Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting off my Guard

As a white belt, there aren't many things I can do well. Even the things I feel I do with some level of skill still have room for miles of improvement. But, for where I'm at, I feel that my guard is one of the strongest parts of my game.

That's exactly why I've been trying to avoid it.

I've been working at moving out of my guard and into other scarier places like side control and north/south and knee on belly. To that end, I had a few private lessons over the last few months and have been attempting to incorporate these elements into my game.

I'll be honest. My progress has been slow. For one thing, in order to get to these other positions, I have to do one of two things:

1. Pass the other person's guard at the beginning of the grapple.
2. Get them into my guard and sweep.

My sweeps are generally known to be garbage. But they are getting a little better. The thing that is helping is learning how to feel where the person's weight is and using their momentum against them. As I said yesterday, I am still having trouble sweeping people who are significantly bigger than me. Or who have any other color belt besides white. This-especially the size thing--is a testament to problems somewhere in my technique, but I am not sweating it too much. I've come to accept that I can't do everything perfectly, instantly. I'll have to improve my sweeps little detail by little detail, over time.

Or maybe I'll get another private. ;)

Anyway, I've been opting to by-pass my guard all together and try to be the aggressor in the beginning and pass the other person's guard. This is not my comfort zone. It is especially not my comfort zone when I am going against someone who is bigger or higher ranked than me. But I've been forcing myself to be the aggressor even when I know I am out-matched. If I fail, so what? These are my teammates and this is where I learn.

Since I started trying to force myself into being aggressive, I have started to see small improvements in my guard passes and, once I am in side control, in my ability to STAY there if I want or to move somewhere else. Again, my success in this area goes down as the size of my opponent/color of their belt goes up.

I can also see an improvement in my general movement on top as well. I still look like a floppy, flaily white belt when I move from side control to north/south or mount or whatever. I'm OK with that. Being smooth will come later. When I'm awesome. Which, as Stephanie so aptly put it, will happen on the 2nd of Never. ;)

Here are a few things that aren't going so well:

1. Staying in mount once I get there. If I am focused on staying in mount, I can usually stay there (again, depending on the size/skill level of my opponent). But if I start to focus on a submission, I guess I make space and ruin my base because I find myself getting swept and having to work from guard again or else having my opponent start to move out of the position and me having to establish it again.

2. Side control. Same story. I'm alright until I start trying to work submissions.

3. Sweeps from guard. Oh how I loathe you.

So, my goals for now are pretty general. Keep working on passing the guard/sweeping from guard and establishing a dominant position. I will keep looking for submissions from these positions, but I won't worry about that too much. Right now, my focus is on movement and control. If I can control my opponent, then submissions will come. That's the idea, anyway.


Georgette said...

LOL we're such opposites :) I loathe the guard and have only recently been playing it much. My sweeps from guard also suck. About the only thing I do halfway decently is pass guard and get side/mount. And then again, I'm 50/50 for getting subs from on top.

Well, at least we have goals :)

Dev said...

I'm totally proud of you - the fact that after like 2 months of worrying and postulating about someone being better than you and putting yourself in bad positions, you're doing it! That's fantastic! You could do a lot worse than being comfortable in guard.

Not only that, if you combine a good guard with some aggression on top, you're going to be a VERY dangerous opponent.

If you were beating blue belts, you wouldn't be a white belt. Don't get too discouraged - just keep it up, and the stability in positions will come. If we could all hold mount while we were attacking, our names would end in "-oger Gracie."

Keep it up, Allie! This concept is working!

Jiujitsunista said...

I feel like an idiot when I post on your blog sometimes. I feel like I should just call you. Or I feel like whatever I am about to say we have said to each other 100 times before... but I shall beat the dead horse once again.

We are so opposite. You have good, (and of course by good, I mean good for a white belt.) submission, and I have okay (Again, for a white belt) sweeps.

Though, we are both guard girls. I am finally getting to the point to where I prefer open guard to closed. (Except in competition dern it! I lock up in closed guard EVERY SINGLE TIME!)

But I also need to work on getting into a top position and staying there. The Summerlin boys who do not out weigh us by 100 pounds are the only ones I can get on top of and actually work submissions. As soon as I try to do something to someone at Fabio's... Sweep!

Dev said...

I think you guys are overthinking this stuff (Hi pot, this is kettle). :) Closed guard is not a bad thing - it's a position you can use to slow things down, establish control, and set up your attacks. Don't worry about going there, or even hanging out there for a little while. In closed guard, YOU control the fight, not your opponent. Isn't that the object?

A.D. McClish said...

@ Steph: I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I work so hard to get to a top position and then--whoosh!--I'm back on the bottom. lol. Oh well. More practice?? ;)

@Dev: Thanks for the encouragement. And, as for Steph and I over-analyzing our games...Us? Over-analyze? Never! ;) You're probably right. I guess I just want to improve the parts of my game that are the most drastically lacking! I know its not something I can rush, but I figure, if I feel alright about my guard, why not challenge myself and try to work something I'm not so good everything else! :)

Liam H Wandi said...

Good on you for being so passionate Allie :)

Don't worry about it. It's all as it should be. White belts (irrespective of gender and size) will find themselves defending from guard and struggling to sweep (i.e. change the position) or submit (i.e. take advantage of it) against anyone who knows a little about how to thwart these things. Defence is ALWAYS simpler and shorter than offense. Just focus your whole heart and soul into surviving and feeling the different positions.

IMO, the best white belt (who is also ready for a promotion) is not the one who occasionally sweeps and/or subs the higher belts/heavier players. It's the one who survives against an experience/attribute disadvantage.

Imagine being called "The small white belt no-one can submit!"!!! It has a nice ring to it :)