Training Diary: Week 7

Two sessions of grappling and one of Taekwon-do. The Taekwon-do was another nice easy session to ease into the new term. I originally aimed to train on the Monday and Saturday by I may have to go on the Wednesday to help out with the no doubt huge influx of beginners as one of the instructors is out, having had a minor operation. Maybe I will take a camera and get some pictures. There’s only one Taekwon-do class next week (no new starters) so likely the same schedule as this week.

In grappling this week, shown some more standing take-downs and did some grappling starting from standing position. For me, this is much preferable. I can see why grappling usually starts on the knees as both people probably want to get right too their bread and butter but the knees feels like an odd place to me. For one, it’s a terrible position you would not hold in a fight for more than a few seconds and the first one to stand up would have a real advantage (at least as far as mobility and strikes go). However, despite feeling very vulnerable, it’s a position from which it is almost impossible to get taken down. Your knees are under you and are hard to pick out and the upper body style take-downs are much easier to defend because your base is so solid.

What I find in grappling from the knees is that a shoving match ensues with neither guy willing to allow the other to get into any kind of clinch position. If one guy shoots, he usually ends up in the inferior position. A lot of guys will just pull guard at this point even though this is submission wrestling and being in guard isn’t considered a position someone should be in voluntarily. The stalemate usually ends when the stronger or larger man bulldozes through or muscles into a guillotine. That’s life, I guess.

Starting from standing is a different ballgame entirely, and one surprisingly even experienced grapplers aren’t quite as comfortable with. It seems to me that defending take-downs is not an unnatural process and is mostly just common sense. If you have done an art where you spend a lot of time balancing on one leg (i.e. Taekwon-do) that would seem to help. If you rough and tumble wrestled with your family as a kid, that seems to help too. From here, this pre-game is much more high stakes because if you don’t concentrate, you could get taken down into side or even mount – positions very hard to go straight to from kneeling and gives the grappling a lot more context. The ability to just stand up if you want to (kind of bad form it seems in grappling that starts on the knees) is also useful to a beginner who just doesn’t have a game yet from every position.

There are problems though. Take-downs are hard to land without strikes setting them up. It isn’t Judo where both people want to score points from throws – good grapplers with poor take-down skills may just try to shut down your game without shooting very much on you, which can get a bit stalematey unless you really go for it. Secondly, a beginner like me is always going to be in danger of guillotines in this kind of situation, especially with a slight delay before I figure out which way I need to go to defend. Finally, people who wrestled in school or college are just unstoppable for a beginner. Most times all you can do is grab on for the ride and try to re-establish guard quickly.

My skill level is still really low but it’s nice to go straight for things just because you don’t have too many options to choose for. I can go straight to the scissor sweep as soon as I am in guard because frankly I have few other options – and it even works sometimes. I managed to get a D’Arce too – at least I think it was a D’Arce, I don’t really know. I could draw a picture of it and it seemed to work.

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