Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lost by Advantage

So...I lost. My opponent was very tough...toughest I've ever fought (sorry Nemeis), but beatable.  I had the bye so I had the (mis)fortune(??) of watching him DESTROY his first opponent by bow and arrow choke after being up 10-0. Here's my recap of our fight:

Within 30secs or so I executed my game plan. I fed him my left collar and stepped forward slightly with my left foot. When he gripped my left collar I cross-gripped with my left hand and defended against his left grip. Stepped right, stepped left, then drop...seoi nage. It felt perfect. Hmmm... But he based out and resisted the throw. A friend watching fom the stands said folks around him yelled "woah" and couldn't believe he didn't go over. I think I know what happened. I didn't drop to my toes like Master Saulo shows in his DVD. I dropped flat on my ankles and, as a result, lost leverage to finish the take down. But...whenever I try to drop to my toes I get cramps or worse (stubbed toes). Besides...dropping to ankles always worked before. Well, this is Pans and my opponent had game. My guess he has a rassling background 'cause his base was ace.

He recovered well and I found myself on my side, modified turtle. Advantage him. Fortunately I'm VERY comfortable defending from that position. I worked my way back to open guard then began to execute my bottom game. Not sure why, but I was a bit surprised how long it took me to sink my spider guard and begin sweep/attack attempts. Finally set the left leg spider/bicep after three attempts I got the sweep off a pass (my bread and butter). I almost swept him twice and thought for sure I'd got an advantage, but alas, no. After the sweep I was up 2-0 and down an advantage.

Around here my memory got blurry. I recall being in his open guard and knowing exactly what to do to pass, but thinking, "that would take too much effort... burn too much energy."  So I sat there waiting for him to make a move. YES... I was that guy. Up on points and stalling. He closed his guard. I sat in closed guard for what seemeed like forever...yup...still stalling. I stood up in an attempt to open his guard and he attempted a muscle sweep. Nope... I fell, but stuffed it.

Twice I remember being in guard and/or half-guard and knowing what to do to pass but not having the mental prowess to do anything about it. I felt like I almost passed guard twice, but didn't have the chutzpah to finish. At some point he opened his guard and stood up. I half-heartedly defended and could have put him back on his arse, but i chose the lazy route...I reverted to my training. I'm comfortable on my back so I went with it. I laid back and played guard.

WRONG MOVE. Not only did he get 2pts for the "sweep" he got me in heavy top half with 30-45secs remaining. Down an advantage I knew I'd lost. I had no mojo to fight from bottom before the Ref called time. I lost. Twice during the match I recall mentally telling myself: "you don't want this don't deserve it.". So, yes, I could have won. But didn't. Because I didn't want it bad enough.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sand Bagging

I'd heard about it, but hadn't seen it until tonight. I arrived at the UC Irvine Bren Events Center in time to catch the White Belt absolute. I saw some fairly poor, what you would expect from White Belts, BJJ. But I also witnessed some truly remarkable, great for Blue Belt, BJJ. Pure technical domination. What gives? Why were these guys still Whites? I guess the more important question is: Will they be promoted to Blue beore Mundials or will their Professors throw them into the fire with a new belt?


Here's how I envision it going down:

  • First match:  I take down via super duper slick move.  He's so shocked he hesitates so I pop up and drop the arm bar.  Done in 30 secs.  
  • Semis:  Opponent watched my killer take down to sub in prior match and wants none of that mojo.  So he shoots for a single or double.  I stuff it (of course), catch a cross collar, swing around, and roll into bow and arrow choke (you tube worthy fo' sure).  Done in 45 secs.  
  • Finals:  Opponent knows better.  Immediately pulls guard.  I stand and break guard open.  He transitions to de la riva.  'tis all good.  I got two options for that baby.  I opt for the pain pass.  Smash the snot out of his hand and secure side mount.  Transition to mount.  Finish via arm bar from technical mount.  Done in 2-3 minutes.     
Here's how it will probably go down:

  • First and only match:  I botch the take down attempt and end up in turtle.  He eventually gets my back and catches me with RNC or ezekiel.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pan Brackets

Brackets are up and it looks like I got a/the bye.  I say "a" bye because it looks like 7 of the 9 guys in my division (including me) get byes to the quarter finals.  I say "the" bye because I'm the only one advancing to the quarters who will be fighting the winner of an earlier round.  I suppose that gives me a leg up because I will get to watch my first competitor before taking the mat.  But, then again, is that an advantage?  He will be warm with settled nerves.  I'll do my best to warm-up, but my nerves will be wrecked.

BTW, I'm getting a bit worried about my weight.  After a very light lunch (spinach and grilled chicken) I weighed 217.00.  Add my gi and I'm over 221.  I really don't want to starve myself the last couple days.  I've been on 1200 calories or less for three weeks now and don't feel so hot...    

Final Training Session before Pans

Started yesterday day with an hour of very tough, hard-charging strength and conditioning.  Finished the day with 1.5hrs of BJJ.  After a long solid warm-up, Professor divided the class into two teams for a game.  Goal was to pull members of the other team to your home base.  Had to stay on our knees.  Our team won twice and lost once.  After 20 mins, I was drenched in sweat with sore grips.  Interesting game.  Glad no one got hurt.  Technique was a basic arm bar from high mount.

Trained four, 6-min rounds.  Got a Purple (~my age, but ~20lbs lighter), a Blue, and two Whites.  The round with the Purple went really well, although I could tell he wasn't training 100%; he went just hard enough to push me.  Caught a few sweeps, including two from half guard.  One of the half guard sweeps started as a kimura attempt, but he allowed the sweep to save the arm.  Escaped north south to guard recovery using the technique we learned last Saturday.  Good class.

Post-class weight:  212.8

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week in Review

Start weight: ~222

  • Mon 3/19: 1.5hrs BJJ
  • Tues 3/20: 1.5hrs BJJ
  • Wed 3/21: Rest day 
  • Thurs 3/22: 1.5hrs BJJ plus 1hr strength and conditioning
  • Fri 3/23: Rest day
  • Sat 3/24: 2.5hrs BJJ plus 45min fast-paced walk with stairs and box jumps
  • Sun 3/25: 1.5hrs cardio/core/stretching

Final weight: 215.4

Today's Sweat

30 mins swim, 20 mins core/stretches, 30 mins elliptical, 15 min cool down.   

Haven't swam in a while.  I swam in high school and played water polo.  It's like riding a bike in many ways.  But the pool was 80F+ and after 30 mins I felt like puking.  Nausea aside, I realize swimming is a good cross-train option and far less impactive on my knees/hips than running.   Pushed the elliptical quite a bit.  Averaged 158bpm with a 2-min sprint at 15 min mark that got my HR up to 180bpm.  My flexibility has returned, probably because my gut is smaller than it was a few weeks ago.  I can comfortably put my knees behind my head to my shoulders and walk around my head.  I'm very comfortable in  inverted position.  

215.7 wake-up and 213.4 post-workout.  I'm going to keep cutting through Wednesday.  I'll fill (good stuff) and hydrate on Thursday.  That's the current plan anyhow.    

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2.5 hrs = Wrecked

1hr beginner class (drill-focused) plus 1.5hrs training.  Not much performance-wise to write home about.  My training partners pushed me to the max and delivered.  I realized that my turtle defense against guard passing only works on White/Blue Belts.  Purple and up...forget about it.  I need to bite the bullet and figure out how to execute a proper side control escape and guard recovery.   My right trap is over-reactive and aches.  Calves cramped up pretty badly during training so they hurt now.  Someone noticed ringworm on one of my training partners today.  Fingers crossed I don't get it...

Friday, March 23, 2012

At Weight...Pans Here I Come

Scale at the gym tonight said 219.5 with gi.  I didn't believe it so I bought a scale after class.  215.4 butt naked.  So, I guess I'm at weight with a week to go and therefore have no excuse (other than fear) not to register for Pans.

Tonight's class was tough.  All drills plus training.  Lots of crazy good guard recovery and guard passing drills that had me screaming for rest.  Then Professor asked all those competing in Pans to take center mat.  I haven't signed up, I wasn't positive I'd do it, and I had a feeling what was coming so I didn't volunteer.  Yeah, that's me.  The coward.

The six brave souls who took center mat stayed there for 30 mins straight with fresh guys pouncing every six minutes.  It was brutal.  I sat out first round and Professor assigned me to a taller, but younger/lighter white belt for second round.  He said to attack as soon as he called time.  Take mount, back, whatever.  Poor guy had no idea what was coming.  I pounced on his back and sunk the hooks with choke set up.  At first he thought it was a joke and soon realized we were not joking.  Finished the last round with a Blue (kid...can't be older than 17 and no more than 165lbs).   Wowzers. After enduring 24 mins of getting pummeled, he gave me a real hard time.

Class finally ended.  I was destroyed.  Yet I wasn't one of the guys who had to fight 30 mins straight.  Made me realize I'm in NO shape for Pans.  But...I'm at weight.  To play is to win, right?  I'm going to weigh again in the morning and after lunch.  If I'm still at weight, I'll throw my hat in for Pans.  Scared to death and almost certain to get destroyed.  But I'm confident I can defend myself well enough to avoid serious injury so I figure  might as well confront my fear and find out if I can truly trust my jiu jitsu.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

3lbs to go.

Progress.  Weighed 219.5 before strength and conditioning this morning and 218 after.  I'll weigh again tonight with the gi before BJJ class.  If the scale at the gym shows similar results I've decided to make the leap and register for Pans.  I think I can cut another few pounds by next Friday.  Not anywhere near 100% but I had some pretty aggressive training sessions the past couple weeks and the left tricep/post seems stable enough to be safe.  I realize I'm at a tremendous disadvantage if I happen to get lucky and win a match.  Cardio/stamina/grips no where near ready for more than one fight. play is to win.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cutting Weight Sucks

I'm hungry ALL the time.  But it's working.  I've dropped about 5-6lbs in the last week and "think" I need to drop another 3lbs by next Friday...assuming I'm going to compete.  Still haven't decided.  Will wait until the deadline on Friday.  I say "think" because the scales I've weighed on have been somewhat inconsistent.  I will check two different scales tomorrow morning (strength and conditioning gym) and evening (UNIJJ).  We'll see where things stand.

Training has been fantastic since my last update.  I've trained more in the past three weeks than I trained in the prior three months.  I'm sore and my left arm/tricep is still a bit sketchy, but otherwise feel great.  The leg/core focused strength and conditioning I did while sidelined by the neck issues has really helped my top game.

I did some traveling recently.  Trained at Paragon SLO on Friday 3/16 and Monday 3/19, Paragon Templeton on Saturday 3/17, and last night I was at Xande Ribeiro's new place in Hollywood.  I feel so fortunate to be able to train at a multiple gyms.  First, a word about Paragon SLO/Templeton.  I love it there.  Feel right at home.  Professor Chris Lavato is a gem.  He's developed such a great team and gym culture.  The facilities in SLO and Templeton are perfect.  Large, spacious, clean, etc.  Xande's new school in Hollywood is coming along well.  He's sharing space with an MMA gym.  He's off to a great start with a core group of talented and genuinely nice guys and gals.  I may have business in LA more often so I hope to return soon!

I think the best moment of the trip was when a 21yr old 155lb Paragon Blue Belt tapped me with knee on belly.  He had a lapel wrapped around my neck and underhooked one of my legs before applying the knee and pulling like a bow and arrow.  It didn't hurt.  He's only 155lbs.  But it closed my diaphragm and I specifically recall the point where I could not breathe anymore. It was one of the best moments of my jiu jitsu journey so far.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ryan Hall Pizza Encounter

Watch this video (excuse the language if you're easily offended).  Wowzers.  Here's my analysis:
  1. How many times has he practiced take downs from sitting in a chair?  2pts.
  2. He passed the guy's guard in no time.  3 pts
  3. Mount (with good wrist control), check.  4 pts
  4. He needs to work on take downs from behind through thresholds.  The poor guy got cut.  But...a take down is a take down.  2 pts
  5. What?  No back hooks?  Choked from turtle?  Weak.  But a finish is a finish.  
  6. What? What?  No 50/50?  No inverted?  
  7. The guy never tapped so Ryan should have held the choke until the cops pulled him off.  (not really)
So, basically he got the finish while up 11-0 but he could have finished up 15-0 had he worked the back hooks.  

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pans: To Fight or Not to Fight

...that is the question.  I have a family event on Saturday of Pans so I thought I would miss competing.  Turns out Senior 1 Blues go on Friday.  So now that I don't have a "good" excuse, should I?

1.  To play is to win.  It's not about winning for me.  It's about the experience.  What better way than to put it on the line in my first major tourney?
2.  I turn 36 in May so I'd be among the youngest of the Senior 1s.  Why miss an opportunity to be a "young gun"?  That won't come again for 5 years.
3.  I'm very curious to see (and feel) what another guy roughly my age and belt can do.  I don't get many opportunities to train with others my weight/belt.

1.  I'm currently 228lbs in a gi.  Need to lose 7lbs to make Super Heavy.  No way am I fighting Ultra...  Cutting weight is very difficult for me.
2.  I'm grossly out of shape.  Almost 3 months off the mats has taken a toll.
3.  I'd be risking injury.  My left side isn't recovered.  I'm still about 50% strength on the left tricep.  Posting is difficult and stability in post is precarious.  I can train around this (just go slow and be careful), but that's hard(er) to do with comp adrenaline.  I could easily tear something in my shoulder or hyper extend my elbow.    

So...hmm...things to ponder.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back in San Diego

Just got back to reality.  Lots of work to make up and I have to travel to San Luis Obispo Thursday night through Monday.  Hope to train at Paragon SLO when there but we'll see. 

After my last post I trained at NOLA BJJ Thursday night (6-7:30p), Friday night (5:30-8p), and Monday (10-11a).  I am very very sore.  But uninjured (yay!).  The thing that will stand out most in my mind is the straight ankle lock that Reilly Bodycomb applied during the nogi session Friday night.  I'd never felt anything like it.  I really believed my ankle was about to pop off.  Reilly's a Sambo whiz (one highlight vid here).  Wish I had time to write more.  Maybe later. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Morning Session

Road my bike a few miles to the gym.  Warmed up gynastica natural for 20+ minutes before three ~8 minute rounds of open mat training.  Got to see a couple old friends/training partners and met some new folks, including a new white belt from Chechnya with a solid wrestling background.  Only a month in the gi and his grip breaking instincts and technique are already exceptional.  This kid is going to be good!   Training felt good.  Didn't push myself at all.  Emphasized fuel conservation and it worked.  I didn't gas.  Did get stuck stalling in turtle for a few minutes though with a very experienced Blue.  Defended a couple crucifix attempts, but when I finally tried to roll out of turtle he took my back and eventually got the arm.  Post-train ride back in moderate humidity = lots of sweat.  Now at a coffee shop doing some work before the evening session.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Heading to NOLA

Leaving tomorrow for 5 days in New Orleans to visit friends and enjoy my home away from home.  I have an ambitious training schedule planned.  Two classes on Thursday, private and wrestling/takedowns classes on Friday, Q&A and open mat on saturday, open mat sunday, and one class on Monday morning before flying back.  We'll see how well my body holds up.

Trained today at UNIJJ for the first time in a couple weeks.  A series of unfortunately events kept me from the mats.  Work, health, work, health.   Showed up at the 9am class.  I was the only one so the instructor showed me two pass options from De la Riva, each to be used based on opponent set up and reaction.  I was skeptical at first...

Returned at noon for the second day class.  Lots of folks this time.  Two Browns, two Purples, couple Blues and a couple whites.  Worked a technical smash pass.  Big guy jiu jitsu.  Took a while but I started to dig it.  Trained with a big four-stripe White, a Brown, and a Purple.  Didn't gas.  Actually felt really good.  Had complete control of the White, except when it came to finishes (he had a couple solid choke and arm lock escapes).  Brown basically ruined me.  I survived but he was all over my back and caught me with one of the nicest arm drags I've ever experienced.  He also passed my guard at will.  But...  I managed one sweep and then used one of the De la Riva passes I learned earlier this morning.  Worked like a charm.  Finished with a solid round with the Purple.  Got a couple nice sweeps and escaped some tricky spots.  He caught me with a kimura during one of my turtle to guard recovery attempts.  I basically rolled right into the submission.  Oh well, next time.

I think slowing down my game is going to suit me well.  I feel relatively safe and can conserve energy while waiting  for (or working slowly toward) opportunities to apply technique.  I feel like I'm seeing more of the game.  Clarity is nice.