SPIDERWEB: Noun, the network of silken thread spun by most spiders and used as a resting place and as a trap for small prey.
I was training last night with my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor Ailson “Jucao” Brites” Jucao is a 5’th degree black belt and has been doing BJJ for over 30 years. Sparring with him is an incredible experience. You really get to experience the complexities, intricacies and beauty of BJJ when you work with him. I thought I’d share last night’s experience with you.
I’ve been training my ass off this summer as I prepare to climb Mt. Rainier next year. As a consequence I’ve been doing tons of mountain biking for cardio. In eight weeks I’ve ridden nearly 350 miles of very difficult technical trail. To say that my cardio and athleticism is the best that it’s ever been would be an exercise in understatement. My first “roll” of the night was with Jucao which meant that I would not be tired from rolling with other guys first. I was really excited to have a full tank of gas when I started with him. I thought to myself after we shook hands that I had over 8 weeks of hard cardio training in me and that I’d be able to push the pace hard for as long as possible.
Jucao immediately played a sitting guard which was perfect for me because I wanted to play offense. I stood to my feet and attempted to set up a couple of guard passes. There was some really nice technical interplay between Jucao and I as I’d probe his defense by feinting with a couple of standing guard passes. Suddenly I saw the opportunity to do the “Bullfighter” guard pass (click here to see a video that shows this pass) The bullfighter is one of my favorite guard passes and I do it quite frequently. I like this pass because I have the strength to control my opponent’s legs and the speed to scramble to get to side control. I took control of Jucao’s knees and pressed them together and saw that he was not hipping out to defend the pass. I thought to myself “that’s odd he’s made a mistake and given me a clean line straight to side control!” I realized that after training for 10 years with Jucao that I was about to land my first guard pass on him! I pressed his knees together and pushed them to the mat to my right (his left). I quickly (and I mean quickly) dropped my left shoulder and entered aggressively into the pass. A fraction of a second before my left shoulder made contact with Jucao’s torso I noticed out of the corner of my eye that his left arm was raised at an odd angle. I was not sure what he was up to but I was already committed to the guard pass and could not change my attack. The pass was text-book, absolutely perfect, however I had the misfortune of coming down straight into a lapel choke. Jucao, the wily veteran and Jiu Jistu master had taken advantage of my aggression and used it against me. There I was in top side control, stuck in a tight ass lapel choke. I lay there and thought “great, just F****** great, not only am I not going to pass his guard I’m going to get choked out for my effort.” I lay there helplessly and made a couple of feeble attempts to squirm my way out of impending unconsciousness. As my vision began to dim and I could hear the “wa-wa-wa” of being choked nearly unconscious, Jucao added the final indignity…the “goodbye kiss”. If you’ve ever rolled with Jucao you know exactly what the “goodbye kiss is”. When he does that you know that it’s game over.
That is the beauty of Jiu Jitsu. You can use a person’s speed, size and power against him. I am big, strong and hyper athletic and none of those things helped me beat Jucao. In fact he skillfully and adroitly used them against me. As I drove home and thought about my session with Jucao I realized that I was like a fly that had been caught in a skilfully woven spiderweb. Imagine a fly, buzzing along fast as he can. He sees the fast approaching spiderweb but believes that he can avoid the web because he can fully see it ahead of him. Imagine the sheer elation the fly must feel as he believes that he’s out witted the spider. That elation turns to shock and horror when the fly realizes that in fact he did not see the entire web but only part of it. Too late the fly realizes as he slams into the web that there was more to the web than he saw.
I’ve always say that “you go where the game takes you”. If your opponent is faster you have to adjust to his speed. If he’s bigger and stronger, then you must effectively deal with his strength. Jucao’s ability to go where the game takes him is simply astounding. Well…no guard pass for me last night. Maybe sometime in the next ten years…I’ll avoid his BJJ spiderweb.