Getting to Grips (diary entry)


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After  a completley student-led warm of relevant exercises – shadow-boxing, sprawling, rolls, snaking and so on – we focused completely on grappling. This began with some Greco-Roman positional work. I started this section with some overhook/underhook pummelling that increased in resistance to a game to get both underhooks in. Students then began away from the clinch and fought for the back position, working circular attacks and counters. Moving onto freestyle wrestling, the students fought for lowline takedowns. We then focused specifically on the single leg with one student beginning with the single leg position and the other defending. These were done in intensive one minute bursts of sparring, so there could be little distraction or deviation from the job in hand. We then resumed work on the Kimura armlock. Once again we began with the hold in its essence, learning it from a standing position. Most people find this move to be more complex than the conventional Americana (figure of four) lock or other basic locks like the armbar, so I felt it was very important to rep it properly to get into muscle memory. I note that the more self-defence orientated "Gracie" jiu jitsu have adopted teaching the technique first before the full application on their Unfortunately this then raises the problem often addressed with the position before submission approach. I found that once the armlock was drilled from the guard ground position and also as a sweep, the students were so focused on getting the armlock or hold right that they weren't gaining a good positional control. We drilled the motion of sitting up and turning with partners and then as a solo exercise to emphasize the point.

The class finished with some specific sparring from guard, beginning with one student holding the other's wrist for the Kimura. The lesson's final discussion was on good training days and bad training days. I witnessed some students finally making some dramatic changes in their sparring and others just clearly having the proverbial "bad day". It is important for young students (as well as adults) to understand how perservence and dilligence pays off. We live an age where the pressure to succeed is only matched by a greater temptation to simply give in. Whereas most of my talks normally centre on the "will to survive" today I was more concerned with the desire to do better and to accept that often the days you feel you do worse in are those you learn the most from.

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