Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kesting on Common Half Guard Mistakes

More great stuff from Stephan Kesting for your half guard.

Training Day: Wednesday

A very good and varied session today.  We worked the escape from rear bear hug to start things off, focusing on the "switch" style reversal where you turn in and grab the near leg.  A good reminder, among other things, of the switch from other positions and sets, especially the "King Crimson" set of kimura  / omoplata / guillotine / crossover sweep.

Also picked up a nice variation on the rear naked choke - a pair of variations, really: a one-collar choke from Brian and a lever-choke from Professor Carlos that was similar to the RNC adjustment I see a lot of mixed martial artists use to deal with the handicap of the gloves.

I'm starting to return to old challenges when it comes to training, which is a good sign, at least in part.  I'm still getting flattened out with trying to use half guard against veteran guys with weight advantage, which means that I need to use the knee shield a lot more to maintain space.  I also need to continue to think about the "quantum" nature of the half guard that I mentioned awhile back, keeping in mind that that half guard is not a "hanging out guard" like a lot of the full guards.  It is an attacking guard and I need to have a target in mind in order to really make the guard work against better and better guys.

Some very good training late in the day, almost exclusively working on open guard passing.  While it was a nice long session - maybe more than 15 minutes - what was especially good was the flow.  I don't think I've spent that much time working on my standing pass attack, closing the distance to work the Effing Pass series, as well as some basic toreano passing.  Good, good, and very necessary work.

160.1 on the scale, post-train.  Not a bad number, all things considered.  I'd like to keep the print in the 150s.  But 160 is no crime.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Training Day: Friday

Adventures in Animal Planet kept me from making what I'd planned to be a full day of training much like Wednesday.  As it turned out, I ended up doing much of the old routine of off-mat conditioning and then joining the class when Live Training came around.

Three rolls today: Chaim, Mark, and Angela.  A diverse set, which is nice insofar as I get to work on different things with different types of people.  Chaim had me in the same bad position that Professor Sean did on Wednesday: an old habit of staying in "the middle" when in half guard and not attacking more consistently.  It's no surprise that I'm having this problem when dealing with guys who've got 20-25 pounds on me, which makes it all the more important to be wary of getting stuck in bad positions.

Half chance at training tomorrow on Saturday.  My heart is desperate for more jiu-jitsu.   But my body is coming along a lot slower, especially as I try to jump right back in pretty much where I left off three weeks ago.  If the chance comes, of course, I'll take it.  I'll just have to be careful of what I do and with whom I do it.  Late in the training day, guys my size start to disappear and I end up training with some of the toughest folks on the mat when I'm at my least dynamic.  There are ways of making the best out of situations like this - drills, specific training, etc. - and I may have to start taking advantage of them.

159.3 on the scale, post-train.  Still making that sub-160 print.  I heard through the grapevine that the Youth Grappling Classic for June 9th has been cancelled, which is a bummer on a couple of different fronts.  Hopefully, it's just an excess of summer vacations, and that the kids will be back in action this fall.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here Come Cowboys

Sitting here Thursday night with the icepick quads (you know, when your quadriceps feel as if they've been stabbed with ice picks?) watching Heat/Pacers, and looking forward to another day on the mat tomorrow, it's been great to stoke my pre-Mundial fever with these promotional videos from Budo Videos, featuring Team Atos.

I loved seeing the one about Guillerme Mendes, who sometimes doesn't get the attention he deserves.  But this segment that features both Kyra Gracie and Mike Fowler, who left Gracie Barra and Team Lloyd Irvin, respectively, to represent Team Atos at the World Championships has the feel of something unique.

Ah, this jiu-jitsu.  It's hard to describe how much fun it is to be a part of something that is truly growing and dynamic.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Focus, Fortitude, and Other Effing

One thing that I definitely did not like about Wednesday's training was that I didn't get a chance to work on the Effing Series.  I did try to look for Effing pass opportunities during one roll, and that's how the opportunities are going to come up outside of drilling.  But I want to make sure I don't drift.

Roger Gracie made the point a year or so ago: you want to have a focus or a goal in mind every time you train. Most of the time, if you take the class before the Live Training session, then you probably are going to have to forget about that focus or goal for an hour or so, and try and absorb as much as you can from the lessons.  And when the Live Training comes - to say nothing of any specific training opportunity - it is always a good idea to try and incorporate some of what you learned or reviewed that day.

But this is also the time when you have to circle back to what your focus and goal is for the limited time you have (two 8-10 minutes sessions, maybe a third if we're lucky, for most of us, on average, three or four times a week). This is why it's a pretty good idea to have very general, limited goals for a stretch of a couple of months.  It can get chaotic trying to assimilate new information with every class, retain and improve upon what you learned a week or two or more ago, and still carve into muscle memory those familiar strategies and techniques that help you get from the bottom to the top.  Or finish from the bottom.  Or finish from the top.

The Effing pass gives me a unified field theory for the open guard.  But I'm not nearly as precise against the half guard as I should be given my preference for the half guard as an attack from the bottom.  I don't feel as if I'm running into a lot of especially sophisticated half guard sweeping attacks.  I'm just not taking a methodical approach to getting the pass.

At the end of the day, any one of the passes I've learned will be fine.  The trick, though, is to find something that fits as well as the Effing pass has started to fit when it comes to the open guards.  Backstep passes are very popular.  But I'll admit that as long as I'm not completely caught unawares, I feel like I've always got at least a 50/50 shot against a backstep pass.  I know that control of the inside leg, the ability to switch your hips as if to go belly down, is critical to winning that initial battle, that there's a roll to the back and a kneebar worth watching out for, as well.

What I've had the hardest time beating, though, is the "Base Switch Pass with Shin" as Saulo calls it (35-3 in Jiu-Jitsu University, which you should own.).  If I there's no space for the head, then it is easy to set up an irresistible pressure against the legs.  There's also a shin-slide, 35-6, that I remember using more frequently years ago.  It sets up a lot of pressure and is another of those half guard passes that I personally hate to defend against.

Another option, a third one to try and keep things "general" and "limited", is to bait deep half.  I don't have a lot of defenses against deep half.  But I feel as if I know a good response and can bring it faster than most deep half attacks I've had to deal with.  A lot of people are still treating the deep half like a "guard" like spider guard or closed guard or something, when it's a guard that should be as fluid as a takedown.  Arguably, deep half is an anti-guard, moreso even than the X-guard.  Arguably, deep half is a quantum guard that is both guard and sweep at the same time.

Other things, too.  But this is more than enough to get started.

Training Day: Wednesday

Finally back on the mat after about three weeks elsewhere ... It wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared.  I did a small workout before class, finished the Fundamentals session, then sparred twice - once with Professor Sean and once with Chris.  I was pretty worn out after that, but went ahead and trained once more during the Open Mat with a guy that was pretty eager to train and didn't have a partner.  I'm trying to understand how you turn down a guy like that.  You can't train jiu-jitsu by yourself.

What I may start doing, though, is limiting those mercy rolls to guard/pass guard specific or something.  If I'm too fatigued, then the chances of me getting anything other than altruism points for continuing to train are pretty slim.  Besides I'm always nervous about getting hurt, and that's all the moreso when training with new partners whose game I don't know and whose style I have yet to trust.  So if I'm going to wade back into the water when I'm already well-worn, I need to put some controls on just how far from shore I'm willing to let the game go.

The gem of today's training was the detail on how to apply the initial choking grip from mount, and how to loosen that grip and use it as a push lever if the guy tries to bump or roll out of the position.  Mount transition to S-mount, in other words.  Good stuff.

Nice to meet the new professor, Professor Alex.  He's good-sized, which will help with the increasing number of big boys coming to train.  I'm looking forward to learning more about his specialties.

A very sweet, 156.5 on the scale, post-train, gi and everything.  Much to love about being within five pounds of the featherweight/pena limit - the details of how I got here notwithstanding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Money Jiu-Jitsu Charts and Graphs Compiled

Some very interesting data-crunching on success in jiu-jitsu.  The blog below pulls out the highlights.  But the credit for the research goes to Tyler and Jena of

High percentage techniques in Jiu-Jitsu looking at statistics

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Superfight! Caio v. Glover

A great match between two of the world's best.  Jeff starts things off with his characteristically irreverent, anarchic attitude, but once things get going, there's no doubt that the man is all biz-ness.

From the 202 to the 206

Back from an action-packed week in Washington, D.C. and, typically and unfortunately, I've been slammed with what has to be my third rhinovirus of the season.

Much more to say later.  For now, I'm consuming enough Vitamin C to liquefy intestines large and small, and praying to all that's holy (and a few that aren't) that I'll be able to return to the mat on Friday.

The upside is that I'm down to about a buck fifty, right now.  I don't know if you are supposed to starve a cold or feed one.  But the fact of the matter is that, like yonder felines, I can't eat what I can't smell.  So my appetite, and my weight, have plunged.

Trying to put into place a few, new, good habits for the second half of the year - and the final quarter of this particular Training Year.  As far as the near-term schedule is concerned, I'm a back-up ref for the Youth Grappling League Summer Classic event on June 9th, and looking to compete as a black belt for the first time at the Revolution on July 7th.  Both goals mean a lot of competition tape study over the next few weeks, which is something I'm really looking forward to.

With this week largely shot in terms of training (save for Friday, inshallah), I've got about 6-7 weeks to get ready for the Revolution.  Assuming my cardio didn't take too much of a hit after a near-two week hiatus , that should be plenty of time to put some polish on the game I've been working on all spring.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

"... we overestimate the value of what we already have and so underestimate the upside of taking a chance, leaving something behind, and making a big change ..."
--Will Wilkinson