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.