The rest of my life has been really inconsiderate lately and thus I’ve got behind on a few things. I’ve been working out again. Only twice a week, but have a program in place in advance of Maui in May. I’ve managed to get four classes plus an open mat over the last few weeks, but that’s eaten up pretty much all of my spare time remaining. That being said, I’ve felt like I’ve made some progress in BJJ in the last few weeks. I’m much more relaxed during sparring and feel like I can defend myself more consistently than a month ago. One specific way I sense the improvement is I can remember techniques or concepts from drills and instruction and actually attempt them in sparring. Yeah, I know. Crazy. Typically, classes went:
- warm up (tired by the end),
- drilling (confusing and awkward but made some sense),
- then sparring (randomly flail around under a barrage of attacks that seem to be coming from all angles)
Lately, the drilling has made some improvement, but the application of techniques from class during sparring is what has stood out for me. I’ve got a better feel for which positions and angles are dangerous when defending, and have started to see opportunities for attacks or positional advances. I’ve taken people’s back a few times (on purpose!), and tried a few attacks in certain positions that didn’t seem available before. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve got this BJJ thing licked, just… I’m a much better brand of bad than previous.
I’ve failed to some degree on the purpose of this blog, in that my memory of Friday’s class is clear, but Tuesday’s is not. That being said, the two classes were similar. We warmed up for both with grip breaking and self-defense, while the core of the drilling revolved around the hip bump sweep. First, we worked it to mount, then added a guillotine finish. On Friday it expanded to a couple of key lock finishes when the post their arm to stop the sweep. Overall, I like working on closed guard progressions because in sparring you end up with you or your partner in the other’s guard frequently. And for me, especially early on, I wouldn’t know where to go from there. Got some good reps in during classes and while the transition to getting my armpit across to on top of his shoulder was a little awkward, the movements in general felt pretty good. As for the guillotine, I struggle with that one a lot. I’ve noticed that any technique where I can’t see the focal point of the technique (i.e. I can’t see where my wrist is on his neck) is where I tend to struggle. Just a proprioception thing, which I assume will come with time.
As mentioned, I’ve felt a lot more comfortable sparring over the last two weeks. I feel like I’m more difficult to submit (I think) and I have a better idea of where to go when I’m in a bad position. I’ve also been able to apply techniques I’ve learned in a more deliberate fashion. By that I mean I’ve tried certain specific techniques before, but it was almost out of happenstance; I needed to be think of a specific technique at the exact moment when the opportunity for that technique not only presented itself, but lingered there in front of me before I made the connection. Like when you’re driving around town and you’re thinking “man, I’m hungry… you know, I’m kind of craving (obscure ethnic food)” and right when you think that you stop at a light and the only (obscure ethnic food) restaurant is right in front of you.
I tried a couple of baseball chokes, took the back a few times, a couple of head and arm choke attempts. During the open mat and once at class, I got to roll with someone newer than me, and that’s where I noticed most of the offensive improvement. It’s during the rolls with the higher belts that the defensive improvement shows (to me, at least); a few less awkward positions, a few less taps, a few more replaced guards and the occasional sweep.