Drove to the Consulate General of Brazil again today, this time with success. The submission took all of three or four minutes. Easy peazy. Just in time too. They said the Visa will be ready for pick up on Friday July 13th. I fly out Saturday July 14th. Can't wait!
Showed up to class 10mins early to stretch and work on balance. (BTW, stood up on the large round ball twice!) Saulo was working with two other blacks, two browns, and a purple, all visiting from other RJJA academies. At the start of class another two purples joined. I was the rookie on the mat. We drilled two options from reverse de la riva guard. First was "the wrong way" but can work if you're late. Second required spinning under your opponent to take his back. Both felt good and are right in line with my open guard game. Next up was sweep / pass the guard from half. 4min rounds then switch top/bottom and switch partners. Finished with a 10min round with a seasoned Purple. He had my back most of the time. Caught me with an arm bar after defending choke attacks for 5+ mins. Caught me with another arm bar from guard off a triangle. Not the greatest performance but I didn't feel like dying after 1.5 hrs of almost continuous grappling. 202.4 after training. A week in Hawaii and I didn't really gain a pound. Nice.
Stopped by Team HK again today for 2hrs. First hour focused on combatives. Street fighting without a gi top. Worked triangle guard to fend off strikes and finish. An hour of triangles and my neck was DONE. Second hour emphasized turtle attacks. Lots of cool stuff that I hope I can remember. But some of it was way beyond me.
Oh! Met a Honolulu PD officer from Arroyo Grande (15miles from where I grew up). Turns out he played water polo in high school the same time I did. I'll have to check my scrap book. We must have faced off against each other in the pool many times.
Strength and balance session tomorrow then back to CA. Need to get my visa straightened out...ASAP.
Had a car today so I made the trek to Mad Tiger, an RJJA affiliate, for open mat. Only two others showed up. Both in the Army and said they had five days experience training. They wanted to roll no gi. I'm not a no gi guy, but I drove 45mins to be there so I gave it a shot. Great guys. Strong, but composed. Not spazzy at all. We went six minute rounds with a 90 secs rest between rounds. I trained every round for an hour while the two "kids" rotated in. It was a great experience and aside from bashing my elbow against the concrete (now very swollen and bruised) I escaped the session uninjured and feeling great.
Walked a couple miles to and from the gym and trained 2.5hrs today, in relatively high humidity. Loved it. It was my second time training at Team HK. Professor Todd Tanaka was very accommodating. Worked a number of techniques, most of which were from half guard. Had a great time and met some great people.
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) for 30mins this afternoon as well. Great balance, core, shoulder, and lat workout. Tempted to buy a board and start cross training in Mission Bay and La Jolla Cove this summer. Hmm...
Left the house at 6:15a today to make my 10a appointment at the Consulate General of Brazil in Los Angeles. Arrived 15min early, signed in, and was called almost immediately. A very nice young woman helped me and reviewed my paperwork. Everything was in order. Perfect she said. Whew. But... Oh the dreaded but... My host letter said I'm going to Brazil for a competition. Apparently that means I need a type III visa for athletes. And that requires prior authorization from the Department of Labor in Brazil. Hmm... I explained that I am not being paid and I'm in fact paying an Brazilian organization for the opportunity to compete in an amateur event. She spoke to a supervisor and explained that pro or amateur, if over 21 and going to Brazil to compete in an athletic event, I need prior authorization from the Brazilian Department of Labor. Ok. No problem. I can roll with the punches. I'm sure our INS is at least equally if not more bureaucratic about processing visa's for our Brazilian friends. :)
Training tonight was great. Professor Antonio taught. Started with a nice, slow warm-up. Felt really good. Learned a basic and more advanced butterfly sweep. Both review. I feel like I know the techniques, but have time implementing them exactly as taught in a live situation. I get butterfly sweeps fairly often, even against upper belts, but I always seem to have to modify them a bit to match my opponent's responses/defenses. That's jiu-jitsu, I suppose. About 15 mins of positional sparring from butterfly guard before training. Had three rounds. Not sure how long. Maybe 5-6mins.
Got Professor Anotonio, a large new White with a rassling background, and a Brown. Round with the Professor was awesome. He worked the butterfly sweeps the entire round. I tried my best to defend, and think I did okay for a while, but I only delayed the inevitable. He eventually took my back and I found myself defending choke and arm bar attempts most the round. But...I survived. The White was a beast. Young, strong, fast, bigger than me, good ground instincts. Sweeps, knee on belly, mount, back, but no subs. He also forced me to turtle a few times, but I managed to roll out to take his back and x-guard sweeps. Points notwithstanding, he about gassed me out. The Brown has been out for a while with a knee injury. The last time we trained, maybe 9mos ago, he tapped me 5 or 6 times in a round. This time he only got me once. Cross choke from within my open guard. I let him get and keep his grips of choice. Should have attacked before he sunk the grips.
After class I spoke to the Master about the Rio trip. I described my training regimen and he said it's too much. Said to back off on the conditioning and train light. Not to put too much mileage on the car. He wants me to peak at the right time and if I go into camp burned, I won't make it 2x per day for 9-10 days. Hmmm... To be honest, I totally agree. But I'm worried about weight. How can I maintain weight if I don't work out 10-12hrs per week?
Drove 2+ hrs to LA today to apply for my visa. Denied. Apparently I have to make an appointment. The very nice lady showed me a flyer and said the website says I need an appointment. Hmm... The website I went to, hosted in Brazil, said I needed to fill out the application on-line and bring the printed confirmation sheet to the consulate. No mention of the need for an appointment on THAT website. Oh well. The day wasn't a total loss. I trained at Xande's in LA for 1hr and Guillobel's in San Clemente for 2hrs.
At Xande's, after a short warm-up, grip breaks, and take down entries, I trained with a a small Brown from Japan (~145lbs) for about 40mins straight. Great time. Inspiring hip movement. He caught me with a couple arm bars and a triangle from guard (again...great hips) and a bread cutter from north/south. I caught him with a cross choke from under side control and swept him a few times, but I could not pass his guard. RE the tap, he didn't notice I slipped the second hand in until it was too late. Funny because he asked me to show him the choke. He really liked it...until I showed him the escape. Once I demonstrated that all he had to do to unwind the choke is shift to north/south, he got a bit red and embarrassed. Yeah...I doubt he's going to get caught with that again.
Great night at Guillobel's. Worked a flow from double-leg to closed guard to standing guard break to x-pass. Then sweep/pass the guard (submissions encouraged). Swept a Purple and almost got a tap via triangle, but he was saved by the bell. Got swept a few times...need to work on that base. Fundamentals class followed by an hour of open mat. Beasts. Black, Brown, five Purples, and only one other Blue (about 16-17yrs old). 5-8min rounds. Worked with four different Purples, three of which were my size or bigger. Got caught only once, but played a ton of defense including a bit more turtle than I would have liked. That said, had several fantastic sweeps and a couple near guard passes. Having increasing success with the combo spider & 50/50 sweep.
Made my appointment. I'm driving back to LA on Tuesday morning. But this time I'm going to submit my paperwork and get back to San Diego.
Trained for 2.5hrs last night. Training culminated in five, eight-minute rounds after 20mins or so of continuous sweep/pass the guard (from half). Got a Brown, Purple, and three Blues. Had a fantastic roll with the Brown. He caught me once, but I got a sweep or two, passed his guard a couple times, knee on belly, and mount. Couldn't finish though. The Purple destroyed me. His guard is too good. Incredible de la riva with solid hooks. I like his game and feel that I can have a similar guard in time. Just need to figure out how to coordinate three joints on all four limbs. One of the Blues handled me. I handled another Blue. And I traded subs with the other Blue. All in all a great night.
Oh...I made an appearance in the latest Gracie Mag. Pg. 4. My aggro opponent from the Phoenix Open about to pass my guard. I guess I can add "super model" to my resume.
I started practicing balance on a round ball after seeing Rodolpho Viera stand on one in his documentary (FFWD to 11:30 of part III). I was blown away. At the time, I couldn't sit on the ball with confidence. So I started practicing. It took weeks to be able to kneel on the ball and maintain position for 30 seconds or more. Eventually I could roll the ball and jump on it to kneeling position. It took a few months to get comfortable enough to transition from knees to combat base (one knee up). Yesterday, for the first time, I attempted to stand. Extremely shaky, but I got up. Then I did it again. Some friends wanted proof, so first thing this morning I grabbed a camera crew and got some video.
Ok...so the ball is smaller than the one I've been practicing on. But I'm on concrete and have shoes on (I'm told it's harder with shoes). Also, it's just a start. I hope to be hopping on the ball within six months... Galvao and Viera style. Check out this vid (FFWD to 1:30).
Awesome class tonight. I pulled a hamstring on Tuesday and have been limping around so I was a bit wary of training hard tonight. Injury notwithstanding, I felt pretty good. Much better than expected. Technique tonight included atypical armbar and triangle escapes. I'm going to have to set a few of them aside as they required movements that felt completely unnatural to me. Others, including a triangle escape, will come in handy (if only I can remember them!). Got to train with a Black, two Blues, and a White. 6min rounds.
The Black is a year younger and about my weight (or a little heavier). Fantastic round. Swept him, passed guard, he turtled, took his back with hooks, then set up a deep bow and arrow. I believe I was a couple seconds from a tap, but...released. I suppose I was a bit star struck. He's a visitor from Brazil. Fairly famous. Not sure how or why he let me advance to that position without shutting me down, but by the time I had the deep collar grip and set up the bow and arrow, he was in a really really bad spot. Later he swept me, passed my guard, and smashed the snot out of me from side control. I felt like tapping from pressure alone. He began to advance to mount but I managed an escape before time ran out. Whew.
The Blues were solid. Tapped one with a gi choke as he passed my guard and set into side control. Almost got tapped by each a couple times but managed escapes. I even had a rare sweep to pass from 50/50. I've been experimenting with it a bit and have been finding some success getting opponents on their butts. For a long while now I struggled to get up and complete the sweep. But I've been having success lately getting to the top position. I suspect it's because my opponents who let me get to top don't know how to counter 50/50 with their own 50/50. Once up on top, disengaging the 50/50 and passing has been another obstacle. Not sure how the pass was so easy tonight, but it was. I'll try to force myself into the position more often and see if tonight was a fluke or if I'm on to something. The Blue I did not tap took my back and gave me a ton of trouble. Defending the entire time, but I managed to escape back and recover guard. It's good to feel progress in my guard recovery game.
The White is a little older and about 30lbs lighter. But he's strong and has a good guard for a White. Had a bit of trouble controlling his pace at first and at one point he passed my guard, forced me to turtle, and took my back. Slick stuff. BUT!!! In his haste to choke me he left an arm out with the elbow over my shoulder. I turned the shoulder into a fulcrum, locked, and got the tap. Showed him his mistake and I'm guessing he won't be that sloppy in the future. Got two more arm locks during the round. One from mount and the other immediately after a successful sweep off a pass (bread and butter). It was the first time in a while that I decided not to "go easy" on a White, but instead work my game until its natural end. I think I frustrated him a bit, which was not my intent. But with Master/Senior Worlds coming up, I feel like I need to take every opportunity to refine technique. (Speaking of Master/Senior Worlds. I booked my flights tonight. Depart San Diego on Saturday 7/14. Depart Rio on Monday 7/30. So stinking excited.)
After class, Professor Antonio encouraged me to work harder to maintain the top position. He said I gave up too many sweeps without enough of a fight. He's right. I need to work it. I will work it. Maintain the top position! So glad to have Professors who care enough about us lowly Blue Belts to watch our rounds and offer constructive criticism after class.
Fantastic noon class today. Worked a de la riva pass that required a bit of coordination, strength, and balance. It's going to be tough for me to implement without a lot more practice. Training included 8min rounds. Got a tall strong Brazilian Brown, an experienced Purple, and a new White. Very fun. Swept the Brown a couple times, almost passed guard a couple times, and escaped a couple arm bar attempts. He caught me in a wrist lock from triangle and almost had a choke from back. The Purple also caught me in a wrist lock from omoplata position. I swept him once or twice, but didn't have any luck on the guard pass attempts. Highlight of the round was a closed guard recovery from side control after being stuck underneath for about 3mins defending choke, knee on belly, north south, and mount attempts. Round with the White was unremarkable. He's brand new and gassed out pretty quickly so we worked on stuff and took a break to watch Paulo Miyao train with Fredson Alves. Paulo held his own and kept Alves from passing guard for over seven minutes. Amazing stuff.
Oh...the best part of the day. Master Saulo confirmed my spot on the team heading to Rio for the Master/Senior Worlds in July. So unbelievably excited for the opportunity. Time to step up my training and start focusing. All of a sudden...things just got very real.
Here's my attempt to summarize training and comps over the past 3+ weeks.
The NOLA BJJ in-house tournament went well enough. Great to see the team and mix it up with a few of them. They organized fights by belt plus an overall fight. Each match was 8mins. I know my first opponent well. He's much younger and a bit taller. Probably my size or a little heavier now that I've dropped some weight. I believe we got our Blue Belt the same night. The fight was tough and, if I recall correctly, I was up 2-0 but down an advantage until the last few seconds when I gave up a half guard sweep and lost by the advantage. I got a second fight because another Blue (older and lighter) showed up late and needed an opponent. Won that by arm bar in a few minutes. Then met another young Blue, about 25lbs lighter, who picked me apart. Managed one sweep (bread and butter), but for the most part, he kicked my butt. Consolation? Both guys who beat me got promoted to Purple after our matches.
I trained a lot the week between the NOLA BJJ in-house and the tourney the following weekend in Pensacola. Had a pretty good scare one of the nights. A new Blue had me in a really jacked up triangle from the back. My neck wasn't exactly in danger, but he started yanking on my arm. I felt fine and safe but then heard a series of pops and immediate burning in my left shoulder. Tapped. Sat out for a while. But, thankfully it turned out to be nothing.
Pensacola tourney was fun. They combined the Master/Senior Super/Ultra divisions. Got paired with a Master. Guessing he had 30lbs on me, but if he didn't, he sure felt like it. After a bit of grip fighting I pulled guard. Worked a couple closed guard sweep attempts when he postured to break the guard open. Got him off balance momentarily, but couldn't tip him. Eventually opened guard and set up the bread and butter. Multiple attempts failed, but a couple were really close. At some point I recall retreating to half guard and he got really heavy before I could secure deep half. I was stuck, flat on my back. Time ran out: 0-0 and my opponent won by advantage. He went on to dominate the final too. I know what I did wrong and the next time I'm in a similar position (heavier guy and can't finish the sweeps) I'll be ready.
Signed up for the Adult Open because none of the master/seniors wanted to compete open. Ok...what's with the old guys not wanting to fight the open? Didn't we pay money to fight? C'mon. Okay, end rant. Got paired with the Med-Heavy adult champ. This kid threw up a couple flying armbars earlier in the day so I decided to approach him with a very very low base and wait for an opportunity to pull guard. Turns out he met my low approach and pulled open guard (de la riva). Stuffed it, passed to half guard, and smashed for the pass. Secured the 3pts and went for knee on belly. He squirmed a lot and recovered half. But he recovered in a way that let me get really heavy top pressure (shoulder in chin with gable). I remember his coach yelling at him to escape to my back (how? I don't know...). His response was classic: "I'm trying coach! But he's STRONG!" I'm pretty sure I heard the ref chuckle. Finished him with a palm up / palm down cross choke from top half.
Got the Adult Middle champ next. I was feeling quite cocky at this point. Shouldn't have. He worked me over pretty good. I have to say he was probably the strongest opponent I've ever faced in competition. And he was only a middle weight. Amazing. I believe he choked me from back. It wasn't pretty. He went on to win the open final via triangle after being down quite a bit and only seconds left. And...he got promoted to Purple after the tourney.
The two guys who beat me train at the same gym in Pensacola. Even got an invitation to visit their academy and train. Yet another reason why I love this sport. I hope to take them up on the offer soon. Pensacola was amazing. Great weather, pristine beaches, very well run tournament, and an all-around great time.
Since returning from New Orleans and Florida, I've only been to UNIJJ twice. Everyone was preparing for worlds camp and the atmosphere was intense. I don't think I'm cut out for that level of training. Maybe some day, but not yet. The highlight? I got to watch both Miyao Bros train for 1.5hrs straight. Fresh Purples, Browns, and Blacks rotating in. No rest. It didn't seem to faze them one bit. Simply amazing spectacle.
I'm swamped. Too busy with work to log my training. That said, I plan to post about my tournaments in New Orleans and Pensacola plus training in-between. Haven't trained much since returning, but I have been working out.
Speaking of working out, starting next week my 2x weekly "strength and conditioning" sessions will become 3x weekly "strength" training. I'm doing enough conditioning now and my weight is exactly where I want it to be for the Heavy division. That said, I have about 10-15lbs of fat that I plan to replace with muscle. Hence the increased focus on strength training. Plan is to build lean muscle around key joints and the core through light weight and high reps. Nothing bulky or showy. Just need to maintain my diet and cardio routines to maintain weight while gaining muscle. Hoping for good results over the next few months.