Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spider Guard (Learning Something New) & Refining My Game


: to free (as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material
: to free from moral imperfection : elevate
: to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing <refine a poetic style>
: to reduce in vigor or intensity
: to free from what is coarse, vulgar, or uncouth 


:  that guard that is really annoying to pass

Up until recently, I absolutely despised spider guard.  I found the whole position awkward, and had made my mind up a long time ago that the position just wasn't my cup of tea.  

Even though I really like open guard, I wasn't interested in learning any techniques having to do with spider.  Having my leg out there like that just felt clumsy, and nothing I ever tried from there ever seemed to work.

As I've progressed and developed my own game, I've learned to use what works for me and drop what doesn't (simple enough). 

Now, let's fast forward to about three weeks ago.  My instructor was teaching a spider guard sweep and he showed me a small detail that changed everything.  Now, I'm not saying that I was immediately able to start sweeping people, but something just seemed to "click".  A light went off inside my head:  a big light.  And, it's totally changed the way that I've been playing open guard the past few weeks!

I've only had this happen with one other technique over the years, the guillotine choke.  I remember hating guillotines, because I could never do them correctly.  I had pretty much given up on them, and then my instructor showed a small detail, and I started hitting them fairly often. 

The thing I'm happy about is that I didn't try to force myself to learn a new technique.  I made a major breakthrough very naturally with just a little help and guidance from my teacher.  At this stage in my development  something like this doesn't happen very often (for me anyway). 

Learning a new technique comes at a strange time for me, since my focus lately has been refining my BJJ, not to adding to it.  That means taking the things I'm already good at and making them better, better, and much better. 

I'm not spectacular at spider guard yet, but I've had some success with it, and I've been making myself play it.  Notice I said I make myself play spider guard.  I never force it.  I think an important thing for me over the last few weeks is not trying to force the technique on anyone.  If the position is there, great.  If not, I need to move on to something else.  Besides skill level, I believe knowing when and when not to do something is what sets higher level guys apart from lower level players.

I guess the analogy here would be that grapplers are like wine.  The more time we spend on the mat, the more refined our games become (mentally and physically).

                                      Look how he is struggling with my awesome guard!

My instructor told me something very interesting Saturday, and I've been thinking about it a lot this week.  He said when he tries to gauge what level someone is, he generally looks at two things:  First, he says he looks at how good a person's ball is. Second, he looks at their pressure.

So, to refine my game the following things I will be working on everyday are:
1.  Keeping my body in a ball
2.  Keeping lot of pressure when I am on top (this means using my head like a third arm)
3.  Changing direction
4.  Keeping my body loose and not tense (but using strength)

I've actually been working on these things for awhile now, but now I'm even more determined that these are the things I need to focus on to refine my BJJ and make it better.

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