Friday, May 28, 2021

Summer Lull

I was talking to Jason the other day about class attendance.  It seems that there are certain predictable ebbs and flows throughout the year.  One of which is the predictable lull of attendance is the last week of school and/or first week of summer vacation.  
During the last week of school students are busy cramming for finals.  Parents are busy making sure their kids are studying for their finals.  All of which makes all aforementioned parties far too busy to make it to Jiu Jitsu class.
After finals are over, families want to take vacations.  Singles want to get out and about, blow off some steam, and... well... mingle with other singles.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

This usually lasts for a couple of weeks.  Then once everyone's gotten everything out of their systems, they come back to Jiu Jitsu class.
But during this time of cramming and post exam revelry Jiu Jitsu classes are pretty bare.  Not too many studs around.  
There is an upside however.  If you're one of the dedicated few to make it to class during this lull, sometimes you'll be the only one in class.  Usually when that happens, your instructor will ask you if there's anything particular you're having trouble with or want to work on.  It's basically like getting a private lesson for free!  
Other times it's just you and one or two other students.  Same deal here.  Your instructor asks if there's anything you guys have questions about or want to work on.  If you come prepared with an answer, it's the next best thing to getting a private lesson... and you get it for no extra charge. 
I've had some of my best training sessions during these lulls in attendance.  They've been a huge source of those aha moments.  You know, the ones where you come away saying to yourself, "Ooohhh, so THAT'S how it works!"  There's nothing better than a little one-on-one, individual attention from your instructor to get you through those sticking points.   

So my advice for you during these times of low class attendance is this.  Go out.  Have fun.  Blow off some steam by all means.  But do yourself a favor and make it to one or two classes when nobody else wants to attend.  Come prepared with some questions in mind.  I think you'll be glad you did.
Happy training!

- Big Mike

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Broken Toe Guard

So my broken toe has been healing slowly but surely... well at least slowly.  I THINK it's getting better.  Not wanting to miss too many rolling sessions, I've had to do what we all do when we're broken and still want to roll... modify.
I started out by teaching a whole lot of closed guard.  It turns out I get up on my toes a lot more than I thought, in a lot more positions than I would've guessed.  Turns out that kinda hurts even when you're just demonstrating moves with a broken toe.
I find that closed guard is relatively safe though.  I can keep my broken toe relatively out of play pretty well when my ankles are locked behind the other guy's back.  
I gradually eased into positional sparring from the bottom guard position.  Stayed away from getting too spider-guardy if my opponent opened the legs, and pretty much just allowed the pass for awhile.  
Once I became comfortable, I decided to start experimenting.  I pulled out one of my old instructionals, The 92 Double Sleeve Guard by Jay Wadsworth.  It's a snazzy little guard where you cross grip the guy's sleeve, grip around the tricep with the other hand, put one foot on the hip, and the other knee across the chest... or something like that.  It's great for frustrating bigger guys who like to smash you by the way.
Anyhow, when Jay demonstrates it, the leg of the foot that goes in his opponent's hip stays bent.  And his off leg stays in contact with his opponent's torso kind of like a knee shield.
Any time I'd try it however, would always end up canted outward with my off leg flapping in the breeze.  I was never able to bring it in like a knee shield like Jay does.  It worked well enough to keep my opponent off balance, but I was unable to use all of the moves Jay showed in the DVD since... I wasn't really in the 92 Double Sleeve Guard.
Anyway, since my injury I've found myself butt scooting around with the leg of my injured toe  way out to the side.  This naturally leads to my jacked up version of the 92 Double Sleeve Guard with me on my side, my hip checking leg ramrod straight, and my off leg (with the broken toe) straight up in the air mostly out of reach of my training partner.  
I've found that people want to grab that leg, usually at the knee.  When they do, it's relatively easy to swivel my shin up over the top of their forearm, and wedge my heel in their bicep.  My toe stays relatively safe when I do this.  From there I kick into his bicep and my leg falls naturally between their neck and shoulder forming the one arm in, one arm out positioning which happens to be the fundamental prerequisite for a triangle submission.
It's a ridiculously goofy looking guard... but it seems to work well enough so far.  In fact I'm not sure what people are more frustrated by... the fact that it seems to be working so well, or the fact that it looks so dumb.  But hey, if it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.  Right?  
I've dubbed it "The Broken Toe Guard."  Perhaps one day I'll release an instructional on BJJ Fanatics, and become rich and famous because of it.  Well, maybe moderately well off and Jiu-Jitsu-famous anyway.
Until then, happy training!

-Big Mike