Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All the Mundial's a Stage

And We Merely Players ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Movement is Technique

Griff of Edmonds BJJ reminded me of what an incredible resource Global Training Report is. I was over there earlier and came across an interesting observation on the relationship between "technique" and "movement". It fits very much into the jiu jitsu Renaissance I am trying to launch in my own private little Firenze.

Movement Versus Technique: Why Rickson Gracie, B.J. Penn, Marcelo Garcia and Marco Barbosa are Good at Jiu-Jitsu
He simple kept repeating “movement is more important than technique”; and, of course, his definition of movement is also quite comprehensive. In any case, he passed, pinned, and tapped me and everyone else multiple times using a surprisingly small number of actual techniques. The minute adjustments and transitions he employed to pass, stay on top, escape in those rare situations where he was put in danger, and finish, were the key.

Numbered Five

The first thing is my weight. I'm ten pounds heavier than I need to be. It's not a massive amount. But given where I am and what I'm trying to accomplish, I need my walking around range to be 150-155, not 160-165.

Second is building a better cardio base. Here, I'm starting with the basics from Joel Jamison's Ultimate MMA Conditioning: Cardiac Output/High Intensity Continuous Training/Tempo Training. Output 3x/week, and once each for HICT and Tempo training.

Third? C-I-L-L my half-guard in order to save it. I've been debating whether or not to abandon the half guard for the past few months. I've concluded, fortunately, that would be an insane thing to do. What I need to do - what I will do - is increase the transitions from half to butterfly half to deep half to X to single X to tripod and so on.

This is also about passing. Develop strategies to draw out the guard you want to pass and then pass it. Ideally, for me, this means forcing guys to play half guard against me, where I should have an edge.

For the training portion, the goal isn't to sweep so much as it is to be able to transition to different guards as a way of dealing with the threat of pass. Attack just enough to illicit a response, and then use a guard transition rather than a "recounter" per se, to set up another attack.

The fourth goal is simply to be faster. Each of the first three goals will contribute to this, but it is worth making a conscious effort to increase the pace. I don't need - or want - to be moving at breakneck speed. But keeping the aerobic/alactic rhythm will go a long way toward helping my jiu jitsu become more effective.

The fifth and final goal is to train more. That doesn't mean training five days a week. It doesn't mean training full class and Live Training every time I go to the academy. What it does mean is developing a training program that allows me to focus on areas that I want to work on as frequently as possible. More often than not, this will mean only two classes a week, with two Live Training sessions - and maybe only one of those sessions being especially rigorous. Hell, it might mean driving over to the academy, putting on my gi and rolling around on the side mats by myself doing matwork drills. Whatever.

On the health front, what was a very sore back a few days ago has revealed itself to be a continuation of the groin injury I'd been working around for several weeks. I'm sitting on ice and not-stretching with the hope that Memorial Day will see me back on the mat.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Faria v. Barral: BJJ World Cup Italy 2011

If you heard about the controversial match between Bernardo Faria and Romulo Barral at the BJJ Pro Cup, and wondered what the fuss what about, see it for yourself here

Thursday, May 19, 2011

September 2005 - January 2011

The point of competing is to win. Whatever other good competition provides to the soul or to the fighting spirit or whatever, there is nothing to be gained by losing sight of the reason why competition exists: to determine a better through fair contest.

In the same way that history is written by the victors, so is the manual on competition. And from an aspirational point of view, that's certainly how it should be. After all, who wants to listen to the Seattle Mariners' plan to win the World Series, or to an American soccer player talking about what it takes to win the World Cup?

But at the same time, what does a victor have to say to the vanquished? From a certain perspective, what does a Marcelo Garcia, the most consummate champion in jiu jitsu in many respects, really have to say to someone like myself, who has been an exceptionally poor competitor for years, on the topic of competition?

I once had a teammate ask me after a recent loss - a teammate who does not compete - if I had the right attitude about the loss. He wasn't there to see the bug-meets-windshield nature of my performance that particular Saturday, and I grant that it was an innocent enough question. But I'll admit that there was a part of me that wanted to say, "I don't know. What's the appropriate attitude to have when you haven't won a competitive match in years?"

I actually found myself chuckling a little bit reading a recent GracieMag about overcoming adversity. To be sure, the suffering of someone like Pablo Papovitch - who lost family in the terrible floods in Brazil this spring and was on the cover of the issue - is of another order of magnitude beyond what any of us ever experiece on the mat. But as the issue went on to relate stories of how widely-recognized jiu jitsu champions dealt with their first loss in nearly three years or a referee's blown call or how - after winning in every tournament since white belt - they suddenly faced their first loss - I didn't exactly feel compelled to bring out the Stradivarius.

I remember watching some History Channel program or something about how hapless the European knights of the Middle Ages were against the faster, more agile Mongols, who invaded much of Eastern Europe in the first half of the 1200s. Nothing describes my jiu jitsu better than that right now. I am slow, defensive and easily overwhelmed by jiu jitsu that has any movement to it whatsoever. I am chain mail and broad sword in a world increasingly populated with composite bows and fast horses.

This is what I've made my priority to fix, what competition, per se, no longer plays much of a role in. From my way of looking at it, I need to bring a real Renaissance to my jiu jitsu, starting as close to scratch as I can get without breaking the skin, in order to become the kind of black belt I want to be if and when that day finally comes.

Master and Commander: Helio Sparring with Rickson

Not the music I would have selected. But that's what the volume control is for.

That said, how cool is this?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Machida Moment for This Natural

Like most fighters - if you'll forgive the expression - my record was better early in my competitive career than it was late. In fact, once you get beyond the superstars - the Anderson Silvas, the GSPs - a lot of fighters' records look like that as an early edge gives way to a brief period of either competitiveness or, at best, superiority, and then - for all but a very few - the decline.

So I wondered when I'd have my Machida moment, the one tournament match that would unequivocally make clear that my time on the competitive tatame was pretty much over. As it turns out, I'll be afforded no such drama. Out with a whimper, rather than a bang, I go.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Training Day: Monday

The main reason why I started keeping a four-week moving average of my weekly training was to deal with situations like this when I feel like my game is very much out of sorts and arbitrary.

By being able to look down at my calendar and see that I'm barely averaging more than 2x a week - and that including a few whole weeks without training over the past few months - I get one of the more helpful reality checks against the fear that I'm not developing the way I want to.

Prof. Rodrigo was making the point to one of the guys tonight, someone I've had the opportunity to train with for the past couple of days and gave me plenty of trouble from the half guard. Rodrigo was saying that missing whole weeks was a real killer and that even if you train 3 or 4 times a week, if you miss a week, it is almost like you are starting over again.

I felt as if he could have been talking to me. It's been a bumpy spring, with its set of distractions. And many of the training goals I'd set for this training year are now pretty much mathematically impossible. There may be an argument that I'd started to get too focused on the numbers and less of the quality of those numbers. But that was also during a time when it seemed like it was a lot easier to get training in.

It certainly helps to have great teammates. Every night I'm reminded of that and it is a reminder of how, once you get in the car and get headed toward the academy, you always know that things are well on their way toward getting better.

It's like a small slice of that great quote from Saulo Ribeiro, that the competition begins the moment you open your eyes the day of the tournament. You're on your way to a different place, and it is both blessing and obligation to make of it what you will.

161.3 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. A perfectly fine way to start Fight Week (TM). The backache that usually only arrives on Saturday mornings after oversleeping on our lousy mattress arrived mid-morning today and while I was able to train around it, it doesn't seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere, either. If I'm halfway decent tomorrow, a Tuesday Live Training and a Wednesday regular session might do it for this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Training Day: Saturday

Prof Jesse led the class and Live Training session. I arrived at the tail end of the class, and got to work a nice takedown/guard-submission drill that Jesse had everyone doing. It was a great warmup for the Live Training that followed.

Jesse had us working in small group shark tanks. I felt so-so at first, but then felt like I was really breaking down quickly after the second round. Due to the structure of the drill, I spent a good amount of time on the bottom or "in the tank", which was certainly good training. But I really felt inefficient and reactive much of the time.

It was definitely great to get a Saturday in, especially now that I'm going to have to figure out a way to get access back to my Friday training sessions - sessions that used to be a great anchor to my training week. But things as The Asteroid seem almost always in some sort of flux or another, so I'm not convinced I'll have any training scheduled clarity any time soon.

In any event, I've got to figure it out. I hate the idea of stumbling around in my jiu jitsu, and that's how I've felt with this on-again, off-again training over the past couple of months. That I'm weaving this patchwork en route to the Revolution is no great thrill. But it that may make this event a week from now the first one in a long time that I've been able to put in the proper perspective.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Training Day: Wednesday

A real savage training tonight. After warmups we started with a little standup drilling, working on the entry for the fireman's carry. From there, we drilled half-guard sweeps, the Xande and the Shaolin, from Monday night. I was having a little trouble getting the momentum right for the Xande, not waiting for it, mostly. And the Shaolin felt a little better than it did on Monday. I felt less like I was bodysurfing into position and a bit more like a controlled roll.

A lot of half guard specific and I really felt like I underperformed. Fatigue came on very fast after just a few rounds of passing and on the bottom my game seemed to fall apart. Compared to the way my guard game was last Saturday, things looked pretty rough - and all the more dismayingly so given that half guard is my bread and butter.

Live Training was better. I don't feel about the half guard the way I used to now that I am opening things up a little bit. But I don't want to lose complete touch with it. In competition, it will still be a go to position - especially if I can keep near the front of the pack in the deep half guard arms race.

161.2 on the scale post-train. A little heavier than I'd like, but that makes weight.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Training Day: Monday

Felt great to get back on the mat tonight. I actually didn't feel too off my game - in part because I'd been watching so much jiu jitsu over the past few days and working on Burien Top Team 2.0: Beyond the Half Guard. Of course, the irony of tonight's training was that I learned a total of three new sweeps for the half guard - all of which look like they can be incorporated fairly seamlessly into what I've been doing out of meia-guarda.

Tonight Prof. Rodrigo showed us the Xande half guard sweep and the Shaolin sweep from half guard. They really work very well together, starting with the knee shield and then feeling for the movement that will tell you whether to go forward with the Xande or backward with the Shaolin.

Good training tonight overall - especially after being off the mat for a week. That's probably a testament to having done this jiu jitsu thing for a little while now. I know it's always been a weird feeling to get to train with a black belt who hasn't trained in a while or is only training 2x a week and to feel no significant slack in their game, no advantage I might have gained after a couple of months of furious 4x/week training. In that way, jiu jitsu is a lot like swimming or music or fluency in a language other than your native one: once it becomes a part of you, it's a part of you. And that's nothing that a week here - or a month or even a year there - is going to change.

159.6 on the scale post-train. No doubt some of that is "cold virus assisted". But I wouldn't mind hanging around under 160 for a fortnight.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mundial Season

The best seats for the 2011 Mundial not in the state of California are right here:

More info and how to buy here.
And here's a look at how they finished last year:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring and All

It's been one heckuva spring. I get injured the weekend before the March revolution. Then I'm told that I need to move to Jersey to keep my job. Then I'm told that I can keep my job, continue working remotely, and even get the raise I asked for - but that all of my staff is going to be let go. And then after a month of being a Department of One (TM), waiting patiently for That Paper, and trying to prep for the May revolution, I catch a cold three weeks out and miss a full week of training.

Coming into this week, my four-week training average was 2.5. I figured that four sessions this week - and over the next two weeks - would bring that number up to a respectable 3.5 or so heading into the competition. As it stands, with this week being another zero, the best I can hope for is a 3.0 by the Friday after the Friday after tomorrow.

Historically, the late spring and early summer tends to be a great time for training. And even with the awful April, I think I'll still have a halfway decent quarter (May/June/July - my calendar training year begins in August).

Other than getting some rest and all the usual cold-recovery strategies, I'm trying to focus in on what I'll need to train specifically next week and the week after in order to put on a halfway decent performance on the 21st. There have been some solid breakthroughs in recent weeks, especially with my cross and instep guards which really came into their own last Saturday. But there is still much tightening work to do with regard to guard passing and I need to drill some takedowns (read: half guard pulls) to avoid leaving any gaps that could show up as chasms in two weeks' time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why I Listen to/Read Lloyd Irvin

Here's your assignment.

Ok, check this out, I recently had my students focus on this because at some point you have to become a Master at your go to moves. Most people will become really good at their go to moves "over time" but I've been focused on cutting that time to a mere fraction of the normal time it takes most people.

Over the years I've proven it with my students and at first I proved it with myself as my own test subject.

As a motivation for my students you've probably heard that at tournaments I have what I call 'Money Moves', these are moves that if my students pull off they get paid. Like the UFC bonues but I was doing it before Dana White. :-)

For example, The Kimura Kid made $450 at the pan ams for his submissions.

When I want my guys to focus on X choke from the mount I'll make that a money move for a tournament and during the training I only allow the X choke from the mount(if they get to the mount).

I also will do position specific LIVE drills from the mount to force them to work on it.


Here's my Sunday assignment for you, I want you to pick one sweep and one choke from positions that you get to the most and only use those 2 moves for the next week, if you like it I want you to push it out for 2 weeks.

So your assignment right now is to write down what your one sweep will be and what your one choke will be.

Then think about the positions that you need to get to for the move and which of your teammates you're able to attain these positions on.

Then make sure that you get to work with them, you can also ask your instructor if you can get paired up with them because you want to work on a specific technique set and they are the best partner for you.

That's it. Saturday afternoon let me know how the week went.

Have fun.

Lloyd Irvin aka The Grappling Renegade
Forever The King Of Leglocks