Good class, good class. After the usual warm ups we did some partner exercise drills. They were really good. We don’t do them enough and I really wish we would. I’ve been in BJJ more than six months and this was probably just the fourth or fifth time we’ve ever done them.
Drilling submissions is nice too. But subs are the end result that you want to achieve. The exercise drills are the bridge you need to help you transition from one position to another to perform or avoid a sub. The problem with drilling mostly subs is that newbies are left with no tools or techniques to acquire the positions needed.
Most of the subs I learned when I first started originated from either the top of north-south or the mount. Learning the subs was not a waste but was mostly lost on me. My mind was too new to see that the principles used could be used in other situations as well and I didn’t even know how to get to the positions. When it came time to roll, I was at a complete loss of what to do. But I guess that’s why rolling is really such an important part of learning. Actually rolling is learning – applied learning, though mostly by trial and error. Exercise drills are great because they give you mechanics and the feel for the little subtleties that are all over BJJ. It’s a great workout too.
On to the drills!
All the exercise drills were guard pass exercises, passing and avoiding being passed.
1. Guard pass avoidance. Your partners gets on their knees, in your guard, slips an arm under your leg to pass. As the pass starts – putting their weight on your leg and planting an arm near or on your shoulder, you hipscape (general term used at my academy for moving your hips) away to end up sideways to your opponent. Use your arms to block your partner at the chest/head/hip. Hipscape back in and hook your leg that’s closer to your partner on their chest to block them. Pass your other leg up and over their head and rest it on their shoulder. The partner should then attempt to pass on the other side. Keep alternating sides as you go up and down the mat. Really helps you develop the natural reflexes to avoid being passed. There are some other variations of this exercise but the main idea is the same. It gets pretty tiring too after a while.
2. Guard passing, no use of hands for the person on their back. Exactly that. It’s a good exercise for both partners. The one attempting to pass can use any method, kneel, stand, control legs, etc. The one in the guard can use only their legs to avoid being passed. If a pass is completed, the exercise starts over with one person in the other’s guard.
3. Seated Guard passing. Same as above but the person in the guard can use their arms. Also, if the person on guard gets his back on the floor, he has to do 10 push-ups.
I think I’ll write up a post or a page in the future all about exercise drills. There are several more that I’ve done before and I’d like to write them all down before I forget them.
I was paired with the girl for the drills. They went all right but I think I would’ve gotten more out of the drills if I were paired with someone more experienced than me, whether male or female. During most of the drills, I felt like I was playing around rather than seriously trying to pass the guard.
There was rolling after the exercise drills and it was all right. I helped the girl put a triangle on. I rolled with the Korean guy too. I still spend a lot of time on the bottom position. He usually does a spider guard – so annoying – sweeps me, mounts, I escape the mount, stack him, and take his back. After a while, we go back to his spider guard. It’s almost always the same way with him. I rolled with a blue belt after. I got him in a weird triangle, which I caught him in when he was passing my guard. The normal triangle looks like it is done from the guard, this one was done so it looks like I caught him from the bottom of north-south. I couldn’t sink it in or transition to an arm lock. He later made me tap in a lapel choke. I rolled next with a white belt who is a few months more experienced than me. I swept him once but he dominated most of the match. Overall, I didn’t tap anyone and I only tapped once to the blue belt.
Getting a tap is a goal while rolling, but not the only one. Trying out and experimenting with techniques is just as important. I really wanted to practice my triangles, but never got the chance. Instead, I kept trying to sweep everyone and I ended up hurting my back. Either that or I hurt it when I had the Korean’s back and was going for his arm. Most of the muscles on the left side went stiff right after class. After a night and morning of ice therapy, it’s still stiff and hurts. I stuck an 8-hour heat pad on it for the day, so I hope it gets better soon. Anyway, getting a tap shouldn’t be the foremost goal when rolling, especially as a newbie, but it always makes the class more satisfying when I get one.