Loss = Win #2


I wanted to take quick advantage of my previous post by highlighting an experience. 

Last night I went to a new gym down in Christchurch, New Zealand. At this gym I experienced a lot of loss. I felt very slow mentally and physically. My technique ranged between sloppy and non existent. I am also not in getting-crush-fitness. It’s amazing how quickly your body adjusts to not having people trying to crush the breath out of you and help you pass-out. 

All of that is just time. I will get back into shape. I will get used to the physicality of the game. I will get my movement back, and my mind will sharpen. That’s all fine.

What I realised is that I have some major holes in my game. Much of this has to do with the kind of gym I come from.

Now, before I get into it I need to make it understood that this is not criticism. This is observation. Things are not better or worse, they are different. The difference simply create realities. 

The gym I’ve been training at my entire BJJ career is (generally speaking) a defensive, arm-drag, head-to-head kind of gym. Guys don’t play guard, they get back to their knees and re-engage from bottom. They attack from side-control, and don’t (again, generally) tend to shoot for mount or attack the back. Why is this? It is because every gym will look like its teacher. My instructor plays this kind of game. A lot of guys at the gym are big and strong. Therefore, as the small, weak guy I spent a lot of time on the bottom and chasing submissions through transition, especially when guys were in bulldozer mode. That’s how I’ve learned BJJ. 

This new gym is very different. These guys play a lot of guard. Most of last night I was put in a position of dealing with the guard. I’ve spent 2.5 years playing guard. I quickly realised last night that I didn’t have a passing game. Another issue is that I’m seeing guards that I’ve never had to deal with before. There were spiders, and De LaRivas and seated guards. I was, quite simply, stuck without a clue.

Hole #1- Guard passing, specifically of open guards. 

I got quite good at attacking in the guard. However, since my old gym wasn’t a guard playing gym there weren’t many guys great at passing the guard. It’s not bad, it just isn’t needed. At the new gym, since people play the guard, guard passing is a fundamental part of the gym’s game. I got passed like my guard was a small plate of warm butter being cut by a knife on fire… yeah, a fire-knife. 

Hole #2- Guard Maintenance and pressure. 

I lost a lot last night. But, I can see where I’m losing and adjust. Therefore, Loss = Win. 

I will now look at drilling guard passing, of various guards. I’ll build a game plan out of that for dealing with the things that I’ve seen so far. From there, I will simply add and adjust to whatever else I see. The idea is to have 1 or 2 main passes that I learn to get to from different guards. I will also drill my escapes. Drilling escapes give good fitness and deals with a lot of basic BJJ movements that are useful everywhere. It’s never a bad idea to drill escapes. I will also pick a standing guard, and a kneeling guard to focus on. The focus will be movement and maintenance along with a submission chain and a sweep chain (chain = 2 or 3 techniques that work with each other). 

When you experience loss, if you adjust what caused the loss, it will become a win. That’s the beauty of BJJ. 


All Roads Lead to Rome

I’m still exploring escapes in my rolling. This week I came to a new revelation. It has to do with a concept that I like to call “Mission Control”.

One BJJ session a while ago my instructor was going over some attacks from side control with an underhook. He talked about how side control with an underhook is his “top position mission control”. What he meant was that he defaults to that spot if he ever gets into trouble.  He feels comfortable there. He likes to attack from there, and is comfortable keeping the position.

That got me thinking about where I most want to be. Where is my mission control? The answer to that will be different for everyone.

Think of Marcelo Garcia for instance. Watch him roll with guys at his academy. You’ll notice that his mission control is the seated butterfly guard. If he gets his guard passed he escapes back to there. If he loses control in mount he goes back to there. If he misses a submission he just goes back to there. All roads lead back to the seated butterfly guard. Then, you start going through his moves and you realise why he defaults back to the seated butterfly guard. He has a great game from that spot.

So, where am I good? Am I good from the combat position going head to head with my opponent? Am I a guard player that loves to be in closed guard? Do I love taking the back? Do I love side control? Where am I best? Where am I the most comfortable?

The answer will help me determine what escapes I use.

In my study of escapes I’ve realise that there are many, many escapes from each position. So, how do you pick which ones to use? Well, understand my mission control spot, and the escapes are picked for me.

There’s a guy that I roll with at the club that always looks to get back to his knees. He loves fighting from there. So, he’s always escaping to his knees, then retreating to reset the fight. There’s another guy that always wants to get back to guard. He’s a guard player, so that’s where he wants to be. He pulls guard from the start. He understands that he wants to be there. Another guy loves being on top, so he generally only uses escapes that give him top position.

This logic not only applies to escapes. It also applies to sweeps, submissions, passes, and takedowns. Know where you like to be, and design your game around getting to there. If you love keeping mount, you’re not going to be an armbar guy. If you love keeping side control you’ll likely be a figure 4/kimura fighter. If you’re a sweep player your top game will be very fluid and attacking because you’re more than happy to reset with a sweep from the bottom if you miss.

With escapes you prioritize. If you love attacking the back you’ll prioritize escapes that put you on the back of the opponent. If you’re a guard player you’ll want to prioritize escapes that put the opponent back into guard. Better yet, if you’re happy in both places you will happily combine escapes to the back with escapes to guard.

Understand where you want to be. Design your escapes (and your entire game) around that.

Or, think of it like this. If you’re in Rome, you’re where you want to be. If you’re not, design a game where all roads lead back to Rome.

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