Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 23/02/2016
Open mat stalwart Mike was there again today, meaning I could get in lots of sparring. Very handy! As Mike wasn't there yesterday for the knee shield pass, we went through that. Good refresher for me too, as well as a chance to practice both ends. Today really highlighted the importance of stapling their lower leg with you shin, I think that helps a lot. Even if I didn't pass straight away with that, it set up me up nicely for the pass, or at least getting past the knee shield.
Underneath, if there is any space, it isn't too difficult to slide a leg somewhere annoying. I was looking to iron out the kinks underneath by being annoying, but without using too much force and energy. When the leg has that space, I could generally hook something, or wriggle back to a guard. Eventually, as the top person gets better at squishing, the bottom person tends to be tempted into recovering guard. As soon as the bottom person moves their leg to recover the guard, that's when the top person can knee cut. Timing needs to be right, but if you're looking out for that shift, the knee cut is right there.
You also need to stay tight with the arm by their back. If there is any space, they can reach under the armpit and start twisting into shoulder clamps. I was playing with that a bunch on the bottom, as well as shoulder clamping the other arm to see if that would make a difference. If Mike stayed tight and heavy, using the staple, there wasn't too much I could do. But any space, and there was a route back to guard (though there's an experience gap of course, which helps).
It was great to roll with Mike, as always, I need to do much more of this. Perhaps it's time I insisted on switching out rounds with people, to make sure I get in a few rounds each time, instead of generally just doing that when it is odd numbers. I am especially keen to practice my open guard, which I feel is still the weakest part of my game. Going for the ankle pick over and over is too obvious, and I haven't gotten to grips (literally) with the loop choke or collar drag. I'm trying to move away from heavy grip reliance anyway.
I went to the koala guard a few times and moved into single leg sweeps, but they were sloppy. Also, again I think the experience gap helped a lot, that probably wouldn't have worked on somebody who has been training longer. What I really want is an open guard where I can attach myself to them, I hate not having some kind of control. I guess de la Riva is an option, but I've got short legs and I'm not a fan of the knee torsion that de la Riva requires. Maybe reverse de la Riva, as that's more like long range half guard? Something to play with: I do like the unstoppable sweep from there, but that's just one technique and requires quite a few points of control.
I was pleased to land a sit up escape from side control too, in a very gradual way. Normally I've had to be explosive to get my arm in place, but today I started by walking my arm back, then levering myself onto my shoulder. I didn't think it would have enough stability (and perhaps it wouldn't against higher belts, but meh). I attacked for armbars a lot today as well, though I don't think I actually landed any. Far too loose, giving far too much space. Also, Mike's defence is getting much better, especially his ability to anticipate what I'm going for. Excellent stuff, makes for a more fun roll. :D