Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time is Not On Your Side

Georgette recently posted some interesting thoughts on belts, promotions, and some potential differences in learning styles/capabilities between genders, sizes, and ages HERE (There's Always Time to Fill in the Holes).

I'll take a different spin on the title and say - There may be TIME to fill in the holes but do you have a PLAN to fill in the holes? Without a plan, time is not on your side.

If you don't feel like you "own" your belt or that you are progressing like your peers, it is time for some serious evaluation. Note I said evaluation not whining. What have they got that you do not - where are the holes. Make a list - is it size, strength, aggressiveness, a technique that always works, a lot of techniques that always work (what are they - is it their execution that is superior or your defense that is lacking). Helpful hint: do your evaluation only against your peers or those a little ahead of you - evaluation against those way ahead of you creates a list way too big to manage.

This will give you a list of some of the holes in your game - THEN you have to do some more work to come up with a PLAN to start filling those holes in. You can't just go to class and expect it to magically happen - most instructors structure their classes for "everybody" not you specifically. You need to be responsible for structuring things for YOU.

You need to look at your list and set some priorities. What do you think will give you the biggest bang for your buck - there is only so much time in the day and stress that can be put on the body. You also have to recognize and assess some realities.  For example, if you are small/lightweight/female you have to recognize and accept that there are some inherent disadvantages and then work like hell to mitigate them (you can't just say I'm smaller and therefore weaker than everyone else and never hit the weights).

A common problem is not feeling like you know "enough" jiu jitsu so you attend every class and collect technique after technique, but all those techniques are not working for you. You might need to set some priorities on selecting a few techniques to spend time on - getting to know them more deeply. You don't have to know every sweep but you need a couple of strong sweeps from each position. You don't have to know every submission but you need a couple of strong options from multiple positions. You don't have to know every pass but you need a couple of strong options. Until you have those strong sweep/submit/pass options collecting more techniques isn't moving you forward. Your job is to prioritize and pick the one or two sweeps, submissions, passes you are going to concentrate on.

Then you need to get to work. Decide how are you going to attack your priorities and get started.

It might be scheduling some privates with a very specific agenda of techniques/problem areas to cover. It might be only working certain techniques when rolling (passing up an easy armbar to get to the back). It might be only playing guard if your guard is weak (maybe for a couple of weeks, maybe for months - whatever it takes). It might be passing on rolling during open mat to just drill-drill-drill something you need to work on. It might be working on your strength and conditioning. I don't know - but you should.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Accepting" the Pass

I have been working on improving one of my basic mistakes lately - I call this one Accepting the Pass.  What I mean by this is the situation where your opponent is working on passing and you are defending, he gets past your knees then your hips and any other "frames" you may have and you finally just "give up" and accept the pass letting him flatten you out. The same thing can be said for "accepting" knee on belly or mount, or other positional advancement. You never, ever, ever want to just "accept" a pass.

As soon as you feel your opponent gaining the advantage and passing it is imperative to get your grips/frames and start moving. For example, make sure you get a grip or frame in on the arm that wants to crossface you or on the hip or shoulder that wants to flatten you out and start your bridge or shrimp before he has a chance to settle into position - always test his base before he can settle in. Those first precious seconds are your best chance to recompose your guard. Create a scramble if you can't get back to guard.

From most positions I am too slow to shrimp and get my knees back into the fight. When I turtle I am to slow to roll. From bottom half-guard I am lazy getting to my side and getting a knee shield or underhook or going into deep half. If I moved in that "first second" my success rate would be much higher.

There is also a downside to holding frames too long. You become glued to your opponent and lose the opportunity to move effectively. It becomes a stalling game - it might be fine in the last moments of a tournament if you are up on points but it is not good jiu jitsu.

For the next couple of months I am really going to focus on my guard game. That means a lot of positional sparring and a lot of (for me) pulling guard. I certainly won't make it unpassable in that short amount of time but I should be able to make it much better.

I'll try and let you know how it is working out and any epiphanies along the way.