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


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.