Tonight, I sparred with three blue belts and one purple belt. I was able to get to my spot (single leg x) in all but one match. Once I got to my spot, I was able to sweep and get on top in two of the three matches. I think I could have got the sweep on the third guy as well, but the time ran out, and we were too close to the edge of the mat anyway. The person I couldn’t sweep, and the one that gave me the hardest time, was one of the blue belts, who had a passing style that really gave me difficulties. In order to get to x guard, I need to be able to lift your leg with one of my legs in some version of butterfly guard. This becomes really difficult for me if you put all your weight on my legs while closing your knees together. When this happens, it often forces me to abandon butterfly, so that I won’t be flattened out on my back. It is at this point that my game tends to fall apart. That’s because I can no longer use my legs as effectively to block the pass. In watching Marcelo during these situations, he often resorts to deep half, rather than disengage like I do. The problem is that deep half commits you to the bottom of the fight, and even someone as good as Marcelo often ends up on the loosing end of that battle, particularly since he rarely needs to go to deep half unless his opponent is much bigger and stronger than him. The takeaway for me is that if I can get to my spot, I have a good chance of sweeping and getting on top. However, some people are very good at preventing me from getting there in the first place. They seem to already know that I’m at an advantage, once we get there, so they do everything in their power to prevent it. Sometimes Marcelo Garcia has the same problem. In his case, they usually run away, rather than trying to smash him. That’s probably because they are trying to avoid his butterfly sweep. Unfortunately, my butterfly sweep is not enough of a threat to cause this kind of reaction. One match I have been studying recently is Marcelo Garcia’s 2009 match against Kron Gracie. Gracie spends a good portion of the match trying to avoid Marcelo’s x guard. I really like how Marcelo sticks to his game plan, despite Kron sticking his hand in Marcelo’s face more than once, then finally gets x guard. You then see why Kron spend a lot of time avoiding Marcelo’s x guard, because Marcelo does indeed sweep Kron, although Marcelo gets immediately reversed in this case. Later in the match, Marcelo seems to switch strategies, ands starts taking down Kron, almost at will. Marcelo goes on to win the match by guillotine submission from mount, which clearly caught Kron by surprise. Even though I admire Marcelo’s top game, I have been spending most of my time studying his bottom game. It’s hard to find as much footage of Marcelo on the bottom, because he’s so good at getting on top. That’s why the first part of this match is such a great learning aid for me.