We watched a documentary last night after BJJ called “Happy“. It’s a look at what it means to be happy, it’s importance to individuals and communities and the science behind how it all works. I definitely recommend it, as it gives some perspective on those universal questions like “what the hell am I doing?” and “why am I doing this?”.
Anyway, there are lots of interesting bits about things like the role of dopamine or the Hedonic treadmill, but relative to BJJ there was a section that looked at the high correlation between regular physical activity and happiness. Specifically, physical activities (i.e. sports) that allow a person to enter “flow“. There’s lots to be said about flow, it’s an idea that resonates with everyone. We all have experienced it and have the same feeling about it: it’s awesome. During this section (which featured an old surfer… I can’t wait to surf again in two months, here’s one of my fav surf videos), we looked at each other and smiled, saying the same thing at the same time: “man, that’s BJJ”. The mental and physical stimulation during BJJ is probably the number one thing we’ve enjoyed about BJJ so far. It’s really great, too, that this state of enjoyment is so accessible right from the beginning when we still generally suck at the art.
Anyway, class was good, too. Repeat of the previous classes’ “headlock in guard” drills, adding taking the back from “elbow on throat”.
More grip breaking to start, which is getting a bit tighter. Then it was on to drilling the progression from headlock in guard to armbar. Always good to get more reps in. It’s really interesting how many new details you can see in a technique just 24 hours later. The balance of your weight, your posture, the position of your knee… and the knock-on effect to the rest of the technique.
The new drill was taking the back from elbow on throat. It starts exactly how it sounds, with the person in your guard putting their elbow on your throat and standing up. From here, straighten you hips to get the pressure off your throat. Get an inside collar grip with one hand, grip the outside of the elbow with the other. From here, hip escape to the elbow grip side, dropping them onto the floor where you used to be. Reach around their back and hook on to their lat, bringing your other hand up and onto the floor, keeping pressure with your chest on their back/side. Then kick your leg a little to get some momentum to get up and over onto their back. Get your hooks in, under hook your far arm to grab their wrist. Then flatten them out, which is apparently called “spreading the chicken”. As you’re doing this you slip your other arm under and start the RNC process. The transition from hip escape to taking their back is tricky, but so far that process has been making some sense to me.
On to sparring which I thought went well again. Recently, I read/watched a few things on my surfing of the BJJ sections of the interwebs and noticed many mentions of arm/leg drags to pass guard. It seemed simple enough so I’ve been trying it, and it seems to be working. Well, working relative to my level of success previously (<1%). It’s got me past a few guards to at least half-guard, and in some cases side control. Last night, I actually used it while standing at the start of a roll and got my partner’s back and kept that control for most of the round. I’m not sure who was more surprised.