I don’t know if it’s the humidity, the heat, or just a bad time to be me. Lately I’ve been gassing super quick – needing a break after each roll, not being able to complete warm-ups, and needing an inhaler sooner in class than I think I should. Admittedly, I have been out for awhile and I don’t really push myself in judo like I do in BJJ because of a lack of structure and that I’ve been helping run class until Matt shows up lately. Still, it sucks to need to take a break or to slow down while drilling. Saying I’m out of shape or have asthma always feels like such a cop-out. I’m not lazy – I do want to put in the work, it’s just way harder than it used to be.
Class has changed up a bit lately. Instead of learning new techniques we’ve been drilling. Warm-ups are the normal half hour, then 30 minutes of alternating drills, and then the 30+ minutes of rolling like normal. The drills have been simple but important concepts – arm bar from guard, triangle from guard, kimura from guard, triangle escapes, hip bump sweep, flower sweep, knee bar from guard pass, and various passes. Three techniques will be shown, you’ll drill each one for two minutes, switch roles with your partner, repeat for the other two techniques and then three more are shown.
Last night was also an important lesson in defending leg locks. Lee goes for them as much or more than I do which led to positions where I was attacking and defending knee bars, toe holds, and straight ankle locks. He has phenomenal control and I don’t feel like he’s cranking on them at any point. It’s always nice to have someone like that to push you to work on the defenses you don’t have to use a lot.
Theme for judo this week: tilt line.
Draw a line horizontal to the ground that touches the top of both ears. This is the tilt line. If this line is not horizontal you’re off balance. In fact, there are a number of throws that illustrate this concept. The easiest two are o soto gari and koshi guruma. For this variant on o soto you start in a collar and elbow tie. As you step in let your arm slide past the head and hug it into your shoulder. Even if they’re still upright (they won’t be, but still) you can execute the throw from here because the head is locked into a position where that line we drew is now tilted down. For koshi you’ll start in the same collar and elbow tie. As you step across cut your arm so that their head gets forced down to their chest. Even if they’re still upright (again, if you’re pulling they won’t be) you can execute the throw here by popping your hip out. Once the head is locked into one direction or the other the person can be easily thrown. The phrase is something like “where the head goes the body follows”, but for throws I find it simpler to just draw that imaginary tilt line and think about displacing it.
Submission for BJJ this week: Calf slicer from failed knee bar.
You have a knee bar. Everything’s going great. Then they bend the leg. If they figure four it’s no big deal, just use your foot and push away on the locking knee. Their lock will slide off and you’ll have a bent leg that one arm is underhooking at the knee. Take the inside leg (the leg that is between their legs) and put your calf over their shin. Figure four your legs by locking down under your outside leg. Try to stay sitting up and hip in while squeezing your legs to finish. You don’t need to lift your arm or anything – it’s a fulcrum and can stay stationary, the power comes from applying force at the end of the lever arm (in this case as far down on their leg as you can get). Calf slicers tend to be hugely painful, but will actually attack the knee if they don’t tap from the pain first. Be considerate with this as you would with any leg locks. The escape is deceptively simple too – force your partner to their side and cut across the leg with your shin, pop their figure four open with your legs/hips (and hands if you need to), and then sprawl to pass to side control. This is why I emphasized trying to stay upright.