Sunday, January 31, 2010

Seoi Nage

Check out the arm wrap variation on the final version that ends in an armlock. Very nice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Rodrigo continues to redesign the regular classes, with the latest addition being a Self-Defense segment on Fridays. When you add this to what he's been doing with the takedowns at least once a week, I have to say that I'm really liking how things are developing at GB Seattle this year.

After the self-defense work, we spent the rest of the class working takedowns, more or less the same sorts of drills that we did on Tuesday. I fared about as well, my reverse pivot and seionage getting better and faster all the time. But I'm still hesitant to attack with throws during takedown drills, opting instead for trips and picks. That's something, hopefully, that will get worked out of my system the longer we work on the standup.

Still feeling a little sluggish on the mat, which I attribute to being still above 160. Monday night is the first night where I want to start weighing in under that number - and staying that way through the Revolution tournament on March 13. That shouldn't be much of a problem, as I step up my training frequency both on and off the mat beginning with Week 3 on Monday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

T is for Tuesday and Tuesdays are for Takedowns

At least that was the order of the day on Tuesday as Rodrigo had us working on takedown drills and takedowns for the majority of the class.

Interestingly, I had been doing some solo drills, just my basic entries for the Jacare ankle pick, the double leg, the reverse pivot. Stephen W. asked if I wanted to do a little grip fighting, which was a very, very fun exercise and the first time I'd ever really done grip fighting as a drill. Stephen is one of the higher belts (he's a brown with a couple of stripes) who has a pretty positive attitude toward independent drilling, something I've come to believe is critical to making the small improvements that amount to big improvements over the course of a year.

I trained with a blue belt whose name I can't remember, but who is pretty skilled and a regular trainer. We worked a lot of drills where you had to keep the collar grip, but could attack the legs, the sleeve or the hip with your other hand or body. We also did some grip fighting like Stephen and I drilled before class.

After a pretty vigorous set of takedown drills, we spent the second half of the class doing takedown sparring. I struggled initially, and got caught a couple of times by uchi mata type throws, a major weakness of mine when it comes to the stand up. In part, I was a little hesitant to engage with anything other than a pick for the most part. I still have an aversion to live sparring with takedowns, fearing that sooner or later, someone's knee is going to go pop and fearing that there's a pretty good chance that it would be mine.

That said, I think I've figured out a nice combo to go with the Jacare ankle pick, particularly if the guy postures forward, without having to go to the uchi mata, which is a throw I've never really felt all that comfortable with.

161.8 on the scale post-train. Under 162, which is good. But still much heavier than I'd like to be after training. Hopefully, I'll be well under 160 on Friday post-train (end of Week 2). I don't need to worry about making weight, per se, given the lightweight limit will be 162 instead of 154 this year. But I can feel the difference these extra pounds are making in terms of my conditioning, at least at this point. I'm pretty sure I'll be feeling better when I'm hitting 156 and 157 on the scale next week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Training Day: Monday

A good sized class tonight, as I try and put my ATM routine back on track. The new mats were in, both upstairs and down, so Rodrigo was able to split off the beginners for some basic work with Lindsey, while the rest of us stayed upstairs.

Rodrigo had us start off ferociously. We did seoinages at a really fast clip. going back and forth with the partner after about 20 reps. I was able to keep up in no small part due to the off-mat, home training I've been doing that has me working on those inside pivots at slower speeds.

The instruction was more work out of the butterfly/sitting/Cobra guard. All of the moves started with a same side collar grip and a same side knee grip.

The first move was the duck under, a repeat from last week. To this, Rodrigo added:

1. If the guy's knee goes up on the outside (the closed side, where the collar grip is and your knee is up), then you want to drive him to the side by pushing the collar across his body and pulling on the knee grip. As you do this, slide your Cobra leg straight behind you (as you do for the duck under, for example) to help get the leverage to come up and into the guy.

2. If the guy's knee goes up on the inside (the open side, where the knee grip is and your knee is down), then you want to transition to deep half guard. Do this by diving into the space created by his up leg. Slide your Cobra hooking leg through first, and then follow immediately with your collar grip hand. When you get the collar grip hand through, reach up and grab the hip or the belt. You can always transition to a proper, Jeff Glover style deep half later, or just go to the sweep, which will pretty much accomplish the same thing.

The sweep is essentially the Homer Simpson sweep without the walk forward set-up. You dive through, get your grips, roll out a bit to get control of his leg with your legs, then roll back - switching your grip to cup the knee and driving the shoulder into the guy's hip to keep him down.

Good stuff - and a nice reminder to start working in the deep half guard as well as the cross guard I've started to focus on more and more in training.

For the first time - maybe ever - I was too exhausted to finish the complete second class. I worked through the specific sparring with Juan: half guard/pass half guard, full guard/pass full guard, side control/escape side control. And was really struggling toward the end. When the specific ended and the regular sparring began, I crawled off the mat totally done. I felt a little embarrassed. But I was in no shape to get anything productive done.

I figure the culprit was a combination of insufficient calories (I had a salad and an apple all day), and the morning workout (manmakers), and the fact that I'm still on the dark side of 160. Hopefully, I'll have a better showing on that score tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Conditioning Routine

Some interesting conditioning notes from Rafael Lovato Jr.

My Work Out Routine

Standing, Passing and Anderson Silva

Someone writing or otherwise describing Anderson Silva's approach to fighting said something that now, months later, I think is applicable to my approach to passing the guard from standing.

I think the writer was talking about the Silva-Griffin fight as a textbook example of how Anderson measures his opponents reach and timing, his instincts and reactions. Depending on the situation, that sizing up may take a few minutes (as with Griffin, Franklin and Leben) or a whole round (as with Marquardt, Lutter and Henderson). But make no mistake that this is what Silva does.

I'm starting to see the value of a similar approach when it comes to passing the guard from standing. By applying my blocks and my base, keeping the guys legs either fully contracted or fully extended, and always staying one step ahead of my vulnerabilities in terms of balance, I feel as if I can pass the guard as a sort of "counter-game", spotting - and hopefully frustrating - the guard player's initial and likely favorite moves en route to a guard pass that, like the perfect submission, is ultimately just a compliment to superior positioning, superior leverage and superior timing in the minutes before the pass actually takes place.

It's harder to describe than it is to feel. But the more time I spend passing the guard from standing, the more sense this way of seeing things makes. When it comes to the guard, more often than not, my internal monologue for 2010 needs to be: "You cannot submit me because I'm already standing. And you cannot sweep me because I'm already passing."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Made it to the academy a little late, but managed to get in some good drilling and sparring before I had to make my mad dash out.

Rodrigo is continuing with the sitting guard/butterfly guard/Cobra guard sweeps and back-takes. On Friday, we alternated between two back-takes, the first was the counter to the collar grap where you break the grip and attack with the arm drag.

The second was a little new. Here, you had a same side collar grip (not too deep) and a grip on the pants at the knee on the other side. Generate momentum by pushing and pulling with your collar grip: you want to open up his arm on the other side, the side where you have the pants grip, so maybe pulling on the collar and pushing on the knee will encourage the guy to try and post with the arm on the knee grip side.

In any event, you want to duck under the arm on the knee grip side. As with the version from the other night (which, in retrospect, was a warm-up drill for this move), you want to use that intermediate "kickstand" move with your lower leg when you are knee down before you go to posture up after you duck under the arm.

It's a 1-2-3, and you want to make sure that you come down with your knee, the outer leg that does most of the work, behind the guy's back when you finish the #3 move. That contact will help make sure you've got him in position.

A pretty good time on the tatame. I'm continuing to focus on standing guard passing almost exclusively, and with some nice progress already. With regard to finishes, I was able to get the collar choke twice on Friday, which is a nice sign of continued effectiveness with another 2010 point of emphasis.

I think I've figured out to main things - one for standing to pass the guard and one for the collar choke - that might make both of these projects all the more worthwhile studies for this year. If I get the time, I'll expand on these ideas ina later post, especially what I'm learning about standing guard passes from watching Anderson Silva size up and demolish his opponents in the UFC.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Demian Maia: 10 Questions with Sherdog

Here's the latest from Demian Maia as he talks training, his upcoming fight with Dan Miller and the Marquardt/Sonnen matchup.

10 Questions for Demian Maia How are you preparing for the upcoming fight against Miller?

Maia: It’s been excellent. This time, I spent more than a month in Bahia training my boxing with Junior ‘Cigano’ [dos Santos]. Actually, we also trained a lot of jiu-jitsu everyday. I was really surprised with the excellent ground fighters in Bahia, mainly without the gi. I already knew that Bahia had the best boxers in Brazil. There, you are able to train with a South American champion and Pan American silver medalist. The level in Professor Luiz Dorea’s academy is pretty high, and that was an amazing experience. I have to thank Cigano a lot, as he picked me up every day to train. He’s an amazing person who deserves everything he has achieved.

Monday, January 18, 2010

8 Weeks Out: Training Schedule for Weeks 1-3

The MLK holiday will change this a bit for Week One. But otherwise this is how I hope to be spending my time over the next three weeks.

am: Aerobic Power (Man Makers)
pm: BJJ

am: Matwork/Strength
pm: BJJ


am: Aerobic Power (LSD9 + Berardi)
pm: BJJ

am: BJJ
pm: Strength

am: LSD3
pm: Off


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bidding on Glover

I couldn't resist ... 35% discount on a used copy of the deep half DVD ...We'll see what comes of it.

Standing Guard Pass from Lovato Jr.

This pass includes a couple of good principles to keep in mind. First is the guard passing posture itself. This is the guard pass posture I saw Gregor Gracie using a lot in the 2009 Mundial: leg pressure, collar grip, knee/elbow connection, control of the off leg.

The second interesting principle is the idea of straigtening your arm to deal with the attempt to put in the spider hook. A bent arm is far easier to hook than a straight one.

And third is the idea of switching the legs. One of my mantras for developing my guard passing skills from standing is the idea that you defeat the guard with your legs, not your hands or your grips. This idea of switching legs as shown in this guard pass is another good example of this.

Guard Uber Alles 2009

I'm already two fights deep into the black belt lightweight quarter/semi finals for the 2009 Mundial and continue to be amazed at how much guard pulling is going on at heavier and heavier divisions.

When I look at the 2003 mundial, it's only the rooster weights who are doing the sort of simultaneous guard pulling that, in my opinion, gave birth to the infamous 50/50 guard. But here I am, six years later, and what used to only be a phenomenon of the lightest of the lighter weight fighters - this notion that it is better to fight from your back than to fight from the top - is becoming so widespread that guys can't wait to pull guard at the highest levels of lightweight competition.

Rodrigo has said some things in passing during class that I think help explain in part this phenomenon. And I think he is 100% correct. But at the risk of speaking ill of guard players in general, I'll limit my comments to saying that I think it is a moral imperative for the next generation of jiu jitsu martial artists to become far more willing to take the top position and challenge some one's guard.

To be sure, I'm talking my book insofar as I've dedicated 2010 not only to taking my guard passing to the next level, but also to focus on standing passes whenever possible. But I still think there is something wrong when the best of the best are aggressively adopting a defensive position (pulling guard) rather than using their obvious and all-too-apparent confidence in their defense to be more aggressive on offense.

You know who I'm not seeing pulling guard as if his life depended on it? The Mendes Brothers. These guys are attacking guys' guards with a patient, deliberate "squat walk" that harkens back a bit to old school Marcio Feitosa guard passing. No wonder these guys are tearing it up these days.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday

Back on the mat last night. We worked on the guard pass from the knees, the double underhook pass from the Fundamental Five.

The emphasis this time was on sprawling to get off your knees and on your toes, and using your chest to press the guy's hips forward and up. The idea is to make sure that your shoulders are higher than your hips when you drive forward. This will keep you from being in a vulnerable position as you attempt the pass.

I had a great moment during the sparring/tatame when I managed to convert a low cross guard (cross grip and same side grip on the knee) into a nice armdrag to the back. Insofar as taking the back is one of my major focuses for 2010, I was thrilled to see this move work.

The trick is to get the guy focused on the two grips you've got (the cross grip and the same side knee grip), that he forgets about the grip you want: the other sleeve which will set up the armdrag. Last night, I managed to get my partner focused on breaking the knee grip, which allowed me to sneak in and grab the other sleeve shortly after he freed his leg.

I want to work on this move a lot more over the next few weeks - and add to it the backroll sweep out of the low cross guard. It's strange that I still haven't been able to really work the slingshot armdrag or slingshot sweep into my game. But this low cross guard to armdrag move seemed to come almost out of the blue.

161.8 on the scale, post train. Blame it on the switch from lagers to ales in 2010. That and the fact that I'm not getting in the off-the-mat conditioning that I will be in a week or two. Given that my new tournament cut-off is 162, I don't want to get too lazy. But I can certainly afford to train a little heavier than before.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Baseball Choke with Gi from Renzo

Twas the Night Before Pre-Week

Pre-week starts tomorrow - pre-pre week having been a disaster of non-discipline and post-holiday slackerdom. I managed to get on the mat Monday and Wednesday, but my off-mat conditioning will have to start this week.

I'm scheduled to train Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week, with some LSD on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Jeff from the Revolution has confirmed that the lightweight range for the Revolution in 2010 will be 149-162, in other words, the IBJJF no-gi weight classes, which is a nice way of working around the "weigh-in in the gi before competing" issue. That is perfect for me. I'm about 155 when I'm training regularly and eating normally - a little less when the cardio goes up and the calories tick down. So this range should offer me very little challenge over the next few weeks. Staying consistent will be the trick.

Early on in this camp, I want to focus on standing to pass the guard (of course), being more aggressive from half guard - including introducing butterfly and half butterfly games, and taking the back. I feel like 2010 will be a great opportunity to really forge my game, and there are a few areas in particular that I'd really like to put maximum emphasis on. Starting early in the year, early in the training camp, will be key to helping develop the good circuitry, the right habits that will make any improvements stick.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gracie Barra Vancouver in GracieMag

Here's a nice article about our cousins to the north at Gracie Barra Vancouver at

I've never been to Vancouver, but this sounds like one more reason to spend a week or so up north.

Training Day: Wednesday

Another good practice as I ease myself back into a training routine. After the basic warmup of squats, pushups, chokes and obliques, Rodrigo added a conditioning component based on first two moves of the First Five: elbow escapes (in place) and The Lift (10 reps to tripod, 10 reps to full standing).

This is what my Matwork is all about: using those old school jiu jitsu exercises - many of which Rodrigo used to do all the time back at the old Tully's location - to develop the circuitry necessary for improving your jiu jitsu as effectively and efficiently as possible. It's nice to see this work its way into our regular training routine again.

Since today was a Wednesday, we worked on a few more moves from the First Five: the guard open from knees and the mount escape - for the beginner class. I worked with Michael, who I haven't seen in awhile. One detail I picked up from the mount escape was to really lock the guy's leg after the footdrag. I may change my CBDP to better reflect this. But it was the second time that Rodrigo really went over this point, the idea of almost making a half guard on top with the leg triangle, so it may be worth giving a CBDP step to that part of the move alone.

Did a pretty decent job of focusing on standing to pass the guard - though my resolve wore down a bit in the second class where we split the time between specific sparring (guard, pass guard) and regular sparring. I ended up working a little Flat Pass - more than I would have liked. But I'm not yet at the level where I can try to pass the guard standing all night long (though that's definitely a 2010 training goal).

I'm still at a "stand without being swept" mode, the survival mode of passing the guard from standing, you might say. I'm surviving against some pretty tough guards right now, and that's the first step in the process toward being able - eventually - to pass them.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

GB Seattle Intro Class: The Five Fundamentals

Here is the new curriculum for 2010 for the intro class for Gracie Barra Seattle/Washington.

1. Elbow escape (single side and alternating)

2. "The Lift" or Correct Standing from Sitting

3. Mount escape (with footdrag)

4. Guard pass from knees (double underhook)

5. Keylock from mount

Rodrigo has already briefed the upper belts on this. But I think it actually goes into implementation next week. There was also be a "Move of the Week" - or maybe more accurately a "Theme of the Week" because higher belts will have more flexibility, variations and advanced techniques to deal with compared to the Basic Class. This coming week, for example, I think the move of the week is the armbar from the closed guard.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Training Day: Monday

ATM Twenty-Ten, baby!

A very nice first day back in several days - and a good start to 2010 as well.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm looking to train three days a week, then kick it up to four and, in the last few weeks before the first Revolution tournament of the year, five. I'm trying to focus on qualitative training, making sure that I am taking advantage of every moment I'm on the mat to learn and get better.

Part of this is pratical, remembering what happened, taking notes and reviewing them. But a large part of it is psychological or Right Mind-based, which is of course good and bad news. But there's no time like the first few days of a new year to set out your resolutions and goals, to start to forge those habits that months from now will result in better performance, deeper feeling, seamless circuitry.

The first class started off with a warmup, then stand up/conditioning focusing on inside reaps off the collar grip. It's all great stuff to have in the arsenal, and I like how it is all built off the one fundamental grip on the collar. Even though the Jacare remains my go-to option off the collar grip, it's only that much more helpful to have options and alternatives.

The instructional was two of the Five Step Intro Class: a mount escape and passing the guard from the knees. The mount escape was the foot drag escape to half guard, which I CBDP'd as: TURN / STEP / LIFT / SLIDE / HOOK / HALF.

The guard pass from knees used the knee-in-the-middle wedge to open the guard, then the double underhook pass. Rodrigo emphasized keeping the elbows wide to avoid having the guy insert his hooks under your legs . Drilling this with Steve, I also could see how key elevating the hips off the mat was to immobilizing the guy on bottom.

In the advanced class, Rodrigo had a nice pace of drills (armlocks and triangles from the guard), conditioning (chokes, pushups), and specific (side control, rear mount, guard/pass guard). I would love it if we did more of this format for the advanced classes. It's really nice to get a mix of everything. There might be a week go by when you are never fighting against someone whose taken your back, or against knee on belly. This way, you are always covering the bases. If it were up to me, I'd probably never attack with a triangle from the guard. But with classes structured this way, I'm a lot more likely to give it a try.

One other thing I liked was the fact that I was focusing on the critical areas: cross guard, weak side half guard and, most importantly, standing to pass the guard. In fact, I don't think I tried to pass once on the ground.

That's the kind of thing that will pay off over the next few months. And it was great to feel as if I am off to a good start with it.

172.6 in the gi pre-train / 160.8 no gi post-train.

Butterfly Guard Pass from Bill the Grill

Here's a nifty, butterfly guard pass for when the guy goes to sit up and push against you/stiff-arm with one arm.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pre-Pre Week Training/Conditioning Schedule

Sunday, January 3 - Saturday January 9.

Monday am: LSD9
Monday pm: BJJ

Tuesday am: Matwork (10 ct/2x)

Wednesday am: LSD9
Wednesday pm: BJJ

Thursday am: Matwork (10 ct/3x)

Friday am: BJJ

Saturday am: LSD 9