Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I don't really have a plan.

Had a talk with Faibo and Ben about rolling with a plan/agenda vs rolling in a reactionary way. I would describe my grappling style as reactionary. I don't really plan things. I see things and go for them, or I try to move someone into a position that would be more advantageous for me. I take what comes to me and try to use it to gain dominance or even catch a submission.

Guard is a big part of my game for that reason. I can attack, control and defend from my guard, all the while preventing them from really getting a dominant position. But I don't plan out how I will work my guard and say, "First , I'll get them in closed guard, then I'll fall back to spider guard and then half guard."
I don't really think while I grapple, but it I did, it would be something like, "Ok, he's going to break my guard, I'm going to set up for spider guard defense and be looking sweeps and possible triangles, armbars or omaplatas."

What actually happens when I'm in one of those good rolls is that I don't think. They come at me, I react, try to secure a position. They move, I try to use the space they make. Oh, there's a choke there. Go for it. Can't finish it so try to turn it into a bluff for a sweep. That's what usually happens. I have no plan.
I try something, it doesn't work, I try something else, look for space, look for a way to isolate a limb, to go for a choke. There's no structure there.

Should there be? I'm wondering...

A lot of people I've talked to in the blogosphere like to have game plans. They know what they want to accomplish in a grapple. One I commonly here is takedown, pass, mount and choke. That is the game plan. Or get the take down, establish side control, isolate a limb and armbar.

I don't play that way, but some people do with some success, I would guess. To be honest, I don't really know. Do any of you out there grapple by a game plan? Do you go into it with a plan of attack? How often do those plans play out in grapples the way you planned them?


Dev said...

Hmm. There's all kinds of stuff out there on how to game plan, and I talk about the concept, but at the end of the day, I just don't feel advanced enough to "impose" a game plan, unless I absolutely overmatch the other guy.

I guess I'm mostly in the same boat, although typically if I KNOW what my opponent is going to do, then I have a better idea of what's going to work for me.

In other cases, I would say it's more of using my "go to" stuff. At this point, I'm looking for triangles from a lot of angles, Shawn Williams guard setup for omoplatas, or scissor or spider guard for my high-percentage sweeps. That's like the extent of my diversity. If it doesn't fall into that short list, I've got to wing it until we go backwards into it. If we don't, I'm generally flailing, or at a minimum, reacting.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Step onto the mat. Feel the mat under your naked feet. Let that cold feeling spread thru you all the way to your face and let it light up with a smile and fill you with happiness. Happiness that you are there for you and only for you. You are not there to prove anything to anyone. That's a lucky feeling. You are lucky to have stumbled upon this place and lucky to have the time, health and funds to attend. That's wonderful and you should know it.

Understand that you are there with friends. Let that really sink in, for how often in our day-to-day life can we truly say that??

Smile to everyone you see on the mat. Shake hands. Grab cloth. Pull and push. Experience every position to it's full potential. That means pull guards and get inside them. Move to mount, but also get under mount. Work hard. Sweat and make your training partners sweat and suffer. Tap them and tap to them. When the buzzer sounds, look them in the eyes and genuinly thank them for their time and for sharing it with you. Don't shake their hands, hug them instead. They chose to come to the mat and play with you above a million other things.

Work everything. If someone is in your guard, don't stall because you think they are strong and might hive you a hard time. Work your attacks and sweeps. If they so passes your guard, work on retaining it or even escaping bad positions. Never think in terms of getting better. You are perfect. We all are.

But above all Allie: Always always smile! Just you are smiling now :)

Meerkatsu said...

Uh well I don't have a gameplan either. I use less skilled training partners to practise my stuff on and maybe I'll have a technique specific plan there, but that fails with guys equal or better than me, so I concentrate on minimising mistakes and moving to a position where I can do stuff - part reactionary, part proactive. Lately, it's been half guard, I really liked Dev's suggestion that I examine the 93 (?) guard a lot, and also revisiting my spider guard which kind of got lost a few years ago. If you can call it a gameplan, that's what I've been trying to do. But to echo PTG, my only concern is that my grappling brings me happiness.

Georgette said...

Liam, that was beautiful! That was poetry! So I read Dev's comment and was mentally fuddled, picturing how to get to the Shawn Williams guard in the first place, starting to berate myself for having a shitty scissor sweep, etc. Then I read your doxology on rolling and felt all better!

Then of course Seymour brought it all crashing down with his 93 guard reference but I didn't stay down for long.

Anyhoo, to answer Allie's question: I find that it's easier for me to have a general set of plans in mind when I am playing where I want to be (aka on top.) When I am on the bottom, I'm less planned and more reactionary. When I'm on top, I am still taking whatever they're giving, but I have a decent vocabulary so that if they're giving me this arm or that one, I can react to it and make something happen. If they're giving me the neck, something else can happen. I'm not focused on getting a choke and ignoring the arms (at least I'm trying not to.)

I realize lately that I finally have a halfway mediocre way of getting on top from being on bottom-- a halfguard sweep that's slow, ugly and inconsistent but better than laying there like a chaise longue-- so hopefully I will develop that into my plan too.

It's just a matter, I think, of developing grappling vocabulary sufficient to have a conversation with your opponent no matter what they insist on talking about-- as opposed to shouting over them and making them talk about what you want to talk about.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Dev: I feel the same way. Either I don't know enough or don't have the quickness of mind to "impose" my will on someone else. The only exception is with someone who is brand new or who is about thirty pounds less than me. And then it doesn't really count in my mind. I also agree with you about having "go to" stuff. But I am resistant to relying on my go-to stuff. I don't know if that's because I am scared of becoming one-dimensional or what.

@Liam: Wow! You write beautifully! I feel inspired!! :) I think what you're trying to tell me is to have fun and not stress so much, right? you know who you're talking to? I am the over-analytical queen!! lol Thanks for the encouragement.

@ Meerkatsu: "I use less skilled training partners to practise my stuff on and maybe I'll have a technique specific plan there, but that fails with guys equal or better than me, so I concentrate on minimising mistakes and moving to a position where I can do stuff - part reactionary, part proactive." Yes!! That is exactly what I was wondering about.Glad to hear I'm not the dummy who can't play the "chess-version" of BJJ. lol!

A.D. McClish said...

@ Georgette: "It's just a matter, I think, of developing grappling vocabulary sufficient to have a conversation with your opponent no matter what they insist on talking about-- as opposed to shouting over them and making them talk about what you want to talk about." I really like the way you put this. If I interpret it correctly, you're saying it's about developing a large enough skill set to be able to adapt to whatever your opponent throws at you. Is that kind of right?

The Part Time Grappler said...

Many thanks for all the kind words. A number of events in the past few years have made me more grateful for what I have in life. A great example is our SBG gym closing last Feb and if it wasn't for pure luck, The LABS would not really exist today. So I'm very happy and very grateful.

Besides, I really love the place. I love the peeps and the gi and the hard work we do so, in comparison, technical improvement (however you define it) fades in importance.

Ok mushy pretty words aside.

@Meerkatsu: I think we are already on the same page with regards to the joy of movement :)

@Georgette: U really impressed me with your comments. U've actually inspired a new post.

@Allie: What I'm trying to tell you is that you are perfect. You can't make your sweeps better or your armbars better. You can't make yourself stop analysing and over-analysing. You can only realise that you are doing what you are doing and that that's perfect.

Here's an example: You set up a sweep. The person is flipped over. That's great.

You set up the sweep again, now it's harder, because her awareness is now higher and she's stopping the sweep. That's great too. You try some more and you finally get her over. She's gained a higher awareness and you've gained a higher awareness. Not better, just more open and more encompassing consciousness. You can't get better because you are perfect.

You try a sweep and not only do they not flip over, they actually use their higher awareness to time their guard pass and they get to side control. They've gained an even higher awareness and moved with it. And you? well believe it or not, your body noticed that and has already raised their awareness level. You might not comprehend that or register it intellectually, but it has already happened. You're awareness got highetened at the same time THANKS TO the failed sweep. 5-10 attempts later and you will get it. It simple works!!!

You are not getting better. You are already perfect. Don't try to fix things. They are not broken. They are just as they should be.

Come to the mat to raise your awareness and expand the highway between your mind and body. All you need to do is show up, shake people's hands and play in a safe environment. Just like a child learning to walk.

I'm telling you, the more you think about it, the more you'll start catching yourself doing things you weren't even aware that you were doing (like retrieving butterfly hooks when people are trying to pass or auto-pilotly (?) blocking hip escapes when you're on side control top.

And all you need to do is show up and give people your time.

Georgette said...

@Allie-- exactly. I remember when a class would feature a technique, say for passing guard and getting to side control with an underhook. The instructor would then wave at their farside arm and say something conclusory like "And then there's a million things you can do to their arm." And I'd be like-- "Like WHAT? I have no idea what to do with the arm!"

Eventually I learned one thing to do with the arm and then it was all I could do. Without being in side control with the underhook, I was incapable of making anything happen. So I would ignore the nearside arm, the unprotected neck, the opportunity to take the back, etc. and simply physically "shout" (i.e. try to force them and myself into side with underhook.) I didn't listen to their comments (the nearside arm they ignored while I shouted about the farside one) and certainly didn't "chat" about anything.

Now, I try very hard to listen to what they're saying, and when I pick up on a few words, I try to respond in kind, on whatever topic they're discussing. If they're "talking" about their neck (protecting it really well when I have their back) then I might "talk" about it too (try for getting good choke grips) while looking for segues into other topics (the armbar) and maybe I'll make analogies where we can talk about both topics at once (bounce back and forth between trying for the choke and looking for the armbar.)

Maybe I'm carrying a bit far :)

The Thomas ;) said...

Here are my two cents (which is actually rather prideful to offer my two cents, since everyone else only offers a penny for my thoughts... don't you think?)

When I hit the mat and roll, I rarely have a flowchart in mind. What I DO have is an idea of what I want to work and what I want to improve. Currently, I am working on improving my hip movement, attacking the back, and securing the dominant position when I pass on top. So, when I go in, I am focused on these things. I will also often focus on trying to work into my rolls whatever technique Fabio taught that day, although that is generally hit and miss.

This is more a larger game plan for how I want my game to improve, however, rather than a specific game plan for when I roll. In general, I concur with Fabio and Ben, and just go out and roll (except with big guys... there I go out with a game plan to get out from beneath them... fast!)

On the flip side, however, there is a certain something to an interview I once read. I cant remember who it was, but it was a BJJ competitor recounting his fight with Roger Gracie. Roger, arguably the best in the world, does the same thing the vast majority of the time. Sweep, mount, cross collar choke from mount. This competitor was talking about how he KNEW exactly what game Roger was going to work; could see him working that game when they fought; could see the techniques coming; however, Roger's technique was so flawless that he could not DO anything to prevent it. He could merely buy some time before Roger finished the choke.

There is something to be said for technique on that level.

slideyfoot said...

I always have a plan, as through writing all those notes, I build up plenty of techniques I want to either try out or improve. For example, the last couple of weeks, it has been a particular spider guard sequence Braulio teaches on one of his videos. That's a short term goal.

Long term, the same techniques keep cropping up: side control escapes, opening the guard and maintaining the mount. The side control one is especially long term, as that is something I've been concentrating on ever since I started.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd call that a gameplan, because I don't really have a 'game' (beyond clinging on like a terrified squirrel, which is more of a survival reflex than a game ;p).

Like you, I tend to be reactive, which in my case is a result of passivity: I really, really hate being aggressive. I also hardly ever compete, so 'gameplan' becomes a little meaningless for me: I'm not looking to 'compete' in class, so it is only ever a matter of working specific techniques.

For me, that seems the most productive approach to rolling in class, treating it as a technique laboratory, with a specific set of techniques you especially want to improve.

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