We had our first major snow storm of the season this weekend, and the road system still hasn’t recovered. Attendance was a little light. The complete opposite of Saturday I was told, where there were 40+. Too bad I was sick! Darn flu shot. Damian ended up declaring no class and open mat time instead.
Long and I started off together with a nice lazy flow. We’d stop and play with a position here and there, and talk about our “go to” techniques and strategies from various positions. In the 20 minutes or so we were rolling and talking, I probably shared more of my “game” with him than I have with anyone before.
It’s an odd coincidence. Earlier in the day, I was thinking about how that this year some things have really clicked for me, and I think I’ve made some big improvements, especially in my half guard game. It’s actually weird to me to consider that I’ve inadvertently developed a game, or style. Many of the big name jiu jitsu guys are known for having a particular style, be it dynamic, simple, half or deep half guard based, inverted, little vs bigger guys, 50/50, x guard, or favoring a particular submission. I never really set out to have a style, but I’ve found (via trial and error, mostly) some techniques that resonate with me, and I’ve used them enough that they’re becoming very natural to do. The one technique, and it’s almost stupidly simple, that I think has helped me the most this year is from half guard, inserting my outside foot inside, aiming at the crotch. In a perfect world, this gives me leverage to get back to guard, but it can also sweep or merely threaten to sweep or off balance my opponent. It’s almost unconscious to me now. I’m in half guard? Escape my hips a bit and jam those toes in.
And that is where my conversation with Long began. He doesn’t do that from half guard, and it frustrates him when I do it. And he wanted to know exactly what it was that I was doing. So I showed him. And we talked about underhooks and other top half guard stuff too. Competition and mindsets, as he had just returned from the Long Beach Open. Just two blue belts trying to figure things out together.
We switched, and I had Shae. Long and Arya were taking a breather and watching. Shae passed to half guard, and I shoved my toes in, looked up and saw Long watching and grinning at me as I used to to elevate Shae and get back to guard. Ten Ton Arya and I also did a couple of rounds later in the night too. True to her nickname, once she gets head control, it’s trouble. Maybe that should be my next focus, preventing head control. She’s also VERY patient. She’s in no rush after getting control. She’ll wait and consolidate her position rather than start attacking right away. It’s good, but annoying to be under her!