Back to class and into drilling techniques from bottom half guard. Our prof outlined some of the structure of the curriculum that we’ll be covering over the next few months, the weekly/monthly cycles, and the introduction (for me, at least) of the progressive guard system for grading in the spring. My personal instinct when doing most things is to ‘wing it’, but I’ve learned that I work best within a structure… if that makes any sense. Like, let me know the rules of the game, the parameters and expectations and then I’m comfortable being creative within those spaces. If I can remove the insecurity and uncertainty of a situation (i.e. understanding the landscape) I’m comfortable winging it within. So, although the current/previous format of class was great (when you have literally everything to learn and a long way to go it doesn’t matter what your first few steps look like… just as long as you take them) I liked hearing about the structure to come.
As for grading, I think it will be interesting as well. I’m not very concerned about obtaining a certain promotion, but it’s always nice to get some sort of yardstick of where you are. One of the main reasons I’m not focused on getting promotions is that I’m already nearly maxed out on the time I can devote to BJJ. Two classes a week plus one or two open mats a month is about all I can fit in right now. Having a limit placed on my mat time means that it wouldn’t make much sense to have high (or any) expectations for progressing through the ranks. I’m trying to focus on doing BJJ because I like BJ, enjoy the physical challenge and the learning process.
So, on to getting out from bottom half guard. We started from side control bottom, and would catch our partner’s leg as he tried to high step over. Once in half guard, our partner had three advantages: me flat on my back, far arm underhook, and shoulder crossface. There was a really technically term used here, but it amounted to trying to negate and reverse those three advantages. 1) Bridge into and hip escape away until on my side, knee on hip. 2) Put our outside arm in and under his and reach around to his back, grabbing his belt. 3) Work near side hand in and onto his bicep to take away crossface.
From there we drilled two escapes. First was exiting out the back door to take his back. Kicking my leg down to create some momentum slip down and reach around to grab his far hip. Then scoot back pulling him onto my thigh, arms over/under and clasped up high, both hooks in on his upper thighs. That seems simple enough, but the timing, distance control and points of pressure on him took some time to get right. Or, a little more right than the “totally wrong” it started out as.
Then the next escape was replacing closed guard. As he tried to block your hip escape away from him, bring my near side knee up in front of his leg, switch my hips to get that leg out and close guard. This one seemed a little more intuitive. From here we went on to drilling with progressive resistance. The key to it was to introduce aliveness to the drilling so that we could practice the drills and techniques with resistance that gradually increased, somewhere in the 40% to 60% range. If I’m on top and my partner escapes every time with ease: too easy, turn it up a bit. Has trouble escaping at all: turn it down a bit. For me, I found that the escape I ended up doing 80%was replacing my guard. Probably for two reasons; first, taking the back is the more technically difficult of the two and, two, if I’m on top I’d rather be in someone’s guard then have them on my back.
After that, a few rounds of sparring. All in all, pretty good class for me. Still figuring things out, but slowly patterns are emerging. Class again tonight.