Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of 2012: What Has Changed & What Lies Ahead

December 17th marked the one year anniversary of my blue belt promotion. Looking back, a lot has changed for me in 2012. As part of my New Years post I outlined 10 key points which I would be looking to improve over the course of the year. At the time, I had no idea I would be training 15 hours a week over the summer. Needless to say, this year has been better than I could have ever envisioned with regard to my Jiu-Jitsu abilities. Every single aspect of my game has improved, I've met tons of new grapplers who have impacted my game in various ways, and I competed in a pretty high-level IBJJF tournament. The following were my goals listed from last December, with notes on what has changed.

1. Improved control from guard. Head control, sleeve/wrist control, overhooks/underhooks. Essentially, continuously breaking posture. I play so much open guard nowadays that my closed guard needs improvement.

- While my closed guard hasn't significanty improved, my guard as a whole is very much blue belt level. My main goal here was to improve it in that sense, and defensively I have taken it up several levels. Offensively, I am feeling closer and closer to what will eventually be a very dominant and dangerous De La Riva-based game. 
2. Polishing bread & butter sweeps from guard.
- I've noticed increased use of the scissor/push sweep, which are great sweeps to be proficient at.

3. Polishing and chaining submissions from guard. Tight armbars, MORE TRIANGLES, and omoplata options (especially the plethora of sweeps available from that position).
- I find myself attempting sweeps from open guard much more often. Consequently, I go for fewer submission attempts from closed guard.

4. Heavy development of Half Guard. Avoiding being flat on my back, framing the knee, controlling the bicep and GETTING THE UNDERHOOK! Summed up: avoid the cross-face.
- I find that my transitions from half guard to Z guard to full guard are pretty smooth. I don't get cross-faced and smashed much from here. Occasionally I will get the underhook and shrimp to a back-take, or get underneath , grab their foot, and look to roll to the top.

5. Getting the submission I want. Transitions are crucial to ground fighting but maintaining a position (example: back control) and getting say, the rear-naked choke, is also important. Patience and good technique.
- I have a better time maintaining a position and getting the sub I want. Still needs work.

6. More collar and lapel use. Cross-collar from guard and top half-guard, Brabo chokes from top half, etc. Implementation of paper-cutter options into my side-control/north-south game.
- I am still working on these, however, my collar chokes from the back have improved greatly. The Bow and Arrow submission is pretty high percentage for me.

7. Polishing transitions, TIGHTLY securing positions, being aware of weight distribution.
- I am learning how to maintain top position more and more each time I roll. I can move from KoB to side control to mount fairly smoothly now, and back control to mount and side control is easier than ever. Balance has improved immensely.

8. Improved guard passing and utilizing good shoulder and chest pressure to safely pass.
- The real star of the show is my passing ability. The summer was good to me and my top game is several levels higher than it was last year. Torreando pass, double under, etc. I would like to continue to work my OVER passes, such as knee-slices, in the coming year.

9. Improved takedowns, especially my wrestling.
- Wrestling is hard lol. My judo is MUCH more polished, and my techniques are better. Need more drilling. I really like the single leg, so I would like to work that especially well.

10. Breathing
- I am much more composed and relaxed when rolling. I save my energy for when I need it. Controled breathing is definitely better now. 

 There are just a handful of things to work on, specifically, in 2013:

1. Improve offensive guard. There are 4 or 5 De La Riva sweeps that are really great and high percentage. I've already begun working with them and I'm seeing success. There is one for every grip and every reaction of your opponent. When I commit these to muscle memory, my guard is going to be vicious.

2. Improve escapes from side control, mount, and back control.

3. Improve takedowns.

4. Improve my passing and work hard on improving over-style passes, such as knee cut.

5. Compete more, get those competition wins!

That's all! 2012 was a great year for me in EVERY way, not just for Jiu-Jitsu. I know that with all the changes that will happen in 2013 -- such as me graduating, moving out and subsequently leaving my home gym -- that this year will be an even better one. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Progression, Improvements, and More Berimbolo

I've been working a bit lately on improving my side control escapes as well as my offensive guard, and I definitely see some changes in my overall sweep percentage. I've also managed to hit a half guard sweep (where you have the underhook and are underneath your opponent, grabbing their foot) several times. It seems like a lot of older techniques that I haven't drilled much are coming back to me in live rolling, which is always cool.

I've been trying to not use my hands when having some of the more experienced white belts and Mike (who's now a blue) attempt to pass guard. It's a great drill and I've gotten to bait people with the reverse scissor sweep with virtually zero effort. Everything just feels really smooth. I will continue to work escapes over the next couple months.

We continue to dick around with the berimbolo and I really want to get it going because it's really cool. I had some trouble driving back my opponent onto his butt/back from standing, but I think I'm understanding the mechanics a little bit better now that Mendes released his video detailing the sweep. Check it out.