Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Challenge

Alcohol and BJJ don't mix well. Apparently I called out my good friend (and Purple Belt) Mike at the Gracie Barra Comp Net after party in late Oct. Allegedly issued a challenge: If I survive 15 minutes, I win. Simple challenge, right? All have to do is last 15 minutes without tapping and I win. Ok, not allegedly. With Shawn's encouragement, I laid it down. All in good fun of course. Mike is my BJJ "father". He's the one who challenged me to show up that first April Wednesday evening. But...the challenge match never happened. We forgot about it...until tonight. Out with a few guys (and a couple Professors), we revived the challenge. It's taken on a life of its own. Apparently it's on. Thursday night at class. From stand up. 15 minutes. Ouch. Of course, I have nothing to lose. I'm a white belt. Of course a taller/heavier/stronger Purple Belt with 6+ years experience is supposed to destroy me. But...part of me wants the challenge. I have only one goal. SURVIVE. Can I do it? Doubtful. Is it worth the try? I suppose. Why not? Oh...btw. Even if he submits me within the first 30 seconds. . . No . . . WHEN he submits me 15 times within the first 7 minutes. . . we go the full 15 minutes. We'll see. Maybe it's all drunk talking.

Short post tonight to record the training:

5:10-5:30p: Rolled with 17-yr old 180lbs 4-stripe White Belt Nick. Challenging roll. In my opinion, he's the most technical and best White Belt in the academy. No submissions, but he clearly had the upper end after our 20 minute roll. Despite a few sweeps on my part, he took my back a couple times and went for an armbar. I escaped, but he definitely earned the advantage for the effort. Good roll. I'm just glad I can hang in there with a young buck with a couple years experience.

5:30-6p: Warm-ups, standard drills, and sweep / pass the guard. Got swept...twice. Sucked.

6-6:30p: Technique. Standing guard break to combat base to stack pass. Knee slide for second option in response to typical stack pass defense. Review, but it's been a long while and I forgot many of the details. Great to see again.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Tiffany (White), Jeremy (Blue), and Ricky (White). Tiffany was tough. Although only 115lbs or so, she's quite strong, fast, and aggressive. Good roll. Jeremy is new to our school. Has an MMA background, but hasn't trained regularly for a couple years. Tough roll. He caught me with an RNC. Haven't been caught in an RNC in gi in a long time (if ever). Sort of pissed at myself. How did I let that happen? Still not sure, but I didn't see it coming. Professor Matthias asked who among the White Belts I wanted. I had a dozen or so to chose from. Ricky was the obvious choice. Nick had already been assigned and Ricky is easily the second toughest White Belt in the group. He breaks my posture at will and his arm drags to back are sick. And he's big. Taller and probably 30lbs heavier than me. I'm determined to work from the top against him as often as possible until I can improve my guard break and pass (err...posture maintenance and arm drag avoidance). Results were asi asi. Managed to break guard and almost pass using the technique taught tonight, but that didn't last long and he still managed to take my back. Never seriously threatened, but I was on defensive most of the roll.

7-7:10p: Stretched.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bad Habit That Won't Die

6:15-6:30p: Arrived a bit early. Stretched. Watched Professors Matthias and Marco roll. Also watched Professor Doc Eddie roll with Ross (Blue). Solid. Although exhausted from only 5 hrs sleep and a fairly rough day at work, it sure felt good to be back on the mats.

6:30-6:45p: Warm up. Professor Matthias asked me to lead. No problem until Professor Marco wanted me to introduce some new stuff I've learned at other schools. Bleh. I can barely lead familiar warm-ups let alone introduce new stuff. I don't think the handful of new drills went over too well. I try to keep warm-ups to 15 minutes, so the new stuff forced me to rush and short the time for stretching. Bleh.

6:45-7p: Drills. Open guard sweep/pass, side control attacks/escapes, and turtle attacks/escapes. A couple minutes at full speed before switching top/bottom. Terrible guard passing. What's new? Ricky (White) passed my guard after a couple minutes of failed sweep attempts (spider and half guard). So busy working on my half guard sweep set up, I gave up the cross-face. That's been a problem lately. Had a few solid guard recoveries (via north south and turtle) against a Blue Belt.

7-7:30p: Technique. X-guard passes. Couple different variations. Too difficult to describe, although I recognized them immediately as Mike (Purple) at UNIJJ used them both to escape my x-guard set ups on Saturday. Oh...the second pass we learned is very similar to the "Break & Pass" shown as Technique 34-2 in Jiu Jitsu University.

7:30-8p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds, but felt longer presumably because I was exhausted. Got Ricky (White), Shawn (Purple), and Caleb (Blue). Both Ricky and Shawn outweigh me by at least 20-30lbs. Not a big deal, but transitioning from these big guys to Caleb who is relatively small (about 5'6" and 150lbs or so) was striking.

Ricky can break my posture at will. So...I started in his guard in an attempt to work on my posture and guard passing. Hmm...I worked on it alright, but didn't get very far. Ended up getting swept via arm drag variation and forced to defend the back a lot. When I managed to recover half guard, I gave up the cross face...again...Doh!

Shawn was on the attack the entire roll. Started in his guard and it didn't take long for him to sweep to mount. Happened again later in the roll. Doubt he played guard more than 30 seconds of the roll. I was defending the rest of the time. Some solid survival/escapes (triangle, arm bars, a choke attempt) and a few guard or half guard recoveries, including one from north south to inverted to open guard. Gave up the cross-face from half guard. Again...too busy working my escape set up. Geez. Bad habit just won't die! Shawn caught me with an arm bar after rolling out of two attempts. For a moment I thought I was going to escape. Wrong. Good roll.

Caleb simply destroyed me. Two arm bars. One from guard (how does he move his hips like that?) and one from technical mount. He moved so quickly I had no idea where he was let alone how he got there or when he moved on. I tried my best to "feel" his movement around my back/sides, but it was hopeless...I was clueless. I hope that this sort of "feeling" will come with time. But focusing on cross-face prevention when setting up a half guard sweep is a bad habit I can and need to correct now.

8-8:05p: Stretched a bit. Amazing how much more flexible I am post-training compared to pre-training.
Need to figure out how to get to sleep earlier. Late training makes it tough. Blogging makes it tougher. Hmm....

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Got back from Hawaii late last night. Too much great (read bad for you) food and only 2.5 hrs of jits in over a week. I needed some mat time! Stopped by Saulo and Xande's place, UNIJJ, this morning for open mat. Got my butt kicked by Sean (blue), Mike (purple), Frank (purple), Yoad (blue), and Sean (round two). 8-13 minute rounds. Tapped to a few arm bars, but got a handful of nice sweeps from spider, x, and half guard. Solid technical escapes as well (arm bars and back). Guard passing needs work. Really enjoyed the long rounds. Long sparring sessions provide ample opportunity to work your game and no matter how you try to pace yourself you get one heckuva workout. 205 lbs post-training with sweat soaked gi. Not bad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Haven't been this sore in a long time. Upper body is fine, but legs are in knots. Calves, quads, strings, glutes, groin... Can hardly walk straight. Yesterday's training at Team HK was no joke. I feel like the day after first day of snowboarding season. I couldn't have trained today even if I had the opportunity.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Team HK: Honolulu, HI

In Waikiki.  Took a cab from the hotel. Bad move. $15 when I could have taken the bus for $2.50. Bus would have only taken 10-15 minutes longer, which would have been fine since I arrived 30mins early.

Team HK is a Relson Gracie affiliate and Andy's (brown) home school. Andy recently moved to New Orleans for med school and has been training at NOLA BJJ. The academy shares space with a Karate school on the third floor of a commercial building. Plenty of space. Clean. Good training environment.

11-11:30a: Warm-up. Yup. A full half hour. These guys really warm-up. All sorts of drills that I've never seen before. Worked up quite a sweat. I was the biggest guy there by at least 35lbs. Poor Damon (white) who had to fireman carry me a dozen or so times.

11:30a-12p: Take down / throws. Worked with Damon most of the time who has a bit of judo background. Also worked with a Purple. All new techniques (to me). Talk about a confidence building experience. I think I can get good at take downs. Also defended the purple's takedowns well during the full speed portion.

12-1:10p: Technique. Yup. Over 1hr of technique. All sorts of great stuff from running escape / turtle. Too much to recap now ( and... Frankly too much to learn in one day for this white belt) but some solid principles to take away. First, bailing to turtle isn't necessarily defensive. Instructor Brian (brown) showed how to turn a very defensive position into an attacking position with arm lock and kimura options in response to typical attacks. Second, hip movement is crucial (duh). But he really showed how a bit of hip shifting can really turn the tables on an attacking opponent. Brian also showed some an escape from typical arm bar attacks after turning over to give up side/back and set up the running escape. Slight variation of Saulo's armbar escape from bottom.

1:10-1:40p: Rolls. No set time. We just went for it. Worked with Damon for 20 minutes and Brian for 10 minutes. Never rolled with someone for 20mins before. Good time. Damon and I exchanged sweeps. Got to mount a few times and set up numerous chokes and arm bars, but his defenses were solid. We both worked up quite a sweat. Great roll. Time with Brian was great too. He clearly took it easy on me. At one point he let his guard down a bit too much and I shot a triangle. Felt like I had it deep too. I started thinking he was either going to tap or pass out. Ha. Yeah right. He was just toying with me. But then I got stubborn and kept straining for it. Little voice in my head said to give it up. Another voice in my head said to squeeze harder. Finally gassed myself and let it go. Rest of the roll was pretty sloppy. We ended when I realized I left my arm exposed for an armbar and he didn't take it. He had me. Guess he thought there wasn't any point in tapping a visiting white belt. No matter. I knew I was screwed.

With Brian after the grueling 2.5hr+ training.

Had a great experience at Team HK. Wish I could train here a couple more times before leaving. Don't think it's in the cards though.  Have 3.5 more days packed with fun. Maybe next year. If you have a chance to train in Honolulu, be sure to check out Team HK!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hello Inverted Guard!

5:20-5:30p: Stretched. Grabbed Chad and experimented with a sweep off a pass to x-guard transition I'd been thinking about today. Not very successful.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up / standard drills. I led. Had everyone do drills before core work and stretches. I like to transition from jogging to drills to core to keep heart rate up and then cool down with stretches. We usually stretch before drills, which brings the heart rate way down far too early (in my opinion).

5:45-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Lost top position from first guard pass attempt (Blue). Wasn't really a sweep, but I certainly didn't pass. Got a standard knee pass from combat base (White) then a sweep off a pass variation (White). Got my guard passed (4-stripe Blue), but only after I transitioned to go go plata set up. No submissions with this drill, but I surprised myself by being able to bring the leg over the arm and across the chest (below neck) before getting passed to the opposite side. I thought I had a sweep opportunity, but then got distracted when I realized that I was actually set up to go for the go go plata.

6-6:10p: Self defense technique. Attacker grabs your collars with two straight arms. Step in, hook arm under and around to back of neck, turn in and hip throw. Secure arm on the way down, apply leg pressure, center gravity over arm, squat, lay back slowly and apply arm bar.

6:10-6:30p: Fundamentals technique. Arm drag from guard to take the back. Started with two different grip breaks. Added the Professor Doc Eddie special. Open guard arm drag and take the back via pendulum-ish motion. Never tried an arm drag while sparring. Never seem to recognize the opportunity with a resisting opponent. Some guys get it on me all the time, so I should recognize the opportunities...

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Richard (White), Ricky (White), and John (Blue). Richard is 51 and in town visiting from GB New Mexico in Albuquerque. He's been training since June, but has a Tae Kwon Do background. Had an easy-going roll. Ricky has been quite the challenge lately. Got swept. He took mount a couple times. Took my back. Unlike last time when I got stuck for most of the roll, I managed a few escapes. Was still on defense most of the roll. He's much larger, younger, stronger than me. I can either play defense and wait for a mistake (my default) or use a lot of muscle/force (increasingly less appealing as a strategy). Patience worked in that I survived, but had it been a competition, I'd have lost handily. But...there is no winning vs. losing in training. To Play is to Win!

Roll with John was fun. He's a bit smaller. I probably have 40lbs on him. Fast though. Got swept a few times. Got a few sweeps. Got knee on belly and a cross choke attempt, but no finish. Made a serious attempt at inverted guard for the first time. I'm flexible enough. Although completely inverted with knees pushed to mat behind my head, I feel little pressure and have no trouble breathing. Just have to get passed the instinctive voice in my head that tells me, "No...this can't be good!" But I don't know what to do from inverted guard. There has to be something there...just need to figure out. Sweeps? Subs? Saw an opportunity for a reverse triangle, but couldn't execute. That said...I'm a relatively big guy and I don't see many folks my size working inverted guard. Something I'll continue to explore.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Top Game Blues

6-7p: Private with Gavin. Reviewed survival/escapes. Turtle, back, mount, triangle, and omoplata. Also reviewed half guard sweep to use if opponent flattens you out with a cross face. Then we rolled. About 10 minutes. I felt like it was a bit sloppy, but Gavin said it was a good roll. Said I need to be more aggressive with attacks. Apparently he gave me an arm bar to see what I'd do. I didn't know why he was exposing his arm like a rookie so I gave him a strange look and moved on. Apparently I was supposed to attack. ;-) Next time.

7-7:20p: Warm-up / standard drills. Rusty (Brown) led. Included push-up trivia. Hold push-up position while he asked trivia questions. Monty Python, history, geography, etc. Never done that before. I cheated on the push-ups. Too much shoulder pressure.

7:20-7:30p: Sweep / pass the guard. Passed guard (4-stripe Blue) with the pass Matthias showed me last week. The only top game positive note of the night. Got a few sweeps from bottom, including ground de la riva (Blue), sweep off a pass (White), and half guard (Blue).

7:30-8p: Technique. Half guard transition to x-guard. Drilled that a bit then added the x-guard sweep. Never seen x-guard before.

8-8:30p: Rolls. 5 or 6 minute rounds. Got Mr. Steve (4-stripe Blue), Richard (Blue), Rusty (Brown), and Ricky (White). Been feeling that my guard game is progressing at a much quicker rate than my top game so I worked top every opportunity. Start of rolls and after getting submitted. Posture was horrendous on every roll.

Mr. Steve caught me in a gator roll (or d'arce...still trying to figure out which is which), omo plata (did my best to implement Gavin's survival/escape technique), arm lock from guard via whizzer, and I think an arm bar from technical mount. Humbling experience. Steve, Richard and Rusty put on a north-south clinic. I suppose that's good because side control defense forced them into north-south, but I couldn't execute any technical escapes. Just had to wait for an opportunity to mix up the back.

Ricky got an arm drag right at the start of our roll and took my back. Spent the entire roll defending back attacks. Almost escaped via standard Saulo scoop, but no go. Ricky almost had a choke, but didn't quite have the angle. Burned a lot of energy trying though. I almost got an arm lock when he reached over for the RNC. Not sure what I did wrong. Thought I had the leverage.

Oh...Got kneed in the eye when I dove in for deep half during one of the rolls. Blurry vision. Sore. Not black...yet.

8:30-8:45p: Worked with Ricky after class. Spider guard, sweep off a pass, spider escapes, and transitions from spider to knee push, tripod, and de la riva. Good time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5:20 to 7p

5:20-5:30p: Stretched. Huge difference between pre-workout flexibility and post-workout flexibility. Very tight before workout. All the more reason why I need to arrive early and have a good warm-up.

5:30-5:50p: Speaking of a good warm-up! Mike (Purple) led and kicked our butts. Standard stuff plus leap frogs, sit ups from guard, push ups from wheel barrel, and leg lifts to the left/center/right with partner assistance. I sat out the wheel barrel push-ups. Did them from knees. Left shoulder still a problem.

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Passed guard (Blue). Used a knee slide technique shown by Professor Matthias last Thursday. Got a de la riva sweep from ground (Blue) and a scissor sweep (White). Jeremy (White) passed my guard after an extensive chess match. Jeremy's an early-20s Black Belt in Judo. He escaped two sweeps off a pass from pure athleticism and superior balance. Pure awesomeness. Matt (White) deflected my knee push, spider, and de la riva sweeps before succumbing to the scissor. Oh, congrats Matt on the 2nd stripe!

6-6:10p: Self defense technique. Bully head lock escape to arm bar. I worked with 135lb newbie Jay. His instincts were good for his second week.

6:10-6:20p: Guard pull drill. Worked with Jay again. Start at 50/50 judo grips, place foot on hip, swing to side and pull opponent into guard.

6:20-6:30p: Transition from guard pull to tripod sweep. Professor Matthias said Purple and Blues should have this sweep down - should recognize the opportunity. I'd read about it in Jiu Jitsu University, but never saw it live or tried it. Worked with Jay again. VERY tense. Tried to get him to relax a bit.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Crowded mats again, so we grouped into threes. Got Chad (Recently promoted to 4-stripe White!) and Will (White). Will is from Brazil. Two of his schools closed and he said he only spent 1.5 years on the mats since starting in 2003. When not training he said he learned from instructional videos and magazines. Now that's dedication! Tonight was his first night back in two years. Solid technique. No spaz. He'll make a great addition to the academy if he can stick with it. Got several sweeps tonight (de la riva, deep half, half, roll over from full guard) and an armbar from technical mount, guard (via triangle transition), and a bow and arrow choke. Also got swept a couple times and forced a couple guard passes. I say "forced" because the passes were questionable. Well...not the passes per se...but securing side control with technique was questionable. Had to really use my weight to displace the defending knee/elbow and lock in the side control. The last roll with Chad was the best. Flow roll. Both took turns working passes, sweeps, escapes, etc. A little catch and release. I should find time and willing training partners to do that more often.

Oh! I had a dream Saturday night about a sweep off a pass transition to omo plata. Thought about various ways to implement. Tried it tonight with some success. Couldn't finish the omo plata, but did have it set up to where - with a little work - I might be able to turn it in to a legitimate attack!

Ideal BJJ Schedule/Program

A bit bored with my current work assignment so I decided to write up an ideal BJJ training schedule and program.

Private (1 hr): Learn handful of techniques and focus on them all week.
Warm-up (15 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
Drills (15 mins): High rep arm bars, triangles, etc., emphasizing core and hip movement.
Self Defense or Helio Gracie Fundamentals (15 mins): One or two techniques.
Spar (30 mins): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (15 mins): Stretch.

Warm-up (10 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
Drills (10 mins): High rep arm bars, triangles, etc., emphasizing core and hip movement.
Spar (30 mins): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (10 mins): Stretch.

Private (30 mins): Mid-week review of techniques from Monday’s private.
Warm-up (15 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
Drills (15 mins): High rep arm bars, triangles, etc., emphasizing core and hip movement.
Self Defense or Helio Gracie Fundamentals (15 mins): One or two techniques.
Spar (30 mins): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (15 mins): Stretch.

Warm-up (10 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
Drills (10 mins): High rep arm bars, triangles, etc., emphasizing core and hip movement.
Spar (30 mins): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (10 mins): Stretch.

Self Defense or Helio Gracie Fundamentals (30 mins): Review and drill the week’s techniques.
Warm-up (15 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
No Gi Technique (30 mins): Stuff that’s specific to no-gi.
No Gi Spar (30 minutes): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (15 minutes): Stretch.

Warm-up (10 mins): Jog, core, shrimps, etc.
Drills (10 mins): High rep arm bars, triangles, etc., emphasizing core and hip movement.
Spar (30 mins): 3 eight minute rounds.
Cool down (10 mins): Stretch.

Blessed day of rest

I realize that my ideal schedule is quite selfish in that the bulk of the technique is taught in private lessons…but that’s why it’s an ideal. I feel like I’m exposed to far more instruction in daily group classes than I can reasonably absorb. Struggling to find the learn/implement balance.

Monday, November 15, 2010

6:35 to 8:05p

6:35-6:45p: Brief warm-up / standard drills. Showed up late to class, but judo ran over so I didn't miss anything.

6:45-7p: Sweep / pass the guard. Passed a couple guards via stack pass (Blue) and from half guard (Blue). I recall a sweep and getting my open guard passed once or twice.

7-7:30p: Drills. 50 arm bars from guard. First time I could actually swing my hips (well...sort of). Full speed mount drills - 1.5 minutes escape/maintenance and 1.5 minutes with submission attempts from top. 30 triangles. Core sore by now. Full speed side control drills - 1.5 minutes escape/maintenances and 1.5 minutes with submission attempts from side. Survived the submission attempts, but struggled with escapes.

7:30-8p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Mr. Steve (Blue), Jorge (White), and Cleveland (Blue). Mr. Steve is how I'll distinguish between the 40 something Blue whose kid is a high school national wrestling champion (and just started jits) and Dr. Steve, the Blue I work with (and write about) most often. Mr. Steve destroyed me. D-e-stroyed. Started on top and got swept in no time. Spent most of the roll trying to survive/escape side control and north-south. Not much luck. He got an arm bar from technical mount. I fought it for too long. At first it was because I really thought I could escape. Then I got stubborn. Wasted about 45 seconds of the roll delaying the inevitable.

Rolls with Jorge and Cleveland were fun. Plenty of sweeps and guard passes. Giving and taking. Got a de la riva from ground position. Was setting up for spider, but his defense to the spider (kneel and post knee to peel grip) left the opening to insert the de la riva hook. Locked it in and pushed on the knee - over he went just like Professor Matthias showed last Thursday. Also got a sweep off a pass variation and a couple of half guard sweeps. A couple arm bar attempts from open guard, but both Jorge and Cleveland stuffed them without too much trouble. Some mount work, but I couldn't capitalize. Lots of chances to work open guard passes Just went for it and got swept quite a bit mostly because the techniques are new to me and my base/posture/timing wasn't right.

Got a step over choke from side control on Jorge. Unfortunately it didn't choke him. After the tap he looked a bit peeved and said it was a neck crank. It was a legitimate choke *attempt* so I don't think it was technically a crank (i.e., I wasn't pulling on his head at all). I've replayed the submission in my mind multiple times and even went back and watched Saulo teach the step over in Revolution 1. I had all the steps right, but perhaps: (a) he wasn't far enough on his side; and/or (b) I didn't pull his head up high enough to place the exposed part of his neck against the back of the knee. Maybe I didn't have the angle to pull his head up high enough to get the backside of my knee on his carotid because he wasn't all the way on his side...hmm... Maybe next time.

8-8:05p: Stretched. Great training tonight. Tough. Challenging. Fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Heavy Training Day

Off work today due to the holiday (thanks vets!), so lots of mat time.

10-10:20a: Warm-up / drills. A Blue I've never met led. Lots of tough gynastica natural moves that I could not come close to executing. Wow. I'm sooo not smooth.

10:20-10:35a: Sweep / pass the guard. Alex (Purple) hip bumped me. Professor Matthias said my posture was too high. Passed a 3-stripe Blue's guard, but only after he stuffed multiple attempts and almost swept me a couple times.

10:35-11:10a: Technique. Gator roll and brabo plus their respective escapes. A few weeks ago I didn't know what a gator roll or d'arce was. Then I got caught with them in no gi class. Still didn't know what they were doing - only knew that they forced me to tap...quickly. Great to learn these techniques.

11:10-11:30a: Rolls. 5 or 6 minute rounds. Worked with Eddie (White) and Professor Matthias. Eddie is fairly new, but he's catching on quickly. Let him work guard breaks and passes. Roll with Matthias was good. He set an aggressive pace from the start, which surprised me a bit. I ramped up my intensity a bit in an attempt to match. Soon, I was breathing nice and hard. Got a knee push sweep from reverse de la riva. A bit sloppy with the rest of the roll though. Biggest mistake I made was to allow him to cross face me when I had him in half guard. I was so busy trying to secure the hook and half guard I forgot to defend the cross face.

11:30a-12:15p: Private with Matthias. Worked guard passes from combat base. Basically review from Saturday's private, but I had so much trouble with the passes this week I wanted to see them again. Also worked de la riva set up and sweeps. A bit too much to remember, but the biggest take away that will stick is that I had the set up all wrong. We rolled a bit and looked at the cross choke from mount before calling it quits. Hesitated on top during the final roll. Thinking way too much. Afraid to do the wrong thing. Analysis paralysis.

5:15-5:30p: Showed up a bit early to flow roll with Matt (White). He's a smaller guy and unfortunately gets smashed during training and rarely gets a chance to work techniques he's learned. We took turns working passes, escapes, and sweeps. Nice and easy.

5:30-5:40p: Short warm-up / standard drills.

5:40-5:50p: Sweep / pass the guard. Got a visiting Professor Dominic (from Maui). He eventually swept me, but said I did well and complimented my base. Apparently I countered a number of legitimate attempts before he finally got the sweep. Got Professor Marco second. Wow. 2 Black Belts in one night. Marco swept me without much trouble at all when I rushed a pass attempt. Bleh. Last pass attempt vs. Ricky (White) went no where. He kept busting my posture and brought me down into his chest. A bit frustrating.

5:50-6p: Back attack/escape drills. Worked with a strong, fast high school kid (White). He was so stinking fast and slick he could literally spin around and land in my guard. I couldn't keep the back hooks long at all. He took mount on me a couple times when I botched the back escape. Started getting better with the control and had a legitimate douple lapel choke. It was deep, but he wouldn't tap. I held it long enough that he should have passed out if I really had it, so obviously I didn't have it. Let it go then transitioned to arm bar. Never got an armbar from the back before.

6-6:30p: Back escapes. Three techniques. Professor Marco showed two and Professor Dominic showed a variation of the second technique shown by Marco. The first technique is right out of Jiu Jitsu University. Elbows in and tight, protect neck, and scoop hips. Shoot single leg out while popping elbow to the mat to release hook. Hip out toward the other leg, then hip switch and come around for a single leg and commence guard pass. Second technique for when you are late and opponent gets a cross face lapel grib to set up a choke. Suppose it could work for double underhooks as well. Hold attacking arm with both hands (one on wrist and other on elbow/tricep), bridge to the back and side opposite the attacking arm (if right arm is attacking, bridge to left). Put shoulder/back to the mat while smashing the leg on that side to scoop hips out. Defend against the mount attempt by framing the opponent's top leg. Hip switch to side control. Dominic's variation for technique #2 involved a head frame to keep a lot of space.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 6 minutes. Crowded again tonight. Groups of 3. Got Chet (White) and Will (Blue). Chet and Will went first. Quite a struggle. Both guys pretty tired. Sparred with a tired Chet. Got a solid guard pass (one that Matthias showed Saturday and earlier today) and a choke form the back. Will locked me up with a D'arce. I wasn't choking and it didn't hurt too badly, but I wasn't going anywhere. I was pinned. Will said he was stuck too. Eventually let it go and we moved on. Had him in open guard for quite a while. Attempted reverse and traditional de la rivas. He eventually passed. Good roll. After class Will said I had him completely off balance with the de la riva and all I had to do was push him and he'd have fallen backward. Had no clue... I was trying to force a sweep to the opposite direction. Maybe next time.

After 4hrs training on the 4th day in a row, I feel remarkably well. No unusual soreness or fatigue. Is that good or bad? Shouldn't I be more sore?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No winner vs. loser in training

5:30-5:40p: Quick warm-up.

5:40-5:50p: Grip break and take down set up drills. Increased resistance each round.

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Purple (only seen him around a couple times) caught me in a kimura. Hard too. Woody (Blue) had me tied up in spider knots. The spider break Dolph wrote about tonight is my go-to break, but I couldn't get it.

6-6:30p: Technique. Spider sweeps (arm dragish) and submissions (triangle and bicep slicer). A bit too much for one night for me, but wrapping a leg around an arm instead of putting it straight into the bicep and extending was new and something I can build from in the future. I've seen it done before, but never really went over it so that small nugget will stick with my game. I'll need to see the other techniques a few more times before I try to add anything to my bag-o-tricks.

6:30-7p: Rolls. Got Richie (Blue), newer White (forgot his name), and Woody (Blue). 6 minute rounds. Great sessions. Lots of reversals/sweeps (all around). Woody caught me in a triangle. I tried to remember the escape Gavin showed me on Monday, but no...had it all wrong. Woody set me straight after the tap. The newer White is smaller than me. And stronger too! He had no problem completely destroying my posture with pure force. Surprising actually. Spent most of the roll trying to pass his guard. Finally passed and took mount, but he reversed. After Professor called time, he said something to the effect that it was a draw. Caught me off-guard. Draw? Really? I didn't know we were keeping score. To me...draw infers there is such a thing as winning and losing in training. I don't subscribe to that approach. To play is to win. I won by getting triangled. Woody reminded me of the escape. I think we're both better for the experience...we both won.

7-8p: Self defense class. Worked four techniques. (1) When someone grabs your coat/shirt/lapel with one fist grip. Cup the grip from underneath. Keep your other arm close to side. Push attacker's elbow out. Step once, step twice, to bring elbow around and behind back. Apply arm lock, wrist lock, or take back. (2) Attacker grabs neck with both hands from behind. Base out. Shrug and bring chin down. Reach behind to grip both attacker's hands. Choose one. Peel off and step out. Apply wrist lock. (3) Bully head lock escape. Base out. Extend arms and hips. Control outside arm to prevent punches. Hold head lock hand and step out once, step out twice, and pull arm behind attacker's back. (4) Attacker pushes you against the wall with a single fist in center of chest gripping shirt/hacket/lapel. Inside hand comes in to break wrist angle. Outside hand grips behind elbow/tricep and pulls arm into your chest. Creates a wrist lock.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5:20 to 7p

5:20-5:30p: Stretched a bit, but Aaron (Blue) grabbed me and asked me to show him what I've been learning. Showed the north-south escape Professor Matthias taught Monday. He based out so it wasn't quite as effective. Showed him Roger Gracie's cross choke from mount. He worked it on me. Showed him a couple variations that Saulo teaches. Then demonstrated a knee push sweep from reverse de la riva that I've been working on. He grabbed the back of the gi and pulled up to prevent the sweep. Hadn't seen that defense before... He also stepped to the outside. At first I didn't know what to do, then remembered what Saulo showed in Revolution 1 to turn that into a different sweep. Mike (Purple) jumped in and demonstrated a de la riva variation that allows you to take the back. Professor Doc Eddie jumped in... Fun stuff. Wish I had more time for that sort of meeting of the minds.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up / standard drills. Louis (Blue) led. Twas ok. Hardly breathing at the end though. Doc Eddie pulled me out of line to work the double leg teg down drill. I've always struggled with this drill. My toes feel like they are going to dislocate. Not sure what's going on. But it was good to see the details with someone in front of me. Simulating that take down with a phantom opponent has been tough. I plan to slow it down and work on the steps while avoiding (as best as possible) the odd pressure it seems to create on my toes.

5:45-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Missed some of this while working with Doc Eddie. Stepped into John's (Blue) guard. Eventually passed. Took a while though. Steve (White) stepped up. Professor Matthias has encouraged us to work open guard, so I released and began to switch to open when Steve stood up and back. Couldn't recover points of contacts. Passed. Bleh.

6-6:30p: Flow technique. Stack pass to side control. Partner gets underhook and switches hips and comes to knees. Top guy bases out, cross-faces, and moves around to set up to take the back. Then rolls to insert hooks and secure a standard two lapel grip choke. Also learned an escape that usually results in half guard. A second escape was too complex for me...too much in my brain for one night.

6:30-7p: Crowded mats tonight. Groups of 3. 6 minute rounds. Got Steve (White) and Lance (White). Both guys outweigh me. Lance is a few inches taller and perhaps 35-50lbs heavier. I thought I was in for a rough time. Fortunately...I guess...Lance and Steve went at it first while I made sure they didn't collide with anyone. And boy did they go at it. Looked like a furious and exhausting battle. Gassed both guys. I didn't think either of them would be up for another roll. Although we rolled, they didn't really have much left to offer. No problem. Transitioned between positions and played lots of catch and release (with a few keepers). After two back-to-back 6 minute rounds, I was hardly breathing. Again. Hmmm...

Forgot to stretch. Probably not a big deal though since I didn't exert myself much tonight. But that's a cop-out. I need to stretch.

Monday, November 8, 2010

6 to 8:40p

6-7p: Private with Gavin. Worked kimura, d'arce, and brabo survival from half guard and a nifty half guard sweep when opponent has you crushed and flat on back. Also worked arm bar, triangle, and omoplata survival/escapes from within guard.

7-7:15p: Warm-up / standard drills. Shawn (Purple) led. Good warm-up, although I could have jogged a bit longer.

7:15-7:25p: Sweep / pass the guard. Submissions allowed this time. Cleveland got a scissor sweep on me. My foot got stuck and wouldn't give way to the sweep even though all my weight was moving across it. Scared me and hurt like crazy, but I think it's fine. Collin (Brown) caught me in a front gi cross choke as I thought I was passing his guard. He baited me good. Doc Ken (Purple) got me off balance and stood up... I clearly didn't learn anything on Saturday...need to review the posture maintenance and guard passing techniques. Hard to practice techniques that are apparently quite hazy in my own head.

7:25-7:50p: Technique. Transitions between different side control positions. Learned a paper cutter choke and another choke that uses your gi lapel.

7:50-8p: Full speed drills from side control. Top tries to submit. Bottom tries to escape. Worked with Rogelio (White). Escaped to guard recovery well enough and got a paper cutter.

8-8:30p: Rolls. Four 5-minute rounds. Really? Too short. Wish we would do three 8-minute rounds with no more than 2 minutes between rounds. Maybe some day. Got Nick (4-stripe White), Rogelio (White), Richie (Blue), and Shawn (Purple).

Nick's hip bump sweeps are wicked. Defended a few, but he got one. Escaped his mount and recovered guard. Got a sweep off a pass. I really couldn't do much else. 5 minutes was up and we both felt like we were just getting started. With Cleveland's recent promotion, Nick's easily the toughest White Belt in our academy (in my opinion...).

Rogelio is pretty new to NOLA BJJ. He's a big kid (I think he's 18 or so) and likes to roll hard. Not sure what I did wrong, but he took my back during a pass attempt. But most of roll was about controlling the pace and executing sweeps and submissions slowly and deliberately. Got a sweep from closed guard (not sure what you call it) and a sweep off a pass. Also got an arm bar from mount (technique Professor Matthias taught a couple times the last couple weeks - transition from grapevines to technical mount with knee up next to head and switch to s-mount with both arms locked up before posting and bring leg over) and a front gi choke from guard. Again...control was the goal.

Never rolled with Richie before. Tall guy, but probably 30-40lbs lighter than me. I've seen him roll and am very impressed. I don't remember much, other than I didn't really have a lot to offer. I believe I passed his guard though since I remember how easily he inserted the knee and recovered guard. Took my back as well and tied up my right arm. I thought he was about to shoot for an arm bar from the back, but it never came. Eventually I escaped. Again...5 minutes is too short.

Shawn showed me how he approaches a palm-up / palm-down choke from mount. His approach is very similar to Roger Gracie's. 3 minutes left to roll. I was Shawn's cool down. I almost passed his guard, but he recovered half guard and then full guard. Not sure what I did wrong, but he shot an omoplata. Good thing Gavin showed me how to survive the omoplata! I survived for quite a while, but could not escape. After a lengthy struggle, I ended up off the mat and we reset as time expired. Might as well have tapped. Although I was comfortable defending and never felt any serious pressure on the joint, I couldn't get out.

Is it a problem that I can finish 4 rolls without breathing very hard? I know I'm working under a New Normal philosophy, but geez.

8:30-8:40p: Stretched. Felt great. I can now comfortably put both legs behind my head. Nice. If only I could do the splits!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Me at 255lb

Photo of me back in early 2006 inspecting Katrina damage in St. Bernard Parish. 255lbs or so and size 40W pants. Lovely.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10:30a to 1:45p

10:30-11a: Stretched then rolled for 10 minutes or so with a Purple Belt visiting from Gladiators Academy (where Tim Credeur trains) in Baton Rouge. Forget his name... Great roll. Loved it. On defense almost the entire time, but some of my escapes landed me in good position to attack from the top. Didn't last long though as he quickly put me back on defense. He caught an arm bar at the very end. I had escaped the same attack two other times, but the last time he figured out what I was doing and adjusted.

11-11:20a: Warm-up / standard drills. Professor Matthias led. Fantastic warm-up. Could only complete 10 of the 20 judo push-ups. Left shoulder still not 100%.

11:20-11:30a: Sweep / pass the guard. Had a draw, lost a scramble, and got swept by a visiting Purple Belt (not the same one I rolled with before class) who was going completely crazy. Seriously. Never experienced anything like it. All muscle and force. It was like he was trying to hurt me! Allowed that sweep just so I could get away from the guy. Too old and gimpy to work with someone like that.

11:30a-12p: Technique. Review. Self defense technique first. Front choke escape to take down set up. Then fundamentals. Side control escape to elevator and single-leg set up. Partner stuffs the single-leg attempt, cross faces, circle around and establish base while partner turtles. Get grips and roll to back. Then a standard two lapel gi choke from back.

12-12:30p: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got Dr. Steve (Blue Belt), Matt (White Belt), and Louis (White Belt). Training with Steve is always a great experience. He caught me with an arm bar. Seems to be the only guy who regularly and soundly defeats my trusty escape. Need to think of something else...like avoidance. Gave Matt a few guard tips. Louis is the very large White Belt that gave me one heck of a time earlier this week. Not sure what was different today, but I didn't get stuck and managed a couple sweeps, took mount a few times, and got a gi choke from mount. Maintaining side control and mount was extremely difficult. Louis did a great job frustrating my attempts to secure each position before advancing.

12:30-12:45p: Watched Professor Matthias roll with the visiting Purple Belt from Gladiators Academy. Matthias played catch and release. Always in control. Several solid, slow technical sweeps. Made it look easy. Great to watch.

12:45-1:45p: Private with Matthias. Worked on cuff grip breaks, posture maintenance in guard, guard break and pass, open guard posture and toreando pass, north-south escapes, etc. Almost too much information - which was my fault for asking too many questions - but I picked up a few good tips and had a couple "light bulb" moments when he explained how a couple instinctive responses are almost the opposite of what I should be doing.

Friday, November 5, 2010


6:40-7p: Self Defense class. Arrived late...again. Work getting busier and forcing me to leave when traffic seems to be peaking. Arghhh... Walked into a mount escape lesson. Good tips on how to feign yielding an arm when attacker tries to move to high mount. Keep arms tight and rock body to side while taking the opportunity to insert opposite arm/elbow between body and attacker's thigh to better position self for elbow escape. Looked at a couple other things, including Americana defense. I didn't know you can get a wrist lock if attacker incorrectly applies the americana. Not only did I learn how to apply the americana correctly, I learned how to respond to an incorrectly applied american and turn it into a submission!

7-8:30p: No Gi class. My second class without the gi. Started with pummeling. What? No warm-up? My body isn't ready for pummeling without a warm up. Sat out and stretched. Joined the group with an arm drag to take down drill. Then worked a closed guard posture break technique that sets you up for an arm triangle or sweep. Finally, worked a straight arm lock from guard. Similar to Saulo's closed guard arm wrap on pgs 99-100 of Jiu Jitsu University.

Then we rolled. I think it was 6 minute rounds. Got Dorian (4-stripe White Belt), Allan (White Belt), Dr. Steve (Blue Belt), new Chris (Blue Belt), and Shawn (Purple Belt). Although I was in a bit of a funk due to the lack of warm-up, the rolls didn't completely suck. If memory serves me, I think I survived all rolls without submission. and finished an ankle lock, arm bar, and triangle (against White Belts). Passed guard and took mount multiple times. Had an interesting time in deep half during several rolls. The escapes I know don't seem to translate well to no gi. But then again, a few hours after class I remembered the key step in the techniques learned earlier this week that I had forgot...

Thought I had a triangle on Chris, but he defended well and executed a nice technical escape. Fought off countless submission attempts. Spent a lot of time in turtle and trying to establish back survival posture. Steve could have had me with an arm bar (I know from experience...), but said he was working on a technical finish. I managed to escape. Had he forced my arm free, I'd have tapped. Shawn played catch and release. He almost had me with a couple kimuras, an arm bar, and a few chokes. I suspect that he would have finished in a heart beat if he was so inclined. Still, rolling with someone of his caliber felt good.

8:30-8:40p: Stretched.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2 for 1

Two training sessions in one post. Went to see the Aggrolites at Tipitina's last night after class. Great show. Ended up talking to the keyboard player for too long after the show. Turns out he was a fan of a band I managed and produced years ago. He was still in high school. Man, I'm old. And definitely too old to stay out so late on a school night.

Wednesday 11/3/10, 5:30-9p

5:30-6p: Stretched and a mini-warm up.

6-7p: Private with Gavin. Mount survival and escapes. Turns out I know the best techniques given different mount scenarios. I just need to improve timing and practice...practice...practice...

7-8:30p: Good class. Learned three half guard sweeps. All new. One involved pushing a knee forcing the top guy on his belly while allowing you to take the back. Nice. Rolled with Shane (White Belt) and Suleman (new guy). I've decided to distinguish between White Belts and new guys... A new guy is someone usually in their first week or two but still uses a borrowed gi top and belt. They usually wear shorts. A White Belt has signed up and has a gi and belt. That's how I'll track them for blogging purposes. Anyways...Shane and Suleman are both 17. Shane is really good for 17 and only a few months experience. Passing guard wasn't too much trouble, but he kept recovering guard. Took a while to really control from cross body.

8:30-9p: Hung out a bit and watched a couple guys roll. Grabbed Dorian (4-stripe White Belt) for a roll. He escaped all sorts guard passes and attacks and turned them around on me forcing me to survive and escape. Challenging roll. Forgot to stretch before leaving...geez.

Wednesday 11/4/10, 6-7p

Late leaving work and traffic kept me from the first half hour. Felt sluggish from the long night before and I missed warm-ups and drills?!?!?! I really really need to warm up. It was going to be one of those days.

6-6:30p: Technique. Take the back when you have your opponent in north-south from turtle. First technique was a standard double lapel choke. Review. The second variation was new and too complex to describe (I'm just feeling particularly lazy right now...).

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5 minute rounds. Too crowded tonight so we split into groups of three. I got Dr. Steve (Blue Belt) and Cleveland (promoted to Blue this week! Congrats Cleve!), Steve is bigger and heavier than me. Cleveland is bigger, but my weight. Both are among my favorite training partners. Started off confident, but from the moment Cleveland first destroyed my posture and arm dragged me, I knew I was in for a schellacking. Both guys got me to spaz...a lot. I managed a handful of escapes, but only a couple were technical. The others were simply the result of spazzy luck. Spazzing didn't always work...got caught in a couple arm bars, a kimura, and probably a choke...don't recall exactly. I recall being in bad positions under attack most of the time and feeling a bit embarrassed at how much I spazzed. Oh well...tomorrow is another day. Forgot to stretch after class...again. You've got to be kidding me. Where is my head?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5:35 to 7p

5:35-5:50p: Arrived a bit late. Missed jogging. Andy (Brown Belt) led. Andy's a recent transplant from Hawaii. He mixed it up a bit. Even had us do cart wheels and head stand to front rolls. Woah!

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Passed Henry's (White Belt) guard then had my guard passed by a visiting White Belt from Hawaii (Andy's friend). Dwitched back and forth between spider and tripod set up. Almost had him with a sweep off a pass, but he hopped over and regained balance. To get the pass, he walked into my spider to eliminate the angle. Nice. Never seen that before!

6-6:30p: Technique. Side control escape to underhook to hip/switch to elevator and single leg attempt. Partner then sprawls out and forces turtle before circling around, consolidating the position and setting up to take the back. First option is very similar to the method Saulo teaches in Revolution 1. Second option responds to a good defense of first approach - move directly behind the turtle, grab both lapels, pull head down to control, then roll transition from turtle to sink the hooks and take the back. All review. Seems like a lot of review lately, which is NOT a bad thing.

6:30-7p: Rolls. ~6 minutes. Got Louis (White Belt), Woody (Blue Belt), and Kirk (Blue Belt). Roll with Louis was a challenge. He's really big. An inch or two taller and has 30-40lbs on me. That shouldn't matter though since I think he only has a couple months experience. Spent most of the roll stuck under him holding on to half guard. Managed a couple half guard escapes, but lost control and ended up back in half guard each time. Hardly breathing at end of roll. No use forcing anything under such weight. I just waited for an opportunity and took it but maintain control on top. Now Rolls with the Blue Belts went well. Passed guard a couple times. Took mount a couple times. Got an arm bar from technical mount. Woody almost caught me in a guillotine. Kirk passed my guard and transitioned to north-south with ease. Eventually caught me with a wrist lock after a 90-second arm attack barrage (kimura set up, arm bar, etc). The wrist lock and tap came with only 4-5 seconds left. Drats.

Didn't stretch after class. Geez. What's wrong with me? First training session in months without taping my toe. Feels fine. Overall a bit achy today despite 4 days break from training. Left shoulder still doesn't feel right, but (fingers crossed) I don't think I aggravated it tonight. Trying to make 5 consecutive classes this week. Healthy shoulder makes 5 days more likely...and certainly more enjoyable.