Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre/MyGym), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 31/12/2014
After finishing up teaching Tracey, it was straight into some drilling and sparring with Chris. We focused again on half guard, this time with much more sparring than Monday. As it turns out, I was in need of that refresher, as half guard isn't somewhere I've been for a while now. I was focusing on the standard stuff I teach, which is blocking the cross-face with a 'paw', getting up on your side using the kickstand, then trying to either take the back or recover full guard.
However, I think I was over-emphasising that in my head during sparring, in a situation where it didn't quite fit. That's because Chris had an upright posture, rather than low, heavy pressure style of passing half guard. That knocked me off-kilter: I probably should have gone for recovering full guard, or simply moving to open guard, rather than continuing to think about getting on my side.
I was also putting in the knee shield, but not doing a whole lot with it. With that, I should have gone for that option where you kick the knee shield leg out past their armpit and use that momentum to sit up and go for a back take. When drilling, I had now checked my notes on the roll back sweep so that went much more smoothly. The scissor sweep, less so: again, I need to check my notes on that, as well as rewatch some videos. It felt like I couldn't move them at all when I tried it, but then I am being very tentative about my left leg, making a scissor motion tricky.
Mainly because I remember Saulo saying how he prefers teaching the kimura from half guard rather than closed, I went for the kimura a lot too. Unfortunately I kept ending up on the wrong side, so must not have been getting up on my side properly (and/or Chris was doing a good job of blocking that off). That's not easy to finish, but it could have worked if I'd thought more about using it as a distraction, recovering closed guard and then finishing the kimura. Chatting with Chris afterwards, I was also reminded of those sweeps you can do when you're flattened out, which I haven't thought about in a while. Worth playing with those too at the next open mat.
On top, if I could get the cross-face I felt good. I didn't have as secure a lock as I wanted, because rather than getting my hand to their far armpit, I only managed to grab material by the shoulder. That does still give me an anchor point for driving my shoulder into their jawline, but it also meant I could really feel it in my fingers afterwards. Then again, I'm probably gripping the fabric unnecessarily hard: like Ryan Hall keeps saying in his DVDs, "if you think you're relaxed, you probably aren't, so relax more." I need to try sparring while also making a conscious effort to avoid death-gripping the gi.
If I couldn't get that cross-face, it was tough to stop Chris making space and escaping. It really brought home to me just how important that cross-face is for top half guard, at least the way I play top half. I was also being overly cautious in terms of posting up into a tripod. I should take more risks in sparring, especially at open mat: I started doing that eventually, flipping over for the opposite side pass, but I have to do it more. Bad habit!