16 December 2010

Onwards to 2011

We had our grading last night.  Nice to see a few more people made Purple belt after a gruelling 10 rounds of fun for them.  It’s a nice way to end out the year.  For me there was no rank improvement, for which I’m grateful!  I’m actually quite happy staying where I am, while I rebuild my game. 

As it was, part of my game I’ve been trying to get under control is the scissor sweep. It’s funny how you can have months of frustration with a technique, then suddenly it all comes together. Twice last night I surprised my training partners even though they knew it was coming.  It was really a combination of the following:

  1. Speed (Decide when to “go”, then make sure you aren’t doing it lethargically)
  2. Space (create lots of space with the hips, kicking away with their legs if needed and sit up)
  3. Timing (knowing when to stop pushing to make space with legs and arms and when to start pulling)
  4. Grips (using the grips to pull the person forward into the hole, keep contact with their legs and hips too at all times)
  5. Momentum (Not stalling or stopping at any point between these parts, sit-up while creating space and lie down while sweeping)

I’ve been working on different set ups but the single biggest improvement has been wrapping the opponents gi behind their back and using that as the grip instead of the lapel inside the collar.  The real breakthrough though came with the realisation I need to move back, sit-up and create lots of space, then make the person chase me down and use their momentum against them.  It’s a timing thing, which brings me to what I want to improve in 2011.

Here is a short list of things that I want to improve.

  1. Timing (right speed and using the right momentum of the opponent)
  2. Efficiency – being able to increase my work rate but not gas by being efficient
  3. Create a simultaneous defend attack mentality

There were some really good things I did in 2010, the biggest I think was resistance drilling and focusing on a position.  So for 2011 I’m going to train the following ways:

  1. Position of the month – work entries, exits, submissions, flows from this position
  2. Trigger flows – multi-position setups to account for action/reaction
  3. Each training revise of one of these basics – guard sweep,  guard pass, side control pass and escape, mount control and escape, cross collar choke submission (all positions)  and variations, back control.
  4. 70% effort with 100% timing – keep my timing fast against training partners
  5. Applied concepts – learn underlying concepts (angles, stiff arms, sit-up, hip control etc) and understand every concept for every technique I work on.

I’m planning to make 2011 a technical learning year.  One where my wrestling fitness does improve, but my focus is on making my BJJ more efficient for me.  I will start writing out each move individually and finding out how all the underlying concepts apply to that particular move or technique.

14 December 2010

Robert Drysdale Seminar Review

Robert Drysdale visited my wonderful state of Queensland (QLD)  this past weekend.  Must say, this is the first time I’ve been to a seminar held by someone outside of Australia.  It’s a nice change, to get a different perspective on things.

The seminar itself was split up into two halves.  For the first half Drysdale went over some techniques he wanted to go through.  The second half was a Question and Answers session.  This I felt was both good and bad,  the questions and answers meant it was a bit harder to follow and remember all of the different techniques from the first half of the seminar.

Firstly I’ll discuss his mannerisms.  I found him to be a very quietly spoken well-mannered individual.  I was highly impressed with how he spoke, especially the language, tone and respect he gave everyone.  Big Kudus there as I didn’t find him intimating at all to talk too.

I found the technique fine details difficult to remember as it was disparate techniques around an idea.  In this case it was about takedowns and defending takedowns.   I think people were taken back by this as it’s not something we practise often. I say disparate techniques as it jumped around and didn’t tackle the same issue from different set ups. 

This teaching style was mainly visual and oral.  I would have preferred if he also had a white board even for a flow chart of the names of the techniques.  I find it’s much easier to remember everything we’ve covered if you do it this way.  I felt fine points were missing because because of the number of techniques covered.  I could sense this from the number of times he had to stop and iterate a fine details that people weren’t doing. 

I think this increased because we jumped around to different techniques.  Personally I  prefer John Will’s style of teaching – he picks a topic and shows you all types of ways to get to and use that position/move.  He incorporates simple words AND white boards.  I find this helps greatly with remembering.

Technique wise he showed some great stuff.  Then again I felt there was little details in some cases then really great details in other cases.  So it was a mixed bag so to speak.  I found what was really good was him just talking.  There he often gave great nuggets of information that you know are gold and can immediately put into your game.   Overall these bits of information were more related to concepts.  It would have been great if he taught around the concepts not an individual technique.

Questions and Answer part was quite good.  I asked immediately about training intensity and not going 100%.  One key thing he said was, don’t go limp and not fight for grips etc if you are going at an easier pace.  Don’t just give the guy stuff and go slow otherwise your timing will be bad.  This is the exact problem I’m having.  So I’ll be working out how to stay relaxed and not go with intensity, but still get what I need to done.  He did say, that you should never go hard enough that you gas yourself out in going for a submission or something.  Once you are gassed out even a new white belt can beat you.

Other questions revolved around x-guard, de la riva, brabo chokes and counter’s to knee bar defence (figure four legs).  I did find the answer to my question really provided me with great insight. Another great insight was the whole “steps” people take.  We use those because we need to learn the steps, but the reality is often we need to make all the steps happen at the same time or very close to each other.  Even a little pause gives a person a chance to make a minor balance adjustment and completely negate your move.

Overall it was a solid seminar. However the hardest part by far was remembering the fine details to all of the techniques we did because they didn’t link and build upon each other.  I’m glad he answered my question and he even answered  the heart of the issue I was having without even being told.

The key things that he covered that can directly help me now include:

  • Escaping the Half guard lockdown
  • Fantastic grip for attacking someone that has you in half guard
  • Entry to De La Riva
  • Concepts around simultaneous steps and keeping momentum
  • Answer to my problem of timing
  • Single leg defence
  • Takedown combo.


10 December 2010

Reflections for 2010

image2010 has been a  big year for me…no a massive year!  The best change was marrying an awesome girl.  This meant that the first half was very much taken up with wedding preparations and then the honeymoon. 

During this time I didn’t forget about BJJ.  The hiatus I took from my gym I feel was good for my outlook on training and what it was I really wanted to achieve in BJJ.  It’s interesting seeing how things have evolved.  I really decided to change my base philosophy in the second half of the year.  The hardest part was the mindset,  I wasn’t going to use strength and explosiveness to out muscle my partners in sparring. 

So I focussed many months just working resistance drills with a friend,  getting into the problem solving mindset,  exploring areas in detail.  Learning to use timing, and not resisting for the sake of it. The downside is by not going hard I’m I finding my partners are now submitting me a lot more than I am them.

Most times,  it’s because they are going harder and that increased pace gives them more opportunity.  Not always, there are people that definitely have a skill advantage AND use power – normally I get crushed in these circumstances.  Still I’m happy,  I feel like I’m learning and progressing in a way that is more technical and provides me the opportunity to go for hours.

Open mats previously revolved around me being exhausted after one 10 minute roll – needing a 10 minute break for another 5 minute roll.  My opponent would be exhausted too.  Now,  I’m usually rolling for 2 hours straight.  I try to ask my opponents to ease off the muscle and can they roll like that for an hour,  most admit that they get too excited and worked up and can’t.  Still,  I find the non technical ones may submit me once or twice, but they want to stop after 5 minutes because they are exhausted.  I’m not trying to brag about how long I can train.  I’m one of the least fit guys in the gym,  I can’t even run 5km’s.  I just choose a pace I can go I can maintain and really focus on structure and leverage to wear my opponent out.

Still the important thing is I’m having fun!  I’m having fun not taking my rolls like it’s do or die.  I’m not sure what people think of it in my gym, whether they see me as a weak blue.  I don’t care,  I’m having fun and trying to evolve to how higher level guys roll…it’s just going to take awhile.