SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

Why Worry About the Guard?

November 28th, 2016

img_0760What’s the big deal with guard position?  Why, if you look around the floor during a BJJ class are over half the matches mired in the guard?

One reason is because it is a transition point.  While neither top nor bottom guard is a superior position (depending if you can strike or not), gused is a place where the game could go either way.  When I say game, I don’t mean just the game of Jui-jitsu.  I also mean the MMA or self defense.  Things aren’t clearly skewed in either direction.

If the bottom player sweeps the top player and ends up in mount or side control, they now clearly have the advantage.  If the top player passes and ends up in a dominant position, they clearly have the advantage.  That doesn’t mean things couldn’t turn around.  Certainly people can dig themselves out of terrible circumstances.  We train, however, with the idea that we’d like to have the strategies, skills and techniques to put probability on our side.

Train your guard – top and bottom position.  Know that it is a place where the tide can turn in either direction.  Know that it is a place you’re very likely to end up in (or that you’d much prefer over mount or cross body bottom) if a bigger person decides to throw you to the ground.

If you’ve trained the guard only from the sport BJJ angle, know that you may have a skewed version of the power of bottom guard.  If you’ve trained guard only with people who know how to strike, know that you may have a flawed perspective on the safety of top guard.  And know that even if you do know how to escape from the inferior positions of mount bottom or cross body bottom, you’re likely to end up in bottom guard position, a neutral position, before you end up in a clearly advantageous position.

In terms of solid basics, I think students of the martial arts should have a minimum of two sweeps and two submissions from bottom guard.  I also think that they should have two escapes (and or passes) from top guard.  And when I say “have” I mean that they can apply these techniques against an actively resisting opponent.  After applying these against grappling resistance, I think they should also put in strikes and see how that changes the techniques and timing.

To sum it up, I think knowing guard is important because it is a very common point of transition when things go to the ground.  If you know the position well and things go to the ground, you have a better chance of things tipping in your favor and being able to find a better position.  If you don’t know the position well and neither does your partner the odds might fall back on to factors like who is bigger and stronger.  If your partner has got a firmer grasp on guard than you do, then probability tips over to their side.  Luck, as they say, favors the well prepared.

Grease the Groove

October 30th, 2016

This week’s drill to get better at cleans is called grease the groove.  It is all about moving smoothly from the hang position to the high hang position.  For me, the best cue in this drill is to have my shoulders forward of the bar in the hang and then behind the bar in the high hang.

Fun stuff.  I expect PRs for everyone… In 9 weeks.

Now What?

October 23rd, 2016

imageGot a weakness in your game?  Of course you do.  Everyone does.  Let’s say, for the sake of this post, that your weakness is your throwing game.  To shore up that weakness, you take an 8 week long Judo seminar with the awesome coaches from Portland Judo.  Nice job!  Now you’ve got your foot in the door.

The next step is to practice your newly found game, with partners you trust, in a safe environment.  We got it!  Come to the (usually small) BJJ day classes.  We’ll start from standing and go slow!  In 5 years, we’ll have a decent throwing game.

It wouldn’t hurt if we had the Judo teachers come over once in a while to help us out… and maybe a wrestling coach!

Meanwhile, anyone got a weakness is their stick fighting game?  Good news!  There’s a seminar coming up in November and December to get your foot in that door, too.  Check the events tab for more info.

One Leg at a Time

October 20th, 2016

For most people, the pistol is merely a rumor.  They don’t have one and they don’t really see any path that leads to getting any closer to making a pistol the reality.

Put another way, we need other one legged motions that help us build the balance, strength and confidence that will lead us eventually to the pistol.  The Cossack shut might be one of those moves for you.  It might also be completely impossible for you.  No worries.  There are many paths to pistol mastery.  There are many starting points.  The Cossack squat is merely one move that might help.

Drill Building

October 18th, 2016

Our next training block involves the clean and the pistol.  Both moves can be very challenging and for most of us it is super helpful to have some drills that break these very difficult moves into smaller pieces.

The video above shows a drill called the barbell warmup (for the clean).  This drill will help you understand how to use your legs to whip your arms up to the proper position.  You will be seeing this drill a lot over the next 10 weeks. Practice it!  Love it!