Monday, 5 December 2016

On The Mat Day 781: Belt Promotions

I trained early Sunday morning and yes, it was god damn freezing in the morning. We are now entering the too-cold-to-train season of Nagoya where you cannot believe that it can get so cold because the summer was so damn hot.

That night we had an end of year party (Bounenkai) which is standard for Japan. Usually we have belt promotions at this time. Although, some do happen throughout the year. Case in point, I was promoted to brown during Summer last year. I think in total there were about 4~5 blue, 2 purple, 1 brown and 1 black. There were probably more but I was so hungry that all I could concentrate on was the Yaki-niku.

吉田先輩、おめでとうございます。これからもよろぴく!
So, Yoshida-san is finally a black belt. I'm very happy for him. I suspected he would be promoted to black as its his 9th year and he took 3 months out and went to Brazil a few years back. I consider him one of the people at the club who makes me want to become more technical.

My images of him at white belt was of him sitting down on top of my foot in Jan/Feb time and breaking my foot while I went for a sloppy single leg wrapped takedown. That broken foot made me more determined to continue BJJ. I had in my mind that if I had broken my foot, I may as well go all the way and train forever. If I stopped training, that break was for nought. I also recall him catching me in my first twister, after which, I jumped up in wonder at "that pro-wrestling" move, as I though it felt at the time.

At blue belt,  his guard was damn near impossible to pass so much so that he gave a lot of trouble for my instructor to pass it at the time. I sat watching in wonder at that. I recall seeing him get looped choked cold during a single leg takedown attempt in a local tournament.

At purple he would use spider guard, x-guard, and deep half-guard a lot at this time. He seemed very technical to me. I think at this time he started the Sunday morning class that I attend to drill and brush up on techniques。I recall him 2nding me at a Marco Barbosa tournament and giving me very good advice so that I won the match.

At brown, he became very relaxed, no longer caring if people would pass his guard or tap him. He would just smile and keep on rolling. However, when he got serious, you knew about it. He could be very sneaky, catching you with a reversal from nowhere. His passing became very good at the start of brown belt I would say as he transitioned from only playing guard to also passing it well. 

At black, well, that remains to be seen...but I congratulate you on your black belt my friend.



Wednesday, 30 November 2016

On The Mat Day 779: Jiu-jitsu is a Lifeline

I work as a freelance translator at home and things have been so busy recently that I find myself working a lot. I can feel the stress building inside like a kettle on the ready to boil over. This week has been crazy, with work coming in leaving me no time to rest. It's at times like this that I appreciate BJJ. I went to class this morning feeling lethargic and over-worked but left feeling refreshed with a buzzing high. I just couldn't live without it. It's my lifeline.

I sparred a few times. My neck is getting better every day. After about 3 rounds I stepped out and hit the squat rack. I'm up to 82.5kg now. Which is probably the most I've ever squatted in my life. I'm impressed by how well the 5x5 stronglift program works. I wish I could apply this to BJJ but I think it's not that simple.

On Saturday I went jogging in the park and felt my calf give out a bit while starting the run. I think I didn't warm up enough because half-way through I had to stop since my calf muscle just felt like it would rip out of my leg if I continued. It's getting cold, which means I really must focus on being warmed up before the run. I plan to give it a week to recover then continue my runs.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

On The Mat Day 776: Running, BJJ and Squats

Beard is coming along
I went jogging through the park again last night. It was pitch black and a bit eerie but I actually enjoy it and it makes me run faster. I'm still using the app - it's really keeping me motivated. Today I trained BJJ and since it was a holiday a lot more people turned up to train. Sparred with some people I haven't seen for a while. I'm currently messing around with leg locks because well...I'm brown belt and that comes with a bigger playing field of techniques I can use or get put on me. Calf slicers, toe holds, kneebars, bicep slicers and such.

After sparring a few rounds I went and busted out 5x5 on the squat rack. I'm at 80 kg now and really enjoying it. Each time I think that I will struggle with the new weight but somehow I still manage to surprise myself.

Tesla barefoot - good for squats
 I bought some new shoes, really cheap, from amazon for squatting, the Tesla Barefoot. Up until now I've been barefoot squatting but I got sick of my feet picking up dust around the squat rack (i.e. nobody uses it) and was also worried about sweat after rolling that may possibly make me slip.The shoes are a minimal type something like a thin soles Vibram without the toes. I did plan on using them for running but they feel too flimsy for that so will use them for squatting only.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

On the Mat Day 775: Running and Squatting

Being so disappointed with my stamina last week and impressed with how useful my 5x5 Stronglifts app has been I decided to use a running app on my android phone to help me go running and build stamina. Do more jiu-jitsu and rolling you say? Wish I could, but I am already maxed out at 3~4 times a week in the mornings and I can't roll often because of my neck. I'm not reducing my bjj to go running, I'm adding jogging to my normal routine.

I chose the 10k running app because it was the first one I came to and it looked sleek on the display.
I've only done 2 days so far but it has been easing me into running and I've had little muscle ache because of this. It starts off with 60 sec running and 90 sec walking for 8 rounds in succession. Eventually after 14 weeks it builds up to a 10k run. I ran last night in the park near my home. It was so dark with nobody about it felt a little spooky to be honest but I liked the feeling of being away from people (something that is hard to get in Japan with its 120k population - half that of the UK).

I'm also up to 80kg on squats now. I have that to do during my next session on Wednesday. I like squats, they make me feel strong and are a great supplement for BJJ. I've been taking creatine when squatting so am now about 75 kg from my normal 73 kg.

Today I trained for 4 hours. Starting at 8AM with drilling. Little bit of sparring with the white (soon to be blue) belts. All 3 are young in their 20s. I'm impressed by how good they are getting and at the same time happy for them. Jiu-jitsu is hard, especially at white belt. I then did Yoga from 10~11AM and was about to put my kit away to go home then said "Fuck it" and did the afternoon lesson from 11~12.30. I sparred for 2 rounds then left shattered. It made me very happy to see people I've not seem for a while and to spar with them.

My neck is a little stiff right now so I have to ice it. It's a constant pain in the arse and is on the verge of fully healing so its a crucial time when I have to be most careful.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

On The Mat Day 772: Low on Stamina

I sparred today, quite hard in fact. Some days it's nice to let the engine go as fast as it can. I can't do this all the time though or that would ruin my body. James's guard is getting harder to pass because he has been working on a counter for each position. I see it like a spider web in my mind of what he does for each pass attempt. I just have to find a counter for each. Today, I simply worked on denying collar grips and putting pressure down. I also tried countering the straight arm framing by stepping around and grabbing the neck collar and coming over to armbar. It would have worked but I lost my balance.

I completely gassed against Kawazoe. He's a young athletic MMA guy. I just wanted to stand up and see if I could take him down. Too hard for me to do right now. I should probably go back to judo soon. He caught me with uchimata from which I quickly did a technical stand up. With a couple of minutes on the clock I was low on stamina and he passed and caught me in an armbar. Without stamina it is hard to think of technique. Stamina is king followed by technique. If you have the technique but a body that can't do as it's told then you will fail. I probably need to run a while to build stamina which was originally my plan. It's getting so cold right now though.

Squatting today was 77.5kg. Very heavy for me but my legs feel very strong. I'm still worried about my knee getting caught at an odd angle when I spar. Neck feels better than I thought consider how hard I sparred today.

Just need to start filling that tank up with gas.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

On the Mat Day 768: Old Man's Game

As I've passed 40 years old I tend to find that I've slowed down and unless I do a hard cardio program for a few months like P90X then I cannot keep up with the young guys at BJJ. I see a lot of the younger men at the club depending on scrambles and quick movements but there is a lot of energy and athleticism required for that type of jiu-jitsu. I love watching it, don't get me wrong but I cannot sustain such a pace for long periods of time.

The more I think about the best old man's game, I tend to come back to certain aspects that are best suited to ensure that I don't get injured and I can continue to spar with younger guys at least for another couple of decades.
These are:

1. A guard based on anything that will keep them off my neck and their weight off me.
   Butterfly guard, X-guard, Knee-shield
   Lots of framing with straight arm and elbows to prevent passes

2. A passing game that is slow with lots of pressure and requires more use of correct body weight and less physical strength or speed.
  Over-under pass
  Stacking passes

3. Takedowns that cannot be countered easily with a throw, no head first takedowns like single/double leg, takedowns used to counter single/double legs and after grip breaks
    Sacrifice throws such as sumi-gaeshi and tomoe-nage
    Pulling down into butterfly sweep
    Collar drag and arm drag

For now, this seems to be the best way for me to do jiu-jitsu to prevent injury and prolong longevity in the sport.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

On the Mat Day 766: Stonglifts 5x5 Effect

So as you know, I've had a bad time with a meniscus tear which meant my knee was quite unstable in the coronal plane. To fix this, I started doing squats based on the stronglifts 5x5 platform. Well what would you know, it went and helped big time! I can now fully squat deep down so my hamstrings touch the back of my knees and calves (the Asian squat as typical performed by women when waiting for trains in Japan). Prior to squatting my knee would pop out of alignment and move into the tear which felt like a dislocation. However, the squats seem to have strengthen my leg muscles in only 3 weeks of training enough to hold the knee firmly in place. I still have a weird feeling when I sit in Seiza though. Another result of squatting has been that I just speed up hills on my bicycle, my legs moving like little pistons. I've come to realize that weight training is something that any grappler should be doing to build armour and prevent injury.

Today at class we had a new guy come in who is a blue belt from a different club but has moved to ours. Quite a strong 25 year old with experience in Shooto and MMA. Good balance, strong physique, nice control with no quick crazy movements. We had a good little spar but I think he was holding back on me since it was the 1st time at our club plus he knew I was recovering from injury. A nice addition to our training during the morning sessions.

I forwent Stronglifts today. My back muscle was tight as hell today when I woke up. I think the tightness of my hamstring is causing me to fold forward too much when squatting and I'm using my back muscles to stabilize, resulting in this pain. I need to stretch and foam roll over it tonight then get back on Stronglifts come Friday.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

On the Mat Day 760: Back to Wednesday Morning Training

I woke up really early this morning, felt really run down, then went back to sleep for about an hour to wake around 9 am. I told myself last night that I would go to class this morning and I did. K-sensei was teaching butterfly guard sweeps. This is something I feel I need to move on to. Butterfly guard is used a lot in MMA to restand or sweep but it's also a good guard for older guys who train straight BJJ because there is little force on the neck and the opponent cannot drive their weight down onto you so easily. I should start working on this guard soon.

In an effort to allow my neck to heal I did not spar and instead went to work on squatting. I started doing Stronglifts 5x5 a week ago to improve my overall strength and strengthen my leg muscles to give more stabilization to my knee. My left meniscus has a tear but there is no pain right now. It is quite weak if I hindu squat deep or sit in seiza and move side to side. However, I can slowly feel that squatting is improving my knee stability.

Currently I am only lifting 57.5 kg on squats. For some reason I messed up how much an olympic bar weights and believing it to be only 10 kg, I though that I was squating 47.5 kg. I'm such an idiot. It's been something like 10 years since I squatted so I am taking it slowly and increasing 2.5 kg each time. My goals are to get strong and injury free/resistant.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

On The Mat Day 753: More Thoughts on Deliberate Practice

I'm slowly getting through the book I've been reading and am gradually getting a picture about the best way to train. I'm sure everyone has asked themselves, how is that guy so good? Is it really just mat time or are there any quicker ways to advance with BJJ?

I ask myself this all the time.

Some more thoughts I've had while reading the book are as follows:

1. Drilling focused on a single aspect of training where my weakness lies will improve my BJJ immensely.
2. This type of drilling needs to be focused, not veer away from the set goal, to the point it becomes almost boring to me. It's no wonder judoka get good at throws because they practice them ad nauseam. BJJ tends to do jump around doing different things while drilling so you only get to do a few repetitions then move on.

3. Feedback from someone better than me is necessary.

With this in mind, during today's drilling all I did was one single technique for the entire hour. I'm not particularly good at passing and since I want to learn how Damian Maia passes, I chose to work on the sequence that goes tripod, isolate one leg, switch to dope mount and then full mount. After this I did some sparring with Yoshida to see how well it worked. There was one outlying problem that came up and it was that I could not switch my hips enough to get my leg to the dope mount finish. I asked him what he thought and he replied that I probably need more pressure with my head into his chin. I also felt my hips weren't heavy enough.

It's true that this training was not fun. That's the way it has to be to get better. I wanted so many times to try other things to make it more interesting but stayed focused on the one technique. I think this is how it has to be from now.

The days of going to train without a clear goal are gone.

Another concept I got from the book is that if you are doing techniques or movements automatically then you are not improving. It went on to give the example of driving a car. When learning to drive you are very focused on the task, which is a sign that you are improving. When you attain an adequate level to get your license and after a few years on the road your body takes over to the point where you can arrive at a destination and have no recollection of the journey there. No improvement took place during that drive.

I'm sure it would be wonderful to have a BJJ level that meant you hardly have to think about what you are doing during the entire roll to beat your opponent but this also means that no improvement is taking place. Your brain is not engaged. If I was to drill techniques that come automatic to me while sparring, I would be wasting my time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

On the Mat Day 751: Deliberate Practice

I've noticed that sleeping with the correct pillow setup has made an improvement to the health of my neck. I got up this morning and it felt great. The muscles are still weak but it seems to be slowly improving. I just need to control myself and not go crazy when sparring. Case in point. After Sunday morning drilling, a few of the guys started sparring and a young white belt kept looking over at me and I knew he wanted to spar. Since there was nobody else to partner with him I obliged. Despite the fact that seconds before I had told myself that I had to not spar to let my neck heal some I went ahead and sparred. Sometimes I think I have no self-control. I hate it. Particularly, when it comes to food.

I went ahead and joined the Yoga class this week. I actually enjoy the discomfort. Yoga is a good compliment to BJJ.

Hamstrings about to explode..arrgh.

I've also been interested in something called Deliberate Practice after starting to read a book called "Talent is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin. I'm only a short way in but the footnotes seem to be:

1. There are no real geniuses or gifted people.
2. Most people are proficient but not amazing at their jobs, even though they may try to come across as being so. There is little difference in say the decision making ability of a new entrant to a company over his boss.
3. There is a practice method that creates efficiency to achieve better goals than average in sport, your job, a hobby (playing the guitar, etc.) - I've yet to reach this in the book

For many years I've been thinking about how to improve BJJ efficiently. I'm starting to come to some conclusions.
1. Drilling is just as important as any other aspect of training if not more
2. A training partner to give feedback is essential
3. Tools are excellent to analyze and improve your skill level (i.e. filming or watching videos, writing out notes or even simply talking about techniques)
4. You do not have to constantly exhaust yourself in training (boxers do not have to slug it out with sparring partners and likewise you do not have to spar constantly at every lesson until you are a bloody mess on the floor, although, it is good to do that now and again)
5. For over 40s, sleep, diet and recuperation are important. You have to listen to those aches in your body and rest accordingly.

I'm still looking into Deliberate Practice and hope to have some more input on this with tangible examples somewhere down the line. Stay tuned.


Monday, 12 September 2016

On the Mat Day 749: Drilling Damian Maia Techniques

I've been really interested in Damian Maia's method of passing as outlined in BJJScout videos. I first started taking notice of Maia when he dismantled Gunnar Nelson who I consider having excellent ji-jitsu as well as the right mindset.

I've pieced together and used bits of Maia's techniques in the past such as the reverse sitting half guard top but I've never really become proficient in attaining the dope mount, which F and K-sensei both use well. I think Maia's system is well worth researching because it obviously works versus a punching opponent so its both good in sports BJJ and self-defence BJJ.

There are some caveats when wearing a gi though. Such as you need to be careful about collar chokes when tripoding during the pass. Seeing this passing system explained has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Most of all, it has made me realize that I need to string techniques together more with prediction for what the opponent will do. The simpler the technique the simpler his reaction and the easier it will be to execute.
Here are the videos below.









I've lost count of how many times I've watched these videos so it's nice to have them here in one place to go through.

There is also an excellent writeup at the link below. It's worthy of being a thesis from a university student. Maybe some day they will have BJJ as a subject to be studied at University as the Korean's do with Judo.

LINK IS HERE

Monday, 5 September 2016

On The Mat Day 747: Drills and Yoga

I woke up for the early drilling lesson this morning that runs for an hour from 8am. I mostly rotated with Ogiyama and Kato-sensei and did bag drills in between. Check out the video below for a great bag drill video from Chewjitsu.



It was great to see familiar faces again and be so welcomed back. It really is like a 2nd family.

Afterwards I joined the yoga class that runs for an hour. I feel it in my hips today. Hopefully, I will keep it up and improve flexibility and attain better posture.

Moon pose for the win!

Friday, 2 September 2016

On The Mat Day 746: I'm Back

After a 4 month hiatus I finally went back to training. To be truthful, I think I could have done with a further 2 months off to let my neck heal more. It feels like it's at the point where it is about to fully heal. The stress of not training is too much for me though plus F-sensei contacted me by Facebook and asked how I was. I was 50-50 about starting back this month before he contacted me. It pushed me over to go back and train.

The last 4 months have been rough. Hot humid summer, which I've had a hard time acclimatizing to since I am not working out. I've had an MRI on my knee and discovered I have a torn meniscus. This means that if I twist the bottom half of my leg it can cause the knee to swivel into the tear which makes it feel like the knee is dislocating. In the future, I may need to get an operation but I am going to see how it goes after starting a squatting regime from now.

I also got an x-ray for my neck. It didn't show any herniation so the doctor presumes it is a musculature problem. He did note that I had some bone spurs on the front side of my neck. He gave me some exercises to do and they help to some extent. I think it is something that may get better if I focus on correct posture more. With that in mind, my club offers a yoga class so I will be joining up. I plan to play a low-key for BJJ for the moment and focus on things that will improve my posture and alignment.

When I decided to go back to BJJ last night (instead of waiting another 1~2 months) it gave me a warm feeling inside. I felt very happy and as soon as that euphoria hit me I knew I had made the right choice.

The journey to the gym has changed with quite a few new buildings having been finished on the way. Japan changes so fast. The dojo also has a new pull up bar rack and now a new shower room! It looks a lot more spacious on the mat too as well since F-sensei has obviously re-arranged a lot of stuff around. It was already a large gym but it is so much better now than when I started there 7 years ago. I am so happy to be back.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Dealing with a knee injury

So it's been a while since I posted. A lot of things have happened since March. For some time I have been plagued with a knee injury. It is probably due to wear and tear over the years. My knee felt quite loose whenever I would spar and I kept re-injuring it. Every time I squatted down low the knee would move out of alignment so that I had to extend my leg to "pop" it back into place again. It felt like a dislocation.

Along with the knee problem I have also had a neck injury for over a year. After each training session I could barely lift my head from the pillow when waking up the next day. The muscles in my neck were so strained. With these two injuries holding me back I just felt my body was falling apart so decided to take a long time off training. In the past, I've only ever taken a few weeks off training and that was when I broke my foot. I decided to take 2 to 3 months off this time to let my body heal. 3 weeks into the recuperation, I believe it was the best decision and I should have done it much sooner.

I've also subscribed to yogaforbjj.com, which I will write a review on later down the line. Suffice it to say that it has really helped my recovery and I stretch almost every night.

Today I went to the hospital that has a reputation as the best knee specialist in Nagoya. My son also has knee problems so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get us both sorted out. The doctor said that I have probably stretched my MCL but no tear. My bones are fine but I will get an MRI next week. My son on the other hand has problems with his meniscus, it is either too large or is impeding the movement of his knee, which prevents him from fully extending his leg. He will probably need an operation.

Each day I feel better in my body and hope to recover fully to resume training as soon as possible. I really miss how stimulating BJJ is and how fun it is to roll around on the floor with another human being!

Friday, 25 March 2016

On the Mat Day 734: Teaching Back Escapes

I really enjoy teaching escapes since we have a lot of white belts at our club right now. It's something I wanted to do more when I first started along with specific sparring so I want to give the new guys more tools to survive.

I had everyone drill RNC, collar choke and armbar from the back just to warm up then I taught some escapes. These were:
1. Look for crossed legs and submit with an ankle lock (more of a reminder about this than an escape)
2. Sliding down escape (listed in BJJ University page 53)
3. Double hand (like holding a baseball bat) grip on one arm before they get a grip and lock it then hip switch out. (see video below)
4. Brandon Mullins escape where he walks and switches his hips to either come to side or stay in half-guard.



After this I did 10 mins of specific sparring split into 5 rounds. I like this part the best and think it is a good pre-cursor to all-out sparring.


I'm currently nursing an MCL injury and still have neck issues. It seems to be getting better slowly. I am pondering whether to enter the Dumau tournament in May. It's been a whole year since I competed. I've also been trying to eat differently. For a long time I have known about Mark Sissons and his Primal Blueprint but about a month and a half ago I started to incorporate more fat into my diet and drop sugars. Of course there are bad days where I weaken but that generally doesn't get too crazy then I get right back onto eating fats. I eat things like avocado, macadamia nuts, walnuts, camembert cheese, coconut oil, lard, coconut milk and very rarely eat bread and milk. This has made a large impact on my feeling of fullness after eating and I don't really get any carb crashes where I have no energy and want to sleep (this does happen sometimes but it has more to do with having 3 kids). I started at 73.4 kg and today I weighed myself at 71.5 kg. My weight actually went to 70.9kg after training BJJ one day last week. The way of eating (I hate the word Diet) seems like a good way to slowly and safely lose weight. I would ideally like to get to 68 kg for the pena weight category.  

Friday, 26 February 2016

BJJ Day 724: Side Escapes and Attacks

I have a confession. I am not very good at escaping side mount. Instead I rely on not getting side mounted by using good guard work and turtling when needed. There are still times when I get crushed though but those are not as frequent as when I was just starting. Oh that was a hell of a time back as a white belt, suffering under someone's side control. With that in mind I taught this lesson unsure how it would go and whether I would be able to do an effective job of teaching it.
This is what I taught:

Drills:Side mount prevention
1. Opp throws legs to side of person on bottom who frames, shrimps then re-guards.
2. Opp again throws legs, but there is little room to re-guard, person on bottom underhook escapes.
3. Same scenario, guarder frames and person moves their arm over top to which guarder responds by pushing the arm and moving out the back door (Marcelo Garcia escape)

For a great video on drills, see below. These were very helpful for my class.



2 Escapes:
1. Ghost escape (which is my go to escape, particularly versus half-guard head-down passing)
2. Underhook escape

2 Attacks
1. Far side lapel sling to kimura
2. Far side lapel sling to ezekiel choke

We then did 10 minutes of specific sparring in side control.

I don't know about the people who attended but I enjoyed the class. More and more I feel like I get more out of teaching than maybe the students do. Everything seems to click better in my mind. All the techniques I had that were swimming around inside my brain are now being compartmentalized.

Last week I sprained my MCL. It's an old injury come back to haunt me. I have to be very easy with it so am trying deep half guard which I am terrible at, because it allows me to keep my legs away from the opponent and not get twisted akwardly, thereby further damaging my MCL. Injuries suck so much.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

BJJ Day 718: Sensitivity

Big class Friday - my teaching is still a work in progress
I keep thinking about BJJ a lot recently now that I have to teach it. Particularly what white belts need to learn so they don't have to go through some of the rough patches I went through. After much pondering I simply don't think there are any short cuts. However, there are a few things you can do to accelerate your learning. You can do drill work but it must be geared in such a fashion that it is exactly what you need to be working on. In the past I've tried to drill techniques I will probably never use and went away from the session feeling like I wasted my time. Here is what I think you should prepare for a drilling session.

1. Take notes on every position in which your situation worsened during regular sparring for a set period of time (a week or month depending on how often you train).
For example, you could not escape side mount, your single/double leg tackles are always getting stuffed, you are being passed easily by the bullfighter pass, etc, etc. The list can go on.
2. Give priority to the ones that happen the most or you are frustrated with.
3. Drill the position for a month then have a trusted partner do positional sparring with you slowly increasing the pressure.
4. Doing the same technique over and over again will get boring so associated 10% of the drilling session to techniques that you feel are "cool" or want to maybe develop but are probably low percentage for your body type or persona. i.e. In my case this would be flying armbars, berimbolo, imanari roll.

Don't just turn up at a drilling session without a plan and then follow what everyone else is doing or just think "Hey, x-guard is cool. Let me try some of that." Work on what you need but above all make it simple.

Drilling will help in the long run. I know it works because I've seen how judo is trained over here in Japan. The most important thing I believe, however, is sensitivity. If you want to improve a certain position then you have to jump right into it every round of sparring. Say you are working on spider lasso guard, get into the position each time and react to your opponent's movement. There will be times that you fail and he will pass but you must analyze it (don't forget to ask your rolling partner) so that next time you register that moving that way or going down that path will lead him to passing you. Chose a different option at that point and see how it works out. Sensitivity is about feeling. It's about knowing what will happen before it does. It's like having spider senses because you have been in that position so many times. This can't be taught to white belts, they simply have to go through their dues and experience it.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

BJJ Day 717: Aching Knee

This week has been really cold but it feels like we are finally getting into spring. The thing is, my body seems to hurt more during this season and after Friday's lesson I felt my knee begin to stiffen up along the inside tendon. There was nothing that comes to mind during the class that hurt me so I've put it down to some freak twisting action that I never noticed while my body was warm. The worst injuries generally happen for the most mundane reasons. It's hard for me to bend right now so I was considering taking it easy and not training today but eventually went off to the dojo. James also contacted me to say he was injured. Weakness in the arm from weird nerve pain or something.

I still plan to teach mount escapes/attacks on Friday focusing on chokes this time and lower percentage escapes but something that may be useful. I'm trying to emphasize techniques that would have helped me as a white belt. Soon I will have to teach the dreaded side control escapes so not sure how that will go down as it has never been my strength. It should be a good opportunity for me to research it more though.

Friday, 29 January 2016

BJJ Day 712: Teaching Turtle

I'm continuing to add warm up drills that I think are important as fundamental for the turtle guard or when you are turtled in a transition from an escape. These were:

1. Granby roll when the opponent has not completed the seat belt clinch on you
2. Switching as in wrestling when the opponent is in front of you on top and you are turtled
3. Rolling over the opponent using the most basic turtle roll when the opponent has the seatbet clinch on you and it is tight.

Gaining sensitivity and timing in these 3 techniques will help you get out of trouble fast when turtled.

For techniques I taught 2 sweeps and 2 attacks.
The attacks were the clock choke and crucifix armbar from top.
The sweeps/escapes were grabbing the pants and turning into closed guard/butterfly guard and also the full roll over sweep when the opponent has the collar and going for a collar choke.

I ended the class with 10 minutes of 2 minute rounds with one person turtled and the other on top so we could practice some of the techniques shown. It was basically specific sparring to give everyone a chance versus a resisting opponent. I find it best if this is not done at 100% strength but allowing the opponent to get a good position and test for any holes.

James was at the class today and 2 white belts so it was a big help to have him branch off and work with one of them. I think it is always important to have a coloured belt paired with a white belt to give them pointers. I also really enjoy the specific sparring and taking the emphasis off rolling to win and placing it on rolling to work technique and also help your partner. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

BJJ Day 710: Teaching Turtle Attack and Defence

Turtle defence and the attacks is something I've wanted to get to grips with myself. With that in mind I decided to teach this aspect of BJJ for the next 2 sessions. I've always loved how Telles innovated the turtle guard and wanted to emulate some of his skill. I've also wanted for a long time to improve my crucifix. My preparation to teach these has really made me break down the techniques and both understand and memorize them much better.

At the beginning of the class I did a warmup drill with a standing passer simply throwing the legs of the person in guard to one side. The guarder turtles then does a Granby roll to return to open guard. I think the Granby roll is an important technique for any guard player to learn and it should be drilled as often as possible. I then moved on mixing attacks using the clock choke and crucifix and showed reversals using the trap and roll variations as well as reguarding. I think it's important to show both aspects of the technique you are studying. Finally, after the techniques I set the timer to 2 minutes and had one person turtle while the other attacked. We had to use the techniques covered but not go full out 100% strength. Instead help each other but give some resistance. I think this is super important to solidify the techniques covered in class.