What I Got

Several months ago, Greg advised me that I shouldn’t use scarf hold, because I am “too little”, and even if I’m doing it totally correctly, most of the guys can just flip me over. Other directives that The Professor has given me are that I cannot ever play any kind of pressure game, and I have to always keep moving. I’m also only supposed to attempt to open or pass guard from standing, because I need to be as mobile as possible. It all makes sense (for my size), but it’s kind of exhausting (for my age!).

My early Jiu-Jitsu training was heavily influenced by Judo (more so than the rest of the students from the dojo, because my teacher Amy is a Judoka) so even though I’ve been told I shouldn’t go to kesa gatame, it’s in my muscle memory, so I still have a tendency to use it. The other day, at the end of my roll with Bauer Power, I had him in scarf hold, and he’s a big beast, so I told him I was surprised he didn’t just pick me up and reverse me, and he replied “Now, that wouldn’t be very good technique, would it?”. Thank you, Bauer!

My first no-gi match, armbar, scarf hold

My first no-gi match, armbar, scarf hold

I’m not intentionally trying to disobey Greg, but it’s hard to not fall back into old habits, and I think kesa gatame actually works fairly well for me (I’ve even submitted more than one male blue belt from there!), as long as people don’t resort to strong-arming. One day not too long ago, when I was rolling with a bigger white belt, I transitioned from top half-guard to scarf hold, and I heard The Professor tell someone “She’s better at kesa gatame than half-guard.”. He said it somewhat incredulously, and I don’t think he meant it as a compliment (but hey, I passed that guy’s guard, didn’t I? ;). Then I transitioned to side control, and he reversed me.

I really have been trying to follow The Professor’s advice, because he knows what the hell he’s talking about (especially since he’s on the smaller side, like me), and I’m lucky to receive personalized instruction from him! These days, when I do find myself in scarf hold, I usually try to just use it in transition, or to immediately attempt a submission, and not try to hold onto it for too long (“always keep moving!”).

Before I started training at Lincoln BJJ, I always thought the reason a pressure game never worked very well for me was just because I sucked, but now I realize it probably has more to do with my size than anything else. Recently when I was rolling with a new student, he said “You’re so fast!”, and I responded “It’s all I’ve got!”. I can’t change my size, but I can change how I use it, so I need to capitalize on my strengths, and compensate for my weaknesses.


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