Thursday, May 26, 2011

discovery and transformation

Oh yes, Roy Dean doesn't just make excellent videos, he writes so much good stuff, too. He just wrote a piece on the meaning of "Discovery who you are", which is the guiding theme throughout all his videos. Read and enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

evil armbars and upside down triangles

I ended up only training three times last week. The knee took it well. But on Saturday, I couldn't make it anyway. I had to stay home because the horse-dentist came. He did six of our horses. Nice guy, and finally a guy who knows what he's doing. A real horseman (they are getting rarer these days, I swear!).

Anyway, it was probably be good to take it steady last week. This week, I've been training every day. The easy week has given my body a chance to recover a bit. Yes, I think I had been overdoing it recently... Sigh. So the question is whether the knee was a result of overtraining or unrelated. Anyway, it made me ease off a bit and I feel better for it all around. And finally by tonight, I didn't even think about the knee.

It's been an interesting week. On Monday, we did cutting armbars. I think I might have finally understood what makes them work. So far, I can only say I've got close. But now I know why I couldn't finish them off, and I think they'll make a handy addition to my arsenal. We looked at cutting armbars from guard and from side control. Whichever starting position, the key to it is to pin his upper arm against me, get a gable grip and slide that along until I get to the sweet spot near his elbow. Ideally, I will rotate his arm while I do that, just with the pressure of my gable grip. And if all goes well, his lower arm and hand will be lined up perfectly between my neck and shoulder. But the main part is the starting pressure. At the end of drilling and experimenting with it, I really could feel that pressure.

Tuesday night was no-gi. First time back since "the knee", so I was hoping to get a training partner with a degree of ahem... sense. I got lucky. Small class, uneven numbers, so I scored John as the drilling partner. We did a little bit of warming up getting x-guard. Then we drilled an open guard pass to knee on belly. As he hips out and rolls towards me to escape the knee, I step over his head and spin my legs back to get behind him. I need to get an underhook on his top arm from the rear. Then I sit up, rock back and take his back. The latter part is exactly how Ryan Hall describes a version of a back take. So it was great to be able to rep that out a few times.

We finished that class with about 20 minutes of rolling. I stayed with John. I was still very mindful of my knee (and so was he), so it was pretty light. But still, it was interesting stuff (most of which finished with my "destruction"). But the good part was that my hips were working and I managed some good escapes. Even got positions to launch a some submissions. I didn't stay for extra open mat, but it was a really good night.

John also showed me how to finish a weird upside down triangle, which I sometimes get, but could never finish. I tried to pull it on him, but failed yet again. Now that I know the finish, I think I might be doing some good with it. I catch people from bottom side control with this :-)

Yesterday's lunchtime class was very small: just myself. So Sensei Glenn decided that I should be his guinea pig for some new stuff he's been working on. And the other half of the class was mine. My choice was to work on the armbar from hell. I have been getting the high guard, with one knee over my opponent's shoulder, quite regularly. From there, I hunt for that armbar. But something was missing and I couldn't figure it out, so I've been going for a sweep, or a cutting armbar instead. Or sometimes I let them push their shoulder through, but keep their arm across, and then take the back.

However, after seeing what I've been doing, Glenn made a couple of suggestions. One was to square my hips back up. Hard to explain, but I know how it should feel. That gives me a much better angle for the armbar. Second suggestion was to have a much better grip on the arm. Even hold it with both my hands instead of using my left hand to push on his head to get my leg over. After some back and forth, and my usual non-faith in my own abilities and him giving me a bollocking for not even trying, I got the hang of it. And he was right, I do not need to let go of the arm, all I need is correct hip alignment and the will to do it. He let me drill it then, against increasing resistance. And at long last, it looks like I've nailed that technique..

He then reminded me how close to that are the related triangle and omoplata, depending on how one of my "victims" reacts. :-) Hehe.

We rolled for a bit after that. I got figure foured a few times. No surprise there, it's his favourite technique. But I defended a couple of those and somewhere along the lines, I threatened one of his arms, another time I regained guard and started going for the high guard. And as he said after: he didn't want to be there, that's now dangerous territory. He gave me some other valuable feedback. So all in all, a great session.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

BJJ and age

Cane Prevost has posted a great piece called The Gift of Age on his blog The Gentle Art.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

knee is behaving

After giving myself a break on Monday and Tuesday, I went back to training today. The knee is feeling pretty good. No soreness, no swelling.

Warmup went well, but there was one move where I could feel a slight instability, so I gave that a miss. Otherwise, all good.

We worked on the "holy trinity" of closed guard attacks: triangle, omoplata and armbar. Yeah! I think I've finally figured out why I have so much trouble with armbars from guard. Some of my transitions from one to the other are smoother now, I guess that's all part of my hip-brain connection :-)

Afterwards, we did a bit of rolling. I had Danny as partner. He's lighter than I am and very controlled in how he rolls. He felt guilty, as it was he who I rolled with on Saturday when my knee went. I assured him it wasn't his fault, but I did ask to go reasonably light. That we did, and he was very considerate to my leg. He let stuff go and so did I, but we both did some really good technical stuff. At the end, when I was getting his back for the third time, and the class was nearly out, I threatened to choke him with my belt, which had come undone :-) Sadly, it was time out. It was BJJ how it should be: good flow, minimum strength application, and all around great fun for both of us.

It was great to be back. My knee feels fantastic and I'll be rolling again tomorrow!

my hips are joined to my brain

No, my brain and hips aren't directly physically joined. :-)

But I made an interesting observation in class the other day. It was a repeat of the same thing happening under slightly different circumstances the week before. Only it didn't strike me the first time.

We were doing something which involved step one (do X), then step 2:  hip out, then step three: something else etc. I found that I automatically did the hip out step while I did step one. It was like my hips were on autopilot, and knew where they had to be for the next move. I can't recall what we did, but I remember that it was a known patten. So knowing where I needed to be, I automatically lined up for the next move in the progression. Step 2, the hipping out, happened without conscious thought.

The week before, we did some X-guard entries in our no-gi class. The guy I drilled the moves with is fairly new. He's young and strong (plays footy), and found all the moves no particular challenge. However, he had to make a deliberate effort to add in the hipping out step, which was critical to being lined up properly. I had trouble getting my old achy body doing some of the moves, BUT I automatically did the hipping out as part of the move before, because I/my body KNEW where it had to be to do the next move.

I only realised the significance of that on Saturday, when it happened the second time (well, the second time I took notice of it).

I have recently made a special effort to use my hips more, especially in escapes. As a result, I've noticed that when we drill hip escapes, they are becoming more powerful and more effortless. And concurrently, I have more luck regaining guard. That makes sense. Most intesting though is what I'm calling the brain-hip connection. My brain is starting to be on autopilot when I move, telling the hips to do their stuff. The result of that is more efficient movement and more "spare" brainpower to deal with other grappling problems.

Is that progress or what??  :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blue =/= the blues, but the knee clonked

My training is going ok. I've had lots of awesome sessions. And I've had a few where I feel like handing my blue belt back over... Yes, yes, I kow that's a common enough thing.

I had a chat about it all with Sensei the other day. It was a talk about expectations, dealing with frustration, being too hard on oneself and learning ways to put negative thoughts aside in favour of positive thoughts.

I suppose that part of the problem is my general work/uni workload at the moment. I just feel a bit worn out. I've been cutting back a touch on my training. Believe it or not, sitting in front of a computer or in a lecture theatre all day, can be physically as well as mentally draining. Some nights, I just want to get home. Oh, and there is such a lot of assignment work due that I really can't be training every night (as I would like to) anyway.  So, I suppose my overall stress levels are affecting my rolling :-(

Certainly though, rolling is stil the best way to get balance back into my life. Without BJJ, I'd go insane!

I think I just need to get it into my thick skull that there are NO pressures to perform "well" (whatever that is) on the mat. It can be my recreation, my stress release, my pure enjoyment. So why do I have such problems to just let go and enjoy? Why do I have to keep on stressing myself by expecting to be "good" or "better" (whatever level that might be..)? I got to the point where I felt embarrassed when they guys said (jokingly or seriously) that they are respect my grappling skills. I need to just be happy about that. And I need to accept without argument when a higher belt tells me I did something well.

I need to go back to just rolling for fun and tap to every damn white belt who sets foot on the mat. Really.

I hope that I've finally figured it, and the talk the other day did help in that respect. And hopefully, I'll get over the blues. I need not feel weighed down by my blue belt, it wasn't given to me to beat myself up with it.

But all is not lost, I had a couple of terrific rolls, too. Including some with Sensei (first one in ages). Sure I had to tap, but I made him work a bit. And as he said after: he got the white belts with his newer techniques. To get me, he had to resort to his old bread and butter stuff. And I sure don't feel bad about getting tapped by a brown belt with his "good" techniques.

Still, the week did bite me in the butt in the end. During a pretty laid back roll on Saturday, I tweaked my right knee. It suddenly said "clonk!" quite loudly. My partner stopped, I stopped, we looked at each other and then disentangled. I carefully moved it but it felt ok and was fine for the rest of the roll. I was slightly puffy and stiff the following day. I used the usual ice/iboprofen/rest/horse liniment strategy over the weekend. I can report that it feels pretty good now. Gave training a miss last night and tonight, just to be on the safe side, but I think I can go and roll tomorrow. Maybe I'll stick on a knee brace. At least that will remind me to be careful with it...