Bristol Sports Centre, (Artemis BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 24/03/2014
My girlfriend and I spent a few days in the Mumbles recently, which is near Swansea in Wales, stopping off at the excellent Caerphilly Castle on the way (an absolute bargain at less than a fiver: the castle is enormous and they've packed it with cool audio-visual touches that don't detract from the mood of the place. If Tussauds got their hands on it, the price would quadruple and it would be stuffed with the same dodgy waxworks as Warwick Castle). The weather wasn't great (though Saturday brightened up a bit), but there are some lovely walks around the Mumbles, especially if you drive a bit further into the Gower. Three Cliffs Bay has some beautiful views with decent paths: as I tend to end up looking at my feet more than the view if the path is made up of lots of uneven rocks, that's a big plus for me. :)
We stayed at Norton House, an average three star hotel with less than impressive service. Still, we were there on an offer, so at least we didn't pay too much. The room was ok, but the food wasn't up to much. A considerably better choice if you're looking for food is Verdi's, right up the end of the walk along the seaside. Affordable Italian food (less than £10), massive portions and extremely quick service. There is a castle around there too, Oystermouth Castle, but unfortunately it was closed.
Also, a quick GrappleThon update before I get to the training: we're fast approaching £2,500, which is awesome. Please keep the donations coming! :D
Continuing on the mount, Dónal went for an interesting attack where you hit them on the transition with a choke from quarter guard. As they are trying to escape your mount, pulling your lower leg into quarter guard (the first stage of my favoured heel drag), they will be turned on their side towards that leg. This will normally mean that the back of their collar will be flared out around the back of their neck. Shove your arm (on the same side as your trapped leg) into that collar, palm out, gripping the collar and shoving your knuckles to the mat.
They will feel as though they can get half guard from here. Bait them to turn towards your other leg by pulling with your arm, making sure they don't manage to crawl their legs up above your knee (as then they will have half guard: you don't want them to progress beyond quarter-guard, where they only have your lower leg or foot). At this point, lock in that grip you established earlier, keeping your elbow by their chest and bending your wrist into their neck. Dónal described this as like you're casting a line when fishing.
To finish off the choke, your other hand reaches for their far shoulder blade, pressing the forearm into their neck just below their jaw. Gradually drop your head to the mat on that side, leaning slightly on your arm while tightening your first grip, taking the slack out of their gi. That should get the tap. If for some reason you're too loose or just can't finish, you can always complete your pass. Use your first grip to shove them away from you, then slide your knee through, being careful not to open up your elbow or they can underhook and take the back. Your arm needs to stay there as a barrier.
My sparring started off with Dónal, where we were keeping it light due to his injured foot. I tried briefly to get into the running escape again to try the tips from Kev, but I wasn't getting into position very well: Dónal was still able to attack my neck, meaning my defence must have been too lose. Most of the roll I was spinning around trying to maintain my guard as Dónal looked to pass. This is definitely one of the areas I need more work: Dónal kept it very light and playful, but it's the same place where I was getting repeatedly smashed by the guys at Legacy. Something is up with my open guard that is letting me get passed too easily, so I need to shore up those holes.
I finished off with one of the white belts, with them starting in mount. He was using my own mount against me, which was cool, keeping that low mount and plenty of pressure. I couldn't do a whole lot of escape, though again I think this might have been a good opportunity to try the Saulo bridge into their leg and push to half guard. There was a window to get out when he started moving up: we eventually ended up with me holding a sort of closed guard. I managed to reverse him, but sloppily. I was looking for a sweep and ended up shoving him over into scarf hold then side control, without any real technique.
His gi collar came in range so I could lock in the bow and arrow choke grip, but I wasn't in technical mount. I tried driving my leg over to get into the right place, but without enough control so he rolled back into my guard. I still had the grip through, which coupled with some pressure from my leg proved enough to get a choke. However, again that was sloppy and more about force. I need to settle into that bow and arrow choke more firmly next time: I wouldn't have landed that against anybody more experienced.