Thursday, April 23, 2009

Focusing on the “spider Guard

Last night, Andres taught class for Darren, and he focused on the SPIDER GUARD. This is a pretty foreign guard for me, so I was keen to absorb as much of it as I can. For those of you who are not familiar with this position, what was shown last night was fairly Gi dependent. It’s a type of open guard where the guy on bottom controls both sleeves with the grips while using his feet on the opponents, thighs, hips, and biceps. We started by working a pretty cool sweep from this position where one guy has Spider Guard while the other guy is on his knees. This guard requires lots of tension with the Gi grips, and for this sweep, you need to pick a side where your leg is extended and you’re really creating tension with the same side Gi grip. The other leg is used on the partner's opposite leg from the side with tension to sweep the leg while pulling in with the other Gi grip. It’s definitely a cool sweep, for sure, and the challenging aspect about this sweep is to maintain the grips while coming up in full mount.

We then transitioned to Andres’s specialty, catching the triangle from this open guard—pretty straightforward for me when the guy’s on his knees, but a little harder for me to catch when the guy is standing in my Spider Guard, for I was having trouble locating his head with my legs from this distance.

Lastly, we worked two different sweeps from this guard while the training partner was standing. We picked a side, took a cross-grip on the Gi while grabbing the same side ankle, pushing the hip, and hooking behind the guy’s knee with the off-leg. That sweep was pretty easy for me. The second sweep is a bit more trickier, for if the guy steps his leg back—the leg controlled by the Guard player’s hand, then one must switch their feet, push with the opposite foot while creating momentum with the other leg while sweeping out the leg not controlled by the guard player’s hand. This doesn’t make a great deal of sense, I’m sure, but I don’t know how best to describe it.

We then concluded by going two five minute matches at about 25% to work these positions. I did OK when my partner was on his knees, but am struggling staying connected and keeping good tension when he would stand up. Defending my guard while my partner/opponent is standing is undoubtedly the worst part of my Jiu Jitsu game. So, I’m open to any suggestions, comments, etc regarding:

1. A Non-visual way of locating the guy’s head when I’m trying to catch the triangle choke from Spider Guard while the guy’s standing, and
2. Locating the guy’s biceps with my feet quickly and smoothly. I have problems doing this depending on my partner’s dimensions. For instance, I kept putting my feet nearer to my partners shoulders last night.

I suppose this will get better with lots of drilling, but I really am up for advice on locating the guy’s head as I pull him into the triangle from this guard while he’s standing.

My transition to chokes are feeling better, and I’m starting to catch more of our blue belts with them while rolling, so I’m happy with this progress. Spring time’s just starting to hit here, and I’m pretty amped up to train hard during the warmer months. Unfortunately, I’m gonna miss a few days of training due to work commitments this week, but I’ve managed to get a private lesson with Darren under my belt this week to make up for the light training schedule.

In June, the Ohio Grappling Challenge makes its way to Cleveland, and if I’m healthy, I want to use that opportunity to REALLY go HARD in a tournament. I’m planning a few trips down to Columbus with Darren and a few guys over the coming weeks—every Friday afternoon, the Relson Gracie school down there hosts an open mat for guys to just come and train, and I’m interested in rolling hard with some purple, brown, and black belts who will SMASH me and really push me super hard.


Larry, the LTrain

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Training Outside the Box

It’s been about 9 days since I last blogged about expanding my game into “the land of Darce chokes”. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much Darcing since that time, but what that class illustrated to me is that I need to start focusing on a number of weaknesses in my Jiu Jitsu game rather than constantly gravitating toward what comes easy for me. Probably the most glaring of these weaknesses is my ability to “finish” with chokes, especially with the Gi—I seem to sink in chokes much easier when the Gi material isn’t present, for oftentimes, (as a result of poor technique, I’m sure) the Gi material gets in my way.

So, I’ve been focusing pretty hard on working chokes from a variety of positions—from drilling to live rolling. While the progress isn’t fast enough, I am noting definite progress.

To make myself focus on my goal of expanding my submission game, (with the exception of competitions), I’m taking arm-bar finishes out of my arsenal for a while unless someone just leaves their arm out there, or something.

This has been very hard for me—using the arm-bar positions to set up chokes, but I’m learning how not to take a quick submission and focusing on these other areas that need improving. It’s almost like training without one of one’s senses, as I’ve discussed in prior posts. For in order to properly train this way, one has to accept that he may in fact lose a desired position on top or on bottom when relying on areas of weakness when rolling with team-mates. Last night, I got my guard passed by two white belts who have never passed my guard before, and it’s because I’m trying to open up and get my body used to moving in some ways that require lots more repetition for me. This is a good “ego checker” for me, for I do hate to give up positions—it’s totally stupid for me to feel this way, and has been a hindrance to my Jiu Jitsu game at times. I recognize this and am working on it.

As for how the chokes are coming: some of our more advanced blue belts are still difficult for me to “tap” with these chokes, but I’m actually beginning to tap the white belts and a couple of newer blue belts with submissions that I’ve never used before. I’m beginning to like taking a “triangle choke” from side control and am experiencing moderate success with it. “baseball bat” and “breadcutter” chokes are also beginning to play into my side-mount position. And, last week, I learned and actually used a choke that Darren calls the “Rambo choke” from the North-South position. I guess he calls it the “Rambo choke” because you actually loosen your own Gi lapel, put the end in your mouth, hide it from the guy on the bottom as you hand it off into your off-hand which is underneath and on the other side of the guy.

After securing the grip on your own Gi, you move to North-South and finish the choke like a North-South guillotine choke. It’s actually pretty cool, and pretty clever if one doesn’t telegraph what he’s doing. Clark, a blue belt on our team who has amazing conditioning caught me with this last week and I thought my head was going to explode. I literally “didn’t see it coming”, and it was pretty brutal.

I plan to spend the remainder of April training in this manner and assess how my chokes are coming in early May—I may need to do this for some time.


Larry, the LTrain

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Starting to Work the Darce Choke

Yesterday marked another "first" of sorts for the LTrain. For those of you who train with me, you know that I’m a big fan of arm-bars for finishes, but that I’m expanding more into the realm of chokes and beginning to focus on working my control of my opponent’s back in order to expand my submission game.

Andres, and a couple of other guys on Team Evolution like the Darce choke, a compression choke that one can catch often from “side mount” or from “knee on belly”. I’ve been playing with this choke a bit, and yesterday began to feel comfortable with it while rolling. To view a fairly detailed description of the Darce Choke being applied with great audio cues for those of us who are blind, visit Darce Choke from “Submissions 101”

As always when I’m keen to try something new, I start with a white belt who’s not brand new to the game, but someone with a few months under his belt. Yesterday I got my opportunity with a newer guy who is always rushing to lock in the Darce before he really has control of my body. So after his third attempt, I decided to catch it from side mount, and it actually went fairly smoothly. I guess it was kind of a prickish thing to do to choke this guy out with a move he’s been trying to get to work for him for some time, but it was still pretty funny! I haven’t drilled the Darce as much as other chokes, but I’m usually underhooking the far arm anyway when in side control, and it is starting to feel natural to me to just take this choke from this position. I’m excited to try it some more in my “no-Gi” class later this afternoon on some more advanced guys and to get some feedback from Darren, Andres, and Ulric, another Darce aficionado. Will let you all know how it goes for me, even if it’s a BUST! LOL


Larry, The LTrain