Tonight we worked on some defenses to the “Berimbolo”. Allow me to explain. BJJ sport competition is quite intense at the elite levels. Competitors are constantly looking for new innovative moves to surprise their opponents with. This creates an interesting phenomenon: the “it” move. This is a move that usually is in vogue for a few years until enough people figure out a way to defeat it. Previous “it” moves include the De La Riva, the spider guard, the rubber guard and the X guard, to name a few. The Berimbolo has been the “it” move for the past year or two, so all of the BJJ schools are intently studying the technique and developing counters. Although it was nice to learn the counters, I hadn’t yet even had the opportunity to try the Berimbolo itself. The Berimbolo is somewhat of an advanced move technically, even though it is now being taught to white belts. During the first round of sparring, the coach had one person try to set up the Berimbolo, and the other person defend. My guy for this exercise was a blue belt. Even so, I managed to transition to deep half and swing behind him to side control. The rest of the time, my Berimbolo attempts sucked rotten eggs, since I’ve never practiced the move before. This allowed my partner to repeatedly pass my guard. The next round of sparring, thankfully, was a regular round. This time, my partner was an even more senior blue belt. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Actually, I thought I held my own pretty well, even though I could tell he was going easy on me. In fact, I’m pretty sure he allowed me to pass his guard just so he could practice escaping side control. I thought I had a good hold of him, but he slipped out in a matter of seconds. I think it wasn’t just superior technique. I think it has to do with cognitive dissonance. I’m not used to doing that well against someone that good, so my game plan tends to fall apart. In order to progress to the next level, I’m going to have to mentally get used to the idea of being able to defeat blue belts. Fighting, and even sparring, is far more of a mental contest than a physical one. A big part of it is convincing yourself that you can, and should, win. It’s a constant struggle. Anyway, the one thing that came out of that match technically was that I need to review the basic Wilson pass. I tried it, and it was working, but the minute I let go of his bicep to move his leg out of the way, he caught me in something resembling a twister. Either I’m not supposed to actually let go of the bicep at that point, or it’s a weakness in this version of the Wilson pass. It could explain why another version of the pass exists in which you pass his arm underneath him and grab it with your other hand (so that the guy can’t do what my partner did to me tonight).