Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 BJJ Resolutions

So after successfully managing to get married and spending an awesome 10 days in Gatlinburg I'm ready to get back to work and jits. This being New Years Eve it's time to lay out my resolutions for the new year. My BJJ related resolutions are as follows:

1. Purple Belt: I want it. I think I'm close enough that a really dedicated 6-8 months will put me in position to get it by October/November.

2. X-Guard: I want to make this a more central part of my game.

3. Get my weightlifting back on track and push my PL total up to 900lbs.

Along the way I'd like to pick up some gold medals at NAGA or Lutador, and possibly some of the US Grappling comps.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BJJ Private w/ Zapruder

So the guy doing the ceremony for my wedding is Bullshido member Zapruder who also happens to be a Brown Belt. He's in town for the wedding and staying at my place, so last night we pulled out my mats and he gave me a short private with some really handy stuff in it. I'm going to try to get it down here before I forget it.

1. Gable Grip chokes: There are 3-4 really solid variations of the Darce/Anaconda and RNC that using a gable grip instead of the more traditional grip. The principal behind them all is generally the same, to change the pinch point of the choke from the crook of your elbow to the crook where your hands meet. It's important to squeeze your elbows towards each other to finish the choke and it seems to require a little more strength on the squeeze, but more than makes up for that by being stupidly hard to defend.

2. Halfguard pass counter: The most common halfguard pass I run into is the one where your opponent bases out and turns his back on you. Apparently to counter that all you need is good timing and a backwards roll. This will require more of a shift in my focus when on the bottom of halfguard than anything else since I'm usually trying to ball up and go for old school or deep halfguard.

3. Spinning upside down triangle choke setup... thingy: So when my opponent is passing my Z-guard with their arm through my legs to block them, if I spin upside down under them it catapults me around straight into a triangle choke. It's totally pimp and I definitely need to work it since it combos well with my z-guard stuff.

4. The Saddle: My directionality was wrong. I kept getting off to the side and using my free leg to disrupt balance. What I need to do is get directly squared up so that my knee is pointed straight up the center of my opponents body and use my hips to disrupt balance.

5. Kimura/Footlock gripping: By torquing my wrists down sort of like doing wrist curls it adds an entire other dimension of pressure on the submission and allows for better/stronger finishes. In order to improve my ability to do this I need to start doing some wrist curls or something just to help strengthen my wrists further.

6. Guard retention: This was one of those things that when I saw it I just went "DOH! Why haven't I been doing that?" I normally block guard passes with my bottom foot by putting it on my opponents hip. He steps the top foot over between and then feeds the bottom foot back through. Definitely something I like and need to work on.

While we were rolling I did manage to catch him with the overhead sweep that's been working on everyone, that was awesome. He let me pass his guard a bunch and work on trying to sub him. Of course, arms like steel cable and a grip like a vise so I couldn't free anything up to actually come close to a sub, but it was fun to work against someone else who is my height with that degree of skill. He only outweighs me by about 20lbs, so I really got to see the higher level technical side from someone very much my size and build.

Tonight he's coming along to Megalodon to do a leglock class for everyone so I'll get to see him work against our bigger purple belts and blues to see how he handles them as well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UGA Grappling Club 12/9

The final session of the Grappling club for the semester. Ankhor wanted to work on finishing triangles, so we went over how to turn the corner, the various things you can grab onto to help turn the corner and keep your opponent down, and how to complete the sweep to mount if your opponent is defending well.

After that we just had a good time rolling. I played with a bunch of people and generally tried to work positionally and maintain my flow. I really feel like I need to go back and work on sweeps more. My attempt to concentrate on situp sweeps is helping some, but because people flat RUN from my closed guard it doesn't help as much as I'd like. I've been comboing it with the gift-wrap sweep, some half butterfly/elevator sweeps, and the kimura/kimura sweep, as well as the scissor sweep, but I feel like I need to sit down and just work through that group of sweeps a few dozen times and feel each one out a little more. I don't think I'm using them as efficiently as I should be.

Had a great flow roll with Antony at the end, just relaxed and flowing through positions. At one point I ended up with a triangle on him and he chose to try to defend by sitting down and trying to put his feet in my armpits, so I ended up finishing the most relaxed triangle ever, with my hands behind my head, just chillin, because that escape doesn't work all that well.
Sometime during the roll he snagged a Kimura on me and I ended up in halfguard trying to roll out and he ended up finishing me with one of the weirder kimura positions I've ended up in where I was half upside down with one leg trapped. Very fun roll and the kind I think I'm going to ask him to do more of with me since normally he doesn't like rolling with me that much because we roll together a TON and know each others tricks too well.

No more grappling club until... January some time I think. I'm looking forward to it.

JiuJitsu 12/8

We worked on some more omoplata stuff, unfortunately I barely remember the details at the moment. I remember it was a Triangle choke to Omoplata combo, but not much else. AH! Suddenly remembered. We were doing Z-Guard to Triangle Choke to Omoplata.

We rolled from Z-Guard and I did... stuff... the whole thing is a hair fuzzy. Once we started rolling from neutral I was in a group with Ian, the big ex-wrestler guy, and Will. Ian was ready for most of my shenanigans this time and I think I only managed to get on top once. He wasn't standing up in my guard this time, so no monkey flips. I can feel how much he works to avoid using all of his strength against me, but sometimes I think he goes a little overboard on it and could combine technique and strength a little more. His technique has been getting cleaner since he started working on using less strength though, so as long as it's helping him I don't mind if he's holding back a little more than absolutely necessary.
Big wrestler guy has stupidly good base, I finally swept him and choked him with my single collar choke.
Will also has excellent base and it took me a while to get that single collar grip on him as well and get the sweep. He held out until the bitter end though and since I only had my finger tips in the grip he was able to resist it until time ran out.
We did a couple of back and forth rounds within that group and nothing particularly notable happened.
Afterwards I grabbed Kris to roll since he's one of the lighter guys and learned that I can no longer bait the triangle against him in order to work on crazy passes. Tried to pull off a sort of spinning "hurricane" guard pass and wasn't able to get my hips around before he locked in the triangle. He didn't have it exactly perfect, but he's got some insane squeeze strength and was able to finish it eventually. That moves him from the category of "experiment with whatever stupid shit you want" into "Work your A game".

An excellent class though. I'm slowly starting to form some kind of concept in the back of my brain that I can't quite describe yet relating to my opponents pressure and how I would like to feel when I'm on the bottom. I think there's something useful brewing back there, but I don't know what it is yet. For the moment I've plateaued and am just putting in reps until the next breakthrough.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gameplan Update for Dec 2010

As the end of the year draws nigh I find myself looking back at how my game has developed over the last 12 months. My first year as a blue belt drew to a close last month and feel that I've developed very well over that time. I've gone from what was, in reality, a game based on around hail-mary triangle chokes and lucky sweeps to one that has a myriad of paths to top control and a wide variety of submissions from each position to attack with. I feel like my Gi control is still lacking though. I'm not much for tying people up with the gi and I probably should be doing more of that. Anyways, aside from that I feel like it's time to lay out my Game as it stands right now.

Destinations: Kimura (Gi and No-Gi), Single Collar Choke (Gi), Triangle Choke (No-Gi)

Kimura - This is really my catchall now. I go work on settings this grip up from wherever I can get it and I've used it sweep, finish, and combo with other attacks like the Omoplata. I prefer to go for it from the top in either Technical Mount or headmount.

Single Collar choke - This choke is still about the only Gi specific submission that I use. However I use a half dozen or so variations of it. If at any point I can get this grip I can at the very least sweep and usually finish from whatever position I'm in. I also use it against the super large guys in order to get top position since hooking it and rolling under them always lands me on top.

Triangle Choke - This is still my bread and butter in No-Gi. I hit it from pretty much wherever I want and finish it most of the time, even when my knee is stacked all the way to my forehead. I'm still working on tuning it in Gi though. The additional grips and friction give me a lot more trouble locking it in and finishing it there than in No-Gi. I'm far more likely to combo off to the armbar in Gi. One of my next goals is to combo it with the single collar choke from above since I'm pretty sure I can make that work.


Takedowns - I'm all about pulling guard. I have a couple of decent throws, but it's so difficult to get people to engage that I generally end up just pulling guard to get things moving. I suppose I should be more aggressive looking for a takedown to a dominant position, but I'm going to have to get someone to drill with me more next year if I want to REALLY improve my takedowns. My primary guard pulling method is to get a collar and a sleeve grip and then attempt a suicide throw, if it works I end up in mount. If it fails I have guard with a decent set of grips.

Sweeps - I like to get the sleeve grip, try a scissor sweep, then if they manage to block it or post to quickly roll to the other side and push the arm across while pulling down on the collar and hipping out to the side. That gets me halfway to their back and usually gives me the single collar grip, the giftwrap grip, or their back depending on how they react. If that fails I generally move to an elevator sweep with a single butterfly hook. If that fails as well I fall back to spider guard -> leg hook -> bicep slicer sweep. I've become less enamored of that sweep recently since all of the guys in the gym know it and immediately posture up really hard against it, however I'm continuing to work it to look for things to chain together with it when they posture up like that. If that one fails is generally time to regain guard and start over again and throw a flower sweep and some triangle attempts into the mix.

Top Game - I've gone from feeling completely bewildered with KoB to using it as my primary attack vector. I like to get to Knee on Belly, then fish for an arm and transition to headmount and work the Kimura, or slide over to mount and then switch to technical mount and work for that same grip. At the same time I'm always looking for my single collar choke grip and the armbar as well as an opportunity to setup a triangle choke on guys my weight. Against anyone bigger than I am I don't give up top position voluntarily and will continue to transition on top until something opens up.

I've spent the last couple of months working on sharpening up my situp sweeps and found that in No-Gi I can fire them off without a problem, but in Gi I tend to be pinned to the ground more often and more effectively and have to rely on my legs to break the stalemate. I'm not able to situp as often in a manner that lets me attempt the sweep. My armbar transitions and combos have improved greatly though and my combinations in general are far above what they were a year ago. My top control, base, and pressure have developed well also.

I think my focus is going to be more and more on combining techniques with the goal of the third technique in the chain succeeding. Hopefully by the time I have a series
of solid, working combinations I'll be up for my Purple Belt and ready to move on to figuring out what to do with the rest of my game. I definitely know enough techniques to have something effective from pretty much any position. I need to sharpen up my footlocks a bit, and work on developing more combinations and better flow. If I can really pour myself into that starting in January then I should have no trouble earning my purple by the end of next year.

JiuJitsu 12/3

Friday night class at Megalodon we worked on Omoplata variations which included a couple of different methods of finishing the Omo which I have every intention of working in to my normal omoplata game.
Two of them involved being perpendicular to your opponent instead of parallel. To finish you extend your legs and hook their arm at the tricep, or even just extend across the neck, and slide your hips back to put pressure on the shoulder. Worked quite well.
The third was a counter for when they try to roll, it's a relatively LATE roll that you are countering though, so I don't get a chance to use it very often since most people try to roll on me WAY early in the omo. To counter you roll forward with them while maintaining your grips and end up in a sort of crucifix position, then scoot your hips out away from them to finish.

We drilled from closed guard and I opted for the "Large" side of the room with a couple of 200lb blue belts and a ~250lb ex-wrestler, and one of our 220lb 1 year white belts.
Within that group my buddy Johnny is the most insane to roll with. He's huge, strong, fast, and skilled. If I do anything except just try to hold him in my closed guard he blasts right through it and subs me. So of course I threw everything but the kitchen sink at him. Every time I do that I get a little closer to finding something that will slow him down. The other big blue belt doesn't have the same kind of wrestling base, so despite being super strong and athletic I have a much easier time of controlling him and can fairly reliably sweep him and occasionally secure the submission. I found today that when he stands up in my guard his hips fairly reliably end up in position for the overhead sweeps that we worked on a couple of weeks ago. I hit him with it twice and it was a thing of beauty.
The 1 year white belt caught me napping when I tried to just waltz through his guard and I had to defend a triangle choke for about 45 seconds. He actually would have had me if he had kept the lock he had at the beginning which was in front of my shoulder and really tight, but he adjusted his legs and gave me space to defend, so I rode it out.
Gigantic wrestler guy took me a while to figure out, he has good top pressure, but doesn't protect his neck enough, so once I determined that it wouldn't get me crushed underneath him I grabbed the single collar and spun under for the sweep. He seemed surprised that he couldn't fling me off of him since he had just hurled the 220lb white belt around like a small child. Picked up a Kimura on him, and one of my kickover armbars. Fun times and it was nice to work against the big guys again.

I may have a more philosophical post a little later today about gameplan construction.

Friday, December 3, 2010

UGA Grappling Club 12/2

As my wedding approaches the days are starting to blur together. It's hard for me to remember what days I have class and what days I don't.

We had about 17 people show up for the club this time around, including three new ones. I started out with a quick review of the two basic mount escapes, the Upa escape and the knee-to-elbow escape. Then I paired them off and had them work the escapes back and forth starting with very little resistance and working up to full resistance, with an emphasis on combining the two escapes. After about thirty minutes of that I set up 5 "rings" and started king of the hill with mount escapes. One partner starting in mount and having to submit, the other person just having to escape or regain guard. I made sure to emphasize that the TOP person actually has the harder victory condition in this one, it being much more difficult to submit someone that it is to just regain guard most of the time.

I rotated in a few times for fun, then we did half an hour of rolling. One of the new guys has a couple of years of Judo/BJJ from Middle Georgia Judo and wanted to roll with leglocks in play. He went for an early heel hook but didn't even come close to having a grip on it. I threw on the saddle and heel hooked him, then heel hooked him again when he tried to pass my guard standing, then knee slicered him when he put on the body triangle while I was in his guard.

After that I played with some of the other guys, one big athletic guy just absolutely blew my grip while I was trying to control him. The most trauma I've felt in my hands in a while, even worse than when I'm playing spider guard all night.

Continuing my situp sweep work I started just diving for the kimura from guard, then when my opponent tucks his arm, I finish the situp sweep. Worked extremely well and I intend to employ it further in the future.

It was a good class and almost everyone is making decent progress. I'm still encouraging them to come join Megalodon if they are serious about jits though.