The first session of Day One of the Midwest Pans Camp 2017 was everything I hoped. We had 4 great Midwest Black belts on the mat – Brian Stuebner, Javier Arroyo, Josh Littleton, and Brian Imholz.
I will only be making it to a single session a day during Pans Camp this year (last year I made it to all 3 every day but 2). I will be writing some short reviews of some of the sessions I attend this year. Josh Littleton apparently showed some awesome Lasso Guard stuff at the second session but I missed that one.
Technique With Brian Imholz
Brian Imholz lead the technique portion with some great fundamental counter grip fighting from inside the closed guard. He does a great job of layering the levels of defenses.
Brian Imholz is a black belt under J.W. Wright from St. Louis and the lineage definitely shows in his approach. There is a unique feeling I get when working with these guys where they encourage me to make bad choices.
Every step of the way I feel neutralized. From my best positions I can’t seem to get a foothold or any momentum down any avenues that endanger them.
They don’t even have to focus on breaking the closed guard most of the time. They destroy all my attacks until I decide I don’t want to be in closed guard anymore so I better try to go for a sweep or open guard and they pass.
Brian detailed the most important grips to counter, and then worked his way through the more benign variations. Finally, we prepared counters to what a frustrated opponent with no good grips would likely attempt.
The attendees to the camp brought great questions to be discussed in the question and answer session after technique. Getting to hear the reasonings behind why Brian Imholz makes a certain choice from a position juxtaposed with why Josh Littleton makes a choice from that same position was fascinating.
Most of the technique details Brian covered today were so simple that most people who attended will forget about them. I typically experience clarity during the instruction and insist that everything is so logical I couldn’t forget it if I tried.
But if I don’t take notes, and write it down, and drill it in a focused manner I will NOT remember it. There is a certain banality in clean technique. I feel the need to drill instead the 17 step de La Riva guard pass because it somehow feels more “substantial.”
Time To Sweat
After the easy work of learning new techniques was accomplished we began the first live sparring segment of the Midwest Pans Camp 2017 with positional drilling. The Pan Ams Camp sessions progress in difficulty as the day goes on with the morning being the easiest, and the evening being the most intense.
We ran two and a half minute rounds with someone starting in top half guard, and their opponent in bottom half guard. The person on top is up by 2 points and an advantage, so the person on bottom has to work. We rotated through these rounds with multiple partners in our groups.
We ended our session with long 4 minute “standing versus seated rounds”, with fresh guard passers coming in to wear down and test the seated guard of the poor sap stuck in the middle. We rotated through everyone in our groups getting a chance at being the guard player
I had the privilege of working with both Javier and Brian Imholz during these rounds along with other great competitors. Nothing like rolling with top notch black belts and competitive colored belts to remind me to push hard.