Monday, October 29, 2007

The Secrets Of The Universe.... REVEALED!

So after my repeated beatdown by Brian via "some bizarre neck crank" I posed the question of WTF was happening to the guys over at Bullshido which generated this thread where PizDoff suggested that it might be a Brabo choke. I went to the 5:30 class today and we were doing escapes from side control and Adam saw that I was unintentionally halfassing the escape by just wedging my knee in. While he was correcting me and making sure I was actually shrimping out and making space with my arms and everything he mentioned me getting subbed by Brian and told me it was a Darce choke (same thing as the brabo for No Gi). He also told me I was getting hit with it because I kept throwing up the underhook when I tried to ball down under half guard and I was leaving my head unprotected. It was recommended that instead of trying to ball down and sweep that I attempt to escape back to guard instead. I'm going to pay more attention to protecting my head/neck from there now and stick to getting my guard back against people who are that much better than I am. Much more likely to pull that off than getting the sweep.
So mad props to the guys at bullshido for their help. Adam must be psychic or a bullshido reader though since he knew exactly what I'd been thinking.
Most of the class was spent fine tuning escapes from under side control which is an area I really needed to work on. Adam revolutionized the whole concept for me just by showing me how I needed to use my arms when I was shrimping.
All in all a great class that felt like it was designed to deal with the things I was most concerned with. For anyone who is interested here is a link to the Darce choke if you want to check it out.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More of the same...

I went to Open Mats tonight, things were pretty active Rory and Adam were rolling with guys, and a couple of the pros (Brian and Chad) were there rolling. Brian worked me over for about 2 minutes before getting bored. I rolled with the usual assortment and managed to avoid getting subbed too easily. Generally I feel like I've hit a plateau where I'm just going to have to practice and practice and practice to push through it. It's probably going to be a while before I have any more epiphany's about weaknesses in my game. Hopefully I learn something good at NAGA that will point me in the right direction.
My strong points seem to be a really tight half guard and good submission defense, relatively good positioning from the top, and a pretty good triangle from guard. My weak points are bottom of side control, unable to reliably hit armbars from guard, and a very small library of sweeps. My game inside the guard is pretty much neutral. I can now avoid getting subbed, but I still have some trouble passing against really active people. After NAGA I'm going to see about getting some specific questions answered since I think I'll have a better idea of what I really need to work on.

I think I'm really at the point now where it's just Practice Practice Practice and more Practice...
Oh, and I found out NAGA is in Lawrencville just an hour away from me, not way the hell down in south Georgia like I thought it was going to be. Woohoo!

One last quick update, Dave and Vern from hardcore both won their fights last weekend, Dave in a knockdown dragout war by decision and Vern via unintentional leg injury due to a huge slam early on. Vern is a monster....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'.... RAWHIDE!

Well, we had 10 guys fight friday night and Adam was still a little zoned from cornering all of the fights and coordinating everything, so we had a class of rolling and a Q&A. Overall I'm really happy with the way things went. I've really improved at protecting myself in the guard and passing guard. I also don't get caught by the same trick twice. I rolled a couple of weeks ago with a guy who is UNGODLY flexible and I had him in north-south and he rolled up, tucked his hooks in and took my back while is shoulders were still flat on the mat. He tried to do it to me again this time and I was able to avoid it, along with a bunch of other crazy subs from him. I even was able to generally out position him and made a good attempt at an americana on him, but I had his elbow pointed at the sky and he didn't even seem uncomfortable... Crazy flexible.
Other guys I rolled with were variations on the same. I still have trouble in side control as everyone feels really heavy. It's a real battle to get my knee in or get out the back. I did get to take a turn non-stop subbing someone as there was a guy who has been away for 5-6 months and just came back. I rolled with him once before when I was in the beginner class and he out positioned me but didn't sub me. This time I omoplataed him and RNCed him, and also outpositioned him. He was good at keeping his weight on me from the top though, made it VERY uncomfortable. Since he's back full time now he'll probably quickly get back into form and we'll end up going about 50/50, which is nice since he's about my weight, but a little taller.
Part of the Q&A during the rolling was about how to get out of a tight Overhook without giving up the triangle or the oma, the question came from one of my primary rolling partners because that's pretty much my entire game from the guard. Since that's kind of shut down now after the comprehensive lecture from Adam on how not to get subbed I have to find other ways to work from there. Oh well, always learning.
I feel good from almost every position except bottom of side control, I even feel better being mounted than I do there. I'm going to try to make it a point to work from there thursday and friday to get something that works for me before NAGA. I feel like I'm making rapid progress, it feels really good.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Escapin' Side Control, but not work...

Just a quick update today. I went to the beginner class and we were working escapes from side control. Did knee-elbow escape with a little nuance I hadn't gotten before. Rory was teaching and put some emphasis on tucking your foot inside your opponents thigh as if you are going to butterfly guard in order to keep them from walking towards your head. Also did an escape out the back which is handy if you can't get your knee in-between, and a table-up to single-leg move that is pretty much straight out of my wrestling days. It was a straight up 3 I's class today, he introduced the techniques, then we paired of and drilled them for a bit without resistance, then we drilled them with a little bit of resistance, then we went live from side control. The poor kid I was paired up with had only been coming to class for about 3 weeks so even though he had 40lbs and 6 inches on me he just didn't quite know how to hold me down. He was definitely getting the hang of it by the end though. All in all it was a good class and something I can always use more time drilling. I like the fundamentals and getting out of side control is about as fundamental as it gets. I'm still feeling good about NAGA and I think that's just going to get better as the day approaches.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WHEEEEE!!! Merry Go Round of Guard Passing!

So, my guard passing has been my weakest part of my game pretty much from the beginning. I've haven't spent as much time in guard as most of the other positions because I tend to end up on the bottom most of the time. I'm very comfortable working from there. As a result of getting armbarred by the guy at Casca Grossa I resolved to REALLY work on my passing guard and getting more comfortable in guard before NAGA.
Ok, so on with the details... At the beginning of class we did a drill from each position where the object was to just hit your "Go To" move from that position. We started with the guard pass. My Go To guard pass is usually to get swept and try to escape, but since I had recently looked at the underpass and worked it a little I tried that one, deciding I wanted it to be my "Go To" pass. It sucked. I would have been instantaneously triangled like a grilled cheese sandwhich. Adam spotted my idiocy and gave me several tips, ran me through the progression of posturing and breaking guard again and pretty much just told me to stop being an idiot and do what I had already learned. I slowed down and thought it through and things were working much better for me. I still have a bitch of a time getting people to open their legs, but I found out that I have a VERY strong posture; so I can posture up and defend for a long time before getting tired. After that we went through other positions with the same mentality. My "Go To" moves are:

Mount Escape: Bridge and Roll (vs anyone close to my size) or the Elbow-Knee escape (vs anyone much bigger than me)

Side Control, Escape: Elbow-Knee Escape, I'm really good at hooking my foot in and at least getting half guard out of this.

Side Control, Attack: Americana, This has always been my "Go To" sub from side control and mount.

Guard Bottom, Attack: Triangle Choke, I like to get an over hook and work for the triangle.

Guard Top, Pass: Underpass, It's a lot smoother now, though I still need a lot of work on it, a WHOLE lot of work.

After these drills we broke up to roll. As usual I have no memory of specifically WHO I rolled with. I do remember I rolled with a couple of guys who usually sub me every 20 seconds or so even when they are going light (Yeah, that means you Jeremiah) and I managed to get away with only getting subbed 3-4 times in 20 minutes. I was posturing way better from the guard, maker fewer mistakes, I was passing and moving around the guard better. I spent a fair amount of time in mount on one guy who usually takes me to school pretty hard. He also caught me in a triangle which I postured straight up in, I had him hanging from my neck for quite a while trying to sit up and finish it. I was pretty happy with that defense. So I feel like I'm making good progress on my comfort level inside the guard. I'm posturing better, making posture my priority, and I'm less worried with getting an immediate pass and concentrating more on not making mistakes.

Of course, the gym is closed thursday and friday. So this will be the only day I train this week. I wanna say good luck to Dave and Vern and the rest of the guys fighting this weekend. BEAT SOME ASS!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back in the Saddle

The title for this entry is a (very) clever pun since we just finished rebreaking our horse and spent the weekend riding her around and getting her training started.
That's all beside the point though. My shoulder is feeling good, but my elbow is a little sore I think I can handle that so I'm heading back to class today. I spent the last few days reading up on No Gi guard passing and have come to the conclusion that there are only two real passes. The Under Pass and the Over Pass. No one seems to have any other passes to demonstrate for No Gi. I've made it my business to master the under pass this week, and then work on the over pass next week. I'll have a more detailed entry about my work at class tonight when I get home.

Oh, I'm also playing around with some fun bodyweight exercises. I've done this project with pushups before and it worked pretty well, but I've decided to do Burpees this time. I started with 15 and I'm going to just add 1 every day until the end of the year. If I can keep it up I should be doing 90ish burpees in a row by the end.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Out for the week...

My shoulder flared up bad enough that I am now out for the week to let it heal. I'm taking that time to read Mastering the Rubber Guard some more from a new perspective and work on my BJJ roadmap. I've also quadrupled my protein intake, so hopefully I'll be a few pounds heavier for NAGA.
I forgot to mention that on Tuesday I got to roll with one of our pro MMA guys who is very close to my weight. It was nice to not feel utterly crushed by the weight, but it was still laughable. It really demonstrated to me how much more there is to learn about even simple things. He pretty much subbed me over and over while half asleep. Now I gotta figure out how he was pushing on my armpit to defeat all of my pass attempts....
Another post will probably show up on Monday, perhaps with some training video or a visualization of my current BJJ roadmap.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ohhh the Agony!

So after messing my back/shoulder up a bit at Casca Grossa on Saturday I aggravated it last night, then decided to go to class anyways. We were supposedly going to be working guard passing, and since I suck at that I figured I could take it kind of easy and think my way through the techniques. It was not to be. Rory was in the house and teaching so it was escape from Mount and escape from Side Control for 40 minutes, then 15 minutes of grappling. I worked the escapes as carefully as I could but still tore my shoulder up some more. I DID get to work guard passing during the grappling and I did pretty well. I've got a clear path to getting away from the guard mapped out now. First thing is that I always want to be sitting up straight, the whole pushing on peoples armpits to try to break guard doesn't work for me right now. So I sit up, wait for the legs to open for the hip bump sweep attempt, and then move back and down for the underpass, or do this funky trick I know and re-sweep from the hip bump and end up with a triangle choke. The key component I was missing was to get the heck away from my opponent. Get my posture up and work from there. I won't have that problem again. As long as my shoulder is better by NAGA I expect to place in my division. Whoot!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Casca Grossa 2007 - Post Game Wrapup

So after finally making it back home from Texas at 8:15 pm friday night I tried to get ready for Casca Grossa. I packed my stuff up, got my directions, had some subway and then tried to get some sleep. We got up at 9am, expecting a 2 hour drive to get to an event that was supposed to start at 1 in the afternoon. After a couple of wrong turns we roll up to Mt. Zion high school at 12:30 and I rush to go get registered, then frantically change clothes. I head down to the mats to weigh in, hoping my division hasn't started yet and run into Ralph, another guy from Hardcore gym, who tells me that it's going to be at least a couple of hours before our divisions start.
Well, at least I'm on time. We hang out, watch the advanced guys and the absolute division, then we find out that our divisions probably won't start until around 6pm. So all of that hurry was for nothing. Fast forward to about 6:15 and Ralph's division, the No-Gi Lightweight Novices, starts up. He is the FIRST match. He ends up losing in overtime to a standing Guillotine, but he did a great job of defending a triangle choke.
So now to my match, I'm the third match in our division and my oppnent is Josh Cochan (Pretty sure that's spelled right). I didn't catch what gym he was from but he was pretty big for a fly-weight and VERY strong. He came on very intense and it took me a couple of minutes to get settled in and comfortable. My memory of the match has almost no relation to what the video shows, so instead of my totally incorrect play by play, check the video of my match, it's up here: Kintanon at Casca Grossa
Ralph's video is up here: Ralp at Casca Grossa
His video isn't as high quality as mine is, sorry Ralph.
My second match was against a guy with really good hip movement. I got the takedown, but he fought off my americana attempts and was able to finally catch me with an armbar. He got me pretty good and my elbow is hyperextended. And something I did in the first match tweaked my shoulder on that same side. But I have a month to recover for NAGA... So I think I'll be ok.

Next stop, NAGA!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

So much for 4 days of training....

I had originally intended to train Tuesday to Friday every day, but that's not going to happen now. I'm heading out to Texas tomorrow morning for work and will be there until Friday evening most likely. On the off chance that I get back in to town early enough on friday to hit the open mats I will be taking my gear. But it looks like I'll be heading into Casca Grossa with a 3 day break behind me. At least I'll be rested.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Merciless Crushing Defeat

So tonight at class was pretty frustrating. Since my last client of the day was right across the street from my gym I was there early and stretched out and warmed up a bit. When the striking class started they were doing all kicking, so I decided to join in. I have a long TKD background and I like kicking. So we did about an hour solid of kicks. I was good and warmed up when the grappling class started. I'm kind of half in the intermediate grappling class, I'm attending both the intermediate and the basic class because I like the grappling and need all of the help I can get. So needless to say most of the people in this class are more experienced than I am. And all of them are quite a bit bigger.
So we're starting out the month with a day of light grappling since several of the guys have amateur fights coming up and have MMA class after the grappling class. The first guy I roll with is monstrously huge, about 220 lbs. He's new to Hardcore, but has had some experience somewhere else. I'm not sure what it was. I held him in my guard for a while, but every time I tried to do anything he just out powered me. We did this for a while until I got bored and started trying crazy shit just to hit something. He ended up catching me in a guillotine. Repeat until he catches me with an RNC. So he decides to go get some water and I wander around the mats and watch some of the other guys for a bit, then I get to roll with one of the more experienced guys. He's about 180 and FAR more experienced than I am. So I spent about 15 minutes just getting submitted in ridiculous ways trying to find a way to pass his guard. I was not successful. So, quick water break for me then I roll with one of the guys closer to my experience level and size. He's about 165 and has been going to the intermediate class about the same amount of time I have. We were very back and forth positionally, both trying out some sweeps and things. But the strength difference really told. He was able to fight out of my RNC, and pull out of my armbars. I couldn't do the same with him.
So all in all it was kind of a frustrating night of getting my ass kicked. I know I'll get better with time and be able to handle the weight disadvantage, and in fact with the bigger guys in the beginners class I do just fine. But the combination of weight AND experience advantage makes for a disheartening time.
I did internalize one thing though, EVERY time my hand hit the mat the second guy I rolled with jumped on it and rode it to Kimura town. I now have that reflex pretty firmly ingrained.

Opponents hand on the mat = Kimura town.

Casca Grossa 2007

This weekend is Casca Grossa. All I know about it is that it's a big grappling tournament. This will be my first step back into real competition of any kind since the ITF Taekwondo World Cup in 2004 where a very tall russian fellow beat me like a red headed step child. I hope to do better this time around. I'll be competing in the Beginner, No-Gi, 144lb and under weight class. So, everyone in the division should be about my size, and about my experience level which will be a novel experience for me. I'm by far the smallest person at my gym except for one guy who has fought in the WEC at 135 and one at 145. Obviously these guys are so far beyond my experience level that it is laughable for me to work out with them. I feel really good about my chances in this and I've been drilling the things I'm reasonably good at to try to have a few really really solid sweeps and submissions ready. Either way I'm hoping to learn a lot about how far I've progressed in the last 10 months. Video will be forthcoming after the event, probably sunday. For anyone interested in coming out the tournament is at Mt Zion high school in Jonesboro, Ga.


A quick introduction then right into the meat of things. I've always loved martial arts. As a kid I watched ninja movies, ninja Turtles, Karate Kid, Kung Fu (The movie AND the series) everything. When I was 13 I started taking Tae Kwon Do. I love it. I loved flying kicks, I loved spinning kicks, I loved flying spinning kicks. I got pretty good at it, at one time I was ranked 8th in the nation in my division for sparring. Even back then I knew that just being able to do flying spinning side kicks wasn't all there was to Martial Arts though. When I was 16 I joined the wrestling team at my high school and I SUCKED. Three years of TKD had given me huge legs and little bitty arms. I had no upper body strength. Our wrestling coaches were both brand new, and had no idea how to help me get past that. So I spent a lot of time lifting weights. I went 0 and 23 during my wrestling career. The highlight of which was managing to last a full 6 minutes with the guy who pretty much won state every year in my weightclass. Of course the low point was making it into the record books for getting pinned in under 20 seconds by this same guy the month before. But I LIKED wrestling and I took a few things away from it. I didn't panic on the ground and I knew that I didn't want to have the other guy on top of me.

Fast forward a little and I got my 1st Dan black belt in TKD. Then I graduated from high school and moved up north where I took some funky Kung Fu style stuff, again it was fun, and I learned a few things that I still find useful about posture and balance. Then I moved back down to Georgia from another couple of years of TKD, then down to Florida where I took TKD from a few different schools. Then back up to Georgia where I rejoined my old TKD school. I expected that the school would have progressed in the intervening years, but I was vastly disappointed. The school was pandering to non-contact and light contact kids classes almost entirely. Gone were all of the hard hitting guys from my original time there. After about 10 months of watching this fiasco and trying to rekindle the passion I used to have for TKD I was introduced to a website called They opened me up to all kinds of new concepts like Aliveness (Just google Matt Thornton). The kind of training they talked about was the kind of training I WANTED. So I talked to some Bullies in the area and they recommended The Hardcore Gym.

I had met the guys from Hardcore when they originally opened the school several years back and remembered them being very nice guys, so I visited them and was immediately hooked. I started out just taking the standup classes which quickly became boring. I'd been doing standup for years already. So I tried the BJJ class and it was just like being a white belt again. Everything was like a magic trick. So fast forward 10 months and here I am. I love BJJ. I love grappling. It's just plain more fun than the standup. So I've decided to start documenting my progress, mostly to help me see how far I've come, and partially so that others can learn from my experience transitioning from Taekwondo to BJJ, from dead training methods to Alive ones.