Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DL Day 3

Knee is still tweaked, although I don't think it's that bad in the grand scheme of things. Not much trouble with a 5+ mile hike this morning through a local canyon with my son and father-in-law. Walking, stairs, etc., don't seem to cause any pain or discomfort. I haven't tried jogging yet. Posts/pivots, squats, and kneeling to stand up is moderately painful and simply doesn't feel right. Professor Leo said to ice it three times daily. I iced it once today... Need to get better with that.

Went to class this morning anyway. Worked core while the guys warmed up. Joined in for take down set-up drills, although I didn't do many and the reps I did were very slow. Observed the technique portion. Good review of two options from side control. First, the kimura with arm-bar option in response to a common kimura defense. The second, a very quick spin around armbar.

Worked core and upper body during the rolls. Hundreds of crunches. About 50 push-ups, with more than half from knees. Ankle weights and leg lifts. Plus stretch chord stuff to work hip flexors. Worked up a good sweat.

I'm considering a couple weeks off from rolling and most technique drills. I would continue to show up to class (keep the habit) and work core and upper body as hard as possible as an alternative. Even if I'm feeling a little better...no need rush the recovery. Hopefully I'll be 100% by the time I return to NOLA BJJ on 9/13.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knee Injury - DRATS!

Not sure how badly I'm hurt... My right knee miniscus (outside) popped twice during training yesterday leaving slight dull achy pain. Got pushed over at an odd angle. I continued to roll, but baby'd it quite a bit. No pain after workout and it didn't hurt at all yesterday afternoon/evening, but something didn't feel quite right. I woke up this morning with moderate pain and a general feeling of instability. Can't post on the leg and turn or do squates without pain. Never had a serious knee injury before so I have no way of knowing if this is something that will resolve itself with a week or two rest or if I've really done some damage. . . Fingers crossed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

10a to 12:10p

10-10:10a: Stretched as kids judo wrapped up. LOTS of kids today for judo. 15 or so. That's a lot for a single instructor (esp. when average age is about 7 or 8).

10:10-11:05a: Self Defense course. Michael taught. Michael competed in the Grappling X tournament last week and won his division (155lb) and absolute for adult Blue Belts. Amazing given that he's only 16. I was the only adult for the Self Defense so I got to work to be Michael's trechnique dummy. Today's lessons included basic jiu jitsu (arm bar, scissor sweep, and hip bump sweep). I helped the 5-11 year olds with the techniques. Glad to help teach moves that I have difficulty executing in a live roll. Walking through the steps little kids forced me to replay the techniques in my mind, step by step, over and over again. Good practice.

11:05a-12:05p: Open Mat. Warmed up a bit and asked a large Blue Belt to roll. I forget his name, but he's taller than me and weighs more. We rolled for about 10 or 11 minutes. Very good work. Got caught in an arm bar once. Spent a lot of time trying to step around hooks to finish smash passes. He trapped me in half guard many times and seemed very comfortable. I'm not comfortable in half guard. Need to work that more.

Rolled with three white belts after that. Had a couple arm bars and a bow and arrow choke. One arm bar was a triangle to arm bar transition. The other was when an opponent made a mistake trying to choke from the back and reached over my shoulder too far. I simply extended my arm to make a fulcrum, grabbed the wrist with my other hand and applied the lock. Showed him how to avoid it next time. Also showed him the bow and arrow choke since he had it set up a couple of times and didn't go for it. Didn't get submitted by any of the white belts, but they passed my guard and mounted me a lot. Part of it was me wanting to try to work from inferior positions (these guys were 20-30lbs lighter than me and their side control and mounts didn't make me feel completely miserable). The other part was I popped my miniscus during one of the rolls and, although it wasn't in too much pain, it felt odd and I was definitely babying it.

12:05-12:10p: As I was about to exit the mat and call it a day, a 5 or 6 year old boy approached me and asked if I wanted roll. How could I say no? Showed him a basic guard break, pass to side control with cross face, transition to knee on belly and mount, then a cross choke to finish. We did that combo a few times before the buzzer rang.

Professor Leo worked with Saulo today, no gi. I ran into him in the locker room and we chatted a bit. He said he's been watching me and can tell I'm improving. Said my movements and transitions look much better and he can tell I'm thinking more about what my opponent is doing and what my response should be. I am certainly in better shape than I when I first started training at UNIJJ in early July. Certainly stronger. But better at BJJ? Sure. I suppose. The learning curve in the first year or so should be fairly steep and I take it for granted that with every day and every practice not only is my physique changing, my BJJ game is improving too. But I was a bit suprised that an instructor who has only observed me roll a 4 or 5 times since I started here at UNIJJ noticed improvement in my bjj game. Very encouraging.

Friday, August 27, 2010

8:50 to 10:30a

8:50-9a: Purchased Saulo's Jiu Jitsu Revolution 1 series. Getting ready to head back to New Orleans for work (depart 9/12) and I'll try to watch this series as often as I can after workouts. Stretched.

9-9:15a: Open Mat. Solo warm-up / standard drills routine. Jogged, hip escapes, core work, etc.

9:15-9:30a: Mike (Purple Belt and UNIJJ manager) knew I've been having trouble with side control postures and escapes so he called me over and showed me a few things. One is a real clever hand fighting technique that frustrates the opponent's cross face attempts. Once they give up and take arm over your body, follow and lock it down to mat via elbow and hip escape. Another technique includes walking hips away to create some space. Might walk in circles for a while, but also try to swim in an underhook and bring head and other elbow into chest before bringing knee in for the shrimp to guard recovery. I'll definitely be working on these.

9:30-9:45a: Worked with a visting two-stripe brown belt (from Jersey). Big guy. Much bigger than me. Showed me a few things about maintaining side control and really imobilized me in the process (doesn't take much). At one point he had me in open guard. I hooked under his right leg and began to stack for a pass with my right arm keeping his left thigh open. He warned me to watch out for the triangle. He was able to pull my right arm off his left thigh and break my posture without much trouble. Mike stepped in and showed something his son does to prevent the triangle. Same basic idea I had (keep the hip down while stacking), but switch the angle of the grip and straight arm the inside thigh portion of the gi to the mat. The Brown Belt couldn't shoot the triangle. The Brown Belt also showed me a cool trick to secure side control survival posture that makes perfect sense but had never occurred to me. When someone passes my guard and takes side control, too often I am late setting up side control survival posture. As a result, I'm often caught with the arm on the side under control getting trapped up above the opponent's knee and away from my side. He showed me that all I need to do is step and hip shift into my opponent's other knee, which often creates enough space needed to drop the shoulder/elbow back to the side and mat. Nice.

9:45-10:15a: The few guys who showed up for open mat didn't seem to want to roll much. They spent a lot of time catching up on MMA / BJJ gossip and generally socializing. I listened in a bit and took time to work more core and neck drills. 50 reps each of nods and nos plus 25 circles to the left and 25 to circles to the right. Lots of leg lifts. Hip shifters. Crunches. Lots of stretching. Etc.

10:15-10:25a: Andy (Blue Belt) hurt his thumb earlier rolling with the big Brown Belt. I wasn't sure how badly he got hurt, but since time was ticking away and the other guys were clearly done rolling, I asked him if he wanted to work a bit before calling it a day. He said his thumb was tender, but he'd go for a spin. I don't remember a lot about the roll other than I seem to have trouble with smash passes, even when my opponent seems to give them to me. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, but it shouldn't take me 2 minutes to work a pass when I have my opponent's knees together and on the mat. I eventually passed and began working grips. I thought I had an opening to transition to mount. As I threw my leg over, Andy raised a leg and fought the passing leg with his hurt hand. The defense worked...stopped the pass to mount...my shin slammed into his half guard (err...groin). He blurted out in pain. I thought it was the devastating blow to the groin, but it was his thumb (cup saved the nads). Thumb swelled up right away. Although I didn't do anything wrong, I still feel bad. He's going to be out for a while.

10:25-10:30a: Stretched a bit more and called it a day.

204lbs after workout (no gi). Haven't been this light since age 19 or 20. Crazy to imagine but if I can remain healthy, it's quite possible that I'll be in the best shape of my life on my 35th birthday (next May).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

11:45a to 1:45p

11:45a-12p: Got to class early to stretch. Caught up with Ryan, a visiting student of Professor Leo and fellow white belt, who won his first tournament last weekend. Won all three bouts by points, including one 13-0. He was pumped. Said he went in to have fun and ended up taking the thing. Nice.

12-12:30p: Warm-ups and drills. Xande led. Running, push-ups, awkward (for me) core/hip work. Arm bars from mount (15 each side). Then a combo that required a roll-over sweep to mount then mount arm bar. (5 each side).

12:30-1p: Technique. Xande showed how to take the back from turtle. Position body/hips/weight over lower back. Reach around and snake hand under to grab opposite gi lapel. One foot next to opponent's leg. Slide other knee out and at same time nudge elbow and yank gi lapel to break down posture. Insert one hook. Roll opponent over and insert 2nd hook or take side control or north-south (depending on opponent reaction). Took a while to get it right. At one point Xande shouted from across the mat and gave me a thumbs up. Nice. Gold star! REALLY glad to know this technique. Had it completely wrong before. I used to get on top and try to insert both hooks while opponent is still in turtle. Balance always felt extremely awkward and occasionally I'd lose the position to roll-out. This technique avoids those problems.

1-1:30p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Justin first. Big strong guy in his mid-20s. Been training only a few weeks. My goal was to control the roll tempo and wait for him to gas. He didn't gas, but he sure fought hard. Took mount a couple times and he always responded with push-ups. I should have been able to effect arm-bar, but he moved so quickly I couldn't execute. Defended neck well so cross and Ezequiel chokes weren't panning out. No americana opportunities. He eventually escaped the mounts via combination of upa and force. Need to work on mount maintenance. Near the end of the roll I shot a triangle from guard. He postured up and then started to stand up. Switched to arm bar. I had to throw all the way over on my left upper shoulder/neck and eventually rotated all the way over to my knees with his arm locked up to finish. Not very pretty, but it worked.

Thomas was second. White belt. A bit smaller than me. I think he said he'd been training about four months. We had a pretty good back and forth with roughly equal reversals and submission attempts/escapes.

Sat out third roll. Odd number of classmates. I realized that I take too long to prepare for the next round and by the time I looked around for a partner, everyone was paired up and in starting position. Need to work on that and get ready to go quicker so I don't miss as many rolls.

Last roll of the day was with Joe. Another white belt. A bit smaller than me and my guess is he hasn't been training as long (but I don't know for sure). Spent a bit of time securing side control. Once in mount I spent an aweful lot of time trying to set up for a choke or armbar, but Joe defended well. Caught him in a triangle with only 15 seconds or so to spare.

1:30-1:45p: Cool down stretches.

INJURY REPORT: Sprained my left pinky toe during drills. Same toe I dislocated a few months back. Today was the 2nd day I attempted to work without tape. Bad move. It's quite tender. Will keep the tape on...probably forever... Professor Matthias said it will bother me as long as I continue BJJ. Thought he was exaggerating, but perhaps not.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


7:30-7:45a: First day back at UNIJJ and first day they started early morning classes. Barely made it in time to suit up and get on the mat before line-up. Missed stretches. Warm-ups seemed a bit rushed, but I was hurting a bit at the end. Only finished about 90% of the push-ups from knees. I'm an old man and need to warm up more than 15 minutes early in the morning.

7:45-8:35a: Long technical session taught by Professor Jake. Two triangle variations and an arm bar as well as a triangle to armbar in response to predictable triangle defense. Then finished with proper triangle defense.

8:35-9a: Rolls. 6 minutes. Sat out first roll due to odd number of classmates. Got Brent for my first roll (his second). Brent is a 36yr old Marine. About 5'9" and 185lbs or so. 2nd day training in class, but he has a long wrestling background and said he's rolled with other marines for a while who train at UNIJJ. He was charging pretty hard. Trying to smash passes. Worked on controlling the roll tempo and improving position/grips in response to his smashes. Highlights included a tripod sweep, back mount with both hooks that led to a bow-and-arrow choke, turtle roll out to open guard, and a deep half guard sweep. Most importantly though, I wasn't breathing very hard at the end of the roll.

Last roll with YJ (3-stripe Blue Belt). Professor Jake joked that YJ is part ninja, which I believe. He's very solid. Didn't have a whole lot to offer this roll. Sloppy on my part and I felt like I was always trying to avoid one attack or another only to find myself in a different sort of mess. At one point he had my back and I struggled to defend chokes and maneuver hips for the escape. YJ stopped the roll and and gave me a few pointers. Showed me how to recover half guard if the full escape to side control isn't available. Funny. He thinks recovery to half guard is better than giving up the back. Although he's obviously right, I cringe at the thought of getting stuck under someone. Need to work on it.

9-9:05a: Stretched a little. YJ showed me the back escape to half guard recovery again while working with JJ.

Surfing this evening and tomorrow morning. Swell's hitting. Can't wait to get wet again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beach Run

Three mile run on the beach with my dad yesterday morning. I've never run that far before. Not sure I've ever ran more than 2 miles. Felt pretty good. I'm clearly in better shape than I've been a very long time (probably since high school). Dad continued another 5 miles and ran another 14 this morning (he runs a couple marathons a year). I was too sore and stiff this morning to join him. The outside of my left hip is clicking a bit. No "bad" pain, but it doesn't feel very good. Running is not my thing. . .

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foster BJJ and MMA

Just finished my last of five classes as a visitor to Foster BJJ and MMA located in Kent, WA. Coach Foster and his team were very gracious and supportive. Glad to meet and chat with Steve a bit too. Wish I could have made more classes, but I'm visiting family and ... well ... life interrupts.

10:20-10:30a: Pre-work out stretch. A bit sore today from last night's workout. Mostly thighs (why???) and neck is a bit tight (understandable given the neck drills).

10:30-11a: Warm-up jog/sprints/walk, hip escape and alligator drills, core work and stretches.

11-11:25a: Technique. Almost the same closed guard technique taught by Bill last night. Coach Foster showed a slightly different posture. Also worked the full pass to side control as opposed to pass to half guard. Saulo's book has a very similar break pass (25-4), but haven't had the opportunity to practice. Some good stuff to chew on.

11:25a-12p: Rolls. 4 mins each. Rolled with Linisha (White Belt), Dave (3-stripe White Belt), a Blue Belt whose name escapes me, and Coach Foster. Didn't have a whole lot to offer today. Spent a lot of time in side control while rolling with Dave and the Blue Belt. Not fun, but I fended off numerous attacks and managed a couple escapes. The Blue Belt caught me in an arm bar. Saw it coming...but...alas...couldn't do anything in time.

Coach Foster was very generous with his time and allowed me to work with him for three consecutive rounds. Helped me secure mount survival posture to allow a higher probability hip escape. Also demonstrated that, although I feel unstable in seated mount (or half mount), as long as I have my mounting foot tucked into belly and my opposite knee in the upper back / lower head area (and tight), the position is fairly secure even for a big guy. I just need to make sure I secure the position with proper technique and trust my BJJ. From there, a number of attacks open up. Most importantly, however, I learned that a few additional inches of hip spread in my base makes a huge difference when trying to avoid sweeps and maintain posture. That little tip should improve my game quite a bit. It was an aha! moment for sure as I recalled countless times I've been swept by upper belts who took advantage of this hole in my game.

12-12:15p: Mopped mats.

I had a great time at Foster BJJ and MMA. Met some great folks and learned a lot. Looking forward to next year when I'll be back in town and can see how everyone's progressed.

Leave tomorrow for a family reunion in Grayland, WA. Hope to make it back to San Diego in time for Monday evening class, but I'm not going to sweat it. Three more weeks at UNIJJ before heading back to NOLA BJJ.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

5 to 7:15p

5-5:30p: Thought I showed up in the nick of time, but turns out class didn't start until 5:30p. Watched the kids striking class and BJJ rolls while stretching.

5:30-5:40p: Warm-up jog and walk.

5:40-6p: Core and neck work. 150 crunches (50 normal and 50 each side) plus other core drills. Also, hip work with partner. Then neck work. Never done that before, but well over a hundred nods, side-side, circles, etc. My neck will be sore tomorrow!

6-6:25p: Technique. Three groups by rank/experience. Got placed in the middle group. Bill (Black Belt) walked through a basic closed guard break and pass to half guard. Slightly different than I"m used to. Instead of twisting the hips and stepping back, we learned to post a knee/leg, wedge an arm/frame to apply pressure on the hooks, then walk posted knee/leg back until guard breaks.

6:25-7p: Rolls. Think the rounds were 2.5 minutes each. Lots of guys tonight. Got Thad (Brown Belt) twice, Mike (Blue Belt), and Dan (Blue Belt). Mike is huge. Maybe 6'4" and 280lbs? Dan is probably 6'3" or so, but probably weighs less than me. Thad caught me in an arm bar. Too quick. Didn't have time to think through and execute the escape. But that's the point. Eventually the prevention (and, if necessary, the escape) will be muscle memory so thinking isn't necessary. Thad also caught me with a really slick half guard sweep. I knew he was setting up something, but didn't have a clue what he was doing until he sprung the trap. Managed a few guard passes during the rolls. Advanced to knee on belly twice but only transitioned to mount one of those times (the other attempt resulted in half guard recovery). Attempted several submissions, but lost them all. Twice I thought I had the Step-Over Choke, but didn't get a tap. Must be doing something wrong. Checked Saulo's book and can't figure out what's amiss. Got stuck in side control at one point. I mean STUCK. Frustrating.

7-7:15p: Mopped mats.

Monday, August 16, 2010

4:55 to 6:45p

4:55-5p: Got in a little early and stretched. Watched the end of kids class. About 10 kids between 6 or so and 13 (??). It was hot. In the 90s today. Fans going. Roll up doors open. Still hot.

5-5:30p: Small class. Probably the heat. Bingo taught. Warm-ups included 10 arm bars and 5 triangles (each side) without hands. Then 10 arm bars and 5 triangles with hands. Took them a bit slow due to the heat.

5:30-6p: Technique. Scissor sweep. Traditional and knee push (for bigger guys). Good to practice sweeps. Haven't done that in a while.

6-6:30p: Rolls. Probably 6 minutes or so. Eric first (White Belt). Eric's about 6'4" or so and 255lbs. Big guy. He passed my guard and I basically spent the entire roll in side control purgatory. Couldn't do a darned thing. Fended off numerous arm attacks (kimura and americana). Almost rolled out to knees / elevator (once), but Eric had good control of me. Battled to suppress intense claustrophobia, suffocation panic instincts the entire roll. Focused on movement by inches to improve breathing ability and work my way to half guard. Managed to recover half guard near the end. That's about all I could do.

Owen (Blue Belt) up next. Owen's 6'4" 220lbs. He basically kicked my butt all over the mat. Couldn't count the submissions. Few arm bars. Kimura. Probably others. I either surprised him at the start of the roll or he gave me a Sweep off a Pass. Took side control, but rushed to mount to quickly (he reversed as soon as I took mount). He had good control of my head/upper body. Should have gone to knee on belly or broke his overhook grip before transitioning. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Gus (White Belt) third. Gus is probably my age, but much smaller. ~5'4" or so and 135lbs. Tough as nails though. We rolled pretty hard. Passed his guard and took side control. Tried a step-over choke, but must have had something wrong. I thought it was pretty tight, but didn't get the tap. He exposed his right arm once with an overhook behind my right ear. Implemented the side control to kimura technique Professor Kadu taught a while back. Worked well enough, although I need to take more time to secure the position before going for the submission. Pulled guard a couple other times. Couldn't secure anything that resembled a comfortable open guard. He was not going to let me play my game. Gus passed and had all sorts of funky gi choke grips / twists, which caused quite a bit of pressure...just not the right type of pressure to put me in any real danger.

16yr old Kayl was next. He's been training a couple months. We rolled light. Worked on transitions between guard pass to side control, securing side control with cross face, side control to knee on belly, knee on belly to mount, mount to arm bar.

6:30-6:45p: Mopped the mats. Talked to Bingo and Owen for a bit. It's really great knowing I can be so far away from home and still walk into a gym and instantly connect with a group of strangers.

Comet Falls

No training this weekend, but did manage some outdoor activity. Took a trip to south Mt. Rainier to hike Comet Falls. It's a 3.8-mile round trip hike. 2.5 hrs. Good, steady pace. Not too much trouble. Just a great time to enjoy nature.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

4 Months

Another month has passed...I'm content with where I am at this stage of my journey. I'm stronger, a bit lighter, and much more aware of my body and its needs than I was four months ago. Weight: 212-215 (~5-8lbs lighter than last month!). I'm gaining confidence in certain aspects of my game (e.g, various open guards, sweeps, and chokes) while peeking under the veil that keeps me blissfully ignorant of inumerable holes (e.g., last month I learned just how bad my side control/mount escapes and mount maintenace are).

This Month's Training Goals:
  1. Make an average of 4 classes per week, with no less than 3 in a week.
  2. Stretch before and after all workouts.
  3. Practice what I learn. Take Dev's advice and implement technique of the day during rolls.
  4. Take a few private lessons before heading back to New Orleans on 9/12. Not to learn anything new, but to see how far I am from being truly proficient at what I *think* I have down.
  5. Work core. Extra hip/core solo drills before workouts. Each week, complete at least half the P90 X Core Synergistics and the entire Ab Ripper X routines (two total sessions).
  6. Eat better. More greens and fruit. Less bread. Smaller portions all around.
  7. Sleep more. Strive for 8hrs, but no less than 7hrs.

4:50 to 7:45p

Day late...but better than never...

4:50-5:05p: Arrived a bit early, stretched a bit, and chatted with Steve. It was great to meet someone from the BJJ blogging community.

5:05-5:20p: Jog/walk warm-up.

5:20-5:40p: Core work with partners. Lots of it. Good stuff. Lower back ached. Had trouble with the last set of situps from partner's waist (he was standing).

5:40-6p: Technique. Closed guard grip break to sweep. Worked with Steve. If opponent has either one hand gripped on gi lapels or one/both hand gripped on belt, reach across to one hand (e.g., if goal is to break opponent's right grip, reach over with right hand, reach under with left hand (or pop hips up/down to create space) and grab your right wrist (almost like a figure four grip). Raise arms straight up to break. Release left hand and, in one coordinated movement, pull opponent's right arm across your body and hip escape to opposite side while reaching around opponent's back and grab the left lat (or as Steve said, the "natural shelf"). From here, most opponent's will attempt to posture up creating space between the ground and left leg. Shoot right arm through and hook the left leg, then roll opponent over left side and take side control. The sweep seems easy, but the hard part would be getting set up for the sweep. Coach Foster showed an arm bar variation if opponent does not posture up. Didn't have time to work it though.

6-6:30p: Rolls. 2.5 minute rounds. Felt like I had to make something happen and happen quick. Sprint mentality. Probably the wrong approach as I felt like I was forcing too many things. Rolled with AO (White Belt), Travin (Purple), Bill (Black), and Bobby (Purple). Bill introduced me to a bread slicer and, after I kicked him in the face with a completely miserable attempt to shoot a triangle, wrenched a very uncomfortable gi choke from pseudo north/south or side control. Bobby caught me in an ankle lock but got a wicked hamstring or calf cramp in the process. Managed what Saulo calls "Sweep off a Pass" and fairly basic guard pass (shoot left knee to mat pinning opponent's right thigh, control opponent's left hip and right thigh, step around, insert right knee to opponent's right hip, and consolidate side control) each earning praise from the purple belt. I don't **think** he gave them to me...but only he knows. Had a great time. Enjoyed all the rolls, but escpecially rolling hard with the upper belts.

6:30-7:30p: BJJ 101 class. Brown Belt taught (forgot his name). Learned two different arm bar variations. I really struggled with the second technique as it required serious core muscles to execute the hip shoot/pivot properly. Yet another reminder that I need to improve my core... I worked with AO. He lived in San Diego for 12 years, went to SDSU (my grad school), and knew a lot about Saulo's teaching style. We had some great discussions while working the arm bar techniques.

7:30-7:45p: Helped mop the mats.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

10:20a to 12:15p

10:20-10:30a: Arrived at Foster BJJ & MMA and met coach Foster. Signed the waiver, changed, and joined a fairly large group of guys for a morning class. I wasn't the oldest or the biggest on the mat. Lots of big white belts too. Nice.

10:30-10:50a: Warm-up spars at 20%. The goal: get warm without breathing hard or sweating. Got Todd (Black Belt), Vinh (Purple), and Coach Foster. Wasn't quite sure what to do. I'd never rolled at 20% before. Coach Foster explained that I should do it from time to time because it will help me see holes in my game and learn to stay tight. I'll have to find a drilling partner who understands "20%"!

10:50-11:05a: Core work. Several different core/hip exercises. High reps. Worked up a good sweat. Left hip a bit stiff/sore when compressed.

11:05-11:30a: Arm bar technique from guard Not a traditional arm bar. Walk legs up the back, pick side (chose to attack opponent's right arm), bring left leg to opponent's right hip, angle to opponent's left side but without creating too much space between opponent, shoot right leg up and over opponent's left side of back (clamp down, almost like a triangle), shoot left leg posted on top of opponent's right arm and lock right ankle under back side of left achilles, latch down on the leg across the back to trap arm and collapse posture, then bring left leg over head, apply pressure, raise hips, opponent taps... I worked with a large guy, broad shoulders, etc. Had a lot of trouble getting my left leg up on top of his shoulder while also keeping my right leg high on his back. The key to the move is getting the shoulder trapped. From that position you have the arm bar, shoulder lock, americana variation, omo plata, straight arm lock, triangle, etc... Might try that again with a smaller (narrower) opponent and see if it's easier. Once I get the movement down, perhaps I'll have better luck with a larger opponent.

11:30a-12p: Rolls. 5 guys took a place on the mat (by rank). Next 5 in line (by rank) picked someone and started rolling. Another 5 guys were waiting to rotate in. I think the rolls were 4-5 minutes. Got Matt first. Matt's slightly bigger than me. Also a 2-stripe white belt. I pulled guard and we spent the entire roll in open guard. He'd work a pass, I'd defend. I'd work a sweep, he'd defend. I wasn't expending too much energy on my back. Just trying to work various open guard positions (spider, scissor/knee shield, De la Riva and tripod set up, etc.). Time ran out and I got back in line (4-5 minute break).

Second roll with Tim, a white belt, somewhat smaller than me. Tim had sparred the two prior rolls, so I was #3 in a row. Could tell he was a bit tired. Passed guard and spent a while securing side control. At one point went to north south and tried to trap an overhooking arm to set up for a kimura, but Tim slid out forcing me to fight to recover side control. Abandoned the side control attacks and transitioned to quick mount. Began working a choke and he upa'd. Opened my guard and fought to insert knee shields with spider grips. Waited for the right time and shot a triangle. Almost had it locked in and time ran out. Got back in line and rested another 4-5 minutes.

Third roll with Vinh (Purple belt). Vinh is big and strong. Coach Foster and Todd were joking earlier when he pulled guard during his roll with Todd. Apparently he doesn't do that very often? He sure didn't with me. From sit up he basically bulldozed me onto my back. I immediately attempted to pull guard but could only lock in a weak open guard (one foot on hip and one foot in ankle lock danger). Spent the entire roll fighting for escapes and guard recovery. Escaped a couple back attacks via back survival posture and scoop. Doubt Vinh was rolling anywhere near 100%, but he we were both breathing hard and it seemed like he had a good time. I sure did.

12-12:15p: Helped mop the mats. Apparently everyone helps clean up (vacuum, trash, clean mats, etc.). Nice to see everyone just jump into action and help out. I think I'll donate a mop/bucket/cleaner when I get back to New Orleans and clean the mats at least once a week.

Looking forward to a few more classes at Foster (and meeting Steve) before heading back to San Diego.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grips like a Sailor

Recently returned from an overnight sailing trip with my gramps. Gramps built a 28ft allwood trimaran from a mail order plans he purchased almost 40 years ago. It took him 35 years to get the boat sea worthy. I have made it to Bremerton, WA the last few summers to sail with him.

I had great difficulty wenching sail lines by hand the past few years. I thought that a few months of BJJ would greatly improve my sailing grips. Wrong. Although stronger than last year, I have a lot of catching up to do. My 75 year old gramps managed to wench lines by hand (with ease) that I couldn't budge without a mechanical crank. Quite impressive really. Hopefully my sail line wenching grips will be much improved by next year.

Training Note: Missed class tonight. I tried to make the 5:30-7p session at Foster BJJ in Kent, WA (about 30 mins from where I'm staying), but an earlier hike ran long and I ended up with the wrong directions. Hope to hit the mats again tomorrow and meet up with Steve for Friday night's class.

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Tournament - Louisiana Open 11/13

I have my sights set on the Louisiana Open for my first tournament. The date - November 13th - is two days shy of my 7 month training mark.

The Super Heavy division threshold is 221lbs compared to 207.5lbs for the Heavy division. I weighed in at 218lbs (with gi) a couple times last week. I could try to shed 11lbs or so before 11/13 or not sweat it and just make sure I'm under the 221lb threshold. Not sure. Wonder if I should compete at weight and absolute. That might be best if I'm somewhere around 210lbs come tournament day.

Need to start researching first tournament training tips. I'd like to set goals for nutrition, sleep, non-BJJ cardio, solo drills, and in-class training. Wonder if there are any articles or pointers on how to set realistic goals for a first tournament. I also need to take some judo or find someone to work take down or guard pull techniques. I've never sparred from stand up before...always from guard or knees.

Lots to think about and look forward to. I'm excited for the challenge.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

11:50a to 1:40p

11:50a-12:05p: Stretched. Large crowd today. Couple browns, few purples, boat load of blues, and a three other white belts.

12:05-12:25p: Good warm-up and standard drills. I enjoy Professor Leo's warm-ups. He always takes the time to stretch before going into techniques.

12:25-12:55p: Two sweeps from deep half guard. Nice. More ammo for the half guard trap I've found myself in countless times. frame, hip bump, insert hook, bring body under leg and then hip swing until opponent lets you know which side to sweep to. Drilled this a lot. Got tired.

12:55-1:30p: Rolls. 7 minute rounds. Got Eva (visiting Blue Belt). I could tell she was exhausted. She and her three buddies visiting from Germany had been training twice per day since Monday so it was her 7th class in four days. Had good command of most of the roll and took her back at one point that led to a bow and arrow choke.

Second up was Justin. It was his second class. Justin is in his mid-20s, about my size (but much much stronger), has an extensive wrestling background, and is in tip-top physical shape. I figured we were in for a fight, but I didn't realize he'd go on the attack as aggressively as he did from the get-go. I defended well enough and waited for opportunities. Got him with a guillotine (first time for that submission!) and an RNC. I didn't have either very deep and was surprised by the taps. He said I had them tight, but I know I've had those chokes much deeper on others without a tap. He probably realized he messed up and wanted to start over. Not a bad attitude to have for a beginner I suppose. Later in the roll I had him in open guard with grips on both hand cuffs, my knees inside his arms with feet on hips. I shot a triangle like we worked earlier in the week. Justin immediately/reflexively postured up by leaning into me, hands on chest, and standing up. I grabbed his left arm, pinned to my chest (at this point only my upper back and neck were on the mat) and launched my leg over his head to finish the arm bar. Today was a day of firsts. I'd never done a triangle to arm bar combo in a roll before!

Third roll with Collin (Blue Belt). It wasn't long before I gave up my back again. I really need to find out why I'm doing this so often. It really slows down the game. I spent a lot of time trying to establish back survival posture to maneuver for the escape. Collin spent a lot of time attacking my neck and looking for opportunities to transition to mount or seated mount. We probably spent more than half the roll in this game. Near the end, Collin tried to sink a choke, but didn't have my neck (gi lapel across my chin bone). I wasn't in any danger at all but I could tell he was burning energy. He finally released and gave me the opportunity for escape. Escaped to elevator to single leg take down and passed to side control fairly quickly. He recovered half guard. I managed to lock in the cross face and began maneuvering for an arm triangle. He put up a solid fight by pressing down on my head as I tried to snake it under his tricep to lock the shoulder against his carotid. I recall asking myself whether it was wise to pit my smaller neck muscles against his much stronger lat/delt/tricep group. I knew the answer to that question, but couldn't figure out what to do about it. Eventually he hip escaped and rolled over (so I had him in half guard). But I held onto the lock to maintain his broken posture. Buzzer rang. Collin said he was worried about the arm triangle attack. He said he would have kept trying too, but at some point would have used it to distract for a pass from half guard to side control or mount. Makes sense. He also said I should have abandoned the grip once he reversed. Also makes sense. Thanks Collin!

Last up was Chris (visiting 4-stripe white belt). Chris is leaving for Germany on the 15th. I'm heading to Washington (State) to visit relatives this weekend, so it was our final encounter until next summer when he expects to return for more training (likely with his Blue Belt). I got my butt kicked all over the mat. Couple chokes. Triangle. Arm bar. It was really a poor showing on my part. I was exhausted, but that's no excuse. Chris is my age and this morning was his 7th training session in 4 days. He simply kicked my butt. No way to sugar coat it. Had a great time though.

1:30-1:40p: Cool-down / stretches. I read an article in the latest issue of Gracie Mag that encouraged stretching after training. I'm going to try to make post-class stretching a habit.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8:50 to 10:30a

8:50-9:15a: Stretched. Waited for instructor who never showed. Must have been a miscommunication. Only five of us this morning (Isaac - Megton 3-stripe blue belt and world champ, showed up later). Four under 18 years of age and me, the old guy.

9:15-9:30a: Michael started warm-ups and standard drills. Added 5 full minutes of core exercises at our own pace. Exhausting. Extra sore and tired this morning.

9:30-9:40a: Triangle drills. Closed guard with cuff and cross collar grip. Open guard to hip escape to bring both legs inside arms and on hips. Grab both cuffs. Shoot one leg up top to break posture, lock, bring opposite arm across, grab shin and position, re-lock, squeeze, pull head.

9:40-10a: Omoplata set up and finish technique. Good to see this two days in a row. Allowed me to focus on the finer technical points. Michael also showed a hip escape technique to break opponent's posture even more and prevent a roll-out.

10-10:30a: Rolls. 7 minute rounds. Rolled with Russell (17yr old Orange Belt) first. Good rolling around, but I could tell he was getting tired near the end. I caught him in a cross choke from mount and an arm bar from side control. Both techniques I learned recently in class (here and here).

Got Michael next. Michael hardly broke a sweat. Had me in all sorts of weak positions. Rolled out of omoplata twice. He finally got me in an arm bar with only seconds left on the clock.

Third up was Angelo (14 year old orange belt). Angelo moves quickly. I hopped around his guard defenses numerous times, but he managed to recover guard almost every time. Eventually I secured a pass and transitioned straight to mount. From mount I stuck the cross choke. Angelo made me work the entire time. He's a monster for his age/size.

Sat out the last roll (odd number of classmates) and watched Michael and Isaac roll. Pretty fun jiu jitsu. Michael secured a number of submissions and Isaac was gassed. Isaac - you better hit the stairs and work some cardio man! ;-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

11:45a to 1:35p

11:45a-12p: Arrived early to stretch. I need to get back in the habit of arriving early to stretch. I'm remarkably flexible in most joints (have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Disorder); however, like everyone, I still need to stretch to avoid injury from cold workouts. Also, my inside hamstring and hips need some work. For some reason those muscles/joints didn't get the genetic clue that I'm supposed to be rubber man. EDS has been a curse my whole life...until I found BJJ. Over ten years ago, I never thought I'd do anything physical again. I may write about my journey from a life of EDS-induced chronic pain to training an average of four times per week. But now is not the time...

12-12:15p: Warm-up / standard drills. It was hot in the gym today (not Austin hot...but hot for me). Lots of sweat.

12:15-12:25p: Worked a variety of hip escape drills. One thing I really appreciate about the University of Jiu Jitsu is the emphasis they place on hip / core movement. Obviously fundamental to BJJ, but the emphasis on these muscle groups and basic hip movement is far greater here than at my school in New Orleans.

12:25-12:35p: Partnered up and drilled a hip escape to Omoplata set up technique. Start in open guard with both feet on hips. Cross grip the collar with solid grip on opponent's other hand/sleep (same side as the cross-grip). Worked both sides.

12:35-12:50p: Added most of the omoplata technique. Shoot leg through, stuff the hand down, cock the leg back to break posture against vulnerable arm, sweep head and throw leg over the head/face. Didn't switch grips, grap hip, and sit up to finish though. Just repeated the set up many many times.

12:50-1p: Sweep / pass the guard drills starting from the omoplata set up grips. Defended the omoplata fine with my first partner (Chris - 4 stripe visiting white belt from Germany), but got caught once by Eric (brand new white belt with a wrestling background).

1-1:35p: Rolls. 7 minute rounds. Had Chris (visiting 4-stripe White Belt) the first round. Chris is my age (34). Taller, but a bit lighter. He's fairly athletic and has a bundle of energy. I was in trouble the entire roll. He caught me in two arm bars from seated mount (one on each side). Not sure why, but my seated mount escape hasn't been very effective lately. His leg pressure was intense and I couldn't execute Saulo's arm bar escape, which is my last line of defense when the seated mount escape fails.

Got Eric (new White Belt with wrestling background) for my second roll. We had a good roll. I was able to execute a number of escapes and reversals, but nothing that amounted to a legitimate attack or threat. Exhausted after the roll.

Third roll with Richie. Richie is a giant of a man. Probably 6'4" around 250lbs and not a lick of body fat. He's a professional MMA fighter/trainer. A White Belt, but only because he has limited to zero gi experience. Let's just say I got worked. The pressure was intense. Very explosive. He executed a kimura so quickly (when I had him in closed guard no less) I actually feared my shoulder would rip out of joint. I blurted "Ok" as soon as I realized what he did. He also trapped me in an omoplata and I almost broke my neck trying to roll out. Scary parts aside, I managed a fleeting moment of respectable jiu jitsu during the roll. Collapsed his knees together, stuffed, then walked around for the guard pass. As soon as I took side control (on his right side), Richie underhooked with his left arm. I trapped his left arm against my head and began to pull my elbow and trapped arm toward his solar plexus. When done properly, the pressure triggers a reflex to turn into me on his right side at which point I had planned to step around his head, grab his left leg with my left hand, and lay back for the arm bar. I never got the solar plexus. Professor Kadu coached him hip escape and create space before I had the trapped arm set and posture for the step around. He escaped to guard recovery. Professor Kadu apologized for coaching my opponent. No problem. It's part of the game and we're all on the same team. But...for a moment there I thought I was about to gain at least an advantage point on a much larger professional fighter! ;-) At the very end of the roll Richie set up for the arm bar from side control. He was pulling hard on my bicep. I couldn't get a lick of space with Saulo's arm bar escape so I thought I was done. He kept pulling on my bicep, but I was completely safe. I finally looked at him and said, "It's a lever. Pull the lever." He kept the bicep trapped with hook and grabbed the wrist to pull the lever and complete the arm bar. Richie said that in "his sport" you force the break before reaching for the lever. I guess that would make sense given how slippery no gi opponents can be. I hope I get another chance to roll with him. He's big, powerful, scary...everything I need to get better (so long as I can avoid injury).

Final roll was with Eva (Blue Belt). Eva's one of the visitors from Germany. I probably have 100 lbs on her, but she's tough as nails. When on the attack (which wasn't often), I was careful not to squish her. But other than that, it was straight up rolling. She's very strong and fast, even when compared to guys her size. Forced me into turtle several times and went for an arm bar from side control/seated mount (I was rolled away from her in a weak running escape attempt), but Saulo's arm bar escape worked as advertised. Good roll.

Overall Impressions: I was absolutely exhausted at the end of workout today. Pressed my body to the limit (maybe a little beyond). Now, several hours later, I can tell I'm going to be extra sore in time for tomorrow's 9am class. Wowzers. Need some rest.

Monday, August 2, 2010

9:00 to 10:40a

9-9:15a: Warm-ups / drills. Learned a hip shrimp drill that will come in handy. Same side all the way down the mat. Hip escape, pull elbow under body, hip escape, pull elbow under body, etc. Actually completed 10 judo push-ups. First time!

9:15-9:30a: Half guard escape to back. Frame, hip escape, pull elbow under body, bring head close to opponents chest, keep small, work way down body, reach around and grab opponent's hip (opposite side), post with other hand, and escape to take back. Nice. I've been stuck here so many times and not known what to do.

9:30-9:45a: Half guard sweep to side control. Complimentary to first technique. Frame, hip escape, pull elbow under body, bring head close to opponents chest, keep small, work way down body, reach around and grab opponent's hip (opposite side), but...if opponent doesn't post both hands on mat, but instead keeps weight over you...trap the half-guard hook foot and extend back to put him/her off balance, then sweep the other foot with hand on heel and other hand on knee pant while lunging in to take side control. Doubly nice!

9:45-10a: Half guard sweep / pass the guard drills. Bottom guy trying to sweep from half guard. Top guy tries to pass. The techniques weren't nearly as easy to implement with a fully resisting opponent. Did manage a couple of passes though.

10-10:30a: Rolls. 7 minute rounds. First up was Chris, a 4-stripe White Belt visiting from Germany (taller, but maybe 10-15lbs lighter than me). He's in town for a month with two Blue Belts (girl and guy) and a Brown Belt. Explosive. We fought the whole time. I was defending attacks most of the roll. Not a whole lot of jiu jitsu going on though. Pretty sloppy grappling, unfortunately. Although I was fairly pleased with a one smooth combination: turtle, roll out to take to open guard, lock in the spider, dropped one leg to bait a pass, then sweep to take side control.

Odd number of classmates, so I sat out the 2nd roll. Watched the visiting Brown Belt roll with Michael. Michael's a 16-yr old four stripe Blue Belt who took 2nd at Mundials and 2nd at the Rio Open last week. The Brown Belt submitted him a few times, but it some great jiu jitsu. Michael was wrapped up in so many awkward positions...I would have been freaking out. But he kept his cool and worked escape after escape. It was great. Can't wait to watch this kid develop under Saulo and Xande's guidance.

Third roll with Yoad (Blue Belt). Yoad is a few inches shorter and probably 50lbs lighter than me. He was fairly exhausted from his prior roll with JJ. We had a good back and forth. Yoad was on attack most of the time, but I did escape, pass, and take side control a couple of times.

Nick (Blue Belt) called me out for the final roll. I don't recall what happened, but within a minute or so I had his back and tried to lock in the RNC. I didn't have the proper leverage and burned a lot of energy trying to sink it. He eventually escaped to my guard, passed, and went on the attack. He took mount a couple times and I established mount survival posture. Nick responded each time with seated mount. He had me pinned, so I couldn't work the seated mount escape. Instead I improvised an escape from the half guard escape I learned early today. Created a little space, under hooked the seated mount, shrimped the hip a little, stayed small and brought head into Nick's chest, pulled elbow under, little movements...until I escaped under his mount. The first time I continued to take down from elevator, but the second time he abandoned the seated mount during my escape and ran around me to take my back (which led me to roll out into open guard). Felt like we had a little jiu jitsu going on! Nick said I could really move for a big guy. After several frustrating classes where I felt like I couldn't move at all, the affirmation was nice.

10:30-10:40a: Spoke to Professor Kadu about squat drill technique. A couple weeks ago he tried to correct my squats during the drills, but I couldn't hear him and we moved onto another technique before I could receive his correction. Kadu showed me that I'm basically doing squats completely wrong. I was keeping my butt/hips/back straight, but my knees were bending forward well in front of my feet. Apparently that's not good for the knees. Never seems to bother me though. I feel burning in my thighs and no knee pain. Regardless, I'm doing them wrong so I need to learn the correct technique. I couldn't do half a squat correctly. I was completely off balance and the pressure on my lower thighs/knees was intense. Add "proper" squats to my list of things to work on.