Friday, February 17, 2012

Trends of the BJJ Pan Ams


I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
29 March 2009 @ 08:54 pm

Because I could not compete due to injury, I decided to go every day to watch and observe any trends I noticed for this year in competition. The worst part was when they called my name and I was getting DQ'ed. My heart was thumping, I felt like I was dying. Like I let myself down really bad and maybe I could borrow a gi and compete. But as a wise friend told me, its not worth the training I would miss, and there will be other Pan Ams.

Oh don't ask me about white belt trends. I didn't even watch any white belt fights.

Blue Belt

A lot of the better guys would tug on their opponents gi relentlessly with their lead hand and then pull guard which would off balance their opponent and the guy would bend at the waist so they could get complete closed guard. Because of the grip and pull on the collar, their posture is broken so unless they want to get armbarred, the top guy would fall to his knees and start the match, but down on both knees. Not with his knees up AKA combat base. And because of the tugging and the grip on the collar, they land with their head down. A bad way to start and normally the bottom guy won.

The number one finish was triangle. Meaning the guy who pulled guard in the manner explained above was normally able to win by triangle. I saw very few rear chokes or armbars. I think because the triangle itself is like a closed guard position, easier to maintain and control where as with armbars from bottom, they can't just lock their legs up and control and wait. It's not even adviseable to cross your feet from the bottom anyhow, so a harder squeeze to learn. Reminded me of wrestling. Win by points or pin, triangle being the pin.

I saw blue belts grab a grip and get married to it. No improvements on grips to better grips.

Blue belts tried the same passes over and over. So a lot of them got caught with the same sweeps and submission over and over until they got eventually swept or finished.

Saw a lot of the bottom guys win.

I saw bottom guys attempting sweeps or off balance to the side, top guy basing and squaring up then getting triangled. A lot of times these sweeps to triangles happened because the top guy tried to pass with no grips. Just barge through which may work in training against partners who don't roll at competition intensity.

Saw hard time controlling posture or not controlling posture at all, just going for sweeps or subs.

Bottom man not sitting up so their head is even with the top man's head to threaten chokes.

Loose over under passes that either led back to guard or triangles.

Not enough hip pressure or control of the hips.

Saw wrestlers get desperate even though they were winning and getting tapped in the final seconds.

In the later rounds to the finals

A lot more takedown attempts. More of the throwers advanced, or they wanted to rack up points early with a takedown.

A lot of tugging on the collar to keep their posture broken from stand up like I mentioned before but now to stop them from pulling guard. Which is unlike Judo where they both are standing up straight. Pulling to ankle picks or pulling to drog seionage.

I saw a guy try to jump guard and the other guy foot swept him in midair to get the takedown. A lot of times when the guy tries to pull guard if you shove him with your power grip or control grip and he goes down, you will get the takedown points.

If you do get taken down and are hold a guillotine or a choke and stand back up, it will not count as a takedown.

A lot of sidemount control.

Inability to finish the armbar from the bottom due to the legs being crossed or not sweeping.

Too much gaps and air holes in the grip.

A lack of a lot of good takedowns or gi wrestling.

Purple Belt

Lots of takedowns. Dynamic fights from all positions.

Use of spider guard, De La Riva and sleeve controls.

Better posture control.

Still lots of triangles but now the sets ups are less scrambly. Lot of climbing the leg up the back and keeping their posture down and staying tight. Either to armbar or triangle

De La Riva sweep attempt to triangles.

Employment of cross faces. Top man used it to keep the bottom man's face turned so they could not bridge or hip escape. Kept the bottom man's back flat, bottom man tried to get onto his side.

Using the choke to set up moves. More head and neck control.

More mounts, knee on belly. More point play.

Utilization of half guard effectively.

Pulling out of the lapels of your opponent from the back for better grips, and grip improvement.
Getting inside control and inside grips. Breaking of the opponent's grips.

Dynamic guard passing, acrobatic jumps. Especially from the Brazilians.

A much higher level of conditioning.

Brown Belt

Instead of passing right away or the bottom guy allowing the pass. A lot of the passes happened from half guard, either inititated by the top guy to half guard to pass, or the bottom man pulling half guard.

Saw choking combinations. Baseball to brabo to baseball to brabo.

Lots of kneebar finishes when the guy tries to take the back.

More refined gi wrestling. Lots of stand up play. If there was a guard pull, it was after a lot of stand up and realizing they were not going to get the takedown.

Black Belt

Black belts take care, take time, and cultivate their grips like expert gardeners eliminating all gaps and air holes. Like grap a sleeve grip and over time work it to a tight handle bar grip completely pinched tight around the opponents wrist. Or grabbing the collar, to a grip over the back to a grip of their opposite lapel over the back.

Control of the pant legs.

Not extending the leg while standing in their guard, keeping leg bent and outside of their guard to always land in combat base or prevent sweeps and leg locks.

Constant grip fighting and maintaning of grips. Hardly ever does a black belt not have a grip on their opponent. Not allowing opponent to get a grip on you and breaking grips.

Instead of turtling, they would roll to inverted and upside guard. Sometimes executing a helicopter sweep.

Loose rules and play of the Cobrinha/heel hook guard. Once they get stuck in this 50/50 position, they spend most of the match here which gets boring and very little points are scored.

Momentum sweeps. Where someone is initiating a sweep or takedown and gets swept or reversed. More constant fighting to stop allowing points or get your points back.

Saw someone go from one half guard sweep from the knees creating a dog fight attemping old school, to swinging under to sweep the other way. Lots of transitional positions like reverse mounts.

Leg locks to sweep to leg locks.

Lots of good leg work aka Leg Fu, turning and switching of hips, matador style movements.

Sprawling to stop the takedown and free legs, then pulling guard to keep score 0-0.

Deep half guard play, Staying tight and turning in and away. Top guy jumping over to reverse half guard or clearing their head or attacking armbar or kimura.

Saw no kimuras. Lots of rear chokes and collar chokes.

Patient in all positions.

Black belt pressure as opposed to purple and brown relentlessness. More of a constant pressure.

Use of the knee and shin as wedges to cut the pressure.

Passing by pinning the opponents hips or legs or knees and running around or reaching the far collar and stabilizing and passing.

And old black belts are still tough! 
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.

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