Detailed Breakdown, Plus Match Footage

Here is my play-by-play of the two purple belt matches I had.  This is entry is like a telepathic insight into my mind while I’m grappling – not that everything I do in a match has an explicit purpose, with its explicit continuation, done with explicit foresight — but I’m working on it.  One day, maybe, I will.

Match 1.

I immediately pull guard; and after 20 seconds worth of struggling, I have him in full guard. If you look closely, you see me trying to set up the “Xande Sweep” – one of my go-to moves from closed guard, when the guy’s posture is good. My opponent abandons the hand on my hip for an underhook. I start pursuing the so-called “Flower Petal” sweep – though it’s not quite the right position for it. I suspect that even if the sweep does not work, an armbar might fall out of the struggle. He regains his posture, but (a) is no longer controlling my ability to sit up and (b) has his left arm all by its lonesome / palm-down on the mat. I go for a kimura, which he defends. Anticipating an explosive defense from him, I was not planning on struggling for the kimura so much as hitting him with the “Bump Sweep” (Over-The-Shoulder Sweep?). The sweep works.

As I’m falling into top position, I put my right instep on his right thigh to stop from being put into any kind of guard. In the few scrambling seconds after the sweep, his arm was in a great position to be kimura’ed. I lock up and start applying the submission. Some confusion arises because my opponent is deaf – the ref thinks he has tapped. And to be fair, his arm was bent pretty damn far at 1:07 – 1:10, without a realistic recourse for escape. But he says he’s fine. So the match recommences.

Just immediately slapping on the kimura again struck me as unfair, but it’s available from 1:47 to 2:00 or so. Becomes available again for a few seconds at 2:04 (or so), but he’s quick and turns to his side and gets to his stomach. I try to follow to the back, no good. He beat me to the punch. While struggling to attain top position, however, he came up one arm in, one arm out. He loses top momentarily, and I briefly threaten a triangle from the back. As he again assumes top, the triangle from the back turns into a normal, unlocked triangle. Lacking a bit in the ideal angle, I lock it up in reverse and pursue a reverse armbar – in the intervening scrambling seconds as he got to top, he had made the mistake of putting his arm in the pocket between my head and shoulder (while in someone’s guard). He stands to defend the reverse armbar. The angle is better, now, for a normal triangle, and I make the switch. He steps over me to avoid the triangle, and we both roll off the mats.

We get moved to the center of the mat; and he’s started in an unlocked triangle, but with his arm controlled. My left hand shoots atop his head to control his posture – I’ve been trying to cement a habit about triangles, “At all times, keep at least one hand on his head to control his posture.” I lock the triangle. Again he steps over to defend the triangle. My legs are locked tightly this time, and we have a lot of mat space. His arm got extended in the process, and I start applying the armbar – however, my first priority is retaining the strong strangulation with the triangle. Both his legs are wrapped around my body, taking away the angle my hips need to finish the armbar (it wasn’t quite right, from the beginning). I abandon the failing armbar, and start addressing this ‘legs around my body’ business – lest I lose my beloved triangle. As I start fighting for a mounted triangle, he taps.

Time: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Score: 0 (1 adv) to 0

Match 2.

Something about the opening seconds of the match makes me suspicious that I am about to be thrown.1 I pull guard by sitting down. He has control of both my legs. This is a no-no. You can see me fail to break his right grip on my left leg several times – at it was about that time I began to worry that maybe this guy is really good and that pulling guard might have been a dumb thing to do. In those few seconds he had measurable control on my legs, however, he did really try to pass. I finally manage to break his grips. He fails to either regain control of my legs, or otherwise put me on my back. This is a mistake. He is leaning forward without much control on me, so I try, and catch, ankle pick.

Again as I’m transitioning to the top, I try stuffing his right leg to avoid any guard. This is unsuccessful. I’m in a half-closed, half-butterfly. He has an underhook on my right side. It’s very live. So I’m trying to pass low to my left, out of respect for a potential sweep on my right. As I slowly fought for good posture (then the associated pass), he snagged both underhooks and a full butterfly guard. In terms of controlling him, this is suboptimal for me. I try a little sprawl pass, just to see if I can initiate some exchanges in the guard. No dice. He is doing a really good job of not letting me control him, and takes a strong overhook on my left arm. I’m concerned about the sweep on that side now, and gain my posture to remove my arm. Again he takes a nice underhook – I just can’t seem to stop this guy from sitting up – and then stands up in base, and is nearly out of bounds too.

Nooo, this is entirely unacceptable! I snag one of his leg, and immediately “run the pipe” (to make sure he doesn’t go out of bounds). I am completely airborne at 1:24. Correct technique? Almost certainly not. When he falls, he puts me in a half-closed, half-butterfly guard. The big difference is now he is on his back, and I have an underhook on my right-side.

I push his butterfly hook between my legs, and end up in half-guard. The week before the tournament, I think it was, we had a week’s worth of lessons on the half-guard. During the match – I say this without an ounce of exaggeration – I realized that I had the four (or so) things you need to control someone while in their half-guard. After the realization struck me, I just tried to pass and succeeded.

In sidemount, though, he did a good job of not making mounting or attacking a real option. At 2:06, I abandoned the cross-face I had with my left arm, with the intention of pursuing a kimura on his left arm. He took that opportunity to begin escaping. So I transitioned to the other side (via north-south) with the intention of picking up a kimura on his left arm. He turned hard onto his right side in an attempt to escape to his feet. In that little scrambled, it suddenly made sense to transition to the armbar, which I do. He has placed his left hand (that’s the arm being armbarred) underneath my right calf, stopping the submission. At that moment, I’m focused – more than anything – on not letting him escape the submission. ‘I can deal with various defenses once I stop him from escaping.’ He almost makes it to his feet, but falls back. I changed the angle of my pull on his arm, to make getting to his feet much more awkward. His hand is still being my leg, close to my Achilles tendon. I turned my hips to my left, kick my right leg straight, and simultaneously pull on his arm – his arm is freed from behind my leg, and is extended very quickly. The gentleman tried snapping several times to tap, he told me later.

Time: 2 minutes, 11 seconds.

Score: 5 to 0


1. Getting thrown pisses me off to the highest level of pisstivity. Not necessarily being taken down, but specifically the act of being thrown.


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