Well, things could have gone better, and they could have gone worse.
I lost in the first round again. However this time I didn't feel like I got caught by surprise or anything. The first couple of minutes went perfectly to plan before I made a mistake. Here's the video, then below it the breakdown as I see it.
My game plan was to go for an immediate single, essentially as a fake just in case my opponent pulled guard immediately. That's good for 2 points and frequently happens in my division. I shot, he didn't pull, so I backed out and went to the next step which was my drop sweep ankle lock attack.
I was able to secure the ankle and start attacking, but he was very good at keeping my legs pushed down and preventing me from getting proper extension for a real finish. I had it stretched out good a couple of times, but not enough to force the tap. So I went to the next part of the plan and used the ankle lock to transition to the top.
Then thinks went south. I had not really worked on what I was going to be doing AFTER that transition, so I came up, got points, and then sat there and let my opponent get his game started. He was able to get ahead of me and eventually take my back for the win.
I'm actually very happy with that initial implementation. Everything when perfectly. I just need to work on some more finishing details on the ankle lock, and work on smoothing out my transition into the guard pass. That's what I've been doing since I got back. A lot of transitioning from the ankle directly to the pass with no hesitation.
I should be able to fit in one more event this year, so we'll see if I can improve on this performance.
I haven't updated in a while because I've been extremely busy training for Masters Worlds in Vegas, and with general work and life.
Project Ankle lock has been a rousing success. I have successful transitions to the top off of it. I have redundant sweeps. I have resiliency against pressure and escape attempts. I've started comboing it with an immediate drop sweep from standing which has been highly successful as well. I feel great, but there are going to be 27+ people in my division at the end of the month so it's going to be a tough battle to make it to the podium.
Since before the ATL open I've been working on tripod sweeps and scissor sweeps using the ankle lock grip and then finishing the ankle lock. I've gotten to the point where I can achieve the sweep and finish the ankle lock on a wide variety of people including multiple brown belts and some of our more athletic folks, so I've decided to conclude the project and consider the Sickle into Ankle Lock to be fully integrated into my game.
For the next project I had briefly looked at adding in the Estima lock, but after tinkering with it I've found that I have to force the position a lot more than I want to if I want to try it. People just don't naturally respond to my actions by moving into a position that makes the Estima lock available. So instead I think I'm going to move to something else. Not sure what, yet, so it might be time to jam some youtube videos and find something new to work on, or I might revisit some of my sweeps.
Still, things are going pretty well. I'll be attending a Roberto Traven seminar this saturday which I'm looking forward to.
This was my first class back after competing since I've been working on tiling my floor and I came in looking to pretty much double down on how hard I'm working. We worked a couple of throws, and then how to enter for those throws off of escaping from side control. After drilling those we did 40 minutes of rolling which is where I really wanted to start working.
I started from standing for most of my rolls and was specifically looking to hit the Tomoe Nage with my LEFT leg since one of the things I learned from the ATL Open is that the grips I'm most comfortable with are the grips for the throw on that side, but I keep trying to hit the throw with my right leg. So I was successful with three of those, which made me pretty happy. I hit a white belt, a blue belt, and a brown belt with it.
From there I wanted to work on that same ankle lock sequence that I used at the ATL Open, so I was looking for the same opportunity to secure the ankle and work the single leg X-guard sweep to the finish. Once again I was successful three times, hitting the sweep and the finish on a white, a blue, and brown belt.
So I felt really good about my class goals. I spent my last roll playing full defense against one of the bigger brown belts. I had one small opportunity to try for the ankle lock, but he pretty casually escaped before I could even get the grip in, so clearly there is progress to be made, but also during the class I was awarded my 4th stripe, so I'm now just 6-8 months of REALLY HARD work away from possibly picking up a brown belt, which is pretty cool.
It's been a few months since my last competition, Master/Senior Worlds in Vegas, and I've been training quite hard. I decided almost at the last minute that I was going to go ahead and compete at the Atlanta Open. That that end I start working on my DLR passing, and a sequence of attacks off of DRL/Single Leg X/X Guard using straight ankle locks to attack or generate sweeps and guard passes. I also decided I wasn't going to try to cut to 141 even if it was only a few pounds. So I signed up for the 154lb division.
I showed up at the venue at about 12:30 with my division scheduled for 2:20pm. I spent a few minutes walking around the venue saying hello to people and seeing how the tournament was running. Things were running about 30-40 minutes behind, which is not too bad for an IBJJF tournament.
At about 1:30 I got changed then took a quick 10 minute nap, then started stretching out and warming up a bit. I don't remember exactly what time we got called for our division, but it was about 3:30, so only running about an hour behind. I spent a few minutes running through some breathing exercises to try to get my energy amped up a bit then stepped onto the mats for my first match.
I gripped up and tried to work a trip into Tomoe Nage combo, I didn't quite complete the Tomoe the way I wanted to, went to a sweep attempt that turned into a bit of a scramble, leading to me getting caught in a standing guillotine. I'm used to defending the guillotine, so I was actually much more concerned with avoiding accidentally slamming my opponent when I dropped down than I was with the sub getting finished. I stayed patient and worked my way free, then hit the same pass I've been working the last couple of months. I wasn't quick enough to stop my opponent from turtling out of it, but I was able to stall him out there and take his back. I started working for the choke and kept partially crossing my feet to get him to try to attack my feet and pay less attention to my hands. I was able to secure the collar and finish the choke.
Spent a minute talking to my coach and getting my forearms massaged, then had about a 15 minute break while other matches ran. Going into my second match I felt good. Everything felt very winnable.
My opponent was very quick to pull guard into DLR and I kept trying to work the backstep pass without much success. He was able to run me out of bounds on the single leg before I could get my hips in to roll him. He was able to sweep me, then we ended up in a small scramble when I tried to re-sweep. On the stand up he pulled guard again and, but this time on his sweep I was able to secure the single leg X-guard placement on the hip and drop right into the ankle lock finish that I've been doing off of the sickle sweep. A few seconds before he tapped here his ankle popped 3 or 4 times, it felt and sounded horrible, but he seemed fine afterwards and said it was no big deal.
With that I won my first IBJJF tournament. I now have a nice shiny gold medal which I am super proud of. This was the culmination of a lot of hard work towards getting more assertive in my game and just being better at implementing my game plan against my opponents.
This is sort of spawned by a thread from /r/bjj and sort of spawned by me earning a pair of submissions against my instructor this morning. I use the word "earning" very much intentionally, because I didn't 'submit' my coach. I was able to generate a situation that gave me an opportunity, and because I was doing it correctly and well I was able to get to a position to attempt a submission. Because I was doing that correctly and well I got the tap. At multiple points my coach could have just shut me down and crushed me under side control for as long as he wanted to and then subbed me. He did it multiple times during our rolls today, but it helps both of us grow if he eases of just enough to make me work hard and do everything correctly in order to EARN a submission.
The same thing applies when I'm rolling with white belts or new blues (Even senior blues at this point sometimes). I'm not worried about them tapping me. If they do everything right I'll even defend slightly less vigorously than I might otherwise, just like my instructor does for me, so that they can get to the tap if they do everything right. That doesn't at all mean that I'm GIVING them the submission. If they make a positioning mistake, or give me too much space, or anything like that then I'm going to counter and escape. But I'm not going to just refuse to give them the opportunity to succeed.
And when they get that tap they SHOULD be proud. Not because they 'beat' a purple belt, but because they did everything CORRECTLY and earned that submission. They earned that success and they should be happy about it. By the same token lower belts should understand that they aren't 'beating' people in class. I've talked about this before, but people may be approaching rolls in class in a variety of different ways, some of which may lead to a brown belt getting tapped by a blue belt a dozen times. That doesn't mean the blue belt should be a brown belt, or even that they are anywhere NEAR the same skill level. Take your successes in isolation. You do something right, you succeed, be proud of it, but don't let it fuel your ego.
The last time someone successfully wristlocked me prior to today was 2013. That's despite multiple attempts in multiple tournaments, including Master/Senior Worlds.
Today my homie Chris got me with one. I was quite proud of him. I tried a sweep that he surfed through into a sort of straight armbar position and he got my arm and rotated my wrist all the way around until my pinky was just past my wrist, then brought the pressure down on it. He was still a bit hesitant to put enough downward pressure on it, but finally gave in and was able to actually put enough pressure for me to tap to it.
I love when things like this happen because it's way way better to learn your limits in class and know that there IS a place where things get dangerous, even if most people can't find it, than to learn in the middle of a tournament against some specialist who breaks your shit off because you expect to be able to ignore their attack.
The rest of the rolling was great too, technique work was some stuff off of the basic x-choke from guard that included a nice transition from x-choke to armbar to x-choke/triangle again. The pivotal idea on that last one was that when you go for the armbar, if you get stacked you keep your sleeve grip when they pull their arm out, which gives you access to their collar again, which lets you finish the choke.
Excellent sequence and I was able to put it to good use to up my triangle choke finishes in class. Very happy.