitate to open my guard (which I need to do for most attacks) because I fear to lose the position and get passed. That's stupid, of course. It limits my progress. I don't want guard as a stalling position, I want it to attack, so I need to attack more. And what of it if I lose it? But oh well, another thing to work on.

The good part of the evening was that I came away feeling good. Instead of focussing on my shortcomings (not capitalizing on solid closed guard to attack), I looked at what I did right (successfully break people down in guard, transition to open guard and back to closed, goal-oriented mindeset etc).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

shut up and train

Those are words of wisdom. More of that can be found in a post titled "This is fun?" at .

Yes, I did print that post out, and I've read it several times since then. But I think I need to read it DAILY!!

I had another one of those evenings at training on Friday. I drove home after class, questioning anything and everything I did. I was yet again on the bottom for most of the duration of a long roll with a white belt. Then I had an ordinary roll with a blue belt (my fault, not his!!) and a reasonable one with a purple belt. Well, that's how I felt, anyway.

The truth of the matter is that I'm still keeping on comparing, and having some expectations of how I should be going, rather than just .... shut up and train.

After some thinking about it, really, I didn't do that bad. I was pissed because I made a couple of stupid mistakes, but at least I'm aware of where I went wrong. In fact, the last roll with the purple belt guy was great. I actually shut down his current favourite pass, a low, hugging, tight sort of a pass which I previously couldn't prevent. During the whole roll I seemed to have time to think, time for small adjustments, time to threaten his arms or attempt a choke. Sure, he didn't go full on, but he doesn't give me much, either. He caught me in a combination he taught us a couple of weeks back (cutting armbar from guard to armbar on other arm), so we laughed about that.  He's about my size, and very technical, so I love rolling with him. I always learn so much.

Aside from rolling, we drilled the armbar to omoplata to triangle transitions. I like those types of drills because the hammer into my brain and muscle memory the need to string stuff together and move.

So why on earth would I be disappointed coming out of class? Ok, by the time I'd fuelled up the car on the way home, I had come to decide it had been a good class. But really, I need to stop being so negative. And the only way that'll happen is if I stop trying to measure, compare and be upset about a perceived lack of performance.

I need to .... shut up and train :-)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

bjj and women

There is a fantastic article at about attracting women to and keeping them going in BJJ.

I personally really don't care whether I wrestle guys or girls. Right from the beginning, I had no issue about being the only woman in class most days. But it's sad that there aren't a whole lot more women involved in BJJ. There are just so many good things things that come from training, and there are so many women who would benefit tremendously.

The article addresses a lot of the issues and makes excellent practical suggestions. Hopefully, if more schools put some of those recommendations into practice, there will be an increase in the number of women joining and staying.

Our school is only small, and women's only classes would be hard to justify. Aside from myself, there are only very sporadic showings of females. I guess if I could see that there are some interested ladies, I would happily volunteer to be assistant instructor, to help get some newbies through the first few tough months.

I watched a purple belt grading

Last Saturday, we had a grading. I just went along for the fun. A few white belts got their first stripe. What was fun to watch was someone testing for purple belt.

He had to work hard, there were countless rounds of wrestling and then more and then some more... His technique is obviously good, as despite fatigue, he did really well. It really was impressive to watch. I was so pleased for him, too. He is one of the nicest guys in our school.

On the one hand it scares me to see what's expected, on the other hand, it's something to aspire to. Not that I need to worry about getting to that level for a few years yet....

I've been to four other classes.

Last Friday we warmed up as usual, but did some standing pummeling as well. Then we worked on the transition from lockdown to whip up to dogfight. Then attacks from dogfight, mainly electric chair and taking the back.

I had a couple of rolls. One with a heavy blue belt who tends to let me work instead of smashing me, but I have to work, so he's a great partner. The other roll was with a young guy who goes 110% every time. He doesn't seem to care for technique, it's all about forcing things with strength and speed, and he's always rattling on about some fancy killer technique he saw on youtube.... Gah. As one of the other guys said, thankfully Mr.110% doesn't come very often. I made a mistake, he got my back, and rather than having my jaw crushed, I tapped to his rnc. Before going home, I watched one of the blue belts taking him down a peg.

On Monday, we drilled four attacks from closed guard: armbar, triangle, take the back and a cross lapel choke. The choke setup is to overhook one arm and grab the far lapel. With this, we can control the posture of the person in our guard and the collar is anchored down. Also, he loses the use of one arm. With the other hand, we can then reach into the opposite collar and go for the choke.

Wednesday lunchtime, we also did cross lapel chokes. I worked with one of the very new guys, who was a bit timid and unsure to grab hold of my collar properly and choke hard. I assured him that I'd tap if it works, but he was still being super careful, when the instructor came over and gave him the "you should not be NICE to her" and "she will choke YOU" lectures :-) . After that, his chokes weren't bad.  In all, we drilled the choke from mount quite a bit, then we did three variations of grips for the same choke from closed guard.

On Wednesday evening, we worked on rubber guard and drilled the transition from mission control to chill dog (bleh, I hate those stupid names!) and then jiuw claw. We also looked into how we can get an armbar from mission control or chill dog. And how to get the triangle from mission control. I'm getting the hang of this stuff and it helps to have long legs and reasonable flexibility. The only issue I have sometimes is that due to the length of my legs, it can be hard to get my feet on their hips. But maybe I'm just not in a good position, maybe I need to adust by scooting up a bit first. Of course, having broken them down, it's hard to move myself, being sandwiched between mat and my partner's body. I think this needs a bit more work. But I have had success with rubber guard, so I'll keep working on it.

I had a couple of rolls. One thing I saw in some instructional the other day was to deflect people's arms as they are passing one's guard, this denies them the abiltiy to settle and gives me room to hip escape and regain guard. I tried that when the opportunity came up, and I had partial success. So that's something else I'm going to work on.

I've also been watching Rigan Machado's instructional on triangles, and without being aware of it, I started buggerising around with open guard, spider guard even and looked for a triangle. Then my partner laughed and said: funny, that looks like a Rigan move. Well, he's the guy who lent me the dvd :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

open mat

Only four of us turned up for open mat, and the instructor was around for a while.

One of the blue belts is due to be tested for for his purple belt on Saturday, so he was keen on honing his skills. At the begining, he had a few rolls with the instructor which I watched (and to prevent them from rolling into a steel beam..). Then they talked about turtling and how that can be counterproductive. They then worked on how to fade right back and look at establishing guard, instead of going to and staying in turtle, say if he's escaped from sidemount.

As I view turtle as a go to position at the moment (my defence is very good from there), and have questioned the wisdom of this already, I followed that exchange with interest.

Also, we are learning a lot of turtle attacks at present, and I won't be so safe there from now on :-) . So it might be time for me to start thinking of turtle less as a safe position to hang out, and more of a transition only position. Food for thought.

I had a number of rolls with our (soon-to-be-purple) blue belt. I was ah.. choked and armbarred quite a few times in a few minutes. He actually apologised, because usually he gives me some time to work on my stuff. I said hey, it's your grading, you need to work YOUR game, work to your heart's content!! I was only sorry I couldn't challenge him more :-) . I absolutely don't mind being "cannon fodder" for someone who helps me so often, and is so technical.

I had several rolls with my fellow four striper afterwards. I've been thinking of how I can beat his evil crushing pass and how I can avoid having my limbs trapped. I'm not there yet, I had my limbs trapped and got passed the crushing way :-). BUT. I'm finding chinks in his game.

Now it springs to mind that I shouldn't let my arms be trapped to begin with. But it's his thing, he grabs hold and pins down and reels in. At some point, I need to use my arms, and it's as though he's just waiting to snatch something. It's his game. I know he does it and I'm starting to find ways to break his grips, before it's too late and sometimes I see it before it happens. Basically, I need to ensure I don't enter into his game. But it's difficult to put into practice. Ha, I'm working on it!

We had one long roll in particular where it felt more like I had some clue of what I was doing, instead of just getting smeared across the mat. Of course I have no complete recollection of the roll, but I do remember that I swept him a couple of times. He was too busy concentrating on something to notice he had no base on the other side, and I felt it. I escaped out the back door on one occasion. I passed his guard, using a knee through pass, much to my surprise. I had side control a few times but was unable to do attack his arms. I had mount, too, and nearly succeeded in getting his elbows up to attack an arm. And stayed there for a bit, too, while he seemed unable to escape. In the end, I tried for an armbar but he sat up and I lost it. I also nearly collar choked him from guard at some point. So it was back and forth lots of time. I had to tap out in the end to a body lock or something, but I didn't care.

He told me I was awfully close with several of my subs. But I was most pleased with the way I managed to negate some his his tight squeezy controls and passes. I also found I could break him down in guard and getting to his back isn't out of the question. I did it once and nearly did it again.

I know, I know, it's small unimportant stuff. It is just that his style of wrestling negates most of what I do, and I generally feel powerless to get the initiative, let alone work anything on him. But last night, I finally made some inroads in how to deal with those specific challenges. That, for me, was a big win. Now that I know I can do it, I can do it more often :-)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

attacking the turtle

I went to both the lunchtime and the evening class today. We went over the same things:

double underpass to side control
double underpass and flip over to turtle
attack turtle with rolling lapel half nelson choke
attack turtle with clock choke
attack turtle by rolling to crucifix

I'm having a bit of trouble getting the roll to crucifix right. We looked at two methods, and I think the only one I "get" is where I walk my legs close with his trapped arm, and roll forward over my shoulder, bracing off the arm nearer his head. But that certainly needs more work.

The chokes I liked, and I consistently hit the right grips. The rolling lapel half nelson choke really appeals to me. Once I had the knack of sticking my head in under my partner far enough and swinging my legs, it really flowed. I often had him tap before I finished rolling and certainly before I brought my leg up behind my hand.

It was great repeating the same thing in the evening. Different partner, same stuff, more reps.