Bottom side control: Ye gods, I need to work on side control escapes. A lot. All of them.
Top side control: Back to basic subs—work the baseball choke; it’s been far too long.
Guard: Pendulum/flower sweep.
All offensive positions: Armbars.
Generally: Learn to deal with athletic opponents. I’m not feeling too bad about my ability to deal with skill; of course I lose to more skilled opponents, but that’s the whole point and meaning of their being more skilled! My game does not fall apart just because I am outmatched, and sometimes I manage feats of defence that I’m fairly proud of, even if they happen to be against opponents who will certainly beat me: If I manage to thwart one or two attacks…
However, against opponents with superior athleticism, I do fall apart. With nearly three years of training under my belt, an athletic new whitebelt oughtn’t really be a challenge, but they are—oh, they are. It’s my natural tendency to be (too) slow, (too) passive, and (too) reactive. An opponent who is strong, fast, and explosive is a laser-guided missile aimed at my weakest spot, and I have inordinate difficulty with opponents whose knowledge I eclipse, but whose athleticism I fail to match. I shouldn’t be such a slouch: I’ll never be very strong, but I’m not that weak. I just fail to step my game up. This is a terrible weakness, and one which I don’t know how to address.
Figure out how to deal with these guys. I’m honestly ashamed at how bad I am at it. It’s also the one thing where, even though I’m sitting down to think about it, I don’t have any solid ideas on how to address it. Time to talk to an instructor.
Update: As this was cross-posted to Facebook, Kabir, a purple belt from my gym, had this to say. He’s been prone to giving occasional bits of very good advice, so I strongly feel I should include it here to refer back to:
i had the same problem with athletic guys and being passive. i think it really comes down to being lazy. gariano once told me that with any new guy,my first goal should be to go hard and try to submit them as fast as possible and work down that path, THEN i can play that passive playfful game. its all a mentality.
Bottom half guard: I’m good at getting to a position close to the basic deep half, punch-to-the-sky sweep, and okay at setting it up, but terrible at finishing it. Thought: I need to stay on my side turned into them until I go for it, then turn 180° and punch up: This should provide the power I am usually missing. Alternatively, play with using more leg than arm.
Continue to work on the things I’m already working on: Improve forward guards and commitment to lunges. I don’t feel a need to clarify this in a post mostly for my own benefit: I know what my problems are; I know how to work on them; I’m already working on them; I’m making progress—I’m just not there yet. (Still, I’ve improved or I’d have failed the exam again.)
Learn to deal with taller opponents who can easily overpower me by means of naturally superior leverage. I asked Greg for advice, and came away with some things to keep in mind—the primary admonition was to pay attention to tempo and leverage.
- Leverage: Be sure to push my forte in very strongly: My guard on their debole!
- Tempo: When an opponent makes strong parries, use this tempo to disengage or strike
- As an alternative to disengaging around a strong parry, follow it and strike around it by taking a step to the (same) side.
- Use the familiar method of forcing the blade down. (I find this difficult with opponents who gain superior leverage more by height and so superior blade position, rather than using a lot of strength.) Use the offhand to stay safe.
- Threaten low. Use the tempo of the opponent’s lowering their sword; in that tempo find the now-accessible blade and strike.
- Stringere with the offhand.
- Use prima when, as Greg put it,
seconda runs out of steam. I like this idea and should like to play with it.
Take-home lessons: Keep working on tempo (was already trying, just not doing well); focus on getting a very strong find; don’t be ashamed to bring the offhand in to help; and try prima.
Beyond that, of course: Learn new material now that I’ll be doing blue cord classes! Some of which, like voids, will doubtless come in handy when facing opponents who use strength. (This coming month, though, I gather this new material will be sidesword.)