Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Study Hall, Bristol, UK - 01/09/2013
I was intending to train on Thursday, but as my gf had a bad day at work, I stayed at home so we could go out for a meal (as I've said many times before, BJJ is great fun, but I think your loved ones should always be the priority :D). Today I was looking to get in more work on passing the guard, continuing with the kneeling break. I'll also normally use study hall to practice the techniques I teach, which next week is side control escapes. Fortunately for me, those two things are exactly what my training partner Geraldine wanted to work as well.
I started off with the same guard break, encountering the old problems: keeping that lead hand in place, then getting enough distance to pop the ankles open. It also brought up a common issue that crops up after you've opened the legs, as they will frequently get their knee in their way. This happened to Geraldine in a competition a while ago, IIRC, so I showed her my preferred options for passing the knee shield.
I continued kneeling guard breaks with Berry, whose approach to countering them provided useful pressure-testing. He likes to bounce his hips out the way, as well as trying to break your grip on the hip, rather than the forward arm by their chest. That makes it tough to create the necessary tension to open their ankles, because their hips are free. On the plus side, I can still maintain my posture, because I have the arm on the chest: that gives me the opportunity to reset.
Therefore a key aspect I want to improve is maximising the weight I can drive through their hips. I'll need to experiment with arms positions, grips and also where I'm putting my head. It's possible I'm leaning too far forward or back, so I will keep a closer eye on that next time, to see if it is reducing the efficacy of my hip control when attempting to open the guard.
Through some light resistance, we worked out that switching my arms to the other side can be effective, although that gets a bit tiring. Having said that, the person on the bottom has to work harder, so they will probably get tired before you do. Either way, I don't like getting into battles of attrition, because that comes down to stamina rather than technique. I'll keep trying it, along with working out the right point to switch from kneeling to standing.
Sparring with Geeza helped that further, as he was mainly looking to see if I would flop to my back. I was keen to work on my passing, attempting to return to either combat base or some kind of open guard passing posture whenever I got knocked off balance. Geeza noted that I was using lateral motion, but need to combine that with more forward motion. I was getting stuck on his leg a few times, trying to do a big step over the top, but not pushing forward enough.
Arm control is something important to keep in mind as well. I played around with trying to get them to give me an arm from the kneeling break, which I could then try and pin to their hip. Geeza stopped me at that point to share a handy controlling position. He says cross-grip the arm you want to pin to the hip, then put your other arm across the top, clamping the knuckles of your pinning hand against the wrist that's over the top.
When I was underneath with Berry, I attempted to create angles to slip around the strong pressure of their arms. I also played around with different grips to prevent them posturing back up, which helped slow that process, but didn't open much in the way of submission opportunities, taking the back or sweeping. Or rather, I didn't combine my guard offence well enough.
Finally, I also worked on side control with Geraldine, keeping in mind what I wanted to teach next week. On top, I was focusing on connection with hips and control of their far elbow if they turn away (at one point I failed to control that far elbow, enabling her to spin to turtle). When she turned towards me, I switched to a cross-face, both my normal method and the version Donal suggested, where you just bring the arm in place and turn the elbow upwards.
Underneath I looked to reverse engineer what I'd done on top. I want to break the hip connection, starting with a bridge to make space, then wedge a frame in place (in my case, that's generally getting an elbow to their hip). I managed to partially turn away a few times, but Geraldine did a good job of keeping me under control. The stiff arm escape worked once (Braulio's version, shoving into the armpit and rolling them over), which was cool as I normally mess that up. So, I'll emphasise bridging and frames next week when I'm teaching side control escapes again, as well as the importance of staying tight and remaining calm.