We’ve all been in someone’s full guard, unable to pass. It doesn’t matter what belt you are, what belt they are, sometimes you just don’t have the knowledge to get passed their damned dirty legs. It doesn’t really matter if they’re lanky and flexible or have two super strong tree trunks sprouting out of their hips, if your technique is good, you will pass. If it isn’t, you won’t.
Assuming like myself you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll have amassed multiple techniques to pass the guard, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport of waste. You’re constantly searching for the technique that works for you. So you’ll quickly disregard what doesn’t work for you. The problem with disregarding techniques is that just because it didn’t work then, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. As you get further into your understanding of this fabled art, you start to realise that you may have been wasting the wrong techniques. We’re all too quick to ignore something because it doesn’t fit our body. But why doesn’t it fit our body? Is it that we’re too fat? Or are we just lacking the mobility required? Body-type, attributes and understanding of movement are all vital to make a technique work, but you have to re-tread old ground to understand whether you were just being a bit of a spaz before, or whether your body is truly incapable of those particular movements.
Body-type and attributes can be altered by getting fit, but let’s dumb shit down right now and assume you haven’t changed shape at all in the whole time you’ve been doing this Martial Art. You’ve somehow managed to gain no fitness whatsoever, you’re no more explosive than you were when you first started, no faster, no stronger, etc. You’re the same as you were on day one (that’s obviously not the case, even if you don’t look visibly different, you’re an animal now).
So what can change? Even with your suitably inept body, there’s one thing that will have changed that you have no control over in this ridiculous hypothetical world that I’ve created. That’s your understanding of movement. If the diseased carcass that you hoist around the mats isn’t fit for the job, luckily your brain is.
You see, the longer you do BJJ, the better your body becomes at proprioception.
That’s your understanding of how your own body moves in relation to itself. Crack that, and you’re cracking a code that will improve your grappling no end. BJJ is a human game of Twister. Left foot yellow spot, right foot red spot. Etc. Understanding where and how you should be moving is so bloody important, and as you get further down the rabbit hole, you should be revisiting techniques to see if you can now crack them. Let’s jump back into our own dimension! Holy smokes, what’s happened Batman? After years of Jiu-Jitsu, you’re faster, stronger, and fitter?! Then you’ve got no fucking excuse. You should be combining that with your new fangled understanding of movement, and get on the fucking mats.
Tonight, it was bestowed on me to teach some good old fashioned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I revisited the concept of passing the closed guard. I worked some variations with the class, both knee slice passes (delicious). Both used a similar concept, which was caging the hips (or caging the animal if you will). Your opponent cannot sweep or submit you, if you cage their hips. Or at least, that’s the plan. I wanted to show that you could use either the near side or far side knee for the slice. We then either ended up in side control or scarf hold depending on how you approached the knee slice. To wrap up, from the scarf I showed a few bonus subs, because it’s always beneficial to know that there are finishes off of the techniques you’ve just worked. Kimura, straight armbar and a wrist lock. They’re nasty, but that’s life. That’s what people say.
We only had ten minutes of rolling at the end, which is dreadfully low I know, but I wanted these techniques to sink in. The purpose of both passes was simple, passing the guard (obviously), and understanding how to move. I hope that I got enough of that across tonight, and if I didn’t, shit happens. I’ll just look forward to the next time that I get the opportunity to coach, and do better.