Even though I haven’t been able to make it to class, with any regularity these past few months, in the last few weeks I have been training everyday on my own. I rationalized that just like baseball, tennis and soccer players must have outside training regimens if they want to improve substantially then I need to take seriously the idea that I can do that with my BJJ training.
The very premise of this blog began with the idea that I would do something related to BJJ for a year and see what could happen. As a result, I became proficient at a lot of different basic moves and was able to earn 4 stripes on a white belt during that year. I received a blue belt 3 months later.
After my birthday this November I once again began to think about what direction I wanted to go in BJJ and how I would get there. But, in the absence of regular training at my academy I didn’t want to be too bold with my unleashing my goal upon the world. But I can talk about some of the techniques I have been working on and how well those techniques worked out in BJJ class today.
I rolled 6 times after the drilling section of class and I was able to carry out a number of techniques with various levels of success and one with complete and utter failure.
The first guy (forgot his name) I rolled with I tried to use Rob Lovi’s (see above) approach to grappling, which entails a lot of spinning over (or under) your opponent. We started from our feet and he immediately fell to his back. Usually I just kneel down with someone does this but this time I stepped over his right leg with my left leg with the intention of achieving a knee on belly (KOB). I have never ever tried to do this with a live opponent. (I wanted to establish the KOB and then spin around my right leg to achieve mount.) Instead, he spun underneath me and latched on for a foot-lock. So I spent the next 30 seconds or so untangling my leg and foot. Once I escaped I proceeded to pin him down and hold him in side control. He was wiry so I had to keep re-establishing dominant positions until the bell rang.
Next, I rolled with a guy whose name is Clarence (I believe). Before we began, Carlos called out to him, “Watch out…” and then stopped midsentence and said, “Never mind, you’ll find out.” Clarence looked a little suspicious after that and made a joke, but he was still game. As soon as we locked up I was able to obtain a left side foot sweep that put him on his back. That’s when Carlos said, “He’s a Judo Guy.”
Since he was a big and strong, I didn’t let him use his explosiveness and went from side control, mount, etc. I did however try the Marcus Jones “Darkness” crucifix and was able to get it. For anyone who doesn’t know that technique all I did was turn into him as if establishing a scarf hold from side control and then placed my far left leg over his head and locked his head under my leg. (The last time I tried this move was almost a year ago when I was grappling with one of the guys after learning it from either one of my Gracie books or a video on Youtube. I was able to get it then but didn’t know what to do with it so I never put it into my arsenal.) I tried a knuckle choke on him but he had a huge neck so I gave up on it. I finally saw that he was open for an Americana but by the time I latched onto his arms the buzzer sounded.
I know this is bad (forgot his name), but then I rolled with a guy with a beard. When I first shook his hand earlier in class it felt like he was going to take it with him so I knew he was going to be strong. However, he played more of a leg game and liked to use the butterfly guard. So I began to work on some the butterfly passes I have been working on. I was able to slice through his butterfly with the guard pass about three times but I have to work on establishing the under-hook on the far side when I am passing because he was able to turn into me each time before I could establish side control. This back and forth went on for the rest of the time. I would pass and he would re-establish his butterfly a short time thereafter. My next goal is to establish position after the pass.
Following that I rolled with big Josh. He was one of the original guys that prompted me to want to learn how to pass butterfly guard easily and with no fuss. So I was happy to roll with him. The only problem was at this point I was tired. I learned quickly that the stand-up pass that I wanted to use on him requires a lot of oxygen. After we slapped hands he assumed his guard and I stood up immediately. I then took my right foot and slid it into his right leg in the hopes of pinning it and leaning into him for a knee on belly. But when I would begin to press my leg against his he would extend his body backwards and lay flat. It didn’t happen like that on the video I have been using to drill. So in the end we ended up in the cat and mouse game we usually play where I am try to pass his guard and he tries to defend. However, when I opted not to pass and instead try for a guillotine he had to work to free himself. If I work on that technique some more I would be able to nail someone with it. At one point he ended up on his knees and I immediately began working on the D’arce choke. I didn’t get it but I tried to hit it immediately.
One benefit of me going over a number of moves each day was that when people ended up in certain positions today I didn’t have to think about what I wanted to do or how to do it. I had a plan.
After Josh and I stalemated Clarence asked if I wanted to grapple again. This time we started from our knees. I dragged him down to his back by pulling on his left arm and controlling his neck. Then I hit side-control, mount and tapped him with an Americana. We slapped hands and began to wrestle again. This time when he fell to his back I jumped up and again went for my left leg step over knee on belly pass. I was able to briefly hit the knee on belly. I then spun my right leg over and it landed for an instant before he bench-pressed me off of him and I was headed for a landing on my stomach. I spun around to meet him and we grappled for position. He had a sort of butterfly technique going on so I wrapped my arms underneath his thighs, placed my head onto his stomach and then jumped both legs over his guard (I learned this from an Eddie Bravo video). From there I was somehow able to get to his back and he kept turning into me so I let him turn into mount. He turned onto his stomach again but this time I was too high on his back and I fell with him landing in my guard. I tried for an arm-bar but couldn’t sink it in. We ended with him in my guard. After rolling with him I asked how long he had been grappling and he said 3 weeks. I was shocked. But he also said he’s in the MMA class so that might be the reason why he has ‘presence’ but not necessarily the BJJ technique.
My final roll was with Carlos (Brown belt). Carlos is much smaller than me but he is one of the few guys that I am not able to fool with my Judo tricks. The last time we rolled he threw me after about 2 minutes of jostling. I was dead tired so after I could see that we were headed down the same path I sat down on my butt. I have been working on the opening steps to De la Riva guard so I immediately placed my left foot into his hip and my right leg around his left leg. I became confused on what arm I was supposed to grab but I remembered in a video I watched that Rob Lovi grabbed Jacare’s leg like a Koala bear after he established De la Riva guard so I did the same thing. I could swear Carlos laughed. I didn’t know what to do after that so after a little bit of a struggle I let go.
Even though Carlos was able to pass my guard I was able to hold him at bay for a good while (seconds). When he established side control I was able to lean into him and then roll him onto a sort of reverse side mount but he was able to explode out of it pretty quickly. At another point where he established side control I was able to sit up and push him away. He was right back on top of me though. (I am able to do that sometimes because I don’t think anyone is ever expecting that. I learned I could do that when I first started grappling in 2004 but don’t do it that often because I never really think about it. )
It ended when he was able to get my back. I have been working on turtle escapes so I baited him to a side and figured I get a chance to try out the roll I have been working on for weeks. But he cross-faced me. I realized quickly I wasn’t rolling anywhere. He then sunk his hooks in. We struggled for a while and then I tapped to a RNC. At the end of our roll Carlos complimented my ability to stop him coming inside with a stiff arm, he compared it to Smiley (Head instructor and owner). I’ll take that compliment any day ☺
This post is probably one of my longest. Yet, I wanted to highlight how I was able to incorporate a number of new techniques into my arsenal even though I haven’t been able to make it to class as often as I like. By practicing on my own these weeks and concentrating on key techniques I feel like my BJJ ability and IQ has increased substantially. This experience has only made me want to train more.