Monday, February 28, 2011

Comments and Milestones

I've been meaning to bring this up for some time.

A teammate suggested the idea of enabling comments to side control awhile ago. I'll admit that I've toyed with the idea more than once over the past five-odd years. But in the end, it's always been simpler to stick with the comment-free status quo. As in jiu jitsu, it is often easier to be the immovable object than it is to be the irresistible force.

That said, there is a specific goal - a milestone, if you will - that I was reminded of in the heat of training on Monday that would more than serve as an appropriate opportunity to have more voices on side control than my own.

GracieMag at the Pan

Be sure to join GracieMagazine at the Pan Jiu-Jitsu championship blog here
A little less than a month before the first match is held at Bren Events Center in Irvine, GRACIEMAG begins its coverage on the GRACIEMAG at the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Blog.

We will recover the story, remember the characters, relive the great bouts and revel in behind-the-scenes drama and the conquests that make up the history of the Pan ever since 1995 and that made it the most popular event on the Jiu-Jitsu calendar.

Training Day: Monday

Unpleasantness at The Daily Planet put a cloud over at least the first half hour of training today. Just because training offers an escape from the rest of the world doesn't make getting into your jumpsuit and out the chute any easier. It took me a little while to shake off the 9-5 (actually more like the 6-3), but it was worth it, getting the opportunity to roll with bigger and tougher guys than usual come Live Training Time (Lindsey, Prof Kevin and Pat).

The lesson started with some light gripfighting from standing, which was very fun. Then to hip tosses with a belt grip. We worked both the basic attack and the counter belt grip hip toss if someone moves into position to hip toss you. Key here was maintaining a parallel position as you step away and then getting good hip position, just a little to the outside.

We also worked escapes from knee on belly: one controlling the belt, cocking the arm and controlling the far knee as you hipscape and flat out. Tip here is to keep control of the belt, which will give you leverage if the guy sprawls on your back. The other escape had you take your inside arm, bring it in and then use it as a wedge against the knee on belly as you hipscape away.

Again, good Live Training today. I'm feeling as if I'm nearing the wall somewhere around minute seven or so in the ten-minute rounds we've been doing. Obviously that's not great. But at least it's a point of potential assessment going forward.

165.7 on the scale post-train. The grape fast begins tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Braulio v. Moraes

From the medium heavyweight finals of the European Open 2011

Training Day: Friday

Competition-style training today with some time with Brian, Bennie and Prof Carlos. All very good, all very different in terms of what I end up focusing on when training.

Looking less and less likely that I'm going to be able to make February a 15x training month. At best, I'll be able to match my February PR of 14. But I wouldn't be surprised if I end up only making 13 (to do otherwise would require a double on Monday.)

My goal for this training year (August 2010 - July 2011) is to train at least 15 times a month at least 7 times. I made it 15x/month 5 times in the previous training year and 3 times the year before that. It's interesting what missing a training here or there can do to your overall ability to reach an "every other day" training pace - which is a good reminder to avoid missing too many opportunities to train, especially early in the new month.

162.7, which is what I need to be weighing at the beginning of the week rather than only at the end.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Triangle Hall of Fame: From Royce to Imada

More good stuff from Bloody Elbow. The current roster only includes five triangle chokes, but they are all classics.

The Triangle Hall of Fame

Paulson: Attacks from the Front Headlock

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: George Sotiropolous

One of the best things in the MMA-niverse:

UFC 127 Judo Chop: The Old-School Guard Passing of George Sotiropolous
George Sotiropoulos, on the other hand, not only passes the guard with moves that you could transplant straight into a textbook - he does it with the confidence of an experienced BJJ black belt. That's why Joe Rogan says he's got 'some of the best passes in the UFC.'

What's even more interesting is that Prof Rodrigo and Prof Carlos taught this very same pass combination just last month.

Training Day: Wednesday

A quick session on Wednesday as toil at The Daily Planet made a full training session pretty much impossible for the day. I got in three sessions, Benny, Prof Carlos and Elliott, which allowed me to work on my gripfighting, survival and escape and attacking the guard, respectively.

I get a little frustrated about midway through my third rolls lately, assuming a one- or two-minute break to switch partners and all that, we talking at about the 20-24 minute mark. That's pretty much when I feel myself starting to hit a wall and needing a something more than just a transition-break. From a certain perspective, that's not bad fitness and should assure me of the conditioning I need to compete at a faster (and hopefully more effective) clip.

But I still worry that I'm using too much energy in certain instances, not specific enough of when I decide to move or not move so that as little energy is wasted as possible. The big issues here, unsurprisingly, are guard replacement and guard passing, both of which will continue to be major areas of emphasis over the balance of the year.

About 165 on the scale post-train - entered without comment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Camp Fire

Drysdale holds training camp for Pan

Grapplers Quest Coming to the Pacific Northwest?

Here's an interesting piece of gossip/rumor that's making the rounds lately. I first ran across this over at Cindy's Sleeper Athletics blog, but now another local grappling blog seems to be picking up on the same theme.

Grapplers Quest in Seattle?
I refuse to Facebook so I am not sure if this constitutes "breaking news," but 'Short Round' Kim told me that it is all but confirmed that Grapplers Quest will be making their debut here in the Emerald City on Memorial Day weekend 2011!

As the post says, there's no official confirmation on the Grapplers Quest website. But this would be a big deal for grappling in the Northwest if Grapplers Quest decides to make Seattle a regular stop.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Training Day: Monday

A good hard session training. After some judo leg trip takedowns, we moved to work knee on belly attacks using a very tight front seatbelt, opening up the elbows, and sliding low on the hips so as to wedge your northside knee in between his body and his nearside elbow and create space ... as well as a knee on belly to mount triangle attack when you can't or don't want to transition to mount.

Live training with Prof Kevin, Brian and Prof Jesse. Kevin caught me in the same armbar that Elliott and the guy from Seattle Open caught me with and even though the first thing I did when I got home today was return to Saulo's Jiu Jitsu University for the counter and escape, the bottom line is that I've got to do a better job of replacing guard, especially butterfly guard, in order to avoid getting into these bad situations in the first place.

164.2 on scale, post train with another three weeks to go. I'd like to be lighter, but we'll see how things stand come Friday.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fight Speed

There is no room for slow in a fight and in this final two week training block prior to fight week you will be focusing all your efforts on increasing your work rate, i.e., the speed and power you're able to maintain throughout a fight.


Friday Night Fights: Jacare v. Marcelo

From the 2002 Mundial

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seminar Review: Welcome to Barataplata!

Even in a space as familiar as GB Seattle 3.0, there is still a special feeling whenever there's a big seminar that is almost disorienting in its sentimentality. However much seminars are a great opportunity to learn techniques from a new professor, there are also every bit as much an chance for the local jiu jitsu and grappling community to come together in a family-like, non-competitive environment.

Again, that's no slight to the technique. In addition to a surprisingly straightforward sweep from the closed guard that Prof Freitas showed us, it was a true journey deep into the heart of barataplataville. From entries from the closed guard to entries from standing and the mount position, Friday night's seminar was an up-close-n-personal look at how the basic kimura-lock on the shoulder can be applied with more control and more overall power with the legs and hips. I especially appreciated how Prof Freitas pointed out that the kimura lock was one of the most powerful submissions in jiu jitsu. "After all," Prof Freitas said, "It was the kimura that defeated Master Helio. And it was a kimura that defeated Renzo and Royler."

Especially when you include mixed martial arts competition, it is clear that the kimura is among the highest percentage submissions. In fact, it could be argued that if you could only master three submissions, you could do a lot worse than to master the triangle from the bottom, the choke from the back, and the kimura from on top. It doesn't surprise me for a moment that of the main prodigies of someone like Lloyd Irvin, who has done some work quantifying submissions in jiu jitsu, one was known for his triangles and the other for his back control and finish.

So the barataplata is an extension of this in some ways. Taking the edge that is the kimura (compared to, maybe, the lower finishing rates of the americana or the straight armbar) and then finding new ways to secure that same control. I remember a class with Cindy a few years back when she insisted that you should never let a kimura grip go if you get it - the grip just provides too much control and eventually will lead to a submission opportunity if you keep it. The idea of combining that tenacity when it comes to the grip in general with Prof Freitas' re-interpretation of the control of the shoulder, elbow and wrist, is something I think could really work well for a game like mine - one that is not especially heavy on triangle nor back control.

162 and change post-seminar. I would have liked to have rolled some, but I was feeling a little sluggish having trained during the early class on Friday. That said, a great night of training and a very nice start to the three-day weekend.

Training Day: Friday

With the seminar this evening, training in the Friday class was fortunately just open mat. I got to train with Benny, Brian, Glenn and the ever-treacherous Elliot, whose sweep late in our training session was the first stage in reliving my Seattle Open open weight match from a few weeks ago - as well as being a reminder of a new weakness in my game that I need to tend to before March and its Revolution rolls around.

At the same time, the training session was a very rewarding dip into the waters of not-quite-instant karma, two-step refresher course in the vem e vai of jiu jitsu. It was just the kind of send-off I needed ahead of tonight's seminar with Prof Freitas - which I'm expecting to be a sizable one.

162.4 on the scale, everything but the coat. I need to begin starting the week with numbers like this rather than ending the week with them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Barata" Freitas at GB Seattle This Friday

As excited as I am about the seminar tomorrow night with Professor Rafael "Barata" Freitas, a part of me is just as giddy at the prospect of training on a Friday night, including/especially the open mat from 8-9 p.m. afterwards.

Seminar starts at 6 p.m. But registration is more like 5:30 p.m. so be early if you're planning to be there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Training Day: Wednesday

If you haven't watched a top level jiu jitsu match at 60% speed, then you are cheating yourself out of an amazing experience.

I love instructionals as much as the next guy. I've got Saulo's first, Jeff Glover's, a couple of Kesting's, GB Fundamentals ... I've even got Cesar Gracie's brick-like instructional series (!), a Mike Swain judo instructional and an old school VHS from Joe Moreira. But as Prof Rodrigo has pointed out, just watching competition footage can do an incredible amount of good when it comes to getting a better and deeper understanding of what jiu jitsu is all about.

And slowing the action down to about 60% (the slowest speed on my DVD players fast/slow play function) gives you the opportunity to see every grip, every posture adjustment, every opportunity seized and missed at a speed that is not so agonizingly slow that you become impatient, but not so fast that you don't get to actually see - and anticipate - what actions and reactions are likely.

Maybe I'm making too much of it. But the "vision" I felt watching Michael Langhi v. Augusto Mendes (Mundial 2010 leve) at 60% speed, for example, was pretty incredible. I can already feel it starting to transfer into my actual training, how I think about every position and feeling like I'm capable of being more aware of options and "best practices", so to speak. I felt I could really see, for example, why specific guards like the inverted guard continue to give even the highest level competitors problems - and to see exactly why a certain alternative (maybe from an instructional book or video, maybe from class) would have been so much more effective.

It's been really something else. I can't say enough about this kind of film study.

A great night of training Wednesday evening with a whole lot of familiar faces. I got to train deep half guard takedowns with Alex, a blue belt on the eve of purple, including 12 minutes of specific training with the deep half. For live training, three sessions (two eights and a ten with Prof Rodrigo) with about two minutes break in between each.

Very grateful for the off-mat conditioning, I'll tell you that much. While I'm still reaching pretty significant fatigue levels during performance, my recovery time is not very long. That bodes well for my overall conditioning, if not the more specific, alactic conditioning competition tends to require.

Did some solo drills before class, working on the initial posture for the running escape, the rollover and sideroll escapes from north-south, my basic "hips right/kick left" mount escape ... Alliance leader Fabio Gurgel is a big fan of "range of motion" as a way of warding off injury that is superior to both "warming up" and stretching exercises. But they are also a great way of branding into your casca-grossa some of the fundamental motions and mechanics that make possible all the rest.

164.5 on the scale, post-train. Absolutely shameless.

World Pro Gi Poland Trials: Open Brown/Black Belt Finals

Check out the camera work on this match! This is how it is done!

More on Training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil

Here's my other favorite "training in Brazil" message board thread. Why?

"Estebanantonio: I thought the best jiu-jitsu instructors are now in the U.S.

missioncontrol: The problem is not the instructors, it is the teams. How many academies do you know in the USA that have at least 10 active black belts that compete and train together? In the USA it is about money, in Brazil it is about pride."

Here's the thread, also courtesy of the Sherdog Grappling Forum:

Permanently living in Brazil: Want to know the truth?

My Current Favorite "Training in Brazil" Thread

At the Sherdog grappling forum here. Great stories of training, eating, sleeping and, yes, partying, as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Threshold Training: Week 7 and the Speed King

Technically speaking, I'm in Week 7 of my EightWeeksOut for the first Revolution tournament of the year in March. But because the event was rescheduled for a week later, my training camp has gained a week. So while I'm in week 7, my program is still in week 6, with three weeks to go.

The next two weeks are Fight Speed weeks leading into Compete Week. The goal during those two weeks is to really push the pace in training, to try and work at ever more intense levels from every position. There is a pace to be kept, for sure. This isn't about going berserk. But it is about looking to all observers like a man with a plan, and than plan should be evident to anyone paying attention.

This week I've started the Fight Speed version of matwork (TM). Here, instead of doing 3, 4 or 5 sets of 20 reps, I'm doing 10 sets of 10 reps, with the same two-minute break in between sets. The goal here is to spend less and less time grinding out reps and more and more time exploding through them.

What's nice is that my ability to recover has improved significantly over the past few weeks. Right now, I'm able to get my heart rate to drop by more than 40% within 90 seconds of ending a threshold set. In other words, and using today as an example, I had an avearge heart-rate of 160 bpm immediately after finishing each set. In 90 seconds, my heart rate had dropped by an average of 42%.

When I started the threshold training part of the camp, the recovery drop was closer to 30% (31.6% to be exact). My goal is to get it to 50% over the next three weeks or so, focusing on the 10 x 10 matwork (TM). I think I'm scheduled to do one more grinder session of 5 sets of 20 on Thursday. But after that, it's all speed work from here on out.

Werdum on Emelianenko

"He should have been able to hip escape, but he didn't have very good technique on the ground," said Werdum, who expressed disappointment that he's no longer the only Brazilian to defeat Emelianenko. "Not training jiu-jitsu, just training sambo, is no good because it's an old mentality. Now, everything has changed."
from "Fedor Emelianenko's cloak of invincibility ripped to shreds" by Josh Gross of

Gracie Breakdown: Bigfoot v. Fedor

More great analysis from Rener and Ryron

Monday, February 14, 2011

Houston Open: Rader and Hall

Here are the adult black belt featherweight and lightweight finals from the Houston Open this past weekend.

Justin Rader v. Gustavo Carpio (featherweight)

Ryan Hall v. Bruno Rocha (lightweight)

Training Day: Monday

Great work pulling half guard from standing. Between this work and Lindsey's class on the Rip Cord (ankle pick takedown), I'm feeling as if we are working our way through my BJJ Favorites list. It's a very nice opportunity to refresh both of these moves, moves that I've had some of my best successes in competition.

Key details included stepping to the side, toward the sleeve grip side, to create a better angle for attacking with the half guard. Another detail was in making sure that your head is as close to the guy's "free" leg. This makes it easy to get good control over the off-side with your underleg hook. A third key detail was in putting the sleeve in tight as you pull guard so as to better pass control of that sleeve to your other hand.

We did two sweeps from this position: the scissor sweep/collar drag, and the Marcelo. Although neither of these sweeps is a go-to sweep for me just yet, there's a lot to like about both.

A good amount of time spent in specific training to wrap things up before the Live Training session. We did half guard, working both sides, with three different partners. I wasn't able to implement the new sweeps, but I was able to do some good work with the tilt-a-whirl to relieve crossface pressure, as well as to set up new angles for attack.

163.4 on the scale post-train. One thing I need to adjust is to go back to the bicep control against the neck rather than the "shoulder of justice" approach that someone suggested to me a few weeks ago. The problem with the shoulder of justice approach when attacking the half guard with the Roger is that it creates pressure on the jaw rather than on the neck. That's fine for certain situations, but because the Roger requires a lot of upperbody pressure, the shoulder of justice is turning out to be too brutal of an option and far more than I need.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Training Day: Saturday

A good hard warmup and then, boom, Open Mat, all day. I think I got in about 6 or 7 eight-minute rolls for somewhere between 48-56 minutes of training for the day which is a really nice session for me. Among other things, it was a reminder of how good my threshold training is paying off, where I'm working at threshold HR levels for 7-8 minutes for 3 to 5 rounds with two minute breaks. It was nice to dig down deep for the extra juice and find it, for a change.

Good all-around training, though I'm not working the open guard passes the way I need to . Sometimes the opportunity just isn't presenting itself, and it's hard to steer someone into a guard they may not be interested in playing. Still, there's a week to go before Fight Speed kicks in, so hopefully this week I can get some of that work in. Those three points remain the most critical ones for me and getting those three points by way of passing the open guard is still a high hurdle.

160.3 on the scale post train, perfectly fine for now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Lindsey taught the competition team training today on Friday. It was a nice reunion. As I wrote awhile back, it was Lindsey's Monday evening classes back at GB Seattle 2.0 that inspired my notion of ATM (Always Train Mondays).

Lindsey's classes are a nice combination of athletic-styled warmups and a personal focus on the technical details in the move of the day. We worked on the ankle pick takedown to start things off, the takedown I used to call Rip Cord, the takedown that used to be my number one attack as a blue belt before I started getting sloppy and the takedown stopped working. There were about three or four basic technical details that I was getting wrong that were fixed by the end of the class. Giving a turn of the shoulder when setting up the snap down, and then "snapping down" into the full Neo pose, elbow-to-knee, to really break the guy down ... There were other details, but those were among the ones that are most likely to help put Rip Cord back into my standup attack.

There was also a nice variation on the tripod type of sweep. Same grip sleeve grip, same side foot in hip, sweep side grip on the ankle, sweep side hook behind the knee. The sweep takes the guy sideways as the sweep side hook is the key part in breaking down the supporting leg.

Rather than spar, I did a little drilling on the half guard with Glenn, specifically the Circle Back move against guys who try and get low and far away from the half guard and then the cross collar turn-to-knees escape if you are late and the guy gets a good hold of both of your legs. The key with the Circle Back is to follow the guy up as soon as he retreats from engaging your half guard and then to circle hard, getting a little space with your inside hook to make it easier to attack toward the back and using your post to keep your pressure on him as you circle.

The key with the cross collar turn-to-knee escape is really just to commit to going to fully away from the guy instead of trying to retain some sort of sideways posture. It some ways, it reminds me of the half guard "Bullet-Time" counter to the knee cross pass: it feels weird and as if it makes you even more vulnerable, but the physics are exactly right. The more you go directly to knees, the harder it will be for the guy with the bear hug pass to maintain the grip. And the easier it is to free your knees and resume the attack.

162.4 on the scale post-train. I was hoping for lower, but given my massive Monday weigh-in just north of 170, I probably shouldn't be complaining. It was nice to work a little technique on Friday with Glenn - admittedly, if I weren't training on Saturday I might not have had the discipline/courage to forgo an opportunity to spar. But it was great to work through both of those moves and is a good reminder of why it is so important to take control of my jiu jitsu training and education whenever I have the opportunity to. There are no lack of opportunities to just spar. Opportunities to drill technique more often need to be sought out - eagerly and consistently.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Please, Please, Please ... No More Knees

I don't see myself insisting on this when training with guys during Open Mat/Live Training. But from now on, with the consent of my training partners, no more "starting on the knees".

My training partner and I can start in guard (preferably). Or we can start in half-guard. Hell, I'd rather start in mount or back control than start on the knees.

When I think about the time wasted "pummeling" for position on the knees sometimes, my mind reels. Nothing in competition, nothing in self-defense resembles this - at least not in my experience. Standing gripfighting and pummeling? You bet. That's great training.

But I'll admit that this "on the knees" thing has been something that's bugged me about Open Mat / Live Training for years. And given some of my biggest current (and forever) challenges, now is probably as good a time to maximize my Open Mat / Live Training sessions by treating them, at least in part, as opportunities for guard/pass guard specific training for the foreseeable future.

Training Day: Wednesday

Double legs, sprawl to standing guillotine and guillotine counter/takedown made up the instructional part of training today. Probably the most important detail came to us from Prof Carlos by way of Tom the wrestling coach: keep your shoulder square when attacking with the double leg rather than turning one shoulder ahead of the other. Another detail was to keep your stance in as much as a runner's crouch as you can, with both feet pointed forward. This allows for better a quicker and more efficient level change as well as better drive when you make contact.

We also worked the back take counter to the on-the-ground headlock escape.

Live Training was a lesson in What Needs Fixin': Half Guard Special, specifically dealing with bear hug type passes when guys avoid engaging the half guard altogether. There are a couple of options I want to work the next time: including a more aggressive sitting guard underhook counter that Kesting shows on his DVD that's part of his "triple attack" combination.

162.7 on the scale post-train, a far more reasonable figure to be sure. With any luck, I'll be able to notch a sub-160 number after the Friday early class.

Rener Gracie: Gracie Breakdown and More

Great to see Rener continuing this series. Rener takes a lot of grief from some quarters. But there's no denying his contributions to the spread and evolution of jiu jitsu as a martial art.

Interview with Rener Gracie

Cindy Hales Sleeper Athletics: Break Dance Pass

Even if you aren't able/allowed to use the can opener to set up the break dance pass, there is plenty here - from the positioning in the stand up to the pass itself, switching the hips and the crossface to katagatame (or even side control) - that is worth taking note of.

I remember Cindy teaching this pass back in the GB Seattle 1.0 days. I've seen both Ricco Rodriguez and Marcelo Garcia use it to pass the guard against top level competition.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Florian En Route to Featherweight

Story courtesy of MMA Junkie
Two-time UFC lightweight title-challenger Kenny Florian (14-5 MMA, 11-4 UFC) officially is headed to the featherweight division.

This past week on Radio (, Florian was asked about the possibility and said he would "never ever say never ever."

Today, he took to Twitter to confirm the plans following a report from But he said the lightweight division still is in his future.

"I'll indeed be fighting at 145 pounds," wrote Florian, who's an analyst on ESPN's "MMA Live" program. "It is a great new challenge. My goal is to get belt at featherweight, and I'll be back at 155."
With regard to MMA, the featherweight division is still maturing, and it will continue to be interesting to see competitors like Florian and Tyson Griffin make the move lower.

I'll admit that Florian's decision to cut down another weight division has helped inspire me to straighten up and fly right when it comes to keeping my own weight down. There's no edge for me in getting too much lighter than 155, which still finds me at leve. But I do think that I'm a better, more agile and assertive jiu jitsu fighter at 155 than I am at 165 (to say nothing of this current monstrous girth north of 77 kilos ...) So the idea is to create a new benchmark, a lower "walking around weight" as the kids call it, and see what that does for me.

Flow v. Go

Monday, February 07, 2011

Training Day: Monday

170.3 on the scale, post-train, everything but the coat. Ugh and Son of Ugh alike. Blame it on the annual Super Bowl Spare Rib Fiesta.

As such, I only managed one session today. It was plenty - finishing up with 32 minutes with J.M., Brian, Glenn and Troy during Open Mat/Live Training.

Prof Carlos started us off with some takedowns. I got to train with Prof Kevin as we worked through osoto gari, both alone and as a follow-up after a foot sweep (de ashi barai?). It's not every day that you get to train technique with a black belt. Prof Carlos showed us afterwards how judokas train against the wall to help keep their throwing motions straight and linear. It was another one of those little training details that can make a huge difference six months or a year later if you really take the time to implement them into your game.

Think about it. In 2010, I trained 162 times (includes seminars and competition). What if I'd done a set of ten throws against the wall before and after every practice? It wouldn't have taken more than 30 seconds of my training time. But after a year, I'd've worked that one technique over 3,000 times.

This kind of quantified thinking is, in part, at what's at the center of what I think can help turn average ability into extraordinary performance. Imagine doing your best sweep-pass-dominant position-finish sequence 20 times a night (after all, if it's your favorite ...). If you train 15-16 times a month, that's more than 300 reps every 30 days. If you don't get better after that, then you're already as good as you are going to get at that move and need to find something else to master.

On the ground, we worked the half-guard pass with the knee wedge. This was one of my favorite half guard passes, but I almost never do it any more. I think I really lost the feel of the pass, how you are essentially sitting down next to the guy's hip as you wedge the knee in. It's an extremely powerful pass, and used to be the first part of the half guard pass series I called "Three Blind Mice" after the scene from Goldfinger (the second mouse is the Royler/Knee Cross and the third mouse is the Cross Wedge). Now, as I work on the Roger, is a great time to patch up the holes in the rest of my game from half guard top.

A little too much agility and not enough patience and deception is probably a good way to characterize Live Training today. As Roger says, some days you just go to the gym. But there were some elements, like the Eureka moment I experienced when dealing with a surprising X-guard and later finding myself forced to dig deep to try and pass a very active guard recovery effort, that are worth at least a few moments of celebratory, jiu jitsu-affirming visualization.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Roger: "Direct Your Training Toward Something Specific"

Tarsis Humphreys (Alliance): What tips do you have for me to make my Jiu-Jitsu as tight as yours?

Roger Gracie (Gracie Barra): The way I see it you shouldn't train just for training's sake. It's about the objective you create for yourself with every workout. Of course there are days when your training doesn't yield that much: all you did was go to the gym. But you need to direct your training toward something specific, some improvement. If all you do is roll, you don't work specifically on what you do wrong. One needs to carry out specific training for each position ...

From "The monster up against the wall: Eight of 2010's world champions interview Jiu-Jitsu's first three-time absolute world champion," Gracie magazine #160, August 2010.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Training Day: Friday

Abbreviated training session on Friday due to a minor emergency at The Daily Planet. Prof Carlos - back on the mat after a rib injury last week - was working on a variation on the DLR to sitting guard transition, with an emphasis on controlling the near sleeve. Carlos also included a switch to the shin guard, passing the near sleeve through the legs for control and switching to a collar grip. Pull the grip, extend the hook and use your free leg between the guy's legs as he drops down to set up the back take.

An interesting variation alongside the one that Prof Rodrigo showed us in Monday's late session. In some ways, though, the most important part of the move was the way it reminded me to continue looking for opportunities to use the butterfly hook not just to off-balance, but to extend the leg to break down the near-side, as well.

Very good training with Brian during the Live Training. We spent a lot of the time at the end going over details and variations of the sweep we'd learned, including the Machado variation where you dive under and roll, stiff-arming the free leg to help disrupt any spread-eagle base.

It was good to see Prof Carlos moving around as much as he did. It was even better to see him show us a move that he's been working on - a move that might be the one that wins him gold at the Pan Ams in a few weeks. It reminded me of what I'm trying to go with the Roger: find a basic and common situation and then plot a course that takes you from exploiting that initial situation all the way to the finish.

Even as I struggled to implement the Roger gameplan in sparring today, for example, it was a real difference to feel as if I was attacking with a complete strategy. There was never an instant of indecision, just plan is working/plan is not working.

Setting up those kind of binary situations, and then being able to move through those "either/or" options as quickly as possible as the edges guide you is the real difference maker. It's what I feel when in the half-guard, for example, when I'm really able to get that 8 o'clock angle. And what I'm starting to see in the finish part of the Roger, where the cross collar choke I've been working for has opened up opportunities instead for Ezekiels and armbars (!).

A little fat for a Friday at 164.2 post-train, everything but the coat. I'll get in some off-mat conditioning tomorrow, maybe try matwork (tm) as a cardiac output/LSD type routine - though I've got a make-up threshold training from Thursday to deal with, as well. I want to move gradually toward a cardiac power/threshold training paradigm for the final four weeks or so heading into the newly-rescheduled Revolution tournament on March 12th.

The biggest challenge over the next month is going to be to spend as much time focusing on my weak areas, especially the ones that have been exposed over and over again in competition (and in training against some of my toughest training partners). In a perfect world, for example, I'd spent the next 20 hours of training (about 2 1/3 weeks training 4x/week) doing nothing but side control escapes and toreano open guard passes, with a little back mount escape drilling and pulling half guard thrown in for good measure. For the final 20 hours, the Roger and my basic half guard could make a reappearance for the final prep, but that first 20 work would remain on the schedule.

If you're not a superstar, this is the only thing that seems like it will work to turn otherwise ordinary ability into extraordinary jiu jitsu. Of course, what's funny is that the superstars all follow this approach, as well - at least at the very top of the art. Roger Gracie talked about it in the interview he did with Jordan Breen of, the idea that effective training is more than just hours on the clock or dates on the calendar. It's about taking specific advantage of the time you have to put in the work you have decided you need to do.

That and even a temporarily-like-minded soul or two trying similarly to navigate this first sphere of Paradiso.

Grip Fighting, Guard Defense and Arm Drags with Kesting

Friday Night Fights: Saulo v. Margarida

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Barata MMA-nia

Friday night seminar at Gracie Barra Seattle, February 18th. $30. More info here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Come for the Barataplata ...

But stay for the great toreano passing, tales from the IBJJF competition circuit and the hour-long open mat that begins right after the seminar. Having trained with Prof. Freitas last year, I can say that $30 for his seminar is a steal.