Thursday, December 30, 2010

missing the mats


I'm missing training. It's been over a week and I desperately need a BJJ fix ;-)

I've cleaned and rearranged my mini gym. And yes, I've used it, too. Not as much as I should. But I've always found it hard to motivate myself (when I'm by myself). But at least I managed two decent work outs and aside from that, the place is clean and orderly so it's more inviting to do more.

Last night I did tabata intervals: burpees, sqats, mountain climbers, pushups etc. Only 16 minutes' worth, but by golly that got me nice and warm.

Oh yeah, and I have been doing joint mobility exercises every day, and a bit of stretching every few days. I've also been reading up more about it and am coming to the conclusion that stretching before training isn't such a good idea. On the other hand, this joint mobility stuff seems to be working and I'm trying to learn more about it.

I received my belated xmas present in the mail today: Ryan Hall - Back Attacks. So I guess I'll take the hot afternoon as an excuse to sit down and start watching some of it.

I'll let you know what I think of it :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas!!

I always do an E-Xmas card with horses. It's always a picture of a mare and a foal that was born in that year.

As I have absolutely no interesting BJJ pictures to play with, you will have to cope with a horse picture :-)

I hope you have a great Christmas, lovely holidays and the most fabulous new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

pre-holiday roundup

It was the last week before the holidays, and a shorter week than normal. The school is closed until the second Monday in January. Hm, I miss it already... But there are plans to get together for a bit of wresting and cardio work before then!

Monday night's class was about rubber guard stuff. It was mainly a revision of what we went over so far and a chance for everyone to get a few more reps in, particularly the transitions between the positions.

We also learned a new attack. Well, one that I hadn't seen. Please don't ask me for the name of this.... But essentially it's a triangle from New York. Nice and easy. All I need is to get him to post the arm to the floor on the side where I have my foot on his hip. I grab the wrist, adjust my hip and thread my foot over his arm. Then the leg goes on his shoulder and with a few grip adjustments and getting a cut across the back of his neck with my lower leg... triangle. Beautiful.

We did a little bit of wrestling and I did pull off a triangle from that setup.

Wednesday was our last class for the year. After a tabata warmup we were shown and drilled a couple of techniques and had rolls inbetween.

We did the hooks in (butterfly) guard to x-guard transition and one of the sweeps from there. We also did a double leg takedown with a leg trip.

Rolling was just plain good fun. I had one of the newer white belts for a bit. I did my best to tread that fine line between attacking him and working my game and letting him have some fun, too. It's kind of weird to tell someone what he could try to counter what I'm doing. A bit like playing chess against yourself :-) And of course it gives me the chance to work my escapes after I've allowed him him get into a dominant position.

I had to work much harder with one of the purple belts. I spent most of the time defending there :-) However, I managed a couple of sweeps, one from halfguard where miraculously I ended up in high mount. When my brain registered that I had a leg over one of his arms, I converted that to a mounted triangle. Bingo! I have no idea how that sweep worked. All I remember is the feeling of moving well, pausing because I was surprised and then recognising the opportunity. And the triangle was tight, he told me. After that, I was paid back handsomely with figure fours and armbars. Good times!

A couple of things are happening. Firstly, I am starting to get sweeps. No specific ones, but all sorts from all sorts of places. I had all but given up on sweeps, because I just couldn't make them work like 99% of the time. I'm not sure if it's a result of moving my hips better, allowing me to get under people, or because I can feel opportunities and make the necessary adjustments. Probably all of the above. It is as though a whole bunch of little puzzle pieces are suddenly fitting together and I'm starting to get the bigger picture.

The same is the case with recognising submissions. Oh, there are still loads of times when I'm in a good spot and I go: ah, what was the xyz sub from here, which arm/leg does what, doh?? BUT. Increasingly, I get to some position, or rather, I'm in the process of getting to that position when an attack pops into my head and my hands and legs seem to know what to do.

Revisiting techniques: I've found so often lately that things which didn't work for me in the past suddenly make sense now. Make sense and actually work for me. So I did know the puzzle pieces, but they didn't make sense to me, or I couln't fit them into the section of the whole picture I was working on. The other thing about revisiting techniques is that even if I was already successfully using that technique, I'm discovering ways to make it work better, tighter, faster. Or hit it from a different position, or help me see a related technique.

I suppose it's all part of a natural progression. As a result I'm moving more efficiently and I have more time to think and react. That in turn means I'm no longer just defending and getting a seeing to. Goodness knows, that stage lasted long enough for me! And obviously I still get nailed regularly, even by bigger white belts. But I'm spending a lot more time working attacks and giving others a hard time :-). That translates to much more fun.

My next goal is to start stringing techniques together. To use one attack to elicit a specific response which is the setup for my next technique. So far I'm merely reacting to my opponents moves. I certainly can go from one attack to another depending on his defence, but I am not yet chaining things together or setting traps.

I'm still relying on closed guard too much. On the one hand, I have good attacks from there, so it's my main game. On the other hand, I really, really want to be a better open guard player so that I have more options.

What I am pleased about is that I have good defence and a number of escapes from every bad position. So I'm not too scared to experiment, because if I fail, I know I have a good chance to recover from the inferior position I'll land in. What I'm less pleased about is that my top game is still pretty underdeveloped. But that's starting to improve, too.

So I have loads of things to work on next year. I intend to 1. have a load of fun, 2. get better and 3. compete again and do well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A modelling career? Fail!

... because I manage to look silly, no matter what. That's why!


Despite knowing I'd produce a bunch of dorkish looking pictures of myself, I was brave and faced the camera today to bring you pictures of my latest three gi acquisitions. I try to keep my belt tied in the cool zone (definition here), but I have a high dork factor nonetheless :-) I must be just a natural.

I've been meaning to put up photos of the Shoyoroll and the RDA gis for some time, but I've been too busy. However, I just received my Tatami Zero G gi, so now there are three I owe you info about. The SYR and the RDA have been washed and worn several times. The TZG has had one wash to get the shrinking happening, and I have not yet had opportunity to roll in it. I'll get back to you about it's performance on the mat.

All three gis are A2. For reference, I'm 172cm tall and weigh in at 66kg (if you can't think in metric units, you'll have to convert that yourself :-) ). I'm really almost between sizes and roll happily in A3 Atama and Fuji Kassen gis. But I bought these three gis in A3, based on the size charts supplied.

So here - in order of when I bought the gis - are some photos and comments:

1. Blue Shoyoroll Superlite Batch 6

The sleeves in this gi were so long that I had to shorten them. I did this by turning them over to the inside and running the sewing machine along the edge. This was meant to be temporary to see if I liked the length, but it's been like that for some time now and is working well.

The pants have a thick draw cord which is very easy to fasten. About six loops ensure that it stays in place around the front. What I don't like about the pants is that the doubled area ends too far up. Basically, by the time I kneel down, the bottom seam of the reinforced area (which is jacket weave material) is right under my knee. It's never rubbed me but it seems pointless to have a reinforced front if it ends above where most of the wear will happen on the knee!

The jacket is a wee bit loose, especially under the arms. But it's nice and light and I feel fine when drilling or rolling in it. The collar is just the right thickness for my liking.

The gi looks nice, the embroidered patches are small. A friend who saw me in in the other day said it looks "sharp". I agree.

2. Roy Dean "Honor" Gi

This gi appealed to me primarily because of the embroidery. The top seems to be single weave material which is fairly light. The collar is quite thick and stiffer than the other two gis.

There was significant shrinkage of the whole top, and especially the sleeves. I would doubt that it is competition legal for me. It fits pretty snugly and I'm very happy with the rest of the fit.

The pants are from a thicker cotton material than the other two gis and are nicely finished with plenty of reinforcement. The embroidery down the leg looks fantastic. The RDA logo on the back of the leg is very nicely done. As there is no lettering on it, there is no problem wearing this gi at another school, as far as I'm concerned. The pants have a cloth tie, which makes it more difficult to adjust than the other pants, but the brown tie looks very spiffy together with the brown stitching of the whole uniform.

I've had several nice comments about this gi. I would have preferred a pearl type of weave for the top, and a bit less shrinkage. All in all I'm pretty happy with it.

3. Tatami Fightwear Zero G 

I bought the Zero G because I wanted another lightweight gi. It gets pretty hot down here, and we don't always do no-gi in summer! I was offered this gi at a discounted price and because I had read promising reviews by Slideyfoot and Meerkatsu, I decided to give it a go.

As I said, I haven't rolled in it yet, so I can't comment about usability/user friendliness. It has only had one single wash at 30 degrees C, so there may be a little more shinkage to come. Here are my first impressions:

The top is similar in cut and material to the SYR, but it's a bit more snug under the armpits. The sleeves did shrink a bit but are still on the long side. I will know after another couple of washes if I need to shorten them. The collar thickness is very similar to the SYR. There is a significant difference though in how wide the collar is at the back of the neck. When I lay the gi down flat, it has a narrower neck opening than the others. I can feel this when I wear it, too. It is more tight around the  back of the neck. I have a reasonably skinny neck so I can't see that being an issue. Time on the mat will tell which style I prefer. I like the cut of the jacket and I think it looks really nice.

All part of the gi are have clean and tidy stitching and there is decent reinforcement everywhere. I like the blue patches on the shoulders and on the pant legs. The patch on the bum however - it's coming off. Don't like!

The pants are made of an even lighter material than the SYR pants. It seems a very tight weave though. The front reinforcement could come down a bit further below the knees, but it's better than in the SYR. The draw string cord is easy to adjust and I really like it, but a couple more loops at the front would have been better (there are only two near the front). The pants did shrink a fair bit, too. In hindsight, I would have been better off with A3 pants, but then I don't know how bulky they would have been. I also don't know if it's possible to buy mixed sizes. Aside from the length, the fit of the pants is good.

If there is interest, I can post exact measurements. But if you go to Meerkatsu's blog, you will find measurements of both the RDA and the TZG in size A2. Nobody does better or more throrough reviews than the Meerkat!!

All three gis are a bit of a rarity in Australia. I've seen a couple of Shoyoroll gis around, if only white ones. I have spotted one Tatami gi (not a Zero G) and never any RDA ones. The postage on all three gis was similar and significantly added to the cost of the gi. I purchased the SYR and the RDA from BudoVideos in the US. The Zero G was purchased from Tatami Fightwear in the UK.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Japanese necktie

We had John Campbell as guest instructor last night. Theme of the night: Japanese necktie.

We were shown and then drilled the technique from several setups including half guard top, lockdown top or turtle top. I like the last the best, giving me the best choke.

To see what the technique looks like, check this out:

After the technique part of the class, we did five minute rounds from standing, followed by:
50 knee ups
10 burpees
10 pushups
10 squats
1 minute rest

Then we did that twice more. I was wrecked by a white belt who has more than 30 kgs on me, but I didn't get squished continuously for a change. I managed some reasonable escapes and after getting caught in a straight armbar, he couldn't get anything else. I consider that a success :-)

Second round was with a purple belt. He set me up and although I knew he was going for the JNT, I couldn't stop him. We went again and I found means and ways to avoid the choke. I certainly started being very wary of using an underhook! But I found that if I blocked him from getting the second arm in, I could eventually limp arm out of his setup. From then on, I defended it well. I also moved around quite well, so he didn't have it all his way. I didn't do anything fancy from the standing start. I didn't even try for a takedown, because my entries are slow and I don't like being sprawled on. Also, he got me in a clinch. But I did have success in getting half guard straight away when we went down. So all in all, I was quite happy.

Third round was with another purple belt. Again, nothing fancy from the standing start. It was more of a race to see who'd pull guard first. I had his back at one point but couldn't get the choke. He turned and I had him in full guard, going straight for high guard towards the armbar I like. Nearly got it but lost his shoulder. Then I think he passed and we were into his game. Underhook to armbar. We went again. He shot in for the double but there was a neck sticking out, so I choked him as I got full guard. Then we went again, starting with guard pulling. At some stage an opportunity presented itself and I went for the JNT. Had to fight for it a bit, but I did manage to finish it. Yeah!

We were pleasantly tired and glowing at the end of the session.

John answered a few questions about particular issues people were having. I was particularly interested in hearing his comments about head control when someone is in your half guard and they are hugging you low with a view to breaking your lockdown or passing your half guard.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the joys of the holiday season

I'm sitting here bitching and grizzling that there is no open mat tonight :-(


Yesterday, we had a fairly small class, only six guys turned up. I guess it's just the time of year, people have other stuff to do as they hurry about fitting in everything they need to fit in before xmas....

And seeing I was the only coloured belt on the floor, the job to take the class fell to me. That was easy, I gave them the choice of going through headlock escapes or going over some rubber guard basics again. Two of them had missed the last couple of classes, and the others wanted more reps, so that's what we did.

Aside from that, I made them wrestle. Calmly, lots of moving, no busting guts. Flow boys, flow! Even the less fit ones could keep up at that speed and energy output and all seemed happy. I did remind them that nothing stops them from rolling like that more often!

Didn't get to roll much myself as I was busy keeping an eye on things.

what better way to spend your birthday?


We had a huge class, including some guys who haven't been in a lot lately.

We did a tabata style warmup with burpees, mountain climbers, pushups, situps and squats. Haha, there was a bit of blowing and panting, and they boys sure looked warm ;-)

We were shown and then drilled a half guard escape which also works when someone has lockdown. Ideally, we want underhooks, then we wriggle down until we can manage a gable grip around the thighs. This pins the knees together. Our head needs to be firmly against his belly so there is no chance of chokes. Also, this helps pin the hips down. Lastly, we mule kick back/up with the trapped leg. This will pop the half guard open. If they have lockdown, it works, too. It's vastly more painful for the person holding lockdown... So much so, that if I have lockdown and I feel them going for this escape, I tend to unlock...

We did some wrestling then, but starting from specific positions, ie: half guard or with instructions to keep going without holding positions for more than 3 seconds. A few rounds of that...

Then we practiced the hip bump sweep, and where that fails because they brace, the kimura from guard. For this, I scored the biggest guy in class. Terrific. It's like smashing your hip into a tree :-) However, he did point out a way to improve my technique, and after that at least I could budge him.

At the end of class, we all had a very short round each with one of the guys who is getting close to blue belt. It was quite funny, as we tagged each other going in, and some changeovers were quite nifty.


It was my birthday and I decided I needed to spend at least part of the day doing my favourite thing. So I caught a lift with a fellow bluebelt to Geelong.

John Will was back from one of his many overseas trips and took the advanced class. He had some visitors from the UK and one from South Africa. But he still took the time to welcome the country cousins ;-) I had a chance to drill and roll with one of the guys from the UK. I didn't catch his name, but he's a nice guy and was a great partner.

Theme of the night was X-guard. First, an entry from standing. Then an entry from hooks in guard. That's one of those techniques where every arm and leg has to do something totally different. Not easy, but once the body 'knows' which way to turn, which leg to kick up and which leg provides the hook that lifts the leg, it starts working.

I've had one previous exposure to X-guard many months ago and must admit I couldn't make head or tail of it. I guess I wasn't ready at the time. This time, it made sense. We did lots of reps to get the movement pattern established. Thanks to John's excellent breakdown of the techniques and subsequent corrections where needed, it wasn't too difficult.

The next thing were two sweeps from X-guard. The first one involved grabbing the near arm (the one closer to my head) and shoving it down. Then I raise my legs and sweep my partner over the near shoulder, where I've removed the post, towards my shoulder. I then have to follow and end up sort of sitting on his leg. I think that in practise, it would depend a lot on which direction they end up rolling in, which is a bit hard to control. And then it may end up in a bit of a scramble. I may well end up back in guard actually, making this sweep a bit low percentage in my eyes.

The other sweep works by grabbing their far arm and pulling it towards our head and then it's more of a push with the legs. As we follow over, we keep hold of the leg which was on our shoulder and we keep hold of the arm. And we land in: knee ride. This sweep felt easy and it flowed, so this would be the one of choice for me. In reality, I suppose it would depend of whether I can grab hold of that far arm.

At the end of the class we did a few reps of a standing guard pass.

And, as always, there was plenty of chance for rolling. John reminded us that we should at least try to have a go at the new stuff, to see if it might be something to fit into our games. I didn't set the world on fire with submissions, but I had good solid rolls and managed several sweeps. However, I felt was was using closed guard too much. Funny, how I revert back to that in no-gi. I have been making a big effort to use more open guard, but I find it a lot easier when I can control people's sleeve. No gi = no sleeves :-) Oh well, something to work on more. But at least I didn't sit still when I had guard, I tried stuff. Even if opening up meant I'd get passed. And when I was passed, I managed a variety of side control escapes and for that I was happy indeed. One of the purple belts pointed out some useful stuff in relation to holding mount, which is one of my very weak areas. What he said will help for sure!

Then it was time for the intermediate class. As usual, the white belts came in and warmed up with rolling. I had a few good rolls and caused people a fair bit of trouble :-)

The class was about headlock escapes. Including the one I really suck at.... I said to the guy I was drilling it with: I suck at this and I'm glad that we're working on it, so I can get better at it. He looked at me and then said: well, that's a good attitude! Haha, yeah. I suppose I have two choices: I can give up on a technique which means it will definitely, positively never work for me. Or I can keep at it and welcome every opportunity to work on it, until I get it right. I think the latter idea is better.

And actually, for the first time, I pulled off that escape with a degree of success without having to use every ounce of strengty. I know now what I've been doing wrong. The escape is the one where I can't get my trapped arm's elbow to the mat. So I've hugged my opponent and have a grip around his middle. I walk into him and bridge, bridge again and if need be again so I can get my bottom hip under him. Then I bridge and rock back over my shoulders to sweep him towards my top shoulder. The imaginary line has to be between my shoulder and my head. In the past, I've tried to heave him across me to my left, which didn't work.

So we practiced that escape and two other ones, where I can suck my elbow back in. I certainly could do with extra practice on those as well :-)

It was pretty warm, not to mention humid, and it was a hot sticky evening for everyone on the mat. I was thoroughly tired when we were finished. But what a way to spend a birthday!

Oh, and it happened to be the day when my new Zero-G gi arrived from the UK. It looks very smart and I hope to be able to try it out soon. Then I'll report back!

Monday, December 13, 2010

assorted interesting stuff

Another fantastic belt demonstration from RDA

Ah, nothing like a Sunday morning fix by watching yet another fantastic purple belt demonstration by one of Roy Dean's students. These guys are all so fluent!! THAT's what I want to be like. Yeah!

Brian Sortor shows some great combinations. They are so smooth, so a few times I stopped and stepped through to figure out how he actually did things. There are a couple of techniques I'll definitely try, as they fit in with my own game.

Colds, flus and time off

It's only a couple of weeks since I had a cold and needed to take some time off from training. As one who hates missing training, I'm always torn between giving myself enough time off and getting back into it. I'm getting wiser, but I probably still rush too much. For some thoughts on the same matter by someone who is as fanatic about cycling as I am about BJJ, read this insight on Grit & Glimmer.


On the subject of what's good for us and how to eat more of that sort of food, I found this post on how to eat more fruit and veggies on

I know I don't eat enough greens and fresh stuff. I'm a lazy cook and my inner bastard has a habit of taking over when I come home tired. It's one of the areas I really need to work on. There are some good ideas in that blog post and I'm going to try some of them out.

I can't very well expect my body to perform well if I'm not feeding it well, can I??

Exercising - more ideas for the pesky grapple-free summer recess

There is some information on the RossTraining site on tabata training. Anyway, check out the rest of Ross' Blog for more ideas and some good motivational stuff.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Geelong visit

Being annoyed with the short BJJ week, I decided to venture to Geelong for some extra fun. That was the first time I went to Black Belt Studios all by my little self. So far, I'd always tagged along with one of the senior guys.

As always, I was made to feel very welcome, and had a great time. Same as the last few times, I joined the advanced class and then stayed on for the intermediate class as well. That amounts to over two hours of training with plenty of rolling. Too good :-)

In the advanced class, for a warm up, we ran a few laps and the did 40/20 tabata intervals with burpees, mountain climbers, squats, situps and pushups. For technique, we drilled a double leg takedown, using the foot that steps in as a hook. Then we worked on a fireman's carry. There were two versions, one starting from having a whizzer on our partner's arm, the other with a grip over the head.

Then we did some work on back control. That was funny, really. I've lately been having a lot of luck getting backs and was thinking it would be great to spend some time on back control and attack. Voila! Wish granted :-)

We were shown a few alternatives for getting the arm across to attack with a rear choke and variations on how to finish. Then we did light positional rolling with several different partners to experiment with those and defending against the choke. We were also shown how to use a hook behind the knee if our partner is threatening to roll into us to escape.

Then we did some rolling into the beginning of the intermediate class when the white belts came on the floor. So there were some 15 minutes for them to roll slowly to warm up. Good to see white belts with so much control and so little spazz :-). After that, all the other coloured belts left.

There were three guys new to the intermediate class, and as a "welcome" they had to roll with everyone until submission. As it wasn't a small class, they were rolling continuously for quite a long time. I was near the end of the line up and by the time I got to roll with them they were getting a little tired... One guy in particular was really suffering. So I went light and moved, moved and urged him to just keep moving. No stopping and starting, go slow but keep going and feel for the path of least resistance. He did good! I know what it's like to roll at that level of fatigue...

I winked at the instructor and asked how come I didn't get that sort of "welcome" when I joined that class for the first time some time last year. He just laughed. Well, he didn't take that class anyway, and it was tough enough, from what I remember!

Anyway, then we did a couple of laps of hip escapes followed by the hip escape, butt scoot escape, technical get up drill along the mat. Then it was hip escapes until we are face down in the opposite direction, come to knees, fade back and repeat. This was preparation for the side control escape to knees we practiced last.

By that time, my legs felt like jelly. My thighs were still a bit sore from the Friday night workout, and all the take down entries and hip escapes were starting to add up. But they held up :-)

We did no-gi all night. I'm actually enjoying all the no-gi stuff, especially now it's getting warmer. I don't mind either gi or no-gi, and love mixing it up. Where I live, it's been warm and a bit muggy lately. Occasionally pretty warm, but the hot time of the year won't start until January. But down in Geelong, right next to the sea, there is a lot more humidity all year around. And though it wasn't that warm on Tuesday, the humidity certainly made it feel like a sauna at the dojo. I was dripping by the end of the warmup (same as the locals :-) ), and was glad about not having to wear a gi.

On the way home (nearly an hour for me), I dropped in on a friend who has recently moved to the Geelong area. I rocked up in a sweaty mess at her place after 9pm and she fed me cups of tea and biscuits and cheese. So we sat and talked horses and I tried to explain BJJ to her. I finally left pretty late and made it to be by 2:15. Guess who didn't look too bright the next day ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

shortened week

Due to the silly season coming up and people being on holidays, we are having a shortened timetable for most of December. No day classes and no open mat. Pout!

I was roped into taking last Monday's class. After the warm up I made everyone roll for some ten minutes. My instructions were: no submission, look at moving a lot, going from position to position, making it at flowing as possible. Avoid muscling, gripping, smashing etc. I watched and made suggestions. I think maybe, just maybe, I saw some lighter, smoother rolling. It's something I think we must all work on.

I spent some time on teaching the technical stand up and made people do a drill where they have to hip escape, then do an open guard type butt scoot to the same side and then follow it up with a get up. After that, get back down and repeat on the other side. I find that a useful drill for mobility.

Lastly, I went through posture in guard, how to protect from chokes and to keep arms safe. How to close elbows and why, how to strip a grip to get posture. Also why it's unwise to sit back too far, to put hands on the mat or to cross the centreline. Hopefully, this will help some of the newer guys.

Finished off with more rolling. Sadly, I missed out myself. Oh well.

One of the purple belts taught Wednesday and Friday. We went no-gi and did rubber guard basics. It's been a while since we've done any of that in class, and some of the guys had never seen it. So it was all basic stuff on how to break down posture and get mission control. Next step was to get the arm to the floor using the zombie (the sound effects to demonstrate this move really were cool!). Then we got to New York and finally chill dog.

On Friday, we added the jiu claw setup as well. And a attack if our opponent postures up and then rolls forward. We let him start to roll but then hold his legs and transition to side control. That was neat.

Oh, I still detest the names, but wonder of wonders, I'm starting to remember them :-). The only thing I hadn't seen before was rescue dog. Say we can't get an arm to the floor using the zombie, we can threaten a sweep or put on pressure with the forearm on his collarbone in mission control. He may well put his other arm on the floor to brace. So we switch our legs and go straight to New York on the other side. We actually did a side to side drill to react to hands touching the mat.

I can't imagine rubber guard as a be all and end all or something to use exclusively. I also don't like it on big strong guys, as they just stack me up or bust out. But I've found I successfully mix it up with open and closed guard as another holding position, especially on people more my size. I have long legs and good flexibility, so it suits me. I'm also a happy guard player, so it fits into my game. I'm still working on having more knee pressure to avoid a guard pass on the side where me foot is on their hip. But that's getting better, and in any case, there is a neat shoulder lock (the Carney?) if they step over my leg to pass my guard while I have their arm trapped. I nearly pulled that off on a guy the other day, except the bell went off :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


We finished off the week with a grading. Not for me, hehe. Like the other two coloured belts, I was just there just to help out.

13 guys turned up and tested for stripes. It was a bit hot and it was quite humid. Those of us who had attended the seminar the night before could all feel the pain a bit.... By the time we had a few rounds of rolling at the end, I and the other seminar veterans were a bit on the tired side :-)

But it was a great session. The guys did really well. Everyone put in a solid performance and worked their butts off. A great way to finish off the week.

It was the last session for the year with our instructor who is heading off on well deserved holidays. We have another couple of weeks of classes in December before we break off for holidays. The teaching will be split between the coloured belts. And yours truly is taking Monday evening's class. By then, I my legs should be working again properly!

Friday night seminar

Friday night was different. We had a visiting instructor for a combined BJJ and strength & conditioning seminar. Craig Robinson is a Will-Machado black belt from Geelong. He and his wife run Bring It On Fitness and are about to open Bring it On Combat.

I've met Craig before. First time was at John Will's Blackbelt Studios in early 2009. I was a two stripe white belt at the time and I'd come along for the ride with one of the guys who attended the advanced class down there. Craig generously allowed me to join his intermediate class afterwards (white belts 3 stripes and up). That was a bit of an eye opener at the time, but what most stuck in my mind was rolling with Craig. Well, who wouldn't remember the first time they rolled with a BJJ BB???

Anyway, one of our guys had organised Craig to come up and hold the seminar. Unfortunately, only 7 from our school could make it. But that was more quality time with Craig for those of us who came :-)

Craig brought medicine balls with him. We got a talk about the usefulness of balls and the need for core exercises to improve posture and for strength. We did some tabbata interval warmups involving squats and medicine ball throws. Then we went right into squats with medicine balls, burpess on the balls with a jump up and lots of mountain climbers. It was done in sets of 3, 4 and 5 (1,2,3 x 50 mountain climbers). And then we did it all over again.

We was sweating. :-P

Craig has a special way to be motivating, coaxing, praising, nagging, cursing. In the end, everyone succeeded.

We did some stuff on grips and controls from standing, using push and pull to control our opponent and get him off balance. From there we went on to an entry to a single leg takedown and a very simple takedown. We got a chance for everyone to try it on everyone else for quite a few reps. Then we looked at attacks flowing straight from that takedown. One being a legbar, the other an armbar. Both incredibly simple and effective. Last technique was a foot choke straight from the armbar.

After that, we did four minute rounds of rolling. Craig joined in so everyone had to wrestle seven other people, with no breaks inbetween. I'll admit I haven't wrestled so fatigued for a long time :-)

But we all got the chance to roll with Craig, which was fantastic. He got me in a nasty collar choke from a place I never expected. Haha. But it's fascinating how black belts can turn "it" on and off to adapt to the level of their training partners. Wouldn't it be great to possess such skill?!

We finished off the session with some more squats and burpees. How many I really don't remember.

Then it was question time. I asked if it was good to use kettlebells for the squats he urged us to be doing regularly. He said sure, as long as the technique is good. And to do the squats in all sorts of variations. Not only to keep in interesting, but also to challenge the body in different ways.

Another question asked was how to escape switch base side control (we all know a big brown belt who LOVES that position!). Craig showed us a different way to the escape we'd learned. It's one I will be trying out soon, seeing I get stuck in that position quite a bit, and the standard escape I can't pull off (yet??).

So, it was a great seminar. I was somewhat tired afterwards, and he promised sore legs. I can attest to that, he wasn't wrong... I hope he will come and do another one early next year. He is a funny guy. He doesn't spare the verbal whip but he is very inspirational and makes you feel good about your achievements.

Friday, December 3, 2010

life's good

After last Monday's low point, I had some really good training during the week.

Wednesday's class was small and I had mostly one on one time with the instructor. I asked some questions about problems I'm having with people using a low smashing guard pass on me, and he gave me several suggestions. As I thought, the main part of my tactics needs to be transitioning to open guard. I'm abandoning closed guard too late instead of being pro-active. So we spent a fair bit of time on that. He showed me ways to transition and to defend the smash and stack. Then we rolled a bit, always starting with him in my closed guard.

He has exactly the body type that gives me a lot of trouble. Solid and heavy. He ramped up the pressure to pass as we went on. And we did post-mortems when I failed. I failed a lot :-) But I was getting it, and towards the end, I was doing a much better job, in fact started threatening him, and once even getting his back.

Not only did that restore my faith in my own abilities (which had been sorely challenged on Monday), but it also addressed some of the issues I've been having which I needed help with anyway.

For Thursday night's open mat I decided to go no-gi. About half of us did, the rest wore a gi. I finally had a chance to roll with two purple belts. Hehe, I tapped a lot and learned a lot. I felt fluid and did some attacking, a sweep here and there. Good stuff, much fun.

Then rolled with two of the white belts and we all had a ball. I try to hit that balance between working my top and attack game and letting them have a play, too. As we all had a lot of fun, I must have succeeded at least partially :-)

One of them has a preference for the Peruvian Necktie, and although he is smaller than myself, once he gets his grips it, one better watch out, he catches people!! Both the guys have made huge progress and both are the right balance of aggressive without spazzing. They are pretty near my size, a bit lighter, so being a selfish sort of a person, I really like to roll with them. I get a chance to work sweeps and I can try new stuff. But as they are getting quicker and better, I can't let my guard down with them, or they'll have me :-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm still not totally back to "fighting fit". Felt pretty bleh! on Monday, but went to class anyway.

Dear oh dear, even the warm up felt tough... So I was pretty glad that we started with drills. Was assigned a pretty new white belt and worked through one movement drill he knows but needs to practice. And another drill he didn't know. He has a shortened forearm and a hand with less fingers, so we had to modify some grips.

I've worked with him a couple of times before. He's the nicest guy. Very tense and stiff, like all newbies of course. But I think that if he can stick out the hard yards at the beginning, he will make jiu jitsu work for him. I think it's fantastic that he's giving it a go. I have no experience at all with people who (I'm not sure if this is politically correct to say like this, but here goes...) are shaped different to how I am and I can't know how their shape changes/limits 'normal' movement patterns. So I have asked him to tell me if he has trouble doing what I ask and make suggestions on how we can modify it to achieve the objective. This is a learning curve for him, and for me, too.

Anyway, we worked through two of the drills and he made good progress until I was re-assigned.

I worked with another blue belt. We did some open guard stuff. I say stuff because it wasn't anything specific, it was more concepts and experimenting with positions of feet and knees and complementary grips. Instructor called it the glue that holds things together.

I re-discovered a limitation of strength in my lower back in a certain position and experimented with working around that. Helps to have a good partner!! We had a play with a sweep if our partner pushes forward into us. This I had a few problems with, mainly because I felt flat and the brain wasn't fully engaged. Still, I picked up a lot of valuable stuff, both the open guard options and transitions and the sweep.

And then we were told to roll. Well, well. That was where I really couldn't get my act together. Body said "go away" and brain went on vacation. Damn. In fact, I felt so powerless and unco that I virtually laid back like a limp sausage. I actually caught myself thinking: yeah, do it, get it over with, as he started to put on an armwrap from mount and set up a choke. And then I suddenly thought that wasn't good enough and I ought to be ashamed of myself. So I finally started fighting. And I got out of there. He let me work a little, but not without putting on a fair bit of pressure. No freebies. Still, I regained guard, but he was passing immediately by blocking my foot. I couldn't stop him and was getting pretty annoyed with myself. That's when our instructor stepped in (I hadn't realised he'd been watching). He showed me a really simple way to get the other foot in, on his hip and make space to negate the technique my partner was using to pass my guard. It was SO obvious that I was embarrassed :-(

So we went again. Similar deal, I didn't get a good position, in fact, as he dragged me forward, I bruised my right knee. That's what you get when you are too stupid to move well.... Oh boy. Then it went to switch back side control, where I ended up NOT being able to do the bump and sweep technique. It is one of those things I struggle with. And instead of saying I will learn and I will perfect this technique, I've been saying I can't do it and it's so hard against bigger people. So guess what? I can't do it. And I get caught. At that moment, I could have crawled into the cracks between the mats. Still, we reset and went on.

Ended up defending from bottom of side mount. Generally not a place which is too scary, but this time, I flopped and floundered and uselessly bucked around. Not really blue belt standard, that much was clear. We were stopped again, and the instructor pointed out what I was doing. He didn't call it useless or silly (though it surely was!), but he did a good impression of what my legs were doing... Which was bugger all. By this stage I was beginning to really want to be elsewhere. Then he showed us a really neat way of escaping that very position which I'd never seen before. He explained how it worked and why and then unfortunately, time was up.

Not my brightest day. I apologised to my partner for being useless and not being much of a partner. Oh, and for being a tad.... emotional. Oh, how I hate it when that happens. He told me not to be silly, and reminded me we all have shitty days. He's right, of course. I'm lucky to have nice, level headed people around me.

Well, all I want is for my body to return to normal operating levels, so that I can have fun and feel at least reasonably competent :-) I decided against a double session down at Geelong tonight, as I want to make sure my body recovers and I get back to normal. I'm going to class tomorrow, and we have a guest instructor for a two hour session on Friday night. I want to make sure I'm fit as a fiddle by then. On Saturday, there will be a grading. I'm only helping, but it's usually hard going, so I'd like to be fit for that one, too.

weird week

The whole last week was all over the place, for all sorts of reasons.

The weather varied from stinking hot and dry to wet and cool. Typical spring weather, I suppose. Not quite "four seasons in a day" but close to it. Lots of thunderstorms. Flash flooding. I picked up someone from the airport on Saturday, and on the way there was delayed by water over the road several times. It rained so heavily, at times the traffic on the freeway slowed from 110km/h to 80 or less.

I had visitors, got some work done around the horses and in the garden. Thankfully, with uni stuff over now, I don't have to worry about studying any more :-).

Oh, and my cold is still hanging in there a bit. I thought it was all done and dusted, but Saturday evening my voice went all funny. So in view of that, it's probably a good thing that I couldn't make it to training (because of trip to airport).

However, as I was fine during the week, I went to open mat on Thursday and class on Friday night. I had some stuff on my mind though. On the one hand I found it a bit hard to let go and concentrate, but on the other hand, time on the mat is MY time. And generally, once I step out of the change room with my gi on, the other 'stuff' is forgotten. Which is another reason why I really love BJJ.

Thurday night was another warm and humid night. I had planned on no gi, but a couple of the guys were getting ready to compete on the weekend (in gi), so I rolled in gi. Most of the session, I worked with the young guy. I gave him problems but made sure that he succeeded in his attacks if they were done properly. I tightened up a few loose bits while we ramped up from very light to a bit harder over several rounds. I've since heard that he came second in his division yesterday, so I'm really, really happy for him :-)

The rest of open mat I spent with the killer whale ;-) ... and I sure got killed. We went no gi, which meant that I had a bit more luck escaping, purely by slithering out of armbars and the like. After, he helped me work on armdrags, for which he has a nicer setup than what I was using. Also, I showed him one of my preferred set ups from closed guard, and he had a couple of recommendations. Just by getting a bit more on my side when I've pulled his elbow to the floor and reached around his far shoulder, I can actually threaten a figure four or a rear choke. So far I'd stayed flat on my back and tried for a cutting armbar (and an armbar if they try to pull that arm out). So I have a couple more options from the same starting point.

Friday night's class was huge. I had one of the new white belts. We worked on the defence to the cross lapel choke from guard, but I had to show him the choke first :-) It was really good actually, because I worked out what I'd been doing wrong with my defence. Instead of just putting my hand to my ear, I need to bring my hand to my forehead and then slide it around and towards my ear. The earlier I get my forearm in across his arms and my hand to my forehead, the better. Leaving it until he has both grips in for good makes it a lot harder. I also found that if he tucked his elbows down once he had his grips, I had a lot of trouble getting my arm in.

We also did some guard passing, starting with light resistance and then working up. All of us with coloured belts had to lie down and everyone else had to pass, taking turns. That was fun :-) And at the end, we did a little bit of rolling, too. Again, I had one of the newbies. Big guy. Nice guy, but oh, working soooo hard, breathing hard and groaning. Doesn't mean to be mean, but can't help but use all of his muscles and all of his weight. Bulldozed me over, I escaped. He grabbed my neck in an attempted front choke which I got out of easily, stepped over and wrapped my arm around his neck from north-south for a choke. He said he didn't even see it coming. Oh, I know just how he feels :-) Funny thing for me was that I rarely go to that position, so it's not one of my regular attacks.

I'm happy that I now have several attacks from all positions, without having to pause and think. I'm also happy that I'm consistently having more luck with dealing with the bigger guys.

I still struggle a lot with heavier guys. I don't usually beat myself up over it. If I have to tap to a heavy white belt, I figure there is no shame in that, not even now that I'm wearing a blue belt. When they are brand new to BJJ, I can have my way with them. But as soon as they learn some basic control techniqus and how to use their weight properly, it's so much harder. I get frustrated at times, because I think I ought to do better. I know I'm not the only one who has these problems, there have been a few posts about this in the blogosphere recently. I really, really need to work on my open guard. But overall, I can see a steady improvement in how I deal with strength and weight and I suppose that by the time I get to purple belt, I'll have a lot more answers than I have now. It's all part of the journey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

back on the mat

Looks like I only had a bit of a cold, not a proper flu. I took it easy and by Wednesday I considered training again as I was feeling pretty good. I wasn't coughing or sneezing so I wasn't worried about spreading germs around the dojo.

All the same, I was hoping for a laid back sort of a warmup. Aside from still feeling a little unfit, it was very humid and quite warm. My prayers weren't answered. For the lunchtime class we did a 15 minute warmup including Tabbata intervals. I did last fine, and in fact, did better and moaned and groaned a lot less than some of the guys ;-) In class, we worked through all the basic movement drills and then had a play with two standing guard sweeps. Not a very hard class physically, but we all did sweat buckets because of the weather. I was working with one of the very new guys who couldn't get over how hot it was. I couldn't resist being mean by saying: wait until it gets really hot, then we'll be dripping on one another (like when you're on the bottom and you can see a drop of sweat forming on your partner's nose just above your face...). He wasn't grossed out. Ha, he will be!

Coming back to my condition...  I guess that my base fitness level is such that even if I'm not 100% ok, I'm still good to rock and roll through the average BJJ session. For some reason I'm still in that beginner mindset where before every session I feared whether I would last through. And I always did. It's funny that, because when I'm OK, I easily last for 2 and 3 hour sessions. I know this from experience. The comp training I did in Melbourne earlier this year, and the back to back BJJ classes down in Geelong as well as long open mats back home are proof. Yet, I still doubt myself at times. Yesterday, that was really obvious again. When the lunchtime class was over, I wasn't even tired. So I don't know why I worry.

I had not planned on going to the evening session, meaning to take it easy, and make sure I'm recovered well after the cold. But I pulled up after the lunchtime session so well that I just couldn't resist. And yeah, that went well, too. Basic movement drills, then learned and drilled a new guard pass and finally some rolling, too.

I'm just so glad to be back :-)

Now I'm debating if I'll go to open mat tonight or head on down to Geelong. I heard that Richard Norton is doing the Thursday night classes. That'd be fun, I did a seminar with him about three years ago, and quite enjoyed that. Question is: am I fit enough to last the session?? Haha.

Monday, November 22, 2010

not training tonight

I feel like I might be coming down with a cold. So I restrained myself and gave class a miss tonight. I'm not coughing and spluttering, but I'm a bit achy, with a vaguely sniffy nose. Last night it was a sore throat.

I knew it, I knew it, when I heard all the coughing and sneezing in the exam hall last week!! Anyway, I'm hoping that by taking it easy today, I will be good to go again soon. At least I'm not in bed or anything drastic.

I was visiting friends on Saturday and after dinner we sat around and talked. As often, I played with the cats and the dog, and Greg loves to take photos of all the silly rubbish I get up to. Here is me annoying poor long suffering Lilac.

I was thinking it's pretty hard to choke a cat from back control.

Aside from not being able to either get a proper seat belt grip or get your hooks in, you really have trouble closing your arm around that little neck.

Cats also didn't read the rules about no scratching...

I suppose if Lilac wore a gi, I could try a cross lapel choke ;-) Ever seen a cat tap?

I know, I know. I'm going to have another beer and watch some UFC. Enough sillyness for one day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

exams over :-)

Another week has passed. There is a load off my shoulders... uni exams are finished. The last few weeks have been crazy and it's nice to have that behind me. In the middle of that, two of my mares foaled down (all trouble free, like good girls!), and I had two lots of visitors. Really, I'd just like a quiet week now, thank you :-)

I've decided not to go to the Pan Pacs next weekend. I was going will I? / won't I? / will I? for weeks, but to be honest, I really can't be bothered. I guess it's a case of needing a mental rest. I also haven't particularly prepared for a comp. On the one hand, I'm wrestling well and I'm probably quite fit enough, but on the other hand, I don't have my head around it. I've competed three times this year and while I don't think that means I ought to sit on my laurels, I just don't have the fire for it at present. I'd rather set my sights on the Vics in March next year and do that properly.

The week just gone was mainly devoted to the guys who will be grading in a fortnight. Lots and lots of basic armbars, figure fours, lapel chokes and drills, drills and more basic drills. We've had a fair influx of new guys recently, so most classes there has been at least one guy who needed to be shown the essential stuff. I don't really mind, as I continue to pick up a small thing here and there which will make techniques work better for me. Sometimes, by helping someone troubleshoot a technique, I also get a better understanding of it, like was the case with armbars from mount the other day.

One of the guys is being groomed for blue belt, so he's under the master's eye (and the hammer) a bit lately. But it's good to see he's making real progress at the moment, there is more and more good technique and less reliance on strength. I had a couple of good rolls with him during the week.

Aside from that, I went to an enjoyable open mat on Thursday. Had a long roll with one of the purple belts. I thwarted his attempts to attack me from rubber guard and escaped an omoplata. Also got out of a triangle. So I was pretty happy about that. I attacked him with a D'Arce at some stage but didn't succeed. In the end, we did some complicated rolling maneuver which resulted in a perfect armbar (my arm of course!). Good fun.

I had another chance to work on flow rolling with a couple of the two stripe white belts. That's really starting to work now. Interestingly, these guys lasted the whole hour and a half of rolling, whilst a couple of other white belts wore themselves out in less than an hour. I'm not saying that's all my doing :-) And it's not like I was any different when I started. But I intend to keep pushing for going easy and rolling for position only, especially during the warm up part of rolls. And I certainly am quite prepared to pull the guys up mid roll and point out that tight muscles and held breath and bad for rolling light.

For myself, I want training partners who can dose their strength and who will rely on technique rather than muscle to get position and submission. When we do competition style rounds, then we can go hard, and I'll go hard with any of them. But not all the time. And I'll continue to do my best to help the newer guys roll like that. For their AND my benefit :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Home Bjj Workout

There is some really good stuff here. It will give me some idea for the summer break, where there won't be classes. And for any other day when I just can't sit still :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

types of people

I just read this funny post at the The Bat Dojo blog.

It's about the types of people that can be found at dojos. I particularly like the token girl :-) (Not that I can identify in any way, shape or form!!).

But the brick shithouse and the fat guy and the spidery guy - I've met them all!

choke from side control

got my fix... :-)

Due to exams, I missed training on Wednesday night and open mat on Thursday. Grr.

Friday night I was looking forward to class. After driving all the way to town, I found the school closed due to Ballarat Show Day. Double Grrr!

But Saturday afternoon, I finally got my BJJ fix! It wasn't a big class. We worked on D'Arce chokes. First, the simple version from side control when your opponent rolls into you, but also a setup from turtle top.

It was good to see the very big fella back after a few months away :-) I ended up drilling with him, including a more complicated, rolling version of the D'Arce. Have I said before that it's hard to get that choke on BIG guys? Firstly, there is the issue of huge shoulders. Although I'm blessed with long limbs, it's still a challenge to get around his shoulders :-) But I did have more luck with it than in the past. Where I had more issues was to finish it. He simply braced with his arm on the floor which prevented me from getting his top upper arm against his neck. And then he'd start to attack my legs... After consulting with the instructor, he showed a way to clear his arms with my knees to stop him bracing. He also showed us how to adjust if the bottom guy braces with a knee to prevent being rolled from turtle. Lots of technical small stuff.

In any case, I have a much better understanding of how to finish the choke now, regardless of the size of my opponent. Though in a live wrestle, I'd be more likely to use it on someone closer to my size. At least for now.

After that, we rolled, but always starting from turtle, taking turns in who was on top. We swapped partners a few times, but I always got the bigger boys :-) Still, I choked someone with a front choke and I armbarred someone from the high closed guard setup I'm working on. I was very happy about the latter, expecially since it's on a guy who generally busts out of my closed guard.

I did get done with a figure four by someone. Aside from that, I escaped several times from under big guys. That is true progress for me. Once, the big fella did one of his rolling, diving attacks on my legs. And before I could think "oh sh..", I had rolled with him, retracted/rearranged my limbs and came out to his side unscathed. I think that surprised me more than him ;-) It wasn't a conscious move at all, and it felt smooth and flowy. That alone made me happy, and I probably grinned like a fool. Although I did end up back under him, I defended successfully until the round was over.

Afterwards, one of the guys said that after not having a chance to roll with me for a while, he feels a definite improvement. He reckons if I can be such a threat to the bigger fellas, then the people my size had better watc out. Hehe.

So, while I had to wait until Saturday to get my fix, it was a good one :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

rolling, awesome rolling

I succeeded in getting several good rolls in during last Thursday's open mat. I managed to convince another one of the newer white belts that rolling for position instead of submission and NOT going balls to the wall is a good thing. It was still a lot more muscly than it should have been, but it was useful to both of us. He had several AHA! moments. So I helped him with triangles afterwards.

I tried out a guardpass I saw on a youtube recently (sorry, escapes me at the moment, I will try and find it!). I showed it to one of the guys and we both had a few practice runs. We think it might work quite well :-)

At the end I had a long roll with one of the purple belts. I'm pleased to report that I feel I'm making progress. I pulled out of a lot of stuff he threw my way and I certainly had a go at a few things. I probably resorted too much to closed guard, but it's my best game, and he is ... well, a purple belt. And I did manage to frustrate him a bit, too. In the end, it wars armbar time for me, as usual. But an excellent roll with lots of opportunity to learn and grow.

Monday night's class also involved a lot of rolling. First I was fed a small whitebelt. So I practiced my attacks, and I let some stuff go and experimented a bit. Then I was fed a bigger boy. So I practiced my defence :-) Sorry, he's mucho bigger than I and mucho stronger, and if he's learned one thing it's how to use his weight effectively. Good for him, bad for me. I want the little one back again!!

Then they gave me a purple belt. This time I practiced being a ping-pong ball on top of a wave :-) We had the best and longest roll. One position after the next. He has perfected shoulder rolls and every time you think you get position on him, he's rolled away and all you have is legs in the damn way. Lots of new problems. But lots of chance to experiment. My brightest moment might have been when he picked me up for a standing guard pass, but I let go and went for a takedown :-) Instructor stood nearby and laughed. So we rolled and rolled and he pointed out a few things to me. Instructor walked past and saved us from tumbling into a wall. And commented "keep going, I like what I see". Whoa ho! It didn't just feel good, it must have looked good!!

What can I say. It was awesome.

And it was exactly the kind of diversion I needed. I've been flat out studying for uni exams. I really needed something to destress me :-) Anyway, first exam is out of the road, three more to go.

Monday, November 8, 2010


There are several of us taking turns teaching the Wednesday evening class at present. I've known for weeks that I'd be taking the class last Wednesday.

The weird thing is that I stressed over that. Why?

I've had to take other classes at short notice and it wasn't an issue at all. So why would I worry? Is it just my weird mind or is that a normal thing? Ok, don't answer that. ;-)

Anyway, it wasn't helped by the fact that I got there to find two guys more senior to me as well as a bunch of white belts. But they are my mates, and they were most helpful, but without interfering. So there were jokes and it was all cool. We did some of the basic drills, I showed the cross lapel choke from mount, and how to finish it off from guard if they roll. Then I went over a few general things relating to defending arms and neck when on the bottom, pointed out that it's bad to get flattened and that sort of thing.

Finished off with rolling. Got choked by one of the two stripers, who set it up beautifully! Then had a round with one of the bigger two stripers. Got flattened but got out, regained guard and then raced the clock to choke him before time was called. Had fun!

oh-oh omoplata

Last week we worked on omoplatas. Now there's a technique I'll not be owning for a while :-(

I just don't seem to get it. Firstly, my brain refuses to "chunk" stuff together, so I need to think and think about the setup every time. So I never get the feel right and I'm always starting from square 1. One day, I will "get it". But that day hasn't arrived yet. All the drilling last Wednesday didn't help. Ironically, I could assist the new white belt guy I worked with, but as far as getting it right myself? Fail.

Later on in the week, we did more, and though I was paired with a purple belt, I continued to feel and act like a klutz. We were looking at securing the omoplata, or what to do if they roll out of it, or try. So there was a sweep, or a forward roll to finish it off. For me: fail.

When safely out of the school, I vented my frustrations.  :-(

But I promise: I will own omoplatas some day. Not tomorrow, not the day after, maybe not this year. But I will!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the rest of October

As time got away from me again, here are just some brief notes...

On the 28th October, I went to John Will's school in Geelong again. I went with one of the guys from our school and we joined John's advanced class. We worked on front chokes from open guard. If we can't get the second hand in to finish the choke because he blocks with his arm, we can threaten him with a sweep. That way, either he keeps his hand in and we get the sweep or  he braces with that arm and we get the grip for the choke. We also looked at an alternative where we sweep and then finishe the choke from the top.

We stayed on for the intermediate class as well, which was mainly on breakfalls and throws.

Got in lots of rounds of rolling with white, blue and purple belts. I felt good, with lots of movement happening. Even pulled off some subs with a couple of the blue belts. But then got dominated by a couple of the larger whitebelts :-)

The following Saturday, I took class as our instructor had an injury. It was basically going through the guard passing drill for the mostly newer white belts, but we also covered the simple sweep and a couple of chokes from guard. After that, I let them enjoy themselves with free guard passing but allowed the sweep and chokes we had just practiced. Aside from the white belts, we had a purple belt visitor. He kindly helped with the newer guys, and at the end he and I had a couple of fun rolls.

Friday, October 29, 2010

front chokes revisited

Last Wednesday's lunchtime class was half blue belts and half white belts. Some of the guys had missed last week's sessions on front chokes, so we did another session on those. It gave me the chance to get in a fair few more reps and I picked up a couple more small but important details.

In addition, I managed to get the technique right on a variation where we lift our elbow to defend him coming over our legs to escape. Last time, I struggled with this, because I fell back to the mat. This made it near impossible to get the elbow into play. This time, I sat up and lifted the elbow. And found that the choke comes on almost immediately, with next to no effort on my part.

This youtube video shows Matt Arroyo using the choke. There are several variations, and the setup I'm talking about is seen after about 4 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


That was Monday's theme: omoplatas.

First we drilled the movement, the change of direction our body needs to make to align correctly. Then we drilled the setup to get to the right position on our partner. And finally, the whole submission to where we switch the legs and apply the lock.

In addition we looked at how to flatten our partner in case he ends up with his knees under him. Sometimes, we end up next to him all flattened out and he is on his knees. In that case, it is really hard to sit up, and the same technique will flatten him and allow us to sit up. Say he is on our right side (I have his left arm trapped). I reach across his calves with my right arm and grab is far (right) leg/pants. With a stiff arm I hold his leg in place while I shuffle my feet and butt to my left and away from his foot. This stretches him out and with a few wriggles, it brings at least one, but probably both his hips to the mat. Now it's easy to sit up and reach across his back to finish the submission.

After that, we had a few rolls. I saw no chance for an omoplata, so I played with my new toy (open guard, esp.spider guard). Failed in a couple of sweep attempts, but finally got one. Mucho happy! Someone else tried to armbar me and then transitioned to omoplata. But somewhere in that, I got my lower arm free and when he rolled to omoplata, my arm was gone :-). And I managed a cool transition to mount, set up ready for a triangle, no less! Alas, we had to reset.. Can't remember the rest, other than that I talked one of of the new guys through NOT allowing me to pull his arms across while in my guard. Because I'm just going straight to his back...

I had a really great evening. I'm finding that since I've abandoned trying to get and hold closed guard at all cost, I'm actually much more free in how and when I move. I'm also much more proactive when I think my oppononet might succeed in opening my guard, I go to open guard and stuff him around :-) Obviously, something has clicked in my brain. Again :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the obligatory "what I did last week" post

Yes, it's overdue again. Was hoping to write something on the weekend. But I was away all day Sunday due to a trip to the far west of Victoria to pick up some horses. Nine hours in the car, one and a half catching, loading and looking at some other horses. A long day. No motivation to sit in front of computers afterwards...

So, back to last week, which was another marathon event with seven training sessions over six days.

Monday night's focus was on transitions. Part of the time I worked with blue belts, part of the time with brand new guys. So that included some time teaching a couple of them one of the basic drills.

Tuesday night I went to Geelong with one of the guys for another advanced class at John Will's Blackbelt Studios. We started with an interesting new (to me) warmup with partners consisting of 30 second intervals of activity broken up by a few seconds to change position. The activities were figure four (kimura) from guard, armbars from mount, armbar from guard, a sqat to lunge position with one hand on the floor, then jump up to both feet and straighten before coming down on the other knee and hand. The last activity was an awkward stand up in guard, sprawl, back to knees, stand again routine. Then it was the other partner's turn. We sure were warm at the end of it...

During the class we worked on guillotine chokes and the arm in variety. We drilled that from sprawl when the bottom person is turtled. First the no arm version, then the arm in version and finally how to change grips from one to the other. We also went over the guillotine defence (go to side opposite where the head is trapped, reach over the shoulder and behind the neck and drive shoulder into the throat), so that it was obvious why it's necessary to get one leg over our partner's back when we do the choke. It clarified the whole issue of which way the choked person should go and therefore which the choking person should prevent him from going. Cleared up a bunch of vague ideas in my head, and I found I could pull these chokes off well during drills. Definitily will add to my toolbox!

Rest of the class was rolling. Aside from a kick to my head from a petite blond lady (who profusely apologised), it went quite well. I managed to move around and go for subs, even if I didn't finish many. Some rolls were timed, and for some of the time we would go fast and hunt for new positions and then have a thirty second period to stall and hold position. That in itself was interesting and changed the way we rolled. I was pretty much manhandled by a purple belt during one of these rolls, but it was all good :-)

I stayed for the intermediate class after. Which means the 3-4 stripe white belts warmed up with any coloured belts who chose to stay. So I got a few more rolls in. As before, I felt good. Some of theses guys are very good and they are fun to roll with. I also had a roll with the brown belt instructor, who used to teach at our school. He destroyed me first roll and toyed while he set me up for a knee bar. But second roll didn't use all of his 100+kg weight and I managed some good escapes, attempted to theaten his limbs and had a ball.

The class concentrated on triangles. I was paired up with a sizeable white belt who was excellent to work with. We drilled a fair bit, concentrating on details, such as turning out the leg that's hooked over our ankle. Then we did some more rolling and then a movement/sensitivity drill working around triangles. We triangled our partner who would defend by coming around and trying to stack. With an arm on his hip and an arm on his shoulder, we hip out to escape, but then slide a knee under his armpit and the other shin under his neck. The knee squeeze traps his arm. To defend, he will straighten up, which allows us to swing the bottom leg over his back and set up a triangle on the other side. All we need to do is change our angle to him. And then we go round again.

One last lot of rolls saw me paired up with a 140kg bloke. Oh boy... I would have liked to have gone to his back, but his wingspan and his vice grips prevented that. Made the mistake of attempting closed guard but with all of his weight coming over, I soon saw the folly of that. So feet on hips, and get distance. For the first time ever, I saw the need and a value in spiderguard :-) So that's where I went, and back to feet on hips for a few times, until I saw a chance to go for a triangle. But yeah, it was an attempt only, no way did I look better than a necklace on him, when he postured up :-)) But it was fun. AND I didn't get squashed before time was up. I view that as a victory :-))

Wednesday's midday class was mainly about knee ride. I now know that I have to pour the pressure on. I can't hope to hold a semblance of a knee ride unless I pull up and stick that knee in. Doesn't stop me from feeling like an AH while I do it though. I worked with one of the big blue belts, who made me feel for his sternum and lower ribs and wouldn't let me rest until it was ugly for him.. Thank you :-)  We also played with... wait for it... spider guard. Yeah! I'm really starting to see the value of open guard types with the bigger guys. And I'm starting to get the hang of going from one to the other and back to closed. It's liberating and it's expanding my game.

Wednesday evening was mostly rolling for all but the really new guys. Didn't do anything fantastic, mainly defended. Mind, I did wear one of the guys out ;-) But aside from getting someone's back once, and sinking one guillotine choke on someone else, I was mostly on the bottom. Hey ho, more chance to practice escapes!!

Thursdays's open mat was not huge. I really only rolled with white belts, including some fairly new ones. My goal was solely to get them to relax and roll. My constant: slow down! breathe! relax! stop, think! probably got on their nerves. But lo and behold, I managed to not only get them to slow down, but use less muscle. There were several rolls where we really just flowed through positions, they didn't go rigid when I swept them, and they didn't go rigid when they swept me. And in every case, little lights went on, they admitted they "saw" sweeps and submissions. And they felt they could keep going without gassing. So I hope that they will remember some of it and use it :-)

Friday's session saw three purple belts on the mat, a couple of blues and only a few whites. For our small school, that's unusual. It was great. We worked on guillotines and a variation of the grip which allows it to work even if we do it from guard bottom and our opponent passes our legs (to the correct escape side). The rest of the class was rolling which was totally enjoyable. I was accused of being aggressive (in a positive sense) and on the hunt for stuff. I thought that was a bit of an overstatement. But I really had fun!

Saturday was armbars and triangles. And the variation of armbar I've named "armbar from hell" because it's slow and methodical and really hard to escape (except if I do it, because I STILL can't get it 100% right).

two years up!

So, we're already into the last October week.

Which means....


I forgot all about my two year anniversary of my start in BJJ. That was in fact yesterday. I was so busy having fun in class, I clean forgot. Oh well. But I guess I'm up for a post where I can reflect on the last two years. I did promise! (but not right now..)

And as I'm in a hurry and have nothing really witty to say, go to Georgette's Blog and read all about why girls don't fart :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

last week

I'm through most of my uni assignments now. Another one to go, but I have 9 days left, so I'm having a couple of days off :-) Which means I finally have time to do some updates, and I'll start with the round up from last week.

On Monday, I had a two hour no-gi session. We worked on a tight armbar which is set up from lockdown. The other move was called the Carney which is a neat submission if our opponent has managed to get over our leg and is on his way to pass. Only he gets caught with his shoulder pinned and in a figure four armlock... The rest of the session was some conditioning (lots of plyometric pushups, situps, squats, sprawls etc) and lots of rounds of rolling AFTER the conditioning. I had mixed success there. Or rather, not very much... But at least I seem to be making inroads in some areas, and I was attacking more often. I surprised myself with being able to keep up with the rolling although I felt shot after the conditioning. I must be fitter than what I think..

Wednesday's midday session was a surprise. Three blue belts only. We worked on the deep half guard game which we had worked on with John Will last week. How to get there and how to sweep to a low single. Wednesday evening was a big class with lots of new white belts, so it was basic drills with an emphasis on transitions. I think we drilled an escape from north/south. It's one I'm really useless at, and I'm sad to say that I'm still not much better... Right at the end, we did a few minutes worth of rolling and was fed a shiny, brand new guy. Smash, grab, push, strain! So I went into selfprotect mode and he wore himself out in my closed guard. So much so, he had to retire. Wow.

Thursday night's open mat was small, with just myself and about 5 white belts. I got together with my nemesis (oh, if he ever reads this blog, he'll kill me ;-) ), and we set to do do slow/flow rolling. Looking for positions and keeping moving. That worked really well. We warmed up that way but kept going along those same lines, stopping here and there to see where we could move on to or what subs were possible. Nothing against going hard some of the time, but we both got a lot out of that. We sniggered in a superior manner about the grunting and straining of the rest of the wrestlers on the mat. Well, the previous week one of the guys overdid it and made himself sick. But I noted he was going a bit easier. Good.

I had one good roll with a guy who only comes to class occasionally, but he moves very well. So as usual, we moved all over the place and after a while it ended when I caught him in an upside down armbar. Not sure exactly where that came from... But it was a fun roll. Then back to some more technique with my first partner. All in all, an excellent evening.

Friday night we basically rolled, except for the newer white belt guys who were taken aside by one of the blue belts and worked on some stuff. Don't really remember all that much. Tried for the evil armbar, but as before, I get to a certain point and then lose it. Still, must keep trying. Instead, I have more luck with armdrags and taking the back. Plodding along, having fun....

And that was it, as there was no class on Saturday. Which was probably not such a bad thing, as I think my body really could do with an extra day off.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Psssst !! Oh no - I've been discovered!

Today, in class someone told me he's found this blog.

Oh-oh! So now I have to be careful who I bitch and moan about ;-)

They will probably tease me about my ramblings here, like they do about my many gis. Anyway, I'm sure I'll survive. If you are one of them: be careful or I'll write about you!! Haha.

Anyway, sorry about the lack of updates. I realised it's been ten days since my last updates. Blame it on uni assignments. And of course, I haven't sat on my butt when it comes to training.There is not contest when it comes to deciding if I'll go and train or write this blog. That's a no-brainer.

As I have another couple of assigment deadlines in the next two days, I'm settling in for an all-nighter right now and I will need to defer my BJJ reports yet again.

Soon, soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

that was....

... an amazing week! Phew.

I trained every day except today (Sunday), racking up some 10 hours on the mat. It was a busy week anyway, as I'm back to uni after the break. And I still managed to sneak in a few horse rides when the weather was good. At least with spring on the way now, it is nice enough to go outside. I am soooo glad the winter is over!

So, on Monday, I trained no-gi for nearly three hours with a few guys. It was mainly 10th Planet stuff. A bit of a change for me, althougth we've gone over a some of that stuff in the past. So it was some review and some totally new stuff. We drilled various combinations for a bit over a couple of hours and then rolled for several rounds. Didn't do anything spectacular. Hadn't done no gi in ages and felt a bit overwhelmed. About the only positive thing I can say about the rolling was that I succeeded in breaking someone down in my guard who is twice my size. Not that I escaped the inevitable outcome of getting owned... :-)

Tuesday evening I met with one of the guys and we went down to Geelong to John Will's Blackbelt Studios. John had recently returned from overseas, followed by a quick trip to WA. But he was back on the mat on Tuesday and taught the advanced class. We drilled three sweeps from open guard if our partner stands up, and then one sweep from open guard, where we go to deep half guard and then roll over and finish with a single leg.

I had a few interesting rolls with different blue belts. Nice to be challenged without getting mauled by the big guys. I was the most junior of the blue belts on the floor. To be honest I thought I'd get a hiding, but I actually fared reasonably well. There was in fact a blue belt woman. We had an entertaining couple of rounds and I did well. Not so well against the guys, but at least I moved and things happened and I didn't feel like a dimwit. Actually, I really had fun.

At the end of the class, they let in the white belts whose intermediate class was on next. They had the chance to roll to warm up, we had the chance to roll to warm down :-) I chose to stay, although I was somewhat buggered at that point. Didn't do too bad. That is, until one of the black belts who had stayed behind waved me over. That's when I was back to feeling like a little mouse who is being toyed with by a big cat ;-)

Ah, it was awesome. Of course I was destroyed. But he let me work and I actually managed some half decent moves, including some useful hip movements which led to escapes. He commented later that he thought I did well and that I made it difficult for him to get some positions and subs. What more could I ask :-)) And then he asked me aside to show me some of the open hooks in guard stuff he was working on and gave me some tips how to make that type of guard work for me. As I said: awesome.

I attended two classes (lunchtime and evening) on Wednesday. And I'll say that I was beginning to be a little bit on the tired side. I also had a full day at uni. We worked on knee ride both classes which is good, as it's something I am not good at. At all... But I think I have a fair idea now why it's not been working for me. I was being too nice. Not enough pressure down, and not enough pull up on the arm and leg. By Wednesday evening, I was making half decent entries and I got groans out of my partner when the knee went on. Also, I din't fall off after .01 of a second when he wriggled. In the lunchtime class, I got my lip caught between my partner's gi collar and my teeth and actually lost some skin. Bled like crazy at first, but with some vaseline, I could carry on after a bit.

Thursday night was open mat. I was tired before I started. And that was after a good nine hours of sleep for the previous two nights :-) I'd had the whole day at uni, which is all sitting down, but of course I had to pay attention. Rolling went ok, did some good stuff, got flattened by a couple of the bigger guys and all in all had a pretty good time.

One of the guys managed to accidentally kick me with his knee. And where did he connect? My bottom lip. Next to the cut bit. So I ended up with a huge blood blister. He was so apologetic :-) My answer: if it's not bleeding, who cares? And kept going. He promptly caught me with a leg bar twice. Must watch them legs...

We were pretty much done and sitting there stretching when one of the guys came in late. He'd been training at another place earlier but was looking all hopeful to get in a roll or two. Some had already packed up and gone, and I nearly declined. But then thought why not. He usually armbars me. Or whatever. But I was that tired I didn't care, and it it was another opportunity to do some no-gi. And then something weird happened. I armdragged him, got his back and got him in a rear choke. He tapped. Second round, I went for the armdrag again and pulled him to turtle. Went for an anaconda, rolled over but somehow couldn't finish it. I know it was tight (which he later confirmed), but my brain went numb and I forgot to walk into him. So I let it go and went after him. Shortly after, secured an armwrap from mount and a choke from there. By now he was laughing and saying that I'm doing good considering I'd already cooled down.

He wanted to go again, so we did. I deliberately did not go for the armdrag this time. He pulled guard and tried for a triangle/armbar. Didn't let him have it, passed his guard. Was busy attacking his arms, got mount and then he rolled me. Then it was my world: get arm across, take back, latch on and choke! Third tap for the night. He seemed to think it was awesome, I was more like speechless.. But it was rather a good finish for the evening all the same :-)

Friday night's class was essentially rolling. My bloody lip (pun intended) tore open again and I had to sit out the first few minutes to wait for it to stop bleeding. The rolls started from various positions. And to my great disgust, I got the killer whale, and our starting point was bloody side control. Sheesh. So when he started on top, I was history immediately. I can't escape by way of any technique, an experienced guy who is twice my weight!! So he cheerfully ripped my arms out. When it came to me on top I didn't fare too much better. The man can just bench press me off. Aside from that, I find it diffucult to keep any sort of control, let alone try for a sub on a huge barrel chested person. Luckily, after that I scored the small guy. He's getting good, very quick and he'll try stuff. He got me fair and square with a Peruvian Necktie. The rest of the time I beat his arse, mostly with chokes, although I let him start in mount or side control top most of the time.

Saturday we had a small class of newish guys and a surprise visit from a purple belt guy from some school in Sydney. I scored him as partner and found him great to work with. On the menu was torenanda pass to knee ride, armbars and spinning choke from knee ride and then a bit of rolling. We didn't got real hard, it was mostly positional and then some playful sort of seeing where we'd end up. Good stuff. Hope he comes to visit again.

I lasted the whole week though I will say I was ready for a break today. What was interesting about the experience is that I felt I was better technically than usual. Several times during the week, I actually started class feeling a bit tired. That feeling always vanished during warm up and I was never gassed. But I think it made a difference to how I rolled. I know it didn't help me keeping the big fellows at bay, but I felt more smooth in my transitions with the others. Maybe more economy of movement?? And in several cases, I know I started a submision during a transition, so that by the time we "arrived", the sub (usually a choke) was already locked in. I hadn't been able to do that before.

Next week will be a bit more sedate :-) No trip to Geelong and apparently no class on Saturday. Oh well, might use the free Saturday to finally go for a long drive and pick up some horses I bought and give the body a slightly longer rest to recover from wrestling.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

so much to think about

We haven't covered a lot of new stuff (=techniques) in class lately. Which is good, because my head is quite full enough as it is.

Lately, I see so many more details in the so called basics, details which I've been missing. Which is probably why some of my basic techniques have been somewhat ineffective. Especially since I don't get away with crappy technique as they are mostly bigger than I. So that's good, it forces me to get the basics right.

I'm beginning to understand that I should not give up on something simply because it seems difficult. Giving up is easy. Blaming the technique is easy. But what I need to do is buckle down and try and try again and troubleshoot what is the part or parts of the technique that I do incorrectly. I'm lucky to have an instructor with a great eye for small things and who can dissect things down. So he can pinpoint where I make mistakes and find a way to show me how to do it successfully. He has been quite inventive in thinking up ways to not only explain but to give me little drills that allow me to feel and understand what I need to do.

I know now, more than ever, that my hip movement has been woefully inadeqate. That explains why my escapes aren't that great and why sweeps aren't happening too well. Awareness is the first step to improvement. Then comes a plan. For example, during open mat on Thursday I had a couple of plans. One was to go for arm drags. The other was to use my hips. Basically, I tried to remember to make a bigger effort to hip out or bridge up. As a result, I had better success in regaining full guard. And I finally pulled off the escape from side mount, where I get both arms on the far side, bridge and then rotate around his forearm until I'm head to head. I had never been able to make that work before. So I think I'm on the right track there. Incidentally, I've lately found it much easier to do laps of hip escapes (during warm-ups), and I've been getting much bigger and freer movment. They feel powerful and fast now. On the one hand I'm amazed that it's taken the best part of two years to get decent hip escapes happening. On the other hand, I'm glad that they are happening!

Other stuff I've been working on some more are hooking sweeps. We did some work on setting up an arm drag from sitting (hooks in ) guard and then transitioning to a double hooking sweep if they resist the arm drag. Vice versa, if the sweep fails, I move my weight to the other butt cheek, hip out a bit and can either try for arm drag or for a sweep to the other side. It all involves such fundamental stuff that I desperately need to work on, mainly the hip movement and effective hooks.

We also did some work on arm drags from standing and from closed guard. That, coupled with the guard transitions we practiced a fair bit after the Rigan seminar, is yet another set of related basic stuff. Basic, but fits right into what I've recently been working on, if only from closed guard.

So, without covering much new stuff at all, my head is buzzing :-)

I have a bunch of instructional dvds and books. But at the moment, I refuse to look at anything that doesn't tie in with the stuff I'm working on. I think I finally am starting to have some sort of game plan. Which is nothing like what I anticipated it to be. It's growing in an organic sort of a fashion out from where I feel powerful and have the most success. Guard.

BJJ was always fun, but I'm astonished to see it's more and more fun all the time.

BJJ is a bit like a fractal. Any part of it you happen to investigate is intricate and interesting. You try and get an overview and see the whole thing and make the areas you know fit together. Then you realise that every branch has lots more intricate details. Many of them fit in with other branches. And the more you zoom in and look, the more you see yet more intriguing and interesting details.

I've had an offer to tag along and go to classes down in Geelong, maybe as often as once a week. That means classes with John Will or one of his black belts. I'm sure it will be fun as well as tough going, especially since I now have to attend the advanced classes. I shudder at the thought of a room full of experienced coloured belts. They'll have me for breakfast ;-) Maybe I should have a "fragile - handle with care" sticker on my gi?? Naw, it'll be good and the learning will be well worth it.