Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22nd 283rd day

Had a very nice training session today, filled with joy, sweeps and chokes.

First thing I noticed, is how some people use the word "love" whenever they talk about jiujitsu in general. I mean these guys won't say I like jiujitsu. They'll say I LOVE jiujitsu. They won't say I like to do this technique like this and like that. What they will say is, I LOVE to do it like this, while grinning with sparkly eyes. There's a point in someone's career when they stop liking jiujitsu, it becomes a passion. The rest of the people might end up quitting around the way, sadly, unless they have some other strong reason to keep on course.

I am very fortunate to be part of an ever-growing school where I am constantly exposed to different styles and ideas. There is no uniform mind-set here. Some people are born warriors, with huge hearts, others are incredibly technical and patient, and some are both. We have people who play inverted, deep half, DLR, spider, you name it. Prof Bruno can use his x-guard occasionally to fill the void, however.

On a personal level, I've found that transitioning to deep half is effortless when I can't play spider guard anymore, and it's a bit too late anyway. I can always try a sweep, maybe fail, but at least get back to open guard after the ensuing scramble, or back to deep half. The thing to look out for in deep half, are kimuras, collar chokes (but they don't seem to be that threatening), and the persons slipping out the other way. Control those few, and you'll be golden. I am actually grateful to both prof. Bruno and Didier for teaching me proper hand placement when playing deep half. Fooled with that position for a bit, but I need to work it some more to get consistent about it.

December 21st 282nd class

I've observed a new cycle : I discover a new move, and catch almost everyone with it (usually a sweep). A few weeks down the line, people know it, so I have to tweak it, and combine it with something else, based on their reaction and whatever I might have researched, remembered. Usually, it ends with an entry to the holy triad : triangle, arm bar, omoplata, but it can also be a sweep in the opposite direction. Now for the next few weeks, I will make believe I forgot that killer move, but would apply for it when the person least expects it.

Conclusion : we certainly grow together as a team. The better the environment, the better the athlete will become.

At this point, however, my rate of growing has slowed a bit down. I research less new stuff, and I'm more concerned with perfecting whatever I know so far, and that mostly includes thinking ahead, as in, what will be two of the person's reactions, and how can I capitalize on them?

For that to happen, I need to slow the roll down, and before acting on whatever, I now try to guess the person's reactions, and piggyback on their momentum. Purple belts roll like this, and honestly, it's a very fun way to roll : it's rewarding whenever you guess their move right AND capitalize on it.

Had an insane 10x10 training this week. Hard workout for everybody. Managed to complete the sequence, but I realize I could use a little bit more strength/intensity here and there. It was probably easier for me than for people who attempted to pass my guard, since I have to expend less energy, generally.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15 278th class

I hate the knee slide pass. I totally despise it, and all its variations. I especially hate the knee slide combined with a near lapel grip, which sets up a cross choke. I hate this pass more than I hate hot beer. I'm still debating which is worse : getting stabbed in the head, or getting knee slid for the umpteenth time(in the same training session), followed by the obligatory choke out.

This pass is so extremely hateful, that no amount of counters can actually appease my hate for it. This pass should not exist. It should be taken off the map when people roll with me. It's so much easier to protect passes on the ground, when the person tries a lazy torreanda, or doesn't know what the fuck they're doing while tossing my legs left and right while I continue taking a sip of my favorite sports drink. Why the hell did they invent this pass in the first place, to make my life harder than it already is? I think I need to do something drastic. Something so incredibly drastic, it'll appease the passing gods, like sacrifice a goat, or burn a brand new Shoyoroll gi. But will that be enough? 

Unlikely. In the end, all that matters is Bruno's broad advice : fight for those damn grips. When the dude gets all hyped up and chooses to run around my guard, and I'm still deciding which grips I should be working on, while he already has a pant and arm grip, I need to put it through my thick head that I'm about to get fucking passed. That's bad. Ok, maybe burn a brand new Shoyoroll gi, AND miss a black belt class on purpose? Will that appease the passing gods? Maybe I need to go back in time, and make sure the technique never gets invented in the first place. Like find the guy who invented it, and kick him. Then run. 

Okay, okay. I need to calm down. If I know my problem, I have half of the solution already cooked up. This pass, like any flesh-eating disease, is better cured by prevention. So other than never playing guard ever again, my options are…. Learning the damn thing in the first place, and its entries. 

Here's one : From butterfly guard, if somehow one leg ends up across the person's midsection, HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS! Or another one : Open guard, pull on one side, and place one leg in between his. HELLO KNEE SIDE PASS! Or another one : Simply put your damn knee in between his legs, and HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS! Or another one. Half guard, then stand the trapped leg up. HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS. God damn that's a lot of entries, a lot of options. Okay, what really matters in a knee slide pass, is actually sliding the damn knee in the first place. What if I get reaaaaaly sneaky and don't allow them that luxury? What if I chose the right path to bliss, and instead of trying to push their hip with my other leg, I hooked behind their GOD DAMN KNEE SLIDING .. KNEE instead? I know for a fact there's a sweep from there. Hard to get, but it's there. SEcond thing : don't let the damned passers grab my inside lapel in the first place. Or of they have it, find a creative way to freakin brake it, while ALSO protecting the GOD DAMN KNEE SLIDE PASS. Yeah… I need to calm down.

That, and learn how to recover spider from a stuffed knee slide attempt. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dec 13th 276nd class

Rolled with mostly purple belts today. Had the chance to remember the importance of grips once again, a point prof. Bruno stressed with me the previous day. Effectively, I can dictate what's going to happen much better when I first focus on grips.I can limit the game they play, the passes they try, and I can see where I continue fucking up. Luckily, I plugged a few gaps in my little game, but the more I roll, the more I discover new things to work on.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Dec 12th 275th class

This marked the first time I was on the spot ever, and it went pretty well. Learned a few tricks, such as not giving out all the details at first, since this is a Fundamentals class. Students not only forget the details on the second try, but it might stop them from developing their own skills.
I might have to look at the techniques in more detail for next time, in case I'm put on the spot.

Got owned by Prof. Bruno as if I had just discovered jiujitsu last week, and honestly, it's extremely humbling. Witnessing the level of timing this person developed is otherwordly. Take your best brown belt, divide his timing by 1000, and that would be Bruno's timing - from ANY position. It's simply unbelievable, unless you witness it yourself - and he was still holding back his skill. He was just playing with my timing, just provoking a little reaction, I was going berserk, and next thing i know, I'm defending my back as he was already transitioning to a choke from mount. Rinse and repeat. Unbelievable. I felt as if I was drowning… repeatedly. I tried my best to grip something, but his hip placement was ages better than what I could anticipate based on my own previous experience. He was effectively beating my guard with an inch more or less in either direction. Later on, got the tip to focus more on my grips… I am lazy with my grips, and I admit it. I let the guys give me some grips, then work from there. Wrong attitude.

On the other hand, had another mini-epiphany today. Everything seemed to flow. Technique from technique felt as one, for some weird reason. Everything made sense, in a more general context of sorts. I felt this not during rolling, but during flow. Every move I was doing felt connected.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7th 274th class

Big day for Gracie Barra Montreal today : Rodolphe Beaulieu obtained his black belt from Prof. Bruno Fernandes, and Georges St-Pierre, UFC welterweight champion, got his 1st degree on his black belt.

Helped teach the Fundamentals class, as usual tonight, but realized something pretty cool : people do things differently, both good and bad. For example, when escaping the rear bear hug over the arms, some people weren't stepping close enough to the other leg, so their trip wasn't powerful enough.

Got a really nice tip from Didier for playing deep half : grab right away the far end of the person's pants (of the trapped leg).

Worked a really nice transition from the underhook butterfly pass, but whenever the person  shrimps and uses a leg to push away : switch for an underhook pass, but pull the second leg back : the pressure really sucks, as it breaks your legs open. I see one opportunity though : grabbing a kimura from that exact position. Got it twice today, on big dudes, and that stuff works!! 

Had some really productive rounds with pretty much everyone I rolled with : took the speed down a notch, and so did my more experienced partners, so we can both feel where the hell we're headed. As the saying goes, you must learn to walk before you can run. 

Overall, a great, great training day. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday December 6th 273nd day

Had a tougher time than usual both sweeping people and controlling them. At the start of the round, I don't really hunt for sleeves anymore. A lapel grip and some pressure on the person's hip seems to be quite adequate to stuff the first few attempts at passing. I occasionally end up in half guard, with people threatening a knee slide, or an esgrima pass. At that point, I seem to be able to either frame their neck and work for an underhook, or push on their near hip. They might insist on the knee slide, or even the nice shoulder pass prof. Bruno showed from open guard. I can usually recover, but my sweeps are harder to apply. I need to set people up more and more : everybody's getting smarter! I guess I'm making progress myself, but I clearly remember stuff being much easier to do before.

What I did notice, though, is that everybody is using ankle locks, including myself! Insane.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday December 5th 272nd day

Taught my first-ever technique : inner leg trip from the clinch. Got compliments from both the class' instructor, as well as a student. Led the warm-up, and gave the usual details. I've varied it a bit today. After jumping jacks/squats/push-ups, I went on to the open guard movement (three positions), neck, legs over the arm, and a bit of stretches. Forgot to do the bridge and shrimps this time around, but it was still a great warm-up.

Learned Shaolin's classic sweep from half-guard, or so it's called apparently. Need to have the person put pressure on the shin, and grab her top hand as you somersault backwards for the sweep : you also end up in half-guard.

This is going to be my technique of the month.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday dec 2nd 271th day

This is my time, this is the day I start to get bjj. Yep, today is the first time I really get it. The big realization at blue belt level is well that you only use a small portion of the incredible arsenal of moves out there. This is especially evident when jumping from gi training to no gi. First of all, for me, that means dropping 90% of my spiderguard attacks, and that's a shocker in the great scheme of things. But the thing is, once you start reviewing your rounds, you see what really works for you and what kills you as well. After a while, you realize the same basic ideas are in pretty much every move we do. Get those fundamentals right, and you become a beast. It's incredibly easy to get swamped with so much info from left and right, but nothing really works in sparring until you get those fundamentals right. I'm obviously not talking just about basic submissions and escapes, but about a general educated feel of when you are in trouble and when you're ok to push some more into a given direction.
As far as I am concerned, this is a very humbling realization. Whatever I think I know, I've just scratched the surface. A little detail like a hand placement an inch higher or lower changes the position completely. It's really hard to believe this, until you realize it for yourself.
This is obviously very encouraging, since it means I can't possibly get bored exploring, not just in breadth, but also in depth. Truly fun times await.