Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 17/01/2012
I'm among the fortunate group of people who received a pre-release teaser of Roy Dean's latest instructional, Brown Belt Requirements. So far, that just means the first DVD: judging by the outline I was sent, the set will be in four parts, with two DVDs of instruction, another with high quality versions of Dean's famous belt demonstrations (unsurprisingly the focus is on purple belts), then finally what looks to be a more artistic disc to finish off.
If you were a fan of 2009's Purple Belt Requirements, the new set looks like it will be following a comparable format. Again, the technical instruction is not in-depth, instead picking out details, almost always extending into combinations. There is coverage of the top and bottom game, generally finishing with a submission. You'll also get some insight into passing, but best of all, there is an extended discussion about pressure.
I'm looking forward to the full release, as there was a lot of content that would fit right into my game: I've been playing a lot more top game over the last few months, attempting to build up controlled pressure. That's exactly what Dean investigates, with his trademark smooth transitions. It's a DVD directed at senior belts, but not necessarily because of the techniques. I'm not talented or flashy, so to me, a lot of DVDs look cool, yet leave me thinking it's restricted to the latest Brazilian whizz-kid sensation, not me.
This DVD is advanced, but it didn't feel out of reach in the same way: to pull these moves off takes experience and timing rather than incredible athleticism. As in Purple Belt Requirements, the instruction is rapid, but there is more than enough detail if you've got the necessary mat time to recognise what's happening. Dean's selection is even more of an overview than Purple Belt Requirements, providing you with options and ideas rather than a carefully mapped out game plan.
It feels a bit like when you have a few higher belts on the mat before or after class, having a technical exchange. "Yeah, you could do that, but how about I go here?" "That looks good, but what about this?" I'm intrigued to see what else Dean is going to be sharing with the class, as he progresses to the undergraduate level of BJJ instructional.
Tonight's class was a de la Riva back take I've seen before, but with a few different details, as Dónal has his own way of doing things. You're in de la Riva, hooked around one leg and holding the bottom of their trousers with your same side hand. Your other foot is pushing into their other leg, while your free hand is looking to grab a sleeve. They aren't letting you get the far arm, so instead, you grab their near arm. Swivel off to the side, lift your hips up, then kick your hooking leg through, so you can curl your instep all the way around their far hip.
Swing your other leg over their arm, trapping their limb, getting your foot behind their leg. Shimmy your hips to get square behind them, or alternatively, using your hooking leg to twist their knee, so they are presenting you with their back. When you're behind them, switch your grip on their trousers to the other trouser leg, then switch your sleeve grip to the back of their belt. With both feet behind their knees, kick forward to drop them in front of you and take the back.
I did some drilling and focused light sparring with Mike before class again, which proved useful for sparring, as it meant I did a lot of passing butterfly guard. I was tending to secure a collar, lock my elbow inside my knee, then work to shove down their leg and step over, or crush down with my hips. I was doing something similar during class, when specific sparring de la Riva. I definitely prefer to force half guard in order to pass, which in the past I've worried is something I rely upon.
Still, it is better than having no passing option at all, which is how I frequently feel in open guard. If I can develop a method of getting to top half from most open guard positions, then that means I can move into a situation I understand how to pass. It would be better to be able to pass a greater variety of guards with confidence, of course, but I'll take what I can get.
Also as has been the case over the last few months, I was spending a lot of time in top half or side control. Partially that's because I've been avoiding anything that puts strain on my neck, but I would also assume that it's because at GB Bristol the instructor almost always pairs you up for sparring. That means I'm normally with people about my own size, so I don't get squished on the bottom as often (unless I'm with somebody much better than me, like Dónal).
Even though I can get to those dominant positions, I continue to fail to launch much of an attack from there. Again, need to think about combinations, rather than just going for an americana over and over again, or always looking for my step over triangle positions. From what I've seen, it could be that Brown Belt Requirements is coming along at just the right time, as it deals with the same kind of positions I've been reaching. Handy. :)