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.