Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Training Day: Wednesday

Rick: Hello camper! My name is Rick. How are you doing?
Cartman: Well I'm pissed off, Rick. How are you?
--from "Fat Camp", South Park episode 415.

Wednesday is Basic BJJ day, but we continued to work on passing the spider guard. Given the less than pleasant aspects of drilling this on Monday, how excited was I to get another chance at working this pass - probably the worst part of my jiu jitsu - on Wednesday?

Well, unfortunately what was fucked up about training on Monday was no less apparent on Wednesday. I'd like to say that I just don't get it, but the truth of the matter is that I do get it. The truth of the matter is that it actually helps fill out a picture, an unfortunate picture, that had been taking shape and color for some time.

I've long subscribed to the Camus line that, ultimately, the world is not to be changed it is to be endured. So I don't see some of this circumstance changing anytime soon, if at all. What I need to do is figure out some way to avoid it when possible and ignore it, I suppose, when it is not.

It's not like I've got some miserable life in some sub-Saharan hellhole. But all the same, jiu jitsu has been a refuge for the past four years. Not an entirely or always cozy refuge - as tonight proved - but a place to be and belong, all the same.

Right now the only thing I'm really looking forward to is the Saulo seminar - which apparently I was scammed (the story of my fucking September it seems) into overpaying. I feel like the end of September is turning into the exact opposite of the end of August - when I was having some real breakthroughs with ideal training partners like Angela, Ro, Scott ... Instead, of late, I'm thinking about that line from the poem by Yusef Komunyakaa: "there are teeth marks on everything he loves."

152.8 on the scale after training and back at it tomorrow for Cindy's Rock 'n' Roll Grappling Extravaganza.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ADCC: Not So Instant Replay

I haven't had much to say about the ADCC 2009 because, in part, the video on demand feed from ADCC 2009 isn't working. The life feed was actually okay. But they are having an impossible time getting the replay to work properly and I'll admit that it's been annoying the hell out of me.

Hopefully, they'll get their act together and I'll have some reportage worth reporting.

By the way, the underground market did a perfectly good job of providing replay and video on demand immediately after the event. I went the honorable route this time and am still waiting for my money's worth.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Training Day: Monday

Good training tonight. It was the intro class, so we focused on the 20 GB Fundamentals for the instructional and then did some specific guard/pass guard work.

After Lindsey's warm-up, we started with takedown drills. We alternated between ippon seionage - what I have been mistakenly calling morote seionage for the past several weeks - and the double-leg. And my double leg has gotten immensely better since Cindy's review last Thursday.

I've chunked up the takedowns - the five big ones - into three or four step chunks. I've just started drilling them this morning informally, but they will definitely become a part of my skills conditioning work as the training camp plays out.

As Rodrigo tipped us off on Saturday, we worked on passing the spider guard. Actually, we worked on both establishing the spider guard for the guy on bottom and then passing with the shoulder toreano for the guy on top. Very good stuff here. Some key details worth remembering is that when popping the spider guard, use the foot/leg that is closest to the mat to push off the hip and create space to insert the spider guard block with the other leg. With the shoulder toreano, the chunking is (1) stand out of the spider guard, (2) swim your hands to get inside control, stepping forward as you do this to direct the legs up, (3) STEP BACK with inside control on the legs and keep moving straight back until the guy's feet are flat on the mat and he is sitting up, (4) pin the legs with all your weight and, from a pike or lunge position, lean in with your shoulder and apply pressure to flatten him out.

Tatame was some specific work (guard/pass guard). I always love specific sparring and am very glad that we are going to be doing more and more of it. I'm still having a terrible, terrible time working my assignments when the time comes. I didn't work butterfly guard. I didn't work left hip half guard. I didn't work the armdrag from butterfly or half guard. And from the top, I went for the Flat Pass three times (!). My attempts to stand and pass (Move of the Day, anyone?) were pretty few.

Easy to dwell on the negatives. I'm feeling a bit of dystopia - maybe brought on by reading an erroneous report that Pablo Papovitch had submitted Marcelo Garcia to take first in the 77 kilo division at this year's ADCC. I'd been trying to avoid seeing the results until I'd watched most of the feed. But the on demand feed from ADCC was a little slow in coming and I just couldn't take it any more. I will say that I did get to see the Marcelo Garcia v. Kron Gracie match, which was every bit as exciting as Clint said it was during training on Saturday.

Kron Gracie might be the most interesting guy in jiu jitsu right now - though Joel Tudor is close on his heels and the growing rivalry between Raphael Mendes and Rubens Charles is starting to look every bit as intense as Ali-Frazier. I don't know if his performance at ADCC was enough to pull Kron fully out from beneath the shadow of his legendary father. But I can't help but root for the kid to do well every time he's out there.

Six weeks out. I'm starting to get into the mental frame of competing, even as my conditioning routine is still coming online in many ways. The goal is for the next four weeks to burn at a pretty high temperature, and then taper off for the final two weeks before the Revolution. I think a little of the melancholia is the sobriety of preparing for the event starting to set in, which is fine - as long as over the next four weeks the grey clouds start yielding a little lightning, if not thunder.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Training Day: Saturday

A nice little session on Saturday. We spent the instructional part of the class reviewing the moves from last week: the takedowns (Machida, ippon seionage and the Machacare, and the underhook guard pass variations.

Those variations, just to remember them were the (1) the basic underhook, sweeping the leg up on the shoulder and stepping/kneeing deep under the side, sprawl and duck around the leg to get to side control, (2) the underhook to Fowler, where you pin the leg that is on the mat and, hooking the head from that same direction, make the guy do the splits as you hook the head and backstep out and, (3) the underhook to roll, where you start like (1) and then, with your other grip, grab the belt or the pants and get the guy to start to roll over his far shoulder. In all likelihood, the guy won't do a full roll, but you can start the roll and then stick your head inside between his knee and elbow and roll him back into your lap and side control.

Tatame was rigorous. I rolled with Stephen, then with Joe and then with Pedro, a purple belt from Eastside. No easy rolls for burien top team on Saturday, that was for sure.

All the same, a great day of training. There's nothing better than training on a late Saturday morning/early Saturday afternoon, in many ways. And today was no exception to that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Training Day: Thursday

First Thursday training in about a month. The new schedule on Thursday is actually a lot like the old schedule: with an hour of beginner gi jiu jitsu followed by an hour of all levels no gi. Cindy leads both classes.

We focused on double legs to start with. I can't say enough about how much I like the new, more focused and specific classes. There are always more advanced and sophisticated moves to learn (on Mondays and Wednesdays, for example). It's nice to focus on some basic, core moves that will pay off for years.

The double leg is one of them. The process is the drop, the penetration with the forward knee to the mat, head up and tucked against the torso, arms around the knees and enough contact to knock the guy off balance.

The middle part of the move is the step through and step out. You want to step through with your other leg and then, as you stand, step out with the drop leg.

One detail was here was that the step out should be "out" and to the side. Your foot should be pointing in that direction.

Also make sure that you grab around the knees. That will make it that much harder for the guy to put you in his guard - especially if you do the takedown properly. Which leads to another point: use your inside shoulder to pressure the guy as you take him to the mat. I was a little surprised at how much pressure this puts on.

The double leg is really a move that I need to drill the same way I've been drilling the morote seionage, the Jacare and the Machida (and the combo, the Machacare, for when the guy steps back to avoid the Machida leg sweep and you transition to an ankle pick with your collar grip). Thursday was the first time in a long while that I really got to focus on the specific details of the move and it is definitely a keeper if I drill it.

On the ground, Cindy worked on knee on belly. Here was another nice technique I had wondered about for awhile: switching sides/knees from knee on belly. Cindy showed two approaches: the pike around, basic but effective method, and the step/backstep style that I remember seeing Pe de Pano use to devastating effect in the 2003 Pan Ams. With both, the trick is to plant your hands on the guy's chest and turn them in the direction that you are going to move. That pressure will substitute for the moment when you knee is not applying the downward pressure.

Cindy also showed us a counter the common knee on belly escape of pushing on the knee and elbow escaping away. What you want to do from the top is to let the guy turn into you and stuff the knee-push wrist to the mat. Gripping that wrist, with your inside hand, step around his head with your outside leg so that you can sit on his head while you reach for the kimura grip. One detail here was to really get a good kimura grip by pulling down on the wrist and up on the forearm. Done the right way, it is almost an arm crusher in and of itself. What it does either way is give you a lot of control over the arm and shoulder. You can attack with the kimura or continue to turn and turn it into an armbar.

Another detail: You can sit on the head while you attack with the kimura. But laying out - the same way you do when you are positioning for transitioning out of mount and back to side control - can give you more stability and make it easier to get a good turn on the kimura.

Tatame wasn't bad. I rolled with Alex and Michael. Alex caught me almost instantly in a Marcelo-style guillotine that I had to spend some pretty dedicated moments surviving and eventually escaping. I've got a tendency to lower my head, like a lot of people do. But my bad habit is exacerbated by the caution of not getting a shot in the eye. There's going to have to be some middle ground.

I'm back to thinking that butterfly guard will be my "other" guard. It makes sense for all the ordinary reasons, but like everything else I've been a little hesitant to engage it as aggressively as I should. The butterfly guard is even less of a "hanging out" guard than the half guard, so if you're going to play it, you've got to get in there and play it and not screw around. No gi tonight was a good opportunity to be aggressive with it. Hopefully that wil carry over into training over the next few days and weeks.

One place I really like the butterfly guard is as a counter to guys who have been backing off my half guard. This gives me a nice alternative that, among other things, can bait them back into a more regular half guard. I like the butterfly guard option a lot more than just trying to pull them back into my half guard.

Also I'm liking the idea of trying to force a butterfly guard defense of my guard pass. Even thoug my half guard passing has stalled out over the past several weeks, I still think my high comfort level in the half guard will ultimately make me a fairly confident half guard passer. At least that's the plan - and the strategy I'm deploying when it comes to adding the butterfly guard to my game.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training Day: Wednesday

For some reason, it's almost always easier to write posts in a text editor and then copy and paste them into blogger compared to writing directly in blogger.

Wednesday's class was Basic BJJ, which is really intermediate level when you think about it. I'm liking the way classes are increasingly defined, with beginner classes focusing on the 20 fundamentals and basic/intermediate classes opening things up a bit with more multi-step moves. The new focus on specific work as opposed to sparring, is tremendous. I'm sure it will pay off over time if we stick with it.

And I love the idea of being able to go to a beginner class and know that I'm going to work on some bread and butter fundamentals (or rice and beans fundamentals - pace Gracie Diet! banana and watermelon fundamentals ...). Right now, a Monday/Wednesday/Thursday schedule with Friday and/or Saturday as the final fourth session of the week is starting to look like a keeper.

Tonight we worked on pulling guard and transitioning to the balloon sweep. The main thing here for me to remember (pace Talent Code! practice) is using the sleeve grip side leg as the first and most important foot in the hip. I've actually got a nice chair drill that I can do to help me get that down. The off leg in this case goes to the hip second. You draw your legs in tight enough to get your hips under his hips and, with both feet on his hips, extend your legs and pull forward on the collar and sleeve grips.

One thing that Rodrigo has been focusing on with a lot of these guard pulls is transitioning immediately to the sweep. I think that's a big deal and something to keep in mind when we start doing more stand-up training closer to the next tournament.

The Move of the Day was a very nice gi choke from S-mount. To get there, Rodrigo showed us a "Jack pass" style attack on the turtle guard to open the guy up and put him on his back. From a good combat base against the Turtle (hips low, elbows in tight and not "reaching over"), you want to reach in front of the guy's face and grab his opposite sleeve at the cuff. With your other hand grip the pants of his near leg at the cuff.

You can jump to your feet or just creep back and then pull. I didn't like jumping to my feet because it just creates space - even if for just a moment. Instead, working with Benny, I leaned in to him and then lunged back. That seemed to create the right action/reaction as well as the necessary space for him to fall.

Finish the pass of the turtle with a move to side control.

The choke went this way: grab the gi lapel as low as possible on his far side and thread it under his arm and around the back of his neck. Feed it to your headside/north most grip. From here, you want to let him turn into you a bit to make it easier to move from side control to mount and, eventually, to S-mount.

You are going to go under the arm. You can get a good angle by fading back as you allow the guy to roll into you, going into a real, laid back Watchdog type position. But you want that arm north of your head in any event.

Keep that gi grip. And make sure that your knee is tight against his back in order to have a good position. Tuck your choking elbow in tight as you tighten your S-mount. Grab the hand of the arm that is trapped in the whole choke ensemble and pull it down to tighten things even further.

If this doesn't get the tap - and it is a very tight choke - step over the head with the northside leg and turn it into a near armlock/Frankenstein choke. This variation can tighten things further. And if you still can't get the finish, there is the armlock opportunity as well.

A very nice set of attacks from side control. Sure, they are predicated on being able to take mount. And there's an argument that if you can get to mount, things are likely going your way anyway. But this is a very nice little sequence, with maybe the potential of a baseball choke attack if the guy stays flat and refuses to turn into you.

Tatame was good. I continue to work the scissor sweep to keep getting better at that attack from the guard. I started to work some Overwrap Guard, which I think is something I really want to include in my guard game after all. I think that it, like Rap Star, fits well with my basic half guard game very well and am going to make it a part of my training over the next two weeks to see if it can become a permanent part of what I do.

Got in a nice roll with Scott. I didn't attack from standing as I would have liked. But I was able to learn a few things about my Flat Pass and about slowing down at potentially critical moments that should be pretty helpful going forward.

Saulo in Seattle

Saulo Ribeiro - one of the greatest teachers and champions of jiu jitsu - is coming to Seattle to give a two-day seminar - courtesy of Marcelo Alonso Jiu Jitsu
October 17-18th. One day gi, one day no gi.

There aren't too many people higher on my list than Saulo. His book, Jiu Jitsu University has been my Bible ever since I got it. I still look at his DVDs when I'm stuck in a situation and need to be reminded quickly of what the fundamental details are.

Too bad it's not the weekend before - since my wife will be in Portland the weekend of the 10-11th. But, like I said, there's no way I can miss a Saulo Ribeiro seminar. It should be a blast!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Standing Against the Guard: The Range Game

Step Two in My Pi-Step Program Toward Passing the Guard from Standing.

Val as in Valhalla

Craziness! Here are two of my favorite jiu jitsu non-black belts (who don't train for Gracie Barra) in a pretty funny training/seminar video.

Gracie Magazine's Top ADCC Competitors of All Time

An interesting list - and one that tells us as much about the ADCC as it does about the top grapplers of the past 15-odd years.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Training Day: Monday

Got to the academy a little late - I think I'm still adjusting to the return to 5:30 p.m. I don't have nearly the issues that a lot of folks do, but I still need a bit of a running start to get there on time.

Rodrigo and Lindsey were team-teaching the class again. We worked the morote seionage warmup, focusing on the footwork rather than the handiwork. The practice I've been doing off the mat has really paid off in terms of keeping my balance as I make the turn and squat into the prime throwing position. This practice will be a part of my off the mat conditioning program going forward.

Monday is a Beginners' class, so the instructional was based on some of the key 20 fundamentals that Rodrigo has been focusing on. Today, we focused on moving from side control to knee on belly and then from knee on belly to mount. I worked with two white belts - and spent more time than I ever had with a knee grinding into my chest/stomach/etc. But it was good stuff. I really enjoy working with white belts from time to time. It's a great way to re-understand the fundamentals.

I rolled with Scott of the Endless Guard and Andrew. Scott in some ways has entered my top five of Guys I Must Train With On a Regular Basis. He has very good guard replacement skills - Jason/Garcia-esque in many ways, though with more length - which really tests the weakest (and most important) part of my game. I suspect that Rodrigo has noticed this, because he's pairing me up with Scott more and more frequently. It's great work - guard passing is a true difference maker when it comes to success or failure for me, especially in competition. Hell, if I had to train with one person between now and November, it wouldn't be a crazy idea for it to be him.

Rolling with Andrew was another ride through the cement mixer ... I managed to avoid a few armlocks, but he caught me in a pair of bow and arrow chokes and a triangle over the course of about 15-20 minutes worth of rolling. In at least one instance with the bow and arrow choke, I knew that I was escaping in the wrong direction after pinning his leg to the mat. But I was so focused on wanting to practice escaping over the leg - hipscaping and turning back into him - that I figured I'd take the risk to the body motion practice. The halo choke defense is something to remember in this situation where the guy switches hands to catch you after you've picked a side.

About 154 or so on the scale after rehydration. At the beginning of Week 7, that's a perfect weight - if even a bit light. I'm feeling a little worn-out of late - having really trained hard on Saturday and again today on Monday. I may take Tuesday off and return to the mat Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and definitely Saturday. That way I still get my four training sessions in for the week.

My off the mat conditioning is going a little slowly. I got in one LSD session last week (two were scheduled) and so far this week I've managed one session as well (three are scheduled). With any luck, I'll be able to hit the treadmill at least twice over the rest of the week (Wednesday and Friday would be perfect) before it will be time to switch up to the cardiac power and threshold training (as well as the HRI work - 20 minutes of box steps!)

Another Major Loss for ADCC

This is getting ridiculous ...

Kyra Gracie Out of ADCC
I injured my lumbar region at the Jiu-Jitsu Worlds in June. I did a lot of physiotherapy and adapted my training. I was feeling well, but this week in New York I trained hard and worsened it. It is impossible for me to fight like this. I can’t even find a comfortable position to sleep in," said the champion.
I'm still looking forward to the ADCC - there are just too many unbelievable competitors to not be excited to see who comes out on top.

That said, it would have been nice to see Kyra compete. At the rate that top people are having to withdraw, the matches can't start soon enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Training Day: Saturday

Due to the ADCC Northwest Regionals, Saturday's training was pretty much an open mat. It was also another excellent Saturday of training.

I rarely get to train on Saturdays, but that may change. I have to admit, the past two times I've trained on Saturday have been really great. This time I got to work with Ro again, continuing to focus on guard and guard passing issues. But I also got to roll with the black belt Joe and brown belt Shawn.

What I most liked about my rolls with Joe and Shawn was that I able to keep moving, to keep fighting for escapes or to replace guard. It is easy to get to a point with guys like this where you don't feel as if anything you do is going to work. But as I learned during a memorable roll with Rodrigo probably a year ago, what is important is that you keep working for better situations, to improve a situation as much as you can, to keep alert and active for the opportunity to turn a miserable situation into something close to neutral.

I also was impressed that my aerobic conditioning seems to be back on line. We'll see as Week Two my training camp begins. But it may be the case that I haven't lost too much from that week and a half I spent in semi-convalescence to start the month.

Friday, September 18, 2009

GracieMag Blog at ADCC

A great resource in the run-up to the ADCC is the Gracie Magazine blog at ADCC, which includes a lot of interviews with competitors like Xande Ribeiro.
Blog: what has changed in relation to training for a Jiu-Jitsu championship?

Xande: The big difference in relation to Jiu-Jitsu is that the ADCC is a very physical tournament. To dispute it, one needs to train a lot of wrestling. Although the ADCC gives a greater chance of winning to wrestlers and “stallers” who like to run from the action, at the end of the day the ones with sharper Jiu-Jitsu wear themselves out less. Even more so when you think of how the champion has to fight for a minimum of 50 minutes, not including overtimes. That’s why one needs to have a lot of mental fortitude and stamina.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Training Day: Wednesday

What was most interesting about Wednesday's training was that the main instructional part was based on the de la Riva guard, a guard I use virtually never. But the more I worked with it, the more I saw a potential role for the DLR sweep series that Rodrigo was showing us in my half guard, particularly as a counter to knee cross passes.

There were three main sweeps - which we did after a basic morote seionage warm-up. Starting from the DLR guard, with the heel or pants cuff grip, the same side leg cocked under the thigh, the off leg pushing back against the opponent at the far knee and a grip on the sleeve on that side, as well, the # 1 sweep had us pull on the sleeve until your elbow reached the mat. Then, turning on your side and lifting with the DLR hook, you tip the guy over onto his side. The guy should struggle to defend with a post, because you've got the would-be posting sleeve.

If the guy does manage to keep his balance, then the #2 sweep, has you keep both grips (IMPORTANT) and continue turning into the guy. What you will do is use your head and shoulder to essentially bull the guy over. As Rodrigo put it, jiu jitus isn't always pretty. What's important is getting back on top.

There was a final sweep out of the DLR that Rodrigo showed us. Actually, he didn't show us the entire sweep, just the basic initial motion to get the sweep started. The #3 DLR sweep is especially useful if the guy tries to put his weight on you, for example, by backstepping out of your DLR hook. Here, as you feel his weight coming forward, you want to pull the sleeve over your head and lift up on the heel and with the DLR hook. What you do is a backroll, using his forward pressure to provide momentum for the roll.

You can either stop the roll midway and turn into the guy, likely ending up in half guard. Or you can continue the move all the way over, with the opportunity to land in mount.

After class, I got to train with Clint for a good long while, maybe 20 minutes of straight rolling. I found myself working for a lot of kimuras, both from the bottom half guard and from the top. Late in the sparring, Clint caught me with a perfect scissor style sweep and moved to mount and eventually to the back. I spent the rest of the session defending chokes.

Speaking of choke defense, Clint had a really good brabo attack going early in my standard half guard attack. I noticed that every time I lengthened my body and got out of my half guard crouch, the choke got infinitely worse. That's definitely something to keep in mind going forward. I'm really starting to feel as if guys are catching up with my half guard - which makes these sweeps out of the DLR guard a welcome arrival, especially if I can work transitions from half guard to DLR to sitting guard and so on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Training Day: Tuesday

Not a bad night of training, though the same problems remain.

There's no point in getting glum two days into an eight-week training camp. With any luck, I'll be on the mat at least two more times this week, so there is plenty of time even this week to start getting on a plan to fix what ails. But, for now, I'm a little annoyed, a little impatient and a little worn out.

We worked on the morote seionage, the one-arm shoulder throw as the takedown warmup/instructional. The set up was a counter to the lapel grab. You reach up and grab the attacking arm (the one that has the lapel) right at the triceps. Step back with your outside foot and lean your attacked shoulder forward to whizzer the situation a little bit and to keep him from getting access to your body or far leg (for a Jacare type takedown).

With that outside foot, you step in deep to a reverse pivot, swinging your free/outside arm under the guy's attacking arm (the lapel grab arm and squatting down as your turn your back to the guy and go for the throw.

I worked this at top speed with Shawn, who was hanging out but not training. Shawn was great to help me out - training me both left and right, which was very helpful.

After quite a while with that, we worked on the 180 drill just like Monday night. I was able to mix in with Connor and Juan, and got some good work in here.

Rodrigo finished things off with a guard pass. He used the basic opening on knees, one hand grabbing the lapels, one hand on the hip bone, one knee pinches in toward the middle and the other knee goes out perpendicular. Bow your back out and pop the guard open.

From here, Rodrigo had us crouch down low with your hands between the guy's legs but no deeper that the wrist or forearm to avoid being drawn into a triangle choke. From here you do a basic underhook pass, stepping up with your back foot to give your the mobility to move forward and put your other knee behind the guy's back.

What you want to be careful of is "reaching" for the collar. Instead, you want to move your body up so that you can do a very short T-Rex style grab for the far collar. Maintain your posture, using your hips and chest to press the up leg forward and away from you as you pass.

The variation on this was in case the guy was able to heavy leg you and prevent you from getting around the leg. Here, then, you want to swing around the other way, clamping the guy's other leg down on the mat with your kneed, hooking the head and backstepping around the other side.

Tatame was a mixed bag. I struggled mightily against Connor in both the side control specific (me on bottom) and in passing his guard. I still don't have a routine when it comes to passing the guard. Daniel Coyle would say that my guard passing circuitry is slow where it is not entirely non-existent. Again, there is plenty of time to fix these problems (I'm giving myself four weeks or the first half of my training camp.

As I said at the outset, I need to be wary of making premature evaluations of what I'm doing. I should probably consider myself lucky in that I am able to identify what is holding me back pretty accurately. The challenge now, of course, is to figure out a path beyond it - and the sooner the better.

No scale, but about 152 when I got home. That includes some rehydration, but I think the number is pretty legit. I'm not necessarily trying to drop any lower than 150 this far out. For the first time in a long time, I might actually have to start making sure I take in enough "quality" calories every couple of days.

A short practice on the schedule tomorrow. I'd toyed with the idea of taking Wednesday off and training Thursday, but in all likelihood it will be the other way around.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Training Day: Monday

Out of the sick bed and on to the mat.

My first day back (I missed about six classes or a week and a half) wasn't nearly as difficult cardio-wise as I'd feared. Rodrigo is restructuring the classes to both make sharper distinctions between new students, advanced beginners, and advanced, as well as to emphasize what are going to be the 20 Fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu from a Gracie Barra perspective.

We did a bit of it today: a 180 drill (half of the 360 drill) and that Machida/Jacare combination that we've been working on for weeks (and damn me to hell if I don't attack with the Machida/Jacare in November ...). I think this is going to be a great development, even though the schedule re-arrangement also means that the Monday and Wednesday sessions will be back to 5:30 instead of 5:45. I'll have to get my act together that much sooner in the day.

Cramps and fatigue caught up with me. I managed to roll through an Achilles tendon cramp (?!) when sparring with Andrew, but needed to break for a few minutes when rolling with Stephen, who had an injury of his own. Even though I faded pretty quickly , I'm glad I waited the cramp out instead of just calling it a night as I have in the past.

Hopefully my cardio will catch up fairly quickly. Every night there is a brown or black belt in the Live Session and I'd love to be able to start having that final roll of the day with someone who will probably be my most difficult challenge. Daniel Coyle talks about the importance of focusing on error when it comes to achieving greatness. Ending the evening or afternoon with a roll with some of our best guys (and gal) could provide plenty of error for me to focus on.

153.8 on the scale, post-train. A crazy number given how long I've been off the mat. Then again, there's probably some sort of ill health discount that I need to be wary of as I move back towards 100%.

Speaking of which - the GB Seattle Invitational was moved from this weekend to the third weekend in October (the 17th, I think, the week after the Oregon Open). That's perfectly fine with me. I didn't embarrass myself tonight on the mat, but I'm hardly competition ready - even for a Friendly.

Rodrigo also announced a tournament in Fife on December 13th - my Dad's birthday, ironically enough. It's a gi only, "traditional jiu jitsu" tournament with only 8 schools involved.

I have to admit that I like new events like this. With Sub League allegedly starting a gi division, it could be that we get five major gi-based events a year in within an hour's drive from Seattle, with almost as many intramural tournaments in on the Eastside. While I know that there is more to jiu jitsu than competition, I can't help but think that more tournaments - especially for the gi - are a great thing for jiu jitsu in Western Washington.

Yahya v. Tudor at U.S. Nationals


With only a few weeks to go before he defends his ADCC featherweight title, Rani Yahya is caught in a great triangle choke by Rodrigo Medeiros student, Joel Tudor.

A good friend of Rodrigo's trains with Joel and says that Joel is one of those guys who has a really deadly open guard attack. Congratulations on a tremendous victory for him. And this only adds more drama to the ADCC 2009 Barcelona event on September 26-27 (and yes, I bought the PPV).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gracie Barra Everett!

Parabens Andrew!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Demian Maia's MMA Debut

Still feeling sluggish and gross ... looking to make it to the Academy on Friday, but we'll see.

In the meanwhile, here's a video of Demian Maia's first MMA fight in Venezuela back in 2001. He was a brown belt at the time.

Whoop! Te-re-re!

As the song goes, I'm a man of means by no means. But I decided to kick a couple of bucks to the fund for Terere that a lot of jiu jitsu folks - from Kyra Gracie to Marcelo Garcia - have been supporting.

If you feel likewise - and have a PayPal account - here's one way to help.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Virtue of Try

From The Talent Code:
When we see people practice effectively, we usually describe it with words like willpower or concentration or focus. But those words don't quite fit, because they don't capture the ice-climbing particularity of the event. The people inside the talent hotbeds are engaged in an activity that seems, on the face of it strange and surprising. They are seeking out the slippery hills ... they are purposely operating at the edges of their ability, so they will screw up. And somehow screwing up is making them better. How?

Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways - operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes - makes you smarter. Or to put it a slightly different way, experiences where you're foced to slow down, make errors, and correct them - as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go - end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


A thousand apologies ...

In all my weeping and teeth-gnashing over the defeat of Demian Maia, I have not given proper due to the current king of jiu jitsu in MMA: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira a.k.a Minotauro, for his epic battle and great victory over the legendary Randy "The Natural" Couture.
Nogueira Too Much for Couture at UFC 102
It was a dominating performance for the Brazilian heavyweight, who dropped Couture and looked close to submitting him with a D’Arce choke in the first round.

Though Nogueira controlled the majority of the match, Couture had his moments. The future Hall of Famers engaged in multiple wide-open exchanges with both fighters landing heavy blows in the center of the cage and along the fence.

Minotauro Speaks
When people say you can’t do it any more, you have to go back and prove you are still in the game and put on a great fight. That’s what I did. I worked hard, I’d never trained as much as I did for this one. I have a lot of respect for Randy, so I trained a lot.

Sherdog Grappling Forum Thread on Nog's great sweeps.

How Do You Say "Guard Pass" in Japanese?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Fedor v. Mousasi Exhibition Match

Two of the best mixed martial artists NOT fighting with the UFC ... Some very nice takedowns from Fedor, including one reverse that works very well with the latest takedown (the Machida) that Rodrigo has been emphasizing for the past several weeks.

Friday, September 04, 2009

More Post-Fight from Demian Maia

This time it's an interview with Gracie Magazine. I suspect Demian will take some flak from some for saying that he "lacked a bit of luck" in being caught flush from Marquardt's counter right. But any honest reader will understand that he's hardly taking credit away from Marquardt.

Demian Maia Talks First Loss
How are you dealing with your first MMA loss? What lessons have you learned from your defeat to Nate Marquardt?

I think I’ve already derived the personal lessons. You learn a lot from any loss. I made a technical mistake, there was a bit of a bad-luck factor too, and a strategic one. There were several things involved. I don’t think there were any mistakes in my training, the mistake came when I got to fighting. I had an excellent training camp for this fight and ended up in a mixture of strategic mistakes and poor luck and was unable to show my best.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Summer's Almost Gone

And I'm already catching my first autumn cold ... No training tonight and, from the looks and feels of it, none tomorrow either.

I'm all over the Airborne, chicken soup, zinc pils and garlic Arugula salad. With any luck, I can blast this rhinovirus out of my system in time to get in some good training next week.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gracie Camp

Here's an old, but interesting write-up/review of the Gracie Barra Training Camp offered by Gracie Barra in Rio de Janeiro.

Gracie Camp Review
Lots of people would like to train in BJJ in Brazil, and there are plenty of different gyms to go to, but it can be a little overwhelming to try and arrange a trip yourself, even with available time and money. Finding somewhere to stay, locating a good quality gym, paying training fees, language barriers and transport problems all conspire to make it a pipedream for many people.

For that reason, some of the gyms have set up camps specifically for foreigners so that all the hassle of organising a trip is already done for you. There are pros and cons to staying at these camps. They nearly always work out a lot more expensive than organising things for yourself, and they aren't everyone's cup of tea. If you only want to train a little bit and party a lot, or mostly sightsee, then this probably isn't the way to do things.

One such camp is the one for the Gracie Barra academy in Rio, and its called Gracie Camp. I stayed at the camp for three weeks this year, so I thought I'd do a review of the camp for those of you who are thinking about a trip abroad for training ...

I think the author does a great job of breaking down what the camp is about and what his experiences were. Definitely gets my mind thinking about a three-week "working" jiu jitsu vacation in Rio one of these years. In another post, the guy says that three weeks of training cost him about $1200-$1300 or about $85 a day.

Thought-provoking, to be sure. Here's a link to the Gracie Camp website. I'll have to remember to ask Rodrigo what he thinks about it.

Demian Maia - Postfight Interview

5 Questions with Demian Maia
Sherdog: How do you feel after your first loss?

Maia: I knew the first loss would come one day because I intend to fight for many years. As a matter of fact, though, it happened in a pretty unexpected manner because I was a little bit casual in the stand-up fight. I repeated two kicks. He got my timing down, and, the third time, he came with a straight punch and knocked me down. At the beginning of the fight, everyone is really strong, and I think the referee was right to stop the fight. I stood up well. I had no damage, and that’s most important. I pretty much believe that some things must happen in your life. For some reason, God prepares surprises for you, and that’s life. Maybe it was not the right time for me to challenge for the belt, but I’m very calm and will keep going.
Same clarity and intelligence I've always appreciated from Demian. Of course, the bad news is that he won't be competing at ADCC later this month. But it is great to hear that his spirits are still up and that he's getting ready to get back into action.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Training Day: Tuesday

Tuesday night was a smaller class compared to Monday night's bonanza. We focused on passing the sitting guard - mostly by converting it to butterfly guard with the guy's back on the mat. One thing that is interesting about all of this training is that I have lately been thinking about whether or not the optimal guard passing strategy is simply to be familiar with all types of guards (and all types of guard passes that might be available) or if instead a guard passer - like a takedown artist - should try and lure the other guy into playing the kind of guard that you actually WANT to pass.

Personally, I feel most comfortable passing butterfly guard because my mortal enemy, the triangle choke, is not an option. At worst, it is a contest of balance and I feel like I've always got at least a 50/50 shot in a balance contest against most.

So it interesting to be training right now techniques that from my perspective turn an open or spider guard into a sitting guard (much better for me) and a sitting guard into a butterfly guard (even better still for me).

Tuesday's technique had us hop down with both knees on the outside of the legs, closing the legs together as much as possible and bringing them as tight against the guy's butt as possible. "Head butt" the guy in the chest to get his back to the mat and bring your arms up against his sides with elbows tight, further locking his legs as tight as possible.

Open up on one side just enough to slide your arm underneath the guy's leg. It should be easy to do because the guy will likely try to follow your leg with a hook, creating the space for you. Underhook the leg and grip the belt or the gi near the back.

Make sure to keep pressure on the other knee! There is a triangle choke danger here as you hoist the leg up on your shoulder. If you keep your weight on the off leg, then you should be fine. From here you want to take a big step with the leg that is on the same side as the leg underhook. You should step to about right under the guy's armpit on that side.

As you do this, you can use your other hand to feed the collar to the hand of your leg-underhooking arm. Get nice and high near the neck. From here it is a basic underhook pass.

I worked with Brock - who is looking pretty slim and trim these days as he moves from over 200 to under 185. Brock is one of those guys who started training a few months after I did and it's always interesting to think of those guys I remember training with as white belts literally years ago who've continued to train. One of these days, these same guys (and gals) that I started training with at more or less the same time will be black belts: the Brocks, the Angelas ... And it is crazy to think that, if I keep improving as they have, one day I'll be standing there right alongside them wearing a black belt of my own.

If part of getting better is learning how to get better then I think I'm getting better. Thursday morning for The Daily Planet, I'm interviewing this guy Daniel Coyle who wrote a book called, The Talent Code. His thesis is that "greatness isn't born, it's grown" and he does a fascinating job of showing how a certain kind of experience in the material world, a certain kind of training, tends to lead to the kind of chemical and biological adaptations in the brain that lead to almost stunning acceleration in performance in a variety of fields.

And without getting too far ahead of myself, the training that I've been able to do - the sparring in particular - over the past few days, starting with Ro on Saturday, then with Connor on Monday and Angela on Tuesday - I think is exactly what Coyle is talking about. I'm already starting to feel a shift in attitude about passing the guard (which has been my focus for the past week) from standing. The fear is starting to fade and the idea of trying to pass from standing has started to feel more like the default mode. If I'm understanding Coyle, this willingness to fail over and over again that I'm courting by trying to pass on the feet is the first step in the right process. We'll see how it goes (though I don't think I'll be bringing up jiu jitsu in the interview - at least not specifically.