Monday, May 31, 2010

6:30p to 8:30p

6:30 to 7p: Stretched and did some core warm up. Also watched the last bit of MMA class. Pretty intense. This guy was there (blue belt). So was this guy (purple belt). Couple others I didn't recognize, but they were pretty good. If I ever get the bug to cross-train MMA, someone stop me... I'd get crushed.

7p to 8:30p: Open mat. It's a holiday, so tonight's class was pretty informal. First roll was with a 30-yr old three-stripe white belt. He was probably an inch taller than me and 10lbs or so lighter. This guy is good. He's better than most blue belts I've rolled with. My guess is he's not a blue belt because he hasn't been at a single school long enough to be properly evaluated. Soo... he arm barred me a few times. I like rolling with him. He's smart, fast, strong, confident, and I'm always in survival mode.

Second roll was with a newly minted blue belt. Not the one I rolled with on Thursday, but the other one. He spent a couple minutes trying to break and pass my guard. Before long we were in stand up. Messed around with different grips, but I ended up making a move before I had any control and he got my back. I immediately went into back survival posture. The rest of the roll is hazy. I think time ran out.

Next I worked with a blue belt on sweep defense. He tried to sweep me while I was in his guard. I tried to defend and pass guard if I had an opening. We did this for about 10 minutes. He said I had some good defense, but pointed out a few posture mistakes that if I can correct would really tie it down.

Third roll was with one of the instructors (brown belt). He was clearly going easy on me and letting me work, but I passed guard a number of times only to have him escape and recover guard very quickly. He seemed to be able to make space and insert the knee at will. But overall it was a good roll. He said, "You're pretty good for a white belt" and that I had some good movement and seemed to have the basics down. I'll take that.

Last roll was with a blue belt I'd never met before. He was a shorter, but big barrel chested guy. He started in my guard. As soon as we shook hands he went into overdrive. Passed my guard right away and proceeded to mount in 10 secs or so. He racked me pretty good and extended his body. My neck cracked down the middle of my back. I tapped. Had no idea what hit me. Neck got stiff right away. I took a couple minutes to stretch and thankfully it loosened up. We didn't roll anymore, but I continued to work on surviving his very aggressive guard passes. Then I tried to pass his guard with varying degrees of success. Enough was enough. Time to call it quits.

The Farm

Spent the weekend at a farm in Alexandria, LA. 100 acres owned by my employer. The four house compound is a real farm with cows, horses, donkeys, a stream with fish and turtles, cats, dogs, 2000 walnut trees, golf carts, the works. Quite refreshing weekend. Went for a two-mile jog/walk each morning with 50 push-ups on a guard rail at the mile point. The leisurely weekend allowed me to spend a good amount of time in Saulo Ribiero's book, Jiu Jitsu University. Purple belt friend of mine gave me the book a month or so ago. I devoured survival and am starting to dive into escapes. I really like Saulo's approach to teaching and I'm so glad his school is only a few miles from my house in San Diego. I'll train there in July and part of August when I'm home and longer-term when I finish this New Orleans job assignment sometime in 2011.

Friday, May 28, 2010


A bit stoked. After four intense days in a row, I can hold a cup of coffee and pour milk/water from a gallon jug - with one hand like normal!!! Can't say there is no pain, but a couple weeks ago I would have tapped from a simple handshake at the office (now that would have been something!). My hands are clearly getting stronger and adapting well. I have two nagging open sores on both middle fingers. Happened a couple nights ago. Tape makes it less annoying. But...I can hold my coffee cup! Yeah! ;-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5:30p to 7:00p

5:30-6:10p: made me late. Missed warm-up/drills, pass the guard, and an armbar drill.

6:10-6:30p: Mount escape drills. Learned a nice umpa/bridge and worked on shrimp/hip escapes.

6:30-7p: Rolls. First roll with a white belt I'd never met. He apparently took a couple months off. Armbar'd him twice (once from mount, another from knee on belly) and americana. 2nd roll with a much smaller white belt who's been around a while. He used to work me over pretty good. We basically rolled to a draw. 3rd roll with the same white belt as my first roll (small class tonight). Kimura from north south and omoplata. He seemed pretty frustrated. I probably talked too much by explaining how he left himself open. Apparently he knew what he did wrong and didn't need me to tell him. I don't know how long he's been doing this, but he seemed fairly frustrated. 5 submissions in two rolls by a 6-wk white belt who basically told him to practice survival...probably didn't make him feel good. I'm not sure how to handle that. Do I continue to walk all over him? Back off and let him work? I'll definitely take it easier on him next time. I'm a softy and have pacifist tendencies. Wrong sport? Fourth roll was with a newly minted blue belt (promoted last night!). I don't recall ever rolling with him before. I have 50lbs on him, but he probably has 18mos to 2 yrs experience on me. Pushed him pretty hard. Passed his guard several times, but he pulled off some good escapes back to guard. I did get his back and had a very weak guillotine. No way was I going to choke him out, but I had him locked up pretty good for a minute or so. Professor started ribbing him with a couple purple belts looking on. "What's the blue belt going to do???" He eventually figured it out and escaped to my guard. We ended up reversing and I had side control. Time ran out. Fun roll.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I suppose the worst thing about evening workouts is that I cannot sleep before midnight. I wake up at 5:30a every morning for work. Need more sleep.


A friend of mine said I'll want to journal my first submission. 4/20/10: Front gi choke on a fellow white belt. It was my 3rd class and probably his 4th or 5th class. The only reason I knew to try it was another friend (purple belt) caught me with the same choke my 2nd class. Since then I've had a number of other submissions, but I continue to focus on the basics (survival and escapes). mentioned in my prior post. Got my first stripe tonight. Didn't think I'd been doing this long enough so it was a surprise. I don't know how they score/award stripes, but I trust my Professor.

6:30pm to 8:30pm

6:30-7p: Worked on guard pass with friend (purple belt). Spider guard giving me major problems. He's 6'2" or so and 210lbs so we're roughly comparable in size. Has strong grips I almost feel like tapping when he sinks his feet into my biceps and pulls on the sleeves. Freakn' hurts. I tried peeling off one leg with my knee as shown/practiced in class. Not very successful. Even if I peeled one leg he had something else lined up for me that inevitably led to a sweep. Highlight? Successful S-Mount escape taking advantage of his dead angle.

7-7:20p: Warm-up/standard drills. Significant cramping. Back of calves and core. Could only complete 50% of push ups (if that). Gassed.

7:20-7:30p: Pummeling drills. I never was a good dancer. Coordination was a bit tricky, but I had a good partner. We increased resistance over the drill. Arms tired.

7:30-7:45p: Mount to armbar and knee on belly to armbar drills. Not bad. Need to work on the knee on belly to armbar a lot more. Kept stepping too wide. Need to keep it tighter. Also need to work on trapping inside arm before crossing over and applying the armbar.

7:45-8:00p: Promotions. Lots of stripes. Three belts. One yellow belt (12 yr old who came from another school with a yellow belt was re-awarded yellow). Two blue belts. I've rolled with one of the new blue belts many times. Happy for his promotion. Oh. I got my first stripe.

8:00-8:30p: Rolls. First roll with another white belt (two stripes) approximately my age and size. Started with him in my guard. Spent most of the 5 min roll with him in my guard. Made him work. I eventually reversed and passed to mount. He bumped and reversed back into my guard. Basically a draw. Second roll with the newly minted 12yr old yellow belt. I like working with this kid. He's fairly strong and knows a bit of technique. I leave myself vulnerable (on purpose) and he takes advantage. Nice. Last roll was with another white belt who got his first stripe tonight. This guy knows some technique. He takes the self defense course and knows all sorts of funky submissions from various positions. A couple weeks ago he submitted me three times while within my guard. Didn't know what hit me. This time he only caught me once (guillotine choke) when I tried for an aggressive escape to stand up to take down.

Injury Report: Felt a sharp pain in my left knee. Knee buckled inward and to the back. Odd. Happened while standing up and adjusting my gi before workout. Good news is that it didn't bother me the rest of the workout.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5:30p to 7:00p

5:30-5:50p: Warm-up/standard drills. Observed one of the drills. Not sure what its called. Need to have a better handle on that one before I slow others down. Still 75% of push-ups from knees and lower back cramps on core exercises.

5:50-6:10p: Pass the guard. Swept by brown belt. Swept by white belt. Held white belt in guard until we both got to stand up.

6:10-6:30p: Drills. Armbar to arbmar escape to triangle. Then added armbar to armbar escape to triangle to triangle survival to omoplata. Enjoyed these drills, but still focusing on survival basics. ;-)

6:30-7:00p: Rolls. Three white belts and a purple belt. Submitted once by white belt (armbar). Not sure what I did wrong, but I did miss an escape opportunity once caught. Purple belt must have gone easy on me, although his compliment of my defense seemed genuine. One of my rolls was with a "new" guy. Funny. I'm the new guy. But this guy was really new. 3rd day. From the moment we squared up I realized what a difference 5 weeks makes. Passed guard to side control to knee on belly (full 3 secs) to mount in 15 secs or so. He extended both hands to push up against my chest. Could have crossed him to armbar in a heartbeat, but instead I stopped the roll. I showed him a mount survival position and then we worked side control survival. I think I made a friend. Hope he keeps coming.

Injury Report: I dislocated my pinky toe a few weeks ago. Felt a bit of pain during a roll and looked down. Toe was pointing the wrong direction. It looked like it should have hurt a lot more than it did. I re-set it, took a day off, and have taped it every session since. Today I decided to give it a go without tape. That lasted until my first pass the guard attempt. Still too weak and sore. Tape to stay on a while longer. My left shoulder got tweaked a bit from the armbar and omoplata drills. Both shoulders and elbows throbbed and ached at the end of the workout, but a few hours later...they don't feel tooooo bad.

Monday, May 24, 2010

6pm to 8:30pm

6-7p: Stretch and roll with friend (purple belt). He wanted to work guard. Got swept so many times I lost count. Good time though. Hope we can do this every M&W.

7-7:20p: Warm ups/drills. Didn't even attempt the Judo push ups. Finished about 75% of the regular push-ups from knees. Lower back cramps on some of the core reps.

7:20-7:40p: Side control and mount pin/escape and submission/escape drills. Liked these drills. Partner reversed mount to guard multiple times. Hmm...thought I had my weight low and balanced. Tried and failed S-mount escape twice (resulted in armbar both times). Need to keeptighter.

7:40-8:00p: Rest of class did take down drills. A couple other white belts and I worked on grip breaks and pull into guard from stand up.

8:00-8:30p: Rolls. Got submitted many times. Thought my defense was better than that. It's all a blur. Progress? Escaped a 14-yr old's triangle attempt by posturing in time and then fended off arm-bar attempt. This kid is tough. I probably have 100lbs and 6" on him. A couple weeks ago I'd have tapped. Yes. Progress.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I'm 6'0" and weigh 220lbs. I've weighed as much as 260lbs (June 2006), but dropped to my current weight via diet modification. Haven't lost a pound since I started BJJ five weeks ago. I train 3-4 days per week and have been in a constant state of soreness. Hopefully my metabolism is in shock and fat is converting to muscle. ;-)

Speaking of fat, I am very soft. Have been for years. I had a capsular shift on my left shoulder when I was 17 and a synovectomy of the same shoulder at age 23. Physical therapy didn't go too well and I've struggled with upper body exertion since high school. This "struggle" has carried over into BJJ workouts. I can only muster the strength for a few proper push ups and maybe a pull up or two. During warm-ups, I push up from my knees (and still can't complete all the reps). Completing the core workouts without cramping is also a daily struggle.

Yeah...I'm soft. Progress to be measured in % of warm-up complete. Hey. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

The beginning...

...of a journey. So I hear. Last month, a couple co-workers invited me to roll at NOLA BJJ. 'Til then I was a 33 year old, overweight, soft office rat whose idea of a workout involved sitting on an exercise bike reading WIRED for 30 minutes a few times a week. Ha! I still don't know how I survived that first workout but I did. The next day I could hardly walk. I never felt so bad. Then again, I'm not sure I ever felt so good.

And so it began. The journey. One that my Professor says I could pursue for at least another 30 years. Lots will happen during my middle age years. Grandparents and, likely, parents and other loved ones will pass on. And after a little over a month, I can only pray that I remain healthy enough to continue the BJJ journey into my golden years.

Middle Age BJJ is a journal of my journey. I'm not sure what I'll write about or how often. But I suspect I'll use this forum to track my technical progress, physical transformation, and personal growth. Although this journal is intended for an audience of one (me), I welcome all visitors. Feel free to share your observations, encouragement, and even criticism. If you are ever in New Orleans, stop by NOLA BJJ and let's roll.