Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back In The Gym

I have been at American Top Team for a little over a month now. I am liking the place. I am learning a lot and trying to knock off the rust of not training. The head instructors that I work with, Giulliano Gallupi (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) and Eduardo Maiorino (Muay Thai)

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
I found that I had some very bad habits that I have picked up from no-gi grappling... and that working out with a black belt will cause you to do things that you normally would not do. After the initial couple of weeks of just wanting to throw up, trying to get some sort of cardio back, and proving that I am not a pussy, the instructors have started to work on the things that I am doing incorrectly.
  • Against good opposition, I will turn the wrong way when they put me in a heavy side control, or when I have difficulty escaping the mount.
    I say I do this to make the other guy open up, but really I am just reverting to things that worked for me in no-gi. With the gi on, if you turn the wrong way, you are guaranteed to be choked.
  • When I am passing guard, I tend to leave my butt in the air, giving the guy who I am passing ample room to reestablish guard.
    I have never been very good at passing guard, so this may have been a problem I am just taking with me.
  • I do not extend my hips to gain space when I do my armbars and triangles from guard.
    This gives my opponent an easier time of escaping, and makes the completion of the submission difficult on me.
  • When breaking the guard, I am not standing up correctly, I am out of position, and easily swept.
    I am so used to breaking the guard on the knees that I have virtually no experience of breaking the guard from standing. This is very bad, because against the black belts, their sweeps and position is so good that if I try to break on my knees, it is an instantaneousness sweep. I have to become proficient passing standing up.
  • I have very little experience with wrist control using the gi.
    I get my ass handed to me in sparring, because they grab my gi at the wrists and completely control me. I can't posture, I can't pass, I look like sea lion in a desert, flapping around and wasting energy, but not making any progress.
Giulliano is a good instructor walking through my mistakes, and hasn't become too frustrated yet when I repeat them. I have seen improvement in the last few classes. I am starting to get my grove back, but I am way way WAY to open to being choked. I have never done a lot of gi chokes, and Giulliano knows a bunch of them. Protecting my neck is always a high priority. Muay Thai I realize now that I have never really trained in pure Muay Thai. Most of what I have done has been International Rules Kickboxing, or with striking for MMA. Eduardo teaches pure Muay Thai. Doing pure Muay Thai means that I needed to make some fundamental changes to my game. Also, it has been YEARS since I have had anybody really critique my style. My kicks have always been above average with my hands and defense being about average. I have always relied heavily on my kicks to intimidate and dominate my opponents. I can't do that with Eduardo. My kicks are crap to him. Too slow and not strong enough. He wants to see combinations very quickly very powerfully, then back off. Clinch work is heavily emphasized. Knees from all directions, and a wider use of elbows than I have ever done before. My hands are also no good. I carry them just below my eye level, but in Muay Thai, you have to deal with quick slashing elbows. That means that your hands have to reside on your forehead. Seems like a small change, but it has seriously thrown me off. With the focus now on my technique, Eduardo has discovered may bad and lazy habits that I have picked up.
  • I am not rotating my hips nearly enough with my crosses.
    I have always found it difficult to land my right cross, and one of the reasons why is that I don't twist my hips. At most I was turning about a quarter of the distance I need to. Eduardo is drilling in to me to twist past shoulder parallel to really extend my cross range, and increase the power of the punch. This rotation also helps to set up the left hook.
  • I am not twisting enough with my left hooks.
    When the hook is thrown without the cross, I have always just thrown it out there with a little twist of my left foot. No good. I need to cock my hips to at least shoulder parallel then drive them around well through the target.
    I also have to think of the hook not as a close in punch, but as a middle range weapon. Elbows and the clinch are for close range.
  • Because my punching rotations are not where they should be, my kicks are out of position, and not as powerful as they should be.
    This is because my hips are wrong. If I rotate the hips properly with the punches, the kicks flow naturally, and have better rotation.
  • I don't turn my hip enough with my left kick to get a powerful impact.
    I am crunching my hip with my left kick. I need to turn my hip and keep my back straight.
  • I don't keep my hands up when I kick.
    This is a major issue, and why I always seem to get smacked when I kick...

I am showing improvement in all areas, however my biggest issue by far in BOTH disciplines is my brain. I am thinking way to much. I find myself thinking and getting behind in the combinations/techniques. In sparring I really get fouled up. While rolling I am two movements, or more behind and I get caught. In Muay Thai, I get clobbered thinking a movement behind.

As I get more comfortable with everything, my improvement will be rapid... I am sure then you will read that I am frustrated because I am not improving as fast as I was a few months ago!

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