Coming back from the camp wasn’t easy; I quickly started missing full time training and while I love Salah’s lessons, I have to admit the ones at the camp were even better. We’re working on a couple of attacks from the lasso but I’m not focusing too much on them — they are techniques I already know and haven’t found a way to integrate in my game.
However I have my hands full with implementing everything we saw during the camp. I actually got a surprising number of them to work — the kimura grip sequence, x-guard, turning the wheel… Everything is still a bit messy in my head but we’re getting there. I think my most notable improvement is my defense from shitty positions — the number of times I’ve been submitted dropped very significantly. Overall it’s a relief to not end up in a slump as Florian told me might happen after such intensive training.
Another interesting development has been my improved ability to sense imbalance and “holes” in my opponents structure. It’s especially astonishing how against white belts I can create big imbalances with very gentle nudges or simply “flow” around them, driving them into submissions with barely any contact. I can’t focus on this against pressure players but I’m starting to sense this kind of things even against higher belts.
I had two interesting experiences during these last sessions. First, sparring with Marie-Laure went to another level after the camp. Rolling with her has always been fun, but also challenging because I need to be very conscious of not using too much strength, not dumping my whole weight on her, all the while not being sloppy with my technique because she makes me pay for every mistake. But during the last two rolls I was somehow able to take my focus away from this balance issue and instead just flow-roll, but at a competitive pace. Things were even more interesting because we were both trying to implement techniques from the camp, which resulted in a lot of mutual mind reading.
The other very interesting roll I had was yesterday night with Salah, after the class. He started to pull a lasso guard we had worked on recently; I defended by curling my hand outside his thigh but felt the need to put it back in to generate some pressure forward, no idea why. He actually got upset — not mad, but upset and a little disappointed — and yelled “NO”, and then wrist-locked me. It wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds, but disappointing him disappointed me about myself. Lesson learned I guess.
But later during the same roll I think I managed to get into the zone consciously, for the first time. Salah had already passed my guard and was setting up a choke, pressuring my head. I couldn’t see anything anyway so I closed my eyes and focused very intensely in feeling the fight. I didn’t really analyze the position, I just felt potential escape routes and went for them, removing the smaller obstacles I encountered and going around the big ones. I escaped the choke threat, got back into half guard and then into open guard.
At that point I realized what I had just done and lost my focus. But as the fight went on, I ended up in another near submission; an omoplata with one his legs hooking mine, preventing any roll. But again, I managed to get in the zone, used my other second leg to unhook the first and roll out of the omoplata, into an arm bar that I again escaped, ending up in his closed guard. After escaping yet another close arm bar, i eventually ended up in an omoplata that wasn’t tight enough, but had me completely immobilized. As I tried to free my arm, I exposed my wrist and had to, eventually, tap out.
Reflecting on this later that night, I realized that in most of my tournament fights, I was in the zone too. And most of my losses came from fights were I had lost my focus for a moment, puzzled about a position. The fights I won, I can roughly recall the sequences that payed out but no specific moments; in the ones I lost, or even those I won but conceded points, there are moments I can recall very well, in which I’m just waiting, before blundering.
I also think the state I was in yesterday is an even deeper one than those in competition. I’m usually pretty focused against people who smash me, but not that much. Not enough to escape several close submissions. If I can improve this ability I think my game will have another skyrocketing phase. Thats especially nice since i haven’t plateaued since about 6 month, something I’m very grateful for.
I’ve done a bit worth than usual these last days, but there are still some takeaways.
Fred has been teaching two classes and — of course — he included judo in the lesson… and it was a lot of fun! I’m now trying to work on my stand up whenever I can and I loose all the time, but we’re getting there. He explained how you have to weight down on the opponent and when you attack, you release that weight to make him lighter on his feet. Then he showed us 3 options:
- Step with the front foot in, the other one close behind and sweep any of the legs. Push/pull on the same side arm at the same time.
- Step outside on the far side and hook the right leg with your own right leg and make the opponent trip over it.
- Step back with the right foot, creating a void and sucking the opponent into it. The moment he steps in to fill the void, sweep his left foot with your own left foot.
I inferred from some things he said that there are two major “forms”, sweeping and hooking.
Aside from that, definitely the most noticed improvement from Copenhagen has been my overall defense. The rate at which I get submitted has simply dropped in spectacular fashion. Whether it’s by turning the wheel (applicable e-ve-ry-where), turtling or defending triangles, I’m having success in stormy weather. Even Valentin or Fred who used to submit me two or three times in a roll don’t manage one every roll anymore.
Something I noticed before leaving is I give up positions to easily. When I’m about to get passed, instead of scrambling I often just settle in the next position and try to survive there. I still need to address this issue but at least now I can hang out in those bad positions safely enough.
I didn’t manage to get back into the zone like earlier this month, but it still somewhat happens from time to time. Needs more work.
Officially ending this month in a slump. My submission defense rate is still good but I struggle against a lot of people I usually run through. Stand up is disastrous too, I get taken down nearly every time, by every one. Even my open guard has been less shiny; I thought I was really good at it, but truth is that without lapel work I’m still shit.
It’s the first time since almost a year where I feel I might be plateauing, so I hope it’s not going to last too long. It may also be the low after Copenhagen; now that I’m done processing all the information, I have been a little unfocused which doesn’t help.
On a purely technical side, we covered lasso guard escapes. What I was doing so far is focusing on the trapped arm and trying to free it. Fi it’s trapped, Salah doesn’t even care about it; instead, he makes sure the second one is free, usually by pressing down on the second leg. Once freed, he controls the opponent’s leg and backs away until the lasso foot pops out, then crashes back into him. The second option is a common leg drag with the lasso foot still in.