Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Maia Back on Winning Track

One of the most exciting things to come out of UFC 118 was the return of Demian Maia to winning form in his dominating performance over Mario Miranda. Read coverage of Maia's win

here at Bloody Elbow

and here at Sherdog.com

and here at Graciemag

New Training Schedule Starting in October

Based on the new schedule for the new Seattle Academy facility, it looks like I'll be training Monday and Friday early classes and Tuesday and Wednesday late classes. Competition team training every other Saturday (for me) and Sundays and Thursdays off-mat.

I'll probably go ahead and start this training schedule in September to get used to the new routine. The only big change is training the late class on Wednesday's instead of the early class.

I'm a little concerned about how to work in 3x/week conditioning, or even 2x, with this schedule. Tuesday still looks like a great day for conditioning, as is Sunday. And that probably makes Thursday the other day in (assuming things aren't too brutal during Wednesday's late class.)

Then again, there's this from the Maestro:
I truly believe that to become great at Jiu Jitsu you just have to do Jiu Jitsu as much as you can. If you can choose between Jiu Jitsu training and weights, always choose Jiu Jitsu.

Training Day: Monday

Got to training a little late, but was still able to participate in both of the techniques of the day: the pendulum sweep and the armbar attack off the pendulum sweep. Carlos added a variation on the pendulum sweep, a sweep I call the Xande Sweep, where you control the wrist on one side and the pants at the knee on the other. One detail I discovered working with Jeff is that it really helps to put in an extra kick or two as you are trying to finish the Xande Sweep. Don't expect to get the full sweep necessarily with one kick of the leg.

Live Training was interesting for a number of reasons. I wasn't able to work any of my planned games: the 2-on-1, Bullet Time to Slingshot, and I didn't get in my armbars afterwards, either. It's always a little annoying when you are training at a good clip, but feeling as if things are stagnant in your progress. But the more you train, the less likely you are to notice individual, specific moments within the scenery. Like being on a bullet train, you're making progress even if the landmarks are too blurry to see as you shoot by.

I'm a couple days into the Cissus protocol. Since I'm training with the shoulder, it's a little hard to tell whether or not the initial analgesic aspect of the protocol is kicking in. Right now, it takes a few hours after training before the aching starts to kick in. I've been slacking a little on my nightly streteching (missing sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday), but I'll make that up over the next day or two.

158.2 post-train. A great way to start the week on this score.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Prof. Christiano in Gracie Magazine

Exceptional profile of GB Yakima's Christiano Oliveira over at GracieMag.com
Cristiano tried muay thai for two years and capoeira for a little while, but once he began to see shows about Jiu-Jitsu on TV, he became intrigued by that instead. “A friend of mine, Eliezer Dutra, started training Jiu-Jitsu a little before me,” Cristiano says, “He pushed me to start training with him and I did. From the first day I started Jiu-Jitsu, at the age of fourteen, I fell in love with it. I gave up all other sports, and never stopped training.”

Training Day: Saturday

Drove over the academy for some weekend training today. A good crew: Lance, Clint, Lindsey, Elliott, Benny J, Andrew, Jeremiah, "Buscape" and a bunch of other folks I can't recall at the moment. I got to train with Lance, clint, Lindsey, Elliott and a good sized blue belt whose name escapes me. A good straight-to-the-point workout today - pretty much all Live Training/Competition Team training.

I went to training hoping to work out of Rap Star for the full guard, and the Slingshot for the half. Suffice to say that neither was accomplished - though I did manage to get some good work in from knee on belly, specifically the baseball choke from that position. Getting and maintaining knee on belly has been the real jewel of my jiu jitsu game here at the beginning of Training Year 6 (Aug 2010 - July 2011).

What I need to work on is pulling guard from the "sparring starting position." A lot of guys are just using basic toreano tactics to hop past me as I defend out of the sitting guard. And many of these guys are getting directly to side control - not the most fun way to start off a six or seven minute sparring session. I know that the pathetic quality of this part of my game is because I'm still learning how to use this position (even though I've been avoiding the "start on the knees" Clash of the Titans silliness since I was a blue belt). But it is still more than a little aggravating.

So out of this situation, I need to improve my guard pull from that position, as well as continuing to work on some of the solutions that Marcelo comes up with when that happens.

I also need to work on Saulo's "Bullet Time" tactic to reclaim the underhook in half guard. Coming in close second on the list of things I'm doing wrong is letting guys get that underhook against my half guard. Rap Star is my "overhook" guard option. But I'm not doing what I need to do in order to create space (i.e., foot in the hip) in order to make Rap Star work when I lose the underhook from half. So while working to gain Rap Star is a good strategy, Saulo's "Bullet Time" is probably better. Bullet Time also sets up the Slingshot, which has been on my TO DO list for longer than I care to remember.

The one thing with training with tough guys most of the time is that your "A" game is constantly challenged (good) while your "B" game typically doesn't stand much of a chance (bad) - to say nothing of moves that you are just beginning to experiment on. It's a "good" problem in most respects. But it does make self-directed development and evolution that less predictable.

157.2 on the scale post-train. I was dragging on Thursday and skipped the scheduled cardio capacity workout. I'll probably pick that up tomorrow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"The More You Attack, The More Your Opponent Will Make Mistakes"

Training Day: Friday

Still felt a little sluggish through much of today's training. Friday is a Specific Training/Live Training type of session these days, which is a nice way to wrap up the week. I'm still trying to get better fighting out of the sitting guard. But it is very, very slow going - or at least so it seems.

The biggest problem is that if I miss and get passed, given the guys I've been training with over the past month, there's a good chance that I'll be spending the majority of my time escaping bad positions. I got completely mauled in one such episode today, hanging on to my choke defense for dear life and waiting for the round to end.

Fairly mortifying. But that's how training seems to go right now. Either I pass guard and remain in a dominant position for the rest of the round, or I get passed and remain in somebody else's dominant position for the rest of the round.

Not a whole lot to say about today's session. I like the fact that I'm training at a good clip these days. I've got to narrow and focus more on what specifically I want to get down in each session - especially in these critical areas that make the difference between a productive session and a not so productive session.

Looking forward to training on Saturday. My shoulder is nagging me some. But between the Super Cissus and the Ibuprofen, I don't anticipate being denied.

Return of the Son of More Marcelo

Sometimes I let my opponent move to maximize my time in transitions. Other times I go straight for the finish when I feel a big challenge. Sometimes if I feel someone doesn't want to give the back, I'll fight very hard to make him make a mistake and give the back. Sometimes I might just train my squeeze for a session. Other times I'll work on my grips. My whole life I have learned how to make my own training by creating little challenges no matter who I am rolling with. This is very important.

Courtesy of On the Mat

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ground Control to Major Burien Top Team

I truly believe that to become great at Jiu Jitsu you just have to do Jiu Jitsu as much as you can. If you can choose between Jiu Jitsu training and weights, always choose Jiu Jitsu.
--Marcelo Garcia
I feel like I'm orbiting Marcelo Garcia's work like a lunar lander these days. I'm back to re-reading his book and poking around the forums at On the Mat and at MGinAction.com.

What is most important to me right now are big themes, "sensibilities" to use Rickson's word. One of the things that I love about guys like Marcelo Garcia and Rickson Gracie and Saulo Ribeiro and Roger Gracie is that they so clearly have a reality-based, unified field theory of jiu jitsu that allows them to contextualize almost any situation into a scenario that works best for them.

While I don't think that my and Marcelinho's UFTs are exactly the same, there have been elements of his jiu jitsu that always have made tremendous sense to me. And it wouldn't surprise me if this stage in my maturation in jiu jitsu is all about finally making some of those elements mine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ask Burien Top Team 3

Q. What do you do when you have a terrible day of training?

A. Great question ...

Training Day: Wednesday

I felt sluggish as hell in the hours before training on Wednesday. I'd trained Tuesday night, and had a pretty good session with guys like Benny J. and Clint (and, of course, Rodrigo). And I didn't have much more than half a turkey sandwich before going to bed. But though I slept relatively well, I woke up wondering whether or not I'd make it to training today.

Nothing particularly spectacular in today's "Live Training Only" session. We worked some specific training (rear mount/rear mount escape) and I got to work with Prof. Kevin, which was a nice change of pace. I wouldn't go so far as to say that we have similar games. But I do think we have similar sensibilities when it comes to what works and does not work best for us. I'm looking forward to training with him more going forward.

In terms of what's working, I'm getting better and better at finding the spot for the hook sweep out of a variety of positions. I still want to add in a slingshot sweep set-up to the mix - and now is very much the time to focus on improving basic technical skills. I like what I'm starting to see out of my two-on-one attack, though I haven't once been able to lure anyone into the arm cross guard in full.

156.8 on the scale post-train. A very nice place to be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

It always surprises me to see so many white belts when I train on Tuesday nights. I have no idea how big the academy is growing. But it seems as if every week I train on Tuesday nights, I see 4-5 white belts I've never seen before.

More work from the back tonight. Rodrigo had us working turtle escapes from the front (cross grip. step up), the back (sameside grip, sit), and the side (far knee straightarm, sit and hook with sitting leg) and it was nice to train with Clint like back in the olden days. Good training partners are worth their weight in gold and I've been pretty lucky over the past several months to train and drill with a lot of good teammates who are also good training partners (not always one in the same, unfortunately).

Advanced training was good tonight. I got to roll with Benny, Clint and Rodrigo and it felt good to see some development along planned lines. I'd still like to see more movement from dominant positions on top (side control to mount, side control to knee on belly) from the top and more work on the Stomp Guard from 1/2. But there was a lot to like in tonight's effort, including the first effective hook sweep from Rap Star in what are literally months.

157.0 on the scale post-train.

Marcelo: More from the Arm Cross Guard

Straight Armlock from the Guard from Abhaya

Not the sort of armbars I'll be drilling right now. But a good example of the sort of armlock I do want to make more and more a part of my guard attack.

Monday, August 23, 2010

1,000 Armbars a Month

Some institutions have years that begin and end on months different from the calendar year. In my jiu jitsu world, the "year" begins in August.

And as with all new years, resolutions must be made. For the 2010-2011 jiu jitsu year, one of those resolutions will be to drill 1, 000 armbars a month, every month.

I'll be looking to split those armbars between armbars from the guard and armbars from other locations (mount and knee on belly, especially). But the meta-goal for this project is to develop an armlock from the guard that is as automatic as anything else in my game.

If I train 15-16 times a month, then my 1,000 armbars a month goal means drilling about 60 armbars a night - again, with half from the closed guard and the other half from dominant positions.

I look at it, in part, like this: if you do weight training after jiu jitsu (as "Zen Machine" Mario Sperry used to advise), then you might do 3 sets of 10 reps of about 3-5 different exercises max. That comes to between 90-150 work reps - far more than my goal of 60 armbars a day.

This will require more than a little help. John helped me get in 30 armbars last Friday (3 sets of 10). Today, we trained a little late and nobody even looked remotely like they had the juice to keep going. So I'll admit that I don't expect to be able to get in the other 970 before Septemer 1st ...

But with a little kindness from not-too-exhausted teammates and a prorated target near 300, my mark may be made after all.

Training Day: Monday

159.4 on the scale, post-train.

Watching Elliott, Nate and Brock do the takedown training before today's class got me more than a little jealous. But the truth of the matter is that training takedowns would probably be the absolute worst thing for my shoulder right now.

Still working on the back as part of the Big Fundamental (Week 10a, for those of you with the home version). Prof. Carlos provided some nice tips on both the self-defense (adding the osoto gari in case the attacker in the rear choke steps forward to pressure with the knee) and on the escape from rear mount (when bridging back, put your head on the far side of the opponent's head to create some distance and space against the choke).

Some nice things in Live Training today. I'm continuing the "Two Generals" philosophy with better and better results. I'm trying the more aggressive, Marcelo Garcia approach to passing the guard, aggressively going for the 1 on 1 and then looking for the knee cut/Royler for the pass. From the guard, I'm controlling the hands and looking for hook sweep off the eagle grips (far collar/sleeve) or the two-on-one. That continues to be a great way to get things started. It also makes me feel less like a hack when I end up ultimate getting one of my go-to half guard sweeps; if that's how the game unfolds, then I should take the best option available.

I like the omoplata-bait counter to the triangle for now. Not only does it actually take the shoulder - or at least the injured side delt - out of the equation, but also it gives me the opportunity to work on that omoplata escape to side control that Mike Fowler shows in his video.

I also got caught in a version of the slingshot sweep. As far as I'm concerned, that's a reminder that now is a great time to work that sweep into my game (a long, long time goal). I think the trick is to start setting it up very deliberately, at first, bait the trap and see what moves are required in order for the guy to take the bait. More or less, that is what is working for the hook sweep attacks right now. So why not bring that bait strategy over to another field of operations and see what happens?

Very good performance from my shoulder. It's been a few hours and it really feels better than it has in days. I still plan on doing the full Super Cissus treatment in about a week's time. But I'll take any improvement in the meantime, for sure.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reverse Scissor Sweep

Jacare, Galvao Win at Strikeforce: Houston

Read all about it here
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza anchored the Strikeforce middleweight championship belt to his waist after a hard-fought five-round battle with Tim Kennedy. The Brazilian -- known for his world class jiu-jitsu skills -- battered Kennedy with a tenacious standup attack that kept him off balance throughout the fight.

“In the cage, you can only find warriors, and Tim Kennedy’s a warrior,” Jacare said through his translator. “He had a hard time taking me down, so we had to go stand up. I’m stoked that I won.”

Update: Not sure how long it will be up. But Sherdog.com is providing a copy of the Galvao fight from the free, on-demand stream of the prelims they offered Saturday night.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Training Day: Friday

I had an interesting conversation with Lance the other day. We were talking about how minor injuries, the kind of injuries you try to "play through", often force you to make alterations or changes to your game. Sometimes the changes are in line with things you've thought about working on. My bad right shoulder actually means that it makes sense for me to try passing guard to my right, for example, something I've wanted to work on for a long time but never committed myself to.

Sure, some of this is just "sweet lemons". But whenever the injury is (or seems) relatively minor, the forced change can be productive - at least, that's what I'm sticking to until I start feeling a little more capable on my right.

Training today was a good hard session. I'm still working the two-on-one, but making the mistake of sticking with it (and the foot on hip control) even when guys stand to pass. Elliott did a great "Professor Carlos-like" job of walking through my two-on-one today - in part because I continued to fight for foot in hip control. Against a guy with Elliott's length, that is just not going to work.

The toreano passes have been my biggest problem from the sitting guard. Lindsey, Benny (Faixa roxa) and now Elliott have all managed to fly past my sitting guard with this approach. I need to do a better job of looking for the armdrag if they move to dramatically to my right. And go to the shin guard when they remain standing and try to run around or hop over my guard.

Still feeling a little sluggish overall. I know I'm feeling a little depressed at my first injury in two years, but the fact that I'm able to roll through it is good - even if it means often performing at 75% or less. I can't underhook at all on my right side, making certain passes, guard recoveries from turtle and a few other jiu jitsu delicacies out of the question for now.

One thing that was really nice about today's training was that I got one of the blue belts (John?) to do some drills with me. We just did about 3-4 sets of 10 alternating armbars from the guard. But that was more armbars from the guard than I've done in months - which was exactly the point.

I'm going to try and make it a goal to get in 100 armbars from the guard each week in drilling sessions after class. I don't ever think it will be a go-to move for me. But I'd like to have at least one, classic, closed guard submission in my arsenal. And since there's no chance in hell that that technique will be a triangle choke, why not an armbar?

159.2 or so on the scale post-train. I'll be seeing what I've got left for this week at tomorrow's competition training.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

U.S. Open XV: October 15, 16 & 17

The U.S. Open XV, sponsored by Claudio Franca BJJ is coming up in about two months time. According to Rodrigo, we have a couple of folks that are looking to compete. I won't be among them this time around, but it is an event I could imagine participating in next year.

Here's a link to last year's winners. One name I recognize in the brown belt adult lightweight division is Nathan Mendelsohn, who actually left a Revolution tournament a few months back rather than compete for third place. He had lost to Sauleh in his first match. Guess who he was scheduled to meet in his second?

The U.S. Open XV is in Santa Cruz, a 12-hour drive or a very quick plane hop from Seattle. Not sure about the train option.

In any event, I'll be interested to hear who is going. Rodrigo has had a lot of good things to say about the U.S. Open.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training Day: Wednesday

Live Training only today - though I did arrive early enough to do a little bit of the Fundamental (back control, RNC and the one-handed choke).

I was pretty worn out by the end of training. Training three days in a row is a serious pace for me, all the moreso doing an hour-long conditioning session in the middle of it. I'll take Thursday off, and finish off the week with training on Friday and Saturday.

Continuing to work the two-on-one guard. I'm starting to see how I actually want to control the wrist to set up armbars and omoplatas, as well as armdrags and sweeps. I'm trying to commit to this guard attack almost exclusively for the rest of the year as a way of opening up things and getting me out of my half guard comfort zone. Watching and rewatching and rewatching the Marcelo Garcia/Hillary Williams sparring session is helping me see how to put all of the different elements of this guard to work.

158.4 or so on the scale post-train.

Five Years

Five years today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

Starting to put Tuesday night back into the rotation. In the olden days, I used to train Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Of late, Thursdays have become more of an off-day, and the Monday training has shifted a few hours earlier, but Tuesday has been the odd date out. No more - at least as of this week.

Worked guillotine and guillotine escapes tonight, sort of a refresher of the Monday lesson. There were a lot of new people I've never seen before, which is always a little amazing, as well as some familiar faces like Jeff and Benny, who I got to drill with today.

I also got to roll with Rodrigo for a good little while. I did a halfway decent job of pressing the attack at the beginning with the two on one and trying to keep active foot in hip and hook pressure. Rodrigo passed, of course, but it was good to at least work some of the grips and to work on something that I'd been wanting to work on.

I also got to roll with Igor, a much smaller white belt who was a nice continuous-aerobic, HICT type workout after the grueling session with Rodrigo. There was some good work for both of us I think and I'm especially grateful for the first opportunity to try the slingshot sweep in years.

156.6 on the scale-post train - a credit to some (relatively) clean eating and 50 minutes on the treadmill earlier today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Training Day: Monday

A smallish class compared to what's been the case for much of the summer - vacations and the heat of August seem to be taking a little toll. That said, I got to train with new fellow brown belt "Chopper" Jeff for the first time in years, and then with Elliott, who is becoming one of my regular training partners these days.

The lesson was back control, for the most part, with Prof. Carlos showing us a version of taking the back from turtle using the same grips that Givas Santana showed us in his seminar earlier this summer. I get the sense that Carlos and Rodrigo are really starting to put their own imprint on the GB Fundamentals now that we've gone through the whole course once. That will only be for the better down the line.

BTW, today was Week 9a: Guillotine. Hooks v.s. Turtle. Rear Two Collars Choke.

With Jeff, I worked pretty much out of half guard. I did a good enough job of staying on the attack, even from half, but should have converted the kimura attack to the kimura sweep, since the kimura sweep is high on my list of training priorities. Unfortunately, I was too self-conscious about missing the sweep and winding up on the bottom.

With Elliott, I was mostly dealing with his ever-ready triangle attack - that and his youth. After spinning around and around for what seemed like half an hour, I finally had to stop - partly due to time constraints, partly due to exhaustion. Elliott looked like he could have gone another 10-20 minutes, easy.

So, not a great training day in some ways. I'm still struggling to implement my post-train skills work - hopefully adding some late classes on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday will give me more opportunities. Between the heat, my shoulder, and general August laziness, I've backed off my conditioning save for finishing off the explosive-repeat sessions I've been doing since the July 20th. I'm trying to make up for some lost training time from last week, so maybe I'll give myself a bit of a break on the off-mat conditioning - maybe explo-repo tomorrow and some cardiac output work on Thursday will do the trick.

158.8 on the scale post-train. Summer on the mat.

Galvao: Drill to Win

Just got a great review of Andre Galvao's new book, Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from a teammate I know and trust. That means this book will probably be the latest addition to my Jiu Jitsu Wish List.

Here's a recent interview with Galvao with Caleb of The Fightworks Podcast, including a written transcript
The FightWorks Podcast: When you first started training, did you start competing right away, or did you train for a while and then start competing in tournaments?

Andre Galvao: My first championship, I was a white belt. I had only been training two months and I tried competition. I won two fights and I lost the third fight. The guy caught me in a flying armbar. Then I needed to stop jiu-jitsu to work, as I mentioned. Then I came back to training in 1999 with Careca. Two months after training with him I started to compete and I won every tournament as a white belt. I started to fight early, and I trained every single day, morning, afternoon, and night, every day, when I was a white belt. And I keep training like that.

One of the things that really struck me about the recommendation was a hint that the training Galvao advocates is very similar to the kind of training we did at Gracie Barra Seattle when we first started training circa 2005-2007, sort of pre-Gracie Barra curriculum. I remember talking with someone else a few weeks ago who started training around that time and both of us agreed that while we enjoyed the new standardized Gracie Barra curriculum, we were both VERY grateful for having come up as white belts and blue belts under the "Rodrigo Lopes" curriculum.

Call it the best of both worlds.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leo Kirby's Page

My favorite Marcelo Garcia translator's page is here. Some critical insights into Marcelinho's game from someone who has been studying that game for years.

Glover and Cooper: Brabo from Mount

Brabo has never been my number one choke, or even my number two. But this move off of mount is worth thinking about. Cooper's brabo from mount starts at about 5:10 min.

Hook Guard: Take Out the Garbage Sweep

Before there was Aesopian, there was Abhaya.

This sweep is a variation off the armcross hook sweep that I want to integrate into my guard game, ASAP. Off the two-on-one (one of Marcelo's favorite attacks) to the armcross, close the distance and drop the hook. This variation covers the post counter to the basic sweep.

Update: Here's Marcelo Garcia doing the same sweep, no gi.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Training Day: Friday

The good news is that my shoulder is feeling about 50% better. It still aches in the wrong positions. But now that I'm sure the painkillers and adrenaline have worn off, it's nice to feel little more than a dull throb in my rear delt. One of the frustrating things about shoulder injuries is the way the pain radiates, making it difficult sometimes to figure out exactly where to put the ice. I've seen a few shoulder ice pack contraptions at different stores and am considering picking up one.

Looks like I'll be on the clock at least a time or two tomorrow for the Gracie Barra Washington Surprise Intramural Tournament. My guess is that Rodrigo is trying to fit in a "friendly" before the new Gracie Barra Washington tournament series begins on October 2. With the move to the new facility, September is probably going to be too difficult a month to stage a friendly. So this Saturday it is.

Very much in a transition sort of mode right now - particularly as it relates to my guard game. Because I have such a hard time implementing "things to work on" during Live Training, I've simplified things to just goals like "hook sweep" or "defend toreanos" which actually seems to be doing better. Hopefully, this is just a baby step to being able to better pre-program myself for the sparring opportunities when they arise.

Above all, my goal as a brown belt is to follow the dictum of the Two Generals. To this end, I'm trying to plot out my attacking strategy from initial contact to submission. One of the things about watching so much Marcelo Garcia this week is how seamless his game seems. I remember reading Helio talk about "timing" as what made Rickson Gracie exceptional. Watching Marcelo have a counter for every attack and an attack for every counter shows me that if you can create your own environment, your own "space", then "timing" per se, becomes "space."

Felt a little more fatigue than I would have liked during sparring today. It was hot, but still, I was just starting to get used to feeling like I had the gas to go all day. I was able to train without a break for the whole session (again, besides the team water break). But I still would have liked to have felt like I had another roll or two in me - I certainly had the time.

169.2 in the gi pre-train, which wasn't half bad considering I'm so far out from the next competition in early October. I'm still trying to figure out what to do conditioning-wise, taking the improvement in my shoulder into account. I still think that a somewhat unorthodox combination of cardiac output and explosive-repeat training might help deal with my two biggest conditioning issues - although the two are not typically grouped together (cardiac output and tempo training for 3-4 weeks followed by explosive-repeat and threshold training for 2-3 weeks is more normal).

Escapes from the 50/50

Alliance's Manhattan Project

Something Special for Faixa Marrom?

Saulo Ribeiro says that up through being a purple belt, he was "just a tough guy."

What turned Saulo Ribeiro into the Saulo Ribeiro we all know and love today, according to him, was the time he spent as brown belt training with Rickson Gracie. This is how he describes the experience:
Saulo: A very curious thing is that I usually got beat until my brown belt. That was when I really started to win. All those previous belts, I was really bad. And I wasn't able to get (good) performance.

Interviewer: So you didn't make that true jump until you were a brown belt?

Saulo: Yes. Until brown belt, I was just a tough guy.

Interviewer: Your learning was just going on and going on until you reached brown belt when it took a spike upward?

Saulo: Oh yes, definitely. That's when I was when I was blessed with the opportunity to stay with Rickson for a couple of months who was the guy who in my opinion gave me a lot of direction in mental aspects that I hadn't heard before. And since I incorporated that in my attitude, in my training, my skills changed to a whole new direction.

This kind of thing is more than music to my ears. In another post, I noted how it was the opinion of Alliance leader Fabio Gurgel that, "by purple belt, champions make their presence felt." Saulo's experience suggests that this is not necessarily so.

It's also got me thinking about the possibility of making my own "spike upward" now that I'm five years into jiu jitsu and looking to make the journey to faixa preta. Competing at the Pan in 2011 is certainly something I'm thinking about (though 2011 could find me on the other side of the country at about that time). But I'm thinking about something that will really catapult my jiu jitsu to the level where I think it could be, where I want it to be.

I'm going to spend August fishing around for that something special, with the hope of finding it - and pursuing it - come September. I've got a few ideas. But nothing settled yet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jeff Rockwell: Taking the Back from Mount

Taking the Back from Mount

Raptor Brazilian Jiu-jitsu | MySpace Video

Ground Cardiac Output

A few guys over at 8 Weeks Out have been asking me my thoughts about cardiac ouput workouts and jiu jiu jitsu.

Cardiac capacity is a conditioning regime developed by Joel Jamieson, director and founder of End Zone Athletics and author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning. In short, cardiac output is
The cardiac output method is a highly effective method for improving how much blood your heart can pump with each beat. This method has been around for centuries in endurance training and has been used in boxing and combat sport circles for many years in the form of "road work" or long slow runs (LSD). In recent years, this type of training has gotten a bad rap and people have shunned it in favor of higher intensity intervals, but this is a mistake because it develops the heart and vascular network in a way that higher intensity intervals simply do not.

The trick is how to do cardiac output work using the ground techniques of jiu jitsu, grappling and wrestling rather than the standing techniques of boxers and MMA fighters (i.e., running, shadow-boxing, pad work, etc.)

What I've done is to slow down some of the ground drills I do with matwork, things like alt hipscapes and alt upas and hook sweeps and hip splits. Into that mix I add some ab work (today was decline sit-ups and incline leg raises), as well as some semi-technical skills work like the 360 drill and my half-guard leg drill (a la Kesting).

Over and over again at a moderate pace until 45 or 60 minutes are up.

Today was 45 minutes, which felt like a pretty good session. It's pretty easy to extend the session or to up the intensity - though it is very easy to go too hard too early.

Shoulder Injury Update

Between the whiny progressives on left-wing talk radio and the whiny capitalists on BloombergTV, jiu jitsu continues to be an excellent summer refuge.

Unfortunately, my shoulder is contuining to give me troubles. I took Wednesday off (largely unplanned, but probably a good thing), and have pretty much cancelled the second half of my tempo training (explosive pushups). I've also had to scrap my Atlas shoulder strengthening routine, though I'm convinced that Atlas is partly responsible for keeping my shoulder injury from being worse.

Right now, it is no where as bad as it was back in the spring of 2008 when I had to sit out several weeks due to the Whizzer from Hell. But I can't plant any weight on it without being very careful of the angle. In sum, it feels like Satan's Own Charlie Horse right in my rear deltoid, though there's some radiating discomfort in my collarbone and traps on that side, as well.

The fact that is is function is definitely a plus - I did a 45 minute ground cardiac capacity workout that largely managed to avoid any undue stress on my shoulder. And once I'm warmed up, things seem to be go well. So it is a watch and see sort of thing right now. The main idea is to not tax it too much now so that I'm ready to go as competition training season begins a little over a month from now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two Generals

"Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything -- except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're gonna kick him in the ass. We're gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose!"
--George C. Scott, "Patton"

"The more you attack the more your opponent will make mistakes - the more you attack the more he will have to defend. You shouldn't be defending all the time. Any time you defend you are losing the fight - losing time to attack."
--Marcelo Garcia, "Arte Suave"

Monday, August 09, 2010

Roy Harris: Refine. Focus. Define.

From Roy Harris' great essay, "Progression in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu"
Once a student has a firm grip on the mastery of his basics, I will promote him to brown belt. Once he has been promoted to brown belt, he must continue to refine his game. He must seek out his weak areas and focus on them. He must also find his strengths and focus on them for an extended period of time because these will define his character as a black belt. Most black belts have a specialty. Some are good at throws. Others are good at collar chokes. I happen to be good at leg locks. I want my brown belts to find their sweet spot and train it like crazy!

Training Day: Monday

What a day! Both Jeff and Sean got promoted to brown belt (!) and a bunch of other guys, including JM, got stripes. With all these new brown belts (four?), I can't help but wonder if some new black belts (I'm talking 'bout you Lance and Casey) are right around the corner. I'd bet that the opening of the new Gracie Barra Seattle HQ in September would be a great time for those faixa pretas to be awarded, if I were a speculatin' man, which I am.

Good training today, though I felt a little sluggish and anxious due to my shoulder still aching a bit. We worked on armbars and keylocks from the mount. My armbar from the mount is far too loose, and I'm looking into figuring out where the main problem is. I can rig up JOLE with a stiff arm and practice a few mount armbars, though it is nothing like having a real partner to drill with.

Still having a hard time working in my special areas of emphasis. This week I want to focus on The Stomp as a strategy for countering the underhook against against my half guard - and as a way to start getting my hook involved in the half guard. At the same time, I'm trying to work as much deep half as possible.

It looks like the next tournament will be on October 2. It will be a Gracie Barra Seattle invitational - but the invitations will be broader than before. Rodrigo said that he is looking to do three a year, which will put the total number of local jiu jitsu tournaments at six - which is an ideal number (one every other month). The white and blue belts are the ones who will really, really benefit from this much competition - but all of us will certainly profit from the training.

162.4 on the scale post-train. I've missed two tempo training workouts with this shoulder issue. I may go back to the first half of the training because it is the explosive-oriented second half that I'm most concerned about. In any event, tomorrow is explosive-repeat training, 12 count, which will be more than enough of a test for my delts.

More from Marcelo: Shoulder Locks

Minding Marcelo

I've been watching more and more of Marcelo Garcia in training over the past few days. Here's some footage (no gi, unfortunately) of Marcelo training with jiu jitsu up-n-comer, Hillary Williams.

I'm especially interested in Marcelo's two-on-one, and the way he sets up sweeps both in the direction of the trapped arm as well as away from it.

Highest Probability Submissions

1. Triangle choke
In some instances, the triangle/armbar combination is the #1 submission in term of high probability finishes. But even so, the emphasis is on the triangle part of that combo, which sets up the armbar.

2. Chokes from the Back/Rear Mount
Gi or no gi, back or rear mount is without a doubt the most dominant position in jiu jitsu/grappling. And insofar as chokes are the most efficient submission, chokes from the back are understandably high probability.

3. Kimura
The Mendes brothers have referred to the kimura lock as one of the most important holds in jiu jitsu. The kimura is also a favorite of Japanese MMA superstar Sakuraba. Versatile, and a great controlling hold as well as a finishing hold, the kimura has all of the advantages of the armbar without any of the armbar's liabilities.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Country Boy Jiu Jitsu

A few years after being reacquanted with mixed martials arts in 2003, I noticed that the man who had more quality wins by submission than anyone at the time was welterweight legend, Matt Hughes.

Matt is not the easiest guy for a guy like me to like. But as someone who values ground fighting uber alles, I found it impossible not to have respect for a guy who, born and raised in a singlet, was nevertheless putting the tap-out on quality opponents in mixed martial arts like no one else at the time.

I thought about this after watching his submission victory over Ricardo Almeida, and after reading post-fight remarks like this:
I don't want to be labeled as a guy looking for the Gracies. I've never asked to fight a Gracie, the UFC has always come to me with fighting the Gracies, Ricardo came to me. I don't want that. I've got too much respect for them to be labeled the 'Gracie Killer.
Someone pointed out that in the last several years, Hughes has only lost to three guys: BJ Penn, Thiago Alves and GSP. It's worth keeping in mind the next time Mr. "Army of One" steps into the cage.

More coverage of UFC 117 and Matt Hughes at MMA Mania here.

Return of the Son of "Where's Your Jiu Jitsu, Playboy?"

For four rounds I'm taunting Anderson Silva, "where's YOUR jiu jitsu, playboy?" as Chael Sonnen batters him from inside the guard - while allowing to allow Silva to control his right wrist for minute after agonzing minute, round after Sonnen-winning round.

Props to the champ for finally finding his jiu jitsu - before Sonnen walked away with his belt.

Photo courtesy Tracy Lee of Yahoo Sports

"Front Headlock to Short Shoulder Backhand"

"Front Headlock to Cross Ankle Pick to Kelly Turk"

"John Smith Low Single with Ankle Chase Finish"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

CBDP: Half Guard Transition Drill








Training Day: Saturday

Competition team training today, with four black belts on the mat and two brown - yikes! myself included along with Lindsey, who I got to train with for a round.

A lot of good training. I had about 8-9 7-minute rolls (Lindsey, Benny, Prof. Christiano, Jesse, Clint, and three other guys - all blue belts - over the course of about 90 minutes. It was a good pace and I felt like I'd gotten a very nice workout by the time the Open Mat session was called.

Not as focused as I would have liked, though I did find myself in deep half with Prof. Christiano. I'd really wanted to work on The Stomp and The Super Stomp from Eddie Bravo's book, Mastering the Rubber Guard. The Stomp and The Super Stomp are both ways to deal with chest-to-chest pressure from the top when in half guard. Saulo has "Bullet-time" (see page 179-180 in Jiu Jitsu University), and Jeff Glover has his deep half replacement. So I figure that if I can add The Stomp to my toolbox, then I'll have an ideal set of tactics from when I'm in the chest-to-chest situation.

Still working on guys flying around my sitting guard - Jesse, Lindsey and Prof. Christiano all hurdled my sitting guard with only minimal interference. I did a better job of controlling the arms against some of the other guys, but I need to do more than just seek to "control" the arms. I need to be working for a real advantage.

A few other notes. Reverse de la Riva guard might be a worthwhile addition to my guard game - I found myself in that position with Benn and didn't really respond as I would have liked. Saulo covers this sweep quite a bit, as well.

My shoulder held up well - despite getting tugged on again when I was trying to pass with the #1 deep half pass. Both of the two times I've been in deep half, it's been the #1 sweep that's gotten me the reverse - even as I'd been looking to go for #2. Again, I'm not finishing off that #1 deep half sweep as I should. But I am getting on top.

160.2 on the scale post-train. A very hard workout today, but I was able to keep up and not take any breaks that weren't the 2 minute team water breaks. The off-mat conditioning is definitely paying off - as is the patience on the mat under pressure.

Atos Adds Galo

Some more interesting news out of Team Atos.

Atos brings in roosterweight reinforcement
“As soon as Durinho arrives from the USA we’ll head to Rio Claro, where I’ll stay at the team’s headquarters. There I’ll prepare for the upcoming championships,” says the fighter, who admittedly has his eye on three-time world champion Bruno Malfacine.

And here's some footage of Ivaniel Oliveira in competition.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Night Fights: Machado v. Ismail

Training Day: Friday

Friday's are a Fundamentals-based Live Training session. After a double warm-up of old school (running) and new school (1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE!), we went straight into mount/mount escape specific training and then some live, one-on-one training.

Biggest thing for me today was seeing how well my shoulder held up. Dealing with a triangle on Wednesday got it torqued in very much the same way that it got torqued at the end of my second match at the July Revolution, and I was curious how well I'd be able to train. I skipped the tempo training routine (explosive pushups) for this morning and may give it a shot as a makeup on Saturday given how well things went in training today.

Obviously, I'm also skipping my Atlas shoulder workout for today - hopefully picking that up tomorrow, as well. At the same time, I'm crediting my two and a half weeks of weight-lifting for helping avoid the worst of the potential damage to my (previously injured) right shoulder.

Technically, I fixed the issue with the handfight off the start. I was letting guys get far too much control over my legs (read: any) and guys were flying around the corner to pass my guard. Restoring that handfight alone has helped limit that game. It will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow during competition training against more good guys.

Nothing tremendous sticks out from today's training. I had a few things I'd wanted to work on, but I don't think I really got to any of them. I'm trying to introduce a reverse sweep from the butterfly half (similar to the "kimura sweep"), as well as a fully-bodied belly flop into the deep half. But I'm finding it a little hard to get into the rhythm.

No big deal. But I've got to remind myself that now it the time to work on the new stuff and to fix the worst of the old stuff that's worth keeping. Hook half, deep half, east-to-west half, taking the back from side control ...

159.6 on the scale post-train.

Draculino's "He-Man Sweep"

Thursday, August 05, 2010

CBDP: Knee Shield Entry to Deep Half




Wednesday, August 04, 2010


My thoughts on the topic, what I've used in the past.

Re: BJJ Specific LSD Exercises
The trick with BJJ exercises for LSD is keeping your heart rate in the aerobic zone for 45-60+ minutes. It is very easy to overdue it after 20 minutes with a lot of typical jiu jitsu/grappling drills.

I think that Joel recommends, for example, when doing ground exercises that you lower your heart rate target by 10 bpm. I'm not 100% on that, but I'm pretty sure he made that distinction. That makes it a little tricky. Many if not most grappling drills typically are done at a pretty fast, intense pace.

Training Day: Wednesday

A hard training day - especially for a Wednesday. Coursework consisted mostly of mount escapes - elbow escape with hipblock to guard recovery ("flatleg hipscape" in Burien Top Team-ese) and the bump and roll counter to the collar choke.

Ground Fundamental 4: Mount Control and Escape: Week 7b for those of you playing the home version.

Prof. Carlos made a big point about recovering full guard rather than half guard when escaping the mount. His warning was that if you recovered half guard and guy still had a good crossface pressure, it might be easy for him to to the half guard wedge pass back to mount and get another set of points.

Food for thought to be sure. At the end of the day, though, half guard is my bread and butter, and the idea of abandoning it for another position that I am less comfortable with - all to avoid a known danger - is hard to accept. At this point, I'm more likely to walk into the fire forewarned than strike out on a different less familiar course where the challenges may be no less formidable and harder to anticipate.

Got to do some live training with both Lindsey and Elliott. I need to spend some time working on my half guard recovery from turtle. It's a switch that I feel pretty comfortable with physically. I just need to get my circuits wired properly so that I can make the transition seamlessly.

The Flat Pass continues to work for me at high levels. I should do a better job of moving all the way through instead of settling for a half guard battle. But a large part of my game is turning everything into a half guard battle - where I think I have an edge since I'm the biggest half guard cheerleader this side of Jeff Glover - so I'm finding it a little hard to break the habit.

Rolled with Carlos for about 20 very intense minutes. Wristlocks, anklelocks, a choke or two: you name it, he got it. What was most rewarding about the experience (beyond a tip on the arm cross choke) was a reminder of what black belt pace is like. Not just a matter of "speed" or "rate of techniques", but a deliberateness, a "shoot to kill" sensation that every grip, every switch of the hips, every pause, is the prelude to something significant.

When I first began to roll with Rodrigo, I used to think of this as "the acceleration" - like something you'd see in a Formula One racer or a Blue Angels jet slipping out of formation to take the lead. After some movement here or there, it was as if a button had been pushed and into hyperspace we went.

Between my off-mat conditioning and commitment to an aerobic pace until an edge appears, I'm doing a better and better job of training at a faster and faster clip. I'm not necessarily moving as fast as my opponents - most of the time, I'm not. But I'm able to make my adjustments at a clip that is faster and faster. At the end of the day, jiu jitsu is an infinite set of tiny movements that make the difference. And both deception and "being first" are excellent alternatives to being fast.

157.6 on the scale post train. I'd thought about doing another explo-repo workout tomorrow, but the way my quads, hams and calves are feeling that would not be a great idea. That might provide a nice little opportunity to do some core work (hip flexors!) instead.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Explosive-Repeat: Week Three

6 sets of 12 reps thrusters. 40 seconds between sets.

7 minutes active rest.

6 sets of 12 reps sumo deadlift high pulls. 40 seconds between sets.

7 minutes active rest.


Monday, August 02, 2010

50/50 Me

Someone made a joke after training on Monday that got me thinking and rethinking my attitude toward things like the 50/50 and the dispute over the superfight between Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha.

At root, what is interesting is that Rafa's approach to Cobrinha is similar to my approach with most anyone who is near my skill level. I am a control guy. A position guy. So my jiu jitsu is all about getting control and avoiding being controlled. Getting dominant position and staying out of bad positons.

Really everything else comes second, including submissions.

On the bottom, this has led to a real devotion to the half guard. There aren't very many submissions from the half guard - that crazy keylock I used to get from half guard on the bottom has gone the way of the buggy whip. But properly wielded, the half guard is a reversing machine. Even with a half guard game that I think is about 25% developed, I have a confidence from the position that rivals all else. It slows the game down to a pace that I am comfortable with. And as fast guys get slower and long guys get shorter, the chances of me being able to get from an inferior position to a superior one increase.

All that said to say that I'm taking Rafa's side in the debate . There's more to Rafa's game than the 50/50. But against an athletic, explosive opponent with unparalleled technical skill, Rafa uses the only weapon in his arsenal that he can win with.

Who among us wouldn't do the same? For a world champsionship? Against one of the greatest competitors of all time?

You better believe you'd do it.

I also have to say that there is something more than a little unseemly about a group offering up thousands of dollars for a superfight between Rafa and Cobrinha only a few weeks after Rafa's latest victory over the multi-time featherweight champion. Like it or not, we've seen Rafa v. Cobrinha. Are there no other superfights out there to be sponsored? I'd love to see Roger v. Werdum in the gi. And how much money would it take to get Eddie Bravo on the mat with Royler for a rematch? Kira and Hillary Williams would be a blast, as well.

Think of how great it would be to have another Oscar de Jiu Jitsu. Oscar de Jiu Jitsu 2 featured 13 superfights including Leca Viera, David Camarillo, Antonio Shembri, Roberto Traven, Marcio Feitosa, Saulo Ribeiro, Fabio Gurgel and a classic final match between Royce Gracie and Wallid Ishmael.

(This is an unbelievably fun DVD to watch, by the way. From start to finish, it is one popcorn-munching, cold-drink-sipping historic evening of jiu jitsu. If you don't own it, find a friend who does.)

At any rate, anybody wanting to make exciting jiu jitsu matches should follow that model, IMO. Superfights should be about making the otherwise impossible possible - not about trying to re-compete the past.

Training Day: Monday

I was working with Alex during Live Training session. Afterwards, he was asking about a BJ Penn half guard pass. I asked Rodrigo to help us out, and he showed us three variations of attacking a sort of open half guard pass involving just the inside hook: the knee cross, the Mendes inside shoulder roll to the back (one of Rodrigo's specialties) and this new one, that had you turn your "trapped knee" back and away (from 12 or 1 o'clock to 4 or 5 o'clock). This allows you to collapse your weight and pancake the legs as the guy on the bottom's knee follows your turning knee.

From here, it is easier to go to the back than to take mount. But you can do both.

The actual pass I think Alex was looking for is this one, though. It is more of a butterfly guard pass than a real half guard pass. And the way to attack it has the sort of hip-switch that can really disable the butterfly guard.

There is also a step-by-step version of this pass in Saulo's Jiu Jitsu University on pages 257-258: 27-12 Transition to Mount Off Pass.

Good training today. I worked with JM mostly as we drilled mount escapes and strategies for taking the mount from regular crossbody (to the knee) and from watchdog (both with step over the legs and step through). 159.6 on the scale post-train. I was extremely gratified to see my counter to the step-over (leap-over) half guard pass, which is based on scooping the guy's near/inside leg and going belly down as if you were turning in for a side control escape.

I had the opportunity to do this counter the other day, but was too risk-averse to do it. Today, I had the Rodeo set-up before the leap-over and was determined not to give Rodeo its first fail in many moons. That scoop counter saved the day.

Sunday, August 01, 2010