Monday, September 27, 2010


Okay...not dark for long...but that's because we had a very special guest today at NOLA BJJ and I had to write about it. Dolph from The Jiu Jitsu Blues is in town and stopped by for some training. Enjoyed watching him work. Professor Matthias was very complimentary of his technique. Great stuff! Was already bummed to be sidelined with the knee injury...double bummed that I couldn't train with him and learn a thing or two.

Going Dark...

...until the knee is better. Hopefully 2-4 weeks. Here's my plan:
1. Attend class to observe and stay in the habit of showing up.
2. Work core, hip flexors, and upper body while others are working technique or sparring.
3. Continue with privates, but work positions that don't put pressure on the right LCL.
4. Watch Saulo Ribeiro's Jiu Jitsu Revolution Series 1 over and over and over and over and over again.
5. Pray that I'm well enough for the Gracie Barra Compnet to be held in New Orleans on October 23rd.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Re-injured knee

And I took Friday off (no judo) to rest the knee... Same one as before. Right knee. Thought it was the miniscus before but I'm told it's the LCL. Still not sure how bad it's hurt, but symptoms are similar to the last sprain that had me on the DL for two weeks. Tis what it is.

10-11a: Showed up early to straighten and clean the mats with Matt.

11-11:20a: Warm-ups / standard drills. Push-ups were miserable. Left pec very sore.

11:20-11:30a: Sweep / pass the guard. Had a good pass and sweep, but got swept
three times. Silly posture mistakes. Popped my knee twice during one of the sweeps. At the time I didn't think I was hurt.

11:30a-12p: Technique. Arm bar variation from closed guard. Required some good hip movement. Like it! Learned another variation in response to stack defense. Don't remember the third technique because at that point I was in pain and sat out, really distracted and completely bummed...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

5:00 to 8:15p

5-5:30p: Stretched. Slowly. Had aspirations to do core solo drills and work up a good sweat before start of class. Nixed that idea as soon as I started stretching. Tired. Muscles tight. Sore ribs. Not sure why.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up / standard drills. David (15yr old 4-stripe White Belt) led. Not much of a warm-up, but the push-ups killed me. Did something to my left pectoral. Doesn't feel like a pull. Just extremely sore. But I usually don't feel soreness until after the workout.

5:45-5:55p: Sweep / pass the guard. Boat load of folks today, so I only got one chance to pass Mike's (2-stripe White Belt) guard. I'd never met Mike before. He's very strong guy. Apparently only been doing BJJ for a couple months. Almost passed his guard, but he recovered half guard. Went to pass half guard and he locked in a figure four kimura set-up. My only choice was to tap or roll out. I rolled out and gave up the "sweep." This guy is going to be a tough roll. Looking forward to sparring with him.

5:55-6:30p: Techniques. Three submissions from guard. Classic arm bar. Palm up / palm down cross choke. Triangle.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5 or 6 minute rounds. Plenty of time between rolls because there were so many people it took a while for Professor Matthias to pair everyone. Got Big Steve (3-stripe White Belt), Woody (Blue Belt), and Neal (Blue Belt). Felt very comfortable. Had decent hip movement. Wasn't breathing too hard until the end of my last roll (with Neal). Got a sweep off a pass (vs. White Belt) and took back a few times (vs. White Belt and Blue Belt). Got taps to bow and arrow choke (vs Blue Belt) and palm up / palm down choke from guard (vs. Blue Belt). Neal caught me in a choke (not sure what happened) and Big Steve almost caught me in an arm triangle. Neal almost had an arm bar as well. Had the clock not run out, he may have got it.

7-8:15p: Kickboxing. Couldn't do the push-ups AT ALL. Left pectoral hurt quite a bit. Jump ropes went way better than last attempt. Struggled to maintain balance during all kicks that requires a pivot. Stretched to cool down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

5:55 to 8:35p

5:55-6p: Stretched.

6-7p: Self defense. Bully headlock up against wall. Escape to take down to ankle lock from standing position. Mount choke attack and transition to seated mount when opponent employs typical choke defense. Another choke option from seated mount. Arm bar if the choke isn't happening.

7-7:20p: Warm-up / standard drills. Professor Marco had us do additional hip escapes, but with a partner stepping around guard to simulate pass. Traditional hip escapes and a variation that requires brining in a hook with outside leg to help square up to open guard.

7:20-7:30p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got a couple flower sweeps (one Blue Belt and one 3-stripe White Belt) and sweep off a pass (Blue Belt). Had great difficulty maintaining posture when trying to pass Dr. Steve's (Blue Belt) guard. Result = got swept. Got my arm trapped during failed pendulum sweep when working with Rusty (Brown Belt). Result = stack pass.

7:30-8p: Repeat of closed guard submissions taught on Monday. Cross choke, arm bar, and kimura from the same basic closed guard set-ups. Over 20 in class today as opposed to 6 or 7 on Monday. More than happy to see techniques repeated in the same week.

8-8:30p: Rolls. 5 minute rounds. Neal (Blue Belt), Noor (3-stripe White Belt), Aaron (Blue Belt), and Rick (Purple Belt). Happy with performance tonight. Several technical escapes. Mounts, back attacks, some north south work. Couple good chokes. Armbar transition to omoplata. Almost tapped to one of Aaron's chokes. As I was about to tap, he must have shifted position because blood began to flow again. Learned the most from Rick. Got crushed. Tapped to a choke, kimura, couple arm bars. Had a nice mount escape to half guard and almost executed a deep half sweep, but got stuck.

8-8:35p: Stretched.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

5:25 to 8:30p

5:25-5:30p: Arrived just in time for a bit of pre-workout stretches.

5:30-5:40p: Warm-up / standard drills.

5:40-5:50p: Sweep / pass the guard. Nothing special.

5:50-6:10p: Self-defense technique. Bully headlock prevention. First option to choke. Second option to take down and arm bar. Review.

6:10-6:30p: Technique. Kimura from full guard plus a hip bump sweep variation when opponent employs typical kimura defense.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5-6 minute rounds. Cleveland (4-stripe White Belt), Mike (1-stripe Purple Belt), and David (4-stripe White Belt). Cleveland is a big, strong guy. About 6'2" or so and my weight, but stand us side-by-side and he's a monster. 8-9% body fat? Good roll. Struggled to maintain posture (what's new). Managed a few guard passes to side control, but lost it. Took his back a couple times, but couldn't execute any submissions.

Struggled to survive Mike's incessant attacks the entire roll. Good news is I did survive. Proud of a mount escape to full guard recovery. Funny note: Mike set up a torreando pass, but instead of shoving legs to a side, he pulled me through his legs. My pants were so slick on the mat that I almost slid all the way under him. He landed in an extremely high mount. First time someone's done that to me. Might have to try it some time!

David is 15 years old. Really good. Strong for his age/size. Struggled with posture the entire roll. Overcame that and passed guard and established side control and mount numerous times. His mount escapes to half guard followed by open guard recovery were awesome. Almost had a choke from knee on belly, but I rushed it and he defended well. Given that I'm at least 60lbs heavier than him, he did a phenomenal job with the escapes.

7-8:30p: Kickboxing. Did only 20 or so of the push-ups, then finished another 30+ from knees. Worked kicks. Back leg roundhouse kick mostly. Struggled intensely to maintain balance through the pivot. Tough. Worked mitts with Coach Spider a bit. Had trouble hearing the combos he called out. I was gassed by this time. Threw a two and hyper-extended my right arm. Fell over in pain. Hurt worse than any arm bar I've ever had in BJJ. Doesn't feel too bad now though. Finished with core work. Few hundred reps of core. Burned. Cramped. Ended with stretching to cool down.

Monday, September 20, 2010

5:30 to 8:40p

5:30-6p: Stretched. Did some core work. Hip escapes to elevator.

6-7p: First private lesson! Worked out a deal with Gavin, a 4-stripe Purple Belt and excellent instructor. Planning to do weekly sessions. Goal is defense. Survival and escapes. Tonight's lesson emphasized turtle and back. We went over what I thought I knew and he added a few techniques that will be really helpful. Especially the three different turtle to guard recovery variations. Really enjoyed the lesson and am excited to have this focused instruction.

7-7:10p: Warm-up, stretches, and standard drills. No core work or push-ups. Odd.

7:10-7:20p: 20 arm bars from mount. 20 arm bars from guard.

7:20-7:30p: Sweep / pass the guard. Couple flower sweeps. Sweep off the pass. And another sweep...don't know the name but I learned it last week. Noor caught me in a triangle. He's not really supposed to go for a submission during this exercise, but posture was terrible and he needed to let me know somehow!

7:30-8p: Technique. Three submissions from guard. All related and involve posture break and shooting one leg on top of shoulder of attacking arm. First option is a palm up / palm down choke. If opponent has good posture and choke defense, switch to arm bar. If opponent defends arm bar, maneuver opponent's outside arm so that it points backward and outside of your outside knee. Break opponent's posture away from that arm under attack to create angle for kimura. Execute kimura.

8-8:30p: Rolls. I think they were five minutes each. Got Noor (3-stripe White Belt), Cleveland (4-stripe White Belt), Dr. Steve (now a Blue Belt), and another Blue Belt (forgot his name!). Had a good round of rolls. Had a few solid back and mount escapes. Arm bar escape. Got two taps (step over choke from side control and an arm lock via whizzer from guard). Dr. Steve caught me in a choke. Thought it was an arm triangle, but Steve had another name for it.

8:30-8:40p: Stretched.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grip Pain

Slightly concerned about my knuckles. I woke up last night every hour or so and my knuckles ached. Although the frequency of waking up was new, the knuckle pain is not. I've noticed aches and pains in the knuckles in the middle of the night and when I wake up for about a month now. Fortunately the pain is nearly unnoticeable within 15-20 minutes of waking up. Extending and flexing the knuckles repetitively first thing in the morning seems to help. I have to wonder if I'm clenching at night. Or is it the first signs of an arthritic condition? Not sure...

10:50a to 12:30p

10:50-11a: Stretched. Body ached. Day 6 in a row. 14 hrs of training this week between 5 BJJ classes, 2 self defense, 2 kickboxing, and a judo class. Although I ached, I felt better than I did before class any time during my first couple months training.

11-11:20a: Warm-ups / standard drills. Kirk led. Did lots of push-ups. Completed 15 or so properly and the rest from knees. Kirk had us do three sets from 5 fingers, 3 fingers, then thumbs. Didn't even try the thumb push-ups. Just did them from a fist.

11:20-11:30a: Sweep / pass the guard. Got a sweep on my first round by implementing a technique learned last week. Then got passed by a tough new white belt with no gi pants. Stepped into a 24-yr old judo black belt's guard. Today was his first day at jits. Took me a couple minutes and a TON of energy to break his guard. I was stuck. Once I broke his guard, it didn't take long to pass.

11:30a-12p: Technique. Flow drills. Same as Thursday night's class, but used bow and arrow to finish instead of a cross choke.

12-12:30p: Rolls. Got the tough new White Belt with no gi pants first. He's from Brazil and says he used to train BJJ. Not sure how long. Strong kid. Spent lots of time fending off guard pass attempts. He eventually passed and went to mount almost immediately. Swept him and landed into his guard. Passed to side control, but he recovered half guard. Finished with a cross choke from half guard right as time expired. Tap came 1 or 2 secs before bell.

Got a Blue Belt next. I should know his name...drats. Had significant posture maintenance problems. Got my arm stuck in a whizzer that led to an arm lock. Knew it was just a matter of time. Couldn't figure out how to escape. Same goes for the guillotine variation he caught me in when I had him in half guard. I tried to transition to deep half, but he hooked the neck and slowly improved his angle and pressure until I had to tap. Only bright spot on my part was an arm bar escape using Saulo's trusty technique.

Last roll with Professor Matthias. First time that it felt like rolling with him. It was pretty obvious that he was letting me work in prior sessions. Although I know he was letting me work today, it wasn't so obvious. Sort of like my roll with Paragon Professor Chris Lavato back in July. Had a good time.

Forgot to stretch after class again. What's wrong with my brain?

Friday, September 17, 2010


First judo class today. 1.5 hrs. Kicked my arse. Started with gynastica natural to stretch/warm-up. Loved it. Since it was my first day, I didn't learn much. Just a basic foot drag sweep. Not sure what it's called. Got swept several times. PAIN. Ow. Got the wind knocked out of me. Wasn't all that pleasant. Ended class with cool-down drills. Supposed to be open mat for an hour after class, but none of the judo guys were sticking around and no BJJ folks showed up. Sort of glad. I was beat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

5:15 to 8:30p

5:15-5:30p: New Orleans traffic is hard to predict. Same distance from work to the gym. Left work at the same time (5pm). But Tuesday it took 45 minutes to get to class. Today? 15 minutes. Oh well. Stretched a bit. Did 10 gi pull-ups. Fingers really didn't like that. Co-workers Mike (Purple Belt) and Aaron (Blue Belt) showed up a bit early. Aaron and I rolled for a few minutes, but didn't have much time. Had trouble maintaining posture.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up and drills. Mike led. Bunch of non-standard stuff mixed in with the usuals. Did hopping push-ups down the mat from wheel barrel. Thought there was no way I'd be able to do that. Surprised myself.

5:45-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got into Aaron's guard first. We struggled for quite a while. Almost swept me many times. Had vice grips on my cuffs. Gi far too long... I eventually called a stalemate and got back in line. Got into the new (to our class) small gal's guard second. Worked with her a bit, but passed to half guard and then side control. Tried to do it very technically with minimal pressure. Lev (2nd day white belt) came into my guard. He stepped up, so I hooked and implemented a sweep to mount we learned last night. A tall Blue Belt got into my guard next. Flower sweep almost right away. Another move from last night! Mike (Purple Belt) was next. He was about to pass when Professor Matthias called time.

6-6:30p: Technique. Combos. Worked simple stack pass to side control. Person on bottom hooks under to turtle or elevator and recovers guard. Then added response to turtle to avoid getting pulled into guard. Sprawl. Swim in the cross face. Reach around back and control opposite leg. Step around and stay low while securing gi lapels from behind. Finally, added the hooks and cross collar choke finish. Hadn't seen the cross collar choke before. I've always gone for bow and arrow from that position and with that grip. Good to know another choke that doesn't require giving up the double hooks.

6:30-7p: Rolls. Got Mike (Purple Belt) first. Good roll. Fairly hard. He caught me with an arm triangle. I saw it coming a mile away. Thought I knew what I needed to do to defend, but couldn't execute. Managed a mount escape and reversal. Then an armbar escape and reversal. Time called. Mike said he was pretty close to gassed. I was breathing hard, but not too bad. I sat in an air conditioned office all day. He was in the field, walking miles.

Got Lev (2nd day White Belt) next. Mostly a teaching roll. Reviewed basic posture within the closed guard, starting grips, and basic break. Swept him to mount or guard followed by guard pass and side control a few times then allowed the reversal just to keep us moving. Also caught him with a very slow front gi cross choke from guard just to introduce him to "danger." I remember when Mike (Purple Belt) caught me with that same choke on my 2nd day of class. Haven't been caught with that submission since...hopefully Lev won't be caught again either.

Got another White Belt last. Didn't catch his name, but tonight was his 5th class. Similar to the last roll with Lev.

7p-8:30p: Day two of kickboxing. Started with 15 minutes of jumping rope. That's not easy! Coordination all out of whack. Good way to warm-up. Stretched a bit. Then put on the gloves and spent an hour on the heavy bag. 1 - 5 with front and back kicks. Goal was to work on technique and get in as many reps as possible. Be creative with combos. Half way through Coach Wayne introduced a front foot pivot to back leg chop kick. (That description is probably way off...but I don't know what they call it. See it in MMA all the time though.) Had difficulty maintaining posture/balance and with the angle of the strike on the heavy bag. After a while I started feeling a strain on my ACL. Moved back to the familiar...

Forgot to stretch after class tonight. Bad me. Iced the right ACL after class though. Feels fine, but I'll probably take it easy with that kick until I'm more coordinated / conditioned for the kickboxing stuff. It's quite a different type of workout than BJJ.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

5:40 to 8:40p

5:40 to 6p: Stretched. Chatted with Professor Marco about my experience at UNIJJ.

6-7p: Self defense class. Keeping the post short, but worked basic grip/choke escapes to submissions, a strong hand-shake submission, using legs from back to maintain distance and a kimura from side control.

7-7:30p: Warm-ups, standard drills, and guard pull drills. Then guard pass drills rotating bottom-top every three minutes and then different partners every few minutes. Learned a couple half guard techniques from Rusty (Brown Belt), but none came close to working on Collin (another Brown Belt). Not that I expected them too... :-)

7:30-8p: Techniques. Three sweeps from guard. Pendulum, arm drag to pendulum variation, and flower sweep.

8-8:30p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Ken (Purple Belt), Nick (17yr old white belt), Rusty (Brown Belt), and Chris (Blue Belt). Rolls with Ken and Rusty were slow and instructional. Tried to get Rusty to attack with impunity and force me to survive or tap...that didn't last too long. He choked me a couple times and switched to instructor mode.

Roll with Nick was interesting. He's quite the brawler. Really doesn't mind rolling very hard. He swept me with hip bump sweep to mount. I'd escape mount or wait for arm bar attempt and escape back to his open guard. He'd hip bump sweep to mount. I'd again escape... Went through that combination the entire roll. Fun time.

Roll with Chris was fun too, although he yanked my shoulder a bit on a kimura. Locked in the figure four on a kimura from north-south. I defended like crazy. He forced a break and cranked the kimura. I blurted out in pain. Ripped on my left shoulder (yeah...the one with two surgeries, including a capsular shift that made that joint far less flexible than my right shoulder). Chris apologized profusely. Said he got caught up in the moment. Apology accepted. Seemed like I spent most of the roll bailing to turtle or getting dominated in north-south.

Scale at gym today said 204lbs with sweat soaked gi pants. That sounds about right. The other two scales that reported 192lbs yesterday cannot be trusted...

8:30-8:40p: Stretched.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

5 Months

I'm still training! Victory! Feel great. Love where I am in my journey. So stoked to go to class every day and excited to see my body continue to respond (positively) to the high activity level. Two separate scales said I weigh 192lbs (after workout and without gi). That can't be correct. That would mean I lost 10lbs in 5 days. So...going to weigh myself again tomorrow night. Probably around 200lbs. Now, to last month's goals:

1. Make an average of 4 classes per week, with no less than 3 in a week.
Grade = C. Looks like I only made 15 classes last month. Not quite 4 per week average. Didn't make 3 classes one of the weeks. Knee injury is primary reason, but I did chose to skip a few classes to do things with friends. Life interrupts.

2. Stretch before and after all workouts.
Grade = D. Missed a few pre-class stretches and forgot to stretch after class too often.

3. Practice what I learn. Implement technique of the day during rolls.
Grade = F. This is HARD to do for a beginner. Rarely do I recognize an opportunity to implement the technique of the day. It doesn't just happen. I think I'd have to make it happen. Need to start thinking about how I could put myself in a position to use the technique of the day. That should be a new to achieve position required to implement technique of the day.

4. Take a few private lessons before heading back to New Orleans.
Grade = F. Found out how expensive privates are after I set this goal. Not in the budget now. Thinking about asking Professor if I can approach one of the purple belts and see if they want to stay after class for 30 minutes or so a couple times per week for a "private." Perhaps I could arrange a much lower fee. Say...$20 for 30 mins?.

5. Work core. Extra hip/core solo drills before workouts. Each week, complete half the P90 X Core Synergies and the entire Ab Ripper X routines.
Grade = B. Did a lot of hip/core work this month, just not enough P90 X.

6. Eat better. More greens and fruit. Less bread. Smaller portions all around.
Grade = B+. Making much better choices. Portion size still an issue. What can I say? I'm hungry and I love food!

7. Sleep more. Strive for 8hrs, but no less than 7hrs.
Grade = A-. Good sleep while at home in San Diego, but the last few days here in New Orleans haven't been so good. Evening workouts (AND THIS BLOG!) keep me up to 11:30p or midnight. Have to be up at 6:15am for work. No bueno.

Goals for Month 6:

  1. Make an average of 4.5 classes per week, with no less than 4 in a week.
  2. Make at least one Kickboxing class per week and Friday Judo class when in town.
  3. Stretch before and after all workouts with special emphasis on post-workout stretches.
  4. Practice what I learn. Go into every roll with strategy to obtain positions required to practice the technique of the day, even if that means letting my opponent take a superior position.
  5. When not practicing what I learn, work chokes. Primarily chokes from side control, north south, and mount. But...front gi chokes from guard are ok too. ;-)
  6. Inquire about cheap privates...

5:45 to 8:30p

5:45-6:10p: Arrived to class late. Traffic was horrendous. An hour to move 3 miles tried my patience... Got there just as the group finished warm-ups and standard drills. Lots of new white belts I've never met before. Good to see Chet and David. Didn't have too much time to catch up though. Dove right into two self defense techniques. Brain not working right now...can only remember part of one and part of the other. Bleh...

6:10-6:30p: Technique. Two side control escapes. First was standard frame and bridge / hip escape to insert knee and recover guard. Second to turtle if opponent grips inside of gi pant to prevent bridge. Seen both before, but had trouble with the turtle because my partner retained the cross face. Professor Matthias corrected my partner for proper grip to allow the turtle. If partner retains cross face and grabs inside gi pant, then the running escape is appropriate answer. Duh...

6:30-7p: Rolls. Got two new folks. First guy was a visitor. Had a borrowed top and didn't have gi pants. Said he trains elsewhere, but he was pretty spazzy. Going for kimura from guard the entire time. No worries. Purposefully got him in my half guard and worked deep half escapes. Several different ways. Got stuck once for a while, but eventually extracted my head for the escape.

Second roll got matched with a gal who recently moved to New Orleans from San Francisco. ~110lbs. Small. Said she'd been training since February. She was very quick and strong for her size. Good movement. Can tell she has some solid experience.

Professor Matthias called an end to regular instruction, but said we had time for one more if we want. I approached Dimitri (4-stripe Purple Belt) for one last round. We were the only two who stayed on for the bonus round. Dimitri is about my size, but rock solid and has a Black Belt in judo. He's probably in his mid- to late-40s. Strong as an ox though. Probably 8-9% body fat. Excellent athlete. He likes to roll hard. The last time I rolled with him, I got submitted 6 or 7 times from various sudden (and sometimes very uncomfortable - no, painful!) chokes and arm bars. This time I think he only caught me one arm bar and a couple chokes. I managed almost as many technical escapes. Felt good, but I clearly have a lot to work on.

7-8:30p: Kickboxing class. Yeah... I signed up. Looking for more pain. Actually, just want some cardio and to work different muscle groups. Big fan of muscle confusion for maximum fitness results. Class went ok for a first-timer. Never really punched or kicked anyone before, so I literally started from scratch. Let's see if I got this right...Learned left jab (1), right jab (2), left hook (3), right upper cut (4), left upper cut (5), and right hook (6). Also learned basic front and back kicks. After I had those down, Coach Wayne put on the mits (and then muy thai pads) and we worked combos. Had problems rotating my hips. Blasted HIPS! All I hear from BJJ is that I need to move my hips more. Now Kickboxing? Ok...need to figure out how to move my hips more. Last 20 minutes of class I drilled combos on the heavy bag. Worked up a nice sweat.

Monday, September 13, 2010

5:40 to 8:30p

5:40-6p: First day back at NOLA BJJ - at the new (second) location to boot! Arrived early to stretch. Watched Professor Marco and Instructor Gavin give a lesson to a 12 year old. Not sure if he was the only kid to show up to kids class or if it was a private lesson. Four or five other guys were there working no-gi and MMA. Didn't recognize any of them.

6-7p: Self defense class. Started with grip response drills. Partner approaches and grabs you any way they want (front shirt, shoulder, wrists, etc.) and you are supposed to implement the proper technique. Some of the techniques create space. Others result in shoulder, elbow, or wrist locks, or throws. Instructor Rusty showed a technique when aggressor grabs the shoulder and pushes (intending to push you up against a wall or knock you off balance). Response = grip attacking wrist with two hands, palms and thumbs up, then use attacker's moment to turn back/butt to him/her while pulling attacking arm through and over your shoulder to create fulcrum and break attacker's arm. 2nd technique involved disarming someone who is pointing a gun at your face with both hands. Quickly grab one hand with palm up while thrusting upward and away from face. Then quickly reach up through opponents hands (consider popping attacker in the jaw with the elbow while at it), grab underside of gun and spin it toward attacker. Twisting action will remove attacker's grip.

7-7:15p: Warm-up / standard drills. Felt pretty good. Only 20 push-ups (10 normal / 10 wide). Did all correctly (i.e., not from knees). Finished 95% or so of the core work.

7:15-7:30p: Drills. 20 arm bars from mount. 20 arm bars from guard. Guard pull drill. Worked with Ricky - 215lbs but felt much heavier. Struggled to keep posture.

7:30-7:40p: Sweep / pass the guard. Started with Ricky (White Belt), who didn't have much trouble breaking down my posture. Couldn't pass his guard. He eventually passed my guard. Got a smaller Blue Belt next. Maintained guard for most of the drill, but he eventually passed. Kept him in guard for quite a while, but he passed and I quickly recovered half guard. Spent final 30 secs of drill in deep half, working for a sweep. Never got there.

7:40-8p: Technique. Professor Marco showed two sweeps from closed guard that responds to standard knee in butt crack guard break technique. First involved gripping gi pant of knee while in butt crack. Grip outside sleeve. Thrust hips out and twist while holding knee and pulling outside sleeve. Tough to describe (and tough to execute at first), but it works well with proper leverage. Liked second sweep better. Position hips on outside of butt crack knee, break posture, and sweep to dead angle. Pretty easy to execute if you can break opponent's posture.

8-8:30p: Rolls. Not sure how long, but we got three in with a minute or two break between. Got Gavin (4-stripe Purple Belt), Ricky (White Belt) and Patrick (White Belt). Roll with Gavin went ok. Felt like I had to use too much energy / explosiveness at times to escape continuous attacks. Managed to twist out of a bow and arrow choke attempt. Got caught in a couple arm bars. Think he choked me as well, but don't recall. Other rolls went well too. Felt good. Made lots of mistakes, including taking way too long to pass guard, sloppy transitions and allowing deep collar grips that gave me posture problems and forced me to defend against chokes. Some moments too. Got a gi choke from side control that I learned at UNIJJ last week. Also got a tap from a step over choke, but sparring partner said it felt more like a crank than a choke. Need to figure out what I'm doing wrong there... I'd hate to use that move in competition and get DQ'd because the "choke" turned out to be a "crank." Other sparring partner said he almost tapped to the step-over, but he managed to peel my leg/ankle off the neck for the escape. Need to study up. Back to the books...

Overall: Great to be back in New Orleans and seeing everyone again after 2.5 months away. Lots of comments about my weight loss and a few about improvements in my game. Professor Matthias said the weight loss seems to have contributed to my speed. Oh! Adding kick boxing to the regimen. Twice per week, 1.5 hrs each session after 1.5 hours of BJJ. Should start on Thursday, or perhaps next week. Still settling into my hotel and work this week...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

11:55a to 1:35p

11:55a-12:05p: Arrived early enough to stretch and watch the last few minutes of Black Belt class. Lots of experienced guys on the mats today, including Saulo and Xande. Knee is feeling very good today. Brain receiving very few "warning" signals from the nerves. No pain. Decided I could give rolling a go if the rest of class went alright.'s my last class at UNIJJ for at least six (maybe nine) months. Made up my mind to give it my best shot. Taking myself off the DL!!!

12:05-12:15p: Warm-up / standard drills / stretches.

12:15-12:35p: Technique. Professor Leo taught a sweep from closed guard when opponent stands up. Only one of the Blue Belts in class had seen the sweep before. When opponent stands up, cross grip sleeve, underhook a leg, and shoot hips up and into lower thigh / upper knee while pulling the sleeve across the body and pulling the hooked ankle. Momentum should bring you into mount. Good stuff, but how often someone really going to leave the leg out there like that? One of those situational moves and hopefully it will come to mind when someone makes a mistake.

12:35-12:50p: More technique. Standing guard breaks. Good pistol grip on the lapel with arm tucked in for arm bar defense and fist into sternum. If opponent cross grips, grab the cuff of the cross grip, Post knee on side where opponent's cross grip is held, then push into face and step up with exposed leg back a bit to avoid the underhook. Push chest into ground/face and move hands down to hips/legs. One forceful push down of hands and a slight step back to complete break. Pretty forceful "technique" but it will definitely work.

12:50-1p: Sweep/pass the guard drills using the techniques of the day. 1.5 minutes each and switch top-bottom. Full speed. Seemed easy to implement the standing guard break. It's not fair really. The technique seems designed to avoid the standing guard sweeps. Don't give the opponent a leg to hook and it would pretty darned difficult to stop the break. As suspected, had quite a bit of trouble implementing the sweep when it was my turn on bottom.

1-1:30p: Rolls. Knee felt very good so I was going for it. 6 minute rolls. Professor Leo called 5 rolls. First roll with my technique drilling partner, Armando - White Belt about my size or maybe slightly heavier. Not sure how long he's been training. Armando pulled guard and I passed almost immediately by maintaining open guard and then knee over thigh from combat base. Established side control and sunk in cross face (deep). Stepped over and leaned to finish the choke. First time I got the tap from that technique. Difference between this time and past failures was the deep cross face and gi grip. Also made sure the backside of my ankle was firm against the other side of his neck, across artery. The rest of the roll was a mixed bag. Continued to pass guard and establish side control, but he managed to sweep me via roll three separate times. My weight distribution on his chest was clearly amiss. Armando transitioned from side control to a wicked knee on belly at one point, applying more pressure than I'd ever felt. His next move to arm bar wasn't well attempted an arm bar from knee on belly. Fortunately for me his arm bar from knee on belly was executed poorly and I had an easy escape and reversal. First roll in almost two weeks...not bad.

Second roll with Brian (Blue Belt). Got worked. The triangle and cross choke (from sit up) were solid enough, but guard passing was his forte today. Passed at will and in ways that are too embarrassing to recount (j/k...descriptions aren't necessary). Really need to work on pulling guard and open guard - or at least bailing to turtle if all else fails. Only earned the right to half pat myself on the back once. Seated mount escape to half guard and then executed deep half guard escape. Deep half escape worked, but could have been cleaner. I ended up getting stuck with broken posture in his guard as he locked his legs over my back in a pseudo-triangle set-up. Time ran out before I could deal with that mess. But...I was safe from the triangle and better to be there than mounted.

Got Ryan (White Belt) for my third roll. Ryan is about 50lbs lighter than me. After only 6mos training, he recently won his first tournament. He pulled guard, which surprised me a bit. He's usually more aggressive than that. I managed to stack a leg and pass fairly easily using a technique Mike (Purple Belt) taught a couple weeks back. At one point got his back using technique Xande taught us a couple weeks back. Sunk in the hooks and began hand fighting for the neck. Switched from hooks to body lock (not sure why...), but lost my lock behind knee. Ryan recognized the opportunity for the foot lock and went for it. He expended quite a bit of energy, but I wasn't feeling much pressure. I need to be more careful though 'cause a bigger guy could apply some serious pressure and likely win the tap. I continued for the neck. Got a gi lapel and reached for the bow and arrow. Couldn't get lapel under his chin so it started cranking his neck. I released and reset the hooks. Got a deeper lapel hold and, rather than bow and arrow, applied an Ezekiel variation to finish. Later in the roll I missed an opportunity from knee on belly to execute one of the chokes taught yesterday. Had to think through it too much...and by the time I remembered all the steps, I had lost my position advantage. Can't wait till this stuff is ingrained in my muscle memory.

Professor Leo halted the rolls. Not sure why, but fine by me. Instead we lined up and the ranking Blue Belt took the center of the mat. The next Blue Belt got in his closed guard. 1.5 minute sweep / pass the guard drills. Pass, submission, or advantage stops the drill and the winner stays. Ryan swept a Blue Belt using the technique of the day (Bravo for him!) and lasted a few more rounds before getting ousted by another Blue Belt. I got worked over by the Blue Belt who swept Ryan. He made it seem so easy...

1:30-1:35p: Stretched and said good-byes. Knee feels a bit tight, but given what I put it through today after a couple weeks of taking it easy, I'm very pleased. Will post an overview of my summer at UNIJJ later...Saints game on tonight!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DL Day 11

Feeling gimpy...

Good warm-up followed by stretches and right into techniques. Professor Jake taught 3 chokes from side control when opponent has good cross-face defense. I'll file the last choke, which involves use of your gi lapel, far in the back of my mind. It felt sooo awkward. The first two chokes are very doable and I'm glad to have a couple choke options from side control in my repertoire.

Sat out a couple rolls and worked core, ankle weights, and rotator cuffs. Worked sweep/pass the guard with a Blue Belt instead of sparring. sweeps. He basically crushed my guard the entire time. Couldn't do a darned thing to stop him. He said I missed an arm bar opportunity. Yeah... I realized that. But I didn't have it by the time I remembered the arm bar steps. So we worked some arm bar drills. Ok... I'd still rather shoot triangles. ;-)

Worked sweep/ pass the guard with Joe (White Belt) next. Swept him several times and caught him in an arm bar (non-standard). He asked how long I've been training and seemed relieved to know I have 4x his experience. C'mon Joe! Hang in there! It's only been 1 month man!

Worked with another Blue Belt at the end. He passed my guard and executed one of the side control chokes we learned today. I fought it for a while, but he finally locked it in. I trapped his right arm from closed guard and almost had an arm bar, but he escaped.

Professor Jake said he's recovering from an LCL sprain. His injury sounds very similar to mine. His advice wasn't very encouraging. In essence, he said I'd likely have one knee problem or another as long as I continue the sport. No bueno!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

DL Day 10

A bit bummed that my knee isn't feeling much better than it was last Friday / Saturday, even after 3 days off the mats. The odd sensation (err "pain"?) seems to have migrated to the right side of my calf/back of shin and right side of the hamstring. It doesn't really hurt. Just feels strange and the nerves are definitely sending all sorts of warning signals to my brain when it's put under different pressures and into various angles. Hmmpfff...

Too much to do today so I didn't attend class. Completed the full hour of P90X Core Synergies instead. Very good workout.

Excited to get the latest issue of Gracie Mag in the mail today and even more excited to see Rolls Gracie on the cover. Not sure what it is about Rolls that draws me to his story, but I can't wait to read the article. In fact...I think I'll do that now.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


DL Day 7

Open mat. Started with standard class stretch and warm-up routine, but solo. I probably look strange warming up by myself when almost everyone else dives into rolling, but hey...I'm too old to dive in cold and I still gas during warm-ups so it's real exercise to me. After 20 minutes and a lot sweat, I noticed a new guy looking around bewildered. Chris said it was his day. Open mat on first day? Cool. Decided to spend some time showing him things I wish someone had shown me before being thrown to the wolves in a real class.

Chris is 6'4" and 210lbs. Wrestled through high school. Now a NAVY corpsman. We started with standard stretches. Then spent a fair amount of time on the hip escapes. Explained closed guard, open guard, half guard, side control, and mount. Then showed him two guard break techniques and a couple passes. Worked those a bit. Then I introduced bottom resistance and explained my goal from closed guard (break posture, balance, create angles, look for sweeps and submissions). We ramped up the intensity a bit and by the end of the hour, Chris was able to pass my guard without too much trouble (...sigh...). Before calling it a day, we discussed side control goals for defense and offense and I introduced knee on belly and mount.

Knee feels ok. Not great. Not bad. Just ok. I stopped one guard pass attempt due to awkward pressure on the knee. No pain, but I knew that if it went any further I'd be hurting. Plan to stay away from sparring and some technique/drills for at least another week.

Oh... 201lbs after workout (no gi). Amazing. That's 19 lbs since starting jits 4.5 months ago and 24 lbs since June 8th when I logged a 5lb weight increase. Doesn't look like I'll have too much trouble making the 207.5 threshold (with gi) by November 13th.

Friday, September 3, 2010

DL Day 6

Open mat this morning. Solo warm-ups. Then worked with Mike (Purple Belt) a bit. He helped me with side control posture / escapes and hip movement. Sweep / pass the guard with me on bottom since that feels safest right now. Played a lot of open guard. De La Riva and Spider mostly. Mike also showed me a technique to break posture from closed guard and side escape that opens up sweep and submission opportunities. Most important take away lesson = Less push/pull and more hip movement to create angles. I know...I know...but why do I have so much trouble doing? Essentially did the same thing with two others (a Blue Belt and a 2-yr White Belt), but much less teaching and they went for submissions (successfully I might add; several chokes and an arm bar.). Took it pretty easy but still managed work up a good sweat. Knee brace helps. Icing to follow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DL Day 5

Got to class a few minutes early. Enough time to change and catch some of the rolls from the prior Black Belt class. Lots of guys speaking Portuguese. Xande, Leo, Paulo, Cadu, and a few Brown Belts I didn't recognize. Xande and Leo were rolling harder than I've ever seen anyone roll during training. Almost seemed like an actual fight. Unreal.

Completed warm-ups with a bit of knee-induced apprehension, but sat out the first set of drills. Worked a little core instead. Very sore still from Tuesday. Lower back cramped with only a few dozen reps.

Joined a group for the technique portion of the class. Worked De La Riva set-ups followed by two sweep options. First sweep was standard De La Riva. Second included a roll over sweep if opponent only gives you the inside arm/sleeve. Basically spin under to almost X-Guard and roll opponent over to take side control. REALLY enjoyed this. Read about it in Saulo's book dozens of times but haven't had much success implementing during training.

Sat out the rolls. Spent about 12 minutes or so on an exercise bike that works both arms and legs. Sit ups until cramps. Leg lifts with ankle weights. Hip work with the stretch chord. Rotator cuff work with 8lb free weights. Finished with balance exercises on bosu ball.

Collin (Blue Belt) said he had a very similar knee injury a while back. Recommended I stay off it for a while and get a wrap. Picked up a knee brace this afternoon. Icing as I type. Will try to make open mat tomorrow and see if I can find someone to work sweep/pass the guard drills and other light technique work.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DL Day 4

Missed class this morning. Worked late and overslept. Injured knee still feels strange, with dull / achy pain. Need to ice. Core is sore from yesterday's workout. Completed full hour of P90 X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps this afternoon. Pretty intense. I smell. Time to hit the showers.