Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sweeps, Rivalry and Midnight rolling

The following took place over the last few days:


I think to myself that I cannot rely soley on the sit up sweep as people are getting wise to it, plus a greater arsenal is needed. So I find Tap skillz . Looking for a sweep instructional vid for a sweep I had seen but didnt know the name of. Turned out it was the pendulum sweep:

It just looks so smooth and effortless, really caught my eye.

One of the big guys I train with is always putting all his weight forward and pressured on me from within my guard. Which is fine but he is good enough not to get subbed from it and to make me very uncomfortable and unable to move. So I wanted something to deal with him as well. Found it :D

Half Butterfly guard sweep

Looked at a few more to just get a better idea on scissor sweep, sweeping when getting stack passed, clock choke from on top of turtle.


Went to training as usual. Got their early as did another training partner, the mats were already out so I was able to quickly drill the sweeps from Thursday. Lesson begins. Hoorah! Andy wants to do sweeps!. We cover the sweep from when they are trying to do a standing pass, its nifty as you flick them right over your head and land in mount. We also cover the scissor sweep which gave me a much better idea on how to properly do it. In past efforts I never curled and then straightened myself, I was trying to do it all with my legs. We cover the sit up sweep and I manage make some small adjustments, I love it so much. We do some specific sparring where the guy on his back can ONLY sweep, the one in guard just needs to pass.

Fantastic!, before the lesson started I made a mental note of focusing only on sweeps today and not bothering with any subs unless its super easy or Im in a dominant position. So first up I get a big strong guy who knows a few things. He gives me some really nice compliments. He digs in his elbows, I sit up.... and sweep! woop. Next opponent, sit up and sweep. Next opponent I go for the pendulum, I get the position and start working him over. He goes slowly and messily as I dont have enough momentum, but I still get it. Next opponent I get the scissor sweep after fighting for the grip and having to mini scramble to get on top. One guy passes my legs twice but cant control them and I keep on slipping guard back in. The big guy who likes to crush me from in my guard comes up. He settles in and goes low and forward on me, squeezing my head and making me uncomfortable, I slide in the one butterfly, put the other on his hip and go for the sweep. I get it! but just, took a bit of strength as well. I need to get him even more forward.

We go now onto full sparring from knee's. I get a nice armbar and get the pendulum sweep again. I do some guard passing but am still finding it tough to break open the legs without baiting them. I team up with matt and we go at it, I am surprised he doesnt try pull guard and instead goes for the top. I get him in guard and fight him off, Pendulum sweep wins again! best one of the day with a nice smack on the mats. I work the mount and get him to tap via a very tense cross collar choke. We go again and I try and out wrestle him, he gets on top, mount, back, everything. Completely out manuveurs me and dominates, getting me to tap twice via chokes. His completely changed his game! and seems better at it. I had got used to passing his guard before. This is great as I feel his gone up another level and its helping to push me to get better. Only slight concern is if we were to fight in a comp now he would win.


Andy is getting married very soon and we arrange to go train at Rogers and then go for some food and a night out in London.

We get there and the place is BOILING, its like a sauna.....on the sun. We do a quick warm up and some stand up technique, following by knee on belly techniques. Which is always fun, the small change of taking my toes off the mat when kneeing them makes a big difference!.

We do some sparring focusing on knee on belly, I team up with a 4 stripe white belt my size called Adam. I worry that Im about to be merced. I do well though, managing to keep knee on belly and transition into good position. I notice Im still not using all my weight in north south as he gets up from it once or twice. From underneath I find myself quite mobile and manage to get guard back. Sadly the class is only an hour, but its so hot the work out is still good. We goto get changed and I cant towel the sweat off. Im still sweating!, it wont stop. Eventually my cotton shirt sucks up enough of it. The advanced class begins and I watch the high grades rolling, always interesting. What was particularly interesting today was that Guy Ritchie was one of those brown belts. Im a little star struck but not enough to deter me getting fresh air and a ice cream. When I get back I buy a RGA shirt, cos im a merch whore.

So now for drinks.

We head to a "nice resteraunt" that Andy knows. Andy takes us in the exact opposite direction of where we should be going. We figure it out though and venture on trying to find something good. Its hot. The girls are really hot! how are there so many attractive girls here!? . We walk for an age untill we find a Gourmet burger place. I opt for a falafel burger because Im a pansy, and have a few savanna south african ciders. Here we also meet up with some of the RGA boys, who then start doing ventroliquist dog barking tricks.

This is all followed by more drinks, things get fuzzy, more alcohol is surely the cure. We harrass all the poor females that wonder by us. Andy is a wonderfull drunk.

We drink some more whilst moving on, one of our guys goes missing we figure his gone home. And we start to seperate as we try and figure our way home. Im pretty sure ive missed any chance of a train. Luciano (been training 12 years!) offers me a room cos his awesome, but I decide to try get closer to home and crash at Matts. So we walk all the way back to RGA so we can get a lift from Dean who hadnt been drinking. For some reason I cant remember we go inside Rogers, while Luciano talks to the guy who took our lesson earlier. I take off my shoes and decide that I want to roll. Drunken BJJ is odd and not really a great idea, in any case the new and transformed Matt mercs me as he scrambles out of my sweeps. Finishing me off with a triangle choke.

We bid our farewells, get home and fall asleep nearly instantly.


I play cricket for hours! :( . Not a good cure for a hangover but still good fun.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Reasons why you should

Why you should train in Brazilian Jiu jitsu.

Note this is not an article on why you should train BJJ instead of other martial arts, although it will inevitably compare them on some level.


Its very intensive training, warm ups are going to vary from club to club but sparring is hard no matter where you go. Ive never heard of anyone not getting fitter through BJJ, weight loss is practically guaranteed just through sheer sweat. Whilst BJJ does not rely on strength, your grip and upper body strength will be put through its paces. Check this article and podcast on BJJ related fitness and weight loss: Fightworks Podcast

As a ground grappling art it is very low impact compared to a striking or throwing art (although BJJ does include throws). Even when sparring at 100% you can give up anytime and so injury is very often due to your own ego rather than your partners fault. Tapping is a very important part of BJJ, learning to do it well will go along way in keeping yourself injury free.

If you want to get fit, lose weight, gain flexability train in BJJ


BJJ has a very social and open atmosphere, there is alot of hand shaking, respect knuckles, "hang loose" pinky thumb handsigns and happy conversations. Its very laid back and relaxed. Bow, dont bow, whatever. It is a sport where you are very frequently giving people the oppertunity to break your limbs or put you to sleep, thus it is good policy to keep everyone happy!.

It is also a very competitive atmosphere, you are paying in cash, time, sweat and blood to get better at grappling. You want to beat your opponents. You want to win the competition. Along with the happy atmosphere I see this as a great strength, everyone is constantly helping each other and trying to push you to improve.

You are also promoted based on performance. If you can regularly beat the blue belts, pow! your a blue belt. So this means all the white belts are always gunning to beat the blue belts, the blue belts dont want to seem weak so they have to keep trying to improve to beat the experienced up and coming white belts. And they are gunning to try and beat the purple belts!. So their is a constant element on improving ones game, which is the whole point of training!.

Practicality/ effectiveness:

BJJ does not believe in not stepping up to a challenge, it was made famous through a baptism of fire taking on any challengers from any art (see the early UFC's and challenge videos available on youtube). It didnt always win, but it always improved from it. It is not an ancient art, it is modern and is always trying to improve itself. If a technique does not work, it is not used. Bad techniques will not survive the process of validation. BJJ relies on leverage and simple body mechanics.

Ill avoid using cliche statistics, but Im sure most of you would of noticed a great deal of fights at some point going to the ground. From there BJJ can neutralise the size and strength of an opponent using little of your own. BJJ can also allow you to stay on your feet when in a multiple attacker scenario, where going to ground is not a great idea. Unless you live on a drug haven AIDS infested volcano, then BJJ is one of the most practical martial arts their is.


BJJ tests itself through competition, which is a great process of learning and pressure testing yourself. The rules will vary but will typically highlight positional dominance, always winning automatically via submission. The sport is growing very fast and is practised world wide, if you enjoy a sporting and competitive art then BJJ ticks all the boxes.

From its inception, BJJ has been linked with MMA organisations such as the UFC (mainly due to its effectiveness). Many MMA athletes will crosstrain in BJJ as their grappling art of choice, its impact on the sport is undeniable.


It is rare that I come across a BJJ student that hasnt migrated from another art that they have become dissatisfied with or lost interest in. It is a cynical martial art, everything is pressure tested. All claims to skill will be tested. You cannot fake being good at Jiu jitsu. Their are no 20th Dan 10 year olds. It is a great art that I and many love, there is an ever present air of energy where you know you are learning something usefull. You will get fit, have fun, learn self defense, compete in a great sport and make good friends.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Small thoughts and pain

Just a small entry on some recent thoughts and happenings.

Recent status:

My mystery injury from cycling seems completely gone, cardio is good, strength is feeling good to. Am eating to much dairy and drinking to much beer. Hair is shorter, guillotines easier to escape :) .

Sparred more often now with Chris, our in house power house. His not the biggest, but pound for pound probaly the strongest and best out of us (by my measurements anyway). He plays an open guard game with a very good scissor sweep, his strength is keeping you under control even when he is completely stacked and you are moving to side control. He also doesnt get tired and is patient. Am looking forward to seeing him in competition. He has inspired me to try use more open guard, using what Ive learnt from how he controls me.

Same session I catch an elbow on the bottom of my eye, it bruises up but it goes well with the hair and now I dont have a problem getting a seat on the train. Had problems subbing a guy I usually throw armbars at will on, which is great. Really am genuinly happy when I see such a noticable difference in people who Ive been training longer than. Main thing I noticed was he was keeping his elbows in and keeping my hips down. I used this as an oppertunity to try something other than an armbar or triangle. Omoplata comes on nicely but abit messy.

Another one of my compatriots has also noticably improved his guard pass defense, at the cost of being less mobile. But still making it very hard to break his legs open. Which reminds me to give more of a think to guard breaking, once the legs are open I do well but I find it hard to open them. Even with standing or arching back. Giving them an arm seems to be the easiest way but quite dangerous especially now that many of them have caught on to it.

The sit up sweep is now my bread and butter, my go to move, my first move and often my second. This however becomes a problem when they are able to defend the sweep by pinning down with their weight. Their posture is broken, but no sweep. The best and most obvious counter to them basing out to stop the sweep is the kimura but I need to practise it more, as once I grab the wrist the game is up. Sometimes this leads to me then getting the sweep. I feel I could use another confident sweep, scissor sweep seems the next best so Ill need to focus on that.

Sparred Chris again just a few hours ago it went something like this:

I start in his guard, I posture pin his hips and try to feel for space. He grabs my sleeves, opens his guard and goes for spider guard. No problem Ive been watching him, I try and stay low with a sprawl to stop any potential scissor sweep and try keep his feet at distance to try and pass them. He has a good grip on my sleeves, I use the lapel of his jack to try and pin his hand/ break his grip. Kind of works and I try explode into passing his legs, he keeps me close and under control so I cant get anywhere. This repeats itself again again. He tries for a triangle, I defend, gets mount. Dang, he also has my arm. I grip my own jacket as he has a kimura grip. I also become aware I am being video recorded.... . I hide my shame under his legs. He breaks my grip on my jacket and every single bone in my arm clicks as the kimura goes on faster than we both expected. I howl like a puppy in a meatblender. He immediately lets go and I roll about on the floor, laughing hysterically for some unknown reason. He apoligises earnestly and I assure him its not his fault ( I should of tapped when I knew my grip was gonna break). I still find it very funny and am giggling as my instructer checks on me. Ill add the video when it turns up!

I am having trouble touching the same shoulder of that arm, and adrenaline is pretty high still. It does move generally ok though so nothing broken or dislocated. When I get home I ice it...and write this blog. Chris shall now be known as the pole axe of doom (his polish and brings doom).

I was sparring a heavy guy and tried for the golden sit up sweep of gold, he surges his weight forward to counter it as it then straightens me out flat on my back and pins me. He then stops and starts chastising himself, as its something he always finds himself doing. I found this interesting as even though it seemed a good thing to do he was annoyed as he thought it was hindering his progress (quite possible). I thought I should apply this to myself, I know I can do the sit up sweep so maybe I should give it a lil break (against less imposing opponents anyway)and try focus on other things; different sweeps, different subs, transitioning, controling and breaking my opponent down, etc.

In another sparring session I was feeling good on my back, and was working for a scissor sweep from open guard (not spider). We got close to another pair sparring, "carefull guys, mind moving" they asked. "Alright, no sweat" I say as I pull off the best scissor sweep of my life, complete with a lovely mat slapping sound of his back. The timing was immaculate but I was to chuffed with it to focus on how I actually did it that well.

Everyone seems to have their "go to" moves, which I guess characterises their game. But how much point is their in doing this at white belt level?. Forgetting competitions. From what Ive hard and read, we should be focusing on learning all the basics and getting a good level of competency from all positions. I think its ego rearing its ugly head...subtly. Our "go to" moves reward us with a higher percentage of success, which is why we end up using them more and subsequently improving them. But perhaps at the cost of other aspects. Im starting to come round to the idea that I should just try and get good at everything and leave the "game" refining aspects till when Im blue/purple. I think everything will come naturally following this route and will allow a more flexible game plan in comps as well.

Things learnt:

Scrambling is fun but I need to stop mounting people facing the wrong way
Watch out for elbows
Tap early
Think less, train more
Ice is good
Destroy ego, and try focus on my weaknesses not my strengths. Or atleast use my strengths to help my weaknesses.

Do more of this:

In case you cant tell, thats listening to good advice.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Dojo raiding Roger Gracies academy

The other week a bunch of us from the club went down to RGA for a open day event. None of us (except Andy) had been there before so it was abit of an adventure. We met up at the spectrum in guildford, sorted out rides and proceeded to head down and drive through mid day london. Am looking forward to seeing Can, Ollie and Jude again. Especially stoked to get the chance to meet Roger, THE roger gracie. Can is out house hunting! :O

We get their nice and prompt, abit earlier than we had been told to. Then we are told that we were give the wrong time!, we are in fact 2 hours early!.

But we dont let that get us down, we get into our battle gear and throw a medicine ball around and chill out whilst swapping training tidbits. Learnt a nice bit on Muay thai clinch work. We do abit of light rolling as a lil warm up and to have a play with with techniques we want to work on. On looking at the picture I am wondering why I grab his lapel, I dont need to pull him up and I should be keeping his hips down and keep him flat. I know I like to offer it so I can use his attack as a way to pass guard, but their must be a better way.

To make up for the confusion they invite us to join in the beginner class which starts at two. Which was very good of them, however we soon realise that we were gonna have to train for nearly 3 hours. Ollie turns up and he forgives me for writing this blog, good to see him again and plan to see him again at the upcoming comps

The regular guys start filing in as well as some people from other clubs in for the open day. Jude makes his entrance and I was genuinly happy that he remembered me and gave me a very warm welcome. Jude starts the lesson in similar fashion to what Im used to, we then pair up for some drills focusing on side control. I pair up with a woman from another club (sorry I forget your name!). The lesson focused on transitioning between position in side control and from americana to kimura. As well as trapping the arm with your legs, which made a big difference to one of my team mates game ( A very annoying and noticable difference....[he now smashes me in side control]). The lesson was great and we end it by shaking hands with everyone, which as it was the opening day, like 60 people.

We break and talk about the lesson as Roger's shadow descends on us. He is like a jiu jitsu hulk, but with an aura of approachability. He gathers us up for some group photo's, unexpectingly he also awards Nicolas Gregoriades ( of fame )his black belt!!!!. Ive only met one black belt before (Jude), and today I get to meet 5 of them! including Nick getting his black belt. Nick graciously recieves his belt and gives a very very good acceptance speech, quite uplifting. Turns out Nick is also South african, and his brother runs the Gracie Barra club in Cape town!. My day couldnt get better.

So after all this we are then given the go ahead to for the sparring madness to begin. Theres quite a few of us so the instructers and assistant instructers patrol to make sure everyones safe. We go for 5 min rounds then swap. Im determined to try and spar mostly people I havnt met before. But I have some trouble finding an opponent quick enough before everyone is snatched up. I get to spar with Ryan who is our no gi wizard, poor guy is having to don a gi today and is suffering. Give it a few sessions and Im sure he will be adapt and regain his dominance. I then stay on for the 2nd round without break to fight a guy I havnt met, he looks tough but I do well. His good at attacking but leaves enough room for me to keep on re establishing guard and he gets visibly upset. Half way through Judes timer goes off and he tells us to swap position, Im so knackered I go and sit down thinking the round is over. He comes by and asks if im ok, and tells me to go spar. I think 3 rounds in a row! madness!, but then realise Im such a lemon and go over and apoligise to my partner.
I spar against the woman I partnered with before, she is quite determined and strong willed but I impose my game on her, I feel I am using more strength than I should. As normally I would try use more technique knowing I couldnt over power my opponent. At one point I have a full blown triangle on her, I adjust, take my time and pull her head tap. I re adjust, straighten her arm, pull head down and squeeeeeeeeeze, no tap. I forgot to slide to the side so im not straight on to her, but I should be able to get it. I squeeze haaaaard, no tap. At the end of the sparring session I ask what I did wrong, she says she was just determined and it hurt her back more than choked odd, never had a problem with triangles before.
I spar probaly another 5-6 times, doing better than I thought I would. I spar my first orange belt who was at the hereford and brighton comp!. I go against a very strong guy but I weather the storm and he gets tired near the end. I get two "crouching" armbars, during the day. They are on there side and I am crouched over them with the armbar. Their hand pointing to the ceiling, my feet flat on the ground, sitting on their other side, hips facing the wall. Sadly I face no blue belts, gotta try harder for that next time.
Was a great day out, and it was free!. Hope to make the next one.

Im in the photo somewhere...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Extra Brighton stuff

Heres some extra stuff that Ive recently gathered. For more vids see : . Especially Ashley's he does incredibly well and gave me some good food for thought. Watching these videos has given me alot to think about. 3 times if not more I release pressure from north south and side control and my opponents gets to their knees and escapes. Really got to work on that, which is good. I like having something to focus on. Could be a good thing for the future to try get my fights recorded so I can analyse them after.


No semi yet, but that was alot less hectic. Got a better idea on the ins and outs of that fight.


If you have any comments, advice, critique, vague insults PLEASE post them!. I thrive on comments.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Mystery injury

A month or 2 ago I was getting sharp pains in my knee and hip which would wake me up 30 or so minutes after I went to sleep. To help it I walked up instead of cycled my big hill to work, also took fish ols and lots of glucosamine. After a few nights soaked in pain killers the problem pretty much went away with the occasional twinge.

However last night it came back, pretty bad. Pain killers did nothing and I didnt sleep at all. Feels much weaker than before as well, much more uncomfortable during the day. So Ive taken the day off work to let it heal properly, as I think just standing for to long is gonna be quite painfull.

My mom knows a sport therapist she is gonna try get me to meet, probaly best if I dont want this to be a recurring problem.

Im pretty certain the ailment is non BJJ related, but is a result of cycling everyday with incorrect technique/ incorrect saddle height. This is what my research suggests anyway. And yesterday I changed my saddle height so a friend could use my bike, and I cycled back from training pretty fast so that may of been enough to re agrivate the problem.

Wish me a speedy recovery.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Post Brighton

I dont have as clear a sense of where to progress after Brighton compared to Hereford.But I can make an educated guess, everything. I asked my instructer and he said to focus on what is covered in each lesson, which makes perfect sense. As then my focus is more well rounded and I have to work harder at those techniques because my training partners will be working hard to avoid them. In terms of value for money it makes sense that I get as much as I can out of what I am being taught as well.

Mentally I break down my BJJ into a couple of categories:

Guard passing
Take downs

I sort of imagine it as a pie chart, like those nutritional info ones on food packages. For example, my sweep and submissions pie slices are much bigger than my take downs and positioning slices. Which is bad, the ideal I guess would for them all to be equal. Or if anything positioning/control to be bigger than subs.

By far though my defense is my biggest current strength, I dont know if its just because Im used to my opponents strategies and favourite attacks. But I get positioning dominated much much more than I get subbed. Probaly from getting used to being in bad positions so often. I use my defense as my main way of guard passing as well. I do need to watch out for triangles more though.

As a result of cutting weight for Brighton and training up for it my fitness has hit a new level. I feel I can train for hours and can fully recover from being completely gassed in 1 or 2 minutes. So I have the need for training more!

So I will try drop in at Nova Forca in Epsom when I can. Andy doesnt mind and neither does Ricardo, which is cool as the rival club thing is outdated.

Back on topic though, things that I need to focus on. Takedowns, really need more practise at them. I like the idea of inflicting the mental mini victory of taking an opponent down in sparring and comps.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Brighton Grab and pull!

Entered my 2nd competition after 7 or so months of training. Funnily enough named the Brighton "grab and pull". Cut some weight, wore my single weave and entered the under 70kg division - white belt.

I think from having been exposed to a fair few judo comps as a kid has made me quite relaxed in the competition environment. Me and my training partner are revved up, turns out we will be fighting in the same division.

I had decided that even though I do better on my back that I should go for the takedown as default and work position rather than hoping to catch them.

So in my first fight I quickly shot in for a double leg, he sprawls but I insist and get him down and get the points. I take side control and try work to mount, he escapes and we grapple abit at knees. I restablish side control and this time work to mount.

I take both his collars and work a collar choke, forcing my fist into his throat. I was hoping to get him to defend this by giving me an arm so I could armbar. But I force it hard and instead get the tap.

One of my training also does well in my division, winning his first fight by points.

2nd fight -

This has me worried, he is from our closest "rival" club. In his first fight he got the cleanest hip throw (or any throw for that matter) of the tournemount that I saw. Very confident standing and blasted through a not bad looking opponent. My coach tells me to pull guard, I think tomoe nage (stomach throw) and pull guard if it goes wrong, he says pull guard, I agree. So Jude Samuel is our ref (first UK blackbelt) and he gets us going. I take a lapel and immediatly pull guard, I go low as I dont want him to grab my trousers and get the two points. It pays off, by pulling guard low I knock his knee and I unbalance him so I immediately go for the sit up sweep. I hear him whisper "oh shit", I get mount!. But what now..., I sit and solidify my position, looking for a arm. He tries to escape underneath and leaves an arm behind. I take it and secure a reverse triangle. I squeeze with everything I got, unsure on how to fully finish it. He taps!. I run off celebrating my ass off like I just won wimbledon. Then I go check his ok. Turns out as the blood returned to his head it put him out for a few secs.

Turns out he was also the favourite for our division. I feel I was just lucky but am still happy as Ive enver even pulled off a reverse triangle in training.

My training partner and friend does well in his fight, very nearly losing but pulling it back like a pro. I face him in the finals!

I talk to my opponent from the 2nd fight and he seems a great guy and invites me down to his club, I talk to his coach (ricardo de silva) and he seems awesome as well.

(oxford throwdown + Brighton comp = pull guard on judo guys!)

3rd fight:

Vid here, dont know if you will be able to see it.

Am stoked that I get to fight him, not worried if I lose. We are in the final so we secure gold and silver for our club. First gold for the club in fact (only been open 10 months). It was my oppenents birthday as well!, unfortuantly he unwisely had oysters the night before. Before our fight starts the oysters come up and he is sick in the bathrooms.

Our fight starts and I know he has a good guard where he often catches me in triangles. So I pull guard and work.

We roll over, scramble, I pass his guard to side, he escapes, gets side on me, mounts me, I escape, we go at it a few more times.

During the fight my coach is cornering us both! with such comments like "Go for the sub jadon, DONT GET SUBBED MAT!", " Posture Jadon posture!, break his posture matt!". I think I remember giggling abit.

I try a galvao style head rolliepolie guard pass!. We scramble again, he catches me in a triangle.

Luckily I was shown a good escape the day before in class. I hold his knee with both hands, put it to the ground and catdip to break his legs open. It works! Im in zombie mode now reserves are all gone. We scramble again and I get guard. Already tried a few armbars from guard none worked. This one does and I get the armbar and tap!

I dont celebrate so hard this time but am relieved. Best match including sparring sessions Ive ever had. Never given so much. Could of gone either way many times, we hope to fight each other again in the finals of an upcoming comp in Kent. Big props to Matt for putting in such a tough fight after being ill.

We celebrate with beers and birthday cake. Our other team mate got 4th and another gets gold!.

Comps are awesome, met some great people and shall be seeing them again. However when I got my ass kicked in my first comp I knew exactly what I had to do in order to get better and what I was doing bad. Am abit more fuzzy about it this time. But I know I got to work on avoiding triangles! prevention better than cure and all that. Also not sure why I keep on doing my armbar with my shin under their chin.

Trying to keep up

At this point in catching the blog up to recent times, I am training twice a week pretty consistently but it still doesnt feel enough. However I was able to train twice a week because I got a new job even though it does sometimes require me to works lates and miss a session. The bonus is, its not far from where I live. Downside is its up a very big hill. Upside I get to cycle up that hill so it forces cardio training on me!. Downside I get to cycle up that hill and it forces cardio training on me.... . After 2 months it makes a nice difference to my cardio and leg strength, after 3 I feel I am reaping the rewards. I also start a creatine cycle after doing some research to experiment on the effects (recently Ive added protien to this as well). It certainly helps with my weight routine and recovery.

I am feeling in the best shape of my life thanks to BJJ and in excersing to keep up with it. Im also running on occasion, which ive never ever done before. I really hated it to begin with, loathed it. But as I improved and cardio built up I began to enjoy it. The cycling has over shadowed it now as I feel I would be over training if I added running to it as well. I do however try to swim as frequently as possible as I feel cross training is important. I dont think my cricket adds much benefit to my BJJ game, but I love it.

I begin looking at yoga, I have yet to goto a class and instead Ive been learning from a book. However I must someday soon goto a class and learn the postures properly. I certainly underestimated it though.

I start looking at attending another competition, am approaching 7 months of training. I consider the Brighton grab and pull, as the name and location and the stigma of our art is just to much to resist. And it seems like a good step up from the Hereford comp, it is also nice and close. But the weight category best for me seems to be the under 70kg (featherweight), however this includes the gi. At this point I weigh 72kg with the gi so I have to lose just under 3 kilos. I have a few weeks before the comp so I decide to do this slowly and sensibly. Sweating abit more, eating abit better, drinking green tea really helped! and now Im addicted. I drop the creatine as it does cause water weight build up.

Next post: The Brighton grab and pull!

Bullshido Oxford throwdown

This actually happened a month or two before the hereford comp, so quite early on in my training.

I belong and post reguarly on a website called bullshido. A bunch of them organised a training event in oxford, for people to meet and socialise as well as train.

Met Can of slideyfoot fame and got to roll with him, Can (pronounced Jun) is a blue belt at Roger Gracies. I felt I could try out muscle him and try bully him with power. I still ponder the results. Pass to half guard, get put back to full guard, pass to side, get put back to full guard, over and over. Without him using much strength at all, I was moving but no oppertunity came up for me to attack. He has a passive style that I felt was quite responsive making it hard for me to figure out. Fromt his fight I have learnt that good technique trumps strength everytime, even though strength can always help it was if anything a hinderence in this roll. As I was thinking of it as an advantage over a more experienced opponent.

I rolled with a no gi guy from Reading, who looked very athletic. He was like a ghost on me, constantly rotating all around me. He gave some good pointers and encouragement, him and his brother introduced me to S mount. Something I end up using much more in the future.

I roll against a judo guy about my size but perhaps a little bit younger. It dawns on me I cant remember much judo. But I decide to play his game. Bad idea. He doesnt get a mega style ippon but each time he lands in a good position and works for a sub and gets it. It is frustrating, I feel silly. I decide to change tactic, I jump and pull guard rather sloppily. But from there I walk my legs up and secure a loose triangle!, I get zee tap!. Lesson learned, an important lesson that comes up in a later post I may add!

I roll against an older man much heavier, more experienced than I. Blue belt in BJJ, 2nd dan in judo, 2nd dan Japanese jujitsu and a war veteran. Its like being in a comfortable car crash, he destroys me utterly.

I do some San Da (chinese kickboxing) sparring with a guy from a sister club to my old kung fu club, his less experienced and I go for some clinch work and takedowns. Great guy and a good laugh to talk to afterwards.

In the end we trained for almost 6 hours (I think), was good fun and I hope to attend another at some point. Slideyfoot (can) posts a write up of this event as well on his blog.

Post hereford

I decided to come up with a proper training strategy following the feedback from the Hereford comp. I decided to really focus on getting and keeping good position in sparring, subs becoming a non priority. And its the best conscious change to my training Ive done, I felt I made alot of progress in that period. Even when in guard, focusing on controlling my opponent and not opening my legs willy nilly just because his arm is a little high on my chest.

My next focus point was guard passing. I struggle with this and often get caught in triangles. However from this I have unconsciously turned to a suicidal style of guard passing. I give them an arm on my own terms, knowing/ hoping they open their legs to attack it. Then typically I will bring it back safe, stack, twist and pass. Doesnt always work and sometimes I get caught but it is an improvement....I think. I can still pass guard in a more orthodox fashion using the proper techniques Ive been shown, but not as confidently. The style of opponent makes a big diference, some will explode into a sub attempt, some will wait and sweep. Some will break me down bit by bit and make me commit a forced error. Thats the beauty of the game though, I actually feel I personally do better against the more passive guys who try catch you out.

Since the comp Ive also worked alot on getting a sweep from guard, as my attack was abit one dimensional almost going for armbar exclusively. The only problem is its just the one sweep Ive gotten good at, the sit up sweep. I get one of there arms and try control it via there tricep, then I sit up and push my hips up and to the side with the trapped arm. As Im controlling it, they cannot post on it to stop themselves going over. Sometimes they do still get it on the mat and post but if Ive got there tricep I can pull it enough so they dont have the leverage. Weight has no factor in this sweep, and little strength is needed. Even if unsuccessfull just attempting it can can lead to them giving you an arm or leaving something open like a kimura. Its very sneak and Im fond of it, however I will need to add another sweep to the armoury as my training partners are getting wise to it, as they are now with my armbars.

I really feel the comp allowed me to approach another level in my training. So if your sitting on the fence whether to compete or not, do!. I lost both my fights but it really does help your game, as long as you are mentally prepared to accept losing and to learn from it.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


I finally find a comp that I feel I can be competitive in. The Hereford ground grappling comp, aimed specifically at beginners, minimum of 2 fights, only £15, starting from knees. Ace, only slight concern is its very far away and uses an odd ruleset to accomodate other grappling arts competing, including leg locks!. Oh the fear of leg locks, Andy understands our concern and shows us kneebar, and straight achiles lock and more importantly how to defend. I understand why he doesnt want us jumping for kneebars when we are still learning on how to pass guard. I manage to organise a lift and one fine very early Saturday morning and we head off. The party consists of myself, Dean (the driver), Deans danish girlfriend who inflicts swedish pop on us, Matt and Oliver Geddes. Ollie is a blue belt (now purple!) from Roger Gracies and seems to know my Andy quite well, turns out he is a competition machine. We fire questions at him like a gattling machine gun.

Many, many hours later we get there. Me and Matt both enter the under 71 (without gi), Dean enters the under 81 I think, Ollie is under very humorous instructions to fight in a seperate category to us. Funnily enough its open belt, no belt categories.

Im pretty nervous, although familiar with comps from when I trained judo, still its been a long long time. I decide just to meet as many people as I can and to have a good time.

My name gets called and I face a guy I reckon I can take, as mentioned before we start from knees. We slap hands and get to it. As normal I try go for a headlock/hip move where I can muscle myself into side control/scarfhold. It works, but the rules indicate I have to hold a position for 15 seconds to get points!. He escapes, we scramble, I get side control again, he escapes, we scramble, I get mount!. He upa's me over and is rewarded 2 points...., his dead tired but I cant finish him, I try a cross collar choke and he is red in the face but I cant finish. My hands feel like steaks rather than nimble fingers., . Its only a 2 minute round! and it ends. He wins on his 2 point upa into my guard.

Im not happy but Im not that sad either, I saw it as a good fight and learnt alot from it. I really gotta work on holding position!, need to get tighter.

Matt wins his fight in style!
Dean loses his unluckily
Ollie murders his opponent

2nd fight! - I fight a very young lad much lighter than I (weight categories got merged), however id been chatting to him and his twin, they have been studying bjj 6 months longer than I at that point and japanese jujitsu for a few years. We shake hands and get busy. He pulls guard, I decide to use my strength and weight and try crush him using utter bastardness. He is fast and flexible, carries on despite getting stacked and crushed. He throws on an armbar and I tap faster than Gene Kelly on a rainy day. Im out the comp but am feeling good!, Ive really learnt a ton!.

Matt unfortuantly loses his fight to a super fast armbar kid
Dean wins his fight in great style
Ollie is on a rampage, no points against him yet

Dean gets put against a monster who goes from mount to back several times, generally stalling and stacking points but just doing enough to look busy. Not much he can do and is out with me and matt.

Ollie doesnt stop and wins his division with half guard, Ive never seen the like. It essentially looked like he was trying to lose but...won. Easily. Inbetween his fights he rolls with me to keep warm and to give me some pointers. I learn alot. Forget 90% off it, but still use the 10% now. Ollie goes on to win the absolute as well, fighting a very tough pro rugby player in the final, winning by Teepee!.

We celebrate on the drive home with KFC, it makes me drool thinking of it, never tasted better, I lick my fingers...

The comp really hit home how important working on position was, and I have a solid concrete idea on what to improve in the coming months. The drive back seems shorter as we discuss the events. It was an awesome day and I really enjoyed the outing.

Funnily enough one of the first things Ollie asked me (with his beady eye) was if I had a blog, I said no and we complain how silly BJJ blogs are. Little did I know...

Going good

I am a few months in now into my training and am addicted. I now sport a black eagle judo gi, I went for the judo gi as it was cheaper and easier for myself to justify cost wise. Its been a good buy as its also quite light, but I am the only guy in the club wearing it. Ive grown close to my training partners and enjoy seeing them. However my problem is Im only training once a week as I have to work late on the other training night. So I am learning slowly, I know its not enough to advance properly. And I can feel that those who are training twice a week are getting steadly better than me. However my constant online research of techniques and drunken grappling antics with friends is keeping me in contention. But I know it wont be enough. Already I have missed almost all the sessions where Andy has handed out stripes.

Hurrah! I get a new job and now have both days free (mostly), it makes a big impression on my rolling cardio and progression. The gap begins to close between myself and my training partners, I am subbing more and tapping less. My main problem is in keeping good position and keeping my head level. I keep on using spider guard, which I know I shouldnt be playing with. The problem is Im getting somewhat good results. Position before submission still has not hit home.

My confidence is building and now I am scouting to test my skills at a competition, my training partners are going for the Gracie invitational at SENI 08. I think I would get creamed and decide to look for a comp that isnt one of the biggest in the UK.

The beginning

I have been training on and off in various arts since I was 7. I feel most comfortable in life when I am in training. I had not trained for some time since leaving university and my body was reaping the benefits. All cardio was lost, I couldnt run a mile and everyday I somehow rationalised it to myself. I wasnt "fat" I was within my BMI perimeters but I certainly wasnt fit. I include the picture of myself 8 months ago as evidence.

The problem was I didnt feel the drive to train at any of the available centres. Untill I spotted that a BJJ club was opening in guildford which I goto very often. I had heard all about BJJ on the net, watching MMA and talking to people who practised it. I was very motivated, I studied all the videos of techniques I could, downloaded the first UFC's with Royce Gracie, did everything I could to try and find out what I could expect. The thing that really appealed to me about BJJ was how it was made famous through a baptism of fire, pressure testing of the most dramatic kind.

So I organised myself and a friend to go down and train.

Andy Roberts the instructer was friendly, the room was small, the people looked mean. Andy didnt mind us training no gi which was great. We did some drills, it all looked pretty gay but it was fun. All the people in the room looked like they wouldnt put up with training shit that didnt work, they lended some sort of credit to the experience, I fed off it. Sparring time!. I left my training partner for unfamiliar territory.

I got choked, armlocked, sweeped, dominated and mauled. I later found out these guys only had a few months on me!. However my research was soon to pay off. Despite feeling like I was gonna throw up I thought I must be fairing better than my friend wearing jeans. I partnered up with a strong guy, was given a good position as default, and tried one of the cheaper looking subs I found in my prior research. The ezekiel choke, I tucked my fore arm under his neck and my other fore arm across it putting all my weight into crushing the larynxe. Success! I get a tap on my first lesson, even though it was cheap it felt good. I thank the judo gods I trained when I was young, grappling feels natural and fun.

Lesson over, I feel dead on my feet but overjoyed at finding a place to train that will suit my needs.

My friend does not however return.

Why, why, why?

Why am I making this blog?

Well, for a few reasons. To aid my training, for my own entertainment, because some people liked my musings and asked me to and to see the scorn on Ollie Geddes's face. I was also inspired by some of the existing BJJ blogs (, , , ). Without exception though if you really want to read BJJ comedy gold, this diary/thread at bullshido is the best on the net .

I am fresh to the BJJ game, a pure an unsullied white belt. So I wont be posting lots of techniques, as there are plenty of better sources. Ill be keeping my own discriptions of techniques as well to a minimum for the same reason, but will talk about the interesting cases that pop up. Mostly I will be writing about my experiences, musings, thoughts and ideas hopefully in an entertaining fashion.

As of writing this I am 8 months into training, so Ill be playing catch up. I have plenty to write about!, So you wont have to wait long for updates!.

Now a Brief introduction:

I am a 24 year old healthy white male, originally from South Africa but have been living in Surrey england for over 10 years now. I trained in judo for 4 years back in SA, which I thank the grappling gods for every training day. Other than BJJ I play alot of cricket!. I work in outdoor education, so Im always active with cycling, climbing, orienteering, forest schools, challenge courses etc. The downside is my arms are very tanned but everything past knees and elbows is white, Daz white.

I train in Guildford (soon to be farnborough) under Andy Roberts who is a brown belt under Roger Gracie. We have a great bunch of varied guys, which along with Andy is the clubs strength.