Today my BJJ sparring was a battle for survival.
Maybe you think it’s because I sparred with a bunch of high-level black belts… Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s wasn’t the case at all. In fact, I was barely holding my own against blue belts with only a couple of years experience. And they were all lighter than me...
Let me tell you why this happened.
Yesterday I got back from 6 days of rustic living in a simple cabin with family and friends. At the cabin – between cross-country skiing and chopping firewood to ward off the minus 30 degree night-time temperatures – I was thinking about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and grappling (surprise, surprise).
One of the BJJ-related things I was thinking about was a new guard pass I’ve been working on. It’s still in embryonic form, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but the Cole’s Notes version would be: “pin his hips to the floor with one arm, post up onto both feet, and then circle left or right to pass the guard.”
I’ve been experimenting with this style of guard passing for a couple of weeks, but have ONLY used it on whitebelts and some brand-new bluebelts. Up till now it’s worked great against the relatively unsophisticated legwork of these junior grapplers.
Today I wanted to bump it up a notch and road test it against some more experienced opponents. So I warmed up by rolling lightly with some whitebelts, and then went against some good blue belts and purple belts, always starting in their guards.
Well, the most charitable interpretation is that there were mixed results…
Sure, sometimes the guard pass worked, and sometimes I ended up with a dominant side control position (and then went back into the guard). Most of the time, however, I was frantically defending (and barely escaping from) armbars, collar chokes, omo plata armlocks, triangle chokes and guard sweeps.
Basically I was on the run for about 70% of these matches.
Strangely enough, I consider this training session a HUGE SUCESS!! By getting my butt kicked, I learned about the vulnerabilities of this strategy. Now I can go back to the drawing board and try to come up with technical answers to some of the problems I encountered. Then I’ll try it out on the same guys, and maybe this time it’ll work better.
Will this guard pass eventually become ‘the bomb’ – once I iron out these technical kinks?
The truth is that I have no idea. Maybe this technique will eventually become my bread and butter guard pass, or maybe I’ll drop it off in the graveyard of stupid BJJ ideas. I’ve had a lot of ideas in my day, and only a small percentage of them turned out to be great ideas.
The reason I have so much material to share in my newsletter, website and videos IS BECAUSE I’VE MADE SO MANY MISTAKES!
So give yourself permission to make mistakes, go down blind alleys, and try stuff that nobody thinks will work. Test your ideas, evaluate the results, modify your ideas, and test again. As I recently asked someone, “do you think that the very first airplane built by the Wright Brothers actually worked?”