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Friday’s class was a great session. I was able to actually notice a jump in my ability to defend guard passes and I was able to pull off a submission I’ve never done before and another that I think I have never done before.
Warm-ups were led by Art (blue belt) and we started off with a light jog (with short sprints), followed by the Geisha Duck Walk (on the balls of our feet and toes), Geisha Hops and Animal drills. After stretching, Carlos (Brown Belt/1 stripe) led us in drills.
Today Carlos provided us with a clinic on how to obtain, maintain and reverse Knee on Belly. I have rolled many times with Carlos and I have literally frozen when he has applied his knee on belly techniques. From below it looks as if he is spinning around like helicopter blades. My Knee on Belly technique is ‘suspect.’ I mainly do it to see if I can get it. I don’t have a string of techniques that I apply after achieving it, although I know a few I can do. What usually happens it that I will give up a mount or side control to try it and then the person under me will either explode or shrimp out and I end up in a scramble with my sparring partner. Carlos took us through many scenarios and I learned where I have been going wrong.
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling
My first roll was with Dan, a 6ft 4 and 217 pound white belt. (Earlier I asked Dan if he was okay because I had inadvertently hurt his back by performing an Ippon Seo Nage (shoulder throw) from a standing position when I should have been on my knees. He said that he was fine and that the pain subsided by the next day.) We started from our knees and I immediately pulled guard. I set up a flower sweep and had everything in place, or so I thought. He went halfway and then anchored down. I then worked for a head an arm choke and actually got his head and arm off to the side but trying to lock my arms around his frame proved to be impossible.
Carlos, who was observing, told me to play open guard. I played for a few seconds and then Dan pulled off a Torreando (bull fighter) pass on me. I remember thinking, “I didn’t know Dan knew how to do that.” I was able to reverse him after he obtained side control though by turning into him and then turning the other way and flipping him onto his back. From there I transitioned to mount, he recovered to half guard and then I was able to obtain a one collar side choke for the tap.
I also rolled with Art and I was able to work on the solo drills I had been practicing all week. Art shut my defenses down the previous week with his Torreando Pass. So much so that I was up late thinking about it one night and wondering what I was going to do. I kid you not, I had a thought to grab my University of Jiu-jitsu book. I opened it and the page was on how to defend the Torreando pass. Saulo Ribeiro provided four different techniques to stop, defend and counter the pass. I began practicing them immediately.
I must admit Dan caught me off guard when he did it, but I knew that Art was going to do it. When he did it was as if he was moving in slow motion. I could hear the instructions in my head as tried to pass and I was able to counter successfully and was able to go on offense. It reminded me of the boxer’s adage that it’s the blow you don’t see that knocks you out. I realized it’s the same with BJJ. It’s the techniques that you are unaware of and can’t decipher that renders you blind and the tap will soon follow.
As a result of rolling with Art last week and being handled my BJJ skills increased and I told him so. I learned four defenses, a guard pass, a submission and was able to incorporate them into my arsenal. I need more beatings like that from guys who are just above my level. Often with purples, browns and blacks the submissions come and I don’t know what happened. I don’t even know what to ask about what happened. When I rolled with Art (who is a fellow blue belt), I could see what was happening even if I didn’t know exactly what occurred.
Note: Art did tap me out twice during our roll.
My last roll was with Chase (4 stripe/White belt). Long story short, I was able to sink in a foot-lock that I have been working on in my solo drills. He was playing a loose guard, and I saw the opening. I started to wrap my arm around his ankle and I was thinking the whole time, “Is he going to let me do this?” After I locked it in I began to fall backward. He tapped before my back could hit the ground. Carlos called out, “That is the slowest foot-lock I’ve ever seen!”
I’ll take it. But I made a mental note that I have to speed up my solo drills because I practiced that technique slowly and I applied it slowly while rolling.
My efforts to record what I practice from books has borne fruit. I was able to tap 2 people (albeit new guys) today using new techniques. I have been working on the Closed Guard Overwrap and Overwrap to Back techniques from “Jiu-Jitsu University.” Today I was able to use both with a little variation during rolling.
While rolling with the first guy I was able to pull him into me while he was in my guard. I then realized that I could throw my left hand over his right shoulder and snake my right hand through his left armpit. I clamped them together (Overwrap) and then tried to use my right shoulder to bump his arm up so I could get my head out (Overwrap to Back). After I was able to get my head out I realized that I had a opportunity for a head and arm choke. I dropped my plans of hipping out and trying to take the back and instead locked in the choke from guard.
Oh man it was locked on tight. I didn’t have to squeeze hard at all and I have never felt that much power in a choke. I could have written it off to chance but I was able to do the same thing to the second guy I rolled with. He tried to struggle a little after I locked it in but a little squeeze made him tap too.
I only performed 30 reps each of both of those techniques and am glad that I was able to use it so soon. I guess the position I ended up in while transitioning from one technique to the next provided the extra torque in the submissions.
As far as the drill portion of class, we worked on guard defense. It was a really good session as we worked on a sweep, shrimping out, a block to an attempt to throw the leg over the shoulder, etc.
*The techniques I referred to are on pages 103-105 in the Purple belt section of “Jiu-Jitsu University.”
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I have had the book Jiu-Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro, and let’s not forget Kevin Howell, for a few weeks now. It has created quite a buzz for some of my fellow bloggers.
I have been silently implementing the advice in the book each class since I had the book, with great success. Here is why I think the book is so fascinating. The book doesn’t necessarily teach you anything new about BJJ. But it will DEFINITELY help you fill in any gaps and holes in your game. Further, the advice offered has been tested in the highest levels of competition so it is also trustworthy. I don’t know if this was intentional or it is just the way that Saulo Ribeiro instructs.
Reading this book is like taking the equivalent of a private session each time I go through a technique. Ribeiro and Howell emphasize the importance of an extra tight defense until you are able to counter, knowing that your defense is working if your opponent starts to muscle you and/or the higher belts have to dig deeper in their quest to submit you through your defensive efforts.
From the first day I started to integrate the advice from the book into my game I received compliments from rolling partners and the inner satisfaction from knowing that I thwarted someone’s plans. I’ve been told that I have good neck defense, I’ve seen my rolling partners have no options available to them from a dominant position and they had to totally change direction. It has also prevented me from being tapped out by a person who usually taps me every time we grapple (not my instructor).
I have a feeling that this is going to be a book that is going to raise the grappling skills of the entire BJJ community and implement a sea change similar to Eddie Bravo’s approach to grappling. However, it won’t be with flashy moves, but through the promotion of air-tight basics on which all Jiu-jitsu is based. The philosophical underpinnings which form the basis of this book also will give the reader tremendous insight. This book has demonstrated to me that you can know many or even all of the moves, but knowing how to do them correctly is the ultimate goal.