Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Homework New Years!

Ok people! Enough holiday slacking! Time to get back to work.

Everyone who has been following my homework assignments now gets to start fresh with me in the new year and return to lesson number one! Let's play "What's Your Game?!"

So again, your homework assignment is to go back and look at the LAST time you wrote out your game, see what parts of it you've actually be using and what you haven't. Look for places where you've been using a technique frequently that's NOT listed in your game and add it in.

NOW, move on to the next assignment and craft three sequences using techniques from your game which result in you achieving a submission. These should consist of a takedown, a guard pass, and a submission each. Ideally three different ones. These are "Ideal Competition Sequences" and you should drill each of these as often as you can until they are second nature and flow naturally together.

Third is the new component to this assignment. C-C-C-Combo Time!

Figure out how two submissions and a sweep or two sweeps and a submission can be combined together. For me I use Scissor Sweep, Triangle Choke, and  and Armbar. Go for the scissor, if my opponent manages to post to block I transition to the Triangle Choke. If my opponent postures up to escape I switch to the armbar.
There are thousands of ways to combine various sweeps and submissions together so that they flow smoothly, you'll want to get one really solid sequence that you are comfortable with.
You will drill this sequence EVERY SINGLE DAY in January. If you don't have a partner to drill it with then go through the motions solo in slow motion as best you can while thinking your way through it. The goal is 100 reps of this sequence every day. The first 10 reps should be with no resistance. Go through the technique with perfect form nice and slowly. Over the next 90 reps increase the resistance by about 10% every 10 reps. By the time you get to reps 90 through 100 your partner should be fully resisting. Your goal is to get ahead of them and land the third move in your sequence. The first two MUST be convincing enough that if they don't bother to defend them the technique will work, but the moment the technique is failing and you have the opportunity to transfer to the next technique you should do so.

So, DRILL! DRILL! DRILL! and make it your own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year in Review: 2011

So here were my resolutions for 2011
1. Purple Belt: I want it. I think I'm close enough that a really dedicated 6-8 months will put me in position to get it by October/November.
2. X-Guard: I want to make this a more central part of my game.
3. Get my weightlifting back on track and push my PL total up to 900lbs.
Let's take a look at where I ended up!

Purple Belt? CHECK! Ran into some scheduling difficulties, but the test itself went smoothly.
X-Guard? NOPE! Worked it some, then decided it was not yet time and circled back to some more basic stuff including X-guard setups.
PL Total 900? Progress! Hit 710lbs. Still work to do, but things are going well.

New goals for 2012

1. GOLD MEDALS: I want to win some damnit! I've got a ton of 2nd/3rd place medals but no 1st place. I want some!
2. Compete at the Mundials: If I pick up a medal here it will be FUCKING EPIC, but I'm going for the experience more than anything else.
3. Push my PL total up another 100lbs.
4. Push two or three techniques up to blackbelt level.

Good luck to everyone else with their goals for the year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Theme/Layout Changes

Be Warned, I'm mucking around with the theme and the layout for the next couple of weeks, so it might change randomly at any moment. I'm trying to settle on something that looks a little nicer than what I had before without being obnoxious. Bear with me while I screw around with it all and hopefully at the beginning of the year things will look more awesomerer.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tournament Organization Review: 2006-2011

I promised that I would write up a review of all of the organizations that I've competed under in the last 5 years, and this is going to be it. I will be rating them on several factors, Scheduling, Organization, Communication, Cleanliness, Value, Spectator Experience, and Turnout. Each item will receive a score from 1 to 10 and will be totaled for a final ranking. Fair warning, this will be a LOOOONG post as it took me almost a week to put together going over my notes from all of my previous tournaments.

Casca Grossa (Note: I'm not sure these guys even run events any more. The last one I know of for sure was in 2009, but still)
Scheduling: My division was scheduled to begin at 1pm. We arrived at 11:30. My division did not start until 6pm.
Score: 3/10 (I gave them a 3 only because I only attended ONE event, so it could have been an anomaly)

Organization: The registration and weigh-ins went smoothly, I was able to find my ring assignment easily, and the officials all seemed to know what was going on. Everything was well organized except the scheduling.
Score: 8/10

Communication: We were never told why our division was delayed, or ever given any information on when it might start. It was just "any minute now". The announcements were difficult to hear over the PA system and the announcer was difficult to understand.
Score: 4/10

Cleanliness: Didn't see anyone with ringworm or anything like that allowed to compete, competitors were not allowed on the mats with shoes, competitors were not allowed into the bathrooms WITHOUT shoes. When there were fluid spills (Blood or whatever) on the mats it was cleaned up immediately with what appeared to be clorox wipes. We did see some people walking around in their socks who then walked onto the mats in those same socks.
Score: 8/10

Value: I paid 60$ to compete in one division. I ended up getting two matches. The spectator fee was 10$, so I paid 70$ for the day. I could have done 2 divisions for 70$. So, not bad.
Score: 7/10

Spectator Experience: My wifes experience at this event almost resulted in me not getting to compete anymore. Ever. The air conditioning was non-existent, the venue was incredibly loud, and there was absolutely no effort made to make sure that spectators could actually see what was going on. Additionally the scheduling problems contributed to issues for her as well. This tournament did NOT earn the Jennosaurus Seal of Approval. Of course, it could have been worse. Somehow.
Score: 3/10

Turnout: There were around 15 people in my division, which is on the upper end for most of the competitions I've been to since then, so it was a decent turnout. I would have had to win 4 matches to take first place, so that's pretty solid.
Score: 7/10

Overall: This was a pretty bad tournament. I drive like an hour and a half, then had to wait around for almost 7 hours before I got to compete. The venue was miserable, and the staff did NOT communicate well with the competitors. There were no brackets available to check either, so we had no idea what was going on. I would not recommend competing at these events for any reason.
Final Score: 38/70

Scheduling: Again there has consistently been a 4-5 hour delay between the time my division is listed to start, and the time the division actually starts. This has been consistent across every single NAGA event I've attended.
Score: 1/10 

Organization: Ring assignments frequently change from moment to moment. The organizers rarely seem to know what ring you belong to and have no idea when your division will start. The brackets appear to be hand draw at the table that day. These events have ALWAYS been complete Chaos. I've never been told completely wrong information, but I have gotten a lot of, "I don't know, check back later" answers.
Score: 5/10

Communication: Announcers are usually easy to hear and intelligible at these events. They are good about calling people to the rings if they can't find them and rules and policies are clearly and consistently communicated to people. Once the organizers do know when something is going to happen, they are very good about letting everyone else know.
Score: 9/10

Cleanliness: This is one of the dirtier tournament environments I've ever been to. The bathrooms are usually filthy with overflowing toilets within an hour of the event start time. I regularly see people walking around barefoot and then stepping onto the mats. I've seen a few people walking in and out of the bathroom/locker room areas barefoot and then getting on the mats. And despite hosing myself down with alcohol wipes after every event I almost always end up with ringworm a day or two later and end up missing 8-10 days of training to get rid of it. Blood spills are cleaned up promptly, but I've had to grapple in a huge puddle of someone elses sweat because no one bothered to clean it up after their match. Definitely not cool.
Score: 2/10

Value: I paid 100$ plus a 15$ spectator fee to do 2 divisions pretty much every time I've competed for NAGA. I feel like it's kind of the average value. If you are cheaper than NAGA you're a good value, if you're more expensive then you're doing something wrong. The spectator fee is a bit steep though.
Score: 5/10

Spectator Experience: The venues are frequently hot, and noisy, but there is reasonable effort taken to keep people from obstructing the view of the spectators. They have been a little on the strict side about preventing outside food/drink into some of the events. But I think that might be related more to the venue than NAGA itself. That being said, my wife views these with dread every time. So they are not Jennosaurus approved.
Score: 5/10

Turnout: These are always huge. 1200+ competitors. My division almost  always has 12-16 people in it and requires four wins or more to take first. Because of that there is decent prestige in winning a gold medal at NAGA, so that definitely bumps the score up here.
Score: 9/10

Overall: Almost all of these tournaments are bad experiences for me. I arrive at the venue around 11am in a panic thinking that THIS TIME they will start my division on time at 12 and I'll miss it or something, only to get there and wait around for HOURS. Continually trying to stay warmed up, not wanting to eat anything in case my division starts 10 minutes later, etc... They are stressful and I always end up feeling drained and exhausted by the time I get on the mats from the repeated adrenaline surges of "Your division is about to start. Oh wait, no it isn't. Oh yes it is! Over there! in the other ring! Oh wait, no, we meant an hour from now it will start." The only redeeming feature for NAGA is the size of their attendance and the frequency of their events.
Score: 37/60

Lutador Grappling:
Scheduling: Going in to Lutador I had heard  good things about their scheduling at tournaments, so I was optimistic about my chances of getting on the mats in decent time. Unfortunately that proved overly hopeful. Once again my arrival was approximately 5 hours before the actual start of my division. I don't know what's so hard about starting and completing things on time, especially for a tournament that was pre-registration only, but no one seems to be able to pull it off.

Organization: This was probably the worst organized tournament I've been to. Despite being pre-register only the brackets for my division weren't up until around two hours after I arrived. THEN my ring assignment got moved twice. THEN I was  told I would be competing in the Gi division first. I got my gi on, was standing at the ring for my Gi match, and was then told my NO-GI match was starting, which required that I strip down and change RIGHT THERE at ringside, which wasn't THAT bad, but damn! Then after my no-gi match it was another hour before my  gi match started. Terribly organized and no one seemed to know what was going on. I considered giving them a 3 instead of a 2 because they apparently had a larger kids turnout than expected, but then I realized that they are PRE-REGISTRATION ONLY. So they HAD to know at least two days in advance of the tournament what their kids turnout was going to look like.
Score: 2/10 

Communication: Terrible. Frequently told to go one place, then another, updates for ring assignments were late, and several times wrong. I was, in fact, ASSURED that my Gi division would start before my No-Gi division on two occasions. This turned out to be completely wrong. Not cool guys, not cool.
Score: 3/10

Cleanliness: The mats were well policed, I didn't see anyone walking around barefoot anywhere. I didn't see any sock go from the floor to the mats. Everything seemed pretty clean and well taken care of. The bathrooms were nice, everything seemed well taken care of.

Value: I paid 85$ to compete in Gi, No-Gi, and Gi Absolute, and the spectator fee was 5$. Total cost was 90$ for three divisions. Definitely a good value. I felt like I got my moneys worth out of it for sure. Also, the absolute winners get a cash prize, so you have the chance of going home with more money than you came in with.

Spectator Experience: The venue was airconditioned and reasonably comfortable. Effort was taken to clear the areas in front of the bleachers, and they had no problems  with us bringing in outside food/drinks. The scheduling issues had a negative impact on the Jennosaurus though, so this event also failed to earn the Jennosaurus seal of approval despite their relatively positive experience.
Score: 7/10

Turnout: My divisions were relatively small, 8-10 people in the No-gi and 3 people in the Gi, but the absolute division was huge, with around 20 people. There is also some decent prestige to the Lutador tournaments because of the heavy Alliance turnouts so guys like Cobrinha and Ian McPherson compete at them. Definitely a strong average turnout.
Score: 8/10

Overall: Despite the long wait I did enjoy this tournament. The atmosphere was good even though they had no idea what was going on and the competition is pretty high level. It's also a good value for the available divisions. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and will probably do one more of these some time in 2012 to give them a chance at redemption. I definitely recommend them over NAGA or Casca Grossa though.
Score: 40/60

US Grappling
Scheduling: After I mentioned my experience with Lutador over on JiuJitsu Forums I got multiple assurance from Clinzy that the USG tournaments were a million times better organized and scheduled. Admittedly I went in with some skepticism since I had heard the same thing about Lutador, but this turned out to be the absolute truth. We arrived at 9:30 so I would have time to eat some breakfast and stuff and the rules meeting started sharply at 10:30. By 11am I was on the mats and grappling. By 12 no-gi division was done. My gi division started at about 12:30 and we were done by 1:30. We were frankly, astonished. At first I assumed it was because the turnout at ATL was relatively small, but I spoke with folks who attended their Richmond events which have much larger turnouts and got the same kind of reports. These guys know how to schedule a tournament and stick to it.
Score: 10/10

Organization: Even though they allowed registration at the door the brackets were ready before the rules meeting ended. We even had a late addition to our division and the change took about 30 seconds to enact. The brackets were generated and printed via computer and everything was incredibly smooth. This is by far the most organized event I've ever been to. I'm only avoiding a perfect score on this because the turnout was small and I want to see how they handle a larger crowd before I give them full marks.

Communication: Again, I was skeptical going into this, but 10 minutes after I arrived I knew which ring I would be in and the name of my opponent. At every turn communication was swift and accurate. I couldn't really ask for anything more here.
Score: 10/10

Cleanliness: Signs on the bathroom doors reminding people not to go barefoot in them. Didn't see anyone walking around barefoot, but I did notice that one of the tables made a small group of people wipe their feet down with alcohol/clorox wipes so presumably they were walking around the gym barefoot. Did see a few sockfeet to mat transitions though. All fluid spills were handled quickly with clorox wipes and excessive sweat was handled quickly.
Score: 9/10

Value: I paid 90$ to do 4 divisions, which ended up only being 3 divisions due to lack of purple belts in my weightclass. Spectator fee was FREE. So that ended up with 3 divisions for 90$. you can do up to 8 divisions for 115$ which breaks down to almost nothing on a per division basis.The only thing missing to make this a perfect score is some kind of cash prize somewhere.
Score: 9/10

Spectator Experience: The venue was comfortable, it was easy to see the mats, they had no problem with outside food and drinks, everyone was friendly. It was a great time. The Jennosaurus actually ENJOYED the tournament! This is the ONLY tournament I've been to that received the Jennosaurus Seal of Approval and as a result it is likely to be my primary tournament venue going forward despite them being mostly held in the Carolina and Virginia area.
Score: 9/10

Turnout: This was the biggest downside issue for USG. My no-gi division had 3 guys in it. My gi division had no one but me in it, so it was  turned into a purple belt absolute division with 3 guys in it. TINY turnout. Part of that can be blamed on the Miami Open being held the same day, and a large Alliance belt promotion happening as well, so a lot of people were at those events instead, but I still expected a larger turnout. Hopefully in the future when USG returns to Atlanta more people will know what a great event they run and we'll have more people there. That being said, I DID get to have 6 matches. So I can't complain too much.
Score: 3/10

Overall: I enjoyed this tournament the most of any I've been to. It was pure FUN. There was no stressing about my ring assignment or when my division would start. I was able to eat breakfast and have a snack between divisions because I KNEW when my matches would be happening. I was able to stay warmed up and relaxed without getting tired or adrenaline dumping multiple times. It was a great experience in every way. I wish there had been more people, but I'm sure future events will get a stronger showing as the organization gains exposure.

I definitely welcome input from people who have been to tournaments from any of these organizations presenting their own ratings. These are ALL from tournaments around the Atlanta area, so if you have experience with one of these organizations from a different region please feel free to chime in. If you think any of my ratings are ludicrously low or high then feel free to let me know that as well.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Innovation, Jiujitsu, and You

This post has been forming itself in my head for a few days, ever since I saw this video from the ADCC Pro Trials:

In it the guy catches a very slick collar choke variation off of a scramble. He posted it over at JiuJitsuForums in this thread and we had a discussion about what it was called, and exactly how it was executed. This lead me to thinking about innovation, especially at the lower belts, and jiujitsu.

One of our white belts who has been training for a long time did something that as far as I can tell is completely unique to him. He made up the technique. I've never seen anyone else do it, or even indicated it might be possible. He hit an ezekiel choke on a guy that HAD HIS BACK. In the process he discovered a really solid way to block attacks from the back while threatening his opponent with a choke. Is this a brand new move? Who knows, but it's definitely new to our gym. More importantly, should he, as a white belt, be trying to make up new stuff on the fly instead of working on his established defenses? I don't have an answer to that and that isn't what this post is about.

This is about the creative process of JiuJitsu and how it forces innovation, as well as how that innovation is embrace by the community. Some blackbelts have been extremely innovative and everyone knows about it. Marcelo Garcia's X-Guard is widely studied and used, Eddie Bravo's Rubber Guard system is something that almost every white belt has dabbled with, Spider Guard, De La Riva guard, etc... are all relatively recent innovations as well, and Upside Down/Inverted/Tornado guard has been exploding across the BJJ world for the last few years.

This post is about where this stuff comes from. Again this is not about the specifics of how Marcelo developed the X-Guard, but you can read about that in his book if you're interested, this is about how innovation in general occurs.

Ok, so enough teasers. Innovation in BJJ happens when someone hits an obstacle that they can't overcome with traditional methods. BJJ itself is a testament to this process as Helio developed it largely because he wasn't able to use the traditional Judo style effectively because of his particular body type. When the white belt from our gym kept getting his back taken and getting stuck he was getting outmuscled by guys when he tried to escape, so his solution was to try to use something he's already really good at (His Ezekiel choke is pimp) to solve a problem he was having somewhere else.

My game has partially shaped itself around issues like that because I'm small, weak, and lazy. Sweeps not working on bigger guys? Well, what if I collar choke them at the same time? Oh hey! That works! And not only does it work, but I can't find video or reference to it anywhere. Did I just invent something? Nope. Someone, somewhere, is using exactly the same stuff I'm using. Doesn't matter though. I discovered it within the context of my jiujitsu so for all practical purposes I "invented" it.

This will happen more and more as your game develops because your instructor can only teach you so much and most of it will be out of solid, universal, fundamentally successful techniques. Much of what you discover or invent  will be techniques that fit uniquely into your attributes or your game. Your instructor will have some of these things which he may or may not teach because they may or may not be universally applicable, but rest assured he does HAVE them. Everyone past blue belt will have at least 2-3 techniques that they "invented" that work well for them, but may not work well for anyone else.

Frankly I approve of this process. The sport develops because people try new things. Most of the new things you try will fail, but some will work, and some will work incredibly well. Don't listen to anyone that tells you everything in BJJ has been discovered already. That MIGHT be true, but one guy, in one gym, in Brazil using something doesn't do you any good if you don't know about it. That means we should all be trying to innovate, all the time. Don't try to innovate to the exclusion of your fundamentals, but don't be afraid to set some time aside every week to explore your jiujitsu.

I guarantee that all of the guys who have pushed the sport forward started exploring with their Jiujitsu WELL BEFORE they got their blackbelts.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with Carlos Lemos Jr.

I doubt there is anyone that follows my blog that doesn't already follow Slideyfoot's, but just in case I'm going to give a shoutout for this.

Carlos Lemos Jr was visiting Slidey's school recently and our intrepid Englishman scored an awesome interview with the man which he has posted up over on his blog. So, check out Slideyfoot's interview with Carlos Lemos Jr. and enjoy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What To Do With Downtime

As my regular readers will know I am smack in the middle of a 6 week hiatus from BJJ to heal up and get ready for Mundials training stretch, but I'm not the only one with some downtime. JiuJiu and Meg are both rehabbing injuries as well, and both of theirs are more serious than mine. So what the heck do you do with injury downtime? It's a common question that pops up at Jiujitsu Forums on a regular basis along with the more generic "I Can't train for a week/month/decade how do I keep improving?" questions. So here are a few things you can do to help you avoid backsliding too much during your downtime.

First of all don't neglect your fitness! Just because you can't do jiujitsu doesn't mean you have to turn into a couch potato. I picked up Yoga For Fighters and I've loved it. I also have free weights at home so I'm able to lift weights in ways that don't aggravate my injuries. JiuJiu has a pretty horrible sounding back injury and is still kicking ass and taking names on our Fitocracy (Invite code DACEU) leaderboard by doing an array of bodyweight exercises that aid in her recovery.

Secondly, READ. Pick up some books, Saulo Ribiero's Jiujitsu University is one of the most highly recommended books around and I throw my two cents in on that as well. Buy it, read it, re-read it, put it into practice. Another great book I recommend is Drill to Win by Kevin Howell which will lead you right into my third point.

Third on the list is solo and partner drilling. There are hundreds of great solo drills you can do to build agility and flow even if you can't do anything really strenuous, and even if you can't roll actively in class attending and drilling with a partner can be highly beneficial. Many people find their greatest improvements after periods where they couldn't roll for a while and spent more time drilling. Drilling is a fundamental plank of BJJ that is often overlooked because it's not as much fun as rolling. Forced down time is a good chance to work on that aspect of your training.

Fourth is to clean up your diet! You can always work on improving your diet. I picked up the Samurai Diet on the recommendation of a friend and it's a great book. Switching to Paleo or Primal is always a good idea, but even just reducing your sugar intake and resolving to shop the perimeter of the grocery store (Vegetables, Fruits Meats, and Dairy) instead of the inner aisles (Processed garbage!) will help you in the long run.

Fifth and final is to watch videos. Watch your old competition footage and wince at how awful you were and figure out where and how to fix your mistakes. Watch training DVDs. Watch competition footage from some of the best in the world over at BJJFights.

Staying mentally active with your jiujitsu and physically active any way you can will help you avoid backsliding and losing progress during your downtime. You're still going to lose some progress, but it won't be anywhere near like what would happen if you just sat around eating poptarts and drinking cherry coke for six weeks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Recovery Update

Injury Recovery progress is going great!

Elbows: Feeling great! No problems deadlifting 250 for multiple sets. No pain at all.

Right foot: 99% pain free, occasional ache if weight hits it JUST wrong.

Right shoulder: Great progress! The shoulder has been fine for awhile except for some tingling and weakness in it. I was actually unable to press more than 50lbs a few days ago because of it. Today I popped my neck while stretching it and suddenly the tingling and weakness was gone. So I hopped over to my weights and put 80lbs up with barely any trouble. So I believe that's completely fixed now. Going to give it a couple of days to complete its recovery.

Lower Back: Is feeling great! More flexibility than I've had in a long time thanks to Yoga for Fighters

Left Knee: Aches randomly, but no real pain. Seems to be improving with the Yoga and it always aches less when I'm doing regular lifting.

Left Thumb: Still hurts randomly if I bump it wrong on things, but no stiffness and seems good.

So I think all of my injuries are healing very nicely, I'm re-acquiring my flexibility via Y4F which I am very fond of, and I'm getting stronger. When I return to the gym in January I should be ready to kick ass and take names.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Circles, Pyramids, Shotguns, and Lasers

During a brief but very productive conversation with Georgette (Who I hope will write up her own perspective on this) today we briefly got onto the subject of how techniques and classes are taught. She had a very interesting metaphor involving Pyramids vs Circles that goes thusly:
The two most common ways to teach techniques are the Pyramid, whereby a strong base of fundamental techniques is taught in sequence with each additional layer of techniques relying on the knowledge from the previous techniques, and the Circle, whereby techniques are introduced in a cycle that doesn't rely on or really connect with the previous set of techniques but are repeated on a regular basis in a cycle.
The advantages to the pyramid are that you build a very cohesive game that fits together very tightly. The disadvantage is that if you miss a chunk of the foundation techniques it may take a while before you see them again so the later techniques may be more difficult to learn until you pick them up.
The advantages of the circle are that it doesn't matter where you come into the cycle, you will eventually see all of the techniques over and over again, getting better at them each time until you master them. The disadvantage is that it may take a very long time to master a given technique because you don't have a foundation to build from.

Now, within the Pyramid and the Circle there are teaching methods for individual classes. The way I describe this is using the Shotgun approach or the Laser approach. With the shotgun you are covering 3-5 techniques or technique variations each class, with only enough detail to practice each one a few times. The idea being that each class will offer something valuable to everyone and that over time you will pick up more techniques and go into greater depth on the ones you prefer.
With the Laser method you only introduce one or two techniques or technique variations in a class and go into deep detail on it. You cover fewer techniques in a given time period,. but the ones you do cover you have a more comprehensive knowledge of.

Now, there's nothing wrong with any of these methods. Some people learn better from one than the other, but all of them are valid. I'm a Pyramid-Laser person. I like a strong foundation of techniques that all build on each other, and I like to pick one or two techniques and go into deep detail on them in a given class.
Other people might be Circle-Laser learners, they prefer to learn their techniques in isolation and develop their own path from one to the other, but still like in depth examination of those techniques. There are several combinations and knowing what kind of learner you are can help speed up your development.

Now, from a teaching perspective knowing what kind of teacher you are is even more important. I teach the way I learn, but my gym is more of a Circle-Shotgun gym. Our home gym in Atlanta seems to be a Circle-Laser gym with a lot of depth on one or two techniques each class, operating on a cycle that isn't really dependent on the previous technique.

So how do you prefer to learn? How does your academy teach?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All The Small Things (And a Homework Assignment)

So, I'm sitting here trying eat a turkey sammich and my giant golden retriever starts shoving his head into my lap and looking up at me with his soulful eyes. At the same time our Husky is laying in her crate amidst a pile of stuff she managed to latch onto through the hole she chewed in the metal crate and drag into it with her. Meanwhile our German Shepherd is making constant and incredibly annoying noises. CONSTANT.

What this initially made me think of was a captain planet style cartoon where my three dogs combined their powers and became Super Annoying Dog, so irritating that it could prevent nuclear apocalypse. It would go like this, "Thank you for saving the world Super Annoying Dog! Now will you please go somewhere else?" but then I had a followup thought, this is why I go to jiujitsu. Little daily annoyances, tiny things at work that get on my nerves, people that I can't punch in the face in wal-mart for bringing 900 items through the self checkout and trying to pay with a 5 gallon bucket of change.
Those things drive me to get out of the house, go to the gym, and try to strangle someone that I'm actually good friends with.

So, your homework assignment for this week is to make a list of five things that make you go to class.  Not five things like "I want to be the best person I can be!" or "I want to get in great shape!" or whatever high and mighty ideals drive you forward. I mean the five things in your day to day life that get you to the gym THAT DAY. Some guy cuts you off in traffic and it makes you want to punch him? BINGO! You're gonna make the gym tonight for sure!

How will this help your jiujitsu you ask? Well, that's an excellent question. While thinking about this I realized  that's a crappy attitude to be carrying into the gym with me. I should not be taking my irritation out on my classmates. If I acknowledge the cause of my annoyance and think about it, it helps me to avoid hulksmashing the whitebelts just because my boss gave me a complicated assignment with no background information and a deadline.

So, take note of those little irritations and don't carry them on to the mats with you. You'll be a better partner for it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Epic Thanksgiving

So, my awesome awesome wife Jenn cooked a HUUUUUUGE thanksgiving meal for us. Epic huge. 14 lb turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatos, broccolli casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, pecan pie.... I think that was everything. All of it homemade and all of it delicious.
We've barely made a dent in it.
Then we did our christmas setup a bit early this year. Usually I decree that Christmas stuff can't go up until December 1st, but her exam schedule for school is insane this year, so this is going to be the only weekend we have available. So we did the Christmas transformation today. Tree is up, stockings are up, christmas music is on.

Injury recover is going very well. My shoulder and neck are almost completely pain free, though at certain angles of holding my head, my arm gets pins and needles which I'm told is likely to heal up in another week or so. I'm ending my complete rest tomorrow though and starting a 45 minute Yoga routine from the Yoga for Fighters DVD that I got. That should make me feel a bit better about my inactivity.
All of my other injuries seem to be completely cleared up.

So, Yoga starts tomorrow, then Dec 1st I'll start lifting weights again it looks like. I'm going to go ahead and get my current powerlifting total and see where I stack up to my 900lb goal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Downtime Progress

So I've been on break for a week. No weight lifting, no Jiujitsu.

In line with item #6 from my previously posted list I've rewatched all of my competition videos from the last five years.
My most successful submissions are:
1. Triangle Choke
2. Armbar
3. Omoplata
4. Loop Choke

My most successful sweeps are:
1. Scissor Sweep
2. Omoplata Sweep
3. Situp Sweep

My new Game now looks like this:

Submissions From the Bottom:
Loop Choke

Submissions from the top:
Baseball Bat Choke
Loop Choke

Scissor Sweep
Omo Sweep
Flower Sweep

Teleport Pass
Double Underhook Pass
Toreador Pass

Concentrate on the Reguard.
Caio Sweep
Old School

That's a total of 12 techniques.

After my return I'm going to start drilling each technique in isolation 10 times per day minimum.

Combos based on the above twelve techniques:
1. Scissor Sweep -> Triangle -> Armbar -> Omoplata
2. Scissor Sweep -> Loop Choke -> Armbar
3. Omo Sweep -> Mounted Triangle -> Armbar
4. Flower Sweep -> Armbar ->  Triangle

Infinite Combo for Drilling
Scissor Sweep -> Triangle(bottom) -> Armbar(bottom) -> Omoplata(bottom) -> Omo Sweep -> Triangle(top) -> Armbar(top) -> Triangle from the back -> Triangle(Bottom) -> Flower Sweep ->  Knee on Belly -> Baseball Bat choke(top) -> Armbar(top) -> Loop Choke

Everything feeds together very nicely, so this is what I'll be drilling and what I'll be looking to implement.when rolling.

Recovery is going nicely, my shoulder feels better but I'm not ready to lift with it yet. My knee has been bothering me a little still, but also improving. My foot is still sore, but improving. Everything else seems solid. I will probably resume weight lifting after Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Downtime Plan

So here's what I've put together so far as what I will be doing during my 6 weeks off.

1. Acquire "Yoga for Fighters" book as recommended by Slideyfoot.
2. Setup 30-40 minute Yoga routine to do 3-4 times a week.
3. Pick up "The Samurai Diet" by Nate Miyaki as recommended by Ralph from The Hardcore Gym.
4. Continue tweaking my diet for recovery and energy output.
5. Start taking my Glucosomine and Omega-3 supplements regularly.
6. Watch BJJ DVDs and study them. Competition videos included. Take notes!
7. Rebuild my game from the ground up based on the techniques that I've had the most success with in competition.
8. Build a new training plan that incorporates more DRILLING and less free rolling.
9. Concentrate on RECOVERY and not getting ahead of myself and starting to lift weights and stuff before I'm healed up.
10. Relax and enjoy the holidays.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Hiatus from 11/14/11 to Jan 1

Food Diary: Had half a rotisserie chicken and about 3oz of frozen yogurt. Felt plenty fast and awake, but was rolling with the HWs so definitely was working a LOT harder than normal. Which leads me into the rest of this quite nicely.

Technique was side control work, attacking from the top. Farside armbar, kimura, and the head scissor choke combo. Drilled it with Kris and enjoyed it.

Did positional sparring with the lightweights and hit kimuras and head scissor and stuff. Ankor was in town visiting, so I got to roll with him. His choke defense is still pimp, but he hasn't been training BJJ recently, so his positional work was weaker than it used to be.

Rolled with the HWs for live rolling including a guy named Christian who currently trains with team ROC at their headquarters school.  He also trains Judo and has the same kind of strong top game that Johnny has only a lot more technical. I kept giving up halfguard on all of them because it's by far my weakest position against heavier guys and it continue to be so. I could fight off submissions for a good long while, but couldn't put together any effective sweeps for the most part. I did finally manage to break him down long enough to get the overhook and behind the neck grip and turn it into an omoplata sweep, but lost control in the scramble.
Also had a nice leglock battle with them, had to make a note to myself to make sure I got my toe hold grip up close to the toes, not in the middle of the foot.
Also got to roll with Casey and he played a lot of catch and release, I was able to put together a little bit of offense against him, but not much.

But, post class I feel like I was run over by a truck and thrown down a cliff. Every injury I have is flaring up extremely painfully and in light of that and other issues with work and my schedule I'm taking some time off from class until Jan 1. I'll be going to Alliance HQ once in Nov, and once in Dec, and I might still make the USG tournament in NC, but I'm going to take some time off. Let all of my injuries heal completely and come back after the holidays ready to make my run for the Mundials from a nice fresh injury free base. In the mean time I'll be watching some DVDs, retooling my gameplan, and concentrating on the mental side of my jiujitsu for a little while. There will still be awesome posts here, but they won't have anything to do with class until Jan 1.

Friday, November 11, 2011

BJJ 11/11/11 - Light Work

Pre-Workout meal: Banana! 1/2lb! NOMNOMNOM!
Ate that at 5:30ish and started rolling about 6:15. Felt quick, plenty of energy. But was RAVENOUSLY hungry by 7:30.

Kris and Will showed up to roll and we had some good stuff. Kris has really good standing guard passing and I'm really enjoying working with him because he's fairly innovative and does a lot of research outside of class so he always has some new stuff to try. He's also quick and fairly strong, while still being my weight so it's always a good roll with him. He's been ready for his blue belt for a while now. I did get him with the figure four counter to the DLR again, and this time he didn't see it coming. The more I mess with it the more I think that might actually be a legitimate counter in some circumstances. We'll see....

Rolling with Will is a whole different experience. He trained with us for about a year and was a couple of months away from his blue belt when life interfered and he ended up not training for about a year. He's been back on and off the last couple of months, but he's put on a bunch of weight and is back around 235 now. He's still got great base and is strong and fairly explosive, but his cardio is complete trash now. He ends up using occasional bursts of power to defend. It's valuable because it helps me work on my ability to react to explosive movements.

I was able to continue to implement my game. Working the scissor sweep and the various combinations off of it and the single collar choke and armbar and triangle offense. Worked on the flower sweep as well.

From the top, I really think I'm still missing something in my guard passing, my worst position is still trying to pass long range halfguard, but I don't think it's as bad as I think it is. For some reason I have the idea that passing guard should be as effortless as sweeping someone when I get it right, and when I hit my Teleport Pass it IS that easy, but if I really have to be low and tight to hit that pass properly, and when I'm getting stopped by long range half it's because I'm passing too upright. I'm getting closer and closer to making this my primary focus for a while, just passing guard and then letting my opponent reguard with minimal effort and then working to pass again.

Had to ditch out before the main class started though. Was STARVING. Came home and ate some salmon cakes. NOMNOMNOM!

As a note, I need to rewrite my gameplan again. It's been further refined and trimmed, and reorganized into sequences instead of being divided by position.

Friday, November 4, 2011

BJJ 11/04/2011 - Wheel Of Injury!

Food Diary: At 5:00 my wife and I hit Longhorns for an early dinner, so between 5 and 6 I had 3 slices of bread with butter, a quarter pound angus burger with cheddar cheese, and half a plate of french fries. It was delicious. Clearly I am NOT the best role model for pre-workout eating, as you will discover below.

Got over to the gym at 6 and got changed. Kris arrived at 6:30 and we started rolling. The entire time the cheeseburger felt like a rock in my stomach. I would fold up for my normal transitions and feel slightly sick and have to give up positions. I was also moving more sluggishly than normal. I blame this for the injury I inflicted on myself. I was playing with the lapel reversal from the bottom of side control that I hit at the judo school Wednesday and found that against normal side control as opposed to Kesa you have to really get both legs involved and crank it super tight to put on enough pressure to pull them off and over. While doing this I dropped him onto my foot and heard a crackling noise that was mildly disturbing. Had a little bit of pain, but nothing too bad. We stopped occasionally for me to give him pointers or to get some water. But it was pretty much nonstop rolling from 6:30 to 7:20, at which point Johnny had arrived and Kris was exhausted, so I rolled with Johnny until the main class started, about 10 minutes.

*UPDATE* Almost forgot, while rolling with Kris I forced the Figure 4 counter to his DLR pretty much purely by out gripping him. He saw it coming towards the very end and he quite probably stopped resisting right as I put it on.  But it was hilarious and we laughed about it.

Main class was more back control stuff. This time you block the fatboy roll and take the farside collar grip. First finish was with a normal clock choke, weight down, run around the head. I'm terrible at finishing this for some reason. I never move quite right and end up all the way on the other side of my opponent before the choke sets in. Still troubleshooting, but not all that much because there are other moves I prefer from that same grip.
Second finish was the Hell Strangle. You pull free of the fatboy roll attempt and grab the pants or the belt, get the same collar grip, then step over the head, put your knee on the back and either stand up and pull for the finish, or fall backwards. You run the risk of them rolling you and you faceplanting if you stand up, so I recommend falling backwards for the finish if you're as pretty as I am.
Third finish you drop your weight on them, get the same collar grip, and then bring your farside arm over and drive the elbow into their neck to complete the choke. Super wicked tight.

Next up was specific sparring starting from the turtle. I swept a lot, choked people a lot, worked through a lot of transitions. However, I still felt slower than normal, and fairly uncomfortable in my normal folded in half game. Managed to repeat the exact same "Drop guy on foot" scenario 3 more times resulting in a really annoyed foot. Also got neck cranked by one of the whitebelts. Neck popped about 8 times before he had the thing even on and I was already tapping. Osteoarthritis in the neck = no neck cranks. I had forgotten to warn this white belt because it's been so long since anyone threw one at me. No lasting injury, but my neck will be sore as hell for a couple of days.
Also got the chance to get a problem area fixed. Same white belt I was playing under side control, got halfguard and went to deep half. Made it part of the way out the back, then got kneebarred which is what usually happens. This time however Coe was watching, so I was able to ask him what the hell I was doing wrong and he pointed out that I'm overcomitting to controlling the leg that I have trapped with my legs, and I'm letting my opponent maintain mobility with his untrapped leg. I need to concentrate on immobilizing that leg in order to make the sweep work. I also need to maintain control of my legs during that transition.

The above is one of the perfect examples of how you CAN NOT learn if you aren't tapping. If you refuse to play to your weaknesses, then they will ALWAYS be your weaknesses.

Ended the class with a slightly tweaked neck, slightly tweaked knee (Dudes cup jammed into a spot on my knee, tapped in plenty of time, but ended up pushing on a soft spot), slightly jacked up foot, jacked up pinky finger from a collar choke, my elbow is tweaked from work since I spent about an hour hanging from the rafters one handed pulling cable. Shoulder is still tweaked. So, all in all feeling like I got run over. No class sunday because it's homecoming weekend and I'm not going anywhere near town.

When I entered my stuff into Fitocracy I realized that we do a LOT of sparring relative to the amount of drilling we do. We spend 30 minutes doing techniques and drilling them a dozen or so times. I need to cut the amount of sparring I'm doing and get more drilling done. Definitely need to make my sessions with Kris into 50/50 drilling and sparring at least. I'm neglecting repping my competition rounds which is no good.

Tomorrow is roofing the barn day for my awesome wife. So probably no weightlifting, but maybe I can fit some in somewhere.

William Wayland Gives Some Great Advice

And he does it in slideshow format!

William is a BJJ Blogger and a Strength and Conditioning coach that also happens to have a voice like honey being poured into your ears. This slideshow and the accompanying lecture make some excellent points about how your training, weight lifting, and supplemental cardio should be structured based on your goals, lifestyle, and, current fitness level.
If you're new to BJJ, new to S&C training, or just new to the combination of both you should DEFINITELY check out that slideshow. Even if you're experienced you're likely to pick up a couple of things you hadn't thought about before.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Figure Four Leglock Counter to the DLR

Ok, so I got several requests for a video of the figure four DLR counter that I mentioned a few posts back, and since I'm nothing if not an attention whore I have delivered!

You can clearly see my crazy hair from the two and a half hours of grappling prior to this. The guy with the DLR has the deep DLR hook, but it works just fine with the shallower one as well, you just have to pull the leg through with authority.
I have no idea what the legality of this move is in competition, but it's essentially two straight ankle locks and a kneebar, so as long as kneebars are legal you should be all good.

Special thanks to Kris for being my victim here and Antony for running the camera.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BJJ 11/2/2011

Pre-Class Food Diary: At 5:15 had 3 mini reeses cups, 2 mini krackles, and a mini butterfinger because one of my clients plied me with candy while I was onsite. Couldn't turn it down. Drank 48oz of water.

Finished up work at about 6:15 and headed over to the local Judo school for a romp with them. They asked me to give them some pointers on maintaining mount, so I talked about high mount, and being mobile and transferring to technical mount. Predicting which way your opponent will roll based on which arm they have trapped. Killing leverage points by hooking under the head and grapevining, etc...
We drilled that for a bit, then rolled. I worked my grip game, swept a lot and worked the mount stuff I had shown them just to demonstrate that it definitely works. Threw some triangles up, etc... The instructor is really solid, even when I trick him into where I want him his posture and grip strength is enough to keep me from being able to finish anything. At the end they had me turtled in the middle and they started from dominant positions and I worked to escape and get on top. The last round was with an big guy, somewhere over 200lbs, who started on top of side control. I ended up wrapping his lapel around my foot and using that to move him over me and take side control. Then they started me on top of side control with him and told him to survive for 30 seconds. I hit the baseball bat choke on him with about 6 seconds left and he had to tap. Was a blast and I will probably try to make it regular wednesday thing with them.

Hurried over to the gym for the beginning of class. Got there just in time to start techniques which were all attacking the turtle. First one was the basic harness, then shin against their knee and roll to get your hooks in and setup your choke. Key point on the choke, if you can't get the full RNC and use the palm up forearm choke instead then you don't want to feed across as deep. You want the forearm parallel to your opponents chest when you pull back, and you want to pull back with your back muscles and your arms. Not just your arms.
Second technique was for when your opponent hooks your leg while you are moving, you triangle and extend, then put the choke on anyways. Variation of that technique was if they don't take the bait of your leg. You cross grip their near wrist with your outside arm and roll them anyways, then pin their arm with your leg and choke.
Third technique was if you get fat-boy rolled. You want to triangle on their arm and extend your hips for the armbar. If the turn their arm in to defend you turn into them and slide your hips away for the armbar anyways. Key point was to triangle your legs so that your foot was pointing TOWARDS your opponent.
Variation, if you triangle with your foot pointing away you won't be able to finish with the amrbar, but you can allow they to bend their arm and the while maintaining some control you can sit up and roll into an ompplata (might have been a reverse omoplata, the details are fuzzy.)

Drilled from turtle and I did a lot of sweeping and chokes and whatnot. Hit the rolling hell strangle.
Rolling was a gauntlet of light folks, Antony gave me some good grip work, he breaks grips religiously and stands up to pass a lot, so I like working with him. Put in some more concentration work on establishing and using my grips. Continued to be very successful.

At the end of clas I had Antony and Kris help me out while I filmed the Ric Flair Figure 4 counter to De La Riva. I'll post that up tomorrow.

Grabbed a banana and headed home where my awesome Jennosaurus had STEAK and ASPARAGUS and SWEET POTATO waiting for me hot out of the magic kitchen when I arrived!! She is epic awesome and I can not express how much I love her.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Homework Assignment for November 2011

Time for a new homework assignment. If you haven't done any of the previous ones that's ok. This one isn't connected to any of the others. I still recommend you go take a look at them and work through them, but you can do this one on its own.

The assignment is for the entire month of November, so get ready to pay attention for an entire month. We're going to keep a limited food diary for 30 days. It's limited because we are ONLY going to worry about what you eat in the 2 hours before you train.
So here's what I want you to do. Every day that you train keep track of WHAT food you eat, and roughly how much of it, as well as how much time elapses between when you eat and when you start training. Include what you DRINK as well.
Then AFTER CLASS record how you felt in that class. Were you sluggish? Were you hyper? Did you feel weak? Strong? Happy? Irritable?

Keep this log for the entire month and see if you can draw any conclusions about what foods best fuel you for your training.

*UPDATE* Just wanted to add a note, it's OK if you want to keep a full food diary, but not part of this particular assignment.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BJJ 10/26/2011 - Gripwork Continued

Started class by warming up with a guard pass we've been working on. Instead of the traditional knee centered on the tailbone, your knee is slightly off center under one hamstring of your opponent. Your same side arm is based on your opponents belt or the base of their ribs. You post behind you with the opposite side leg and sit back onto your heel while pushing the opponents opposite side leg down to open the guard, then pass as normal. Worked a few variations of it.

Technique was passing the DLR guard by popping the front foot down and out and turning and sitting down into a sort of halfguard. You want to get your arm under your opponents head to control them, or get very high up on their chest, even with your ribs right under their chin if you can, to keep them from pushing you down and escaping.
Second part is when your opponent tries to roll into you, secure the wrist, establish the kimura grip, and finish.
Third part is the fancy variation. Your opponent triangles their legs together, so you reach across with your far hand and grab their foot, then you do a shoulder roll that puts your head on the opposite side of their body, near their feet, and at the same time make a big arc with your legs. This rotates your opponent around and allows you to take the back. It also opens up the knee slicer/calf crushed finish if you want to go for that.

Drilling was starting from DLR with one sleeve grip. Several times I started with the cross grip on the near sleeve since I was only letting myself use one arm (Preserving the injured shoulder) and was able to sweep and take the back or side control with only the one hand. Continuing my gripping study. Being unable to use both hands to help break grips really makes it difficult to avoid getting swept from DLR, but I did manage to get some counter gripping in and make it work a couple of times.

Rolling let me really get my grip work started and first thing I did was try out the "Fruit Roll-up Grip" that BJJGrrl mentioned Monday. She was nice enough to make me a drawing since I couldn't figure out exactly how my hand should align:
This was actually really helpful. I used it from guard and once I rolled it up it was so tight and so secure that I was able to easily isolate the arm with it and just work my way to a casual armbar. This is a great grip. I messed with it thumb towards elbow and thumb towards wrist. I liked it best with thumb towards the wrist since that seemed like the optimal angle for what I was doing, which was jamming my opponents arm across the center line. Then I reach across with my other arm and grip the back of his tricep and just hip my way around for the easy armbar.
Continuing to make gripping a priority had me easily hitting triangles and transitioning them to armbars, completely pinning people from side control and mount with very minimal effort, and shutting down almost every bit of offense that anyone could bring against me today. And all with almost zero effort. I absolutely felt like I had barely done any work even while after a 10 minute roll with a guy 30lbs heavier than me.

If anyone else has some good grips they want to throw at me I would be psyched to see them. Also, if anyone knows a good book or DVD specific to gripping for BJJ I would love to hear about it. I'm becoming a serious convert to the cult of gripping because of the huge jump in my game I've seen in just the 8 or so days that I've been concentrating on them.

Oh! I was also reminded that I promised to film the DLR Ric Flair counter. I will do that next week and get it put up.

Monday, October 24, 2011

US Grappling Videos are UP!

 Ok folks, commentary is welcome either here or on the videos themselves. I felt really great about this whole competition. The videos have some match commentary in the descriptions.

 Trying to setup my next tournament outing to be US Grappling in Richmond for their submission only tournament instead of doing grapplers quest in dalton. I would just RATHER do US Grappling tournaments. Better organization, better atmosphere, just plain better.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

US Grappling - 10/22/2011

This will be the writeup of my tournament experience over all with a brief description of the matches. The videos will be up monday in their own post.

I weighed in Friday night at exactly 135.5. The weigh-in was quick and uncomplicated. My info got put into the computer and off I went. The whole process took maybe 10 minutes. After that I hit up longhorns for some awesome dinner and by the time I went to bed I was back up around 141.
We arrived at the venue at about 9:45 thanks to there being no traffic and I had a breakfast of banana, some awesome chobani yogurt and a blueberry muffin and some water. Checked in at the tables and found out that my division got rolled up since there was only one other advanced no-gi competitor close to my weight. Another one showed up a little later and they made the division a 3 man division.
The purple belt division turned into a three man absolute division as well since there were only three purples that showed up. The low turnout was the ONLY thing that wasn't awesome about the event.
The rules meeting was well organized and smooth with everything being covered well and questions being addressed as needed. I got changed right before the rules meeting for my no-gi division and about 10 minutes after the meeting I was on the mats getting ready for my first match.
First match I drew Bumpkin from Team ROC who is a slick brown belt. After much shenanigans I ended up with the exact same omoplata that we worked on during my visit to Alliance HQ a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to finish it using the alternate finish we had worked on. I was frankly astonished at my victory, but super happy. I don't think Bumpkin was feeling 100% though.
After a break I took on Bubby Mitchell of RUSH MMA. I was hoping I could use my reach to catch him from guard so I pulled an guard early, but he had absolutely great top pressure and was able to pass and setup a really slick D'arce choke for the win.
After that he went up against Bumpkin since we were doing a round robin for the division and lost to Bumpkin via triangle/armbar I believe.
We had a brief break after that while they redrew the division since we each had 1 win and Bumpkin had to go up against him a second time. This time Bubby was able to avoid the submission and grind out a win on points. Bumpkin had to pull out after that as he apparently was starting to feel super nauseous and I believe had upchucked his breakfast at some point. So I went up against Bubby again for 1st and 2nd. This time I played a more aggressive standup game, but he nailed a beautiful double on me for two points. I was able to keep him in guard this time and slow him down, I hit a near sweep eventually and we ended up back on our feet, then I was able to stuff a takedown and end up on top for 2 points. I was working to pass his halfguard, but hadn't established it strongly enough to get an advantage yet when time ran out and he won by 1 advantage. I felt pretty damn good about my performance there considering the experience disparity in both of my matches. 2nd place felt great.

A brief break and then the absolute no-gi advanced division started. I was up against some 170ish pound guy. I pulled guard and made him work as best I could, but he eventually armbarred me after some very nice transitions.

I had about 30 minutes to rest, grab some water, eat a banana, and review my matches before the Gi matches started. The gi division was rolled up into an absolute division with just three of us. First match was against Clint/Quint/Kint, not sure how it's spelled (My wife informs me that A. It's KENT like CLARK KENT, and B. I'm an idiot) who was about a 180lb purple belt. With my recent empahsis on GRIP GRIP GRIP I was concentrating on establishing my grips before pulling guard. I was able to overhead sweep him, but not establish the position well enough for points, but then I hit a sickle sweep and was able to get to halfguard top and get two points out of it. He swept me back over at some point and we were tied at 2 and 2, then I can't remember what happened but I managed another sweep, which he tried to turn into a kneebar, I defended, got on top, and actually had my single collar choke locked up when time ran out and I won 4 to 2.

After that I went up against a VERY TALL purple belt named TJ who put on an absolutely spectacular display of grip work by controlling my limbs in every possible way after taking me town with a hilarious  trip with his super long legs. It was, quite honestly, a pleasure to be part of such excellent ground work. His grip work was fantastic and with my new emphasis on grips I was really watching what he was doing and could appreciate the artistry.
The other fellow had to bow out due to fatigue instead of going up against TJ, so I ended up with 2nd place in the Purple Belt Absolute division. So this time out I won 2 out of 5 (Edit: I actually had 6 matches, I forgot to add in the no-gi advanced Absolute division match) matches, good enough for 2nd place in 2 out of 3 divisions.

And I was done by 1:30pm. The entire tournament ran so incredibly smoothly that I just don't have enough good things to say about it. I can only say that US Grappling  earned my wife's seal of approval and I plan on making them my primary tournament. I'll probably replace both of the other tournaments in my season with US Grappling tournaments.

Again, videos will be up some time monday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Homework - The Perfect Tournament Round

This is the second homework assignment in the series, if you haven't done the first one then you should go here and do that one first. Then come back here and do this one. The other assignments can be done in any order, but generally having done the first one will help you with the rest.

You should be drawing from techniques which appear in the gameplan you wrote down from the first assignment in order to put this one together.  The idea is to create your ideal progression so that you can drill that sequence constantly at varying levels of resistance until it's second nature. That way you won't have to think about it when the time comes. Your body will do it for you, leaving your mind free to deal with your opponents responses. Of course, the more you drill it and the more resistance your partners eventually give the more you will have automatic counters to your opponents counters. 
So now the assignemtn is to create a gameplan that consists of the perfect tournament round.  Something like this:
1. Achieve collar and sleeve grip
2. Tomoe Nage (Sacrifice throw)
3. Setup baseball bat choke
4. Finish
1. Achieve collar and sleeve grip
2. Pull guard
3. Setup scissor sweep
4. Sweep to mount
5. Setup baseball bat choke
6. Finish
Once you have those, you should spend at least 10 minutes of each class drilling one of those sequences starting at low intensity and working up to high intensity.

Friday 10/21/2011 - Homework Assignment

This weeks homework assignment is more mental than physical. People have many different "styles" of jiujitsu which are mostly tied to their body type and their attitude. Many people pickup nicknames based on those styles, and a lot of them are animal related. Which leads me to this weeks assignment.

What kind of animal is your jiujitsu? Is it otterjitsu where you are laughing and playing on the mats all the time, just looking to roll playfully with everyone all the time? Is it wolfjitsu where you play the long hunt and never let your opponent rest until they are so tired they just give you an arm? Is it bearjitsu where you crush your opponent down and then maul them? What kind of attitude do you approach your jiujitsu with?

I'm a spider monkey. I use my feet as a second pair of hands, I like to play clever tricks on my opponent, and I climb all over them attacking. That trickster mentality is what really affects the way I roll though. I want to deceive my opponent. I want them to think one thing is happening, and then BAM! Something else happens. I live for that surprised look when suddenly they are being choked.

So, figure out what kind of animal your jiujitsu is and then look at how that affects your rolling habits and patterns. Now CHANGE ANIMALS. You're normally a wolf? Be a tiger for a day. The quick spring and savage finish instead of the long steady chase. When you play differently and change gears you'll find that different techniques and strategies start to open up to you. Different ways to play the same game will appear as you adjust your attitude towards the roll.

Also, I'll be in Suwanee, Ga tonight weighing in for US Grappling (At 135.5 lbs for the first time in two years) and I'll be competing tomorrow, so if anyone wants to meet me just look for the guy blue Megalodon Gi tomorrow. I probably won't have time to talk to anyone tonight since I'm on a tight schedule for feeding myself back up after this weight cut, but I'll be absolutely willing to hang out and chat tomorrow if anyone is around.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get Your Grips and Move Your Hips

So after my experience up at Alliance HQ over the weekend this thread popped up over at JiuJitsuforums and Jack weighed in with some tips about the importance of getting grips, everyone piled on to agree and Jack threw some really good tips in.
I approached all of my rolls in class today with the intention of concentrating fully on grips before trying to implementing anything else. The result was a huge increase in the number of finishes that I was able to get. Was able to shut down everyones game, hit sweeps on people that usually are able to resist me, and generally ran amok on all of the lightweights. Gripping is definitely key. Win the grip fight and you win. End of story.

Techniques today were open guard passes, so that worked well with my grip concentration.

Weighed in after dinner (couple of delicious chicken breasts) and rehydrating and tipped the scales at 139.2. Will probably wake up at 136.5. No problem making it to 135.5 by saturday.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Training at Alliance HQ

So, by my definition of "Winning" while training I won like 5 times yesterday at HQ. For anyone not familiar with my definition here it is, "You only win in training when you learn something new. Nothing else matters." I learned a TON.
The warmup was the nice kind of functional warmup I like. There was an initial round of jogging, but then it was straight to the ground for shrimping, reverse shrimping, and shrimping around a partner while they advance. That led right into no-handed armbars from guard, then triangles, then omoplatas. Which led directly into the technique of the day which was the Omoplata.
From feet on hips, with double sleeve control and your knees on the inside of your opponents arms and putting pressure out on the elbows you extend one leg and shrimp out, pulling both of their arms towards your hips and extending them. Then bring your top leg over, foot on your opponents back, and put knee pressure on their elbow. You CAN get an armlock here, but most people will rotate their arm to relieve the pressure, which gives you the omoplata. So when they rotate the arm you extend your leg over their shoulder and pull your bottom leg through. It's important to retain control of their bottom sleeve the entire time here. That's a huge key detail that I was missing before that makes it SO much harder for them to escape. Once your legs are crossed and extended you can release the bottom hand and switch your grip, then grab your opponents belt and pull yourself upright. Move your hips away from your opponent slightly to break their balance and then reach across and free up their opposite lapel. Pull the lapel up and grip it with both hands, bringing your elbow down across your opponents back. Keep your weight anchored DOWN on the shoulder, not across their back. Now bring your knees up under you in an "S" shape and push your hips forward to finish.
The second part of the technique was for when your opponent is really strong and postures up after you cross your legs. You pretty much just swing your upper body around with their momentum, underhook the arm you aren't omoplataing and grip the shoulder and pull them down tight while you scoot your hips away to finish.

I really liked doing one technique with a lot of depth. It's a nice contrast to the broader, but more shallow multiple technique style that we have at Megalodon. It's nice to learn 3-4 techniques in one class, but it's also nice to go in depth with detail on 1 technique sometimes. Another reason why making regular trips up to HQ will help me.

Rolling got me paired up with a guy that is apparently a Judo black belt and I think a BJJ blue. He was very lanky which gave me space to move under him pretty well, so I was able to at least attain a couple of superior positions. We were pretty much even, though after the roll my grip was wrecked from trying to control him.
The second guy was a purple belt who MIGHT have weighed 160, but felt like a truck was parking on me. His grip control was outstanding. None of my normal tricks played AT ALL. Every time I moved I would get halfway through my escape and then find out that he still had my gi in a vise grip and I couldn't get anywhere. His transitions were also killer. I would think I was in the middle of escaping and he would just flow to a new position, frequently with an armbar or a triangle. It was awesome and I was able to FEEL how the flow that I want to develop worked.
The third guy was a blue belt that's only been training for 18 months, but trains 4-5 times a week. Again, grip control was insane. His transitions weren't QUITE as smooth as the purple belt, but were still really slick. Again he frequently transitioned smoothly right into submissions as I was escaping from places. He also got me with the "Move of The Day" omoplata when I started just trying ridiculous shit to try to pass his guard. All of those guys have that damn long range halfguard that I CAN NOT reliably pass.

So, list of things I learned I REALLY need to work on:
1. Stand up to pass
2. Grip control - Break opponents grips, secure my grips.
3. Pass LRH
4. Transitions into submissions

I'm going to write up a training plan to address those items and post it here a bit later, probably tomorrow.
Next trip to Alliance HQ is scheduled for Nov 19th. That will be after the two tournaments I have coming up, and will probably mark a transition in my training focus to include more trips up there in place of competition. At the beginning of the year I'd like to make it twice a month, and then if at all possible sometime next summer move to every saturday having a trip up there to train.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BJJ 10/14/2011 - De la Riva MADNESS!

So only a handful of us showed up at the beginning of class. Me, Casey, Coe, Katy, and Yoshi, so we decided that the three higher belts would each show something crazy and teach it to everyone.
Coe started us off with a DLR hook, then you pass your front leg over the arm that you have a grip on and put pressure on. You can sometimes get the arm lock there, but if you don't you underhook the near leg and spin under, corckscrewing yourself under your opponent and then they just fall over and you take side control. The difficult part was getting spun under your opponent, but we found you could make the sweep work with the barest bits of your legs if you got under them right.
That reminded me of another DLR trick I had seen, so I showed that. You get the same DLR hook and cross your leg over the opponents arm, but this time you tuck your foot under their thigh and and extend your leg to put additional pressure on the arm. That forces your opponent to lower their head, you then situp and grab the belt, or the gi, or the tricep, whatever you can get a grip on, and roll backwards while lifting with the leg to flip your opponent over in awesome fashion. Key is to SIT UP as far as you ca.
That reminded Casey of a move for when your opponent is fighting off your DLR hooks and pushing into you. You have a slight DLR hook, but your opponent keeps squaring back up against you, so you put your non DLR hooking foot in his hip, get a little bit of a grip with your DLR hook, and execute an overhead sweep. Worked a treat. Key is to drop your knee towards your chest about 3 inches, then extend as you swirl your arms out and down.
That led into a bunch of other crazy DLR stuff, including variations on all of those techniques. And then I found out I could set up the Ric Flair Figure Four leglock as a counter to the DLR. You just have to push the DLR hooking leg in on top of the non DLR hooking leg and then sit back like you are going to do a straight ankle lock on the non DLR hooking leg and kick your nontrapped leg over. It's super complicated to describe, so next week I'm going to do a quick video on it. It's 100% comedy submission, but it DOES work if you are pimp enough to pull it off.

Antony and big white belt whose name I forget showed up somewhere in the middle, so we had a couple more people.

Rolling was one big guantlet. Fun times!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday 10/14/2011: Homework Assignment

Ok, so I've given BJJGrrl, and by extension Georgette and Slideyfoot, a couple of homework assignments over the last few weeks just in the form of tips to help with developing your game. A lot of it is stuff that I've gotten from Lloyd Irvin and some is from other sports trainers just adapted for BJJ. Last weeks homework was to create your "Perfect" tournament round. Describing exactly how you would want the round to go, then from that you create a sequence of techniques that you then can rep until it's second nature.

Since people have started adopting the assignments and doing them I decided to move them over here so that it would be easier for the people who are interested in them to find them. I hope at least a few people will find each one useful.

This weeks homework assignment is a defensive one that will require a little research. First identify the position from which you have the WORST escapes, mine is bottom of north south, next find a NEW escape from that position. Not one that you've tried before. It can be one that you may have seen and thought "That will never work for me" or it may be one that you kind of repped way back when you were a white belt and then forgot about. You might have to go digging through youtube or ask your instructor or a friendly higher belt, but find one.
Now your homework proper is to do 100 reps of that escape starting with 0% resistance and then increasing every 10 reps until your last 10 are against 100% resistance.

I did this a couple of weeks ago for north south and chose an escape where you get control of one sleeve of your opponent, get enough space to wedge your knee in, use that knee to make enough space to wedge your other knee in, then transition your way to upside down spider guard and either spin out to guard or sweep. It helped me look at the mechanics of north/south bottom from a different angle and improved my OTHER n/s escapes by proxy.
Picking a brand new technique in a position and spending a day with it is a great way to change your perspective on a position where you have been frustrated in the past.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UGA Grappling Club - Halfguard

I visited the UGA Grappling Club last night to teach a guest class and had a great time. Since there were quite a few new people and many of them in general haven't been training very long I started the warmup with just a brief series of fundamental movements. Showed them how to shrimp, had everyone shrimp down the mats, then showed upa and sitouts and had them do some reps with those as well then moved directly into teaching techniques.
I taught four halfguard techniques, two passes and two sweeps. The first pass was a basic knee cut pass to the inside. You lock down a solid halfguard and posture up onto the balls of your feet, staying well based, get your knee up past your opponents thighs (Via bouncing usually) and then cut your trapped knee towards your other knee and to the ground. At the same time drop your hip down on your opponent and begin to free your leg. If your opponent clamps down really hard on the ankle then place your untrapped foot on their bottom knee and push as you pull the trapped foot free. Then take side control.

Second was a fancier pass to the back. Start with the same halfguard and posture your hips up, then drive your knee through on the outside, moving towards mount. Your opponent clamps down on your ankle and you posture up a little to give them an opportunity to try to push your knee back down into halfguard. When they start pushing the knee you reach under their head with your opposite arm (So if they are pushing on your right knee, you reach under with your left arm) and then hug them up to you and sit down, then roll to your back and insert your second hook to take the back. That last bit can be complicated to describe, but it's a great transition to the back and usually gives you half of a choke on the way.

Next up was the first sweep. I taught the Caio Terra sweep that I've been using recently since it's so incredibly simple. Your opponent has a good halfguard on you, so you shrimp out to the side of the untrapped leg, and then bring that leg over to hook your opponents leg, then shrimp under the OTHER direction to bring their hips all the way up onto yours. Now take your trapped leg and hook your opponents outside leg and drag it in close. Finally  block the arm on the same side as the leg you just trapped, then remove your outside leg and plant it to Upa over into halfguard top.

Final sweep was again fancier. You are on your side in halfguard with an underhook and your opponent has a wizzer. Base up on your free elbow and push into your opponent some to force them to base. Use your free hand to grab your opponents wrist on the arm then are using to wizzer you, now bring your underhooking hand in to also grab that wrist and pinch  your opponents elbow. At the same time switch your legs so that the outside leg is trapping your opponents leg. The underhooking arm should be putting some pressure on your opponents bicep here and already starting to sweep them. Next bring your trapped leg up so that your knee meets the elbow of your bottom arm. This will give you a hook on the inside of your opponents leg. Now roll flat to your back and drive your underhooking arms elbow to the mat. At the same time lift with your bottom legs hook. If you try to go to mount from here you will usually get caught in halfguard, so I recommend using the space created to just take side control.

That took up most of the class time, so I briefly showed a partner drill that has one partner performing the first guard pass to side control, then the other partner shrimps and regains halfguard and executes the first sweep, then passes with the first pass, then the first partner regains halfguard, sweeps with the first sweep, and repeats. I'll show that to Antony in class tonight so that he can have them drill it thursday.

After that we rolled for about 30 minutes. It was fun, but those guys are all rolling at a higher intensity than I was willing to engage in on a tuesday night after fish and chips. The first kid ended up on my back with 75% of an RNC pretty quick. The second kid was a very tall lanky guy who kept grabbing my pants, which was very annoying in a no-gi context where I had no similar grips to use. At one point he grabbed my pants, kneed me in the face as he was passing to side control, and then while I was stunned grabbed a power guillotine. As I started to defend it he pulled me to standing, as I went to trip him back down I realized the choke was too tight for that and started to tap, I THINK I managed to tap BEFORE I blacked out, because while I was waking up on the floor they didn't seem to realize that I had been put pretty much completely out. It wasn't as fully as the first time I was put out since I didn't have any vivid dreams. But I was definitely out. That kid has a WICKED guillotine. He kept trying to get it over and over and over after that and I rolled with him for another 10 minutes or so just preventing him from passing the guard and waiting for him to get tired enough for me to get a hold on him.
Rolled with a few other folks, but at this point I was gunshy about letting them actually work anything since I had already run into two of them that clearly were trying to rip my head off. I did have a fun roll with the one other guy that had a gi which was a little lighter and more relaxed and technical. Everyone else I just prevented from passing my guard or immediately escaped back to guard. It was fun, and underlined some things I need to work on as far as dealing with people who are athletic and intense, but it wasn't as fun as the more relaxed and technical rolls that I prefer.

So, things I learned from the UGA Grappling club this time around:
1. Fish and Chips is NOT the best pre-workout meal, no matter how delicious.
2. Don't underestimate anyone.
3. Never wear my gi pants to a primarily no-gi class.

I will probably visit again next semester, but I'd like to get a couple of the more promising ones into class at Megalodon where they can reach their potential.