Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Stick to what you know...

No training last Monday – bit of a communication breakdown, so Me Mike and Dean had a chat and then I went home and enjoyed a few beers.

Wednesday’s session was taken by Dean T – we didn’t cover any techniques. We worked on sensitivity to your opponent’s balance – starting in guard position, gripping up behind the opponent’s elbows and just manipulating weight as the opponent shifts to pass guard – really useful drill. This then evolved into discussing the notion of defending your own personal space with a “frame” that you simply use to keep distance and “deflect” any aggressive moves into your space – this works standing, kneeling, on your back – a universal principle. Really good.

Friday was MMA night – just a few of us, but rather than go full on MMA we just revised some of the escapes we’d covered with Dean T – escape from omoplata, escapes from armbar combinations and escape from kimura (underneath opponent, on side). A really useful exercise, as, even despite blogging the details of these moves, there’s no substitute for doing them…especially so soon after. I feel like the week or two straight after doing something is the key time for revision – so easy to forget stuff in this time after the event. We finished up with a bit of pad work – nothing silly, just working a few punches. Man, I’m so sloppy on this stuff – any basics I had (if I ever had any) have just gone and I’m slow, telegraphing, just all the things that you don’t want. I got some good pointers from Dean and Mike and I just need to work on these – namely keeping my hands up and keeping tight whilst throwing punches – it’s a muscle memory thing.

I was going to enter the Bristol Open Tournament this month, but I’ve not been 100% lately and as a result I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month and t shows – the combination of catarrh along with a drop in gym work meant I was struggling a little on Wednesday’s session – nothing bad, just I felt a lot more breathless and sweaty than I have done in a while. I’ve just finished a course of antibiotics and things are starting to clear, so hopefully I can get back to the gym soon – still deaf in my right ear though! So, yeah, Bristol – decided against it, plus it’s a long way to drive to sit around and wait all day, so I turn my attention to the Gracie Invitationals at Seni in April.

On the subject of Tournaments, congratulations to a number of the guys from Carlson’s in Tonbridge, who competed in the Europeans in Portugal at the end of January. By all accounts all who went acquitted themselves admirably and they returned with a decent haul of medals, including a Gold for one of their instructors from their London club – great result. I may look to enter next year…depends on funds and where it’s going to be held.

Last night it looked like being back to the old routine, me, Si and Big Dean. I’d had an email a couple of weeks back from a guy that was looking to train who said he was coming down, but no sign. As we were about to start, he showed up with a mate – it’s not an easy place to find! Anyway, Rob and Richard – two nice guys that have done bits of stand up to date and are not strangers to grappling (more on that in a mo). Dean, knowing we may have new bods had lined up a session looking at the two major escapes from mount (upa and elbow escape), so we drilled these a bit and then ran them as positional drills – man in the middle under mount, 2 minutes to get out, then fed another opponent. Si made short work of all his opponents, then it was my turn. First off, Richard on top. Richard’s a big guy and strong with it – looks strong and is strong. I really struggled under his mount and to be honest, was spazzing towards the end of my two minutes. I really just should have stayed calm, worked the techniques and taken the moments as they presented themselves….instead, my ego took hold and I was just trying to not get held by the new guy – sooo wrong! Of course, these drills are great for training the technique, but aren’t a real reflection – I’ve said it before, anyone, with limited skill can hold a single position with no great effort and with no submission attempts for me to work off, I wasn’t really given any great opportunities. On the other hand, if my technique was where it should be at then there shouldn’t have been a problem. I managed to shift Rob relatively easily, but again, more with strength than technique so a hollow “victory”. By now, I was gassing and had Si “pound for pound” Roberts to contend with. Well, Si just locked on and brought the weight down – I couldn’t breathe, move, nothing – it was so claustrophobic.

After a short break, we rolled. Dean paired me up with the new guy Richard. I’d already experienced how strong he was so decided that Jiu Jitsu rules and to stick to technique and started off reasonably well. From the knees, we gripped up and it was the perfect opportunity to try out the stuff we’ve been doing with Dean T. Sure enough as Richard moved I off-balanced him and was actually taken aback by the force with which he went over. I took cross side and worked easily to mount. From here, I was working for an Americana, one of my favourites, but again, Richard’s strength made this tough. I probably could have muscled it, but was still in “jiu” mode so gave it up. I looked for a few Ezekiel chokes, but my position wasn’t secure enough. Neither of the new guys wore Gis so my options were limited to a degree, otherwise I’d have definitely tried a cross collar choke. Anyway, after a while, I worked Richard into a nice position for an armbar – all set up and ready to go and this is where I always mess up – as I drop back, my leg nearest the head always goes light allowing the escape – and this was no exception – I’m mad at myself – I know so much better and have spent ages practicing making it a slow, controlled movement, only to get excited and screw it up!!!

So, here I am now, with Richard in my guard and now my “jiu” has run out on me. So, instead of relaxing and trying to work the very stuff Dean T had been teaching the week before, I start trying to go for sweeps, which I’m not in any position to do and, without a gi to grip up on, I have to confess, a bit lost on. Net result was that I ended up with Richard taking my back. This is where it was evident that both the new guys were not complete strangers to grappling – he had a good position with hooks in and was going for a rear naked choke – fortunately for me, he couldn’t close it so I made for my escape – moving to the open side, killing the underside leg etc etc – all going well until he was able to mount. Again – stupid!! How many times have I been told, and even written here that the last and most important part of that move is to frame against the opponent’s knee to stop the mount and to move out. Did I do it? No! Not just once either, but twice!!!! Anyway, some poorly executed upas by me led to Richard taking my back again, this time going for a Gi choke, which again, was not executed properly so I was uncomfortable but not threatened and after a while, time was called and we finished. Now, the fact that I survived the latter part of the roll means nothing. If Richard had just a little more experience, knew to take up slack in the Gi before executing chokes, then I’d have been tapping. Him not wearing a Gi was a factor – I couldn’t take the grips that I’m familiar with, but not the factor. Far too many times I was sloppy – my control was poor and I committed the cardinal error of getting sucked into a fight rather than staying calm and working what I know. Like, when I opened my guard and tried fancy sweeps – what was the point?? Better to have held guard and worked on disrupting his base which could have opened up far better options. Under the mount – why force poor upas?? Far better to have waited for him to attack and then go for something with his balance exposed. My frustration was short lived as I’m actually far more interested in the fact that I can review what went wrong and try and work it into my rolling next time – the path of development. So, from that point of view it was actually a really good session.

I rolled with Rob and retained far better control and secured a decent Americana. Feeling shattered, I also rolled with Dean, and he used our sensitivity/balance stuff really well and walked all over me – usual story but I had little else to give anyway.

So, apart from my frustration at myself, it was actually a really good session. I learned a lot – not new stuff, just how I need to keep control to execute the stuff I know well. It was great to have two new guys to train with. I hope they enjoyed themselves and come back again – it brings a new dimension and it was certainly (and Si commented on this) a tougher session than we’ve had for a long time, just by account of the fact that they were two strong guys with a clue about what to do, enthusiasm and a competitive spirit, compared to our comparatively “gentle” style that pervades normal training. The gentle style, when executed properly, dominates – I’ve experienced this, but certainly, it’s good to test it, learn from mistakes. This, after all is what happens at competitions and that’s what I’m after doing a few of this year. Competition is by no means my focus, but guys at tournament don’t roll gently so it was a timely reminder of how it’s going to be and what I need to be working on.

Good times.

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