Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Training Day: Wednesday

Ouchi gari to standing closed guard pass with cross grip was today's primary lesson, though Prof Carlos broke it down into its component parts to make it easier to absorb.  The pass was the Jacare, the single underhook, with the arm cutting across the neck to get the far collar and the grip on the sleeve on the other arm very strong and pulling.

My cut still hasn't healed, though it was healed enough to get me through an initial 8-minute roll with Angus.  A good job attacking with the Gordo and Twist Back, but I need to open up to (a) attacking with the same stuff from my weak side, and/or (b) transitioning to deep half.

Strangely, I don't feel as if I have much of a middle game right now.  I've got the half guard for close range, and the cross guard (including the Leandro Lo sweep) for long range.  But there isn't really anything in my closed guard, for example, that I feel especially confident in using.  I've long felt most comfortable with the King Crimson suite (kimura, guillotine, omoplata, crossover sweep, kimura backtake).  What's been missing, though, has been a counter for those times when I can't control the elbow.  I've done a little bit with the Mendes Brothers Barataguard approach, and maybe should do more.  The armdrag has worked once or twice in the past, and that is probably the #1 move from that guard.

Rolling with Glenn for even the short amount of time that I did was a reminder to work on my deep half guard passing from the top.  There's a way to bait the move to deep half, and if you are able to move into the counter and pass, for example, stepping over the head and turning into the legs in a "watchdog" position, I think it will only open up other ways to attack the half guard in general.

Managed to drill a little bit of the Z-guard pass from Jason Scully, as well.  I was doing a push-pull on the controlled, top leg instead of turning it clockwise like a giant steering wheel.  It really makes a difference in getting that lower leg across the center line, where it is far easier to drag.

159.6 on the scale. post-train.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rolled Up Episode 24 – Guard Passing & training mindset with Marcio Feitosa

The guard pass sequence shown by Professor Marcio Feitosa is part of the series I've been referring to as the "Effing Pass."  I don't exaggerate when I say that it has changed my life on the mat.  It's been the biggest breakthrough since I started training half-guard as a blue belt.

Rolled Up Episode 24 – Guard Passing & training mindset with Marcio Feitosa

Monday, June 25, 2012

Training Days: Saturday, Monday

I'm slowly getting back my training pace.  This Saturday's session marked the first time my training pace was at 3x/week since the first week of May (my first week of unemployment, not ironically).  You'd think being out of work would only increase my training pace - and, starting this week, that will be the case.  But between a visit to La Familia back in Maryland/D.C., coming home with a head cold, trying to get my freelance hustle going and, for better or worse, spelunking for a full-time gig ("To give us an idea of your writing skills, please write a 200-word essay on the topic of your choice.  Your essay must reference peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."), I've actually found it hard to focus on jiu-jitsu.

Actually, focusing on jiu-jitsu hasn't been hard.  Getting to the academy has.  It's a weird thing to be spending so much time and energy training, and then go home and do ... well, not the job you've been doing for the past 4-5 years, but instead the "honey do" list, the Craig's List, the "what I wish I'd done with my money when I was making some" list ... It's hard to not feel a little, well, certainly not "lazy", but, I don't know, inappropriate.  As in, what the hell am I doing practicing sweeps, takedowns, and submissions when I should be looking for a job?

However persistent that argument has been, it clearly has not yet won the day.  And training sessions like I had on Saturday will continue to make it difficult for that end of the conversation.  The Effing Pass continues to be my salvation.  Again, even if I don't get the pass, I've got a gameplan, a map of the journey that I've never had before.  And what's even better is that I'm starting to actually chain my guard passing, going from the Effing Pass to a double unders then switching to the drop leg option in the double unders pass ... It's like nothing I've ever been able to do in my passing game in all the years I've been training and it is hard to exaggerate how good it feels.

And today, with that Z-guard leg drag I picked up from Jason Scully (who I've been a big fan of ever since his "silent movie" days - "Psycho!  Groupie!  Cocaine!  Crazy!") .... It's just been a great two days of work on the mat, the kind of work that reminds you why you train.

Today (Monday) we worked on opening the guard from the knees.  One of the good things about doing the Fundamentals over and over is that you really start to internalize the technique.  It's like you are running down this dim passageway - chasing or evading, depending on your personality, I suppose - and then, all of a sudden, a door appears out of nowhere.  And when you reach for it, it flies open before you grasp the knob, not just inviting you to enter, but to do so with a sense of urgency, a sense of opportunity.

There's nothing like that moment of discovery.  It's what helps keep you not just learning, but integrating, connecting.

159.1 on the scale, post-train on Saturday.  158.8 on the scale, post-train on Monday.  This is how we do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Training Day: Monday

I don't usually train open guard.  But when I do, I train tripod sweep.

That's how I felt during today's training.  After a few sessions feeling out of my element (especially the closed guard work last week), it was nice to find myself in a pretty comfortable pedagogic space: training and drilling the open guard pull and switch to the tripod sweep.

Several months ago I developed a little coordination drill to help me move quickly from orthodox grips and feet on hips to the cross grip, ankle hook, and ankle grip of the tripod sweep.  And while I've never made the transition to the sickle sweep alternative to the tripod sweep defense with any fluidity, the drill has given me an open guard sweep that I'm pretty comfortable with - something that was not likely to emerge whole from my permanent half guard campaign.

Got a lot of opportunity to work on said open guard during an extended open guard King of the Hill.  It was also a great chance to work on passing open guards, getting rid of the hooks and securing the grips you want in order to pass.  Professor Carlos has been especially big on emphasizing open guards - sweeping and passing.  Today was a good example of getting that work in.

A little chubby 160.7 on the scale post-train.  For a Monday, and with only one sparring session in Live Training (though I did some pre-class conditioning including a matwork round, a pair of aerobic power rounds, sprints, straddles, throws, trips, and takedowns ...), I'm going to give myself a break.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Training Day: Saturday

Your final training day of the week should be a big deal and for me, this week, Saturday's session delivered on a number of accounts.

The cardio component was very good, a pair of two-minute rounds in the 360 drill against the turtle got things off to a good threshold testing start.  We worked on taking the back from turtle, the controls at the nape of the neck and the far hip, the switch and open to provide "falling space" as you take the back - as opposed to trying to "roll" the guy into your rear mount ...  Prof Carlos added a clock choke, as the guy tries to return to turtle after you've changed your grip to the collar.  It was a nice reminder of how powerful the choke can be, and why it's worth keeping part of your regular set of options.

The specific and Live Training were excellent, with a couple of tough rolls with Dave, a blue belt I see on Saturdays usually, and Prof Abel, who earned the first degree on his black belt today.  I'm working more DLR as part of the Leandro Lo sweep I've been trying out for the past week or two.  Guys are fighting to keep me from inserting the lead single X leg by pinching their knee in, which I know sets up a DLR backtake for me.

More critically, I'm patching up my half-guard defense to the backstep pass, especially when I've already got a grip on the lapel.  I'd been stymied here for the past month or so, and couldn't really get my technique clear.  Simply by switching hands on the lapel grip, I'll be able to both go belly-down and then on top while keeping the guard passer from being able to turn in (their inside leg is kept up by my new lapel grip, now on my outside hand rather than my inside hand).

Even though it's sort of a junkyard dog position, I think I want to work it a lot more just to see if I can turn it into another effective "heads I win/tails you lose" situation like my Gordo/Twist Back half guard sweep combo.  If I can pull half guard from standing with that lapel grip (as I did in my first brown belt competition against a very tough opponent), then even the worst case scenarios of the knee cross and backstep pass are a lot less to fear.

156.6 on the scale post-train.  Almost an ideal number for the end of the week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Training Day: Friday

Trained at Zee's 6:30 am Early Bird class for Friday.  We worked on an armbar and a triangle, the armbar coming from the BJJ All Levels class that Prof Rodrigo taught on Thursday.  The armbar attack included a posture break with a same side collar grip on one side and an elbow grip on the other.  The reaction from the posture break - posturing up - gives you the opportunity to shove the elbow to the inside, switching from the same side collar grip to a cross grip on the forearm under attack.

Step on the attack side hip to lock the guard passer's shoulder, and pivot.  Use your elbow grip/free hand to lower the passer's head if necessary to help get your leg over to finish the armbar.

The triangle was a special of Coach Brock, a triangle from double wrist control.  It took a little while for me to figure this one out, the step on the hip, pancaking your legs and then using that off leg to move the guy's arm out of the way and loop the leg around.  Zee added a nice detail of switching to a two-on-one once you peel off with the second leg to maximize your ability to isolate the arm and head.

A good class and a really nice time of the day to train in a lot of ways.  I didn't train at the midday session, and a part of me wishes that I did.  Even though I was planning to train on Saturday, it felt weird not getting that midday session in.  I don't know if I'll train next Saturday or not, but I'll definitely be looking to double up next Friday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Training Day: Wednesday

More work on the pendulum sweep today, which was great insofar as I can already feel my sweep getting smoother compared to my efforts on Monday. As I said to Brian during the drilling, I could train the same technique all week. With something as technical as jiu-jitsu, repetition is definitely some kind of solution to learning, if not mastery.

Today we added another armlock to the sweep, as well as a variation in case the guy steps up with one foot, but keeps it too far out of range for you to reach it. Here, you reach under your lower back - almost as if you were "handcuffing" yourself - in order to block the guard passer's near knee. If you can sweep the knee, so much the better. But likely all you'll need to do is block it in order to carry out the same pendulum sweep. The armlock for today also dealt with that same posture on top from the guard passer. Here, the key was to pull on the foot of the near leg (again, under you), in order to initially break the base. Done correctly, the guard passer almost falls into perfect position for the armlock.

Very vigorous Live Training today, with two 8-10 minutes sessions with Chaim. There may not be a more difficult guy for me to spar than Chaim in many ways, not the least of which is that we have similar styles ("three yards and a cloud of dust"). It can be a sobering experience. But I'm trying to focus on how much benefit this kind of training will be over the longer-term, as I am forced to adapt to a bigger, stronger "opponent" with the same sort of positional goals that I have.

Still no new battery for the scale, so my post-training weight is a mystery for a second session in a row. I was about 153 before class this morning, so I'm guessing that I might have even tipped below 155 (without the gi) by the time Wednesday's time on the mat was done. It's a tricky balance. But if I can stay around these lbs, and gradually bring my consumption back up, that would be ideal.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

IBJJF 2012 World Championships Round-by-Round Results

A great collection of data on who won and how on the road to the gold at the Mundial a few weeks ago from the good folks at BJJ Heroes.

Jiu Jitsu World Championships Results 2012

Cardio Day: Tuesday

I'm scheduling in some cardio work (cardiac output) three times a week over the next month or so to see if I can extend the amount of training I can do in a given session.  Today was the first day on the treadmill for cardiac output work in a long while, so I took it relatively easy with a three-mile trek at modest mph's.

The goal is to keep myself in an aerobic state for a full 50-55 minutes.  Tuesday's session went well on that score.  But "first days" can be deceiving.  The real trick will be to see how I'm faring come Sunday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Training Day: Monday

A lot of work on the pendulum sweep in today's class. Professor Carlos showed us two versions, as well as a version that sets up an armlock.

Critical in the details were a few things: breaking posture and waiting for the guard passer to move before using your legs to off-balance him forward. Also key were some of the different ways to control the inside arm or hand (or elbow) to keep the guy from posting as he pitches forward and begins to turn. I have a habit of doing the sweep without opening my guard, using my legs to squeeze and then sort of throw the guy over by extending my legs. Not ideal form, and not the way to go if you want the armbar option. So I'll try to keep working on this one a little bit.

Some good work in Live Training. I still haven't really done any deep half work in the past several weeks. But I have been able to spend a LOT of time working on the Effing Pass, which is just great. This pass didn't even exist for me until this year and it's already giving me a lot of confidence when it come to dealing with really tricky guards. Some of the reactions to this passing attack - silent or almost silent reactions - are suggesting that folks haven't figured out what to do against the Effing Pass, which gives me an edge in terms of starting to build on the pass. I'm also liking my Double Unders pass or, more accurately, the counter to the defense of the Double Unders pass. It really exploits the physics involved: just as the guy is working to fight off the squeeze of the Double Under, you switch your grip with a simple wrist rotation to palm the thigh (instead of hooking it), force the leg to the mat, and then bring your shin over on top quickly to pin the leg in place. From there, any number of passing options are available.

No post-train weight since the scale is low on batteries. Hopefully that will be taken care of by Wednesday.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Training Day: Saturday

157.4 on the scale post train.

A great day on the mat on Saturday.  I got to work with John, who I haven't trained with since he got his brown belt the day I got my black belt.  We reviewed the techniques of the week, taking the back after sprawling against the double leg, and adding both a bow and arrow choke and a knee-in choke for the finish.  Professor Carlos added that nice detail of hipscaping back and allowing the guy to fall into your lap, rather than trying to roll the guy over and into you.  It's another great example of the physics of jiu-jitsu at work.

A lot of training today.  Guard specific, shark tank training (six minutes each in the middle), then a couple of sparring sessions with blue belts David and Ron.  I was able to attack much, much more with the Effing Pass and, quite frankly, am getting close to the point where I need to start thinking about working both sides a little.  I'm still reverting to the Flat Pass against tight closed guards (twice today), adding in the handcuff behind the back if I can get it.  It's a little bread and butter.  But if nothing else is working, then I go to it.

I still haven't done much so far with the deep half.  I don't want to play deep half against guys that are smaller than me.  But I've got to remember to switch to the deep half anytime I've got a "body" to climb around.    I'm liking my Faria move from deep half - the one I drilled with Mark a little bit on Friday - and am anxious to see it at work in real-time.

Had a very nice conversation with Zee after training.  He's been running a new 6:30 am class on Friday, and invited me to stop by.  I'm going to take him up on it next week.  The class has been growing and there is talk about expanding it to other mornings.  This might be the best news I've gotten in a month.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Training Day: Friday

To finish off the workweek ("workweek!" chortled the gods), Prof Carlos had us sparring in rotating five minute sessions for the whole of the main class, then a little Live Training afterwards.  I got in four rounds for a good twenty minutes of almost continuous sparring, and was feeling pretty good - though faded - near the end.

A few things are working well.  The Effing Pass is the biggest technique godsend since I started playing half guard as a blue belt.  I've got to remember to Punch rather than Control the pinned leg.  But most of the other mechanics really seem to be falling into place nicely.  Even when I don't get the pass, it is putting me and keeping me in a good attacking position where I rarely feel in danger of being submitted or swept.

I'm starting to feel a little flow.  It's crazy to look at my training calendar and realize that my 4-week training average has dropped down to once a week as of a week ago.  Getting in to train tomorrow will give me three sessions for this week, which will help bend the curve in the right direction.  But between illness, relapse, and the whole Doomsday experience, it's been hard sometimes to find the way to the Academy.

But it's paid off every time I've made it.  Today I very spontaneously hit a nifty "take the mount" move from side control that was improvised off that Bibiano turning-back, back take against the turtle.  And on Wednesday there was that Rodolfo Viera attack against the knee shield half guard that I read in GracieMag a few hours before training and was able to apply that day.  Again, some very good flow even though my training frequency has been so low.

A lot of nice drilling after training, also.  Worked with Mark on the Leandro Lo sweep and the Machado sweep for me, giving me something else to do against standing opponents.  Mark wanted to work some deep half, so we drilled a little Homer Simpson sweep a la Jeff Glover and the Faria sweep.  If I could do that after every class ...

158.4 on the scale post-train.  A good number near the end of the week.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Training Day: Wednesday

Very nice to get back on the mats after relapsing into my summer cold over the weekend (and missing training on Monday).  We worked guard replacements from the turtle (sprawl defense and side attacks against the turtle), which provided a good opportunity to work on mechanics, as well as a good workout.

Live Training was also good.  I have to say, the past several sessions training with Coach Angela have been especially productive, giving me a chance to focus almost exclusively on open guard passing, movement, and technique.  I'm getting a chance to work on not only the Effing Pass, but also some toreano passing, which is another major priority for my guard passing game.  I'm also able to train the double under/double drop pass that Brian and I worked on a week or two ago.

The focus for me today was not letting anyone put their weight on me, going chest to chest, in half guard.  It's one of my worst habits, making my work a hell of a lot harder.  So with arm frame and knee shield, I did a much better job of controlling range and setting up my entries to sweeps.  Also on this score, from a half guard passing game, I had some great early success with one of the passes that Rodolfo Viera shows in the latest edition of GracieMag, especially helpful against the knee shield half guard, where you overhook the top leg, fight for the cross face, and then squeeze your arms together while kicking your trapped leg free.

158.8 on the scale, post-train.  Anything under 160 is gold.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Training Day: Friday

One thing Friday's training revealed was my weak guard replacement from the side control escape.  My escapes from side control are generally about securing the underhook, walking out, and then drop stepping to knees.  Today, we spent a lot of time working on the guard replacement as an escape from side control, which requires a different fundamental movement, the "bumpscape", that I need to train more often individually.

The bumpscape is a vertical bump combined with a hipscape without resetting your feet.  It's a very quick explosive, movement, an UP AWAY one-two.  The key point with the bumpscape is that because of the bump, you don't have time to reposition your feet wider to do a really good escaping hipscape.  Instead, you just have to pivot, as near to the apex of the bump as possible, shifting your hips outward and getting on to your side.

I drilled this a little in between lessons during class, and then put in three minute rounds, one each side, focusing on the bumpscape.  It has some similar characteristics to the dropstep - arguably, the bumpscape is halfway between the dropstep and the hipscape.  But more drilling will help this move fall into place.

Better in the half guard against bigger/stronger today.  My focus was on getting small and sideways and not getting stretched out and flat on my back.  I wasn't able to get the sweep I wanted.  But my positioning was far better than its been in weeks, and I was able to launch the right attacks - even if they didn't reach their objective.

A little stymied against the knee shield half guard.  My usual move it to step back and force an open guard, but that just led to stand ups so I decided to try and pass it on the ground.  Not my preference against bigger/stronger; the trick here may be to try and steer the game toward the Effing Pass, something I've been thinking about as a different way to attack the half guard without revealing the open guard pass attack that's coming.

Was 161.8 after training.  159.8 after post-training conditioning (2 rounds 3-minute bumpscapes, 1 round 4-minute technical lifts).