Check out my other blog: Psychology of Jiu-Jitsu
Before I talk about the training session, first let me gush about my new place.
I finally made it to my new BJJ home last Friday and I made it official. I joined JaxBJJ. I really like this place. I started visiting it last month and was able to try it out for a month at a vastly reduced rate. I didn’t want to sign a contract and then be severely disappointed so I wanted to make sure this was the right place.
Everyone, I mean everyone, speaks to you when you enter the academy. Further, they go beyond that. They actually start conversations with and want to know about you. (It is really important to me that the environment is a friendly one and that I feel comfortable with the people I train with.) Also, there are belts of all types. I have never seen so many blues, purples and brown belts in one place. Every rolling session is like receiving a private session and people have been very eager to share their knowledge as well as ask questions when I do something they haven’t seen.
The professor is friendly and won’t hesitate to demonstrate techniques to improve students game, even to the point of pulling students to the side for 20 minutes or so and reviewing technique with them. Also the place is full of people who have been training 2, 3, 4, and 5 years at JaxBJJ and up to 15+ years with Prof. Shealy. It also has a huge kid’s class, which suggests stability to me and not only does it have a lot of guys and gals in their 20s training but also a lot of guys in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is cool because it means that it is a safe environment and one that doesn’t burn students out.
Anyway, here’s what happened in class.
Usually the morning class is run like a open-mat but this morning Phil led the warm-ups then Prof. led us through some drills on finishing front chokes from the guard. We then sparred from position, trying to obtain a front choke from guard while the other person tried to pass. After drilling we started doing progressions where the time (rounds) is gradually increased as class goes on and when you switch to a new partner you get in the same position the previous person was in. Sometimes it works out great (you end up in mount), sometimes you end up screwed (your partner has your back.)
For the past month or so I have been working on my butterfly guard and trying to improve my defense to side control. As a consequence my guard has been passed, — a lot. Plus, almost everyone I go up against is a blue belt or higher so there isn’t much wiggle room to play. After being outgunned on the bottom so much I started to feel like a scrub. I think I am going to have to re-think my butterfly training for a bit, because ‘it ain’t working.’
Anyway, I still enjoyed class and look forward to heading back again when my schedule lets up.
Florida, like most of the U.S., is experiencing mind-boggling temperatures. One day it’s hot and the next day it’s cold. I think this had something to do with the classroom temperature on Friday. It wasn’t exactly scorching inside but it felt ‘swamp-like.’
Warm-ups consisted of a light jog, rolls, shrimping and stretching. In drills we worked on a takedown from behind, an X-sweep and 2 variations of the X-sweep. Those 2 variations were ‘killer.’ Professor Smiley showed us how to perform a variation of the sweeps where we turn upside down and then spin around again for a triangle choke. I didn’t know I could perform those techniques because I am not as flexible in my back and hips as I would like to be. But I was able to do it with little struggle. Later I was lucky enough to have Prof. Smiley demonstrate the technique on me during ‘sparring.’
I rolled with Prof. Smiley first and we started on the ground. Good news first, I was able to use the sitting up guard pass he showed me last week. He complimented me on the pass and said for a second he was ‘stuck.’ I had solo drilled the pass all last week so I was happy that I was able to pull it off. Although I tapped constantly, I was still able to use some of the techniques that I had been drilling at home to varying effect. I have been trying to concentrate on not lying flat on my back, using the umpa (sp), sensing escapes from the half-guard, etc.
My next roll was with Art (blue belt). The main thing I want to say here is that Art is very good at tapping people out from his guard. He maintains a Youtube page that maintains his exploits. So I spent most of my time defending his attacks from guard. I was able to use a arm bar defense that I learned from Dave Camarillo. (It’s on my video side-bar page.) I drilled that technique at home as well because with the gi I needed a different set of techniques to defend them.
All in all, good practice. I am seeing little improvements. But if they keep occurring they will one day be grand improvements.
Monday, we worked on hip movement, guard passes and a hip toss. The first exercise was a hip toss. I haven’t been thrown that much in a long time. However, the good news is that I can still fall correctly without being injured.
Our second drill consisted of all of us laying on our backs and then Smiley would walk left or right. We had to follow him by rocking and rotating our hips. We had to keep our head and feet off the ground. The purpose of the drill was to make sure that we always have our legs in the proper position to defend someone trying to pass our guard while standing up.
The remainder of the drills were guard passing techniques. The main drill consisted of grabbing the gi pants of the person between their knee and groin, folding them into a ball and then “driving” them left or right. Then we insert the knee over the leg that’s on the ground and step around for the pass.
I have to admit that by the middle of class I was just holding on. When it was time for rolling I had a sub-par performance with Big K. I could barely defend and was only able to hold out just long enough that it didn’t seem like I was pitiful.