The Severe Spotlight: Tatsuro Taira

Fighters making incremental improvements over the course of the career is a fascinating and exciting thing to watch. In the last Severe Spotlight on Tatsuro Taira, there were notes about his composure, and how he rushed certain positions. Then opening six seconds were no different, the relaxed and nonchalant stroll to the middle of the cage, the lackadaisical embrace of Aguilar’s hand descended into a bout of chaos as he was momentarily dropped by a low kick. After bouncing up Aguilar hunted him across the cage a low kick lashed to the ribs the weapon wielded.

Taira turned that low kick into a single leg, hoisting and shelfing that left leg of Aguilar to his hip, he used his own left leg to trip Aguilar’s outside leg. Aguilar in this transition had begun to look for an arm-in guillotine. Taira a second 8 shows the first of many improvements of patience and composure. As he dumps Aguilar to the mat he does so allowing himself to sprawl to his left hip, forcing Aguilar onto his right hand hip. This is disadvantageous to finishing the guillotine due to Aguilar needed to pend the neck of Taira to his own chest, by way of rolling his shoulder down his own spine. That’s difficult when Taira has placed his own body in the optimal position for him to have a straight, strong spine.

The pair land in this arm-in guillotine, smashed out half guard entanglement and this is where we see the first minutes of the fight play out. Taira makes a decision early to not fight the hands of Aguilar. Hand fighting too early is a common mistake. There are four main mechanics that need to be in place to finish an arm-in guillotine. First is grip placement, the grips wants to be in a position that protrudes into the esophagus but also shields the connecting hands fingers. The second is the shoulder placement, the shoulder wants to sit on the crown of the head and wants to be curling the opponents chin toward his own chest. The third is foot placement, generally you would prefer a closed guard lock, or some form of connecting frame on your opponent to stop them from rolling out of the guillotine, and fourth is hip placement. The final piece of the puzzle is to drive your hips into the choke, as the leg entanglement aids as an anchor on the opponents body allowing for further force to drive the hips into the bent neck.

Aguilar has a leg entanglement, albeit not one that vastly inhibits Taira’s movement. He does not yet have the hip drive, he certainly has locked hands, however its hard to see to what grip configuration he opted for, finally he does not yet have a fully bent neck. Primarily due to Taira’s very initial adjustment on the takedown, and secondarily due to Taira using both of his hands to post on the mat allowing for him to get leverage to drive his head into the guillotine and keep posture.

Taira now further shows that composure by working through a checklist of escape routes, can he tripod his leg out of the half guard entanglement? Can he arm assist his leg out of the entanglement? Can he arm assist the elbow of Aguilar away from the crown of his head? Can he leg pummel his way out of the leg entanglement? Can he begin to strip the choking arm grip? The answer to all of these is no, however he is always making micro-adjustments to move to his left side, forcing Aguilar more and more onto his right side the opposite hip he wants to be on.  The chink in the armour he eventually finds as that he can limp arm his trapped arm to freedom, he does this as he has meticulously looked to get out via other methods, but from an overarching perspective shown an ability to continue to disrupt Aguilars ability to finish the submission, driving his left shoulder way up and over the shoulder of Aguilar, effectively killing the choke in the water.

After the successful limp arm, Aguilar must let go of the connecting hand, one to stop Taira from landing elbows or shots, but second to stop him to getting head control of Aguilar. This renders the guillotine choke a single arm guillotine choke, which is difficult to finish at the best of times without the hand being punched through to a high-wrist variation. Taira gets to work on the choking arm, all whilst feeding the connecting arm between his legs and looking to trap the arm with his left thigh. That small dilemma gives Taira the time to get head control on Aguilar, as he frees his own arm from the leg trap – and Taira is finally able to turn more aggressively to his right hand side and free his head.

To note, he immediately pins the choking wrist of Aguilar, and the top dominance begins.

Taira now cycles through a dilemma of freeing his leg from the half guard entanglement and setting up an Americana. He is aware that Aguilar has an underhook, and that can always be used against him, so setting up the Americana not only forces Aguilar to put his shoulders back on the mat but will also force him to use his secondary arm to defend should the submission become a legitimate threat. It does not end up becoming that threat as Taira opts to switch off to cross-facing pressure, a tripod and an arm assist to free his knee from the half guard. As he free’s his leg, Aguilar makes a last ditch effort to collet the leg again by stepping his right leg over the back of the knee. Taira has a genius adjustment, which was to take a C-grip of the front of Aguilars ankle with his right hand, giving him just enough time to turn the corner and then switch to a knee post and free his leg into the mount. Beautiful work.

From the mount Taira makes quick work of the triangle. He first looks to find his way to the back with a gift wrap, Agular reacts by coming up to an elbow post to drive his way out of the gift wrap, Taira switches immediately from the gift wrap to throwing his right leg over the elbow post shoulder and across the back of the neck and shoulders of Aguilar, who now knows whats coming and creates a triangle frame by placing his palm on his forehead. Taira rolls through and locks up the triangle. The triangle frame of Aguilar is preventing the head-on triangle submission to finish him, so Taira goes to work on cutting an angle. Aguilar does well to lean into that angle, so Taira answers with some elbows. In the final exchange, Taira looks to underhook the leg, which would have results in him tipping Aguilar to a seated position, or worse back to mount. Aguilar begins to stand; however this elongates his body, and Taira latches onto the arm. Aguilar rolls through attempting to go with the armbar, but it is too late and is forced to tap.  

Tatsuro Taira is improving.

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