Saturday, 31 January 2009

Bringing BJJ to zambia

Arrived in Lusaka after a great 10 hour flight, even got delayed and it was still great. One of the pilots was a friend of the family so I got bumped up. Got plied with lots of cashews and champagne. Was also thoroughly enjoying my book I picked up from WH Smith at terminal 5 Heathrow. Sam Sheridan’s “a fighter’s heart”, which I have since finished. Sam is a mid level fighter but a great writer and his book is about his journey exploring the fighter’s mindset, what makes a good fighter, why do we train to fight etc. And by journey I do mean in the physical sense; Japan, Brazil, USA, Thailand. Whilst giving enough background information so anyone would become familiar with the fighting world. In terms of actual fighting he trains with some amazing characters in BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, Tai chi and meditation. And for most of these I’m not just talking a casual visit, he becomes friends with these people and becomes part of their circle. Pat Miletiches camp, Brazilian top team, Fairtech muay thai. The book can quite often be brutal as Sam really trains and even explores less desirable parts of fighting (Dog fights, cock fights, boxing conditions) but does so in a very professional neutral way. I don’t want to give too much away but pick this book up; it’s really good and not just for the hardcore fight fans. Completely novice friendly whilst providing great insight for the more familiar.
Anyway back to my trip!

A week in and no problems, I’ve got a good room, the kids are amazing, I love teaching and helping, good food, weather isn’t too bad, the nuns are great fun! And I got some internet access. Now that I’m more settled; in my main duties are teaching the young children (8-10 yr olds) English in the mornings before their school and teaching 4 older boys English in the afternoon (15-18). Their English is good all round but their teachers at school have not been great. Repetition all day long, their English not to great, taking the kids to garden instead! As the teachers aren’t getting paid enough. But most annoyingly no phonetics at all…. Which means when they read they are going purely by the shape of the word, the letters don’t represent sounds to them, making it very difficult for them to figure out new words. Despite this they work hard and some can converse fairly well. The nuns are mostly all polish or Zambian and despite having quite good English they lack confidence worrying to much on their accent.

Sister marieola the head sister asked me to teach them some jiu jitsu, something Im all to happy to do. They are familiar with the idea of judo so Ive used it as a crux in describing Brazilian jiu jitsu. The older boys have really taken to it and as there’s only 4 of them during the day (rest at school) I can give them a lot of attention. I spent a long time really making sure they understood the importance of tapping and respecting your training partners. And so far so good. It looks like I will probably end up teaching them everyday for an hour for 6 weeks, so I think they will be quite competent by then. As they are very flexible, athletic and keen to learn.

In my first lesson I gave them a little bit of history, went over positions, showed them a hip throw and seionage and then briefly gave them idea of what a submission is. Mainly to guage their interest and possible pitfalls. They did great however and really took to it. So now Ive been concentrating on drilling fewer techniques for longer so they can get the details down. They really love it when a technique works with minimal effort. Had a small guard passing roll with each of them where they would start in my guard and then after I swept them I would pass theirs. I wanted to highlight how easy decent technique can make dealing with a potentially stronger opponent.

Outside their rooms they have a lawn with the softest grass ever which has been great for training on although it does add a little bit of friction for the bottom guy. Although we have recently added a carpet big enough for us to practice techniques. Am trying to teach a move and then its defense or counter in the same lesson so they can get an idea of what they have to look out for and the basic options. First case was double leg and sprawl.

Teaching jiu jitsu is very enjoyable but its also made me appreciate good instruction more I think. As I often noticed I am perhaps talking to much/rambling and am not concise enough, sometimes providing to much detail or not enough. But I feel my style of instruction steadily improving as I notice mistakes and correct them. Having to show people techniques in good detail is also great for my own practice.

As they have to pay for bandwidth used here I am not going to upload pictures to the blog yet, when I goto Lusaka (the capital city) Ill find a web café and add stuff there.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


A good day for Obama, a good day for me.

But ill start at the beginning.

Me, Andy and Mike were in early and decided to do some sweating. So Andy devised this killer routine.

3 rounds (2 min break in between rounds) of:

1 minute of each exercise continuously:
  • Pull ups

  • Box jumps

  • Squats

  • 20kg kettlebell swings

  • 60kg dead lifts

  • Sit ups

  • 40kg clean and press

  • Olympic ring press ups

I wanted to give up and do some yoga after the 2nd round but the guys motivated me and kept me going, glad I did.
Beginners lesson covered some good stuff. Single leg pick up and take down, basic armbar, standing pass and control to side mount. Americana. Main difference with the standing pass is that we didnt go one leg up at a time but braced our arms on there body and hopped up in one motion. I liked this as it used up less energy and got me standing much faster, leaving me less open for a sweep. Getting armbared is a slight concern but will have to try it out and see.

Second Lesson.

Before it started Brian jumped me and we rolled. He got on top early and I just went into survival mode, got to his back but didnt control his shoulder and get the hooks in properly before getting rolled over. A very tiring and not great looking 5 mins, although nearly got an Americana from underneath side control.

Same stand and pass but with alot more detail on keeping really tight pressure and making sure they dont put you in guard. Key to this was always to have their hipped blocked by either your hand or your knee, the knee being more ideal. When in side dont just rest on your knee's, try and keep as few points of contact on the ground as possible to increase your weight on them. Then in side dont just look down but try and move your head so you are looking up, this rolls your chest forward and increases the pressure dramatically. On a 85kg guy it felt like he added another 15kg on easy.

I cant find the hopping up pass but heres the conventional standing pass:

The guy in the vid makes the mistake of bringing up his knee to block the hip but without a hand already blocking the hip, so there is room for for the bottom guy to put guard back.

We then went onto positional sparring starting from side control, then mount. Both went well on top and underneath. Few tiny mistakes where I let people wrap my arm around my neck, no sub but very annoying. Some new Mauricio trick they have learnt. After getting bucked off mightily by Adrian (big strong guy) I decided a different tactic for my next go on him. I crushed him down and curled him up by pushing his knee's in the direction of his head so has to limit his explosiveness using his back. I then slid into mount, woop!.

Underneath mount I went with my usual wiley tactics, getting there foot and then getting half guard and then full guard.

We then did some torture sparring on 3 guys going to the euro's, where we would spar judo style leaving them on even if we won. So they would have to fight around 10 fresh partners in a row. Some very nice throws came through. The brand new kid whose done some judo did a great classical judo trip (cant remember the name of), where he lent the guy into it and caught him off balance. I decided to go for my lumber jack throw (named myself as I dont know the real term). Essentially its a single leg trip. I went for a double leg and he sprawled but I got deep grips. I then stood up, hugged him and curled my left foot around the back of his right calf. I the just put all my dead weight forward and unable to balance he falls back. I landed in his guard. I call it the lumberjack because you essentially just fall down like a tree, standing almost completely straight.

Pro's of the lumberjack:

  • VERY high percentage

  • Easy and uses little strength

  • Quite likely to land in guard or half guard

  • All to likely you will get a mega knee in the balls

  • Will not impress the ladies

Normal sparring went well I went against 2 very heavy guys, both decent as well. One guy who was particularly big I didnt know, a student from Carlsons I believe. He grip fought well and didnt give me much. He passed and controlled but I never gave him anything and got guard back, trying a few things I eventually hit paydirt with a pendulum sweep and went straight into mount before the timer went. One of the biggest guys Ive landed that sweep on, probably around a 20-30kg difference.

Had another match with Brian who controlled me well and gave me no openings, although I got half guard a few times. Wrapped my arm around my neck which was very claustrophobic. But my private lesson survival drill really was paying dividends today.

Next guy is another heavy guy who ive been having trouble with as I can barely close my guard on him. We worked his guard abit before I scramble ended us in my guard. He threw on another of his patent ezekials from inside guard, normally always a foolish mood but this one guy has some magic attributes that stop me from armbarring him. Lights were going dim, going out, Im operating on mobile phone light and he STOPS thinking he isnt getting it. I tell him to put it back on, Im staying calm and I get control of his elbow and get rid of his leverage. I defend his passes and go for a figure four armbar. He is wary but Its a real threat and he rolls. I transfer his arm from my hip (which is the fulcrum) to my inside leg, so as he rolls the pressure remains constant as my leg moves with him and he taps as soon as he stops rolling.

So didnt get subbed today and even when dominated managed to reduce their options and either escape, sweep or get to safety.

Andy lets people know Im going away for 6 weeks to volunteer in Zambia at an orphanage (Im leaving in 4 hours!). He then calls me up and awards me MY BLUE BELT!

Man I was in shock, still hasnt full sunk in. So incredibly happy about it, took alot to get here. It makes me the first blue belt for our club as well which feels even better. In 2 weeks Andy was having a promotion day but since I was gonna miss it he was awesome enough to give it to me now. So will definitely be a few more blues when I get back, so the target wont be as massive on my back. Thanks Andy and thank you everyone at the club, everyone who kicked my ass for the last year and abit taught me how to lose, so that eventually I could win. But now I really gotta work so I can start doing well at this level. The longer I train the more I realise that the amount I need to learn is always getting bigger not smaller. But Ive got the tools to do it and to get to the next step. For the new guys and everyone looking to get their blue, never be afraid of failure. Dont avoid the big guys or the people who you know will beat you, its in overcoming adversity where you will really shine. Its all to often I see that people are their own worst enemy. So its important to relax and have FUN! :D

I am going to try and get some updates about my trip up while Im out there so hopefully wont be long till you hear from me again. Andy has given me support in teaching some jiu jitsu while Im out there, which Im excited about. So should be some interesting updates!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Private 2 and mystery injury

This update is laaaaate. Been getting things sorted for my trip to Zambia, and saying farewells. Missed Mauricio coming down which from all accounts was very good. Had my 2nd private from Andy a week ago as well so my memory is abit hazy. Luckily I wrote down what I wanted to work on!

  • Drill taking back from guard, half guard and all top positions.

  • Survival drill – Mount, side mount, back, half guard, guard

  • Flying armbar

  • Kneebar setups.

To make sure I used every minute I actually wrote down alot more than this, as I thought it better to have to much to work on than to little. Something I recommend to those seeking privates. Alot more practical stuff compared to my 1st one where I just needed lots of tiny adjustments. Time wise we ended up splitting it (45% taking back, 45% survival, 5% flying armbar, 5% kneebar). Ive got some sweeps and Ive got some subs but I find myself rarely going to the king of positions (their back). So I wanted to work on this to complete my triple threat. All the transitions to someones back were pretty similar, with the key being on getting them off centre and staying tight so they couldn't twist back. Another mistake I was making when taking the back from side control was by not scooting my hips high enough. Which meant as I rolled them over to put my hook in their weight went onto my hips and allowed them to gain some control. My pelvis needed to be closer towards their head. We drilled this from virtually every position including under north south (where you roll backwards onto their back). I feel quite strong in this area now and just need to practise it during sparring.

The survival drill was my idea. I wanted to practise pure survival without thinking of sweeps, subs or passes. The idea being so we could focus on the details of defense. Although being subbed over and over is never that fun, the drill paid dividends. I wasn't defending their grips enough, often allowing a deep collar grip thinking myself quite able to defend the cross collar choke. But Andy got them on me several times and even when I did defend them my posture was broken down from the grip and it led to other submissions. Another key point was when under mount I wasn't working hard enough to escape. You may be able to stall in someones guard but its a very different matter under their mount. I think I will make a feature of this drill as its something I think people could benefit from doing.

Kneebars we worked from different positions all sharing a common theme of correct positioning over the victim leg. I shouldn't really be working to much on kneebars I think at this stage but I felt it important that I am quite comfortable with them for when Im expected to start working them.

My flying armbar was corrected in that I was jumping with the wrong foot and without the right grips, giving me a high guard rather than a controlled armbar.

So another good private! - decided to reschedule my 3rd private for when I come from Zambia as Im gonna be russssssssty.

Then did a beginners lesson. Was good :D. Cant for the life of me remember what we did, which is why I have this blog!!.

Before starting the next lesson and a spar with Brian which went quite well. Went for an open butterfly guard Ive been growing fond of and immediately went for a sneaky sweep and then transitioned to his back when he defended it. Woop!. But then I couldnt sub him...and we only had about 2 minutes so I let it go and we carried on. Ending in a stalemate of sorts, good roll.

The next lesson was another good un, I think it was pure sparring. My performance then declined to about 50/50. I was being way to passive and my timing was off for that approach, knowing the problem though I was quite up beat and didnt let it get to me. Managed to pull off some alright stuff so wasn't a whitewash, bow and arrow choke awesomeness. The ones I did lose was mostly things like posting my leg up to stop them going to mount. Then fighting for abit and forgetting about my leg and dropping it to do something else, then POW mounted. In another one I defended an omoplata thinking only of the sub when it occurred to me to late that its just gonna get me swept, which it did. But was still happy and kept at it, nearly landing a kneebar on Ryan before having to let it go.

The main thing that got me down was getting subbed TWICE from someones back. You read correctly reader, from being on someones back... . Two different people as well, first time Ive ever seen this submission. 1st time it was Dorian, went for a RNC and he got control of my choking arm and positioned it so my elbow was on his shoulder. He then proceeded to straight arm lock me by pushing up with his shoulder and pulling down on my arm to straighten it. Andy then did the exact thing to me 5 minutes later. Bizarre!, but gonna try it myself if I find myself in a RNC. Cant find a vid of any mention of it on the net. Long day! 3.5 hours training!

My knee was for some reason very swollen recently, no injury to it and not alot of pain. Its just abit stiff and only hurts when I try bring my foot to my ass. Ice brought the swelling down abit. But is very odd.

Compelling historical evidence on why Fedor is gonna kick Arlovski's ass.

Monday, 12 January 2009

My check list

Im always trying to improve my weak points and refine my strong points but I always do it with a mental checklist, which can sometimes be forgotten in the heat of the moment. So I wanted to put something more concrete down. I keep on working on the different parts of the list till I get them to a level that matches my strengths, thus making a new strength :D. Some parts of the list are more high priority than others. Some might only need a day to work on, others months. For example I have only just got my half guard to a level where I see it as a strength after working on it specifically for around 2 months. But after developing some issues in my passing game it only took a week or so (including a private) to take it to new highs.

Decided to make a concrete physical list after reading a feature on A-game camping at

So essentially this list functions by myself making a commitment to using and practising these techniques rather than my A-game. My A-game will still get practise regardless as some tough guys will give me no other option. Practising stuff on the list will without a doubt lead me to getting tapped and dominated more, but it also without a doubt make me a better grappler. Gotta think of the big picture!. Kick the ego to the curb.

The stars indicate priority. Have also added time expected to take to get them to the level I want. Depending on how things go this could take longer or shorter than expected.

The list as of today:
  • Taking the back from guard, half guard and top positions. **** (2 month+)
  • Achilles lock and knee bar setups.** (under a month)
  • Maintaining knee on belly.* (month+)
  • Specific pressure on the diaphragm.*** (under a week)
  • Omoplata's.*** (under a month)
Ill try give status updates as they come up regarding this list. Like I said earlier some may take days and others months. Im already pulling off a few Achilles locks but I want to make my setups more subtle, same with the knee bar. Taking the back is something I dont find myself doing enough of but have recently started playing around with armdrags and getting there from half guard. I really want to get this to be a major staple of my A-game. I want to be able to maintain knee on belly and crush my opponents soul rather than be forced to transition. Diaphragm pressure is also something Ive been recently specifically targeting, so just need to be automatic in the position of my pressure. Omoplata's I think are great as can lead to other subs, sweeps and transitions to top. Not to mention the actual omoplata finish.

Recently stumbled upon Roy Deans articleson being a Uchideshi for a year. Which is a live in student essentially.

Roy Dean began training in martial arts at the age of 16 when he moved to Japan as an exchange student. While there he received his shodan (first degree black belt) in Kodokan Judo.

At age 19 he began training in Aikikai Aikido under Kalvin Koshiyama, eventually serving as uchideshi (live in student) under Julio Toribio. By age 24, he had received his shodan in Aikikai Aikido, and Enshin Itto-Ryu Batto Jutsu (Iaido), as well as a sandan (third degree blackbelt) in Seibukan Jujutsu.

Training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu began under Claudio Franca in 1997, where he received his blue belt. In 2000 he began training under Mr. Roy Harris in San Diego and was promoted to purple belt in 2002, brown belt in 2004, and the prestigious black belt in 2006.

So some genuinely very interesting stuff, not to mention the real life stories contained in the articles.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Lots of sparring, good times.

Saturday training was awesome. I was expecting to feel scummy due to the vaccinations but felt good, was huffing and puffing abit more than usual cycling there. Warm ups felt killer as well. I arrived early and took the beginners class. Did some throws and a submission sequence. Armbar to triangle. I really do like these beginners classes as its really handy going over these techniques and realisng what needs improving etc. On my armbar I need to clamp their arm down abit better and keep my hips up, which Ive been recently doing but its not drilled into me yet. On the triangle, making sure I get the back of my knee solidly on his neck made a big difference. Andy nearly tapped me just with the pressure from the one leg.

Next lesson!

Pure sparring, due to the upcoming euro's. We did positional stuff (guard, sidemount, full mount, back) shark tank sparring, and normal full sparring. Everything felt great, I was in an awesome mood and felt everything I had worked on in my private with Andy fully internalised. Didnt think I would respond this well to the private format. I feel like I have just gone up another level to what I was only the other week. Just need to get the balance of aggression and relaxation right now.

I wont go into every match as it would take to long but Ill note down the main bits.

Position sparring:

Defense was solid, passing felt like I was dictating the terms. Even managing to pass spider noodles without even a whiff of a triangle. Defended the double underhook pass a few times by making my hips very heavy. And limiting their arm movement. Faked an attack and then pulled off a pendulum sweep. Half guard sweeps are still high percentage and got to a guys back. Sit up sweep is still trusty, pulled off a kimura when one was defended.

Matt tapped me with an armless triangle!, I was to overconfident I was safe and got stuck in it and while he was working on a arm I ended up in abit of a neck crank. Shoulda made him abit more uncomfortable there I think, didnt give him a reason to try turn it into something else.

Replacing guard still getting me out alot of scrapes when things go wrong.

Side control:
My weakest point of the day but still enjoyed it, got guard back a few times and kept active. But did get mounted. Got drawn into guard as well. But was still pretty happy, staying on my toes alot more and moving with my opponent.

Escaped several times with the same technique. Using my foot to get hold of theres then passing it over my leg, so I can shrimp to half guard. Then shrimping the other way to get full guard. On top my new base continued to shine and the trusty cross collar choke never let me down.

Me and spider noodles had a good battle from here, his body triangle was very uncomfortable. He got me in the end. On attacking I used a bow and arrow choke, which is Plan C if RNC and clock choke dont work. Saulo Ribiero's Jiu jitsu University advice helped in defending my back. He has a survival posture called the scoop, where you hanker down and guard your neck. Worked very well. Allowing me to relax and time my reversals. Lee nearly made me throw up on myself from his body triangle. Went for a foot lock which I didnt get but wasnt far off.

Shark Tank (6 minutes - new partner jumping you in whatever position you are in every 2 minutes)

Being relaxed really helped my cardio here. Got Adam with a straight arm lock from half guard, which was a nice improvisation. Adam got me with an armbar where I verbally tapped forgetting he was deaf!. Me and Matt had some good tussles, landing a few sweeps on him but neither of us getting the tap. MMA Adrian literally flung me from mount across the room into the wall. Massive upa. Sweeps, especially from half guard really helped here. I think I shoulda been a little more aggressive on the submission front as I found myself to worried about getting tired.

  • Balance relaxing and aggression.
  • Need to work on alternative subs from the back of a no-gi opponent other than RNC. As my normal Plan B and C need a gi. There is the armbar but it risks losing the position.
  • Look at more subs from half guard.
  • Make sure to work more sub/sweep combo's.
  • Arm drags are paying off, use them more.

Friday, 9 January 2009

On the rise, De la riva and diseases,

Things are going well, oh yes.

Today I went to the Docs to get vaccinations for my trip, so by the time I was going to training my arm was really hurting from the mini war being conducted therein. But it didnt seem to impair the muscle function at all so I ignored it. Apparently tomorrow Im gonna feel shit though, so will have to see how training goes then.

Todays training focused on De la riva guard, he didnt invent it but I like the name so Im sticking to it!. We did a series of 3 sweeps, all shiny and awesome. Going down in percentage, is it strange that I much preffered the last 2 though?.


From the De la riva position grip the far away arm, sit up and put it towards the leg closest to you . Grip it with your other hand thats passed under their leg. With your free arm grip over their shoulder or top of the collar, whichever With your foot on their far knee you push them out and roll them down and over their shoulder. As you have taken away their posting arm and unbalanced them with your legs.


You do this after they have pulled their far arm out of your grip. So focusing onto their other arm.

This one you do if they pull both sleeves free.

Sit up and hug their knee (sitting on their foot). Swing your foot that was on their knee underneath there legs and stand up, taking the single leg as your swinging foot brings it up.

We then did sparring with the condition that we start with De la riva and going to full closed guard counted as a loss. As is if they pass my guard. I like open guard and I can keep it, but I find it very hard to sub my opponents using it if they are standing. If they are lower down then armbars, triangles and omoplata's are plentifull. I dont have big long legs and I find de la riva difficult but thats more reason to focus on it, and I love sweeps so its a must for me.

First I had to pass though! - which I like. I like to get low and close while keeping my hips away. Then I work a pass normally using some sort of underhook, although I do switch directions and/or chain pass attempts together depending on my opponent. My new found base felt solid and there was no way I was getting swept or submitted. Prevention rather than cure is my motto for dealing with subs and sweeps.

Now I was on my back starting with de la riva. First guy comes in and he quickly tries a knee through the middle approach, going for pressure. I shrimp away sit up and sweep him backwards, holding a sleeve so he cant post. We decide to be cheeky and go again as he was abit confused why he did that. This roll is alot harder with him getting double underhooks a few times. But Im good at defending them as I keep my hips heavy and keep active and work on breaking his posture. When he did pass I kept enough room so I could quick get my legs back in the way. In the end got him with a half guard sweep where I sat into him again.

Next guy is another tough dude, and he goes for underhooks as well. I defend and we go for quite a while but he wears me down and gets the pass where I cant re establish. I definitely needed to push him away abit more with my legs and pull him down with my sleeve grips. At one point I duck underneath one of his grips and get all the way to his back but I dont put in a controlling arm and he spins into me. At one point I was trying to lock his leg straight so I could sweep him backwards while he was standing. But Andy pointed out the way I was trying to do it was Illegal (atleast at my level) as it was endangering his knee to much as I was trying to get the angle. Something which a ref has warned me about mid fight (Brighton) thinking I was going for a submission.

So back to the que with me anyway.

Back on and Im passing again. Big mma guy, good solid defense passing but still learning the ropes on his back. I break grips and get control, slight opening for a triangle but Ive got my eyes on it and my arms are in safe. I go one way and he shrimps so I quickly duck underneath his leg and go the other way, he plays catch up and I swap again with some nifty footwork. I get side control and he bucks hard to escape but my new found pressure keeps me stable and in control. Andy tells me well done. He doesnt give out compliments on technique cheaply, so it meant alot to me.

Back to my back!. Adam comes in, and is in my opinion one of our best passers. So I gotta work hard on this one. He keeps very good pressure and negates my angle of the de la riva, very nearly passing a few times I goto half guard to slow him down. Ive only just got him by the ankle. But I get control of his other foot and I sit up and take him over backwards, sliding into side control for the sweep. Very chuffed with that.

Big Lee steps up. And I chuckle at my impending state of discomfort. He chuckles to. Buzzer goes! whew!

Normal sparring next up.

I do well and dont get submitted or swept, but perhaps abit to laid back. I dont land anything fantastic. Have noticed that Ive been sparring newer guys recently. Nothing conscious perhaps my body is being sly in making me lazy. But I really noticed how much I get out of sparring some of these guys. Its given me a great opportunity to really notice tiny details of my techniques, and a great chance to work on stuff Im less familiar with. Ive also recently had the confidence to let them pass and even get mount, so that I can work escapes and defenses. Today was even happy with them putting on a few subs and then countering or escaping. Mostly Guillotines oddly enough. Slowing everything down has really put a magnifying glass over myself. Tapped one guy from mount by putting in the leg vines and using my pelvis to crush my weight down on his diaphragm, which is a novel first. I could get used to this "pressure" malarkey.

Even with guys my own level now Ive kept this chilled out demeanour, sometimes I think its abit to relaxed but its really helped my mental game. Im much more aware of myself and them. Definitely feel my game on the rise.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Privates, Zambia and chilling out

One of my christmass presents was money for 3 private lessons with Andy. Ive had a few issues which have been turning up time and time again and want them sorted. So the timing is good. Gonna have them each tuesday for 3 weeks so Ive got time to work on the stuff covered each session. Tuesday is always a long training day for me. I arrived at 4pm and got on my train home at 10pm.

This first private was more theory based than anything as I wanted to cover all the things that have been niggling at me. And often they just needed some specific advice or demonstration to fix. The triangle problem was my big concern.

Turned out what I was doing was focusing to much on my hand that was closest to my body. Keeping my other arm at a safe distance to avoid armbars I didnt think to much about it. I use these two grips as a base from which to go for most of my passes. I figured if I made sure they couldnt get my close arm under their legs then I couldnt get triangled, which is true. But its also a very easy grip for them to break and control. Which leaves my far arm that enables the triangle. So Andy got me to keep it much much closer, so I can dive it under their leg if they try go for the triangle. And also be able to protect the other arm.

We then worked on adding more pressure to my top positions, mainly side control and mount. In mount by putting my feet on their hips, widening my base and pushing my pelvis back. These things definitely made me feel heavier. In side control I needed to have as little of my body touching the ground as possible. Driving my weight 45 degree's through their chest. Important to still keep tight and to block their hips, but instead of resting on my knee's to rest on my toes. This made a big difference, need to drill it alot so I do it automatically though.

Another big concern was keeping my mount whilst working a submission. By leaning over to the side rather than staying upright and in the middle it gave me a MUCH better base. With the example of a cross collar choke I could then get one hand in, move over to the other side. Slide my arm to open up their neck and get my other grip in to finish the choke without giving much room at all to get rolled off. Must remember to get high up as well to minimise their upa.

Ive taken to controlling people ankles recently, which is good but I often control the wrong one!. So must remember to control the leg in which Im turning into, to avoid getting put it in guard.

I need to take my time a little more in dominant positions, I keep on jumping the gun abit early. Which is allowing room for things not to go my way. Especially in turtle I find myself sometimes going for the rnc without having my hooks in, so I get rolled over.

We worked abit on chaining moves together, sweeps with other sweeps in case the 1st is blocked. Submissions with sweeps, subs with subs etc. An example of which is going for the armbar, underhooking their leg and if they block it turn it into a pendellum sweep.

Worked a guillotine defense as Ive become to reliant on the von flue choke, so Ive not been stopping the guillotines from happening. The von flue is great but it cant work if I can get out of their guard, and once Im on the opposite side of their body they cant put on the choke anyway. Essentially it was guarding my neck with one hand diving my arm underneath their shoulder so that I could stack shoulder pressure into their chest while looking up. This motion plus the pressure leads to them letting go of the guillotine.

Andy noticed I sometimes keep to much distance when ontop, and do not push my hips down enough. Something Ive noticed alot in my comp footage. This is sometimes due to getting straight armed in my hip. So we worked on shimmying the hips so that hand slides off. He also showed me how remaining static on top was not going to work and that you had to move with them to always stop any space being created. People are pretty wriggly, not eel or ferret wriggly but wriggly enough that a big heavy lump is not gonna stop me inching my way into making the space I need.

Other things we covered were:

  • Finishing omoplata's by scooting hips out
  • Pendelum sweep variations
  • Turtle attacks
  • Attacking stalling opponents in my guard

Alot of what we covered we got through pretty quickly as some only needed tiny adjustments. But they really helped. In the next privates Ill be asking to do more drilling and specific sparring on some of these issues.

We then had a final roll so I could work the stuff we had talked about. Felt good but itll take some time to fully get that top pressure down. I lost...but not by triangle :D .

The guys arrived for the beginners session, but I opted out and ended up talking to two prospective new students, giving them info on the club and the art.

In the next lesson we drilled some throws and worked on getting the armbar when the opponent stands up. Breaking posture and keeping tight while you walked your legs up their back was key, otherwise they would pull their arm out. Getting your leg over their shoulder before swinging it over their head to keep it as tight as possible.

We did some positional sparring and I was committed to being chilled out today. Which really paid off. No one got close to sweeping me. Passing took abit longer but I felt more in control and safe in their guard. People still passed my guard as I was perhaps "to chilled" but I was alot more conscious of what they did right and what I did wrong and it didnt bother me at all. Chris passed really well as I shrimped to block his hip but went to the wrong side, his base didnt give me any openings for sweeps. I do need to try standing up and passing abit more though. One of the guys stood up to pass my guard and I flung the omoplata sweep on him instinctively, which worked perfectly. But I was to happy with myself for the sweep and got caught in a reverse triangle, but I kept cool and postured out of it to secure top position.

In full sparring I went with a new guy called Bunny, who was a nice chap and abit bigger than me. Showed him the beauty of sweeps (sit up, butterfly sweep and half guard sweep) and finished each time from mount using my new found base, which made me feel really solid.

Next was Terry who I decided to keep relaxed and to slowly work his guard and then to explode when 30 seconds was called. Early on he got on top but I made sure I didnt give him much to work with and I slowly inched my way back into his guard. Where I kept myself safe whilst trying to work him open. I exploded and passed but he kept me at bay and never stopped moving, putting me back in guard twice. I was still happy as I managed to explode fully but kept a level head and didnt go after any 50/50 sub chances.

Had my usual session with Nick after who is really coming along, his got a pass that his been working hard on getting good at. Its a knee through the middle pass. He went for some guillotines and kimura's, some of which got close but I managed to escape.

So in the end via combination of being chilled out and the private my base seemed really solid and I defended everything. And not one triangle got setup on me.

Zambia!. Im going to Zambia for 6 weeks, leaving in 2!. Im gonna be volunteering at an orphanage at there. So should be a great experience, the person whose organised me going with the orphanage wants me to show them some jiu jitsu. But am not 100% if thats a great idea, all depends if theres the space, the interest and the right temprement. With the language barrier I think I would keep it to positions, sweeps and some judo stuff. But we shall see! . Ive done a quick look on the net and I think the chance of a BJJ club is very slim. But they MUST have a judo club...

So Im gonna come back rusty as hell for the next bunch of comps but its gonna be a great experience. My chief worry at the moment is that I might miss Mauricio coming down to give us a lesson and hopefully see some of the guys get their blues. But I seem to be naturally lucky so Im sure itll work out.

Congrats to Christian Graugartwho won this years Fightworks podcast bjj blog of the year. I urge you to check his blog out as he has some really great stuff on there. Im gonna take a leaf out of his book and try put some pizazz into this blog.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Back on the mats!

Tuesday, Friday and Saturday lessons both dealt with open guard and quite abit of sparring.

Tuesday focused on the bull fighter pass, where you hold their knee's and pin them together and then pass round the side. Then a variation where you triangles your legs around theirs to secure mount. The counter I really loved though. Before they pin you securely you sit up and grab their tricep, you then pull as you shrimp to the side so they land in your open half guard. But you carry on pulling yourself up with the momentum and take their back. Used it a few times already in sparring and worked a treat. I just need to work on securing the back position with the other hook so they can just turn into me and end up in my guard.

Sparring was good but I was getting very preoccupied with my performance and worrying about how well I was doing. Which meant I ended up with sub par performance, maybe it was because it was the 1st lesson back from Christmas. But I felt sluggish and not as freewheeling as I normally am. Got triangled again... . On a plus a pulled off 2 omoplata setups using an overhook collar grip, my opponent just snuck out though while I was putting it on. More control needed!

Friday's was more open guard and lots of sparring. Writing this I think I was not enjoying myself, Im gonna relax alot more and forget about trying to always put in a good performance. Technique wise we did the open guard tripod sweep.

In the event they counter by stepping their foot back, you switch grips and grip their other foot. You then use your foot thats on their thigh to sweep the other leg in a scissor motion. Coming up with momentum.

Sparring did not go well. Was getting abit stressed at the silly mistakes I was making, more triangles!. I even got submitted in my guard! the one thing I tell everyone not to do and I get done in by one. He was a big guy but thats no excuse, his hand shouldn't of got that deep and I should of not let him pin me flat on my back. Should of been an easy armbar. Did have a good roll with one of the guys though, where sweeps were coming off well and I felt dominant. Still giving up to much room though.

Saturday we kept the open guard theme going lesson was more sparring and conditioning orientated as we build up to the euro's. Using the shark tank technique where you get a fresh partner every 2 minutes for 6 minutes. Then after that you form part of the rotation for your partners. Got triangled even more!, found myself uncharacteristically frustrated and angry at myself. Plus side was a I managed some good passes, transitions and a Achilles lock. Still need to work on my control from dominant position though, am getting side and mount often enough but am losing it to easily. My heart was down and my will broken as I sparred some more, but I was having to think to much. Taking to much time for simple moves that are normally instinct. Oddly enough my half guard sweep has never once let me down in this period, and the sit up sweep is making a strong come back.

Cant find an adequate video of my half guard sweep so Ill describe it. Cant remember if it was shown to me or if I just found it by accident. Pretty sure its a classic normal sweep though, just dont know the name of it. Get the underhook and crouch down as normal. My right leg is crossed over the trap legs knee joint, with my left leg crossing over my right legs ankle. My right hand is on their knee or on their thigh. I roll towards my right abit more, scooting my ass out a little. They normally post on their right side despite the sweep not being very threatening. I then suddenly roll to my left to end up on top. Their right arm is normally around me head blocking taking their back is often not at a good angle to post in order to stop the sweep. If they do post then just roll to the other side with your added momentum.

Found this great highlight vid I want you guys to check out. Its an MMA best of 08 highlight. One of the best highlight vids I have ever seen.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Armbars in the new year!

Happy new year!

Due to not being able to train over the christmass holidays and perhaps partly due to some small amount of alcohol new years eve. I ended up wrestling about with my friends and brother, who were all convinced of their striking superiority versus jiu jitsu (and their superior size). I kept my brother close so he couldnt slap me around in my guard and then quickly rolled into an omoplata which I finished. At this point I realised I should probaly tell them to be sensible and tap.

Tom who is nearly a foot taller than me and weighs probaly just under 100kg's was next. The last little roll we had was when I had just started BJJ and Tom choked me unconscious (I didnt tap). Tom was allowed strikes this time, and was very wary. He went for a soft punch to the head, I shrimped out the way and grabbed his tricep and swung my hips up for an armbar. I put it on but he immediately went to work on pulling it out. So I converted it to a triangle, but he postured up so I returned it to an armbar. This time I didnt want him to escape so I put it on abit harder (more than I should have). His arm made 3 very loud clicks and I let go, despite not tapping. Luckily no real damage, but I felt bad about the lack of control. It was also at this point we realised that the little competition favoured me heavily. As I can go full out balls to the wall, but they didnt really want to knock me out or cut me. Did have a very small cut from my lip catching my teeth from one of Toms knocks. At one point he did have me open for a big hit but without actually doing it, I claimed it as a moot point. With training I think Tom would be a natural.

Adam was convinced he could hit me whilst I had him in an armbar, and that punching me in the head would make it to painfull for me to break his arm. I very passionately argued that this would not be the case. He then tried to show me his armbar defense which was essentially stacking me and punching me with the other hand. I tried to explain that you HAD to get your arm safe as a priority. And showed him my defense. He tried his and I just rolled into a belly down armbar. I then showed him how to do an armbar to show it from the bottom guys point of view. I then defended correctly, he scrambled and I took his back and put on a RNC. At this point I decided not to wait for the taps as stubborness was gonna cause more injuries.

I would of prefered just going for sweeps but there was not enough room in my lounge. Another interesting point I noticed was how they never sought to pass my legs, thinking them unimporant. I wish there was a way of quantifying cognitive grappling ability (without competition).

Is it possible I got the first tap of 2009!? Fingers crossed.

Here are my new year resolutions for Jiu jitsu:
  • To annihilate all traces of ego that are creeping into my game.
  • Medal at atleast 3 big comps
  • Tell someone something that really helps their own jiu jitsu game
  • Develop an unbreakable will
  • Start doing yoga consistently

This is actually the first half of 2 posts as Im trying to cut down on the giant walls of text.

Heres to what the new year brings!

I dont think his technique is quite right though...heres my improved version: