Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Post Christmas sessions

Managed to sneak in a session today between Christmas and New Years. Did some jits-with-hits for the first time in YEARS to help one of the girls we have who is training to fight MMA. She's a former gymnast who is about my same size, and she is a good deal stronger than I am. I've worked with her on her KoB pressure for the last couple of weeks and she's gotten to where my ribs make disturbing noises when she gets there.

Today we worked on moving while defending, never getting yourself bogged down while defending strikes, and then we worked on how to use strikes to set up your guard pass and then your submissions, and how to punish peoples escape attempts with strikes. She's a quick study and by the time she fights her weaknesses aren't going to be on the ground.

We also had the enormously strong purple belt from a couple of weeks ago back. This guy is definitely a love/hate kind of training partner. It's great training with him because I have to be 100% perfect and give NOTHING away, or he can just destroy me. If he gets even CLOSE to a kimura grip, I'm going to get kimuraed. If my weight gets even slightly off base, I'm getting swept. It makes me work hard to be perfect on offense and defense. Which is also why I hate it. It's good training. His weakness so far is that he is obsessed with shooting for toe holds without locking down my knee or hip, I'm determined to get his toe holds sharpened up enough that he can tap me with them, but he's got a long way to go on those.

We rolled for about an hour and a half all told and I got in some good work.

I won't be back in the gym until next week because of the holidays though.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Three in one Week!

For the first time in over a year I managed to make three classes in one week. The official class on Monday, then a couple of open mat sessions Tues and Thurs for a total of 6 hours of training this week. I feel surprisingly good physically. Not at all as beat up as I expected.

My third day everything felt amazing too. I just felt like my mind and body were better connected, more coordinated than in a long time. I felt like I could see a lot further ahead in each roll.

I'm hoping to make this a permanent change going forward, training at 3 days each week to help push myself over the hump towards my next skill plateau.

I might even be able to start filming some reference videos and things again soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Got into the gym for early morning class and it's No-Gi December this time around. We worked some posture drills that Chris picked up from the BJJ Globetrotters camp he went to last week and then some solid no-gi pressure passing.

Did some closed guard positional sparring that was fun. We had an enormous dude with some level of training that I think was just checking the place out for today, I hope he decides to stick around. He was a lot of fun.

Working to pass his guard was like tiptoeing through a minefield, because the slightest positional error would be enough for him to bulldoze you over, and he wasn't just 'some big dude' he had clearly trained some wrestling and some submission grappling of some kind, it was just difficult to tell how much because his size and strength assisted his techniques a lot. So he could have been anywhere from a 1 year white belt to a brown belt just taking it easy and it would have been hard to know.

I'm leaning towards bluish belt somewhere though, since when we were rolling he chim passed me like it was his dayjob, but couldn't stop me recomposing guard, and a bit later I caught him in a wristlock that he actually tapped to, which surprised me, I had fully expected to have to use the wristlock attempt to try to get to his back, but I manage to trap his arm just right.

It mostly just felt great to be training.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Review: The Combat Codes

This will be one of the random non-training related posts that occasionally pop up on the blog here. The reason that this one is popping up is because of a book called The Combat Codes. The author contacted me via /r/BJJ and asked if I would give it a read and offer some feedback on the fight scenes as well as the book over all since in addition to BJJ I'm also a voracious consumer of Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature.

He was kind enough to send me a copy of the book to read and I started it on monday at around 1 in the afternoon. I finished it around 6:30pm. I read the thing cover to cover, nonstop. Now, that's not necessarily a ringing endorsement since I'm a determined reader and I have slogged through some truly horrible trash novels because I refuse to be defeated by some lackwit's barely decipherable prose. Such was not the case on this occasion. The Combat Codes is actually a brilliant story told in a world where MMA style combat has taken the place of war. Each nation maintains a stable of fighters who represent them in territorial disputes with each other, as well as an academy to train up those fighters.

This is the story of a former fighter and his new protege and it has a distinctly Ender's Game vibe to it which should be taken as the compliment it is meant as. The pacing is flawless, the characters evoke rich emotion without being cliched, and the fight scenes are well written and walk that fine line between realistic and entertaining. My only problem was that by the end of the book I found myself annoyed that I couldn't immediately read the sequel.

If you enjoy reading SciFi/Fantasy and are also a fan of MMA/BJJ this is a brilliant read. If you know someone who fits that description then this would be a perfect Christmas present. I'm currently eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Continuing the Grind

Squats and Deadlift are still where they are, making progress on my bench press is incredibly difficult. I cut 10lbs to go out to Las Vegas for Master/Senior Worlds and I haven't gained any of it back.

I lost in the first round, had a great time, won a poker tournament at the Mirage the next day and met a lot of cool people, but my game plan was wrong for my weightclass. I'm too focused on trying to keep things standing and looking for my Tomoe Nage or the single leg when my opponents are all eager to pull guard. That cost me a chance to actually do jiujitsu at the last few tournaments, so I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what I want the first 20 seconds of my matches to look like.

Aside from that, I've been putting in work as much as I can in class and I picked up another stripe last week. The progress is slow, but it is there.

I might even start updating regularly again here since I'm about to start reworking my focus and I'll want to get some of my thoughts down in written form.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Couple of Weightlifting Goals Achieved

So I hit 290 on the deadlift and 225 on the squats again, which is where I was aiming for as it's a 2x bodyweight dead and a 1.5x bodyweight squat. I've now switched over to this insane machine called a Jacob's Ladder for my legwork while I work on getting my bench up to par. On that note I dropped back to 5x5 with 95lbs on Monday, and I'll be doing 5x5 with 100lbs tonight and continuing in that fashion until Vegas probably.

On the BJJ front I'm still on an upswing. Successful takedowns, successful submissions, a new era of straight footlocks being thrown on everyone. Everything about my game is improving substantially to the point that the only person who truly wrecks me is Chris. Everyone else I feel competitive with.

If I can keep up this progress until Vegas I actually have some hopes of medaling.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Random Lifting Updates and No-Gi work

Hitting the gym in preparation for all of the tournaments I have coming up and trying to get my numbers backup.

Bench - 5/3/1 - 95/115/135
Squats - 5/3/1/1 - 155/175/195/205
Deadlift - 5/3/1/1 - 175/195/225/255

My bench is lagging way behind, so I threw in a bunch of volume work on the bench and overhead press and some other supplementary work.

Also, lunges holding 40lb dumbbells to add in some grip work and some supplementary leg work.

The last time by squats and deads were this high my bench was 175, so I'm going to work hard to get it back up near there.

We're doing No-Gi this month and my first session back at it I completely sucked and couldn't figure out WTF I was even doing. Second day I had it together and was performing very well. I'm actually hitting real takedowns in the standup too, which is nice.

Registration and travel arrangements for Vegas should all be handled in a couple of weeks along with the Atlanta Open and Grapplemania.

Not sure if I'll make some of the other smaller tournaments now since I decided to do the ATL Open and Vegas, definitely doing Grapplemania though.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Training With Focus

This will be the first post I've written in a while that actually has a broader audience in mind, so it's probably going to be a bit long.

I've recently been involved in some random discussions over on /r/bjj that involved discussions of how often and how long people train each week, how much time is spent rolling vs drilling, whether people are hurting their progress by only training X amount of time per week, etc...

I train about 4 hours a week. Occasionally I manage to train 6 hours a week, and sometimes I can only train 2 or even 0 hours. And yet in the last 12 months I have improved to the point that I am rolling reasonably competitively with blackbelts and brownbelts who were absolutely clowning on me 12 months ago. The question becomes, 'How am I improving with so little training time?' and the answer is that I maintain a very tight focus when I am in class.

 Very often I will see white and blue belts, even other purple belts, drill a technique four or five times, then spend a bunch of time randomly chatting, then maybe drill it a few more times, then it's time for the next technique. During that same interval I drill the same technique thirty times, or fourty, or fifty. When I'm talking it's about troubleshooting the technique with my partner. I am focused on drilling the technique as many times as possible, thinking through each step of the technique, building a mantra for completing it and ingraining it as much as I can during the time I have available.

This focus also translates to rolling. I have an overarching concept that I am working on each time. If you are familiar with my writing you will remember the 'Be More Assertive' project from a few years ago. That was the overarching theme to my training for a long time and is still a constant point for me to remember. My current focus is on transitioning from defense to offense. That means that I am willing to risk letting my opponent advance positions in order to switch from purely defending into an offensive attempt of some kind. I know my defense is good, now I need to make that switch.
Because I have that overarching concept to base my training on I roll with a focus on improving that aspect of my jiujitsu. I am constantly working towards a specific goal and not just rolling for the sake of rolling.

Focus is what leads to improvement when other people are plateaued. When I plateau I on a given concept I drill down. I recently plateaued on my defense to offense work because I was getting into halfguard and locking the position down and stalling without offense. Other places I was transitioning fine from defense to offense, but halfguard I was not. I made it a focus for several weeks to get halfguard and specifically work on generating space, created sweep opportunities, and really working on my ability to attack from halfguard and make it an offensive position. I have been able to break through my plateau because of that and continue to improve.

For people who are able to train 20 hours a week this isn't a big deal. You can spend so much time on the mats that you just get better by dint of training volume. For those of us who are stuck training 3-6 hours a week it's critically important that we are mindful of how we spend our time when we are on the mats if we want to improve.

  • Don't screw around! If you are supposed to be drilling a technique then drill it as many times as you can. Pay attention to what you are doing and actively troubleshoot during the drill. Don't just go through the motions while you wait to roll.
  • Have goals! Know why you are doing everything that you do. Don't get trapped into rolling just for the sake of rolling. Roll to improve.
  • Drill down! If you plateau on your main goal break it down into smaller parts to look at and single one of those down to isolate and improve.
These things will help you make the best of your limited time and continue to improve, sometimes even better than people who are training more often.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

So many brown belts!

So due to my work schedule changing I'm now training in our evening classes. One nice thing about these classes is that there seem to be several brown belts in the 170-190lb range that I've been able to work with.  The best thing about this is that I don't AT ALL feel outclassed by these guys. A year ago when I got back to training rolling with brown belts still just felt like I couldn't bridge that gap between where I was and where they were, but my last half dozen rolls with brown belts I've felt very well matched against them.

I'm also seeing more of the path from where I am to what it takes to be a brown belt. I feel really good about my overall game and my skill level right now and I've got just about 6 weeks to get ready for Grapplemania where I hope to live up to where I feel like my skill level is now.

Monday, June 1, 2015

1 Year at the New Gym

So, today marks the 1 year anniversary of me training at my new gym. It's been an amazing place and I've loved training with the competition class which forces me to work hard and keeps me from slacking on my conditioning.

Unfortunately this also marks a change in my work schedule, so I will instead be training with the evening classes going forward. I dropped in on one and there seems to be plenty of very skilled people, including several brown belts, for me to work with so I'm not too worried about it. It was sad to say a kind of goodbye to the guys from the daytime class though.

But enough of that.I'm back to being able to bench press my bodyweight for a few reps, which is progress on that front, and I've gotten to roll with 5 different brownbelts in the last couple of weeks, none of whom I felt outclassed by. At this point I really do feel like getting my brown belt near the end of this year might not be entirely out of my reach. I just have to stick to getting in the gym regularly and keep working.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Competition Schedule for the rest of 2015

  • US Grappling Grapplemania - July 25
  • Newbreed - August 1st
  • US Grappling Greensboro - Nov 14
  • Newbreed - Dec 5th.

 I had wanted to wedge one more in, but it looks like 5 this year is all I can manage. Maybe I can wedge another one in there somewhere in september/october. We'll see.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Changing Gears

I haven't written anything in a while because all of my updates would look like this:

"Went to class, drilled some stuff, rolled, grindin' that mat time. Progress is good." and that would be it. So consider there to have been like 30 of those between the last update and this one.

Last week I hit the milestone for my defense that I've been working back to. Brown and black belts are having a hard time finishing submissions and keeping me in bad places. So I'm where I want to be with my defense.

This week I'm starting to work on switching gears, a lot. My complete focus is on moving from defense into offense, generating sweeps, insisting on top position, and then working to finish. I expect to have a lot of mixed success for a while with this, but I'm hoping that by the end of the year I will have my offense close to where my defense is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Newbreed Writeup and Videos

It's been a few weeks since the event which has helped me get some perspective. This was definitely a blow to my confidence after being so successful at the last newbreed. This was pretty much the exact opposite. Instead of feeling strong, aggressive, and like I knew what I was doing I felt overpowered, slow, and clumsy.

For the videos just head over to the reddit thread I posted them on (Which resulted in about equal parts douchebaggery and excellent advice, which is my favorite kind of thread) and you can check them out there.

My first match I felt outmatched as soon as the guy gripped up with me. His grip was like a vice and I couldn't shake it to regrip before he pulled guard. From there I tried to pass over his leg and it just... didn't move. At all. At that point my brain shut down and I flailed around pointlessly before getting swept and playing defense for the rest of the round. One near sweep got stuffed when I couldn't get him to let go of my head, so he just stood up and ended up on top again. Total suck.

Second match was literally 5 seconds after the first one and was against an old training partner who has been wrestling forever. He's also STUPID strong. A quick single leg from him and then I just couldn't get a hold of him long enough to do anything, so back to playing defense the entire time.

The third match was like 3 hours later and I was tired. I was determined not to let my opponent pull guard, so I rushed my tomoe nage, resulting in a super shitty guard pull, which led to halfguard, then to getting bow and arrow choked.

I felt super shitty about my whole performance.

Post tournament I took some time off, both to let my neck recover from being yanked on, and because my wife got sick, then I got sick, so I didn't want to spread that evil at the gym. Getting back today I was very much focused on working harder, being more assertive again, and forcing my opponent to make mistakes. And it was working. I bullied all of the blue belts around pretty good, I was hitting my collar drags and my loop chokes, and generally doing a good job. Going to try to keep that moving until my next comp.

Also continuing to lift weights to see if I can get a little extra muscle added on.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

NewBreed results

I went 0-3 at New Breed and found that I am still just really bad at dealing with people who have really heavy pressure on top. I need to revisit that and my halfguard game under pressure and just work harder and be willing to use some muscle in class to help get used to that idea.

I'll post a full writeup and videos at some point this week, just wanted to get something written down to remind me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Operation Be More Assertive Update

OBMA has been an ongoing project for while now, it took a break when I came back from my layoff in favor of me just getting back into the groove and being able to train regularly, but since the beginning of the year I've been able to really get back to it. I find that now I have made a lot of progress in avoiding sweeps and reversals, refusing to give into them, and maintaining my top position. I've also made progress with asserting myself while performing sweeps, pushing to get on top, and generally making the rolls go my way.

Now what I have noticed is that I am WAY too comfortable just hanging out in top position. I do not assertively push for submissions and seek to finish. I don't actively generate openings, I just chill and put pressure on from the top and hope my opponent gives me something I can use.

I suppose that's all find and good, but I do need to be pushing myself to attack once I'm top a lot more. I'm fond of saying that the progression is Defend, Escape, Advance, Submit and I'm getting 1-3 going very successfully, but I have to tighten down on my submission game.

To that end I'll be focusing on Americanas, Arm triangles, and Armbars from the top for the next couple of months with an eye towards immediately attacking the second I get on top, even if I completely blow it and end up on the bottom again.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lifting and Competition

Hit the gym tonight and started the next phase of lifting. I'm still on 4x10 sets with Squats since I haven't started to plateau with them at all, but tonights bench press was 8x100, 6x105, 4x110, 2x115. Rows are 80lbs, 4x10 and will stay there for a while before I move up again.

I'm registered for the New Breed tournament next weekend, it happens about 20 minutes from my house so it's a super convenient one. Last time I went 3-0 in it, I hope to repeat that performance since I'm feeling a lot better about my jiujitsu and my fitness now than I was then.

And I will get video this time! Camera is charged, memory is clear, and we're ready to go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just a lifting update

Should be training BJJ in the AM, but tonight I hit 4x10 with 70lbs on bench/squat/rows. The rows are hard as hell, dunno if I'll be able to make it at 75 or not next week, but I'm going to try.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bleh, No ATL Open For Me

Something went sideways with my ATL Open registration. It sat in some kind of 'pending' status for 3 days, then my name didn't appear on the list for my division. I have no idea what happened, but I'm kind of annoyed by it.

In better news, I'm up to 4 sets of 10 with 65lbs on all of my lifts, which  has me on schedule to be doing 5x5 with my bodyweight by the beginning of summer, and 3x3 with 200lbs by the end of the year.

So if nothing else I'll be in great shape for all of the rest of my competitions this year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

More DLR work

Couple of things going on. I realized I'm walking around at the top of the 151 weight class by being 144-146, so I'm just going to stay where I am. No need for a cut. Second thing is that I'm retuning my Tomoe Nage to give me a better entry and more control over the sweep and the followup. Previously I was coming straight in and sweeping my opponent straight over my head. I ran into problems when my opponent was very agile (Like at Newbreed), and in loosing contact after completing the sweep and diving right into triangle chokes while trying to lock down side control.

I did some chatting with some of my Judo homies and was told that I need to be coming in at an angle, so that my foot is parallel with my opponents belt, not perpendicular. Some further discussion determined that it's also possible to fake Tomoe Nage into X-guard from this execution, and it's easier to drop your opponent into an armbar, AND post sweep you are tighter and already past the legs. Happily we got to drill takedowns today so I got in about 50 reps with the new version and it felt really good.

After that was work on the same DLR sweeps. The sitdown sweep when your opponent goes to one knee to avoid your normal DLR shenanigans and you just make them fall over with your body rotation.
From there you can follow up with the berimbolo, or you can slide across to take mount.

After that we did some 'Fun Friday' cardio work which involved tug-of war, then some crazy game involving trying to pile all of the boxing gloves in the middle of the mats, or in the corners. My team lost, we did sprawls, I was sad.

Next more work from DLR, I didn't feel as fluid with my DLR sweeps this time. I felt like I was not being as aggressive about inverting and not as forceful with the DLR hook as I was on Monday. I need to really dig the hook deep and MAKE my opponent fall over. I also got outscrambled a few times, I need to work on that as well. And finally, I'm still having trouble finishing submissions right now. I need to pick a couple and really zero in on them. Probably the nearside armbar since it combos with my takedown, and then work on transitioning into the single collar choke from more places.

I'm improving for sure, but I still have a lot more work to do.

I'm still hitting the non-BJJ gym a few times a week and running and lifting. My strength should be starting to improve over the next couple of months, but not soon enough to make a real difference for the Atl Open.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ramping up to the ATL Open

I have been training! But I have not been updating. Mostly because nothing much interesting has happened lately. Just getting in the gym, putting in the work, trying to get to that next level.

This past Saturday I went up to Team Octopus for a Team Traven group training session. Master Traven showed us some very slick foot on hip spider guard transitions into X-guard and to some sweeps if you don't quite make it to X that I liked, but I won't be able to play too much with in the short term since I'm trying to get my game properly put together for the ATL Open at the end of the month.

That means a lot more weight lifting, and a weight cut for the first time in years. I'm walking around at 144 and I want to weigh in at 141 with my Gi on, so I've got a ~7lb drop to hit, which shouldn't be hard.

I'm also refocusing on my guard retention since I think it's weaker than it should be. My passing and top game have improved, but my guard is lagging. Time to step that game back up.

Monday, January 5, 2015

First Training of the New Year

Weight lifting has been going decently well, I'm on 4x10 with 65lbs, which is brutal for upright rows. I'll probably stick at that weight for rows for a couple of extra weeks at let it lag behind. Thanks to hitting the gym and running my cardio didn't take much of a hit over the holidays, so I was back on the mats and feeling strong today.

Technique was sweeps from DLR.

First tech was the overhead sweep. Go to DLR, get collar and sleeve control, load your opponent and send them flying. Easy.

Second tech was a nice push sweep. When you are setting up the overhead sweep if they posture up to break your collar grip you bring the far side foot over to the near hip and push while you extend. Down they go.

Third tech was the 'Kiss of the Dragon' back take. From DLR you go for a deep DLR hook, then insert the front leg behind the opponents near knee, rotate to their back and grab the belt, at this point they are sitting with your shins in the back of their knees, so you just extend and drop them and take back control.

After that cardio was working open guard passes in groups of three, starting from DLR, sweep or pass, winner stays on bottom. I did ok, was working with a blue belt who had GREAT top control, but I had better passing, so we passed each others guard a bunch, I managed like 1 sneaky sweep on him.

Got to roll a couple of rounds, the first one with that same blue belt and his top pressure was just as insane there, as was his grip control. He was too greedy for positions a few times though and I was able to catch him in X-guard and sweep him. Other than that I was on defense almost the whole time.

Second roll was with Chris and his damned unbreakable grips. Good training to start the year with!