Principles

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This will have to be short since I’m typing this on my phone. Today I had a few more breakthroughs. I realized that positions and submissions were like the black and white of Jiu Jitsu but everything in between is the grey. The reason I’m stuck in my Jiu funk is because I haven’t given enough attention to that grey area. This includes scrambles, escapes, and transitioning safely to a good position while escaping. I have this terrible habit of letting the opponent secure their position and then trying to escape or survive. I know I’ve said similar things in the past but it’s making more and more sense now.

And I’m really appreciating getting to understand the general principles of each position. This is way, WAY, more important than knowing moves. My back escape was very effective against a high level opponent because I had a clear concept of what I needed to achieve. And even though it sounds like a duh! scenario, it hit me the other day that if I simply think of staying parallel when defending, I will be safe from almost all attacks, except maybe foot locks and the like. I need to be aware of my “no pass zones” on either sides of me when I’m defending. Also I need to stay off my back and onto my side pretty much always.

If these few basic principles work as well as my back defense, I believe I’ll be able to break out of my Jiu funk in a short period of time.

Heel Hooky

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Up until today I’ve had more confidence in my defense. After all, it’s all I could rely on at the last review class. Today I realized a huge hole in my D: the heel hook cometh. Zach was nailing them right and left which left me flopping around like a damn fool. I got some good tips from Jesse but I wasn’t able to implement them fast enough. There were some bright spots though. I was able to get a tap from a scrambling footlock and we ended the match in a dual heel hook in which it could have gone either way, but besides that and some decent escapes I left feeling like I had a huge homework assignment: finding the principals of deterring, defending, and early escaping the dreaded hold. I’ll keep you updates on my findings.

Inner Voice Coach

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Today we learned about escaping from the lockdown/grapevine.  I’ve never been good at maintaining a tight grapevine, not sure if it’s my lack of technique or having longer legs.  Anyhow Jody and I drilled half guard escapes and I realized that principals are all I’m trying to soak up at the moment.  Basically most if not all the moves will become clear to me once I understand the overall principals of the position and what both myself and the opponent needs to achieve position and submission.  Jesse and I actually had a long discussion about this a few weeks ago.  Sadly it takes me a long time to finally have a realization, though they are coming quicker lately, but now I’m starting to see what the other person is ‘trying’ to do so I just try and get there or deflect what they do before it gets sunk in.  Of course sometimes you’re late in your execution but that’s how the art goes.  I asked Jody to start from the back and I employed the escape I wish I would have had at review class.  I got out pretty efficiently and he showed me a few more tips on top of that.  Now when someone gets my back I hear 2 things in my head, “PROTECT YOUR NECK AND GET YOUR DAMN BACK TO THE GROUND KID!” Yes my inner voice is somewhat of a bastard but indeed helpful.  Jody and I also worked some open guard offense and defense.  I felt pretty good in defensive DLR guard even against a guy who has unreal base.  I just have to keep playing that guard and see what people do.  So far I’ve been knee barred, foot locked, and just passed in general but it rarely comes without a fight.  Next class should be Wednesday.  I’m feeling pretty healthy.  PS Jody also reminded me of the roll back half guard sweep.  I tried it on my grappling dummy a few times and I think I can start to use it whenever opponents do the inverted top half.  🙂

Transformation

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I look back and remember the times when I felt like I was at my best whether it was guitar, fitness, breakdancing ;), teaching, or jiu jitsu.  I can honestly say that I’ve never felt this good on the mats.  My new goal is to always (or as much as I can) roll for 15 minutes at a time.  Last class I was able to do that with 2 people and it went very well.  I stayed calm yet tried to stay offensive at the same time.  Ended up getting a variety of submissions that I’ve been working on.  The subs that worked were: Baseball Bat choke, step over Saulo choke, armbar, triangle, and dickhead choke.  Dickhead choke is where you’re in someone’s guard and you reach up and push the collar across their neck.  I was a bit tired and by the end of the night I rolled with Max.  He’s a tough redbelt with a cool accent.  I was once again defending and avoided a clock choke.  I never turned on the gas and ended up tapping to a footlock at the end.

My main areas of improvement have been my DLR guard.  I now know a few sweeps from there but most importantly I feel that I’m able to hold people at bay because of my longer legs.  I think I finally found a guard (besides closed) that works for me.  For fun I also got 2 bermimolos though they were sloppy.  Just testing the waters.  My goal for tomorrow is to do more marathon rolls and to get better at defending the guard. Biggest realization: When I feel danger approaching I need to deal with the situation right then and not wait for deeper waters.  No more waiting and defending.

Back In The Saddle Again

887443_420035051419391_1557222424_oI know no one reads these but I’m cool with that.  I realize how much writing down my jiu happenings will improve my overall grasp of ‘the world’s most difficult (and often frustrating) martial art.’

I’m a bit injured at the moment but am quickly healing.  Review class took its toll in many ways.  My right shoulder feels weak and sore, my lower back is twisted up, and I have a few mystery pains.  This isn’t surprising though considering what I’ve been through the last month or so.  First off, I’m off Orbits gum which contained aspartame.  That stuff is toxic and I’ve been chewing it for over a decade.  Imagine that, over 10 years of poisoning myself not to mention another 10 years of chewing Extra which I’m sure has it too.  So I guess to expect a full recovery in less than a month is silly.  Anyhow the best part is that when I go to regular class now it doesn’t take 5 or more days to feel healthy again.  I was averaging around 2 classes per month (pathetic yes) but in the last 15 days I believe I’ve gone to class 8 times one being the review class which I’ll discuss in a minute.  My weight has been steadily dropping as well but it has been very slow.  I would like to get down to whatever my ideal weight is and I’m finding out what that is with this sudden muscle gain/weight loss due to BJJ.  One day I’ll wake up and my scale will say 170 and then the next it says 164.  Perhaps I need a new scale because the official scale at the review class said 171.2 on the day my scale said 165.

I’ve been going to the stand up days but after this last review I think I’ll just hit open gyms on those days.  Since we don’t get tested on our stand up, just ground effectiveness, I feel I have to devote my full attention to rolling and drilling, mostly the basics.  Sure I’m learning new techniques but I feel my biggest weakness is the ground game.  If I had to assess myself I’d say my strengths are: flexibility, staying calm (too calm), my guard, my subs, and my ability to tap out from all positions;).  My weakness are glaring: My guard passing, defending the guard pass, escaping to better positions, and my stamina all need major work.  Most of this I realized after review class.

Review Class: I wasn’t going to go since I just got off the gum but I thought, “What the hell, at the very least I can see where I’m at now so I know what to work on.”  Showed up and like always everyone looked strong.  I knew it was all in my mind because of my prior experience taught me that looking strong and being strong are different.  And usually it’s the smaller guys who can really mess with you.  I wasn’t too nervous because I didn’t really have the fire to win.  I was in observation mode.  Mr. A paired us up and I went against J. (a 17 year old wrestler).  He got double underhooks on my legs and I tried to underhook one of his arms and nab the triangle but his grip was too strong.  He easily passed (which is one of the area’s I’m going to master defending against) and next thing I know I was defending for 13 minutes.  He came close but never quite sunk in a submission.  I felt like I was doing my best Ryron Gracie via Metamoris impression.  Staying calm, breathing, and trying to stay alive.  After 15 minutes were up, it felt like 30, J. and I laughed about the match.  How crazy, one guy on another guy’s back for most of the time.  I felt a sharp pain in my lower right part of my back and knew it was going to only get worse but I still had 3 matches left.  So I just went to the corner and stretched it out during the break.

My next opponent was S.  He was a red belt too like J.  I put him in DLR guard and it took him around 5 minutes to start to pass.  I can hold the guard but I don’t have too many techs off of it yet but I knew having long legs would make this a good guard to play.  He passed (surprise) and I was defending like a mofo again.  I eventually got him in my guard and did my “patented” <—is that right? hip bump sweep fake to triangle and landed it.  I landed pretty tight so he tapped right away.  It was nice not having to fight for it too much and burn out my legs.  I took my sweet time writing down the results and we were suddenly back at it.  Breathe, keep breathing.  I had energy reserved but I only unleashed my offense in short bursts, kinda like a trap which unfortunately wasn’t activated nearly enough.  Time expired with S. on top of me but I felt alright about my defense and getting a tap.

Now that I won one match I knew my next opp. would be tough.  Next was J2.  He was one level higher than me but one belt lower, he weighed more.  Just before the match I could have sworn he mentioned that he had tapped out one of the instructors.  Was this just a mind f**k attempt?  It kinda worked but by now I felt so in the moment I didn’t care.  I did my best for how I felt, my back still aching, but this guy felt like cement to move.  He mounted and I upa’d him off which was nice.  He caught me in a 2 arm armbar in which I was able to free one but he grabbed the other and I had to tap.  Yes I could have stood up or spun or some shit but this was review and I have to preserve my limbs for guitar.  Plus, he earned that one.  We reset and I felt defeated but didn’t want to stop.  I got guard, he went back and I tossed on another triangle.  He had one arm out but the other was only 1/2 in so I had to fight a bit.  I squeezed, Mr. A was right there watching, and next thing I knew he said “TIME!”  I released the hold and high fived J2.  He deserved that one.

My final match was against J1. again to resolve the tie.  We pretty much replayed the first match except now my defensive fighting spirit was a bit wounded.  He got me in a bow and arrow choke and I almost tapped but I still had one vein free.  He let it go.  I didn’t realize how bad my back escape was until that moment when I couldn’t get free.  The first thing I did when I got home was to review the basics and now I know I can escape most back holds now.  This is why I wasn’t so down after the marathon matches.  I’ve come away with a lot of good info.  Sure a sore back and shoulder but those will heal in time.

A few days later I got the email saying I didn’t get the promotion to Red 3.  I was at first relieved because I didn’t feel like I deserved it after that showing, but then a deeper emotion took over.  I’ve been at my current level for years now.  Plateau would be a good word IF I were going to class on a regular basis but no…I was mad at myself for allowing myself to grow stagnant.  I need to develop a new attitude on the mats.  I have to be able to execute what I know with more energy and less holding back.  I keep hearing Morpheus in my head saying, “You’re better than this.”  So I have a new determination to get out of the ‘weak’ red belt pool and into the ‘stud’ red belt pool.  There is a big difference.  Time to get studly and stuff.  😉