Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monday and Tuesday Training

Managed to get on the mat twice during the holiday shortened week, Monday and Tuesday nights. I had hoped to sneak back to the Academy on Friday during the day, but the market volatility has really made it hard to look away from the screens for even a few hours.

We've continued to work on open guard sweeps this past week. The "one" variation, with the hook behind the leg, the "two" variation with the balloon sweep if he sprawls to avoid your leg control, and the "three" variation with the de la Riva hook.

This week, I think it was Tuesday, we added a wrinkle for when the opponent remains on the ground, as well as when he puts one knee up.

The variation with the knee up led us toward open guard variation "three" with the de la Riva hook. We started with a transition to moth guard as a way of dealing with a guy trying to elbow your closed guard open. The detail here was to turn on your side and really push off with your foot (right in my case) to create some distance before swinging your leg knee in and up into the moth guard.

It's a reminder to go really slow and deep when doing hip escapes, to train your body to respond accurately.

Let's say he puts his right knee up. And I've got the moth guard on. I want to grab his right ankle with my left hand and hook my left leg in a DLR hook on his up leg.

To get space to do this, I push off again with my off leg (right), the same way you do in the "three" open guard DLR variation and lift my hips up and over to that I get a good angle on the up leg.

Here's another key detail. To sweep, you lift up with the ankle and the DLR hook, pull on the sleeve with your off hand (right) and push out the opponent's down knee.

In order to have the leverage to pull this off, though, you have to sit up. You can't be on your back trying to push out the leg and pull on the sleeve and lift up on the DLR hook unless you can just overpower the guy and lift his body. By sitting up and the falling back into the sweep, you get the momentum you need to help move him forward and into the sweep.

Keep turning into the sweep until your DLR hook foot is planted on the mat. That's how you'll know that you have the control.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Conditioning and Jiu Jitsu

An observation from Joel Jamieson, who runs 8 Weeks Out, a mixed martial arts strength and conditioning website - when he's not training professional fighters like Spencer Fisher, Matt Brown and Jens Pulver ...

BJJ Conditioning versus MMA Conditioning<.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Year End Training: Week Three

I'm two weeks into my year-end training program. And more than a few things have changed.

For one, I'm abandoning the 8 Weeks Out muscular endurance program. Or, rather, I'm starting over using squats instead of pushups. My shoulder is taking plenty of abuse from training, and the pushups are really taking a toll.

As I think about it, the most important muscular endurance I need isn't in my pushing ability (which might be the case with an MMA athlete), but in my legs (with my pulling ability coming in second). Legs are what make it possible for me to shoot for a single leg in overtime, what make it possible for me to have confidence - and relentlessness - when passing the guard from standing, what makes an open guard attack that more powerful ...

So between those two revelations, I'm going to make the final six weeks of my Year End Training the full six weeks of the 8 Weeks Out muscular endurance program, only using squats instead of pushups (and doubling the volume).

I'm adding a 2x/week Pull program that I've been working on for weeks, and will add the LSD9 back into my conditioning routine once a week, as well as a Push progam. If I can get to the academy 3 or 4 times a week around this, then all will be more than well for the balance of the year and my goal of getting in 24 classes in the final eight weeks of the year. Six down. 18 to go.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Morning Training

All Straight Outta Tatame on Saturdays ... nothing but open mat rolling and both familiar and unfamiliar faces.

I got to roll with Jeff, one of the original guys from back around the time I started training in the fall of 2005. He's back from double knee surgery that had kept him sidelined for almost a year. I also got to train with Clint, who's got an increasingly dangerous kneebar attack that I've had to be on the lookout for.

That accounted for about 15-20 minutes of training and I was thinking that maybe I should call it a day when Rodrigo encouraged me to ask for another roll. It was the perfect solution insofar as I got to roll with Stephen for about 10-15 minutes. As I've said before, Stephen is one of my favorite "new" people to roll with, plenty of give and take, and I feel like I get chance to work all parts of my game.

A very nice Saturday. I would have liked to hang out a bit afterward and listen to some of the goings-on. But I was a little on the clock and had to scurry our around 1 p.m.

That said, I'd love to be able to train every other Saturday. That could help boost my weekly training average to 3.5 times a week and really help me accelerate toward what I'm hoping might be a purple belt at the end of 2009. I'm going to have to really work - and have a whole year that is as good as this past week as been. But that's my "goal" for the coming year: if not to actually earn the faixa roxa then to at least start feeling like it wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world for me to earn one come December 09.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Night Training

Gi and no gi tonight. In Rodrigo's gi class, we worked on the same open guard moves that we worked on Monday and Tuesday. Even though my back was killing me from being bent over, playing guard passer in the open guard drill, I really appreciated getting to work on a single set of techniques three times.

Of course, it's up to me to work on them on my own for another 297 times. And maybe this time I'll finally get that done. The key to specialization, of really having signature moves is to do them over and over again.

Tonight Rodrigo didn't have us do the "three" the de la Riva hook move. But we worked "one" and "two" quite a bit. Again, the difference maker will be whether or not I keep trying to work these open guards into my sparring sessions.

There are plenty of times when I face standing guard passers, more often than I think. I've got to just start getting double sleeve control, putting both feet in the hips and then working from there - especially when I get the opportunity to work with less experienced folks.

Rolled a little with Casey and was tossed around like a rag doll as usual. He's one of those guys like Andrew and Jesse that I just can't do anything with. I think I might have escaped a bad position into a scramble once rolling with Casey. That's about it.

Cindy's no gi was fun. We worked the duck-under, which has become my favorite no gi takedown/take-the-back of all time. We also worked on a front arm-in headlock from standing snapdown, and a take-the-back move from there. It's a good technique. I always forget how often I end up with an advantageous front headlock position. It's nice to have a way to turn that into something even more positive.

Two rolls no gi. Not my best tatame, but I stuck with half-guard and survived to get a few things done. I hadn't rolled no gi for about a month, and it did take a little getting used to.

About the shoulder. I'm quitting the Muscle Endurance program I started a few weeks ago. I just can't take the pushups and still be in halfway decent shape for jiu jitsu. There was actually a few hours late today when my shoulder felt normal. It must have been the first time in more than a week.

It's a little jacked up right now. But I'd rather have it sore after training and be able to train after a day or two off, than to have it sore after doing a conditioning routine and find myself less and less able to train at a decent rate and level.

I think I've figured my walk around weight to be between 164 and 162. With any activity at all, I stay under 165. I suspect that when I add regular cardio once or twice a week, that number will drop to 162-160, which is a good level to loiter.

My goal for this end of year eight weeks is to average 3x a week training, stay healthy, and tighten up what I know. At the same time, I want to introduce a few new elements from top (north-south choke) and a few new elements from the bottom (butterfly guard) as well. If I can get all that done by December's end, I'll call it a win.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm no Bobby Southworth hater. But I would love to see Babalu put on a "submission of the night" performance against him in their upcoming fight for Strikeforce.

If you're like me, then you probably don't watch enough Leo Viera. Here's a video posted at the Sherdog Grappling Forums awhile back of Leozinho sparring with what appear to be some students after a seminar.

Jiu jitsu Night at the UFC! The main attraction at last Saturday's event was the heavyweight title tilt between Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar. But the main "feature" of the night were awesome jiu jitsu performances by Dustin Hazlett (armlock from omoplata), Demian Maia (rear naked choke and aggressive half guard sweep), and KenFlo Kenny Florian (rear naked choke on "jiu jitsu black belt" Joe Stevenson.)

Asian Jiu Jitsu Championships are a week from this Saturday.

... And the 14th Grapplers Quest West Championships are in Las Vegas the weekend afterwards.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Night Training

Tonight's training was a beginner version of Monday's night's training. We worked the same open guard set-ups and sweeps. But instead of pulling guard, we just worked them as open guard attacks on a standing opponent.

I worked with DG, a welterweight sized blue belt I remember from some time in the past. A very good guy to train with. We developed a nice three-count for all the set-ups that made it a lot easier for me to remember the steps. One of the things that I still have a hard time with is remembering the basic 1-2-3 of different moves. Having a three-count, even if you need an extra "four", is one way to keep things in mind.

For example, "one", the open guard with the hook was:

Starting from double sleeve control and feet on hips.
1. Switch to cross sleeve grip
2. Kick off with the sleeve side foot in hip, opening up guard wide and cup the sleeve side ankle
3. Insert hook behind far side knee or ankle

To switch to the balloon sweep from here:

1. Remove cup and take sleeve side grip
2. Grab far side collar, remove hook and put far side foot on hip
3. Pull on sleeve and collar and bend legs to load, lift to sweep

And to switch to "three":

1. Switch to cross sleeve grip
2. Cup ankle, push off hip with legs to "sit" on his sleeve side foot
3. De la Riva hook with your sleeve side leg while pushing on the hip with your far side leg

We worked on these for awhile, back and forth, at faster and faster speeds. I never use these kind of leggy open guards. But they really seemed to feel not-so-bad tonight. The trick, of course, will be working them in to my training - which I've not ever really done consistently.

Some good tatame tonight. Rolled with "Garcia" for the first time in months, if ever. It will be nice to have him back training regularly. I also rolled with a newer white belt I didn't recognize and tried to work some moth guard and long half. It was a little sloppy. I really need to review my moth guard sweeps.

Feeling pretty good. My shoulder has a few aches, but probably feels better now than it did earlier in the day. I did do some resistance work, all pulling motions, and I think I benefitted from not supersetting the bent-over overhand rows and the bent-over underhand rows and the alt curls and hammer curls. I really think it was the hammer curls that did it this time.

The plan is to train Thursday night and Saturday morning. I weighed in at 163.4 after training, which is heavy, obviously. But I think I'm not going to worry about my weight during this "End of Year" 8-week training stretch. Nothing over 165 will be acceptable. But aside from that, I want to train, build up my shoulders a bit, eat normally and maybe mix in a little cardio once a week (when I'm not doing jiu jitsu four times a week).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Night Training

Monday nights are changing up a little bit. Rather than being a sort of organized open mat, Monday nights will now include a 30 minute drills session from 6-6:30 p.m., then sparring until 8 p.m.

Tonight we worked on pulling guard from standing. Rodrigo's emphasis was on having an attacking guard pull, that puts you a step or two ahead and allows you to stay there. He said this was preferable to a pulling guard attack that just ended up in closed guard.

To pull guard from standing, you get the collar and the sleeve (always the same side collar). You put your sleeve-side foot in the guy's up and sit down, turning your hips out as if you were exaggeratedly trying to insert a butterfly hook (which you will be).

You've pulled guard. Now to get into an attack position you want to take that extended leg and put in the butterfly hook on the near leg as you swivel back to square up. At the same time, you want to change grips. You want to grab the sleeve with a crossbody grip and use the sleeve side grip to cup the sleeve side ankle.

This was "one." Two was a conversion to a balloon sweep. You can go to the balloon sweep directly from the guard pull or after "one". Essentially with the balloon sweep, you bring the guy's weight on top of you, put a foot in each hip, bend your legs and then extend them. Be sure to maintain your grips as you backroll and be on the look out for an armlock as soon as you roll over into mount.

"Three" was a conversion from the guard pull or balloon sweep set-up to a de la Riva guard. I want to check on some details on the grips for the de la Riva guard - I can't remember if you have a two-on-one on the DLR side sleeve or if you are cupping the ankle on DLR side. The main point of emphasis, however, was in putting your feet in the hips and pushing off in order to move your hips up and over to the outside. You want to basically sit on his foot (which partially answers the gripping question above, I think).

Nice to do some drills, even though I was looking forward to just rolling. I can already feel that Rodrigo is getting us geared up for the various tournaments early next year. There will be Friendlies in January and February (third Saturdays of the month) leading up to the Revolution event in early March. So there will be more than enough prep time.

I had an okay evening. My shoulder is a problem, and is starting to feel like the leading candidate for my very own nagging 'n' never healing jiu jitsu injury. I'm rolling okay - mostly trying to avoid having to use my right arm in anything that is not technically required. The pain comes and goes, and was probably re-aggravated a few Mondays back when I got back on the mat after being out sick for a week. Then I think I tweaked it late last week when I was really working hard on some hammer curls.

Hopefully all that is true, which means that it isn't just lagging discomfort from the initial shoulder injury this spring. There are no good injuries. But I'll be glad when this one heals up, hopefully over the balance of the year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Night Training

Thursday night is turning into take-down/stand-up night, which is fine with me. Rodrigo had us do a counter to the collar grab that transitioned into a shoot and either a leg trip, a single leg or a double leg takedown.

The idea is that when he grabs your lapel - and we're assuming he grabs the right collar and doesn't make the mistake of reaching across his body - you want bring your elbow up in and tight and, while twisting inward, bring your elbow down sharply (and tightly) to break the grip.

As you come down with the elbow, you want to step deep to the outside of his leg with your outside leg and go to your inside knee, reaching up and wrapping the leg with your inside arm.

From there you can do a couple of takedowns. One in particular that Rodrigo had us do involved wrapping your outside leg around the leg you were attacking with your inside arm. Lean into the guy and bring that wrapped leg in tight for the takedown.

When Rodrigo was showing us the variations with Shawn, the brown belt from Alaska, he actually did a nice throw that I can't quite remember and will have to ask him to show again.

The sparring wasn't bad. I rolled with two white belts, both of whom had a little size. It's good to start working more with the bigger guys, especially if I'm going to compete at 155-169.9 in March. I had a good tough roll with Clint and was pretty much worn out for the night after that.

The north-south choke attack off the kimura from side control is starting to really feel natural. I definitely like moving to north-south to get away from those leggy guards. It really fits into the basic set of what I feel comfortable with from the top position, which probably explains why I'm having a good time integrating it into the mix.

On the downside, I had some great opportunities to work butterfly guard tonight and just forgot. This is the perfect time to develop my butterfly guard came, with the next tournament more than three months away (though there will be a Friendly in January and again in February). So I've got to do a bit better with that. The basic rocking sweep set-up that Rodrigo showed us Tuesday night is a good place to start.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back on the Mat

All day it felt as if I hadn't trained for months. But the closer I got to heading out: folding and packing my gi, filling up my Gatorate thermos, double-checking that I didn't forget my eye patch ... the more I felt among the familiar.

Home is home because it feels like home. That's how you know you're in the right place. Everything about the drive felt great. I put on Sugar's Beaster for old time's sake - though I'm sticking with the new route straight up 4th Avenue. My favorite Temple of the Dog cuts on the ride back ...

The coursework was the butterfly guard. We started with the basic butterfly sweep/lift rolling directly backwards. Rodrigo then added a hook sweep: first, by planting the sweep side arm and escaping to a knee as you maintain the hook for the sweep. Shoot the escaped knee underneath you as lean back, pull on the arm and lift with the hook.

The variation had us move to the sweep after the back roll without planting the arm first. The thing to remember is that you've got a lot of time when you get the guy up in the air on the back roll lift. You want to make sure that your hips are out of the way, that you are turning your body as he comes back down - in fact, you should probably start the hook just as he is about to come back into contact with the mat in a short of shearing action (Rickson style).

Rolled with Rodrigo, once for about ten minutes and then again for maybe 5 or 6. I waa pleasantly surprised that my cardio was in decent shape. I also made a pretty concerted effort to mix in a lot of standing guard pass attempts instead of just trying to stuff the hook and then stuff the knee.

Best of all, I finally managed to get out of Rodrigo's mount for a change. I had been thinking on the drive over about how important it was for me to get better at the basic escapes. I watched a little Saulo on escapes from rear mount before driving over and, while I was in the car, made a mental note to really fight to get out of mount with a consistent bump-bump-twist action the next time I got caught. Tonight was a pretty good example of how well it can work when I get it to work.

Going to see Some Like it Hot at the Metro tomorrow night, so my plan is to be back on the mat Thursday night. I think (read: hope) I've missed enough time being sick on the sidelines to last me for awhile.

Bitter on Paulao's Loss

When my eyes first passed over the headline, I misread "bitter" for "Bitetti".

That tells you where my sentiments were in the Filho/Sonnen WEC rematch. I was really hoping that Paulao would put it together and do to Sonnen what he did to Doerksen. If you've seen the fight, then you know that it certainly turned out differently.

I'm not sure what will come of Paulo Filho. MMA brings different types of people to our consciousness, people we wouldn't know much about one way or the other except for their skills as martial artists. Whatever else they are, we often don't know and - truth told - often don't care so much.

Bitetti on Paulao's Loss

I hope we see the Paulo Filho of Pride, of his brilliant debut in the WEC. But that's more up to him than anything else. If he doesn't really want to fight, then I hope he realizes there are plenty of other ways to live his life. If he does want to fight, then I hope he joins a real brand of warriors (read: Anderson and Antonio Rodrigo) who can bring out the best in what he has to offer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NYT Article on Dynamic Stretching

I'm especially fond of "The Scorpion".

Stretching: The Truth