Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Castle Theory: Building Defenses From Your Back.

My guest blogger is none other then my four stripe brown belt Todd Richards.  Todd's guard is really good so this makes an appropriate topic for him to blog about!- Keith Owen www.bjjmoves.com 
One thing I struggled with when I started Jiu-Jitsu was being defensive from my back. As a former wrestler, being on my back with an aggressive opponent was something I was not particularly comfortable with. I struggled with this all the way through white and blue belt!

While I had a good closed guard, my open guard, against an aggressive opponent was not good.   When my opponent did pass I was also not good at recovering guard.  I finally decided that this was something I needed to focus on.  I knew that the thought process I was using was not effective because it had not worked in the past!

Most of the people who know me know I am a big pretty big nerd.  I have a huge interest in castles and medieval style warfare. I decided that I needed to construct my defenses just like a castle. A castle has layered defenses in order to protect the king.

Building my “Castle Of Defense” started from the ground up.  I decided that my head and my neck would be THE KING of the castle because they were the most vulnerable and the least able to defend themselves on their own. It is pretty hard to stop a choke by just moving your neck around.

The next thing I needed were soldiers to protect my king. The idea I had for SOLDIERS was my arms because, while they are great at defending my head and neck, they are also vulnerable if they got into a bad position.  So my arms (soldiers) constructed my first layer of defense while on my back.  

The next layer was my hips and turning onto my side. I labeled these as the INTERIOR DOORS of the castle because while they can slow down an opponent they cannot directly stop someone from attacking my neck (the King).  The movement of your hips also works well with the arms (soldiers) to create “frames” and keep the enemy at a distance.

Next I needed INTERIOR WALLS for my castle and these would be my legs and inner thighs because they are used for pushing people back and keeping them out, creating space against an opponent and then attacking them through sweeps and submissions. This is most prevalent in the form of the half guard. These three layers, the soldiers, interior doors and interior walls work in concert as “defensive layers” preventing an opponent from getting to my neck (the king) or passing guard. The next layers are more offensive.

The best defense is a great offense.  The next two layers work more as attacking layers to keep an opponent away and to gain an advantage. The EXTERIOR WALLS of my castle are my shins and my ankles, specifically as hooks. These are used for elevating my opponent or for moving them in conjunction with my soldiers (my arms) throughout the castle working with grips and pushing to control and attack my opponent. This layer also works well for controlling the distance and redirecting an opponent, keeping them off balance so I can counter attack.

The last layer is THE MOAT to my castle.  This would consist of the soles of my feet to push and move my opponent while I attack my opponent.  It is difficult to attack at such a long range, however it is also difficult for my opponent to attack me.

The last piece of my castle is my closed guard. This is THE COURTYARD to my castle. The closed guard is inside the moat and the outer wall layers of my defenses.  It is close to my inner wall layer but the closed guard is also different because it is a better place to attack. The courtyard of a castle can be riddled with different traps making it dangerous place for an opponent.

By combining these layers and being able to transition between them is essential. None of the layers work by themselves.  They work in tandem, to form a solid castle of defense, to stop an opponent and allow you to defend; then attack an opponent. This strategy might seem weird but it has worked well for me!

Long Live the King! 

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