Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Passing Guard and Other Random Things

Very descriptive title, I know. I haven't been posting as much, because things have been so busy, but several things have been ruminating in my little brain. In fact, I've run out of space in there so it's time to clean out the bjj corner of my mental storage. :)

Somewhere over the last six months, I have slowly started to do more of the aggressive, top game player stuff. I have always felt like I "should" do that. But I actually started doing it when I A) realized I actually could and B) noticed how much easier it was to control larger people when I was on top.

But grappling in the aggressive, on-top way is not as organic to me as grappling the passive, reactive guard style that I love so much. I still do the latter much more than the former. I wonder if I always will. Don't know.

But figuring out how to work on top is slower going for me. Stuff from guard seems so natural. Stuff on top seems awkward and blundering. Take, for example, something someone said to me in a grapple last week.

This particular guy is a really good blue belt and also is bigger, stronger and faster than me. I was dancing around his open guard, holding onto the hems of his pants legs, trying to out maneuver his hips and either sneak around or slip through the middle. That works with the bigger white belts. Not so much with any of the higher belts. Their hips are too move-y for sneaking around and if I try to slip through the middle, their legs shut around one of mine like a steel trap and next thing you know, I'm swept. My friend deftly pointed this out to me by saying, "You know, sometimes you need to just stop and pass."

At first when he said that, my cheeky thought was, "Oh yeah, like it's that easy. Don't you realize I have been trying to pass this whole time?!?!" lol But then he explained a little more what he meant. I wasn't able to pass because I was letting his hips be mobile. It was a race and I was at a disadvantage. The only reason why I was able to be effective with that jumpy-aroundy passing stuff with white belts is because they haven't figured out how to be mobile with their hips yet.

Well, that sucks for me.

But he's right. He said that what I needed to do was get in close, get tight, immobilize his legs and hips and pass in a slower, more methodical way. So...I tried.

That experiment left me with two very clear lessons 1) Something is off with my base as I pass because I am getting swept SOOOOOOOOO much when I try to be slow and methodical. 2) I am missing most of the method of my methodical-ness. I kept getting the details of different passes crossed.

I found out later that the two passes I was cross-breeding made a really ugly baby. Their union opened up a bunch of space for people's arms to get in and under me for the sweep. Also, another blue belt friend observed that I was "leading with my head too much." We blondes are rarely accused of that, so I took notice. When I asked one of my instructors about it, he said that, with that particular pass that I was trying to do, I DO need to lead with my head. However, I need to drive with my head into their abdomen and, as I come around, across their body. If I keep driving higher up their body, I walk into the sweep because I am too parallel to their body and too much of my weight is on them. I need to be perpendicular.

That made instant sense. He also sorted out which two very similar passes I was crossing and helped me remember the details of each. Yay for that.

Last but not least, there is this pass I sometimes try where I hold down the pants legs at the ankle and literally do a forward roll on top of the guy, flattening him out. When it works, I flip over into side control. But what was actually happening many of the times was that, as I flipped, the guy would follow me and we'd end up in a scramble. Well, the other day Fabio pointed out that I needed to keep my arms straight as I flipped over, holding the guys' legs down so they can't follow me.

"Oh!" I said. "Yeah, I've been having trouble with that."

He laughed and said, "I know. I've seen you do that a lot."

Face palm.

Other random observations:

1. My cat is obsessed with IcyHot and Biofreeze. I have to stay away from him whenever I use it because he wants to lick it off. Weird.

2. I am excited because there is a seminar at Fabio's this weekend with Marcelo Saporito. Saporito, who trained under Carlson Gracie Sr., is the man who trained Fabio. I missed his seminar last year because I had to work. But this year I get to go! :)

3. I am thinking about getting a ripstop, ultra light gi. Not sure which brand. Thought I'd ask around and find out which ones are the blogger favorites. So, if you have an opinion, please share! ;)


Rollo said...

Have you ever considered the "leg lasso pass", it works very well when doing standing guard passes. You can stick the bottom leg to the mat, and use shoulder pressure on the top thus easing the fight it takes to get around the legs. Well seems to work for me at least. The beauty of this post is that you seem dedicated on working your guard passes.

SavageKitsune said...

"I found out later that the two passes I was cross-breeding made a really ugly baby." <---- Candidate for Best BJJ Blog Quote Of The Year! :D

My cat has a fetish not only for Salon Pas and anything they have touched, but also sweaty workout clothes.

Gina said...

"leading with my head too much." We blondes are rarely accused of that" lolol!

I've been working on the same thing as you, with trying to develop my non-existent top game, and I've been having the same problems with trying to pass guard. I'm going to try some of these suggestions...thanks!

Georgette said...

You are living in my body apparently for you have just described several of my current issues with passing, hybridizing passes, etc.

I vote for the Kauai Kimonos gi. It's the shizz... email me if you want more info, or just check them out at and tell them you're a friend of Georgette's.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Rollo: Thanks! I will have to look that one up on Youtube. I am not very good at visualizing techniques described in text.

@Kitsune: Haha, man, I am glad I am not the only one with a freak cat. ;)

@Gina and Georgette: Woohoo! We can all fumble around together! Seriously, though, if you guys have any tips that are helping you in this area, please pass them along because I am going insane. lol

And Georgette, I will email you. I definitely trust your learned opinion on gis!! ;)

allouteffort said...

Passing is like war or football, never give an inch, never go backwards, constant pressure, your whole body weight vs their ability to keep you off. Don't try to dance around what you have to eventually get head on. So even if you are too light, the constant pressure will help you find gaps in their pressure and you will soon ooze on them and lay on them like a small blanket.

J.B. said...

We have opposite problems. My passing game has always been my strength, but then I'm a guy, and grew up wrestling. Controlling people is in my comfort zone. Sounds to me like you need to simplify your passing game. Set jiu-jitsu by numbers passes don't work as well as pressure, control hips, control one shoulder, pass.
I think you're on the right track though.
and LOL@ ugly baby.. too funny.