Wednesday, June 30, 2010

GoodByes (for now)

Tonight was my last night at NOLA BJJ for at least 2.5 months. I leave New Orleans Friday to head back home (San Diego). I can't wait. I've been on the road all but 2.5 months since September 2008. I will train while home as much as possible and while traveling to visit family, but I suspect life will interrupt. I'll be a guest at Saulo and Xande Ribeiro's University of Jiu Jitsu for most of July and August and plan to stop in at Paragon in SLO, CA and Gamebred in Fife, WA. Although I'll certainly miss everyone at NOLA BJJ, I'm really excited about the time I get to spend at University of Jiu Jitsu before returning to New Orleans in mid-September.


5:45-6p: Stretched a little, but mostly chatted with Chet. Chet started one class before I started, but injured his back about 6 weeks. I'm glad he's back on the mats.

6-7p: Self defense course. Rusty was out sick, so Professor Matthias taught the class. We worked on bully choke defense/escapes. Also worked guillotine chokes and the guillotine defense to take down to escape.

7-7:15p: Warm-ups / standard drills. Dorian (white belt) led. Good workout. I did 8-10 regular push-ups and finished 80% or so of the other push-ups from knees. Progress?

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard. Jessica (blue belt) swept me without too much trouble. I passed Noor's (white belt) guard, but it felt like the only way I passed was by throwing my weight into the torreando. Had my guard passed and got swept many other times. New guy (1st night) came into my guard. He has a wrestling background and is clearly in shape and athletic (e.g., he did the front/back roll drills completely wrong, but looked really good in the process!). He wasn't wearing a gi. I've worked with guys without gi pants before, but this was the first time working with a no gi opponent. He started muscling and attacking. I had a few armbar openings, but he was moving so quickly and his arm was so slippery, committing to an armbar seemed too risky. Eventually he withdrew his left arm to underhook my right leg (presumably for a stack pass?), but left his right arm inside, extended, and exposed. Shot the triangle. He tapped. I normally wouldn't submit someone on his/her first night, but this guy had some solid grappling chops and he wasn't holding went for it.

7:30-8p: Dimitri (black belt in judo - purple belt in BJJ) showed the class two judo take downs that were somewhat close to the take downs we learned at the Rolles Gracie seminar. I worked with Dr. Steve (white belt). He's an inch or two taller, but about 20lbs lighter. Not a bad fit for take down drills. I had a good time. I can tell I'd really enjoy judo and know I really need to work on stand-up/take downs, but I'm not sure my body is hard enough to take a lot of falls. Dr. Steve took it easy on me. Dimitri came over to help Dr. Steve and me. I was his demonstration dummy. I think I landed correctly, but it still hurt quite a bit. Wind partially knocked out of me. Hmm...not quite ready for the judo classes.

8-8:30p: Rolls. First up was Jeremy. Jeremy is roughly my height/weight, but he's much stronger. Rolls went well. He caught me in a kimura from half-guard not too long after starting, but the rest of the roll was fairly tight. We both had multiple escapes/reversals. Good roll.

Got Noor for the second roll. He's my height (or slightly taller), but trim and strong. I probably have 40lbs on him. The roll was fairly even most of the time, but then again, he was on the attack most of the time... At one point he committed to arm bar my left arm from guard. I managed to defend well, but had to stand up, step around to his right side side, put my right hand over his right foot (which was across my face), grabbed my right wrist with my left hand (attack notwithstanding), and trapped his arm. He let go of the arm bar, but left his arm exposed. I managed to get the submission by barring his arm over his right thigh. It was a bit scary for me because I only used one arm to do it. I knew I had the fulcrum/leverage, but didn't know how much pressure to apply. He tapped and winced. I thought I'd hurt him, but he said he was ok - it was just sudden and he didn't see it coming. He wanted to know what I did so we went over it a couple times before resuming the roll.

Final roll with Ross (blue belt). Ross is probably a few years older than me, but roughly my size. I felt like he let me pass guard, advance to mount, and work some attacks before he reversed or escaped. At one point I trapped his left arm from half-way between side control and north south. Positioned to set up an arm bar. He started defending aggressively. I fought hard to gain the right leverage, but my legs weren't in the right position and I couldn't break his two-handed clasp. Gave it up and recovered side control. Later in the roll I had him in north south. I was trying to work a choke (remembering how Kirk choked me from north-south on Saturday), but clearly didn't know what I was doing. He stopped the roll: "You can't choke with two hands on the same gi lapel. What are you doing?" Ummm...both hands on the same gi lapel? Whoops. I really couldn't tell. I mean I was in north south and too be honest, I had no idea where my hands were. I felt gi lapels and thought I might have I said...whoops!

Overall Impressions: Tonight was my 5th consecutive training day. I'd never trained more than four days in a row and all day wondered how I'd do given my old man aches and pains. Well, it went great. I feel great. Nice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


5:15-5:35p: Stretches. Watched Jeremy, Dorian, and Tran mix it up a bit. Jeremy and Dorian looked like they were working on kickboxing. Tran and Dorian may have been sticking to straight boxing. Not sure. Pretty intense stuff. I am perfectly comfortable rolling with Jeremy and Dorian, but would get demolished at stand up. Geez.

5:35-5:55p: Warm-ups / standard drills. Collin led. Slightly longer than usual. I managed a dozen or so standard push-ups, but still could only complete 60% or so of the total.

5:50-6:10p: Pass the guard. Maintaining posture is a constant struggle when in an opponent's guard. Anyone with experience or a bit of tenacity can break my posture or sit up on me pretty much at will and complete a sweep. Oh well. Just one more thing on my "need to work on" list.

6:10-6:45p: Self defense techniques. Front bear hug (with underhooks) to arm bar - posture, create hip space, pummel one arm under, wrap around waist, grab tricep, step inside to judo throw over back to knee on belly/side to arm bar. Fairly simple. Bully headlock take down escape to arm bar - frame, walk hips away from back, leg around head with frame to break head lock then trap arm for armbar. Had trouble securing the armbar. Need to work on that.

6:45-7:10p: Side control to mount techniques. Learned two. The first one was fairly simple and involved a quick transition to mount by swinging outside leg over the opponents legs when opponent defends by resting inside leg ankle on the outside knee. I forget the set up for this, but something tells me it came from reverse kesa gatame. The second was my favorite because I learned some sort of hip switch technique that proved to be quite effective in dislodging opponents inside arm from side and trapping it away from the body. Nick attempted to keep his arm to his side and I felt comfortable enough to dislodge and trap his arm from pure hip movement as opposed to using an arm to create the initial space. I'll definitely be trying that move a lot in future rolls. Once the arm is dislodged from the side and up...well...lots of attack options open up. But, tonight, we worked the knee to belly option. Assuming opponent begins to push knee with outside arm, we posted outside arm through space, secured left underarm with inside arm, then spider walked outside arm away from opponent to remove the defending arm from knee. Finished by sliding leg over to mount. Nice.

7:10-7:30p: Rolls. Only time for two rolls tonight. First roll with a brand new guy. Forgot his name...drats. Tonight was his first night. He seems fairly athletic and strong, but didn't understand basic concepts like guard, pass guard, side control, mount. So I spent the roll showing him basic posture when in someone's guard and simple technique to break posture. Then I showed him two guard passes: 1) knee over thigh from soldier, pass leg over, then release the pinned thigh; and 2) standard stack pass. Encouraged him to keep his arms tight and defend his neck. Talk about a crash course before his next roll!

Second roll was with Matt. Matt's ribs are still aching. I tried to show him the posture break technique I learned at the seminar on Sunday, but I think I was a tad too aggressive when demonstrating the break because it brought him down onto the sore ribs and he didn't look too comfortable. We took it easy the rest of the roll.

Monday, June 28, 2010


5:45-6p: Stretched. Watched a few minutes of the judo class. Lighter turnout than usual, but the guys looked like they were having fun.

6-7p: Instructor Rusty's self defense course. Started with elbow to jaw from close quarters if someone tries cocks back for swing. Worked multiple mount maintenance techniques including upa avoidance (heavy hip weight - broad post to stabilize) and responses to push-ups, knee / hip pushes, and sit-up defense. Finished up with mata leon choke technique.

7-7:15p: Warm-ups / standard drills. Charlie (purple belt) led. Felt good, but only finished 85% of core exercises and 60% of push-ups or so from knees.

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard. Dr. Steve (four stripe white belt) swept me in no time. He got a couple blues too. Dr. Steve's a sweep machine. John (blue belt) swept me too. Struggled a lot with Nick's (another four-stripe white belt) guard. Thought I had passed a few times, but he figured out how to create space and recover at least half a butterfly or full guard before I could maintain a pass.

7:30-8p: Professor Matthias showed the class a couple items from yesterday's Rolles Graice seminar. Posture break technique, deep collar grab, standard cross choke to brabo choke, and escape from guard to take the back if opponent employs predictable brabo choke defense.

8-8:30p: Rolls. Dorian up first. 4-stripe white belt. Probably about 6'2" and 190lbs. I started in his guard. Broke guard and passed. After settling in I proceeded to knee on belly. Held it for at least four seconds, but in the process of trying to maintain position, I missed an opportunity to trap his arm when he pushed. Why was I thinking about points? Oh well. Dorian pressed me hard the rest of the roll. At some point I gave up my back and went into all-fours survival posture (I seem to do that a lot). Burned at least a minute defending back attacks and eventually transitioned to back survival posture. Defended choke attacks well, but I was never able to establish the proper position to execute scoop (which is necessary for the escape). Don't recall what happened after that.

Professor Matthias matched me with Henry next. Henry is a white belt (not sure about stripes) and a real scrapper. I takes the judo class and might even do some MMA. I have a weight and slight height advantage, but he's clearly much stronger than me. Henry's gi pants are ripped, so he's been working out in shorts. Passing guard is soooo much harder without gi pants. I eventually passed and started working choke / arm attacks from side control. Almost locked in an americana, but he defended by bringing his right arm over. I switched my knee up near head to trap the right arm and began to set up an arm bar. Left foot over his face and right knee buried in his side. He started defending the right arm. At some point he lifted his head and I slipped my left leg under his head. Locked left foot behind the right knee - like a triangle from north-south, but I was sitting up and didn't have an arm trapped. He continued to defend his arms. I continued to attack an arm while clinching the choke. Didn't think I had a choke since his arm wasn't trapped as required for a true triangle. Just trying to distract him enough to expose the right arm so I could switch to arm bar, but he continued to defend. I looked behind me and Ross (blue belt) encouraged me to continue with the choke. I was worried I was cranking his neck, but apparently he was choking since he tapped (Professor Matthias confirmed he was choking and it wasn't a neck crank - whew). We re-set. Henry in my guard. He really knows how to apply some top pressure. I maintained an open guard for the rest of the roll, but there were many close call pass attempts before time ran out.

Final roll with Mike (new blue belt). The roll was a bit of a blur, but I recall keeping the guard for quite a while. At one point I trapped an arm using loose gi lapel, but didn't have the arm extended enough to pull it off. He managed to extract the arm from stand-up and stacked to side control. Felt like crap. Sooo tired. He took mount and somehow I reversed. Can't remember how exactly. The roll seemed like it went on forever. I remember attempting the open guard reversal that I learned at the seminar. Dropped the knees, pulled him forward, and then extended my legs when he was off balance. He started to go over my head, but something went wrong and I didn't end up in mount.

Exhausting set of rolls, but it felt very good.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rolles Gracie Seminar

Rolles Gracie gave a two-hour seminar at GB North Shore in Hammond, LA. Drove up with Chris, the English gent that I mistook for an Aussie on Thursday. I didn't know what to expect for my first seminar, only that I'd learn something new and might pick up a cool trick or two. Learned a couple take downs. Brabo choke. An armbar variation from guard - feed gi lapel under and around tricep to trap an arm. Gi choke option if opponent employs predictable defense to armbar attempt. Open guard sweep to arm bar variation. Triangle option from the open guard sweep set up if opponent employs predictable defense. Open guard reversal that shifts opponent weight forward and then use momentum to force him into front roll that also rolls you over into mount. Good stuff. Can't wait to try some of the tricks out this week!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


10:45-11a: Stretched. Sore today. Ribs ache.

11-11:15a: Warm-ups / standard drills. Will led. No bear crawls. No burpees. No sprints. Just right for a sore old guy.

11:15a-12p: Revisited technique from Tuesday and Wednesday night. Front grab to step around to throw to knee on belly to step-around armbar. Side head lock escape to choke. Torreando pass. Double underhook stack pass. Nick was my partner. He didn't spare my ribs on the throws. Ouch.

12-12:30p: Rolls. First roll with Nick. Oh to have his energy. He charged the entire time. Fended off chokes and armbar attempts. At one point I escaped, passed, and advanced to knee on belly. Drove my 220lbs down into that shin. I could tell he was not comfortable, but he kept his cool and created the space he needed and escaped. Recovered half guard. Then recovered full guard. Impressive. Later in the roll Nick set up an arm bar from mount. He went to seated mount, but had a very good base and my trusty seated mount escape got me no where. Had to switch to armbar defense. I couldn't establish the escape posture, but somehow managed to fend off the arm bar, recover posture, stack, and pass to side control. Time ran out. We were both gassed. Tough roll. Geez. He's 17 and weighs 50lbs less. What a fight...

Will (blue belt) was next. Our roll was much tamer. Started in his guard and he swept me after a minute or so. He spent the rest of the roll in my guard. He worked hard to break the guard and I switched to spider. Will spent the rest of the roll trying to pass spider. Now...if only I knew a couple sweeps to go with that spider!

Professor Matthias matched me with Bobby next. Bobby is 11yrs old and knows some technique. We rolled around a bit and he took mount. He tried to force an americana. I showed him how to wedge a knee and create space while maintaining balance/posture so he didn't have to use so much force. I like working with the kids.

Final roll was with Kurt (4-stripe blue belt). Kurt is my size (maybe heavier). But he didn't use it much and dominated me the entire roll. Kurt likes working north-south. Not very comfortable, but I didn't panic. He caught me in a gi choke from north-south. Tap...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


5:15-5:30p: Stretched. Watched Blaise and Nick roll. Turns out Blaise is only 16. He's the football player who started coming last week. 6'1" 203lbs. Big strong kid. I thought he was 18 or so. Nick is 17, a couple inches shorter and 33lbs lighter (with ~2yrs BJJ experience). It was interesting to watch. Nick used about 1/3 the effort as Blaise and ended up submitting him multiple times (chokes, arm bars, triangle). They said they started rolling 10 mins before I got to class. That means they were rolling at full speed for 25 mins before class. Amazing. Oh to be young again.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-ups / standard drills. John (Blue Belt) led. This was a full warm-up session. He pressed us good. Liked it.

5:45-6p: Pass the guard. Nothing jumps out at me at the moment as worthy of writing about.

6-6:15p: Self defense technique. Same as what I worked on in Rusty's self defense course yesterday (front grab with trapped arms), but this time we added the full throw. Professor Matthias added the knee on belly to armbar option just to keep it interesting.

6:15-6:30p: Worked broken posture head trapped in guard escape, then guard pass from underhooks to stack.

6:30-7p: Rolls. First roll was with a guy with an Australian accent (can't remember his name). He's been around longer than me, but doesn't come as often. No stripes (yet). I have 80lbs on him, easy. I tried not to throw my weight around. When he had a sweep set up properly and my balance was off, I allowed the sweep. Had he been anywhere near my weight, he'd have had it. So I gave it to him. Once, he took mount. I had many opportunities for a BS escape (muscle it), but decided to let him work it a bit more and wait for an opportunity. Surprisingly, he stopped the roll and told me to bridge onto my left shoulder in a pseudo-upa. I said I thought about that but figured it would only be successful if I threw my weight into it. He said he didn't care. I had it, so I should go for it. Let's just say, at the end of the roll I was hardly breathing and my opponent was working fairly hard to advance position. Had I forced positions, I would have probably been breathing harder and he'd probably been demoralized or pissed off.... Ok... Still trying to find that balance Georgette wrote about and many others discussed in this post.

Blais was second up. I like this "kid." Kid because he's only 16, but he has the body of a man. Roughly my size, but much much stronger and in far better shape. He took guard to start. I executed a standard guard brake and pass (amazing how the class technique seems to only work on newbies - this coming from a 2nd month student - so doubly amazing that 2 mos experience is light years ahead of the real newbies!). His reaction to side control was to try to roll away from me. Caught the gi and started choking as I took back. He rolled some more and I switched to rear naked choke. Sunk it in deep. Tap. I asked what he did wrong. Blank stare. I explained that his instinct, to roll away, is the wrong approach - because he gave up his back. Said an upper belt might get away with that, but he needs to establish side control survival posture and then work on guard recovery. Showed him some basic bridge to guard recovery technique and warned him that it would take time. Heck...I REALLY struggle with guard recovery. But at least I'm not giving up rear naked chokes! I then took guard and he spent the rest of the roll trying to pass. He applied the standard technique and broke my guard with little muscle. PROGRESS! GO BLAIS!!! I responded with scissor sweep posture then settled into spider. He got a bit frustrated that he couldn't break the spider. One step at a time kid...

Third roll was with John (Blue Belt who led warm ups). I've never rolled with John. He started in my guard. Struggled a bit to break guard, but we eventually went to open guard. Did the best I could to maintain open guard, but he eventually passed to side control. He then proceeded to mount (after more time) and started attacking the neck and arms incessantly. Defended the chokes well, but he trapped an arm at some point and committed to the armbar. I employed Saulo's signature armbar escape and it worked beautifully. Stuffed it, stacked it, and took side control. By this time, John was breathing fairly hard. Much harder than me. Almost as if he was gassed. Waited for the right time and advanced to mount. Started arm and choke attacks, but that didn't last long. He eventually upa'd the escape and he proceeded to attack with most of the remaining time in north-south. I focused on kimura / choke survival. Time ran out. John shook my hand and said it was a good roll. Nice. Don't get many opportunities to roll with an upper belt, let alone compliments. Just glad I survived. You know? Come to think of it, for some reason I feel like he submitted me during the roll at some point. But I don't remember exactly when or how.... hmmm... Regardless, he was attacking about 65-70% of the roll. I had one solid armbar escape that was pure technique (by the book). That's good enough for me.

Professor Matthias paired me with my buddy Matt for the last roll. I think it was Matt's 3rd or 4th day. I'm excited that he likes the sport and keeps subjecting his 36-yr old out of shape body to pain. I knew his ribs have been hurting and he couldn't take much top pressure. I spent most of the roll showing him side control survival posture. He looked miserable after class. Reminded me of my first week or two at class. Nice. It took 36 years, but he's finally becoming a man (no offense to the women readers - just an inside joke in case Matt reads this).

Overall impressions: I didn't work very hard at all during tonight's rolls. I sweat a bit, but didn't feel like I expended too much energy. Part of the reason is I worked with two smaller and less experienced white belts and one stronger/taller, but less experienced white belt. But I think I'm learning to rely on what little technique I know a lot more. I'm not afraid when someone passes guard. I'm not afraid when someone proceeds to mount. No big deal. I used to feel like tapping every time someone passed guard or took mount. It was miserable. Not anymore. Progress? Or am I just getting too comfortable and lazy? Not sure

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


5:30-5:45p: Grocery store. Had to get some tylenol. Also tylenol PM. Tylenol for the pain I would feel during class (pre-emptive). Tylenol PM because I've been up well past midnight the past couple nights after workout. Mixture of adrenaline and soreness. Not good when I have to be at work at 7am.

5:45-6p: Light stretches. Watched MMA practice. Shawn (purple belt) was an animal, again. Fresh guys rotating in to simulate strikes from mount as he tried to defend/escape. His stamina is incredible.

6-7p: Rusty's self defense course. Started with side fall technique. Learning to fall is fairly important and I know I'm very weak. Then we worked rear choke escape/throw and a front grab with arms trapped escape/throw. Didn't actually throw. Just picked opponent off ground. Each simulated throw felt like my chest was getting crushed. But it was only my weight...wowzers. I am soft. Also worked ground headlock escape. All good techniques I've never seen before.

7-7:15p: Warm-ups / drills. A four-stripe blue belt led. I don't know his name. I haven't seen in a long while. Probably since he injured his knee as I passed his guard. Warm-ups were different. He had us do different push-up styles (like on the backs of the hands - OUCH!). Could only do 60% or so of pushups from knees.

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard. I passed a blue belt's guard (another Steve). He went for a front gi choke and didn't let go as I passed. The force of dropping into side control tweaked his wrist pretty good. Hope he's ok. Passed Cleveland's guard once as well. Got swept several times. Did ok overall.

7:30-7:45p: Heel hook escapes. Learned another variation where the escape is achieved by shifting to almost all-fours position and using free leg to try to create space by pushing on the hand on the hooked heel. Seemed almost impossible. Asst. Instructor Colin made it look too easy!

7:45-8p: Straight ankle lock escapes. If you are late with the standard escape, we learned a punch through with control of at least one lapel and escape to side control. Again...another hard trick and it seems impossible to execute in a large roll. Will keep working on it when I get the opportunity.

8-8:30p: Rolls. Big Steve up first. Started with him in my guard. He passed to side control in about a minute. Then took his time to advance to mount. From mount, he spent a good amount of time setting up an armbar. I couldn't upa. I couldn't pop him up and regain butterfly guard. Couldn't do much of anything. When he finally went for the arm bar, he didn't have it set up completely before going for it. I spent about a minute trying to posture up and save the arm. He wouldn't let go. Finally escaped and took side control. He was gassed. I proceeded to mount and tried to control an arm. Didn't ever get good control and time ran out.

Second roll was with Cleveland (big, strong 4-stripe white belt). He really applied some pressure. Struggled to survive relentless choke attempts. Cleveland spent most of the roll in side control trying to choke me with his gi. Escaped a couple of times to his guard, but eventually he had my back flat on the mat again. Finally caught an armbar and forced me to tap. Dagnabit!

Last roll was with Jeremy. He's a two-stripe white belt who comes 1-2 times per week (approx my height, but 20lbs or so lighter, and 8 yrs younger). We've rolled before. It seemed like we were pretty even most of the round, except when he kept destroying my posture and eventually caught an armbar.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


5:20-5:30p: Stretches. Attempted two front rolls, one from the left and the other from the right. Ouch... Wrists weak and in pain. Ribs. Shoulders. I knew then tonight would be a struggle.

5:30-5:40p: Short warm-ups/standard drills. David led again. He didn't seem too excited about it. We went through the warm-up rather quickly. Managed 60% of push-ups from knees. None of the usual core cramping.

5:40-5:55p: Pass the guard. A blur. Pain. Aches. The only thing I recall worth noting is my attempt to pass Professor Marco's guard. Every time I tried to keep balance and my weight low, he'd get me off balance in one direction, then the other, then back. I felt like I was watching a B horror flick where some poor gal is trying to escape the psycho killer and it's obvious to everyone that it's only a matter time ... she will expire. Yes. He swept me. No surprise there.

5:55-6:10p: Self defense technique. Learned a headlock escape with punch defense. Had trouble securing the attacking arm. I imagine I'd take a few blows before getting that under control. Need to work on it.

6:10-6:30p: Basic posture recovery and guard break technique. Refresher from last week's class.

6:30-6:45p: Added guard pass option from stand up technique. Take inside knee pistol grips or gi pant leg grips. Control legs and bring close together. Feign one direction, wait for push-back, slam to floor, pass to side. Trick was to hold on to inside grip until outside arm can reach under and control hips. Then move to cross face or another side control variation. Had to fight instinct to release inside grip.

6:45-6:55p: Drilled all three techniques. Pain. Lots of pain. Don't understand why it hurt so bad, but both my shoulders were screaming. Considered calling it a night. If my partner (Big Steve) wasn't sick of my whining, he deserves an award.

6:55-7:30p: Rolls. Seriously contemplated sitting out. My shoulders felt like they'd explode. I haven't felt that horrible in a while. Decided to tough it out. First roll was with Big Steve. He knew I was hurting. I told him to take it easy on me anyway. He did. Not sure what happened, but not much. Certainly nothing worth writing about.

Second roll was with a newer guy. Don't recall his name. Newer guy is strong. Likely has a rassling background. I told him I was an old man in pain. He took it easy on me. Caught me in a kimura at one point.

Third roll was with Blaise. Referred to him as Braxton or "B" in last week's post. The 17-19yr old football player. Turns out he's a couple inches taller and probably close to my weight. I encouraged him not to use force, but try the technique we'd learned in class the past couple weeks. He was much improved. He broke my guard and I settled into spider. I don't think he'd seen spider before because he tried to muscle out of it. I kept rotating on my back and each time he forced himself free, I recovered spider. I showed him how to peel off the knee. It worked once, but he then started to focus on the other arm and I recovered spider on the recently freed arm. I could tell he was a bit baffled. I was just shocked that I went through an entire 6 min roll without burning much energy and hurting my joints! Amazing what 2 mos experience difference makes when your opponent is brand spankin' new.

Last roll was with Big Steve again. I suppose the adrenaline hit me because the pain was not as bad. We had a good roll. He caught me in a kimura once. I think he realized I was vulnerable about a split second before I did because just as I thought I needed to protect that arm, he was moving for the submission. Good for him. My only success moment came when he took mount and I think tried a variation of the seated mount. He mistakenly placed his right foot/leg adjacent to my left tricep. I rolled slightly to pin the foot, then collapsed a posted arm and completed an upa to land in his guard. With the right foot trapped and right arm collapsed, he couldn't post. "Hooray me for recognizing the opportunity" moment.

Class ended. Pain returned...with a vengeance. Tomorrow should be interesting.

BJJ Archetypes

Thank's Steve for this great link. Many of the archetypes describe me in part, but unfortunately, I think the GROANER is the best overall fit: "It is the guy who sits down to roll and groans like his body is 100 years old. He touches every joint and makes facial expressions like he is overcoming all odds to roll......then bam, he attacks with a fury on unsuspecting guys who feel sorry for him. Then after the roll, he staggers off the mat wincing in pain or discomfort, and then repeats the steps above on other victims." Not that attacking with a fury is always that effective, but I have noticed that although I generally feel like crap before rolls for some reason I find some mojo during the roll only to feel like crap again after class.

Monday, June 21, 2010


5:50-6:20p: Stretched and watched judo class. The judo folks are impressive. I need those take-down skillz, but don't think my body could take the impact. Maybe when I'm in better shape. I worked on solo upa and side-control bridge to elbow or hip escape to guard recovery drills. Also mixed in the side-control bridge to elbow escape to elevator. I feel a bit off-balance during these bridges. Then worked front rolls. I think about front rolls frequently since realizing I had been doing them incorrectly last week. Think I have the left side down, but I keep landing and extending the wrong leg coming out of the right side. I'm also not breaking my fall correctly. Again...more validation that I'm not ready for Judo.

6:20-6:40: Professor Doc Eddie asked if I wanted to roll. SURE!!! I'll never turn down an opportunity to roll with an upper belt. Especially a Professor! He started off in my guard. I didn't really know what to do because he didn't attack or try to break my guard. Sort of sat there, lowered his head. I didn't want to spazz or escalate the intensity. Just tried to figure out what he was doing. I'm sure he was testing me to see what I'd do. I didn't know what to do... Eventually we got going a bit. I don't recall a whole lot. Just that he's very strong and it didn't take much effort on his part to make me work very hard to survive. At one point he set up for an armbar from side control. I knew exactly what he was doing, but had to wait for the moment where I could implement one of Saulo's escapes from Jiu Jitsu University. Timing was off a tad bit, because he pulled the lever before I could move the foot, clasp my free arm, and sit up. I asked if he could set that up again and give me one more chance. Slower this time. Success. Passed to side control. He wasn't resisting, but I felt the mechanics and know it can work if timed properly. At some other time he got my back. Gave me a heckuva time attacking the neck. Resorted to back survival posture. He established the body lock. I bridged/rolled into the lock, broke it, inserted elbow and knee. Then I trapped an exposed ankle and started torquing fairly hard by twisting/bridging. For a fleeting moment, I thought: "Could he tap?" Nah. I didn't keep trying. Survived more choke attempts and eventually escaped, but I'm pretty sure he just wanted to keep the roll going.

6:40-7p: Jessica (blue belt) asked if I wanted to roll. She's much much smaller than me. We've rolled a few times before. I really try to avoid throwing my weight around, but apparently didn't succeed tonight. I believe she started in my guard or if she didn't she ended up in my guard soon after we started the roll. Flower sweep successful. 2nd attempt (later in the roll) successful as well. Never tried it before, but I love the mechanics of that sweep. Also succeeded with this scissor sweep variation a couple times. Jessica is quick. She escaped a number of advancement attempts and recovered guard very well. She also escaped to take back once or twice. At one point in the roll I had side control and Jessica recovered deep half guard. I only know one way to pull my knee from deep half guard and apparently it isn't too class friendly. Started to apply a little pressure on the cross face and she said, "Tap!" I really didn't think I was applying too much pressure/weight, but, as I said, I'm much much bigger than her. I was so focused on working my knee free, I'm not sure how much weight I leaned into that forearm posted across her neck/chin/upper chest.

7-7:15p: Warm-ups / standard drills. David led. David's the 14-yr old four-stripe white belt with about a year experience who about dominates most opponents. He's clearly a blue belt, but chose not to accept the kid belt promotions. He'll keep his 4 stripes for 2 more years. My guess is his journey through blue will be fairly short. Push-ups went poorly. Worse than usual.

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard. David on the mat. Couldn't pass his guard. He eventually took my back. Sick. Next time around I passed someone's guard (can't recall) and took the mat. Henry, a younger white belt MMA practitioner, attempted to pass next. He was very aggressive and resorted to a lot of force. I held guard (switch between open and closed), failed a couple sweep attempts, but managed to prevent him from taking side control and recovered guard. He was flailing a bit and I kept waiting for an opportunity to shoot a triangle, but never felt comfortable enough to attempt. After about 3 minutes or so he gave up and got back in line. David was up next and attempted to pass. I caught an arm and he stood up to defend. I stuck with it and eventually got the tap, although he had me fully extended where only my head, neck and part of my shoulders were on the mat. Professor Matthias was next up and got in my guard. He joked, "So you feel good beating up on a 14yr old kid?" We were laughing because he's submitted me so many flippin' DID feel good to submit David for the second time. I tried pretty hard to hold the good Professor in my closed guard. At one point he drove his right elbow into my left thigh. Hurt like crazy. I winced and broke my guard. He smiled and asked, "What? Ticklish?" Another chuckle. At some point he pinned a hand and started working a pass to one side from stand up. Slowly. I could almost see him think, but there was nothing I could do but resist as best as possible. He went for his stroke of luck I timed an escape properly and ended up taking down a leg into his side control. Nice.

7:30-8p: Re-visited straight ankle locks. Asst. Instructor Collin showed a variation that seemed to work very well...too bad my mind is drawing a blank... Worked knee bar and toe hold technique as well, but, to tell you the truth, I didn't pay too much attention. I can't do these submissions until a brown belt and my brain is full. I have enough trouble remember how to execute basic white belt technique.

8-8:30p: Rolls. First roll was with David. Yeah...David. Let's just say that my only two submissions occurred during guard pass drills. I still struggle quite a bit to even advance position when I roll with him. Sometimes, like tonight, it's a struggle to survive. At one point David took my back. I responded by establishing all-fours survival posture then rolled to back survival posture. He worked a number of choke attempts, all thwarted. I worked the scoop, but struggled to keep posture as David continued to work the choke. Eventually he got the choke. I tapped...geez this kid is tough. I have several inches at least 90lbs on him.

Second roll with Henry. I tried to pass his guard, but he didn't have gi pants and I didn't realize how much easier passing guard is when your opponent has gi pants. I eventually passed (stack) and advanced to mount. After settling in, I proceeded to attack his arms. He defended well. Tight. Couldn't pry them away long enough to work on anything. I was able to pull his head up and attempted a triangle, but didn't have his arm pinned and he was able to create space. He eventually rolled me and I took guard. Henry really poured on the pressure (and burned through a ton of energy in the process) trying to pass. Again I was unable to time a triangle shoot or armbar attempt. He was quite squirrelly. At some point I popped him in the chin/lip. Bloody. Whoops!

Third roll with Dr. Steve. The guy is just good. REAL good. He passed guard and established Kesa Gatame on the right side. Managed to pry my right arm away from my side and wrapped a leg over. Arm bar. Didn't take long at all. We rolled back and forth. The only notable event on my side was two successful seated mount escapes. Saulo is a genius. That escape only failed me once and has succeeded against two purple belts. Love it. Dr. Steve got promoted after class ended. His fourth stripe (white belt). In my opinion, he's better than most blue belts I've rolled with. Well deserved. Congrats Steve!

Injury Report: The pinky toe I dislocated about 6-7 weeks ago is acting up. It's such a distraction. I feel weak and purposefully avoid positions and attacks that require putting a lot of pressure on the left side of my left foot. A few weeks back, when I whined about it, Professor Matthias said it will probably bother me as long as I involved in the sport. I guess I'd better get used to it. Oh...the black eye I got last week is now nice and yellow. Looks a bit odd.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


6:15-6:40p: Stretched for quite a while as MMA class wound down. Got done with stretches and went to grab my gi top. Hmm... no gi top. Looked around. Nowhere in sight. I finally asked the Professor if I could borrow a community gi top. I told him mine got up and walked away. Charlie (purple belt) said, "Was it over there on the red bag?" Yeah. He thought someone moved his from his bag to my bag. Sort of funny. Charlie had drenched it by then, so he found his gi top (hidden under his bag) and gave it to me. Must have had purple belt fairy dust because I had a fairly strong showing tonight.

6:40-7p: Charlie asked if I wanted to roll a bit before class. Not sure if it was because he wanted to or if he felt bad about the gi mix-up. Who cares? How often do I get to roll with a purple belt? My goal was survival. Pure and simple. At some point he set up for an omoplata and I rolled out. Later he shifted to seated mount (probably to set up an arm bar or choke) and I escaped by pushing the dead angle. That's the time I've tried that technique on a purple belt, both successful. In fact, the only time I've failed at that escape was later tonight in my roll with Niel. I don't recall getting submitted, but I doubt he tried too hard. Mostly he was putting me in difficult positions and letting me work out. Good opportunity.

7-7:15p: Warm-ups / standard drills: Still had NOTHING for the pushups. Probably less than 50% from knees.

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard from stand up with bottom person taking sleeves and full or partial spider guard. Passed Charlie's guard. I've never passed a purple belt's guard during this drill. Charlie almost always sweeps me (like most purple and blue belts). Passed Nick's guard as well (16-17yr old four-stripe white belt). Peeled off the spider, shoved knees to the floor, locked the arms to keep them down, shifted my hips around the knees, and fell into Reverse Kesa Gatame. He was a bit miffed. Said, "What am I supposed to do to stop that?" Oh...had my guard passed several times. Keeping opponents in guard for a full minute is a challenge.

7:30-7:45p: Straight ankle lock technique. Ashton (two-stripe white belt) has caught me with this a few times. He learned it in Rusty's self-defense class. Tonight we both learned that white belt's aren't supposed to do straight ankle locks in sports jiu jitsu. Not sure if that's a GB thing or a larger BJJ federation tournament rule. Regardless, we worked the technique (slowly) for 15 mins.

7:45-8p: Heel hook escape technique. Learned that heel hooks are banned for all belts in BJJ federation competitions. However, since MMA and some non-BJJ federation competitions allow the submission, Professor Doc Eddie thought it was important to practice the heel hook set up (but not hook itself) so we know when it's coming to time a roll/kick escape.

8-8:30p: Rolls. Professor Doc Eddie matched everyone up and I was the odd man out. So we rolled. Never rolled with him before. I'm sure he recognized me, but hadn't really spoken much before tonight's class. The roll went well. He got in my guard and asked me what I know. Showed him some basic posture breaking techniques then Omoplata, arm bar, and a seriously flawed triangle attempt. Doc Eddie said "Ok good, let's roll." I don't remember a lot about the roll, only that I focused on survival and guard recovery as much as possible. When time ran out, he asked how long I'd been training (2 mos). Then asked if I had a wrestling background (no). Said I had kept everything nice and tight. Didn't leave many opportunities for him to work and said, "That's not something you can teach." Thanks Professor!

Doc Eddie lined us up and instead of letting the upper belts select partners and matching the white belts, he let the white belts select partners. I picked Dr. Steve (3-stripe white belt, 30yrs old, 6'2" or so, probably 190lbs). Dr. Steve should be a blue belt (my opinion). He destroys all the white belts and gives most blue belts a run for their money. I think he isn't a blue belt yet because he's bounced around from school-to-school for the past couple years. I like working with Dr. Steve. He's really nice and respectful, but knows how to pour on the pressure. I struggled to survive the entire roll and he finally submitted me by arm bar (right arm). Can't recall what I did wrong exactly, but for the most part I think I did well. I got another compliment on the tight game. Since I know Dr. Steve's skills and know he was pouring on the pressure, I think only one submission in the roll, I don't think he was paying lip service.

Last roll was with a blue belt named Neal. An inch or two shorter, a bit lighter. In much better shape. Had him start in my guard. Asked him to put on the pressure. He spent a while breaking guard, then passed. The roll was a bit of a blur, but I know he ended up passing and taking mount. I recall attempting a sloppy upa, but I rushed it and the timing was all wrong. He transitioned to seated mount to set up the arm bar. I attempted the seated mount escape, but his base was solid. It didn't work...first time for that! Attempted an arm bar escape, but timing was all wrong and had to tap. He said it was a good escape attempt.

Ditching class tomorrow night. Life interrupts. An old college buddy is coming to town for the weekend. Have to give him the "First time to New Orleans" treatment. Hopefully I'll make Saturday morning class at 11am...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Very unexpected. Immediately after tonight's final roll, Professor Matthias came over and, while I still had my opponent ("B") in my guard, put a 2nd stripe on my belt and shook my hand. He didn't say anything and I didn't ask. Not sure why I got the promotion or if I deserve two stripes after only two months training, but I continue to trust my Professor.


5:30-5:40p: Mini warm-up / standard drills: Struggled with push-ups (as usual), but didn't have any cramping from the core exercises. Bear crawl is not fun.

5:40-5:55p: Pass the guard. Passed Big Steve's guard by pinning one of his legs to half butterfly guard, reached under and pulled/pushed knee aside to complete pass. Later, Steve passed my guard without too much trouble. Tried to pass a Blue belt's guard and he ended up escaping to take down. He's pretty solid. I've never seen him in class before. Last guard pass (that I recall) was with a new white belt with a bit of Judo and wrestling background. He was really aggressive and tried to muscle his way out of my guard. He gassed and I caught him in front gi choke. Not really fair because he had no idea that using 3x as much energy as me to break my guard alone wasn't a very good long-term strategy. But he didn't have much of a choice since he didn't know any technique. Fortunately for him (and the other few new guys that showed tonight), we went over basic guard break technique later in the class.

5:55-6:05p: Self-dense technique. Aggressor took a conventional street fight stance. Defender kept distance and circled slightly to improve angle on opponents jabbing arm, then quickly went for a hip take down to side control. Partnered up with Chad.

6:05-6:10p: Worked posture recovery and guard break. Opponent has you in guard and forces your hands to the mat while holding head to chest. Swim hands under opponents arms and grab lapels. Move one hip back slightly, push against lapels and raise arms to create some space, then escape the head. Re-establish proper posture and proceed to break guard via standard technique (strong arm below sternum, control hip, move knee to butt-crack, shift hip back and break guard).

6:10-6:25p: Added simple stack pass to the mix. Worked full combo from broken posture to posture recovery to guard break to stack pass.

6:20-6:30p: Added the initial self defense take down, but had to pretend that a street fighter who left him/herself open to the hip take down could somehow recover guard from side control and break posture. was good to work a sequence from stand up, take down, posture recovery, guard break, and stack pass to side control.

6:30-7p: Rolls. First roll was with Big Steve. I'll refer to him as Big Steve for journaling purposes because we have another Steve (I'll call him Dr. Steve 'cause he's working on his PhD in Neuroscience at Tulane). Big Steve guessed it...a fairly large, barrel chested guy. Might be an inch or two shorter than me, but he's probably my weight or heavier. We had a very good roll. Nice and easy. Not much force. I attempted one submission from knee on belly, but even though I had trapped his left arm after he tried to push my knee off and left space, I made a some undiagnosed mistake when transitioning around his head and lost the upper hand. I bailed on the attempt and he escaped to side control. His weight was crushing. I attempted two bridge to elbow escapes without gaining any ground. Spent a minute or so contemplating a tap to the "Big Country" submission because I was so miserable and had trouble breathing. Finally Steve attempted an advance to mount and I timed a hip escape to recover half guard. I think he escaped back to side control and somehow I managed to end up back in his guard for some time. Time called. Enjoyed this roll.

Second roll was with a new white belt named Matt (not my friend Matt who made his second class tonight). I'd never seen this Matt before, but he clearly knew some technique. Maybe he has grappling experience. Maybe BJJ from another school. Not sure. He could have been my height, but much slimmer. Started with him in my guard and the guy tried to muscle everything. I defended against the forceful onslaught, but eventually he passed my guard. I managed to recover guard. We went from guard to pass to guard recovery a few times. I had a couple successful sweeps. Once I established side control, but he managed to wiggle out. He also recovered guard from one of my mounts. I probably have 40-50lbs on him. Clearly I need to distribute my weight better and close the spaces. He shouldn't be able to escape side control and recover guard from mount that easily. I missed a great sweep opportunity during the roll. Even Professor Matthias saw it and shouted, "the arm, the arm." I saw the opportunity just as he was pointing it out, but Matt took a different tact and I lost my chance. Glad I saw it though...just need to learn to react quicker. All in good time.

Last roll was with B...something (Braxton?). He's the young football player I wrote about in my June 12th entry (approx. 18 and my height/size). Today was his second class. He started in my guard. "B" still relied on too much force, although his improvement from the first class was obvious. At one point I broke his posture, secured his head to my chest, and coached him through the escape (remember technique from earlier in the class - swim under and grip lapels, etc.). He didn't catch on. Probably couldn't remember what we did earlier. I know it took a long time before the stuff I learned during the technique portion of the class "stuck" in my brain. Remembering a technique and then executing it during a live roll is even more difficult. Eventually he muscled his head out and re-established posture. I kept my hips and guard high. He couldn't break guard, but tried very hard. Again, more muscle, but this time he at least remembered to position his knee to my butt crack. But with my hips high on his thigh, he didn't have the leverage. I reminded him to focus on controlling my hips before trying to go for the break. He caught on to that. Once he broke my guard, I positioned for the only scissor sweep variation that I know how to execute with any regular success. Sweep was successful and I landed in mount. He chuckled and I could tell he knew he was in trouble. But...I made a mistake and lost my balance during the sweep. I posted both arms over his shoulder. He had the perfect upa mount escape opportunity but had no clue. I stopped the roll at that point and showed him the upa. Simple enough. He struggled a bit with the sequence/timing, but once "B" got the basic idea I could tell he understood how valuable the simple technique can be when in a jam. We worked on the the sequence starting with my sweep to mount and his upa reversal. Time ran out.

Good class tonight. I feel really good. A bit sore, but it's a good sore. Not the "my joints are going to explode" sore.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5:45 - 7:40p

5:45- 6:15p: Arrived early to stretch prior to the self defense course. Judo session going on. The guys were throwing each other so hard. Can't imagine putting myself through that. 6p came and went. No Coach Rusty. Turns out he is on vacation this week. I didn't get the memo.

6:15-6:30p: Solo drills. Worked front rolls, left and right side. I never did left side before. Felt so awkward. I started slow and did it they way Professor Matthias showed us at Saturday's class. Got it down. Tried to do right side (the side I thought I had down). Still wrong. Turns out I was stepping forward with my left leg before the roll and not completing the roll properly. I tried with the right leg first and I felt like it was my first class. Awkward. Need to work on it. Then I drilled side control survival posture to escapes. Saulo Ribeiro style.

6:30-6:45p: Another classmate, Chad, no-stripe white belt who has been around a bit longer than me but trains inconsistently, asked me if he wanted a partner to work the escapes. SURE! He took side control and I worked the escape. Not much (if any) success. Chad is about my age and probably close to my weight, although a few inches shorter.

6:45-7p: Chris, a 17-yr old 4-stripe white belt (probably 6'2" or so and 175lbs) who took first in the state championships this year, asked if Chad or I wanted roll. Chad chose to save his energy for class. I had to leave early, so why not? I don't think I'd ever rolled with him before. First roll lasted about 30 secs. We started from knees (my idea) and he triangled me pronto. Said he got lucky, but I had horrible posture and he did some judo stuff on me. Found out today he's a brown belt in judo. Nice. Surely an advantage. Second roll was much better. I had his back for a while and tried to go for some chokes, but his defense was solid. Released and we ended up rolling back and forth. He must have submitted me again, but I don't recall how. The third roll started with him in my guard. He spent a good amount of time trying to pass, but eventually did. I stopped the roll after he passed. Class was about to start and I needed to get ready. Enjoyed rolling with the "kid."

7-7:10p: Cliff notes version of warm-ups / standard drills. Coach Tran led and most everyone had been rolling for 30-45 mins or so before class (including him) so he went through the routine fairly quickly. I was worthless. Gassed. Completed maybe 50% of the push-ups from knees. What's wrong with me?

7:10-7:25p: Pass the guard. Got swept by a blue belt. Managed to catch Chad in a Kimura while trying to pass half-guard. Chad had me so locked up, I couldn't figure out how to get my knee through his thighs to complete the pass. I noticed he left his left arm exposed and as soon as I locked it in I heard him groan. He knew what was coming. Not sure if I'm supposed to submit from half-guard since the drill is to pass the guard, but submission is a form of passing guard right? ;-) Also triangled 14-yr old prodigy David. I tried the first time we faced off, but he escaped and passed. Second time he went for the same thing, but I managed to shoot it right and lock it in. David has submitted me at least a dozen times the past couple months and I never came close to submitting him. As I said, he's 14, a 4-stripe white belt (not interested in the kid belts) and has been doing this about a year now. He probably weighs 140lbs or so. Yet he's managed to own me for the past two months. Felt good to finally catch him. He's a great kid and has an extremely bright future. So humble and teachable. He will go far.

7:25-7:45p: Pass the guard drills, but from stand-up / open guard. Bottom guy has both hands in belt. Top guy has one hand in belt. I think this was a better drill for the bottom guy trying to maintain and recover guard. Then we spent 5 mins or so passing guard with hands. Tiring. That's an understatement. I was gassed.

9-11:30p: Left class early to get back to the hotel and get ready for the Dropkick Murphy's show at the New Orleans House of Blues. Great show. Ran into a guy from Gracie JJ of Pensacola (wearing the shirt). He'd only been training 9 mos, but as an older guy like me, we had a good chat about the sport. I am glad to part of the community.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


10:45-11a: Brought a friend today for his first class. Introduced Matt to Professor Matthias, got him a community gi, showed him how to tie the belt, and hit the mat. I stretched a bit and we watched Nick, a young 4-stripe white belt (I think he's 16) roll with Professor Marco. Nick got Marco breathing a bit. Don't think he gave him too much of a hard time though. ;-)

11-11:15a: Warm-ups and standard drills. Had significant problems with push-ups, even from the knees. Might have finished only 60%. Will I ever be strong enough to do normal push ups? Also found out I've been doing front rolls incorrectly. I need to slow it down and follow through properly.

11:15-11:25a: Basic self defense technique to escape a front choke. Matt was my partner. Left ear hurt a bit on the first escape to the left. Note to self...don't escape to the ailing side. Escapes to right felt much better.

11:25-11:35a: Arm bar technique from guard with Matt. Learned a technique to help bring the arm across over the chest to set up the submission.

11:35-11:45a: Triangle technique from guard with Matt. Pretty standard stuff.

11:45a-11:55a: Reversal technique when opponent tries to break and pass guard by standing up. Standard grab of heels, drop hips, touch knees and extend hips so opponent falls. Worked a transition to mount using opponents momentum. Had trouble positioning my left leg to make the transition smooth. Need to work on it a bit more.

11:55a-12:10p: Explored an arm bar option from prior position if opponent defends against reversal by holding onto gi lapels.

12:10-12:30p: Rolls. First roll with Nick. Although he's only 16, I only have a couple inches and 20lbs on him. Had a number of successful escapes from side control and mount. Even passed guard and advanced to mount a few times, but Nick had multiple reversals. At one point he said something about me being a bit explosive. Sounded like a criticism. I asked if there was something wrong with that and he asked if I was getting tired. Truth is, he was breathing and sweating a lot more than I was. He left a few holes and I wasn't going to slowly insert my knee or attempt my escape. I did it quickly and with purpose. Near the end of the roll he set up an arm bar from side control. I knew what he was doing and thought about one of Saulo's escapes. Unfortunately, that escape is all about timing and I was late. What's even worse is I escaped to the wrong direction. WHAT WAS I THINKING? That's the problem...had to think. Need to drill it and develop muscle memory. Obviously he got the arm bar. However, he apparently missed the first 3 of 5 taps. By the time he released, my arm was hyper-extended and I felt two pops. Elbow is a bit sore right now, but I have full range of motion and no sharp pain. Don't think there is permanent damage.

Second roll was with Cleveland. He's a big strong four-stripe white belt about my age (maybe a few years younger). Probably 6'3" and 22olbs, but his 220lbs is not like my 225lbs. He's strong. That said, he doesn't use strength at all. All technique. He's such a nice guy. I've rolled with him once before and really enjoy working with him. He knew about my elbow issue and didn't attempt any submissions. We just rolled and worked to advance position vs. escape. Good stuff.

Had a brand new kid for my last roll. Probably 18 or so. My size. Football player. Forgot his name... Talk about explosive! I recall the Professor asking him to take it easy during his first roll. We didn't really roll. I taught him some basic technique and goals when in someone's guard or when he has someone in his guard. Had him try to pass my open guard and he eventually got to stand up. Tried to muscle his way around and I hooked and swept him to mount. He understood the need to slow it down and think about controlling hips and working his way down and around.

Matt liked the class and wants to come back. Hector caught in a Kimura. Hector started a few weeks ago. That might have been his first submission. Matt's highlight of the day? Survived a front gi choke attempt by implementing what we learned earlier in the class. Says he wants to come back on Tuesday for the next beginner's class. Nice.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


7-8:30p: Dinner at Palace Cafe on Canal St. Yeah, I know...not excatly jiu jitsu...or is it? I was all fired up to get back to training at NOLA BJJ after nearly a week in San Diego. But interrupted. A friend (Matt) reminded me that another good friend (Paul) leaves tomorrow to return home for good. Paul and I have been work buddies since we first met almost four and a half years ago at a training session in Washington, DC. I may not see him again for many years. Then again, I may not ever see him again since he lives in Pittsburgh. Matt said Paul wanted the three of us to go to Palace Cafe for dinner. Matt and I had never been and it's one of Paul's favorite places in New Orleans. My initial reaction was "Noooooooooooooo! I have to train tonight!!!!!!"

I don't know why, but I thought about Saulo Ribiero and Jiu Jitsu University: "...I must know all my white belts, and will accompany them as they grow as people and practitioners of jiu-jitsu" (pg. 12). Grow as people? Part of the sport? I hate to admit it, but I really really wanted to be selfish tonight. Also, tonight was supposed to be Matt's first night attending BJJ class. I had convinced him last week and he promised that he'd go tonight. I was really looking forward to introducing him to the sport!

No matter how much my flesh wanted to ditch the dinner and attend class, I realize I couldn't forsake my friend. Life sometimes interrupts training and I have to be okay with that. Tough as it was, I am glad we had dinner. Palace Cafe is a truly great restaurant and I am glad to have shared that meal with Paul and Matt.

8:30-10p: Bourbon St. Yes...if you watch Treme, you know that there is pride on Bourbon St. (ha!) Paul, Matt, and I ventured into tourist hell and caught a couple bands. The first band was a Matt special. 80's rock cover songs. We yelled, "Play some Slayer" and the band proceeded to play Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer with a demonic-type voice. Interesting...

10-11:30p: Managed to find Paul's favorite Bourbon St. band, Willie's All Purpose Blues Band. Good stuff. The ~60yr old guitar player has probably played since he was 15yrs old or so. Solid play and a good time.

11:30p-??: We said our good-bye's and headed back to our hotel rooms. I'm glad I chose dinner and a night out with an old friend over a BJJ training session. Life interrupts. That's part of the journey. Difficult as the choice may have been, I'm glad to have chosen a friend over a night of training.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weight Digression

Hmm...two months ago, before I started jiu jitsu, the YMCA scale said I weighed 220lbs. The same scale says I now weigh 225lbs. Both weigh-ins were in the morning. How in the world did a fat softy gain 5lbs after 1.5hr jiu jitsu workouts 3-4 x per week for two full months? I haven't worked out like the past two months since high school water polo/swimming. I know, I know...muscle weighs more than fat. But come on. I'm about 25-30lbs overweight. Figured I'd at least lose a pound or two before I started putting on muscle. Can't be that. I already eat fairly well. I've cut out almost all refined sugars (no candies, sodas, cakes, etc., at all). Don't eat "fast food." Eat lots of salads, raw almonds, sugar free yogurt, fiber cereals, turkey sandwiches, chicken noodle soups, lean cuisines, etc. Has my calorie intake increased? I don't think so. Suppose I need to get more serious about monitoring intake quantity.

Monday, June 7, 2010

11:50a to 1p

11:50a-12p: Conference call got cancelled so I was able to attend a session at GB San Diego. Professor Parker welcomed me and had me sign a waiver. Taped and suited up in time for warm-ups.

12-12:15p: First time at another school so I was a bit nervous. But once things got going, I felt right at home. Started with standard warmups. Most of the same warmups we do at NOLA BJJ.

12:15-12:25p: Side control escape and escape prevention technique with partner. Worked both sides.

12:25-12:35p: Worked in a second escape option for guy on bottom (underhook, hip escape, leg momentum to go from back to belly then to elevator to knee takedown). Both sides with same partner as prior technique/drill.

12:35-12:45p: Combined prior drills to about 75% speed. Both sides with same partner as prior drill.

12:45-12:55p: Many rounds of 30 second full speed mini-spars from side control with same partner. Bottom guy tried to escape. Top guy tried to advance position (knee on belly to mount and submission). I went for one arm-bar attempt when I had knee on belly and my partner tried to push my knee off with left arm, leaving space. I was sloppy and executed before securing the left arm. Oh well. At least I recognized the opportunity.

12:55-1p: Switched partners. One full speed roll. Both started at knees. I worked with a much, much smaller but faster two-stripe white belt. He was quick. Somehow I ended up in his guard and passed a few times, but had extreme difficulty holding my ground. He easily inserted knee or prevented me from knee on belly. At one point I switched to north-south. He wrapped his legs around my head, but didn't really have much. It wasn't comfortable at all (especially with my ailing ears). I couldn't think of a way out without really hurting my ears (i.e., brute force!) so thought about tapping. Decided to survive a bit longer and see if I could think of something else. Eventually I realized I could literally do a front roll and if I kept my balance it should allow the escape to his guard. That worked to an extent, but without much effort he escaped and somehow ended up making an attempt at my back. I went into back survival posture and he basically stopped the roll. Time was almost up. He knew I was gassed. I guess he didn't feel like trying to pry me out of my turtle. I enjoyed the roll. The small guys are tough. Enjoyed the class too. Thanks GB San Diego!

Pilates (8-9a)

Pilates at the Y. Today was my first attempt. Made it through most of the hour without cramping, but the last 15 mins were a real challenge. BTW, I sweat quite a bit. It is a workout. Just not of the cardio type. I was the only guy in a class with ~20 women (all ages, but most of them were fairly fit). Hey, it kicked my butt and the balance/core exercises can't hurt the jiu jitsu! Too bad it's only one day per week. Might have to explore other options when I return to San Diego.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


My body aches...seriously. Every joint. Neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, toes, lower back...even my ribs feel sore. I went swimming this afternoon and had sharp elbow pain every stroke. My left ear is terrible. Cartilage pops with little pressure and I can't lay that side of my head on a pillow. was my 3rd day off after 4 consecutive training days. Why do I hurt so bad now? I'm 34...but feel like 60.

10:50 to 11:05a

I'm in San Diego and thought I'd try to make a session or two at GB San Diego. Unfortunately I have conflicts with every session while I'm here except for this morning's. I showed up 10 mins early and the gym was dark. Waited 15 minutes and still no one showed. Oh well. Went home and stretched.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


5:15-5:30p: Brief stretches and light roll with one of the instructors (brown belt). His ability to create space and escape side control blows my mind. I must have 50lbs on him. He has zero problem creating all the space he needs to escape. Can't wait to have skills like that.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up/standard drills. Could only complete 65% of push-ups from knees and 50% or so of core exercises (significant back cramping).

5:45-5:55p: Instructor taught the class the side control escape he used on me prior to class. Worked the escape with a partner a few times.

5:55-6:10p: Pass the guard. Don't think I had a successful pass. Gave a couple guys a hard time from bottom, but they eventually passed. Last pass attempt was with the Professor. He let me work a bit, but eventually swept me.

6:10-6:30p: Technique. Worked a couple different triangle escapes. Then armbar escapes. Good for the bag-o-tricks. Hopefully I can remember them.

6:30-7p: Rolls. First roll with a familiar white belt. Roughly my size. A bit more experience. I was in his guard and he trapped an arm. Almost had the kimura, but not quite. After a minute or so of thinking of a way to escape, the only thing I could come up with was a roll out that gave him side control. Ended up escaping that back to guard. Swept him to mount and then he immediately reversed (umpa) back to my guard. Time ran out.

Second roll was with a four-stripe white belt I hadn't met before. Apparently he works out in the mornings. He's tall (6'2" or 6'3") and really strong. Biceps twice my size. We had a good roll. I almost had a couple gi chokes. I thought I was close with one gi choke, but I left and arm exposed and he managed to arm bar when I least expected it. He also caught me with two gi chokes. Basically took my gi off and wrapped it around my neck.

Third roll was with the white belt I submitted 5 times in 2 rolls last week. I have at least 80lbs on him. Tried not to use my weight. He started in my guard. He spent most of the roll trying to pass guard. I started a number of armbar, triangle, kimura submission attempts, but backed off. Also had a couple sweeps, but didn't push through. All because had I pulled them off it would be mostly because of my size/strength advantage and not necessarily because he was making too many mistakes. He had a couple good sweep attempts that would have worked had I been anywhere near his weight class. I could feel he had the right position/angle, but I was simply too heavy. Ended up trying to pass a half butterfly guard. He defended well and almost had me in an omoplata, but didn't have the angle to finish. We worked on the finish after time ran out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


5:30-5:50p: Stretches. Watched MMA practice. This guy took bottom for multiple rounds with rested partners rotating in to simulate striking from top while he worked escapes. Crazy endurance.

5:50-6p: Light roll with a blue belt. I rolled with him my first bjj class. He kept telling me to relax and not use so much muscle. Said the same thing a few times since that first day, but not lately. He likes unconventional starting positions (both on knees, one stand up one down with open guard, etc.). Interesting but uneventful warm-up roll.

6-7p: Self defense course. First time taking this class. Worked on wrist grab defense, close quarters posture and punch/knee/head butt defense. Also worked open guard pass with punch/head kick defense. Finished class with shrimping technique/drills. Mostly gals in the class. One guy was there, but not the white belt who usually takes the class and catches me in odd submissions (chokes and ankle locks). I have to admit I felt a bit uncomfortable working with the women. The self defense class gals aren't like the couple women who roll with us in the sports jiu-jitsu class. I have no problem being aggressive with those girls. I don't know how to describe it. I'll have to get over it if I want to keep taking the self defense class. As I said. Mostly women.

7-7:15p: Warm-up/standard drills. Did 100% of the pushups from knees. Might try "real" push-ups tomorrow. Back still cramping from core exercises. Figure I made 75% or so of the reps with sporadic cramping.

7:15-7:30p: Pass the guard. Gassed myself while a blue belt attempted to pass. He eventually passed. Nothing else to write home about.

7:30-7:45p: Half guard escape technique. Worked a few different types.

7:45-8p: Sweep/escape drills. Underhook sweep from guard to mount then mount escape to guard to underhook sweep from guard to mount - repeat... Good stuff.

8-8:30p: Rolls. No need for a blow-by-blow. Basically sloppy work on my part. Armbarred and choked too many times. Game was far too loose. Need to return to survival basics.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My ears are very sore. Have been for a week now. Especially the right ear. Want to get me tap? Just twist my ear slightly. I'll tap. Fo sure. It doesn't look swollen and I don't feel any fluid. I'm told those are the warning signs and that I'll need to drain any fluid. One of the guys has headgear, but he only wears it during a flare up. Some say ice works. Speaking of ice. I'll try that now.

5:15p to 7:00p

5:15-5:30p: Extra stretching. Did 3 pull-ups! Don't think I've done more than 2 since high school.

5:30-5:50p: Warm-up/standard drills. Managed 75% of core exercises. Cramping. Completed 100% of push-ups from knees. Progress?

5:50-6:10p: Pass the guard. Did ok. Guard defense getting better, although after a couple minutes of frustrated pass attempts to pass my guard, a very experienced blue belt managed to choke me out while still in my guard. I should have broke my guard and defended the choke. Thought about that a bit too late. Next time.

6:10-6:30p: Technique/drills. Stand-up pull into guard. Then worked a kimura option from guard. Finished with a sweep option if opponent employs predictable kimura defense. Drilled all three combined. Learned something new. Simple enough that I don't *think* I'll forget this one!

6:30-7p: Rolls. First roll was with a fellow white belt of my approximate weight/size. I've rolled with him many many times. I recall rolling to a draw, but then again, he might have caught me in a choke. Second roll with same white belt I wrote about last week (5 submissions in 2 rolls). He felt a lot stronger and more confident than last week, but I didn't go for any submissions. Made him work though. Third roll was with an older white belt. Never rolled with him before. Tried a few interesting things from mount, all unsuccessful...especially the gogoplata (he reversed to side control). Good news is I'm definitely flexible enough to pull it off...some day. Last roll was with the new blue belt I rolled with last week (got his back). This time he choked me out a couple times and forced me to survive the entire roll. Need to defend the neck...big time.