Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Out of Range

I'm sorry. Your kick cannot be completed as dialed. You are currently out of roundhouse range.

I love it when Ben and Mario work a little MMA into our BJJ class. BJJ is definitely my first love, but I think stand-up is interesting. Maybe something I'll look at getting into down the road.

Last night, we worked defense against punching and kicking. Ben taught us some basic principles to keep in mind whenever you're in a fight--whether it's a planned, cage fight or a when someone attacks you on the street. He pointed out that, for every strike, there is a certain range a person needs to be in for it to be effective. For example, if your standing in close to someone, a roundhouse kick is probably not the best strike to utilize. An elbow, an uppercut or knee would be better there. Same thing is true of standing farther away. You don't want to be off balance with your center of gravity too far forward while you're throwing a punch.

A part of defending against strikes is knowing how to change the range--to keep moving--in order to make yourself a harder target to hit AND to take advantage of throwing them off their timing or balance and be able to land a strike or a take-down yourself.

The idea of moving INTO someone who is trying to kick me would have seemed ludicrous six months ago. But that is one of the things we practiced tonight: catching a roundhouse kick, fitting in and taking the person down.

Another big point for kick defense that Ben brought up is that it's better to learn how to spread the strike over as much of your leg surface as possible.
The concept is the same as a break-fall. The blow is spread out over a greater area, lessening the force of the impact. When someone comes to do a roundhouse kick, you want to bring your knee up and out to an angle (being sure to touch your elbow to your knee and protect your face with your hand). The point is for the kick to land across a much of your shin as possible.

I can tell you, this move did not come naturally to me. Catching the leg and taking the person down had a lot more steps, but I felt like I could do that without looking like a retard. For some reason, simply bringing up my knee in an arc and meeting my knee with my elbow was a physical impossibility. I even managed to injure my partner a few times by bringing my knee up too late and kneeing her in the shin. That would be awesome if I was doing it on purpose and landing that kind of shot. But alas, I was not. ;)I was too slow and awkward. I'll cut myself some slack since I have never tried to move my leg and balance that way.

We also worked defense against punching from guard. And--my favorite thing of the night--Ben taught us how to throw an elbow from guard. The way we were setting it up, you pushed against the person's head behind their ear with the palm of your hand. The natural inclination of the person will be to push back. When they do, you slide your hand off and whipe your elbow and shoulder around, right into their temple.

The people who were being elebowed were holding their hand against their head soften the impact of the elbow, but this is one of those moves you can't really practice without using some force. Steph and I were too scared t practice this on each other because we knew we lacked the coordination to ensure that we wouldn't really knock the crap out of each other. Ben had to be our punching bag. Sorry/thanks, Ben! Lucky for him, we couldn't really do it with any great amount of force. Hahaha. Maybe in time our elbow will be feared.

Instead of practicing on each other, Steph and I practiced the snapping movement of our elbows on the mat. Last night was the first time I've ever thrown an elbow. I'm surprised at how hard I can hit with it. Even for a small person like me, that technique--once correctly learned--could be bad news for people.

Rolling went a little less swimmingly. As I have mentioned in my last few posts, I'm trying to learn how to relax while I grapple. But I am thinking about it too much while I roll now and am not focusing on moving like I need to be. Ben told me that there's a fine line between being relaxed and too passive. I think I crossed over to the dark-side of too passive.

Yeti, a blue belt who trains with me, was telling me I might want to just stop worrying so much about relaxing and just roll. He said learning to relax while you grapple is something that comes with time and experience. Right now I am still learning to move; I'm still committing the basic techniques to memory. Later, I will learn to move tightly, accurately and relaxed.

Ah well. Guess I have to be patient after all. Booo!!