Rock star

"To die will be a great adventure." J.M. Barrie

I felt like a rock star at class tonight.

I got there in time for the last 15 min or so of the Women’s class, which tonight consisted of Lindsey (teaching) and three white belts that I don’t know. I jumped in with them and did some armbar-from-guard drills and then some positional sparring from closed guard (pass vs sweep or submit).

Lindsey was saying things like, "See, can you feel how Kitsune’s using her hips to power that turn," and the girls are going "Oh, wow," and I started to feel like a fancy prize mare being trotted out so that everyone can ooh and ahh at the clean lines of the hocks and the perfect gait. I tossed out the occasional piece of profound Dalai-lama-like wisdom. I politely declined to sign any autographs. LOL.

With the positional sparring, I did my standard virgin lesson of sinking one collar grip and telling them to defend the second. Once they started to catch onto that, I began to mess with their base and coach them on that. Lots of positive encouragement. I let them work till the buzzer, then ended by sweeping each one- just because executing a real sweep (even on a white belt) is still a rare and shiny thrill for me.

I really do enjoy teaching brand-newbies (especially the women). And I am darn good at it, too!

Then I jumped into Doug’s all-levels class (which was already warming up on the other mat). It was just him and me and Aussie Dave (in a new brown belt! Go Dave!), and a bunch of blues and whites.

Del a Riva sweep. Note that keeping a locked elbow/rigid arm on the collar grip is important, especially if the collar grip is high and deep. The first time I tried a deeper collar grip on Dave, I pulled him right on top of me (which was suboptimal for this situation). Doug is pulling a leg under himself in a tactical-lift-esqe motion to finish. You don’t want to get caught in half guard or let the guy turn to you and curl up like a shrimp.

Although I am getting fairly comfortable with this sweep, stupid side is still so stupid that it doesn’t know which foot to put up. Also, Dave suggests that I pay mor attention to controlling the foot that I’m hugging. Once again I was sloppy with trapping it at the back with my "up-knee", and there is also more I can do with the leg that’s on the mat to control that trapped foot. Dave demoed that if he can pick up that foot and step out, I got nothin’.

Next: start from side control; the arm nearest the opponent’s head gets collar grip right at the back of hir neck. Other hand- pretend you are digging for opposite collar grip, but it’s a trap! When opponent puts up arms to defend, armbar. What seemed to be working best for me was to use my chest to put weight on and trap Dave’s arm across his chest. Then take plenty of time to carefully secure the arm. Grab the pants before sitting back. Keep your foot that’s on that pants side, on the mat- don’t put it over the person, The pants grip will prevent the escape.

As usual, I wanted to grab my own lapel to try to force the armbar- since guys normally either muscle their arm away, bicep-curl me out of the armbar, or grab their own other hand/wrist to defend. We messed around for a bit trying to figure out how I could secure the arm and still prevent Dave from being able to grab his own other hand/arm and lock up. Finally consulted Doug. He suggested a maneuver that I have seen Carlos demo before, but I was not ready to assimilate it at that time. (I don’t think I’m gonna assimilate it this time either, but I am one step closer to doing so.)

First, you have to let go of the pants and put your second foot over the person. Put it high enough so that you can trap the arm between your knees. Now, take that free hand and grab the wrist, use your entire body to force it in a curving motion toward opponent’s head. It hurts at wrist/shoulder, so s/he will let go. (Do this carefully, slow and controlled). Continue the arc back to the armbar.

Now- 8 min spars with several people that I haven’t worked with in a long time. Dave (Rickson Gracie! Why did the entire world need to name their kid Dave! This was short blue-belt Dave), James and Steven. I am used to being dominated by all three of these fellows, so I was quite pleasantly surprised to find myself competitive tonight. I did worst against Steven, who passed my guard a couple times and kept me on the bottom a while. But even with him, I didn’t feel like I was being owned. Every time I’ve sparred with James, he’s smashed the snot out of me, so I was very happy with my performance tonight when all my snot remained intact. I didn’t get any taps, but neither did they, and I wasn’t on the bottom all the time.

I can feel myself getting closer to having a sub game. I am now finding that I can engage my brain enough to 1)try to set things up, as well as 2)look for openings. Neither of which I have really been able to parse until recently, through the mental white noise and the "survivesurvivesurvivesurvive" litany. I am still not getting them yet, but I’m going to.

Open mat- I played with Dave (the Aussie one) and aksed him to kneebar/footlock me. He likes these, so he is going to be another really good person to keep going back to for help. ]

Noting (yet again) how instinctually I twist around like a ferret all the time trying to escape. I’m very flexible, squirmy, get through tight places, and my limbs are short- so I’m used to being able to just twist and squirt right out of things. Now that I’m having people attack my legs, I need to ***STOP*** doing this until I engage my brain first and make sure I am not turning the wrong way. This is going to be a real struggle for the next little while, since I am still trying to figure out which way the "Right Way" is, LOL. I failed a couple of the quiz questions Dave threw at me regarding this.

I got too much valuable advice from Dave tonight to fully absorb, but here’s one good one: He was in turtle and somehow we got to a place where I was standing with one foot behind his butt (between his feet). THIS IS BAD! He summersaulted and leglocked me. He showed me that if I put my knee down so that the knee is on the outside of his leg and the foot in, it messes up his ability to summersault. It was counterinstinctual (for some reason I want to put the knee in and the foot out- this works too, sorta- better than getting leglocked, but he was still able to summersault and then neither of us had a distinct advantage). But there are a few guys who like to play inverted guard on me, whom I think I will deal with better if I can remember this trick.

Excellent night of Jiu Jitsu.

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