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понедельник, 6 июля 2009 г.

my road to mastering grappling

When I started learning bjj, I had already some experience. I did some Judo a few years back for a year while at university and also a year and a half of traditional jiu jitsu. My first class was not really much of a surprise actually. I always knew I enjoyed learning and becoming good at groundwork vs. the stand up game since I was naturally much better at it than stand-up judo.

BJJ techniques I loved from the start. My first technique that I started to apply after very few lessons successfully was the scissor sweep. It is basically the first one you learn and it is probably a very difficult one to carry out successfully against and advanced player. Some I heard say it is obsolete, but I found that I could do very well with it and it showed me how much more there is to learn.

Watching DVD instructionals helped a lot. Personally my next big step as I saw it was learning about the half guard and how effective it really was. As a Judo player I saw the bottom half-guard position as highly disadvantageous and really had little idea how to improve from it. I basically focused on getting back to closed guard instead of sweeping. So when I finally saw Saulo Ribeiro demostrate his half guard techniques in his Revolution 1 series, I was really amazed. I simply could not believe how much there was to the position and I further was impressed when I watched Rigan Machado's DVD "Secrets of the Half-Guard". The half-guard for me turned out to be fundamental. For those looking to improve this part of their game, I really recommend starting by pulling half-guard in sparring and developing from there by practicing some of the basic sweeps and then passes.

My preference is really to sweep and pass the guard. I love to submit opponents but when I train I feel that submission is not as important to carry out as achieving a good position. This is because submission often requires strength and I prefer to develop my positional game further rather than spending a lot of time trying to apply a certain submission during training. I also try to as our masters tell us to give weaker players a chance. It is actually very satisfying to give your weaker opponent an opportunity and then fight back with your own technique.

It is certainly great to cross-train in both jiu jitsu and judo. I've always loved rolling with strong judokas. The game is a little different and I am very aware of the pins. It is good practice on working not to be pinned by your opponent. Of course you get to display your superior groundwork as well. Judokas can be extremely athletic and strong. I think it is worthwhile practicing against every kind of opponent and taking something away out of every defeat.

Having sometimes grappled with Sambo players, I have also focused on my leg lock defenses and in particular the straight ankle lock. When I first sparred against a Sambo player having been only trained in Judo, I was very surprised. The guy was very quick to go for the straight ankle lock and I simply was not prepared. I did not know what to do and instinctively tried to stand up but was too slow to do so and had to quickly tap out. This was a lesson that taught me that I had to learn those as well and showed me that Judo was not complete.

Jiu jitsu, judo, sambo. Really all these are one single art. The art of grappling and submission. It will almost certainly take me many many years to master this art. And I am only talking about the with-gi side. To me it seems there is no universal truth here. No one has completely mastered the art but there are many guys that have mastered the foundations and have gone beyond them and I really hope to do so myself one day.

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