Thursday, October 30, 2008

The 5 Black Belt Learning Strategies

I subscribed to the Gracie Insider newsletter several days ago after reading this interesting article that helps jiu jitsu students "learn how to learn" jiu jitsu.

The 5 Black Belt Learning Strategies

I've come up with a few of my own over the few years that I've been training, and some of the one presented here by the instructors at the Gracie Academy are similar to ideas I've come across before.

But it is always worthwhile to see even familiar ideas rephrased, reworded and re-explained. And, of course, the ideas in the Gracie Academy's 5 Black Belt Learning Strategies that aren't so familiar are all the more worth reading, learning and implementing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Return of the Son of Here's to Health!

Me and my week with the virus ...

Substitute futon, humidifier and keyboard for bathtub, rifle and best friend.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here's to Health!

Not the best of times on the health front. After a great training day on Saturday, I started feeling a little creaky on Sunday. By Sunday night, while I was working on my articles for the Daily Planet, I was losing it: congestion, headaches, chills, sore throat ... The same fare I was dealing with two weeks ago.

I worked as much as I could today, though I'm still falling behind with a few projects (editing a 20-page interview transcript, an article for Futures magazine, a new series on trading exchange-traded funds ...). But I spent the majority of the day sleeping - first on the futon then crashing in bed once my last piece of daily delivery was turned in for the day.

So I missed Monday night's training - my favorite night of the week to train - and am not sure if I'll be on the mat Tuesday night. With the tournament coming up in two weeks time, I could use all the training I can get - even if I've decided that the November event will have to be a work-through tournament.

Regardless, I need to get and stay healthy. I can't tell if I've just relapsed back into the cold I had two weeks ago or if, in my I am Legend-like existence working from home, I was re-infected with a new cold virus sometime late last week. And between the tasks piling up at work and the urgency of tightening up my game for the tournament, there's not a lot of room for what I feel I need most: rest.

We'll see what happens. I had a great time rolling on Saturday. I finally got to try out the north-south choke that Jeff Monson, Marcelo Garcia and Rani Yahya have been popularizing and got two submissions with it. I'm really thinking that north-south will be my finishing position - armlocks, kimuras and, now, this north south choke that is just starting to work.

But it is hard to stay motivated when you just feel like curling up on the futon and burying yourself under every blanket you can get your hands on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Burien Top Team, Welterweight

Training for Revolution 11 08 08 has not gone as planned.

I got sick last week, the week of the 1sth through the 18th. I knew the week might prove tricky, with Rebecca's mom and dad coming to town. But if I hadn't gotten sick I'm sure I would have been able to get on the mat at least twice that week. As things turned out, I didn't make it to the Academy once.

That's set me back in a number of ways - most directly on my monthly training count. I'd set an unofficial goal of training 15 times a month - a mark I reached in September with the help of the two-day Marcelo Garcia seminar and the GB Seattle "Friendly" near the end of the month.

Controlling for those three events, I still should be able to train at least 12 times a month. So far, in October, I'm up to five sessions - three in the last week including today. That means if I can train four times next week, I can get it up to nine - which isn't horrible considering the missed week cost me at least two sessions, if not three.

One piece of good news. Rodrigo asked me to compete at welterweight - 155.9 - 169.9. I've not had a lot of success at welterweight - I'm 0-3, to be honest about it. But given the way the weigh-in's will work out this time around - we'll be weighing in day-of-event - I'm grateful for not having to worry so much about my pounds and kilos.

I probably should have made this decision sooner. Right now, Rodrigo is looking to have Sauleh and Bryan compete at LW, with myself and a GB Ballard guy named Dominick compete at WW. There aren't a lot of physical adjustments I can - or should try - to make in order to compete at WW. I've got a much better sense of my game since I last competed at WW back in February. I'll treat this competition as a play-through tournament - something I had increasingly thought about doing anyway given my poor preparation - and look to the summer or fall Revolution event in 2009 to really go for the gold.

The midway point as a WW is 162.5. I'll no doubt be the smallest guy in the division (I weighed in at 158.4 after training today). If I can become a cut 162.5, then I might be pretty happy about competing against guys I suspect will be cutting from 175. That will require some pretty quality calories, more iron and less treadmill. But I felt weak as hell when I last competed under 154.9 (I weighed in at 152.1 or so the day before). Not having to worry about my weight, assuming I behave myself by eating right and training consistently, will be a nice turn of events going forward.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Revolution 11 8 08

The event has been announced. And all I can think of are the day-of weigh-ins.

Technically speaking, the Revolution event has night before weigh-ins. The problem is that those weigh-ins will be held at the tournament location, Bonney Lake, Washington. And while Bonney Lake is beautiful northwest country and a very nice drive, I have no intention of cruising down to Bonney Lake Friday night before the tournament to weigh-in. So I'll have to do it at the event.

As will the vast majority of Seattle-area competitors.

What's all the more problematic is the fact that the lightweight limit for Revolution events is four pounds lighter than usual at 154.9. This iwasn't been a big deal in the past, with night-before weigh-ins. But the idea of having to make 154.9 within hours of competing excites me very little.

Sure, the IBJJF does weigh-ins right before you go on the mat. But their lightweight limit is 167.5 with the gi. And I don't suspect many lightweights are competing in gis that weigh 13 pounds. After all, Howard Combat Kimonos' heaviest competition double gi jacket weighs four pounds.

The IBJJF's lightweight limit for no gi? 162 lbs. Grappler's Quest lightweight no-gi limit? 159.9.

Forewarned is forearmed, I suppose. And maybe there will be a Seattle-area location for night-before weigh-ins, after all. The good news is that I'm ahead of schedule in both my weight and my LSD conditioning - even as I've scaled back the day-to-day intensity of my workouts. I needed to be under 157.59 after Thursday's training and tipped the scales at 156.4.

That's almost half a pound lighter than I need to be in a week. My current cutting schedule has me weighing in at 154.53 after training the Thursday before the event.

We'll see what happens. I'll want to read up on some of my better research on day-of weigh-ins to get some refueling tips. Last time I tried to make 154.9, I ended up overshooting the night before and weighing in at 152.1 or something. I didn't have the energy I would have liked the following day, even though I managed to get the win.

So I'll have to do a better job this time. So far so good and my conditioning feels very good. I'm still needing to tighten up my guard passing, though I like the improvements to my guard that I've made by adding that "moth guard" sweep that Rodrigo showed us awhile back. More of this in a coming post.

Friday, October 10, 2008

100 Burpee Challenge

Hmmm ...

Courtesy of Petranek Fitness / CrossFit Los Angeles

How about a 100 Double Leg Challenge or a 100 Bicycles Challenge or a 100 Pushup Challenge or a 100 Squat Challenge ...?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Missing Link: Rear Mount?

One of the things I have really neglected in my half guard game is a take-the-back move. I'm thinking that my new emphasis on "rocking" from half guard and deep half guard to goad some motion out of the guy will help encourage me to make that move a more regular part of my attack from the half guard.

I've got a halfway decent rear naked choke, like my half guard pass, I feel as if I've "figured it out" a little bit. By that, all I mean is that I can remember all the ABCs of the move, that I can see a thru-line from the first thing I'm supposed to do all the way to the sweep/pass/submission I'm after.

But I can't work my RNC if I don't spend more time in rear mount. I don't want to give up on what is working for me right now from the mount - and I know that the sooner I build a knee on belly game the more mobile I'll be from on top. But between the RNC and the conversion armlock (the one Werdum finished Lindland with one of my favorite matches to watch of all time), I've actually got some weapons I feel comfortable deploying. It's just a matter of putting myself in the right position to use them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monday Night Training

Monday night was all sparring. Before the class started, Steve and I warmed up a little with some open guard before doing some guard/pass guard specific work. I was trying to focus on standing passes, but I was having a lot of discomfort in my right ankle every time I tried to plant or move.

It was a bad sign. A little later, rolling with a blue belt from Lake Stevens, I tweaked it pretty good. We'd been stuck in a stalemate. I was unable to get the leverage to sweep him from a pretty deep half guard, and he was working chokes and passes. I put a little too much force into an Old School sweep and, though I got the sweep, my ankle paid the price. For a few moments that pain was especially sharp.

But fortunately not too long lasting. As I've since realized, it is the twisting or sideways motion that really kills me. With my brace on, I was able to do 2.25 miles today on the treadmill with no problem. But too much force in the wrong direction is excrutiating.

Fortunately I was able to get in another three or four rolls that night: a couple of white belts and a roll with Lance, who I haven't sparred with in weeks if not months.

A few observations. I need to get some motion going in my half guard by rocking back and forth with my whole body. Too often, I find myself just "pressing" against the guy instead of trying to goad him into moving. That was really glaring in the stalemate against the guy from Lake Stevens, who had a really solid base.

It's been a weird week. I had planned to miss training Tuesday night, but thought I might make it up tonight. That didn't happen unfortunately. I'm hoping to get my other two days in Thursday and Friday - and might even be able to steal Saturday since Rebecca's folks will be in town next week. But if I can get Thursday and Friday, I'll be pretty happy - all things considered.

Conditioning-wise, I'm alright. Berardi/3T on Monday, took Tuesday off, LSD9 today ... I'll probably do Berardi/3T tomorrow and LSD9 on Saturday - assuming I don't train. I've got plenty of time to max my conditioning up to where I want it. But I want to stay focused on it. Rodrigo made the point that the November tournament is likely to have a lot of competitors this time around, so we might have 3-4 fights.

I don't think I've ever had more than two fights at a tournament, so the prospect of 3-4 matches is a little daunting. That said, my problem in competing has always been my first fight. So maybe come match 3 or 4, I'll actually start to be worth watching.

The sudden rash of injuries - the ankle and the finger - have rattled me a little bit and kept me from training the way I'd've like to over the past week or so. I need to make the most of October - not just getting in at least 15 training sessions this month, but in focusing in on what I'm going to need to do well in November.

I've broken it down into three main areas to focus on: (1) passing the guard, (2) finishing from the top, (3) bringing my right side half guard game up to the same level as my left side. And that's truly in order of priority. If I do nothing more than develop a "go to" guard pass - the same way I've developed a half guard passing game that is working very well for me - I'll be in much better shape to place at the competition in November.

More on all that later. I weighed in at 161.4 or so after class on Monday, which is a good Monday night weight five weeks out. I'll start to tighten up the diet next week on Monday so that I can have a much less traumatic cutting experience during the final two weeks before the event.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Post Compete Week Training: Monday/Tuesday

I managed to get on the mat Monday and Tuesday nights this week. It's been an off week in some respects, with my ankle still giving me problems and a few sore knuckles on the hand on the same side that have made it difficult to write and type. I'd hoped to train Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday since I was going to be busy Thursday night. But I felt a little too beat up Wednesday night to roll in and, as a result, ended up with only two days of training this past week.

Monday night was some good work, starting from standing. My footing was a little ginger, I worked mostly uchi matas to avoid having to change levels dramatically. Uchi matas, arm drags and a few feeble duck unders. From there we did some open guard rolling, movement and position stuff for the most part, and I focused pretty much on Rodrigo's heel 'n' hook open guard.

During some specific work, I felt a little bit off my game. Specifically, my good side half guard was coming up short. I was having a hard time getting control of both the legs after getting in deep. Now I figure that the problem was that I was still too much on my back and not enough on my side, which would have allowed me to reach farther around with my underhook/outside arm to better secure the lower legs.

Tuesday night we worked some techniques from closed guard: triangle to omoplatas mostly off the Rap Star. The specific lockflow was, from Rap Star, choke, triangle when he defends with the opposite hand, then omoplata when he tries to pass by coming around the side. Rodrigo emphasized escaping your hips to the outside after you secure the arm in the omoplata. That way you put more pressure on the shoulder and inhibit the roll/jump over escape.

Some good training. I rolled forever with Steve Monday night and Mike Tuesday night. My stuff sweep out of half guard is definitely something I want to keep working on since I'm having some success there. And I need to make sure that I'm bringing my right side half guard up to speed on the basics. Another half guard note is to make sure that I turn on my side even - if not especially - when I'm deep in half guard. That is what will allow me to get the leg lock I need to work the Old School/Twist Back double attack.