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 :-)