Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: 93 Brand Made in America Ranked Rashguard

The guys over at were kind enough to toss me one of these pimpin' 93 Brand rashguards to take a look at and I took it for a spin over the weekend.

The first thing I noticed was that the purple color was paler than I expected. It was almost a pastel purple instead of the brighter purple I was expecting. That's going to come down to a personal preference thing, I don't mind the paler colors and the overall effect is good, but if you are looking for a vibrant purple rank rashguard then you'll probably want to skip over this one for something with a little more pop.

If color isn't your primary concern though there's a lot to love about this thing. The construction is REALLY sturdy. There are super heavy duty seams on it, which at first I thought would be irritating, but became un-noticeable the second I put it on, and the fabric is much sturdier than my regular under armor rashguards without being as hot as my heavy duty rashguard. It breathed well, kept the sweat off of me, and was nice and cool.
There is one small item about the workmanship, there was a bundle of loose threads still on one seam where the seam had been completed but not trimmed. I snipped them off with some scissors before I put it on and didn't have any trouble with it, but it is something that they should probably do in manufacturing.
You can see the threads there, but you can also see how heavy the stitching is. Very very sturdy.

The fit was excellent. I got a small, of course, and it was nice and snug as I expected, but it also was long enough everywhere, which I sometimes have problems with because of my slightly odd torso dimensions. The best thing about it was that it's the first rashguard I've had that didn't ride up, at all. I pulled it down and tucked it under my shorts like I always do and expected to have to stop and retuck it after every couple of rolls, but it never budged. It stayed below my waist the entire session.

Now, there are some additional claims that I can't really verify yet, but this thing is supposedly made of a fabric that is anti-bacterial, AND anti-odor. I'll have to revisit this review in a few months and update on the status of the rashguards odor after several months of normal wear.

This is honestly the only rashguard I've ever put on that I feel like is worth the 60$ they are asking for it. My next most expensive rashguard that I own is my heavy duty winter rashguard that I paid 35$ for and the fabric on the 93 is definitely far higher quality.

I definitely give this a 9 out of 10. I would give it a full 10 if the purple were a little more vibrant and a little less easter candy, but the workmanship and fit are outstanding.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

USG Grapplemania 2012 Writeup

This writeup is a little bit late because of my hectic schedule since the return, but here it is at last.

We left out friday morning and cruised up to Henderson, NC. The drive wasn't bad and we arrived at the venue in plenty of time to weigh-in. I hit 149 fully dressed, though I did have to empty my pockets and take off my sweater. There was a middle school basketball game going on in the gym so we went out to dinner with the USG crew before returning to roll out the mats and setup tables and stuff.

The next morning we arrived at around 10:15 and I got changed, then we had a 10:45 rules meeting and I was once again on the mats by 11. I was the first match of the day with Richard and that kicked things off.

Once again his deep halfguard game proved to be too much for me and he was able to consistently prevent me from scoring by maintaining the quarter guard and keeping my foot trapped until he was able to sweep.

My second no-gi match was against his team-mate German who ALSO has a wicked halfguard game, even MORE wicked. He was able to take my back and lock on a choke with my arm trapped, but I had to tap to the straight armlock from having my arm trapped so tightly before the choke was even finished. The kid is just wicked. He went on to win a bunch of medals, including the purple belt absolute division. Richard didn't hit the button on my camera, so I didn't get the match with German on film, but he whooped me good.

After that I had no more no-gi matches so I went to work a table for a couple of hours, then it was on to the Gi matches.

These are in no particular order. I THINK that they are in the order that they happened, but I'm not entirely sure.

This is Richard AGAIN with his halfguard and AGAIN I am unable to free my foot on several occasions when I could have taken over the match and won. We are fairly evenly matched in every position except halfguard where he enjoys a distinct advantage and is able to keep the matches there consistently. He outpoints me again in this one.

Watch him do it again. He's incredibly good at getting that underhook and immediately getting up onto his side, something that I struggle with from the same positions. Again he outpoints me.

This match is me up against Bagels who is hilarious and a blast to hang out with, but is also a complete monster to roll against. Stylistically I match up better against him than Richard or German just because he's a lot more dynamic which gives me more openings and chances to generate options. We ended up in 50/50 guard and I was actually up on advantages when he got that second ankle lock and was able to crank it down. His footlocks are extremely nasty. You'll notice that we seem to be having random discussions during the match, not sure if you can hear them but he tried to armbar me out of the 50/50 and I made fun of him for watching Keenen Cornelius youtube videos, then we were both trying to go for the same 50/50 counter which we found out later is illegal because it counts as a 'cloverleaf' attack and not a straight ankle lock.
All in all this was the most fun roll I had of the day and I look forward to going up against Bagels again in the future.

This guy was kind of big. I tried to pull a sweep and it didn't work, after which I got smooshed until he could lock on the Kimura for the finish.

This is me up against German in the Gi. Dude is SLICK. He got on top off of an opportunity generated by a berimbolo attempt and then setup a really smoothly executed collar choke. He went on to defeat Bagels in the Purple Belt absolute division.

Another match with Richard, at this point I was doing slightly stupid things trying to get past his deep half and he capitalized and finished me via kimura. No fun.

I think this match was actually before the match with Bagels. I'm really disappointed in myself when I watch this one. It's probably the only match that I look at and think 'WTF was I doing?!'. I seriously look like a whitebelt with my headhugging from halfguard bottom. I was sure I was going to be able to come out the back against the choke he had on me, then I adjusted slightly and started to tunnel so I had to tap.

So that's 9 matches, 9 losses. Not my finest tournament, but I acquired about 30 minutes of solid footage of my halfguard top and bottom game for me to analyze and work on which is what I'm currently doing. I really need to establish a stronger game plan from halfguard because I don't really have one now. I don't like deep half because I get kimuraed to hell and back almost every time I try to play it in the gym, but I'm going to revisit it with some tips I picked up watching Richard play it and see how it works out for me. Hopefully by March I'll have a halfguard game worthy of my belt rank to bust out at Wake Forest.

The tournament was completed and the places was cleaned up and the the truck loaded by about 6 pm. Once again everything ran incredibly smoothly. There were a handful of injuries (One nasty looking knee injury that turned out to be ok in the end) but nothing major. The rings ran smoothly, the officiating was great, and everyone was friendly as usual.

There was one strange incident where a guy got double-legged, cried out in pain and curled up on the mat like he had broken a rib or something, then when the medic went over to the ring he suddenly popped up like nothing happened and continued the match. No idea what that was about. Next up is Wake Forest on March 2nd.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rigan Machado Counter to the 50/50 Guard

I shot a video for this solely because I find it impossible to continue to refer to this technique as 'that fifty fifty counter from Rigan's book, I think it's move 16, anyways, that one' when trying to tell people about it. You can actually see it as move #16 and move #20 in his book Encyclopedia of Leglocks. The technique he shows isn't PRECISELY against the 50/50, because no one used it when he made the book. But it works exactly the same with your leg threaded through and triangled as it does in his demonstration. However, here is a brief video showing how it works. As usual feedback is welcome. This is NOT a detailed how-to guide for the technique. Remember this is just a reference video to give you the basic idea.

As usual commentary is welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Training Roller Coaster

Normally a title like that would suggest that I'm going to talk about the ups and downs of training and how some days you are doing great and other days you feel like a noob again, but I'm not. This is about the rush of being on top of your game. I had another great class last night, we had the No-Gi Pan Am gold medalist and his brother who is also an incredibly skilled purple belt training with us again. It was no-gi which is what they both specialize in so they mauled me an unholy amount, but I'm already improving thanks to working against them.

In every roll that was not with them I was flowing well, chaining my techniques together, and executing submissions with a much higher frequency that I have been the last year or so. My game has definitely bumped up a couple of steps and I'm hoping to carry that into Grapplemania on the 8th of December and come out with a good performance. In the mean time, I'm going to be back to training 3-4 days a week instead of the 1-2 I've been doing. I expect that to help a lot, and I'm going to see if I can get back to lifting weights after the 8th to try and build up my strength again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Psychological Submission Defense

I had another great 'I am a purple belt!' class today. I was hitting combos and flowing well and sweeping and really felt like I had broken through to the next step. The difference between this class and the last one where I felt that was that this time I got a much clearer mental picture of how to reproduce those results. I expect to have more ups and downs, but I think I'm solidly on the UP path, and watching some brown belt tournament competition is starting to help me see the places I can bridge from where I am to where they are. But enough about that, on to the good stuff!

During the technique portion of class we were working on a nice fundamental Kimura from halfguard top and using it to set up the guard pass, or finish it there. I was drilling it with one of our whitebelts and towards the end of drilling as I was increasing resistance some I started stiffening my arm and moving it through the kimura/straight armlock/americana combo positions.  I then explained the combo and told him not to give up once he had my arm isolated because no matter what I did, until I get my elbow back inside I would never really be better off. I talked about how some people will defend up and down through those three submission positions hoping to frustrate their opponent enough to move to something else where there might be a better chance of escape. I emphasized NOT to give up that position or let them get their arm back just because they broke out of the first submission.

Fast forward to one of the last rolls of the day. I'm rolling with that same whitebelt and, as is my custom, I let him work his way to halfguard top where I fight for the underhook, giving him the setup from the technique portion of class. He takes it, and starts working the kimura on me. I defend, stiff arming and floating my arm around until suddenly I pop his hand off of my wrist and I hear that sweet sweet, 'Dangit' that tells me I'm not going to get subbed. He gave up. I had defeated him. At that point he sort of half heartedly went for the kimura again but he had no commitment behind it because in his mind I had already escape. Sure enough a few seconds later he shifts around and moves to a different position and I pop my hips and escape back to guard, hip out, grab a collar and choke him.

I then pointed out that he had just done exactly what we talked about earlier. He HAD me. He had the kimura solidly established. Just because I popped that one hand off didn't mean anything. My position wasn't improved AT ALL. All he had to do was grab my wrist and lock it up again and he could have continued to work it without any interruption, but he allowed me to beat him mentally and so he gave up a dominant position with a submission 3/4 of the way completed.

When you are in a position where you can work to finish your opponent, and they manage to block the submission, but not improve their position you can not let yourself get frustrated. They haven't done anything except delay the inevitable. Continue to attack and attack and attack without giving them any leeway to escape. Don't give up just because you're having a hard time finishing.

Oh, one more excellent thing from class. I normally don't finish a lot of armbars. I'm lazy about them and tend to just transition to somewhere else after I use them to sweep or something. Tonight I hit two from places I've been thinking about, but haven't really taken advantage of. One was off of a pendulum sweep. I swept, and immediately transitioned into the armbar in one nice smooth motion. And the other was a nearside armbar from side control/knee on belly where I gathered the arm up with my leg and trapped it across the chest and just extended it there. I'm very happy with both of the transitions I used on those.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Preventing the Bullfighter Pass

This is actually going to be about dealing with any pass that involves your opponent getting grips on your pants. These are super basic things and won't work in all situations, but will give you an overview of the ideas involved and it's a good place to start looking at defending against standing passes. It's absolutely white belt or new blue material, and it's not exactly an in depth look at each thing. But it should make a nice reference video. I grabbed my favorite rolling partner, Kris, because he uses this shit on me ALL THE TIME. If I stop paying attention for half a second he's got a double fistfull of my pants and is running around my to knee on belly. He's great at the pass and using it to setup other passes. Anyways, watch the video, then flame me for being a noob, whatev.

Ok, so now from that underhook you can take the option of scooping the leg for a single leg, from the grip break you can keep the cross grip on the sleeve and drop down for a sickle sweep, and if you establish your sleeve grips first you can hit an overhead sweep for bonus style points. Plenty of options, but the most important thing is thing is to be sitting up and paying attention.

Moving on, we had a new Purple Belt in class today, a fellow named Hector who just moved here from Texas. He's a Royce Gracie lineage guy and you can tell from the very deliberate progressive pressure game he plays on top. We had some fun rolls since he's just a little heavier than me and a little better. Makes for a good time because I CAN catch him if I do things right, and there are things in my game he's not used to, but  there are also things in HIS game I'm not used to and he capitalizes on every mistake I make very smoothly. This is exactly the kind of rolling partner I've been hoping for because he's enough better than I am to punish me mistakes and beat up on me good, but not enough better that I can't see the bridge between where I am and where he is. I'm looking forward to working more with him, he's signing up with us tomorrow for good.

We worked reverse scissor sweep combos for a while in class, then rolled a bunch. I was rolling pretty relaxed because I'm still in post tournament chill mode. Next week I'll probably start ratcheting up the intensity a little bit.

I also started running again, 2.33 miles in 24 minutes. The goal is 3 miles in 24 minutes, then we'll see where it goes from there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

US Grappling - VA Beach - Full Writeup

The drive up to VA Beach was about nine and a half hours, most of which the Jennosaurus drove for me because she's awesome. We arrived around 7:45 at the venue and I weighed in real quick just to make it official, fully dressed, with my phone and wallet in my pockets I tipped the scales at a whopping 147. My actual weight the morning of the competition was 142. 

We arrived at the venue Saturday morning at about 9:45 am. I had plenty of time to warmup and stretch before the rules meeting, and by 11:30 I was on the mats and grappling.

I only had one no-gi match. He pulled guard on me and had a very tight halfguard, I was able to secure a guillotine with the marcello grip, but couldn't finish it. I let it go to try to work something else and he popped to my back and secured the choke. Afterwards I found out the guillotine was closer than I thought. I should have kept the guillotine, changed to a power guillotine grip and used it to force the guard pass or play for a more patient finish. Once again my impatience betrayed me.

I jumped over to work a table for a couple of hours until the Gi divisions started, as usual the tables were running smooth as silk with matches constantly running on at least 5 rings out of the 6.

This match again my opponent pulled guard on me, which is starting to become a common thing since I rarely pull guard anymore, but still surprises me. I was able to to cut to halfguard and this time he took the bait and stood up, allowing me to land a serviceable tomoe nage for the points. Unfortunately I screwed up and he managed to get my arm isolated and finish me with a nice straight armlock.

This was against the same guy as my No-Gi match and this time I was able to enforce my top game a little better by using the Gi to control him. I was able to get to his back and secure the collar for a Bow and Arrow choke.

Yup, same guy again, this one was our absolute division I think and it ended up being just us for some reason. He was pretty tired by this time. I pulled guard on him this time, just for kicks, and then we messed around a bit. I hit a sloppy berimbolo and got to mount. I beat him on points here. He went on to do like 5 more matches or something like that in other divisions.

I ended up with a Gold, a Silver, and a Bronze for my efforts, which I'm happy with. Mostly I'm happy that I'm solidly competitive as a purple belt. I could have easily ended up winning both of the matches I lost had I been a little bit smarter about them, so I wasn't outclassed completely or anything, I just wasn't the better man that time, in that match.

As usual the tournament itself was run incredibly smoothly and the last match finished up right around 6 pm. We had the entire venue broken down and packed up in time to head back to the hotel, shower, change, and meet for dinner at 8.

Now I have a few new things to work on, specifically my halfguard top game, and guillotines. Both of my opponents were able to just keep me in halfguard even once I had a position where I normally am able to complete the pass. So plenty to work on from this competition. I did meet my goal of not pulling guard except for my last match where I could have stayed up and let him pull guard, but I wanted to work from the bottom, so I pulled guard first. I hit my tomoe nage, which was a goal, and I felt really good in general. I still don't feel like I'm smooth enough though, so there's that to work on. But a good tournament and a good time.

Oh yeah, and we had to outrun a hurricane heading home. The wind and rain were INSANE.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BJJ Shopping List

My small handful of regular readers might notice that over to the right there is now a JiuJitsu Shopping list box. You might be wondering what the heck that stuff is and why you should buy it, so I will explain.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, 18-in-1 Hemp Tea Tree, 32-Ounce
This is a tea tree oil soap which naturally fights fungal infections like ringworm and athletes foot. I find it to be very easy on my skin, pleasant smelling, and effective. A 16oz bottle is about a months supply.
Olympia Kinesiology Tape
There is nothing better for wrapping an injured finger or toe or ankle or knee than this stuff. It adheres to itself, but it isn't sticky. It breathes well, and it stays in place well. A roll or two a month is usually plenty.
Tinactin Super Absorbent Antifungal Powde
Another antifungal, this one is a powder that I shake into my gym bag before I pack my gear into it. It keeps my bag from becoming a possible infection source. The powder also sticks to my rashguard and my Gi to help fight the proliferation of ringworm on the mats. I go through a small bottle per month, more or less.
Village Naturals Therapy Foaming Bath Oil, Aches & Pains, 16 oz.
This stuff is just heavenly. I mix a couple of capfuls in with a handful of Epson salts and take a hot soak after a particularly heavy class and it will flat out melt the ache out of your muscles. A 16oz bottle is only good for about 2 weeks for me, but that's because I'm a hedonist.
Epsom Salt 2Lb (907g)
To be mixed with the above Foaming Bath Oil for maximum muscle soothing. Cheap and effective. 2lbs is about a month worth.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Watching The Class: Who, How, and What?

As with most of my best content this was inspired by a conversation and a question from Julia over at JiuJiuBJJ regarding who I felt was the best combination of rolling partners to observe out of these options:

Watching sparring question:Here were the sets of people sparring:
-purple and black (my instructor)
-new white + 2 stripe blue
-4 stripe blue + 1 stripe white
-blue and purple

And because of the way my brain works, that spawned a massive wall of text well beyond the scope of the original question, so here is that wall of text and for the more concise article with perspectives from Black and Brown belts as well head over to JiuJiuBJJ and take a look at her article as well.

When I was a white belt I watched other people roll with a sense of wonder and confusion. Mostly my thoughts were dedicated to wondering what the heck was going on midst the sea of tangled limbs on the mat. People would tap for apparently no reason, and other people wouldn't tap to things I was certain were going to disconnect limbs from torsos. I had no idea what I was watching.
As I gained experience the tangle sorted itself out slowly until I could distinguish discrete sequences and individual techniques from the chaos. By the time I was an experienced white belt I was watching the blue belts to try to figure out what they were doing so that I could emulate it. That theme continued when I got my own blue belt and I started watching the purple belts to absorb tips from them. Now as a purple belt I watch brown and black belts and try to figure out what they are doing that is different from what I' m doing. But, I realized no one ever told me HOW to watch other people rolling, or even who to pay attention to.
As a white belt should I be watching white belts rolling against blue belts and examining how the white belts and the blue belts interacted or would I benefit more from watching two black belts rolling? Or a purple belt and a white belt? I had no idea. I just watched the blue belts because that was the next belt. The one I wanted to get to. What was I even watching for? Again I had no idea. I kept track of what techniques the blues used, but they were all the same techniques I already knew performed at a higher level. I wasn't really getting the most out of my observations because I had never really talked to anyone with experience about what I should be looking at.
Now as a purple belt with almost six years of training under my belt (Check that out, 100% appropriate use of that phrase.) I have a much better idea of who to watch, how to watch them, and what to look for.

Who: My preferred observation subjects are brown belts and purple belts my size rolling with each other. Just as I did when I was a white belt (I had the right idea!) I can watch the more experienced person work against someone of my own rank and see how they counter techniques, how they attack, how they defend, and so on. To generalize this I believe you are always best off watching someone of the rank just above yours roll with someone of your rank. You can extract the most knowledge from those rolls because the level of execution behind the techniques will be closer to your own and so more accessible and understandable. Watching a black belt perform a basic scissor sweep as a white belt just doesn't let you extract that much information because the technique is so smooth that you actually can't see many of the steps involved.

How: How do you watch two people rolling in a way that lets you extract information? You can't watch them the way you would watch a competitive match for entertainment. You want to choose a specific area and concentrate on that area. Watch how a blue belt plays guard against another white belt, or how a purple belt uses grips against another blue belt. Stay focused on one area.

What: And of course, WHAT do you watch for? Well, when you're watching a single area you want to look for subtle differences between the higher ranking persons technique and your own. If you see a purple belt scissor sweep a blue belt effortlessly, and it's a blue belt you can never manage to sweep then you watch for the small details. Look for foot placement, hand placement, hip location in relation to the opponent. You don't care about the macro level, what technique was used, you care about the micro level, what minuscule detail separates that higher ranking persons technique from your own.

Whenever possible try to get some video footage of those higher ranking people rolling with you as well. That can really give you insight into the technique in a way that other observations can't. And it lets you direct the roll in ways that you are most interested in. REALLY want to get detail on that scissor sweep? Put yourself in a position to be swept and fight it to see what happens, then you can review it on video later. When you review your own video you have a much better sense of where your weight was, or how you were balanced when something happens. You know what grips you had or didn't have in a much deeper way than when you are watching someone else.
Observation can be a powerful tool in accelerating your jiujitsu progress and you should make use of it whenever possible. Especially when injured or doing times when you can't train, but can review video. You will also come to class more focused and with a better idea of how to guide your training which just makes everything easier mentally.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finally Feeling Like a Purple Belt

So it's been just over a year since I got my purple belt and last night I finally FELT like a purple belt. My control of my opponents was solid, I was transitioning smoothly between pass attempts, and I was applying so much top pressure that I actually forced one of our blue belts to tap from forearm pressure across his face while I was working to free his arm for a kimura. I wasn't trying to crush his face, I was just well positioned.

I was also able to completely shut down one of my favorite blue belt training partners who usually gives me a serious run for me money. Everything just clicked in my head and a detail that I've known intellectually for a long time finally manifested physically for me. Specifically while I was watching some of the Metamoris matches I noticed how much focus there was on controlling peoples legs in various positions, it's something I've of course known for years and have thought about before, but something about watching it in that format made it click. I was constantly controlling the legs all night and making it impossible for my opponents to stop me from imposing my will.

I think I've finally settled in to being a purple belt now, give me another year and I'll be all antsy for my brown!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Interesting Takedowns

Last was Takedown practice, we worked on breaking grips and moving to the Russian grip and then attacks from there. Some of it felt natural and kind of fit for me, some of it just was awkward. I had the most successful round of takedown practice ever, I managed to score takedowns against every opponent for over half an hour without getting taken down at all myself. The unfortunate part is that they were all counter takedowns, or guard pull/tomoe nage style takedowns. At one point I actually pulled guard to a sickle sweep as a takedown. Most of the rest were just countering other peoples grips or takedowns and ending up on top.I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, I need to be more proactive about seeking takedowns that aren't predicated on pulling guard or some derivation thereof.

I keep meaning to do some more video, but everything is so busy that I just haven't had time. I also have some other ideas kicking around in my head that I probably won't get down on paper until after US Grappling on the 27th. Which I just remembered I need to pre-register for...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recovering my Flow

Last night felt great.

I was flowing well, executing my passes, defending well, executing submissions, and generally feeling very much back in my groove. I even finished a guillotine after setting it up during a halfguard pass in the exact fashion that Sergio kept doing to me on monday in No-Gi. Had my combinations flowing and just had a great night.

It was takedown night too, Johnny is getting a lot more focused with his teaching style, he doesn't wander off on tangents any more which means instead of showing us like 50 variations of one move we're working like 3-5 variations which is a LOT easier for me to work with. I like a focused, deep approach to a small number of techniques. We worked on takedowns off of the overhook and I found out that my firemans carry from that position is pretty tight. I just have trouble getting to that position.

We did some work from standing and I hit a couple of takedowns, and failed a couple too, but I'm definitely improving steadily from standing.

Berimbolo is improving. I hit it on one of our more experienced white belts.

And that's about that. I'm definitely getting back into things.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rollin' with a Pan Am Champ

So one of the guys that trains with us on no-gi days is a purple belt from the ATT gym in Atlanta, he went up to compete in the No-Gi Pan Ams last week and took gold in his division.

That's him in the middle with the gold medal.

I haven't been to the no-gi class in a couple of months, so it's been a while since the last time I rolled with him. I made it back up to the No-Gi last night and got to roll for probably 30 minutes with him broken up into a few different rounds. The amount of mauling involved was just preposterous. I did manage to force him to use a couple of different guard passes beyond his normal knee-cut, which I consider a victory, but for the most part he was just sliding through my guard and straight into a guillotine from pretty much any angle. I'm looking forward to getting to more of the No-Gi classes in the future and using him to really help sharpen my own game up, but it's great to have guys of this caliber in the gym with us now. It brings the whole gym up.

I had forgotten how slipper no-gi was, and with some rain and humidity the gym was a swimming pool after about the first 20 minutes. I did catch a rather spectacular armbar on one of the newer wrestlers who sometimes is too explosive for his own good. He tried to cartwheel through my guard and I rolled through and snagged his arm as he did it. Definitely one of the smoother catches I've had recently. Unfortunately this guy learns so quickly that I'll probably never hit it on him again.

All in all it was an excellent night of training, and I'm happy to be all set to train three days this week and three days next week leading up to US Grappling on the 27th. I might even be in shape by then... a little...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

US Grappling - Virginia Beach - Oct 27

I'll be competing again coming up on the 27th of October at US Grappling in Virginia beach. I may also be refereeing (To be confirmed with the USG folks) and that means I'll be ramping my training up a little bit in an attempt to not be a lazy git when I arrive at competition.

To that end I've been working on 50/50 and Berimbolo offense and defense as well as my normal loop choke offense and my sweep game. I'm also sharpening up my omoplatas again. I'm pretty relaxed with my goals right now, it's all about sharpening my combinations and just pushing my game up to the next level so I'm not particularly concerned with placing in competition right now I just want to test the stuff I've been working on. I'm hoping I'll actually have a weightclass this time around. If I'm lucky I'll be able to do my weightclass in adult and masters gi and no-gi and skip out on being smashed by people in absolute this time. I get plenty of work against people 80lbs heavier than I am in training.

I've got a couple of more interesting and informative posts in the works for this week, as well as possibly a video or two. We'll see how it works out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wristlocks? Lolwhut?

This post is a little late due to some still fairly intense work schedule, but I did get to train last week and we have some more new folks in the gym. One of them is a largeish fellow, about 220 or so and my height, who it turns out has some training in some japanese jiujitsu or aikido or something. He spent a solid 6 minutes attempting to wristlock me inside my guard. He was ALMOST strong enough to make one of them work. Instead though after 90 or so wristlock attempts I just ended up with a mildly sore wrist.
I just let him keep attempting them while I continued to free myself over and over and over again, hoping that he will realize they aren't practical before he catches some white belt and injuries him.

We also had one of our giants returning, a guy who is about 6'5" and 300lbs. I rolled briefly with him and grabbed a collar and spun under for the collar choke. I figure I have to get some subs in early on him because once he's been training a couple of months he won't fall for that kind of thing any more and he'll start crushing me.

The new class schedule has us all training from 7pm to 9pm, so we end up getting to roll a LOT more, but the class kind of breaks down the last 30 minutes as people get tired and leave. I think I should probably take that time to see if I can get someone to drill with me, since I don't drill enough.

We've got some folks going to the Atlanta Open coming up, so I'm going to try to help them get some extra training this week and hopefully they'll bring home some medals.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homework Assignment: Ranking Your Techniques

In honor of another return to training after another multi month long gap I'm doing it big with a brand new Homework Assignment. I know it's been a while since I posted one, but I ran into this post over at Marshal Carper's blog and was struck by what an excellent training exercise that is.

 I suggest jumping over there, reading his post, and the returning here.

 The homework assignment is to take your technique library and to rank each of your techniques that you commonly use and that you WANT to commonly use by belt rank.
 A good way to determine this is by who you can usually land the technique against. If you can hit it against white belts your size, but not blue belts your size or white belts with a big size/strength advantage then it's a white belt technique. If you can hit it against blues, but not purples, it's blue, and so on.

My technique rank breakdown:
Triangle Choke - Purple Belt
Loop Choke - Purple Belt
Armbar - Blue Belt
X-Choke - White Belt
Guillotine - White Belt
D'Arce - White Belt
Omoplatta - Brown Belt
Straight Ankle Lock - Purple Belt
Baseball Bat Choke - Blue Belt

 Guard Passes:
Leg Drag - Blue Belt
Teleport Pass - Purple Belt
Knee Swipe Pass - Blue Belt (MAAAYBE Purple belt, it's close)
Double Under - Purple Belt

Scissor Sweep - Purple Belt
Gift Wrap Sweep - Purple Belt
Pendulum Sweep - Blue Belt
Situp Sweep - White Belt (Which is just ridiculous since AS a white belt this was my #1 most effective sweep. Somehow I've let it fall by the wayside since then)
Butterfly Sweep - Blue Belt
Overhead Sweep - Blue Belt
Lasso Sweep - Blue Belt

Mount Escapes - Purple Belt
Side Control Escapes - Blue Belt
Back Escapes - Blue Belt
Guard Pass Prevention - Purple Belt (This borders on brown belt at times) Obviously this isn't my full technique library, but it's the must common stuff I use and is the stuff I am focusing on improving. So get to it! Rank your techniques based on their individual level and then pick a white belt technique and elevate it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back on the Mats Again (For like the 10th time)

After another month long hiatus it feels absolutely great to have gotten back to training last night. I went in at 7 for the No-Gi class and did some warmup rolling with one of the kids. He's one of the guys that doesn't seem to internalize the concepts very rapidly so he kept trying to just flail harder to escape mount. I made him stop and escape it properly a few times during the roll, so hopefully he paid attention. Techniques were one of the basic three move combos. The kimura -> hip bump -> guillotine combo with a bonus omoplatta at the end. All very solid basic stuff and the hip bump is probabably something I need to revist in my game. Once we started rolling I spent the entire time working on sweeps and submissions from guard. I was rolling with a couple of our wrestlers, so it was a very scramble heavy roll. One of them has just SICK shoulder pressure, but constantly forgets to control the hips in favor of driving his shoulder into my neck, resulting in him getting subbed a lot. My biggest surprise was that I didn't feel weak coming back. I don't feel like I lost anything from the break at all... My left knee that I injured in Baton Rouge sent me a sternly worded protest about twenty minutes after class that it did NOT appreciate the activity, but screw that guy. He's just a big whiner. I also took the opportunity to put my new shorts through their paces, so that review will be up tomorrow. I have to say I was a little disappointed in them though. Training again Wednesday and probably Friday as well!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

US Grappling Charlotte - Full Writeup

We rolled into the hotel after a fairly uneventful drive at almost exactly 3pm. We got settled in and then headed out to the venue to see if we could lend a hand with the setup around 5. We helped Andrew and Mike and the rest of the crew unpack the truck and get the mats rolled out and taped up, then Andrew did a mini Referee certification for me and a couple of other guys. Everything went pretty smoothly despite the venue being somewhat on the creepy side as previously referenced.

The next morning we arrived at about 9:30. I weighed in real quick at 147 fully dressed and the Jennosaurus started helping with table assignments and all that kind of stuff while I changed. The rules meeting went down at about 10:30, and I hit the mats for my first match at 11:03 (Links to all of the matches will be at the end of the writeup). I lost every match this time around, but I did achieve two of my goals.

First goal was not to pull guard in no-gi. I fought from standing until my first opponent pulled halfguard on me, and then with my second opponent until there was a snapdown and we ended up on the ground. Second goal was to make an assessment of what I need to work on, and I did. My bottom game has suffered recently, or at least not kept pace with my top game, because of my focus on that top game. So now I'm lacking in the tools to move from the bottom to the top against the people in my division. So time to start working my sweeps and continuing my halfguard work.

I worked the table between my first and second matches, then started reffing after the second match. I was slightly nervous at first, but after the first match went pretty smoothly I settled into it pretty well. I didn't have any complaints about any of my calls, I didn't have any early stoppages or any controversial decisions, so it was a good day reffing.

My Gi division started about an hour and a half after my last no-gi match and I lost all of those as well, the first one I didn't get on video but I lost by an advantage point in an absolutely boring stalemate. I learned I REALLY need to work on breaking posture. I felt like I absolutely could not break anyone's posture at all.

My last match finished up at about 3:30 and I started reffing again and closed out some white belt divisions, again with no controversy, so that felt good.Of course for one of my matches Andrew came over to coach his guy while I was reffing it, yeah... Head referee is watching your match, no pressure... But it went fine. Everything ran smoothly all day, we had a couple of bracket redraws as people dropped out of divisions and things like that, but they were all accomplished within minutes so the day chugged right along and the last match finished up at about 6pm and we started packing up.

This was, once again, an incredibly smooth tournament with no delays, good communication, and an excellent atmosphere. I STRONGLY recommend attending any USG event that happens near you. If you've been to NAGA or Lutadore before then the smooth operation will be a welcome change of pace for you.

***************Video Links, As Promised**************

Match 1

Match 2

Match 3

Match 4

Friday, May 11, 2012

Denticle Stragety!

So we're out at Cheesecake Factory (Me and the Jennosaurus) doing our pre-tournament dinner, I don't have to cut any weight so I had all kinds of good stuff that I won't list here because I don't want to make anyone cry, and we got to talking about shaving and that developed into pre-tournament shaving strategy. I mentioned that some people like to shave two days out from the tournament to make sure they have a really wicked sandpaper layer up again by tournament time, and she burst out with, "Like Shark Denticles!"
So now that's officially been termed the denticle strategy.

As for USG Charlotte, the venue is... strange. We pulled in and immediately thought we were in the wrong place. It looks like a flea market. We had to turn around and go through the other entrance to get to the exhibit hall type areas. The venue itself is HUGE and well air conditioned. It's really nice on the inside, but totally creepy in a 'hillbilly murder carnival' kind of way on the outside.

We helped out unpacking the truck and setting up the mats and everything and then Andrew gave a few of us our referee seminar. Good stuff and well laid out by Andrew. It's all pretty standard with just a few deviations from IBJJF standard, mostly in the direction of leniency towards DQs for things. We give warnings before DQing someone. Also body triangle from backmount counts as control for the purpose of points, which IBJJF doesn't count. So, a few minor differences, but I feel comfortable scoring going in to tomorrow. This will be the first official points tournaments that I've reffed for so I'm a little more nervous than I usually am pre-tournament, but not much.

I'm planning on getting video of all of my matches this time around and I'm going to try to post them up late saturday night along with a full tournament report. Watch for it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

YAY! I'm Horrible!!

Had an absolutely terrible night last night. Was getting smashed left and right, subbed over and over, my guard was getting passed like crazy. It was great.

I'm definitely hitting a plateau again where I feel like nothing works right. I love these places because it means everyone has figured out my game and is shutting it down so I have to either expand my game, or improve it faster than they are improving their counters to it. These periods are almost always followed within a month or two by a significant improvement in my technique.

Since it's my sweep game that's being shut down the hardest right now I'm hoping my improvement will come there. So time to put in some work on my bottom game again. My top game is tight as hell now though. So that's good. Just gotta go back to work on getting there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knee Sweeps, Leg Drags, and Dynamic Guard Passing

As part of my tournament prep work I've been focusing on two things, my defensive halfguard work, and my guard passing.
Largely my issues in halfguard have come from originally learning the 'lockdown' in my first year of training and latching onto it as a way not to get passed. As I get better at guard retention and open guard I drifted away from halfguard and never really updated my game. Once I hit purple belt all of a sudden my open guard game and my defensive guard work were no longer sufficient to avoid halfguard as reliably as had been the case in the past, so all of a sudden I was stuck using a whitebelt level lockdown game against purple belt level passing. Not a good place to be.
During my refocus on halfguard I quickly came to the conclusion that I no longer liked the lockdown at all. It pinned my hips and interfered with my mobility in a way that was counter to the entire rest of my game. I started exploring other halfguard options and found Caio Terra's DVDs and adopted the Knee Shield halfguard as more what I wanted to have in place. I also revisited Marcelo Garcia's X-Guard material and began working on ways to transition from Knee Shield half and Z-guard to the X-Guard. Progress has been slow but steady and already I'm getting bogged down in halfguard much less than I was a month ago.

Now, my halfguard progress is great, but that's not what I wanted to write about. My largest developmental improvement and the one that I think represents the larger fundamental shift in my thought process is in my guard passing.
After my last visit to Alliance HQ when EVERYONE was standing to pass I decided that I should give serious thought to standing more and working against standing passes. Only one guy at our affiliate gym REALLY uses standing passes, so I grabbed him a few times and worked against his style and took mental notes about how he moved and what he used to set the passes up, then I looked at some black belts and how they passed standing (Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu is a good one) and took some notes on what the commonalities of successful passing were. I then revised my own passing game and moved away from trying to force my knee cut passes when they weren't really there and developed a few tricks for backing out, standing, and passing.

My passing game now much more often involves looking for a leg drag, then if that fails I retain control of the foot as much as possible and move to a knee sweep pass (Dunno any other name for it), if that fails I frequently am setup for an ankle lock, or I am able to step in with my other leg and pass by moving to reverse KoB. I also switch back and forth a lot and pass to either side. This is a much more active and dynamic passing game than my previous game that involved a lot of pressure and grinding my way through to side control. I still like that method and use it, but having a more comfortable standing passing game has opened up a lot more options for me.
I'm hoping those new options will help me out at US Grappling Charlotte in May.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Triangle Choke Redux

I've been working incredibly hard in class still, forcing myself to push hard and keep moving and keep fighting at high intensity no matter what and I think it's helping my overall mindset. I've really gotten back into the groove with my bread and butter submissions, the omoplata, the triangle choke, and the spin under loop choke.

I've been making it a point to hit the triangle on the bigger guys in the gym and finish it in preparation for the absolute divisions at US Grappling in May.

Mostly it's a matter of just keeping in the groove and getting in good training every week.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Training! Again!

Worked more back control tonight, basic slide escape, fatboy roll, and a sort of seio nage shoulder pressure escape to combine with the fatboy.

I rolled with the bigger side of the room since I'm trying to get ready for USG and need to be forced to work hard. Still managed to be lazy a little bit with a new guy, but rolled with Coe and a 300lber to keep me honest.

Monkey flipped the 300lber, which was great, but he moved faster than I expected so my follow up armbar attempt was super sloppy and I ended up back on the bottom and exhausted. Spent the next four minutes or so making incremental movements to avoid getting pressure choked and stuff.

Definitely good training.

I'll have some more real content up next week. Probably next Thursday.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hard Work is Good for the Soul

Recently I've been feeling like class wasn't really working me the way it used to. I wasn't waking up sore the next day, I wasn't feeling half crippled on the drive home, it felt like even against the tougher guys in the gym I was able to relax and play my game and work on things. Tonight was a whole different story.

A couple of guys from ATT in Atlanta have moved to the Athens area and are looking to find a new place to train down here. They are both purple belts and they kicked my ASS. It was a great time. The smaller of the two is a guy I know from facebook named Sergio and he did the same knee cut pass on me about a dozen times. It wasn't until the 8th or 9th time that I realized what the hell he was doing that kept me from blocking the pass with my bottom leg. He ALWAYS had a grip on the middle of my bottom shin. Even when he didn't have it when he started the pass, somewhere in the middle he ended up with it. So I was never able to catch him to stop the pass.
They also both favored D'arce choke sequences, so my neck got wrenched around a lot. I was able to put together exactly 5 seconds of offense against the larger of the two when I finally caught the DLR right and was able to momentarily take his back before he spun right back into my guard. Both guys moved with a lot of intensity, a lot more than I'm used to rolling with, coupled with excellent technique. They both also had excellent standing passes, which our gym lacks. I'm hoping they decide to stick around to train with us since it will force me to roll with greater intensity OR get twice as tricky if I want to continue being lazy.

I do think I finally figured out how to deal with that standing knee-cut pass though...


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Halfguard is my new Home

I realize that I've been a little neglectful of posting, so this is probably going to be rather long while I try to catch up a bit.

My post tournament review of my performance showed me one enormous weakness in my game. My halfguard is terrible. It hasn't really changed since the first year I was training. As a whitebelt, against other whitebelts, I had a dangerous halfguard using the lockdown and whip-up to hit the oldschool sweep or pop out to dogfight and work from there. It hasn't evolved at ALL since then and the lockdown gets crushed at higher levels and especially in the absolute divisions with huge guys. It works well enough to stall for a minute or so, but I'm unable to work any sweeps from it anymore and reguarding against that kind of pressure from the lockdown is problematic.
Enter Caio Terra. Arguable (Not really, who the hell is going to argue against this?) the king of halfguard. The guy weighs about 140lbs and has tromped through some very high level blackbelts in the absolute divisions using halfguard as his primary weapon. So I picked up his DVD and I've watched the first 20 minutes of it. 10 times. It's incredibly detail heavy and full of material, so it's going to take me most of this year to absorb it I think.
I started working halfguard last night, pulling halfguard, allowing people to pass to halfguard, sweeping myself to the bottom of halfguard for them, etc... and working on establishing a knee shield and stretching my upper body away from my opponent. I had a bad habit of curling into them for no good reason and letting people get grips on my upper body. That must stop so I'm emphasizing keeping distance in half guard and establishing the knee shield right now. Where I go from there is a project for the weeks to come, but I did try a few things that worked decently well including establishing X-guard, reguarding, popping out to try to attack the back, trying to setup reverse scissor sweeps, and executing a technical stand with the cross collar grip to try to set up my loop choke. I'll continue to work on and refine those options over the next few months and hopefully by USG Charlotte in May my halfguard will be a lot stronger.

In other news the gym is getting more and more signups in our new location, which is awesome. And our boy Brian Hutchings, who you may remember as the guy that won his blue belt a couple of months ago at the Fight For Your Belt tournament, is going to be fighting in the main event at the first ever Muay Thai show in Madison Square garden this weekend. We're all wishing him the best of luck and as long as he keeps his chin down and his hands up I think he can bring home a belt. He's seriously a beast.

My buddy Johnny is running a Marathon this sunday, which I think is flatout insane. I wouldn't run 26 yards without a good reason, much less 26 miles. But he's also a monster and loves to challenge himself in any way he can. He's a 2 time Tough Mudder, finishing in about 3 hours both times.

Speaking of Johnny, he's been teaching wrestling takedowns for us on Wednesdays, which is awesome since I need more takedown practice and I'm getting a lot more comfortable going for them out of the clinch and stuff. I'm hoping that by USG Charlotte I'll be comfortable enough to make shooting for takedowns my go-to instead of pulling guard.

My medals and rashguards from USG Greensboro are on the way and I plan on taking a super obnoxious picture wearing one of the rashguards and every medal I've ever won and then having it printed out and posted up in the gym on the wall.

AAAaand finally I'm starting a video project for the gym where I video the technique instruction portion of each class and I'm going to set up a members only area for the Megalodon people and post the videos there so that we can all reference them later.

And that gets us mostly updated.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Video from USG Greensboro is Up!

This is my match from the Masters, Advanced, Absolute division. I fought of a d'arce for a while, escaped an armbar attempt, and snagged the ankle for the win.

My opponent was a very solid Brown Belt who had an extremely competitive (and long) match in the Brown Belt Gi division later that day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Class in our New Location!

Tonight was the first class I've been to at our new location and it was absolutely awesome.
We've got Zebra mats now instead of the crappy puzzle mats from the TKD school. The place doesn't smell like a hundred children have all messed themselves at once, and we've got big storefront windows so potential customers can see us training. We've already gotten more walkin inquiries in the week we've been there than in the entire time we were at the TKD school. It's gonna be awesome.

Class tonight started out with more wrestling. We're still working on takedowns off of the deep single underhook. I need to work on achieving that grip during the standup because I'm decent at finishing a few different takedowns from there, I just don't fight for the setups enough.

Ground work was spider guard passing. The first pass was the basic elbow in, then pop, then slide the knee in, control the legs and work your way past.
Second pass was extra fun time breakdance pass. You step to the side slightly, then take a big step over your opponents body, sit down HARD and throw your hands in the air (like you just don't care) to break the grips. Then spin through to side control.

We also looked at a couple of kneebar options off of there.

Did some specific sparring from spider guard and I let the whitebelts work the pass for the most part then countered and swept them right at the end of it. After that we rolled 7 minute rounds. We had 3 minute breaks on the clock, but I just grabbed more people and kept rolling. So I did 30 minutes straight more or less.

I'm trying to work on my halfguard. I really need to work on it against Johnny to make sure I'm dealing with the most pressure imaginable. Everything else felt pretty good. I need to just keep working and refining my stuff.

I started lifting again yesterday, 5x5, and my legs were definitely feeling it tonight. Lifting again tomorrow, then training again on Friday. It feels good to be getting back into the groove.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Common White Belt Mistakes: Over Reaching

*EDIT* Julia from JiuJiuBJJ recommended that I clarify this one a little bit to make it more clear what I'm talking about. So here we go!

*EDIT 2* The lower res video was annoying me. So I uploaded the original HD cut. The black box STILL annoys me. Gotta figure out WTF my camera/editing software is doing...
This video is of me rolling with one of our whitebelts. In it he makes several mistakes which are common to white belts. I'm going to discuss a few of them with a primary emphasis on what happens when you over reach during your passing attempts.

Video Summary:
At the beginning you can see where I establish my grips and insert a DLR hook. I then strip his grips and while I'm slapping his hands away I barely shift my hips and transition to his back. I roll through to mount, then back to his back and continue to control him, then move to the armbar for the finish.

Minimum effort for maximum results is the name of the game. He pushes forward, but doesn't know how to get past my hooks, so I'm able to control the game from there. He never is able to get ahead of me during the transitions so he never really has a chance to avoid my attack.

His biggest mistake, and what allowed me to sweep him is his continued attempt to attack my collar to the exclusion of everything else. Even after I have established hooks he continues to ignore my legs and grasp at my collar.

What he should have done is to stop grabbing at my collar and grab my pants instead. Allowing me the use of my legs makes it infinitely more difficult to pass my guard. It's commong for white belts to attack as far forward as they can reach and leave half of their opponents weapons available.

Instead you should begin by controlling the ankles and work inwards in order to immobilize your opponents weapons in the most effective way. Controlling the ankles, then the knees until you are past the hips, then pinning the hips and beginning to isolate and attack the arms while working to disrupt your opponents posture to prevent them from escaping.

Don't be over eager to attack the neck. Ignoring your opponents legs is a huge mistake.

Monday, February 20, 2012

US Grappling Submission Only - Greensboro - Full Writeup

We left the house around 4pm Friday and despite some traffic due to a four car fender bender we managed to roll in around 10pm to the Clarion hotel. We settled in and got some rest.

Unfortunately the hotel complementary breakfast was meager and horrible. So I ended up foodless rolling out Saturday morning.
We got to the venue and I weighed in, fully clothed, at 143.4 lbs.
I talked to the Crissy and the USG crew for a few minutes and then ran into Leslie and we did some warmup rolls. I would have liked to roll more with her since I didn't really get a good feel for her full game, but she has good squirrley hip movement and nailed that Emily Kwok step pass on me even though I knew she had be working on it.

Since I was reffing this time around I hit up a brief referee meeting with Andrew and the other refs, then we had the main rules meeting. As always everything was very clearly communicated and demonstrated and questions were answered thoroughly.

My division started promptly at 11 as I've come to expect.
There was no one in my Masters No-Gi Advanced division so my first match was in the Absolute Masters, No-Gi Advanced against James Viars. That is also the only match that I have video of this time around. The Jennosaurus was working the tables for USG, so I didn't have anyone to run the camera. I'll be uploading that video as soon as I get a chance. I pulled guard, he made it to halfguard and tried to d'arce me. I sat around in the darce for a while then he transitioned eventually to an armbar, I rolled out of it, got on top and snagged his ankle to lock in a straight ankle lock for the finish. Time: 5:12

After that was the Mens No-Gi Advanced, which had me up first against John 'Bagels' Telford from Team ROC. I again, pulled guard and let him set up a D'Arce, hoping to pull the same shenanigans and let him wear himself out a bit and work from there. But he used the D'Arce to take mount on me. I worked my way out and we hit a bit of a scramble, he locked on a toe hold but I flexed through it and popped free and I was SURE I had him turning directly into a triangle choke off of that scramble, but instead he ended up on top with an armbar. I tried to roll out of the armbar, but he caught me and finished it.  Time 5:38

We had a three person division, it was round-robin, so Bagels was up against Herman Mattison after that and their match went over half an hour of back and forth. Both of them just had endless strength and cardio. It was a joy to watch them. Eventually Bagels caught an ankle and finished it.

After that I had to go up against Herman. I tried to hit a footsweep off of the clinch, but he countered with a monster double leg. I played more halfguard, but couldn't put anything together against him either and he eventually locked on a tight RNC. Time: 11:33

From there I ran over to start my Mens Advanced No-Gi Absolute division. First match was against Sampu Blankenship. (Edit: That's SAMPY Blankenship. Who is a Budo-Ryu black belt) I pushed him around in the clinch a little bit then pulled guard and was able to 100% play my normal no-gi game. I setup the overhook, then setup the omoplata. He rolled and I rolled with him, then he postured and I comboed over to the triangle for the finish. Time 3:14.

Now, for the record this is the last match I have with anyone close to my size. The rest of my opponents are all at least 30lbs heavier than I am.

Second match Laban Probst who was huge. Somewhere in the 220lb range. At this point everyone was starting to get a little blurry on me. He armbarred me fairly quickly though. Time 2:24.

Third match I won by forfeit.

I changed into my Gi real quick and then reffed a few matches for Bagels so he could coach some of his guys. Then my Gi stuff started, so Leslie took over reffing for me.

At this point, things were pretty much a blur.  My first opponent was named Zebulon (Awesomest name EVER) and he completely outgripped me. I was defending a kimura at one point and he passed my belt around my wrist somehow and locked it down, then used his free hand to lock in a collar choke.  It was awesome and I'm going to steal that tiedown from him for next time. Time: 3:15.

Next match was Matt Moretz, who also outgripped me and armbarred me. Time: 1:57.

Next match was against Bill Bennet who has an absolutely WICKED paper cutter choke that he nailed me with. Time: 2:06

Next was an awesome match against an ENORMOUS 300+lb guy who also competes in Judo named Brian Mathis who threw me rather spectacularly onto my head, and then landed on me in surprisingly gentle fashion, then... I think he armlocked me in some fashion. It's hard to remember. Might have been a choke. Time: Unknown, but I think it was about 2 minutes.

I had another match with Matt Moretz, this time I almost caught him in an inverted triangle, but he managed to hide his arm from me and ended up armbarring me again. Time: 1:57.

My last match was a second one with Bill Bennet who AGAIN hit me with that Paper cutter choke, though I knew it was coming and I thought for sure I had a counter for it, but at this point I don't know what the hell was going through my mind, so I could have been hallucinating. Time: :40

Total Matches: 12
Wins: 3 (1 by forfeit)
Losses: 9 (Ouch, that's a lot of losses)
Total Mat Time: 40 minutes.
Average Match Length: About 3 minutes 35 seconds.
Good enough for a 1st place, a 2nd place, and 5 3rd place medals.

Also because of a snafu with the medal manufacturer they are sending out rashguards to the people who placed in each division, which means I ended up also getting 7 rashguards out of it. AND because the USG folks are awesome I ended up with a new pair of shorts and a ton of t-shirts.

I then went and reffed a a huge novice division, and then an equally large white belt division. I spent a LOT of time on the mats. After all of the matches were done me and Jenn helped break down the mats and everything and then the USG team took all of the refs out to dinner. Thanks Crissy, Andrew, Brian, and everyone with US Grappling for an AWESOME AWESOME weekend! We'll be back for the Charlotte tournament for sure!

Oh, I also have to give a huge shout out to Roy Marsh who was there coaching some of his guys for his impromptu private lesson with me after the event. Learned a couple of really really wicked tricks from him including a great grip control trick and a really nice way to increase pressure from knee on belly and side control.

And of course, a MILLION props to my awesome Jennosaurus for coming out with me and supporting me and making friends with all of the USG people and running a table for them.

And a friendly warning to Team ROC. I'm going to be ready for you behemoths (And you too Bagels) at Charlotte.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

US Grappling Greensboro Sub-Only This Weekend!

So this saturday is US Grappling's Submission Only tournament in Greensboro and I finally was able to confirm that I'm attending. I'll also be helping out as a referee, which is pretty easy at Submission Only tournaments since I pretty much just have to watch out for competitor safety and flagrant rules violations.

On the downside, I haven't really prepped well for this one. Class attendance has been sporadic, diet has been bad, and I've done no specific cardio training. Despite all of that my jiujitsu feels smoother, cleaner, and better than it did for my last tournament. I feel stronger and faster. I feel like my cardio is better than it's ever been. I'm really looking forward to this tournament and getting as many matches as I possibly can cram into the day while still helping out with refereeing.

So, again, if you're going to be out there look me up and say hi! I'll be rocking my blue Megalodon Gi or a blue Megalodon t-shirt whenever I'm not decked out in USG stuff. I hope to see a big turnout!

As usual, videos will be up the week after the competition. I'm going to TRY to stream some of the matches via Ustream, so we'll see how that goes. My official videos will be up some time the week after.

Monday, February 13, 2012

We're Getting Our Own Place!

As some of my regular readers may know my gym currently shares space with a local Taekwondo school. This leads to things like children running all over the mats and dirtying them up and there being hordes of loud children having birthday parties and whatnot. We also have to work around their schedule.

Well, that ends in two weeks! Starting in March the Megalodon MMA gym will have a new location and our very own building! With wrestling mats andeverything!

I'm super excited about it.

We're breaking the new gym in with a Muay Thai training camp and the details will be up on the Megalodon website pretty soon. So, for anyone that is semi-local and is interested in a Muay Thai camp with some of the best in the state check for details coming up.

Class was great today, no-gi, working on high guard stuff. Everything felt super smooth and flowing for me. Punch-you-in-the-ribs-for-no-reason guy was back. He's very cool, fun to roll with, but has odd habits like headbutting my sternum and punching me in the ribs at random intervals. I offered to bring my gloves next time so we could do jits with hits and he apologized. He's fun to roll with though. Very high energy.

I'm tipping the scales ast 145lbs right now, which is just fine for USG. Looks like I WILL be able to make it up this weekend and looks like I'll be helping ref as well, so anyone who is going to make it to the US Grappling Sub Only tournament in Greensboro on the 18th drop by and say hi.

Monday, February 6, 2012

BJJ And The Mentor System

This post is going to tie in somewhat with my previous post about what I value in the various belt levels and will help explain why I have the expectations that I do.

When I first started training jiujitsu I constantly felt lost on the mats. Not just with techniques, but with mat etiquette, and the way the class flow worked. It took weeks to really settle into how things were done and there was still plenty of confusion. Based on all of the posts on JJ Forums and elsewhere from noobs with similar concerns this is a common theme.

When I got my blue belt and a few new students started at the gym I picked a couple of them and helped guide them through the classes, answered their questions, showed them basics, and then continued to help them develop their games. I became the person they could ask questions of when they weren't relevant to the current class. I also had the time to help them go into more detail about their game and how it worked and what they wanted to do. I was there to help them get over rough patches and frustration and to congratulate them on their triumphs. I very much became a BJJ Mentor for a couple of guys. They have since gotten their blue belts and are getting to the point where they will be mentoring people as well.

How does this tie into my previous ramblings about teaching proficiency requirements for belt ranks you may ask? Well, I believe that the mentoring system should be actively developed and encouraged within jiujitsu schools. Each purple or blue belt should have a pair of white belts to help guide through class and to answer very basic questions. Each Brown belt should have 3-5 blue and purple belts that they mentor through developing their game and navigating the pitfalls that come with developing into a complete jiujitsuka.

Putting a mentoring system like this in place helps everyone get the most out of their training. Lower belts get more personally tailored attention, while upper belts get chances to use one of the most powerful learning tools in anyone's arsenal, Teaching. While you are being mentored as a white, blue and purple belt you learn HOW to mentor others. Then when you begin mentoring you get to hone those skills. By the time a brown belt is ready for their black belt teaching has become a natural part of their development.

Having a mentor also removes a lot of the stress and anxiety that many people feel when attending class. The idea that they will do something stupid without knowing it because of ignorance is alleviated when you know someone is standing there to help you through everything and explain things.

Of course it takes balance. If you spend too much time helping your Mentee and not enough time working on your own development then you will lose out. You have to strike the right balance between personal development and Mentoring and it's the responsibility of YOUR Mentor or your coach to help you strike that balance. In this respect having a Mentee can be really handy as well though, you have a ready made training partner to work your developing game on while at the same time helping them to develop.

The entire system is, to me, something that many BJJ schools and students would benefit from, and would lead to better instruction over all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why are you punching me in the ribs?

So, holy controversial insanity batman!
Apparently my previous post caused a bunch of people over in /r/bjj to have minor heart attacks or something over the idea that I, a mere purple belt, might deign to give some thought to what I value from students at each level with an eye towards one day running my own school. I assumed there would be some discussion about the various ways schools promote and the alternate criteria espoused, but I didn't expect anyone to actually become offended by the idea. Shows what I know...
But, lucky for me I absolutely don't care about those people and the post did generate some interesting discussion from the non-spazz folks.

Anyways, we had either four new guys from the police academy training today or three from the academy and one random new guy. I didn't get the full details of everyones origin. Warmed everyone up with fundamental movements, and then a knee on belly drill for switching from one side to the other.

We started off the lessons with takedowns, a few reps of the basic double leg and then working finishes on a failed double. A nice escape against a front headlock after the failed double was the first one. Reach across and grab the choking arm and pull down, then step up your outside leg and reach that same arm over your opponents back as you spin away from them and take their back. The movement was awkward for me at first because I kept trying to go UP instead of OUT. Once I figured that out it worked nice and smooth.
The second one was switching off to a single leg from the failed double.
The third one was a basic sitout from a bodylock.
Bonus technique was another one against a front headlock. Base up, pull butterfly guard and immediately butterfly sweep. Fun stuff.

After that Coe worked Knee on Belly escapes.
First one is the basic grab the ankle, upa, shove the leg between yours and reguard.
Second one ones scooping under the foot, grabbing the gi or the belt, and the hipswitching and rolling them backwards to take side control.
Third was for when they are REALLY driving into you. Block the far leg as you hip away as hard as you can while they keep the pressure on you, then bring your top knee up to take some of their pressure and push hard like you are going to stand up, when they push back into you roll them and take side control.

After that was some rollin'. I had one of the new guys in my group and in his first roll he slammed one of the white belts. His second roll was with one of our wrestlers and they were going crazy as well. So when I rolled with him I kept it relaxed and let him spazz all he wanted to. Worked on breaking his posture down, holding him, setting up what I wanted, and then executing. He was explosive enough to pop out of quite a few things, so I got in some good reps of breaking his posture down. Then I noticed that he kept punching me in the ribs lightly while I was breaking him down. This confused me, so I swept him and took mount. At which point he started reaching up towards my eyes, and then trying to hook me with his feet to roll me backwards. I ended up just slapping his hands away and then keeping him trapped under mount to calm him down some.
I think I'll bring my MMA gloves next time and ask him if he wants to do jits with hits. Might be fun.

I did land a technique I've been playing with in no-gi for a while but hadn't seriously pursued. It's a no-gi flower sweep that I was certain was possible, but had never FELT the mechanic. This time I had a nice tight overhook and just felt the sweep the same way I have been with the gi version. I rotated and underhooked the leg and dumped him right over. I plan on working that more in my no-gi game.

Everything else was standard. Worked my single collar grips, my sweeps, and my top control.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Promotion Standards and Belt Meanings

The catalyst for the enormous wall of text that is going to follow this was this thread on JJ Forums and the conversation about women and BJJ standards that came out of it. This is a long post and contains largely my own personal philosophy created out of my experience with Taekwondo, BJJ, and Judo.

How SHOULD promotions be handled?
Black Belt: My personal view is that not everyone necessarily needs to achieve a blackbelt. Solely putting time in grade should not be enough to eventually land you a blackbelt. If you are getting tooled by blue belts that outweigh you by 50 lbs just because they are super athletic then you aren't black belt material no matter how good you are at teaching or how many years of experience you have. Black Belt is a signal of both ability AND knowledge. For the same reason I don't believe that solely winning the mundials 5 times at brown belt is enough to warrant promotion to black belt. If you can't teach worth crap, then you also aren't black belt material.

Brown Belt: This is where most people belong in my mind. If you are excellent at competition, or excellent at instruction, but aren't at least good at both then you should get stuck on brown belt and stay there. That doesn't mean I expect every black belt to be a world champion, but if you aren't getting on the mats to compete and beating other brown belts then you don't need to make the step up to black. However, if you hate to compete but are a great teacher then there is no reason why you shouldn't be a brown belt. At that point there's not the same expectation of ability to handle blue-purple belts that outweigh you massively, or to have all of the answers. So you can be a competition only brown, or a knowledge only brown and get by.

Purple Belt: This is the belt where the distinction will end up getting made for you. Are you going to be a competitor or a teacher or both? To reach purple belt I think you should be competent at both already. You need to be able to teach a beginner class and you need to have competed. This doesn't mean you should be able to school a whitebelt that is 100lbs bigger than you are, but you SHOULD be schooling white belts who are your size and you should have a technique library to draw from that is much larger than white belts or new blue belts. You should definitely be able to run roughshod over anyone with no experience pretty much regardless of size difference.

Blue Belt: This is the commitment belt. You've shown some dedication to training and grasp the basic concepts and techniques. The only requirement for blue belt is that you be able to perform the basics and roll competitively against other white belts your size with similar training, and roll successfully against new people your size.

Women vs Men: This comes up a LOT. Should a woman be required to roll successfully against a man of equal size in order to progress in jiujitsu? For me I say no for blue belt. Getting your Blue belt isn't about rolling, it's about knowing the basics and being ready to learn how to use them. As a purple belt, it's a different story. You SHOULD be able to splatter a 150lb untrained male. If you can't do that then stay at blue belt until you can. If that means you have to hit the gym to develop the physical attributes necessary, then so be it. My reasoning behind this is that a Purple belt is a sign of competence at self defense as well as everything else. If you have one then you should be able to defend yourself if attacked. I wouldn't want a woman that I promoted to purple belt to be unable to defend herself from at least a moderately sized male attacker. At Brown belt I would expect women to be able to handle 200lb untrained men with assurance, if not with ease.
However, I hold men to the SAME standards. If you are a 135lb male and you want your brown belt you better be able to breakdance all over a 220lb noobs face all day long.

Batsugan Promotions: This is something from Judo that you rarely see in BJJ, but is becoming more popular. It shows up in MMA occasionally when a fighter gets promoted after winning an MMA fight, and it happens sometimes when a blue or purple belt wins the Mundials. It's promotion based specifically on competition victories. Alliance took it one step further this year and held a "fight for your belt" event for white  belts trying to make blue and blue belts trying to make purple. The competition was no weight class, no time limit, and as soon as you and your next opponent in the bracket finished you started your next match. Minimal breaks. One of our guys won 5 or 6 matches in a row to go from white belt to blue. This guy is a GREAT competitor. Extremely athletic, really good at the things he does, but his technique library is very small and his technical understanding is limited. His technical execution of the things he does is great, but he would he can't explain past the basic details. Does he deserve his blue belt? Absolutely. But he will require a lot of development on the his understanding of the technical side before I think he is ready for his purple belt.
I'm interested to see if more of this catches on and what it does to the sport overall. I think Batsugan up to Brown belt would be fine for me, but from brown to black as I mentioned above I believe you have to be more well rounded than can be determined by solely competition prowess.

All of this being said, I really liked the exercise that Julia mentions here about determining how to promote people. Black Belts want the people they promote to represent their lineage, their school, and their instructor well. Not just be able to do the techniques, so every Black Belt is going to have different and equally valid promotion methods. I fully expect to be a black belt four years from now and will be working super hard to make that happen, and if I do then I expect I'll be no different.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nutrition - More Important Than You Realize

For the entire last half of last year I ate really really well. Mostly lean meats, vegetables, and fruits with hardly any sugar or crappy carbs.

I fell off the wagon during my vacation to disney and have been completely derailed for the last 4 weeks essentially. I went from having almost unlimited energy and only really needing 6 hours of sleep a night to feeling like garbage and being tired all of the time. I attribute this almost entirely to the sharp rise in my consumption of crappy fast food cheeseburgers.

My diet has been sporadic, my meals random in time and composition including far too much fast food. My calorie intake has also been sporadic. I'll eat almost nothing one day, then end up snarfing down 4500 calories the next day. My weightlifting has suffered as well. I'm frequently too exhausted and crappy feeling to lift and I then feel stressed  because I've missed an opportunity to improve.

Such a simple thing, how much you eat, what you eat, something we take for granted all the time, but it can change your entire training regimen. When you aren't well fed, and well rested, then you can't train as well, you can't pay attention as well, and you don't absorb knowledge as well.

This is especially important if you have limited training time. If you can only train twice a week then it's incredibly important for you to get the most out of each minute that you are training and part of that is going to come down to your nutrition. Remember, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits. A minimum of sugar and bread, and plenty of post workout protein! Eat well, train well!