So far, getting to turtle has been my game. At 152 lbs and the lightest 5
percent of the beasts in the gym, I end up at the bottom 90 percent of the time
during sparring, usually from an initial takedown. The moment when the guy
passes my legs or when I feel less pressure underneath if he has already been
bearing down from a side, I would get to my shoulders and switch legs to get to
my elbows and knees. As I have done it so many times, it has become fast and a
habit. The turtle is a powerful position with a lot of options.
Recently, however, I started to see people doing it to me. Knowing the traps
from almost every angle, I found no good way to attack. At the top, I was lost.
I went back to Henry's 38 videos on the topic to go over the options for the
person at the top and was surprised to find that I had missed a few. One of
them, to pull my partner's hip to turn him on his back, was exactly what I
needed. Not that this was going to solve all my problems at that position, but
it was one good option.
To attack, I've been looking at the scarf-hold and the leg-lock systems.
At the first glance, the scarf-hold looks like a strongman move but it is
a macro position in itself that involves a lot of leverage a smaller guy
can learn to apply. There, his odds are better than at the mount position,
I believe. I will try everything from Henry's videos on this topic and make
it my main attack. The leg-lock is known as the great equalizer. Actually a
small guy in many cases has an advantage over a big guy. I have discovered
coach Zahabi (and of course Danaher) and been trying out his ashi moves.
After many injuries and recently watching coach Zahabi, I decided to stop going
100% against the big boys all the time. Instead, I am going to drill more with
my partners, starting from a certain position, e.g. One year of tough fights has
prepared me psychologically. These days, I feel less eager to prove myself but
more interested in learning. As such, I started to notice little things, after
having done them wrong all the time, e.g., to go to the side for the double-leg
takedown, to clasp the butterfly legs to pass, to step over when my knee is
pushed in a scissors sweep, etc. It is fascinating because I am no longer as
On a sad note, Jiu-jitsu, while flourishing world-wide, seems being priced out
of the SF bay area. I remembered giving up after two months driving to Santa
Cruz in 2017 for Gracie Combatives classes. Ralph Gracie Mountain View since has
moved down to Almaden. And after five years, there was still not even one
Certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Training Center on the peninsula. The founder and
head coach of our Redwood City gym, Eric has since moved to Houston and opened
his second school there. Come to think of it, my former coach Gene's abrupt end
at the gym was partially due to the plague of money sapping the diversity of
talents in the Golden State.
By the end of the month, Gene was moving back to Rhode Island, his hometown, to
launch his own academy after 15 years in the SF bay area. I came to know him
when he helped at Tim's first fight in 2019. Since I joined the adult class last
year, he paid special attention to keep me, a 49-year-old feather-weight newbie,
safe. He awarded my first two stripes and along with those videos, kept me on
the mat for the toughest year. Many former students stopped by his place to say
goodbye. When we commiserated over artists fleeing the area, "Something is going
to give." he said.