Thursday, December 30, 2010

"I want to be a fighter that gives people inspiration, to give them courage"

Sengoku Featherweight Champ: Hatsu Hioki

Hio-king: Hioki Takes Sandro's SRC Crown at 'Soul of Fight'

My kingdom for a video of this fight ... Waiting 2-3 weeks for the HDNet broadcast will be murder.

Old School Gracie Challenges from 1996

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday

Before starting a training session, opt for training-specific warm-up exercises, mimicking moves you would use in Jiu-Jitsu. Jumping jacks and those short-motiohn abdominal crunches, leg-raises or lateral crunches have been played out for ages.
--The white page, Gracie Magazine, January 2011, #165

First day back on the mat in a week (no dispatch last Wednesday).

Prof Carlos had us doing a different type of warm-ups to get things started. Old school running, some Arte Sauve moves down the mat (i.e. Granby rolls, which I can actually do years after Stephan first showed them to me), and then a series of partnered alternating triangles, omoplatas and armbars against standing for about 2 minutes each. The armbars were especially brutal insofar as they required the most vertical hip extension. But I'm hoping those drills become a more common part of our warmup - they are similar to (though infinitely better) my "chair jiu jitsu" drills where I drape a gi jacket over the back of a weighted chair and go to work attacking with armbars and omoplatas from the guard.

Over the next few days, I'm trying to get a running start on some goals and habits for 2011. Without making too much of it, I'd like to do better in some critical areas and think I've got plenty of time to make that happen. To the degree that the time spent from white through brown belt is all about building what I like to call a "black belt version" of yourself, there are still a few major aspects of that self to be constructed and there's never as much time as there used to be.

159.6 on the scale, post-train, everything but the coat. Consistently sub-162 post train weight-ins are another goal for 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Training Day: Monday

Single leg takedowns to start the week. The emphasis was on a couple of things: the penetration step/jab step right behind the guy's ankle and drop down on that same leg to knee. Prof. Carlos emphasized especially the collar drag - you actually beging the collar drag before you really attack the leg with the single. The guy tries to escape the drag by posturing up, which actually helps you come up with the leg into the takedown finish.

From the ground, the technique was the escape from rear mount with the choking hand in AND on the bad side. This is the "turn in" escape where you defend the choke at the wrist and, with elbows in control the triceps with a backhand type of grip. Keys here are turning to face your opponent and switching your legs/base. Drive your inside shoulder back into the guy and swim the hand that was controling the triceps underneath to control the body with an underhook.

Good Live Training with Bryan and Glenn. The main emphasis continues to be passing the guard from standing, even if I start to slip into more of a half guard situation. I'm starting to see a few things and feel a few things that I'm looking to develop in 2011, though I'm still not going to the "scoop" side of the "scoop/smash" pass nearly as often as I should. I find myself setting up the opportunity for scoop passes and then just sort of watching the moment pass. There's really only one critical danger - the triangle - and at least in this instance, knowing that danger goes a long way toward avoiding it.

165.0 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. Heavy, but it is as close to the off-season as it gets right now with Christmas and the annual trip to the Sonoran desert at the other end of the week.

O Final: Eduardo "Portugues" Santoro v. Sergio Moraes

From the World League Pro 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deep Thoughts on Training Frequency and Volume

Maybe it's the French-Canadian accent that makes me think that I'm really listening to Georges St. Pierre in these videos from T-Nation's Christian Thibaudeau. But I'm finding Thibaudeau's ruminations on training for power and mass to actually be potentially relevant to training for jiu jitsu. Specifically, the notion of how to best use training frequency and volume to achieve the maximum amount of "muscle development"/"muscle memory" in the shortest possible time.

At the end of the day, this is all about the same thing: drill, drill, drill. But in terms of coming up with ways to drill every day, to make each training session a real building block toward a concrete goal, that is the real trick, I think. Rafa Mendes and Draculino talk about it in that Gracie Mag issue on training a little bit. But as far as training more frequently and more efficiently in 2011, spending some time over the holiday's thinking about some of these issues could be time very well spent.

Neural Charge Training
In the simplest terms, the key to maximum gains lies with increased training frequency and volume. Frequency and volume are obviously tied together, but of the two, frequency is by far the most important factor.

I can accomplish everything I need to maximize gains through increased frequency, which in effect equates to also increasing volume. It's far more effective, at the extreme level, to perform three 30-minute workouts per day than to do the same volume in one 90-minute workout.

Likewise, it's more effective to spread the amount of time per week you devote to training over more days than fewer. For example, let's say that you're currently training four days per week for an hour each workout, a total of four hours per week.

I'm telling you, from my experience, you'd make a lot better progress performing six 40-minute workouts per week. You'd make even greater progress training 35 minutes per day, seven days a week.

Face it, when we lift weights, all we're doing is asking our body to react to the stimulus and grow muscle. Which would you rather do? Ask (stimulate) your body to grow four times per week or six times per week?

Again, substitute "lift weights" for "train jiu jitsu" and "grow muscle" to "develop muscle memory" (or circuitry, if you're tracking any of this from Talent Code perspective).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Training Days (Mon, Fri) and the GB Seattle Promotion, Open Mat & BBQ

The End of Year Promotions, Open Mat and BBQ at GB Seattle 3.0 this year was a blast. The academy was packed with students, with a ton of white and blue belts along with a lot of black belts stopping by, as well. I was afraid that I wouldn't get a chance to do any rolling at first, so I did my solo drills to bide my time before the picture-taking and belt-awarding began. And then managed to get in some quality time with Elliott and a tough Brazilian blue belt I just met that afternoon.

Four new black belts! Casey, Lance, Doug and Alex all got their faixa pretas on Saturday, which was pretty incredible. Bree and Dex earned their blue belts. Benny and Pat got promoted to purple. Nate and Clint both got brown belts. I didn't have the best seat in the house being (a) on one far end of the academy, (b) short, and (c) more than half-blind without my glasses. But a lot of folks made some major accomplishments on Saturday, and that's always fun to see.

It was also Rodrigo's birthday, which I didn't know. He was being a bit discrete about his age - I heard everything from 24 to 44. But it was especially nice for the two ocassions to coincide.

Training this week has been a little on the autopilot side, unsurprising with the end of the year right around the corner. The main focus for me training-wise continues to be generating a real SENSE of attacking the guard from standing. I've been reviewing some techniques that I liked when I first learned them, and seeing if I can reverse engineer them into a basic "attitude" about attacking the guard that goes beyond knowing a specific technique. That's one of the things that's really been helping with my half guard, so much so that I find myself often in position for my favorite half guard sweep even when I'm not "trying" to get there.

So we'll see what comes of it. Although there are more than a few final frontiers for me to traverse, none are more critical right now than passing the guard. And as Marcelo Garcia himself said during one of his classes (and as I remember Rodrigo telling us years ago), if you can't pass on the ground, then you have to pass standing up.

A large part of that is just getting good with the balance game, the apply pressure game. In the December 2009 issue of Gracie magazine focusing on guard-passing, Alliance leader Fabio Gurgel praises Rickson Gracie's guard passing ability by saying:

"(Rickson Gracie) has as his main quality the fact he perceives each adversary's point of discomfort and doesn't lett him get out of this point ever."

That's the goal - every time I'm attacking the guard. "Where doesn't he want to be? And how can put him there?"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bloody Elbow's Judo Chop: Mark Bocek

Another great Judo Chop from Kid Nate over at Bloody Elbow. This latest installment looks at the top game of Canadian BJJ black belt Mark Bocek in his recent UFC match against fellow BJJ black belt Dustin Hazelett

Judo Chop: Bocek Catches Hazelett in a Triangle From the Mount at UFC 124

I was going to link to Mark's website, but it's one of those website that loads with music and I can't figure out how to turn it off. So here's the URL ( Mind that volume.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gracie Barra Federal Way Grand Opening

GB Federal Way was easier to find than I thought. The academy is tucked away off exit 143 on I-5 South in one of those sprawling commercial zones filled with retailers both great and small. It was something to see that big gleaming "Gracie Barra" sign right next to the no less luminous signs for teriyaki shops, travel agencies and smoke shops and hair and nail salons.

It was also the first academy I'd ever trained in with windows - though those windows were well-fogged just a few minutes into training. I got a later start than I'd planned, and managed to arrive just in time for the first picture of the day.

Managed to get in some good training, as well, though maybe a roll or two less than I would have liked optimally. But today was all about supporting the new school - more that than my own mat time, per se. And in that the day was a definite good time.

My training pace is still just over half of what I'd like. As of today, my four-week moving average is still at about 2.25 - and that for a second week in a row. The main goal for the month, for every month, is 15x. And making par, at this point, will do a lot to help move that average up. Much of this has to do with the training week lost during the bad weather week in late November. But there were at least two or three times since the Revolution when I just didn't "feel the fire" to steal Clint's great phrase.

At any rate, if I can get that four-week average back up above 3.5 by year's end, I'll take it as a win.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Good training on Friday. I worked with Angus for most of the skills 'n' drills portion of the Friday Competition Training. I actually started off with Sean Wilson, who I haven't seen in years. On that note, Michael was also there. It's funny that way with jiu jitsu training. Lives and circumstances change and guys you started out training with - or who were already big time jiu jitsu guys when you started - seem to disappear. So it is always great when lives and circumstances change again to bring these guys - and gals, of course - back to the academy.

A lot of drills to start things off: triangles from spider guard, omoplata situps ... The format for competition training Fridays of late has been to focus on a lot of skills-based agility drills for much of the first class - maybe with some specifics. Then Live Training which, for me, has meant 2-3 rolls.

This week I got in some good time with guys like Brian and Dex. Same issues, especially with Brian, when it comes to using more movement to initiate movement. A part of it is a hesitancy or even an outright fear that if I iniatiate "some" movement, I'll end up getting a lot more movement than I wanted in return, putting me in a "chase" mode that I instinctively recoil from. As always, there's a technical antidote to this as well as a thematic one: being very selective and specific about the kind of space I create when I move and, again, where I plan to close space off in pursuit of something better.

164.6 or so on the scale post-train. Not good, not horrible. Tomorrow is the Open House at GB Federal Way. I'd love to get there early and train all day. Prof. Rodrigo and Carlos are leading one caravan south around 10:45 am. I wouldn't mind arriving at the new academy shortly after they do.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Kid Peligro on Modern Jiu Jitsu and Gracie Combatives

An interesting take that only underscores the wisdom of GB putting self-defense at the front of the fundamentals curriculum.

Kid Peligro on Gracie Combatives
Recently I've been thinking a lot and having a tough time with the current state of BJJ. This problem for me started after the 2009 World Championships, at that time many of the finals lacked the excitement and the drama that normally finals would carry. I thought it was just an anomaly but the same or worse occurred in 2010, when some competitors, using modern techniques, ended up entangled for most of the matches without any action. These matches even drew comments from the normally quiet Japanese reporters as to "how boring the matches were." Of course this was not the case in every weight division and with every fighter; Roger Gracie and some other "Tops" were going for it in all their matches. But a fair number of finals, as I said were super boring.


A very nifty, very straightforward choke from back control.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Moment with Master Carlinhos

Training Day: Wednesday

Good training today. Worked with Nick on pulling guard and going to the tripod sweep as part of our return to the curriculum, as well as the armdrag to the back from the closed guard off 2-on-1 control.

Live training was two good sessions with Glenn and Brian. Glenn is always good to train with insofar as he gives me the same half/deep half treatment I like to deliver to the doorsteps of others. Eight minutes of pressure - both standing and ground - but no pass. Very tough guard game in the making there.

To the same end, Brian and I have similarly tight games that also lend themselves little in the way of enduring advantage. Here, my mousetrap struggled against his especially disciplined arm/shoulder defense which is a reminder that I'm going to have to do a better job of provoking more movement instead of just trying to pry my way into a mountainside.

Movement is the weakest part of my game - in part because I'm not the youngest rooster in the yard and in part because I've tended to associate movement with the kind of flashy, ninja-jiu jiujitsu that I really wanted to avoid. But movement doesn't mean flying around. It just means selectively creating space and removing space, one step at a time.

166.6 on the scale, everything but the coat. That's about as heavy as I need to get going into the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Parabens Jonathan Brookins!

The Gracie Barra Orlando purple belt is now an Ultimate Fighter.

Photo by Dave Mandel. Courtesy of

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ryan Hall Interview at Grappling Weekly

An excerpt:
BD: You had mentioned to me that you believe guard passing is your best skill, if you were to go back a few years and look at the forums and see all the hits for Ryan Hall and your success with the triangle and inverted guard and what not, it’s completely different with your mentality now. You’ve gone through a transformation and have changed since then. Your whole jiu jitsu philosophy has changed. How did his all come about?

RH: I agree with you on your statement about my change in Jiu-Jitsu mentality. I feel like my game was developed improperly at the beginning. I’ve had to do a lot of fixing and tinkering with my game, but I’ve always looked at the best guys to see what they are doing and why, basically try to become more like them. What’s really allowed me to improve is developing a deeper understanding of all of the movements I know and how they fit together into a cohesive framework and strategy–this has been the key for me. I was forced into introspection when I had surgery on my wrist in the end of 2008, keeping me off the mat with no training for 8 months.

Read more Interview with Ryan Hall

Training Day: Monday

Live Training was cut short by an accidental finger (or three) to the eye. If ever I needed a reminder of why I wear my eye patch every single time I train (and I don't), today was one hell of a memorandum.

Feeling better a few hours later. My whole eye is sore rather than just my cornea, which is a good thing, and I should probably spend less time in front of this computer monitor tonight (though the alternative is and likely will be the great Monday Night Football game between the Patriots and the Jets.) But the real test will be REM sleep several hours from now.

More work from the back today. The sitout from a failed sprawl and the turtle rolling escape from back control, mostly. Live Training was a good stint with Brian before the forementioned eye poke.

That's it for now. I just got an e-mail from GB Wear telling me that their brand new line of gear - including gis - will be ready in February. This pretty much means that the chance of GB actually putting on a halfway decent sale this holiday season (decent = "including gis") has slid from its perennially low level to the dark side of zero. But, then again, you never know. I also got an e-mail from GracieMag telling me not to despair and that my magazines (plural) will arrive by Wednesday.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Training Day: Friday

A lot of drilling for competition training this Friday. We worked moves like switching from side control to knee on belly, moving from knee on belly on one side to knee on belly on the other (mostly as a conditioning drill), then some oldies but goodies like the armbars from mount that I don't think I've done in a year. A little King of the Hill specific to round things out (our group was escaping the clock choke) and that did it for the coursework.

I spent the Live Training session going over the basics of Rap Star with Jaime, mostly focusing on getting to the side and working for omoplatas and general shoulder control. It started as a discussion on countering Flat Pass, but branched out pretty quickly to deal with the overhook half guard position in general.

A good session if not a hard session, so to speak. Except for a few moments during the drills, I didn't break much of a sweat which isn't a great way to go into the weekend. But there's plenty of training to do next week, especially with the Invitational Tournament a week from Sunday in Fife.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday

A good day on the mat - and my first since Saturday. We spent the entire session with Prof. Carlos working on triangle chokes, which was a lot of fun. I'm very much in favor of this kind of training. Personally, I wouldn't mind if all we did was train a single technique for a week - that's what's going to really make different moves stick over time. In any event, today was a great training day in that regard.

Worked with a couple of relatively new white belts, which was nice and pedagogical for me. A little specific and live training with Alex, Brian and Dex, and that was it. I was able to work both some deep half as well as some of Lloyd Irvin's mousetrap, and I'm thinking that both are likely to play bigger and bigger roles in terms of what I do on the mat.

Was in a little bit of a hurry to leave, so no weigh-in today. I'll be back on the mat on Friday at the latest, so we'll see just how many lbs I'll be taking into the weekend.

Gracie Barra Federal Way Open House Dec. 11

Professors Kevin Smith and Shawn Joseph are holding an Open House at the newly, rebranded Gracie Barra Federal Way (formerly South Sound Jiu Jiu Jitsu). The Open House begins at 11: 45 a.m., Saturday, December 11th. The address is below.

2016 So. 320th St #A
Federal Way, WA 98003

Google Maps assistance here

Rolled Up with Budo Jake and Romulo Barral

One thing I need to spend more time with over at Budo Videos is their great "Rolled Up" series starring Budo Jake.

The current episode features Jake meeting with Romulo Barral. More open guard than your heart can handle.

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caio Terra v Carlos Melo: Las Vegas Open 2010 Absolute

And Don't Even Get Me Started About GB Gis and "The Policy" ...

Meanwhile ...

--Budo Videos
Give Thanks and save 15% off all weekend! Shoyoroll Batch 8 Preorders, Friday only!
--NHB Gear
Cyber Monday sale! Save 15-60% plus free shipping in the US on almost everything in the store!
50% OFF Black Friday - Cyber Monday
--Gracie Insider
Additional 15% Off Until December 15th
Cyber Monday Sale Starts Early at OntheMat

Goodbye to GracieMag

After two years, I've decided to call it quits subscribing to the print version of this magazine. And while I'd like to say it was a principled stand against their removal of the Portuguese en face translation, the fact of the matter is that it was simply good, old-fashioned lousy customer service that has me shouting, "enough is enough."

It's too bad. I'll miss the photography in particular. But my patience has run out. And the more I think of the things that annual subscription will buy, the less I think I'll miss the print magazine.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ryan Hall Runs My Voodoo Down

All of the jiu jitsu positions are going to flow together ... The more you train, the more high-level you get, the more skilled you become, the more you are going to see all the inroads and all the transitions and passages between these different positions. And in order to be truly effective, you have to develop them. So I can't just be like, 'Oh, I've got a great half guard but, man, my back control is terrible.' You're going to have a really hard time.

--Ryan Hall, Deep Half Guard: Advanced Deep Half Attacks

Training Day: Saturday

Live Training and Open Mat today. After what has seemed like forever off the mat, it's hard to describe how good it felt to get in some good training today. I could have easily trained for another hour.

I had a really nice training range today, especially insofar as I've been off the mat for a week. Tough guys all in Glen, Ron, Daniel, Doug, Alex and a bunch of others. But no black belts (Carlos, Shawn, Joel and Rodrigo were all training) and no time with either Lance or Casey, guys who are going to get their faixa pretas any day now or so it seems.

That allowed me to really ease back into the training routine, focusing on my most recent bread and butter in the deep half. I'm all entries and Homer Simpson sweeps right now. But I figure if I can keep one step ahead of efforts to counter the deep half, then I'll perennially be the better for it.

162.6 post train, street clothes, which is pretty damn good for a Saturday morning (though I did train calorie-restricted). Rodrigo laid out the competition schedule for the next several weeks, which includes the December 12th event (which is expanding beyond the Marcelo Alonso/Foster/Five Rings invitational aspect, or so I hear) and the Winter Cup in Shoreline on January 9th.

Both of these events will be great preparation for the Revolution in early March. I'm not thrilled to be competing on Sundays, but that's more an issue of how I like to spend my Saturday evenings than anything else. At the end of the day, as long as I can keep my weight in the right range, everything will be everything.

Working on the 1 on 1 pass from standing. It's still more a matter of applying pressure and maintaining base than actually threatening the pass. But the guard pass principles are there and I'm sure that if I keep applying them I'll get more and more comfortable with taking the requisite risks for getting the pass.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Winter Wonderland in Autumn

This is why it is so tricky to try and average 15 training sessions a month from October through March. Every winter, Seattle is looking more and more like the New England of my youth. Snowed in today. I'll see if I can get out and about some tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Training Day: Friday

A nice Live Training/Open Mat session on Friday. Unfortunately, I almost broke Pat's neck during the back/escape the back specific drills. I almost never take the back and, when I do, I often look to transition to the mount or side control. My relatively faint acquaintance with the position had a lot to do with my inability to move or, more to this point, the shoulder roll from taking the back from turtle to taking the back with hooks. Rather than pick a side, I ended up going directly over Pat's head which, planted on the mat, ended up taking a lot of stress on his neck.

Hopefully he's feeling better. Neck injuries are scary things. Both Rodrigo and Cindy has pretty serious neck injuries for awhile and though they both seem to be fine now, I can't help but get anxious any time the neck gets involved.

Good training with Pat (up until aforementioned near neck-break), Jesse and a couple of other guys I rarely train with like Tom (wrestling coach). I'm all deep half guard, all the time, and trying to make that commitment to attacking the guard from standing which is really going to be (read: "has long been") a make or break issue for my jiu jitsu future.

Fat as a cow at 165 and change, post-train, everything but the coat. I'll give myself a break in this post-compete week. But starting Monday it's back at it. We are doing a smaller tournament with Marcelo Alonso, Foster and Five Rings on Sunday (yuck) December 12, and I thought I heard something about doing another one in January. The next Revolution will be on March 5th.

My shoulder has been aching again a bit, so I ordered some more Cissus - two bottles this time so that I can load up, keep up a good maintenance, and not run out so quickly. I think it was just starting to be really effective when I ran out last time. I'm also desperately seeking a white A2 GB gi. But it looks like GB is draining the inventory to make room for a new line of GB gear (including gis), which means nothing likely until 2011. I hope my sleeves hold up. I'm feeling a bit like the Strawman, these days.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Training Day: Monday

Just what the doctor ordered for training today: open mat plus a little Live Training to finish things off. There are days when you just want to get some work in without having to "learn" too much. And the Monday after a tournament Saturday is one of them.

That said, we did focus on a few things, especially triangle chokes given our team's struggle to finish them in more than a few matches over the weekend. It was just good, basic jiu jitsu training: fixing what ails - even if still don't see myself triangling too many people too soon.

Trained with a number of good folks, and it was good to see Jason/Garcia after what seems like at least a year.

Right now, my training focus is pretty explicit: deep half from the bottom and standing passes from the top - particularly the Jack Johnson. I'll stick with this through the end of the year and see what gains are made.

A portly 165.0 post train. After the Revolution, I ate nothing but cupcakes and pizza for 24 hours.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Notes on Me and My Revolution 11/13/2010

Preparation Issues:
I didn't make getting back into top shape a priority after recovering from my cold in early October. I did a pretty good job of getting back on the mat. Over the four weeks after getting back to training, I averaged four training sessions a week (a "4.0 average" so to speak). But at least three out of those four weeks should have been spent trying to get back a bit of an edge in the conditioning - even if that meant just LSD work and tempo training.

Strategy Issues:
The guy I fought was sort of Sean Sherk like in build. I'm exaggerating a bit. But the point is that twice I made bad strategic decisions given my options. The first was in the takedown, when I insisted on trying for trips and footsweeps instead of using my superior length to snag an ankle pick. Part of this has to do with a deliberate decision to try the footsweep attack. And part of it has to do with my reluctance to change levels aggressively, which is largely a conditioning issue (lower body muscular endurance, to be specific).

The second strategic mistake was to attack with the Flat Pass first. I never want to make the Flat Pass the first option. It's always better to divert and distract with a legitimate standing pass attack first. But especially when dealing with guys who are relatively small, it is better to deal with their lack of length with a standing pass, rather than to remain at their preferable range with the Flat Pass.

Execution Issues:
I didn't commit enough on the footsweep attack to really get a good sense of how well it might have worked anyway. I could hear Casey yelling at me to commit to it more. But it is still a relatively new takedown for me, and I could feel my reluctance to truly pursue it. I mentioned some of the Flat Pass issues in a previous post. I think the general issue is that I'm too high up on the body and too much in the middle, rather than fully shifting my weight all the way over and using my shoulder to help keep the guy's back down. None of the videos (the Justin Garcia video or the Tozi video) spend a lot of time on the specifics of the underhook. So this will be in part more trial and error.

Lastly, my deep half was a little off. I think I was starting to settle into it a bit better when time ran out in my first match. Spending more time attacking with the deep half in training will fix a lot of this. Again, the deep half is a relatively new "focus" component to my half guard game. So the bugs are to be expected.

A little tight and a little tentative is probably how I'd describe my performance overall. I think a lot of it can be chalked up to some unfamiliarity with relatively new techniques, as well as a few flaws in some of the old standbys that are keeping me from being as effective as I could against equal or better competition. Developing a surer strategy for the middle game of passing the guard from standing is probably my most critical goal between now and the next revolution, which has implications both for conditioning as well as technique/skill development.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Some People Tell Me Home is in the Sky"

For every Revolution, a song.

Man of Bronze

Mine was among the first matches of the day on Saturday, one of the small graces of competing as a brown belt. It will take a bit of getting used to, but I love not having to wait around and being able to get my match(es) out of the way as soon as possible.

I competed twice against the same guy, due to the three-man division with Sauleh getting a bye as the number one seed. My opponent from Univesal JJ won on points both times 0-2 and 0-6 - though he may or may not have gotten the mount points in our second match. I can't remember if I was able to poke my knee through in time or not.

A few things to analyze. I'm looking forward to talking with Jesse next week. Jesse reffed both my matches and had some incisive comments on my Flat Pass, which I attacked with in my second match only to stall after getting to half guard. I'd like to pick his brain a bit on the matches overall, as well as his specific observations about what was (and wasn't) going on my with pass game. As I told him this morning when he was initially explaining what he saw, I'm having a lot of trouble with the knee cross pass, as well. And I wouldn't be surprised if any tips to correct the former will assist my struggles with the latter, as well.

I felt a little tentative (which Jesse also seemed to notice). Truth told, I was trying more than a few new things with the footsweep attack from standing and the deliberate choice of the deep half over the regular half when I ended up on the bottom. And though I've been drilling those techniques for the past few weeks, they are clearly not yet "hard-wired." Of course, that will be the goal over the next couple of months heading into the next Revolution in early March.

BTW, I made weight with about three or four pounds to spare. Figures.

A great day of watching fights. Dex was especially exciting to watch later in the day, as he battled four tough guys on route to gold in his division. Lance and Sauleh were typically masterful in their matches. And both Benny (purple) and Bianca had some great finishes by choke.

As for me, I'm down on the corner, to steal a line from Lou Reed. There are some technical things to work through, in the takedowns, in the deep half, in the @#$@@# standing guard pass. But conditioning wise, I need to make an oft-considered switch to a focus on explosive speed. Too often, I'm inches away from where I need to be. Improving my explosive speed (8-15 second max intervals with 3-5 minute active rest periods) could go a long way toward closing that gap.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Was feeling more than a little beat up after Tuesday's training, so I took a few days off to heal up ahead of the tournament tomorrow. Being pretty much right at my weight limit, I figured a Friday session would help me lose a few pounds and sharpen up a little bit before the event.


Not great, and I won't be eating much today, but those are ye breaks. I've never missed weight in the five years I've been competing - and I've had to make more significant cuts in the past. But every time seems like the first time when it comes time for lose lbs and there's nothing about caloric restriction that I enjoy - especially headed into the weekend.

Not entirely sure how I feel about tomorrow's event: better prepared, but less enthusiastic is probably the most accurate. I've probably never had a better sense of what I can do, what I plan to do, but training with so many advanced brown belts and black belts over the past few weeks has led to an attenuated confidence as to what I'll be able to accomplish when the time comes. Hence the "enthusiasm gap." I couldn't be more grateful for the fact that brown belts will start off pretty much right at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow since there are no black belts competing. I have no idea what size my bracket is, if I am in "adult" or "masters" and, to be honest, I'm not sure how much I care. It would just be something else to think about that isn't my gameplan.

I'm going to leave it at that before my growling stomach turns me into a Revolution eve Grinch. Hopefully I'll have something interesting to say in about 24 hours.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

The most important thing about Tuesday's training was the number on the scale: 161.6, everything but the coat.

I'd been hoping to get under 164, giving Wednesday's training the shot at that mission. But Rodrigo came through as I'd hoped he would with a strong hour of fast-paced, competition prep style training that, among other things, helped me shed more than four pounds in 36 hours.

A lot of good technique, as well. Drag 'em to hell with the ankle pick, safe clinch to modified hip throw, the collar pull counter to the over/under control of top half, bridge to single leg counter to the knee on belly, a great butterfly guard pass where you hook the calfs with one arm, hook over the thighs with the other and then backstepping in the direction of the upper/thigh control to watchdog position and the pass ...

I've always loved the training we get during competition season: the combination of the focus on singular techniques for more than one day, the drill-baby-drill attitude, the fast pace, the specific training ... I may have cause to sing the blues when it comes to competition itself. But as far as competition training is concerned, it is nothing but jazz.

At the risk of sounding impolitic, the more I read research like that discussed in The Talent Code, the more I think that competition training should not only be available during competition season. There is truly something to be said for sticking with a single takedown, with a few variations, or a single guard pass, for a couple of weeks, mixing in drills and specific training in a cardio-positive way.

I'm convinced that this kind of focus is what makes average people able to perform in an above-average way - in fact, it reminds me of the way that Rodrigo used to teach back in the Gracie Barra Seattle 1.0 days. Personally, I'd rather learn "less" and work more than the other way around. By the end of the week, you've still got 2-3 new techniques or new variations to mull over. And the reality is that if you are going to try and get good at what you learn, 2-3 new techniques a week is plenty

Hopefully, the folks in the Mothership are giving individual GB schools the latitude to apply the curriculum - at least the Advanced curriculum - in a flexible way that takes into account the individual situation at any individal academy. Letting each academy be a bit of a "laboratory of jiu jitsu" inside the larger context of the official curriculum seems like the best way for GB to continue to grow and evolve.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Training Day: Monday

More competition style training today: more "ginastica" like warmups (not entirely unlike my "matwork" to be honest), lots of drills (alt triangles from open guard, double legs, dealing with the pull closed guard, side control escape, etc.) as well as a little bit of specific before the Open Mat session.

Very nice to mix things up a bit. The reason for the season is the Revolution tournament at the end of the week. But I'm grateful for the change of pace in any event.

A couple of highlights include Prof Carlos' bullfight pass (I want to call it the "mosca" pass because of the fly-swatter-like hand gesture to get around the legs and quickly to the side, and my "back mount hips left" strategy for escaping rear mount. And though I couldn't find a partner in the time I had left, I did manage to drill the roll for the kimura sweep - and hopefully will get some opportunities to drill it live tomorrow night.

Nothing but fat, fat, fat on the scale: 166.2. Hopefully, I'm under 164 by the end of Tuesday's training and under 162 by the end of Wednesday's training. From there I feel pretty good about coasting lower on tiny calories and ice water all the way to Saturday morning.

Megumi on Loss

"Shapeless; I feel that I’m enveloped in warmth. The gloomy feelings from the fight are over."

Megumi Fujii Addresses Bellator Loss, Future

Sunday, November 07, 2010

No-Gi Mundial 2010 Results

Brandon Mullins at galo/rooster
Caio Terra at pluma/light feather
Justin Rader at pena/feather
Lucas Lepri at leve/light
Gilberto Burns at medio/middle
Pablo Popovitch at meio pesado/middle heavy
Rafael Lovato Jr. at pesado/heavy
Joao Assis at super pesado/super heavy
Roberto de Abreu "Cyborg" at pesadissimo/ultra heavy

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Live Training Day today. I got in some typically tough rolls with Lance, Jim (twice) and Bryan, and finished up with a roll with a new white belt, which is always a nice way to tail things off. I was very much on the clock, which made for an abrupt depature. But that the way things are right now when I want to train the early class - especially on Fridays.

I'm starting to see my half guard game move up to the next level, doing a better job of incorporating the deep half as both a launching pad for attacks as well as as "bail out" position when escaping. Remembering the shin sweep and the transition back to half will be some of the key things to remember as I spend more time in the deep half.

One week out, the training environment seems like it is still coming together. Rodrigo and Carlos both have us on a good hard pace, but it seems like not all of the sentient beings in the room are always on the same page. Both Rodrigo and Carlos have had to make points about training with intensity during training over the past week, which isn't necessarily a great sign going into a tournament. I don't know how many folks are planning to compete. If that number has slackened any, then that might provide some sort of explanation for the rise in "Cadillacking" during class.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Meia Guarda, Minha Guarda

"The half guard is the most important position in jiu jitsu ... because that's where the majority of fights take place."
--Eddie Bravo, "Jiu Jitsu Unleashed"

I'm sitting here waiting for The Ultimate Fighter to start, enjoying the last half hour of the UFC's Best of 2009 on Spike. Right now, I'm watching Lesnar v. Mir 2, and thinking a lot about the half guard (if you've seen the fight, then you know why.)

Deciding to focus on the half guard was the best thing I ever did for my jiu jitsu. One of the most important things in jiu jitsu is, at some point, to figure out what game best suits the way your body wants to move (and not move, for that matter). And in this I'm pretty fortunate to find the half guard such a snug fit.

Training Day: Wednesday

Good hard, pre-competition training. Even if there ever comes a day when I stop competing (yeah, right, Senior 4 anyone?), there will never follow a day when I don't enjoy the kind of training we do when competition draws near. Everything is kicked up a notch: faster, more intense, more precise.

The takedown for today was the ouchi gari, the inside leg hook I call "drag 'em to Hell". The footwork here is a diagonal step forward and out on the sleeve side and a drag on the collar side. When the guy takes the step forward from the collar drag, slide your collar side foot inside and around to hook the guy's step forward foot. Close your leg around the ankle, pull hard on the collar, and drive forward into closed guard.

The follow-up on the ouchi gari is the Jacare or the ankle pick. Here, if the guy steps out and around your inside hook, then you keep your grip on the collar and with your other hand pick up the ankle on the other leg. Lift and drive the guy in a backward circle for the single leg finish.

We also did some half guard specific, followed by some side control and closed guard specific. I got to work with Benny the Purple, who is a great guy to work with in general and an ideal guy to work with as the Revolution draws near. I got to train with him some more during Live Training, in addition to rolling with Rodrigo and Dex.

What's working with ten days left until the Revolution? I was able to make some significant improvements in my deep half tonight, focusing more on positioning and controling the ankle. It's still largely defensive. But if I can avoid getting triangled from the deep half, then I'll be more than grateful (BTW, a thousand thanks to Mr. Glover for his quick response and insightful tips on fixing THAT problem!)

164.8 on the scale post train, everything but the coat. That's about five pounds heavier than I want to be a week from now. But otherwise, I've got no complaints.

Fabio Gurgel On Injury Prevention

I've been looking through recent back issues of GracieMag for this quote, which I think is a great and underrated one in all the "what you should do" discussions when it comes widespread idea of strength training plays a key role in injury prevention in jiu jitsu.
Warm-up and stretching are fundamental, but training mobility through specific exercises is what actually prevents getting injured during a match.

GSP On Fighting and the Martial Arts

Nice little interview with UFC welterweight and Gracie Barra black belt, Georges St. Pierre.

Georges St. Pierre Studies Josh Koscheck for UFC 124
People think my takedowns come from wrestling but I’ve done karate for so long. You can use karate as a set up for punching people, to cover distance, or to put someone down. I use it to cover the distance and put people down, and I’m very good at it. A guy like Lyoto Machida does it too. So it’s more than just wrestling, it’s about fighting itself.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Danaher on Fight Week

An interesting interview with John Danaher, professor at the Renzo Gracie Academy.

Fight Week on Sherdog

The Danaher interview comes after the interview with Christiane "Cyborg" Santos.

More on Danaher here

Monday, November 01, 2010

Training Day: Monday

More good judo to start the week off. I arrived a little late (again), but I was able to catch some nice trips off of a blocked seoinage type throw. The first trip was just an inside step where you hook your forward foot behind the guy's ankle after turning your body to attempt the hip/shoulder throw. The second trip was specifically off a blocked ippon seoinage, and resembled the ko uchi gari throw.

Actually both trips were ko ouchi gari, I think, with the second being a variation where you grab the leg with the ippon/hooking arm, step behind that leg, and use your shoulder pressure and body weight to drive the guy to the mat.

Both takedown ended up inside the guard, which Prof. Carlos showed us how to step out of and then, switching base and getting a grip under the head, move into half guard or even directly to the pass.

On the ground, we worked on side control transitions to mount, including a knee on belly option. Prof. Carlos likes the Renzo-style, tight side control, with the over/under gable grip, the "shoulder of justice", and both knees in tight against the guy's body. One check to see if you are tight enough is whether your north knee and your north elbow are connecting. If they are, then your side control is solid and ready to go.

The main ideas here were strategies to open up the guy's body for the knee. Specifically, we use the north knee to open up the near-side elbow, which opens up the body for the south knee to slide in. To get from knee on belly to full mount, open up the elbow with your under/over body gable grip and bring your knee to the mat.

Trained with Jessee and Glen to finish things up. Jesse continues to expose my vulnerabilities with the deep half, especially the same triangle that Sauleh, Rodrigo and Prof. Christiano have all attacked me with successfully. I'm going to e-mail Jeff Glover tonight and see if he has any tips on how to avoid the triangle when attacking with his #1 sweeep. But right now I'm thinking of shelving it since it is just leading to trouble whenever I train with someone my level or better. For now, a better option may be to use the deep half as a transition opportunity to switch back to the more familiar and time-tested ground of the regular half.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cindy Hales, Sleeper Athletics and the Emerald City Kids Grappling Championships

GracieMag: No Gi Brazilian Nationals

Here's the coverage from GracieMag.

Brackets are still available at the Federation website. But the full results may not be available until Monday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Son of Quantified Jiu Jitsu: 4-Week Moving Average

The other thing I like to do with numbers is to track my four-week moving average of training. Moving averages are a great way to gauge a trend, and by applying them to my training, they help keep me in tune with the relationship between the actual effort I'm putting out on the mat and whatever subjective sense of effort or accomplishment I may feel.

What get me thinking about this a little bit is the fact that even though I missed two weeks of training in the final week of training in September and the first week of training in October, as of week's end I will have my four-week moving average of training up to 3.25 a week. If next week goes as scheduled, that average will climb to 4.25.

Above is my four-week moving average of training since August 2010.

X-Combat on YouTube

Talking about watching competition footage online today after training with Elliott and Glen got me thinking about some of the great stuff available on the X-Combat YouTube channel.

X-Combat's Channel

What's especially nice is that most of the competition is in the gi.

Training Day: Friday

A good open mat session to finish the week. Scheduling is going to prevent me from training on Saturday, which means that I'll also miss Prof. Christiano's cardio class. But I'm thinking that I'll get a chance at more Saturday training after the tournament - including the cardio class if they decide to move it to Seattle from Yakima.

Some good training today, ending with a long session with Prof. Carlos. A couple of good tips about keeping the hand closed to avoid the wrist lock when swimming were some of the takeaways. I wasn't able to accomplish a lot in terms of reversals or anything (surprise, surprise), but I was able to defend myself using less energy, which is one of the keys to training with vastly superior training partners. It's something worth remembering beyond the sensation of being in a industrial strength washing machine.

Reviewed some side control/crossbody escapes with Reuben, which was also very nice. I'm determined to help encourage a culture of post-training drilling at GB Seattle; there's no better way to improve your technique, IMO. And the best way to do it is by example. So we'll see what I can do.

It's a little late in the game, but I'm putting together a full-fledged set of gameplans for both practice and competition. The competition gameplan is extremely detailed, and it is taking some real time to put it all together. But the more I read and review the sample gameplan that Lloyd Irvin provided, the more I see how this kind of thing can be very helpful for someone like myself. It's almost like writing an instructional manual or instructional DVD on your own jiu jitsu game.

So far, I've gotten most of the half guard and guard parts down. Guard pass will probably take some time, as will half guard pass. But even if I don't have everything ready in time for the Revolution, the work I've done to this point already is helping me see things with new clarity.

Quantified Jiu Jitsu

One of the things I've really come to appreciate in my three-plus years working with The Daily Planet is the value of quantifying experience.

This is a graph of my training frequency by quarter since August 2008. "Training" includes seminars and competition, as well as classes and Live Training/Open Mats.

I used by quarter data to smooth things out a bit. But even so, it's clear that I'm headed into a period when I tend not to train as much as usual. In part it's because of the holidays. But I know that some of it actually has been weather-related over the past two years.

In any event, one major goal over the next quarter will be to keep the average up. From where I'm sitting right now, November is a "par 19" month. December is looking like a 12.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Megumi: Japanese Mount Armbar

Japanese Mount Armbar
Here's a self-described "mini-chop" from Bloody Elbow.

Demonstrating the technique that Megumi used to win her last fight against Lisa Ward is Erik Paulson.

I Got the News: WEC merges with UFC in 2011

Courtesy of Ariel Helwani

Dana White: WEC, UFC to Merge in 2011

Fujii v. Frausto at Bellator 34

The latest interview/profile of P4P top ten MMA fighter, Megumi Fujii courtesy of Bloody Elbow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday

A nice night on the mat. I'll admit that it is weird to be doing so much half guard. On the one hand (the biggest, most pimp-like hand, so to speak), nothing could be better for my game right now. I've felt alternately alienated from and trapped in my half guard for the past several months, and this much focus on the position and its options is as good as it gets.

On the other hand, it sometimes feels like your private little cul-de-sac rambler somehow ended up on the Neighborhood Home Tour. And the line of eager gawkers runs half way back up the street.

I got to train with good folks across the board. More Elliott is a good thing, and it was good to train with Benny the Purple and Reuben after not seeing either for what seems like quite awhile. And with Lance at the top of the hill and a new white belt still on his way up, I got a nice range of work in on the margins.

I really think that's important - and one of the things that Rodrigo has been especially observant of over the years. In a perfect world, you spend at least 5-10 minutes against someone whose skill is superior enough for you to be forced to rely on technique, despite the call for athleticism that being overwhelmed tends to induce. And then at least another 5-10 minutes being that someone. Technical. Competent. Masterful.

Everything in between is everything in between. You never know what you're going to get. But to really maximize the training experience, focusing on the margins (the illusion of facing Rickson Gracie and the illusion of being Rickson Gracie) can play a significant role.

162.2 in street clothes post-train. Thursday off. Friday back at it. The Revolution is 2 1/2 weeks away.

Feed Me! The Case for Training Beatdowns

One of the stupidest things I ever read on a combat sports message board was from some MMA tough guy talking about how he improved his butterfly guard sweep.

His solution was to find the "biggest, strongest guy in the gym" and to have that guy sit in his butterfly guard while our narrator struggled to sweep him.

That's it.

It is completely beside the point that the guy was eventually able to sweep the "biggest, strongest guy in the gym" and improve his butterfly sweep. As has been said before, some people make some gains in spite of, not because of, the efforts they put in. I'd argue that as a prescription for the average person trying to improve the effectiveness of any technique, any strategy similar to the one above is a prescription better left unfilled.

Improvement, especially technical improvement, comes not from chopping through tree trunks, but from first chopping through air. In The Talent Code, the author talks about aspiring young tennis pros in Russian talent hotbeds swinging their arms without rackets for training session after training session. The point isn't in overcoming resistance - again, not when it comes to technical improvement. The point is in mastering movement, your own movement. And when it comes to mastering movement, particularly in the early stages, resistance is the enemy.

This goes beyond "500 armbars a month" - thought that's a part of it. It's about making sure that programming takes place in the most friction-free environment possible, as you would in any circuit-building process.

I say all that to say this. There is no less friction-free environment that the competitive environment. Here, obviously resistance reigns.

And, importantly, to the degree that the competition, that world of ultimate resistance, is a microcosm of the training/learning experience of jiu jitsu, the more daily training resembles the competitive framework of evenly-matched competitors, the more the training will resemble a microcosm of the training/learning experience as well.

In other words, if competition represents only a small part of jiu jitsu, then too-regular training with "competition-calibre" training partners keeps the amount of technical development and growth relatively limited. It's "A" Game All the Time. And while there is merit in that from time to time, a steady diet of "A" Game All the Time - especially between training partners who also frequently train together - tends to preclude opportunities for experimentation, for trial and error in which the costs of "error" are low enough for new trials to begin again and again.

By that last I mean this: a brown belt trying a new sweep on a white belt is likely to get more than a few opportunities to try that sweep over the course of a five minute training session. Even if the first attempt or two is completely disasterous, the brown belt is likely to be able to recover, and even reposition himself or herself for another attempt or two. Or three.

On the other hand, that same brown belt trying that new sweep against a competition-calibre training partner will likely get only one shot, maybe two, at that sweep. The competition-calibre partner will adapt much, much faster than the white belt, providing much less room for error as the new techniques are being attempted. In short order, new techniques become shelved if not abandoned and we are back at "A" Game All the Time.

This isn't rocket science. Aside from a few knuckleheads, most people agree that it makes sense to learn new techniques against smaller and/or less experienced training partners first, and then increase the level of the challenge as confidence in the new technique grows.

But it seems as if more often than not, we're on our own to take care of this work, to get our "white belt feedings" on our own time. More often in structured training, that two hours a day, 6-8 hours a week from bow in to bow out, matching equals (or comparables, smaller brown v.s. somewhat bigger blue) is the order of the day.

There is no doubt a time for iron sharpening iron, as the saying goes. But iron too often in continuous contact with the sharpening effects of like iron swiftly becomes a lesser tool.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

Message to future sparring partners: please don't grab inside my pant cuffs.

I know it is irresistable to attack my ankles when I sit up in Marcelo guard. And I expect it. But please, please, use a proper grip when looking to control my legs.

A pistol grip is fine. Hooking the outside of the cuff and turning the material out is also very cool. Elliott has a variation on this grip that is stronger and a little easier to get.

But please grip correctly. I've now got three pairs of gi pants this year alone that have seven inch rips at the cuff because of illegal grips. I'm no churchmouse, but at $35 a pop, it's getting to be a real budget item having to buy new gi pants over and over.

So, please, legal grips only. It's a win/win for both of us.

Thank you.

Aside from that, more good training tonight. Pulling half guard was the main technical focus, with Rodrigo preferring the dive with the collar side hand and leg that I'd pretty much given up on after Monday's training. Now it's back on the burner. I'll have to try it both ways and see what I see.

Tweaked my "good" knee tonight doing some no gi with Lance after Live Training tonight. Nothing too crazy: I can walk on it and squat without too much discomfort. But I'm feeling it, and I may be in the market for another knee brace before the end of the week. So it goes.

If all goes well, I'll be back on the mat tomorrow night. Nothing stood out in particular from tonight's Live Training: nothing too bad, nothing too good. That doesn't exactly fortify, but we'll see how things develop over the next several days.

Schembri v. Cooper: October 24, 2010

From the Jiu Jitsu ProGear Open 2010 Superfight between Nino Schembri and Bill Cooper.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Miami Open: Black Belt Ultra Heavy Final: Abreu v. Hall

Trading Day: Monday

Only the Advanced class today. I would have liked to spar and do some Live Training, but by the time the Advanced Class was over, it was time for me to get my hat, as the old folks used to say. No worries insofar as I'll be back on the mat Tuesday and there was plenty for me to think about and integrate from today's class.

The whole session was devoted to pulling half guard, pulling deep half really. The idea is to dive into the half guard using your sleeve grip side, using your collar grip to pull the guy lower and break his posture down. Prof. Carlos had us underhook the rear leg rather than wrapping both arms around the front leg as Jeff Glover prefers in his deep half. From here scissor your legs and drag on the collar to sweep the guy face forward.

One variation on this takedown/sweep was to transition from the scissor to the shin sweep using the pendulum motion to turn the guys leg over and bring his knee closer. Here, you grab the foot with the collar grip and slide under the front leg with your farthest out leg cocked behind the guy's leg at the knee. Carlos had us grab our pant leg to wrap up the leg for more control. But the basic sweep is very similar to the one that Marcelo Garcia has relied on for some time now.

We also did a variation where you dive with the collar grip, but I'm going to ignore that one because I like the sleeve grip dive better: more options, more control.

Lastly we finished up with some basic half guard. In addition to the Old School sweep that I've made my bread and butter, Carlos also showed a butterfly half sweep option in case the guy posts his leg out wide. Most of the time, I've gone to the Twist Back when the leg is posted wide. Having this hook sweep option out of the half butterfly is a nice additional option.

It was also nice to work the transition from deep half to regular half. I am able to scramble to deep half more often than not when in trouble. Being able to get from deep half to regular half will soon come in handy I'm sure.

162.5 on the scale post train, everything but the coat. Three weeks to go, I'm pretty much were I should be. I've been brushing up on some escape details, things to work on over the next couple of weeks. Today's class was definitely a building one in terms of techniques I can put to work immediately.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miami International Open Results

Team Winner: Gracie Elite
Black Belt Absolute Winner: Roberto Abreu "Cyborg" (The Avengers)
Other Black Belts Winners: Ryan Hall (Brasa) won gold at feather/pluma. JT (Lloyd Irvin) took gold at light/leve.

Read the rest of the results here. There were no Brown belt lightweights competing in Masters or Seniors divisions. Ariel Sexton of Athletic Advance took first in the Brown belt adult lightweight.

The next big event in the states is the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships in two weeks (November 7th). More info of the No Gi Mundial here.

Low Spider Guard Pass

Courtesy of Gracie Barra Idaho

Oregon Open Results

The Oregon Open results have been tabulated and are posted here

Not a whole lot of familiar names, save for Eric Loar (Impact JJ) at Purple Featherweight, who I've competed against at least two or three times back in 2009, and Anthony Tran, two divisions up, also representing Impact JJ.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Training Day: Saturday

Made it to the academy a little late, so I just took the Live Training class after a full UBS/LBS stretch. Both Rodrigo and Carlos were nowhere to be seen, but Jesse was leading both the class and the Live Training afterward. Live Training was mostly specific work, King of the Guard, King of Side Control, that kind of thing. I actually spent most of the time training with Pedro and Doug (both of whom have become pretty regular Saturday training, training partners.

That said, some of the best work was done after Live Training, going over some specific and technical stuff with one of the newer guys. This has traditionally when I've gotten some of my best work done. Too often, rolling with guys who are bigger and/or better leads to a restricted game of focusing on just your strengths alone at best or, at worst, just your escapes and defenses.

And while there is a place for that kind of thing, it makes far more sense to mix it up so that you are almost always getting a change to roll with someone against whom the trial of new techniques is not likely to end in futility.

With three weeks to go, I'm trying to focus in on those areas that most need improvement in order to perform better in November than I did last July. Jeff is running a Master's division, which I'll sign up for if it helps the school win points, but that I'd just as soon avoid otherwise. At least until I earn my black belt, I'd rather just be in the pool with the rest of the brown belts.

Leg Strategies v.s. the Spider Guard

Friday, October 22, 2010

Training Day: Friday (Or,

"The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty but to have a slave of his own."
--Sir Richard Burton

159.2 on the scale post-train.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Schembri v. Cooper Superfight This Sunday

Courtesy of the Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear Open 2010 this Sunday in San Clemente, California.

More on Nino here. More on Bill the Grill in this YouTube interview.

Catch the live stream of matches from blue, purple, brown, black and the Superfight here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday (Or,

My Own Private Silva-Aldo Moment.)

A nice night of training today on Wednesday. In most respects, it was a repeat of Tuesday night's training, which was perfectly fine with me. Everything I know about skill acquisition - verified by the research in The Talent Code - shows that repetition is the key to mastery.

Call it muscle memory. Call it circuit building. Call it whatever you want. But as far as becoming truly great at anything is concerned, drill baby drill.

Or, at least, develop some halfway decent familiarities that will keep you from doing something stupid. For example, every match I've been in where I took the initiative turned out relatively well (wins or close losses). By contrast, every match where I've let the other person control the standup, control the guard situation, has been a disaster.

So the goal for training is to develop a "first-strike" capability from standing, and an invulnerability to the most common dangers of the guard, especially sweeps.

All of this boils down to a jiu jitsu that spends a lot of time standing - both when it comes to securing takedowns and passing the guard. And as ironic as that is - that my success on the ground is intimately connected with my success on the feet - it couldn't be clearer that this is true.

I've done a little work in this regard conditioning-wise, judo footwork for active rest, for example, and tempo single leg squats to improve lower body muscle endurance. But there are some other things I can add in, at least to the degree that I'm buying into this latest assessment of what will work for me on the mat going forward.

U.S. Open XV Results

U.S. Open results in full are here:

U.S. Open XV Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Results

Big dogs include Black belt absolute winner Marcel Fortuna (Ralph Gracie), women's brown-black division winner Angela Sauermann (Pitbull Jiu Jitsu), and Vernie Inocencio (Gracie Humaita/Rocha), who took the division I'd've been most likely to compete at: brown belt lightweight masters (30-35 yrs)

Props are due also to a bunch of local folks I recognize, including James Foster of Foster BJJ; Brian, Michelle and Zach from GB Ballard, and Brian of the NW Jiu Jitsu Academy (who I met once in the Las Vegas airport of all places).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

Sort of best of times, worst of times in training tonight. The coursework was great, a lot of judo, focusing on both the osoto gari and the footsweep, and then using the footsweep to set up the osoto gari. Rodrigo was especially good on the footwork, the 1-2 backward then 3 step forward and then swinging the throwing leg in and back on the osoto gari, for example. That kind of thing makes it easier to remember and to drill independently.

On the ground, base-switching half-guard passes continued to be the focus. Here, Rodrigo added the switch to the knee cross or Royler pass if you get caught up in the watchdog position.

Live training was a different story. I trained with Lance, Rodrigo, Elliott and Benny - tough matches all and admittedly there wasn't as much left after training with Rodrigo as I would have liked to have. No excuses - if for no other reason than all that is pretty typical business as far as I go. Still, it's the kind of thing that reproduces question marks in one's head at an unpleasantly alarming rate. It is strange to have no formal relationship with expectation, yet find myself living in sin with disappointment.

162 on the scale post-train - everything but the coat. I did remember to order a new set of gi pants, though it won't be long before I'm desperately in the market for a new gi, as well.

Lapel Choke from Side Control

Monday, October 18, 2010

Training Day: Monday

A good start to the week with some nice technical setups for the standup game and some good details for passing the half guard.

The standup was a combination judo attack: ashi barai and osoto gari. First you take a step forward/outside jab step on the sleeve side (as you would to set up osoto gari). Pull up on the sleeve and down/in with the collar. You're working for a step forward from his far leg. That's the leg you target with the ashi barai/foot sweep.

The combination comes if he defends the foot sweep. From here you go on to attack the nearer leg with the osoto gari.

On the ground we focused on the switch-base half guard pass. Here, one of the nice details had to do with pushing the top leg away to open up the hips for the pass, and then switching to the bottom leg pressure (which should be at least partially trapped by your free leg after you base-switch) if the guy is insistent on holding his half guard locked around your ankle or lower leg.

Good training today, even though Monday's have that rush-in, rush-out character that makes the early class a little less fun compared to the late class or Saturday sessions. That said, I'll be back at least once if not twice for the early class this week, as well as my Tuesday session tomorrow evening.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Between the Dogfight and the Deep Half Guard

With four weeks to go before the November revolution tournament, I'm in a pretty good position to start focusing in and scaling down my game. It really is a matter of programming yourself, of eliminating every thing that doesn't contribute to the goal of getting to the side, pummeling for the underhook, whipping up and forcing the Dogfight or diving for the single leg game of the deep half.

Working with a white belt a little bit after training on Saturday, I was able to work some half guard passes that Rodrigo showed us years ago but that I never really put to work in practice. It wasn't much, but in that three minutes I trained that one guard pass more often than I had in three years.

To the extent that my jiu jitsu is single leg/half guard related, there's no reason not to master as much of it as I can. And a large part of that is simply sticking to the lesson at hand, day after week after month.

The same is true with the game from top. I'm starting to get a nice little suite of techniques that I like from certain positions. Now is the time to develop "the sensibility" as Rickson calls it, the invisible stuff.
The most interesting aspect of jiu-jitsu is – of course the techniques are great – but the sensibility of the opponent, the sense of touch, the weight, the momentum, the transition from one move to another. That’s the amazing thing about it.
That and the PDA are what can minimize the difference in age, strength, speed or even skill. It's what makes it possible for Rickson Gracie to still amaze brilliant jiu jitsu martial artists half his age who are steeped in the most innovative technical manuevers of the day.

I'm not saying that I can be as talented as Rickson Gracie. But I haven't had to compete against anyone as good as Cobrinha or Marcelo or Roger, either.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Training Day: Saturday

Great competition training Saturday morning. One of the nice things about training on Saturday (other than the fact that it is Saturday) is that you get to train with a lot of folks you don't usually get to train with. A part of my determination to make ATT (Always Train Tuesdays) as much a maxim as ATM (Alwasy Train Mondays) is to get more and more exposure to different jiu jitsu from different teammates.

So today I get to train with Pedro for the first time, Doug for only the second or third and Professor Christiano for only the second time, as well as a few other folks like Wellington who I haven't trained with in months.

My jiu jitsu is still very reactive, however much it has improved over the choose-your-time- period. This is one of the reasons why I really struggle against unfamiliar jiu jitsu (as in tournament competition) and one of the reasons why Saturday training is such an asset. In addition to the quality of sparring partner being consistently high, I'm almost always in unfamiliar waters and having to either become all the more sharp in my reactions or, ideally, become better at imposing my game.

A lot of this has to do with developing a black belt calibre guard out of the bits and pieces of half guard and hooks guard I've peddling for the past five-odd years. Bringing some balance to my half guard and continuing to evolve the 2on1 will go a long way toward cobbling all this together, and there were a few good things out of today's training that are evidence of some progress (especially grip breaks using the knuckle peel strategy, and using the Guy LaFleur to insert hooks out of closed guard).

159.8 on the scale post-traing, everything but the coat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Managed to get in some good training with some familiar faces on Friday. I'm starting to feel more and more back in the flow of things, though I'm not entirely out of the woods health-wise. Rodrigo mentioned that he had been trying to fight off something for the past few days himself. That coupled with what I've heard about other folks catching the seasonal cold makes me feel a little better about missing the time I've missed over the past few days.

One of the things Friday's training did remind me was that it is going to be nice to be getting some sessions in on Saturday and Tuesdays. You get the sense sometimes that your time in certain situations has run its course for the time being. And while Fridays remain great time to train with a lot of great folks, it is worth being aware of when your jiu jitsu may have worn out its welcome with another jiu jitsu.

There's nothing that can be done about those 1 + 1 = 1 situations, other than to minimize them. But you can limit their psychological impact by increasing the number and variety of training partners, making it easier to see efficiency and purpose where others may only see a fear of abandoning the tried and true.

161 and change on the scale post-train. The scale is in the public domain, so to speak. So post-train weigh-in's will be fully-dressed, but without gi jacket. Given that we're all adopting the IBJJF weigh-in rules (Revolution and Seattle Open), it may be worth my while to go ahead and take a full weigh-in post-train, sweat-drenched gi jacket and all.

Grapplers at Work: Shields and Askren

Scramblers Delight: Jake Shields and Ben Askren Train for Their Upcoming Bouts

Courtesy of Bloody Elbow

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Burien Top Team the White

Just got outbid on a brand new blue Gracie Barra gi over on ebay. I'd never buy a blue gi under normal circumstances. But the opportunity to get a new gi for half price was pretty hard to resist (and the free shipping was a hell of a kicker).

So I'm just treating this as another sign from the jiu jitsu gods that this jiu jitsu wizard will remain in white.

More on Marloes

Courtesy of Sherdog

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday (Or,

Walking into Gracie Barra 3.0 these days reminds me of nothing so much as the UFC Training Center in The Ultimate Fighter reality show. I almost expect to see larger-than-life, monochromatic paintings of Carlos Sr., Carlos Jr., Prof. Feitosa and Mamazinho hanging from the ceiling and fixed to the walls.

It was also great to be back training at night. As much as I love the early class, the late class is where I came in, so to speak, and there's still nothing like a great evening training when the Live Training or Open Mat feels like it could go on for hours into the night. I got to work with Clint on the same takedowns from Monday (ouchi gari / ouchi gari counter to ankle pick), as well as the guard pass against the sitting guard (smash knee at sharp angle, scoop opposite leg to belt grip, outside shoulder to midsection), going both smash side and scoop.

Live training with Lance (first and last), Clint and Brock. I could feel the two-week layoff, but I was glad to close down the mat. That bodes well for having the stamina to train hard for the next few weeks leading up to the November Revolution.

It will take some time to integrate some of what I've been studying off-mat. Right now, I'm focusing on tightening up the half guard game: the Rodeo and Dogfight positions, as well as the Twist and Tackle, and I'll see what Marcelo guard and Glover guard I can add to my game over the next week or two (I'm hoping for Marcelo's shin guard sweep and Glover's Homer sweep - maybe with today's guard pass (The Week Four? The Smoop?) to avoid the inevitable triangle attack.

Unofficial weight around 156-157 at home after training. A great place for me to say for the next month and a half or so.

Marloes Coenen: Strikeforce Women's 135-pound Champ

Forgive me for sounding a bit barbaric, but in a world in which too many mixed martial artists feel as if they need to apologize for submitting their opponents rather than knocking them out, and guys like Shane Carwin brush off tapping to a choke because he still "kicked Lesnar's ass" in the first round, I'm giving Marloes Coenen all the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her armbar victory over Sarah Kaufman last weekend in Strikeforce.

Coenen: 'I Didn't Feel her Tapping'

Courtesy of

Monday, October 11, 2010

Training Day: Monday

Back on the mat after almost two weeks off due to illness and recovery ... According to Rodrigo, we had quite a few guys who were out sick over the past week - including Rodrigo himself, who just got back on the mat to train this past Saturday. I know that there were a lot of UW football players who were also sick according to the folks over at KJR-AM, so there was definitely something wicked going 'round here in Seattle.

My first training at the new GB Seattle 3.0. I really, really love the new facility. It's spacious and roomy, combining the best of the Tully's location (GB Seattle 1.0) with the best of the "Treehouse" a few miles north (GB Seattle 2.0), and then upping them both with new amenities and an overall "feel" that is going to be great to train and compete in.

I took the Advanced Class today. We are on Week Four of the Advanced curriculum, working on the ko uchi gari takedown, the ankle pick off the failed ko uchi gari, and a smash 'n' scoop butterfly/sitting guard pass that's a bit similar to the underhook/overhook pass that Mike Fowler shows on his DVD. Professor Carlos emphasized one detail, pinning the shin of the smashed leg with your inside shin to avoid the half guard. But the pass was similar in many ways.

The technical part of the class ran long, so I wasn't able to get in any training today. I'll pick that up tomorrow night, I'm sure, and it will be nice to roll out some of the work I've done on improving my half guard and 2on1 guard games.

1st Emerald City Kids Grappling Championships

Two new grappling/jiu jitsu tournament series are launching this month. The first was the 1st Seattle Open over at the new and improved Gracie Barra Seattle academy.

And the second is this one:

Sleeper Athletics Presents the 1st Emerald City Grappling Championships
Tournament Date: October 16th
Weigh ins: 10:30-11:30am
Tournament starts at noon
Rules meeting immediately before tournament

Cost: $25 for one division or both divisions

Registration ends Oct 14 11:59pm / No day of registration

For more info, contact Cindy at

GracieMag: 100 Things You Should Do Before Reaching Black Belt

100 Things You Should Do Before Reaching Black Belt
With a gi, a can of spray paint and an idea in mind, the GRACIEMAG team put together one of the best-selling issues in the publishing house’s history in 2007. The cover story was a compilation of 100 things practitioners should do before reaching the coveted rank of black belt.

Based on the experiences of well-established teachers, the article offers the boldest of goal outlines for unconditional Jiu-Jitsu lovers.

At the behest of readers, we re-edited the article, updating some points and revising others. Re-read it, reflect and have fun.