Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fighting Purples

Caveat: This post has absolutely nothing to do with the Vikings.

My academy has a sister school across town that has a lot of students. One benefit of that is that we have higher belts come to our classes occasionally during the week and consistently on saturdays. Our white belt class has about 6-8 solid, consistent students, and we roll together after just about every class.

Tonight, one of our purple belts, one who is helping the black belts in the association work to incorporate more wrestling into our curriculum, helped teach class again. This is great--I wrestled for a very short time, and I never had anywhere near the understanding of the single-leg takedown that I have gotten in the last week. So we worked that, worked a few different passes of the open guard off of butterfly guard/knee grips, and then did some training. I was paired with our Goliath white belt who is still working to remember to breathe when we drill. That has its ups and downs, the big down being that he has easily 40 pounds of muscle on me. The up, though, is that it makes me focus on my technique in a way that working with smaller guys or even guys who are the same size as me. So that's good.

At the end of class, we went live with our drilling partners. I started with Gigantor and caught him with a platform armbar and later a triangle. I can play my guard with him, even with the huge size disadvantage, but that will only last as long as he doesn't figure out how to move his hips. Once that happens, the entire ballgame will change.

Next I went with Brady, a purple belt with a wrestling background who is six inches shorter than me and whom I can't hold down to save my life. We started out good, he played guard, I kept posture and tried to keep his legs open and maintain inside control. He threw a triangle, I posted and turned the wrong way at first, but I realized it and turned towards my trapped arm. Brady tried to turn this into an armbar but I kept turning, got my head free and ended up with him on all fours and me rolling for his back. I muscled him into back control (it was ugly, but I got him there) but couldn't keep him there, and he turned and put me back in his guard. This is where I usually fail: Brady has this uncanny ability to convince me that trying to pass without using my arms is a good idea, and then I gift wrap my back for him. He locked a bow and arrow choke on me---at least I think it was a bow and was the same collar choke, and I fought through it as long as I could, tapping only when the world went grey. Klint called time, and we lined up to mark the end of class.

After, I spent 5 minutes going with Jeremy, purple belt and national champion wrestler in college, pan am blue belt absolute champion, and all around nice guy. We started in closed guard, and switched after a pass or a sweep/stand/submission. I think we went through 5 cycles, and he worked me each time. As I expected. But that's why I went with him. Strangely, I had the same exchange with Jeremy that I had with Brady, getting out of the triangle.avoiding the armbar, ending up reaching (i.e. failing) to get back control. After, he said that I'm half a second away from using muscle memory instead of having to recognize opportunities before acting on them. In other words, drill baby drill.

I've noticed that I last much longer with higher belts than I used to, and that I beat the same guys faster than I used to---with a few exceptions. Andy will always give me a bastard of a fight, I always forget to slow down when fighting Kyle, and John is deceptively strong. I know I need to work basic things like elbow escapes from mount and hip escapes from side control, cross chokes, etc. I need to drill more and I need to consciously work my technique when rolling with guys I know I can beat. Also, I need to spend the time with guys I know will make me embarrassed to be on the mat. I have a few guys who push me as hard as I push them, and I have a few whom I can easily beat. I need to go find a few that can beat me soundly, so I can use that experience and get better.

So Thursday was a good class. And I wish I could spend an hour and a half rolling after every one. But sometimes, bar trivia calls.

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