A mild cold dragged on after Christmas for two weeks during which I had little
appetite and record rainfall made everything look bleak. By New Year's Eve, I
had lost 5lbs but was much relieved that my strength came back in time for the
seminar on Jan 1 2023, which kicked off the opening of a new gym in Oakland
headed by our brown belt champion.
Right after I was promoted in Nov, a mate advised that I train with the higher
belts. "Striped white belts are dangerous" he said. I understood as I myself had
chased blue belts to prove myself. Now the table was turned, I became the hunted
one. Heavy strong white belts, especially those with years of wrestling or judo,
were definitely a challenge.
I am good at getting to my knees once someone passes my guard but does not
always follow up with a good takedown or reversal. People have quickly learned
to attack or take my back from there and it frustrated me.
Of course, it was not all bad. As they tried to attack the turtle position with
the chokes, e.g., the loop choke, the clock choke, the guillotine, the darce, or
the anaconda, I learnt how to defend and sometimes reverse. My favorite is the
guillotine: the guy wraps my neck with one arm. He doesn't have his legs around
my torso but wouldn't let go of my head. I'd walk around so that my body is on
the other side of the choke, embrace him to trap his choking arm, lean my body
weight toward my shoulder above his neck, and give him a nice von-flue choke.
This was one of my favorite.
I have also been perfecting trapping the opposite arm and rolling in the turtle
position. Once my opponent cuts to one side and reaches my lats on the other
with his near arm, I would trap it, drop the same side leg, and roll. As my near
leg is still up, I'd drive my foot to the ground to help me roll. It is powerful,
just like Henry said. I forgot how many people I have flipped this way, including
some of the heaviest guys in the gym. It really made me happy. The next step is
to follow up with something.
It was when they took my back that things started to get uncomfortable. They
would control me with hooks and attempt the bow-and-arrow, rear naked choke, the
armbar, or when everything failed tried to mount. I'm still very vulnerable in
My back defense gets better over time and I can even do some damage. Everyone
knows you shouldn't cross your legs when taking someone's back but you'd be
surprised how many make the basic mistake, almost subconsciously. Almost every
guy, including some purple belts, who took my back was caught in the ankle lock
there (So far, I remember catching Adam, Ed, Josh, Afroz, Michael, and Shay this
way.) and I became some kind of specialist in this. The moment they cross their
legs, I'll try to catch it.
The more I train, the less I feel I have to win or resist tapping. The
techniques, timing, and fitness dictate the game. I'm learning a language. No
need to get the ego involved.
Jiu-jitsu has become such fun!