Sunday, May 30, 2010

8 Weeks Out: Week One Review

Training: 5 sessions

Conditioning: 3 sessions
Sun: aerobic capacity (ground)
Tue: tempo training
Thu: threshold training

Mon post-train weight: 158.4
Final day post-train weight: Sat 159.4

I traded the planned Saturday conditioning session for training, which is always a substitution I'm willing to make.

A very good start for the 8 Weeks Out leading up to the July Revolution. At a minimum, I need to get in four training sessions and three conditioning sessions each week. So arguably, I'm a half step ahead of the game on that basic accounting.

That said, I want to make sure that I'm feeling and seeing some conditioning improvements over the next 2-3 weeks. There are some other adjustments in terms of nutrition and rest that will probably help - as well as minimizing the lycanthropy. Hopefully a bundle of that will be what I need to feel a little more as if I've got another round in the tank at session's end.

Technically, a few things are evolving. The Skeedaddle out of the closed guard surprised me, and is a direction I'm going to continue to pursue over the next few weeks (the Skeedaddle comes from something BJ Penn shows in his book, The Book of Knowledge. Pages 196-197 if you've got a copy). Though the goal is to make the move less of a move to standing and more of a sweep.

While I don't want to sound impatient, there are a few aspects of the guard that I'm trying to implement that are just not sticking like they should. Of my guard "sets", King Crimson (guillotine, crossover sweep, kimura) is doing a lot better than Scissorshands (choke, scissor sweep, armlock) and my basic half guard game - which increasingly feels in desperate need of upgrade. Guy LaFleur is also working relatively well from the guard. But more and more I see Guy LaFleur as the beginning of some decent work from the guard rather than THE sweep from that position.

So the next two weeks will have me deciding what I want to do from the guard for the next five. There is a huge temptation to really start focusing on the King Crimson set now, along with Skeedaddle, which very much fits into that set, and continue to evolve Guy LaFleur. One thing I need to do with Guy LaFleur is learn how to transition to a more conventional sitting hooks guard. I've struggled to pull off the main Guy LaFleur sweep with heavy guys (one blue belt in particular has been thwarting this sweep very effectively this past week). Converting to a more conventional butterfly guard may help keep that weight off of me.

From the top, there's been some definite progress in passing the guard from standing. Credit to the constant specific training that Rodrigo has been throwing at us. Friday and Saturday in particular I was doing the vast majority of my work from standing. By Saturday, I was managing to hop straight to my feet from good guard posture and drop right into the combat squat pretty effortlessly. That's going to be something to keep up.

The trick is to really squat down. I've been staying too high and making my legs to more work than they should to support. A full deep squat makes it possible to take a lot of that effort away. Then, make the step back move (Stagger Lee!) a part of the general move up back into actual break the guard mode.

I've also been working the Roger Gracie with the sleeve, standing in the more traditional 1-2 fashion. I'm not as coordinated here as I'd like to be. But this is a Pass That Works and I know that with another week or two, it will be something I can start to count on.

Inside control is key from standing. Scoop, Smash or SSS (Sprawl/Step/Shoulder).

Half guard passing remains ugly. We've actually worked on passing the half guard this week, and I need to do a much, much better job of putting those lessons to work this week.

This is a key issue because it is one area where you can really have a massive edge. A lot of guys will let you get to half guard when you are working to pass even if they don't have much of a half guard game themselves. It's better than being passed. So the idea is to have a better than average game in an area that for many people is just average and not their main focus. This was part of my idea in focusing on the half guard when I was a blue belt.

So I need to be tighter on the half guard passing. I've got plenty that are solid passes - the Knee Wedge/Royler/Cross Wedge series probably at the top of the list. I just need to spend the next two weeks figuring out which are going to be the ones to take with me.

Watch the Mundials June 5 & 6 Live 9am PST

2010 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships Live
Watch the Worlds here for free on June 5th and 6th. All you need to do is log in with your Budovideos account or take a minute to create one. Both our forums and our chat will allow you to discuss what is happening and allow you to correspond with our live commentators.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Training Day: Saturday

I got to the academy a little later than I would have preferred, but I still managed to get in some very good mat time with Ro (whom I haven't seen a while), Pat and Clay. I think I trained for about an hour, all told, with Rodrigo running the specific/BJJ conditioning I trained with Ro and Pat.

Lindsey was there, as was Jeff B from Foster/Lotus and a couple of other guys. Casey stopped by also. I kind of felt like I had found the hidden academy where at least three or four of the guys I was used to seeing have been training all year. Great to see those folks.

Some notes on training today. Incrementally better at establishing inside control from the guard pass. This is really the gateway to the brown belt version of me. While my guard game is undergoing a lot of reworking, it is guard passing where the most improvements probably can be made in a relatively short period of time.

Rear mount escapes continue to be a big weakness. I'd far rather have to deal with someone's mount than back control. As always, the solution is technical and I need to break the escape into smaller and smaller pieces that are easy to understand and train. True enough, I haven't lost a lot of matches due to being unable to escape rear mount. But why wait for that to happen if I can start fixing it now?

I've been having a lot of success with my little BJ Penn Guard Skeedaddle. I think I can turn it into both a sweep as well as a front headlock/guillotine opportunity and I haven't seen anyone at the academy play this kind of trick game from the guard. It was working very, very well on Friday. I'll need to keep working on as Week Two begins.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Training Day: Friday

A very good week of Fundamentals training, as I was reminded again during Friday's session. Again, I really can't seen not taking at least two Fundamentals classes a week for as long as I train jiu jitsu. The techniques are solid and the more you see them, the more you realize how readily many of them can be integrated into your own game.

Self defense #1 was the jab dodge to clinch. The key here is to step to the outside to avoid the power hand and then to move in right under the armpit. The second self-defense move was the front headlock to S-mount armbar.

On the ground we did the basic half guard pass with the topdown hook to free the leg and pass to mount. Rodrigo showed us a nice tip to get that topdown hook in by leaning over to that side to make it easier for your hook to reach. We also worked on the single underhook pass from standing, a pass that I have been slowly (very, very slowly) starting to make part of my standing guard pass game. The underhook pass ("scoop" in my guard pass code) is a critical part of advancing inside control when passing the guard from the top, part of the Scoop, Smash, Stepover suite. So working on it so much this week has been great.

Nothing especially notable in the tatame - save to say that I'm doing a better job of late pressing the standing guard attack. One thing I need to remember is that passing the guard - once you get to a certain level - is really a big deal. So if I'm only passing the guard at a 50% clip when it comes to other purple belts, that's not a bad percentage to start from. The trick is to remember that the solution is always technical, and to be patient.

Nice sub-160 weigh-in post-train. I'm looking forward to getting an opportunity to get back on the mat tomorrow for a semi-rare Saturday training session. I'll probably just do the hour of competition training, but it will be nice to get in a five session week for the first time in awhile.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Training Day: Thursday

Nice to get Thursday's back into the rotation. There was a time when training on Thursday night was as much a Prime Directive as ATM (Always Train Mondays). That was back in the "hippie" days of GB Seattle when every class was a kingdom in and of itself, from Cindy's rock 'n' roll gymnastic no gi to Lindsey's "Hounds of the Ground" inspired jiu jitsu.

In a number of ways, tonight's class - although gi'd, curriculum-centered and Nightwing-free - reminded me a bit of those old days. I've never been a big fan of authoriTIE, but I always appreciate when those who are in charge are in charge. At the risk of sounding like an American circa October 2002, something about it just makes me feel a little less vulnerable to chaos.

Good review on the B fundamentals' work. The escape from the front headlock (drop back to S-mount armlock), with a nice detail to break the headlock grip, was one highlight. In training, I'm still struggling to implement this week's game plan of the knee block transition in half guard. I'll work on it some more on Friday. But this may mean that Week Two will be devoted to the knee block transition, as well. Whatever it takes to get it right. The fact of the matter is that if I can get that knee block integrated into things, just about everything else I'm trying to do out of half guard will be that much easier. So it is more than worth it to give it other week or two if necessary. There really isn't a "next step" until I get this in place.

One other note: I may actually be getting the hang of the single underhook pass off Saulo's Crab Pass Posture/inside control. That, combined with the guard pass from the A fundamentals (the "A" frame, step-over to backstep), may really provide me with something I've really lacked: a Grand Unified Field Theory of passing the guard.

Actually, to both tell the truth and to steal a line, I've know what I've wanted in a Grand Unified Theory of passing the guard. I've just not known how to go about getting it.

This week's lesson was a great leap forward in that regard - and another reason why I can't imagine ever not taking Fundamentals classes along with the rest of the program. Even though there are times when I feel a little overwhelmed by all the information, that information is always valuable. And the fact that I'm starting to get a little buffed up in a major area of weakness - all thanks to all this Fundamental classes - speaks for itself.

159.2 on the scale post-train. Excellent number for Week One after a day off on Wednesday (during which much meat was consumed).

So I'm Thinking About the Deep Half ...

and then I get this e-mail from Stephan Kesting. Inside the e-mail is a link to this:

Three Deep Half Guard Leg Positions

And ye shall receive, indeed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

One of the reasons I'm having such a hard time going into slingshot from half guard is that I almost never use the knee block to set it up.

The same is true with my struggle to enter the deep half. I'm not creating enough space, enough posture in the other guy, to give me the edge when I dive for the deep shoulder hook.

So I'm modifying my weekly goal to make the knee block a priority. Hopefully the knee block will be the gateway move that gets me into the other parts of the half guard that I've been having a hard time accessing.

Good, good training tonight with a good sized blue belt and Lance in the specific and Bennie in a regular sparring roll. Rodrigo provided an excellent tip on stepping over the leg rather than trying to "knee over" that makes a lot of sense and reflects the lesson from Monday's training (the sprawl and crawl pass with the armframe). Lance caught me in a couple of chokes, but it was the collar drag late that made the most impression. For some reason, I find collar drags more natural than armdrags, and getting caught by a good collar drag was a nice reminder to work it back into what I'm doing from sitting guard, etc.

A smallish class, which included some younger folks as well for a change of pace. There seem to be new students almost every other day, which is good on every level. I also think it will be another vindication of the self-defense component of the Fundamentals class (tonight it was the front headlock escape takedown to S-mount armbar, the one with the check on the knee and hip and step back ...). If those guys don't end up training for more than a few months, then at least they'll learn a few things that might stick with them for awhile.

158.6 on the scale-post train. That's the second consecutive day with post-train weigh-ins that are five pounds less than they were a month ago. I felt a bit of fatigue at the end of today's training. But even now, I'm starting to feel myself recovering a little quicker after each training. I'm still spending too much energy from the guard (see "knee block" above), but that too is very fixable.

GSP: "Fight Smart Every Single Fight"

There are a few people in MMA who are always worth listening to. Georges St. Pierre - UFC welterweight champion and Gracie Barra black belt - is one of them.

Quote of the Day: Georges St. Pierre - "I Fight Safe and I'm Not Going to Hide It"
I will never fight in a way [in which] I fight like I flip a coin... I never took risks. The only fight I took a risk was when I fought Matt Serra, and I went in a stupid exchange, and it was not smart. I got caught; Serra beat me fair and square, and he deserved the victory that night. But it taught me a good lesson, and I don't want it to happen again."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Training Day: Monday

A great night of training. I got to roll and train with Rodrigo and Cindy, as well as doing some good flow work with a white belt, Justin as part of the Advanced/Competition Training.

Technique-wise we were ducking jabs and stepping in for the body lock in the Self-Defense Component, and passing the guard in the Fundamentals. The first guard pass was a ground pass with the knee-in-the-middle wedge opener and the armblock backstep (or walkaround). This was the A-frame pass where you have your grips high on the thighs and use downward pressure with your forearms to take the legs to one side. From here, back step around the legs while dropping your outside shoulder in to the guy's stomach/solar plexus area.

The other pass was the half guard pass the BJ Penn is so fond of, the one where you transition directly into mount after bringing up the free leg and hooking it on top of the guard player's leg triangle.

A nice, familiar session on Monday, with Brock, Nate and Rene also there training. There are times these days when I look around and wonder where some of the folks I used to train with only a few years ago have gone. But with some mat time with Jesse last week coupled with training Monday night, things were once again feeling a lot like home.

Building a Better BJJ, Part 2

"You know what, Ernie? Your flaws do not show until you play against a good team six or seven games in a row. One day you're playing Charlotte or New Jersey or Atlanta. You can get away with just being talented. But when you play against a team and a coaching staff like the Celtics ... that's when your flaws show."

--Charles Barkley talking about Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.

8 Weeks Out: Conditioning/Training Schedule

Aerobic Capacity - Ground


Tempo Training
BJJ/Competition Training


Threshold Training

BJJ/Competition Training
(No Gi)

Aerobic Capacity - Standing


Here's the schedule for the next month or so. The focus in on general endurance, splitting aerobic capacity into a two-day "ground" and "standing/LSD3" component. The idea is to build up my cardio to allow me to train longer and more intensely over the next eight weeks. If there was one thing I took away from my match with Sauleh on Saturday, it was about upping the intensity. Rodrigo has been exhorting us in that direction for the past few weeks. It's time to make that a training priority and off-mat aerobic capacity work should help.

Later on, I'll switch up to a more explosive, power-endurance based workout. But to get things started, this is the right focus.

I did the aerobic capacity - ground workout today, essentially 30 minutes of matwork, the 360 drill, my 1/2 guard leg drill and armlocks with The Chair Guard at a moderate pace. My right inner thigh has been very sore all day, which is probably a good thing. I'm icing it like crazy. Other than that, though, I worked up an excellent sweat and my HR was around the high 130s low 140s, at least, which is good. I'm going to have to lower The Chair Guard at some point, and add some weight in order to make it work (right now, I'm afraid to do the full 90 degree rotation for the armbar for fear of toppling the thing). But I think the components are there. I've long wanted an aerobic workout that was purely jiu jitsu oriented and now I think I've got it - or at least the know-how to put one together.

Skills focus for Week One is transitioning to slingshot guard. I'm looking to poach a training partner to work on both the slingshot armdrag and slingshot sweep (the Renzo). The position escape I want to drill is rear mount and the submission escape is, you guessed it, the triangle. The pass is the 1/2 guard knee wedge to backstep.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Building a Better BJJ

"Last year Octavio Souza enrolled at Gracie Barra America, in Irvine. The Ze Radiola black belt moved to California and made the most of his new stomping ground. "I've only had tough guys to train with and that's why my game evolved so much," he said, sporting his gold medal."

--"The Boy Wonder," Legion of the superheroes," Gracie Magazine, June 2010.

"Go and Do Likewise ..."

8 Weeks Out Begins Today

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On Rumble Readiness

I'll be posting my training and conditioning schedule for the next eight weeks soon enough. But the prime directive is pretty well summed up by Joel Jamieson of 8 Weeks Out here:

BJJ/Grappling Conditioning v.s. MMA Conditioning
The biggest difference between the two will come into play when you're getting closer to a match and start getting really specific in your conditioning. In MMA, you have to work both standing and on the ground and takedowns as part of conditioning, which in BJJ you just need to work conditioning specific to that sport. There are also some differences in which muscles need the most muscular endurance, and as I said before you need to incorporate more static holds/positions in your BJJ strength and conditioning routine. I have a post somewhere on here where I talk about how you can do conditioning drills for BJJ that are more horizontal and in positions similar to on the ground, this is something you'd want to be doing as you transition from general to more specific training.
The whole post is worth reading - as is Joel's book

How to Train in Brazil in Seattle

"Stroke it like that, y'all" edition.

GB Seattle Invitational Day: Come (and Go) as You Are

Some 15 minutes after my match at the GB Seattle invitational, Kevin comes up and asks me if I fought yet and who. I reply, "Yeah, Sauleh." and am almost flattered that he then asked how it went.

For those not in attendance on Saturday, my match with Sauleh went like all my matches with Sauleh go - or at least an uncomfortably high percentage of them. There were a few interesting wrinkles this time around - like me trying to pull guard. But the end game was as predictable as the sunrise: a submission defeat.

There is not a whole lot I can take from this specific go-round with Gracie Barra Seattle's own version of The Prodigy. To a degree, evaluating your performance after a match with Sauleh is a lot like evaluating your performance after a match with somebody like Rodrigo or Jesse or Casey. So I'm not going to waste my time on that. The things I woke up on Saturday morning neeing to work on are the same things I'll need to work on when I wake up Monday morning. No point in repeating them here.

The big regret of the day was not in getting in some training. I was far more interested in some Saturday training than I was in a 7-minute competitive match. But everything just seemed to dissolve right after Brock's match. Sauleh and Yuki got a second match in. But the remaining people were leaving in droves and packing up the tables almost immediately afterwards. So for my 3-4 hours at the academy on Saturday, I ended up spending about 3 minutes doing jiu jitu.

All that said, some good matches. Clay did very well. Connor arguably had one of the most exciting matches of the day, pulling off another win against a bigger guy. And Blake continues to show signs of being a real special jiu jitsu guy down the line. A lot of otherwise familiar faces weren't around in any way shape or form, which seems weird to people like me who have little life off the mat. But there was enough of a roomful for the Family atmosphere to be pretty intact, which is all you need at the end of the day. Cindy was incredible working with the kids. There is no way under the sun that I would be able to put up with what she puts up with.

When some white belts (including Anthony, who also was very impressive today) asked me earlier in the week about the event this weekend, I suggested to them to treat it like an assessment of where they are NOW and to use it as a tool to measure their progress over the next eight weeks/two months leading up to the Revolution. Typically, I'm finding my advice somewhat easier to suggest to others than to pursue for myself. That said, fortunately for me, there is both precious little mystery about my areas of weakness, and plenty of time to take care of them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Make that a Tuesday, Thursday, FRIDAY, Saturday schedule. I managed to make the early class today on Friday for some good review as well as coverage of some of the material I missed in the "A" class like the guard pull to closed guard from standing.

It was nice to review the armdrag to the back move. It's not quite an armdrag as it is an "arm cross". Again, the real keeper of this move is the lift action to get your hips out of the closed guard. The lift is a jiu jitsu fundamental for a reason. I'm finding it a great way to do the Laimon sweep, which is something I've wanted to master ever since I first started training jiu jitsu and reading Grappling magazine years ago. I also think that it's a good set-up to switch to half guard. I'll probably add this guard lift to Matwork, maybe at the beginning with the full "lift to standing" at the end. The move is that fundamental.

There were some other good things, top among them a tripod sweep from cross guard, with the move to the top including the Lift and the knee block.

I've decided to start focusing on the flip sweep from deep half rather than the Homer. Jesse caught me in an triangle when I went for the Homer Thursday night, mostly because I lost control of his leg. While I want to work on that, I've liked both the Flip and the Back Take more than the Homer and should probably start working them into my competition game.

Some very good work on both PTMU and the Roger Gracie. I was pleasantly surprised how readily the Roger Gracie came back to me. It has been at least a year if not more since I've gone with it. Both PTMU and Roger Gracie will be competition keepers.

I got to do a little practice after training with Clay, who helped me work on the Cobrinha spider guard pass with the switch step and knee press. I've been doing much of the pass correctly, but I'm not stepping deep enough to get my hips in control of the one leg I need to force lower. I need to bring the legs as much back as over to the side, slide my inside knee in between and collapse on top of the pancaked legs with my outside leg and drive lower - outside to inside - with my hip.

Must do more of that after class over the next few weeks. It felt very nice to get some of that movement down.

Traded some of my tips on closed guard sweeps: pendulum, scissor and crossover and set-ups. More than a fair deal, IMO.

GB Seattle Invitational tomorrow morning. Let's see where the baseline lies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Training Day: Thursday

I'm on a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule this week, it seems - though there's a pretty good chance that I'll be swinging by the academy either early or late tomorrow on Friday.

A Cindy class for the first time in a while, which was nice. Now that it's warming up and competition prep time has arrived, I'll be making Thursday's a regular training session (adding Tuesday and swapping out Wednesday for a four training week).

Many of the same techniques from Tuesday night, of course. Cindy extended them somewhat, as Rodrigo does, adding a knee on belly and armlock to the hip throw counter to the front choke, for example. I've been trying to really take my time and get every little detail. Jesse, who stopped by tonight, made some interesting points about that, about attentiveness, after class that I found very interesting and worth remembering. They definitely reflect my thinking on the topic of late.

It also parallels something I've picked up in a book I got earlier today, The Inner Game of Tennis, which is a sort of classic of sports psychology, namely the vital role of not just mental stillness (very Zen), but also of focus (which has its Zen characteristics, as well). More about that later in a separate post.

A good training night tonight. I still feel like my guard passing is embarassingly paleolithic any time I'm doing anything other than the Flat Pass. But I've got some time to work on it before I'll need those skills in spades. So there's no reason to freak out about it now. But it remains a bit of an annoyance; the sooner addressed the better on that score.

One of the things I think I'm appreciating most from this week's lessons (other than the chokes) is the technique for getting out of guard. The lift method - the same as "technical standing" comes into play a million times in jiu jitsu, and this technique for taking the back after the arm cross - or of getting up from guard and attacking (as I was able to do successfully once tonight) - is really, really worth coding into your jiu jitsu circuitry.

161.2 on the scale, post-train. Not great, but acceptable this far out. I'll admit, by the time Cindy called "time" I was convinced I'd weigh-in closer to 155. Well, maybe not quite that much. But you get the point. Calories were burned.

Marceloplata, Barataplata ...


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

From GSP to DSP?

Guidelines for Internal Dialogue
Guidelines for internal dialogue come from understanding how champions talk to themselves. The process of altering and controlling internal dialogue follows the logic for developing other mental traits that enhance performance. Model the methods of the great ones in sports.

Champions have a mental edge. They perceive situations in way which is different from the usual perceptions. That is one reason why they are champions. They see advantages when others see problems. They experience difficult and pressure-packed circumstances as challenging rather than as fearful.

Anyone who could have Patriot Act'd their way into my internal dialogue during my last match at the Fall 2009 Revolution would find it little mystery that I haven't won a competitive match in more than a year. Hopefully, this will be another piece of the process of turning all of that around.

St. Pierre Ready to Put and End to the Questions

Collar Chokes from the Guard

One of the more interesting moves this week has been some armdrags from the closed guard to set up rear collar chokes.

Armdrags have long been on my list of features to add to my guard game. And typically, I've done a less than ideal job of it. Tuesday, Rodrigo had us do a two on one grip drag to the outside and then back to the inside on the reaction as a way of getting control of the arm and access to the back.

The hip escape here was very much in the mold of the technical lift. If you are dragging the guy to your right, then you want to plant your right elbow on the mat and your left foot. Bridge up a bit and escape your hips to the left, lifting your right leg up sideways and coming up on that knee.

If the guy's base is tight, use your knee to widen it a bit. It's a great wedge.

This is really the basic move. If you can do all of this, you've got the back, whether you swing the left leg over or pull and swing the guy around to you.

The choke options are an inside choke and an outside choke. With the inside choke, you reach and grab the near collar with your inside hand and reach around the guy's neck with your outside hand. Feed the collar to the outside hand and roll back.

This choke I like a lot. I can see how a person would not expect the second hand to come around the back.

To do the outside choke, you reach around the neck with the outside hand and grab the collar. In this variation, you feed the collar to your inside hand and go behind the arm and neck with the outside arm. With this choke, you can roll forward or backward because you've got the leverage of the arm and neck with the off hand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

Car troubles kept me away from the academy on Monday. But I was planning to train Tuesday anyway since this is officially Pre Week, the week before my 8 Weeks Out for the July Revolution.

Training on Tuesday also gives me a chance to get in second competition training (the other competition training day being Friday). While three competition training days a week would probably be better and doable, there's an argument that two a week will be plenty. This may be all the more so given my incredible, wood-knocking, injury-free streak.

Competition training days are great. And I think two a week will be fine, all things considered. What I really need to do is find a few training partners, a few guys (or gals) who are competing this Saturday and in July who just want to drill their best stuff, half-speed, to get the circuits and the "muscle memory" built out, so to speak, in preparation for competition training days and the real deal this summer.

This, in short, was Griff's advice. It's also part of the "best practices" of every serious competitor in anything anywhere. I don't have to go "live" more than twice a week. But if I could spend even 10 minutes before or after training every session working on Rip Cord or Roll Out, Old School or Twist Back, the Vella Spider Guard Smash or PTMU ... that's my first tournament win in more than a year right there.

Think about it: in a week that's 40 minutes, a full hour a week if you spend 15 minutes before or after every class working on ONE SPECIFIC FUNDAMENTAL MOVE IN YOUR GAME. That's a whole class every week just on one move. Not just playing around with something fancy that you saw in a video and want to try for yourself, but your very own bread and butter, arroz e feijao jiu jitsu, the kind of stuff that will save your ass when you are are exhausted, or maybe even one of these days get you the win.

Lovato Jr.'s Reflections from the Pan

Some interesting observations from Raphael Lovato Jr.'s experience at this year's Pan.
The main things that stuck out in my mind from the Pan-Ams were:

(1) How important it is to get into your game first & be the first to score.

(2) Shut down the half guard games before they get deep, don't give the angle.

(3) Get stronger at defending & attacking the guard pass on the weakside.

(4) Be faster on the transitions.

Read the rest here

Rafa and Gui Mendes: Blue Belt Match 2005

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gracie Mag Coverage of Brazilian Nationals

Gracie Magazine coverage here.

Outstanding performances include J.T. Torres of Lloyd Irvin winning silver after defeating top-rated Lucas Lepri, the continued rivalry between Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha (Rafa won this time around), and another successful outing from Bernardo Faria who has now won the absolute divisions at both the Pan and the Nationals.

Some rough camera work here - but that's just all the more reason to buy to go out and buy the DVD, right?

Not That I'm Thinking About Potential Opponents This Saturday Or Anything ...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Everything You Do Over Your 40 Hour Work Week is for Success"

The best things in life may or may not be free. But some of the best and most helpful things I've ever heard about jiu jitsu were 100% gratis and came courtesy of grappling's #1 marketing man, Lloyd Irvin:
David let me tell you how your school runs. Hold on for a second I have to work up my psychic powers. I see a vision; hold on, it's becoming clearer, I can almost see it. Got it.

You come to class, you warm up, stretch, observe some moves, maybe drill a little bit, then you end up sparring and finally you go home.

How did I do?

OK I understand that your school may vary a little bit and that I don't really have any psychic powers but I think you get the point.

That's how almost every grappling school in the World is ran (sic), including mine.

There is a MAJOR problem with this if you want to have GREAT success in grappling.

This structure is set up not for you to succeed, it's set up to provide the masses with a method of training and the basic information that you must obtain to have any chance.

Remember earlier I said everyone learns differently?

Well for you to receive the very best from your training you mu8st know what you need to do for YOU and only YOU.

This may sound selfish, but are you going to class to try to get better?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thoughts on Carwin v. Mir

Finally got around to seeing this fight tonight as Spike/UFC tried to counter-program the StrikeForce card on Showtime.

The sad thing about Mir's destruction at the hand of Shane Carwin is that it was so clear that all Frank has been focused on since getting finished by Brock Lesnar was getting bigger. It didn't look like anything else mattered. Mir looked big, thick around the middle, and had no technical solutions for anything that Shane came with. The fact that all Carwin came with was a clinch against the fence and some one-armed dirty boxing is all the more telling.

It's a lesson for us all - that it is critical to learn the right lessons from defeat. In trying to fight the last war against Lesnar, Mir lost the war that was right in front of him in Carwin.

Machida's Takedowns and Foot Sweeps

I've sung the praises of Bloody Elbow's Judo Chop before. Spending some time with another edition (this one before the first Machida v. Rua match) has only deepened my love for this MMA analysis series.

UFC 104 Preview: Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: The Karate Kuzushi Waza Foot Sweeps of Lyoto Machida

I wonder if the best time to study a fighter's style is after he loses. I know I found myself more interested in re-reading BJ Penn's Book of Knowledge after his upset loss to Frankie Edgar. I'm feeling a little something similar with Machida. There's always something to learn from the truly elite mixed martial artists - and studying them AFTER they lose is a good way of keeping that in mind.

Train Jiu Jitsu, Appreciate Wrestling

Make this a bookmark today.

Flow Wrestling: Amateur Wrestling Videos

Friday, May 14, 2010

Training Day: Friday

My reading for this weekend.

Nutrition has always been a problem with me, every since I was a kid. An aversion to typical breakfast foods made breakfast a grueling experience for at least a decade. Part of the fallout from this has been a weird obsession with performing on an empty stomach - or relying on as few calories as possible.

That was then - and a little bit more of the "now" than I'd like. Today, during the first conditioning interval of the competition training, I could barely finish 20 push-ups. That has nothing to do with cardio. That's all muscle endurance and, specifically, in today's case, a lack of fuel.

Of all the sports I would never want to perform with a meal in me, jiu jitsu may not have a close second. The twisting, the bending, the unpredictability of movement in jiu jitsu mandates having a body as ready to go at all times - not a body that is constantly busy digesting. I can't help but wonder if the relative lightness of the Gracie Diet is in part to accommodate the body's preferences when it comes to grappling.

For the past week, I've eaten like a 14-year old. And at my age, I just can't get away with that kind of shiite for very long. That's all the more so with the July Revolution just over 9 weeks away.

So this weekend will be the end of all that - at least for the next couple of months. I'm desperately curious to learn what might happen if I put everything I've got into preparing for the July event. And getting my fuel systems on track is a very big part of all of that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Show Don't Tell

"Where is Your Jiu Jitsu, playboy?"

I respect and appreciate the fighting briliiance of Anderson Silva. For better or worse, I can think of few words that do a better job of motivating me to become a real master of Brazilian jiu jitsu than what I begrudgingly concede is one of the best taunts in mixed martial arts history.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You and Your Latissimus Dorsi

Apropos of "feeling strong", here's an interesting notion for those of us who can't ever seem to find a pull-up bar (or dare installing one in our fragile abodes) ...

Pull-Up Strength: The Missing Link
One of the most impressive displays of strength-to-bodyweight—not to mention one of the best ways to add muscle to your upper body—is the pull-up. (If you don't find it impressive, think about it for a minute: you're using your upper body to pull your entire body up your entire arm length. I mean, holy shit.)

Thing is, unless you're one of the guys who can jump up to the bar and bang out 12 good ones right now, it's safe to bet that one of the biggest muscles in your body is probably one of the weakest, too. And that's never a good thing.

Critical Detail: Standing to Pass the Guard

Stand Up. STAGGER. Scoop Leg/Smash Leg.

Training Day: Wednesday

Self defense today was blocking the far hand of the attacker and moving in with the underhook to secure the safe clinch. From the safe clinch, we execute the hip throw.

I hate to say it. But when doing self-defense, there is a part of me that feels like I'm "really" doing jiu jitsu. Make no mistake - I couldn't stand to do self-defense for 90 minutes three times a week. But there is something very pure, very real about doing 15 minutes of self-defense each class that I'm grateful for.

Fundamental technique included a couple of different things. We worked on the arm-stuff triangle, with Rodrigo adding the detail of grabbing the shin with the off hand. I'm never going to be a big triangle guy, but it was good to work on the basics.

Rodrigo also had us work on a guard replacement against the underhook pass. Here you bridge away and heavy-leg the side that is being underhooked, while going two-on-one on the wrist-sleeve on the other side and stepping on the hip. The goal is to replace the closed guard, but if you work the technique over and over you can see how the triangle choke is there also.

Tatame was interesting, guard/pass guard specific. I worked with Bryan. One thing that was really evident with him is that standing to pass his closed guard is going to have to be a very technical endeavor. Critically, I need to make sure I create an angle by stepping back after standing up and establishing myself. I'm getting stuck in a defensive mode, able to ward off sweeps but unable to slowly and methodically process the actual open and pass.

160.8 on the scale post-train. We'll see where I am on Friday, but training three days a week and minimal off-mat conditioning, this might be what to expect.

Thoughts on Shogun v. Machida 2

One of the things that amazes me about the Shogun v. Machida 2 fight was the vast number of MMA experts who assumed that Machida had the upper hand in the rematch. To some observers, it was almost a done deal.

I liked Shogun. For my money, when things you are accustomed to change suddenly and dramatically, you need to pay attention. Everyone thought that Machida was invulnerable. Then Shogun showed, in a very methodical way, that that was not the case.

I liked Shogun, but what really made me pick him was the massive consensus in favor of Machida. Even people who had seen the first fight and thought that Shogun had won were back on what I call the Mean Reversion Bandwagon (i.e., nothing has changed, everything will be back to "normal").

But who knows what normal is in the context of a fighter like Machida and general? Isn't it arguable that the only quantified test we've run showed that Shogun outperforms Machida - or is at least his equal? If so, why were so many people insisting that Machida would win the rematch?

No one had enough information to be so confident that Machida would win that rematch. There was no evidence to support the kind of conviction I heard in the days leading up to that fight in favor of The Dragon.

Being contrarian isn't a 24/7 gig. But this one seemed like a relatively easy call. Shogun picked the lock once. Why assume that it would be impossible for him to pick the same lock again?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tournament Prep Pop Quiz

I'm watching Chelsea smash Wigan for the Premier League title, thinking about the World Cup in South Africa in another month and got to wondering this -

Which of the following is a starting player on a World Cup-bound team most likely to do shortly after a hard practice?

a. Go home.
b. Play a quick pick-up game with whichever teammates still have the energy to do so.
c. Gather with teammates to discuss the latest news and goings-on in the sport.
d. Drill frequently-encountered, critical situations (corner kicks, give 'n' gos, scoring plays) with whichever teammates are interested.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Training Day: Monday

Black belt professor Kevin Smith from GB South Sound taught the class insofar as Rodrigo was a little under the weather. I've taken classes Kevin has led before and they've always been top notch. He has his own way of encouraging us that is a little different from Rodrigo's approach, but the endgoal of getting us to work harder, better and faster is the same.

The main self-defense technique included the breakfall (squat first) and then using the technical lift to kick at the attacker's leg and get back to standing. There was a variation that had us kick twice: an initial kick on the back leg, then another push kick to the abdomen to get additional space for a double leg takedown or clinch. But both Bryan and I had a tricky time feeling comfortable with the second variation.

The technique of the day was the pendulum sweep. Kevin had us work the basic sweep, focusing on getting over to the side, perpendicular, with your ear on the knee of the leg you underhook. Kevin also added an armlock to this move, as well as a reverse to the top, ending up on mount, if you weren't able to fully pull the armlock off.

Not a bad start to the week. Clay and I reviewed some of the Renzo material and I'm hoping I can get a hold of guys like Clay and Glen to start working on drills for a few minutes - ideally immediately after class before everyone separates into sparring pairs - to help us all get ready for the Revolution.

This DRILL BABY DRILL mantra is something I've wanted to encourage for sometime, and maybe this time I'll pull it off. I never, ever, ever see guys matched up saying, "hey, I'm going to do alternating armlocks from the guard for 60 seconds" or "Can I work this sweep on your a few times?" Stephen Wanderer was probably the one guy I used to see doing drills with anybody he could grab. But most guys will only do the move once, twice maybe three times and then call it a night. Even here, we are looking usually at new moves that a guy wants to try out, not basic moves that someone is more focused on trying to perfect.

Anyway, that's all that. Worked a little with Benny also who wanted some more tips on the Flat Pass. It definitely felt good to share- that pass is one that I feel more and more comfortable with and I'd love to see some GB guys pull it off in competition over the next several weeks.

160.2 on the scale post-train. This far out, I have no complaints about that.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


What in the world can be said about Master Renzo Gracie that hasn't been said?

The seminar with Renzo was incredible. In some ways, it reminded me of Saulo's seminar, Cobrinha's seminar and Christiano's seminar all rolled up into one. Like Saulo's there was a depth of knowledge and a history that could not be denied. Like Cobrinha, the techniques were all easy to remember and flowed from basic situations like pulling guard (or faking a guard pull) and passing the spider guard. And like Christiano's seminar, it was a total outpouring of support from the Gracie Barra Washington family. I've never seen so many Gracie Barra gis in one place!

Another note on this: it was great to see so many folks I haven't seen since I changed my schedule to train during the day - as well as many folks from Ballard I haven't seen since the last tournament. Very much a homecoming feel.

The techniques. Renzo showed us an armlock from standing that he called "the Tasmanian Devil". Like all the moves Renzo showed, "the Taz" had a great story behind it. What I especially liked about the Tasmanian Devil is that it can be used to go for an armlock as well as to take the back from a standing jiu jitsu clinch situation. I bet there will be a lot of GB'ers trying this at the next couple of tournaments!

From here Renzo showed us three different chokes. He went through some key details in the basic collar choke, including many things I had begun to think about/consider as I explore the submission. The work Renzo did in showing us how to be effective with the Ezekiel ("put a bag over his head, scratch your nose, then close the choke") was worth the price of the seminar alone.

Renzo also showed us that sneaky gi choke from side control where you bring up the tip of the lapel hidden in your hand, feed it to your other hand and then turn away and down for a reverse Frankenstein choke. This one was very similar to a choke that Christiano showed us in his seminar some time ago.

One of the things that was especially fun was a Q&A that Renzo did at the end, asking people what situations they were having difficulties with. Renzo provided some tips on being heavy in side control, dealing with spider guard grips without having to break them, how to triangle big guys by bracing your knee and moving backwards and, my personal favorite, a variation on the slingshot sweep that allows you to get to the top without having to risk bringing the guy's entire weight on top of you.

A lot to say. But the bottom line was that it was a great, great event and just what I needed to get started for the next two and a half months of preparation for the July Revolution.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Training Day: Friday

Quick review of self-defense, rear mount chokes, rear mount escape, attacking the turtle with the post and spin to the back, guard replacement from front and rear turtle.

First time at "competition training." Standing with an odd-double collar tie, then pushups, squats, guard/pass guard, mount/mount escape, sprawls, choke-crunches, rear mount/rear mount escape ... over and over, round and round.

I felt okay during the pressure of competition training. At first, I lamented the fact that I was lagging even after all the off-mat cardio work I've been doing over the past few weeks. Then, I managed to check that and to just treat these early days of competition training as a sort of benchmark. This is how I feel now. How will I feel one month from now on June 7th? How will I feel two months from now on July 17th with ten days to go before the Revolution? These are the important thoughts. Whereever I am now cardio-wise, the only thing that matters is how much better my cardio is then.

Thinking a little about my recent competitions at the Revolution, how I lost at the last even to two guys I don't for a second think outclass me, I realize that a major, major aspect of conditioning has to do with preparation and gameplanning. In other words, when you don't have to spend (read: waste) energy trying to decide what to do next (or, more often, fending off your opponent's attacks while you decide what to do next), you've got a lot more "cardio" to do the things you want to do. I've been spending a lot of time in training trying to be "Rickson": patient, breathing and staying "aerobic" and looking for an opening to slip into any one of my pre-programmed "routines": Rap Star, deep half, King Crimson, Guy La Fleur on the bottom, Scoop leg, Smash leg, Flat Pass, PTMU on top.

We'll see about this. I won't be able to tell if my raw conditioning is improving with this approach - that is something I'll only be able to know sometime during Rodrigo's 5th or 6th set of sprawls. But in terms of "rolling shape" as Ivan Salavery used to call it, staying aerobic and going Rickson and having a coherent and easily recallable sets of options may do as much to "improve my cardio" as all the miles I'm pounding away on the treadmill.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Conditioning: More Thoughts On July Revolution Prep

I've tended to shy away from weight training ever since I became obsessed with improving my cardio. A lot of this obsession was stoked by my study of Joel Jamieson's work over at 8 Weeks Out, which is unfortunate insofar as Joel's book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning, includes a great deal of information about how and when to prioritize strength training. But obsessions are what they are and I was completed wedded to a notion that I need to be working on cardio uber alles.

I don't think this was wrong, per se. But one thing I did negect was reflected in something I read the other night while paging through Ultimate MMA Conditioning the other night:
If you're a naturally strong and powerful athlete, then your goal should be to use this ability in your fighting and to train to get even stronger and more powerful ... If you have the genetics to be strong and powerful, but you've always had endurance problems, your training should focus around improving your endurance to the point that it gives you the opportunity to use your strength and power ... Don't think you can go from being stronger and more powerful than everyone else to also being a conditioning machine that can outlast anyone, because chances are that you can't. What you can do, however, is develop the conditioning necessary to use your strength and power to your advantage to get the win.

I have been insufficiently and improperly applying this insight. The most obvious aspect of that has been my complete abandonment of weight training over the past several months in favor of bodyweight jiu jitsu drills (matwork) and treadmill hiking (LSD9 and LSD3).

There is a certain stigma against power when it comes to jiu jitsu, a stigma I support, to be honest. The beauty of jiu jitsu - and its ultimate effectiveness - will always lie in its technical features and its "sensibility" as Rickson Gracie puts it, not in its ability to be enhanced by athleticism. At the end of the day, it is what makes a 120 pound jiu jitsu black belt far more formidable IMO than a 120 pound karate black belt or kung fu practioner.

That said, there is room to apply power in a way that doesn't cheapen what is beautiful about jiu jitsu. I think of fighters like Jacare (the Younger), Cobrinha when he is passing the guard, Marcelo Garcia's armdrags and X-guard, the "wait and explode" mixed martial artisty of Fedor. Power, at the end of the day, is really just a matter of having overwhelming edges temporarily on your side, earning that critical over-reaction or the under-reaction that gives you the takedown, the sweep, the pass, the finish.. That's what is great about jiu jitsu, how it allows you to generate power from the same source you are seeking to overcome.

But another part of being powerful is feeling powerful, feeling in your muscles that when the time comes, everything will respond as required when required. There is definitely a "feeling of strength" that you either have or don't have if you are wired more for power than endurance, and pretending that factor isn't important is likely to be counterproductive.

That doesn't mean I need to turn myself into a fireplug. But it does mean respecting the need to "feel strong" by moving some iron around in some progressive, programmtic fashion from time to time. I like what I've been doing with the 1x/week tempo workouts on Thursdays and am looking forward to adding incline bench when the 8 Weeks Out begins in another few weeks. That - and maybe a little reuinion with those 9-minute Berardi complexes - may be all I need. And this far out from competition is the right time for that kind of general work.

Deep Thoughts on Prep for the July Revolution

Conditioning / Nutrition / Takedowns / Guard Passing

These are the four horsemen of my jiu jitsu competition career. When these horsemen are in gear, I win. When they are not - as has been the case throughout my purple belt campaign from March 2009 to the present - I lose. Key to winning instead of losing, at this point, seems to be in dealing with these four dark riders.


At purple belt, I'm fighting for 7 minutes. And typically I've only got the juice for about 4-5. An annoyingly high amount of this problem is psychological. I remember in my last match actively hoping not to end up in another tie at the end of regulation and be forced to go into overtime (as I did in the summer of 2009).

The psychology aside, I need to make sure that my off-mat conditioning is consistent late in the game. In the runup to the last tournament, my off-mat conditioning fell off in Weeks 6 and 7, just when I needed it to be peaking.

Specifically, I'm going to be working on Power-Endurance during this 8 Week Camp. I'm never going to be a cardio machine. But I think I can use a Fedor-like "wait and explode" strategy to maximize my power advantage at this weight and minimize any endurance disadvantage. There are strategic implications to this. But right now, increasing aerobic capacity early and lactic capacity late - while maintaining natural explosiveness - is the off-mat conditioning key.

On the mat, my goal is to average at least four training sessions a week during the 8 Week Camp. Going into the March revolution earlier this year, my four-week training average was 4.25, a solid number that I would like to top for July.


Fear of missing weight has too often led to competing on an empty stomach. The first strategy to deal with this is to consistently weigh under 162 in my post-training weigh-ins for the first four weeks of Camp and under 162 in my pre-training weigh-in for the final four weeks.

Sticking to my conditioning and training routine will go a long way toward keeping my weight down - as will a few overdue dietary adjustments.

I'm also including rest under nutrition. Eight hours of sleep every day (note that Fedor takes nine) - even if that includes a midday nap.


To steal a line: I win most of my jiu jitsu matches before I lose them.

More often than not, I'm up 2-0 at some point early in my matches. That was true even in March of this year when I felt woefully unprepared in my takedown game - yet still managed to get the Rip Cord / Jacare takedown to go up 2-0.

For July, I need to have all six of my main takedowns down pat: how to set them up, how they work, and what I do if the takedown is effectively countered. I think my takedown game is top-notch - arguably the best part of my jiu jitsu - and with some modest but consistent attention over the next 10 weeks, I should be fine.

Here the focus is two-fold: tempo training with lunges and split squats to ensure adequate conditioning and specific muscle endurance, and 1-2-3-4 step technical solo drilling will be key.

Guard Passing:

What can I say? When I pass the guard I win. When I don't pass the guard, I lose.

Although my guard passing game is nowhere near my takedown game, I think what helps the former will improve the latter. This means specific muscle endurance conditioning (the tempo training), as well as 1-2-3-4 step technical solo drilling for technique.

My guess is that my competition pass will be the Flat Pass. I've found that working a standing pass first and getting the bottom guy oriented and focused on a standing guard passer is a nice way to set up the drop to the mat and drive for the Flat Pass. I've especially been successful with this approach when guys try to go for handstand sweeps and underhook my leg and I am able to attack their underhooking arm for a handcuff set-up for the Flat Pass. Weak attempts at arm-warp guards have also been a good opportunity to attack with the Flat Pass.

But again, the key is to initaite the game by standing. Frustrate his ability to sweep you with your superior balance and patience. Then, as he begins to consider back up options, attack with the pass.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rei Braulio at the New York Open

An interview with the King courtesy of Submission Control

Braulio Estima Interview at NY Open 2010

Full disclosure: there was actually a non-jiu jitsu moment last weekend where I found myself thinking: what would Braulio Estima do in this situation?

FWIW, the answer was: smile and applaud - which says as much about my preoccupation with jiu jitsu as it does with my admiration for one of Gracie Barra's greatest champions.

Training Day: Wednesday

Good training today at midweek. We continue to work on attacks from rear mount, and added some guard recovery work from the turtle position for the guy on the bottom.

The turtle work in particular was helpful. From the front turtle position, you want to post on the knee and elbow on one side, then send the opposite leg out sideways to complete the base. Here was a key detail: you want to cross grip with your sideways leg and grab the opposite knee. If you grab the same side knee, then it is possible for the guy to escape your guard recovery by spinning around your grip, using your grip as a pivot, and end up re-taking your back.

From here, you want to send the bottom leg between the guy's legs to get the half guard hook in place. There is a full guard option, depending on spacing. but for me, the half guard option will almost always be the preferred one.

From the rear turtle, there was a detail that I had been missing before. When you are in turtle and the guy is attacking from the back, you reach back and grab the knee on one side, your turn side.

Here is the detail. The leg you are going to use to establish the half guard inside hook is not the first leg (not the same leg as the grip). That leg has to actually get out of the way so that as you turn, it is your second leg that slides in for the bottom hook. So the point is that it is the second leg, the trailing leg, that establishes the half guard.

Worked specific with Bryan and some sparring with Clay, who is one tough white belt and is fast becoming one of my new favorite sparring partners among the guys coming up. He has some very good instincts against my half guard, for example, and it has been a challenge to try and keep one step ahead of him.

More tempo training tomorrow and then back on the mat Friday. I bummed out of my aerobic capacity workout - the 10th of the series - yesterday. Maybe I'll see if I can make it up next Saturday. With 8 Weeks Out a few weeks away and competition training starting this week (Monday and Tuesday nights at 7, Friday at 12:30 and Saturday at noon), I'm not going to kick myself for postponing a final 45-minute stint on the treadmill.

161.0 on the scale post-train.

Renzo Seminar Saturday in Fife

Renzo Gracie's seminar has been rescheduled for this Saturday. If you are reading this, are planning on going, and haven't yet finalized your reservations, then you need to talk to Rodrigo by tomorrow.

In preparation for Renzo's visit - and in my sincere hope that he shares a few details about his signature arm-in-guillotine - here's some footage of Renzo rolling with Maurcio Gomes, father of Roger Gracie. Renzo is in the black shorts and black knee braces.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Training Day: Monday

Good training today, though again the paradox of time continues as I arrive on the mat just as the warm-ups are getting underway. The Self-Defense moves were techniques against the around the neck choke from behind, with and without the choke-side leg stepped forward. This is basic choke-protect, squat, look-away, hip throw stuff, with the caveat with the leg being that you want to step out and around with the choke-side leg around his leg and then go back to parallel stance and then trip the guy backwards over your leg.

More work from the back as The Fundamental. I really like the rear mount work we've been doing for the past several classes and I can feel my confidence from that position increasing. Like I said, given my growing preference for chokes, mastering rear mount is a priority.

And so is escaping it. I spent far too much time fighting off a pretty persistent attack from a tough white belt, Clay, during the final sparring session. I've got to do a better job of pausing and executing my escapes instead of trying to deal with bad situations athletically. That's a mistake I've pretty much eliminated from my mount escape game. It's good to get more training improving that strategic aspect of my rear mount escape game.

I was having more trouble converting Turtle top to rear mount than I would have liked. There's clearly some major technical issue - my guess is that I'm not gluing my chest to his back when I make the sit back and spin move, so I end up trying to pull him with me instead. One nice thing, though, was that I got to see the detail that Rodrigo was showing with the pivot-knee side elbow to the mat. Maybe improving this detail will help with the sit & spin also.

162.4 on the scale post train. Rodrigo announced that we were going to start competition training Monday and Tuesday nights at 7 p.m., Fridays at 12:30 p.m. and Saturday at 12 noon. With the Revolution about 10-11 weeks out, it's getting to be about that time and I'm looking forward to what the competition training classes will be like. I'll be looking to get 2-3 of those sessions in a week, in addition to the competition training. This will require, among other things, getting some rest during the day so that I'm clocking 9 hours of sleep a day.

As Bryan joked, I don't have a lot of purple belt competitions left. The idea of significantly "improving" my record as a purple belt is out due to math, and I'm not even preoccupied with the idea of "going out with a bang" as a motivating factor for the July Revolution. More than anything, I want to finally feel fully "present" in a match, and a part of that (a large part) will be getting my conditioning to a level that it hasn't ever been at before.

I also need to take an inventory of mistakes - and now, with 10+ weeks go is the best time. Chronic issues like passing the guard and taking the initiative standing as well as other issues like having the right fuel at the right time (no more competing on an empty stomach as I did earlier this year are things that are less likely to recur if I focus on them now.

The Gracie Barra Friendly is on May 22nd - two weeks after the Renzo seminar. That will be a pretty good opportunity to see where I'm at in a point-jiu jitsu sense with (hopefully) three, 4x training weeks at my back.

Marcelo Garcia North South Choke

Courtesy of

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Passing the Z Guard

Two variations

Passing the Z Guard

Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: Wilson Reis

Without a doubt, Bloody Elbow's "Judo Chop" series is one of the best things online about mixed martial arts. Here's the lastest installment, focusing on Wilson Reis' great half guard sweeps from his recent Bellator FC victory over Shad Lierley.

Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: The Half Guard Sweeps of Wilson Reis Upend Shad Lierley at Bellator XIV
The techniques that Reis used so reflect the dramatic advances made at the higher levels of jiu jitsu over the past decade and a half. They're only now beginning to make it to MMA. While Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's amazing array of sweeps from half guard hinted at what is possible, the next wave of guard innovations are a dramatic step forward.