Monday, January 31, 2011

The Revolution: One Extra Week to Train

That's my takeaway from the announcement that the first Revolution BJJ tournament of the year will be held on March 12th, instead of March 5th as originally planned.

Training Day: Monday Squared

Arguably, last week's double was only a 1 1/2: I trained the Live Training in the early class last week, not the full class. This time, it was full early class and full late class, including three 8-10 minute rounds with two minute breaks. I tried to treat the two-minute breaks as "active rest" by pacing the mat for the duration, which worked well to keep me from cooling down too much in between sparring.

A two-a-day was just what I needed. Back when Lindsay was teaching Monday nights, I used to have an axiom I called "ATM" for "Always Train Mondays". The idea was to get the week off to a strong training start by training on the first possible day of the week, especially since I never trained on Sundays and only now and then trained on Saturdays. Even as I switched to day training for a stretch, I've tried to keep "ATM" alive, that momentum of starting the training week with a session on Monday.

It's also a good rule when tournaments come around. Unfortunately, I don't have the kind of experience to know what it is like to be planning a return to the training mat after a glorious tournament victory - at least not for the last few years. But I do know what it is like to be half-dreading, half-desperately needing to return to the training mats after a Saturday competition that didn't go as well as I'd hoped. And in that way, I'm pretty grateful for ATM's unequivocal ability to get me back into the water after an often brutal experience with the sharks.

The early class with Professor Carlos had us working on a leg block judo takedown that was a lot like osoto gari but instead of sweeping the leg backward, hooking the leg, you kept your leg planted on the mat behind his calf and drove forward, sending him backward into guard (most likely). We also worked the same toreano-based guard pass that Prof Rodrigo showed us a while back, with Prof Carlos adding the very helpful detail of stepping wide the side to get a better angle to come in with the shoulder to the solar plexus (you step wide on the pin-leg side).

Tonight with Prof Rodrigo, it was all-DLR sweep, all the time. The DLR is something I'd write off immediately as not for my body type except for the fact that guys like Rodrigo - whose build isn't too different from mine - are able to incorporate the DLR into their guard game seamlessly.

Here, what was truly great was being able to work the DLR all night long during the first hour. As a big fan of the whole Talent Code meme, I'm pretty much convinced that the best way to learn is to drill and drill and drill the same moves over and over and over again. I'll freely admit that there are times when I just don't feel like I can input any more "intellectual" information into my brain. Being able to focus on and hone a single move or a single takedown or a single position instead of three or four different techniques isn't just a more effective way to learn, IMHO, it is also a lot lighter on the brain.

In the early class, Live Training was all about the Roger. The Roger will be the go-to move now and forever and everybody will get a chance to deal with it if I get anywhere close to the proper set up. In the evening class, Live Training was more about survival and "the go", making sure that I'm always working to improve position, to create or eliminate space, not just "waiting" as a growing number of black belts have been warning me. Sure, many of these efforts, especially during my two 10-minute rolls with Prof Rodrigo tonight (!), were not especially successful. But one of the beautiful things about jiu jitsu is that it is one of the few areas of life where failing the test can actually make you a far better student.

163 and change after the early class. 161 even after the late. Fine enough for a post-tournament Monday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gracie, Jacare, Diaz: Jiu Jitsu Reigns at Strikeforce

It is hard to imagine a better display of jiu jitsu in MMA than what we got to see in three fights at the Strikeforce event Saturday night. A pure clinic by Roger. A great display of both top-of-the-food-chain top positioning and submission transition by Jacare. And a picture-perfect armbar by Nick Diaz to finish things off for the night.

The haterade is already being consumed in certain quarters. But the fact remains that world class jiu jitsu will beat "well-rounded" MMA mediocrity almost every time.

Strikeforce Review at Sherdog

Play-by-play is here

Two Takeaways from the 29th

1. Most aggressive butterfly guard game I've ever dealt with - competition or training. Only Bryan comes anywhere close to putting on the pressure with butterfly hooks compared to my opponent on Saturday.

That is a great encouragement to include a more aggressive butterfly guard game in my own half guard/deep half menagerie. I've been adding bits here and there, but generally have been reluctant to really close the distance and attack. That will change.

2. In case of emergency, stick to the gameplan. Confronted with a really aggressive butterfly guard, I immediately started trying to pass the guard wholesale, instead of baiting the half guard as I'd planned so as to set up the Roger.

By far, that's my biggest source of discontent w/re2 my performance in what was essentially the absolute brown belt division of the Seattle Open. For the next five weeks, the Roger is pretty much all that anyone I train with is going to get.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

For Every David, a Goliath

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Roger v. Jacare

From the 2004 Mundial

Rumors: ADCC 2011 will be in Nottingham, England ...

... and the superfight is Braulio v. Jacare ... Stay tuned for confirmation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Toward a West Coast Jiu Jitsu

I was watching an NFL game a few weeks back and found myself furiously scribbling down notes on something one of the commentators said about the now 30-year-old strategy of scripting the first 10-15 plays of the game popularized by legendary San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh and his so-called "west coast offense."

Writes John Clayton, a long time veteran sportswriter:
For the past three decades, many coaches have copied Walsh's script idea. It made sense. As teams got to the end of the week, coaches put together a script that would keep defenses guessing. The plan stressed execution. Quarterbacks and offensive players had a couple of nights to study the script, visualize the successful plays and start the game with a positive tempo.

Fast starts were important to Walsh. He built his great 49ers teams with the idea of getting two scores in the first couple of drives. Working with a 10-0 or 14-0 lead, Walsh then made sure he had enough pass-rushers to pressure a quarterback into mistakes and take opponents out of their rushing attacks.

Here were the three reasons why this strategy has endured - despite, as Clayton notes, more recent blitz-oriented strategies to combat them.

1. Promotes confidence and calmness among the team.
2. Provides the opportunity to specifically probe the opponent's responses
3. Creates the ability to train, drill and rehearse

Roger Gracie: The Difference

For me, its much more simple than everybody thinks. Maybe there are people that train more than me. Its not about the amount of training. I used to train at the academy together with about 100 other people and everybody used to train and learn the same techniques - training with the same people. I think its what you want in life.

Ive set a goal for myself that is very high. A lot of people set the goal that they want to be a world champion or they just want to be a good black belt or jiu jitsu fighter. I never had a doubt. I never thought I was going to be great... I told myself I want to be the best in the world. I don't want to be second best, I don't want to be just a world champion, I don't care about titles.... I don't care about anything else - I wont lose to anybody.

I used to train with people who beat me and I know that if I train hard, I will beat them. Over time, things just start to happen. It was nothing that I did that was special. There were probably a lot of people who trained harder than me that never got to my level. The only thing I can say about that is because that they didn't really want it. People say they do, but they don't really. I think that when you want something, everything is possible... It's not an easy path. You have to put in your mind, body and spirit in it...and that's what I did. I put my mind, body and spirit towards the goal.

This is why even now, I am 29 years old, I have fought in every world championship since I was 18 or 19. I have never stopped and told myself "I've accomplished enough" or "I'm going to train less." Every year since I was 17 years old I have been better. Even until now. It wasn't enough even when I was 24 and had been a black belt for 3 years. I am much better than I was at 24. Every year that comes by I am a better fighter.

I don't see that in other fighters. They become really good and then suddenly they start declining. You see them fighting every year and this year they were worse than last year and suddenly they are not winning anything. You see great fighters that win 1 or 2 world championships and then they disappear. You don't hear of them anymore... In their mind, they set their goals. They were really good and for 2 years straight and they beat everybody. Now they are happy and start doing something else. I never had that. Titles for me? They are nothing. They are medals that stay in your drawer....That's the difference.

Roger Gracie, as transcribed by Ralph Gracie Orange County's TrumpetDan

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Training Day: Wednesday

A combination of factors kept me from doing the double duty I'd planned for Wednesday. But given the intensity of Wednesday night's training (and the lingering vibrations from Monday's two-a-day), I'm hardly worse for the lack of extra wear.

Prof Rodrigo showed three different techniques Wednesday evening, but two stood out as ones that are most likely to find their way into my game. One was the guard replacement/sweep I used to call "slingshot", the other was a sort of kickover from the shin block half guard. Here, you waited for the guy to posture back (or create that momentum yourself from the bottom). Then, by controlling the sweep side sleeve at the cuff with a cross grip and controlling the sweep side leg at the knee (assuming an opponent trying to pass low), you kick our your shin block leg to get the sweep while pulling on your grips.

Live Training/Open Mat was very good. I got to train first with Rodrigo in a ten-minute roll that felt more like five. Apropos of that blog post I've been meaning to write, I tried to train far more aggressively than usual, not allowing myself to linger too long in a situation that didn't seem productive in one sense or another. This is what Lance was after a few weeks ago, what other black belts like Jesse, Casey and even Profs Carlos and Rodrigo have, in different ways, tried to encourage this aspect of my game. I'm still planning on a separate post to really get into this idea. But for now, I'm just trying to flow with the go, as the kids say. And that go is both making me better and wearing me out.

Some very, very good success with the move I'm calling the Roger Gracie. It may end up being the best thing to come to my jiu jitsu since I started kicking the half guard as a blue belt. No point in getting too far ahead of myself - I've tasted this enthusiasm before, burning its way north from gut to gullet. But I may actually be able to finally see not just a technical latticework of endless if/then options, but a true through-line in my game, all the way from fist bump to finish. And that would be nothing short of awesome.

159.2 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. Nice numbers if I can keep them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kimura Sweep to Back Control Variation

Unfortunately, I can't embed the video. But here is a nice variation on the traditional kimura sweep from half guard. I saw a version of this in GracieMag a few issues ago done by the Mendes brothers. But the move seemed to require more shoulder flexibility than I've got. This version may be less so.

Kimura Sweep to Back Control

New Cobrinha Interview: ADCC, New Cali Academy and More

Kid Peligro interviews Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles.

Kid Peligro Jiu-Jitsu News . . . Rubens Charles "Cobrinha" Interview
KP- You couldn't have had better string of teachers, "Jacare" was the last one but before him Fabio Gurgel was your teacher after Fernando "Terere".

RC- I can tell you that I am a very lucky person, my first instructor was Mauro Pacifico in Sao Carlos, SP. I was with him until Brown belt. Then after competing in a tournament in Sao Paulo I received an invitation from "Terere" to stop by "TT" Academy which was in the Capitol Sao Paulo. I spoke with my master Mauro Pacifico and asked him his opinion. He was the first to encourage me to go there and to this day I remember his words: "You should go, if for some reason it doesn't work out we will be here to take you back with open arms". With that vote I went to train in Sao Paulo with Terere. "Terere" was a person that refined my game and my techniques but as you know there is always some room for improvement and to learn in any one's game we should never believe that our game is complete and we don't have to learn any more.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Training Day: Monday (Squared)

This pretty much describes my training on Monday, swapping out "girl" for "jiu jitsu". I was only able to make the Open Mat session on Monday during the day, so I figured that it was time for me to finally try a two-a-day. So, come the night, I was back at GB Seattle 3.0, ready to go.

Monday night is the advanced class, so Prof Rodrigo had us going at a nice hard tempo. He showed us a move that Casey has used against me more times than I care to remember the last time we rolled. Some people call it the low spider guard sweep, but Rodrigo pointed out that the move is essentially about recovering guard, with the sweep as a perfectly fine bonus.

I'd been thinking about this position ever since Saturday when I was training with one of the brown belts from Lake Stevens and he managed to pass my guard after getting my right leg folded/trapped back on the inside. Afterwards, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for the move that Rodrigo would eventually show us. But, at the time, I just couldn't put it together. So having Rodrigo show us the move specifically, step-by-step, was a real gift.

Of course, the issue now is for me to drill it. Over and over again and not just for the Seattle Open this Saturday, but for the Revolution in March and beyond.

Trained with Benny (there are now two "Benny the Purple") and Lance (twice) Monday evening. Benny is no joke (his guard passing is getting better and better) and two sessions with Lance were a real workout. With Lance especially, the goal was to keep moving and "not stop" as he talked about when we got to train together about a week ago. I'm still looking for the opportunity to write a little bit more about what Lance had to say, largely because it seemed like the culmination of something that a number of black belts - from Profs Rodrigo and Carlos to newer black belts like Jesse, Casey and Lance - have pointed out about my game, albeit in their different ways. More on that elsewhere, because it is important enough to deserve a post of its own. But rest assured that I've taken the "criticism" (for lack of a better word) to heart.

163.0 after the day session, 160.3 after the night, everything but the coat, as usual. I'll admit that I was in pretty exhausted shape by the time training ended on Monday evening. But with Wednesday only a rest-day away, it will be interesting to see if I can "do the double" twice in one week without falling apart.

Roger Gracie Interview with Jordan Breen

An incredible, candid interview with Roger Gracie conducted by one of my favorite MMA journalists, Jordan Breen. Runs about an hour and very much worth a listen.

Rewind: Roger Gracie

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Neural Charge Training

I've been toying with these workouts in different, semi-structured ways over the past few weeks. Today, before competition training started, I tried a mini neural charge workout focused on the jumps and liked the way it helped me accelerate through the warmup and the first part of class.

Neural Charge Training

Training Day: Saturday

There's little better than a Saturday training. Today, we had a busload of guys and gals from GB Lake Stevens training with us and the mats were packed. Outside of the promotions/BBQ day at the end of the year last year, I don't think I've ever seen that many people at GB 3.0 to train - easily more than 50, with the Lake Stevens contingent representing about a third.

Very good competition-style training: mount armbars, triangle choke attacks from foot-on-bicep ("the Sauleh"), standing turning passes against de la Riva control ... I've got to say that I could train like this all the time, focusing on execution and the minor details to make each rep better than the last. It's a nice relief from "learning" per se, to just put yourself in the mode and just "vai! vai! vai!".

I'm starting to put together the pieces of a competition gameplan ("the 2-3-4") that will get tested a week from today. There are still a few critical areas here or there - like my trick to get all the way under in the deep half instead of trying to pull the guy onto my shoulder, the Squat Pass and the Stepover 1/2 Guard Pass series - that I'd like to drill over the next few days. But I'm starting to get an idea of what I feel most comfortable doing, from the takedown to the finish, and am increasingly able to see a through-line from beginning to end.

160.4 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. Midway through training, I think I clocked in at 164.4 in the gi. Although these pounds are pretty much ideal, I'm not as lean as I might otherwise be and wouldn't mind shedding another 3-4 between now and competition time.

GracieMag at the European Open

Everything you wanted to know about the European Championships next weekend in Lisbon, Portugal, but didn't know where to look.

GracieMag at the European Open

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Mendes v. Dias

From last year's European Open. Featherweight semifinal.

Training Day: Friday

Missed the first half of class due to obligations at the Daily Planet - or at least the desire to be "at the ready" for potential obligations at the Daily Planet. As frustrating as that was, I was rewarded by the fact that the sweep Prof Carlos was teaching as I walked through the door of the academy was the infamous Jean-Jacques Machado sweep off the shin guard.

I call this sweep infamous because I've seen a lot of different folks do it: from JJ Machado himself to Stephan Kesting in his excellent half guard video. But what I haven't seen any do is actually "teach" the sweep, step-by-step, in slow motion and with critical details. However much I may have missed most of Friday's training, I got more than my time's worth by getting to see this sweep in action - under instruction.

A couple of key points. Prof Carlos emphasized getting to your side - something that my matwork (TM) drills have really helped forge into muscle memory. He referred to it as "putting your ear on the ground" as you move for the dive under. He also emphasized using a strong "fist-hand" curled behind the knee of the off-leg. I saw a few guys grabbing the pants and a few others using an open hand. Neither of those is the way to go. Drive that off-hand up behind the knee almost like a Popeye uppercut - it is part of the project to disrupt the base.

Another detail came courtesy of Jesse after class. Jesse really focused on using both legs to lock up the shin guard. Prof Carlos used a similar pressure, but kept his off leg straight rather than curled around the standing opponent's trapped leg. I suspect this is something that can be adjusted depending on the resistance and type of pass the opponent is working toward.

We also worked on an interesting trap from the closed guard against a standing opponent. Here, with double sleeve control as he stands, you triangle his legs low beneath the knees. Pull the sleeves over and toward you on the side your triangle-leg lock is on. Plant your free foot on the mat and turn in the opposite direction.

This was a tricky one. Working with Glenn and Fred, I was able to get the sweep a little more certainly when I pulled the triangle in toward my chest a bit before rolling. The problem with that approach seemed to be that you lost control of the potential for mount as you come up on top.

Open Mat was very good. I'm doing a lot with some pretty barbarian hook sweeps, to which I credit strongly my matwork (TM) drilling. Yesterday, as part of Threshold Training, I did 80 hook sweeps L/R, for example. That's what building the circuitry, the drilling the "muscle memory", can do for you. I also got to work with Angus and Tom, showing them elements of my King Crimson (kimura, crossover sweep, guillotine ...) game, which was a lot of fun.

Speaking of a lot of fun, I'm back on the dark side of 162, weighing in at 163.6 - everything but the coat. At a certain level, this is a terrible number for a Friday post-train. But at the end of the day, it is less than 2 pounds above my maximum weight for the tournament next Saturday. It may not be pretty. But making my number should be no problem.

A few close calls with headbutts, but the cut above my good eye seems to have made it through training unscathed. If I can get past Saturday's competition training similarly unblemished that might be all the time I need to let this petit gash seal up nice and tight ahead of the Seattle Open.

Winners Score First

Some interesting quantified data from Brandon Ruiz's Grappling Crossover website. I don't know how much this might translate into jiu jitsu. But to the extent that it encourages initiative and attack, it seems like a concept worth keeping in mind and putting to work on the mat.

Winning Wrestlers Score First
What I wanted to know from a statistical standpoint was whether something an old coach of mine told me was in fact rooted in truth or was just his mental psyching techniques.

Coach John Webb, former OSU, Weber State, and BYU coach told me once; “The man who scores first (gets the first take down or points) will win 70% of the time.”

While in college I didn’t think about it too much but as I matured and became a better student of the sport I couldn’t help but ask, “Is it true? And, If it is what does that mean?"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Machado Black Belt Brandon Ruiz on Goal Setting and Specialization

A lot of what Brandon Ruiz has to say echoes things I've heard from guys like Lloyd Irvin, who have taken a professional, quantified approach toward understanding how ordinary people can develop extraordinary skill in jiu jitsu. It also echoes, in different ways, some of what I think Profs Rodrigo and Carlos have been trying to emphasize - or at least articulate - for those of us who are really striving to become better and better in our jiu jitsu practice.

Here, in this Fightworks Podcast interview, even where Brandon is not especially specific, the same general themes and challenges still come through pretty clearly.

BJJ Black Belt Brandon Ruiz on Goal Setting for Jiu-Jitsu
You need to take advantage of any free time you’re given in a workout to do things on your own. If you’ve already got your shortlist of techniques that you need to work on, work on those. Be very specific every time you’re at the gym.

A lot of guys won’t take advantage of that extra time. They’ll just start messing around or talk about the cute girl or the latest UFC. That doesn’t really get you anywhere. I mean – that’s great if you’re just going to be a social-recreational kind of guy. But if you’re motivated and want to get better you’ve got to take advantage of all the time you have.

European Championships: Looking Back at Guto Campos

With the 2011 BJJ competition season getting started with the European Championships at the end of this month, here's some footage of last year's black belt absolute winner: middleweight Gustavo "Guto" Campos from Atos Jiu Jitsu.

I see the black belt division as a dead-end street; there's nowhere to run. There are monsters around every corner, whether you are heavy or light. And when you see a way out, often it's just another wall: a newcomer from brown belt just as good as the old folks. And there's no end to tough people coming in.
--Gustavo Campos, from "The latest David" GracieMag #156

Threshold Training Update

Immediately after my fourth set of matwork (TM) this morning, I clocked my HR at 45 bpm for 15 seconds. Margins of error (+/1 5 bpm) notwithstanding, that's a HR of 180. And by just about any estimation, that's also supposed to be my maximum heart rate.

I know that the mathematical models (and I've looked at a few) are flawed. But I doubt that they are off by that much (10 bpm? 15? at the most?). What is all the more interesting is that the maximum heart rate should be adjusted lower for seated activities like bicycling or rowing. Joel Jamieson at 8WeeksOut suggests that for typical grappling/wrestling/jiu jitsu purposes, taking 5 bpm off the top is more accurate. This makes it all the more likely that I managed to hit a maximum level in today's training.

The point behind threshold training, according to Joel, is to "increase the aerobic system's maximum rate of ATP regeneration so more power can be produced aerobically." It does this by raising your "anaerobic threshold, and power at ANT, thus delaying the point at which anaerobic processes begin to dominate."

I think of it as being as explosive and agile as possible while remaining in the aerobic zone, which is crucial over the course of an 8-10 minute match (not including overtimes). You want to spend as little time in the anaerobic zone as possible, since it is harder to "live off the aerobic land" so to speak when you are in that zone. At the same time, you have to exert. So the trick is to be able to increase your the peak aerobic level you will be able to compete at. It's like being able to raise your speed limit: faster, but still legal.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Triangle Choke from Mount

A friendly debate over a technique that could really compliment the mount game. The shoulder isolation also sets up the potential Marceloplata shoulder lock.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

A good night of Fundamentals training with Jesse teaching. Every time I think about just going to the Live Training session at 7, I can't help but feel as if I'm just not going to get my time's worth unless I'm at the class at 6, as well. It doesn't really matter much to me if it is fundamental or advanced. If you're only going to get one bite of the apple on any given day, you might as well make it as big a bite as possible.

A lot of things to like about tonight's training. The headlock throw, the kind of judo that almost everybody can pick up after a few good reps. And then the armbar and the triangle from the guard. Nothing fancy or elaborate, but it was great to work two techniques that are both absolutely fundamental attacks from the full guard as well as being submissions I almost never use.

Very fun also to work with a white belt during the instructional part. There's no better way to be reacquainted with the fundamentals than to train and drill with someone who is really just learning them for the first time.

That said, I'm filing the finale of tonight's training under "could have been worse."

Some folks are always dealing with knees, others elbows, others backs. For me, apparently, it's all about the eyes.

There are a few things I'm going to have to do differently. I'm convinced that part of my subsequent left eye injuries years ago were at least in part due to my obsession with playing the half guard on my right hip, overexposing the left side of my face while I was still very much trying to learn the position. I've torn through three gi pant cuffs using a grip break that works perfectly well against legal grips, but not so well against illegal grips. So I've had to toss that otherwise very effective way of getting my legs back in exchange for something else.

And now, the posture break that sets up my Guy LaFleur sweep has started to become more dangerous than it is worth. Although I don't do a whole lot of flying around on my own dime, some of my set-ups and deceptions that encourage sudden and unexpected expenditures on the part of my training partners during sparring are starting to be plenty rich for my blood. Literally.

We'll see how much healing up takes place overnight. I'd love to get back on the mat tomorrow - even if I can't spar I can at least get some drilling in.

162.2 on the scale, post-train. It's amazing how much less energy I expend during training compared to three or four years ago. I used to routinely lose 2-3 pounds back at GB Seattle 2.0 ("The Treehouse") after a hard night's training. But despite doing my explosive-repeat conditioning earlier today, it seems as if I never shake the low 160s for the high 150s for long.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Training Day: Monday

The takedown today emphasized the difference between the traditional, wrestling-style double leg and the judo morote-gari takedown. Although there were a number of details that made the two takedowns different, two especially stood out.

For one, the morote-gari attack takes the guy's legs out from under him, he "sits" into the takedown. Unlike the double leg, you keep your elbows in tight to your body and reach around just wide enough to cup the top of both calves of the opponent. From here, forward pressure with your shoulder and essentially a blocking action with your hands (your palms should be facing/cupping the calves) to prevent the guy from stepping back gets the takedown.

The second difference was in leg positioning. Unlike the double leg, the moroto-gari doesn't have you put your knee on the mat. If I remember correctly, this is because that would be a "shido" in judo. You step up with your back leg then forward in the penetration step with the lead leg, changing levels just enough to that you can get the proper hand position. Drive the shoulder and chest forward into the takedown.

On the ground, we worked the closed guard pass. Here, the guard guy gets a collar grip as if working for a choke or a scissor sweep setup. From the top, you want to reach over with the same side arm and grip both the collars. By closing your elbow, you should be able to trap the choking arm.

With your other hand grap the trapped choking arm by the sleeve. Keep this grip forever.

Make sure your elbows are tucked and stand up, ending with posture straight and feet parallel. Once you're up, you can drop the collars grip. On that same side hand, you put pressure on the leg at the knee and STEP BACK to create the right angle for opening the guard.

Be sure to maintain both the sleeve grip and the inside control with your legs.

Prof Carlos showed us the knee cross pass from here, ending up in side control. There are a number of different ways to finish from the standing inside control with the sleeve grip. What is especially nice is that - like the cross guard - you can pick up the pieces of this guard pass if things get scrambly. I tried harder than usual to implement this pass in Open Mat insofar as I'm desperate to have a standing guard pass that is as go to as my half guard sweep. This one has a lot of elements that I like, valuing control over speed, for example. At a minimum, it will give me a launching pad for reconfiguring my standing guard pass game - and just in time for the Seattle Open on the 29th, two weeks away.

161.4 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat (and the belt). Making weight by the beginning of Week Three is probably perfectly fine - which also makes the timing of the Seattle Open very helpful. The next month should start off a period of very intense training: 4x/week minimum, tightening up on the diet bit by bit, and working to push through in training when the fatigue (or sense of futility) begins to creep in, knowing that I'm always no more than a quick 20-count away from safety, advantage or submission.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

February Superfight: Kron Gracie v. J.T. Torres

Here's something worth looking out for:

Superfight: Kron v. J.T.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Picasso at the SAM

"To make pictures was less important than to discover things all the time."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Roleta v. Ismail

Friday Night Fights is back. To start things off, here's an old school match between Roberto "Roleta" Magalhaes and Wallid Ismail.

Training Day: Friday

More good stuff on competition training day. Another round of lycanthropy had me arriving just short of 12:30 p.m., but I think I more than made up for the lost time with Prof Carlos' aggressive training style and what seemed like half an hour of Live Training with Lance (more on that in a later post).

Competition drills were based around guard passing - at least the first half of them. I missed the first pass, but the next two were a toreano push-pull-mount pass and a spider guard pass that I used to call the Jack Pass when Prof Rodrigo showed it to us years ago. One key detail in the Jack Pass was to bring the legs/knees together and get the cross knee grip first, then get the sleeve grip, then step back with the cross knee grip hand to give room for the guy's body to rotate.

It's been nice to train at this accelerated pace. I can't tell if that is the majority opinion or not. I'm convinced - and I think the science backs it up - that repetition and drilling is what is going to improve both technique and conditioning. And as far as jiu jitsu is concerned, those are really the two most important bases to cover.

My 4-week training average is still a pretty mediocre 2.25 as of this week. Ideally, I'd be at 3.0 at this point (end of Week Two), but the time lost in late December is truly coming home to roost. I'll be looking to train 5x next week (including Saturday) and 4x for the week leading up to the 2nd Seattle Open on the 29th. That would put me at 3.75 going into the tournament - not great, but not too bad heading into the second half of prep for the March Revolution.

With Week Three beginning (and the Seattle Open two weeks out), I'll need to work toward a 4.0-4.5 average, adding a Saturday training day to a MTWF schedule whenever I can. I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I think I see my biggest flaws relatively clearly (as do a growing number of GB Seattle black belts). So the task at hand to fix these problems is fairly straightforward. The issue, as always, will be a matter of having the discipline to continue to hammer out the errors until new, more productive habits take their place.

161.4 on the scale post train, everything but the coat. 164.4 post-train in the gi. The middle of the week has been very good for my weight, as I've managed to drift back toward more sane levels heading into the weekend. A little restraint during what are likely to be epic NFL playoffs on Saturday and Sunday could go a long way toward finding myself still on the lighter side of the 160s, if not less, when Week Three begins.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deep. Butterfly. Halfguard.

Some great material from one of the best jiu jitsu bloggers on the Interwebs.

"Me and My Me and My Me and My Me and My Me and My Friends"

One thing I really like about the explosive-repeat workout is that by the time you are late in the program, you are doing 15s work/30s rest rounds, which is as intense as anything you're likely to experience in competition. In Live Training on Wednesday, I was especially aware of instances in which I was just a few seconds of work away from a likely guard pass, or potential mount-take. In almost every case, I overheard an interior dialogue that started with something along the lines of "You're fine, you're safe, you're tired. You can't get swept from here. Don't risk pushing the action right now."

Versions of this inner discourse (calling it a "dialogue" is probably too generous) have come up when I'm competing in tournaments, the "hey, what are you doing trying so hard?" ribbing from the alums of the Too Cool School of never accomplishing very much and not caring a lot about it, either. I don't ever think I'll completely shake that, psychologically - you have the ghosts and demons you have. But if there is a way to short-circuit that channel, to circumvent it with pure action, pure "do this now," then I'm all for it.

And in a conditioning sense, "it" very much resembles explosive-repeat.

In a training sense, it increasingly looks like the way we've been training over the past few days at GB Seattle, for example, using takedown/judo drills to warmup. While on the one hand it seems as if even the teaching of the Fundamentals curriculum has intensified, it also seems that Profs Rodrigo and Carlos are feeling comfortable enough and confident enough to expect more and more of what each of us is individually capable of. It's a delicate balance, to be sure. But there's something to be said for the kind of motivation that heightened expectations can produce.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

R U Rdy 2 Rumbl?

Cindy Hales: Guillotine to Triangle to Mounted Triangle

Training Days: Monday and Wednesday

Good training this week. Warm-ups continue to be more active and more-skill based which is a great way to get into the training mode - and to cover some technical ground, as well. Both days, throws made up most of the warm-ups, though on Wednesday Prof. Carlos added a few other wrinkles like old school armbars from the mount.

Wednesday's skill session was focused on the scissor sweep and the front collar choke. Plenty of nice little details, especially with the choke, involving a more full rotation of your body to the side to get access to the neck with the second grip, and then back to the center to help tighten. Much like the triangle choke, there is a "lock and latch" aspect to the finish that is worth remembering as you look for opportunities to attack with the choke, as you are setting it up and as you are working toward the finish.

Prof Carlos also had another way of referring to it: the knife and the punch.

He also showed us a variation, the palms-up choke that Helio always preferred. Training with Brian again on Wednesday, Brian talked about how Lindsey was one of the few guys he knew who liked to attack with the palms-up front choke - anchoring the initial choking grip (the knife) and then working to create motion and movement enough to distract before sneaking in the second hand.

Good training today. I've got a thousand half guard sweeps rattling around in my head these days - to say nothing of the deep half guard options. Over the next few weeks, I'd love to finally hammer out just what sweeps I want/need to add to my half guard to make it more complete and more challenging for my opponents. I don't need many. But there are some holes I want to fill before the spring begins.

164.4 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat. The pounds just can't quit me.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

LME training and Explosive Repeat

The first half of the training camp is geared toward improving aerobic conditioning and increasing local muscular endurance. One of the things I noticed about 48 hours after my explosive-repeat workout on Tuesday was how sore my "vastus lateralis" (outside of thigh) and hip flexors were.

This makes sense insofar as the whole lower body portion of the workout is dedicated to lunges (front, side and reverse). But it reminds me of how in my last tournament matches, I was very reluctant to change levels to set up takedowns because I just didn't feel as if my legs were ready to fire from that semi-crouch position. It was one of the first things I felt when I got on the mat and I think contributed to a sluggish, non-explosive performance on the feet.

Hopefully this work will take care of that issue from a biomechanical standpoint.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Training Day: Friday

A really excellent session to finish the week. In many ways, it was everything that competition training is about: drills, drills, drills, with a little open mat/live training at the end to wrap things up. I went for two rounds at the end, and probably would have done a third given a little more time. But all in all just the kind of session that makes you looking forward to coming back.

We did takedown drills, guard pass drills (slap pass to knee on belly), adding mount takes and finishes as we went along in a steady, technically progressive way. It was a very good way to train for a couple of reasons, but the biggest reason for me was the way that each technique led into the other. From the different angles we attacked the leg and then the upper body for the judo throws to the variations on passing the guard, improving position and finishing, it was great "flow" work, training your body through the entire range of activity from takedown to finish as a series of progressive drills.

For me, there are days when I don't feel my brain can take any more additional technical information. I'm just not in the mental state to "learn" effectively. But training this way completely circumvents that both by being simple (each move building on the previous move) and more drill/body oriented than learn/mind oriented.

One thing I would love to try as an experiment some time would be to train this way for a month at least three times a week and see if what differences I might notice in my game. I think more than anything it would speed my jiu jitsu up some, creating more of that "high speed circuitry" that Daniel Coyle writes about in his book, The Talent Code.

All that said, there are some good things coming out of sparring to help me refine my guard game. In terms of the pass, I still need to be working more of the step-over/Hioki game against the half guard and more sccop against the closed guard. But there's still plenty of time to work on all of that. The 2nd Seattle Open has been announced for Saturday, January 29th - the last Saturday of the month. That at-home event will be a nice testing/proving ground for the Revolution to follow.

164.4 on the scale, post-train, everything but the coat. The weight is just not coming off me after the average training session like it used to three or four years ago. Insert "alas" here.


Because I didn't quite spend enough money over the winter holiday season, I took advantage of Stephan Kesting's great holiday deal to pick up a pair of instructional DVDs to add to the collection: The Dynamic Half Guard and Omoplata and the Dynamic Guard.

This purchase was mostly a matter of patching holes and adding to inventory. I'm thinking that the half guard DVD will provide a good check on my half guard basics as I plan for the fatter end of the 2010-2011 training season (the seven months and two Revolution tournaments between now and the end of July 2011). Even after just a a few minutes, I can see a couple of fundamental issues that I've been neglecting that could make my life a lot easier from the bottom.

With the omoplata DVD, I'm trying to expand my King Crimson attack from the closed guard (kimura, guillotine, omoplata, crossover/hip bump sweep/take the back etc.) and add a a submission from the guard that will probably be more high percentage than the triangle or the armbar given my body type (note that fellow half-hobbit Marcelo Garcia is a big omoplata guy).

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Training, Competing and Training to Compete

"To practice the Way singleheartedly is, in itself, enlightenment. There is no gap between practice and enlightenment ..."
-- Dogen Zenji

Rodrigo made a really great point at the end of training Tuesday night. He talked about competition team training as training both for those who are going to compete as well as those who "want to train as if they were going to compete."

I think that really gets at the point. Truth told, I'm pretty ambivalent about competing. Unlike a lot of folks, I really don't have much of a natural impulse to prove or test myself against others. But that said there's nothing more fun than "training" for competition. Everything is tighter, a little more serious and purposeful, with everyone obviously working hard and committed to the same tripartite goal: a win for the Academy, wins for your teammates and wins for yourself.

It's really a special time: the best time to be training, the best time to watch and see what a jiu jitsu school is really made of. Maybe they will win, maybe they won't. But who would dare deny any school a shot if you stopped by some afternoon or evening during competition training and saw how hard everyone is preparing - from the white belt with just a month of training before his first tournament to the veteran black belt who is both teacher and competitor?

Both Prof. Rodrigo and Carlos, in their different ways, have been working to tighten things up as GB Seattle 3.0 rolls into the new year. I'm grateful for it. For me, one of the great things about the academy is that it is not like the rest of the world, in which personality so often trumps purpose. Jiu jitsu is, among many things, a sort of moving meditation - maybe the ultimate one - and being able to enter that space with its rules and its disciplines and its apparently endless rewards is, as Huxley might put it, a truly gratuitous grace: not necessary for life, but oh so helpful for living.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Werdum v. Lindland

Conditioning Notes: Threshold Training

Here's my Thursday workout for the next three weeks. It is called the threshold method and also comes from Joel Jamieson's book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning.

10-20 reps / 3-5 rounds / 60-120 seconds between rounds

alt upas
hip splits
crossovers/hip bumps
hook sweeps
arm drags
alt triangles
technical lifts

Glenn asked me the other day about a workout that he could do when away from the academy that was more than just lifting weights. This is my go-to workout for all purposes, but it is especially good because you can change the pace to make the workout more aerobic or more explosively-oriented.

Some of these moves have names that I invented because I couldn't figure out a better way to describe them. "Hip splits" for example, has you sitting as if doing a hurdler's stretch with your back leg, but instead of sticking your front leg out straight, you curl it back toward you in an L shape. Then you switch sides, going back and forth bringing the front leg to the back and the back leg to the front. Much easier to do than to describe.

If all else fails, you can always just do hipscapes, sitouts, backrolls and technical lifts. Those are the "core four" that work the most essential basic jiu jitsu/grappling movements.

Conditioning Notes: Explosive-Repeat

No jiu jitsu as planned today. Tuesday training combined with Tuesday's morning conditioning routine (below) have my quads on fire.

Here's my version of Joel Jamieson's Explosive-Repeat workout for advanced aerobic conditioning from his book Ultimate MMA Conditioning. This is for Tuesdays. Work/rest intervals go up to 12s/45s next week and 15s/30s the week after that.

10 seconds weighted lunge left/ 60 seconds rest
10s weighted lunge right/ 60s rest
10s weighted side lunge left / 60s rest
10s weighted side lunge right / 60s rest
10s reverse weighted lunge left / 60s rest
10s reverse weighted lunge right / 60s rest

6 minutes active rest

10s bench press / 60s rest
10s upright rows / 60s rest
10s box thruster / 60s rest
10s bench press / 60s rest
10s upright rows / 60s rest
10s box thruster / 60s rest

6 minutes active rest

10s weighted lunge left/ 60 seconds rest
10s weighted lunge right/ 60s rest
10s weighted side lunge left / 60s rest
10s weighted side lunge right / 60s rest
10s reverse weighted lunge left / 60s rest
10s reverse weighted lunge right / 60s rest

6 minutes active rest

10s bench press / 60s rest
10s upright rows / 60s rest
10s box thruster / 60s rest
10s bench press / 60s rest
10s upright rows / 60s rest
10s box thruster / 60s rest

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Training Day: Tuesday

Skills training was a repeat of the first two lessons from Monday's afternoon class: the sacrifice/backroll counters to the double leg and single leg. I actually did them a little better on Monday, in part because the pace picked up some on Tuesday and I got a little distracted trying to stay on track.

Good live training. I'm still working on guard passing from standing - a lot of smash pass, to be sure, but trying to keep the focus on leg v.s. leg battles. I'm also continuing to work on the transition from side control through crossbody into the mount.

From the bottom, deep half - half transitions are still the major theme, with an emphasis on getting into a sweeping position as quickly as possible instead of "surviving" on the bottom. Too often "surviving" means surviving just long enough for the guy on top to eventually figure out a way to put you in a bad position.

Very good address by Rodrigo at the end of class. The Sunday competition training is at probably the most inaccessible time of the week for me. But his points about taking training seriously based on your training goals was very worth hearing. Although my days of earning points for GB Seattle on the competition mats are probably in the past, I like the fact that he is honest and upfront about wanting to get back into first place at the Revolution this year. Too often there is a tendency to apologize for wanting to win tournaments and do well at "sport jiu jitsu." Whatever. Tournaments are an integral part of jiu jitsu's growth and a great opportunity to expose others to the art. So even if my days at the top of the medal podium are done, I will always be a big supporter and proponent of both competition and TRAINING for competition.

164.2 on the scale, not very impressive. We'll see if I can hit 162 by week's end.

More on Hioki

My first "jiu jitsu crush" was on Fabricio Werdum. I couldn't stop watching his ADCC match with Matt Lindland. Maybe it was the drums. But you couldn't tell me there was a slicker jiu jitsu guy than Werdum at the time.

Hatsu Hioki is well on his way toward becoming my second. Here's a nice essay from someone who seems to share my sentiments.

Often Overlooked, Hatsu Hioki Deserves Praise Following Win Over Marlon Sandro
Call it jiu-jitsu mastery, wizardry, or brilliance. Call it whatever you like, but the final minutes of the Sengoku Soul of Fight featherweight title tilt between Shooto lightweight champion Hatsu Hioki and Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro was nothing short of spectacular. After a round after round beating at the hands of Hioki, Sandro lunged at his opponent with his only sight set on knocking out the Nagoya-born grappling whiz kid. Sandro's desperation attempt to put Hioki on his back while avoiding damage failed miserably, and Hioki turned his defense into a glorious opportunity to close out a fantastic clash of great featherweight fighters.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Prof. Feitosa Competition Seminar: Ground to Standing

Training Day: Monday

Skills training:

Backroll/Sacrifice to mount counters to the double and single leg takedowns. Smash counters to armbar and triangle from the guard.

Live training:

Some good work in converting back and forth from deep half to half guard passes (i.e., switching to watchdog v.s. deep half). Also good step-over to crossbody against the deep half.

This will be the main strategic goal: to use transition from half to deep half and back as strategy for controlling pace and creating opportunities. For example, using Gordo to set up a deep half entry and direct move into Homer Simpson, as well as the typical Gordo/Twist Back combo.

Not as many opportunities to work the pass game outside of the half. Still looking for opportunities to smash straight into mount a la Hioki - that will be a habit to establish early.

Also did some film study this morning on the crossbody to knee on belly transition via Saulo. The key is in keeping connected hip-to-hip, and remaining sideways as you make the transition rather than turning to "square up" and face the guy's side, thereby giving too much space for the elbow/knee block from the guy on bottom.

164.6 on the scale post-train, everything but the coat.

Christian Thibaudeau on Muscle Development for Back, Abs and Biceps

Interestingly, the focus areas for jiu jitsu (back, abs, biceps) are considered secondary from a "performance" or athletic standpoint. Bodybuilding trainer Christian Thibaudeau makes some interesting observations about the difference between training what I'll call "jiu jitsu muscles" and athletic, "performance" muscles in this video here

People Get Ready

8 Weeks Out for Revolution 03/05/11 begins today.

Among the final days of 2010 were some the first, few days of full-fledged, sleep 'til 7 vacation I've had since the same time four years ago. Not yet the two weeks of pure "nao-falo-ingles" that me and Mrs Burien Top Team so richly deserve, but still enough to recharge the batteries in advance of what I expect to be a very productive 2011 on all fronts.

Training schedule as is below for the next three weeks.


11:45 - 12:30 pm

12:30 - 1:30 pm
Live Training


am conditioning: explosive-repeat (Berardi)
skills: double leg takedown / crossbody 2 knee on belly

6 - 7 pm

7 - 8 pm
Live Training


6 - 7 pm

7 - 8 pm
Live Training


am conditioning: threshold training (matwork)
skills: 1/2 guard agility / 1-on-1 passes from standing


11:45 - 1:00 pm
Competition Training


11:00 - 1:00 pm


am conditioning: cardiac output (LSD)


am conditioning: neural charge workout

Many of my jiu jitsu goals for 2011 are relatively pedestrian and obvious - and don't think for a moment that I'm beyond obsessing about them. But if there is one thing I want to accomplish this year, one thing I want to prioritize above everything else, it is to make real what I've been told by some of the most talented folks at GB Seattle over the past month or so, in particular

Of the many things for which I am guilty, "paying attention" is near the top of the list. And even in what I am sure were just off-hand remarks from some of the folks at GB Seattle whose jiu jitsu continues to astound me, were some straightforward, "Do This/Don't Do This" lessons that can help me get that much closer to being one of those producers of wonderment, awe and inspiration when it comes to BJJ. In some ways, I feel like this is the most important year for me in terms of building a foundation for a "black belt version" of myself - not just from a skills or accomplishment point of view (though, definitely that). But also from the point of view of discipline, attitude and habit.

About those pedestrians ... one simple goal is going to be to make weight before every training session from now until the Revolution. The 162 should not be a chore, especially if I'm on with my diet and training. But consistency is the uber-theme of 2011 - and 162 the mark, for the next nine weeks.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hioki: Soul of Fight, Indeed

Not sure how long it will be available, but at least for now, here's Hioki v. Sandro.

Werdum: Believe