Sunday, 28 December 2008

Jiu Jitsu University

Been reading this book over Christmass (Jiu jitsu university - Saulo Ribiero), really enjoying it. Giving me lots of ideas for articles and Im only 1/5th of the way through. Survival postures, dead angles for sweeps, many escapes including one where you turn away from side control (normaly a bad idea as it leads to them on your back).

The clubs been closed for the holidays, so should be back to training on the 2nd. But one of our illustrious members made this promo for the club!

Any comments and critisms you have would be great to read.

To much christmass food for me, its not gonna be fun working this off.

Monday, 22 December 2008

RGA charity interclub comp

My arm was abit twingy still but I decided not to give myself any excuses and to man up. So the next day I woke up very early and made my way down to the Roger Gracie Academy in london, on the way meeting Brian "the lionheart" Earle from our club. The comp was a very informal affair and was mostly to give some guys some valuable comp experience, have some fun and to help out a charity. Met Alex Hare who trains at RGA Mill Hill with Nick Brookes, who I have been recently talking to as he is a friend of Matt at Nick G leads all of us throug a group warm up which was a great idea as I dont think the others would of warmed up otherwise.

Im gonna try keep my fight descriptions concise or else this is gonna go on forever.

The organisers give us a little bit of detail on the charity and thank us for the money - Its a Kenyan relief charity for a hospital dealing with terminal care. One of the doctors who worked there who trains at RGA was one of the organisers.

Nick Brookes and Helio are our refs with Daniel Strauss doing the scoring.

First fight is up and its me! vs Dale Jones. This is the 3rd time in a row Ive started my division off. Ive met Dale before who is a tough kid (orange belt) and has more competition experience than me. We get started and he quickly pulls guard on me. Which is where I want to be, but as I start with passing and get to half guard I realise his very comfortable there. And gets a few dangerous looking grips on me. I pass but cant stay there for long as he gets me back in half guard sharpish. He tries for a scissor sweep from a semi open guard but I sprawl well back. I pass a few times but each time he puts me back. Which is very annoying, Im up on points but one good sweep from him and Im over. In the end time runs out and I get the win. I felt like I used to much muscle there and not enough technique, props to Dale for being a constant threat though.

Brian has a fantastic showing in his fight, starting off by getting his back taken he then defends, escapes, takes side and then there back! winning on a bunch of points.

2nd fight:

Guy called Gareth, we get to his guard quickly ( I take him down) and seems VERY tense and rigid. A good sign to me that Im gonna wipe the floor with him. He goes after a triangle as I start passing but its gets a little closer than I would like, I get both my arms back in though. I then get myself ready for another go at passing but he flings his hips high and locks in a good armbar. His hips are also blocking me pulling my armback to within a safe range where I can defend, so I have to tap. Good match! and Ill talk abit later on what Ive learnt from it.

3rd Fight

I consider bowing out as my arm is hurting abit now but decide not to and just to keep a mental note on tapping very early if anyone goes after it. I wouldnt even be able to defend an armbar on it. I decide its time to have abit of fun as well, since its such an informal comp. I make up my mind to go for a flying triangle. I grab a single sleeve and jump as high as I can but he blocks with his far arm and I end up in guard, I quickly try go for an armbar off it but he defends well. I get back into full guard. He tries to escape but at a risk of sounding like Gandalf - HE COULD NOT PASS. I put an arm underneath his leg, rotate and flings my legs up to get the pendelum sweep. The crowd cheers!. I then establish mount but dont have to defend it hard as he then tries to cross collar choke me.... . Oh dear. I start working for a choke of my own once he realises his wont work, he starts bridging to escape and goes to roll onto his side. But he leaves an arm behind and I spin into an armbar and I get it. I get alot of props for this fight, these guys love sweeps and transitions!

4th fight:

Ollie says its the final for bronze and Im fighting Dale again!. I decide its to dangerous to let him have another go at his game so I decide to take him out of it. I go for the same setup and move again, another failed flying triangle but I get full guard. We tussle for abit as I try go for a situp sweep. An arm comes loose and I jump on it and get a kimura grip, he defends by grabbing his trousers. I work it for a little bit trying to then turn it back into a situp sweep but never give up on the group. I get a little bit more leverage and start to put on the pressure, it suddenly comes on very fast and he turns his arm straight. I carry on with the pressure whilst turning to the side and he taps and I goto let go but a small bit of momentum from turn him over is still there and his arms makes a horrible sound. Like slowly stepping on a pack of Quavers. I instantly apoligised and felt incredibly bad (still do). He says his ok and Nick gets him to move his arm to see if its broken and its not. I keep on saying sorry. Worst win ever. Dale slings it up and ices it, apperantly its also a recurring injury which I dont know is a good thing or bad. But hopefully he will be able to train as normal quickly.


I go against a French guy who is very new but showed some natural skills. Daniel Strauss is looking after my glasses and tells me if I dont win I dont get them back. We start. I grab one armsleeve, throw my legs up but I dont clear his far shoulder. So I end up in guard on the way down, As I go down I transition to an armbar. Its on tight and I go belly down. Helio from the side shouts "stop", but Nick is reffing. I stop...I look at Nick who didnt stay stop. I apply a little bit of extra pressure and whilst he doesnt tap Nick then calls a stop to the match. The guy didnt complain but seemed abit confused. Unless he had rubber elbows the armbar was fully on.

Theres another fight apperantly!

6th -

This guy looks big for our weight class (mind you we didnt weigh in!). I go for my new found gameplan and go for the flying triangle. Didnt get it again!. I get full guard and keep on trying to work the pendelum sweep but am having abit of trouble. He stays very far forward and tight to me. Trying to ezekial me!. lol I move my head next to his ear and tell him "you wont ezekial me in my guard". I defend it and start working to make room, in wiggling about he gets my half guard. I shrimp down and take the risk of swapping my controlling legs. I then bridge away and roll him over for the sweep. I then work to pass his half guard. But he makes it hard and I end up in guard. I start trying to break his guard and he is getting very tired. Perhaps a little to loudly and not very sportsmanlike I tell him to dig deep. To his credit he does and suprises me with the sudden energy. He starts a scramble. I get a leg but his on top, I keep on pushing for the takedown and its a long time but I get it. But only to briefly as we scramble again and I get guard. I secure an arm, lift hips, twist, fling my leg over his head and put downward pressure on. I get the armbar! with 6 seconds to go.

Brian is a like a juggernaut and plows through his opposition. Getting to the final without loss. This one falls out of his game plan slightly and the guy gets an armbar from his back in a similar fashion to how I was beaten.

2 Andy roberts fighters - 2 medals. We are happy.

Alex puts in a good showing doing very well, dont get to fight him myself but would be fun.

I talk quite abit to Nick Brookes who Ive seen around a lot but never had the chance to talk to. Which was great as he was a really friendly guy with a great training philosophy that I admired. He tells me he has never seen so many ezekial chokes!, very true. Perhaps an indicator of some sort. He tells me he liked my style which made my day, and offers to roll off Im still around later.

I also noticed alot of attempted subs from within the guard, and some people actually getting them which is even worse and not good for the victor as its gonna teach them bad habits.

Its become a pet pieve of mine recently.

Nic G has a blackbelt super fight against a 8 year old ginger kid!. Very funny and made the kid very happy.

In the end a very enjoyable event and met alot of new friendly faces, thank you to everyone for their kind words!. Great bit of experience and the most amount of fights Ive had in a single tourney. Mauricio was also there but didnt get to say hello.

Me and Brian have to leave so we say our goodbyes.

Right now onto the outcome:

Did good:
Pendelum sweep
Half guard sweep
Pulling guard (although was always plan B - Plan A = flying triangle)
Transitions into subs
Calm and confident

Need to work on:
Inside guard defense (the big one)
Control and pressure from the top
Breaking open guard
Submission control (to stop injury to opponent)
Avoiding being put back into guard/half guard

Will add photo's and any vids as they appear. Congrats Brian!, Sorry Dale!, Well done Alex!.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Experimenting, working bad position and injury

Thursday night just before I went to sleep, my mind was on jiu jitsu. I was contimplating if it was possible to baseball choke someone from underneath by spinning into north south. All the choke mechanics are there. On this I went to sleep, and I dreamt. In my dream Roger Gracie told me the technique would not work and was shit, because it gave them side mount and it was very easy for them to defend the choke. To risky and way to low percentage. Maybe I think to much about jiu jitsu....

Arrive Friday training and before we start the session I experiment on Dan to see if it works, and although the choke is tight. It is to easy to move around and defend, very little control. Roger 1 - Jadon 0. Next up was a move I saw Leo Viera do in a vid on the martialfarts blog. Its a turtle attack move. They are turtled and you clasp your hands around there chest, you can get your hooks in so you put your head to the floor and roll completely over, pulling them into a roll as well. You end up both sitting and you get your hooks in for the back mount. Andy showed a few alternatives which were either flashier or higher percentage.

Me and Dan sparred abit, and the guy has transformed. He is aggresive and controling, with a wide array of moves and techniques. We started from standing where I am confident, he didnt give me anything easy so I went in for a clinch/wrap leg aroudn the knee and fall type takedown which worked. We sparred for an age, both exchanging top and bottom positions. Myself coming off abit worse in most of the exchanges. I decide to experiment and aim for getting a kneebar or achiles lock, as I want to get these better for the next step. My kneebar setups are way to loose though and give him top position a few times but Im wily and escape. Im pretty sure he catches me in a sub at some point, a choke I think. I sink in a ezekial but he upa's me out. Its like a 10 minute fight and I get into his guard and he opens to do some open guard. I grab a leg and put on a kimura grip and sit back for the achiles lock. I stick up my feet to stop him sitting into me. Which he does. I really use my legs to push him back and eventually my legs win over his arms and goto the side pull back to get the lock. A lil bit cheeky but I think we got to get comfortable with leg locks.

My elbow hasnt been feeling good last few days, feels very similar to my knee injury from ages a go. No muscular problems but shooting pains.

We do a throwing drill where we chain two throws together (as a result of the first being blocked). An inner leg reap followed by an outer leg reap using the same leg. My partner Nick suprises me as he seems to have a natural knack for throws.

We then move onto sparring from underneath side control, winner stays on (winning via mount or submission, bottom guy has to replace guard or escape). My first partner is a strong guy but I get mount without to much problems. Now for some reason I find myself loving being under side control. The top guys dont often realise that there is a danger of being swept or even submitted if they arnt carefull. I end up going against alot of big guys but this suits me fine, as they try to crush me but I find the gaps and replace guard or roll them over to land in their guard. A few times I land in side control, I take someones back, I get a mounted triangle. Really is my day. Andy comes to investigate what I am doing. I block his hip, shrimp and make room, grab his foot to control him and roll us over to land in his guard. I got the feeling he was just watching to check on what I was doing. He seems happy so Im happy. A few guys I get by putting into half guard as they try hop into mount, and then work for a sweep to full guard. I end up getting caught by an americana by one of the big guys I beat earlier, I make sure to tap early. It is worrying me now so I decide to give it a small 5 min rest.

Andy then changes it to sparring from under mount. I fair well here as well, as I find I have a good disposition for escapes. Go against Lee at one point who is very patient, I bring his head up to stop him bucking me off but he bides his time well and gets me. Found it very hard to see an opening here, more submission pressure needed. Occasionaly do get caught though and I give my elbow another rest. We then move to sparring from the back. I have to grind a training partners jaw more than I liked, but I get the RNC. Defending my back goes well, winning another few in a row untill someone decides to change tack and go for a clock chock. This is alot harder to escape I feel, and my spine is completely straightened and I am locked in tight and have to tap.

We then go onto the more regular sparring from inside the guard. Passing still feels good but I need to really be more wary of triangles. On my back and Im going for sweeps over submissions still. Ian our resident Japanese ju jitsu blackbelt controls my legs well and has the oppertunity to pass. His got an arm near my throat though and he decides to opt for the submission, me being in such a bad place with my knee's around my ears. Ian really taught me to toughen up against the big guys as he loves to stack on the pain. Unfortuantly because he decided not to pass and has a pseudo choke on I rolled my hips and got him in a armbar. He goes to defend but its in deep and we roll and he has to give. POSITION BEFORE SUBMISSION. I let him stay on in my place though as my elbow is giving me some strong shooting pains.

I watch people for a few minutes which is always interesting. I then opt to roll with Paul, whos got a few kg's on me. I go for an anaconda choke but dont have the grip in properly before I roll and end up giving him top. Its a good fight and I get my position back and end up in guard. He squeezes me so tight I feel I taste some bile. I stand up to pass and he omoplata sweeps me!, brilliant!. He gets top position a few times but is unsure on developing a submission. Over our spar he gets me twice, one choke and one arm lock. I dont get him but am happy with my escapes and movement. Although I perhaps should of tried to work him in guard abit.

End of the lesson and a few of the guys who wernt there on Tuesday get some stripes, very well deserved.

Me and Nick have our post lesson roll. We work his passing again and his sweep defense, which is really coming along. Then we free roll for abit, he gets a deep collar choke that Im forced to defend. And is starting to realise how important the hips are, by blocking mine and using his own. Good stuff.

I want to compete this sunday at the RGA charity intercomp. Elbow is giving me gip but hopefully itll be ok by then, its only a small event so should be okay. Ive been preparing by eating cheese toasties and Ferroro Roches.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Back to class!

Tuesday has become my long training day. I get to the club at 5 and do a small workout. Push ups with olympic rings, 10kg halo's, turkish get ups, 60kg dead lifts. Didnt do many reps but am feeling it as I right this. I then had a roll with one of the newer guys. An MMA fighter who trains at London pankrase. His a big and his built so his got some power to back himself up. We wrestle for abit and I stubbornly force him down, from their I pass and get mount. I sink in an ezekial, pretty tight I thought. But he has a good sense of how tight it needs to be and he resists and then escapes. From then Im on the back foot abit but get guard. And there we stale mate for ages. His got a great base and I cant sweep him, and is very wary so not much sub openings. I try a situp sweep kimura setup and get a lil close but he is wary and defends it easily. However his passing isnt great and Im wily enough to keep him in my guard. I decide to put him in half guard to see if I can catch him unaware. But his base is still to good, but he still cant pass. He ends up getting side and working a kimura from on top. We go again and we end up stale mating again for ages. Good training partner for me.

I am abit knackered but Andy like the good trainer he is, insists I also do the warm up for the beginner class. Nothing to bad but I am feeling abit hot. We drill the basic armbar then transitioning to triangle. We also do the cross collar choke and some variations of it. I need to break posture better and lift my hips more for the basic armbar.

We then do a drill where the person in guard just has to defend sub attempts from the guy on the bottom. Which was fun. Im partnered with Nick who is doing well, I purposively make it difficult for him to set them up. So that he would then chain the setups together, which he did and it worked really well. Didnt get me but got close a few times, so definite progress there.

We swap round. I go for the cross collar straight away and get it as I want to develop a fast and strong attack with it, so I can catch people offguard. Land a triangle which he goes to stack me with but I roll back and land in mounted triangle, do a similar thing with an armbar. Then I experiment with an omoplata, which I really want to develop. However Nick defends really well and I cant get his arm free from gripping his jacket.

Lesson ends and me and Nick try get in a very quick roll. We dont have enough time so I try and do a quick drill Ive been thinking about. Where he has to just defend sweep attempts from me. The idea being he see's the similarities in all the different sweeps and can work on his base and on keeping my hips pinned. And also to recognise the setups for the different sweeps, ones I used were: situp, scissor, pendelum, elavator, butterfly. However due to the time I rush abit to much, so hopefully we can do it properly next time.

Next lesson rolls on - no rest for me!. Warm up isnt to heavy but its focuses ALOT on the core. Andy teaches us a new sweep from when they stand up in your guard. It resembles a omoplata that you then convert into a sweep by rolling over your stomach and landing in side control. This vid shows that sweep at 3:00 but also some other sweeps so check it out.

As you can see it looks abit funny, but after drilling it for a while I started to really like it. As it was deceptively controlling. He then taught a variation where they posture fully and block the sweep by pushing out there hips. Instead of rolling over your stomach you roll backwards, so that they are falling backwards. We drilled both of these for quite a while as they were abit tricky.

Then onto some pass the guard type sparring. Went up against Adrian the MMA guy again and passed his guard without to much hassle. Then I got one of our big guys in my guard. Couldnt sweep him and he was doing very little to pass my guard. He stood up and I went for the sweep we had just drilled but as I hooked his foot it must of slipped or something as he then guard slammed me hard. He said sorry and gave me a little bit of time. Went at it again and I decided to go for half guard again. He resorted to using "crushing" as a guard pass, but theres no way Ill tap to that. Just on principle. He then tried some attacks within my guard but again Im not gonna let him do that. So abit of a stalemate, but eventually I get abit frustrated and go for a sub and he defends well and passes on that. Next time Ill try some open guard instead.

Next fight goes well and Im about to pass but the buzzer goes and we are then told to move on to full sparring. We restart and I go in to get top position, he lands a guillotine!. WE go again and he gets a triangle, then another guillotine, then a collar choke. WTF! the guy is good but he has never tapped me more than once. His even tired. Maybe he was on fire, maybe I was just off form. Props to him though, he obviously spotted a weakness somewhere I havnt addressed.

I was pleased with myself next though as instead of having a break and wallowing in what went wrong I got straight back on the mat and asked if anyone wanted a roll. Mike steps up to the plate. Mike is good and has given me plenty of trouble before once he sorted his armbar defense out. But now I feel like I am firing on all cylinders, getting a very pretty pendelum sweep. Sweeping from under side control with an americana roll and escaping bad positions. I try for a rolling clock choke but dont get it and end up getting an armlock, he makes abit of noise but I dont let go of the sub. Dont know why I didnt but I figured it was from the roll not the tap, so I keep abit of pressure and he taps. Andy scolds me for not letting go sooner, which I should of. Especially as Mike is a friend. We go again and I keep good movement on top eventually getting his backs with hooks in before the timer goes. Very happy with that roll.

Andy lines us up against the walls and begins to award stripes!. Been a long time since we last had stripes done. I was expecting them to be awarded in a few weeks, not today though. As its been such a long time virtually everyone deserves some. I get awarded 4 stripes! (I had none previously). So am very happy, as it means the blue belt isnt very far away if I keep training right. Note to the uninitiated - only 4 stripes per belt.

Mauricio Gomes should be visiting us in a month or 2, so I reckon there will be a few belts given out. Am just hoping Ill be in the country for it. Will be great and I know a few guys who definitely deserve it. Good for the club as well, as the newer guys then know what type of level they are aiming for. And once they start tapping the blue's then they are at that level!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Inspiration and opening the gates

This is just a post on somethings Ive been thinking about, reading and looking at. No real BJJ updates but hopefully something interesting which you may of experienced yourself. There might be a fair bit of babble.

Ive been getting inspired alot recently. From talking to people, watching, reading and experiencing different things as well. I find it difficult to shut my brain off, I have alot of internal chatter. Which is why people who know me find I talk...alot. And this makes it hard for me to focus sometimes, I dont quite have a train of thought. Its more like the London underground but with the trains driven by monkeys with a bad sense of direction. So I tend to over think and over analyse which does allow me to pick up alot of information. The downside is implementing it. I have to sift through alot of mental noise and that often means Im to late and not focused on the task at hand enough. But when something inspires me it allows me to really focus on whatever that thing is, and it makes it easier for me to understand whatever it is Im trying to do. The other way I handle this mental noise is by getting tired. When I get tired enough my brain starts to switch off and I fall back on the things Ive drilled and act more instinctively. Which is great!...but I want to be able to do it without having to get exhausted first.

So heres a few things that Ive been thinking about, just today:

This is a vid of Leo Vieira doing some playful demo rolls in japan. He starts with a whitebelt and moves to purple.

Whilst watching the first match I was abit disappointed, but it was only after watching the whole vid I realised how good he actually was. The white belt looked like he got the upper hand in his match a few times, but he really was insignificant. Leo was controlling him even whilst the white belt was passing for side mount, because he knew everything the white belt could do. It didnt really matter what the white belt did. And you can see this when Leo spars with the purple belt and goes to town on him, because the purple might JUST be able to do something if he got into a good position.

So how is this relevant to me? - I need to keep everything on my terms, even if Im in a bad position I want it to be in the bad position I want. I dont want to fight my opponent on a level playing field. So I need to keep busy, be subtle and use a dynamic multi pronged attack. Always 10 steps ahead, as soon as my fist bumps theres I want to have them in my web. I simply dont have the mental clarity and technical know how to do this now, but I think it will be a little easier knowing what Im trying to become. Everyone says you need to train to become "good", but what is "good". Its being better than your opponent. And I think the way I just described is how to do that, against any opponent.

So dynamic attacking can equal two tactics:
  • Limiting all your opponents options and abilities so that your submission is undefendable. I.E control and superior technique.

  • Creating an over abundance of your own options so that he cannot possibly defend them all. I.E chaining submissions attempts together. All his defenses have to work, only ONE submission attempt has to.
Unstoppable force meets immovable object.

Further note of interest: Going for an omoplata from mount!

Next is some inspiration from a fictional source. A source that reveals my nerdyness:

Rock Lee:

Probaly gonna have to give some background info here. Rock Lee is a character from a manga and anime series called naruto. Its about freaken ninja's. Rock Lee is not a main character, his secondary character at best. All the ninja's can use super chakre magic type powers...cause they are ninja's naturally. Rock lee cant. His essentially a ninja retard. And he looks like a stalker of the beatles. But what he can do is work hard. In rediculous fashion thanks to his teacher who is the same as him.

So I was watching Naruto, and Rock Lee had popped up once or twice. I hated every second he was on screen. And the characters are all fighting in a tourney. One of the favourites who is 10 times better than everyone else is drawn to fight Rock lee. Awesome, time to die Lee. Fight starts and Lee is speedy as thats the only thing he has. But the favourite (Gaara) doesnt even have to move his feet to show Lee that he has no chance. Lee's teacher gives Lee the thumbs up and lets him know he can take them off.. . Lee is very happy to hear this and jumps on a statue to take whatever it is off. None of this is even hinted so far in the show. Heres an edited version of these early parts of the fight:

When Lee dropped the weights he won over every anime loving geek in the world. As it was completely unexpected. Lee goes further and ends up going bat shit super sonic crazy by opening the gates. These gates are natural mental barriers to stop people overexerting themselves and injuring the body. But anywho thats more than enough background knowledge. Essentially theres 2 main things I liked about it. It really nicely characterised the notion of overcoming the biggest hurdles with sheer hardwork (a nice example also shown in the vid I posted of the paraplegic wrestler). And that you can push your body beyond the mentally percieved limits. Despite it being fiction I think most people will agree these 2 things have been shown to be true many times. I dont think any of this gives you any sort of magic power but I believe people are capable of amazing things when they really try.

I believe the idea of what these "gates" represent is actually quite commonly found in evidence. For example when I started running I found it damn near impossible and progress was so and felt like torture. It was only when I started going past what I thought was my limit that I made proper progress. Every time I did this however my limit moved up and to carry on being able to run further or faster I would have to beat this limit. Im sure alot of you are familiar with "training to failure". And even with the proper precautions I believe it would be possible for someone to run so fast they would cause horrific damage to themselves, by going well and beyond their limit. But in doing so perhaps going faster than any person has been before.

So first gate = exceeding your physical limit

Anyone can just schitz out and use all their strength though, but in BJJ that means nothing without mental clarity. I believe the 2nd gate is being able to keep this mental clarity under massive pressure, pain and duress. In one of the extra's in the Renzo Gracie documentary he talks about one of his fights (Abu dhabi I think where he gets caught in an armbar. And his trying to escape but he knows he wont make it, his got about 2 seconds before his arm breaks. In those 2 seconds he says he thought about his arm breaking, and that in 2 months after it heals he can fight again in a upcoming fight in Japan. So he thinks sod it, his not gonna tap. But he kept on trying to escape. His arm gets hyper extended but that mental decision to let his arm be snapped allows him enough time to escape and then win the fight. It wasnt the common new guy mistake of trying to aimlessly escape because they think if they have a big enough seizure like fit they will escape. It was a calculated move where he expected his arm to snap but would fight on regardless.

2nd gate = presence of mind and willpower
Now I know this is nothing earth shattering or even new, but what I am trying to do is to discover what I am trying to achieve prior to achieving so as to do it more effeciently. Because when I started I wanted to be "good" at jiu jitsu but had no idea what that actually entailed. And I dont want to be JUST as good as the best guy in the world, I want to be better. And whilst I am perhaps aiming outside my reach I think it will get me closer than by aiming low.

Let me know what you think about some of my ramblings here.

party party party PARTY! woooo

Still havnt trained since Hereford. Missed Tuesdays lesson as was in Worcester, missed Friday as I had some weird stomach cramps but then ended up going out for someones birthday!?, then I woke up hung over and it was pissing it down outside so I wussed out saturday. Not good, still need to up my out of class workout. My cardio is dipping, I didnt realise at first as Im abit more relaxed when I roll and I have been warming up properly for comp fights. But its definitely not as good as it was. Weirdly though Ive picked up some muscle mass from the ether, enough to warrent comments. Which is always ego boosting. I do feel strong though. My toe is swollen and itchy so Im gonna assume a radioactive spider has infected me.

So Sunday came round in the usual fashion but with the added bonus of the RGA christmas Dinner!. Met the guys at waterloo, got a series of trains and we got the venue which was pretty close to the RGA academy. The staff were abit curt and indignant which is always a good sign a place is swanky. Walked in and Jude and Nic G were meeting people in. Walked in and said to Nic "Yo Bro! hows it going" Nic: "My names nic" o_o; . Couldnt tell if he just really doesnt like being called bro or if he was just introducing himself (again). No worries though ended up having a good chat with him later in the evening, where I thanked him for some advice he gave me at Kent which has had a significant impact on my game. He was cool and gave me some props for Hereford. He told me I should be ready to lose, I lose plenty so not sure what he meant but Im sure its sage wisdom will dawn on me in the future. He also told me and Matt he hopes his there when we get our blackbelts, which I chuckled abit at as its the 3rd time he had said it to us!. Once when he got his blackbelt (although that was to the whole room), 2nd at Kent when I congratulated him again and talked to him about his website. And 3rd at the xmas do. The dude is awesome though and has a unique style of dancing!. Ill urge you again to check out his site Jiu jitsu Brotherhood . As it really has some great stuff on there I havnt seen elsewhere and he is a inspiring teacher.

Also spoke to Luciano Cristovam again, who is always a really funny happy customer. I told him one of his students had started a blog and made a post about how no instructers turned up one lesson. This was due to a change in class schedule that the students hadnt picked up on. Luciano then kept on trying to interrogate me to find out who it was, but I couldnt remember the site. Sorry if I dropped you in it blog dude, apperantly Luciano's gonna beat you up!. He was quite mirthful at the time so Im sure he was only joking. It made me chuckle though.

Dinner was good, drinks were very pricey!. Matt and Dean got on some horrible looking shots. Mauricio Gomes walks in (Rogers dad and pretty much father of UK BJJ and china BJJ for that matter). So I was abit starstruck. During dinner Jude has a little speech mentioning the club affiliates and giving props to the clinic (thats us, not a successful STD clinic). To this the guys started going "HOO HOO HOO!". This started a while ago and I have no idea why we do it!, we need something better :P . He, Nic G and Mauricio then give Andy a present from us, a customised black eagle mundial gi. We got Rogers and Mauricio's signatures embriodered on as well as the RGA logo and Judes Logo. Looked very nice!.

Edit: Just found a vid of it!:
You can even ehar me asking why we started going HOOHOOHOO


Ended up having a chat with Mauricio which was cool. Talked to him about my travel plans to Brazil and what he reccomended. Apperantly its gonna be roasting in July, Im hoping my south african blood will carry me through but he warns me about going inland. And hows its manic around the carnival. I then start talking to him about the Renzo documentary as theres quite a few cool extras and one of them is a good sparring match between Mauricio and Renzo.

Renzo apperantly had a fight coming up so they were actually going light!, with this fight coming at the end of a very long training day. I asked Mauricio what he thought of the documentary and if he knew the sparring match was in it. He said he thought it was a good documentary but didnt know the sparring match was in it till he saw it, didnt seem to mind at all though. Heard the very good news that Mauricio is coming to visit our club in a month or so, was quite happy to hear that!.

At this point I am feeling pretty merry, but I got to go and get my train. Sod it the jiu jitsu gods will look after me. Which they do! as Matt offers up his place. Me and Matt chat about our rivalry and we get abit philosophical about it all. You can improve if you have the drive and motivation to do so, so alot of that is internal. But there are external pressures to like wanting to do well for the club or other people, for money, for a promotion etc. I think this type of rivalry is one of the best though, everytime I miss training or am not training hard I think "Matts training his ass off, if I dont meet that and exceed it he will overtake me". Its strong motivation.

We get more drunk, me and matt gotta get our train. Sod it the jiu jitsu gods will look after us!, which also now includes Mike and Dean. We go upstairs to the club and dance our asses off. I DONT DANCE...but that night I did, I dont think they realised what they were witnissing. I have recently picked up some new moves "the shopping trolley" , "the bus driver".

Andy and his wife and other guys finally have to go (its like 2am). Me, Matt, Dean and Mike continue with diligence. And for some weird reason and burlesque stripper comes on, something probaly to do with the other people dressed up in burlesque style. And she does a number, although it remains PG it wasnt a bad dance!.

Closing time comes, the staff are getting particularly hauty tauty. Resorting to making fun of my hat, forgetting my scarf and being mad at me for it... . With a room full of Jiu jitsu guys I was actually hoping a fight would break out just so I could see a 50 strong jiu jitsu army in action. Sadly everyone was well behaved :P.

So... we are in the cold and the jiu jitsu gods are keeping quite. Any places still open are on the other side of london. Its around 3:30am. We are off our trolleys and its freezing. We decide to go for a walk. And the jiu jitsu gods come through! - I cant go into the details as I was asked not to. But we find a pseudo warm place for a few hours till we can make a move for our morning trains. I was very pleased!. We make our move around 6:30am and we all feel pretty grim but are still laughing about the nights events. I get home around 9am and instantly fall into a small coma.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Hereford 2 - Oh its ON like donkeykong bitches

Got up extra early, got my stuff together, got on a train, got in a car, got in another car for 3 hours. Showed up at Hereford. WOO!

The last time I was here I got my shit handed to me, but its been quite a few months since then and Im bringing more reinforcements (Brian, Dean, Matt, Big Matt, Thor). Including Andy which is a significant help.

We actually get there early and the kids comp is still going on. We check our weights and all is dandy, its FREEZING though. For some reason I confuse Kevin Cox with Ross Nichols which is odd as they look nothing alike. I congratulate Ross and without much chitter chatter call him out for a roll when we got time, friendly like mind you!. I also see one of the guys I fought at Kent as well as his brother, spent a while talking to these guys who were really cool. Check out their website at

Our division was small but had a few tough looking guys. Me and Matt were on opposite sides to each other thankfully as the organisers are nice like that, so we hoped to see each other in the final again.

I go through my warm up routine and have a light free roll with Andy, working transitions and escapes. Never holding on for more than a few seconds. Although demoralising I picked up some handy lil tid bits on some passes and escapes.

My gameplan for this comp was to pass guard, stay on top, get the points and force them to make an error I could capitalise on to finish them.

I had the first fight in the division and my opponent looked quite nervous. As soon as we bumped fists he was straight in there, always a pretty good indicator of nerves. I had actually written up a dramatic version of events but then upon watching the vid I realised how much I had forgotten so Ill just give you the vid.
The triangle was on very tight but I could feel him overexerting himself so I just stayed patient looking to buy myself some time. Thank god he didnt know the re counter to the catdip counter. Was very pleased with the sit up sweep, by far my best sweep. Although not the most subtle, it is very effective.

It doesnt feel like more than 5 minutes before my next fight. Fighting Mr Badshah. He is alot more relaxed and looks confident. I can tell as we size each other up looking for grips that his a guard fighter. I go into juggernaut mode again and we get to his guard, where he seems happy to keep it open. Being very wary of another triangle I try keep his feet and hips pinned. He is very mobile though and I am forced to defend from a few angles.

At some point he gets on top in my half guard, was very happy with my sweep. All that half guard work recently paid off.

2nd Vid here!

Matts first fight is up, he works the same solid game he does in training. Getting a tight triangle and finishing it there. Matts 2nd fight is identical!. Both finished in under 2 mins. Its gonna be a hard final!

We have to wait a little bit for the final but we are relaxed and having a good time. The competition nerves do get easier to deal with it seems. And its a big help that Im facing Matt in the final as its win win for the club. But I want the win.

I keep focused on specifically avoiding the triangle. I try to catch him out by going for guard when we start but he gets there before I do so I am forced to try pass. Which is fine for me.

The final!

Passing felt good but I was to compliant with stalling, I never tried to seperate and attack an arm. Or setup a sub. It all goes wrong at about 1:35 in the vid where I am ontop but am not active enough and it allows him to weasel himself onto my back. He had a mini choke on from underneath which was stopping me from carrying on moving clockwise. But for some reason I never went anti-clockwise to try for the mount or knee on belly. On my back he had a choke deep in. I didnt think much time was left so I was doing my all to survive. Made some very horrible gurgling sounds and actually burst a few blood vessels in my eyes (not that bad!). But he held fast and I had to tap, the magnificient bastard.

That brings our rivalry up to 1-1! - really do feel like we are pushing each other to get better. Vegeta/goku, Naruto/sasuke, He-man/skeletor!.

Heres myself, Matt and Scott Morgan posing with our trophies. Spoke quite abit with Scott who was a good laugh, he showed me a very nice overhook closed guard move. And I showed him the Von flue choke.

The other guys had some great fights as well, Brian had a ton of them and looked like the sole survivor of a resident evil film. Enough so that Andy made this picture!

So the aftermath:


Passed alot and stayed active in passing

Saw most subs coming and defended

Focused and clear headed

Never got tired

Met some cool people and learnt some cool stuff from them

Half guard felt good

Sweeps felt really good


To focused on holding a good position and didnt develop it further to create submission openings

Was compliant in letting people put guard back

Not enough hip pressure

Didnt look hard enough for submissions

Didnt work enough from side control for mount

Took back control but didnt work the hooks in

Didnt have the presence of mind to change direction in the final fight

I like the control of playing a passing game so I think its something Im gonna stick with. But I also love sweeps which I think is a handy Plan B for when things go wrong.

So quite abit there to work on and develop but I feel quite positive and felt I got alot out of it. Including a 2nd place trophy (will add the pic when I get it!)

Im gonna start doing some reviews, including event reviews. But for now let me urge you to goto one of the Hereford ground fightings comps should you get the chance.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Valeries and new developments


Back to training!. Andy has just added a childrens class and a beginners class to Tuesday. So I decided to get in extra early just after the childrens class as I reckoned some people would fancy some extra training. There was an hour gap inbetween the childrens class and the beginner class so myself, Lee, Andy and another guy fancied a little workout. We started with doing press ups using olympic rings. Doing 3 sets of ten, keeping them stable and straight really added another dimension to the press up exercise. We then did 3 sets of 5 Turkish get ups using kettlebells, Im quite unfamiliar with kettlebells so used a 12KG one. Quite a tricky exercise engaging alot of muscles. Lee is abit of a demented fireman with some army experience so he then subjugated us to something called a Valery. Which was doing a burpee with a pushup and then jumping to a crossbar or beam and doing a pull up!. We did 2 sets of 5 and then 3 sets of 6 of those which were abit of a killer!. We then went to our newly attained running machine but it was having some issues so didnt get a go on that. As Im writing this my upper body is still aching!

I then did some rolling no gi with Lee, who is one of those rare strong guys that doesnt like to use his strength against smaller guys like myself. We had a fun roll and his alot more patient and thoughtful now, working position first. He caught me once or twice and I got him with an armbar. Using a setup I saw in a "The ultimate fighter" episode!. From mount you curl your leg around the arm you are attacking so your shin goes across their throat. This forces the arm up and sets up the armbar. It also puts pressure on the neck to keep them there. If they do come up its also setup for an omoplata!. That was my first experiment with it, think I need to get abit slicker with it but the surprise factor is worth its weight in gold.

Sparred some no gi with Andy and I found it alot harder without my grips, need to work on my no gi properly at some point. And I got taken apart in a variety of ways. My one small victory was a half guard sweep but that was aided by someone knocking on the door and Andy stopping and having a look to see who it was.

Beginner class was good and I fancied it as some extra training with a chance to work on my fundementals. Did some hip throw work to armbar, then worked on the rolling escape out of the armbar if they dont control the wrist.

To counter this we control the wrist and use our thigh to put pressure on the elbow wherever it moves. Did some mild sparring from this point to work the escape and the armbar. Then moved onto some sparring where we had to keep mount but wernt allowed to submit. Escaping wasnt to hard although I need to be more carefull about offering my back. Holding it wasnt to bad either but without subs it was easy to keep control. We then added subs. Escaping became a little harder and I did actually get caught which twinged my arm a little. On top my sub attempts wernt that great and I found it harder to keep mount (did lose mount once or twice)but my cross choke is getting more devious. So good session overall but need to work on a more solid mount.

Onto the next class! - Feeling a little bit tired so I sat out most of the warm up as I was pretty warm anyway and the mat was looking busy.

First techniques were side control escapes. Keep your arm against his neck so your arms resemble a T-rex's. Putting them away from him just helps him in attacking it, as you cant defend with your other arm. Important note here was to bridge and get your head out from his arms so he cant control your head to straighten you out. Then you do the thai block, bringing in your knee and elbow and replace guard using a shrimping movement. The other escape was similar but instead of replacing guard you grab his inside leg and walk around so you end up on top. The walk around is very important as it does all the work in putting him on his back. Other wise you will just end up turtled as he sprawls. I noticed something abit strange from drilling this move a few times, everyone prefers the first escape!. Even though it only gets you guard and the other one gets you side control!. Maybe as its abit easier and more gracefull, but I know I would rather end up on top even if it is slightly riskier.

Heres a great theory vid from Demian maia, looking at position from underneath side control.

We then did a side control attack that I remember Ollie showing when he was down a while ago. Based on the side control situation where your opponent is linking his arms on your back, keeping you close. The arm against his ear swaps to his other ear, slightly hooking underneath his arm. Your arm that was on his far side comes over and underneath yourself. If you rock up you can then grab the lapel closest to you from underneath. It may seem awkward but I find it a very good pin, as it completely controls his shoulder your on. Then taking your other arm that you moved earlier, grab his far lapel with your fore arm across his throat and press your elbow to the ground. Which will crush his larynx and give you the tap. If he resists move your elbow up to open up his neck more. If he moves his neck to the side it will then become a choke. Strong submission this, once you get the grips.

From the same setup before we then did another attack. Holding onto his far arm you push yourself forward to break his grip and to flatten his arm straight on the ground. You also move your leg closest to his head, over it (similar to a kimura setup). You then hold his wrist with one hand and swim your other hand under to grab your own arm. So again similar to the kimura but his arm is straight. Important part is to be underneath his elbow so then when you push down with your hands and raise your upper body you achieve an armbar effect and get the tap. Its a little tricky but a worthwhile option to have when they straighten their arm to avoid the americana or kimura.

Sparring went well, one of our guys who recently injured his spine was back. I went for top control as Im really feeling comfortable there but I took care not to put to much pressure on his spine. Although I could tell he wasnt 100% confident yet, Im sure he will be back to form soon now that his back to training.

In another sparring match I managed to land a reverse triangle from underneath side control, but I also got kneebarred and triangled. I kept on getting top position but my mount is just abit flimsy at the moment. And I dont like doing the single lapel choke on training partners, despite making it alot easier for me to balance I feel its unnecessary. Better time spent getting the cross lapel and other subs in.

Sparred no gi with an mma guy, he was quite active so I decided to let him have top and Ill work a sweep from underneath. But my no-gi gap haunted me yet again. Went for lots of things but just couldnt keep the control I needed. He couldnt pass my guard but he managed to block alot of my moves just using his head. Which is awesome!, he didnt realise he was doing it but using your head as another hand seems like a really good idea. I think with no gi I am under utilising my mobility abit, not realising that whilst I dont have alot of grips, neither do they.

Me and Nick then had our post lesson roll ritual as normal, went well. Concentrated on his guard passing with me threatning lots of sweeps. Gave me the chance to practise my open guard abit, looking at hooking underneath his leg and using it to unbalance. Definite improvement in his passing, much better idea on what Im going for and what he has to defend. He even passed at one point but his base wasnt there so I rolled him over from underneath side control.

A few posts ago I mentioned how I was really getting revved to fight Ross Nickols again, as he was a good target to aim myself at. However a spanner has been thrown in the works!. He just got given his blue! - Big congrats!. A shame though as I wont be fighting him in Hereford now, unless I make him roll with me. But its nice to start getting to that point where familiar faces in my division are getting their blues.

So I needed inspiration!, and fate smiled on me yet again and delivered this:

Cant embed so heres the link:

No one gets to complain EVER again.

The other new developments are:

RGA Charity interclub comp sometime in December

Decent chance I might be doing some traveling in Brazil

Gonna start doing some reviews

Muay Thai classes have started at the club!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Passing natures guard


Got in early as normal and luckily some other folks did for some early sparring. Was feeling good and my last post refers to my performance in this fridays lesson.

So me and long time training partner Chris got rolling, been quite keen to work my passing game and did well. Chris made it difficult but I tried to keep him pinned and straight to reduce his mobility. Cranked on an armbar should of squeezed it on with more control. Ive noticed a lack of confidence in putting on some submissions where Im convinced they will escape. But this results me in cranking it on abit to hard. Worked some half guard as well which as a gap in my game is steadily coming up to par with the rest of my positions.

Did alot of throwing work in this lesson which was really good. Started with seoi nage and then went on to any throw we fancied, finishing the throw by knee riding them and falling back into the armbar. Gave me a good chance to properly practise drop seoi nage and hara goshi. As your throwing them from such a low level I thought drop seoi nage wouldnt hurt very much. But it packs a big unexpected punch!. I am exploding abit more into my throws which I feel is helping them as itmeans I am commiting more to the throw. Andy wanted to correct some people one their breakfalls so asked me to throw him. I stood in mild shock for abit with the class looking on, then took even longer trying to think of an appropriate throw. A part of me wanted to try a mega WWE style throw as it might be the only chance I get to throw him. Went for a normal seio nage in the end as I didnt want to mess up what he was demonstrating.

We then did the baseball choke from the knee on belly position. Sticking both arms deep into their collar, try and get them enarly touching. Dont cross them over like the cross lapel choke. One hand will face in and one will face out, resembling like your holding a baseball bat. You then put your far leg over their head and twist your body so your kneeling in a north south position over their head. Put your head to the ground on the side you crossed over on, this will block them turning into you and make the choke tighter. Comes on very tight!.

Dont really like this vid but couldnt find a better one.

We then did some sparring. One of the newer guys Ive been facing recently always dives straight in for a triangle/armbar attempt, everytime. I block, pass, crush, mount and submit. Gave me a good chance to put the baseball bat choke into practise and it worked a treat, definitely gonna use it more often. The kid never loses heart though and is eager for more each time. So I take the chance to work more on my half guard (sweeps and taking the back) as well as experiment with a few things.

Sparred my new favourite partner again with his HCK (pain in the ass to choke gi). And here is where I felt my new found passion really help. I was alot tighter and more focused on trying to take him out of his game. This guy loves combat base (one knee up) and is very good at using it to pass by blocking the hips. But being more comfortable in half guard now I hooked my leg underneath the leg that was up so my foot was curled round his thigh. This really helped in neutralising the position and getting him off balance. Kept tight in side control and worked to mount, put in a cross collar choke and squeeeeeeeeezed it on. There were some sounds and his face was going dark, but he held out for a long time and I thought it might not of been fully on so I let go. Turns out it was on! so I really need to put more faith into my moves. No tap though so we continue but I was far more dominant than usual which made me very happy as I find this guy one of the hardest guys currently training. He will probaly kick my ass next time we roll but thats how these things go.

Andy asked if anyone fancied a spar and I jumped at the chance. Although he always take it quite easy I get alot out of sparring him. As it makes bad habits and mistakes easier to see. As a result of him capitalising on them, or just plain telling me. Worked to pass and put in better showing than usual, although I never managed to fully pass I put on alot more pressure than usual. And minimised oppertunities to get subbed. Got done in by a shoulder crank ive never even seen before, I was belly down with his legs curled round my arms which was pulling at my laterals and shoulder. Played a little guard and got put into half guard, Andy corrected me on my underhook which I kept on putting on the wrong side enabling him to take my back. Always on the same side as the leg your trapping!.

Sparred some other guys and generally felt very good with passing and control, really feel I am on the rise now with alot of things falling into place.

Sparred Nick in our post class ritual, accidently spinning elbowed him in the face!. Sorry dude!.


No BJJ for me Im going caving in Somerset for the weekend (Cheddar)!, which is something Ive never done. First cave was slippery and very small and tight. Not trusting my wellies for grip I was crawling on my hands and feet like a spider. The advantage of this is it meant I was actually quite mobile and able to essentially play open guard with all the formations and rocks in my way without slipping. Some parts got tight enough where we couldnt move our head and had to shimmy our hips to get through. Luckily for me I was quite happy with shrimping and snaking so was through there like a shot. In some areas we had to chimney climb over crevases, this was hard for some as it required steady pressure in a small space whilst moving for space. To me this just resembled guard passing. Some of the passages we went down were called "Bloody tight" and "Hellish tight"!. We all survived and got the beers in after.


This cave was harder and more dangerous with the added bonus of it being a live WET cave. Not wet as in abit damp, we are talking flowing streams and waterfalls. Loud enough that it was impossible to hear the others at times. Oh yeah and it was snowing. I was wearing 1 shirt, 2 fleeces, 1 fleece body suit, 1 caving body suit, marigolds, 2 socks, diving socks, and wellies. And they guaranteed me I would still be absolutely drenched and freezing. Cave water is not warm, and the snow didnt help it... . The entrance was very forbidding, the size of a large cushion with a rabid stream underneath. Who in their right minds would think it was a good idea to explore this when it was first discovered!. So straight in we had to crawl army style through this stream and then had to crawl up through a U bend style tunnel. Had to crawl down a waterfall that was spraying everywhere. Chimney climb a few bits whilst butt scooching my through. Towards the end the instructer asked me if Ive ever climbed a ladder. I said of course. A caving ladder?. No.. . But it couldnt be to different. A caving ladder is a very small wire ladder, and it was under a waterfall. To climb it properly you had to climb with your leg round it with your heel and the other foot in front, so it kept straight otherwise you went straight into the waterfall. You mean De la Riva guard!? no problemo!. On the way back up however it was abit harder and I got soaked.

We then realised we were gonna have to climb back up all the streams and waterfalls we had just passed. Which was difficult, getting quite wet and providing an interesting climbing challenge. Nature wasnt done with me yet though as it through a formation called the "toilet bowl" into the works. Myself having to climb up out of the toilet bowl with nature effectively waterboarding me. Then spiderman crawling through the stream. As predicted we were soaked and pretty cold. Nothing a pint of somersets finest cider couldnt cure though. Great fun weekend. And if you fancy getting a workout for jiu jitsu I highly reccomend it, VERY similar movements with alot of grip training.

Crikey! Ive actually found a vid of the cave we went in on Sunday, although without my awesome jitsu moves obviously. And Im adding a BBC link as well (embedding disabled)!

BBC video

Friday, 28 November 2008

Did it make a difference?

YES, a massive difference.

(read my previous post if you dont know what Im on about)

What Ive been missing

I consider myself a calculating and analytical individual when it comes to jiu jitsu. You will always find me smiling as Im enjoying it but my emotions are quite reserved. Ill be concentrating on what to do next based on what my opponent will try to do next, strengths and weaknesses etc. And I think this type of thinking is good, I believe in the jiu jitsu - chess idea. However Ive been training without passion. This has just become clear now because I feel on fire, instead of butterflies my stomach is filled with easily to anger hornets who have just had their nest pissed on. I dont feel any anger, just a powerful drive to train my ass off and to do well. And all this drive is aimed at one guy - Ross Nickols. This guy kicked my ass in Kent and I want to avenge myself. His in my division in the Hereford comp on the 7th. Let me reiterate that I dont dislike him or feel any anger at him, his just a focal point for what I need to achieve. So if your reading this Ross and Ive just knee ridden your sternum into paste Im sorry. If you beat me again then kudos!. Beating Ross is more important to me than winning the comp, so if we dont face each other ill ask him for a roll on the warm up mat.

But yes, passion!. Will it make a difference? we shall see tonight at training. A while ago I trained in "anger" and I got my ass kicked all over the show. This feels different, I still feel clear headed and able to think ahead. Ive always wanted to win and do well but Ive not had this hunger before. And its given me heart.

A few of us are going down to Hereford so should be another good day of fun. Hereford was my first BJJ comp and my first 2 losses, so am eager to avenge them. Hereford features a different rule set as well. All positions have to be helf for 15 seconds not 3 (except knee on belly). Passing is 3 points. Rolling someone off from mount counts as a sweep! - which is particularly annoying. That is how I lost my first fight. Fights are only 3 minutes and start from knee's. Straight knee bar and achiles lock is allowed. I think its good fighting under different rule sets, so as to not narrow down ones game to take advantage of one particular rule set.

Ive been spending alot more time in half guard as mentioned in previous posts, feeling alot more confident there now. Can see the oppertunities to sweep and to take the back more clearly now. Subs are there as well, although abit harder to finish.

Last session was good and found myself putting on a few omoplata's. Couldnt quite finish them though, so got the sweep instead. Controlling them from rolling over is natural now. Just need to make my setup flow abit more. Had a great roll with Brian before the lesson started. Off the bat I did well, got side control, mount and then back. But Brian is a tough customer and has a very good judgement on how tight your submission is, which allows him to resist for a long time. He has alot of heart. So his turtle was tight and I was on his back, going for a clock choke. Put my head to the floor and started walking around (abandoned the hooks). But I didnt have the hand in deep enough and he eventually got out. From their it went back and forth but he had good control and finished me with a americana.

We did some guard passing and I found myself getting triangled a few times. Which was frustrating but also very good as it pointed out a mistake I was making consistently. Andy gave me some advice on sorting out that mistake so hopefully no more triangles!. Managed to pass a very tired Dorians guard which is a big achievement for me, this guy EXPLODES. And he times it well so very hard to control him, but eventually I managed it.

My guard has become abit more static since I started focusing on guard passing, my sit up sweep timing is abit sluggish. So didnt get to much from full guard.

After the lesson, Nick wanted some more rolling and Im always up for it. Its only been a short time but his definitely coming along. We focused on how important it was always to stay moving, especially when under positions like mount. We kinda did a pseudo drill where we focused on me passing his guard and then him putting me back (medium resistance). That went quite well and I might try repeat this drill again sometime. Some of the guys also pointed out good grips and hand placement for blocking hips etc. One of the things I love about my club and I hope all clubs are like this, is how willing people are to help each other out. And how there is no ego when people are corrected or shown a variation. I would still be making alot of old mistakes without the input of my partners, and Im almost relying on them pointing out more so I can get better!

Any readers going to the RGA christmas dinner? - I hope to be there so let me know.

Heres a great vid from Stephen Kesting where he talks about the importance of position when going for subs and defending them.

He then goes onto show the Von Flue choke as a defense to the guillotine at 3:10. Love this choke and used it in my last lesson, very fun.

Stephen Kesting provides some great video's so if you see his name on a vid -watch it.

Heres an awesome judo vid shamelessly taken from Martial farts (great blog! - read it!):

Reason I include this, is because the judoka in question is pulling off the same throw everytime. His opponents know its coming probaly before they step on the mat, but the guy is SO good at it all they can do is slow him down abit. This gives me confidence in really focusing alot of effort into getting a few throwing techniques down to a T (as shown a few posts ago). I think it definitely works in BJJ as well.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Its now been a year

It has now been roughly a year since I first started training. So time to assess the situation I think. First lets break it down into simply what I have gained and lost from a result of training.

My grappling ability has certainly improved, I am actually having trouble trying to quantify it. Current me could kick the crap out of old me in under 30 seconds, blind folded, legs tied and starting under mount. Lets also pretend old me weighs around 100kg's and likes to hit the weights. Thats how sizable the difference is.

I have lost 10kg's of weight and my pulse has dropped by over 10BPM. I have the fitness and strength I never thought was in my reach. I also look much more healthy, with a fair bit of podge removed and some muscle added.

I have made many new great friends that I enjoy spending time with outside of training. Just feeling like Im a part of the club is a great feeling.

Now the cost. Training has cost me money, time, blood and bath tubs full of sweat. I have small calluses forming on my fingers, the occasional painful joint, regular bruises and friction burns. A few small hard or swollen bits on my ear that have formed, not very noticeable though. Despite the aches and pains though, a year on and Im still in love with this art. It has become a big part of my life, that is never far from my mind. And the great part is, Im still a white belt! Ive still got this huge journey in front of me. And I'm in no rush.

At one point I focused on training to attain the next perceived level (blue belt). But now it doesnt bother me at all, I just want to get better and improve my Jiu jitsu game. I dont want to improve to win competitions I want to win competitions to improve!.

I think improvement is abit of a funny thing. Your constantly looking for it but its always there, gradual and consistent. Even when trying to get past a plateau, it is all part of the process. I feel that the learning process in Jiu jitsu is a high curve, with the greatest gains in the beginning and coming quickly. Improvements take steadily longer but according to the curve model for comparatively less reward, which I feel isnt true. I have often seen and experienced how a very small adjustment (a small improvement) can lead to significant results. So whilst a curve I feel there are many bumps, plateau's, possible dips and steep rises which are unique to the individual. Heres an example, your often taking peoples backs but you keep getting foot locked due to crossing your feet. Stop crossing your feet, BOOM greatly reduced amount of footlocks.

I also agree with the bullseye model of BJJ (thats my own name for it). Where you start with a massive circle, with layers down to a small bullseye. Each layer represents a belt level of skill. The first layer is obviously the biggest (white) and the layers get smaller till the last layer which is the smallest (black). The size of each layer represents skill, knowledge, ability etc. Its abit overly general but the reason why I like this model is because it shows that everything you need to know is shown to you at the white belt level. You then improve upon and internalise these as you improve which carries you through the belt levels. The adjustments and honing aspects get smaller and smaller. This is also why I think BJJ is a bad spectator sport for the uninitiated, its hard to appreciate it without knowing what they are doing. The greatest example of this I can find is watching Roger Gracie's fights. Everything he does is stuff you will probably learn in your first week.

Ill probably end up posting another one of these next year when I realise Ive been talking bollocks. So onto recent classes.

Last couple have been good, Ive been trying to focus on guard passing and control from the top. Recently Ive felt abit stagnant, but I know this is a common thing and all you can do is persevere. I am finding myself holding half guard alot recently as well, which is good and bad. Good because I desperately need to improve it, bad because it is often a precursor to defeat for me. However my eye for sweeps from that position is starting to develop which feels nice. And I am able to hold it for longer. But it still needs alot of work.

Unfortunately Ive had to miss a few sessions recently due to train trouble, which is not helping to get out of this slump. But the jiu jitsu gods are kind and through their prophet Slideyfoot (link on sidebar) they have delivered me this very usefull new resource. Beginning BJJ . The most useful being a free E-book available on the site. Written by Stephan Kesting from The book is VERY useful and alot of effort has gone into it. I highly recommend it, the fact that its free blows my mind. I think one of the reasons I like it is because of Stephens style of writing. He breaks it all down very logically and systematically in a way that really makes sense to me.

Trains screwed me over Friday so went out with some friends and had a couple beers. To make up for having to miss Tuesday I decided to goto both Saturday classes. The early class is focused at new students with some self defense emphasis alongside the crucial basics. It was fun though and I got plenty out of it. All the other usual suspects started turning up for the next session and it was only 5-10 minutes or so before we started that. The warm up was alot more rigorous and Andy inflicted a new exercise on us. Sitting down with legs off the ground you had to shimmy on your ass to the other end of the room, JUST using your ass. Each shimmy moves you like an inch. And we had to do it twice, I resorted to using my feet on more than one occasion. The beers started making their effects known, could tell I needed to be careful. But I also had some foul smelling wind, which is not ideal for grappling.

The class focused on sparring and was very tough. Each time I came off and joined the que I was feeling very tired and woozy. Not nearly as bad as my last hang over training session but my cardio took a big dive. Half guard came up often but I could hold it and was working for sweeps. Need ALOT of refinement on the sweeps though, as currently I am just relying on shifting below them and then rolling when I feel there base is weak. Played around with open guard abit more but couldnt really do it much with hence the rise in half guard. One of my sparring fights went on for an age. I really like sparring this guy as he thinks about every move he makes, no unnecessary movements and is very hard to catch in submissions. Passing felt very good though, I normally always do some sort of stack pass. Which is probably why I find myself in triangles more than any other sub. That day I was mixing it up by also passing through the middle, which I previously didnt like because it very often led to their half guard. Which isnt so bad, just extra effort. However I was doing abit of knee riding and was keeping their legs and hips pinned, so felt more solid.

Terry managed a beauty of an armbar attempt of me I defended by the skin of my teeth. He had side control and went to north south, but he transitioned fluidly from their to my other side and to the armbar. Took me by complete surprise, I had to then flip myself over onto my stomach and then defended by stacking and pulling it out. Definitely want to practise that transition maneuver.

Sparred Ryan who has an MMA fight coming up very soon, so wanted to focus on him. We decided to work on his side control game (we went no gi as well). He was focusing alot on trapping my with his legs and then working a submission. Managed to escape once or twice and he managed to sub me a few times as well. Ive only ever caught Ryan once and that was with a guillotine, his a little lighter than me but very athletic and rapid. But hangover BJJ nirvana beamed once again. He went from side control to north south but my shoulders didnt feel completely pinned, so I tried something Ive been dieing to reproduce. I rolled back (think a backwards roll) tucking my head out. As I did this I went from under north south to having rear mount. I landed quite high up so had to work my hooks in abit and as he worked to escape he left an arm in. So I put in a triangle with my legs, I reverse triangle of sorts I guess. Andy then reminded me to hook his leg and pull it in to further put pressure on him. I couldnt get his arm properly across his neck though, so when he tapped it was 60% neck crank 40% choke. That backwards roll is my new morale busting move.

Had some good rolls with the big guys, a really cool one where I was defending omoplata's for a while. And caught a knee to the head and a cut lip, I accidentally caught him as well. In fact lots of people seemed to get kneed or banged up in some way that day. That fight went back and forth alot where I would half get a sweep or escape but just couldnt finish. Lots of fun jumping around.

Felt very good after that session, definitely feel like Ive come out of that slump. Despite not getting as many subs or sweeps some of the guys gave me some really nice compliments on my guard passing and movement. Which is what I really want to work on. Thanks for the kind words guys it does really mean alot to me.

Talking of kind words slideyfoot has nominated me for the Fightworks podcast BJJ blog of the year. Thanks alot man! really made my day. So if you like my stuff vote for me there when it starts. Or if not vote for the other guys like slideyfoot or pesadelo, all top notch!.

I have also signed up to fight in the up coming Hereford comp on the 7th of Dec. Which is very soon, but we have a few guys going and itll be a fun small comp.

In other news:

The amazing Renzo Gracie legacy documentary is out here
UFC 91 was a jiu jitsu love fest (this is good) - Vids here
Last man standing is still awesome! - Clicky
I need to make a new banner

If you agree or disagree with any of the stuff Ive written leave a comment. Always happy to learn more from feedback.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

My post kent return!

I had taken the week off from training, as I had friends round, a birthday, mat burned toes and a very sore elbow. What this meant is my normal reward of eating like a pig extended for a week past the 2 days I was going for. But a good time was had, and Ive done some runs in between then and didnt feel to bad.

Turned up to Tuesdays class all rearing to go, with passing guard in mind. I wanted to try work on the things I put up in my last post, especially stand up. I had arrived early and so me and Matt decided to get some stand up judo type sparring in. It felt good, really good. I felt I actually had a selection of throws to try and go for. First throw was when Matt went in for a O soto gari (big outer leg reap thing), I countered by doing the same throw in the opposite direction with more hip momentum. It worked, but as I landed on top of him I realised I should of done it abit more softly. I kept on going for the throw I had seen kieran do a few times, a harai goshi (I think!?) as I really love the grip for it and the angle of attack. But was doing it wrong as I was going flinging my leg up in between his not outside, this is another type of throw (Uchi mata). But I find it harder to pull off. Later on I get Kieran to give me some pointers on it. Next throw I managed is my favourite, pushed him back and as he pushed me back in return I lent back into a Tomoe nage. Always feels great to pull that off. But I always forget to roll with the momentum and try finish in mount. Finishing instead in side control most of the time. Our other scraps mostly ended in half ish throws and scrambles from messed up attempts. So still plenty to work on. All I want to do is get 3-4 throws done to a T:

Tomoe nage:
Its my favourite, as its the one Im best at. Its very unexpected even in judo!, I think its pretty rare in BJJ. Which is probably a bad sign but I think its very practical. If I mess it up I can pull guard, or even armbar. Done right I can go straight to mount. It also looks the Bee's knees. I wont add a video as I showed you guys one 2 posts ago!

Harai goshi:
The throw Im trying to learn to be better at. Ive noticed that most people in BJJ from standing are very stiff armed, hips back and really not up for being thrown. I think Harai goshi has a very strong grip setup, and the angle of attack can cut through the stim arm/stall defense. If messed up I can carry on pulling on the arm and fall with my weight to still take him down. I wont get ippon but ill get side control. Which is just gravy for me. And if that doesnt sell it for you, its recommended by Vladimir Putin.

Double/single leg shoot:
Not very subtle and all BJJ'ers practise sprawling and doing this throw so its expected. Stiff arm defense makes it hard. But I think developing a good shoot can be very destructive. GSP seems to be able to take anyone he wants down with this at will. If it goes wrong I can still attack and/or pull guard. I can also just go for a single leg where theres a ton of further options. So a flexible and very powerful attack. At the moment Im to slow and I telegraph it to much, but am able to scramble to safety.

Drop seoi nage:
It looks awesome... . Can be quite unexpected, with knock outs not being unheard of. If it goes wrong I could get my back taken... . But it seems very explosive and leaves me close on the ground with them, with an arm already controlled. The main thing that draws me to it is again the hips back straight arm stalling defense that seems to prevalent. As alot of their weight is forward (ready to sprawl it seems), it would seem a waste not to use that momentum. :P

All these throws except Tomoe nage seem to work well in no-gi as well. Only decent way I know how to do a no-gi Tomoe nage is with my already on the ground holding the back of his neck, but thats more of a open guard sweep really.

Anywho enough of this, back to class!. We drill some throws :P. One of the main ones we drill is a normal Seoi Nage, but we follow it through into an armbar.

Next we go through some counter attacks when people are defending the armbar, as well as some armbar escapes. I make sure to let my partner drill on my left arm, but his controlled enough anyway.
We do some light positional sparring from this setup as well, I can defend it ok but still find it hard to stop them putting there elbow to the mat and coming up on their knee's to escape the armbar.

We then do some guard passing sparring. I as normal jump straight in so I can be one of the people to start first. Not sure if some people may resent me for this, but you snooze you lose. No matter though as I get my arm pinned behind my back, and my guard shortly passed. Found it very hard to defend this as he was so good at controlling my arms. Next match and Andy swaps it so the winners are guard passing. So Im back on my back, my partner starts before I even close my legs. He seems abit dazed, he also controls my arms very well and is tight. But he doesnt work a pass and I get a sit up sweep.

Next match lasts a long time, Im guard passing and his legs are very strong. I really want to focus on my guard passing and top control after kent. But I cant open his legs and his not throwing any sub attempts. His quick to keep my posture down and stop my from standing though. But not going for any sweeps or subs is making it hard to find an opening. I cant even dig my elbows down enough to do a stack pass. With all my wriggling I eventually leave an arm to far out and he pulls down on it in a shoulder assisted type upside down armbar. Its not to tight but I can feel the pressure and I verbally tap. 4 times. I probably should of just tapped with my hand but I didnt want to let go with my defending arm incase of injury. No matter though, I just went "yeah yeah yeah" which normally works but he probably thought I was working something good and was excited so after he didnt let go I just told him to let go. Although in quite a desperate voice. No harm no foul though. Might have to say "TAP" instead of "yeah or you got it" to avoid this in future.
Class ends with some running on the spot, tuck jumps and sprawls.

Im up for some more though. Luckily Brian accommodates me. Brian is tough and wont tap unless you have it on 100%, always a good opponent. We start from standing, I go for Harai goshi as Im determined to get it down. I dont get it though but we end up on the ground with me under his side control. His base isnt quite there though and Im able to bridge him off balance and then sit up completely to put him under my side control. Am happy with this. I get it in such a way that I try a kind of upside down anaconda choke. His breathing changes for the worse so I think its close, but I realise Brian wont tap which is a good sign its not on 100%. So I goto mount. Go for the cross lapel choke but he bridges well and gets me over.

We scramble and he ends up on my back, with a body triangle. I get to my side but cant turn all the way over to his guard. He doesnt threaten the choke to much though and Im eventually able to get rid of his body triangle by hooking his leg with mine and pulling it off so he just has hooks. This gives me enough room to move all the way round. I manage to get my knee up in the middle and squeeze through his legs into mount. I go for the cross collar choke again, and he turns me over again!. This time into my guard. He works to pass and as one arm goes under my legs I set up a triangle. For some reason I go for the Teepee pre triangle attempt though, which I scold myself for as its a bad habit to start. He defends it well though so I dont waste alot of time on it. I then go to triangle and it feels ok. Cant quite get his arm across though and I can tell Brian isnt finding it to hard to resist. He goes for the cat dip escape and I do the counter by pushing myself on my hands to roll into a mounted triangle. The arm goes right across now and I can get a good grip on his head. I squeeze and his gurgle is a precursor to the tap. Really fun roll and further high lighted the work I need to do on my base (especially mount). And that I need to work on my triangle.

Got a bunch of Kent pics Ill put up in my next post, made this from one of them. Hopefully my opponent doesnt mind, I thought it took the piss out of me if anything and some people might find it funny.