Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Importance of Changing Direction and Using the Head When Passing

A black belt told me something recently that's stuck with me over the last couple of months.   His English wasn't very good, but he got his idea across crystal clear:  "White belts and blue belts just pass one way, but upper belts pass the other way". 

What he was trying to tell me was to make sure that I am always trying to change direction when I am passing.  Even though I was already aware of this, it's something that I've really been focusing on during the last couple of months.  To be honest, I've hit a plateau of sorts lately.  I've made a list of just a few things that I want to work on for the next long while and changing direction is one of them.  What I'm about to discuss is more of a concept and philosophy rather than an actual technique. 

If you walk straight into a brick wall, what's going to happen?  If you keep going forward you will just keep knocking your head into the wall (and probably kill some brain cells in the process).  If I simply move a little to the right or the left then I can go around the brick wall.  Of course that is oversimplified (especially considering there are other small details to keep in mind when trying to pass someone's guard), but if I'm having trouble passing one way, then I need to make sure to change the direction of my pass and the direction of my hips and proceed in the other direction. 

If my opponent resists and defends by moving their hips, then I need to change the direction of my pass and the direction of my hips AGAIN.  Ideally, my directional change and the movement of my hips must be one step ahead of my opponent's if I want to pass.  I've actually come up with a new pass this past week based on this concept when trying to pass half guard (I change my direction, my opponent defends, and I change my direction again ahead of my opponent). 

                               Change direction

Equally important is the use of my head.  In actuality, I have three arms:  my left arm, my right arm, and my head!  When I am playing the top position, I am trying to use my head to help me base, create pressure, and minimize the space between my opponent and I. 

It sounds simple, but I've really had to condition myself to make sure that I keep good head pressure.  It's a lot more complicated than it sounds.  You also have to make sure that you have your head placed in the right position as well (if your weight is in the wrong position, it could get you swept or reversed). 

You will now be privileged with another picture of my cat:

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