Bristol Sports Centre, (Artemis BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 07/04/2014
Dónal started off with his usual movement drills, progressing to a simple drill for escaping the back. They are on your back, you push off their hook with your opposite foot. Use that same foot to step over their ankle, blocking their ability to regain that hook. Pop your hips over (have that other leg there complicates it slightly, but it still works) and angle your knee towards them, to increase your base.
The main technique was method of taking the back from side control. If they are looking to escape by turning away from you, immediately leap in and slide your foot underneath them. To force that position, wriggle until you can press your shoulder near the middle of their shoulder blades. Push into them, with the aim of turning their body. That should mean that some space opens up underneath them, whereupon you can shove your foot through the gap and establish your first hook.
Interestingly, Dónal's method is counter-intuitive. You would think that pushing off with your non-hooking foot would make sense, then shoving the hooking foot inside as soon as space opens up. However, Dónal finds it easier to generate the necessary leverage by pushing off his hooking foot, then kicking that one through once he's opened up space. That does mean you really have to jump into it, so it fits with Dónal's very mobile style.
In sparring, I wasn't having a huge amount of success escaping during specific sparring. I tried to slip down like Kev showed at the weekend, but I couldn't slide down very far. I kept in mind Kev's tips on being careful of your elbows, using those to dig under arms and knees. A few times I made the same mistake as before, where I was focusing too much on arms and knees rather than keeping my neck safe. I was able to swim my arm back in to block choke attempts, but that's quite sloppy and unreliable.
I still felt like I was just stalling most of the time, unable to progress my position very well. I guess being able to fend off attacks is something, but the goal is to escape to a better spot. I think my approach going forward is to revisit the escape Dónal showed and remember to keep trying that, adding in Kev's tips on improving that escape. I was thinking too much about elbows and not enough about getting my head and back to the mat, popping my hips over, etc.
It's in that respect a shame I'm going to miss most of the Artemis BJJ month on the back, as I'll be in the US. Given this is a weak point for me, I need to work on it. Still, because we also have free sparring anyway and should also be adding open mat by the time I return to the UK, I can continue to work on those weak points in addition to the specific position each month. :)
When I was on the back, I wasn't doing much better. I played around with the straitjacket, but wasn't getting anywhere near any attacks. As ever I should be threatening more, which is a long term goal. In free sparring, I wasn't doing much from guard as before, though it gave me a chance to try different grips. Instead of getting a death grip with the pocket on the sleeve from spider guard, I went for a pistol grip. That is normally kinder to your fingers.
I'm not angling out enough in guard, though I'm pleased I at least remembered to shoulder walk backwards in guard to stop getting crushed by somebody bigger. For general health, that's a good habit I should be developing. I should be trying Kev's grip break to back take or sit-up sweep combo more often, as well as the windscreen wiper variations I learned from Dónal. I did have a chance to play around with the gi tail grip from another Dónal private, but couldn't lock anything up with it (though it was helpful for controlling posture).
At some point I got to mount, but was way too complacent about holding it. I was sparring somebody bigger, who had little trouble rolling me over. If I am with somebody bigger, then moving up to a tight high mount immediately would probably be a good idea. I should also be thinking of transitional possibilities if I'm getting rolled, setting up an attack mid-reversal before they settle into my guard.
I'm continuing to pull the gi into various places to see what happens. That proved handy again today, this time attacking turtle. I yanked out the gi lapel and wrapped it around them, which seemed to help me go straight into side control as they attempted to spin to guard. I kept hold of that lapel, which was now pulled around and underneath them, possibly preventing them from turning effectively. Something to play with. :)