Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caio Terra v Carlos Melo: Las Vegas Open 2010 Absolute

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

Meanwhile ...

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Additional 15% Off Until December 15th
Cyber Monday Sale Starts Early at OntheMat

Goodbye to GracieMag

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

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ryan Hall Runs My Voodoo Down

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

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

Training Day: Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Winter Wonderland in Autumn

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Training Day: Friday

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Training Day: Monday

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Notes on Me and My Revolution 11/13/2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Some People Tell Me Home is in the Sky"

For every Revolution, a song.

Man of Bronze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Training Day: Friday

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Training Day: Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 08, 2010

Training Day: Monday

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

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

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

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

Megumi on Loss

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

Megumi Fujii Addresses Bellator Loss, Future

Sunday, November 07, 2010

No-Gi Mundial 2010 Results

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

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Training Day: Friday

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Meia Guarda, Minha Guarda

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

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

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

Training Day: Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabio Gurgel On Injury Prevention

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

GSP On Fighting and the Martial Arts

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

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

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Danaher on Fight Week

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

Fight Week on Sherdog

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

More on Danaher here

Monday, November 01, 2010

Training Day: Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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