Saturday, December 31, 2011

Meditations on Dream, Or

the nightmare of not a single fight in UFC 141 meriting a Submission of the Night bonus ...

NEW YEARS EVE, Burien. I'm watching the Dream broadcast for New Year's Eve (24 hours afterwards) and not missing elbows on the ground for a minute.

Truth told, vale tudo > MMA, as far as I'm concerned (and I love MMA). So my vote against elbows on the ground in MMA has nothing to do with a tenderness of spirit. But to the extent that MMA is a "sport" rather than a "fight", I think banning elbows on the ground in MMA would create an even more watchable "sport" than the one we have now (especially when it comes to ground fighting).

Ever since MMA fighters were allowed to wear gloves, MMA stopped being a "fight". Sometimes I try to imagine what the functional equivalent of "gloves" would be for a jiu-jitsu fighter or a wrestler. No slamming to escape a submission? No standups and too much "dancing" on the feet stopped and "restarted" on the ground or in the clinch?

Just sayin'. Back to Dream. Go Crusher.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Road Back for Big Nog

Minotauro Back to Light Training
Twelve days after undergoing surgery on his right arm, having had it snapped by Frank Mir at UFC 140, Rodrigo Minotauro was already back to light physical training. According to his trainer Luis Dórea, the former heavyweight champion is already pedaling away on an ergometric stationary bike in the United States, where he is recovering from a surgical procedure to correct a fractured humerus.

Better Not Pout I'm Tellin' You Why ...

Caio Terra's Comin' to Town


Who is Frank Mir?

With apologies to the fictional industrialist ...

Where Does Frank Mir Rank Among MMA Grapplers Now?
Over his career, Frank Mir gave us three of the best submission finishes ever seen on the heavyweight level in mixed martial arts. I see his technical skill, obvious horsepower and respect his ruthlessness in victory, but wonder if there are caveats with his victories. Are they as impressive as they seem? Where does Mir rank among the landscape of MMA grapplers - or even within the heavyweight division itself?
Full disclosure: As someone who was born-again into jiu-jitsu after spotting Frank Mir on the cover of Muscle and Fitness eight years ago, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the guy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jiu-Jitsu Resolutions for 2012

1. Consistency

A training top line of >80x from January 1 through July 30 to set a new training year record of >147 training sessions, averaging >3x/week.

2. Focus

Southpaw passing. The "Toquinho". Lateralus/Sagittal.

3. "Sound Body"

Pre- and post-training conditioning/stretching a la Carlinhos, a la Jordan, a la Ali.

Frank Mir's Box of Toys

"Box of Toys" was allegedly Jack the Ripper's chilling reference to his victims during his reign of terror in 1888.

In a twisted way, Frank Mir's reference to the breaking of Nogueira's arm as a "bag of chips" almost felt like a civilized version of same.

Mir Talks Nogueira Injury

UFC 140 Judo Chop: Frank Mir Uses a Kimura to Break Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's Arm

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black Belts Bowl Overhand!

I'm warming up the bones for a treatise on being a two-week black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The theme is perspective.

There's a saying that a high school senior is more mature than a college freshman. In my not-always-obviously-humble-opinion, not every new black belt has always kept this in mind.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I could not be more thrilled, motivated and grateful to train with the folks I've been able to train with over the past six-plus years. I think about my teammates. I think about what some of the black belts have told me over the past few weeks, and how they've trained with me over the past several years. And I tell you what: I hear a lot about what a lot of people around the country put up with trying to learn jiu-jitsu. And from a certain perspective, training at GB Seattle since 2005, I have it easy. No drama. No nonsense. All I have to do is work hard every day. And I grow.

You know when it hit me that I had really earned a black belt in jiu-jitsu? Not when Prof. Rodrigo first put it on (I was too scared to look down, for fear it would turn into a snake like in The Ten Commandments), but awhile later when I had finished a little training and was back in the locker room getting changed. I had just wrapped my gi jacket with the belt (as I've done for years) and tucked it into my gear bag with the rest of the sweat-heavy gear.

I'm standing there, looking down into that same gear bag I've been toting back and forth to training for years, to tournaments, to seminars ... that same torn, re-stitched and gorilla-taped gear bag hauled back and forth to Bonney Lake, Fife, Tully's location, Airport Way, Bellevue, Ballard, Olympia ... and I'm asking myself: What is that black belt doing in MY bag? Wrapped around MY gi jacket, next to MY towel, MY knee brace and rashguard?

It's a silly little image that I'm still getting used to.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Here and There

I've literally been writing my brains out for The Daily Planet since October, and many nights after training I simply haven't had the energy to type another sentence. Suffice to say, I've got a lot to type about right now, plenty of here but more there than you might think given the circumstances.

For now, there's this: I am in a near-transcendent state of gratitude and humility every time I arrive at Gracie Barra Seattle. It's a good way to be.

A few changes at the blog for the new year. Nothing that spectacular, but hopefully a few adjustments for the better for all involved.

ADCC 2011 Highlight

ADCC 2011 Highlight from stuart cooper Films on Vimeo.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

A nice working session for training tonight. Prof Rodrigo had us working on specifics right after the warmup: 2 minute guard/pass guard (sweeps only) for a few rounds each, then a few rounds of mount/mount escape, side control/side control escape, and back mount/back mount escape. A break for a few minutes, then another circuit.

I'd love to be able to train this way once a week. As I always say, sometimes you feel as if your brain can't take any more data at the end of the day. And being able to come to the academy at least once a week and just move for an hour or so is really nice. Good working with Joe for the first round and Frank in the second.

Got in some good work in Live Training, also. Ran into an interesting video on YouTube that I'll post tomorrow. It was a guy talking about the three things that most impressed him about the Mendes brothers jiu-jitsu. Any way, a lot of what he had to say stuck with me as parallel to my current aspirations, controlling spacetime and taking the back.

I'm starting my 2012 jiu-jitsu resolutions early, and on a rolling basis. One of them is to do a HICT workout after every class. I'm going to start slow and work my way up to a good level (something similar to what I was able to do with box steps, for example). But most importantly I want to do (a) jiu-jitsu specific conditioning as much as possible, and (b) be consistent in both performance and gradually increasing the intensity over time.

Tonight I did two rounds of 5 minutes of hipscape laps with about a three minute break in-between (HR 34/25, 35/25). The goal will be to work up to two rounds of 10 minutes, with a five minute break. For now, the only exercises that make sense are hipscapes and maybe technical lifts. I'll alternate between those two after each training, get them up to 10 minutes each for a little while, and see how it goes from there.

159.7 post-train (and post-HICT).

Rafa Mendes: Bottom Half Guard with Kimura to Back

Was trying to work on this sweep with Chaim Tuesday night, but couldn't make out the details. Found this video today that makes it a lot easier to see how he gets the roll to the back (i.e., ducking his head back under the kimura lock before rolling upside down.)


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

A good start to the training week tonight. I spent a good amount of time working on techniques with Chaim in the 45-odd minutes before class. Very good work, and something I'm going to start looking out for whenever he's training.

Prof Rodrigo had us working on the standing guillotine to start off with. Then we focused on a guard pass that was similar to the one we worked on last week, where you wedge the closed guard open and then post the guard open with your legs. Tonight we worked on some variations, particularly with the one-hand-under scoop and stack pass.

Some good Live Training tonight, though it felt a lot like a recovery session, as if I'd been off the mat for days. I'll be picking up the pace in the second half of the week, with Friday night's seminar and the Annual Meeting on Saturday morning.

162.3 on the scale post-train. Pretty hefty. Hopefully, I'll be able to shave five pound off that number by week's end.

Judo Chop: Darren Uyenoyama

Behold the glorious Bloody Elbow "Judo Chop"!

This week's feature is of the great back control by Darren Uyenoyama in his winning fight against Kid Yamamoto.

Judo Chop: Darren Uyenoyama's Back Control and What Kid Yamamoto Did Wrong

Interview with Marcelinho

Marcela Garcia Interview with Matt Arroyo of Gracie Tampa South

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mo' Human

Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training: Embrace Your Feral Side.

As someone anxiously anticipating the Singularity, jiu-jitsu is definitely one of the ways I'm enjoying the human animal for as long as it lasts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Combate? Combate!

Some thoughts on competition and its value in jiu-jitsu from Andrew "Goatfury" Smith.

Competing in BJJ or Grappling: Why?
Many students of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu feel a burning desire go out and prove themselves on the competition mats. This is all well and good for those guys, but for the rest of the community who see their teammates compete, or who are dimly aware that competition happens, competing might seem like a more risky endeavor than is worth doing. The nerves that lead up to competition are overwhelming for many; the process of trying to diet or cut weight is daunting enough to discourage many more.
To compete or not compete is ultimately a personal decision. But I will say that if you add competition to your jiu-jitsu, you will be at a quantitatively different place from those who train but do not compete. Not necessarily better - though I'll add that the history of jiu-jitsu is the history of competition - from Helio to Kyra - but quantitatively different.

There's no argument on that point. The experience of competition, win or lose, changes your conception of jiu-jitsu and if you have the right internal and external support in place, competition can be among the greatest catalysts for potential technical improvement you will ever experience.

Scientists think that one of the reasons why humans have so much excess brain capacity - in excess of what is necessary for survival - is part of the same reason why cheetahs and gazelles are so obscenely fast: competition, an evolutionary arms race. I think the same thing is true, on a different scale, when it comes the competitive arena.

Guard Agility Drills: Inverted/Sitting Guard


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Caio Terra and Cesar Gracie: Armbar and Back-Take from Guard


Training Day: Saturday

If Thursday's training was good, then Saturday's training was even better. I managed to start off with some drilling with Enrico - two sets of 10 armbars from the guard, hip heist/crossover sweeps, and armbars from the mount. I've been threatening to begin every open mat session I attend with a set of drills like this and am starting to decide that there's no point in waiting around for an official resolution in 2012.

From there we worked some half-flow/half guard specific, which was also excellent work. The idea again was just to get accustomed to feeling the resistance, focusing on passing and applying pressure with the legs rather than the hands. Again, a nice way to work up to training.

Training only got better from there. After a long rest (longer than I would have liked), I worked into a trio of guard specific with Pat and Casey from California who is going to be managing GB Bellevue. A few other guys joined us, and it was a really good time of training for quite a while. Then, after we'd done several rounds of that, Prof Rodrigo came over with John and Gina and the four of us worked a guard specific drill for several rounds, as well.

Honestly, between the more aggressive training on Thursday and the more focused work on Saturday I feel like I've gotten in some really good work over the past week. It was a reminder of how you don't want to miss more than a day of training if you can, just enough to heal up and rest up. The ways I find my body moving when I am in a good training flow is markedly different from when my training schedule is erratic.

160.2 on the scale, post-train, which is a little heavy for me. But given that it is Thanksgiving weekend, I'll cut myself some slack. With Saturday's training, I will have gotten in 14 sessions for the month, training Monday and Tuesday will make this month my best November in years.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

Open mat today on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. I trained with Prof Carlos, Prof Casey, a new guy Tony and Mike from the olde days. Not a lightweight in the bunch.

With Prof Carlos, I continued to make the mistake in my choke defense that I've been making for the past few weeks. It's actually making the chokes easier for my opponents to finish. With Prof. Casey, the main lesson had to do with not allowing him to control my far elbow because of the way it really inhibits the ability to turn.

Tony was a big turning pass guy. I'll need to spend some more time focusing on countering that attack against the half guard, though my training with Mike afterwards went a long way toward helping me remember exactly how I want to deal with this pass. I'll need to do more to drill the counter; I don't see the pass everyday. But it was a reminder of a hole in my half guard game that is well in need of repair.

And good training with Mike to finish things up. Like I said, a part of it was spent going over turning pass counters. But we also talked a little bit about spider guard (he's got very good length and it's a good guard for him), as well as me not being able to resist showing him my Spin Move (TM).

A good day of training, especially for an open mat, where things can get a little spotty depending on who shows up. And, importantly, I've worked up the appetite for a feast!

159.3 on the scale post-train.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Special Thanksgiving Day Open Mat

Gracie Barra Seattle ... 10 am to 12 noon ...


photo courtesy Professor Flavio Almeida, Gracie Barra Dana Point

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

Missed training on Monday due in part to some lagging aches (shoulder) that appeared last week after the tournament. Nothing too serious. But that odd, "hollow armpit" feeling is very reminiscent of when I had the labrium injury a couple of years ago, so I figured chilling out a bit this week wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.

Good training tonight as part of the fundamental - and it probably didn't hurt that we were working on a guard pass. I especially liked the way that Prof Rodrigo had us work the same pair of passes for the entire class, starting with a few rounds of the initial guard open. I've long been a fan of very focused training, and this is exactly the way I like to train: drilling the same move or two over and over and over again until you "feel" the move instead of just having it in your mind.

The guard pass here was the basic collars/knee wedge open, with the detail of planting the openside foot to both keep the guard open as well as block the potential DLR hook. Keep the other side of the guard open with your elbow from the collars slid a bit lower.

The big key to both of these passes was using the knee of the far leg to drive the guy's far leg back. This move is what gives you room to backstep out of the guard, whether you go for the underhook pass or the stack pass, without getting hung up in half guard. What's nice is that if you miss it, you usually have a second shot at getting your far leg wedged into the guy before making the backstep.

Good Live Training tonight, working with Steve, Ian and Oleg. Trying very hard to avoid holding positions, especially side control, and moving to knee on belly or attacking with the spin move to get to the back.

163.2 on the scale, post-train. My heaviest weigh-in in a while. I'm hoping to make it back on the mat amanha to make up for it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Training Day; Thursday

A quick run-down of Thursday night's training.

Low single off pummel drill
--Reminds me a little of the knee tap. Very nice addition to the basic pummel drill.

Over/under smash pass
--Focused on the entry, the overhooking arm and ankle grab still feels difficult and awkward.

Toquinho with palm facing grip on arm
--Loving this armbar attack from the back. Nice details in the switch to a palm facing grip and pushing the head as a way to control the arm and create space.

Worked guard/pass guard specific w/ Steve and Live Training with Julian. Didn't work the knee cross as I should have and need to maintain the focus of getting to the back.

Roger on ADCC, Training MMA Like a Professional


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Training Day: Monday

The Good: Knee Split Opener to Avellan Knee Pass. Faster transitions THROUGH deep half to sweep.

The Bad: Need to improve controls from Marceloguard. Guys still flying to my side too easily.

The Ugly: Too much holding from side control. Knee on belly or spin move ONLY.

161.3 on the scale post-train. Not too horrible for a post-tournament Monday.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Return of The Man of Bronze

In all relevant respects, Saturday was a good tournament for me. It was not a good performance by any means. As has been the case for the entirety of my competition career, I was hesitant even within my preferred modus operandi: failing to transition to deep half at a critical moment in my first match, abandoning a Flat Pass opportunity mid-start early in my second.

The good news is that the parts of my jiu-jitsu that need fixing, on holistic, strategic and tactical levels - are all in plain view to me. I've always thought that the greatest gift our actions to provide us with is clarity. And in that regard, jiu-jitsu always delivers.

I'll post the videos later. Thanks to Jamie, a great teammate, for the footage. I'm no more a fan of moving pictures of myself than I am of still ones, so I'll admit that I've not been able to watch any of them all the way through. But insofar as this whole project was about the good, the bad and the ugly, there's no reason to spare any of us the spectacle.

A few points on preparation. Things got a little unorthodox and it became easier to do a hard warmup before training than to do my usual - and apparently "warm weather" - conditioning routines at home. I'd still like to take some advantage of the opportunity to do some work during the day. But I'm giving a lot of credit to being at the academy, for training of course, but also as a place to do conditioning, as well. More of that in 2012.

Drill, baby, drill! I had some great sessions with Enrico and some other blue belts that really helped me fix and focus on specific problem areas, especially with the half guard. Honestly, I need to figure out a way to make sure that I do drill at least two moves after every evening class. Mostly I want to drill transitions, like the half to deep half move I failed to do in my first match, and guard passes, getting a better understanding of how the legs and hips move and bend to I can do a better job of escaping them. But there's no secret that drilling is the key to ever-sharper jiu-jitsu. And having seen some of that for myself in preparation for this last event really makes me eager for more.

Very nice camaraderie, I should add, which was great. Meeting the Adamson brothers (Nathan and Zach) who run Seaside Jiu-Jitsu was also a nice celebrity moment, having heard about the great time some of our guys had training down there earlier this year. It's the kind of thing that you know you'll be able to look back on in ten years when jiu-jitsu has really taken off in the northwest and be glad to have known and trained with some of the people who will have made it happen.

All in all, a great day. A lot of exciting matches, including Alex's first place at blue belt heavyweight in an overtime battle. It was that kind of thing that helped bring me back out of my one-tournament retirement. A thousand thanks to you all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Credo

My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young blue-gum
And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting
The God in his mind, creates an ocean more real than the ocean, the salt, the actual
Appalling presence, the power of waters.
He believes that nothing is real except as we make it. I humbler have found in my blood
Bred west of Caucasus a harder mysticism.
Multitude stands in my mind but I think that the ocean in the bone vault is only
The bone vault's ocean: out there is the ocean's;
The water is the water, the cliff is the rock, come shocks and flashes of reality. The mind
Passes, the eye closes, the spirit is a passage;
The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heart-breaking beauty
Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.

--Robinson Jeffers

Training Day: Friday

Scrambled into the academy just in time for Live Training. I'd hoped to be able to get there soon enough to do some drills while the last bit of class was finishing up. But what was supposed to be a fairly easy Friday turned into a few hours of sweat for naught and a much later arrival to training than I'd planned for.

Trained with Chaim, Professor Carlos and Joe. At this point, it's pretty much about roughing up, keeping my body accustomed to the resistance of jiu-jitsu. And roughing up is pretty much what I got. I spent most of the training on the defensive, unable to really work on much that I'll be calling on tomorrow. But fortunately Thursday night was a goldmine in that regard, so hopefully I'm somewhere around breakeven between the two sessions.

156.3 on the scale post-train, and three rolls certainly qualifies as training. I remember years ago on the Friday before a tournament being so close to the weight limit that I was sucking on ice rather than eat solid food. There are many things to be grateful for in the years since, and keeping a lower weight during training is definitely one of them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

Got to the academy early to work on some conditioning and, if I were lucky, some drills with any available bodies.

Fortunately, I was able to find a willing partner and once again I was reminded of how valuable this time is as part of regular training. I've never taken a private, so I can't honestly compare. But the few times I've spent really stopping to drill a specific move or technique with a training partner have often been as valuable as class time itself.

Tonight I worked mostly on the over/under half guard pass that Marcelo is such a big fan of. It's a great way to finish off the Flat Pass, which has been getting stalled out at half guard. I'm still only getting used to it. But tonight was a great kick-off.

I also did a little more review on the counter to the backstep pass. Ironically, Prof Rodrigo taught us a very similar counter as part of the class. The approach I used is another Marcelo Garcia tactic, but Prof Rodrigo's use of the far arm to reach below the leg and secure the gi lapel provides a lot of control. Both finish with the butterfly hook using the outside leg.

We also got to work on dealing with the watchdog pass (as opposed to the turning pass). So far, it seems like your best bet is to assume that your guard is already passed and treat the position like a side control escape: getting the underhook on the topside, going belly down, and then working to your knees and a standoff.

I'm not 100% convinced on this one. But I love this kind of diagnostic approach to training: thinking very specifically about what is not working and then going over the physics of the situation to figure out where the potential opportunity for escape lies.

Good training overall tonight. In addition to the counter I mentioned above, Prof Rodrigo showed us a nice backtake from top side half guard. Right now, it seems as if the jiu-jitsu world has declared war on the half guard - especially the deep half guard - as all the top guys are coming up with ways to take the back from the top position. It's one of the fascinating things about jiu-jitsu, the constant "arms race" that drives the art into ever-greater efficiency and capability.

156.0 on the scale post-train. The brown belt adult lightweight bracket this Saturday at the Revolution is brutal. Sauleh, the brothers who run Seaside Jiu-Jitsu in Oregon, and Jacob - a guy I've lost to twice already at purple. Should be one hell of a show.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

Big class. You've got to love it when you line up and 3/4 of the line are white and blue belts.

Fundamentals: Bear hug counter to hip throw.

Pulling guard. Pulling guard to tripod sweep (through a two-on-grip). Pulling guard to feet on hip overhead/tomo nage sweep.

Drills: Guard/Pass Guard specific with Ethan, the purple belt with the Ryan Hall-esque game. Good half guard, smart with leg controls and grips. Even better open guard and grips.

Live Training: Good flow with Ron/Robert(?). Long session with Prof Rodrigo.

156.3 on the scale post-train.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training Day: Monday

Just the facts, m'am.

Judo with Sensei Kyle: Osoto gari, focus on footwork, handwork and off-balancing

BJJ with Prof Carlos: Drilled standing guard passes, trapping the arm the way Saulo does in his first video series. Two turtle reversals: posting on the far arm and sitting out into guard / rolling over the far shoulder, but bridging over instead of rolling down on your hip, flip over to side control as usual.

Live Training: Trained with Benny P and Angela. Benny showed me the Twist back with gi lapel out of the knee cross counter. Will definitely come in handy. Always good flow with A.H.

156.0 on the scale post-train.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cesar Gracie Seeks Alliance with Team Penn

"For the cause of saving MMA in the world these guys need to get together because people are inspired by that kind of fighting and if we keep having these other guys that just want to hold you and not fight it's going to destroy the sport that we love that we have been involved with our whole lives."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Training Day: Saturday

Today was the first day of Gracie Barra instructor certification, nine more days of which will put anyone of us on the path toward being able to teach at a Gracie Barra school. It's a heady thought, in more ways than one, but listening to Prof. Rodrigo talk about the transitions GB was looking to make overall, it was easy to see the sense in things. Fortunately, the session for next Saturday was cancelled due to the Revolution. I'm pretty sure I'll be attending the next nine.

The instructor certification class ran a little long, so we whipped through the Fundamentals pass drilling a standing guard pass (the one where you trap the arm on the guy's abdomen, collect the collars and press down to pin ...) Before moving on to the specific training of the competition team session. Good working with Angela during the drills, mostly guard/pass guard and mount/mount escape.

Saturday was my third training day in a row and I was really starting to feel it in my quads. My cardio was pretty good all things considered, though I'm still fighting off the last vestiges (I hope) of the cold. I was only able to go two rounds of Live Training and had to beg off a third. But I'm trying to do better about knowing when to say when on that score. While a little fatigue goes a long way in opening up my game and my mind, too much sends me hurtling into a garden of bad habits and overused tendencies. Knowing when to shut it down and bring it back the next day is what I'm working on.

153.1 on the scale post-train. Not surprising given the training pace, but this is probably as low as I need to be. My game has been more and more predicated on speed and movement than usual, and that may be part of what will help make my performance a week from today atypical in a positive sense. But anything at or around 155 will probably do it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Training Day: Friday

The gem of today's trading was Prof Carlos' spinning clock choke. To be honest, there's a pretty good chance that if I'm lucky enough to have someone turtle on me next Saturday, the spinning clock choke will be my first option.

Also worked on a Mount Escape King of the Hill where we were only allowed the upa-based escapes. As a half-guard guy, this was more than a little challenge. But it was great to work on weaker areas and focus not just on technique, but on ways to set-up the technique since my training/drilling partners knew that I would be limited to one type of escape.

Some good work in Live Training. Continuing to look for the spin move off side control and having good success. That's another money technique I'm hoping to bring to Bonney Lake with me in a week's time. It's pretty much become my go-to move out of side control and my favorite (read: only) way of consistently getting to the back.

155.6 on the scale post-train. Dragging a little bit as I fight off this seasonal rhinovirus, but so far so good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

So the idea is that whenever possible, I need to start class at least a little fatigued and with a pretty good sweat already started. Tonight I was "the idea" in spades, making up missing both cardio and training sessions planned for earlier in the week with some extended warmups (3-step seionage, 2-step double leg, open guard and half guard leg drills, side control escapes against the wall) and then three rounds of threshold training with matwork (1/4 HR 39/26, 40/28, 39/27 w/3 min rests). With still about 25 minutes to go before class started, I did some mini-sprints to keep my HR up (about as much sprinting as a gymnast does en route to the vault).

And while I don't consider myself to be in above-average cardio (at least among the amateur athlete/weekend warrior cohort), I was in fine shape for the class. The wall sits were brutal. But that's more a matter of local muscle endurance than cardiovascular conditioning, per se. Not to say that LME isn't a major area for improvement. But it is very nice to see that all that pre-class conditioning didn't take anything from my in-class performance.

And all the more so with Prof Carlos running a very conditioning-oriented class. He wanted to emphasize the "playful" aspect of jiu-jitsu. So after a very aggressive warmup, we did a lot of no-hands drilling, triangles and armbars from the guard as we focused mostly on the legs. This was another case of cardio being no help for poor LME. But the LME work of a lot of what we did in class was a good compliment to the cardio I did beforehand.

One of my favorite quotes for a long time was Dan Inosanto's line on fatigue that ends "when you're tired, you're not even smart." I'm not about to challenge that. But I've found that training when fatigued tends to settle me down and makes it easier to access techniques that a more "aware" or more "conscious" version of myself tends to overlook. Tonight during sparring for example, I was making great use of the figure-four grip break, something I've never done before but have been watching Marcelo Garcia do for months. In October, I took the back more times in one month than I think I have in years - no exaggeration. More armbars than I have in years, as well.

So maybe fatigue, in the right doses, may be one way to help set my jiu-jitsu free. At least when it comes to training and getting past the mental gatekeepers.

Just one round of Live Training. Nothing impressive (beyond figure-four grip break mentioned above). Most critically, I didn't really work any of the 2.0 game like I should. But I'm giving myself a little of a break with the two days off and the rhinovirus. We finished off the regular class with a mount King of the Hill specific and I got plenty of opportunity to work mount escapes and train at a sparring pace. So I'm feeling fairly okay overall. Friday and Saturday training will tell more of the story.

157.6 on the scale post train. No weight issues at all.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Training Day: Monday

Live Training only today, some good work with Angus and William. But the real treat of the day was getting to run a few quick drills with Will.

I've been wanting to do more of this for some time. Teammates like Griff and Rene have been exhorting me to do it, and today things finally fell into place a little bit. I got to go over all of my newest techniques with Will: spin move, Marcelo's reverse butterfly sweep (a staple of the 2-on-1 guard), the counter to the backstep pass versus half guard ... It was incredible.

And clearly something I need to do a lot more of. It is as if a month's worth of training happened in about 15-20 minutes. Couldn't have happened at a better time.

160.4 on the scale post-train. I little chubby. But still well under the mark.

Best Quarter in a Year

One of my big goals for training year 7 (Aug 2011-July 2012) was to train more regularly and frequently. So far, with the first quarter of TY7 in the books, so good.

I've managed to train 42 times over the past three months, averaging 3.50 times a week. The last time I was training at this clip was in the final quarter of my fifth training year (May, June and July of 2010) when I made it to the academy 49 times in three months for a 4.08x per week training average. That, by the way, is my highwater mark in terms of training frequency. And it's hard not to think that burst of activity over a three-month period helped me earn my brown belt the following August.

This also marks my best October training month - though the average October is really dragged down by a 5x month back in 2008 (!).

My best November is a 15. So I'll need to train at a 4x clip in order to top that. But it's nice to see that I'm back in a good training groove. I'll need the training momentum as the weather starts to get back and some historically weak training months (I'm talking about you, December) start to really put my discipline to set a new training year personal record to the test.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

= Truth

A lot of times you deal with someone who is really flexible, they invert well, and when they have their hips and both their legs, it can be really tricky to find a way to make progress into their guard. So instead we can try to pass, basically, half at a time. And reduce their mobility.
--Paul Schreiner

Friday, October 28, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Some very hard training today. On weeks when I don't train on Saturday, Friday has to bear the load and between Prof Carlos and teammate Jei, a middleweight-ish blue belt, that's pretty much what I did.

Live Training only on Friday, but it was nice to get things started with Steve, another blue belt who I get to train with from time to time. And it was good preparation for the two tough rolls that followed.

Although there is always an intimidation factor, there is always something that especially rewarding about training with folks that are two or three divisions above where you are in size. Not exclusively, of course. But my conception of jiu-jitsu is very Master Helio-esque, in some ways, very survivalist, no-time-limit. And when I'm able to embrace that, the outcomes are often excellent. Increasingly, I find that's the case with some of the larger, lower belts I roll with, guys with enough technique and athleticism to put me on the defensive early. The trick is to do a better job of taking the initiative, setting the agenda and controlling the pace.

156.2 on the scale post-train. Not a bad way to end the week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

Drill baby drill was the theme of Thursday night's training. Working in trios, Professor Carlos had us working double leg takedowns and sprawl defense (with a pair of pushups in between) for three minute rounds. Later we worked, guard passes (the Slap Pass) to knee on belly to mount to armbar and Slap Pass to knee on belly to side control to watchdog and a very nifty collar choke set-up as you transition from watchdog to mount and collar choke.

Good stuff. And good working with Angela and a white belt I didn't recognize. Our pace and teamwork was excellent throughout - the kind of "cadre spirit" that I think I've been longing as we work through the end of competition season for 2011.

Live training was mostly about detail and flow, trying to be extremely aware of where the balance was. It's not the kind of training you get to do every day, so it's good to really take advantage of it when the opportunity comes. I do like how focusing on taking the back has started to shape the way I look at certain positions. But there's plenty more to do on this score.

157.4 on the scale, post-train.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

More of the same from Monday night training - and grateful for it. Bridging escape from rear mount. Two collars choke and choke with hand behind the neck.

I'm beginning to think that the most advanced fundamental movement in jiu-jitsu is the one that helps you escape rear mount. Bridge, hipscape, flatscape. Some of the elementary moves, all from the back, and all critical to getting from defending to attacking. It's hard to do flatscapes on my home mat; I'll have to start doing a few sets of them at the Academy. Flatscapes are as important to having really clean jiu-jitsu as hipscapes or technical lifts. I remember doing round after round of these as a white belt back in the day. I'm thinking that putting them back into the mix (as Dana White might say), would help solve a whole host of problems.

I could do the same lesson every day for a week or two. I get why this would be impractical. But from the point of view of really improving, of burning not just techniques but movements into your body, call it muscle memory or circuit building and deep practice or whatever. But that's what really turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, and it's been nice to get a tiny taste of that praxis having trained the same lesson twice in the first two days of the week.

156.1 on the scale post-train. Nothing extraordinary in Live Training. Spin move from side control continues to be the ever-improving flavor of the month. Guard passing continues to be pretty dreadful. Too much defending and flailing around. I also need to leave the Flat Pass alone for the most part. If I end up pulling that out in November, I'm willing to bet that I've trained to attack with it far more than anyone there will have trained to defend against it. With two and a half weeks to go, I want to see if there is something else on the A-list that is only 4-5 sessions away from being worth taking in to battle.

Not Swimming

Not too long ago, I spent nearly the final five minutes of a very long roll with easily one of the most talented people at the academy with my eyes closed. I was off-balance, stuffed, stranded, redirected for more than ten minutes and it was as if a flip switched. I just reached a point of pure futility and, without a second thought, decided to embrace it. "Who you gonna believe," asked Futility, "me or your lyin' eyes?" And I said, "You sir and/or madam. Every single time."

Fortunately, it wasn't the first time I'd trained that way. It was the first time I'd ever done so spontaneously and the fact that it came on like an automatic "hail Mary" response would have been a little scary if it weren't for the fact that, all things considered, a "hail Mary" seemed as good an option as any.

It's hard to describe how grotesque my jiu-jitsu feels sometimes. "Nasty, brutish and short" to steal a phrase. And too often I'm seeing that vulgarity exposed and exploited as I end up "surviving" in triangles or back mounted for minutes on end fending off chokes.

My training frequency is back up where it needs to be (4-week moving average of 3.5), and there have been a few moments to be sure (the spin move and the Toquinho). But those moments are purely in their earliest stages of effectiveness and have yet to be tested on peers. That's as it should be, but my jiu-jitsu feels old and overdue for changes and additions. And there's never time enough for repair. I feel like I need to be shipped away to a jiu-jitsu camp for a month, three times a week training, five days a week, maybe once Saturday morning to keep from getting stale over the weekend ...

Until then, I need to focus on November 12. Nothing really matters over the next month but my performance on that day. Thinking of how wretched my last several efforts at Bonney Lake have been should be motivation enough to do anything.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Don't Be Like the One That Made Me So Old"


Training Day: Monday

These are days when I realize that while the point of training martial arts when one is under 20 is to build self-esteem, the point of training martial arts when one is over 40 apparently is the opposite.

157.1 on the scale post-train.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

War Chant 1

hands hands
slap
grab
step
drag
mat
up
turn
drag
feed
cross
knee
step
feed
neck
squeeze

Training Day: Friday

Arrived in time to catch the last half of the regular class and all of the specific and Live Training. The focus was on setting up the cross choke - Roger Gracie-style - from mount. Prof Carlos emphasized a couple of things in particular: dropping the forearm against the chest to prevent the swim-under defense, putting your forehead on the mat fully to the opposite side to put all of your weight on the guy's upper body ... It was a good refresher and reminded me very much of Sauleh's choke attack from mount last weekend.

King of the Hill mount specific had a twist: you had to recover full guard from the bottom. No stopping at half guard and no reversing. You had to recover to a stable full guard: closed, open, spider, butterfly, inverted, whatever.

It's the kind of thing that training is all about, forcing yourself into peculiar situation that require an adaptive response. More than once I was able to get to the sweep, only to have to start all over again and try and get to a stable guard position, specifically. No doubt this kind of thing expands your fundamental jiu-jitsu awareness - as well as your guard recovery.

Given the days off, I was very happy with that session. I had more than a few sizable training partners during the specific drill and it was great to really feel myself being tested to stay patient, stay technical and not waste energy against significantly stronger aspirants to "the Hill."

A lot of conditioning. I still owe Prof 40 pushups from the final round of the intervals when I had to go iso. But I'm feeling pretty good about the specific muscle endurance, courtesy of the HICT/box step workout. I've started adding some cardiac power workouts and will be doing more of that over the next couple of weeks. But what is most important is (1) overall aerobic base and (2) specific muscle endurance. And the HICT/box steps have been working well on both scores.

Good training with Hakim afterwards. I don't think I've trained with him in more than a year. Very good half guard, very smooth game overall. And given some good anticipations on his part, it also turned out to be a good opportunity to work my triangle defense. More survival than escape - or, even better, the Gordo - but it was nice to see that the basic approach of feeding the shoulder and working for the exact opposite angle that the person doing the triangle wants is at least keeping hope alive.

156.6 post train. Heading into three weeks out, everything is on target on that score.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Side 2 Back: Jeff Glover Edition

Between this and my Ryan Hall "spin move", I may actually start making it to the back on a consistent basis someday ...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training Day: Monday

What can you say? Tani Otoshi and Jiu-Jitsu Rugby. Not a bad way to start the training week.


160.4 on the scale post train. Did a 4 1-min rep cardiac power workout pre train (half pivots L/R, spin move 2x).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Training Day: Saturday

Some good training today, getting to work with a couple of up 'n' coming guys as well as putting myself to the test with an 8-minute roll with Sauleh. As far as the latter is concerned, it's all about making incremental progress, fewer mistakes, more efficiency, etc. And on that score, it was very successful, very rewarding training and I'm looking forward to next Saturday when Sauleh is slated to be back.

To the former, it is always good jiu-jitsu karma to be on the lookout for ways to help guys improve their game without taking too much away from the fun and spontaneity of Saturday training. Hopefully, I got a good mix of that. In the same way that the best performers are not always the best teachers or coaches (i.e., Michael Jordan and Larry Bird), I feel I do a better job of conveying information that I often do in putting that information into praxis, as the kids say. At the same time, I don't want to be so pedagogical that people feel that they can't just relax and roll. After all, as Mrs. Burien Top Team always says before sending me out the Academy, "Make sure you have FUN."

156.6 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. Doing pretty well on the maxi/mini meal plan (one small meal during the day/one large meal after training), feeling as if I've got plenty of energy while keeping my weight in a very nice range.

Six Questions for Rickson Gracie

Sherdog.com: You have taken part in many legendary events. Do you still have the desire to compete again?

Gracie: There’s always that longing to fight, but I’m motivated by everything I’ve done so far. Nowadays, I have responsibilities that motivate me more than trying to live something I’ve already lived. Today, my focus is on remembering the people of jiu-jitsu and the philosophy that comes with the practice. It’s not directed at competition but at self-defense, self-confidence, discipline and emotional control. The values you learn are priceless.

Six Questions for Rickson Gracie

Friday, October 14, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Brock and Professor Shawn were leading the class, with Prof Carlos at the U.S. Open for the weekend. I'm doing the Live Training session on Fridays now that I've started training Thursday nights.

I still made it to class in time to see them working on a nice choke/armlock combination from the mount. The idea is to set up the move from the cross choke attack and then drag the arm across when the guy tries to defend.

From here you have two options. You can either curl around the top for the armbar, or reach over with the other hand and secure an arm-in choke from the top. Here I appreciated the detail with the far side leg, the idea of curling it under the shoulder (your foot under the shoulder) in an S in order to keep everything tight up top. On the choke, the detail was to keep the one foot further back as you apply the pressure, rather than coming all the way up high as you do with the armlock.

Got in some good training, but what was really helpful was working on that one Ryan Hall take-the-back move from top half with Brian. I don't do that nearly enough and it was a great opportunity to really focus on one move and try and burn it into muscle memory.

157.4 on the scale post-train.

Great Transition from Back to Armbar from Toquinho

Not a fan of his leglock game, so much. But all the love in the universe for this transition.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

Managed to get to class very much on the early side and took advantage of the extra time to work on some conditioning. I managed to get in a three round matwork (TM), as well as some more specific drilling based on takedowns, taking the inside step first to escape side control, and a couple of other things.

It's a nice model of how I'd like to train going forward. Rather than being too tired when the class actually started, I found that I was a little tired, but mostly feeling fully warmed up and loose. I also found that it was much easier to dial in and focus technically.

Drilling, drilling, drilling was the name of the game tonight. Prof Carlos had us working double and single legs, both set-ups and full takedowns. Spider guard triangles and the triangle conversion to armbar. Alternating armbars from the mount. Ezekiels from the mount. Cross chokes (double palms up) from the mount. Steparound toreano guard pass (the Slap Pass). The Scoop Pass. Push/Pull to Mount Pass. It was old school style, competition prep training, that I love doing because it really forces you past the point of thinking and cognating and into the world of pure motion. Very fun way to train late in the week.

157.0 on the scale post-train. Looking forward to getting in at least a little mat time on Friday, and then turning it up on the weekend.

More Great Stuff from the Gracie Breakdown


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesdays are for Takedowns

Actually the best takedown training right now is on Monday and Thursday nights at GB Seattle. But here's my current takedown drill/skills-conditioning program for the next few weeks.

Seoi nage (reverse pivots) L/R
Ouchi gari (drag two-step) L/R
Ankle pick (level change 1) L/R
Shoot w/ Faber triad (level change 2) L/R
Foot sweep L/R

3 sets of 1 minute each is 15 minutes of work (1 minute rest between sets). Rest five minutes and repeat.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Training Day: Monday

A very good day for details. Sensei Kyle had us working more on the ouchi gari, both in terms of drilling entries to get the technique down correctly as well as providing a follow-up attack by way of the ankle pick. Making sure to do the hop step to get the correct deep penetration on the ouchi gari and making sure to bring the leg up on the outside as you come up with the ankle pick were some of the key details from the judo section of the class.

For the BJJ section, Prof Carlos had us working on recovering full guard from the turtle position, and a move inspired by Eduardo Telles (famously of the Turtle Guard and the most epic tattoo in all of jiu-jitsu) that allows you to get a sweep to side control from the same turtle type of position.

Good stuff. And good working with Chris, who I haven't gotten the chance to work with in awhile.

Live training with Profs. Abel and Lindsey, then finished up with Ben. I'm doing a better job of defending with my Marcelo guard (yes, the same one I swore I'd never use just a few days ago ...), though I keep forgetting to really take control of the arm in the 2 on 1. That mistake alone is leading to my inability to effectively counter the running around passes that have been the most effective against the guard.

That said, I am moving my legs better, putting a foot on the hip, shoulder or bicep to slow things down and get a hook in. So we'll see.

160.4 on the scale post-train. A perfectly fine Monday night weight.

Before leaving I managed to get a few nice details on guard passes from Prof Carlos: looking at how Rafa Mendes likes to pass guard from his "squat" position, the guard pass Prof showed us last week that I'm calling "the Sievert", and a good tip about how not to go too wide when doing the kneetap toreano (stepping around the legs to go to knee on belly) and that you essentially just want to push the knees out of the way and put your foot right at the hip without wasting time by making a big circle out of the whole thing.

A good night of training. A few Rorschach moments toward the end, but only a test.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Training Day: Friday

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to training and competing is making sure that you are working on those positions and out of those situations that most resemble what you are likely to encounter in competition.

In some respects, this is a no-brainer. Asked why he was so calm before fights, MMA heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko replied, "because everything I do in the ring is the same thing I have done in the gym a thousand times."

From a certain perspective, if that doesn't describe your preparation for competition, then your likelihood of success in competition is reduced. Competition is not the time to be "spontaneous". It is the time to execute your best moves, drilled and honed to perfection after weeks and weeks of hard but focused work at the academy.

It isn't at all difficult to work hard. Bringing the necessary focus, on the other hand can be a problem.

Sometimes the issue is too large, the basic structure of every day jiu-jitsu training. I used to wonder why all the guys who seemed really good when I was a blue belt - guys like Steve and Casey and Lance - almost never attended a full class as brown belts. Having seen each of them in competition - some more than others - I feel as if I know the answer to that question. They trained plenty. But the structure of their training had changed from a focus on adopting new techniques to honing and refining favorite techniques. And the basic class format, obviously, does a poor job of that.

But sometimes the issue is small. I hate starting sparring on the knees because it too often ends up resembling some B-grade Japanese monster movie with King Kong clinched up with Mothra. So I've started trying to begin with a much more open, active, Marcelo Garcia-style sitting guard. Anything to get things started.

The problem is that I never have and never will use this kind of guard in competition. Not for a second. If we're close, then I'll go to half guard. If we're not close, then I'll just stand up. It's a no brainer.

Unfortunately, though, that's not how I'm training when Live Training rolls around. I'm wasting time in a guard that I will not use, failing at it, and then spending the balance of the session making up for the original mistake.

From a "learning perspective" I should just keep at it. But from a "preparing for battle" perspective, I need to cut this out immediately.

At any rate, with five weeks to go, it's time to tighten things up considerably. I'll miss competition training this Saturday, but the next month of Saturday's leading up to the November Revolution will have to be Academy Saturdays if I'm going to get accomplished what I need to get accomplished.

156.3 on the scale post-train. Looking forward to Edgar v. Maynard, Aldo v. Florian and Maia v. Santiago tomorrow night.

Best. Call Out. Ever.

Interviewer: If you could have a superfight with anyone - from any time period, even - who would it be?

Glover: How about that guy who beat Helio Gracie back in the day? That big giant guy, they had that three hour match and, like, overpowered Helio. I'd like to break him off, man. Show him what's up.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

My second Thursday in a row and it's going to be hard not to make Thursday's a regular part of my training schedule, especially in the run-up to a tournament. For the past two weeks, we've gotten to work on Live takedowns and while I'm far rustier than I'd like to be, getting the feel of the standup before having to do it for real at a tournament (or even an in-house) is critical.

That said, I'm still far too tentative on the feet. My defense is good, most of the takedowns I'm getting right now are really just counters to my opponent's offense. But I've got to do a better job of getting into more advantageous positions, dealing with the distance to the hips for example. And at the end of the day, the only way to do it is to do it live.

Monday night are helping, especially in providing technique. It's just a matter of putting it together and putting it to work. Right now, that's what Thursday's are for.

157.4 on the scale post train. Steady as we go.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ryan Hall Post-ADCC 2011 Interview

Every time I hear Ryan Hall talk about training, competition, and jiu-jitsu, I feel like I hear something that I've never really heard from anyone else. Maybe it's just the way he puts things. But he is truly one of my favorite guys to watch and listen to.


Jeff Glover Post-ADCC 2011 Interview

Who doesn't love Jeff Glover? Jeff won a bronze at the ADCC 2011 in September, avenging a loss to jiu-jitsu legend Robson Moura.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zen Master Mario Sperry On His ADCC Superfight Victory

If you are a jiu-jitsu guy/gal over 40, then this one is especially for you.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Training Day: Monday

Back to ATM Evening Edition ... Sensei Kyle had us working on the ouchi gari. We were talking before class about different competition challenges in jiu-jitsu and what judo throws and takedown would help best. I suggested that for many of us, failing to commit fully to the takedown was one main obstacle, in part because we spend relatively little time in live takedown sparring to get used to it and in part because of the ever-present guard pulling threat (or at minimum, the standard low defensive clinch posture many jiu-jitsu matches start out with).

Here's how Gene Lebell describes the ouchi gari in his book Gene Lebell's Handbook of Judo:

"The ideal time to execute this throw is when your opponent's legs are spread wide apart in a pulling, defensive posture."

And that's as good a description of the defensive jiu-jitsu clinch posture as I could imagine.

The key detail for me was the pulling the guy toward you, initiating a step on his part and opening up of his stance, by moving diagonally backward and dragging the guy to you with your collar/sleeve grip. It was surprising how destabilizing that initial diagonal drag step was - and, as Kyle pointed out before class, could also be a good setup to the ankle pick variation takedown that I like to use.

A few other points: make sure to pull down on the collar and to focus getting your attacking leg deep through the center. That alone may be enough to off-balance and get the takedown even without the in-to-out leg wrap as you drop to the knee of the attacking leg.

*

The BJJ part of the class had us working on taking the back from turtle using a technique similar to one I remember seeing Giva Santana show us in a seminar over at Foster BJJ a year or two ago. Either way, it was good to see the technique.

The memorables: scruff of the neck collar grip and low lapel grip around the waist . Tight elbows for maximum control. Drop near knee right on side, near ribcage and squeeze with grips (sort of like I do too frequently when in knee on belly), and use that leveraged to step in on the same side with your far foot, putting the initial hook in place.

To take the back, drop diagonally north, pulling on the neck and low lapel grip to drag the guy into your lap. Remember to stay on your side and not roll all the way on to your back where escape is easier. Go quickly for the two collar choke.

*

Live training was a nice combination of different types of training partner. This meant I got to focus on a very technical, chess-like game in my first roll, a flow-oriented second roll and a third and final roll that forced me to focus on spacetime and guard replacement. It's not every day when you get this kind of diversity of training experience, and it will definitely be something to keep in mind the next time Live training rolls around.

155.8 on the scale, post-train, everything but the coat. On a Monday no less!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Only managed to make the Live Training session on Friday, but the training was worth it. Today I mostly worked on the range game from the bottom, trying to focus on range and control. From the top, I got to work on the new half guard chokes with the lapel, as well as the Flat and watchdog passes. I'm also finding some structure in my Squat Pass that I'm looking to try out on closed guards over the next few weeks.

I also got to work on some survival and escape against both side control and the triangle. I'm getting to the point where the mechanics are in place and all I have to do is make sure that I start from step #1 rather than step #2.

More movement has also been very good over the past session or two, especially as it's allowed me to more consistently attack the back. The take-the-back from side control is one that I'm especially trying to focus on - the latest north-south backtake is still very much a work in progress.

154.1 on the scale post-train. That's about as light as I need to be right now. Next week will start most intense part of the conditioning part of the training camp heading into November, and the likelihood of losing a few more net pounds over the next six weeks is significant.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Training Day: Thursday

Circumstances allowed me to give a Thursday night training a shot and it was very much worth it. I got to the academy early enough to do a little matwork (TM) before hooking up with Angus for some technique review. This is something I've really got to make a habit of - some of the most important breakthroughs have come from working with blue belts like Angus and Mark and Joe before or after class, reviewing specific problem areas and potential solutions.

Tonight we worked on the far side ankle pick from the collar drag. My preference has always been for the near side pick, the cross pick, using the drag to get the guy to put his weight on the foot you are seeking to attack. But the far side pick has it's advocates and both Prof Carlos and Prof Lindsey have both made the case for the far side pick.

Prof Carlos added a subtle guard pass at the end of the takedown, which then morphed into a guard pass with collar choke. Very good chain working - going all the way from takedown to finish - which is a really good way to think about jiu-jitsu.

Good hard training. We did a takedown King of the Hill that really put me through my paces. Having not worked on Live takedowns in several weeks, I was more tentative than I would have liked to have been, not really aggressively working Rip Cord, my ankle pick set-up and takedown, as I should have. One nice discovery/recollection was that the safe clinch is one of my favorite positions for a takedown. Obviously, not everybody is going to let you close the distance that much. But I love the push/pull of the safe clinch, and almost never have failed to get the takedown if I am fortunate enough to get the clinch.

Live training with Prof Casey, which is always a great study - and right now more than ever in many ways. I also got a chance to roll with Joe, who thankfully encouraged me off the sidelines when I was thinking about calling it an evening. A great roll with Joe, though maybe shorter than I would have liked due to recurrent leg cramps and overall fatigue on my part (the latter largely induced after fighting off a very tough triangle attack).

That said, I was still surprised to weigh in at 153.6 on the scale. That's among my lightest, post-train weights ever. Wednesday was a essentially a fast day (largely unintended) and today was a pretty low carb/low calorie day (one midday meal of steak and broiled greens and a piece of toast). Combine that with 24 minutes of HICT (high intensity continuous training) this morning and maybe it's not so surprising to see numbers so low.

At least it gives me license to eat! I just need to keep it relatively clean.

More on ADCC 2011 Absolute Champion: Andre Galvao

Andre Galvao: Why He Won ADCC 2011
After storming through both the 88kg weight and open weight divisions for double gold at ADCC, many are wondering what changed in Andre Galvao.

He placed third in the last 2009 ADCC. This year he looks stronger, tighter, and more confident in his stand up.

“After I won my division, I thought I had a chance to win in the open weight too,” says Galvao. “I got tough fights, but I was in great shape. It was my day.”

It was his day, after a 10-week camp of hard work and training with members of his Atos team and the new addition of Coach Joe VanBrackle.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There Goes My Gun

Among the patron saints (orixas?) of my jiu-jitsu this fall ...

ADCC 2011 Results: Gunnar Nelson Proves He Is Not A Fluke
In the 2009 ADCC, a young Icelandic grappler, wearing a brand new black belt awarded to him by Renzo Gracie made his debut. Gunnar Nelson had qualified for the 77 kg division at the most prestigious no gi grappling event in the world and fought James Brasco to a stand still but lost a referee decision. After one match, Nelson's ADCC run appeared to be over, but after the finals concluded he was given a second chance with an invite into the Absolute Division.

And Nelson made the most of that second chance. Nelson defeated the much larger and stronger Jeff Monson in the first round and then slapped an rear naked choke on David Avellan in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Nelson faced the legendary Xande Ribeiro and lost via kneebar. Nelson would then lose the Bronze Medal Match to Vinny Magalhaes.

Yoo-HOO!

ADCC 2011 Results: Andre Wins the Absolute

2011 ADCC Highlight and Results

Again, a yeoman's job by Ben Thapa, Patrick Tierney and the folks at SB Nation.
Andre Galvao vs. Pablo Popovitch- A rematch of an earlier fight from this weekend and this time it's for the absolute division championship. Andre Galvao goes in early for a takedown but it's shrugged off. Popovitch slapping Galvao's head quite a few times and Galvao picks up a high single and goes for a trip, the trip misses but the single hits.

Popovitch on his back against Galvao in half guard. Pablo is able to roll Andre up into deep half guard now and Galvao stands up and places the knee across Popovitch's throat. Galvao steps over Popovitch and dives for a toe hold and holy crap it hits and Pablo taps immediately.

Andre Galvao is your ADCC 2011 Absolute World Champion.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Training Day: Monday

In for the early class again this week. Started off with some self-defense with Prof Carlos, working with Brian on the punch block and wrist pin to safe clinch move with hip toss. From there it was side control to mount transitions and then some tips on mount escape from the bottom (both the knee slide guard replace and the bump 'n' roll/bridge).

Did a lot of mount escape work as part of the specific training in the second half of class. Good stuff overall, though I could feel myself starting to lose heart a bit toward the end dealing with an especially heavy challenge. I was able to recover half guard, but I was starting to get athletic about it rather than technical and the fatigue was sure to follow. And then the mental starts to break down, which is something I've been successfully battling over the past several weeks.

The trick is not to get to that point, to not allow the entropy that so readily will take me from technical to athletic to take over. It's like they say about torture: I don't care who you are or how you've been trained, with enough torture, you'll say anything. So the point is only partially about dealing with fatigue - obviously you have to be on intimate terms with your own limitations. But far more important is being able to have strategies to avoid having to deal with that kind of soul-stealing fatigue. It's easier to fight the enemy when he is beyond the walls than it is to battle him in the breach.

Live training technical note: Had a failure of confidence when on the bottom in half guard against a watchdog type pass. I knew that the move was to attack with the underhook and then allow my inside shoulder and maybe even some gi work to give me the advantage to the top. But I hesitated and fought over the legs instead and ended up getting passed. Better to make the move and see what does and doesn't work than to hesitate and end up doing something that I know is probably wrong.

160.2 on the scale post-train. A little heavy, but not bad for a Monday. For present purposes, sticking around 160 is probably the way to go over the balance of the year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rei Braulio 2.0

Braulio says he "proved talk doesn't win competitions with win over Jacare at ADCC 2011
How was it like for you?

It was wonderful. It was a battle, it was what I hoped for. I trained for it. He trained hard too, but I could tell he tired up, so I tried to move forwards since the beginning, and even before scoring a point I tried to take him down twice. He defended himself at all times, respected me a lot, which was something I hoped he would do, that he wouldn’t attack me so he wouldn’t get much tired, he wouldn’t try to go for it, because when I got the chance to fight him out, I felt on top of him, on his back, every time. I attacked him with sweeps and he did a good job defending himself. If you watch the fight, you’ll see I swept him many times and he didn’t bring me any danger of sweeps and breaking into my guard. The only time he tried to do so, I felt on top of him.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Training Day: Saturday

Today was a special training Open Mat for some old friends and training partners of Prof Rodrigo's, guys who were part of helping get jiu-jitsu started here in Seattle 6-7 years ago. A lot of folks training - and there was a special added bonus of Budo Videos replaying the ADCC 2011 Day One competition in the background.

I got in four sessions - a good tough roll with a blue belt from Bellevue named Jim, an even tougher roll with Benny who was down from up north, an incredible roll with Sauleh (with whom I never can train enough) and finishing up roll with blue belt Steve, who arrived on the late side. I also got to spend a LOT of time talking and drilling with Glenn, mostly over half guard, but also looking into other basic concepts like space and the range-game when it comes to guard work.

A lot of good things. I need to brush up on my triangle defense on the one hand - including my escape. But my watchdog half guard pass is working very, very well and I just need to keep at it. Still not getting enough movement on top, but it's a preoccupation just about every time I roll so focusing on it should be a first step toward fixing it.


155.9 on the scale post-train. This is a good place to be at the end of the week. For all my talk of featherweighting, I'm increasingly thinking that this lightweight level is where I belong.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Good training today. I made it to the academy on the late side (surprise!), but managed to just slip into the specific training with an energetic white belt with some good length. Per Prof Carlos' instruction, I started off on top, warming up with a little guard pass and getting my grips and forearms ready to go. Truly, the longer I train the more I enjoy getting to work with white belts where you can really start to see the world slow down and the opportunities behind the opportunities begin to reveal themselves.

159.3 on the scale post-train. A little heavy for the end of the week. But anything in the 150s is good. Looking forward to the big open mat tomorrow!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Half Guard Leg Drill Eight-Count Cadence

starting from locked half guard

1 open half
2 single hook
3 sit up
4 hook sweep
5 flat fly
6 single hook
7 open half
8 lock

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

A great way to get back into training mode after a fantastic couple of days on vacation in Portland.

My approach to training over the next two months heading into the November Revolution is to always begin class a little fatigued. I read someone talking about this recently in an issue of GracieMag, and it's something I think will only help my game over time. When strength becomes a very scarce commodity, you have no other choice but to rely on technique to get you out of situations you don't want to be in and into situations that you do want to be in. And by starting class fatigued, I'm finding it easier and easier to get into that pure flow mode where I'm only relying on the leverage that's available, rather than trying to spontaneously create leverage and momentum.

So I'm warming up before hand, doing mat laps, then halfway through a first round of matwork before I get the opportunity for a pre-class roll with Prof Rodrigo. As always, the emphasis is on movement and efficiency on my end, trying to defend dynamically and work to escape rather than settling for survival.

Tuesday is fundamentals so we worked on some self-defense first (wristlock counter to the cross arm grab) then taking the back from front sprawl defense and finishing with either the choke and back mount or the double armdrag to side control. In the first move, Rodrigo emphasized anticipating the choke as soon as you make the move to the back while in the second, the key detail to remember was in trapping the arms as you reach to control the head.

A little sloppy early in Live Training. I got lost trying to north-south choke based on some of the recent variations I've been watching. But I think I made up for it with some very good, very fun flow training in my next two rolls. There's a gratification in this sort of training that I often take for granted, but it really plays a great part in helping smooth out and provide nuance to your jiu-jitsu.

Nice to get a few tips on the barataplata from Joe, who almost caught me in one a few weeks back and whom I've been meaning to talk about the submission for awhile. I'm not convinced it will be a major part of what I do from the guard. But it's not a common position, which means that mastering it could provide a significant edge.

155.7 on the scale post-train. That's what a few days of clean livin' in the City of Roses will do for you.

The Fightworks Podcast's ADCC 2011 Preview

The Fightworks Podcast's ADCC 2011 Preview
We are now days away from what many consider to be the most important submission grappling competition. No-gi competitors from all corners of the globe will face each other at the 2011 ADCC in Notthingham, England on September 24th and 25th for large monetary prizes and more importantly, fame that will carry them for the rest of their athletic careers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Jiu-Jitsu Lab's ADCC 2011 Preview

ADCC 2011 Preview
Every two years, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club’s Submission Wrestling World Championships crowns the best grapplers in the world. Created by Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and originally hosted in United Arab Emirates, the ADCC was developed as a method of showcasing the best grappling on the planet regardless of the style practiced. The ruleset was supposed to adhere more closely to that of a true fight than the Jiu Jitsu rules at the time, with a greater emphasis on takedowns and the allowance of leg locks including heel hooks. With a few major exceptions the tournament has been a showcase of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has to offer.

Sherdog.com MMA Techniques: Technique of the Week: Arm Triangle

Sherdog.com MMA Techniques: Technique of the Week: Arm Triangle

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Space and Jiu Jitsu: Striking Edition

The fundamentals of self-defense present in Jiu-Jitsu give you a clear notion of how to deal with your foe's specialty. I'm no great boxer, but I have deep knowledge of how to clinch, how to avoid the right distance for punches ... Strikers must have a certain gentlement's agreement to stay in that distance, for otherwise the referee stops the bout. That's evident, so my specialty is precisely not to give a striker whatever it is they need in order to strike me.
--Rickson Gracie

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Six years after our last vacation to San Francisco, me and Mrs. Burien Top Team are taking this vacation thing for another spin, this time to our sister city to the south: Portland.

No training on this trip - although I know there is some great grappling in the area. Pure R&R. Walking, reading, eating and relaxing for a couple of days to get in some badly needed recharge of the batteries.

I feel as if I'm on the verge of a major breakthrough in my guard game, so maybe this vacation comes at a better than expected time. Monday starts the Eight Weeks Out to the November Revolution and I'm looking forward to spending the next two months turning this breakthrough into a real bullet in the chamber.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Training Day: Monday

Some days it is really hard to get out there on the mat and train. This is why the best thing is to always have your jiu-jitsu gear packed so that by the time you have the bag over your shoulder and are en route to your vehicle, the hardest part is already over.

As such, I decided to try and get myself straight with a threshold training workout at the Academy rather than the full Fundamentals class. I'm generally having a hard time retaining a lot of new technique on a good day; on a day like today, I just need some time to sweat, get warm and stay in my cage for as long as possible.

Upon emerging, I got in some good drilling with Brian, focusing on taking the mount from side control with a step technique rather than just trying to swing your leg over the top from the watchdog position.

Live training was a pair of sessions with Angus and Prof Carlos. Very tough rolls and the emphasis continues to be on keeping moving and attacking with technique after technique - even when just trying to survive and escape.

157.6 on the scale post-train. My neck is killing me after some fairly aggressive choke attacks. I remember hearing a series of big cracks at one point that sounded like someone shuffling a deck of thick playing cards. But so far so good.

Will be difficult to get in training before leaving for Portland for some desperately-needed vacation time. It will be largely a function of what happens at The Daily Planet tomorrow.

The Road to November


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fulfillingnesss' First Finale: Chokes from Top Half Edition


"A Friend of Ours"

Congratulations to Lindsey Johnson. Gracie Barra Seattle's newest black belt.

It's really a special moment when you see someone who essentially began training when you did earn his or her black belt.

As great as it was to see training partners like Casey and Lance get their black belts, for example, guys like these were brown belts or very sophisticated purple belts when I first began training. Already at a semi-mystical level to someone who was just starting out, seeing guys whose jiu-jitsu already seemed awesome become awarded for that awesomeness with black belts was impressive. But I arrived impressed, so to speak. From a certain perspective, seeing guys like Casey and Lance earn their black belts was like turning the amp up to 11.

But the feeling when you see someone who you know was first learning armbars when you were learning armbars, who was competing as a blue belt when you were competing as a blue belt, make that move to the next level is hard to describe. You almost feel as if a part of you is earning that black belt as well, that this vindication of his time and sweat on the mat is, in a strange way, also a vindication of your time and sweat on the mat, as well.

It's difficult to describe. But the feeling is unmistakable. The great caravan of initiates that started on its journey six-odd years ago has begun to arrive at the first of many wonderful destinations.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Rigan Machado v. Rickson Gracie

This has been "Rickson Week" in a number of ways. So why not cap things off with an improved version of that classic Rigan Machado v. Rickson Gracie match that's been floating around the Interwebs for some time now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Training Day: Wednesday

Another 3/4 session for me: specific drills in the main class and then the Live Training afterward. Specific drilling was all about the spider guard (the lesson of the day), passing and sweeping from position. After a few rounds of that, it was on to Live Training where I got to roll with Prof Carlos and Casey (twice!).

Very tough session with the black belts. It's a good time to think about the stages of jiu-jitsu the way that Saulo outlines them in his book, Jiu-Jitsu University ... survival first, then escape, then re-guard and attack with the reverse or submission.

Not only is it the best way to enjoy and get the most out of training even when you're getting smashed, it is also the best way to make sure that your jiu-jitsu sensibilities are as complete as possible. Submissions and sweeps are fun. But if you can't get out of side control or rid yourself of someone's back attack, then that's some fun you'll rarely get the opportunity to enjoy.

The Profs from LA are already in town. Sadly, there won't be any training on Friday, which is going to make it a little difficult to make the 5x I thought I might be able to swing this week. Training at the seminar will give me a 4x week, which is nothing to snub.

158.0 on the scale post-train. I was about 159 and a half or so before rolling with Prof Carlos and Casey for the second time. Oss.

Mount Triangle from Rickson Beatdown

He calls this move "The Hannibal" for some interesting, detail-oriented reasons. It's a good reminder of how naming a move (i.e., "Flat Pass", "Watchdog") can actually be a tool to help you remember a key point in what makes the move work.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

As I tweeted earlier (@burientopteam, BTW), tonight's training was a great reminder of why it so often pays off big-time to show up at the academy early and to stay late.

Tonight Prof Rodrigo had about six of us who arrived early working on some flow drills (i.e., free sweeps from the guard, free guard passes, free submissions from the back, etc.) It was really nice to be able to get right into some training first, then slowing down for the actual class and instruction, and then warming things back up with Live Training toward the end.

As for the class, we focused on escapes from north-south and the "rollout" escape from side control. Very good work, training with Brock and Greg, and keeping the pace up - and the details. One of the nice things about working in a threesome instead of just a pair is that there is always someone standing right there to watch and catch if any mistake or detail is off. Or sometimes, just to keep track of reps and shout the occasional encouragement.

Prof. Rodrigo also took some time to talk about the importance of drilling and anticipation in jiu-jitsu, which he said was 95% of the art. He pointed out that the difference, when all else was equal, was in the ability to anticipate the other person's next move. It reminded me of something I heard Rickson Gracie say at a Pedro Sauer seminar, that he was able to do what he did with someone as talented as Pedro sauer because he was able to anticipate Pedro's next moves.

It is also a reminder of that great line from "Choke" - also from Rickson Gracie - that "this is the point beyond knowledge." You can see a lot of jiu-jitsu. You can know a lot of jiu-jitsu. But being able to execute what is to be done at precisely the right moment that the opportunity presents itself, that ability to anticipate the opportunity, comes only from time on the mat.

No Lessons from Live Training save to say that things are working along pretty well. No armdrags (again) tonight, but an armbar, which was my first all year (and maybe only the fourth or fifth armbar from the guard I think I've ever successfully done). Trying to keep moving. All hooks & ladders from the guard. A lot of Marcelo passing from the top (especially the #1) and probably too much good side Flat Pass. Back at it tomorrow, most likly for the early show.

158.8 on the scale post-train.

Rickson By Armbar


Return of the Son of Taking the Back from Half Guard

Taking the back from half guard fever! Prof Rodrigo showed us this one several weeks ago and I've been meaning to focus on in more this year.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Wilson Reis Inverted Back Take from Top Half

I'm all for the half guard and have made taking the back an 11th commandment. But is this move a back-take too far? Or just right?


Training Day: Monday

A short, short session on the holiday ... They opened up the Bellevue academy for a couple of hours for open mat. There weren't as many folks training as I had hoped, but there were plenty of folks: Pat, Nate, Dan, Jake, Chris, Jei and Sonia, Chaim, Jesse ... who were there and ready to go.

I spent most of the time rolling with Jake and drilling with Chaim. Jake is a blue belt with a very good butterfly guard attack and, more to the point, excellent balance when attacked with hook sweeps. It was a huge challenge to try and get him off base, reminding me that I need to secure more points of control to deal with those who are able to keep themselves balanced even deep into the sweep.

I wasn't able to work the 2on1 game that I want to focus on for the balance of the year. But there was some good movement and improvisation from the deep half that I liked and will probably indicate the way forward in the whole menagerie of halfs, deep halfs, X-guards and single Xs.

Again, not as much training today as I would have hoped for - it's been a bit of a low volume week as summer winds down. But I'm looking to make up for it in the days leading up to my mini-vacation in Portland in a little over a week - including that great seminar with Profs Feitosa, Joca and Almeida on Saturday. Here's to a four-day work week!

Relentless Energy Drink fuels 180 NHM: Roger Gracie

Wow. Top level marketing meets top level talent.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bloody Elbow's History Of Jiu-Jitsu: Ronaldo Souza

It's easy to forget just how incredible a jiu jitsu fighter Ronaldo Souza a.k.a. "Jacare" was during his short competitive hedyday in the mid-aughts (2004-2005). Here's a great history and review of the one and only Jacare.

History of Jiu Jitsu: The Jaws of Jacare
A champion on the mats as well as in the cage, there are few as accomplished in martial arts as Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. Blessed with phenomenal athletic talent and then paired with a blue collar work ethic and mental fortitude, Souza has complied one of the greatest grappling careers ever.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lessons from Live Training

Look for elbow control and posture break from cross grip ... Move! Move! Move! ... Good switch reverse off half guard pass counter - more drilling! ... Work for the back from all dominant positions ... More half guard passes from watchdog ... Again, with the Feitosa, #1 before #2, and work to the right ... Guard recovery very weak from crossbody - more drilling! ... Move! Move! Move!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Training Day: Friday

At first, it looked as if only me and Brian were going to be the only ones training on the Friday heading into Labor Day Weekend. But by the time Prof Carlos and I had finished our "blind" rolling session, there were plenty of folks on the mat ready to train.

We worked a lot of judo and takedowns to start things off. Drilling double legs, single legs and a type of shoulder throw where you keep control of the sleeve and come up under the other arm with the seio nage. At first it was a little tricky to coordinate, but after awhile it seemed to get a bit easier.

Very cardio-intensive, as fits a Friday training session. Live training came a little early, but featured three pretty good rolls, again trying to maximize movement. Not enough for a Lessons from Live Training episode, but some nice things late out of the half guard switch reversal - thanks to Mark for helping me drill that reverse earlier in the week!

157.5 on the scale post-train, which is a good place to be on a Friday several weeks away from the next competition opportunity. My four-week training average is at 3.25, which is also a solid number at this point. Ideally, I'll make it to training at least four times next week (including the Saturday seminar), which will keep the average above 3.00.

Taking some time off for vacation the week after that will make it tricky to keep that average up without bracking the week off with some 4x training weeks, as is the plan. But again, the most important thing is to make my monthly goal of 15x. That will either mean some Tuesday/Thursday training or even a Sunday down in Federal Way. But 15 is the minimum monthly nut for the 2011-2012 training year.

Friday Night Fights: Roger v. Drysdale


Roger Gracie vs. Robert Drysdale by Prozess

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ryan Hall Interview with GrappleArts' Stephan Kesting

Here's an extended interview with American BJJ superstar, Ryan Hall. At the risk of sounding like an ass, the more I read interviews with Ryan Hall, the more interested I am in interviewing him myself. But it's always nice to hear from Ryan, who is truly one of the good guys in a great martial art. And the discussions on developing your guard as a game of range, as well as the sports psychology stuff (excerpted below) are certainly among the conversation's keepers.

Ryan Hall on BJJ, Submission Grappling and MMA

Stephan: Now, I guess this awareness really only comes with experience. Maybe first you go in at too high a state of arousal, burn yourself out, and not be able to think. And then you might go in at too low a state of arousal and not being able to capitalize or use the 'agro' energy when it might have helped you in this situation... So you'll be trying to dial it up and down as your experience level grows, which is exactly what you were doing, it sounds like...

Ryan: I’ve been on the wrong end of both of those, actually, and I still am every now and then. There have been certain tournaments where win or lose, I still don’t really feel like I performed well. I'm not like “oh man, the other guy was really tough but I somehow just expected to walk through him.” Instead it was more like, “man, I just didn’t really feel sharp,” or felt like I was too amped up, or just felt not into it. And that can be for a variety of reasons, but even now, I find myself on both ends of that.

And then, when everything comes together and you have a great performance, it’s usually when you find that optimal level of arousal, not only for the sport but for the moment and for that day. Everything seems to be clicking. And when I’ve been able to find and maintain that state of mind once then I’m able to find it again. And that’s one of the big things that I think that constant competition gives us.

For instance, if I compete only once every 6 months, I kind of lose touch with the proper frame of mind. It’s easy to have all these other things going on, these little voices in your head telling you what you need to be doing. But if you’re competing all the time, not only will you be getting experience, but you’ll be getting experience psychologically preparing yourself to perform at your best, and I think that’s absolutely critical.

Training Day: Wednesday

A great day of training today - something very different that I've been wanting to try for a long time.

While the Fundamentals class was going on (I got to the Academy about 45 minutes after class had started), I did some cardio power drills. Three one-minute rounds each of alternating tripod hook sweeps against the wall, the side control escape series (hipscape2belly, roll out, hard bump) and the half guard drill. I added a lap at the end of each drill (actually, two laps around the smaller mat) and, aside from taking heart rates (30/36/40 BTW), I did the whole circuit with no rest.

By the time I was done, the class was finishing up with some calisthenics of their own, which seemed like a good time to join in the push-ups, sprawls, squats, hipscape2belly and more to finish things off.

From there, we went into Live Training. I got to roll with Mark and Prof Carlos for about 8-10 minutes each. Excellent movement, which was my main priority, even as much of it was spent in escape with the Prof.

A very nice session today. Before the Live Training, I drilled the basic switch reversal out of half guard with Mark, a critical reverse to have if you spent a lot of time in half guard. This is especially good when the guy is trying to wedge your half guard open with the instep of his free leg. And after training, talking with Brian, Chaim and Prof Carlos, we spent a lot of time talking about movement, and Carlos' "blind" training with Brian, which was something I think he said he picked up from Rickson Gracie ("If you use strength, I stop. If you grip my gi, I stop. If you open your eyes, I stop. Do you want to roll?").

Excellent conversation. It was also a good opportunity to pick up a tip on getting control of the leg when looking to attack with the stack pass, for example in the #1 Feitosa pass (leg high). I'm definitely looking forward to trying that out the next time I get the chance.

160.1 on the scale post-train. A little porky but a tame Thursday should have me at a reasonable gravity by week's end. Today's training also marked my 15th of the month. One down. Eleven to go.