I didn't realize how much I enjoy BJJ until I couldn't train for 2 weeks. After having partially dislocated my shoulder, I was on the shelf for the last 14 days, rehabbing and resting in the hopes that I could be cleared to return to training ASAP. I had been cleared over the weekend, and resumed my training monday night with three goals in mind:
1. Don't get swept. Aside from the obvious drawbacks of being swept, I had injured myself when I improperly defended a sweep and I didn't want that happen to again.
2. Remember that this sport is not about lifting the opponent off you, but getting yourself away from the opponent. While I was watching UFC 133, Rogan made some mention of that and it stuck. For the first few class I had been so focused on getting my opponent off me, that I had forgotten that BJJ is about managing your distance, not about presing people off of you.
3. Stay tight: This has been my goal throughout my first couple weeks.
We got into class and warmed up with our normal shrimp/backroll combo and got into some normal warmup drills like working on your base, your kickups, that sort of thing. Hammer told us before class started that he wanted to teach us a bunch of new techniques so he cut warmups short and got right into it.
First, he made us drill the basic 4 holds of side control (head and arm, two on one, north-south, kesa-gatame). He prefaced it by saying "if your partner isn't grunting when you lying on top of him, you aren't putting enough weight down. I made note to grind my hips into my partner (a two stripe white belt) and after a few drills got the hang of the transitions.
Next, Hammer taught us a simple pass to mount, which involved starting in a reverse kesa-gatame, keeping your hips tight and swinging your leg over. The trick is to keep your base on the mat for as long as possible to avoid being oopa'd off, which is easy for me because I have long, lanky legs.
Once we secured mount, Hammer showed us two ways to finish. First he taught us the cross choke, and the transition to an armbar that you can get if they defend the cross choke. It was my first time learning both moves, and I have discovered that I really like armbars. I seemed to be able to get them locked in much easier and faster then my partner, which was a nice boost in confidence.
Hammer also showed us a transition to a choke he called the cradle choke, although I'm not sure that what it was. Basically, you go for the cross choke in mount, and assuming your opponenet goes to elbow escape and oopa, you wind up in modified mount. At this point you open the gi, take a loose grip, feed the collar to the opposite hand (like you would be seeing up a basic gi choke) but then you grab the leg, rock back and extend. I actually got caught in it later in class because I really have no idea how to defend it. It's a cool choke, but given the proper defense I'm not sure it would have a great chance of being a successful choke.
After all that, we went into mount escape drills. I faired way, way better then I ever have. I did get swept once, but I realized the mistake right away. Aside from that, I managed to get my opponent back and finish with the RNC. On bottom I was a bit better, I got back to guard twice, but got caught in that choke in the last few minutes of class.
All in all it was great to get back to training. Two important things happened to me last night that showed me I am really progressing. One was being able to get the back and finish. The second one was right after I got swept into full guard, I saw the triangle choke sitting there and almost went for it (but we were instructed not to finish from the bottom). That moment just demonstrated that I am retaining what I am learning, and could have actually had a good chance at tapping someone with much more experience then me twice in the matter of a few minutes. I can't wait for tonight's class.
Here is my question to the BE community. There is a grappling tournament coming to Ottawa on October 20th or 21st. That would put me at about two months of training (2 weeks of getting hurt and an upcoming 10 days off b/c I have to go on a business trip). Do you think I would be ready to go and compete? All opinions welcome. As always, keeping shrimping my friends.