I took off to class last night, which is unusual for me, since I always train in the daytime. Marco Barbosa is in town and was teaching at our club. The room was packed full of people and also some folks who came along with Barbosa himself from both Brazil and I think Peru.
The techniques he showed were, as expected, painful. He stressed controlling the head which basically meant putting your ribcage and upper body on the opponent's face while in top position. This controls their movement and opens up attacks. It's extremely painful to be under that kind of pressure. I never compact the head of my opponent but go for the standard chest to chest with an over and under hook. Compressing the head is really effective but might not make you a fan of your team buddies. I can see its application in MMA and a street fight. The conundrum is, how to train using this kind of painful pressure so that you can use it naturally when the time comes but not alienate your training partners.
His philosophy seems to be:
If you are on the top, make your partner as uncomfortable as possible, so that he wants to tap or make a mistake.
I sparred with both him and Diego Martins who both seriously made me want to shrivel up and die under their top pressure. It's both extremely claustrophobic and soul-crushing. I admit that there were a few times I considered tapping under the pressure. I think if I was in the physical shape I was 2 months ago before starting to work out in the mornings I may have tapped out. It was just sheer determination that kept me going and I got a glimpse of what it was like to be a white belt again.
I know I need to develop this kind of pressure of control and as I sped off home on my bicycle after the lesson I wondered to myself if I am just too nice to people when we spar. It's not the first time I've had this thought. Am I too kind? Should I be mean and put more pressure on my opponent? It certainly is a great weapon to have.
|Group photo after the lesson|