technique from half–guard.
First off - this article is quite brilliant: 'Nuggets of advice' by Aesopian (a writer about bjj who is quite prominent on the Internet). A few of my favourite bits:
As a beginner, especially before you realize how understanding and supportive your school is, it’s easy to suffer from “feeling stupid”. So much is unfamiliar and unknown to you, and you’re being constantly required to do things before you know what to do...Realize that everyone else went through the same issues and understands what you’re going through. You’re not stupid if you don’t know something yet—that’s the whole reason you’re at class.
An optimistic outlook will aide you greatly as you learn and improve at BJJ. Let’s say you get caught in sparring with a move you didn’t expect at all. You could react to this a few ways. You could beat yourself up for getting caught, start muscling the guy so he won’t get you again and get a “revenge tap” out of him. Or, as I’d suggest, you could admire his success and ask him to show you what he did so you can learn it too. Your mindset, negative or positive, can affect how quickly and smoothly you improve, as well as set the vibe at your gym.
I had a really exciting lesson in BJJ last Saturday, which inspired me to buy a membership and actually commit to attending two classes a week. Additionally, the Saturday mornings have been killing me so I've changed to evening classes - this week I've been to the 'basic' classes on Monday and Friday (rather than the Foundation ones I've been doing for the past few weeks), which are taught by Chiu, a brown belt (therefore, behind Braulio and Victor, he is the third most senior instructor at the club). It marks a step-up in the difficulty of the class (the 15-20 minute warm-up in the Monday class was so tough that it made me feel like I was going to throw up), but there are a lot of familiar faces from my previous group who have been a lot friendlier and chattier since I've been around more this week - rather than just be that smiling weirdo who turns up every now and then.
Yesterday, we were taught a basic technique you can execute from the half-guard position in order to restrict your opponent's movement - with a view towards sweeping them and achieving a more dominating position.
Okay, half-guard: you are on the bottom, resting on your side and hip (rather than flat on your back, which would be a weaker position to be in). In the half-guard position you have trapped one of your opponent's legs, by having one leg between their knees/legs and your other around the outside of their legs. If you cross your feet you've got one of their legs trapped, yeah?. For the purposes of this description, you've got their right leg trapped. To make sure that your opponent cannot put all their weight straight down on you (which is going to seriously restrict your movement), you need to have your inside leg bent and pushed into their midsection. Your leg acts like a shield here. So that's the position.
For this work optimally, you need to find a suitable moment in the exchange. Ideally, your opponent would just be mounting an effort to pass your half-guard (i.e. recover their leg and get into a stronger position) so they can be caught slightly off-balance. You need to extend your outside leg at the knee for balance, and then shoot one arm through their legs and the other arm around the right of their hips - basically you're looking to catch the foot of the leg that you don't have trapped. When you've caught the foot, you need to secure it with one hand against their back - you are rendering that foot immobile. (One detail: when I was using this in sparring later, when shooting for the foot, twice my opponent managed to turn the situation to his advantage and secure my back (and, eventually, a chokehold). I think, to avoid this, when shooting you need to keep your head quite close to your opponent's body - or keep your half-guard tighter to restrict their movement.)
I'm a little less sure of the next step, and am going to try to practice it with Rosie this weekend to get a better grasp. You need to cross your legs over, so that their right leg is being hooked solely with your left leg. Therefore you'll be controlling their right leg with your left leg, and their left foot with your right hand. From this position, you can drive forwards - take them off balance and hopefully secure the side position. Chiu was very insistent that you needed to work out several ways to do this, because your opponent was likely to try counter-moves which would require something else.
I think I've got the super-basics down though...
I've written this whilst listening to 'A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation' by The Wombats, which is quite great. They sound like energetic kids making a punky and fun racket with witty lyrics - perhaps like the Arctic Monkeys without the attitude.
I have bought 'Young Liars #1' from eBay, which is a new comic series by David Lapham. I really like Lapham's stuff - the Stray Bullets book I have is brilliant, and his Daredevil vs Punisher was also more fantastic than most Marvel books. Douglas Wolk describes it as 'awful' here (but says that he could be convinced yet), but on the same website Graeme MacMillan calls it 'kind of awesome' . My enthusaism about Lapham's stuff is more than enough to encourage me to buy it and make up my own mind.
I'm looking forward to watching Marquez vs Pacquiao 2 tonight. There's a really good preview write-up here.