805BJJ Class 153: guard resets through turtle and sausage roll, arm drag sweep, long scissor sweep, butterfly sweep, rolling

September 4th, 2018

We had all 3 black belt instructors on the mat, and 3 students (Cowboy, me, and Jeremy). We learned a LOT!

We started out going over how to recover guard from turtle when you’re sprawled on. Get your head up on one side, step forward a foot on the opposite side, so you can shoot your other foot between their legs to establish half guard and keep moving to get to a more secure guard. The key detail I learned from today’s lesson is that you kind of flop onto your side in order to get that second foot through. If you need to hang out in turtle for a second, get a grip on their knees so if they try to go around you, you can follow them. The grip also helps you thread that foot through to re-establish your guard.

Next we learned how to use turtle as a transitional position when your guard is being passed. When they’re coming around your legs, you can brace their hips away with your far arm as you basically pull your legs back to turtle while facing them, then recover guard by stepping in on the same side you just stepped out of, only now you’re at a different angle and should have space to recover your guard. I need to practice this one a lot, because not only do I get into turtle a lot, but I get my guard passed a lot. It seems I can use the technique for getting out of turtle to recover my guard just as I’m losing it, which is great! Mark said it makes the top guy feel like he’s trying to wrestle an exercise ball when the bottom guy moves like this, and Christian does it all the time. I’ve felt that way myself (that Christian moves around under me like an exercise ball) so I found Mark’s report highly relatable.

Next we learned the small sausage roll recovery. Again, passing the guard, bracing their hip with your far hand, you drop that far shoulder to the mat away from them as you roll your legs into them to recover your guard. I felt super awkward with this one, but it’s basically like the baby granby roll that Andrew once did to me when he turtled. The first time I tried it, I rolled away and got my back taken. Don’t roll away! You move your shoulder away so you can roll your legs toward your opponent to recover guard.

Next we learned the big sausage roll, which I understood better. This is from a low guard pass, where they’re pinning your legs down. Now you’re framing on their head or shoulder to keep them from getting to your hips. From there, you’re flopping away onto your belly and pulling yourself away on the mat with your arms (like an Army crawl move) before continuing the roll to get your feet back in front of you. Cowboy kept insisting that I recover a better position than just lying on my back with my legs pointing toward my opponent. He’s right – I’ve got some lazy habits I need to work out, and this is one of them. I just lie back on my back. Instead, I need to sit up with my shoulders over or forward of my hips, with my hands up to guard myself.

Once we finished with the guard recovery, it’s a good idea to jump directly into a sweep as soon as your opponent settles into your guard, and the first sweep we went over was the arm drag. This is one I’ve learned before but it’s been a LONG time (2 years maybe?) so I was rusty at it. Basically, you get a cross collar grip with an open guard. The with your leg on the same side as the arm your cross gripping with, you put it on their knee to trip them. Then you yank them forward hard as you scoot your hips away from that leg, leaving it behind as a trip log. They come forward and have to post so as to not land on their face, and that gives you the chance to get on their back.

If that doesn’t work, you can do a long scissor sweep. This time, maybe they’re grabbing your pants. You’ve got their cross collar again, but now you also want to grip their sleeve on the same side as your collar grip (basically holding the arm by both ends, I guess). You kick off their knee grip by pulling the sleeve and kicking your leg straight, and then you fall to that same side so the extended leg goes alongside their leg. Your other knee will come up, and you bring it to your collar gripping hand, with your foot at the hip. Basically, like the regular scissor sweep, you steer them over with your hands turning the wheel, but because it’s long and they’ll be all stretched out from the pull, you’ll mostly be scissoring your legs to get them over. I had a good feel for this one already, and I even remembered to keep hold of the arm as I finished the sweep.

Mark interjected that both of these sweeps can be done with just the collar grip if you can catch the opponent at the right moment in the scramble.

So what if you come out of your recovery and they’re crowding you? Well, establish a butterfly guard and sweep them that way. Butterfly guard starts by sitting into them and getting a STRONG over-under grip. Especially the underhook. With your feet, you turn your toes up as you press your shins into their thighs to get them off their base and spread out. Then you can just fall onto your side away from your underhook, lifting their leg on the underhook side to get them to fall. Unless they’re basing their hands out to stop the roll, like Greggo did later, but I’ll get to that. You can end the sweep either in mount (where you’ll want to use your underhook to extend their arm above their mounted head) or in a modified kesa gatame with the far side underhook.

Then we rolled some short 3 minute rounds. I started rolling with Greggo, who let me start with the butterfly guard. I tried to do the sweep of the day, but he posted his hands. So I went to kimura one of his posted arms, and we rolled around until we got off the mat. It was a good roll, but purely instructional from Greggo’s perspective. He was letting me do things and coaching me the whole time, which I greatly appreciate. I know he could wreck me quickly if he wanted to.

My next roll was with Cowboy. He also adopted a coaching approach with me. Probably because I’m so bad, it’s obvious how I need to improve, but he was very supportive and helpful. He set me up for all the moves of the day. I did the long sausage roll escape and recovered into the long scissor sweep. Nice! He also coached me through the cross collar choke when I’m in guard, telling me to hang my upper body weight off his neck to finish properly.

After that I rolled with Jeremy. We started on the knees, and I pulled guard. He tried a standing pass and I pendulum swept him to mount and finished with a cross collar choke. Next time I also pulled guard, but he passed to side control. I was in the process of sweeping him when he said that he hurt himself trying to pull me over. Apparently his ribs have been broken and are a constant source of irritation for him now. I can relate!

Last roll was with coach Mark, who just lied flat on his back and let me get on top of him. I just had to submit him, and he was just defending. I went to north-south and grabbed his arm in a kimura grip, but he defended like last time, even though I was teabagging the shit out of him. I eventually let go and reset, going for the Mark-special paper cutter choke but he kept preventing my choking arm from getting a grip. So I failed to submit him, but at least I showed him a variety of techniques I was attempting. It’s odd that I’m trying to choke and joint lock him in order to show him that I’m learning the things he teaches.

805BJJ Class 152: position drills, side control fundamentals, close side arm staple to Americana, rolling

August 30th, 2018

We had all 3 black belt instructors on the mat today for this Thursday morning class.

We started with the usual running around and then shrimping and tumbling. Then we got right into guard passing drills. I failed a bunch of times. Then half guard, where I had some good scrambles but still failed. Then it went to side control, and again I failed a bunch of times. I also strained a muscle that went from my head all the way down my neck and through the left side of my back. Ouch!

Then we got into the lesson, in which Mark went back to the basics of side control – controlling the hips with far elbow and lower knee, and pressing in with the cross face. He then showed us how to sit into a modified kesa gatame, but instead of holding the head we’d be holding the hips with our far elbow and our own hip. From there, we can pin down the near hand and staple it with our top leg, then we can quickly windshield wiper switch which leg pins so that we can move higher on the body. From there, you can use both your arms to work on their far arm. You can do Americana, straight arm bar, spinning arm bar, or kimura.

After all that, we rolled a few 4 minute rounds. I started with Andrew, and I was doing well on top until I tried to get fancy and he got on top of me, took my back, and choked me out.

Next was Cowboy, who reverse triangled me when I couldn’t pull my neck up because of the strained muscle. He also got me with some leg attack that I didn’t know how to defend.

Next was Mark. I started on top of him in side control, went to north-south, and got into the north-south choke, cinching it up until he had to burst to his knees and lift me off the mat to get out of it. I then grabbed his arm in a kimura grip but he turtled and I couldn’t get the arm out. I rolled under but it didn’t help and it felt like he was going to arm bar me so I let go and separated. He said I had good pressure on the north-south, and parted with “Wonder who taught you that.”

Next I rolled with Greggo. We started with me in his guard, and he took a few tries to break me down and eventually choke me out. Next run I went through some slow, weird positions and ended up with him in my guard, me holding him via an overhook to the opposite side lapel. He encouraged me to do the choke, which I remembered from last week, and it worked! Greggo was also proud of me!

Next I rolled with a new student named Ryan, and I had him show me all the things he’d learned that day.

Last I rolled with Jeremy. I was reminding him to breathe, and he ended up choking me out. I told him I should have tapped earlier but my ego was telling me I could fight my way out of it, even though my neck was hurt. Stupid ego. So while I was lecturing him, I was making my own mistake. Haha! Anyway, next go I got him in an arm bar and he tapped early as I was fighting off his hands. Smart move.

I limped out of the place. Might take me a few days to recover from this one.

805BJJ Class 151: competition drills, half guard passing, rolling

August 28th, 2018

I couldn’t stay awake for the Tuesday morning class, so I girded my loins and limped in to the Tuesday night class. My toes were really acting up whenever I’d get up from my desk, so I was worried.

We started with a couple of 4 minute warm-up rolls. I rolled with Jose and big Jared, very lightly, with no submissions. It felt pretty good.

Then we did guard passing drills. I started trying to pass Jared, but he got on top. Then I tried again with him and failed. Finally I got Josh and was able to pass him. Then I swept Carlos and Colt before Josh came and we switched to half guard passing. Josh passed my half guard pretty easily, and then I tried to pass Jared’s half guard, but no go. Then I tried Colt, and almost got it but he swept me.

So Greggo was unimpressed, and decided to do a lesson on passing the half guard. First concept was to get the cross face and underhook, and pin their shoulders to the mat. Then you can use your free foot to pry their legs open and slice your knee through for mount or side control. He also showed us how to pin the far shoulder with a couple of gi grips, and how to use your free knee as a block on their pelvis to help you pry their legs open with your free hand so you can get your trapped foot out and step way back for base before securing your final position.

We learned a collar choke you can do while passing the half guard. Basically, you reach across and get a thumb-out grip on their far collar, then grip the other lapel with your free hand, and basically you bulldozer your whole body forward with your forearm as the blade, driving into their neck, at the same time as you pull the lapel to remove slack and help the bulldozer. It’s a serious choke!

Then we rolled. I started with Craig, my training partner. He’s still a white belt but he’s improved a LOT. He even caught me in an arm bar from mount! I did choke him with the submission-of-the-day though.

Next was Colt. I remember scrambling, turtling, and trying to roll for guard, but he locked up my leg and arm and I just tapped because I was stuck. He’s extremely strong!

Last was Jose. I started on top, mounted him, he escaped to turtle, I took his back, flattened him out, pulled his head up, and choked the shit out of him just like I’ve been rehearsing the technique. That went well. Then he started on top, but I managed to reverse him and almost finished a collar choke even after he upa’d me to my guard, but he posted his fist in my neck and I wasn’t able to get the right leverage. Good job, Jose!

805BJJ Class 150: rolling on Saturday

August 25th, 2018

Mark was back from having a cold, and he was alone teaching the kids when I arrived. Eventually we got a few more and had a good class, but Mark didn’t feel like teaching a technique so we just rolled. We were restricted to not close our guard and not hang out in half guard.

I learned how to tip someone off side control by pushing their armpit to lever them over (but then retract your arm so you don’t get arm barred) so that should come in super handy in the future.

I also learned that if someone is trying to get your back but they’re off to the side, standing up eliminates their access to your back.

I learned that the baseball bat choke relies on the attacker moving their lower body away from the underhand grip, so if you move your body away from the underhand grip, you keep them from choking you. But better than that would be not to let them get two hands in your collar.

I was able to finish a triangle choke, a Coach Mark Special paper cutter choke, and a couple of kimuras.

805BJJ Class 149: Standing guard pasing, hip problems

August 23rd, 2018

Greggo taught this Thursday morning class. My hip had been burning for a week since the girls came home, so of course I was nervous getting back on the mat.

We started with a 5 minute slow warmup roll, then Greg opened it up to questions. Cosmo asked about standing guard passes, so we learned about standing with your kickstand in the throat and lifting them off the mat by their lapel. Then you bring your other hand to their knee as you lean back and bounce them loose. As soon as they open their guard, you drop them and step back, keeping your lapel grip and that elbow connected to your knee as you press their other knee to the mat and stretch out their crotch. They’re going to really want to adjust, and you can knee slice or stack pass depending on what opens up to you.

Then we did some guard passing drills. I did kind of okay. Failed a few times. Succeeded a few times.

I had to tap out of the rolling because my hip was acting up. I sat and talked to Jeremy as everybody rolled.

805BJJ Class 148: all rolling for an hour

August 14th, 2018

Because we had a small class of 4, and Tom and I had to leave at noon, we got right into it. I rolled with Tom for 8 minutes to warm up, and then I rolled with Rebecca the white belt. She had good mobility and was working really hard. I cautioned her to tone it down but she couldn’t.

After that, it was guard passing. Pass or get swept or submitted. Winner stays. I did okay.

Then it was side control. Mount, submit, or escape. Mostly I worked with Tom, who kept getting me into half guard from the bottom. He’s really good at that, but after a few rolls I was able to anticipate it and mount him.

Then it was just rolling. I rolled with Tom, Greggo, and Josh before I had to leave for my meeting.

805BJJ Class 147: guard overhook submissions – gi choke, triangle, straight arm bar, omoplata, foot lock; rolling

August 9th, 2018

My first day back on the mat in almost 3 weeks! I came in feeling fragile, but did it anyway.

We warmed up with a couple 5 minute flow rolls. I got Greggo first and Phil second.

Then Greggo opened up the mat to questions, and TJ asked about what to do once you break their posture in your guard and get an overhook with a cross-collar grip.

Greggo first showed how to choke with the gi. The overhook grip lets you turn to your side and get your leg over to help hold them down. Then you can hook their far elbow with your lower knee. From there, you can reach your lower hand to their near-side gi behind the shoulder, grab the material, and slide your elbow along your lower leg and across their neck for the choke.

You can also slip your lower leg over their far arm, swing it behind their neck, and lock up a triangle.

You can also slide back to align their elbow with your crotch and then lean belly-down to finish a straight arm bar.

You can also put your top foot in front of their face and sit up to secure the omoplata. Finish by preventing them from rolling through, getting your feet out of the way, and hipping up a little bit away from their body.

IF they do roll through, you can hook their near leg as it comes over and you can secure a foot lock on it. Finish by trying to drive their toes into their own tailbone.

Then we rolled. I did alright. Cowboy gave me lots of advice. Phil kind of chastised me for talking about what I did. Greggo said I was hard to budge off the top of him after he got me in kind of an upside down guard. It was a pretty good return to action. Next class should suck a lot.

GENCON 51

August 6th, 2018

I flew out to Indianapolis again for my 3rd year in a row, to hang with Castor and enjoy the nerd festivities of GENCON.

The trip started on a difficult foot. I had trouble sleeping the night before my flight. I didn’t trust my alarm clock, and I had no backup, so I ended up with only about 4 hours sleep before departing for the airport. I spent that awake time packing and making sure I had everything I would need. I set off early, because I wanted to stop by my dad’s house and take in the empty trash cans. I got a Coffee Bean coffee, then headed over and took care of the trash cans. Then I got a 2-for-$4 deal on bacon burritos at Carl’s Jr. and rolled through traffic to the airport, where I was 2.5 hours early.

The flight itself was packed. Even though I checked in exactly 24 hours in advance, I was boarding at B42, which means near the end of the next-to-last boarding group. I found a window seat at the back and crawled over an old man to get to it. Behind me was a woman and her 9-year-old son, who she desperately wanted to sit next to on the flight, but there were no more open neighboring seats left by the time she got on. The flight attendants started asking if someone would give up their seat, but nobody did. They offered a free drink and still nobody did. I decided I would help, just as the flight attendant was offering 4 free drinks, and the old man next to me was lecturing the mother on the virtues of priority boarding. Fortunately for me, the elderly Jewish couple across the aisle let me sit in their window seat, and they compressed toward the aisle. When it came time to ask for drinks, though, I only wanted water. The flight attendant was disappointed because she wanted to reward me for helping out, but water’s free anyway.

Arrival was also smooth. I disembarked from the plane, walked over to baggage claim, saw my suitcase coming toward me on the carousel, picked it up, and walked outside. My phone needed to be rebooted after airplane mode, and I needed to walk a bit to get signal, but I was able to text Castor that I was ready for pickup. One minute later, I see his red Hyundai rolling in. I was loaded up and driving away from the airport within 5 minutes of leaving the plane. Fortuitous timing!

Castor’s house was no longer in a state of construction. They had their new bathroom exhaust fan installed and working, and the mirror reinstalled. They had even equipped the guest room with a desk for my computer. Nice!

Our first day at GENCON was Thursday, which we started at 9am on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium, where we played a DC Heroes deck building game with an expansion set. I didn’t know what was in the expansion set so I had no way of developing a winning strategy. My record dropped to 1-1.

After that we had Island Noodles with Chicken, consuming them while sitting on the carpeted hallway floor of the Indianapolis Convention Center. We were scheduled for a couple of writing seminars, but they were too far away and we were hungry. After that, we headed off to the Mariott Hotel for a Pathfinder game where we played Christmas monsters and tried to save Santa. That was pretty fun. Afterward, we went to Mikado for dinner and had a nice meal. Then we went back to Lucas Oil Stadium, where we played a Pathfinder tournament where we were tasked with playing villains and sent on several personal missions. That was a painful challenge. After that, we went home and slept.

Bright and early the next morning, Castor and I set off for the convention again. We had 3 hours of writing seminars with Drake. I realized I need to study the Hero’s Journey a lot more. Castor became excited about writing the Metaverse story again, and I had an idea to introduce an old and wise character to help my main character out when he gets too deep into trouble. We wandered the sales floor a bit after that and made a couple purchases before heading to World Market for lunch and then home for a nap. We got up from that to go to Matt’s house for Castor’s regular Pathfinder game, in which he plays a Paladin/Rogue. I played Mike Chambers’ Crane-style Monk. We did alright, but we didn’t leave there until 12:27am and got home around 1am.

We got up Saturday morning at 6am because Castor had all the tickets to the Pathfinder Society game we were playing at 8am. Mike, Alan, Isaiah, Castor, and I (and one other guy) did an intro to PFS adventure. I didn’t get a PFS number until afterward. Next time, though, I’ll be ready! Castor and I had lunch at Harry & Izzy’s, which is across the street from Mikado. It’s a fancy steakhouse with a famous shrimp cocktail with spicy horseradish sauce that burned your sinuses out. I had a hard time deciding between the chicken Caesar salad and the BBQ chicken, finally settling on the latter. After that, we bought some more stuff, watched a little bit of the cosplay parade, and went home. We went to Texas Steak House with Carla for dinner, and I got the Caesar salad I’d been eyeing for lunch.

Sunday was an easy day. We started slow, hit the convention center around noon, spent about 3 hours buying too much stuff, and then headed back home. Castor let me copy some of his media files. I played a little guitar. We talked until late.

Monday morning I was up early. Packed, showered, dressed, and ready by 6:30am. Castor cooked me breakfast and then dropped me off at the airport. Check in was a breeze, and I spent the flight sitting next to a cute little Chapman College student and her mom.

Getting back to my car was another story. It took 45 minutes for the shuttle to pick me up. I didn’t get my car out until after 1pm and it cost nearly $100. It’s almost cheaper to get a shuttle from my front porch. Then I had to drive home, and that took another couple hours due to a couple of major crashes on the 405 and 101. Got home, unloaded the car, and slept for 2 hours!

805BJJ Class 146: double under stack pass, forward pressure pass, rolling

July 24th, 2018

Tuesday morning. Feeling weak and fragile. Went anyway. Paid for it.

Mark started the class by having Tom warm us up, then he lectured us on how the candy-ass slinky BJJ phase of our school is over. Greggo wasn’t there either. So Mark showed us how to set up in guard, how to break the guard violently, and how to change tempo and go 100% hard and smash/stack pass by going double under, grabbing the belt, lifting their hips over their head, dumping them to the side, and passing the guard.

The next refinement is what to do if they get heavy on their legs. Move your hands under their hips instead of under their legs. If they do manage to push away from you enough that you’re worried about losing the position, you step way forward with one foot, and push back to stand quickly on your other foot, and basically deadlift their belt until you can dump them to the side and pass.

Then Christian taught us how to break tiedowns and posture up. Basically you bob and weave under their grip, and use a hand on their bicep as you posture up to break the grip. If you can’t break the hold down, he then showed us how to press forward, move to the side, break open the guard with your elbow, and do a slide or knee cut pass.

I had a hard time rolling. I rolled with Sergio, then Brandon, then Cowboy, then Matt, then Christian. I tapped a lot. I had no energy and no strength. I’d try moves and run out of energy halfway through, leaving me flopping around in horrible positions. I think I need a break.

805BJJ Class 145: wrestling attacks from the knees, low mount maintenance, collar-fist choke, rolling

July 21st, 2018

I came into this Saturday morning class with a deeply bruised left heel. Warm ups were a painful challenge, especially the hopping, but I managed.

Mark taught us some takedowns from the knees. Get low, grab their knees, jam your forehead into their breastplate, and knock them back. Switch to your shoulder on their chest as they go down, and control their legs with your hands as you assume side control. You can also come in at an oblique angle with your shoulder to their midsection and drive them down, again controlling their legs as you assume side control. We learned to knock down the turtle, grabbing the opposite leg’s knee and ankle as you put your shoulder into their ribs to take them over. We learned to scramble off the turtle and get that takedown too. Then we learned to do the same thing but from behind the turtle, pushing their butt with our shoulder or head, and pulling their knees back to put them flat on the mat and get on top of them.

Then Greggo taught the low mount again, with emphasis on pointing the toes up instead of hooking, and lifting the head off the mat by the crown rather than the neck. He also taught the fist and sleeve choke again, which is very versatile. You can put your fist into their jaw or neck or wherever and it works. Brutal!

Then we rolled, each round 3 minutes and starting from mount. After 3 minutes, top goes to bottom. After 3 more minutes, switch partners and start again with smaller person on top. I started with Jose. I was able to reverse him from the top almost immediately and get on top, but I couldn’t submit him. Then 2nd half I let him start on top again, and I recovered guard but was unable to submit or sweep him. He’s getting better, though I might be getting weaker and wearier.

Next partner was Shabbar. I started on top of him and was unable to submit him. He wiggled out and eventually I got lazy and he reversed me and submitted me. Then he started on top and submitted me quickly with the submission of the day. I was able to get a couple moves on him, but he’s fast to recover and stayed ahead of me for most of the roll.

My next partner was Craig, the new-ish white belt. I was able to work him pretty well, and submit him, but he’s a ton better than when I last rolled with him. He was glad to hear me say that.

My last partner was Sean. I think I managed to survive against him despite all his tricks.