Open Sesame

Even though I still mainly hate competing, one of the reasons I keep doing it is because it can help me see my weaknesses.  Competition gives a perspective that’s hard to find anywhere else.  It’s one thing to be able to perform techniques in the somewhat comfortable environment of class, but it’s much more difficult to be able to remember and execute those same things during a competition.  At least it is for me.  So competing can help me to see where my game stands, at it’s most basic level.  Sometimes there are things that happen during a tournament which I don’t often experience, so a different aspect of my training can be tested.

One thing I learned from this last Jiu-Jitsu tournament is that I do not have a very good strategy for opening a closed guard, or rather, I don’t actually have any kind of strategy at all.  Of course, opening a guard is something that I’ve been taught, but somehow I haven’t incorporated it into my game.  My only excuse is that I do not find myself in closed guard very often when I grapple.  The white belts don’t usually get me in guard, and the colored belts don’t play a lot of closed guard, at least not with me.  I usually spend most of my colored belt guard time unsuccessfully trying to pass their various forms of already open guard.  About the only time their guards close around me is when they have me in a triangle!

Always open: closed

So at the tournament when Claire jumped guard on me, I momentarily panicked, because I found myself in somewhat unfamiliar territory.  Everything I had “learned” about opening a guard went out the window, and instead I tried to pry her legs off with my arms.  It turns out that is not a very effective strategy, especially when your opponent has twenty-seven pounds on you.  In my desperation at being unable to open her guard, I actually leaned back and allowed her to reverse me, because I knew I could get out of mount, I do that all the time during open mat!  Luckily I managed to get half-guard during the reversal, so I avoided being mounted. I was actually willing to allow myself to be reversed, and possibly mounted, because I couldn’t figure out how to open her guard, and I was tired of waiting for her to open it!

My crazy strategy actually worked out at the tournament, because after I got bottom half-guard it didn’t take me very long to get her in my full guard and tap her out.  Still, the “let them reverse you and hope you can get out from underneath or submit them” strategy is not one I would personally recommend to anyone.  Neither for competition, nor self-defense.

So, I guess I need to stop waiting until a guard opens up to try to get out, and start taking more initiative in learning how to speed up the process.  I suppose I should start asking everyone I roll with to please put me in their guard, close it up, and do not let me out until I either free myself or say the magic words…no, not “please” or “open sesame”, but the universal sign language for “I give up”…tap, tap, tap.

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