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Mohler/Foster Seminar: Day 1

Posted Jun 18 2009 12:11am

Injury report: My little toe is all screwed up. The down side is that it's pretty bruised and tender, the bruise extending up onto my foot and making it painful to bend. The up side is that after it heals, it will now match my other little toe, which has looked like a sausage for about 8 months since this exact same thing happened to it. I should be fine with a little tape.

The seminar started with a very light warm-up and then some drills. The drills we worked on were partner drills where we'd work to regain guard and things like that. These drills, and seeing the ease with which Coach Mohler went from one submission to the next really brought home that I need to go to Jeff's Drills and Conditioning classes on Mondays. These sorts of drills are fun and very and the lockflow drills will help me down the road.

One of the drills we worked on was a way to take the back on someone who's turtled up really tight. In this drill, we'd start with the our partner in a strong turtle position, meaning that he's got his elbows in tight, and is protecting his head, neck and arms. I'm going to be facing him, pushing his head down into the mat with my stomach, using my stomach to sense his moves to one side or the other. I'm not going to clinch around his chest. This would set me up for a reversal. Instead, I've got my hands cupped around his arms, close to his body. My hips are low and my legs are out behind me with the arches of my feet to the mat (not toes down). From here, he taught us two ways to go, the small man's way and the big man's way. Both start from this position and involve moving to my parner's side. So, I'll bring my arm around to block him from reaching out and grabbing anything as I move to his side.

The small guy's drill involved reaching under and grabbing the wrists, then rolling over the top taking my partner with me into back control. He emphasized NOT putting my head down by my partner's. This would seem the thing to do, but he assured us that it would be uncomfortable as his body would drive into our face. Not good. Instead, as we roll, we were told to roll over our shoulder, as we practice in warm-ups. Very fancy.

The big guy's drill was for when you're grappling with someone who's got mass such that you might not want to roll him over you. Instead, you grab the near sleeve and the far lapel, making sure you pull it up and out so he doesn't trap your far arm. Then step out and in, planting my foot or shin against his leg and using that to get him over and on his back. Then make him uncomfortable.

There were other drills, but these were the most involved. The others involved regaining guard when someone's moving around the side and stuff like that.

Coach Foster showed us some techniques from guard. Starting in guard, get a good grip on both sleeves. He emphasized two good grips. The first (and the one I prefer) is to use four fingers with the cuff folded over, thumb out so it doesn't get broken. This is a very strong grip for me. The other is a pistol grip, where you basically bunch up the fabric at the cuff and then grip it like you would a pistol. Pretty much.

So, I have the grips. I'm going to plant both feet on my partner's hips, and then move to one hip and bring the top leg over my partner's arm nice and deep and keeping my knee wide to put a lot of pressure on his bicep. I haven't released my strong grip on his cuff, so his arm is very tightly held. I'm also keeping my elbows in to make my grip harder to break. Some other details for this position. Never plant your foot high into your partner's armpit. This is asking for a heel hook or leg lock. Even if you have a strong grip, his weight and momentum will cause problems for you. So, keep your knee wide to create pressure on his arm, but always keep your foot low on his hip or even hide it between his legs.

In the first technique, a sweep from this position. I've got my left leg over and locked into my partner's arm, so I would keep pressure on this arm, and then bring my other knee inside as I release my grip on his left arm. I would then need to hook his left leg, but that's more for control. The sweep comes from the angle and the pressure on his arm driving his off balance and over. This sweep takes me right into a bicep lock which is illegal in most competitions now. Apparently, from this position it feels like pain compliance, with pressure on the bicep, but there's actually a tremendous amount of pressure being put on the forearm. Competitors not realizing the danger weren't tapping and were ending up with snapped forearms. So, instead of breaking our partner's forearm, we let the arm go and moved to a knee-on-belly position.

We learned other techniques from this position, but they're going to have to wait. Hopefully, I my brain doesn't pop today so I forget everything. We learned a lot from Coach Mohler, as well, and I'm hoping I can remember enough to put some of that down in writing before I forget it.

I will say quickly, before I go get ready for today's no-gi instruction, that what I appreciated most yesterday was the attention to details. I picked up things from each of the two instructors that will help me in every technique, not just the ones we learned yesterday. I learned some tips on how to be a good partner, reacting in a realistic way, providing non-verbal cues to my partner when they're giving me too much space, getting sloppy or failing to attack the correct angle.

Which leads me to another general tip I picked up. Attack angles. Definitely not a new concept for me, but one which had slipped under the radar. As anyone who trains in BJJ or any MA probably knows, when you learn something the first time most of it slips by. You don't even realize that you're missing them. Sometimes, even larger concepts settle into the background, and this is one of those. Coach Foster is always talking about widening the elbows, using technique and not strength, and attacking angles, but this really stood out yesterday. We were working on a technique for getting out of from under side control (the nasty kind where someone's got what amounts to a pin in Judo). It finally clicked that widening the elbow means driving it in a 45degree angle, and if done correctly, I can make it very uncomfortable for the person on top. Angles. That's what I took from Coach Mohler. As far as I'm concerned, as a 2 stripe white belt, that's good enough. I learned some fancy techniques, but I'm pleased that this concept finally came out from the background.
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