Saturday, June 2, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Week Two


Today was Memorial day, and like always, this day messes with me on many levels. No work and no money, but I figured I would train early and get some sleep tonight. Went in at 11am for the fundamental class, but only like 3 people were there, and no black belts to run it. I left and returned at 12pm and the class was getting started. Many people at Alliance are preparing to leave for the Mundials on Wednesday, and so Jacare wanted to pretty much do a massive gauntlet so everyone can roll with everyone. We warmed up and went over some basic Torreando work and passing defense for if they try to pass from chest-to-chest half guard while underhooking your free leg. I drilled with this purple belt Ryan who I knew from last year when I first tried to test for my blue belt, then again when I passed in December. Super nice guy, really supportive and always willing to help me better my technique. We then got the gauntlet going with Lucas and Gabriel Goulart being "team captains". I rolled with a few blue belts and hit the reverse scissor on one of them (he was about 175lbs and mostly better than me). Got destroyed by some purples including a Brazilian fellow whom I was chatting with in broken portuguese. I got to roll with one of the brown belt managers (or former manager?) Jonathan Thomas who pretty much danced around me and made my guard look like that of a white belt. The highlight of the roll for me was getting to roll with Lucas. He obviously did whatever he wanted but he let me work and pretty much choose my own rope to get hanged. He countered everything and baited me into thinking I was doing something right before crushing my hopes and dreams. It was awesome. He subbed me a few times but it felt more like a flow roll session because even when he easily mounted me he rolled back to guard and let me work a few times.


Everyone is leaving for the Mundials tomorrow so it the climate felt like a "last sharpening session" since people are leaving. The fundamental class at 6:30 was supposedly the last of the white belt sessions in a set of 25 classes. We went over some standing striking defense. Sorta felt like a Gracie Bully Proof course. Blocking the punch, clinching, double underhooks, squeezing the back for the takedown, etc. Then some kick defense: catch the kick in your armpit, get an underhook, sweep their free standing leg out from under them and end up in an ankle lock position. Then we went over some ankle lock mechanics, which are always welcomed IMO.

Main class was more training, so Lucas assigned some matches and we got to it. Nothing new to report here mostly, except in one match I was paired with a slightly bigger and stronger blue belt who had been training for 3 and a half years. He blew past my guard with ease and had some nasty, crushing top game. Very technical and very methodical. After 9 minutes of getting cross-faced with no escaping, I offered to switch it up and let me play some top. I worked the torreando and actually managed to pass to north/south! Even gassed. I kept it moving for the sake of the match and he recomposed to half as the timer went off. Told Lucas I was going to skip the last roll and probably got some 3rd degree. Well, I worked 12 hours today so yeah...... Pulled a variety of muscles like groin and hamstring and needed to take a day off.  Plus I had a staff meeting on Wednesday, so I had that excuse to heal up.


Arrived for the main class at 7:30. DJ was teaching since Jacare and crew are still gone. We warmed up with some butterfly lifts off double underhooks and got to work. DJ showed the classic butterfly sweep off over/underhooks, then the sleeve/collar grip variation of the same move. Then we worked some X guard. I was pretty excited for this, because I know very little about X guard. My training partner went over some basic sweeps with me, such as getting the position, stretching out your opponent, and then pretty much technical standing with their leg on your shoulder so you can achieve the single leg. Second basic move was the same set up, but you stretch them out and slide your back of the knee-hook down to the ankle and kick out their leg, coming on top and looking for the pass. DJ's technique was entry to X guard off a failed butterfly sweep attempt, for when they post out with their leg to block the sweep. You scoop it up to your shoulder and get the high hook in. Then, kick out and stretch them. From here you can control the same sleeve as the leg on your shoulder and pass it -- along with the leg -- over to the other side of your body. Then control the belt, get rid of the high hook, and load their weight onto you. You can then roll them easily into side control with some awesome control grips. We also worked on the obvious transition to the back once you're grabbing their belt. I rolled with a bunch of people, including the two guys I tested with back in December (Austin and Chris) and a few other people. Got completely destroyed by everyone. Chris has gotten a bajillion times better, it seems, although it could be that he took it easy on me last year. One thing that I'm realizing is that my guard sucks. My top game is definitely better. My posture has improved a lot and I'm sensing submissions before they happen and avoiding them mostly.


Fundamentals class was at 11:00 so I made sure I arrived in time for that. DJ went over some more self defense stuff, like blocking a strike, getting an underhook, driving around to their side and sitting down with your leg out to side control. Basic stuff. We went over mount defense and how to get the upa...with patience! Some great details in there that definitely made me better in escaping the mount without getting choked, punched or armbarred. He showed his favorite guard pass, which is the double lapel grip pushing down on their sternum, gripping the pants at the waist, stepping up and driving back with your hips to break the closed guard. Enter into combat base and initiate the single underhook pass into side control. Finally, we drilled some keylocks from mount.

Main class was taught by a black belt from Paragon named Adam Benshea who was present during my blue belt promotion. Super nice guy. He warmed us up with some single leg entries off  a sleeve/collar grip, then executing the takedown by either running the pipe, driving forward and grabbing the other leg, or lastly by cupping the knee and circling back while driving them down. Drilled some more classic butterfly sweeps, except off the overhook you can reach in and control their cross collar and lock the overhook in with your knee to thigh, then come up in scarf hold while keeping your head low.

Rolled with a bunch of people including a purple belt named Johnathan, a white belt, a few blues and then Adam. Again, got steamrolled by everyone. Managed to hit the reverse butterfly on the white belt but that's pretty much irrelevant. Rolled and talked with a black belt named April who knows Casey from back in the day. She has some busted up ACLs and a brace on a knee. We rolled super light and I worked a bunch of guard technique and mount escapes.

I think I clocked 10 hours of mat time this week. I want to train more, but it's pretty hard with my sleep schedule. 6 hours is rough when I have to chase kids around the next day in the sun. I'm still feeling good and noticing improvements. Mostly:

I've been having much more success when using the torreando or just controlling the pants leg in general. On to week 3.

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