An Update on my Progress in BJJ

It has been exactly two months since I’ve started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I’ve managed to attend class on average five times per week (excluding last week which was spring break).

I am so glad that I started and am grateful for those who turned my attention to it: Mike Cernovich, who got the idea into my head that I need to build my body and train martial arts; my friend Dan who recommended I listen to the Jocko Podcast; Jocko and Echo, who convinced me that BJJ was an extraordinary martial art; and Joe Rogan and Sam Harris, whose commentary on it pushed me over the edge to finally go to my first class. I am also incredibly thankful that a BJJ gym is so close to me (10 minutes by bus) and that Brian is such an amazing instructor.

So for anyone thinking about training, go and do it, it is probably one of the best things to happen to me.

Onto the progress update…


Defense

This has been my main focus, I want to build my game upon a rock-solid defense. I’ve started every roll from butterfly except for those where my partner insists on playing guard (looking at you, Anthony).

Survival

If I can get into a good survival posture, I can almost always defend submissions against other white belts. The ones I have the most trouble defending against are the ezekiel choke from mount, bow and arrow choke from back, kimura from north/south. My best defenses seem to be against the guillotine and triangle.

The problem is that I can’t always get into a survival posture right out of a transition. This will be one of my main focuses going forward.

Escapes

I still don’t have a reliable side control escape, the standard hip-out-and-insert-knee works sometimes, but I still need to get it down solid. From mount, I can usually get an uppa vs smaller opponents and a knee-elbow vs larger ones. From back control, I seriously don’t have a good escape. I usually have to just try and survive until the round ends.

Playing Guard

In general, my 0pen guard is pretty horrible. It gets passed super easily and I can very rarely recompose it. Grapplearts’ Bottom Game Formula has been super helpful so far, I just need to implement the techniques more often in my rolls. The granby roll-type resets in particular have been hard to implement.

Although, playing spider guard is super fun even though I can’t get the sweep very often. In no-gi, I’m a fan of x and single-leg x to set up the straight ankle lock and guard pass.

From closed guard, I can semi-reliably get a hip-bump sweep and I like using a push-pull with the arm to setup the triangle. I still don’t feel like my armbar from here is tight enough.

Offense

Passing the Guard

Haven’t really focused on this at all, so it’s predictably very underdeveloped.

Control and Transitions

I can hold side control, but have trouble transitioning to mount, especially on smaller opponents where the knee ride isn’t available. As long as I can remember the feet-behind-hips cue, I can hold mount, otherwise, it’s pretty shotty. I haven’t really had enough experience with back mount to have complete control.

Submissions

The submissions I’ve gotten so far are the triangle from closed guard, omaplata from spider guard, and the ezekiel from mount. I’m still searching for that one submission that I really like and will try and master. Right now the triangle is the top contender, but I also really like the guillotine and arm triangle/darce chokes. Will make that decision as I get more experience.

Overall

I still have a long, long, long way to go, obviously. Right now I’m focusing on developing my open guard and getting into survival posture right away when it does get passed. I need to start doing some solo drills, especially related to hip escaping and granby rolls.

I have exactly one month until my first tournament, The Good Fight in Albany. I feel completely unprepared for it, but hopefully can tighten up my game a little before it. My cardio is probably going to be above average and I am going to use that as much as possible. Rounds are eight minutes and if I can make it as tiring for them as possible, I can force a mistake and hopefully get a submission. This means trying to keep it standing if possible and being the aggressor if they pull guard. Endless pressure and constant movement will be the name of the game. I’ll post another update right after the tournament with my results.