I used to keep a notebook about my training but it’s a bit inconsistent so I’ll try to keep track of everything here instead.

Tuesday 19

First session of the season! I had no training for over two weeks so I was reeeeally impatient to get back on the mats. Going into the session, I wanted to practice some guard retention concepts I had seen on Keenan’s website and mess around with the deep half guard. I also decided I would try to only spar hard rounds with people better than me.

As somewhat expected, my cardio was out of the window. Warm-up made me sore, my abs are gone… but that happened after the last summer break as well. I think suffering through the first couple of sessions each year is an acceptable trade off for giving my body some rest. The first cycle this year is going to be collar and sleeve guard (also known as Dariush guard). It’s a cool position that I had worked on earlier this year with some success. I probably won’t learn many new things from there but I don’t mind working on it again. We’ll probably do some basics later in september when the new white belts roll in. Yesterdays lesson was only about experimenting with the guard, getting a feel for it — a great format IMHO.

The guard retentions went alright although there is some thing I need to figure out: when I cross-step to prevent my legs getting thrown to one side, I sometimes land with the knee on the cross bicep instead of the foot. It’s less effective but maybe I can still reguard from there. I managed to get into one deep half guard, did nothing from there but it felt right.

I exchanged some ideas with Salah at the end of the class. I had this idea that from top half guard, it might be worth diving into bottom deep half guard (loosing 2 points) just to sweep and pass, because I feel like passes are easier from there. If it works you end up with a sweep + pass or sweep + backtake, so +3/+4 points. Salah advised me against it because some people are good at locking you into deep half guard and if you’re stuck there, you just gave two points away. I still think it may be worth it, depending on the clock and the current point number.

Again in half guard, he showed me a pass that migh work well:

  • Get the knee out, as you would for a knee slice
  • Post on the free leg, knee-on-belly style. Get double collar grips and lift the opponent towards you to make him post on his elbow
  • Throw your free leg above his posted arm, against his neck (for a triangle). Post on your hand to help that motion
  • Now slide the locked leg along the same side, trapping the remaining arm
  • Lock the triangle

And a little trick/concept: when you have your two legs smashed together on the ground (say after a half guard smash pass) you can’t lift them, but you can very easily rotate them (so that your belly faces the ground) and then circle one of the legs around the opponent, back into guard. There’s a similar concept in one of Keenan guard retention videos where his leg is pinned, and he uses a lateral motion to unbalance the passer.

And I came up with a counter to a side-control transition we drill a lot. There’s a tiny moment where the top player exposes his arm on your hips and motion towards your back — if in that precise moment, you push on his elbow kimura style and roll agressively to your back, you can actually push him off you. The timing is tricky but because we tend to overuse it at my academy, there’s a reasonable chance I can make that work.

Thursday 21

I came in still wrecked from the last training but ready to push myself again. We kept exploring the collar and sleeve guard and transitionned to a triangle. Note to self, I need to lift my hips way more then I’m used to, those triangles don’t come for free. Florian gave me a nice tip at the end: when maintaining the guard, posting the elbow with collar grip against my own knee makes me much heavier and gives an easy slide to the triangle.

I focused on a couple of things while sparring. Retaining the guard went ok but I tend to get passed whenever I take a slight risk. Its a bit frustrating but I guess I’ll have to grind through it. I managed to get into deep half guard a suprising number of times which is usually a good sign that a position can work for me. I’m however clueless as to what to do from there. I think I can start to integrate some sweeps now. Betweeen the deep half and lockdown I’ve worked on with Maxence this summer, I may finally start to have answers to bottom half guard. And I landed a clean over-under pass.

Aaand there was some minor drama. There’s a new white belt who is spazzing a little and since he has some basics, he manages to get things done. To be fair, he tapped me with a kimura but I was messing around. Anyway, I know this is common for fresh whitebelts so I came in prepared, but some others weren’t. One of our purples got pretty upset and told him to calm the fuck down after he got almost hurt. One other whitebelt actually did get hurt, but I don’t know by whom. At the end of the class, Salah explained to the guy how things work and hopefully things will be fine now. I’ll go easy on him next time again, but if he pushes the pace…

Tuesday 26

Good session. We went over the collar and sleeve triangle again and then switched to the omoplata. It’s important to lift my hips before yanking the arm to the outside of my leg, have my opponent close enough, pinch the knees and turn to my side to really make it work. I have a tendancy to fly in my omoplatas, ending up sweeping at best or getting passed.

I had the upper hand against Jeremy, who’s my size with 20 extra pounds of pure muscle. I had to push it while he was going a bit more relaxed, but it felt good anyway. I also completed a sweep against Ayub, something that never happens. I can sweep him alrigth but never get on top. Huseyin tapped me out supper smoothly a couple of times in a row, really slick. Salah tapped me too, I tried to pass him using the tripod again. It worked alright but he ended up getting butterfly-like guards and sweep me. I think there’s a opening for me if I jump over his lehs when he flattens them to pull me in. I had to slow down against the white belts because I was gased out, but landed some good moves, mainly due to timing.

I ended up asking Salah to show me a lapel knot I had done once accidentaly: you start with a simple lapel wrap around a leg, and them lapeloplata from there — if the opponent rolls forward, the lapels gets tied up really firmly to your leg, and you get a free control of his arm. I need to work this in my game, I think it can be extremely powerfull.

The white-spaz from last time wasn’t there, I hope he comes back. For the next time, I still need to work on my deep half guard entries as I tend to give a free knee slice pass. And guard retention. If I just defend the guard I’m fine but as soon as I attack I tend to get passed.

Thursday 28

More triangle & omoplata from collar & sleeve. The omoplata went a bit better but I have to get the bottom leg out as soon as I feel the posture is broken, otherwise it gets stuck.

Sparring was good, especially against Geofrrey, our latest purple belt. He seemed a little upset but I wasn’t pushing too hard either — I think the gi entanglments frustrated him, but well. On the other hand, Salah completely tooled me. He pushed the pace (which I enjoyed), But man, the tiniest mistake and I’m fucked. And I happen to do a lot of little mistakes. I see them rigth afterwards, and agaisnt most people thats enough to recover… but not there.

Landed one half guard sweep, I can still work on more. Next week I’ll actively work to get collar & sleeve guard, it should combine well with my other current assignments, which are deep half guard & guard retention.