I find that at times the best way for me to learn something is to have a negative outcome attached to it the first time. Todays lesson was on taxis in the U.K., or specifically Wales. I was headed to the Academy and decided instead of calling a cab on the phone (that I don’t have) I would just go outside and wave one down. When I stepped outside I noticed a cab across the street, they are “Yellow Cabs” by name, but white in color. I approached the cabbie and asked if he had a fare or if he could take me. He told me he was waiting on someone and that I should wave down “black cab”. OK, no problem. I only had to wait for another minute before a black cab came by and I was on my way.
I have learned that the cabbies have no no idea where the academy is at here in Swansea, even with the address. Or at least they play that way. This guy had no idea, even with the directions from the Academy website, and the bill ended up being double what it normally was to get out to the academy (about 8GBP to about 15-16GBP). Now raising a stink about it would accomplish nothing, so I just paid the man and got into the academy. I would find out later on that the yellow cabs are always have the price and a better service than the black cabs, and that I should only ever take yellow cabs. Well, now I know.
As I was walking up to the academy from my drop point in the street, I noticed a lot of vehicles around and a lot of children filing out of the academy. By a lot, I mean there had to be about 30-40 kids coming out. I stood at the door for a solid minute as more children and their parents filed out of the building. When I finally reached the inside of the academy I looked out onto the mats to find that there was a sizable amount of students for the adult class tonight also. Chris must have noticed me come into the academy because as I was changing out he came by to welcome me back. I finished putting on my gi and headed out to the mats.
There was a purple belt leading the warmups this evening. There isn’t much to report on this front, as the warmups were pretty much all movements I’ve done at some point. The last part of the warmup Chris had us pick a partner of about the same size and go through a movement from butterfly guard, and I will do my best to explain it briefly, but the details are important.
So one partner would sit in butterfly guard, but with the legs hooking one leg. So if I wanted to attack from my right, I would focus on putting my right leg across and under my left leg and hook the knee of my partner. My left leg would be between my training partners knees and tight against his right leg. From here I want to grab either the belt or a sizable amount of the gi on the back with my left arm. I want my head nice and tight to my partners body, kind of on the left side of his torso and closer down along the hip. Next, I want to shoot my right arm through ukes (for those not familiar with uke, it’s a judo term that I use interchangeably from time to time with “training partner”) left leg between the calve and the hamstring. My training partner asked Chris is it mattered if you shoot your arm through this area or if you could go underneath the calve. Chris said ideally you wanted it the first way, but if you could only get the second way you should be fine too,
Once we were set in that position, we would rock from one side to the other side, in a bit of a U motion. That’s probably a pretty more description, but the motion reminds me of a turtle on its back. You don’t want to go from right to left and end up flat because you’re going to have a bad time, rather you want to arch your back and rock to the left side. For this exercise Chris wanted the uke to “base out” with their arms to help the person executing the movement “feel” is correctly. Initially I felt like a fish out of water, as I don’t play much butterfly guard, but after a few repetitions of the movement I started to get the feel for things.
The next evolution of the movement was a rather interesting transition into x-guard. After you move from side to side in the rocking/crunching motion, you want to extend your legs out and stretch the person out, this should cause them to lose their balance. It’s also important that you are gripping the persons knee on the side that your head is on. You want a nice tight grip over the knee cap to keep them from dropping their knee onto you and effectively stopping your progress. One thing that Chris pointed out is that you want to move with a sense of purpose, because if you move too slow the opponent could potentially escape (long legs). Once you have them stretched, and have broken their balance you want to use your hand that is on their knee to help break them down even further. From here you use the foot that hooked behind the knee to help pull them in closer to you, while taking the front foot/leg (on the front side of their leg) and “stomp” their calve to hold them in place while you make the transition into side control. Seems pretty confusing, yeah? It seemed a hell of a lot simpler when we were drilling it. Hopefully if I am missing something one of the folks from the academy will chime in.
Sparring that night was pretty rough. I ended up against a lot of tough blues and purples. One of the purples was the guy who was leading the warmups when I came out onto the mats, and had been just drilling with. He was a tall (a bit taller than me) lanky guy with a few stripes on his purple belt. I started probing for weakness, playing conservative like I have been the past few months. I need to work on being more aggressive rather than just being a reactionary BJJ player. I can’t recall what he ended up catching me with, but I do know it was a constant battle of him pushing the pace and me racing to defend everything he was throwing at me and looking for escapes in the process. I do recall getting caught in a weird body triangle from him after we reset, it was TIGHT, but didn’t bother me too much. I do remember thinking that it was the tightest body triangle I had ever been in before. It wasn’t until a day or two later that I felt the after effects of it, and the bruises that accompanied the position.
I ended up going against Bryn, the purple belt who’s name I forgot from the first night, and ended up catching a bit of crap about on Facebook from the guys in the academy. In any case, Bryn has been training slightly longer than me but has been training full-time for awhile now. His dedication and handwork show when he rolls. Not once did I feel Bryn get overly aggressive. He was very slow and methodical throughout the whole match. If I remember correctly, towards I end I ended up in a scrabble with him and started to take the back, latching on like a fly on shit. There was a BJJ related photo that was pretty funny that I found on reddit.com the other day, but didn’t download. It said something to the effect of “When I catch the smaller and faster opponent, he’s not going anywhere”. That’s how I felt, I wasn’t going to let go or give up the position unless I absolutely had to.
At the end of the night I ended up with a fellow blue belt by the name of Ricardo from Portugal, that was now living in Wales. I talked to him briefly before the match and a bit afterwards to find out what his story was. Initially hearing his accent I knew it was Portuguese, but wasn’t sure if it was Brazilian because I had never heard one like his, so I asked him. In any case, Ricardo and I had an all out war for the round. Back and forth, neither of us really coming out on top. He was a very strong and technical opponent who had been training, if I remember correctly, a bit longer than me.
At the end of class I asked Chris if I could get a photo with everyone, and then one of he and I. He said no problem. Before we took the photo he took a minute to tell everyone in the gym about my little journey and what I had going on. I thought that was pretty cool of him to do. A lot of the folks were genuinely interested in what I had going on and wanted to follow the blog. Hopefully it lives up to their expectations.
Last night of training in Wales
Chris and I
The mat space at the Swansea Academy
The entrance area, they are stiller renovating it