August 31st Update: Last Update of the Month

It’s Wednesday; but more importantly, it’s the end of the month! While this isn’t technically the end of my first month since getting started with the blog, the transition into September is one I welcome as a sort of comfort stage, where I get used to my new schedule and let it become the norm — the routine.

That being said, I had to skip overhead presses today after yesterday’s BJJ session left my neck and shoulders particularly tender. That’s what happens when you’re doing chokes all day. While my bench pressing was rather disappointing today (I eeked out my sets but felt weaker than last week), the squats felt absolutely amazing, and that despite being a 4×8 exercise.

But that’s not the interesting part of today. With some room in time between my last burst of copywriting work for the month and the beginning of September’s earliest deadlines, I decided to whip out the notebook once more and start making some notes and watching some videos. One particular topic that I greatly enjoyed today was Keenan Cornelius’ video on the 8 layers of guard retention.

What is a guard position?

For those who don’t know, the guard in BJJ is a defensive position where you maintain a high level of control despite being at a technical disadvantage — below your opponent. When you have someone in guard, you limit their options to submit and attack you. Without the guard, you’re subject to side control, full mount, north south, quarter mount and other extremely advantageous positions.

Guard is an extremely versatile game. Open guard is the first level of guard — it’s when the opponent is out of reach for you to actually tie him up with your legs, instead forcing you to use your fingers and feet to control the situation. The first layer of an open guard is, as per Keenan’s video, the spider guard. That’s when you’ve got your feet on your opponent’s biceps, hands gripping his sleeves. This is to prevent him from passing your guard. Getting into this level of the guard before getting your guard attempt passed requires you to keep your knees tight to your chest, your hands waiting and ready to grab sleeves.

From there, the second layer of the guard is the lasso. This happens when one arm breaks free from the spider — with an overhook, the lasso allows the guard user to further control the arm. To counter it, your opponent has to weave his wrist out and away from your thigh — that’s when the opportunity presents itself for you to let go of his arm sleeve and grab his ankle, engaging in a de la Riva. A passed de la Riva guard forces you into a reverse de la Riva — and so on and on.

Eventually, this guard game breaks down into the quarter guard, the half guard and the deep half guard. The key, however, is to familiarize yourself with all the open guard positions and the quarter, half and closed guard, so you can freely manipulate the fight from below. Each guard allows for different submission options — from any open guard, you’ve got the opportunity to sweep and submit, while partial and closed guard positions have a ton of options too. A favorite and a very basic combination: going for a triangle choke after a closed guard.

With all that written down in my notebook, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s session. I already know what I did wrong last time — bad takedown, bad guard, and very quickly I was being completely flattened and threatened by someone stronger and heavier than me — it’s just a matter of trying something else to see if I can improve and learn from my mistakes.

Until tomorrow, then!

Currently listening to: This is Gonna Hurt — Sixx A.M.