Saturday, March 27, 2010

something new... girls only class at DMMA

Today, I went to my first ever girls-only class.

Really, I should be sick of driving all the way to Melbourne, having done it for the last seven weeks or so. But an invitation to train with the girls at DMMA, together with another excuse to make a trip to the big smoke was to hard to resist. So I had an early start and headed off for the 10am class.

It wasn't a very big class, but to me it was rather a novelty. I knew the instructor and three of the girls from the comp training and I was made to feel very welcome.

After a warmup, we went through some solo drills to learn specific moves. First a bridge over onto alternating shoulders. Then from there and step over to end up face down and in turtle. Finally, a set of moves consisting of a few little steps to the side (on our back), a bridge and then step over so end up face down heading the opposite way. This would be a series of moves that could be used to regain guard when someone is starting to pass our guard and going for side control.

Then we worked on regaining guard, specifically if the guard passer is going under a leg.

First option: If we can make a stiff and heavy leg before she lifts out leg on her shoulder, we make a plank with our body, turn a bit to the side to give us room to put the other leg on her hip and push off with it. This separates our bodies. If she pushes into us, we have time to either reestablish closed guard or use open guard.

Second option. Same stiff and heavy leg on her arm when she goes under the leg. If she lifts it up hard, we can use that momentum to roll over, around our own axis and land in open guard position in front of her. Sort of like the crocodile roll I learned a few months ago. This worked well, I had to ensure that as I roll over, I keep me legs apart so that they can't be trapped together if she drives forward while I roll. Legs together mean she can hug them together an pass.

Third option: she has progressed to getting my leg bent and on her shoulder. Say she has lifted my right leg. I need to stiff arm her right hip and hip out to my left to create distance. My right foot has to point right and I'm aiming and getting my right knee to the mat by pulling it down pas her head/neck. This seemed very counter-intuitive to begin with. We practiced this with a lot of space to begin with and then worked on achieving the same with more pressure by the guard passer and less space. Once the right knee is on the ground and the foot is freed, I can have the shin across her belly to maintain space, assisted by my left hand on her shoulder. Then I can hip out more to re-establish closed guard. This, I will need to work on.

I think that the stiff leg versions will fit in well with what I'm doing, but the other method gave me a lot of new stuff to think about.

We had brief open mat after and did a little bit of free guard passing after some more practice of the aforementioned techniques.

Well, I think that I might (just occasionally), make the trip to Melbourne. It makes a nice change and I won't be so out of my depth when I get to fight girls at competitions ;-)

this last week

As much as I enjoyed the Vics and all, it's great to be back to familiar face in regular classes. And it was nice to hear that I've been missed :-)

On Monday, we worked on chokes. Firstly the half lapel nelson from side mount and then a variation. Say he is with this right side up I can't get his right arm isolated so that I can put my top hand behind his head (he might clasp his hands or grip onto his gi) to get the choke. If I stick my left shin behind his neck, to the inside of left arm (my left hand has his right collar) and sit down, I can add the push of my hip against my left arm to get the choke. Whether he lets his right arm go or not.

Then collar choke from turtle top. From head to head, I grab his right lapel with my left hand and pass it to my right (hand inserted over his shoulder). My left hand shoves his right elbow across towards his centreline quickly and comes out behind his head, pushing on in while I insert my head into the gap between his right elbow and hip. Then I roll over my left shoulder and under him and end up holding him in an upside down collar choke. Ha, that one will take some work....

Finally we worked on how to roll into a crucifix when the bottom person is turtled and how to set up collar chokes from there, using either his left or right collar. If the choke doesn't come on, I can put my leg over his head for extra leverage.

On Wednesday and Friday, we did some rubber guard stuff. I will say I hate the names because they bear no resemblance to what we are doing. Some of it is working for me, for example the lockdown from half guard bottom and the whip up. Other stuff.. hmm. But to be fair, I have not had enough time to properly assimilate and try these things out. My flexiblity is good enough, and it's good to learn some extra options. Some of the setups seem very complicated though, and for now I think that I would specifically work for some of those positions. If, however, I found myself in stoner control (!), I guess I'd know what to do from there :-) .

Some of the stuff we worked on was a transition from armbar from guard to jiu claw and then omoplata. It works if the guy in your guard turns aside to pull his trapped arm out and leaves his other arm exposed.

Another thing we learned which I think might be useful to me is a half guard sweep. Instead of lockdown (say if I can't get double underhooks), I overhook his right arm tightly (assuming his right leg is trapped) and put my right arm on his left hip. I need to use my left leg to bend his right leg and bring his right foot to the mat on the outside. His body has to shift to his right to follow the leg. As his weight shifts, I swing my right leg right and then in an arc which sweeps him. If he is swept, we clear our left leg and go to side control. If (which is more likely), he counters the sweep by posting out with his left leg and coming back over, I keep my right leg out wide and take him back in my full guard when he lands. Of course there is a name for this, but I can't remember it :-)

The assorted wrestles I had during classes varied considerably. Early in the week, I escaped every armbar attempt, but on Friday I was caught by several guys. Hmmm. The consistent underlying theme of the week was how good my defence is and how bad my retention of top positions and attacks. Though I did score a triangle a couple of timess, an armbar and a figure four. I am making some small improvements on regaining guard.

I've finally figured that I need to play a different game altogether with one of the guys who uses a lot of unorthodox positions and has a horrible habit of grabbing hold of various bits of my anatomy and then slowly but surely bulldozes over me. I need to make sure I don't expose bits of my anatomy, I need to play more open guard and keep him off me.

I had some positive comments from our senior guys, but all too often I make dumb mistakes. Sometime it seems that I make a few little steps forward in some area, just to find out that in most other areas, I have no skills at all. But I figure that the rolls that leave me most embarrassed are probably the ones that contribute the most to my learning experience. And if I can roll with one of the hot shot young guys and make him work hard, and we can both be amused, then I guess it's not too bad ;-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

no-gi essentials

I found out that Roy Dean's new instructional is available for pre-order, both from the Roy Dean Academy website and from .

To find out more, check out this in depth review by Slideyfoot.

I've ordered my copy. Hope it's here soon. :-)

Victorian Championships

Well, I had a thoroughly great time at the comp. I had some 'nerves' before. Got there early and when they finally set up and the loudpeakers came on, my stomach churned... But when it was time to step on the mat, I was all good. Focussed, but not like with tunnelvision and dry mouth :-) Actually just looking forward to getting into it.

Funny how everyone has been saying that they remember every move they make when they fight in a competition. I don't. I'm often hazy on details. I remember positions but I can't recall how I got there. So if my descriptions are lacking, that's because I can't remember.

First fight with in the gi. She got ahead of me on points early in the piece when she moved to mount. I bridge and rolled out out of that and spent the rest of the fight trying to pass her guard, but time ran out and I lost on points. She couldn't break down my posture and I broke the legs open a few times, but there was always something in they way and she could close her legs again. I had a very good corner man for this and it made such a difference.

Second fight was no-gi. We had a reasonably lengthy grip fight and some pummeling. I think I initiated the takedown but it went pearshape and she ended up in my guard. I had one leg around and one shin across her belly. But I couldn't bring her forward for a sweep so I went for full guard until I spied an opportunity to get a triangle. Got it and tightened it. Remembered I wasn't allowed to pull on the head, only on my knee and remembered to angle off. It was tight but not tight enough. I brought the arm across and still no go. Meanwhile she was standing up, tried to angle off, tried to get her arm out etc. I could hear her corner giving advice. When I realised the triangle didn't do the job, I attacked her arm. Armbar, figure four, cutting armbar, back to triangle, depending on where the arm was. In the end I put the other foot across her face and armbarred her. When I came out, several total strangers congratulated me and said that was a great fight to watch.

Same division, another no-gi fight. I lost that one on points. She tried various things but my defence is first rate (must be all those big guys I wrestle with all the time!) and she near busted her backside to get anything, until I escaped (once from back contol, once from side control). I had her far arm trapped from side control bottom and was within a whisker of getting a reverse triangle. From there I progressed to bottom half guard, and managed a lockdown that she couldn't get out of or launch an attack from. Finally reversed her into a bad position. Had the fight been longer, I may well have won, but I left my run too late :-) Again, a couple of people commented on a good fight. Later on, in the crowd, I passed the ref for those two matches and he said: hey, you have some good moves!!

Then another gi fight. Very aggressive young girl who went straight for a flying arm attack. I'd seen her fight before, and mostly, she smiled when she submitted her opponents, and I think she bulldozed her way through her other divisions. Well, I gave her nothing much to smile about and she had to work her arse off. Unfortuately, she swept me and got points for that and the mount. No submission, as usual, my defence is pretty tight. I busied myself with the knee-elbow escape and I don't know if I was in half guard or getting there when time was up. She looked tired, but she won on points. I think that was the only figtht she didn't win by sub. Her parents came up to me after and thanked me and said: good fight.

Last fight was no-gi again in a different division. Similar story to the previous fight. I remember a pretty hard takedown and in the ensuing scramble, she got mount. I couldn't buck her but managed to get to my left side. Fended off attacks on my left arm and chokes. There was a spot when I had her in my half guard and I controlled her head and threatened her right arm. Absolutely have no recollection of how I got there but it lasted for a fair while. Then it was time up, and same old story... she won on points.

All in all, there aren't too many places where, when I think back, I'm horrified with myself. Compared with how I fought at my first comp six months ago, this was hugely improved. I enjoyed every fight, even the ones I lost. I don't mind losing if it's fair and square and I feel I went well, and it's all mutual respect afterwards because both had a good fight. I certainly came off the mat smiling every time and can genuinely say I enjoyed myself.

The fight I won, I won by sub. The ones I lost but were on points, none by sub, so that's waaaayy improved from where I used to be. What surprised me mostly were the comments from people I didn't even know :-) But I also had a lot of good feedback from friends.

I ended up getting silver out of two in my weight class in the no-gi division, silver out of three in my weight class in the gi division and bronze out of 8 in the open weight no gi.

Friday, March 19, 2010

fat ear

My ears have been sore on occasions. Early in my "grappling career", I didn't give it a second thought, nothing was ever badly swolling, but they were sore on and off. However, I didn't know about cauli ear. As a result, my right ear has become a little thicker and stiffer. Can't really see it (well, I can't anyway!), so I guess I was fairly lucky.

Then I figured what was going on and bought some earguards. One pair didn't fit at all and was way too big and cumbersome. Then I bough a pair of lightweight Brute earguards which stay on and don't bother me too much. I hate them when it's hot though and it does make hearing a little harder.

Lately I haven't worn them much because my ears have been fine.

After Monday however, the left ear was hot and painful. On investigation, I realised that there was in fact a bubble of liquid. Having read a lot about it, and not wanting to spend time hanging around waiting at the doctor's surgery (and then running risk of getting a doctor who doesn't know how to deal with it!), I decided to use the self help approach.

Due to having a farm full of horses, I have a fairly well stocked vet box which includes a good supply of syringes and needles. Needless to say (haha), they are of thicker gauge than what would have been perfect. Animals have tougher and thicker skin. The thinnest I could find was 21 gauge. But at least they are sterile, and so are the syringes. The hardest thing was to see what I was doing and find a good spot. The NJEEK! wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, and I managed to collect some dark blood. Due to the size of the hole, it bled a little longer 8-) . Then I held a wad of tissues on it for a while to compress it.

Operation successful. Patient alive!

I repeated the same the next day and there was less fluid. The following day, there was no discernable bubble so I gave it a miss. Feels fine now. Phew.

I think I'll need to go back to wearing my fancy headgear again. It pisses me off, but not as much as sticking needles into my ear.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

last class before D-day

Sheesh, I still felt tired from Saturday!!

As several of us are going to the Vics, we just did rounds from standing, swapping partners every three minutes and getting right back into it.

Didn't go balls to the wall because I didn't want to get hurt (and sure enough, one of the guys bent his thumb back painfully, but he should be good to compete).

Had mixed success but feel quite postive about it all. One of the blue belts commented that I have improved a lot. Certainly none of the subs he tried (he loves armbars!) succeeded, and I didn't spend all of my time on the bottom. With another guy, I was within a whisker of making a D'Arce choke work, and I had much more top time with him than I usually do. Good rolls!

I decided to make that the last session before the comp on the weekend. I want to be well rested, sharp and eager :-))

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Melbourne - week 5

Last of the training sessions at DMMA in Melbourne.

Not quite so tough as the last few, even the fitness session was shorter (however, just because it was shorter, that didn't mean it was less work!). I felt the effects of Friday night's session, but it wasn't too bad. Knowing it was the last session, I think we all put in a pretty good effort.

It was a very similar session to prior weeks, so no point going through all the details again. I felt a bit disappointed in how I did against one of the bigger girls, but I was happy how I went against some of the others. As usual, my defence was top shelf, while the attacks and sweeps departments are still in need of much work. As an aside, I felt I had better balance and footing during the standup part. I experimented with trips and takedowns and while I didn't pull many off, it frustrated my opponents and they resorted to pulling guard. And some of my guard passing is getting much better.

The fitness session was short but intense. Four minute rounds consisting of alternating 30 second intervals (burpees / sprinting). That was tough. After every four minute round, we could wak or whatever for four minutes. We did three four minute rounds with breaks between them. I managed to get up to 9 burpees in, but mostly 8, sometimes only 7. I know that's not a lot for 30 seconds, but the sprints inbetween made it sort of hard :-)

I visited my brother and his family in Melbourne before heading home this time.

Well, next weekend we have the comp. The moment of truth!

goodbye cold, hallo mat

It was a good thing that Monday was a public holiday. If there had been a BJJ class, I would have had to stay at home and grizzle, as I was still not ok to resume normal activities. Still too much coughing. After all, I really didn't want to give it to anyone else.

But by Wednesday night, there was no way I could stay home. Between lectures, I finally sampled the uni pool. Time to start making use of my pool/gym membership! Pool is nice and I did some laps for about half an hour. Discovered that I was somewhat short of breath after a few laps, had a break and did some more. Only spent half an hour there. And was disgusted with how tired I felt after. I was nearly in tears, to be honest. All those weeks of hard work to get my conditioning right for the comp, and then one week of a stupid cold and it all seeemed to be gone.

Evening BJJ class came and I really was in two minds about joining in. But then I thought oh well, at worst I'll fade and end up being mat pizza in which case I'll excuse myself and watch.

And what did we end up doing? Some quiet drilling? A few easy rounds? Nope. Course not. With a comp around the corner, it was five minute rounds from standing. Not a big class but everone keen (except yours truly who was wheezing just thinking about it). And wheeze I did!

Actually, what transpired was interesting. I sometimes had trouble breathing, but all in all, my energy levels were quite good. I did remarkably well, even pulling off some subs and having good positions as well as good defence. It was great. I lasted the whole hour and was able to walk and talk afterwards :-). Sure, I was tired when I got home. But not trashed.

Friday was similar with lots of rolling (no gi this time), and I had a pretty good time. The worst part of that was one occasion when we started from the knees, and him and I simultaneously leapt forward, leading with one hand (to grap collar). So we managed to smack each other in the face at the same time. Doh. Stupid. Fat lip.... Anyway, the rest was more intelligent and I'm proud to say that I gave all the guys a lot of grief ;-) It is so good to not always be on the receiving end of subs.

Aside from rolling, we did a new drill I'll try to describe.

I have my partner's back with one hook in and the opposite hand across his neck. He gets his back to floor and turns into me. As he does, I transition to mount, but he gets half guard. He gets his double underhooks and does a whip up. I whizzer him immediatedly. He tries for the sweep with both hands around floating ribs, but I brace. He tries to tap my far knee but if that fails, too, he limp arms his way out, takes my back and gets a seatbelt grip.

I roll either way and he transitions to side control (Eddie Bravo version). He sits on my near arm, his ribcage pushes on my head and the bottom leg's knee is against my near hip. He has one arm in my far armpit, the other grabs my far leg and pulls it towards him. I turn to escape. Either way, he goes for back control and ends up with one hook in and the opp. Arm around my throat. Now that we have reversed positions, we repeat and on it goes.

The fun part of it is that you have options at various points. For example, from whip up you try different sweeps, and which works determines the next position. Also, how the partner takes side control depends on how I roll into him. So there are many variation within the drill and it becomes a flow where either partner reacts to the other one, but both still stay within the scope of the moves of the drill. I quite liked it. I would also work well as a warm up or as a high energy drill to get a good workout.
Other version: instead of limp arm, do a sweep. Say if I’m on his right, if first two techniques fail, I move my left knee against his right leg hard, grab his left pant leg near his ankle and then sit down and roll back to my left sweeping him. Goto SC, etc.

Monday, March 8, 2010

rainy long weekend

I'm sitting at home watching the rain coming down. We're having a long weekend but it's way too wet to do anything outdoors.

My cold is better. Or should I say, I'm better. In any case, I'm winning, the cold is losing. I'm going to start working out again (lucky me has a mini gym in the shed, haha), and I should be good to go to BJJ on Wednesday. YES!

Meanwhile, I've been reading this and reading that (as you do), to get a bit of a fix for my grappling cravings.

Here are two blog posts on very different subjects, good reading (I happen to really relate): - Pressure in Jiu Jitsu
BJJ Grrl - The girl card

Saturday, March 6, 2010

sniffles and coughs

Yes, a cold. Bugger!

So no training Friday night. Sob. And no training in Melbourne today. WAAAAHH!

Monday is a public holiday = no training. ..... I will have to wait until Wednesday!

Not. Happy. Not at all.

But at least not a full blown flu, so I hope that a few days off won't knock my cardio back too much. And by the time I go back to training, I'll feel fine plus I won't give this stupid cold to everyone else.

Friday, March 5, 2010

two more classes

This week is different. I've started uni, so my head was full of other stuff, and I am not yet used to the new routine. Luckily, uni and the dojo are not far from one another. Unfortunately, I can no longer go to the Wednesday afternoon BJJ classes, as I have lecture on at that time. Still, at least I can get to the Wednesday evening class.

Monday night, we worked on closed guard, how to break grips and break posture to set stuff up. For example, if we can break their posture, get over and underhooks. Then some free guard passing to put it in practice.

Then we did a bit more on rubber guard and how to get there from closed guard. Then how to progress to New York (having done the zombie), and then to Jiu Claw (I hope I have the names right, hehe). At some point, i totally lost the plot with regard to where I should start with under or overhook, which leg goes where etc. Just lost it. It was like a puzzle in 3D gone bad due to lost instructions. I felt like such a klutz. My partner seemed to get it right. I got it right once and then couldn't repeat it for love or money, even with his help. So doh! |-)

Wednesday night, we quickly went through a sneaky way to a submission just as your opponent passes your guard. Say he comes around on your right, having opened your guard. Works best if he does a knee through pass, but it would probably work if he went under the leg, too. I need to graby his right sleeve with my left hand and rotate my left foot over his arm and hook the foot behind his armpit. To trap his arm, I triangle my legs above his elbow. Then I need to reach around with both arms and clasp over the back of his upper arm and pull down. Imagine his forearm against your belly, elbow bent around your left shin and your hands pulling down on his tricep. Lastly, a hip raise at the same time as pulling down will bring on a nasty little bicep crusher. This might be useful for me, as it's happened to me a lot lately that while being passed I managed to hold on to that far arm and I'd been wondering if there are methods to do something nasty to that arm. Now I have one, hehe.

We briefly looked at a sweep from a similar setup, but I'm pretty careful rolling people over their heads so it's not one I'd like to use.

Then we did guard passing fist and a fair amound of free wrestling. I had a good time, several long rolls with loads of position changes, I pulled off some subs and fell victim to several. I had the chance to encourage tries made by less experienced guys, and explain things. It was a really good class.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Melbourne - week 4

The Saturday session at DMMA was very similar to the last one.

The big difference for me was that I wasn't completely exhausted by the time we started the rounds from stand up. That made a nice change :-)

Part of it was a lucky choice of partners in the first hour, I had a heavy-ish but but very inexperienced guy and then a lightweight young guy with limited experience at the beginning. So all the grip fighting, closed guard posture breaking rounds as well as the 'escape from' or 'hold onto' positional sparring was easier than usual. In the past I always seemed to end up with big and fairly experienced partners. (... like during the continuous guardpassing exercises a couple of weeks back, when I scored to competitive blue belts, and there was none of me left when that was over....) But I didn't just have light and easy partners. I was flattened every time by a 52 year old bluebelt. Good on him!! :-))

Anyway, but there is no question that the training is improving my fitness levels, and I guess that's the point of doing it. Well, aside from getting better at BJJ :-)

I didn't write down all the specific details of my rounds from standing. My overall feeling is that I'm starting to be more aggressive. And as my cardio and strength are picking up, I get out of bad spots better. Interestingly, it was during this session, that our instructor made the comment that at white belt level, the outcome of a fight is primarily determined by how aggressive and determined someone is, ie: the more aggressive fighter usually wins.

The fitness/strength session was tough but ok. Again, similar to last time. This time we did a sprints-starjumps rotatation with jogs for recovery. Then a pummeling-burpees rotation.

And after...? I felt pretty good, even after my two hour drive home. And no soreness the next day.