Purple Belt Check-Up

The purple belt should be able to join us every 2 weeks right now. There’s a chance the group will be shifting as circumstances change. Having said that, it was a good weekend for training. Getting even one new person in can really illustrate that even in grappling echo chambers can happen – you show a technique, you show a counter, you show a counter-counter, but when someone has a reaction you haven’t been working against to prepare for you need to scramble. The purple belt brought a very assertive headlock-oriented game which was good; it’s not something we’ve been working with or against a lot.

If you know me, you know I tend to do a lot of leg locks generally, but because of an injury I sustained a few years ago I have a self-imposed limitation to not apply heel hooks in training. It’s not that I don’t feel I can do it safely, or that I ask others to not do them to me; it’s more a mental block and a fear that folks won’t recognize when to tap. The purple and blue belt have both asked that I start heel hooking them so they can better understand where they’re in danger because heel hooks are allowed in the no gi divisions they regularly were doing before quarantine. I’m trying to oblige them.

The study of the back has generally gone well. Even against the purple belt I felt better than I have been in the past with that specific facet of my game. There’s still a long ways to go on it though. I’m not using my head enough to open the space for the choke. I’m not establishing a controlling enough straight jacket. I just need higher levels of resistance to work against until I’m dominating it.

The study of arm triangles hasn’t fared as well. Finishing D’Arce/Brabo chokes in particular is still a struggle though kata gatame and Anacondas are better than they’ve been in the past. The North-South choke yet alludes me. I’ve been getting closer based on feedback, but I can’t consistently force the chin where I need it with my arm or lat. I’ve been trying both arm-out and arm-in for it.

Arm locks and leg locks are as they’ve always been – the most reliable submissions I can personally perform. Passing is going better though I feel I need more work against better knee shields. Playing guard is what it is; I feel stifled by not having a large enough mat space to stand up and force a wrestling engagement when someone is passing. So much of my guard work is threatening coming up onto a takedown so they have to engage given that threat. I’m trying to work alternate options, but it’s one of those areas that will be hard to measure success in until we can have larger groups again.

As the purple belt knocks off the rust, he should present new challenges for everyone, myself included, which can only be beneficial to all of our growth. I’m concerned with the current state that we may need to put the quarantine bubble on pause though. Case numbers are rising very fast lately and some members of the group may have their circumstances change in the coming weeks.

Quarantine Progress

Blue belt – moving more fluidly, making smaller mistakes, not yet dominating positions to force errors that lead to submissions. Submission attempts are still reaching in a lot of cases.

White belt – doing better, has basic answers for each position, needs to learn how to slow everything down to think it through. I think the biggest growth here isn’t going to come until there are more folks to roll with because the other two of us don’t provide enough variety. This is a heavy reminder that folks who just do privates often end up over ranked. We see the white belt as doing better, but then something will happen that shows how much more ground needs to be covered. Real evaluation for rank requires seeing someone struggle against a variety of people. When you just see someone’s progress working with you it gives a false sense that they’re further than they are.

Tomorrow will be my first session with a purple belt since quarantine started. We’ll see how that goes.