Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Donal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 08/11/2011
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My wrist and neck are still annoying me, which is why I'm still just turning up to Tuesdays and teaching my class on Thursdays. Next week I might try upping it to three times a week again, but we'll see how the injuries feel by then. As usual when I have bits that don't work, I'm trying to view it as an opportunity to focus on other parts of my game, like how I use my legs.
I got to test that out shortly after arriving, as Ben asked for a roll before class. Like last time, I was ok with that as long as we just used our legs. That meant more practice for me on wriggling to legs to block their attempts to pass, staying hooked behind the knee and/or pressing into the hip, occasionally seeing if I could knock Ben over by hooking behind and pushing on the knee. I also looked to get into the Donal sweep position a few times, but that's difficult without having a hand free to grab something.
The focus of class tonight was again passing the open guard. Donal had some more general principles to work through, emphasising some of the details he mentioned previously. To start off, he went through a basic pass, beginning with those grips inside the knees, keeping your forearms in contact with their lower leg. You also have one leg forward. That leg is the one you're going to swing backwards, while simultaneously shoving their legs to the side and back. From there, swing the leg back through diagonally to the other side, going to knee on belly.
I was having some trouble with that, as like I've mentioned before, open guard passing is without any doubt the crappest part of my game. Donal quickly diagnosed the problem, which is that I'm keeping my non-swinging leg too close. Instead, I should be stepping that other leg out wider, to provide me with base as I swing the first leg through. If I don't create that base, then it is difficult to balance.
Donal then delved more into the principle of keeping your forearms and elbows by their lower leg. You need to use that to keep their feet off your hips, prying them free with the elbows. Also, crouch low, as if you were a gorilla with your fists between your legs. If they try to swivel their leg over your arm for the spider guard grip, that's a good moment to bring your elbow up and move your body around, shoving their knees to the floor and enacting your pass.
Sparring for me was the same as at the start of class, just using my legs (though Donal also brought that in as a drill later). It was interesting working through the spider grips, as I found at first I could generally push off a hip, shoulder, chest etc to get the angle for reinserting the grip. That immediately got tougher after Donal gave my training partner a few tips: basically, if they could control my hips, then I could no longer get the angle for my spider guard recovery. By controlling the knees and using their elbows, eventually trapping one or both of my knees to the mat, they in turn had control of the hips. Great stuff.
Donal also had lots of awesome tips when we did some light sparring, which I look forward to putting into use when my wrist recovers. I prefer a tight pressure game, despite being small, which is exactly what Donal helped me improve. Now I just need to remember to do it once my wrist is working, rather than playing from the bottom all the time. ;)