Monday, June 30, 2008

A Little Love from Lloyd

"David I just want to see if you thought about what I was talking about the other day. I know it seems simple but the fact of the matter is that is IS that simple. So simple that it affects thousands of people.

"I just wanted to write you real quick about something I think will help you.

"Later down the road I am going to talk about positive self talk in more detail. It is a VERY powerful tool, that the top athletes around the world use.

"If you are not familiar with it I will give you a quick example. No matter what the situation, No matter how bad it seems. You must talk to yourself and tell your self why it is not that bad and how you will fix it.

"Here is an example I use, even now. Anytime I get into a bad situation during training I say to myself

"I am one of the best in the world from this position,
I will be out of here soon.

"I am one of the best in the world from this position,
I will be out of here soon.

"I am one of the best in the world from this position,
I will be out of here soon."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two Weeks Until Revolution 7 12 08

In the six week leading up to the Revolution event in February, I managed to train 12 times.

I didn't have a great showing in my blue belt debut. I ended up competing one weight division above where I should have. I tapped to a choke late in my first match and spent all of my second match fighting off a similar attack from the back.

A realistic minimum, in my opinion, is three times a week. Four, if you are really serious about The Riches. But three, at least.

That means 18 classes in the six weeks leading up to competition. Fifteen in the final 30 days.

So far, in the six weeks leading up to the Revolution event in July, I've notched 5 classes. Admittedly, I didn't start back on the mat until a week in to that six-week period. But even if you spot me two classes in Week One (June 1 - 7), I'm still at a sub-12 times a week pace.

My goal is to get on the mat three times next week and three times the week of the tournament. If I can do that, then at least I'll beat my pre-February event pace of 12 classes by one - which will show some improvement.

This week is going to be nasty because it is a holiday-shortened week and work will weigh all the heavier for it. But I've got to start getting my three times a week in.

Admittedly, my shoulder is still a problem, and aches pretty good after training. But between the cryogel and the Ibuprofen, I think I can keep things under control. The big trick is to get more rest - the current 5-6 hours a night is just not enough if I want to improve my physical and mental capacity. Having to get up at 4:30 a.m., the best I think I can do is hit the sack by 9:30 the night before. Right now, I'm grateful to get to sleep by 10:30 - 11 p.m. I've got to work on that.

The smartest thing would be to target Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights for training since they are all gi, and see what other times I can add in (i.e., Independence Day weekend open mats on Friday and Sunday).

We'll see. I slacked off in the week leading up to the GB Seattle Intramurals and probably was not as primed physically as I should have been. I don't need to kill myself with conditioning over the next two weeks. Staying loose and feeling light and sharp are more important right now than trying to get stronger or, worse, pounding out miles on the treadmill. Berardis, Man Makers and 3Ts should be the basis of my off-mat conditioning.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gracie Barra Seattle Intramurals 2

Entirely too many thoughts going through my head tonight after the Gracie Barra Seattle Intramurals 2 event this morning. But for now I'm going to celebrate my first submission win in competition with this post from last October which would have been nice for me to remember during my first match - before my little historic achievement.

About that Triangle

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Kind of Jiu Jitsu Are You?

Strikers, particularly boxers, are often characterized as coming from one of three distinct style types: the boxer, the swarmer and the slugger.

The classic boxer was, obviously enough, Muhammad Ali. The swarmer? Smokin' Joe Frazier. And the slugger? The trio wouldn't be complete without George Foreman.

The boxer is the master technician. The swarmer is all action. The slugger is strong, relentless and heavy-handed.

The theory goes that boxers tend to be able to pick apart typically slower sluggers (think Ali versus Foreman). But the patience of boxers makes them vulnerable to the constant onslaught of a swarmer (think of the trouble Frazier gave Ali in all three of their fights - to say nothing of the won Frazier won). And tendency of the swarmer to think offense first and defense second often costs them against sluggers, who only need one good shot to end the fight (think Foreman's lopsided beatdown of Frazier).

I've always thought that there were analogues in jiu jitsu. I consider a fighter like Roger Gracie to be the quintessential "boxer" type: master technician, rarely if ever relying on athleticism to pull out a win or to overwhelm an opponent. And while it might be controversial to say so, I consider Marcelo Garcia to be the best "swarmer" in jiu jitsu. While Garcia is obviously a very technical fighter, what distinguishes him is really the relentlessness of his attack. My favorite quote from Marcelo Garcia really sums up what is unique about his approach: "The more you attack, the more your opponent will make mistakes. The more you attack, the more he will have to defend. You shouldn't be defending all the time. Anytime you defend you are losing the fight. Losing time to attack."

As far as sluggers are concerned, I'm inclined to put Jacare in that category - though Jacare is probably closer to what boxers call a boxer-puncher hybrid (think Joe Louis). The best examples of real jiu jitsu "sluggers" are really guys like Margarida and Pe de Pano, fighters who are known for their smash and pressure games, rather than their speed or technical complexity - not that they can't be very technical fighters.

But what you remember from fighting a Margarida or Pe de Pano fight is the sensation of constant pressure. If the technician makes you feel as if you are being slashed with a sword and a swarmer type makes you feel as if you are being clubbed with bowling pins, the slugger type of jiu jitsu fighter makes you feel as if you are being crushed or buried alive.

I've come to realize that I'm pretty much a slugger when it comes to jiu jitsu. I'm not especially slow. But my game is all about position and pressure. Most of my submissions don't come as a surprise, but from the inevitability of finally reducing my opponent's options to the point where giving me the angle for the arm or the neck are the only options. I have a few things. And I focus on trying to do them with, to steal Helio's line about Rickson, "impeccable timing." And if I catch one of those few things, the rest tends to go my way.

What kind of jiu jitsu are you?

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Submission of the Night"

Great wins last Saturday night from Diego Sanchez with his southpaw stance and Cro Cop-like head kick and Kendall Grove, who earned a must-win battle against Evan Tanner.

And nice work from the new Ultimate Fighter, Amir Sadollah, who armlocked his opponent - the bigger, stronger wrestler, C.B. Dolloway - from the guard after having already defeated him once before during the show - with an armlock from the guard.

But there can be only one submission of the night, and that belonged to Team Gurgel fighter, Dustin Hazelett, who submitted the very tough wrestler Josh Burkman.

I don't know how long the fight will be posted for free at, but a thousand thanks to Zuffa for making this great submission victory available for free.

And you've got to love Hazelett's quote afterward:
You know, after you drill, like, an armbar so many times, you start hitting it before you realize there's an opportunity.
A lesson for us all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An Interview with the Sleeper

Here's a link to a very interesting, informative interview with Gracie Barra black belt and MMA fighter, Cindy "Sleeper" Hales. Courtesy of the good folks at On the Mat.

Interview with Cindy “Sleeper” Hales

A lot of interesting things. You can definitely see the wrestling start to emerge even more in Cindy's grappling (she's teaching the no-gi class Thursday nights at Gracie Barra Seattle). Last night, she showed us a very nice "duck under" like move off the basic no-gi tie up that I am definitely going to make a staple of my stand up: gi or no gi.

I've always loved the duck-under, but too often the technique seems to have called for too much level-changing. Cindy's version emphasizes neck control and changing the grip to the inside of the guy's upper arm rather than the outside as in the usual tie up, which I think make it possible to do the duck-under with a shorter, quicker level change. Pull that neck like you are doing an armdrag and the results are impressive.

What's also nice about the interview is that it ties together the women's MMA world a bit, putting Cindy in context with some of the other women in the sport - from Megumi (who Cindy has competed against) to La Rosa to Carano. I can only see more opportunities opening up for women's MMA and increasingly it looks Cindy will be a big part of it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Takedown Drills and Technique from the California Kid

Double - High Crotch - Double - Single ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pushin' Forward Back

It's always difficult to separate the good from the bad after a night of training or, more to the point, to reassign your mind to what succeeded and to forgive - if not forget - what failed.

Basic class focused on moving from side control to mount, and then returning to side control on the other side. Essential stuff from the top. Shoulder of justice. Always a knee or an arm blocking the hip. Keep the knee stuffed until you completely pass the leg over the top.

And the truth of the matter is that I was able to put that side control practice to immediate good use in sparring later that evening. Not only that, but the techniques that Rodrigo was showing last week from knee on belly, the methods for passing the arm that often is extended from the bottom to block the hip that involved a quick 180 degree hip switch, also came into play, helping me maintain side control and eventually take and keep mount.

So the problem is what exactly?

My shoulder was killing me after training. Not quite a sense of re-injuring it, but more ache than I felt after training last week. I was trying to protect it, but I don't want to use it as an excuse when training so I try not to let on and instead work around it (though I'm quick to tap if I get caught in a shoulder lock, as I was tonight).

Three ibuprofen and the usual "reality prophylactics" later, it feels a lot better, more like the ache of a week ago. A good sign.

A couple of thoughts for next time: let's work the toreano passes. I was struggling to get out of a spider guard and I need to slow down and work the passes Rodrigo showed us (i.e., the shoulder) or the toreanos from Jean Jacques.

Also let's work on finishes from the mount. I think ultimately the double attack will be the one that will work. But I need to have a credible collar choke/armlock move from the mount, as well. What top guy worth his or her feijoada doesn't have THAT? It would be like having a great closed guard, but a mediocre triangle choke.

Did a new workout I'm calling a "Burn Session" today. Basically, I got on the scale and was nearly 165 and freaked out. So I jumped on the treadmill and 46 minutes and 55 second later, had burned off about as much as I was going to burn. Very LSD workout that I capped off with some Arnolds and uprights. I like my conditioning these days. I'm making gains.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Basic

My rehab/training schedule for the next four weeks leading up to the Revolution event on July 12.

AM: Man Makers (Push)


AM: Man Makers (Pull)

PM: BJJ/No gi


One thing is for sure, the time I spent keeping my conditioning on track has really paid off. I've got more energy when training than I've ever had, which I think is a combination of being a few pounds lighter as well as being in generally good shape. Certain things I noticed, like squats being no problem and having more flexibility than I did before the injury, tell me that the six weeks spent on the sidelines were in some ways almost worth it.

There are a few issues. I've got to make sure I get my nightly pre-work prep done before I go out to train in the evenings. I'd like to squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep each night, getting at least six and a half hours. And if I can get all of my prep work done before I head out at 5:15 p.m., that 30 extra minutes will be that much easier to come by.

I'm also thinking that I might be able to sneak in a day class on Wednesday from time to time - even if it's just to roll a little bit. I think twice a week is good while I spend the next 4-6 weeks getting back into the swing of things. But to make the gains I want to make, training three times a week is almost a requirement.

Fortunately, to this end, Rodrigo is adding a few classes, including an open mat on Friday evenings at the Seattle location. And there's always the Sunday session that Jesse leads, with the open mat from 11-12 noon. Given my Tue/Thu training schedule, a Sunday session would actually fit very well ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back on Track

Finally made it back on the mat last night. Overall, my performance wasn't horrendous. My cardio was very good - thanks to the conditioning I've been doing and the weight I've been losing. Technique-wise, I was a little rough. I had a hard time remembering the initial technique Rodrigo tried to show us. On that score, though, I wasn't alone. Rodrigo ended up abandoning it and switching to something simpler when too many of us kept messing it up.

I'm going to make a point out of asking Rodrigo to show me that technique again. The trick with these moves is, if you can't remember everything, to remember the first three things that you are supposed to do. If you get stuck later, you can either ask for help or try and figure it out on your own. But I think there is a tendency to focus on the end result of the technique as it is being shown ("Ah, what a cool choke!" "Wow, that move turned into a great sweep!") If the technique is complicated, though, you can find yourself completely lost trying to remember the first, less-easy-to-understand-why, moves.

So that's my theory on learning jiu jitsu. We'll see how that works.

The move we did learn was a nice counter when you have knee on belly and your opponent tries to push against the hip of the standing leg.

What you want to do is switch your hips so that you are parallel to him and facing his legs, watchdog style. You use the knee of the standing leg to knock the arm away AND pin it to the mat. The knee that was on the belly comes back behind you - again you are almost parallel facing his legs in a stance that might look like a track runner in the block.

What you will do from here is replace the knee on belly. You do this by switching your hips back so that you are facing the front. You want to come in from an angle - your knee might land a litle higher on his body than normal for knee on belly. But that angle is what is important to make sure you keep the arm trapped. This is also why you want to bring that other leg back behind you: it makes it easier to bring that leg in high and down his body to replace the knee on belly.

With regard to my sparring, I was technically a little off. I wasn't as effective in the half guard as I would have liked and got stuck in a few sweeps. At least the instincts were on target. Got to roll with Andrew (brown belt) and Rodrigo - in addition to a pair of white belts for probably a total of 25-30 minutes worth of sparring.

The bad thing, though, were the cramps. They didn't kick in during the drills. But it wasn't long after we started sparring that my hamstrings and calves just started seizing up. I was able to spar, but every time I would flex my legs, they would cramp and I'd have to stick them straight out until the cramping subsided on their own.

I could have stopped - and have in the past. But I was curious to see how well I could "prevail" as they say in Red Belt - or at least survive. It was an interesting experiment - though not one I want to repeat with any frequency. I found a Berardi article on hydration and saw that he recommended four liters of fluid (non-caffeinated) on training days. I had trained earlier in the day, also, and know that I probably had a liter of fluid tops all day. That's not going to work.

One technical note that I think I've figured out. When guys sprawl to avoid being put in my half guard, I need to butterfly hook their trailing leg (usually their right leg) instead of chasing after it and stretching myself out. Even if I can't sweep them from there, I can probably prevent the pass.

Also, with the scissor sweep, remember to pull and then scissor the legs. You want to load his weight, not just try to "shove" it over.

Lastly, post-training weight? 158.4. A very nice Tuesday night number. With the gi, and before training, I think I was 168.4 or so - only half a pound over the IBJJF lightweight limit.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Complete Mundial 2008 Results

The results are in for the 2008 World Championships in Jiu Jitsu. The big winner is Xande Ribeiro, who won the absolute. And props to Ryan Hall, Lloyd Irvin phenom, for winning a world title at lightweight faixa roxa.

And huge congratulations to Valerie Worthington not just for winning her purple belt division and becoming a world champ, but also for getting awarded the brown belt right there on the podium after her win.

Kron had a tough day, losing his black belt debut by choke after falling behind on points. But he's a young guy who is only beginning to grow into the jiu jitsu he will have as an adult. It will be fun to watch him develop.

That said, it really shows the jump from brown belt to black belt at the world class level. Kron was submitting his fellow brown belts left and right. But in his first competitive match as a black belt, it was he who was submitted.

Fascinating stuff.

Here is some "special coverage" from the good folks at Gracie Magazine.

Here is a video that's making the rounds of a 16-year old purple belt, pena (featherweight), who really impressed with his movement and ability to finish.

And here are some highlights from the winning team, Brasa: purple, brown and black belt competitors.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gracie Barra Seattle Inter-School Invitational Tournament #2

The first one was a blast: Memorial Day weekend with three days off, the BJ Penn/Sean Sherk fight on the UFC later that night, and plenty of fun jiu jitsu competition in between. I'm pretty sure this one will be no less enjoyable.

And I'm thinking that this might be a better goal for me that the Revolution event in July two weeks later. At a minimum, it should be a good test of my shoulder - assuming I make it that far.

I'm scheduled to return to the mat on Monday. I'll take it slow, and I'll have to do a few things - like opening the closed guard - from the other direction so that I don't spend a lot of time with my right arm extended. Maybe this will make me have to use my legs more, which would do wonders for my guard.

In any event, these intramurals are looking like they'll be a great way to compete all summer long.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Worlds Begin Today

The IBJJF World Championships began today in Los Angeles.

Here's Graciemag's preview of the event.

And here's a preview put together by Budo Videos

Going into the tournament, there are a lot of great storylines. But at this point, THE story is Kron at middleweight, in his first competition as a black belt.
The category for some time has had the status of being the stage for great Jiu-Jitsu matches. One need only recall Terere and Nino, in 2000; Shaolin and Terere, in 2001; Marcelinho versus Andre Galvao, in 2006; just to name a few. Last year, Brasa dominated the category, with the final being shut our by Lucas Leite (who took the title) and Galvao. This year, renewal is complete. For what he has done in the brown belt division, and the way he's done it, Kron Gracie enters as the new favorite, in spite of it being his debut at black.
I'll post results as they come in. I'm not sure if we have any guys going down to L.A. or not. But as always it should be an incredible event.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Carlos Jr. Gets the Red and Black Belt

Carlos Gracie Jr receives red and black belt and promises new endeavors

I think my favorite quote of the day comes from, who else? Rickson Gracie:
"We, Gracies, have a much bigger mission than MMA. MMA was used to show the efficiency of Jiu-Jitsu, but our true role is to strengthen the good qualities of the human being, through Jiu-Jitsu."

Photos courtesy of Graciemag.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

WEC champ Miguel Torres' Choke Flow

Miguel Torres successfully defended his WEC bantamweight title for the first time on Sunday, part of the same card that saw Urijah Faber defend his featherweight title against former UFC lightweight champ, Jens Pulver.

Torres won the belt by submitting Chase Beebe, a tough wrestler who had previously dominated world-class jiu jitsu fighter Rani Yahya. Here in this clip, Torres reveals the lock flow (or "choke flow") that led to his success against Beebe.

Monday, June 02, 2008

How To Train Like Marcelo Garcia

"I remember the first time Iran showed me how to properly apply the triangle choke on an opponent in my guard. For the longest time I had been trying to lock in the choke using just my legs, and rarely did I have success due to the shortness of my limbs. But when Iran showed me how to move my hips in order to obtain the proper angle, it made all the difference.

From that moment out, I became obsessed with the triangle. I learned how to apply it from nearly every position, both from the top and bottom. For some time, I'm sure my training partners and opponents thought it was the only submission I knew. I was under the assumption that trying to master a whole bunch of techniques at once wouldn't get me very far. I figured a better approach would be to pick one technique and learn it inside and out."

--Marcelo Garcia, from THE X GUARD

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Six Weeks Out

It is officially six weeks until the Revolution event in July.

The Revolution

I'm officially supposed to hold off training for another week, until January 9th. But circumstances are such that I think I want to get back on the mat this week, even if I avoid sparring until the 9th.

My shoulder is feeling okay, still some tenderness in my deltoid and I can feel that the socket is not where I want it to be. Still, I think I've progressed enough to get back to some movement and some drills - maybe even some light sparring. We'll see what the week brings.

I'm ecstatic about my weight. I'm basically walking around at about 158-159. I'm pretty confident that regular jiu jitsu training will knock a few pounds off of that number, putting me somewhere around 153-154 regularly post-training. At least that's an initial goal. The idea is not to have to even think about cutting weight for the event in July. If I can regularly hit the scale at 153-154 after training, then I'm pretty confident the featherweight limit of 154.9 will be easy to make in a little over a month.

I've got a conditioning program set up, alternating power weeks with power endurance weeks over the next six weeks. I want to alternate that with 4x/week jiu jitsu and 3x/week jiu jitsu. Work will be work - and as always it will do its best to interfere. But I figure they can either pay me for the extra work they've put on my back over the past month and a half - or I can take it in trade by prioritizing my jiu jitsu. Given how unlikely the former is, we'll all just have to put up with the latter.

I mean I would never walk into my boss's office and say, you know, I'd like a 25% raise just because. I'm not going to do any additional work. I just want more money. Yet bosses have no problem expecting you to do additional work without additional compensation all the damn time.

The Hegelian in me insists that we are coming to the end of an era in which this sort of thing has been commonplace. But, as they say, that's another story for another day.

I'm 41 today, by the way, and feeling very much like the decisions I make over the next several years will pretty much be the last, most consequential ones that I'll make in this little go-around. And without beating a dead horse, I can't resist reminding myself that nobody was ever spotted on their death-bed wishing they'd put in more hours at the office.

But wishing they'd spent more hours on the tatame? Now that's a different matter altogether ...