Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Week Before Competition

I made it to open mat Friday and class on Saturday.  I didn't get a chance to toss down anything about those until now (and arguably I don't even have this time, but I'm using it anyways).

Open mat was not quite as active as I'd have liked, but What work I did made me feel pretty good.  I didn't get that many rolls in---just one with a white-belted Viking Eric and one with a blue whose name eluded me.  Eric is bigger and stronger than me, so I was pretty excited to work with him.  He's also a different bigger and stronger than Vance and Zach, with a bit more technical acumen.  In other words, my distraction tricks tend not to work quite as well on Eric.  But he couldn't pass my guard.  I remember at one point leg-looping his right arm, but for some reason he wouldn't tip when I flared my knees.  And then---as though I knew what I was doing---I un-looped and went back to a different sweep, and when that failed it pulled him back into closed guard.  It's not something that deserves a lot of back-patting, but it's also something I wouldn't have had the presence of mind to do three weeks ago.  I must be listening.  It's weird. Of course, then Eric slapped on a can-opener and I verbally tapped as loud as I could.  I'm not going to deal with that pain and absence again right now, especially with a competition coming up.  At this point, Damian (the black belt across town whose academy hosts the open mat) was watching us, and both he and Eric were a bit concerned and confused as to why I tapped.  I explained my recent injury, and all confusion was put to rest.  Damian also said not to use can-openers in training; they're mean and brutal and, even though they work, it just isn't worth the loss of a training partner and his subsequent discomfort.  That made me happy.  Damian then had us switch positions, putting me in Eric's guard.  I did pretty well, but kept forgetting to get the far-side underhook when he would trap me in his half-guard.  So that was annoying and enlightening.

My roll with the blue belt was pretty good.  I didn't get wrecked.  At one point, I had him in my half-guard, and I noticed that I was on my side, I had the proper underhook, I was stopping him from getting head control---in other words, I was doing multiple things right at the same time.  This is uncommon.  I do wonder how much of my success that roll was because I'm bigger than the blue.  It used to be irrelevant-- blues would just wreck me, whether they were 5'2"--130 lbs or 6'3"--230 lbs.  This time, I got out of the bottom, I escaped back control, and I choked him out (ezekiel).  This relative success against higher belts is unfamiliar, but not unwelcome.

Class on Saturday was more open guard development.  You know, open guard---that part of everyone's guard that no one likes developing because all you do for the first nine months is fail.  But we reviewed a few x-guard moves and the same sit-up sweep we did on Monday--feeding the arm under his legs, grabbing his collar and kicking his leg, pulling your opponent down onto his shoulder and under your mount.  It's a beautiful and embarrassing sweep that I can't wait to perfect.

I worked with Ed afterwards, the photographer-pastor.  He is the personification of old man strength and grit.  So I started working to pass his guard, and after a while we switched.  He prefers staying in someone's closed guard, and he's an oak tree when he's in there.  At one point, he was straight-arm collar-choking me because I got lazy and forgot to check his wrist or something.  Of course, at this point I look up and he's putting all his weight onto a straight arm right in front of me, and I think "Well, here's an arm that needs a lock."  So I throw my leg around his shoulder and try to get it around his head---but come up severely short.  My ankle clocked him right above the eye and he started bleeding immediately. Not a pumper, but definitely an action-movie-style cut.  As he was leaving to get stitched up (and after my seventeenth apology), he said to me, "Don't apologize, you did everything right.  Thank you very much for the work, sir.  I'll see you next week."

I can think of no another activity where I could kick someone in the face on accident, give him a two-inch cut just above his eyebrow that needs stitches, and have that person thank me as he leaves for the hospital.

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