One of my favorite things about training BJJ at Off The Grid is the visitors. Coach Frank is not only welcoming of visitors, he’s genuinely excited to have someone come in for a day or a week to train, whether they are on vacation or on a business trip. That’s the culture the whole gym buys into–someone new gives all of us a chance to train with and learn from people with different experiences, styles, and bags of tricks.
But then there are special visitors.
Coach Frank has a network of buddies who are legitimate bad asses, and not just at BJJ. He’s had his buddy Dave Carelli, a judo black belt, has come in and introduce us some basic throws on a couple of occasions. Last night, his buddy Tom Finch came in and did a special seminar on boxing and Greco Roman wrestling.
So. Much. Information.
I probably will not remember half of what we learned and worked on last night, but I want to try to write down as much as possible while it’s still fresh in my mind. This is probably going to be a stream of consciousness, but…
First we worked on stance and moving. Move the foot already going in the direction you want to go first, then move the other the same amount. So if you’re going forward (traditional), move the left foot first, then the right follows. Small movements–a fist isn’t very big. We just need to move enough to get out of its way. Move to a spot out of their punch zone and into yours. Balls of feet are active with heels grazing the ground. Should be able to squat down comfortably at any time without adjusting your feet.
“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
OOOHHHH!!! Like swimming.
To practice the jab, we reached out and grabbed instead of punching. Arm extends and shoulder to the chin as you take a small step forward. Back leg and jab arm are stiff at contact–like your whole body is a stick you are poking with. Jab returns as the back foot follows in. To practice, stand a couple of inches from a wall and move down the wall throwing jabs–no part of your body should ever contact the wall.
For the cross, rotate the hips into the punch. Don’t extend body or reach. Hips stay over the feet (can squat). Should be able to see both your hands at all times. We worked on the 1-2 and 1-2-1-2. Then added the left hook, rotating the lead foot back around. Elbow stays low, and the hand actually only moves a couple of inches. Hip rotation throws the punch. To practice, work on feet and hips only without throwing hands. Then work up to slight hand movements and use them more and more.
Parrying the jab–we worked on just catching it, not pushing it away. Keeping our hands in sight at all times, catch and move. I was moving way too much–just a small movement and adjusting distance with that move. I was working with Ed, so for him it was move and close distance. For me it was more move and create distance.
First we worked on pummeling for underhooks with a partner and switching our feet as we go. Then we did a drill where we work our partner for underhooks and grip the waist once we get it (no throw). He stopped us in between rounds to give us tips on changing levels, using our heads to make space, and going leg to crotch to get under our opponent and stand them up.
From here we went to the arm spin. Holy crap–cool. I’ve posted a video below showing the basics, but Tom had us focusing on a couple of things that were important for BJJ as well. When we shot the arm under, we continued to reach high and roll over it, almost like we were reaching for the opposite wrist. And we need to try to stop the roll once we hit the ground so that we end up belly down in side control.
Next we worked on bailing out of this by stopping at the arm shoot, backstepping the closer foot and moving to a double leg. That was way more comfortable for me. We started moving into straight double legs from there, and I was a little tentative because of back problems. The back is feeling pretty good with no rugby, and I want to keep it that way so that I can continue to train regularly. I know my double leg is not perfect (or even that good), but I’m pretty confident in my tackling ability if I only have to do it once or twice. Repping it really hurts my back for a week or two.
We worked an arm drag before I left–hand on wrist, pulling to opposite hand on bicep and throwing the arm down to shoot under. I liked that Tom taught shots without bringing the front knee down. Not only is that pretty painful for me, it never made sense when learning it that you’d want to put your power down to the mat. It seems like to me the push from the foot up is so powerful, and there’s no flex in the knee to push off of, not to mention the shorter lever.
I know I’m not deep enough or low enough in this photo for a wrestling takedown, but this seems like a more natural method for me that I can hit reliably. And this was at 41 years old, so I should still be able to do it. I can’t see that I’d have any better power with that lead knee on the ground, although it probably would help in getting deeper.