I haven’t written about it yet, but August has been “choke month”. Looking at what Roy Harris described for purple belts getting ready for brown, I decided it was time to take the initiative to get myself ready for brown belt. For me, August is only chokes; September will be only arm bars; October will be only leg locks. Rather than picking a specific limb, the next few months after those will be submitting from only specific positions (closed guard, mount, side control).
Forcing myself to use only one submission type has forced me to be more assertive in how I roll. I can’t get to a choke just wading through the roll until the opportunity presents itself like I can when all submissions are on the table. I need to move forward into a guard or top position and immediately start setting up an attack to mask the choke. Against white/blue belts it’s going awesome. Against purple/brown/black belts I need to do more setup – the positional game is fine, but I’m struggling with finishing the submission against skilled defense.
In addition to “at-will grappling” there’s a set of things I want to improve before brown belt. Or rather, there are a set of skills I expect from brown belts, so to me these are the prerequisites for me before I’m ready to talk to Mike/Matt/Arun about it.
- Teaching – be comfortable teaching any class, gi or no-gi, whether it’s my specialty or not. Since teaching my specialties has gone well, I’m going to ask Mike if I can teach a guard class (see below).
- At-Will Grappling – be able to restrict myself to one submission or style of submission against any belt level and still dominate (if not consistently finish) the roll. This has already helped my “being too damn lazy while rolling” problem.
- Chokes – of all submissions, chokes are my weakest type. Leg locks are my favorite technique to work so I’ve spent a lot of time on them. Arm locks are the only submission that’s been allowed in every form of grappling I’ve done so I’m very comfortable with them. Chokes are an iffy area for me. RNC, arm triangles (D’Arce, Anaconda, etc.), triangles, and guillotines will be the focus for techniques to polish.
- Guard – it’s been a long time since I’ve done serious guard work, especially since I prefer to fight-up and deal with a standing opponent when someone tries to pass. I need to review the guard to ensure I have a well-rounded game before brown should even be on the table.
- Start on a serious path to learning SAMBO beyond just borrowing techniques. I’m dead serious about finding a time to head down to Iowa and learning some SAMBO. I’d like to eventually spend a few weekends a year down there to learn more about the pedagogy and approach SAMBO presents for the grappling puzzle.
- Optional: compete. At one point I felt like I really needed to compete to validate my belt; however, rolling with guys who do compete has sated my concerns that I’d end up going somewhere and be completely underwhelming in my application of technique. While it’s something I’d like to try to do, it’s not something I feel like I need to do before brown belt.
My goal right now is to finish all of this by next summer. Per Aesopian’s data from 2013, three years is about average time from purple to brown as it is. Interestingly, all three lines show about 3-4 years for purple belt. There’s little to no difference even for the 2.5th percentile for how long they spend as purple belts. I’ve been a purple belt for three years already, but my total time grappling is over a decade now. And even though I had a hiatus from BJJ, I was still actively doing judo as soon as I could after my injury. I didn’t stop grappling, watching videos, reading books, learning the art. I just focused on a different part.
When I got each other belt, it wasn’t a question of if I was ready or deserving. It was a forgone conclusion and everyone told me “you’ve been a [color] belt for awhile”. Since I’m not actively competing to sandbag, I want brown to be the same way. I feel like these are the things that will ensure that’s the case.
Where the shit will really hit the fan is that I’m pretty sure everyone agrees I need to get my judo shodan before BJJ black belt will be an option, and I am quite rusty at judo-style randori. Maybe SAMBO will help, but that’s definitely an area to start tackling after I finish patching up the holes listed above.