On June 8th, Dartford BJJ hosted its second seminar of 2011 with our head instructor, Marc Walder. As ever, the mats were packed for the occasion, including visitors from our ‘West Coast Roosters’ affiliate in Wales, and the atmosphere was friendly and jovial. As is customary, Marc built up a flow of techniques from standing to the ground, alternating from the defensive and offensive points of view; Marc’s fine attention to technical detail was enhanced by his philosophical approach to BJJ.
This seminar focused on defence and offence from the guard. We started from standing with a basic collar and elbow grip. We pulled guard by first stepping on the foot on the side of the elbow grip, then the other foot, dropping to the floor and closing the guard. From the guard position, we sought to set up a choke by: breaking the opponent’s posture by flaring open the elbow and pulling the collar towards us while crunching the knees to the chest; releasing the (left) grip on the elbow to reach over the opponent’s back to grab the belt;
opening the guard to post off the left foot in order to angle off the opponent (as opposed to maintaining a guard square to the opponent); releasing the (right) grip on the collar and sneaking the hand into the opposite collar under the opponent’s throat; transitioning the left hand from the belt to grip the back of the opponent’s collar with a ‘thumb in’ grab while walking the legs up the back to hold a high guard. From here, it was possible to bait the opponent by easing off on the guard to allow the opponent to posture up at which time
the top forearm (the right) passes over the opponent’s head to take an X-choke. In response to the choke, the person in guard would seek to massa pao; Marc highlighted the detail of ensuring the arm with the grip the crossing the throat (in this case the right) was tight to the right knee when coming to standing at an angle to the opponent, thus preventing exposure to an armbar. The massa pao was defending by over-wrapping the knuckles of the hand passing over the throat with, in this case, the left hand and reinforcing with the right, while keeping one’s hips high to balance on the right shoulder.
From here the attacking elbow could be collapsed or legs could be used to augment defence. We then examined the scenario where the massa pao was executed sloppily, with outstretched arms. In this case the left grip over-wrapping the knuckles was retained while hooking behind the opponent’s left ankle with the right hand and swivelling on the right shoulder while keep hips elevated in order to position for an armbar. The top person then defended the armbar by stepping over the opponent’s body with the left leg, dropping to the right side onto the hip while locking the feet around the opponent’s legs. From there, it was possible to transition to the top position (with a wee bit of scrambling and insistence with the hips).
Marc’s seminars are never *just* about the technique and he’s always willing to share his wealth of experience on the mats to help with the more conceptual and cerebral challenges of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Couple stand outs for me. Firstly, ‘you prophesise your own downfall’. In other words, if, when you are in trouble, your focus is on the danger of the situation, your worries and anxieties about being in a ‘bad way’, then you will fulfil your own expectations of failing to escape as others will exploit those insecurities to their advantage. On the other, if you remain emotionally detached and work your stuff and believe in and trust the technique, your chances will be much improved. Certainly, in
my own limited experience, when I stay cool my defence and offence is much better and I enjoy myself much more. Secondly, the goal of reaching an ‘even playing field’. Marc’s goal when rolling is to equalise the situation and *then* work from there. The idea is not to go into a roll with an overwhelming need to assert dominance, but rather to aim for staying on an equal footing and then seeking to impose one’s own game or style on the situation. This reflects the half for offence, half for defence approach that guides Marc’s practice and teaching.
The Next Level
In the normal fashion, promotions were a feature of the seminar. In addition to a healthy smattering of new stripes for team members, two folks made the leap to the next belt. Danny Suman, one of the club’s longest serving members, a World, European and British stick fighting champ and one of the club’s instructors (check out his Tuesday night kick boxing and conditioning classes) received his blue belt. Danny has worked tremendously hard in recent months and this is evident from enhanced technique and ability. Simon Taylor – who is an absolute beast! – became the Academy’s first brown belt! A huge milestone for Simon and for the team; major achievement. We are very proud of both men and both promotions were hard-earned and well-deserved.
Thanks to Kate Grogan and Danny Suman for the beautiful photos reproduced here, with permission.