Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cooper v. Schembri

Incredible match last weekend in San Clemente, CA.

Motivating and de-motivating at the same time. Motivating because...well...did you watch that match? Are you kidding me? A bit de-motivating because I know I will never move like that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

5:45 to 7p

5:45-5:50p: Had to put out a fire at work just as I was about to leave for class. 15 minutes late. Hmmpfff. I need to warm up. They must have had a long warm-up because they were still doing core work when I stepped on the mat and joined them for stretches.

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Mike (Purple) swept me with ease. Posture. He said I was too high. Weak. He had been down for 3 rounds so he let me take his spot. Andy (Brown) stepped in. Great... He's just another guy in class, right? I did surprisingly well. Knocked him off balance a bit when he attempted his first guard break. I'd say I almost swept him but that would be stretching things just a bit. Ha. He changed tactics and broke the guard. I switched to open guard (modified spider). Andy let me play for a lot longer than I thought he would. He finally passed with a slick leg/hip flick from stand up to pass my last hook.

6-6:30p: Technique. Review. Side control to technical mount to s-mount to arm bar. Then two choke options from mount. Standard palm up / palm up choke. Then a palm up / palm down option if opponent defends the first grip. Good to see these again for a second time in such a short span.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Crowded mats tonight. Groups of 3 with one sitting out to watch out for collisions. Steve (White Belt) and Lance (first day guy) in my group. Steve and I went first. Passed guard and got swept. Got stuck in half guard. I mean stuck. Almost got a sweep once, but no go. Stuck.

Lance stepped into my guard. Lance is a big older guy (40s?) and seemed to want to brawl. Spent a few minutes defending an onslaught of gi choke attempts from within my guard. Nothing too threatening, but he is very strong and persistent. Transitioned to set up arm bar attempts several times, but he was moving so fast I couldn't control anything. Finally got my chance when he stood up and leaned in to get the gi choke. Arched off the upper back/shoulder and shot the arm bar...and let one go in the process...Georgette style. I'd never done that in class before. I got the tap, but it was a bit embarrassing. Also implemented a technique of the day (side control to arm bar from s-mount). I could tell Lance thoroughly enjoyed himself. He asked for my number and said he'd be back. Nice!

Rolled with Steve again before calling it a night. Much better this time. Actually worked my way out of half guard. One of Saulo's sweeps from Revolution 1. I'll likely continue to explore that sweep when working with Steve. I need to avoid deep half a bit longer and work that technique with smaller and/or less experienced training partners until I can figure out what I'm doing wrong that makes it so easy for him to cross face and put me flat on my back. Also got a front gi choke from closed guard, but only because Steve made a silly mistake (he won't make it again). I was far more pleased with the half guard sweep.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Matt's Birthday Present

Apparently this was a Blue Belt's gift via a wicked spider guard. I've had my share of bruises, but nothing like this. As Saulo says in Revolution 1, "You no want to hurt your training partner. Your training partner should be your best friend. You no want to hurt him" (paraphrased of course...).

5:45 to 8:45p

5:45-6p: Stretched. Left shoulder felt horrible all day. Woke up this morning in some of the worst shoulder pain I've ever felt. Fortunately it subsided a bit as the day wore on. Maybe it had something to do with my nightmare last night. Dreamed I was leading warm-ups in a living room of an old Uptown New Orleans bar with couches and other lounge furniture in the middle. At first, I had five or six white belts warming up with me. Upper belts were standing off to the side. The white belts slacked off one by one until I was the only one jogging. I got a bit peeved and said something to a blue belt who seemed pleased that the white belts weren't going along with my warm up. I think it was Koscheck actually. He mouthed off. I went crying to Professor Matthias who was putting up Christmas lights. Matthias said he had my back. Next thing I know it's morning and my shoulder was absolutely killing me.

6-7p: Self defense. Worked street-fight mount maintenance drills. Basically techniques you can use to secure the position against a flailing guy with little to no jiu jitsu. Then worked a maintenance technique for skilled practitioners. Not really grapevines, but use the leg hooks against back of hamstring and drive waist to chest into opponent to create a tremendous amount of pressure. Then worked a transition to technical mount and take the back if person on bottom turns onto side or starts to roll over. Finished up with proper technique to sink and maintain both hooks and taking the back with a mata-leon / RNC finish. Learned a lot from the hook maintenance technique. Big Steve (White Belt) was my training partner and I had serious problems breaking his hooks when he sunk them properly. He had similar issues with mine. Solid. Now I have to figure out how to counter.

7-7:10p: Warm -up / standard drills. Short and sweet.

7:10-7:20p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got swept a couple times. Didn't have a legitimate guard pass, but a couple upper belts who had been in bottom for a while gave up their position and let me work from the bottom. Collin (Brown Belt) passed my guard with ease. Probably 10 seconds. Geez. Got a nice sweep though on a White Belt who tried to implement the basic GB guard break technique.

7:20-7:30p: Take down drills. Tried to take Charlie (Purple Belt). Not a very good showing. He got his hips close and under mine with an underhook and a belt grip before tripping a leg. Nice. Need to work the stand up more. Only attempted the one take down. Too much shoulder pain.

7:30-8p: Technique. Professor Marco showed a side control maintenance to choke from knee on belly using a gi lapel. I've only had one submission involving a loose gi lapel and that happened by accident. The thought that I can use someone's loose lapel as a weapon rarely if ever occurs to me during a roll. But I could see myself trying this technique some time. Professor Doc Eddie showed a variation that leads to a step over choke.

8-8:35p: Rolls. 3 rounds at 5-6 minutes each with plenty of time between rounds. Got Rusty (Brown Belt), first-day 18 yr old with a name too difficult to pronounce, and Patrick (Blue Belt). Bonus after-class roll with Dr. Steve (Blue Belt). Shoulder pain was intense before the training rounds, but the pain declined with the rise in adrenaline. Had a couple submissions tonight. The first was against the new guy. It was his first day and he was completely spazzing and using a ton of muscle. Not a small guy either - almost my height and I probably had 10-15lbs on him. Waited patiently. Missed a bunch of opportunities to to control him, but finally got a sweep, established mount, and took my time setting up for an arm bar from technical mount when he rolled to his side. Executed the arm bar very slowly. I normally wouldn't submit someone on their first night, but: (a) he was spazzing; and (b) I enjoyed the challenge of implementing a game of pure technique with little exertion in the face of a spazz onslaught. Got a choke from mount on an upper belt tonight too - a palm up / palm down choke I learned at UNIJJ. Tried it many times, but tonight was the first successful implementation. Got a sweep off a pass and flower sweep on upper belts tonight as well. Kept giving up my back to Rusty. Steve caught me with a triangle /arm bar combo. Not sure if I tapped from the choke or the arm bar or both. Just knew I was kaput. Had a great time though.

8:35-8:45p: Stretched a bit and chatted with Steve.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

5 to 7p

Abbreviated post...Matt's birthday dinner at K-Paul's tonight. See Matt below about to open a can of whoop ass on some poor featherweight on Saturday. Happy birthday Matt! It took 36 years, but at 37 with one tourney under your White Belt, you're finally a man.

5-5:30p: Stretched and solo warm-up. Did a bunch of solo drills and some gynastica natural I learned this summer t UNIJJ. Felt good.

5:30-5:45p: Led warm-ups, stretches, and standard drills again. Good, steady pace. Ended exactly at 15minutes. Nice!

5:45-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got swept...A lot. Silly stuff really. I'm having serious trouble passing guard. It all comes down to posture issues.

6-6:15p: Technique 1. Side control to mount transition. Great. I learn a few tips yesterday about how to escape side control and Professor Matthias shows everyone how to counter those very same tricks and get to mount. ;-)

6:15-6:30p: Technique 2. Two different chokes from mount. First a fairly standard palm up / palm up and lean forward choke. Second was a Professor special. His go-to choke from mount. If opponent defends the first palm up grip, take a deeper palm down grip on the same side while retaining the initial weak palm up grip. Put your head on the mat to the other side and base out with a leg opposite your head. Then work the palm down grip around the back of head until side of wrist is against neck. Bring both elbows in and move head toward center. I'm not sure I'm ready to try it. It put a tremendous amount of pressure on my wrists and I couldn't maintain a tight grip. Maybe when my wrists are stronger.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got the champ, Cleveland (White Belt), Ricky (White Belt), and Steve (White Belt). All great rolls. Some deep half work. Lots of spider guard. Couple sweeps. Got swept a bit. Got to work the side control to mount technique of the day a couple times and had a couple unsuccessful choke attempts (both resulted in upa reversal). Add mount maintenance to my list of serious problems. That said, I was very pleased with the training.

Forgot to stretch. Drats.

Monday, October 25, 2010

5:40 to 8:40p

5:40-6p: Still very sore from the competition, but nothing hurts (as in bad hurt). Stretched and rolled a bit no gi with Paulo. I wasn't prepared for true no gi, so I just went without the top. I'm not sure what belt Paulo is, but I know he's been around a long time. He just hasn't trained gi BJJ since I've been at NOLA BJJ. Although he regularly contributes to the NOLA BJJ forum, I only met him in person Saturday.

Paulo caught me in an arm bar from an odd position (turtle-esque). Actually, I tapped before he actually got the arm bar. He could have had a kimura as well, but I wasn't going to mess with it. He had me. Kaput. I managed to avoid a number of choke attempts, including what he called a Peruvian necktie. I'll have to look that up. No clue what that is. Good time though and I worked up a good sweat before my weekly private with Gavin.

6-7p: Private with Gavin turned out to be a 2-for-1 deal. Gavin's brother Collin (Brown Belt) helped out since Gavin was his ride. We worked side control survival postures and escapes. Discovered a couple fatal flaws in my escape from a tight cross-face gable grip. First mistake I'd been making = I thought I had to bring my inside arm all the way down to the mat. They explained how it was more important that I keep the frame on the hip. If I can do that with my elbow on the mat, fine. But if not, so long as the hip is blocked, I should be fine. Second mistake I'd been making is I would bring my outside arm up and around the face to create a frame for the escape. Collin showed how exposed that left me to americana and arm triangle attacks. He showed a tighter way to obtain the same position. From here, Gavin showed how to use the frame to create the space, hip escape, and insert the knee for guard recovery. Collin showed how to flair the outside elbow to create extra leverage and space. The focused demonstration of these nuances was very helpful and should made a big difference. We also reviewed a running escape and a shin pressure break of another common side control position (not sure what's it's called and I'm too lazy to attempt to describe it). Also reviewed underhook to elevator and take down or guard recovery. Good stuff. Gavin and Collin are great instructors and their styles are very complementary.

7-7:20p: Professor Matthias asked me to lead warm-ups. Did the standard stuff, although I felt like it was taking longer than a usual warm-up. Rushed through the stretches. Helped a new guy (Wes) with hip shrimps.

7:20-7:30p: Sit-ups from guard pull position. I sat out and chatted with Wes and two other new guys (Ahmed and...Suleman? Can't recall for sure). Then worked a leap frog drill with Wes.

7:30-7:40p: Sweep / pass the guard. Patrick (Blue Belt) and Chris (Blue Belt) swept me. Almost passed Patrick's guard with the technique Marco showed at the seminar last weekend, but I didn't deal with his left foot before stepping into the pass. Got swept. Chris swept me in no time. Posture...posture...posture...

7:40-8p: Technique. Side control escapes from cross-face/cradle. First was standard and the same basic technique I worked on during the private. Steve (White Belt) and I worked the techniques with Ahmed and Wes. Professor Matthias taught a variation that creates an arm bar opportunity on each arm. It looked awesome, but Steve and I didn't get to work it since we were working with the new guys. Last technique was an underhook to knees/elevator to side control. Key detail involved catching the opponent's foot before driving from elevator.

8-8:30p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Good amount of time between rolls. Got Chris (Blue Belt), Ahmed (first day guy) and Dr. Steve (Blue Belt). Had a fantastic time with Chris. Lots of small movements for position with an occasional blast of technical transitions and reversals. I took technical mount at one point and forced Chris turtle a bit later, but attacking from those positions didn't last long. Survived and we were both breathing pretty good afterward.

Roll with Dr. Steve was great too, but we were both pretty tired at that point. Had a nice sweep off a pass, but he recovered full guard just like Henry did at the tourney. I'm supposed to land in knee on belly or side control from that sweep. Will have to figure out what I'm doing wrong. Stuck in half guard for a while. A bunch of turtling. Steve got a nice sweep to mount. I think it was a hip-bump. Spent too much time finding off a kimura from north-south. Steve could have forced a break to apply the kimura, but he gave it up and stopped the roll. I could tell he was exhausted. With a little over a minute remaining, we decided to start from stand up. He almost caught me with a judo throw. We ended the roll with me in his guard.

I should have allowed my training partners to pass to side control so I could work the techniques of the day - especially after my private. I need to be more disciplined about steering my training rolls toward the technique of the day. It's incredibly difficult to implement when the technique is a submission. But when the technique involves escapes from side control, I have no excuse. I can almost always allow side control and work escapes from inferior position.

8:30-8:40p: Chatted with our three new guys a bit. I explained that they'd likely be very sore tomorrow, but they shouldn't be discouraged. I hope they come back. Almost walked out the door and I remembered to stretch. Small victories are always nice.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Tournament: Recap

Gracie Barra Southeast Regional Compnet held in New Orleans yesterday. My first tournament and I went in knowing that I won just by showing up because, in BJJ like many other things in life, To Play is to Win. Congrats to all my NOLA BJJ teammates for a job well done. Competitors will take a new energy and confidence into their training and will make the academy better for the experience.

I registered as a Master (30-35 yrs old) White Belt, Heavy Division (195-207.5). Weighed in at 205.2lbs. The tourney organizers put me and a Senior Heavy (36+) in the Adult Division (18-29) to make 5 total competitors, 2 of which (Henry Marrion and Cleveland Johnson) are from NOLA BJJ and I know well. We all competed Gi and No Gi. Well...No Gi sort of. For some reason they made everyone where gi pants and we were allowed to grip the pants. No clue why.

First...the results: Silver Gi and Silver No Gi. Won 3 and lost both finals to Cleveland Johnson. Cleveland's a monster of a man (~6'3" and 8-9% body fat) and one of the nicest training partners. Dominating performances. I couldn't be happier for him.

With Professor Matthias

Hardware notwithstanding, the matches weren't pretty. Frankly, I was lucky to make the finals. Made many mistakes and found myself on defense a lot. Rarely on the attack. Frequently in turtle. Friends took video, but the matches aren't very entertaining. I've posted them for posterity and so that one day when I'm much better I can look back and see how much I've improved (And how much my butt shrinks. These vids prove my arse is huge and I can easily lose another 15lbs to make Medium-Heavy by the next tourney.).

Gi match #1 vs. NOLA BJJ training partner Henry Marrion. The match was very close. Henry's strong, fast, and knows some Judo. Gameplan = pull guard. The successful guard pull was enough to settle nerves. That led to a Sweep off a Pass. Henry did an excellent job establishing guard after the sweep. That sweep usually lands me in side control. I attempted a pass that Professor Marco taught at last week's pre-tourney seminar, but Henry countered well and reversed. He pressed hard for a pass and got to half guard. A failed deep half sweep left me in turtle. Rolled from turtle to recover guard, but almost got passed. Thank goodness for half guard. Eeked out the win, 2-0.

Gi semi-final against an opponent from another school. I never got his name. 2 points on the take down Gavin taught last week. Landed in guard. Opponent had a weak guillotine but let go: (a) it was weak to begin with; and (b) for some reason White Belts weren't allowed to guillotine at this tourney. Had posture problems the entire time in his guard. Finally got the break and almost passed, but opponent recovered nicely. Finally got the pass. Video shows my hips were WAY too high for too long. Part of the reason was the attempted bait for a step over choke. But that only explains part of the problem. Opponent had a nice bridge and reversed. I bailed to turtle and he started to attack the back. I defended the hook and choke attempts to keep the points off the board. He transitioned to mount, but didn't have it long enough to get the points. I escaped to his closed guard. Posture busted...again. Geez. Made it to half guard and the time ran out. 5-0 victory.

Final against Cleveland. Cleve had a bye his first round and won his second by submission within a couple minutes. I thought maybe fatigue would be an issue, but it wasn't an issue at all. I could tell from the moment we squared off that he wanted the win...badly. I could see it in his eyes. Fierce. Before the match, Mike (Purple Belt) predicted he'd pull guard. He did. Posture problems at first, but I broke his guard. Cleve immediately switched to attempt a scissor/knee push sweep. I based out well enough and he stood up. I tried to grab a single leg, but he based out and forced me to turtle. Rolled to recover guard, but that failed. Back to turtle. Then defended arm attacks and prevented hooks. Recovered half guard. He went for arm bar. Escaped to his butterfly guard. Butterfly pass attempt failed and Cleve recovered closed guard. My defense of his kimura attempt allowed him to escape to stand up.

Ok... 2:30 seconds in score is 0-0 and we're both standing.

He pulled guard again. Posture a wreck...what's new? Broke guard and Cleve went straight to a scissor / knee push sweep attempt. I countered and almost passed, but he reversed. Hips ended up over his hips and my busted posture led to his sweep to side control. Down 0-5. He attempted a step over choke, but my back was flat and he had nothing. The attempt did force me to turn away from him, since I knew he needed me to turn into him to finish. Cleve responded with knee on my side. The ref gave another 2 pts. Is that right? Doesn't he have to have my back flat on the mat and knee on belly to earn those points? 0-7. He attempted another step over and began to transition to an arm bar. I set up for the arm bar escape and managed to reverse to half guard. Passed to side control. FINALLY some points! 3-7. Secured side control and went for knee on belly. Whoops! Didn't have a chance. Reversed to side control. 3-9. Cleveland wanted to finish! Attacked a kimura from side control. Fortunately my right arm is fairly flexible. I wasn't really threatened and I almost reversed out when the table called time. Congrats Cleveland.

I am so glad I signed up for No Gi at the last minute. After 15 minutes of competition, I wasn't done. With only a single one-hour No Gi class, I didn't know what to expect. I put on my gi shorts only to find out they were making us wear gi pants and our belts. Huh? Seriously? Ok... I was worried that I'd get DQ'd because I'd reflexively grab my opponent's gi pants. Found out only moments before we started that grabbing/holding gi pants was ok. Huh?

I got a bye the first round so I faced PJ Clement, one of Shawn Gayton's students, in the semi-final. Shawn's a NOLA BJJ Purple Belt and MMA fighter who recently started a Gracie Barra academy in Mandeville, LA. After the match, Shawn told me PJ's only been training a couple months. Wow! He did great. Almost caught me in a gator roll choke on my take down attempt. I started gurgling and began to ask myself, "At what point do I need to tap?" Calm down...think... I realized that if I moved to my left it would create a lot of pressure on the right side of my neck but allow blood flow on my left carotid. Once sure I was completely safe I let him continue to crank knowing he had to be expending far more energy attacking than I was defending. He eventually let go. Must have earned an advantage.

I missed an opportunity to cross face and get him flat on his back. You can hear Professor Doc Eddie on the video yelling "Cross face, cross face, cross face!" Of course, I couldn't hear any of that. Shouldn't have needed to though. Somehow managed to force PJ to turtle and the ref (Professor Marco) had us reset. I transitioned to take his back and briefly sunk both hooks. Marco gave me 4 pts. I don't know...did I really have both hooks secured long enough? PJ escaped and next thing I know I'm fighting from my side in open guard, almost half guard-ish. Forced to turtle. Worked out but got rolled into guard. Closed guard and worked to break his posture. PJ eventually broke my guard and stood up. Then...the most awesome move ever. I instinctively transition to spider guard. Almost ended up in disaster. Time called. Ugly 4-0 victory. Had it not been for those two hooks, I probably would have lost by advantage. Perhaps the greatest quote ever caught on camera from a victor's corner - Professor Doc Eddie: "Ok, Rick. No spider guard in No Gi." Hilarious.

Faced Cleveland in the final (again). He forced me to turtle turned my botched single leg takedown attempt. He forced me over and almost took side control, but left full guard recovery wide open. I'll take that, thank you! He reached back for a guard break and all I could think was, "Triangle? Triangle?" I released and shot right as he stacked me over. Rolled to turtle, rolled a bit more, and Cleve sunk a deep RNC. I wasn't choking, but he was so freaking strong my spine cracked from neck to tail bone. I felt paralyzed. I had a free hand but I couldn't tap. I started to panic. Marco was looking right into my eyes and I was saying, "I can't tap, I can't tap." Huh? Although I couldn't get my brain to tell my hand to tap. And rather than yelling tap, I was freaking out because I couldn't physically tap. Finally Marco called it off. Whew. That sucked. Never felt anything like that before. Never want to again. My neck was stiff the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening. Feels just as sore as the rest of my body today though, so I don't think I have a serious injury. Double Whew.

Lessons Learned:

#1. Just have fun. It's about the experience. No matter the outcome.

#2. Although I competed and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I'm not a competitor. Cleveland wanted the wins much more than I did. I saw it in his pre-match prep and could see it in his eyes before we squared off. Although I know his jiu jitsu is better than mine, I lost those matches before we started. Cleveland is a true competitor. If I ever want to be a true competitor, I'll need to change my entire approach and get much more serious.

#3. No gi is a different world. I need to visit this world more so it doesn't feel so foreign.

#4. My cardio and conditioning ain't half bad for an old guy. I had no problem with the 22 minutes of competition. My grips were fine too. No issues whatsover. Had it not been for the RNC, I probably could have fought many more matches before failing from fatigue.

#5. My game is much more limited than thought. So much of the game I imagined I had in me did not show up for the tournament.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bikram Yoga

Wow. Never done yoga before. 90 minutes of bikram tonight. Sweat my arse off. I feel amazing. Definitely doing it again. Maybe regularly. Only one of the poses hurt my knee. Another pose felt like I was double armbarring myself. Have no clue how the others were doing it. Put both arms straight under your belly with palms down. Basically your chest is smashing the elbows flat and the rotated palms makes a funny angle. I couldn't come close to doing it. No wonder I tap early to arm bars. I have no flexibility in that direction!

T-36 hours until tourney time. I changed my registration to gi and no-gi. I should get at least 4 fights. Worst case I win one or two and have to fight exhausted. Sounds like fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5:25 to 6:30p

5:25-5:35p: Showed Chad (White Belt) the take down Gavin taught me Monday night. Worked the mechanics a few times. Felt achy before class, but achy turned to downright pain after this brief workout. Left shoulder is no bueno.

5:35-5:45p: Brief warm-up. No drills.

5:45-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Aaron (Blue Belt) swept me and took my back. After the sweep was complete I moved and my right knee popped. Front right side. It's still popping, but I don't feel any pain or discomfort. Not so with my shoulder. Killing me. Pulsating shots of pain from the inner joint. No bueno.

6-6:30p: Rolls. 5 minute rounds. I sat out most rounds and kept time. I decided to roll lightly with Chad (White Belt). Kept my left arm in my belt. Never tried that before. Saved my left arm...but Chad got an Americana on my right arm.

Ice and lots of ibuprofen tonight... Saturday is tourney-time. Can't imagine competing with this level of pain, but I hope to shake this with a couple days rest.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5:30 to 7p

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up / standard drills. Felt achy as soon as I hit the mats.

5:45-5:55p: Sweep / pass the guard. Crowded tonight, so I only got 2 attempts to pass in the time. Chris (Blue Belt) and I went at it for a long while. I deflected the hip bump sweeps, but eventually gave it up and got back in line. I had hogged enough time and couldn't pass. Got Professor Doc Eddie next. He swept me and took my back with the same technique he showed at the seminar Saturday. I knew what was coming, but couldn't defend. He caught me with that sweep twice last night as well. Hmm...

5:55-6:30p: Techniques. Mount escape. Reviewed survival goals (frame to keep opponent low and over hips) followed by a basic upa-type reversal when opponent goes for a predictable palm up cross collar choke. Doc Eddie added a variation involving a hip scoot to counter a good mount. Worked that a bit. Then worked an arm bar from s-mount. Reach for the palm up cross collar choke. When opponent defends the neck, switch to technical mount and slide knee up and around the head. Trap the inside arm and bring in the outside arm. Switch from technical to s-mount. When both arms are tied up, release the choke and post to assist with transferring leg over head before laying back. Pull lever...arm...from wrist toward the head to maximize leverage and break opponent's hold. Hips up and get the tap. Nice. Maybe some day I'll be able to control someone well enough to execute all those steps.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5 minute rounds, but there were so many people on the mats we broke up into groups of three and rotated in. I rolled two and sat out two. Got Big Steve (White Belt) and Chet (White Belt). Steve passed my guard without too much trouble and at some point I recovered half guard. Got stuck in deep half. Spent almost the entire roll in deep half. I believe he passed again and I recovered half again, but most of the roll was in deep half. I never felt too threatened and didn't expend much energy, but I certainly couldn't do anything to get out of half guard. Posture busted up. He had my back flat and cross face much of the time. I'd fight back to deep half, only to get pushed on my back. Rough... My last couple sessions with Steve have been very similar. Stuck... Need to figure something out.

Chet kicked my butt too. He broke and passed my guard. It didn't take long and he took my back. Can't remember how exactly, but as he took my back he sunk in both hooks. Tight too. I defended the neck attacks and worked on an escape, but he had an answer for all my attempts. After a couple minutes Chet stopped and said he wasn't learning anything because he'd tried everything to choke but couldn't so he didn't know where to go from there. I showed him a couple choke options (he already knew them), but I couldn't pull them off when he defended so I was basically where he was. I should have showed him the arm bar from the back that Dorian caught me with last night...will have to do that next time I see him. We reset and rolled a bit more but I don't recall what happened.

Forgot to stretch...again...drats.

Saturday is the GB Compnet tournament. Thankfully I don't need to cut weight to make the Heavy division. The problem is that no one else is registered in the Master's Heavy division. There are 110+ registrants, but most of the brackets are pretty thin. There's one Super and one Ultra Heavy in the Master's division and a couple teammates (Cleveland and Henry) are in the Adult Heavy division. I'll compete wherever. It's for the experience. Although I've had a number of unnerving comments lately from classmates and instructors that they expect me to do well (actually, one instructor said I'm going to "kill those old guys"). That's a lot of pressure for a first-timer with only 6 months experience. Let's just say that if I compete anything like I rolled tonight, I'm not going to score any points and I'll be lucky if I don't get tapped. Yeah...nerves are starting to set in. I'll train light for an hour tomorrow night and I'm taking Thursday night off. Might go see a movie or something. I'm helping to set up on Friday night and will work the event on Saturday. Hopefully I'll find someone to take some video.

Monday, October 18, 2010

6 to 8:30p

6-7p: Private with Gavin. Stretched. Talked tournament tips. Gavin teaches the no gi class on Friday night. He said I should enter as Intermediate. Friday was my first day training no gi. Got my arse handed to me by everyone, including Gavin. But he was serious. If the tourney has a no gi bracket and it's not too late to sign up, fine. I'll do it. Why not?

We reviewed some turtle escape/reversal techniques from a few weeks back. Also went over clock choke details and looked at a number of butterfly sweep options. Ended with a roll from stand up. Pulled guard (messed up once, so we started over). Had a great roll. He attacked the whole time. I survived. Looking forward to next week's private when we get back on track with the curriculum. I believe next week's lesson is side control survival/escapes.

7-8:30p: Did the standard warm-up and sweep/pass the guard drills. Then got into tournament prep. Take downs. Class divided into two groups: (1) under 170; and (2) 170+. Professor Matthias called me into the under 170 group, presumably to protect my knee. Went all right I suppose. Managed one take down, but I landed with my arm out and posture busted. Could have been arm barred or swept. No good.

After tournament rules overview and Q&A, those scheduled to compete this weekend (like me) got to simulate a real tourney round including refs. Got Dr. Steve (Blue Belt) for my round. It went better than expected, although he got with an armbar around minute 3:30. Had a half guard sweep, passed guard a couple of times, and two take downs. Well...only one legit take down. I got two points when Steve pulled guard. Apparently I got the points because he timed the guard pull as I made a half-hearted leg sweep attempt. If that's really the rule, I'm not a fan.

Concluded class with two spar rounds. 6 minutes each. Got a newer White Belt first (forgot his name...drats) and Professor Matthias. The newer White Belt popped a nasty blister on his foot so we didn't roll too long. At one point I attempted a step over choke. He tapped, but only because he said it hurt quite a bit and not because of a choke. Drats... it's supposed to be a choke. Back to the drawing board! My time with Professor Matthias was great too, but I was exhausted and my technique was sloppy (that's a kind way to put it).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catch Up Posts

Been real busy...and didn't feel like writing...

Friday 10/15

5:30-6p: Showed up to class early. Stretched. Short warm-up. Then rolled light with Keith (White Belt). Took mount, but couldn't catch any chokes or arm bars. Spent several minutes trying. He wanted to work survival, so he didn't go for any escapes. Eventually got a choke from half guard.

6-7p: Self defense. Rusty showed a couple of chokes from side control then put on boxing gloves and simulated an attacker. We were supposed to back away or time a take down. I didn't time the take down very well. Got clocked in the face pretty hard. Humbling... Concluding with a brief spar round. Worked with a new guy, Rusty (obviously not instructor Rusty). Rusty is a big dude. About 6'2" or so and maybe 250lbs? Super nice guy. Said he learned about self defense jiu jitsu on-line. He may join us at sports jiu jistu class as well.

7-8p: No-gi class. It was my first time without the gi. What a different game! Got completely worked. Choked countless times. Few arm bars. Wowzers...will have to try it again.

Saturday 10/16

Pre-tourney seminar at Gracie Barra Northshore. Drove Chris (Blue Belt) and Patrick (Blue Belt). The i-phone maps app took us out to the middle of nowhere. Then we got stuck behind a train. Almost an hour late. We made it for the last 2 hours of instruction/practice. Professor Marco taught a nice standing guard pass. Professor Doc Eddie showed a triangle from a spider guard variation. Professor Matthias walked us through a butterfly guard pass. All three are excellent and I hope I drilled them enough to add them to my repertoire. Glad I made the seminar.

Sunday 10/17

Dusted fans, ledges, walls then reset and cleaned the mats at the Uptown gym. My lungs hurt. Lots of dust. Wow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

6 months

6 months ago today I stepped on the mats for the first time. 6 months plus one day ago I couldn't have imagined that within such a short time I'd lose 30+ lbs and be so addicted to BJJ. But it only took one day...that first day on April realize how BJJ could change my life.

Month 6 Goal review:
1. Make an average of 4.5 classes per week, with no less than 4 in a week.
Grade = B. Close...but no cigar. Knee injury prevented me from achieving this goal.

2. Make at least one Kickboxing class per week and Friday Judo class when in town.
Grade = B+. Tried judo once. That may be the last time I take judo. Body just not strong enough to withstand the beating. Made many kickboxing classes, but missed last week due to knee injury.

3. Stretch before and after all workouts with special emphasis on post-workout stretches.
Grade = B-. Forgot too often.

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.
Grade = D. This is tough to implement.

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. ;-)
Grade = A-. Got lots of chokes and choke attempts.

6. Inquire about cheap privates...
Grade - A. Got a great deal for 1hr private each week with Gavin (Purple, 4-stripes). Also arranged a deal for one hour per month with Professor Mathhias.

Goal for Month 7:

1. Maintain "New Normal" attitude. Roll safe.

2. Make average 4 classes per week.

3. Work half guard sweeps and escapes.

4. Try to implement technique of the day. promoted after class on my 6-mo milestone day. Not sure if I'm really a 4-striper, but I trust my Professor.

Tournament is next Saturday. I'm about 7-8lbs under weight already so I decided to celebrate my 6 months.

5:30 to 8:30p

5:30-5:15p: Warm-up / standard drills.

5:45-6p: Mount maintenance/escape drills. Terrible performance... How can it be that everyone can escape my mount but I can't escape their mount? Especially when I know what they are doing, but I cannot defend or do the same thing when it's my turn to escape? Bleh.

6-6:30p: Technique. Mount maintenance with a choke. Then escapes. The choke was new to me, but the maintenance and escape techniques were standard. I know them...just can't execute with any regularity in a live spar situation.

6:30-7p: 5 or 6 minute rounds. Got Professor Matthias, Will (Blue) and Aaron (Blue). Roll with Matthias was fantastic. He allowed me to work and left me many opportunities to work. Fortunately, I recognized many opportunities. Unfortunately, I probably didn't recognize other opportunities that I is bliss. He went for two arm bars. Escaped both. My guess is he was playing catch and release. Can't say enough how much I enjoyed that roll.

Other rolls also went well. Got an arm bar from triangle transition. Never got that on a Blue Belt before. I shot the triangle and he stood up to stack. Only my upper back and neck were on the mat. Controlled the vulnerable arm, threw the leg over, extended the hips...tap. Also had a nice bow and arrow attempt. It was locked and tight. Gi under the chin and posture completely broken, but didn't get the tap. After 10 seconds, I gave it up. Well...not before a really pathetic attempt to force a tap. I let go of the pant grip and tried to squeeze the throat. Stopped as soon as I realized that's not the point...I didn't get the tap so I should have switched around to the back and tried a variation of the same choke. Aaron almost caught me in a guillotine of sorts. I was a second or two from tapping, but fought my way out. Not very technical though...

After class, Professor Matthias gave me two additional stripes. Wow. Must trust my Professor.

7-8:30p: Kickboxing. Lots of jabs. Left arm is sore. Got lazy with a jab defense technnique and took a shot to the right eye. Knocked the contact loose and I saw stars for a moment. Fun...I guess...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


6:40-7p: Arrived late for self defense. Got tied up at work. Rusty (Brown Belt) demonstrated a bully headlock defense variation. Review. Posture, hips, extend arms to protect against punch, trap outside arm, grip wrist that has you in a head lock, step back while maintaining posture/hip pressure, duck out and twist arm behind attacker's back. Finished with a headlock break from the ground. Frame, shrimp out a couple steps, pop legs up and around attacker's head, extend/squeeze for choke. If frame doesn't break grip, through legs over and use the leverage to reverse the position and take technical mount. Frame again and break headlock grip. Finish with arm bar. Also review.

7-7:15p: Warm-up/standard drills. Did all 20 push-ups (properly) and all core reps.

7-7:30p: Take down technique and drills. Repeat from Monday night, but I wasn't there. Take step toward opponent's same foot (e.g., your right to his/her right), left foot steps inside, tug on grips to bust posture, then step inside and push back (slightly) to get the trip. If done right you'll end up in stand up against an open guard. But landing in half guard is probably more likely.

7:30-8p: Half guard escape technique and drills. Too many detailed steps to recount, but even though I can recount all the steps in my head, I had a terrible time implementing. Hard to explain... Spent 5-8 minutes or so working sweep/pass the half guard with our drilling partners. Not much good to report.

8-8:30p: Rolls. 5 minute rounds. Lots of rest between rounds. Got a first day White Belt (forgot his name), Patrick (Blue Belt), and Dorian (White Belt, 4-stripes). Showed the new White Belt basic positions and guard break technique. Patrick had me locked up in his open guard. Didn't get swept or submitted, but he was using my gi lapel to attempt chokes and generally frustrate my guard pass game. A couple times he had me off balance. He could have swept or stood up and pushed me over, but did not. I suspect he purposefully stayed in bottom position so he could continue to work on his open guard game. Had little to nothing for Dorian. He had a nice hip bump sweep and took mount a couple times. I had a miserable time trying to establish mount survival position. At one point he took my back and caught me in an arm bar. Quick stuff and my "New Normal" approach had no answer to his speed, power, and technical prowess...

Forgot to stretch...geez.

Injury Report: Left knee is bruised pretty good. Slipped yesterday at practice and banged it up. Very tender. Kneeling is miserable. Iced it up tonight. Glad I still have 10 days until the tourney.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

5:15 to 8:40p

5:15-5:30p: Stretched. Did some push-ups and gi pull ups too. Just enough to raise the body temp. Showed Mike (Purple) and Aaron (Blue) a few warm-up drills we did at UNIJJ.

5:30-5:50p: Warm-up / drills. Mike led. After jogging we played a game. Like soccer from crab position. Butt hits the floor, 10 push-ups. Not easy. Hit the floor a few times. Did 30 regular push-ups. Rough. Then we did more push-ups. 20ea wide, normal, and diamond. Well...everyone else did 60. Finished about 45 from the knees. When will I be strong enough to do real push-ups? (But then again...when do we do push-ups in jiu jitsu so who cares, right?) Showed the class one of the UNIJJ drills - shrimp, get stuck, step out, bridge onto shoulder, swing leg under to elevator, then fall back to guard recovery and repeat from other side.

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got swept by Alex (Purple) and Dimitri (4-stripe Purple) twice. Tried to play a slow game, but they came on hard. Dimitri started in open guard both times. Once I had a shot to implement a Saulo-inspired pass, but I slipped and slammed my left knee on the mat. Hurts like crazy. But it's only a bruise. Not a ligament issue. Dimitri had too many rounds on the bottom so he let me take the mat. Aaron (Blue Belt) came into my guard. He broke and proceeded to pass without too much trouble, but I managed to recover half-guard before he could secure the position. Got stuck in deep half. He eventually passed.

6-6:30p: Technique. Side control escapes from two different positions. Review. Learned a few sweeps from side control, including one that ends in an arm triangle. All of them felt a bit awkward.

6:30-7p: Rolls. Probably 6 minute rounds. Got Big Steve (White Belt), Matt (White Belt), and Woody (Blue Belt). Not much to write about. Got stuck in deep half with Big Steve almost the entire roll. He eventually passed to side control, but I recovered half. Need to study up on half guard sweeps and escapes. Attempted an arm triangle from top half. Got something wrong. Started burning too much energy so I let it go. Also had a couple nice sweeps tonight, including one against Woody at the beginning of our roll (didn't end well though as he reversed almost immediately).

7-8:30p: Kickboxing. Avoided kicks that required pivots. Jumping rope kicked my butt. I'm not very coordinated. Spent last 15 minutes on bag drills. Cardio and sweat. Lots of sweat.

8:30-8:40p: Stretched.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

5:25 to 7p

5:25-5:30p: Stretched.

5:30-5:50p: Warm-up / drills. Professor Matthias asked Mike (Purple) to lead a "long" warm-up. Mike started with dodgeball using a boxing glove. Get hit and do 10 push-ups. A bit unusual, but ok... Didn't get hit, but did 30-40 push-ups anyway. Only completed about 90% of the core work due to lower back cramping.

5:50-5:55p: Inverted guard recovery drills. Head between standing partner's legs. Grab ankles. Cross legs and hook outside of thighs. Unwind and spin around to open guard.

5:55-6:05p: Solo drills. Side control bump to elevator and guard recovery. Then running escape from side control.

6:05-6:20p: Bully headlock escapes. Two variations. Both review.

6:20-6:30p: Headlock from side control escape. Bump to make sure inside elbow is tucked to side and on mat. Frame. Step out to create space while extending frame. Pop legs over head while circling outside hand around headlock arm to trap. Extend legs for choke or apply arm lock. Nice.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5-6 minutes. Got Abhi (White), Will (Blue), Mike (Purple), and David (White). The theme was New Normal. Slow. Easy. Technical. That was the goal. Even if it meant giving up positions and finding myself in a bit of a pickle (and it did...often). The New Normal seems to be working. I survived all attacks. Had a few nice escapes. Passes. Transitions to mount. A few sweeps, including sweep of a pass, deep half guard, and one from reverse de la riva. And a nice step over choke from side control.

Roll with Mike was a challenge. Spent almost the entire roll defending north-south attacks. Need to learn escapes from that position. Seemed like my side control defense was solid enough that it encouraged him to go to north-south. Once in north-south I got bogged down defending kimura attacks. Really couldn't do anything until, after what seemed like several minutes, he either felt pitty on me, gave up from my stellar defense, or made a mistake because I freed myself (probably pitty...).

David (all 135lbs of him) had me all tied up a couple of times where the only way I could see to escape was to muscle a bridge from my bum knee. Chose not to and paid for it. Waited it out...finally found my way back to guard. The same scene repeated itself a few times.

I didn't always make good choices though. Threw a bit too much weight/muscle into a torreando pass against WIll. It worked and he complimented me on the move, but that's not the point. I felt a bit outside of the New Normal. Should have worked for a more technical pass.

It was a good night, but I forgot to stretch post-workout. Dag nabbit. Got to get back into that habit. Looking forward to four days off. Going home for the long weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The New Normal

Still feeling a bit gimpy, but the knee felt good enough to give it a go today. Approached class with a new attitude. I've decided to slow down my game - A LOT. Like half of my pre-injury intensity. Use as little muscle and force as possible. Don't force things to happen. Wait or work slowly for opportunities. Patience. Technique. If I don't find many opportunities during a problem. Just keep looking for them. Basically I plan to do everything I should have been doing all along. I'm in this for the long haul, so rolling smarter is my only option. Plain and simple. It's my new normal.

5:35-5:45p: Warm-ups / standard drills. Professor Matthias had me lead warm-ups. First time I've done that. Forgot leg/hip stretches, but did push-ups. What was I thinking? Not sure.

5:45-6p: Pummeling and take down set up drills. I'm not a good dancer. Henry (White Belt) pushed me all over the place. Stand up is tough. I managed to surprise a Purple Belt with a few leg sweep set ups I learned at the
Rolles Gracie seminar. Quite effective if timed right.

6-6:10p: Take down drills (full speed). I sat out. Didn't want risk the knee. I really need to work take downs and guard pulls though.

6:10-6:15p: Tournament Q&A. The Gracie Barra Compnet tourney is coming to New Orleans on October 23rd. I've registered. Masters, Heavy division. Asked lots of dumb questions like why does one guy wear the green/yellow stripe belt? What's a neck crank? Cervical lock? Etc. Professor Matthias went over scoring. Good stuff. Oh...speaking of the tournament. I weighed 198lbs this morning. Haven't weighed under 200lbs since high school. I plan to drop to 195 by next weekend. That gives me a 6-7lb cushion. I'll eat well (but smart) and hydrate the week prior to the tourney. That's the plan anywhoo.

6:15-6:35p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Chad (White Belt), Henry (White Belt) and David (White Belt). Played a lot of defense and waited for escape and sweep opportunities. But my priority was keeping my knee safe. Had a couple of scares. Got pushed on my back while on my knees. Fortunately I shifted to my side and freed my weak leg before he came down on me. Another scare was my fault. One of my sweep attempts stalled. Almost had the sweep. Thought I could force it over. It worked...but that's not the point. Risked injury instead of resetting and looking for another sweep.

But it wasn't all bad news on the sweep front. My favorite was a transition from butterfly learned from Saulo's Jiu Jitsu Revolution Series 1. Set up for standard butterfly sweep. Training partner posted his left knee. I shot my right leg through the space, retained the left butterfly hook, trapped posted leg between the knees, pulled his left heel out so his leg was straight between my legs (his left foot near my right shoulder), then stood up while pushing the straight leg back, which forced him on his back. Stoked. Had a couple solid deep half guard escapes too. Had a light bulb moment. I've been stuck too often in deep half, unable to complete the sweep. Realized that I can create the space I need by shucking down the leg. Worked like a charm. Nice! .

Attempted a cross choke set up from mount, but didn't have control. Switched to seated mount to avoid getting reversed and set up for the arm bar. Couldn't finish the arm bar. Need to work on hand fighting to get good control and remember to secure the position before submission. Also attempted a clock choke. Set up for the choke was by the book, but something fell apart in the execution. Saulo says I don't need to walk around my training partner; only need to place the hip/weight in the right spot. I clearly didn't have the right weight distribution and I lost the critical hip lock. After 20 seconds or so without a tap, I gave it up and moved on. It was the first time I'd ever tried a clock choke. Will have to study up and hopefully I'll get another opportunity soon.