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