Closed guard and spaghetti legs

There are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game. You should always come off an injury better than when you went down. -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

4:30 basics. Head-and-arm chokes; and arm-and-head chokes, from sprawling N/S on opponent’s turtle. Tighten as much as you can before you roll. You can use your fingers to "crawl" your hand up the opponent’s arm toward the big round patch on the back of hir gi. You can roll either way. After having rolled a big guy right over my face and almost breaking my own nose once, I got very leery of the full roll here. I learned *THAT* day that you have to put your face into the space under hir ribs before you roll. I learned TODAY that you can actually turn your face the other way. To make life easier, just make sure the back of your head is going to hit the mat first- that way you don’t have to pause and burn brain cells for ten minutes trying to figure out which cheek to lay on the opponent’s back.

Ow. Mondo gi burn on chin after doing this.

Positional training from one person in turtle, 2nd person sprawled N/S on top. The class was me, 2 small ladies, a medium-sized 2 stripe blue that I didn’t know, and a really tall lanky white belt I’ve never laid eyes on before. 2 rounds- I had to fight both of the guys, while the women got to pair together both rounds. Sad Both of those guys whupped me.

Study hall- study hall was quite a revelation today. Today I discovered that after 4 years of BJJ, I do not know how to close guard. Not MAINTAIN it, mind you, we’re not even there yet- I am speaking of the simple (heh) mechanics and positioning of STARTING there.

I never use closed guard. I can’t get my stubby legs closed around most of the people I train with. The few that I *can*, they simply bench-press one of my thighs to the floor. Once the thigh is on the floor, I feel like it’s pretty much over and I’m already beaten, so I let my guard open and mount some pathetic token resistance as the opponent breezes past and settles happily into side mount.

My usual method when asked to close my guard (assuming this is a person upon whom I *can* do so): I grab hir lapels, hike my thighs right into hir armpits, lock my ankles, and clamp. I don’t *squeeze* the person with my thighs, but I attempt to mentally forge my legs into an immovable steel frame.

Carlos put me in his closed guard. His thighs were lying on the tops of my thighs like two pieces of overcooked spaghetti.

It seems that my signature neck-cord-bulging approach is yet again resoundingly WRONG.

Carlos would like me to grab the opponent by the triceps (not seize hir by the lapels and yank hir into my steel-girder guard as if I’m about to bite hir throat out), hook my ankles, and then relax my legs knees-out around hir waist (not clamp them knees-up around hir ribs). Does not compute. And feels WEIRD. Weak. My legs cramped after about 20 seconds. It feels weird because I don’t *do* it that way and I’m not used to using those muscles, he tells me.

He pulled up his gi pants and showed us his hairy shins. There is a palm-sized circular area on the back of each shin which is rubbed completely free of hair. This is where his legs rest on the opponent’s back while holding closed guard.

"Don’t open your closed guard. You are doing half the work *for* heem." Why does that sound familiar? Maybe because Cindy has said that to me about half a zillion times? (only she says "him" instead of "heem")

"But what do I do when they bench-press my thigh to the floor?" He had Ben bench-press his thigh to the floor. His hip turned in the same direction and the opposite knee came up. His guard remained closed. I had Ben try to bench-press my thigh to the floor. My shorter legs just sat on top of Ben’s thighs and he couldn’t Kitty-Pryde them through his own leg to the mat.

I’m going to need to play with this, with kitten-level resistance, with a good partner before I can even start to wrap my brain around this idea. I can’t believe this is going to work live. But my way sure as hell ain’t working. If it does work, I’m going to feel like a real moron for doing such an elementary thing wrong for the last four freakin’ years. But I guess I’d rather feel like a moron and get it fixed, as opposed to CONTINUING to be a moron.

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