Open Mat

Are you sure that’s Jiu-jitsu?

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I haven’t been to BJJ since Dec 22nd. The new place that I have been attending closed down for the holidays on the 23rd and reopened on the 4th of Jan. I thought I would return on the fourth but my job got the best of me and I had to wait until today. Old readers know the drill but for new readers I had to prepare lectures, attend department and college wide meetings and deal with administrative paper work.

Today’s class was operated like an open mat and get this, there were more brown belts and purple belts than blues and whites. And there were more blue belts than whites. I just ate up the instruction. We worked on Dave Camarillo’s arm-bar defense, a twister like submission from guard and an Ezekiel choke you can use when someone attempts to get under-hooks from half-guard.

I rolled with a lot of guys so I don’t recall all of it but one roll stands out. When I grappled with Dave who is a brown belt we had a moment that could have made a highlight reel (not ESPN/think more of that late night show with the guy showing 10 year old sports clips). Dave is about 155 pounds and he had me in side control. I believe he was getting up to spin for an arm-bar but I was able to catch one of his legs. I folded his head down and tried to power roll him over me. Instead he just stopped himself mid-air. I couldn’t push him over but he also couldn’t come back down.

After several seconds we attracted the attention of everyone in the room who wasn’t grappling. After a few more seconds I realized I would be a douche if I didn’t let him back down. As soon as I started to let him down someone said, “Finish it Bakari! Keep going!” I tried again to push him over but he just stayed suspended in the air. I finally let go and he landed on his feet and we re-engaged.

Someone said, “Now Bakari, are you sure that’s Jiu-jitsu? I heard a voice respond,” It looked more like dance.” That was followed by, “I thought it looked more like a dumbbell press.” Whatever it was it was kinda cool!

I enjoyed class today and I jumped right back into the fray with no problems.

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

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Open Mat: Jacksonville Gracie Jiu-jitsu School

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Last Saturday I attended open-mat at Jacksoville Gracie Jiu-jitsu School, an academy operated by Luiz Palhares. I had a real good time. In all there were four of us. I asked their names a couple of times so I could remember, but I can only remember one now; Joe who was a purple belt and who also assisted Prof. Palhares during the seminar held where I train. The other two guys were striped blue belts, Professor Palhares’ son, a real nice guy and another who showed me a few special techniques I will discuss in a moment. (Sorry about forgetting your names.)

The guys were casual and laid back, which has always been the case when I have visited someone else’s academy and one of the reasons I appreciate BJJ as much as I do. The first thing that struck me is that they were very technical. They were working on a technique involving pulling your opponent’s arm past your head in guard which can lead to a sweep or an armbar. After that we started rolling.

Professor Palhares’ son (blue belt/one stripe) invited me to roll and before I knew it I was involved in a death match. We weren’t wild, but he had a style which involved standing up constantly, spinning around for position, knee on belly, etc. Since we had on the gi I also had to deal with the disorienting effect of someone constantly tugging on my collar or sleeves. One thing I have always remembered though  is that it is okay if a person establishes one grip but never two. So I kept spinning on my back and breaking his grips while trying to defend and mount some sort of offense. Since he played a standup and “slightly” acrobatic game I was able to get a few sweeps and takedowns from the bottom.  I would say I lasted for a good five minutes or so before being tapped.

Next I rolled with the other blue belt (two stripes), who was about 6’1and said he weighed 225 pounds(Correction: His name is Steve). Since he had a torn miniscus, we rolled light. He offered a lot of technical advice while we were rolling. He coached me through a sequence for escaping the mount that I hadn’t tried before. Although I knew the techniques, I have never used them in combination. He also took me to the side and showed me a defensive technique for “older guys.” He said it was designed for guys over 40. But since we were both 35 I guess he thought I was old enough. I am definitely adding it to my game. Since I am not a fan of Muscle Jiu-jitsu, this will surely come in handy.

It is always great to train with guys who have totally different games. I had quite a few epiphanies and had the distinct feeling that my level of play has risen. Here’s what I learned:

I can stand up when sparring (for guard passes, knee on belly, etc. ) It’s obvious, but I don’t do it.

I need to start using combinations.

I need to start using grips to my advantage since everyone else does (especially since I have taken Judo).

A defensive technique for older men (I didn’t give the name of the technique so older guys can keep whatever advantage they can:)