Graham’s Gi Adventures: Long time No-Gi


It has been absolutely ages since I did some sort of update as to how my training is going. I haven’t actually hit any major milestones or had any major eureka moments. If anything, the more I train in the gi, the more I end up with questions rather than answers.

Mondays session was pretty humbling. I didn’t feel brilliant anyway, but I dragged myself to training as I had missed all of last weeks sessions due to my shitty job being shit. All we did was roll for the whole session. This is great as I like to roll more than I like to drill really.

I went first with a bluebelt who is a bit lighter than me, but really fluid. He had an answer to everything I did and I couldn’t answer any of the things he did. I find my top game is a lot better than my bottom game, which is weird because when I first started doing MMA I always used to have most of my success with submissions off my back. But in the Gi, where the opponent is able to get much tighter control of you if they are smart with their grips, I am virtually helpless on my back. I also tend to leave my far side arm flailing when I am under side-control. This ends up with me getting americana’d, kimura’d and arm-triangled into oblivion.

I next rolled with one of the higher ranked white-belts in the club: very technical and methodical in his game. I think I pissed him off actually. I am not a mega-competitive spaz when I roll and if something is on then I tap: But I don’t tap if something is nearly on. Maybe I should and I am “that guy” in class that everyone wants to avoid. Come to think of it there are a few guys in the class that I have literally never rolled with even though I have been going there nearly a year. Hmmmmm. Anyway, he nearly had me in a neck-crank type-thing that I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t tap as it wasnt properly on and I was working to get out. He sort of just sighed, then bailed on the technique and flopped to his back. I took mount and then armbarred him, but looking back maybe that was a dick-move. I’m not sure, maybe he was just having a bad night and hopefully I didn’t piss him off.

Last up I rolled with another 4 stripe white-belt. Lighter than me but really strong and probably one of the best white belts in the class. I couldn’t pass his guard and I think he armbarred 2 or 3 times. I was knackered but even if I wasn’t tired when we started the roll he probably would’ve just smashed me.

So what did I learn? Well this week I have been mostly reading “Passing the guard” by Ed Beneville and Tim Cartmell so that probably tells you everything you need to know. My guard passing sucks and I really struggle with the grips in Gi-Grappling. I am not quick enough to strip my opponents grips and I am not effective enough with my own. Also I find you can get away with less in Gi Jiujitsu. Sometimes in no-gi you can get away with one particular element of a technique or move not being quite right. No matter how subtle that element is. Gi jiujitsu is so much slower and more restrictive and is much more unforgiving. Hopefully learning how to do it well can only improve my all-round jiujitsu game so I guess I’ll keep plugging away.

Tonight I am going to try and slow myself down and concentrate on grips, posture and base. The real basic stuff and just try to pass all the time. Hopefully the advice from Messrs Beneville and Cartmell will help!

In other grappling news, I did another seminar with Sean Bollinger last week and it was again really good. I still haven’t written up the techniques from the first one so I need to sit down and sort that out sometime!

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