Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 04/06/2008 - Advanced
Finally had a chance to watch HookNShoot: Revolution, a DVD I've been waiting to watch for several years now (similarly waited for ages to see The Smashing Machine). The DVD covers a momentous event in MMA history, in 2002: the first ever all female MMA card. There were names in there I'd heard before (mainly because I went through a stint on Wikipedia where I was adding in details of female MMA fighters), like Debi Purcell of FighterGirls.com fame or the powerful ex-bodybuilder Mayra Conde. I'll be writing up a proper review later, but for now, I'll just say that its well worth picking up. Decent event, and great extras too.
My knees and shins are still a bit sore, but I wanted to try out some of the techniques and tactics I've been watching on Roy Dean's Seminars Year One DVD, specifically the open guard portion with Roy Harris. I'm starting with the first half of what he calls the basics of open guard, which I'll write out to help get it clear in my head
In the initial part of his seminar, Harris goes through three sets of defensive pushes: the hands (heel of the hand between thumb and fingers to the neck and jaw line; web of the hand between thumb and fingers against their biceps, or if they power their arm through, switch to triceps and push round; if they power through your hand to jawline, shift to an elbow into their armpit); the feet (push on the crook of their arms, swimming over or under depending on what they do with their arms; push their hips; push their knees, on the outside or the inside, especially in combination with grips); the knees (knee and shin into the shoulder if their head is down, where your foot can be down or up; into the top of the chest, somewhere between nipple line and clavicle; into the hip, bringing knee up to attack the arm if they try to sprawl).
After that, Harris moves on to grips, which he associates with the offensive portion of open guard. However, I want to get the defensive side of things down first, so I'll try concentrating on that before moving on. I had wanted to work this last week too, but the opportunity doesn't always present itself. E.g., if in sparring I'm mainly on top, or trying to escape side control and mount, or king of the hill guard passage, which means I normally only get to try (and fail) to pass, rather than go from my back.
Christina was in early as usual, where there was a group of us having our usual chat. I mentioned to her that I wish we could work the basics more, to which she made the very suggestion that we've got time and space before class, so lets go for it.
That gave me the opportunity to work on my woeful guard passing, starting with the basic standing pass. Points to emphasise here are stiff arming their hip to stall motion on their part, driving forward with your own hips as much as possible after standing, and keeping your head raised and looking up for posture.
Christina also wanted to go through a bunch of open guard passes. The first one involved gripping the fabric by their knees, on the inside facing part of the legs. Step to the side and then push down one of their knees. Step through with the near leg on the side you want to pass, immediately moving to knee on belly. The proper way to do that is to lay the shin across their stomach, foot off the ground, then sit on your own foot. That puts plenty of pressure onto your opponent.
Another pass, if I remembered rightly, started with you reaching through their leg, grabbing the other one, then sprawling on top of their knee (meaning both their legs were pressed together and to one side). Create pressure with your shoulder, also driving your head into their floating rib, pressing your hips down as much as possible. Finally, walk round slowly into side control.
Christina also tried to show me a half guard sweep, which from what I can recall involved grabbing their free leg, bumping them forward on their trapped side with your same side knee, then using that momentum and your grip on their knee to move through to the top position.
Technique tonight was a bit complex, so I'm not entirely sure I've remembered it accurately. The first part is the same for both open guard sweeps I'll be putting down, and is a response to the leg pin pass. Their leg is press into your thigh: you raise up and grab around the back of their knee with both hands. Bring your outside foot underneath their instep, and use that to lift up their leg. At the same time, pull their knee towards you, aiming to force them to stand up.
The next part I'm less certain, but I think you then grab their trouser leg. Wrap that arm around, feed their opposite sleeve through to the hand now by their leg. Push their knee away with your foot, then raise up and pull their other leg to knock them to the side, coming up to pass.
From the same position, you can also go for an x-guard sweep. The set-up is as before, except that once you've got them to stand up, they move their leg closer to your head. Swivel underneath and bring their leg to your shoulder, then switch your legs to x-guard. I had a bit of trouble remembering where my feet were supposed to go for this, but I think your far foot hooks under their far leg, while the knee of your other leg goes behind their near leg. That leaves the foot of that leg hooking around up near the thigh of the far leg, if I'm remembering correctly.
Once you have that x-guard position, you can then lift them up. At the same time, pull their near sleeve with your far arm between their legs (I think: could well be getting mixed up here), then drop them to the side. I felt a bit like I was on a fairground ride at this point, as your body follows them up, but the eventual finishing place was a little erratic for me: side control, half guard, between their legs facing the wrong way etc. Clearly this is something that is going to take a great deal more getting used to on my part!
Guard passage put me up against a brown belt and a purple respectively, so went as you'd expect. For free sparring, there were lots of women in the class tonight, so that meant I was spoiled for choice in terms of good rolling partners.
Things kicked off with Indra, where I had a go at using the open guard principles from Roy Harris. I still need to get used to them, but I think it helped, at least in terms of getting me to raise up and make better use of my arms to try and recover guard or go for the back. I spent most of the spar trying to attack from top half-guard and side control, although found it difficult because Indra was turned up right on her side. I made an attempt to step over her head and go for a kimura, but couldn't quite get it.
Next up was Pippa, where I again had the opportunity to work half guard. I was initially crushed by her shoulder, but eventually worked through to the 'paw' position. I could then push her arm and grab it with my other hand (which was in an underhook position). That set up the arm sweep Indrek Reiland shows in his instructional video, which seemed to work as I'd hoped (i.e., roll them over so you end up on top in half-guard).
My third spar was with Joanna, where I again had the chance to work open guard. I was trying to time my defences so I could work those Roy Harris principles. I think I just about got into position to push with the hand, but later I ended up basically shoving Joanna in the hip, which was rather sloppy on my part. Still sort of worked, but I had meant to go for her arm or armpit as per the DVD. I also found that I've perhaps been obsessing too much about getting the grips for spider guard: simply pushing with the arms and legs, as in the DVD, proved a useful exercise.
Finally, I went with Yasmine, where I think I once again found myself in that top half-guard position. I think it was from there I must have done something very wrong, as I found myself underneath a very high mount, but was able to pop out the back door and got for top half-guard a second time. I'm having difficulty passing from there, though I have been trying to the step-over kimura too. I eventually got past to go for scarf hold, but time ran out.
Unfortunately Christina aggravated a hamstring injury she sustained earlier this week, so I hope she recovers ok. Would be cool to do some more basics drilling with her again some time, but most important is that the hamstring sorts itself out: looked like a nasty strain.