Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The New New Due Date

Tuesday, July 17. 6 p.m. You read it here first.

(photo of Vitor Ribeiro and Paulo Filho courtesy of Tatame)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Purple Parabens for Tomas

I just happened to click on the webpage of my jiu jitsu academy and found this under the "Belt Listings" heading ...

OMG! (as the kids say) ... Tommy got his PURPLE!

Absolutely great news. A lot of cliched things tend to get said when guys advance, but its my blog and I'll cliche if I want to. Tommy is not only very talented and creative on the mat. But he's shown a ton of character by offering to help out any serious student who comes his way (yours truly included).

A great competitor and a patient teacher, Tommy is somebody that a lot more people in the jiu jitsu world are going to learn about in the next few years. And I'm just glad that I'll be around to watch it happen.

Props also go out to Lance who, if I'm reading the rest of the listing correctly, also got promoted to purple recently. I don't recognize all the names (faces are easier than names on the mat), there are a few names I don't see that I should (where's Griff and newly-minted black belt Michelle?), and I'm glad that my prodigal ass was graciously included even though I've been on the shelf since April ...

But it's all good. And just making me all the more eager to get back on the mat.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Drawings of Judo Grappling Techniques

I love staring at pictures of pins/holds and submissions, looking at them like puzzles. How do I get out of that? How would I transition from that to another attack?

More good stuff from

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lessons from the Minotaur

I love the way that Minotauro set his guard in this fight. He had a nice tight grip on Fedor's right wrist, "posting up" Fedor's arm. This opened the door for the whole King Crimson suite of kimuras, crossover sweeps and omoplatas. Nog had a underhook on with his other hand, with an occasional collar tie. Very nice no-gi guard set-up.

Fedor has great hand speed, and his tactic of lunging forward to strike Nog from within Nog's guard was effective mostly because of Fedor's hand speed and sense of range. To nullify that, Nog needed to step on Fedor's hips, pushing him off and taking away the base that provided Fedor with a "striking platform."

Instead, Nog was either butterflying his guard or using a sort of soft closed guard. Neither were very effective in controling Fedor because Fedor wasn't so much raising up to strike as he was sliding backward and launching himself forward in a sort of dive. Where most guys try to regain full posture in the guard before launchign strikes, Fedor just slid back enough to be able to dive forward and deliver his punches.

The counter to this is to make Fedor move further back than he wants to by stepping on and pushing off hips. In other words, Hilo Guard.

It isn't easy because Fedor is strong and very fast with his punches. But if Nog had kept his feet on Fedor's hips and just pushed off forcefully a few times, it would have made Fedor less sure of his base and his ability to throw punches with both power and accuracy.

Another point. Nog goes for a kimura at one point. If I remember correctly, Fedor manages to yank his arm out of the first one. With his corner screaming "omoplata!" Nog goes for another kimura. As it locks on, Fedor postures up to counter the pressure on his shoulder.That was a great time for Nog to switch to the Crimson.

Both the kimura and the omoplata attack the outside and try to drive the pressure back to the inside. One defense against this is to posture up, making it hard for the attacker to drive to the inside.

But this posturing up makes it easier for the attacker to drive pressure to the outside. So the idea is to attack hard with the kimura to force him to defend the drive to the inside. If the guy counters by posturing up, then immediately switch to the Crimson and drive him over to the outside.

Immediately look to armlock the same arm as you move into the mount after the successful Crimson sweep.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More from Master Lloyd

Lloyd Irvin takes a lot of grief for his marketing approach--which has more than the whiff of "direct mail" to it. But I've always been impressed by his basic message of optimism when it comes to succeeding in jiu jitsu.

Tommy made a good point months ago that a lot of the success of guys like Ryan Hall has to be attributed to training intensity. I suspect that if most of the people I train with on a regular basis trained at the same clip as Hall, then they too would see impressive gains in performance come tournament time.

And while Irvin's ability to gameplan is probably the most impressive aspect of his method and coaching, what is probably most useful is his philosophy of specialization, which comes across very strongly in his latest e-mail advertisement discussing the double-upset run of Lloyd Irvin black belt Mike Fowler in the ADCC 2007.

When you think about how Irvin must have learned jiu jitsu, it makes sense. As a jiu jitsu orphan at the tender age of a six-month blue belt, Irvin must have found it difficult to learn new techniques and, instead, must havet focused on all the variations and transitions possible for the few techniques a six-month blue belt might feel comfortable with.

Years later as a coach, we can read how he passed on his "former favorite submission, the triangle (choke)" to both Mike Fowler and Ryan Hall. While it was Hall that went on to make the triangle his patented submission, it is clear that Irvin's approach was to give his fighters a few basic tools and train them to become lethal with them.

Irvin refers to "mastering every single transition of a single submission." I think that is key to becoming very hard to handle on the mat. I'm reminded of the Marcelo Garcia line "I'm always going to get the choke."

Obviously this doesn't mean not learning as many techniques as possible. But jiu jitsu at the top levels is more about being a poet than a librarian, it seems to me. And that means being good--almost insufferably good--at what you're good at first and foremost, especially when it is time to compete.

Irvin says that his trio of finishing techniques were the triangle choke, the kimura and leg locks (when they were allowed). I like the idea of cultivating both a "go to" choke and a "go to" arm/shoulder attack; it's something I've thought about from time to time. I'm looking to try a lot of different things over the balance of the year--as I pass my own "six-month blue belt" mark: a much, much more aggressive guard and being far more active on top.

I'm hoping by the end of the year I'll have a good sense of what attacks are most efficient for me and which ones aren't. Early money is on the mata leao as far as the choke slot is concerned. And I'm praying that the jiu jitsu gods bestow upon me something other than the americana when it comes to attacking the arm and/or shoulder ...

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Work of Waiting

The return to the mat will be delayed longer than I expected. Fortunately, it has more to do with professional responsibilities than health concerns.

I know I'll be back by the second half of July--when the project I'm working on will be due, if not completed. If I can make better progress, then maybe early July or even late June might work. But I'm not going to be over optimistic. This particular project is a big deal professionally. In some ways it represents the one thing I always wanted to do in life, ever since I was a little kid ...

So, to be blunt, I don't want to fuck it up.

And that means focus, and a later return date than I'd hoped for.

I'm still working out when I can, especially practicing hip movement and killing my abs with bicycles and leg lifts. And a dressed-no-shoes weigh-in of 163.9 this morning was very good to see considering what tends to happen to guys when they leave the mat for any length of time ...

That's the news on that front. Life these days is an interesting combination of patience and haste.