Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knee Sweeps, Leg Drags, and Dynamic Guard Passing

As part of my tournament prep work I've been focusing on two things, my defensive halfguard work, and my guard passing.
Largely my issues in halfguard have come from originally learning the 'lockdown' in my first year of training and latching onto it as a way not to get passed. As I get better at guard retention and open guard I drifted away from halfguard and never really updated my game. Once I hit purple belt all of a sudden my open guard game and my defensive guard work were no longer sufficient to avoid halfguard as reliably as had been the case in the past, so all of a sudden I was stuck using a whitebelt level lockdown game against purple belt level passing. Not a good place to be.
During my refocus on halfguard I quickly came to the conclusion that I no longer liked the lockdown at all. It pinned my hips and interfered with my mobility in a way that was counter to the entire rest of my game. I started exploring other halfguard options and found Caio Terra's DVDs and adopted the Knee Shield halfguard as more what I wanted to have in place. I also revisited Marcelo Garcia's X-Guard material and began working on ways to transition from Knee Shield half and Z-guard to the X-Guard. Progress has been slow but steady and already I'm getting bogged down in halfguard much less than I was a month ago.

Now, my halfguard progress is great, but that's not what I wanted to write about. My largest developmental improvement and the one that I think represents the larger fundamental shift in my thought process is in my guard passing.
After my last visit to Alliance HQ when EVERYONE was standing to pass I decided that I should give serious thought to standing more and working against standing passes. Only one guy at our affiliate gym REALLY uses standing passes, so I grabbed him a few times and worked against his style and took mental notes about how he moved and what he used to set the passes up, then I looked at some black belts and how they passed standing (Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu is a good one) and took some notes on what the commonalities of successful passing were. I then revised my own passing game and moved away from trying to force my knee cut passes when they weren't really there and developed a few tricks for backing out, standing, and passing.

My passing game now much more often involves looking for a leg drag, then if that fails I retain control of the foot as much as possible and move to a knee sweep pass (Dunno any other name for it), if that fails I frequently am setup for an ankle lock, or I am able to step in with my other leg and pass by moving to reverse KoB. I also switch back and forth a lot and pass to either side. This is a much more active and dynamic passing game than my previous game that involved a lot of pressure and grinding my way through to side control. I still like that method and use it, but having a more comfortable standing passing game has opened up a lot more options for me.
I'm hoping those new options will help me out at US Grappling Charlotte in May.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Triangle Choke Redux

I've been working incredibly hard in class still, forcing myself to push hard and keep moving and keep fighting at high intensity no matter what and I think it's helping my overall mindset. I've really gotten back into the groove with my bread and butter submissions, the omoplata, the triangle choke, and the spin under loop choke.

I've been making it a point to hit the triangle on the bigger guys in the gym and finish it in preparation for the absolute divisions at US Grappling in May.

Mostly it's a matter of just keeping in the groove and getting in good training every week.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Training! Again!

Worked more back control tonight, basic slide escape, fatboy roll, and a sort of seio nage shoulder pressure escape to combine with the fatboy.

I rolled with the bigger side of the room since I'm trying to get ready for USG and need to be forced to work hard. Still managed to be lazy a little bit with a new guy, but rolled with Coe and a 300lber to keep me honest.

Monkey flipped the 300lber, which was great, but he moved faster than I expected so my follow up armbar attempt was super sloppy and I ended up back on the bottom and exhausted. Spent the next four minutes or so making incremental movements to avoid getting pressure choked and stuff.

Definitely good training.

I'll have some more real content up next week. Probably next Thursday.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hard Work is Good for the Soul

Recently I've been feeling like class wasn't really working me the way it used to. I wasn't waking up sore the next day, I wasn't feeling half crippled on the drive home, it felt like even against the tougher guys in the gym I was able to relax and play my game and work on things. Tonight was a whole different story.

A couple of guys from ATT in Atlanta have moved to the Athens area and are looking to find a new place to train down here. They are both purple belts and they kicked my ASS. It was a great time. The smaller of the two is a guy I know from facebook named Sergio and he did the same knee cut pass on me about a dozen times. It wasn't until the 8th or 9th time that I realized what the hell he was doing that kept me from blocking the pass with my bottom leg. He ALWAYS had a grip on the middle of my bottom shin. Even when he didn't have it when he started the pass, somewhere in the middle he ended up with it. So I was never able to catch him to stop the pass.
They also both favored D'arce choke sequences, so my neck got wrenched around a lot. I was able to put together exactly 5 seconds of offense against the larger of the two when I finally caught the DLR right and was able to momentarily take his back before he spun right back into my guard. Both guys moved with a lot of intensity, a lot more than I'm used to rolling with, coupled with excellent technique. They both also had excellent standing passes, which our gym lacks. I'm hoping they decide to stick around to train with us since it will force me to roll with greater intensity OR get twice as tricky if I want to continue being lazy.

I do think I finally figured out how to deal with that standing knee-cut pass though...