I went into last night’s class focused on maintaining my guard. I’ve been dwelling on the topic for a while and to be honest with you, I’ve been a bit perturbed. If you aren’t aware, I’ve got these long legs that should be virtually impossible to pass and yet, at times, people do. Annoying, to say the least.
But it’s not like I’m rolling with guys who don’t know what they’re doing. The ones who pass my guard have been practicing guard passes for a good long time. I can well imagine that they pride themselves on their passes, just the same way I pride myself on not getting passed. So I think what we’ve got here may be a conundrum.
What I’ve been doing as of late is really focusing on certain areas of my game. Like I just mentioned above, guard maintenance being one of them. Last night’s focus also included my triangle (which is always a focus), my new cross grip (which assists with keeping my guard) and my new side escape. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for me to walk into every class with a few key areas in mind to work on. It sure beats floundering around reacting to every scenario that comes my way. The areas I’ve been focusing on in the past few weeks have improved considerably because of this strategy.
My triangle is my triangle. People tell me I get them often because I’ve got length in my legs. I’m not so sure that’s the case. If I didn’t go for the triangle in the first place, my legs would have nothing to do with it. It’s my mind that tells me to take the proper grips and foot positions and then the proper setup. It’s my mind that tells me to keep my opponent off balance and to work a “leg leading” game. And it’s my mind that tells me to continuously break my opponent’s posture for a smooth finish. My legs are a mere portion of the entire formula. But really, I think the triangle is super aggressive and that’s probably the reason I love it so much. It’s drastic and clever and beautiful and fun to do. I really, really like the triangle.
I’ve been analyzing how I roll lately and have begun to realize that oftentimes, as someone is gaining the upper hand or a dominant position, it’s because I let them. I was late to the punch and had to defend an increasingly bold partner. Every inch of their success gives them another inch of confidence. But at the same time, their inch of success gives me an inch of pain I’ve got to figure out how to defend. At some point, the pain turns into a downward spiral that a skilled player takes total advantage of by way of submission. Enough of that in one night can leave you walking out of class with a low hanging head.
In order to combat this type of situation, I’ve been working on leading every match with a cross grip. Basically, my right hand gripping my opponent’s right sleeve. This way, as I pull guard and they begin their attempt to pass, I rip their sleeve across my body and up to my right shoulder. This fractures their base and exposes their back. My go-to move from here is taking their side from bottom for a shoulder lock with my knee. I performed this a number of times last night. The trick is though, I’ve been trying to be quick, strong and determined. I don’t let go and I don’t give up. Once I go for something, I keep at it until I succeed.
The grip game is essential. I swear I’d be losing every single match I’ve engaged in for the past two months if I hadn’t stepped up my grip game. Sleeves, collars, pants at the ankles, pants at the knees, the belt, the back – they’re all extremely important and I’d be lost without that focus. It either makes or breaks a match.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but this new side escape I’ve been working on is simply tremendous. Take a look at this video one more time. It’s Marcelo Garcia showing it in very slick fashion. I pulled this one off three times last night. It’s a very unexpected escape and can help you dominate your partner. One thing to consider is that if you want to take advantage of escapes like this, you need to get used to shoulder rolls. Do the drills, roll before class, during class and after class. People should look at you like you’re crazy because you’re rolling around by yourself so much. But in the long run, they’ll get it when you’re pulling stuff off during a match.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. Any comments, please leave them below.