Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Super Saturday

A great day of intramural jiu jitsu at the GB Seattle Academy Saturday morning and afternoon was followed by a fun night of mixed martial arts - including stoppage victories by both Wanderlei Silva and BJ Penn.
Wanderlei Silva
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B.J. Penn
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I'm not a huge Wanderlei fan. But the guy fights for the finish and has been part of some classic fights. He also lost three in a row - including back to back losses by knockout to Dan Henderson (whom Silva had defeated) and Mirko Cro Cop. A fourth loss in a row would have been devastating for "The Axe Murderer."

BJ Penn's victory is another story. Nothing against Sean Sherk, but I haven't wanted to see BJ win a fight nearly as bad as I wanted to see him finish Sean Sherk. Penn was a total assasin: methodical, accurate, deadly.

The intramurals Saturday morning and afternoon were the perfect prelude to the UFC event. Even though work intruded (again) both before the tournament and during the UFC (actually during the damn Penn/Sherk fight!!!), it was still a great day. It was actually a little sad because there would have been a perfect spot for me in the 160 and under bracket competing against Bryan, Sauleh and this guy Dominick, who I didn't recognize. Jason "Garcia" competed instead, in both the under 150 and under 160 divisions. He's one tough guy.

Still plotting my return for June 9th. I'm going to be switching back to night training because now that I have one of those classic "promotions without raise", it's just that much harder to do the afternoon training.

The good thing is that I can still use the fact that I'm working from home to get in some good supplemental resistance and cardio work. Today was Berardi complexes for a warm-up and then a six exercise "Pull" routine. All was pretty good except for the flyes and one-arm pullovers, which were murder on my right labrium. I'll track that over the next few weeks and see where we end up.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Riches

My current training anthem, courtesy of Jane's Addiction.

"So let's talk 'bout our plan- you can count is gonna work
Carry on feel immortal- at the risk of getting hurt
I'm praying that it rains- so some day we'll be sowin'
Living through a little pain- no complainin' as were trainin' for the riches ..."

At least the first four minutes, perfect for a Tabata round ...

I'm two week out from my planned return to the mat on June 9th. Work has been really kicking my ass over the past several days and I can't help but wonder if this injury is at least a little karmic. I love my job like I've not loved any job before in almost every respect. But things are a little chaotic and it's my unfortunate tendency to want to find some sort of order whereever I go. So it's been crazy time.

My side delt is really still sore, much sorer than it should be. I can do lateral raises though, which seems weird given how much that muscle aches sometimes. The biggest difficulty are pushups, though I'm able to do light one-arm bench presses. That's the real, original injury, the labrium or cartilage that makes a socket out of an otherwise flat arm/shoulder connection.

I'm taking the time to work on hip and hamstring flexibility more than anything. I haven't kept up with my cardio like I should (two sessions last week - LSD9 and Man Makers; one LSD9 session on Monday of this week). But I'm not especially worried because I've done a great job of keeping my weight down. Right now, without shoes, I'm walking around at about 159 - and that's hardly doing any training (I also did a little resistance work on Monday and Wednesday of this week, Pull and Legs).

So we'll see what happens. I'm hoping that work settles down a bit over the next few weeks as I get closer to getting back on the mat. Like I said, there's a better than even chance that I'll compete in July - if only to "wet my beak" in the right weight class as a blue belt.

Back to the karma ... I had such a tremendous time training for that stretch of six weeks from about the second half of March through the end of April. I was on the mat 21 times in six weeks (with one week to go before the Submission Wrestling League event!), which is a solid pace of 3 1/2 trainings a week. I can still remember sitting at my desk on Friday afternoon in early April, my body still shaking after the first time I ever trained for five days in a row. I felt totally dialed in, totally consumed. It was almost a religious experience.

I want it back. The rain. The pain. The riches.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gracie Barra Seattle Takes Team Title at Seattle Subleage Event

I thought that we had won the team title at the Submission Wrestling League event back on May 3rd. Now it's official.

GB Seattle got a total of 71 points. The next best team was Marcelo Alonso BJJ, which earned 65 points. Coming in third was New Breed with 46.

We tied Marcelo Alonso in submission points. But we overwhelmed them with first place points, 21-9. And if I'm reading it right, we did it with fewer competitors (we only got 10 "athlete points" compared to their 16).

Interestingly, New Breed got as many first place points as we did. But we got far more submission points (40-14).

No wonder I had such a great time!

OTM Interviews B.J. Penn

On the Mat were among the first to get behind the budding jiu jitsu career of B.J. Penn. So it is especially interesting to hear their
interview with "The Prodigy"
on the eve of what is probably the most important fight ever against Sean Sherk on May 24th.

Roger v. Margarida

Roger Gracie versus Fernando "Margarida" Pontes - Mundials 2007

Monday, May 12, 2008

500 Posts

What a long strange trip it's been--and continues to be ...

I'm back from the doctor. Essentially, I got the best news possible: some damage to my labrium, which is the padding of cartilege that turns your shoulder connection into an actual shoulder "socket". But no tears, nothing broken, no surgery or even physical therapy required.

Dr. Shapiro did recommend that I take another four weeks off the mat, which means that if all goes well I should be able to start training again on Monday, June 9th. All told, that means this injury will have cost me six weeks of training, which is about what I thought might happen (I think I predicted 4-6 weeks if it lasted more than a week ...)

So that's not the worst thing in the world. Shapiro also said that it was okay for me workout--just be careful and let the pain be my guide. The problem with rolling right now--other than the pain--is that you just can't anticipate which direction your arm might get bent. Better to wait and let things heal as much as possible.

Knowing all that, I can at least start putting together a workout/rehab program for the next four weeks: heavy on the cardio and single arm work. I've done a great job of keeping my weight down so far. Hopefully, I can keep that up (or even do better).

Should I compete on July 12th? Probably not. I will have been out for six weeks and then back on the mat for four weeks leading into the Revolution event. It all depends on how quickly I heal. If I feel 75% or better when I start back on June 9, then there's actually a halfway decent shot that I'll drop down to the 154.9ers and give the featherweight division a go.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crossfit: Man Makers

I've got a theory about how conditioning for jiu jitsu is somewhat different from conditioning for grappling sports like wrestling or submission wrestling. The long and short of it that while strength and speed are factors in no gi competition, the presence of the gi significantly limits the effects of those attributes.

A lot of the strength in gi competition is isometric or endurance based: holding a particular grip on the lapel, for example, or working from a pin to a more dominant position. It is a different type of strength in holding down gi grips compared to the holds required in no gi competition, where no grip is likely to last for very long, at all.

I say all that to say this: I'm a born-again convert to the Crossfit approach to training. With the gi, you don't have to be stronger than your opponent--but you do need the muscular endurance and isometric strength to get and keep the grips that will help you lock your opponent's body and set them up for the submission.

I had been thinking again that I need to increase my raw strength--partly, I recognize, as a result of my shoulder injury. And there's still something to be said for that. Still, I'm convinced again that in the long run, a Crossfit-like approach--heavy on circuits, full body movements and Tabatas--is the way to go.

That said: here's the Crossfit workout (modified) I've incorporated into my conditioning so far. I did it on Saturday with lighter weights to make sure I didn't make my shoulder worse.

Man Makers

400m warmup (3 incline 3.9 mph)

One arm DB swings: 25 / 25
400m 6 incline 4.2 mph
One arm DB swings: 20 / 20
400m 7 incline 4.2 mph
One arm DB swings: 15 / 15
400m 8 incline 4.2 mph
One arm DB swings: 10 / 10
400m 9 incline 4.2 mph

400m Cool Down 9 (3 incline 3.6 mph)

I'll include Man Makers as one of the three conditioning workouts I'll do each week, along with the LSD session and, when my shoulder is better, the 3T.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Here's the "review" I posted at Jiu Jitsu Gear Forum.

Redbelt = Two Stripe Purple
Mamet is a playwright and his best movies have been when they take the play directly to film (i.e., Glen Garry Glen Ross). He has always been bad at plotting, so it wasn't any surprise to find a few WTF moments where there seemed to be a part of the story that was missing.

That said, a good "film" if you know what I mean. Typical Mamet cynicism and double-crossing that was pretty well-done. And if you are a fan of his stuff then you'll enjoy a lot of the dialogue. More of a "samurai" movie than anything else--which Mamet has acknowledged was his intention. A lot of interesting character types that were worth watching (Tim Roth, Mantegna, the loanshark and the lead--Ejiofor ...)
And here are some professional reviews:

Mamet’s martial-arts flick Redbelt superb
From Nova Scotia! (I love the internets ...)

'Redbelt' master
From the Boston Globe

'Redbelt' a solid Mamet meditation on ideals, betrayal, marraige, martial arts
From the San Jose Mercury News

I'm very glad that Redbelt is getting positive reviews. It's not the greatest film in the world, and it's not Mamet's best film (that would be this one).

But when so much of martial arts is getting sucked up into the vortex of mixed martial arts, it is nice to see what is really a bushido-based, martial arts movie--far more interested, as Ojiofor puts it, in "prevailing" than in knockouts and "ground and pound."

Will MMA fans like it? I'd say that the likelihood of liking "Redbelt" correlates with the amount of time they spend in the gi. I can't imagine anyone who started training jiu jitsu after seeing Royce Gracie in the early UFCs not enjoying the film, nor anyone who has ever toiled and sweated (and elbow escaped and guard passed) in a little run-down academy like the one in the film. But if another version of "Never Back Down" is what you are looking for, then "Redbelt" is likely to disappoint.

A good movie and a good time. I've always had a soft spot for Mamet and as for jiu jitsu, well, it's the next best thing to believing in God as far as I'm concerned. That makes "Redbelt" a thumbs up, easily, for me.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Kron Earns the Black Belt

This thread title is a little tongue-in-cheek because plenty of people watching Kron Gracie compete over the past several months have expressed their conviction that Rickson Gracie's son and star pupil had long ago "earned" his black belt after making some of the most impressive tournament runs by a non-black belt ever.

Kron at Mundials
Here's a message board thread discussing Kron's incredible performance at the Mundials in 2007.

Kron at Gracie Nationals
And here's a message board thread discussing Kron's achievements at the Gracie Nationals.

Kron at Rickson Cup
Here's a thread about Kron's most recent performance at the Rickson Cup in Japan.

Kron as Purple belt
One of my favorite Kron threads. Purple belt here. Five fights. Five submissions. All in less than three minutes.

Kron Has Arrived
And here's the announcement from Rickson Gracie himself to the editors of Gracie Magazine:

"The time has come for the rookie to start representing my Jiu-Jitsu in the major league, let’s see what comes of it."

It has been great to see Kron's progress. I remember seeing him compete in the Pan Ams in 2005 as a purple belt. Kron put a choke on a guy that was so tight I thought he had decapitated him. Then there was the controversial match against Bill Cooper, a great American jiu jitsu guy. It is going to be a lot of fun watching him as he begins his black belt career.

Parabens Kron!

Monday, May 05, 2008

GB Seattle + SubLeague = Unbelievable

That's the only way to describe the performance of our team at the Submission Wrestling League Seattle Qualifiers this past Saturday. Totally unbelievable.

I had thought that only a few of our guys were competing. And while it wasn't an overwhelming turnout for our guys, the performances spoke for themselves: Pat winning five out of five matches in his division, all by submission. Connor cleaning out his division, winning I can't remember how many fights--again, all by submission. Chris Serna in the advanced light middle weights(I think). Todd winning beginner welterweights. Shawn Wilson in the advanced lightweights. Stephen with the advanced welterweights. Win after win after win. Submission after submission after submission. It was really something incredible to see.

A lot of teammate support, which was always great. Angela was there taking video, so hopefully there will be some competition footage up at the website soon.

A very good event. I'm starting to believe that all no gi competition should be submission only. I got there pretty early and stayed until more or less the last fight. A nice way to spend a Saturday. Huge congratulations to everyone who competed.

One personal observation: if I'm able to compete in the next event, it will certainly be at advanced featherweight. 149 and under leaves a lot of room, and there were plenty of guys who looked like they were 135 at best. But the alternative is the lightweight division (150-169) where guys like Shawn compete. And that's all I need to know.