Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time to get serious again

A bout with ringworm kept me out of the gym for the last 3 weeks, and a big client deployment at work has been sucking up all of my free time, but now the ringworm is gone and the deployment is complete so I'm back on the mats.

I still feel a need  to be stronger and more athletic, but that need is warring with my ability to consistently lift weights and eat enough to actually build muscle.

I started this journey in November of 2006, so I'm coming up on 7 years of training and it's time to make the push for my brown belt, which means getting to class 4 days a week, hitting the weights, and generally taking everything to the next level. I need to make a serious commitment to my training at this point or get used to the idea of being a purple belt forever.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Atlanta Open - 2013

I've been hugely busy at my day job with a new client project, so training has been sporadic, but I will be dropping in at the Atlanta Open to cheer on my guys from Megalodon who are competing as well as the crew from Team ROC that is coming down from NC.

Anyone who is also going to be there, I will be wearing a blue 'Shut Up And Fight' Megalodon MMA t-shirt, I have really long hair and glasses. I'll be hanging around wherever the purple belts are competing for the most part. Drop by and say hello, or punch me in the mouth, or whatever.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ian McPherson Visit!

I've been hitting class, but not writing about it, which is a bad habit I know.

I have NOT been lifting any weights or anything like that which is bad and I should be, but I'm still inherently lazy. However I have continued to be solid and assertive and force my game and it's getting more cohesive. I'm getting better about standing to execute my passes and not always trying only for the kneecut/teleport pass.

So, last night we had an awesome treat, Ian McPherson came down to teach class and train with us. He taught 5 back control techniques for taking the back from turtle and finishing. I have all five of them on video, but they are only available to students from the gym, so too bad.

I will say that the biggest thing I took away from the class was the basic back control position that he uses. He has his rear knee jammed into his opponents ribs, and his front knee (the one nearest the opponents head) posted back as if in knee on belly. That combined with the seatbelt grip gives amazing back control and mobility. You have the constant option of just ramming your opponent over with your knee pressure and taking side control or KoB, and your weight distribution stops them from rolling away from you without giving up position. It's awesome.

All of the back takes feed almost directly into collar chokes, which brings me to the next thing that I learned which was way stupidly simple compared to what I THOUGHT it was. The double collar choke from the back. I always thought there must be some kind of trick that I was missing. I was CERTAIN that it wasn't as simple as it looked, but I was completely wrong. You just grab the collar, then you grab the lapel with the other hand, and you pull and they tap. It was just mind blowing.

After that I got to roll with Ian, which also was awesome. He did the great blackbelt thing where he would let me work with just enough resistence for me to feel whether what I was doing was correct or not, and even let me succeed to a point, and then just magically sweep and submit me.

He'll be competing at the Atlanta Open at the end of this month and I'll be there spectating and taking video of our guys, so come out and watch!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Newbreed Tournament Writeup and Videos

I drove out to the venue to weigh-in Friday night and got there about 10 minutes before weigh-ins closed. I made weight comfortably at 137.8lbs and everyone I talked to there was very nice and professional. I got a good impression right from the beginning.

I verified that my division was schedule to start at 4:30, but that I should be there around 2 just in case things were ahead of schedule. Keeping that in mind I arrived at the venue at about 1:50 and got changed. Almost right at 2 I got paged to the weigh-in area to find out that I had no one in my division. So, they medaled me out in the 139.9 and rolled me up to compete in a division with a couple of 149.9 guys and a 159.9 guy.

I had about 30 more minutes of waiting and then got called down to the ring to start our division at about 2:45.

My first match was one of the 149.9 guys who looked like he cut rather a lot to hit that weight as well. I kept grip fighting standing looking for my takedown until he pulled guard. I immediately went to pass and he turtled and managed to get a pants leg grip and stop me from securing back control and transition to side. He never passed guard, so no points for anyone. At the time I had no idea how close I came to catching his collar and seeing it in the video drives me nuts. I was an inch away from winning via collar choke with that grip. He got greedy and tried to step to mount and I caught halfguard. I ended up having to bait the kimura in order to get enough space to curl up into him, and as I'm trying to sweep he secures a guillotine and it became obvious that he was preposterously strong. I fought it out while continuing to try to get on top as long as I could, eventually I had to tap.

Second match was against the other 149.9 guy. This time I was able to get my grips immediately and hit a perfect Tomoe Nage, then slid right into a triangle choke while working to pass. I defended the choke, and escaped it and caught an inverted triangle, but I couldn't secure his far arm and I could never force enough movement to get on top. I feel like I could have done better managing this position and possibly won this match had I been thinking clearly, but I rarely end up here in the gym and I don't have a good path built up around the position. He eventually worked free and was able to take S-mount and secure the armbar.

For the third match they were actually looking for someone to volunteer to compete against a ~190lb guy who ended up with no opponent. I was done with my division by then and I'm used to competing in absolute divisions, so I said I would give it a go. I went for my tomoe nage, but he ended up being a hair too tall for me to get control of his hips, so I ended up pulling guard. He shook me free and ended up in my halfguard. I fought of an arm triangle and a darce and he eventually passed my guard. Time ran out with me still fighting against the d'arce and looking for an opportunity to sweep, so I lost by 3. So, I got a silver medal for not being a wuss.

Overall, I was both happy with my performance and extremely disappointed. I was more assertive in my rolls, but I continue to run into brickwalls against people who are my general skill level but far more athletic than I am. I've decided I have no choice but to hit the weights again if I'm going to find success in competition. So starting monday I'll be back to Stronglifts 5x5 and I probably won't be competing again until spring of 2014 at which time I think I will venture back to a NAGA event in the hopes of finding people in my own weightclass to test myself against.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tournament Time! Newbreed Ultimate Challenge Atlanta

So for the first time in over a year I cut weight for a tournament. Two weeks ago I weighed in at 149lbs, tonight I tipped the scales at 137.5 for successful cut with room to spare. I then found the nearest smoothie vendor and knocked back their largest raspberry, banana, and orange juice smoothie before returning home to eat a delicious steak. I'm feeling great now. Strong, full of energy. I'm going to get a full night of sleep too since my division doesn't start until 4ish and we are guaranteed that it won't start earlier than 2, so I can leave the house at 11:30ish and make it in plenty of time.

That means full sleep, breakfast, the whole nine yards. I won't be going into a tournament hungry, or worried about anything expect competing. I'll be competing in my proper weightclass and I feel like I'm right at the peak of my current improvement cycle.

So now it's time to see if Operation Be More Assertive translates into results on the tournament mats.

I will have a full report with videos up Tuesday.

Friday, July 5, 2013

This is not the guard pass I am looking for....

We actually managed to put together a pretty good class for July 3rd with 9 or 10 people showing up to train. I spent about 45 minutes teaching super basic judo stuff, fit-ins, foot placement, how to load someone before the throw and then how to complete the throw without trying to muscle it. Just partner drilling back and forth a bunch to get those basics down.

Then we rolled for over an hour. Great stuff. I was assertive in every aspect of my game and was on top of things in general.

Had three rolls apiece with Wyatt and Kris, which is always good training. The final roll of the night with Kris I went into specifically trying to think about ways to pass his guard without getting swept which resulted in him throwing on a triangle in the first 30 seconds or so as I tried to dig for a double under pass and he popped the arm free.

I threw on the defense, burrowed down, and drove my elbow through and out to secure the pass and take side control. That is NOT what I meant when I decided I needed to look for different guard passes. I definitely don't want to do that again since I doubt I'll get away with it against him a second time.

I did hit one of my favorite stealth tech submissions on him though, attempt overhead or butterfly sweep, then when your opponent posts you slap on an armtriangle, then hit the half butterfly sweep to mount and finish.

It was a good night, and I feel it. Sore everywhere.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guard Passing Plateau and Hulk Smash

A solid OBMA class last Friday. I forced several sweeps through serious wrestler resistance and was consistently assertive with my submissions. I also worked the Leg Lasso sweep I posted about a few days ago.

One thing that I'm a bit ambivalent about is a roll with one of our larger white belts who is very strong and explosive. I swept him to mount and was working on setting up a choke and he attempted to full on fling me off of him and sit up via pure hulk strength. This annoyed me, so I ended up smashing him back down in return. There wasn't a lot of technique involved, I just smashed him back down onto the mats while he was trying to sit up. I don't know if this counts as me being assertive, or if it was spazzy. It's definitely a difference in my behavior compared to a month ago.

Rolled with Kris again at the end of class and this time he just had way too much energy for me. I got mauled and armbarred. I'm going to have to figure out something about my energy levels going forward, but I'm not sure what.

Still, good training.

But my rolls with Kris are bringing to the front an issue with my jiujitsu. My guard passing has gotten stagnant. I have one pass that I fight for, and if it fails I generally just sit in guard defending sweeps now. I need to kick myself out of that rut and go back to the active movement passing game that I started developing a couple of months ago. That's my next OBMA inflection point I think, a return to active passing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Backsliding and Leg Lasso Sweeps

OBMA report:
Felt like I backslid a little bit and was letting people attempt to pass my guard and work instead of putting myself in control of the roll more assertively. I will have to revisit this next class and make sure I take control of the roll from the beginning every time.

Leg Lasso Double Pump Sweep to Spinoplata to Triangle Choke:
Couple of discussions about Leg Lasso stuff on the internet led to me filming this quick reference video for my preferred Leg Lasso sweep.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More OBMA and Some Insights Into Learning From Losing

I felt... moderately assertive and moderately exhausted. The heat/humidity drained me pretty quick and I really couldn't get mentally in gear. I was still more assertive than I would have been 2 months ago, but I felt like I was missing opportunities that I could have hit, especially with sweeps.

More importantly one of our guys just got back from a tournament where he lost, really bad, for the first time in his BJJ Career. In the past he's always done well at white and blue belt and he's gotten used to that success. This was his first tournament as a purple belt and it hit him pretty hard. I talked to him about the specific situations that cost him the match and while talking through it we isolated a root cause of his issue. He's not losing enough.

In class he's a strong, technical guy. He can impose his will on like 90% of the people we train with. This is a problem because there are places in class where he NEVER ends up. No one really forces him to turtle, so when he ends up turtled he doesn't have a good reflexive escape. No one can really stop his sweeps, so when he runs into someone that shuts him down he doesn't have a reflexive action. The problem is that there are deadends on his BJJ roadmap because he never travels those paths.

So I grabbed him for some relaxed rolling, forcing him to just let things happen and not resist too much so that he would end up in positions that he didn't normally end up in. As a result he was able to learn counters to both of the situations he was in over the weekend in just a few minutes.

This underscores an important point that people say a lot, but not everyone understands the reasoning behind. You hear it all the time, 'Put Yourself in Bad Positions!' But why? So I can practice escapes? Well, sort of. But a more accurate statement would be 'Put Yourself in Weird Positions!' Why? So you can develop a plan of action for as many possible positions as you can find.

If you never end up in a position in class, then you won't know what to do when you end up there in competition. So remember to EXPLORE your jiujitsu. Roll with the idea of finding new branches of the tree and seeing where they take you and how to move from one branch to another.

This is pretty much the exact opposite of the Assertive Jiujitsu project. This is for people who are naturally assertive with their Jiujitsu ( Like my training partner) but for that reason don't often end up in weird positions. For those of us who are naturally lazy with our jiujitsu and a little more playful we did most of this first. We explored the tree, ended up in all kinds of positions and know we KNOW all kinds of things. We just have a hard time putting them into practice because of our relaxed attitude. Two ends of the learning spectrum that both seem to collide at purple belt from what I can tell.

Now, go forth and explore! Remember, Adventure is out there!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

OBMA - Day 6: No-Gi

This was the first No-Gi I have had since starting this project and during my first roll I realized I have ZERO plan in No-Gi anymore. I used to play an overhook to triangle/omoplata game almost exclusively, but people have gotten good at maintaining posture so I rarely get the overhook long enough to work anything from it. It took me a couple of rolls to figure out what direction I was going to be working so that I could be assertive with it.

I settled on armbar and the pendulum sweep from the armbar setup. I hit it on pretty much everyone I rolled with at least once and landed quite a few armbars. Also a kneebar from KoB that I have been thinking about but hadn't seen an opportunity for until tonight.

Overall I felt like I had less direction, fewer options, and less control over the roll than I have had in Gi recently. I'm definitely more fond of Gi than No-Gi now which is 180 degree change from when I started in the Gi four and a half years ago.

I also was reminded that one of the primary No-Gi grips involves hanging on the back of your opponents head. My neck is killing me. But still, my jiujitsu felt moderately assertive. Better than the last No-Gi class I can remember. I do need to put some more thought into my no-gi game plan and path if I really want to improve though.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

OBMA - Day 5

I ended up at the gym a little before the kids classes started, so I jumped in and did their warmup and drills and then helped coach the kids while they were rolling, and did some gymnastics with them and stuff. We started off our class with armbar defense and escapes and drilled those for a while. Basic stuff, elbow pops, stacking, and the hitchhiker for desperation.

Assertiveness was in full swing while rolling. I was insistent about my sweeps, and continued to hit combinations. My collar drags weren't working quite as well today, but I was switching off to spider guard and hitting sickle sweeps when needed. It actually felt very strange at one point, I realized I had rolled with 4 or 5 blue belts and completely controlled them with almost no effort. I caught myself wondering if that was what I was like as a blue belt.
I rolled with Casey for the first time in a while and for the first time I can remember everything he did wasn't dark magic and sorcery. I could tell what was going on and avoided a lot of things that would have swept me a few months ago. I was able to execute an effective guard pass and avoid a trap that usually gets me immediately swept. All in all I felt a lot of progress tonight.

I also rolled with Johnny and was able to prevent him from passing my guard up until the last 15 seconds of the round, which hasn't been the case in a couple of years. I had to fight hard for it, but it's what I NEED to do, so it was super good for me.

Closed out the night with another points match with Kris, again I could tell he was tired, but that didn't stop me from tomoe nageing him in spectacular fashion and breakdancing on him. He'll recover from this fatigue or whatever in a week or so and be back to being one of the best guard passers in the gym, so I'm getting my licks in now while he's weak and helpless.

This is been the most successful mental project I've done since I started keeping track of my training and I think it's what I needed to finally break through and get my Jiu Jitsu to brown belt level.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

OBMA: Day 4

Another solid day for the project. Today was takedowns mostly working from the russian 2 on 1 grip, which I never use, so I spent a lot of the time working with Kris on gi grips, grip breaking, foot sweep combos, and the very non-wrestling standup game we both use.

Started out rolling with Kris and continued to be assertive with my gripping and execution, he felt a bit less intense today than he usually does so I think he might have been backing it down a notch due to the heat and humidity in the gym. I hit a bunch of sweeps to KoB and executed my baseball bat choke. My assertiveness and determination to complete sweeps was leading me to combos that I had worked on before but never really was able to put into practice. I used x-guard or x-guard variation sweeps, the hook sweep, and some others that I am now too tired to remember.
Also rolled with a bigger guy that trained with us before, but was gone for a while. Went immediately to my standard big guy game and omoplata, swept to mount, worked for bow and arrow, then transitioned to his back. Ended up just riding it out on his back and refusing to be shaken off while working for the choke.

Rolled with a new guy that turns out to have a lot of previous wrestling experience. He was preposterously strong, so right off he tried to canopener the hell out of me, then head crushed me. I tapped to the headcrush real quick before my nose could get too smashed, then loop choked him immediately. After the reset I was setting up the loop choke again and he performed a very ballistic sitout that turned it into a kimura, which only didn't wreck my arm because I was lucky and was already going that direction. Rolled through it, and he head crushed me again. Tapped and then pulled him into full guard and x-choked him on the restart.  After that I just held him in guard until the round ended while he tried to canopener me repeatedly.

At that point it got hard to continue my assertiveness due to exhaustion, but I did what I could.

I also have noticed that I am trying to pass the knee shield the same way no matter what size my opponent is. I need to adjust that so that on the stronger guys I back out and work to generate an agility advantage instead of trying to pressure pass through them. I can do that on guys my size, or inexperienced bigger guys, but bigger blue or purple belts it just isn't the appropriate passing method for the situation.

At the end I rolled with Kris again, and as our like 7 minute long round ended, Johnny called for a points match again starting from where we were with me under side control. I spend about 6 minutes playing full on defense unable to muster any kind of offense until I regained guard and at some point accidentally clipped Kris in the face with my knee.

Still it was continued progress mentally and I'm pretty happy with this project so far.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Operation Be More Assertive: Day 3

Due to some transportation issues I missed out on class for over a week, again, which sucked. But I was back last night to keep working. I ran into a few problems this time around, first of all popcorn and a hard cider is probably not the best lunch to prepare one for future athletic endeavors, just for anyone who might be wondering.

Technique for the day was armbar attacks when your opponent attempts to stack or slam out. Heel curls, leg hooks, spin unders, and regular ol' sweep to finish. Good basic fundamental stuff.

Rolling I partnered up first with a newer guy who is apparently a fresh blue belt who has been out of training for a little while. I maintained my assertive mindset and went immediately to the scissor sweep and a strong knee on belly top game and finished with a baseball bat choke. Continued in that vein and completed a few other submissions while refusing to allow sweeps or escapes for the most part. Towards the end of the round he did get a really did situp sweep on me that eventually succeeded, but I was happy with my mindset in that round.

As rounds went on my ability to maintain started to drop as I became more and more exhausted. I maintained my assertiveness through a round with Chris, and one of the other blues, and then rolled with Ian whose top pressure just sapped the energy right out of me this time. Then with Johnny, again enormous top pressure that drained my reserves. I tried to maintain the mindset, but I ended up falling back into unproductive patterns because I felt physically unable to assert control over the roll.

Final roll was against Kris again, this time Johnny was calling points for it so Kris came out like he meant it and I was flat out exhausted. This led to 6 minutes of pure defense on my part hanging in quarter guard, fighting off collar chokes, and barely blocking guard passes until I finally got to deep half guard and executed a sweep, then fought off a berimbolo to close it out.

It's definitely easier to maintain that assertiveness when I have more energy, but I feel sore today as if I did work, which is good, and I give myself a 6/10 for my assertiveness for that class. Next class will be next wednesday and we'll try for 9/10.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Operation Be More Assertive: Day 2

Apparently this is actually Operation Turn Me Into a Badass.

I had more success today with sweeps than I think I've ever had in a single class. I think my success rate was damn near 100%.

Multiple times the sweep was blocked temporarily and I fought through it to completion. I also successfully fought off several reversal attempts that I normally would have allowed. I was more explosive when I needed to be during my escapes and transitions and again I just went in and comboed my scissor sweep and collar drag with no care for what my opponent might be doing. Huge success rate.

I still have things to work on, but this is definitely getting me into the right place mentally.

Also, for the first time in a long time I feel like I really worked out. My arms, my core, my back, and my legs all feel like I went weight lifting. Normally I would think, "Shit I was muscling things too much." But for this project that's GOOD. I was actually using strength when it was needed in order to block my opponents explosiveness.

I need to continue this trend and keep this mindset all the way up to my next competition as well as hitting the weights and working to improve my strength and muscular endurance. The early results of this project are already very heartening though.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Operation Be More Assertive is a Go

In the past I have had what I definitely consider to be 'Lazy' jiujitsu. This has been hurting me in competition, and I've now compiled enough competition footage from the last year to see exactly where the biggest issues are and start to address them. The following is my plan for addressing these issues and making my jiujitsu more assertive and dynamic.

1. Ignore my opponent - I have in the past had a tendency to play defensively and wait for my opponent to make a mistake and then pounce on it. This lead to a very reactive game which frequently was very passive. This hurts you against opponents that don't make many mistakes or don't make mistakes that you know how to capitalize on. I have now begun ignoring my opponent and working to implement what I want to happen. 

2. Don't give up sweeps and don't give up ON sweeps - I previously would begin a sweep, and if my opponent blocked it I would just chill and wait to try something else. Instead I am now continuing to fight for the sweep and push harder to end up on top. I also would frequently allow my opponent to complete a sweep if it was pretty close instead of spending effort blocking it. Now instead I am actively working to block all sweeps no matter what stage they are at. So even if I miss my first opportunity to counter I am continuing to push back and work to stay on top. 

3. Take risks for submissions - Another passive point of my game has been being very relaxed about seeking submissions. I would be content to positionally control someone for 5-6 minutes and threaten a few submissions, but not seriously. Now instead I am aggressively seeking submissions, and a wider range of submissions and combining them. 

I began this project last night and immediately was able to see a difference. I secured more sweeps and submissions than I normally do and was able to do much more to control my opponents and force them to play the game I wanted to play, to my advantage.

Of course, I also managed to force a white belt to waiter sweep me, which was not exactly what I intended, but it was fun. All of my rolls felt more fun and dynamic as well. I feel good about this project and my expected results.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

USG - VA Beach Writeup and Videos

Another great tournament in the books.

I drove up Friday night. The trip took me from about 5pm to about 2am and I slept in my car after arriving. Woke up feeling pretty rested and had some yogurt then hit the awesome Virginia Beach Fieldhouse. Weighed in at 143 with my pants on and could have gotten to 139 without trouble, but not down to 135 which is the next weightclass down.

I spent the morning reffing the No-Gi matches and had a great time. I made no questionable calls and had no upset people, though I was approached by a parent later on about an incident on my mat that I had seen at the time, but chalked up to being an accident.

One of the guys in my division was a younger guy who was very intense, I assumed he was from a wrestling background and was just a little spazzy. He forearm checked another guy in the throat and I said 'watch the contact', but it seemed accidental and I didn't see anything else excessive. However apparently the guys dad on the sidelines was talking about 'doing whatever it takes to win' and several other people had fallen victim to some questionable contact.
The guy who approached me was the father of the guy that had been forearmed in the throat and he wanted to let me know that other people had complained about the guy as well. So, I'm going to keep a more careful eye on this fellow in particular and 'accidental' contact in general next time I ref. We're all here to enjoy ourselves not to turn it into an MMA match.

The divisions went smoothly and I then reffed some of the womens Gi matches where I got to watch Colleen Merullo rep Da Firma Kimonos while collecting some arms. I believe she took double gold, I know she took at least one. The girl is 14 and already a monster on the mats.

At that point I had to go change and get ready for my matches. So, here are the videos. I'll drop some commentary after them.

Match 1 -

 Match 2 -

Match 3 -

So, as you can see, I got obliterated. After the first 2 minutes of the first match I felt more exhausted than I did after 40 minutes of grappling at the sub only last time. I felt weak and completely overmatched at almost every point in every match. It was terrible. Definitely not a good performance.

I'm at the point where I need to be solidly brown belt in my technique to compete with guys that are 15lbs heavier than I am. They are just too good to be giving up any kind of physical advantage to.

I felt like I never got my game in gear at all. I missed my Tomoe Nage attempts. Couldn't seal the Berimbolo, couldn't complete a scissor sweep, and then couldn't escape mount. Absolutely terrible.

So, I will probably STILL do Richmond, because it's USGs 100th event, but after that I'm going to take a year off from competing in order to train more and hit the gym, spend my competition budget on private lessons or trips to train at different schools, and try to come back in a year both better and stronger.

But, the event was awesome, very smoothly run, the venue was great. As usual US Grappling puts on an awesome tournament.

Monday, April 29, 2013

US Grappling - VA Beach

It's time for another USG Tournament! Back to VA Beach this time and I'll only be doing two divisions since I'll be reffing all day.

Get pre-registered now and come out!! It's a great time and a great tournament for everyone!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Should I be Strength Training?

The question of strength training comes up pretty regularly on the various BJJ forums around the internet and opinions are usually mixed. I think I can help clear up some of the confusion around when strength training will benefit you and when it won't.

You Should Strength Train When:
1. You are competing at the top level of your sport where every tiny edge is required to defeat people who are of equally immense skill. This applies to pretty much no one who reads my articles, and pretty much no one who is posting this question. If you are competing at the highest level then you know what you need to do to win.
2. Doing so will not take time away from your skills training. If you have the option of strength training OR going to class, you should always go to class. A lot of people who ask this question DO have free time that they can't use to train BJJ, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with hitting the weights during those times.

3. When you are at an EXTREME physical disadvantage where rapid gains are easy. Weightlifting, like most things, is a game of diminishing returns. If you have never really lifted weights, are really tiny, or really over weight, and are being consistently outpowered by people your size and smaller then lifting weights will have rapid results in relatively little time. This is one of those rare times when putting your time into a good strength training routine will bring you results very quickly and is probably worth the time investment. Very few people are weak enough or out of shape enough to qualify though.

4. You have a specific physical issue that will benefit from it. There are many medical issues that can be helped by regular strength training. You shouldn't forego that benefit just because the BJJ community starts spazzing out at you.

5. You enjoy weight training for its own sake and don't care whether your BJJ progress is slowed by trading some BJJ Classes for weight training. If you would rather spend 3 days lifting and 2 days training BJJ than the other way around, then do that and don't worry about.

6. If you are over 30. As you age you can start to lose muscle mass and bone density, both things that weight training can help with. There are serious health benefits to weight training that can not be ignored.

When you should NOT Strength Train:
1. When you feel like you only got tapped because someone was stronger than you are. This is almost never the case and hitting the weights instead of hitting the mats will only impede your progress.

2. When you are ranked lower than purple belt. At white and blue belt the diminishing returns still generally favor skill training over strength training except in extreme cases. Once you hit purple it takes longer to improve at BJJ, so hitting the weights can help lift your game a few extra steps by opening up more options for you.

3. When you have JUST started training so that you can lose weight and get in better shape. Piling weight training on top of BJJ will kill you. Or you'll quit both of them because by the fourth day of alternating BJJ and squats you won't be able to move.

4. In order to get in better shape before you start training. This will not work. Grappling is a completely different animal from any other physical activity you can engage in. Being the worlds strongest man won't stop you from throwing up all over yourself thirty minutes in to your first class.

5. If you can already bench ~1.5x your weight, do 20 pullups, squat 2x your weight, and deadlift 2.5x your weight. If you can do those things then you are going to be hitting the line of diminishing returns almost immediately when you start lifting and you'll get almost no benefit from it for your jiujitsu. You would be better off doing gymnastics or finding some people to roll with.

6. When you feel like the only reason you couldn't tap someone was because you weren't strong enough. Again, this is almost never the case and trading mat time for strength training time is just going to make things worse.

I'm sure all kinds of people will disagree with me, so feel free to leave vitriolic feedback wherever you like.

Edit: It was mentioned that many people will fall into both categories in one way or another. Usually I imagine with people being over 30 or at an extreme physical disadvantage, and below the rank of purple belt. If you are over 30, you should be weight training anyways. Regardless of other factors. There are simply too many health benefits to it for you to ignore it. However, that question has led me to think that this article might be better represented as a flow chart. So I think I will make one.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Dangers of Upside Down Guard

A great post-tournament class last night, trying to work on my aggression a little bit and be more assertive when I'm rolling. Got in some great movement based flow rolling with one of our larger purple belts who is trying to get his cardio back up, so I spent the entire round moving quickly around him as he defended my attacks and transitions, which was great for me too because I need to practice exactly that kind of combination based flow and movement.

After that some more random rolls until I rolled with my instructors daughter. She's like 15 or 16 and weighs I guess 130 and is taller than I am. I decided to play around with upside down guard since she was unlikely to just crush me flat. For the first few minutes that was generally successful and fun and then as I was spinning through to stop one of her guard passes she latched onto my foot and nailed me with an inverted heel hook against the motion of my spin. My knee popped a bit and my ankle popped a bit and I tapped with a quickness and an alarmed exclamation. A few seconds of prodding and stretching to make sure and we resumed the roll, without any further upside down shenanigans on my part. I was certain that my knee would hurt today, but it seems fine.

My sweeps were on point, my top control was good. I'm already putting some of the things I learned from this last competition into practice. I'm STILL having trouble stopping the transition to north/south and the kimura, but I've already found a couple of options that give me better chances of success than my previous method.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

US Grappling - Greensboro Submission Only Tournament Report

Edit: Fixed the broken videos. Stupid embedding error.

As usual the US Grappling crew was excellent, the tournament was well run and efficient, the venue was clean and spacious, and the officiating was wonderful. I have never had cause to complain about a US Grappling tournament and this one continued that trend. I was on the mats by 11 and even sticking around to help pack up after the competition we were gone by 8.

One strange thing about this competition was the INSANE quantity of wristlock attempts. I had to fend off no fewer than 8 wristlock attempts, and at least four matches I saw were decided by wristlock. Insanity.

By the numbers:

Gi divisions: Total Matches - 6, total mat time - ~35 minutes. Matches won - 1, Matches lost - 5.

 No-Gi Divisions: Total Matches - 5, total mat time - ~27. Matches won -1, Matches lost - 4.

Average Match time: 5:45


Things I was happy about:
I attempted a bunch of tomoe nage's this tournament and several of them were at least partially successful and one was spectacularly successful. I'm going to continue practicing it going forward. I'm able to set up my grips and execute a lot faster now that I have been previously, but I'm having some trouble with my follow through and making sure I secure top position.

I did not get swept by deep halfguard a single time. Not once.

I had far fewer stupid noob type mistakes this time than last time.

It took Matt Moretz longer than 15 seconds to beat me.

Overall I felt significantly improved between my last competition and this one.

Thngs I was NOT happy about: I felt WEAK. Even against the guys in my weight class I felt like I was struggling just to maintain position against my opponents strength. If I'm going to be serious about competing then I need to hit the weights AND make it to class more often.

My halfguard is still shaky and needs more work against heavy top pressure.

My positional aggression is still too lazy. Especially when I partially hit a sweep. I'm not fighting hard enough to get and keep top position.


Match 1 - Part 1

I caught an accidental headbutt and we paused for a minute while we stopped the bleeding.

Part 2

Match 2 -

Ok, so this match was AWESOME, and I was SO disappointed that we only rolled for 3 minutes. It was incredibly fun and my opponent, Joseph Lee, is a very cool guy and extremely nice. I'm hoping to roll with him again some time in the future.

Match 3

Match 4

Match 5

At this point my camera battery gave out. So the remaining matches I didn't get on film. I think some of my opponents might have video, and if so I'll get the footage and get it linked up here. Mostly this is just me defending a LOT, so criticism is welcome.

Friday, April 12, 2013

US Grappling - Submission Only - 4/13/2013

I will be competing in the US Grappling tournament in Greensboro tomorrow. If anyone else is competing feel free to look me up. I will be filming my matches for review and analysis on here next week. Good luck to everyone competing!

Tournament Info is Here!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lloyd Irvin Rape Truth

*EDIT* It seems Lloyd managed to get the original URL taken down or into his possession, I'm leaving the link here since I'm preserving the link as well as the original contents here.

The following content is copied directly from (As of June 27, 2018, Lloyd has managed to acquire the previous URL and redirect it to his damage control site) in an effort to protect it from Lloyd's takedown attempts and to spread the word as far as possible. I encourage anyone with a digital platform to follow my lead and copy this material. The behavior described here is something that should never ever be tolerated by our community.

The Truth About Lloyd Irvin

Lloyd Irvin participated in the gang rape of a 17 year old girl at Hampton University in 1989. He was arrested and charged with rape. He was acquitted due to his testimony that he could not get hard enough to have sex with the victim. Multiple friends of his were convicted of the same rape and sent to prison. Lloyd Irvin fell through the cracks of the legal system in 1989, and there has been a pattern of sexual abuse surrounding him since.
Lloyd Irvin has attempted to suppress the information below through SEO tactics, bullying, legal threats, and intimidation. The content of this site is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This site is supported by a team that is dedicated to standing up to Lloyd Irvin's bully tactics and spreading the truth. This site is intentionally minimalistic to make it easy for anyone to copy its content in its entirety. This site is protected by a team that will not be silenced by frivolous legal threats.

Lloyd Irvin Students Arrested in Brutal Rape

Two top Lloyd Irvin students (Nicholas Schultz and Matthew Maldonado) were arrested for the violent rape of a female teammate on New Year's Eve 2013. The Lloyd Irvin students beat the victim in and out of consciousness while raping her repeatedly. After the rape, the two Lloyd Irvin students left the victim lying helpless in the church parking garage in which the rape occurred.
This incident was captured on surveillance video tape.
Both Lloyd Irvin students were indicted on nineteen felony counts in the District of Columbia Superior Court. They are facing potential life sentences if convicted.

Lloyd Irvin Buys to Cover Up Multiple Rapes

In a despicable attempt to cover up the news of the New Year's Eve rape, Lloyd Irvin purchased the domain name Lloyd Irvin populated this site with an advertisement for his own rape prevention classes -- a shameless attempt to profit from the brutal rape of his own student. This cover up ignited widespread outrage in the martial arts community.
But what came to light next revealed something far more sinister. Lloyd Irvin was covering up yet another brutal rape.

Lloyd Irvin Participated in the 1989 Gang Rape of a 17 Year Old Girl

As a result of the outrage from Lloyd Irvin's rape cover up, members of the martial arts community revealed that Lloyd Irvin himself had participated in the 1989 violent gang rape of a 17 year old girl at Hampton University.Lloyd Irvin and as many as nine of his friends lured the girl to their apartment where they threatened to throw her off the balcony if she resisted. They then threw her on the bed and raped her violently.
The rape was so brutal that the victim suffered bruising on her lips and vagina. Lloyd Irvin testified that he did not see what was wrong with having sex with a "freak" -- the exact word that he used to describe the victim in court. Neither Lloyd nor any of his friends showed any remorse for this violent crime.
Lloyd Irvin was able to convince the jury that he was too limp to penetrate the victim. He did, however, admit that he wanted to anyway. Due to the inability of the jury to convict him on a lesser charge for his clear involvement in the gang rape, Lloyd Irvin was acquitted. His co defendant was convicted of forcible sodomy.
In further trials, several more of Lloyd Irvin's friends were convicted of rape. They were sentenced to prison.

Lloyd Irvin Officially Speaks About His Participation in Brutal Gang Rape

After several weeks of silence, Lloyd Irvin officially issued a statement to GRACIEMAG. Lloyd Irvin painted himself as the victim in the situation and claimed that he was only guilty of poor timing and taste.
One thing noticeably missing from the statement, although promised within it, is Lloyd Irvin's personal account of his side of the story. However, other statements from Lloyd Irvin's inner circle show exactly what that side is.

Lloyd Irvin Black Belt Phil Proctor Calls Rape Victim "Dirty Whore"

Prior to the release of the official Lloyd Irvin statement, Lloyd Irvin black belt and inner circle member Phil Proctor made a public statement concerning the incident. In that statement, Phil Proctor referred to the victim's ordeal as "a 'train was run' on a dirty whore that got to feeling guilty."
This shocking, disgusting statement is an indication of how Lloyd Irvin's inner circle reacted to the news. Taken in conjunction with Lloyd Irvin's own sworn testimony that the victim was a "freak", it becomes clear that Phil Proctor's version of the story is what Lloyd Irvin told his team about the incident privately.
From this information, it was obvious that Lloyd Irvin was fostering a culture of rape and sexual abuse on his team. But few could have imagined the terrible extent of the abuse.

Top Lloyd Irvin Student Jordon Schultz Reveals Continuing Widespread Lloyd Irvin Sexual Abuse

Abruptly, at the end of February 2013, nearly all of Lloyd Irvin's top students left suddenly in the middle of the night. Such a strange exodus caused concern in the martial arts community. An official statement by one of the top students leaving, Jordon Schultz, shed light on the cause.
Jordon Schultz Confirms Widespread Lloyd Irvin Sexual AbuseIn his statement, Jordon Schultz describes how Lloyd Irvin manipulated and sexually abused a female teammate. Lloyd Irvin ordered her to perform sexual favors, repeat that she loved him, and affirm her desire to obey him to become a world champion. Jordon Schultz also indicated his belief that there were additional victims on the team.
Other sources within the team confirmed that Lloyd Irvin indeed gave the same account of his rape case to his team that Phil Proctor repeated publicly. Sources also confirmed that Lloyd Irvin was in fact paying for the legal representation of his two students, Nicholas Schultz and Matthew Maldonado, that brutally raped yet another teammate on New Year's Eve. Lloyd Irvin also attempted to cover up this damning information.
Top Lloyd Irvin Student DJ Jackson Indicted for Felony Sexual Abuse
Due to the grave nature of the situation, more remaining students left Lloyd Irvin. One of particular note remained: top competitor and children's program chaperone DJ Jackson.
At the end of March 2013, it was revealed that in fact DJ Jackson had a history of sexual abuse as well. In 2008 DJ Jackson was indicted in Iowa on one count of felony sexual abuse in the third degree. DJ Jackson pleaded down to a lesser violent misdemeanor (assault causing bodily injury) and was sentenced to a year in jail.
DJ Jackson Indicted for Felony Sexual Abuse in the Third DegreeCopy of DJ Jackson Criminal RecordIt appears that DJ Jackson received probation as part of his sentence. However, it appears that he violated the terms of his probation. As a result, he is currently wanted in Iowa by the Sioux County Sheriff in relation to his sexual abuse case.
DJ Jackson Actively Wanted in Iowa
Lloyd Irvin Censors Information to Cover Up Rapes
Faced with such horrible information, Lloyd Irvin actively began a campaign of censorship and intimidation against those speaking the truth. Lloyd Irvin sent legal threats to to suppress the availability of this information. It is assumed that Lloyd Irvin eventually succeeded as the site has been in maintenance mode indefinitely.
Lloyd Irvin also censored nearly one hundred pages of information from one of the largest MMA news websites. Lloyd Irvin made a request to the owner of the site, Kirik Jenness, to delete this information from the site. Kirik Jenness complied with the censorship request.
Kirik Jenness Censors Information Regarding Lloyd Irvin Sexual AbuseKirik Jenness has a close business relationship with Lloyd Irvin. Kirik Jenness has enthusiastically endorsed Lloyd Irvin, giving him a "Rave Review", and he has also previously censored information on his site regarding Lloyd Irvin's participation in a brutal gang rape.
What Can I Do to Stop Lloyd Irvin?
Stop supporting Lloyd Irvin in any way. Stop supporting anyone who does. Speak up and say no to his culture of sexual abuse.
Spread the word about this site. Link to it on your blog. Link to it in forums. If you know of anyone currently supporting Lloyd Irvin, show him or her this site.
Lloyd Irvin will likely use SEO tactics to try to bury this site. If we all work together, those tactics will fail. All content on this site is protected by the First Amendment and does not constitute libel in any way, shape, or form. This site's team is dedicated to keeping it up in the face of frivolous legal threats. We are prepared to retain legal representation, and we will take this to court if necessary.
We are committed to spreading the truth about Lloyd Irvin. Please help by being committed and sharing this site.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The BJJ Tree: Why you should stop being interested in Rubber Guard

Based on posts over on /r/bjj I had another discussion with a white belt about Rubber Guard and why he should or should not be playing it. As I normally do I recommended against it and suggested he concentrate on closed guard instead. Now, some people who are fans of the 10th Planet system might at this point start berating me as a closed minded hater, but that's not the case. I loves me some rubber guard and I enjoy playing it, but let's take a look at something real quick:

Take a look at that tree and think about it for a moment. Look at the what you are doing if you start out your journey concentrating on Rubber Guard. You've gone out on a single lone branch of the JiuJitsu tree with very few connecting branches. There is no transition from Rubber Guard to butterfly guard. There is no transition to X-Guard, there's not even an easy standup option from Rubber Guard. What you've done is locked yourself into a single, very small, branch of jiujitsu. The only way for you to transition to anywhere else is to move backwards along your tree back to Closed Guard and then move from there.

If you instead concentrate on the Trunk of the Jiujitsu guard game, Closed Guard, then you have multiple transitions to High Guard, to Open Guard and its variants, even to Half Guard, or the easy Technical Standup. If you choose to transition to Open Guard you have options that combo back and forth. Butterfly to Spider guard to Leg Lasso Guard and so on. You have more options available to react to your opponent.

In Rubber Guard you have a very small library of techniques available from each sub position. If your opponent is unfamiliar with those options then you can destroy them. You will have great success at white and blue belt, and maybe even some success at purple belt because your opponents will not have developed well enough to prevent you from reaching Rubber Guard yet. Then suddenly it will stop working. It will stop working because you have to successfully make two transitions to reach your preferred position. You have to establish high guard, and then convert to Rubber Guard.

If your Closed Guard isn't strong then you will never make the transition to high guard or rubber guard. You will be stuck trying to play in a less familiar setting every single time because you are far more likely to START in Closed Guard or Open Guard. If your opponent has spent their jiujitsu career working in and developing their Closed/Open guard game and passing, and you've spent yours developing your Rubber Guard game then you are going to be starting each match at an immediate disadvantage.

This does NOT mean that Rubber Guard is total crap and you should never use it. The same thing goes for Deep Half Guard, X-Guard, and any other guard position that is option limited. If you START your focus on that option limited position then you are handicapping yourself against people who have trained in a more option rich position which also happens to be a far more common position to be in.

So, begin your training in the most option rich positions and slowly specialize. Work the Closed Guard first, then Open Guard, then Half Guard, then High Guard. Develop your transitions and then once you have that fundamental framework of technique built up you can start working on your Rubber Guard or your X-Guard or your DLR guard.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

To Exhaustion, And Beyond!

Seriously, exhaustion. I got about 4.5 hours of sleep Sunday night, woke up at 4:30 am to head into work, then got to the gym at about 6:45. Consequently by the time we were done drilling escapes from turtle I was already about to collapse.

So of course I rolled for an hour. It was the no-gi class too, so we had our wrestling guys in there. One of them just took 6th in some national tournament at 160 or 165. The other is my size, maybe even a hair smaller and also has some good tournament results though I can't recall the details. Even when I'm not tired both of those guys run me ragged, and the 160 guy also won the no-gi pan ams a year or two ago as a purple belt. So his jiujitsu is also amazing.

By the end of the night everything is just a blur. I actually only remember one or two fuzzy details. I remember getting choked once and getting kimuraed once, and maybe armbarring someone somewhere amidst that. But I couldn't tell you who was responsible for any of it. Definitely the most tired I've ever been.

So, training again on Wednesday!

In more good news, the two aforementioned wrestlers are starting an official wrestling class on Saturdays after open mats, so I'm going to try to start making it to a couple of those every month to improve my wrestling.

Also, my buddy Mark leaves to head out to the Pan Ams today, so best of luck to him! I'll probably be buying the Budovideos stream for his day so I can try to watch him compete. If you're interested it's only 10$ per day or I think 40$ for a 5 day pass to watch.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Importance of Productive Gripping (With Bonus Homework!)

For the first time in over two years I got to train three nights in a row. I feel like I was run over by a bus and it's awesome.

Tonight was a very productive and grip heavy night and also saw me employ deep half guard sweeps with great success. During all of my rolls I was paying particular attention to my grips and my opponents grips and I started trying to determine which of my grips was just gripping for the sake of grabbing something, and which ones were actually productive. It was easy to tell which grips that my opponent had were useful and which were just keeping their arm occupied while I worked. It was less simple to figure that out about my own grips. For the most part it seemed that when I established a grip I had a plan, but many times I found myself gripping purely as a pre-emptive defense.

I often established a grip solely for the purpose of denying my opponent an action without any connection to where I wanted to direct the roll. This was most common when I was rolling with bigger guys. I then got to thinking about who provides good examples of consistently productive gripping and both Cobrinha and Rafe Mendes came to mind. Luckily they have run into each other on a dozen or so occasions and one of their best matches is from the 2012 mundials.

This video in just the first MINUTE has some incredible offensive and defensive grip work that is 100% productive. You never see either of these guys just grab something and hang on because they can't think of anything else to do. Each grip they take has a specific purpose.
I think my grip work is still too inconsistent to be overly worried about efficiency yet, but as I continue improving it my goal is to approach this kind of grip efficiency over time.

It's been a while since I posted a homework (or posted in general), but this is a good one. Your homework is to spend at least one roll this week counting the times that you take a grip and then don't use it to attempt a sweep or a submission. It will be difficult to concentrate on counting grips while rolling, but that's why it's only one roll. Think about how much effort and strength you are burning clinging to your opponents Gi without any clear plan in mind and work on reducing your non-productive gripping to the bare minimum.

Remember, Get your grips then move your hips! The first part doesn't work without the second!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pan Am Prep!

No, I'm not going to the Pan Ams. But a friend of mine who trains out of Hardcore Gym IS going, and wanted to get in some extra Gi work so I offered myself up to be his training dummy for an evening. Definitely some of the most fun rolling I've had in a while. We're exactly the same size and he's actually MORE flexible than I am which is a rarity.

We spent over an hour rolling and troubleshooting little Gi specific things that he doesn't get as much exposure to because he trains about 90% no-gi. I was happily able to show him at least a handful of little things that should keep him from falling prey to most pajama grabbing tomfoolery. I was also able to use this time to look for things that I was doing that I needed to tighten up including working on my inside control, grip breaking, grip control, and guard passing.

I'll be watching the Pans on Budovideos trying to catch his match and hoping he medals.

Grip Work and Pain

Coming back to the mats after a few weeks off is always painful, add to that the fact that I get up at 4:30am every morning for work and I am definitely feeling it this morning despite taking it kind of easy last night. But, it was still a great night at class.

Started out with takedowns from the over/under. Warmed up with pummeling, then a nice combo from a single leg attempt into a greco roman style upper body throw. I felt pretty good with this takedown and its probably one I would actually use.

Second one was a different single leg setup involving dropping to one knee that just didn't flow right for me.

Third was a power shrug+duck under to the back.

And finally was an outside trip to hip throw combo that I also really liked and would probably use. I need to put a couple of these together into a 3-4 move sequence and drill it a bunch though.

After that we hit the ground and I continued working on my framing and winning the grip battle. I recently re-read some advice that Jack from gave me about controlling the inside and worked to implement that along with my focus on keeping my frames built and winning the grip fighting battle.

I was very successful in implementing my grips against everyone except Johnny, and even there I am seeing significant improvements with breaking his grips and slowing down his guard passing. Once he DOES manage to get a secure grip though he's still mostly blasting past my guard. I had some small success in slowing him down, but not much. So that's still something to work on.

Today I'm doing some Gi training with a buddy to help him get ready for the Pan Ams, and then I'm training again Friday. This will be the most training I've done in one week in forever.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tournament Footage Review

Greetings my jiujitsu brethren! I've been out of the picture and out of training for a while now due to changing jobs and general personal chaos and I've taken the time to review a lot of my video footage from last year. In addition to my weakness against deep halfguard sweeps I noticed a couple of key weaknesses.

I am guilty of one of the key white belt errors that I talked about two years ago. In competitions I will frequently reach for head control when I should instead be attacking much closer to the hips and legs in order to begin passing guard.

A second thing I've noticed is that my movements around my opponent aren't as fluid as I want them to be. I feel jerky during my movements and I need to flow better from position to position.

And finally, underhooks. I'm REALLY REALLY BAD about giving up underhooks and not fighting to regain them.

So, now that my new job has settled I should be training again starting this wednesday and I plan to address all of these things. I probably won't be back in competition until late this year, or maybe even next year, but I plan to work hard and close al ot of holes in my game before then.