I was sick last week and as a result had about a 10 day break between BJJ sessions. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from something that’s ongoing. They say a break is as good as a change, probably due to the fresh look it provides. Sometimes a break comes at the wrong time and lose momentum you’ve built up and you struggle to get back in sync. My break was neither, and other than feeling physically tired during class (laying down for the better part of 4 days straight will do that) I felt pretty good, all things considered. We started with some self defense themed grip breaks (holding the wrist), then some wrist and elbow locks and ended with an escape from back control.
The self defense parts were interesting, it’s interesting that once you are explained the principles and play around a little it becomes pretty easy to get someone to let go of you one way or another. Like most things in BJJ (and life, really) is posture and a solid base are the key. If you keep those, the rest is just details. Lots and lots of details. We worked on defending against single and double wrist grabs, both of which revolve around keeping your arm in a position of strength (i.e near to you) while adjusting your arm so that his grip becomes untenable. Usually this means that your forearm ends up leveraging out of the space between his fingers and thumb. We also practice elbow locks to defend someone pushing your chest/shoulder/neck/face. Once they commit to push, spin with it, move your near arm over their arm while coving their hand with both of yours. Once you do this, move slightly back into them so you’re pinching with your arm and ribs slightly above their elbow. With their arm straight, move the hand end of their arm up while moving the body end of their arm down.
Then on to defending someone grabbing your lapel. This works out of the gym as well as in a gi, and some of the guys at my gym are getting pretty good at these attacks. So, they grab your lapel/shirt and you cover their hand with the same hand (e.g. right over right) with your other hand grabbing the back of their elbow while you move towards them and move your head to the same side shoulder. At this point, if they’ve really dug in their grip they’re probably feeling it already. If not, once you have their hand wedged into your chest you can remove your top hand and put it behind their elbow as well while ducking your head beside their same side shoulder (so you don’t get punched, etc.). These really suck to get caught with and I’ll now spend a lot of my time not letting that happen to me. Ouch.
Then we went to the ground and began working on getting out of sitting back control. They have the over/under grip hooks in. You cover their hand with the hand that’s on the side of the underhook. Then bridge that direction (away from the arm that’s already on your neck) onto their thigh. Then you scoot your hips away a bit so you can starting getting his hooks out, all while keeping your other arm against his hip to prevent him from going to mount or his knees. Once your legs are free, you starting bridging into him, applying pressure and rolling him on to his back. Once there you can shrimp up towards his head until you get to (what I think is) reverse kesa gatame. At this point you should have broken his seatbelt, but if he has long arm, maybe not. Anyway, still need to work on that one a lot more, it felt pretty clunky.
During sparring I still tried to focus on surviving and paying more attention to what’s happening. I figure I’ve got a long way to go, and I certainly don’t plan being so passive for much longer, but I figured might as well get comfortable in the bad positions now so they’re less bad later.