Monday, December 19, 2011

No Surgery...Yet

Went over the MRI images with a neurosurgeon Friday. Herniated C5-C6 and C6-C7. Same as the January results, but apparently something decided to give during sleep. Doc doesn't want to operate...yet. Says I'm young enough that there's a good chance the symptoms will recede with traction and rest. I see him again in two weeks and then in a month. If after a month I'm not completely (or near completely) symptom free he'll start talking other treatment options. Says the surgery would defintely be a two-level fusion (ACDF). I'm pretty sure Peyton Manning and Tito Ortiz only had a one-level fusion. I asked about long-term prospects for active living including BJJ (assuming no surgery). He said to follow the common sense rule: If it hurts, don't do it. In other words, so long as I'm symptom free I can continue training. First sign of symptom reemergence I need to rest. Makes sense, but I'm not entirely sure he knows what BJJ is and the pressure it can exert on the neck. I'll discuss more with him in two weeks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Trip to the ER

Woke up Sunday in the worst pain of my life. I couldn't see straight. Just laid on the ground moaning and kicking the floor. Did this for almost 12hrs before I agreed to go to the ER. Docs gave me three shots in the butt and three scripts for some powerful stuff. Dilaudid, Zanaflex, and Ativan. These on top of Amitriptyline and Methylprednisole I started taking last Thursday. Pain is now barely tolerable. I'm not working. Hardly moving around. Feel sick to my stomach. Generally miserable. Had an MRI on Monday. Get results tomorrow. I'm almost certainly heading for surgery.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Down for the Count...

...and this time I may not get back up.

Woke up Saturday with a slight kink in the neck. Slight kink turned into excruciating pain. Think crawl out of skin and bang your against the concrete until it stops pain. Left hand and fingers numb. Achy shoulder, elbow, and forearm. Spasmy deltoid, Tricep, and pec. Almost now strength in my left arm. 2-3 hrs of broken sleep per night. Misery.

Dragged myself into the doctor today. Started a steroid pack (methylprednisolone) plus amitriptyline to help with sleep and pain. He wants a new MRI. Said the MRI I got in January doesn't explain my current symptoms. The herniated discs shown on that MRI explained the symptoms in my right hand, but nothing that could suggest current symptoms on the left side. Dr. says additional damage must have been done since. Hmm... The only neck trauma since January happened a couple months back when a Purple tried to escape a triangle via front roll. But that strained the muscles. I didn't feel any nerve pain or have numbness in the arm/hand. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Have no clue how long I'll be out. At this point - given the crazy pain - I'd say I'm out indefinitely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting Heavier

Literally... 224.5lbs today before class (with gi). That's sick. I have my heart rate between 150 and 170 for at least 30 minutes six days per week: 3 days of jits plus 2 days strength and condition and 1 day mix shoulder PT and strength/conditioning. Throw in a 2-3 mile jog if I can't make a class or PT/conditioning session. Can't imagine where my weight would be if I wasn't so active.

Training's been good. Gave a younger (27-30), slightly smaller (190-200lb) Brown a heckuva a time this week. A few sweeps (Butterfly, knee push, and spider sweep off a pass). Passed guard twice. Survived, escaped side control, knee on belly, and turtle a few times. Movement and open guard felt great. Subbed a more experienced Blue who used to destroy me. Cross choke from top half. Set it up to pass but he held the guard and tapped instead. Brand new Blue triangled me. Same guy who caught me with a Kimura a few months ago as a White. He dominates me every time we train. Glad to see him promoted. Purple triangled and armlocked me at the same time (sick stuff). Got subbed a few other times I'm sure. Overall, the game is feeling good. Strength and conditioning seems to be helping the BJJ stamina, especially the top game.

Gonna have to alter my diet. It's hard right now because we're remodeling our home. Living at the in laws. Routine all messed up. I'm committed to improving my diet (especially portion size) when we move back into the house in a couple weeks. I want to be at 200lbs by Pans and 185lbs by Master/Senior worlds. But...I'd settle for 210 by Pans and 200 by Master/Senior worlds. None of this Ultra Heavy non-sense...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12 Rounds

Started 12, five min rounds after a 15min warm up. Finished with 4, six minute rounds. I sat out four rounds. Pretty intense training. Got a round with Master Saulo. He let me play a bit of open guard. Felt like I *almost* had him off base a couple times, but no go on the sweep attempts. He squashed me pretty good most of the time and finished with two arm bars. Got caught a couple other times by smaller but younger Blues. Caught a couple Greens and a White with arm bars from the sweep off a pass. More validation for the bread and butter combo. Caught a couple Blues with arm bars and one with a front gi choke from closed guard. Escaped side turtle twice to top position via a new move I'm working on that uses my hip flexibility. Very tough to describe the escape but I may be on to something... Stay tuned. Even forced myself to play a fair amount of top game. Got swept a few times as a result...but also had a few successful passes. I was most impressed with my stamina. No clue where it came from, but I felt like my game kept getting stronger the longer I trained. About round nine I felt truly great. Kinda shocking.

Gym closed through Sunday. PT on Friday. Will try to run a few miles this weekend. Back on the mats Monday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bread and Butter

Overheard a Purple explaining to a frustrated Green after training Saturday that he shouldn't be frustrated by my spider sweep off a pass because "It's just something he's good at..." The spider sweep off a pass is clearly my bread and butter, but I've had similar comments about my lasso, knee push, and x-guard sweeps. Most upper belts can see it coming and squash it, but every once in a while I get lucky.

Saturday's sweeps were a little more special because I was thinking combos. I knew I'd get the sweeps so I was refining the landing and transition to top to facilitate a quick pass or sub. For example, got an arm bar immediately from the sweep off a pass. Controlled the sweep to allow his momentum to bring me up. Kept the spider sleeve up and tight. Fell back into the armbar. I've been thinking about that combo for a couple months now after seeing a similar attack on a Royler Gracie comp vid. But I've struggled to control the sweep on the opponent's way down to give me the proper momentum into the attack. Saturday was the first finish. Also had a few sweeps to x-pass to knee on belly. I struggled to maintain knee on belly, advance, or finish, but was pleased with the combos that got me that far.

Saturday wasn't all hunky dory though. A 160lb Blue tore me up. My shoulder still aches from his sweep from side control via kimura attempt. His escapes from side control and mount are off-the-charts better than equally sized and experienced training partners.

Light training week. Family in town. Gym closed Thurs-Sun. Will probably only make class Wednesday night.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Gnarly Old Guy noticed I've been off the grid lately and encouraged me to post "something"...ok, thanks for the nudge. :-) Here's a little something.

I've been training. Consistently too. 3x per week. Trained in three States since my last post. Nagging neck problems. Submitted a Black Belt (bow and arrow, although I think I caught him totally off guard and I doubt I'll get away with that again anytime soon). Game still mostly lazy. Top game makes me exhausted and turtle is my security blanket. Same 'ole same 'ole.

Physical therapy is transitioning to strength and conditioning. Shoulder feeling 100x stronger and more stable than since pre high school surgery. That's going strong at 2x per week. Did 9 pull ups today. 4 mos ago I could do maybe 3. Finding some time for a 2-3 mile jog once per week. In short, sweating up a storm 6days per week. But I'm still gaining weight. 220lbs in light workout clothes this am. hmm...

Some Details - Wish I Could Write More, but I'm Exhausted...and Lazy:
Relative got married in Austin a few weeks back. Found time to stop by Georgette's school for a Sunday morning class. Georgette was out of town, but I met some great people and learned a couple new side control escapes. Rolled with a senior Purple for about 10mins after class. He's a bit taller but 15-20lbs leaner. Good time. Swept him a couple times. Passed guard once. He caught me twice.

Headed to New Orleans after Austin. Spent a week there. Tweaked my neck a bit between the hotel bed and plane ride. Kept me from training at NOLA BJJ as much as I would have liked. Had some solid sessions though. It was good to see everyone.

Competed at the Louisiana Open on Nov. 5th. I missed weight by 1.5lbs. Fortunately they fudged the brackets last minute so I could compete in the Ultra. Only one competitor in that division. A monster of a man. At least 6'6" and 260lbs+. I was a bit freaked out.

Before my Division fight, a tournament organizer asked if I would fight in the Adult Super Heavy. Apparently there wasn't anyone to fight the sole registrant for that division. I only missed weight by 1.5lbs and my opponent was at least 5yrs younger than me so I guess they figured it was even. Fight started ok. I could tell he was strong. Very strong. Take down set ups were uncomfortable. Decided to pull guard. Pulled De la Riva. Quickly transitioned to knee push. Got the sweep (2 pts me)...but he immediately arm dragged me and I bailed to turtle. Advantage him. He spent at least 3 minutes trying to establish a second hook. I couldn't shake the guy. He was so strong. Had me pinned in turtle. He finally got the second hook (4 pts him) which, believe it or not, gave me an opportunity to escape. He scrambled and I was back in open guard. Established lasso and swept him (2 pts me). Began working a pass as time expired. I lost by advantage. Looking back, I should have forced my way free from turtle. I couldn't find a technical way out, but it's a tourney. I could have exploded and forced something. I don't know...

Licking my wounds, I turned my attention to Goliath. Wowzers. Big dude. After a bit of hand fighting I decided to ... Wait for it ... Wait for it ... Attempt a double leg. Of course!!! I shot from too far away. Timing all bad. He sprawled and smashed me down. To my great (and pleasant) surprise, I rolled out to recover guard. I don't remember all the details, but I believe I swept him, passed guard, mounted. He upa'd. I swept him again, passed, and mounted. Time expired. I won 15-0. Wasn't really expecting that.

To my great dismay, no one signed up for the Master Open Division. Apparently the silver medalist from the Master Super Heavy signed up for the Adult Open division while I was fighting the giant. By the time I realized no one signed up for Master Open and another Mater was allowed to fight in the Adult Open, it was too late. They had closed the brackets and wouldn't let me in. Boo.

Competing is always good. Win or lose, I learn. If I learn, it's a win. To play is to win.

Training since the tourney has been ok. Consistently getting my butt handed to me by my UNIJJ training partners. Can't wait to take another beating tomorrow morning.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Laziness

Last night started off well enough. Did a fancy drill involving inverted weaves through and around a standing partner's legs. Tough to describe but it made me TIRED.

Rolls were terrible. Just terrible. Got a Brown, Blue, and White. Spent almost the entire time defending back attacks with all opponents. Successfully survived the Blue and White. Brown caught me a couple times. Arm bar and bow/arrow, both from back.

Recognized opportunities to recover guard from turtle but was too lazy to try. Had a couple chances to pass guard but instead allowed the other guy to stand up and push me on my back. Only positive outcomes from the night included a nice sweep off a pass (Brown) and a back escape to side control to technical mount combo (Blue). The White Belt was all over the place. He flailed quite a bit, but managed to pass guard, get my back, mount...all over me. I just defended/survived and moved on. Guess I wasn't in the mood to deal with it.

Won't train tomorrow. Golf with my brother before he deploys for 7mos. Next training likely Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lazy / Hurt Grappling

I must be a bad training partner. Seems I get hurt and/or complain about one injury or another every time I'm on the mat. (This time it's a dislocated pinky toe. The other one...). I'm also a lazy grappler. Passing guard is too tiring so I get stuck "trying" to pass in the rare event that I find myself on top. Problem is, often I'm not really trying to pass; I frequently stall and sometimes give up a sweep or roll back into guard where I'm more comfortable.

I'm also far far too comfortable in turtle or when someone has my back. I feel safe there and to do anything that requires too much energy. I can't help but think that my training partners, many of whom spend 50-75% of each round trying to deal with my turtle while I stall, are beginning to take notice.

I'm in a rut. I don't want to be "that guy", but I can't seem to muster the mental toughness that it's going to take to pull myself out.

Oh! Shout out to Megan of Tangled Triangle and her recent interview of my Professor Saulo Ribeiro. Great post Megan!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Starting from Standing

2hrs of semi-open mat on Friday. A few 8min rounds followed by sparring from stand up. Finished with a few more 5-6min rounds. For the stand up portion, Professor Saulo would call up two to spar for about 3mins. The rest of us watched. I got two rounds, each with a smaller Blue. Got a few takedowns, including a double leg and drop seoi nage. The rest was pretty sloppy sparring. I attacked a kimura from north south, lost the position but tried to switch to an arm bar...ended up under side control then mount. Sloppy... Second round I mounted but couldn't finish. The experience was fantastic. Hope to start from standing more.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tapped...a lot

Great to be back on the mats again. Been healing for 2.5 weeks. I'd say the neck is 80% range of motion with most pain gone. Warm up went well. Managed 20 regular push ups in a row. I think thats a record. The PT has been paying off. Also hand stand walked half way across the mats. Another first. Technique wasa new half guard pass. Had trouble implementing in live sparring. 5 minute rounds. Professor Saulo was merciful tonight. But the short rounds allowed me to roll a lot. I think I had 5 maybe 6 rounds. Tapped a ton tonight. Got some tough guys. Two recently promoted Purples, a couple Blues who give me trouble. Tapped to an RNC, bow and arrow, gullotine, another choke (I don't know what it was but it sucked). One White. Went light with him.

Got selected fora jury. That's gonna impact my training schedule. Will try to make it Friday night. Saturday for sure.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another Neck Injury

But this time a bit different. No numbness. All pain and extremely limited range of motion. Almost like whiplash. Couldn't turn or move my head without pain for several days. It's gradually easing. I've been off the mats since last Saturday. Missed American Nationals this past weekend. Hoping to train again for the first time next Tuesday. How'd it happen? In a nutshell...a Purple spazzed on me. I had him locked in a triangle. He stacked. Instead of twisting or posturing he decided to front roll. Huh? It was so quick I couldn't get my head out of the way for a proper back roll. Instead by neck/head cranked down into my body. I ended up on top with mounted triangle. No clue why he thought a front roll was a good idea. Makes no sense.

Training had gone very well between my last post and the injury. I felt ready for Nationals. Cardio was good (enough). Strength, check. Aches and pains, minimal. I even trained a couple days at Paragon Santa Barbara while traveling for work. (The Paragon experience was great BTW. If ever in Santa Barbara, be sure to visit.)

When I do make it back on the mats, I'll take it slowly at first and begin prep for the Louisiana Open on November 4th. Just have to figure out how to stay healthy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2.5hrs a lot of mat time for a day. Saturday started with an hour of self defense (dbl/single leg stuffs and guard pull to punch survival and space creation) and ended with 1.5 hrs of almost continuous open mat training. I lost track of all the 6min rounds. Had a couple solid rounds with two different Browns. Both a couple years older and a little lighter. Survived and escaped several back attcks. Got a few sweeps and even a couple guard passes. Finished a couple Blues. worked over pretty good by a White. I didn't tap, but I was on defense the whole time. Couldn't finish another White who had only been training a month or so. All around a very good session though.

At a work conference in Santa Barbara this week. Hope to make 2 classes at Paragon before heading to NOLA this weekend. Nationals the next weekend. I hear the Master Blue brackets should be quite full. Should be interesting.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Almost a month?

Wowzers. It's been almost a month since my last post. Where did the time go? I've been training. Missed a week due to a cold, but on the mats ~4x per week the rest of the time. Progress is slow, but I do feel like I'm improving. Especially with butterfly sweeps, x-guard, and combos. Had several smooth transitions from sweep to pass to submission lately. Even a nice x-pass to knee on belly to arm bar on a Purple last week. Working a lot from side control lately. Got tapped by a White last week too...(kimura) hey...I guess it all balances out. My endurance is getting better. I'm able to train longer without break than I was a month ago. But I'm still lazy on top. Very lazy. I can't count how many times I swept to top and gave up the position to rest on my back and sweep again because I was too tired to work the top game. I'm also working on sweeps that get me past guard. Sweep to side or mount in particular. IWhy gas trying to pass guard if I can sweep to side or mount? Lame...but I rationalize it like this: If I am in guard...I gas...If I gas...I have to sit out...If I sit out...I train less. So? If I give up top position and allow the sweep or reversal...I get to work bottom...the more chances I have to sweep to side or mount...sweep to side or mount and I don't gas...don't gas and I can train more. Make sense? Maybe not, but it's my game lately.

Sites set on American Nationals in a couple weeks. I'm training at Paragon Santa Barbara next week while at a conference and at NOLA BJJ next weekend while on a mini-vacation. Get to see a live UFC fight too. And...there's a chance Wanderlei Silva will hold a seminar at NOLA BJJ while I'm there. That should be fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Clocked = Zinger!

Heavy PT yesterday. Shoulders, traps, neck, biceps very sore. Greg's been working to build the muscle groups around the shoulder for greater overall stability and strength. Calves terribly sore. My shoulder isn't strong enough to handle a full session of focused PT so we work other parts of the body between shoulder exercises. Yesterday was calves. Wowzers they hurt today.

Overall a good training session today. Very light warm-up and stretch before working technique. Slight variation of Tuesday's arm drag to back plus triangle option. Followed by one round of positional training (sweep / pass guard using technique of the day). I struggle with the arm drags. They just feel awkward.

Finished up with four 6-min training rounds. Merciful. I seem to handle the 6-min rounds much better than the 8-min rounds. Got three Blues before finishing the day with a Purple. First Blue and I are fairly evenly matched, although he was attacking most of the time today. I purposefully made myself vulnerable as I went for various x- and half x-guards. Had to test my survival skills and work escapes several times when things didn't go quite right.

Pretty much had the second Blue under control the entire time. Caught him with an arm bar, bow and arrow, and triangle from guard. The arm bar and bow and arrow came after nice spider and lasso sweep to guard pass to back/mount to sub combos. I was really surprised how the positions flowed. Played a bit of catch and release after that so I could try different attacks from mount.

Third Blue gave me a real hard time. He shut down my guard and the only time I ever got on top was after escaping some pretty ugly attacks. I turtled A LOT this round. Needed to catch my breath and I was simply trying to survive.

Shot for a half x-guard from butterfly set up when the Purple approached me in combat base. He floated a bit and I had an underhook on his right leg. He straightened and twisted away from me. As I started to stand up and put him on his back he posted on his hands and tried to kick his left leg over my head (roundhouse style). As I stood up to put him on his back and complete the sweep, his kick clocked me in the face. I saw it coming but couldn't block or duck in time. Felt an immediate zinger down my right arm leaving my thumb, index, and middle fingers tingly numb. I don't think I blacked out, but I definitely saw stars and collapsed. Fortunately the numbness went away pretty quickly and an hour later I don't have any neck pain. Pretty much tried to survive the rest of the roll. Turtled a lot again. Exhausted by this point. Escaped one arm bar attempt. Not so lucky the second time. He advised me to bridge and hip escape. I totally understand and wish I could. My mind tells my body to fight more. My body is mutinous. The muscles wouldn't do any more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


That's what happens when you take two weeks off from full contact classes. Had LASIK a couple weeks ago yesterday. It went fantastic. Seeing better than 20/20.

I spent a nice week with the family at Lake Nacimiento near Paso Robles (central CA coast). It was a wonderful break, although I consumed far too many calories. Gained 6lbs in the process! It wasn't all bad though. I ran 7.5 miles (in three days) and swam a bit (~0.5 mile open water). I've run over 1 mile without stopping only four times in my life, each time with my dad. A beach run last year. The other three times this past week. Averaged 10 minute miles. Lungs felt good. Knees, hips and lower back another story completely.

PT yesterday morning and private with Michael Jr. yesterday afternoon. We reviewed basic techniques from the first four privates. I was soooo rusty that even Michael commented about me being a bit off my game. Yeah. I basically forgot four hours of private instruction. Not good. But that's why we did the review! :-)

Today was my first real class since LASIK. Warm-ups went well. Technique went well (arm drag to take the back from open guard plus triangle option). Focused training went well (sweep / pass the guard using the technique of the day). Training went terribly.

Four 8-minute rounds. Brown from Brazil calls me over and proceeded to manhandle me. There really isn't a better way to describe it. He caught me three times in the first minute alone. I think he hit his arm bar within the first 10 seconds. I can't count how many other times he caught me. I managed only two sweeps in the eight minutes and only towards the end. I'm guessing he either gave them to me or he was tired from kicking my arse. After the roll he complimented my open guard (I think...his english isn't the best. But I'm pretty sure it was a compliment).

Blue calls me over. Ok. Then a Purple calls me over. I politely declined because I already had a training partner. Professor Leo explained that when an upper belt calls me over, I'm supposed to oblige. Ok. After 14 months of training, I really hadn't encountered that etiquette before. No worries. I didn't have much for him but in general I really enjoy rolling with this particular Purple. He had me positionally dominated almost the entire roll and my left calf and both feet/toes cramped up badly. Gassed out at the 5-6 minute mark. Abysmal guard pass attempts (the couple opportunities I had). Tried to implement some of the stuff Michael's been showing me. No go. Things moving too quickly and I was thinking too much. On the bright side, I executed a slick improvised sweep from a pseudo x-guard. A couple good arm bar and back survival/escapes.

Professor calls me over. Oi vey. After learning that I'm supposed to oblige an upper belt's request to train, I HAD to decline. My feet were cramping like mad and I literally had no gas in the tank. He understood. After sitting out a round he called me over again. My muscles had essentially mutinied at this point. Cramping had stopped but I could tell it wouldn't take much to lock up again. A few seconds in I try to pull x-guard and trap a knee for a sweep Saulo shows in Revolution 1. Combination of my clumsiness and his immediate base collapse left me in a bad spot. He passed and mounted. Gave me multiple opportunities and ample space to stage an escape, but I was too tired. He dismounted and moved on. I "escaped" a couple times and ended up in open guard. Played a little. Attempted the x-guard to knee trap again and had a bit more success with the set-up; however, he squashed it before I could get the sweep. He caught me with an arm bar from the back. Thought I was going to escape but he consolidated the position and finished. After the session I heard him say, "You need to get open guard" (he has a thick Brazilian Portuguese accent). But he said it with a complimentary sort of tone. I asked him to repeat. This time I heard, "You will get open guard." He said I have a solid grasp for my experience and said I'll "get it" in time. Hopefully the rest of my game will follow...with more time. :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Joey Hernandez Photography

A couple weeks ago my buddy Joey Hernandez visited UNIJJ with his son. Soft Judo creator Sensei Iinzumi (7th dan) taught before open mat. Joey's a photographer and captured much of the day in four photo blogs. The first covers the Judo class. The second and third capture Master Saulo rolling with his protege Michael Liera Jr. I'm the subject of the last segment. Here are a few select shots, but be sure to go to his page and look around.

Joey has no background in BJJ, grappling, or any martial art. He also didn't know he could step on the mats to get better angles and shots. That said, I think many of his shots are pure magic. I hope he catches the BJJ bug through his photography. Thanks for coming by UNIJJ Joey. Let's roll around again soon.

Guard Passes

Basic guard passes with Michael Jr. today. I say "basic" because they are taught in Saulo's White Belt fundamentals class but all were brand new to me. Double and single spider breaks and passes plus torreando-ish passes. Great stuff. So simple in concept. Can't wait to try to implement. Will try to make another session tomorrow before taking 10 days off for a family reunion. Then back to training on August 8th. Preparing for American Nationals in late September.


Got my eyeballs reshaped on Monday. I'm seeing a little better than 20/20 now. Dislodged contacts during training - no more! Unfortunately I have to avoid "strenuous" exercise for a couple weeks. That means no heavy training. I plan to go to my private this afternoon but will have to keep it low key. Also plan to continue my PT regime and will attend self defense class Saturday. (BTW, I went last Saturday...worked bully headlock escapes.) I leave this Sunday for a family reunion. Will be gone a week and there aren't any BJJ schools nearby so I won't be tempted. I'll be ready to dive back into training upon return.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zebra Mats

For more than ten years the guys and gals at NOLA BJJ rolled around on Zebra mats. Those mats facilitated the promotion of three Black Belts, at least three Brown Belts, and countless Purple Belts over the years.

All things wear down with heavy use and it came time to replace the trusty old mats. I offered to help price shop and negotiate a deal. We considered a range of companies and mat products, but we kept returning to Zebra mats. Zebra quality is unmatched. Unfortunately, our budget could not afford 50+ new Zebra mats.

Rather than give up and settle for a cheaper mat from a less reputable company, I contacted Zebra and see if they could work with our budget. I spoke with Patrick McCarty and explained our situation. NOLA BJJ is a relatively small gym consisting mostly of students and blue-collar types. Accordingly, the mat fees are modest ($100/mo) and no contract is required. Patrick was very understanding and receptive. We quickly agreed to terms of a sponsorship deal to provide NOLA BJJ with lightly used mats within our budget in exchange for recognition of the NOLA BJJ / Zebra partnership. ("Lightly used" means the mats are essentially new but used at a recent tournaments or promotional event.)

The new mats look and feel great. We used some of the older mats to pad walls (including sections of brick wall that previously had no padding!). Thanks to Zebra, the gym has a great look and is a safer place to train. We couldn't be happier with the outcome. Thank you Zebra and Patrick for the sponsorship! NOLA BJJ looks forward to raising another generation of fighter on Zebra mats!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Started the morning with PT. Worked the left shoulder and back mostly plus a little right shoulder, wrists and leg/hip flexibility. Session felt good.

Another hot day in the gym today. Brief warm-up and a good stretch. (I've noticed that we haven't worked core much during the warm-ups. I'm used to a couple hundred reps of ab work each class. Wonder if I should supplement with P90X ab ripper X or Core Synergistics...) For technique we revisited the De la Riva passes from Tuesday's class and added a new pass from the same basic set up but involved different grips and sprawling out on a hip. It felt a bit awkward at first but after a dozen or more attempts the movement started feeling a bit more natural. Finished the technique section with 10 minutes of sweep / pass the guard from De la Riva set up. Although I couldn't pass, I only got swept a couple times and I swept a Purple a couple times.

Rolls were merciful again. Only 6 minute rounds. So darned hot. But this time I had enough gas in the tank to participate all four rounds. Hmm. Cardio getting a bit better? Got two Purples (one of them twice) and a White. Struggled with the Purples, but survived. Had a couple good sweeps. Passed once. Got a nice compliment from one of the Purples regarding my spider and inverted work. The other Purple had me in side control for too long. I'm really lazy when it comes to trying to prevent or escape side control. My training partners fight with everything they have to prevent me from securing side control. I tend to lay on my back and wait for him/her to do something...anything...and hope to find a hole. Lame. Roll with the White went ok. Had several dominant positions, but all sub attempts failed. Congrats to him for the solid survival skills. I need to keep working to secure the position before attempting the submission.

Me (top) training this past Saturday with another Blue from Outliers, a new RJJA affiliate in Santee, CA. Sensei's Saulo and Iizumi (7th Dan Judo) in the background.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Half Guard Passes

Private with Michael Jr. today. Warmed up with partner hip escapes, turtle to guard recovery, and swinging omo plata and arm bars. Hot in the gym again. Good sweat going only 10 minutes in. Reviewed the standing guard break, step over with hip brace and sprawl into half guard. The hip brace is a transition to escrima (underhook) pass. Then learned a cross face option if opponent defends the escrima. Finally an option to mount if opponent employs hip brace against the cross face option. Tons of technical details that make or break these techniques. I'll definitely review these techniques at our next session (Monday). Finished with a brief review of the open guard techniques from our first private.

Injury Report: Slight numbness returned to my right index finger today. May need to back off the activity. :-(


Private with Michael Jr. on Monday. Reviewed techniques from the last private (sweeps and attacks from basic open guard, including scissor sweep, helio gracie palm up / palm up choke, palm up / palm down choke, arm bar (2 variations), triangle, hip bump, guillotine, and kimura. New techniques included basic posturing in guard, grip defense, bait until you get the grip you want, pistol grip the opponents grip and stand up, break opponents grip, break guard, and establish x-pass setup. Standing break followed by ground break technique.

Tuesdays class was hot. I mean real hot. Started sweating before class started. Light warm-up and lots of stretching before 30 minutes of technique. De la Riva passes to positive and negative sides. Basic principle involved demobilizing opponents attacking leg (the one that stretches you out) by popping down and collapsing on it by switching to a crouching/squat position on your toes. The passes involved moving the trapped leg to one side or the other depending on opponents reaction and passing over. I struggled with the crouching/squat position. My thighs are big oxygen consuming beasts and this technique gassed Followed technique with 10 minutes of sweep/pass the guard from de la riva position. And I thought I was tired before...about puked.

Professor Leo took it easy on us during training. 6 minute rounds as opposed to 8 or 10 mins. Got a Black Belt and two Blues. Sat out a round. Almost swept the Black Belt a few times via knee push and x-guard, but his base was solid. I think I rushed the x-guard sweep. He eventually took my back and I spent several minutes defending neck and arm attack setups. Survived...but barely. The first Blue is much smaller. Lots of good sweeps. I caught him in either a reverse triangle or a shoulder lock via north south transition from a sweep off a pass. I was working both attacks when he tapped. Not long after he caught me in a reverse triangle. Tit for tat. Second Blue is much heavier than me. I got destroyed. He eviscerated my guard. Crushed me in side control. Tapped me by baseball bat or bread cutter from knee on belly, bow and arrow, arm bar, and kimura. It wasn't pretty. Extremely tired after class. My body took forever to cool down. Still sweating an hour later...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

BBQ Saturday

PT at 6:30a. Worked on the left shoulder a bit plus neck, back, and wrists. We almost overworked my shoulder on Thursday. This time I think it was just right. Not too stiff or sore. The neck and wrists are sore though.

Applied for my passport after PT. First step in the earliest planning stages for the Master/Senior Worlds in Rio next summer.

Self defence class at 10:30a. Reviewed grip breaks and learned four responses to when someone grabs your jacket or shirt from the front. In response to three different types of single front grip attack: shoulder lock, kimura(esque) and take the back, and take down to knee on belly and arm bar setup from wrist pressure. In response to double front grips: base out, pray up and around to trap arms, and take down to knee on belly and arm bar setup.

A Judo seminar followed the self defense class. I sat out. Bruised ribs on my left side causing problems for a week now. I really didn't think getting thrown around was a good idea.

Open mat and a team BBQ followed. Rolled with two Blues from our new RJJA affilliate, Outliers located in Santee. Both good and challenging rolls. The second Blue (about 150lbs) caught me in a straight ankle lock. We were both tied up in a pseudo 50/50 and both went for the ankle locks. He beat me to it. Rolled with a buddy who stopped by to hang out with his 5yr old son. We've known each other since 7th grade. He's never wrestled or done any martial arts. He took a bunch of pictures of the day. I'll post a link when he puts them up on his website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Private: Back to Basics

First of twice-weekly hour-long privates with Michael Jr. today. My goal for the privates is to stick to the basics. Saulo's basics. I want to learn everything from the beginnig and pay attention to details until the techniques are ingrained in muscle memory and I can teach them without skipping a detail.

Started with a brief stretch and warm-up. Lots of non-conventional partner hip escapes plus a core lift arm bar drill from standing guard break attempt via muscle sweep set up. Techniques were built around the classic open guard. Learned proper grips and foot placement (control the hips). Reviewed the classic scissor sweep from the open guard set up. Followed with the Helio Gracie palm up / palm up choke from the same set up. Detail I'd been missing: Use your vertical leg to open up opponent's arm and create space for the second palm up grip then place the foot back on the hip and spread his/her out and into your choke for the finish. Then palm up / palm down, arm bar, and triangle options from the same set up. Next up a classic hip bump sweep with guillotine option if s/he throws weight into you to defend against hip bump. Finished with a kimura from closed guard. I plan to spend the first half of next class reviewing these techniques before getting into the next lesson.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

PT - Stretch - Train

First day of one-hr physical therapy + strength/flexibility sessions. PT for my left shoulder. Weakness from two past surgeries prevents me from doing push ups and pull ups. It has to be holding back my game too. Worked the inner joint quite a bit. No weights. Only minimal manual resistance from many angles. Shoulder very sore this evening. Also worked hip and knee flexibility. I'm fortunately flexible in many joints at many angles, but unfortunately tight in others. Working to loosen the tight areas and add strength to the joints that angles that are already loose. Plan to work on neck amd wrist strength in future sessions. Going to give this six months.

Training included half guard techniques. First, a half guard maintenance transition to open guard drill if opponent posts weight into your knee shield. Second, a sweep highly similar to the basic sweep taught in Revolution 1. Finished with a sweep option if opponent attempts to respond to the first sweep by stepping over to pass to the negative side. Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got three much more experienced Blues and sat out a round. First Blue was smaller but...48 yrs old! Incredibly fast. Highly technical. Survived, but it was quite a struggle. Second and third Blues were a few years younger and ~5-10lbs lighter. Caught a couple arm bars from the back during transition to technical mount. Got arm locked from a crucifix(like) setup. I pretty much rolled into it. Drats. Cardio felt decent. The six minute rounds (and sitting out one) helped. I'm not ready for 8min rounds.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strength vs. Technique

Nooner class. Worked a spider/scissor sweep. Plus triangle and de la riva sweep options off the spider/scissor setup. Really enjoyed these techniques. Good fit for my game. Then 10 minutes of sweep/pass the guard with emphasis on the learned techniques. Six minute rolls to finish. Got two Blues and Purple. Tapped a few times to one smaller/faster Blue. Specifically remember a triangle and an arm bar. Barely survived an onslaught of attacks from the other smaller/faster Blue. He had me in all sorts of guard knots. Rubber, inverted, spider, etc. None worked too well. Spent most of the last roll with the Purple on the attack (surprisingly). Lost two arm bar attempts from s-mount. Position before submission! At one point after I passed guard, he chuckled and said, " are strong!" I didn't know how to take it. Strength is a bad thing right? After class he said it again but added that strength plus technique is a good thing. It was a nice compliment; especially coming from a seasoned and respected member of the academy.

I lost a contact in class. That's three times in the past couple weeks. Once I lose one contact, I have to be careful not to lose the other or I won't be able to drive home from class. Hope to get lasik in the next few months. Until then I need to remember to bring extra contacts.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Back in San Diego

It's been a while...I know. Trained five or six times at NOLA BJJ and a couple times at UNIJJ since I last posted. My cardio seems to be getting worse and, as a result, my grappling's been lazy. That said, I've had some really great rolls with upper belts recently. I've also had some spectacularly poor rolls. Got banged up these past few weeks. Busted up lips, bruised cheek bone, sore ears, gnarly knot on my knee, tender turf toes, bloody nose, blood vessels ruptured in my eye, etc. Choked someone unconscious for the first time too. That was a trip. Bow and arrow. I couldn't see him, but I could hear him gurgling. He had a hand on my wrist and appeared to be defending. He didn't feel limp. Someone was sitting along the wall looking right at him the whole time and didn't know he was out. Finally let go and he was snoring (literally); eyes rolled back in his head. Freaked me out. Really. I'm not a violent person. It freaked me out. Next time I have a choke deep and the guy doesn't tap after a few seconds I'm letting go.

Starting to think about the Las Vegas Open, August 13th. Hmm... That's only a month or so away. I'm currently 217lbs with a gi. Can I drop 10lbs in a month? Sure. Do I want to? We'll see.

Oh! Got a new gi. Blue Vulcan A3. It's light and feels great. Hope that it makes for a good competition gi. Tailored the arm length. It's two fingers from the wrist bone with arms extended but with a little adjusting it will reach the wrist. Can't wait to train in it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 for 1

Trained last Thursday morning, Monday night, and Tuesday midday. I need to deal with an increasingly obvious and absolutely massive hole in my game. What? Cardio. I simply cannot keep up with the class pace and my training partners. Not even close. I'm going to have to work extra hard.

Technique for all three classes emphasized koala guard passes and sweeps. We drilled the same couple of passes against fulling resisting partners for about an hour between the three classes. One of the passes is quite effective (and drilled into my head). The other pass still feels awkward. Especially if the opponent employs a "duh" hook. I say "duh" hook because almost anyone who knows what they are doing would apply this hook and make the pass very difficult. But although I struggled to deal with the hook, others were able to beat my hook without too much trouble.

Rolled with two Browns and a Purple Monday night. Got manhandled by one of the Browns. Must have tapped me four times in five minutes. The other Brown tapped me a couple times, but I had a few sweeps and a slick guard pass (thanks to Revolution 2!). Almost caught the Purple in an arm bar. He almost had me in a front gi choke. Rolled with a Blue yesterday (before losing contacts forced me to stop). Very aggressive. In fact, all training rounds have been very aggressive lately. Have a nice scrape on the side of my face, bruise on my gin, bloody lip, and a blood vessel burst in my eye. Yeah. A lot tougher than I'm used to. I have a lot of work to do...

Heading back to New Orleans to train at NOLA BJJ through July 4 weekend. I've only been gone a few weeks but am already looking forward to training with everyone again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Color on the Mats!

Work kept me from training today. Bleh. Will do my best to make the 7:30a class tomorrow.

Trained on Monday but either too lazy or busy to write. Showed up for the "Advanced" class Monday night. It followed the "Beginner" class, which was wrapping up as I stretched. Beginner class had about 12-15 White belts and one brand new Blue. As folks started to roll in and suit up for the Advanced class, I started counting upper belts. By the time Saulo lined us up to start class, I counted two Blacks (Professor Saulo excluded), six Browns, five Purples, a dozen or so Blues, and one White. Geez. Some assortment of color! Training didn't go so well. I ate too much too soon before class and felt sick the entire time. Stuck with it though. Struggled terribly with grip fighting and take down setups, learned two neat koala guard pass variations, and had a pretty forgettable three 8 minute rounds rolling with Blues. Just glad I made it through the night without hurling. Hope tomorrow morning is better.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tight Joints at 7:30a

Yesterday's class started with a nice slow warm-up. 7:30a class is nice because it's always great to start the day with BJJ. That said, it sure takes a while longer to get the joints moving that early. Felt sooooo tight. Warm-up followed with variations of the muscle sweep and sub transitions. Three days in a row learning variations from the root position (muscle sweep off standing guard break attempt). It's been great. So many options depending on how your opponent approaches the guard break/pass attempt and so many more options depending on their reaction to your response. Love it!

Got a Purple and two Blues for the rolls. 6 minutes with 90 seconds between rounds. Did surprisingly well against the Purple. A couple solid x-guard sweeps and a two or three guard passes, including an x-pass that I've been working on. Rolls with both Blues went better than expected too. A couple more x-passes, x-guard sweeps, a knee push sweep, and two sweeps off a pass (one from spider, the other from lasso). One of the Blues was clearly going light and flow-rolling. Had him in a few bad spots (unusual for this particular blue) and he worked himself out without too much trouble. At one point with the other blue, we were tied up in a knot...almost 50/50ish... I noticed his left leg was caught posting in an odd angle and thought that a slight hip shift, frame, and nudge would make him fall back and allow me to come up on top. Worked just as I imagined it would. Notable because although exhausted I had the presence of mind to recognize the vulnerability, develop an action plan, and implement. Definitely encouraging.

The past few days at UNIJJ have shown me a few areas that need improvement:
  1. I'm getting my guard passed too easily. Bailing to turtle seems to be my default. It's very comfortable - I can usually recover open or half guard from turtle - and if it were a tourney, I'd be avoiding the pass points. But I'm starting to wonder if I should force myself to survive/escape side control instead of bailing. My side control escape to guard recovery is terrible. I felt like tapping (nearly puked) from the Purple's side control alone. Miserable.
  2. I'm losing position too often. I pass guard or take mount only to loose position to half or open guard far too often. I've been quite impressed with how quickly (and instinctively) my training partners have recovered a guard.
  3. My survival/escape skills are slacking. I need to get back to basics and build up.

Oh! World Champ and newly minted Purple Michael Jr. taught today. At 17, he's already an excellent instructor. Check out his 2011 Mundial's highlight vid.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Arrived a bit early this morning to stretch. Warm-ups and standard drills followed at a good pace. Then open guard maintenance drills...with hands in belts. More of a drill for the bottom than top. Forced emphasis on hips/core movement. One hand (other in belt) next. Surprised how much I sweat and the impact on my gas. Technique picked up from yesterday. Arm bar feign against standing guard break attempt when top guy bases against muscle/under hook sweep. Transition to triangle when s/he defends arm bar. Then switch to proper arm bar if stack prevents triangle finish. Followed with an omoplata to sweep from same standing guard break and muscle sweep defense position. Worked each position many times. Worked up a good sweat. Not typical for the technique portion of class.

Concluded with three six minute rounds. Got a Purple, Blue, and White. Purple pushed my limits the entire time. Not sure I did anything particularly well. He caught me with an arm bar from top. Possibly technical mount when I was in a turtleesque defensiveposition. I knew it was coming and even employed the proper escape first. Couldn't see it through though. Blue simply destroyed me. He's much bigger. Younger. 4-stripes on his very aged looking belt. Caught me in a choke from north south, a bow and arrow, and omo plata. I really had nothing to offer this guy. It was a drubbing. Pure and simple. Last was a tall, strong, young white belt about my weight. He came on strong. Had to bail to turtle to prevent guard pass. Recovered guard. Caught him with an arm bar and mounted triangle before it was all over. Stretched briefly after class.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Transitioning Schools

I'm leaving New Orleans around the July 4 holiday to return to San Diego. I'll be in San Diego for at least 6 months and I'm not sure if I'll get another field assignment in the great crescent city. Last Thursday was the first of a handful "last days" training at NOLA BJJ. I'm going to miss the school terribly. I've learned a ton from my training partners and professors. Special kudos to Professor Matthias Meister and Asst Instructor Gavin Murray. Although everyone contributed, these two really helped develop my game during the first year of my journey. I hope to make it back to train with everyone often.

Training at NOLA BJJ last Thursday was good. Got two Purples as the first of what I expect to be several going away presents. Had some good moments. Some not so good moments. Survived one of the rolls with a couple guard passes, couple sweeps, and some aggressive top work (almost had an arm bar from technical mount). Got choked from north-south by the other Purple. Spent most of the roll under his weight trying to figure a way out of north-south. No go.

Although I'm leaving my NOLA assignment in early July, I'm actually in San Diego now through June 20th. Instead of paying visitor fees for two weeks, I signed up with University of Jiu Jitsu. I'm now a team member of Saulo and Xande's flagship academy for the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association. I'm really looking forward to developing my game under the tutelage of these world champions.

Today's initiation class was quite instructive. After a brief warm-up we reviewed a sweep against standing guard and two transitions to subs: omo plata and arm lock. Good stuff. Three 8-min rounds with 1-min breaks between rounds. Got two Blues and a White. I'm a two-stripe Blue, but these Blues are clearly more experienced (and better) than me. On defense the entire time against the first Blue. White caught me in a kimura from north-south. First time I've been caught by a White in over 9 mos. He earned it. Although ~6'2", 225lbs, and 22yrs old, he didn't muscle it. He passed my guard appropriately and secured the position before going for the kill. Solid. Hope he sticks with BJJ. He'll be a great add to the team. Second Blue is bigger than me, but not by much. Apparently an MMA fighter (has a fight this weekend). Did surprisingly well (in my opinion). Got a few key sweeps, guard passes, and escapes. He provoked a tap when he had my left shoulder locked up and I felt VERY vulnerable. I've had two surgeries on that rotator cuff and I just felt like the slightest tweak one way or the other and ... kaput... So I tapped and apologized for being lame. I just don't know this guy and didn't want to risk injury. Quite tired from the 8-min rounds with minimal break, but overall things went well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stripe 2

I've only trained 1.5x since my last post. Last Thursday (1) and last night (0.5).

Thursday was a good night. Worked two side control escapes. The first from Kesa Gatame and the second from traditional bad spot side control. Rolled with Professor Matthias and a Purple (among others). Pleased with both sessions, although Purple worked me over pretty good. Survived/escaped back attack. Oh. Got a second stripe Thursday.

Last night started ok. I felt well (enough) during pre-class stretches. A larger White asked to roll. I've been watching this guy roll a lot the past month or so and know he's a handful. He obviously has experience. Finished stretching and started to roll. Struggled a bit. He had me in a few bad spots; his top pressure was intense. Great weight placement and distribution. Forced me to bail to turtle. Then flattened me out. Couldn't get hooks. Thank goodness for turtle to x-guard. Managed a couple sweeps. Passed a couple times. Took his back. Mounted. But he had solid technical answers for all of it. Especially impressed with his back survival/escape. Textbook Saulo stuff. Turns out he has a significant rassling background plus no gi experience. Just starting gi. My guess is he won't be a White much longer.

Gassed out. Unusually so. We didn't roll that hard either. Warm-ups were a bit of challenge. Sweep / pass the guard killed me. Had a few sweeps and a couple passes (including a 4-stripe Purple via standing guard break to x-pass), but I literally collapsed when Professor called time. Felt extremely noxious. Sat out technique. Didn't feel any better. Decided to call it a day. Feel fine now. Not sure what was up.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

LA State Championship Results

I have to admit…my interest in this training log is beginning to flag. I’m cutting corners in my posts and, as a result, the blog’s utility as a training tool is diminished. That said, I’m not quitting. Just contemplating a format and post-frequency change. We’ll see.

I trained last Thursday. Sort of. Work made me very late. Got there about 10 minutes into the technique. I stretched. Then joined the group for the rolls. Got absolutely destroyed by a Purple. Rolled with a couple other Blues and a White. Pretty light going. Just wanted to get the joints moving before the tournament.

Oh yeah. I competed on Saturday. My first tourney as a Blue. Louisiana State Championship. NOLA BJJ did fantastic as a team. Closed out a number of brackets. I had three fights, lost two – both against the same guy.

Master, Blue, Super Heavy division only had two folks. Me and Steven Springer (aka Nemesis). Thought: “Hmm… My normal game won’t work. It doesn’t in training. Why would it work now?” So I implemented Plan B. Go buck wild. Started with a totally botched drop seoi nage. Somehow managed to save half guard. Got the half guard sweep. Failed x-pass attempt. Failed muscle-brute pass attempts as I tried to dodge some wicked open game work. Escaped a triangle shoot. Almost got caught with a second triangle. Got caught in an arm bar on my way out of the triangle. That’s how my foggy brain remembers it going down.

Matched against a seasoned Blue in the first round of the Open (…I assume seasoned because he said it was his 3rd Statewide tourney as a Blue…). Taller than me, but about 10lbs lighter. Took him down. A bit sloppy leg trip. Landed in his half guard. Passed his half guard. Attempted to advance position to knee on belly. He blocked. Switched to north-south. Couldn’t trap an arm for a kimura or other sub. Felt my body rise too high and across his chest center line (from side control) several times. Heard my corner cautioning. Fortunately he didn’t do anything with it. Eventually took his back. He spun around into my guard. Seem to recall shooting an arm bar. Bailed into turtle. Rolled from turtle into an x-guard set up then settled into half guard. Got the half guard sweep. Passed again. Up 14-0 before finishing it with a step over choke from side control. Saulo special. Unfortunately (for him) he responded to the step over by laying flat on his back. That changed my angle of attack and turned it from a true choke to a pure pain submission as the inside of my left knee smashed and cranked on his jaw/neck as it wedged against my left forearm wrist. He yelped a bit as he tapped and rolled over. Didn't get up for a while. Probably didn’t feel good at all. I felt a little bad. I had him crushed. Didn't need to go for the kill. Then again. It’s about the experience. I saw the opportunity for the sub. I took it.

Met Nemesis again in the Open Finals. My Plan B (i.e., spazz) didn’t work the first time so I decided to back off and play my game. I knew he'd beat me, but I was fine with that. Although we share the same rank (1-stripe Blue), he's clearly better than me. No doubt about it. Pulled guard. Worked a bit of lasso and spider. Thought I had a sweep a couple times but his base was impeccable and I couldn’t adjust my hips to recover the proper angle. He eventually broke free and was on his way to pass. I seem recall a bit of inverted spider work and a brief open guard recover before landing in half guard. Unlike our first fight when I got the sweep, he cross-faced me early and hard. I couldn’t establish an underhook and sweep set up. He began to pass. At some point I bailed to turtle to avoid pass points. He ended up getting my back with hooks. Tapped to a choke with only seconds on the clock. I deserved it. I bridged right into his choke. Silly.

I’m sure I have some details wrong. I have videos of my Open fights. (Thanks Matt Washington!). Will post he vids and photos as soon as I get a chance.

Congrats to Steven and the rest of my NOLA BJJ teammates for a great tourney. Competing is a win for your journey, even if you didn’t win a fight. You showed up. You fought. Others didn’t. Ergo you won and they lost. TO PLAY IS TO WIN.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2 for 1

Yes. I've been slacking. Life interrupts. Trained Monday and Tuesday. Here's a brief summary.


Private with Professor Matthias. Reviewed a takedown combo and De la Riva pass to the "negative side" from Revolution 2. Followed by sweep / pass the guard warm-up and a fairly long stretch of rolling. Completely gassed at the end. Made me weak and queesy for class.

Tough tourney prep the rest of class. Well...tough for most of the class. I worked with a new guy during the full speed partner drills. We went very slowly. I think we had 7 five minute rolls. Tiring.


Starting to taper for Saturday's tourney. I took it extra easy. Almost lazy actually. Got my butt handed to me by a Purple. Caught me with two arm bars and something else...escapes me. The arm bars were slick. Had no idea I was vulnerable until it was too late. Apparently I was pushing up from bottom. I recall using a bit of a stiff arm to help brace him while I attempted to shift my hips, but given the angle, I really didn't think I was vulnerable. Thought wrong. Obviously. I thoroughly enjoyed the schooling.

Observation: Chokes from guard seem to be getting better. Got several chokes using different variations of palms up, palm up / palm down, and even one with one hand.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Cutting weight is one of the least pleasant things I've done in a long while. Daily caloric intake under 1200 for 5 days now. And I trained M-Th! Light headed, a bit dizzy, and somewhat noxious the past couple days. What a drag.

205.0 post train last night. 207.6 this morning. Drank a lot of water last night. 208.2 after work today. 212.4 with my lightweight gi. Have to lose at least 5lbs in 7.5 days. If I'm not <203.9 come Monday morning I'm going to abandon ship and jump to Super Heavy. I should have started cutting earlier, but Jazz Fest intervened. If you're not from New Orleans or have never been to Jazz Fest, you couldn't possibly understand...

As I mentioned, I trained last night. Tried to post, but Blogger was down for maintenance. Oh well. I can miss a day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Bit Too Much

Exhausted. 90 mins of Bikram Yoga before class tonight. Showed up to class 20 mins early and stretched (not that I needed it). Felt funny. Light headed.

An upper belt asked to roll. Sure. Hadn't rolled with this particular guy in a long time. Months maybe. Passed guard and transitioned to north-south. Tried to lock in a reverse triangle, but apparently I didn't have the arm trapped. As I started to go for the kimura, I thought... "Something's wrong. It cant be this easy." Then I remebered he'd been rolling for quite a while before me. Probably just seeing what I was up to and went along for the ride. Tried for the kimura but couldn't free the arm because I didn't pin the bottom arm with a shin or lock it back with the reverse triangle. Regardless...I didn't have the position so I didn't get the submission. Tried to transition back to side control but I recall that not turning out too well. From then on I struggled to maintain various survival postures. He had incredible control of my legs and hips. Unsettling really. At one point I set up to recover guard from modified inverted spider. Shot the inverted triangle. He struggled. Stepped around my head to negate my angle. I kept it locked and turned attention to his left arm. My real aim was the straight arm lock. But the more he struggled, the more I clamped down on the inverted triangle. Started to stretch him out and squeeze. Again, my goal was the straight arm lock. Got a tap. But not from the arm lock. Not from a choke. Apparently I was straining his neck pretty good. My bad.

Not going to recount the warm up and drills. Drills were intense. I felt like passing out a few times and had to slow down. Took several water breaks. Fought dizziness. Got a judo throw during the take down portion of class. It's one of the throws I learned in Hawaii back in November. The Blue I threw is quite large and heavy with a good base. Pleased with the timing, execution, and result.

Rolls were pretty sloppy. Exhaustion and near delirium made for untechnical sparring. Got two Blues and a Black. Brute force didn't work like it had in recent rolls. Busted posture. Bleh. Not much good came out of the rolls. Black caught me with an Americana from side control and an arm bar from back. I'm pretty sure I tapped to one of the Blues but I don't remember what he caught me with. Anyways...not my best showing tonight.

205.6 post Bikram/training.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brute Force Works

5:15-5:30p: Stretched. Felt like an old man. Achy knees and hips. Glad I got there early. Needed that stretch session.

5:30-5:45p: Warm-up / drills. Counted almost 30 on the mats. Lots of big scary White Belts. Couldn't help but go down the line and think, "avoid him, him, him, and...uh...definitely him". Lame I know, but my achy knees and hips were talking for me. Enjoyed the gynastiical natural component.

5:45-6p: Core drills. Butterfly lift/extend drill, guard pull sit-ups, and inverted leg wraps plus spin around. Tough to describe. Partner a few pounds heavier, my height, but much younger struggled. Clearly wasn't used to core movement like that. I think he was a bit surprised by how easily I worked through the reps. Yeah kid...keep training. :-)

6-6:30p: Self defense technique involved two takedowns in response to sucker RNC attempt. First was a standard hip throw. Second was a throw over your leg if attacker bases against hip throw. Both with arm bar finish. Sports BJJ technique involved fundamental guard break to stack pass plus an alternate pass when opponent employs a heavy leg in response to stack attempt. (Thanks again to Matt for pointing out what I missed.)

6:30-7p: Rolls. Think 6min rounds. Groups of three. Got two Blues. One taller and possibly heavier. The other a bit shorter and about 15-20lbs lighter. Both good sweaty rolls. Can I declare victory if brute force worked yet again to counter arm drag and posture busting attempts? This particular Blue (the bigger of the two) is one of four Blues at our academy who give me a heckuva time in guard. Posture busting arm dragging back taking masters they are! Unless he was taking it easy on me, my brute force attempts to keep him down and break his guard seem to work. Didn't have many sweeps tonight. In fact, none come to mind. Passed guard a few times. Got swept a few times. Got stuck trying to pass half guard. Like a chess match. We both know Saulos half guard passes and sweeps fairly well. Turned part of a roll into an interesting stalemate. Got a kimura from north-south. Got a tap from a sloppy triangle during transition to straight arm lock. Got to knee on belly once. Started to set up baseball bat choke when time called. Lost a couple arm bars from mount. Solid defense and my poor sense of timing...lost the sub. Position before submission!.

208.2 after training. Can I lose 7-8lbs in 10.5 days? Gonna give it the old college try.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Am I Serious?

About making Heavy? LA State championships May 21. Weighed in a pudgy 217 this the buff...pre-breakfast. Hmm... Not exactly on track to make 207.5 in a gi...especially when weigh in for my division appears to be ~3p. Good news is that 217 was likely lots of water and backed up piping from a crazy fun weekend of Jazz Fest food and drink. I was 209 after training tonight. 200-201 nude in 12 days is doable. Do I have it in me? Am I serious? Time will tell.

6:45-6:50p: Work kept me. Missed my private and warm-ups. Brief stretch and jumping jacks before joining class.

6:50-6:55p: Sweep / pass the guard. Stepped into a Blue's guard. He almost always beaks my posture and outright owns me...well just about always actually...but especially when I'm in his guard. Decided the only way I had a chance to survive was to employ brute force. Kept thinking about the Gigante seminar a while back. "If you no get it, squeeze harder. Still no get it? Push harder. No? Pull harder." Or something like that. You know. Big guy jiu jitsu. Ha. Yeah well it worked. Sort of. Managed to stop the arm drags and other posture dominating maneuvers. Did have my posture busted a couple times, but forced a recoveries. Not sure how it happened but I ended up in his half guard. Missed a cross face and got swept.

6:55-7:05p: Pummeling and drills to double under hook. Wow I'm bad at this stuff.

7:05-7:20p: Rolls. Six 6-min rounds. Got a Blue and five Whites. Blue and I kept bumping into guys rolling around us who were taking up about twice as much space as they should have. A bit annoying but whatever. He caught me with a choke. I think it was from half guard (him on top) but maybe a loose side control. Not sure how I got into the mess, but once in I couldn't get out. Rolls with the Whites were pretty loose. Just went with the flow. Caught a couple chokes and arm bars but only if they gave it to me. Pretty tired after class. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tourney Prep = Grueling

6:30-6:45p: Stretched. Very sore today. Tired too. Left knee felt strange. Weak.

6:45-7p: Purple called me over for a warm-up roll. Struggled a bit, especially in his north / south. Couldn't trap an arm and recover guard via inverted and spider like I'm used to. I seem to recall tapping to something at one point. Think I got a sweep too. Not sure though. Recollection fuzzy.

7-7:20p: Warm-up / drills. Solid. Just what I needed.

7:20-7:30p: Stand up. Grip fighting and take down set ups. I'm so bad at stand up... That said, I timed a guard pull to de la Riva set up on a Purple.

7:30-7:45p: Sweep / pass the guard. Passed a White's guard. Got a couple sweeps and gave up my spot. Got swept by a Black.

7:45-8-45p: Rolls. 10 rounds, 5 minutes each. 2 minutes between rounds. Pretty brutal. Won't even try to recount each roll. Things I did well? Not much. Got a few sweeps on upper belts. A couple successful rolls from turtle into x guard with sweep finishes. Things that didn't go so well? Lots. Blue triangled me from mount. Posture destroyed by multiple Blues. Tapped when I got a finger stuck in a Blue's sleeve. That sucked. Thought it was dislocated for a moment. Turned out to be ok. Lost countless guard passes and top position over turtle. Got swept a bunch. Overall sloppy and lazy rolling at times. Too aggressive with a couple smaller Whites. Should have worked with them a bit more. Had my posture completely busted by a few Blues and a Black. Gave up my back a few times. Almost Broke a White's fingers when I literally fell onto his stomach after a sloppy torreando. The list could go on...but there's no point. Tired rolling is sloppy. Need to tighten up.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Still Can't Pass His Guard!

5:20-5:30p: Stretched.

5:30-5:50p: Warm-up / drills. I led. Didn't push it too hard. Incorporated a few gynastica natural moves and odds and ends I picked up from UNIJJ.

5:50-6p: Sweep / pass the guard. Started on bottom. Big White stepped in. When I say big, I mean big. 300+ lbs? Mid 30s. Apparently he trained at the gym a year or so ago and decided to come back out after finding this blog. Wow. Really? So cool to know this training tool may be making an impact in our gym. Anyways... He crushed my guard. Bailed to turtle to prevent the points. Prevented points but for the purposes of the drill I was done. Stepped into a White's guard next. Passed via sloppy knee/hip slide. Sloppy. A bit embarrassed actually. Remember getting a sweep next, but don't recall the details. Time.

6-6:30p: Technique. Self defense included punch defense to a throw with arm bar finish. Then went to classic arm bar from guard and a triangle from guard.

6:30-7p: Rolls. 5-6 minute rounds. Crowded mats. Groups of 3. Got a Blue and a White. Blue .... ARGHH.... Can't pass his guard. Rolled with him a couple weeks agp. Same story. Spent entire roll in his guard. He almost swept me a couple times via scissor variation. Tough time. Still can't pass his guard! White. Wow. Man Dime has improved a ton. Even the other Blue acknowledged. His guard felt solid. Grips too. Fantastic hip movement. His recent 4th stripe promotion = well deserved! A Brown called me over to roll in between Blue and White. Geez. Some of the tightest guard passing I've ever encountered. He had complete control over my hooks and hips. Passed and secured side control with ease. At one point I had a front gi choke set from guard. Didn't have it deep enough and held on far too long. Burned a lot of energy and he turned it into a pass. Swept him twice. So he says... I recall only one sweep. Escaped an arm bar from turtle. Saulo's trusty escape continues to pay dividends.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slipped Away

Trained tonight. Gynastica Natural warm up. Nice for a change, although there wasn't enough room for the inverted rolls. I really need to work on those rolls too. I should be much better at the inverted rolls given how flexible I am, but no...terrible.

Sweep / pass the guard went ok. Got two sweeps. One sweep off a pass via lasso and a knee push. Had a takedown opportunity from a scramble after failed lasso sweep, but gave up my spot to the scramble effort. Got swept after failed knee/hip slide pass when the Blue turned it into an arm drag and took my back. Worked a lot of takedown technique and drills. Then rolls.

Got a Blue and a White. Rolled with the Blue twice. Think they were 6 minute rounds. White is a really big younger guy. He's improved a lot. Got a baseball bat choke from knee on belly. One successful transition to x guard sweep from turtle.

Blue has always given me trouble. Faired better tonight than any prior roll. Passed his guard a couple times, but it never lasted. Not sure I would have got the points. At one point I thought I had him in a front gi choke, but as I adjusted to get a deeper collar he escaped. Had a grip on a collar for a clock choke or bow and arrow set up from turtle, I adjusted for a deeper grip he defended and escaped. Heard Professor Saulo's voice from Revolution 1 in my head: "you no need a deep grip for this choke...".. I let the subs slip away. Arghhh. Escaped an arm bar attempt. Lots of scrambling. Transitioned from turtle to x guard, don't think I. Got the sweep. Seem to recall it turning into a bit of a scramble. Had trouble defending cross face while working spider from inverted. Overall, very pleased with my two rolls with this particular Blue.

Trained with a big strong young White after class. He swept me with a hip bump to mount right out of the gate, Nice move! Crushed me several times and almost passed my guard, but I kept my cool and either recoverd or bailed to turtle. Another transition to x guard sweep from turtle. Ended up with an arm bar and a kimura from inverted triangle (top position facing north-south). Worked arm bar escapes with him before calling it a night.

Not Even Playing the Same Game

Trained at UNIJJ last Thursday night. No time to post after class and headed to Vegas for the this short post will have to do. Good solid warm-up. Technique was review from Monday's class. Chokes from mount. Rolled with a White, Orange, Blue (ha!), and Purple. White and Orange rolls were instructive rolls. The Blue destroyed me. Seriously destroyed me. Big guy. Heavier, taller, younger, in better shape... He only caught me once (one of slickest arm bars I've ever been caught with), but that doesnt count. He clearly wasn't trying. Like a cat toying with a mouse. We weren't even playing the same game. Roll with the Purple went much better. He's older, about 10lbs lighter, and far more experienced. Fun roll. I felt a bit sloppy, but the Purple complimented me after saying he liked rolling with me cause it's tight and technical. I'll take it. Especially after getting my arse handed to me by the young Blue.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Trained yesterday. Blogging today.

9:10-9:30a: A bit late start this morning. I was the only one at the gym at 9am. Everyone seemed to showed up a couple minutes after 9a. Warm-up / drills. Worked up a good sweat.

9:30-9:40a: Mount escape drills. Upa and elbow/hip escape.

9:40-10a: Technique. Multiple chokes from mount. Palm up / palm up, palm up / palm down when opponent bridges, palm up / palm down when opponent defends choke, and transition to bow and arrow using your gi lapel. The lapel move seemed a bit gimmicky. If you can't get one of the other chokes, I don't know how you'd pull off the gi-assisted bow and arrow. Not quite ready to add that to my repertoire.

10-10:30a: Rolls. 6 minute rounds. Got a Purple and two Blues. Roll with Purple went very well. Got a sweep from butterfly setup. Textbook from Revolution 1. Lots of lasso and spider work. Kept him on guard and off balance a lot, but I couldn't finish other sweeps. Roll with second Blue went well, but not as well. I got a knee push sweep (again...textbook Revolution 1), but not much else. Got stuck in his half guard. He swept me. So smooth and calm. Unsettling really. I didn't feel too threatened, but I was definitely on defensive most of the roll. After 6 minutes, I was gasping for breath. He wasn't sweating. Roll with last Blue went much better. Struggled to pass guard. Eventually passed. Got a kimura from north south. After we reset he began attacking, aggressively. Almost caught me in an arm bar from x-pass. Pretty slick combo. Bunch of turtle work. Some lasso and a lot of spider work. He hipped into it a lot and as he would break one grip, I'd switch to lasso or reset the other spider. Every time I'd move for a sweep, he'd switch it up. Got a slick sweep. Not sure what I did, but in the middle of some intense pressure I noticed an opportunity to compromise his balance with a slight nudge to the knee. Over he went.

Fun training. I'm starting see things that I've never seen before. Opportunities for sweeps mostly. Especially during transitions. As my opponent defends against one sweep set up, he usually opens himself up to something else. I'm not executing as quickly as I'd like, but I'm stoked to be recognizing opportunities. Feel like I got a glimpse into my future game.

Friday, April 22, 2011

8 Minutes with a Legend

5:45-6p: Arrived at UNIJJ early and stretched. Recognized about half of the guys, but most I'd never seen before. 20+ on the mats; most Blues, a few Purples, a Brown plus 4 or 5 Whites.

6-6:20p: Warm-up / drills. Loved that I could remember how to count in Portuguese.

6:20-6:45p: Drilled 4 sit up guard sweeps that they had apparently learned during the week. All but one were completely new to me. Professor Saulo tried to help me with a couple. But having never seen them, it was hard to pick it up on the fly. We switched partners a few times with the top guy trying to maintain balance and the bottom player working for one of the four sweeps. Floundered a bit...

6:45-8p: Rolls. 8 minute rounds. The class split up into two groups. All the top ranking guys were in the first group. I was in the second group with a few other Blues and 4 or 5 Whites. Each group rolled 8 minutes and rested 9 minutes (1 min between rounds). Professor Saulo rolled each round. I got paired with two Whites, a Blue, and...totally unexpected...Saulo Ribeiro himself.

Played a ton of catch and release with the first White. He was a little smaller than me and has been training only 4 months. Got to work on all sorts of things I normally don't get to work on. Went very slowly, tried to execute the transitions as tightly and controlled as possible. Plenty of time to think about combos. Some worked well like the top of turtle to back to hooks to bow and arrow set up and transition to arm bar when he defended the bow and arrow. Even employed the gi lapel arm bar from back we learned at the Gigante seminar a couple weeks back. I didn't finish any of the sub set ups, although he tapped to one arm bar before I really had anything. I would have let it go if I had secured the position. Lots and lots of sweeps. Of all types. Just about everything in my arsenal plus a new one from open guard I improvised. Basically a whizzer with my leg. Brought my left leg all the way outside his arm, under the arm pit and across his chest with my toes in right arm pit. Then brought my right leg to span his lower torso with a hook on his right hip and my knee against the front of his left hip. Dove low and underhooked a leg, then rocked.

Tried the improvised open guard sweep twice against the Blue during my next roll. It worked again...twice. Landed in a clean knee on belly the second time. Interesting. Seems to be so effective it must be a real sweep and I just hadn't learned it yet. Passed guard a couple times. Transitioned to mount to technical mount. Got an arm bar from technical mount. A bit sloppy because he fought like mad to escape. But I stuck with it and worked for the angle and finish. Fun roll. I was surprised how fast and hard he came at me. Think I did a good job slowing him down and bringing him into my game.

Professor Saulo called me over for my third roll. I was sooo nervous. He started with an open combat base. I immediately grabbed his lapel and attempted to shoot one of his butterfly sweep techniques from Revolution 1. He based out and I had him in the air a bit. Couldn't finish the sweep. He passed and didn't move too much. Secured a good side control posture/defense with my knee and elbow touching, but I couldn't advance past that point. As I'm writing this I realize I should have used that knee as leverage, changed the angle of my body and recovered guard...drats. At one point he got knee on belly. It was a friendly knee on belly. I've heard Saulo's made many black belts tap just from knee on belly. He was being very kind. :-) I tried to recover half guard - a technique Professor Matthias showed - but he was so tight and against my side I couldn't stuff the foot. He transitioned to mount. I struggled a bit to establish mount survival posture. Got the frame/brace so he couldn't advance higher, but I couldn't get a leg free of the grapevine to lay flat on the mat. He went for a one arm choke. Then I completely blew it. I bridged directly into the choke and had to tap. Had I bridged the other way, I probably could have survived. As soon as I tapped I said, "What was I thinking going that way?" Professor said with a chuckle, "Right. You make it easy for me." A little later in the roll the Master allowed two sweeps. I think he was just flow rolling. No way I really got those sweeps. One was from butterfly. The other was the first sit-up guard sweep we drilled earlier in the evening. I don't know the sequence, but at one point he attacked my right arm from technical mount. I was waiting for the leg to come over to apply the trusty Saulo arm bar escape, but he was so quick I missed my opportunity. He had me flat on my back and my defense attempts were ultimately futile. He finally got tired of waiting to see what I'd do and finished. I showed him the trusty escape and he said that was still the right thing to do. I thought I could only go for it during the transition (as the leg comes over). He showed me how to thrust the elbow up - "like you gonna elbow me in the mouth" - to get the angle even when in a bad spot. Nice! It was an amazing experience. He felt like a million pounds on me. He made me squirm...a lot. Loved every second of those 8 minutes.

My last roll was with a White. Taller guy visiting from Hawaii. Apparently a professional skate boarder. He was pretty aggressive and bit spazzy. Totally unpredictable. He actually got me in a bully headlock at one point. Escape was simple, but I was a bit perplexed. Also had to escape sloppy knee bar and heel hook attempts. Really. One of the Purples stopped us to explain the rules. Glad I didn't have to say anything. Could have tapped him many many times. At one point I had him in a bow and arrow set up. Released the choke and he basically gave me his arm. I was so surprised I didn't even touch it. I just moved and kept the roll going. At another point I had him mounted and had DEEP palm up palm down choke grips. Rather than defend the choke, he sunk in his own grips. Again. Quite surprised. Didn't finish, just moved on to something else. My goal with him was to just keep the game moving and work on balance from the top game.

Picked up a copy of Revolution 2 after class. A Purple who knows me fairly well had some great compliments. Said my game has improved significantly. Really liked the open guard, especially the lasso, and butterfly work. Said I missed a transition to x guard from a butterfly sweep, but other than that he seemed genuinely impressed with the improvement since my last visit to UNIJJ in February. It was nice to get such kind words from a very experienced Purple.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Stuff Actually Works!

Was supposed to take off Wednesday night, but showed up to work with a co-worker on his second day training.

6:20-6:50p: Stretched with the co-worker and showed him some of the standard drills we often do during warm ups.

6:50-7p: Upper belt approached and asked if I wanted a warm up roll. He'd been training open mat for an hour or more. Went through a couple blacks, a brow, and a purple before. Said he had gas in the tank for one more before having to take off. Started in his guard. Grip fought a bit and stood up. He opened. Established combat base and began to work a knee / hip slide. He went for the arm drag to back. Basically rolled into him and pulled half guard. Remember setting up a baseball bat choke from half guard and baited him for the pass, but didn't have a very good angle and he escaped. I don't remember a lot after that other than the fact that I was on bottom a lot and he felt VERY heavy. No longer a warm up roll when all I could think about was how badly I wanted out from underneath him. Although a little lighter than me, he distributes his weight very well. I recall successfully rolling from turtle to modified x guard. Didn't last long, but the roll to x guard is something I'll be looking to try more. Near the end he had me in north south. Fought for an inverted spider. Got it. Then shot the inverted triangle. Locked it in, extended hips to break down posture and destabilize, then attacked the arm he used to base out. Got the straight arm lock. I'd been working on that particular flow (turtle to inverted spider to inverted triangle to straight arm lock) with Professor Matthias for a few weeks. I'd failed to convert multiple times in the past attempts. Got lucky this time. Wouldn't presume to think I could pull it off on an upper belt again any time soon. But the moment I realized I got the tap, the first thing that came to mind was: "This stuff actually works!"

7-8p: Warmed up and then worked with my co-worker friend through the end of the technique portion of class. We worked three half guard passes. I'd seen all three before (very similar to three passes Saulo shows in Revolution 1), but it was a good refresher and opportunity to work the techniques very slowly.