Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mario Sperry in Seattle

Marcelo Alonso is bringing jiu jitsu and Vale Tudo legend Mario Sperry to town for a three-day seminar in the second half of January.

Mario Sperry Seminar.

The sessions are:

Thursday, January 18: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Seattle
Thursday, January 18: 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Puyallup
Friday, January 19: 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Seattle
Saturday, January 20: 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Seattle

I'm not sure if I'll attend or not. I've been off the mat for awhile, and really haven't trained regularly in months. There are also some other issues that may or may not make it an event I want to participate in.

But getting to meet Mario Sperry is a pretty big attration, I'll admit. And that is especially so since I missed a chance to train with both Minotauro AND Anderson Silva earlier this year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

First Six Weeks

In one sense, I'm ecstatic that I managed to complete my six-week strength and conditioning program, the one I set out for myself in part as preparation for training in 2008. Although I missed a workout today since I'm in Tucson, and couldn't do much on Thursday either, the six weeks were a success in terms of doing what I had set out to do.

What was not so successful was my on-the-mat training, which was non-existent through this time. I refuse to be too hard on myself about it. The new job is without a doubt the most challenging gig I've yet to sign on to. And while I don't regret making the move for a second, it has meant sacrificing my on-the-mat time while I got acclimated to the new schedule (and while I waited for my Cobra to kick in).

I'll be back in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, the 27th. Ideally, on the 30th, I'll swing by the new Sunday conditioning class that Jesse is running in the new facility, say "hi" and see where I'm at conditioning-wise. I don't expect to be in great shape, meaning great "jiu jitsu" shape. But I am hoping that the six weeks I've spent on the treadmill, rolling around on the carpet and tossing dumbbells around will keep me from looking completely godawful when I'm finally back on the tatame.

For January, the plan is to shorten the duration and up the intensity: Berardi, 3T and Beaster workouts, with maybe an LSD once a week. The Revolution tournament is scheduled for February 9th, and it will be in Seattle (West Seattle High), so it should be packed. If all goes well and I get the training in that I think I need, then I'm going to go ahead and get my competition hat back on.

By "training I think I need", we're talking three days a week, on average. Tuesday and Thursday nights for sure, with some more work Monday, Wednesday or Friday afternoons. Wednesday would be the easiest, followed by Monday and with Friday a distant third. In a perfect world, I'd get in both a Monday and a Wednesday, but there's no point in overpromising. Unfortunately, the way 2007 went, two days a week would be an accomplishment.

Lloyd Irvin says that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. My goal will be to get in 21 top quality training session between now and February 9th--the day of the tournament. Practically, that is 21 sessions in five weeks, since the sixth week is the week of the event and I'd love to have worked hard enough in the previous five weeks to be able to decelerate some in the final week.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, a bit. As far as the recently-ended six weeks are concerned, I'm happy for the conditioning work I did, and happy about the resistance work I did. Chalk one up for the preseason. On the 30th we get ready for the real thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Results of the First Annual No-Gi Mundial

Are here ...

A few highlights:

1- Gracie Barra
2- Guerrilla JJ
3- Alliance

Master & Senior:
1- Megaton
2- Gracie Barra
3- Alliance

1- Team Mica
2- Roger Gracie Academy
3- Renzo Gracie

1- Gracie Barra
2- Alliance
3- Maui JJ

Black Belts:


First Takeo Tani Gracie Barra

Super Feather

First Samuel Braga Gracie Barra
Second Caio Terra Cesar Gracie
Third John Ramirez BJJ Revolution Team
Third Leandro Escobar American Top Team


First Rubens Maciel Alliance
Second Shane Rice Rickson
Third Magno Gama Renzo Gracie
Third Diego Correia Relson Gracie


First Jeff Glover Alliance
Second Daniel Aguiar Renzo Gracie
Third Diego Saraiva Knuckleup
Third Joao Silva Aloisio Silva


First Pablo Popovitch Team Popovitch
Second Daniel Correia Relson Gracie
Third William Cooper Alliance
Third Lucas Leite Brasa

Medium Heavy

First Marcel Louzado Brasa
Second Luke Stewart Ralph Gracie
Third Joao Felipe Oliveira Gracie Barra
Third Tony Eduardo Lima Ralph Gracie


First Roberto Camargo Gracie Barra
Second Fabio Leopoldo Renzo Gracie
Third Alexandre Ferreira Gracie Barra
Third Matheus Costa Ryan Gracie

Super Heavy

First Vinicius Magalhaes Team Quest
Second Christiano Lazzarini Gracie Barra
Third Roberto Abreu filho American Top Team

SuperSuper Heavy

First Bruno Paulista Gracie Barra America
Second Jeff Monson American Top Team
Third Rodrigo Medeiros Brasa
Third Jose Mario Mac Cord Brasa

Open Class

First Jeff Monson American Top Team
Second Bill Cooper Alliance
Third Cristiano Lazarini Gracie Barra

Ryan Hall won the Adult Purple Belt Light

My division(s):

Adult Blue Belt - Light

First Sean Roberts Ralph Gracie
Second Chris Saunders Brazilian Top Team
Third Sean Robinson BJJ Revolution Team
Third Juan Nunez Cesar Gracie

Masters (30-35) Blue Belt - Light

First Michikazu Moriuchi Bevely Hills JJ Club
Second Bradley Pitchard Gracie Barra
Third David Callaham 10th Planet
Third Chad Conte 10th Planet

Seniors (36 to 40) 1 Blue Belt - Light

First Sam DiMaggio Gracie JJ Academy
Second Takuya Sato Hollywood Bjj
Third Joe Solis Neutral Grounds
Third Ray Borel LDMA

Seniors 2 (41-45) Blue Belt - Light

First Dale Kersting Megaton
Second Rod Roberts Gracie Barra Costa Mesa

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sprint Workouts

I won't have much access to equipment for the week I'll be in Tucson. So in addition to heavy reliance on the 3T to keep me in shape, I'm thinking it might be a good time to integrate sprint workouts.

Sprint Workout

If I can find a place to run that won't completely freak out the in-laws neighbors, that is ...

At a minimum, there should be some good hiking.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Good News, The Bad News

The good news is that I've managed to stick with my six-day a week strength and conditioning program over the past four weeks. In two weeks, I'll be headed for Tucson for Christmas for a week. After that, I shift into Phase 2, the power and power endurance program.

The bad news is that I haven't been on the mat since before the Revolution tournament in November. Sure, there was a bunch of stuff going on with the change in location to the new school. But the fact of the matter is two-fold: (1) I've been trying to adjust to a new job and work schedule with a 4:30 wake up call, and (2) I have no health insurance.

I'm doing better at time management in response to the first issue. I had thought that I might be able to train during the day on Wednesdays with the new job. And that might actually happen. But in order to do that I need to spend some time Tuesday night working on Wednesday's content. It's very doable. But I do have to make the time to do it.

We'll see. The more important obstacle to training right now is the lack of health insurance. I'm in the gap between when my old insurance ended and my Cobra begins. I'll get coverage from my new job in February at the beginning of the month. But I just don't think it makes any sense to roll the dice and hope I don't get injured--not when I can wait a month or so until the Cobra kicks in sometime in late December and not have to worry about it at all.

All this writing for and talking with traders has convinced me of the importance of hedging your bets.

I'm still aiming for the February Revolution tournament with the idea of building up through the July event and winning first place in November, a little over a year from now. My weight this morning was 157, which is perfect. And my body is just starting to settle into parts of the strength and conditioning workout, which sets me up perfectly for the power and power endurance program that comes next.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Plan Week One

In spite of the tribulations of adjusting to my new work schedule (pros: work from home, cons: 4:30 a.m. wake up call), I've done a pretty decent job of sticking to my workout schedule. The idea is to spend the six weeks between now and Christmas building up my basic strength and cardio. Then spend the six weeks after I get back from Christmas vacation in Tucson preparing for the Revolution Event in early February.

For the first six weeks, I'm focusing on core resistance work and treadmill cardio. I'm still tweaking things. This week I got in three resistance workouts (Monday, Wednesday and Saturday) and two cardio (Tuesday: LSD, Thursday: Beaster). I'd orginally planned for three and three. But three and two wasn't bad for the first week.

I wasn't able to train jiu jitsu this week, in part because Rodrigo has decided to leave the Tully's location and lease a new facility a mile or so north in the same area. Things with Tully's were getting really played out and I suspect Rodrigo might have felt jerked around by those guys.

Classes start Monday, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the new place is like.

I've figured that I don't think I'll be training much during the day. I could be wrong about that. But I think the better option is to use the time I have here at the house to get in the conditioning that has started to prove elusive. So instead of trying to squeeze in 30 minutes on the treadmill sometime between six and seven in the morning, I can get in a workout when I've finished the bulk of my daily tasks for The Man sometime around one in the afternoon.

We'll see how it works.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Art of Jiu Jitsu, Part 5

"How did Ricardo Arona get in my guard? Maybe he took me down, it doesn't matter. Maybe I just woke up one morning and Ricardo Arona was in my guard. Here's what I'm gonna do."

--Mario Sperry, from an instructional video/DVD.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nate Diaz v. Ryan Hall

Arguably two of the top American purple belts in the lighter divisions competing against one another ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Plan

I'm trying to break the next training period into two six week periods. Monday, November 12 through Friday, December 21, when I leave for Tucson for Christmas vacation. And Monday, December 31 through Friday, February 8, the day before the Revolution tournament.

My goal in the first six weeks will be to train three times a week. I want to focus on escapes (from rear mount, mount, side control, north-south, triangle choke) mostly, as well as movement from the top and sweeps from the guard.

Conditioning-wise, I want to do a generic Phase I cardio/strength type of program. Three days of core-based, weight lifting each week. Three days of LSD cardio each week. This is all geared to raising my fitness foundation, a little more strength and a little more breath.

In addition, I'll do the Tabata and abs Tabata an alternating mornings, starting on Monday.

In the second six weeks, I'll switch my training to four times a week, with only two conditioning days on Saturday and Sunday. Training focus will be on the competition gameplan; namely, whatever was working in the previous six weeks.

The conditioning workouts during the second six weeks will be the 39: Tabata + Berardi + Beaster.

It's basic periodization. But hopefully it will leave me with better awareness on the mat, and ready for the "shock" of competition several Saturdays from now.

I suspect there will be other tournaments. The Spokane guys have been doing a lot with MMA lately, but I wouldn't be surprised if they put together an event or two in 2008. And I'm pretty sure that there will be a Gracie Barra Seattle event sometime in the spring--probably between Revolution events in February and July (late April/early May?).

But I'm going to stick with this schedule with the hope of peaking in early February. If everything goes well, then I should be able to adjust the periodization (i.e. 2-4 wks Phase I/4-6 wks Phase II) to fit the tournament schedule.

Monday, November 12, 2007


The Revolution

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Let's do this thing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Done and Back Again

I didn't compete at the Revolution tournament yesterday. Truth told, I got ready to leave the house Tuesday night, ready to train and train again the following night in last minute preparation for the event. But a quick check of the website clued me in on the fact that the new room we were switching to at the Tully's location wouldn't be ready until Monday, November 12, the Monday after the Revolution.

In the meanwhile, the Bellevue academy would be open Wednesday and Friday night.

I don't want to make it sound like the deal killer. My training leading up to the Revolution was pretty rotten. I had little to no explosion, very poor hip movement (always a bad sign of drive and willpower), and just wasn't making it to class consistently.

To add to that, I started a new job this week. And though ultimately I'm thinking that the new gig will actually be a huge boost to my training, the first few days of distraction (and 5 a.m. wake-ups calls!), seemed to take their toll.

I made it to class in Bellevue to let Rodrigo know. I didn't want him to think the turmoil of the new room was responsible for my opting out of the Revolution yesterday. The simple matter is that when it was all said and done, I just wasn't ready to compete.

I made the beautiful drive up to Bonney Lake Saturday morning to support the guys and see some great gi jiu jitsu. The place reminded me of Flagstaff, just gorgeous country. Maybe it was the elevation.

The venue was solid, a high school gym with nice raised bleachers on one side. And our guys did very well, particularly Saule. It was exhilerating to see so many of our guys compete, including Jesse. I missed Casey's and Andrew's fights, unfortunately--the higher belts going first at this event. But I did see a heart-breaking first fight with Lindsey, who was up 12-0 before getting caught in a traingle (Lindsey came back in his second fight to win by double digits).

Great event, IMO. I don't regret missing it as a competitor--and I'm not just saying that because I got a T-shirt. 2007 has been a bit of a lost year for me jiu jitsu-wise, as injuries, then the book, then the new job seemed to have set the tone for what I could and could not do this year on the mat.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Interview with Rafael Lovato Jr.

Here's a short interview with Rafael Lovato Jr., courtesy of OntheMat. Lovato Jr. is widely believed to be the top American competitor in jiu jitsu (i.e., gi). There are a couple of interesting things that he has to say about his stellar performance in 2007, but perhaps the one comment that really caught me was this:
Gumby: Rafael Lovato Jr. World Champion Black Belt. Has it sunk in yet?

Rafael: Not really. I dreamed about winning the Mundials for so long. I never won it at any of the lower belts, in fact the only title I had was a Pan-Am gold as a blue belt. After that the best I did at the other belts was third place, so it is still very hard for me to believe. I still feel like I can be so much better and I look forward to continually improving and hopefully winning the Mundials again.
I remember reading somewhere that another top black belt, Felipe Costa, never won big at a tournament until he was a black belt. It is something to think about the next time I get the willies about competing (or, rather, anxiety about not winning all the time).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

About that Triangle

If I were a mouse, then I might be looking at a picture of a cat. If I were Joe Frazier, then I might be looking at a picture of George Foreman. If I were Superman, then I might be looking at a picture of kryptonite.

As it is, I am who I am … which means I’m looking at a picture of a triangle choke.
I have been relatively successful at defending a number of attacks—mata leao, armlocks, collar chokes—from a number of different opponents, many of whom have significantly better skills than me. At the same time, I have had an amazing ability to fall prey to triangle choke attacks from opponents who, by most measures, are often not as skilled as I am.

Why? As Casey warned me months and months ago, my posture in the guard is terrible. I suspect it is because, in my head, I am “on top” and part of being “on top” is being “over” your opponent. This means I have a tendency to lean over the guy when I am in his guard. While there are some physical attributes (read: tight quads) that are contributing to the problem, it really amounts to little more than a very, very bad and costly habit. As I’ve told people, I’ve lost four fights in competition and all of them are attributably directly to my poor posture in the guard

So there’s that. And there is no more severe penalty for poor in-guard posture than getting submitted by triangle choke. While I need to get better at not getting in the bad posture position in the first place, I might as well remind myself of how to attack the triangle choke.
  • 1. Turn your head to face the choking leg or your free arm. This will take much of the pressure off the choke because now your artery is between his pelvis and his calf rather than between your own bicep and his thigh.

  • 2. Whichever escape/counter you’re going to use, posture up and step up with the leg that is on the same side as the trapped arm. For me, this almost always means stepping up with my right leg since it is usually my right arm that gets trapped. Whatever you do, DO NOT step up with the opposite leg. This will allow the guy to underhook that leg and swing his body around to get perpendicular to your body and get an excruciatingly good angle on your neck.

    UPDATE: The step up leg is determined by the kind of escape. If you are using C.C. Grinder, then all of the above is true: step up with the leg that is on the same side as the trapped arm. However, if you are using the Midget Slam escape, then you must step up with the opposite leg.

    You have to do this because you need the leverage of that opposite leg in order to help posture up out of the Midget Slam. You can't do this if you step up with the trapped side leg. You don't have to worry about your opposite leg being underhooked because when you dive down into the Midget Slam, you actually block the guy from being able to reach under and underhook that opposite leg.

  • 3. Use your free hand to control his hip and keep it in place. You want to work your hips toward the trapped arm side. Whatever else you do with your arms (Midget Slam or CC Grinder), circling your body around toward the trapped arm side will make it easier to put pressure on his legs. Circling in the other direction will get you choked out.

  • 4. Move! Move! Move! Almost nobody hits a triangle choke perfectly on first effort. The sooner you begin attacking it, the more likely they are to get a poor triangle that is more easily defeated. The longer you wait, the more they can arrange their legs to get the lock in properly. As soon as you feel the triangle coming, posture up. If your posture is already broken, then turn your head on your side (facing away from the trapped arm), and move into either the Midget Slam (opposite leg step up) or the C.C. Grinder escape (trap side leg step up).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Art of Jiu Jitsu, Part 4

Question: What is the most important aspect in training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Answer: To understand the main concept of the art.

Question: Which is?

Answer: The Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner must know how to wear his opponent down. When the opponent is worn out, he's unfocused and his concentration level is down. That is when we use our brain and intelligence because our opponent can't think clearly. Jiu-jitsu is about using the proper strategy and tactics at the right time. You don't look for the technique. On the contrary, you set an environment in which the opponent gets himself in trouble. The submission technique is there waiting for you, but you need to know how to set it up.

Question: And how do you do that?

Answer: Good question. I'll try to answer that the best I can. The submission technique is the tip of the iceberg. You can only get the submission technique if you control the opponent at will, and the only way you can control the opponent at will is through perfect positioning. What do I mean by "positioning"? Well, every jiu-jitsu position has a certain amount of details that should be perfected. The closer to perfection you are on these technical points, the less chance the opponent will have to escape. Then, he is under your control. Now, when he is under your control, finding the submission technique is simpler.

--excerpted from Grappling Masters

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Found in a Lost Weekend

Sunday night watching the Seahawks fall behind the Saints early ... Kind of a crummy weekend, in a way I'd rather not get into other than to suggest that it might hopefully be a pivot point from which things will get better.

One thing that was nice was this find while reading one of my favorite financial/economics blogs, The Big Picture run by Barry Ritholtz. It's a discussion on sports psychology as it relates to trading--a topic that pretty much sums up everything I'm interested in (read: obsessed with) right now.

Research in Sports Psychology: What It Means for Traders

The post is from the blog of financial market analyst and trader, Brett Steenbarger. Steenbarger quotes some of the key findings, which I copy below.
  • "The finding that experts in a particular sport are better than novices, not merely at physical skills but also on the underlying perceptual, cognitive, and strategic components of sport, is robust in both laboratory and field research"

  • "The primary importance of the "10-year rule" is that it seems to hold up regardless of the domain investigated. As such, it is one of the most robust findings in expertise research to date"

  • "Understanding what practice is best and how practice should be carried out are even more important questions than how much"

  • "Data from sport studies also indicate that those practice activities that require the greatest physical effort and mental concentration are ultimately the most enjoyable"

  • "Whether one examines wrestling, figure skating, karate, soccer, or field hockey, there is a montonic relationship between the amount of practice in which one has engaged throughout one's career, and one's eventual athletic success"

Steenbarger's own summaries of these conclusions provide some helpful color, if you want a less clinical sounding take on the ideas presented. For me, it reinforces some things I had suspected, mainly the role of specialization, and "honing" technique rather than simply accumulating technique. And some of it underscores some old notions that have recently come under fire, such as the idea that it shouldn't take "ten years" to get a black belt in jiu jitsu.

Performance studies suggest that, even if it didn't, ten years (referred to as the "ten-year rule") is apparently the average time it takes for mastery (if it ever is to be achieved) to truly develop. So, by this accounting, when you get your black belt is somewhat irrelevant to when mastery is likely to occur. Again, if it ever does.

At any rate, an interesting read in a weekend lacking in upsides. I managed to get in a "39" workout on Saturday, and spent most of today raking leaves in the front and back lawns--so I'lll give myself a point and a half for activity over the weekend. Monday will be a busy, stressful day, so we'll see if I can get anything athletic accomplished or not.

I'm thinking about taking the day class on Monday--I've got a conference call at 10 a.m. but if I can be done with it by 10:30 a.m. (which I should), then there's a halfway decent shot at making the 11:45-12:30 p.m. "all levels" class. I'd need to leave at 11:15 a.m., but I should be able to make it back to the office by 1:15 p.m. The trick is to make sure I bring my gear to work with me so I don't have to make the detour of running by the house first.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Confidence and Failure

I wrote a post in response to an article from Jay of Jersey Shore Jiu Jitsu on the issue of "Confidence in Grappling."

Jay’s original article is here.

My post read:
I think confidence and failure are very much related. Lack of confidence often has to do with an outsized fear of the consequences of failure. A lot of times I'll feel that I can't do a certain thing. But not because I don't know what to do, but because I'm afraid of what will happen if I try and fail.

This is compounded when things like rank, recognition and ego are involved--as they inevitably are. But the key to confidence is often in getting over the fear of failure.
There is a surprisingly shallow pool of free information on the internet with regard to sports psychology. I suspect that is because the “data” per se, isn’t very specialized, though the actual administration of sports psychology is exactly that. In other words, unless you are focusing on the issues of a specific athlete, much of what sports psychology has to say is pretty boilerplate.

That said, I did find some interesting things here and there that might be helpful. Here’s a section from the USTA (United States Tennis Association) website section on player development:

“Tennis players are motivated by many factors, including fear of failure, hope for success, or a combination of these two. While there are times when fear of failure is helpful (for example, to prevent overconfidence when a player is expected to win easily), it is healthier to approach competition from a “success” rather than “fear of failure” perspective.

Fear of failure is a weaker form of motivation because it increases worry and negative thinking (“I better not lose this match”), detracts from performance focus, and centers thoughts excessively on outcome. Players with this fear enjoy competition less and are at greater risk for leaving the sport. By contrast, players who approach tennis from a success orientation welcome tough challenges with less fear, and they view competition as an exciting opportunity to improve their skills and display their competency.

What can you do to help players adopt a success orientation? Here are some suggestions:

Every match has some elements of success, regardless of the actual outcome. In reviewing the matches, focus on the positive aspects of the performance, rather than the negative. Help the player set and achieve short-term goals to increase the behavior needed for continual improvement. Attaining these goals provides the player with a rewarding sense of satisfaction, regardless of the competitive outcome, and it leads the player to focus more on “success” rather than “failure.”

Convey an attitude to the player that the most exciting and enjoyable moment of competition occurs when the match is close and on the line. Encourage the player to thrive on these challenges, for it provides her or him with an opportunity to overcome difficult obstacles and to achieve even greater success.

Arrange practices and competitions so that the player gains experience in “going for it” under pressure. By expecting to perform even better in tight situations, rather than holding back due to insecurity, the player gains greater control over her or his actions. This attitude promotes a healthy motivation toward success and enhances feelings of competency.”

My biggest problems tend to have to do with rolling with white belts and other relative newcomers I feel I must outperform. I remember having this feeling shortly after getting my blue belt; that it was no longer tolerable to yield so much as a point to a white belt in sparring. Obviously this is a counter-productive attitude to have when training. Unfortunately, this attitude—which has lingered in one form or the other ever since—was compounded Tuesday night when Rodrigo kept “score” on my first sparring session. My fatigue, combined with my general defensive fighting nature, helped create a perfect storm of anxiety that contributed to an annoyingly poor performance.

Update: I spent some time compiling all of the first e-mails from Lloyd Irvin's Grappling Blueprint free, e-mail service. I remember reading some criticism of Irvin that his material were pretty much basic "sports psychology crap." Well, it's crap I needed to re-read. Irvin hits on a lot of the things that have been holding me back mentally, as well as convincing me that I am right about how he creates what he calls "the phenomenon" by focusing on specialization early and often in a jiu jitsu career.

I've printed out the pages and am going to bind them sometime over the weekend. At this point, they are almost daily, required reading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rough Start 31 Days Out

A C+ practice last night. The first training of the week is always "special"—usually consisting of me gasping for breath just as the specific sparring begins. Actually, that’s not right. I’m not out of breath. It’s not a "cardio" issue in the aerobic sense. It’s mostly muscle fatigue. A quick break—long enough to let some of that lactic acid or whatever it is that brings on the fatigue—and I’m fine.

That and the typically frustrating roll with a new white belt. "New" as in "someone I’ve never seen or rolled with before." These guys always bring out the worst in my defensive tendencies. Last night I got caught in a pretty sharp uchi mata in large part because I didn’t attack and got too defensive. I watched a tomoe nage opportunity go by, never went with the morote gari, and never fought for the morote seionage when we did grip.

To make matters "worse," Rodrigo was refereeing us and counting points. Even though I wound up on top in the scramble, Rodrigo gave him two points for the takedown. He got another two points for managing to reverse. There was another scramble. I was in his guard and though I managed to stand, my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember what to do.

Another scramble and we wound up on knees. I managed to pull guard (!) and sink in a guillotine. It was locked in, but I didn’t have his throat where I wanted to. More importantly, I forgot that the next best thing to a guillotine submission is a guillotine sweep to mount. But, once again, I hesitated, and time ran out before I could get the tap or the sweep.

That was the feature event of the evening—and what has preoccupied me ever since. I actually did fairly well in the mount/knee on belly/side control drills, doing a better job of maintaining mount that I’ve done in a while. And I did manage to hit that guillotine sweep later on near the end of the evening. But I was annoyed at getting caught in the throw and more than a little embarrassed that I didn’t do a better job at attacking the guard in at least two instances last night.

There’s a physical component. Like I said, the first class of the week is always the hardest. But there’s also a tremendous psychological component, as well. I was thinking about that article Tommy sent me awhile back from Gracie Magazine, talking about the role of aggression. I have a hard time attacking for some reason, a hard time initiating the action. I was always a counter-striker as a kickboxer and those same traits have followed me to the jiu jitsu mats. Against weaker opponents, I can get away with that right now. But at comparable levels, it just isn’t working for me.

Here’s an excerpt from the Gracie magazine article, "The Mental Predator" by Martin Rooney, conditioning coach for Team Renzo Gracie.
Both the shark and the lion are famed predators. When they attack, motivation in instinct, not something that they are forced to create. The desire to finish their opponent is pure, and there is no emotion or remorse. There is no anxiety or stress leading up to the event for the shark and the lion, it is simply part of their daily routine.

There is, of course, risk of injury, but they do not allow fear to interfere. Their lack of abstract thought and the ability to question themselves is an advantage. With questioning comes indecision, with indecision comes anxiety, with anxiety comes mistakes, and with mistakes comes defeat.

The shark and the lion have practiced and mastered many of their methods of attack. There is no fear that they are underprepared. There is no concern for what could have been done or what might be missing. This unconscious confidence is a huge edge, and predicts that the way things have been practiced are the way things are going to be performed. The shark and the lion are master predators.

Rooney also provides "10 Ways of Increasing Your Chances of Becoming a Mental Predator". Worth a look.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Into the Autumn

I don't remember whether or not I tend to get sick when summer turns to fall. But that was certainly the case this year. It seemed like autumn came crashing in, like something expected but nonetheless too soon. One day it was a balmy 78, the next day we are barely above 65. We actually blazed up the fireplace last Saturday afternoon.

Sore throat, congestion, general weariness really since that Wednesday when I bailed on post-class sparring. I didn't think I was sick then, just tired and wanting to get to the weekend where the six-hour performance of GATZ awaited. Without getting into the particulars, all I wanted was to make it to Saturday night's event without getting injured or sick. That accomplished, I proceeded swiftly thereafter to get both.

The "injury" was minor and self-inflicted: tearing up my knee a little bit practicing double leg takedowns at home. The sickness is what it is--or, fortunately, was what it was. I'm feeling much better as of Monday and am looking forward to getting on the mat tonight and getting my preparations for the November 10th tournament underway.

A couple of thoughts. Working out in the mornings before work is not going to work. It may have in the past, but I'm just feeling tired all the time. So rather than continue to force the issue, I'm just going to have to put in the extra effort on Saturday and Sunday. Maybe I can squeeze in one weekday morning cardio session or something, also. But I probably will do myself better by getting eight hours of sleep every night than trying to climb on the treadmill at 6 every morning.

I've got both a competition and a practice gameplan set up for November 10th. I'm not sure how much of it I should post--since it is my first blue belt competition, I'm tempted to post the whole thing. In any event, the point is to keep it simple--which I've done--and to make sure I work my gameplans in pratice so that I know what I can count on five weeks from now.

Anyway, I'm looking to be back on the mat tonight, Wednesday and Thursday. We'll see what comes of it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Revolution 11 10

I just took a look at the flyer for the upcoming tournament in Bonney Lake, the one sponsored by Liberty Events on November 10th. In particular, I wanted to know what the weight divisions would be, how close they would be to the Copa and PacNW Championships divisions.

The answer? Not so close. The flyer for the upcoming event is incomplete, but assuming they keep their weight divisions the same, I’m looking at competing either lightweight (155-169.9) or at featherweight (154.9-140).

I’d hoped to be able to stay at or around 160 in order to make a 158.9 cut. With lightweight in this event being an additional four pounds lighter, that gives me a little something to think about. As a white belt, I have competed nine out of ten matches in the 146-158 division. The next division up has been 159-171 (which I competed at in my first tournament). I definitely feel more comfortable under 159 than over it; when I’m training at full pitch, my weight drops to 158 without any dieting whatsoever.

That means that this time around I’ll need to put a little extra effort into shedding the last few pounds. Five weeks is plenty of time to lose five pounds—though I’d like to get down to around 152 or so to give myself plenty of room for error. My suspicion is that we’ll have a couple of guys at 155-169.9; I’m thinking that anybody who competed at 159-171 is more likely to compete above 155 than below it come November 10th. This would mean Lindsey for sure, and probably Mike. But it also might include James, Sean and even Jason. Clint, who has competed at 158-145 I think, could probably get under 155. And Jason (Garcia) is a shoo-in for under 155 insofar as I think he has competed as light as under 146.

Anyway, the upshot is that I’ve got some weight to lose—and the sooner the better. I weighed in at 165.7 fully dressed this morning, which is typical for a Monday. By Monday, October 22nd, I need to be weighing 159.7 fully dressed—or less. That will give me another three weeks to cut another six pounds. As a progress check, next Monday’s limit (October 8) should be 162.7.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nine Eighteen

Trying to integrate a lot of what I've been thinking about over the past week or so. In a way not unlike what Angela predicted, much of my initial return-to-mat success is tapering off as old habits from the spring and last fall start to creep back into my game. No time like the present to deal with them.

For one, I need to reorient my psychological reward system so that proper effort is rewarded more greatly than convenient achievement. In other words, keylocks are good, but kimuras and armlocks are better. Half guard sweeps are good, closed guard sweeps better and open guard sweeps ... well, talk about "make me wanna jump back and kiss mah-self ..."

So here's the list. From the top:

1. Stand to pass the guard. No more excuses. Get posture, grab a sleeve, fade back, step, stand and step back. If I don't have posture, then get it. Then start all over again. If necessary, PTMU. But "Get Up, Stand Up" is officially now job one.

2. Pass the half guard. I've got two solid half guard passes: the tripod and the reverse sit. I need to use them. Don't allow guys to tie you up for four minutes running in a half guard you know how to escape.

3. 360 drill. I've actually done a halfway decent job of moving through side control to Watch Dog to mount. I need to better incorporate scarf hold and north-south stages into my top movement.

And from the bottom:

1. SWEEP! SWEEP! SWEEP! For right now, let's focus on sweeping to regain top position. Sweeps out of closed guard (Saulo Roll, crossover, flower), sweeps out of butterfly/cobra guard, sweeps out of de la Riva guard (including with the Saulo hook), sweeps out of spider guard, sweeps out of half guard.

2. From the full or closed guard, I must break posture. Get a rear collar grip and, as I pull down, pull forward with my legs. Use that rear collar grip to help keep him low.

3. Hooks and hips. Let's keep the left foot either planted in the hip to set up swings with the right leg, OR butterflied under the guy's right thigh. We either want to push off with the left foot or lift with the left leg. The right leg will be either around the guy's back (in the first, Hilo guard, instance) and used to swing up under the guy's armpit OR will be used to block or scissor the guy's other knee/leg in a hook 'n' lift sweep to that side. Also let's not forget the de la Riva and Saulo hooks, as well as the vine guard for sweeping.

With regard to escapes, enough fooling around. I know exactly how to escape from rear mount (duck, shuck 'n' roll), side control (throat, swim, walk, knees, pull, boom), scarf hold (bridge in to get hips close before the belly roll), north/south (upa 'n' roll), mount (bridge and roll OR hipscape and knee up), and knee on belly (bridge and stuff knee into half guard). So what is my excuse for staying in these bad positions?

Don't answer that. One thing I need to get in the habit of doing is launching the escape as soon as I recognize the bad position I'm in. For the love of god, I need to stop leeting the guy "settle in" to his dominant position. I know I hate it when the guy is already escaping before I'm good and ready to keep him trapped. Time to serve up that same medicine.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Critical Thinking in Jiu Jitsu, Part V: The Guard

Here, after a little absence, is the latest installment of the "Critical Thinking in Jiu Jitsu" series over at On the Mat.

It is not Gumby's best written work, which I think has something to do with the complexity of the topic. But his focus on posture and his technique of reverse engineering (explained best in his "Hierarchy and Duality of Position" essay available here) alone remain worth reading.

Critical Thinking in Jiu Jitsu: The Guard

I've been thinking a lot about my guard, ever since my fairly pitiful effort last Thursday. And as it always happens, the jiu jitsu gods send along a little help in the way of Gumby's latest. Gumby's "homework" includes this assignment:
Assess your personal version of the guard. Figure out what your favorite grips and hooks are in the context of how you are going to break your opponents posture.

Which goes to the heart of what I've been struggling with guard-wise. What hooks do I want to use and for what purpose? What do I need to do to get the guy to react in the way I want? What position to I need to put my body, legs and arms (in that order) in order to make all of this happen?

One thing I've definitely decided on doing for the rest of the year is focusing on open guards, especially sitting/butterfly and spider (Tommy Gun). I think my legs are built more for hooking and lifting for sweeps than a lot of the swinging that makes up the great attacks from the guard (and not a few submissions). This means using a lot more hooks on one side and traps on the other. Load the guy's weight and then flip him over. If he won't come, then drive him back (code: Poosh tha Guy).

The other part of the hook strategy is to use double hooks and kick the guy out while pulling on the collar and sleeve. There's actually an abs routine that mimics this movement. If I break the guy down with this move, there are all kinds of attacks, from chokes to take-the-back, that I can use.

The point being this: I don't want to get so focued on my problems with the basic foot-in-hip closed guard that I forget there are other alternatives, especially when sparring. I only get so many opportunities a week to work on my guard and if I can find something that works for me right now, that will make the experience of fixing what I'm not so good at that much more enjoyable.

It's an extension of my Lloyd Irvin theory, a theory that makes more sense the more I think about it. If jiu jitsu, as Gumby was writing not too long ago, is about safety first, position second and submission third, then the first thing a person needs to do on the mat is figure out where he or she feels safest: on top or on bottom? The second thing is to figure out which position on the top or bottom is the most natural, most comfortable. The third thing is to figure out which way of finishing the fight, of getting the submission, is best from the position that has been determined to be the best.

This doesn't preclude learning about other positions. If anything, it is a perfect roadmap to learning everyposition. But what it definitely does is allow a person to achieve some level of talent in a part of jiu jitsu relatively quickly, a talent that, over the years, can grow into mastery while other part of his or her jiu jitsu game are allowed to improve at their own pace.

For me, the signature set was pretty easy: on top, side control, Americana. It is still the most comfortable, most natural way for me to finish a fight. But developing a talent with this set has also helped me develop a pretty quick "step" from side control (or Watch Dog, south-facing side control) to mount. That led directly to me determining that I need to learn more about how to maintain the mount, which I've gotten a lot better at. Developing this signature set has also helped me develop a halfway decent Americana from the bottom in closed guard, as well as the first few kimuras from side control that I've ever gotten in sparring. Unintended side benefits that have nonetheless become key parts of my game.

I've got a halfguard set that is starting to come into its own from the bottom. The twist--much more than the tackle--has been my main half guard sweep for the past few weeks. But I need to figure out a signature set for the full guard, and previous plans notwithstanding, that set may not originate with the traditional closed guard.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Omoplatas and Armlocks at the Shoulder

Was out sick on Monday and decided against training on Tuesday night. So my first class of the week was Stefan’s Wednesday night class.

We worked on the omoplata from the closed guard, one of Stefan’s signature moves. I’m trying to adopt and include the omoplata in my game because it seems to be one of the few hip movements in jiu jitsu that come relatively naturally—unlike the “swing” move in armlocks from the guard which is still something I struggle with.

A nice detail Stefan added was a move he showed us many, many months ago in a Saturday training. You enter the omoplata. But rather than just pinning down the guy by the waist, your reach over and grab his far leg near the knee or calf and roll him over in the direction of your knees.

It’s the same sort of roll someone might try to do to escape an omoplata. But as the one precipitating the move, you have time to get to the next step, which is to turn AWAY from the roll so that you are sitting on the guy’s chest with his arm trapped.

Be careful here, because there is a very tight shoulder lock right around the corner. Keeping everything tight, you want to slide off to the side so that you are sitting on the mat with the arm and shoulder still trapped. Squeeze the knees and lean back gradually to get the submission from the shoulder lock.

Thursday night was an interesting class. The first 90 minutes or so is all for beginners (though advanced students can participate, of course), which is followed by 30 minutes of pretty constant rolling just for advanced students. We finished the first 90 minute session with some specific work from the closed guard, and a lot of guys who didn’t roll in the first 90 minutes showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the second 30-minute session. That’s how it goes. But I always find it “interesting” to roll with guys who are fresh after I’ve been working for a good hour.

Rodrigo seemed a bit perplexed at the difficulty a number of us were having with the armlock from the closed guard he was showing us. Maybe more than a bit perplexed. I was no master of the move myself, which I think requires more hip dexterity than Rodrigo realized. And all the more so in a class made up largely of new and very new white belts.

Here’s the armlock. What you want to do in this move is to trap the shoulder of the arm you are going to lock. Once you do this, you have the option of attacking with an Americana type of armlock and then, if the guy moves to relieve the pressure, finishing him off with a more traditional armlock.

So, using an attack on the guy’s right arm as the example, Rodrigo had us plant our left foot on the mat, and scoot your hips just a little bit to the side. This, I should point out, was one of many points of difficulty insofar as too many of us were making the mistake of taking a big huge HIPSCAPE and sending our hips flying away from the guy. All you want to do is open things up enough so that you’ve got an angle on the guy’s shoulder with the leg on that side.

Once you’ve got your lock side leg up over the shoulder, you want to “swing” with your other leg up under the armpit, breaking his posture toward the lock side. This was problematic for me because I’ve been working so much on using the “swing” to set up the armlock from the closed guard in the first place that hitting the “swing” AFTER I’ve already got my other leg up on the shoulder seemed awkward.

If my lock side leg is up on the guy’s shoulder, then how do I get the leverage to swing my other leg up? Usually, with an armlock from the guard, you plant the lock side foot on the hip and push off against that hip to help “swing” your off leg up and over. One time when Rodrigo showed the move, he attacked with both legs at the same time—which in some ways only confused the issue for me. Doing both legs at the same time requires that hip dexterity I was talking about, it seems to me.

Maybe I’ve got the moves backward and Rodrigo did do the swing first. It would certainly be a lot easier to get your lock side leg up on the shoulder if you had already broken the posture with the swing ...

So I’ve got to work on it. There is no position where my guard game is more exposed than when I’m working from the closed guard. As the specific and advanced sparring revealed, I am still awful at breaking posture and terrible about moving my hips. One glimmer of hope came when I was rolling with George (good to see George in the gi, by the way). We were doing a closed guard specific and although George passed my guard about 20 times, I did switch up to a spider guard at one point which helped me ward him off longer than with my basic closed guard approach.

I’ll talk about that more later. I’m going to spend some time this weekend with Saulo’s instructional on the guard, as well as Peligro’s ,The Essential Guard. One thing I’m starting to be convinced of, though, is that I need to treat my guard game the way I’ve decided to treat my passing the guard game: very regimented, very simple and very consistent.

So in the same way that I’m trying to adopt a "Stand or Be Damned" approach to passing the guard, I think it’s time to adopt an "Open or Nothing" attitude when it comes to the guard. By that I mean opening my guard and switching to Tommy Gun, the vine guard, Hilo guard, or, if their base is rock solid, butterfly and Cobra guard.

I’m thinking that opening my guard and moving my legs more might actually help "trick" me into better and more natural hip movement. We’ll see.

Gracie Barra Seattle group photo the Saturday after next, the 22nd at the Tully’s location. Same day as "GATZ". I’ll have to break out my new Gracie Barra gi for the picture. Thankfully the new shiny red patches didn’t bleed when I washed the gi for the first time this week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saulo Closed Guard Sweep #2 Unplugged







Monday, September 10, 2007

Lost Ryan Hall Video

Ryan Hall in the Advanced Welterweight Division of the East Coast Grappling Championships

The guillotine--crossover--kickover triangle choke combination in the second match is especially nice.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another Open Guard Sweep

Precious little to say about the jiu jitsu, or lack thereof, in last night's otherwise entertaining UFC event. So here's a nice De La Riva sweep that should be a nice compliment to Saulo's #8 "Oito" open guard and sweep.

De La Riva Sweep

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In Defense of Points

A popular refrain among jiu jitsu people, a compliment often granted a particular performance or performer, is that so and so “goes for the submission, not just the points.” The inference is that there are jiu jitsu people whose time on the mat is an endless and incessant quest for the holy grail of the submission on the one hand, and jiu jitsu people whose time on that mat is characterized by “going for points” on the other.

Maybe so, maybe so. But I think we are starting to see the discontents of this “go for the sub” at all costs mentality. These discontents are not showing up so much in the sport arena, but in mixed martial arts where world class jiu jitsu guy after world class jiu jitsu guy has come up short against tough competition.

In particular, I’m thinking of Alberto Crane’s performance against Roger Huerta in the UFC and, to a greater extent, Rani Yahya’s performance against Chase Beebe in the WEC bantamweight title match. In both instances, the jiu jitsu fighter had a clear advantage on the ground. And in both instances, the jiu jitsu fighter had numerous opportunities to gain and maintain control of the fight on the ground. Yet in both cases, the jiu jitsu fighter came up short, losing by TKO in the later rounds in Crane’s case and by unanimous decision in Yahya’s contest.

What characterized the jiu jitsu of Crane and Yahya, in my opinion, was “going for the sub.” Both fighters threw submission attempt after submission attempt—with an unfortunate focus on leglocks—at their opponent. From the bottom, from the side, from the scramble, wherever Crane or Yahya was positioned, there was some submission attack that could be launched. That is definitely to their credit, their encyclopedic knowledge of submission attacks.

But a mixed martial arts contest, a Vale Tudo match is not a spelling bee of techniques. I think back on the “Gracie in Action” tapes, the sampler videos of members of the Gracie family fighting challenge matches against various opponents. The recipe in those contests, like the Gracie streetfighting recipe, is almost banal in its simplicity: take the fight to the ground, secure dominant position, attack with submission attempts based on what the opponent gives you.

To me, it seems as if too many jiu jitsu fighters in MMA are forgetting the middle step, and are attacking with submission regardless of position. This tends to mean a lot of attacking from the guard. And while we have seen some impressive work from the guard recently (Diaz v. Gomi and Aoki v. Hansen come immediately to mind), the fact of the matter is that the guard is an inferior position relative to others such as the mount or rear mount.

This is all the more so in mixed martial arts. We can all remember watching Fedor plunge through Minotauro’s guard in their three contests. And while reasonable people can argue about how good Nog’s guard game is (Rickson Gracie, famously, was not impressed), if ever there was evidence that the guard, as good as it is, remains an inferior position to attack from compared to other positions such as the mount or rear mount, those contests between Fedor and Minotauro proved it.

Over-reliance on the guard—which arguably cost BJ Penn his fight with GSP and his rematch with Matt Hughes—is one problem of the modern jiu jitsu fighter in mixed martial arts. The other tendency is leg attacks.

What is it about mixed martial arts that turns talented jiu jitsu fighters into catch wrestlers? Obviously, if a leg lock falls into your lap, then you should exploit that mistake. But to attack the legs as a primary objective in a mixed martial arts contest is madness. As I have said in conversations about jiu jitsu and MMA, losing position is very expensive. And there is no surer way to lose position than to build a gameplan based on attacking an opponent with kneebars.

There have been plenty of close kneebar finishes: Stevenson v. Neer, Mishima v. Florian, Barnett v. Nog I, and now most recently Yahya v. Beebe. But the emphasis is on “close.” None of those leglocks finished the fight. In fact, I think Kevin Randleman might be the last top contender finished by kneebar in recent memory. Jiu jitsu fighters—who shouldn’t be preoccupied with kneebars in the first place as far as I am concerned—should pay closer attention to this.

Paulo Filho takes a lot of crap from some fans. But I’ll tell you what: Filho knows the importance of position before submission. Filho will take you down, pass your guard, mount you, and pound on you until you give him your arm or your back. That’s jiu jitsu 101 and while a number of people have professed this, Filho is one of the few to consistently approach his contests with this fundamental jiu jitsu in mind.

So what does this have to do with points? Compare two fighters. One pulls guard, and then begins working for submissions. The other takes his opponent down, passes his guard, takes dominant position, and then begins working for submissions. Which fighter is more likely to be successful—all else equal?

In my opinion, the second fighter has a number of advantages. Not only is the second fighter way ahead in terms of scoring (2 for the takedown, 2 for the pass of guard, 3 or 4 for the dominant position), but the fact that he is as many as eight points ahead puts tremendous pressure on his opponent to do something or risk losing the match. That pressure, that urgency, makes it much more likely for him to make a mistake and leave himself vulnerable to a submission attack.

Additionally, there is a psychological advantage. The second fighter's jiu jitsu is completely in control. He has already shown an ability to impose his game--in three different contexts--on his opponent. That's the kind of thing that can increase the sense of desperation on the part of the opponent, and make him that much more vulnerable to submission.

I haven’t seen it quoted, but apparently Mario Sperry encourages fighters to pursue this “point-oriented” approach to fighting—and for exactly the reasons I’ve suggested. The goal of fighting is to put your opponent in the worst position possible so that, in his desperation to avoid defeat, he makes a mistake. I’ve always said that the point of jiu jitsu isn’t to test your jiu jitsu. It is to put the other guy in a position to test HIS jiu jitsu. I’m reminded of the line from the movie, PATTON: “The point isn’t for you to die for your country. The point is to get some other poor son of a bitch to die for HIS country.”

And in the context of mixed martial arts, as in most fights, that test means putting the other guy on his back, not inviting your opponent to test how good you are from your back.

Obviously, if an opportunity to submit an opponent from your back exists, then sure, take it. But the more I watch MMA, the more I realize that jiu jitsu guys don’t necessarily have the time it takes for an opponent, particularly one content to attempt to strike from within the closed guard, to make a big enough mistake to get submitted. Obviously it happens. But the issue is one of probability.

In a sport with five minute rounds, with a bias toward “standing fighters up” when the action on the ground is not sufficiently chaotic, the jiu jitsu guy cannot afford, in my opinion, to lie there on his back waiting for the guy on top to make a mistake. He instead needs to change the game, by working more to take a dominant position, so that the biases and rules of the sport of mixed martial arts—which rewards takedowns and positional dominance as much or more than failed submission attempts—can work for him instead of against him.

Think about it: the most dominant jiu jitsu fighter, in sport jiu jitsu, no less, almost stereotypically finishes fights from a dominant position. Isn’t that lesson enough for the rest of us?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Cobrinha Sweeps = Rodrigo + Stefan?

There was a thread over at the jiu jitsu gear forum the other day asking if Ruben Charles, aka Cobrinha, was the most dominant black belt. What I know of Charles, other than his unbelievably cool nickname, is that he fought an amazingly technical match against Marcio Feitosa and has been one of the toughest guys around at the featherweight division (or “pena”), which is 154 pounds or less in the gi.

[Cobrinha v. Feitosa]

By comparison, competing right now, I would be “leve” or 167.5 pounds or less in the gi. I wouldn’t be a big “leve” or lightweight. But a five pound gi means weighing about 160 naturally (to be on the safe side) and that’s about as light as I feel I can maintain without having to “weight cut”—which I’m just not into.

Anyway, Cobrinha was described elsewhere in the forum as “Tinguinha on steroids” or “like a mini-Terere.” Here are some clips of both Tinguinha and Terere in action.



I’ve found a section of one of his instructionals, taught in Portuguese and subtitled in Japan where he uses some sweeps and setups from the guard that are very similar to what I’ve seen Rodrigo do and, in one specific part, Stefan, as well. The Rodrigo-esque aspect of Cobrinha’s game is the way he will grapevine an arm and then work to sweep toward that grapevined arm (either over to the side or in a backward roll).

The Stefan-like part is how Cobrinha typically wound up on top in position to do the same shoulder lock Stefan likes to do if the guy rolls out of the omoplata. It involves a sort of “sitting-step” in a backwards circle so that you wind up in mount and in perfect position for the shoulder lock. You can see how Cobrinha finishes with it in a number of these sweeps.

[Cobrinha instructional]

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Errata 1,2,3

1. The Scarf Hold Blues

Last night I spent another inordinate set of minutes struggling under Andrew’s all-too-effective (at least against me) scarf hold. Andrew’s positioning reminds me of exactly what Saulo talks about in controlling from the cross body. He is completely locked on my hips and, as such, doesn’t need to use his arms or his legs (much) in order to maintain position.

I’ve been struggling against this before. In fact, I was having a harder time that I wanted against Brandon’s scarf hold during our roll. Brandon may be no brown belt, but he’s a real-live judoka and that scarf hold is something near the beginning of the newaza playbook.

There are a couple of approaches, such as throwing the leg up and over the guy’s head and pulling him backward with it, that I could try. But the main thing I need to do is to bridge up and into the guy in order to get his hips (really, both our hips) off the mat. That will give me room to either reverse sitout with my near leg, or to get the underhook with my outside arm and work for the belly lock and roll.

Don’t waste energy struggling. Get yourself ready and do the escape properly. Bridge up and into him. Then pummel for the underhook or do the reverse sit-out to knees.

2. Hip Movement and H. Rap

I tried the arm wrap attack on Brandon last night. I was eager to try out the Jersey Shore stuff from closed guard, and when the opportunity came for me to take closed guard and go for the arm wrap, I went for it.

Unfortunately, Brandon simply leaned back and pulled his arm out.

What I need to do when attacking with the armwrap is to turn into the guy and move the guy’s shoulder downward toward the mat. The only way to do this is to hipscape out and turn into the guy as I’m wrapping the arm. That torques the arm at an angle and makes it much, much harder for the guy to be able to just straight pull his arm out.

3. "They pass with their hands."

I’m pretty sure that’s a quote from Marcelo Garcia talking about defending guard passes—especially against his “butt scoot” sitting guard, a guard I have adopted for training. One thing that has been unnecessarily frustrating has been the way I’ve let guys get grips and stand to pass my sitting guard. It’s been just terrible. Mostly I’m left to vainly try and stretch my not-particularly-lengthy legs out and trap them in half guard. Most of the time, this does not work—in part, because by stretching out my legs, I’ve given up an ability to be mobile and the guy can continue running around.

The solution? There are three really. One is to go for a single leg takedown. Another is to go for a front headlock and possibly a guillotine if I get my arm in deep enough. Last, you guessed it, ARM DRAG!.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Far Side Armlocks and Kimuras

Wednesday night with Stefan … we worked two moves from side control: the farside arm lock and the kimura in the event the guy is able to bend his arm out of the armlock. After that, we did a little specific sparring from side control—starting with the arm and without—before ending the class for general sparring. I rolled three times, I think: Brandon the Judo Guy, Andrew and Stefan.

A few key details with the far side arm lock, which has been a very difficult submission for me to finish with. Starting with the north hand on the collar and the south hand on the far side of the guy’s body checking the hip, the first thing to do is to trap the guy’s arm (assuming he makes the mistake of putting his arm on the north side of your head. If he put it on the south side of your head, then you would look to switch to Watch Dog and attack with bent arm locks).

Trap the arm by reaching around the arm with your north hand and grabbing your own lapel. Take your south hand and put it on the near side right by his hip. This is the block. In order for the block to work effectively, you have to put your weight on it. It might be better to think of it as a post.

That block or post will also help you lift yourself up and walk around to north-south. The farside arm lock is really set up from north-south. By the time you get to the far side, the arm lock should be pretty much ready to go.

Here are some very important details that Stefan emphasized. As you are coming around from north-south, put your “lock-side” knee right into the guy’s ribs as you roll him away from you. This will help keep him from rolling into you to escape the arm lock, as well as help set your legs up for a tighter lock. Another detail was to make sure your “trailing foot” was right by the guy’s head. You should almost be sitting right on his head (a point I’ll come back to in a later post) before you spin into the arm lock.

The kimura variation happens if the guy is able to slip his arm out a bit and bend it to avoid the armlock. In this instance, you want to reach down and grab the wrist and go for the kimura. Some details here include sprawling out your south leg and hooking your north leg around the guy’s head as you increase pressure on the lock. This will further immobilize the guy and make it harder for him to resist the submission.

Another detail was specifically for instances when the guy defended the kimura by grabbing his gi, or belt or whatever. What you want to do—and this would have helped GSP when he was trying to work that kimura on Koscheck—is to pull the arm in the direction their wrist is bent. That is the path of least resistance, for lack of a better phrase. Stephen Kesting has a slightly more elaborate procedure. But I like Stefan’s approach, which is both simple and commonsensical (read: easy to remember). So that’s the one I’m going with.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Closed Guard Lockflow from Jersey Shore BJJ

Much to catch up with. But I wanted to make sure I made a post of this fascinating attack series for the closed guard, especially no gi.

I really like the armwrap and clamp attacks, though I want to try and include more of these set-ups in general. I need to pay attention to the hip movement. I always feel like I can follow the hand and arm movement. It is the hip movement that I tend to miss.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sweeps Week at GB Seattle

This week has been “sweeps week”—meaning that we worked strictly on sweeps from the guard. I trained Monday night and Wednesday afternoon since they were doing construction Wednesday night. The alternative was to drive to Bellevue for class on Wednesday—which I just didn’t feel like doing on a weeknight.

There were three sweeps—actually there was a fourth added Wednesday afternoon that reminded me a lot of the Pe de Pano cross guard stuff I had been looking at recently. The first sweep is the one I called “Rodrigo’s Cradle,” though now I know it was pretty much a windmill/pendulum/flower sweep. I’ve known this one for awhile, though I’ve only recently started trying it when sparring. The detail, which I remember Rodrigo emphasizing over and over again, is that you don’t need the guy’s arm to move all the way across your body. If that happens, it makes more sense to take his back than to try the flower sweep.

Instead, Rodrigo recommended bridging up with the arm and then, as you are coming back down, nudge the elbow in toward the center. You just need enough room to be able to reach behind the shoulder of the arm you trap.

Another detail in this step. When you are coming back down from the bridge, that should be when you sit-up and reach behind the guy’s shoulder. If you wait, and try to break it down into three distinct steps, it looks like it would be harder to keep the guy’s arm trapped. So, bridge up/sit-up might be the best way to think of the set up for the flower sweep.

From there, I pretty much remember the basics. Reach behind the shoulder. Underhook the leg with the other hand (or grab the pants by the knee). Kick your trap side leg back, then scissor the legs and roll over your trapped side shoulder. The sweep should be virtually effortless.

The next two sweeps were a little trickier, and came out of the open guard. In both cases, the guy has put a knee up as if going to stand to pass your guard. Also in both cases you want to do two things: (1) get a cross grip so that you are controlling the sleeve opposite the knee up with your hand on the knee up side, and (2) hipscape in the direction of the knee up.

A last detail in the set-up is to grab the pants at the knee on the “down side.”

From here you are ready to go. The first of these two sweeps had you put a hook underneath the guy’s knee up leg. To sweep: pull on the cross sleeve, lift with the hook and (I think) push off on the pants grab at the knee. The guy should be swept away from his knee up leg.

The second version has you start from that same “cross guard” type position. Here, you put the hook in, but you are going to use it to push the guy away rather than lift him. I’m not sure about the next step, but I think you release the cross grip and grab the ankle of the knee up leg. From here, press the knee of your hook leg against the guy’s leg, lift with the pants grab on the other leg and pull with the hand on the ankle. The guy should be swept straight backward.

One detail here is that you want the knee on your hook leg to be pointed outward. Otherwise it is too easy for him to push the knee down and continue working to pass your guard.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Flying Jets

I was reading a few recent posts over at Valhalla's blog "Prancing and Sucking", her continued adventures in the world of jiu jitsu.

One of the things I appreciate about Val's blog is her struggle with the issue of competing. You never get the sense that she'll stop training, but the role, importance and value of competing is often a major philosophical debate.

I had a pretty okay run as a white belt. But the fact that any tournament I compete in for the next 2-3 years at least will be as a blue belt/intermediate, has me reading her thoughts and reflections on competing with new attention. On the one hand, as a white belt competitor I had an attitude and chip on my shoulder that won't exist as a blue belt competitor (I thought I was above being beaten by fellow white belts). So, there should be a slackening of expectations as I step up to compete as a blue belt.

On the other hand, who am I kidding? I won't care if the other guy is a six-day-a-week-training, four-year blue belt. I'll have the same feeling losing to him as I did to a six-month white belt. That takedown was solid! Where are my points? Pass the guard, pass the guard ... Aw, shit! Dammnit! Another triangle choke!

Niceties aside, winning is winning and losing is losing.

So why compete? I remember reading about how Kron Gracie, who just won the brown belt division at the Mundials, submitted opponent after opponent at the Pan Ams. He finished something like five opponents in a total of three minutes or something crazy like that.

I remember entering my next tournament thinking about how I wanted to be like Kron: tapping out dudes like nobody's business. Wouldn't that be great? Sure it would!

I did alright and ended up winning first place. But it was another victory without submission, against a guy I was pretty much able to smash once I passed his guard.

With that in mind, my favorite passage from the film Officer and a Gentleman:

Gunnery Sergeant: Why would a slick hustler like you sign up for this abuse?

Mayo: I want to fly jets.

Gunnery Sergeant: My grandmama wants to fly jets.

Mayo: I've always wanted it!

Gunnery Sergeant: We're not talking about flying. We're talking about character.

In other words, we're not talking about winning, or submissions. And we're damn sure not talking about being Kron Gracie. We're talking about competing with class, competing with technique, competing with spirit. "Leaving it all on the mat" as the cliche goes, and being hungry for the opportunity to do it again.

It also means preparing yourself properly. "Leaving it all on the mat" doesn't just refer to effort, I don't think. It means that you've pulled every rabbit out of every hat, tried every guard pass and guard replacement, every choke and armbar, attacked at every opportunity your opponent gave you. More than raw cardiovascular "effort", it's a sort of total awareness you want to enter. A true mind-body connection. Everything you know applied to every chance you get.

That's what I think you want out of competition. More than winning or losing (though, of course "winning" instead of "losing"), you want that "aliveness", what philosopher Karl Jaspers called "Existenz" ...
the indefinable experience of freedom and possibility; an experience which constitutes the authentic being of individuals who become aware of "the encompassing" by confronting suffering, conflict, guilt, chance, and death.


I remember somebody asking Rodrigo about submissions, I don't remember the specific question, but Rodrigo's answer was something along the lines of "the choke is the most efficient submission" ...

And I remember somewhere somebody writing of Rickson Gracie that his favorite finishing technique was the choke ...

Among the many memes to come out of the 2007 Mundials is the surprising (to many) idea that top jiu jitsu fighters finish fights with chokes.

I'm a huge fan of chokes. I think that the mata leao is the quintessential finishing technique in all of combat sports, all of martial arts. And I'm thrilled to have gotten my first few clean guillotine submission in training over the past few weeks.

But the thing they say about collar chokes is that they are "easy to learn, but difficult to master." If you are going to train in the gi, then you've got to become proficient--hell, expert--at collar chokes. There's simply no reason not to. It is the biggest difference between gi and no gi grappling, and the guy who is good at controling the collar has a tremendous advantage over the guy who is an excellent "grappler", but not sufficiently talented in the gi.

The first book in my fantasy trilogy of Gracie Barra Big Books (TM) is the Gracie Barra Big Book of Chokes. Nothing but chokes: the philosophy of chokes as a finishing hold, the biology of blood chokes versus air chokes, what the attacker needs to do, what the defender needs to do, and then choke after choke after choke ... Guillotines, triangles, brabos, katagatames, baseball chokes, cross collar chokes, clock chokes, mata leao, Frankenstein chokes ... just a sick compendium of effective gi and no gi chokes and strangles with set-up moves and lockflows.

Until then, here's a cross collar choke refresher ... "Easy to learn, but difficult to master" ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

2007 Mundial Champions

The results of the 2007 International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation World Championships ("Mundials").

Black Belt Winners: Men

Rooster: Bruno Malfacine (UGF)
Super Feather: Robson Moura (Nova Uniao)
Feather: Rubens Charles (Alliance)
Light: Lucas Lepri (Alliance)
Middle: Lucas Leite (Brasa)
Medium Heavy: Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra)
Heavy: Alexandre Ribeiro (Gracie Humaita)
Super Heavy: Roger Gracie (Gracie Barra)
Super Super Heavy: Rafeal Lovato (Gracie Humaita)

Open Class (Absolute): Roger Gracie (Gracie Barra)

Brown Belt/Black Belt Winners: Women

Super Feather: Michelle Nicolini (Brasa)
Feather: Laurence Cousin (Behring)
Light: Hanette Quadros (Carlson Gracie Team)
Middle: Emily Kwok (Renzo Gracie)
Medium Heavy: Penny Thomas (Rickson)

Open Class (Absolute): Michelle Nicolini (Brasa)

Friday, August 24, 2007

No Gi Flipside

B.J. Penn calls this sweep "De La Riva Sweep While Opponent’s One Knee is in the Middle." I call it "no gi Flipside," after the move that Mamazinho showed us this spring, a move I incorporated in my Scissorhands suite.

The steps: The guy’s knee goes up. So many higher level guys start sparring this way—from Rodrigo to Stefan to Tommy and Casey. You want to put your opposite foot in the hip/abdomen. Let’s say their left knee goes up in the middle. You want to put your left foot in their hip/abdomen.

Slide your other foot (right) behind their knee that is in the middle. It’s a sort of DLR hook. What you are trying to do is trap the shin of that knee-in-the-middle leg (the position I call “Jayhawk”). The foot on your DLR hook should be close to the foot of your other leg.

Reach and get a collar tie with your left hand (the same side that has the foot in the hip/abdomen). With your right hand (the same side that has the DLR hook), reach and control either the elbow (preferable) or the wrist.

Pull the guy on you as you rock back. Once his weight is on top of you, extend your DLR hook leg and flip the guy over to the side. Follow him over to secure dominant position.

I think I almost hit this move on Wednesday night—or some variation of it. One of the things I’m trying to do is to understand the essence of sweeps, to break them down into their elementary particles, as it were. What do I need to block? What do I need to control? Where will I need to put the pressure? For example, in this sweep, you want to block the leg (DLR hook) and control the head and arm. The pressure comes from extending the leg. I feel that being able to answer these questions on the fly is key to being able to sweep with impunity—and creativity. The "unplugged" series helps me see how the some of the same key steps can be found in sweeps that otherwise look very, very different.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sitting Flat in the Guard

I hurt my right ankle last night after class trying to sit flat, the way you are supposed to sit when you are in the guard. I’ve figured out that at least part of my problem when it comes to maintaining posture in the guard is the fact that, since my right foot does not extend very well, I’ve compensated by not sitting all the way
down on it. The problem with that, as I learned while watching a video of someone explaining the Saulo ground pass, is that not sitting flat means that your butt is up. And that might be just enough “up” to make you vulnerable to being pulled down and your posture shattered.

So after class I’m talking about this with Stefan and trying to get in the proper position. After class, fully warmed up, I was actually able to sit flat. Stefan recommended that I consider sitting flat on my left ankle, and shooting my right leg out to the side. I had pretty much been only trying to shoot my left leg out when
opening the guard­almost exclusively so. So I’m eager to try Stefan’s suggestion over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, sitting flat last night on my right ankle meant that I woke up in surprisingly acute pain in the middle of the night last night. I could get comfortable enough to sleep, but there was no denying that my ankle, which
felt fine all evening, was in serious pain. When I got up around 3 p.m. to let out Hecate for her regular middle-of-the-damn-night pee, I could hardly walk on it.

Hours later, my ankle feels pretty much back to normal. Some lingering soreness, but I should be able to train tonight (Thursday; no gi). What I do want to do is plot out some of what has been working and what has not been working in advance of tonight’s class.

The most outstanding things over the past six weeks definitely have to be my Twist half guard sweep and my Americana. I’ve also done better with guillotine chokes­something I never really worked on. And though I’m not doing a great job of staying out of triangle chokes, I am not getting submitted by them. I am also defending armbars and the RNC fairly well.

What’s weak? I still haven’t developed a coherent guard opening approach. One of the things I want to try (per the above) is to open up to the right instead of to the left. This should allow me to sit flat on my left ankle, improving my base. I’m also curious as to whether or not it will turn out that my left hand/arm is better for keeping the post than my right hand.

Off of that, one thing I want to keep in mind is the idea of switching between standing and ground guard openers. All I want to do is to be able to get a knee in. It might happen that I can’t get anything going on the ground, shift to standing, and am able to create some space­though not fully open the guard. I need to consider dropping back to the ground with a knee up, and seeing if I can catch the guy that way.

I still like my original idea: from inside the guard, control the collars with my left hand (“just a comfortable grip”) and use my right hand to try and snag the sleeve. If I get the sleeve, lean to my left and step forward deep with my
right leg. Leaning in the direction of that right leg, bring the left leg up and stand upright.

If I can’t get the sleeve, then I need to immediately step out per the Saulo ground
pass. He will probably reach for me with the sleeve. Depending on how the flow is going, I can either grab the sleeve and go back to the standing pass attack, or ignore it and continue with the Saulo ground pass.

A key thing: I need to be able to feel his anklelock on my hip. If I’m not putting pressure on that lock, then he’ll be able to hold his guard closed. To get back there, I need to make sure I turn my body fully to the side. FULLY TO THE SIDE. Don’t look down. Just make sure your base is good. Then circle back and sit to open the guard.

One interesting trick about the knee under the butt is this: Saulo warns against putting the knee in the middle. But he doesn’t point out what is so good about putting the knee under one buttcheek. In doing so, it makes it hard for the
guy to sit up and reach you from the opposite side. So, in the scenario above, with my left hand forward, I would put my left knee under the guy’s right buttcheek. This makes it harder for him to reach up and grab me with his left hand (i.e., attacking my right side). This is just as I want it because that is the side I will step out with and, eventually, the side I will pass toward.

Tonight is no gi. I’m sure we’ll be working on guard openers again tonight, though I’m not sure what specific wrinkles Rodrigo will be showing us. In addition to working on my guard opening technique: opening up to the right instead of the
left, looking up and turning fully to the side ... I want to continuing working on my half guard sweeps­particularly the Tackle, which I haven’t done in awhile. I also want to work on taking the back and getting better and attacking from dominant positions. I was in mount for more than a minute yesterday but was so busy maintaining position that I never really attacked. That gave the guy I was working with plenty of time to get set to escape (he rolled me into his guard) and
eventually launch an attack himself.

Another thing I want to study is people’s reaction when I attack with the Americana. I’ve caught enough guy’s with it from the bottom that I’m sure people are going to start to pick up on it (I don’t know anybody at our academy who uses
the Americana like I do). Do they pull their arm away to the side, opening them up to an attack to their body (i.e., poosh the guy sweep)? Do they bury the arm inside, opening them up to a possible windmill sweep, armlock or even take-the-back? I also need to work the sweep from the Americana attack: trap the knee on the
lock side and butterfly hook under the leg on the opposite side. Lift and slice­Rickson style­ to get the sweep. Continuing working to finish with the Americana.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Guard Opening

Wednesday's class with Stefan was small, but it gave me a nice opportunity to work guard openers against two ideal opponent types: one size up and big MF.

In the first case, it's good to work guard openers against someone who is maybe a weight class above. I'm pretty strong for my weight class, and when I'm struggling with a technique I have to admit that I rely on that strength advantage more than I should. At my level, a little bit of technique and a lot of strength can go a long way against comparable or less experienced competition. (And therein lies the temptation ...)

In the second, I get called on any BS. With someone whose got a major strength advantage, my technique has to be on point or there's no way I'm going to be able to use the "escape hatch" of superior strength or explosiveness.

The emphasis Stefan put on tonight's take on guard openings was not just getting the knee up and in the middle after successfully opening the guard. But in getting tight and not allowing any space for the guy to reset his guard. It was the "follow-through"--for lack of a better word--that was the focus.

As usual, I struggled to open the guard against a determined closed guard. One thing I need to do is to think of three different guard opening techniques: the Saulo ground pass, the Gracie Barra standing pass, and the Jayhawk pass (which is the one we've been focusing on that looks to create space to bring the knee up in the middle)--as techniques in combination, that lead to the other. I haven't figured it out yet, but I'd like my guard opening attack to be as tight as that stand-up game combo that Marcio Feitosa taught us (ouchi gari to uchi mata to ankle pick) in the seminar ...

One thing that might help, that came up after class, was looking to open up to my right instead of my left. I'm not sure how or why I got stuck in a rut of opening up to the left to open the guard. But I need to try the right side as a way of dealing with my right ankle's lack of motion. I was able to sit it flat after class, probably because I was so warmed up. We'll see what happens going forward.

Sparring went better than I'd anticipated in some ways. I'm working more effectively out of the half guard lately, mostly due to the Twist sweep. I got caught up in a triangle choke attack after losing mount at one point. The problem was that I was just maintaining position in mount and not going forward with an attack. That just gave him time to prepare for his reversal.

With regard to the triangle, I really need to start working my escapes with more effort. There's a huge difference between not tapping out and escaping and getting into dominant position. I've got two very solid triangle choke escapes: C.C. Grinder and Midget Slam. I need to use them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Last American Blue Belt

Whenever you are in a situation where the thought crosses your mind, “this guy is too strong,” you’ve got to remind yourself that the problem is not his strength, the problem is your technique. Wrong spot. Wrong angle. No leverage.

One thing I like about the way Saulo teaches jiu jitsu in his instructional is his emphasis on leverage, on being in the right spot so that you are not wasting your energy fighting strength against strength. I think that’s what makes people like Rickson and Rodrigo seem to roll so effortlessly, save for short bursts of exertion during an escape or securing dominant position. They feel what is possible, and then they move to exploit it.

But to exploit it, you’ve got to be in the right position, have the right angle, and have more than just your strength going for you ...

We’re continuing to work on guard opening. We’ve really been breaking it down bit by bit, which is great. But I feel like I’m in danger of missing the opportunity to finally fix what has been my most critical weakness. If I can’t significantly improve my guard opening while we are focusing on it so much, then it is hard to believe that I’ll be able to improve it as rapidly as I’d like once we’ve moved on to other areas of emphasis.

Casey once told me that I’d be alright if I could just keep my posture. More and more I think that is the crux of it. I remember after losing a bid to medal in a tournament how Mamazinho got on me about not returning to base after a failed guard opening attempt. That’s something I read about in Path to the Black Belt this morning, the idea that you need to return to your base anytime your guard opener/guard pass fails. Get set, and try again. But get set. Don’t abort mid-pass and try something else when you are off-balance or not set.

For the most part, set = posture. Tuesday we worked specifically on ways to regain posture when it has been broken, as well as using either the inside or outside knee to keep the guard open once you’ve opened it.

The technique had you put your hands in the guy’s armpits (overhand or underhand). Move one knee in to the middle. Put the other knee out perpendicular as you turn your shoulders, opening up in that direction. With your palms down and pressing on the guy’s chest, then abdomen, walk your hands down.

As you do this, you’ve got two options: you can press down on the knee, and put your perpendicular knee over. Or you can pop the inside knee up.

What was killing me, again, was posture. Sometimes during the drill, I’d go to put the knee out to the side and literally tip over, falling on my face. Part of the problem is that I still haven’t overcome the instinctual impulse to look down. I’d like to believe it’s that simple because I know it is a major mistake that I continue to do. I need to keep my weight back and my head up—just look down with the eyes.

Wednesday I want to watch Stephan do this move. I want to watch how his weight shifts—or does not shift—when he goes to put the leg to the side. That’s one of the things that I hate about learning new stuff: you never know which detail is most important for your jiu jitsu until you try the move and fail. In this case, the detail that I really needed to watch when Rodrigo showed us the technique tonight was that weight shift. Does he push off against the torso as he is putting the knee to the side? That would make it harder to “tip over” as I did a few times.

I also thought I noticed Rodrigo leaning to the side, with his knee-out shoulder turned away. Cesar Gracie talks about sometimes going to the side when you are in someone’s guard because it can help you maintain posture better than when you are sitting there with your shoulders square. Another nice thing about opening up to the knee-out side is that it makes it easier to attack that knee as part of the guard opener.

All things to work on for Wednesday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pounds & Kilos

I’ve got to tighten up on my diet. This morning, I weighed in at 169.4 dressed. That is hysterically too high. I never weighed that much even when I was on the sidelines in May, June and July.

I did two-a-days on Saturday and Sunday: circuit training and straight cardio. Watched what I ate all weekend. Even hauled my ass out of bed this morning to do some circuit work. Still, a crazy number on the scale when I get to the office. I knew things would be rough when the bathroom scale at home gave me 165. But I hoped for the best and ended up with the obligatory four-pound markup on the office digital.

So, carbs are out … save for my Wednesday pizza. I really want to get to the point where I am at 160 walking around. And it was depressing that after my first three-nights-a-week training in months, it didn’t seem to do much of anything to reduce my poundage. The typical pattern was for me to weigh around 165 on Monday, then drop to under 162.5 or even under 160 on the bathroom scale, by Friday morning.

Even during the month of twice-a-week training I had decent weigh-in numbers:

Monday, July 16 to Friday, July 20: 164.3 to 161.7
Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27: 166.5 to 161.3
Monday, July 30 to Friday, August 3: 167.6 to 164.7 (Thursday)
Monday, August 6 to Friday, August 10: 168.5 to 164.8 (Thursday)

And Monday, August 13 was 167.4

One clear trend is that, since I’ve been training, my Monday morning weigh has actually gotten heavier. The average weight loss—Monday to Friday—is about three and a half pounds. That includes two weeks where the last weigh in was a day earlier—so the average might actually be higher.

A couple of theories: Rebecca thinks that I might have added a pound or two of muscle in the first four weeks of being back on the mat, which would help explain the “boost” factor in the weight. Similarly, I’m thinking that my cardio has improved to the point where I don’t get the same “water loss” that I used to get when training. I remember the first week or two coming home and seeing that I’d dropped about three pounds in one training session. But the last few training sessions were pretty much flat on the water loss—at least as far as the scale was concerned.

I don’t think diet was the difference. My diet wasn’t especially clean in the second half of July—including some weekend eating and drinking that there’s no way I’d try and get away with now.

I’ve stepped up the working out. But if Rebecca and/or my theory is accurate, then that’s not likely to help me shed much more poundage.

That only leaves the diet. I’d gladly starve myself just to get down to the 155 area and then try and “fill out” back to 160. That said, I’m going to try and take the responsible, Atkins-light/South Beach approach this week and see if I can tell if there is any difference. I can feel the additional weight around my midsection, even if it isn’t as visible as it feels. Extra working out notwithstanding, diet is probably going to be the best way to eliminate the next, and last, ten pounds.