Saturday, March 19, 2011

ouch! and new gi

So, we had no class on Monday. Public holiday.

Wednesday lunchtime class, I managed to do something to my neck. Nothing serious, feels like a pulled muscle on the right hand side. It happened when I rolled, although I wasn't rolling hard, nor putting strain on my neck. It's on the side of my previously injured shoulder, and it's been a little tight for a few days. So I guess it was just waiting to cause me trouble. We didn't warm up very much before class, and the light roll was part of the warm up. Ah well. As they say: shit happens. Considering all the issues I used to have with my neck years ago, it's holding up damn well to all the abuse it's getting.

But bottom line was I that I missed Wednesday night and Thursday night :-(

I did go to open mat last night. Rolled very lightly with an advanced white belt who I know is pretty controlled, and he let go of everything, including chokes which went anywhere near my neck. So that was good, I got my BJJ fix and my neck wasn't any worse off. The rest of the time, I helped some of the other guys who were working on stuff for today's grading.

So, today is grading day. I'm really glad that my neck is up to participating. Not that I'm grading, but I like to be there to help and there will be quite a few guys trying for new stripes.

Other news... I got hold of my new (well almost new) gi. I got hold of a barely used Koral Light gi. Price was right, size was right, and I'd been looking for another blue one. I didn't realise that the gi top is rip stop rather than a traditional style weave. I realised this when the guy handed me the gi. Oh well, looks like now I have a ripstop gi. It fits pretty well. Due to my &*#$*!! neck, I didn't get a chance to use it until open mat last night. The top is a lot lighter than the other gis, and I found that the lapels came undone/loose very easily. I guess if I were less vain and tied my belt tightly around the narrowest part of my middle (instead of sort of around the hips...), it wouldn't be so bad ;-) So, first impression is a little mixed. I shall report back.

I picked up a patch kit. Been deliberating about that for a while. But since the school ordered a bunch of kits, I finally got one. Yes, one. Contrary to rumours being circulated, I won't be buying all the patch kits to badge up my entire gi collection. I shall post pictures once I've decided which of the gis will be prettied up, and how.

more about the winning business..

On the subject of winning and the meaning of it, read this excellent post by clinzy:

What does it mean to win in the gym

Turn your training time into a win-win situation!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

the last fortnight

My oh my! I'm behind by a fortnight. Not good...

It's just been a busy time at uni, with job interviews, catching up on work at home/on the farm and training, of course. Being away all day and then training and finally sitting down for dinner sometime around 10pm is not a good when it comes to finding the motivation to write blogs :-)

Anyway, training wise things have been going well. In class, most of the white belts are preparing for the up coming grading, so they are doing a lot of syllabus stuff. I have been roped in several times to help, other times, they were working on their stuff and us coloured belts worked on other things. Or just wrestled.

In the way of techniques, we worked on the basic sweep (shin across), the single and double hooking sweep. I finally seem to be getting my act together on that double hooking sweep. I managed it to both sides. To get more reps in and develop some kind of sensitivity, we did a drill where our partner is on our hooks but defends our underhooks, so that we have to get one, which then determines the side which we have to sweep to. I really got that happening, effectively blocking his arm. Somtimes I found that I wasn't quite lined up, but when I rocked back, I just elevated him on my hooks, rocked again and then set him down on the side I wanted. That was a very useful session for me. A lot of things clicked.

Another day we did open guard sweeps if someone stands in your guard. I worked with on the blue belt (going on purple) guys. There was a version with a same side grip on his sleeve, and an axe kick to the back of his leg. And another version with a cross grip and a hook behind his knee.  Drilling the sweeps was no problem.But when it came to doing some free guard passing to use them, I was like: ??? What??? I knew I wanted a push and pull and at least three points of contact. But it just kind of didn't happen. He passed my guard effortlessly virtually every time. On the other hand, I think I managed to pass his guard once or twice, the rest of the time I got swepts in every which direction. I was THIS close to a severe sense of humour failure. I hate being a klutz. Oh, and to add injury to insult, I ended up with blisters on the tops of both ring fingers from gripping his sleeves. Hurt like anything in the shower, and has necessitated band aids every class since them. Wow. Ah yeah, and my fingers hurt, too.

One night we worked on omoplatas. Oh yes. Big sigh. O-dear-o-platas. I had two left legs and two left arms and couldn't coordinate shit. It was sad. Sometimes, in a wrestle, I hit an omoplata out of the blue, but if I try to set one up, I can't for the life of me get my hips into place, let alone get my arms and legs sorted. I think that needs a lot more work. But I'm sure it will happen. One day... :-)

A couple of classes were spent on rubber guard. I don't mind that, having long and relatively flexible legs. It's another type of guard I can hassle people with.

The rest of the time in class and open mat of course were spent on having fun. I rolled slow with those who wanted, did some stuff from standing with the guys going to the comp, and helped some of the new guys with specific problems they were encountering.

I focussed on not getting hung up about having to do well, so I deliberately let stuff go and trying for things I don't normally do. I think that was good. I accidentally found sweeps where I hadn't seen any before and I discovered a way to the back from half guard bottom. I also had success against the nemesis :-) Managed a sweep, had an fairly effective open guard, got top positions a few times and even managed to choke him out once. I was ecstatic just over the sweep and the open guard!! That aside, I had a number of really good rolls with some of the senior guys.

I've given up worrying about not having a coherent game plan, or stringing several techniques together, or better still, attack with one technique and setting up the next by capitalizing on their defence. I'm sure that will all come to me when the time is right. I've learned that nothing is fixed, my knowlege and my skill levels are expanding (though sometimes it doesn't feel that way), and just because something has not been working doesn't mean that it will never work. So I'm getting more patience. The puzzle pieces are slowly but surely being added to the big picture, and big chunks will start emerging soon enough.

The other day I had a mini insight. I was travelling to class and thinking of what sweeps might be possible from an open guard position I've recently been getting to. I think it's called Z-guard. Anyway, as I was picturing my position and my opponent's positions and trying to figure out what I could do to take away his base and sweep him, something occured to me. I can't just look at the position and the grips (both of us), but I must consider the pressures. For example, it would be vastly different if he sat back as opposed to him coming forward to try and stack me. So the two types of pressures would need different sweeps. And then the next consideration is what I can do to maybe change his pressure to set him up for something I want.

And suddenly, it's all even more complicated :-)

I think I will ask my instructor about this, and then I can go and experiment and think about it some more.


Following a post on the UG Forum, I found a story about DJ, a BJJ student. He went from 179kg (396lb) to 79kg (179lb) in just over two years.

That is nothing short of amazing. Just think of it: he lost more weight than he ended up weighing. Or put in other words, he is now less than half the size he was when he started. My hat off to DJ and to the people at his school who helped and supported him.

I've read other stories about big weigh losses and life transformations through training BJJ or other demanding activities. It can be done!

My wish is that more of the big people can be motivated to help themselves. I see so many of them. But then again, there are so many people of all sizes whose main exercise area is the couch in the loungeroom. Too busy, too old, too tired, too unfit (!) are the most common excuses cites when some form of exercise is suggested.

We don't all have to turn into fitness freaks. But everyone can do something to help improve their health and their life in general. And those folks like DJ, who have made extraordinary changes, are an inspiration to others.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

beginner advice - repost

I'm reposting Nev's post on the Aikido Journal. I think all this equally applies to BJJ. Enjoy!

When you train ENJOY.
Enjoy movement for its own sake.
Do not obsess with “getting it right” the first time, then stand around beating yourself up mentally because you think you are wrong.
Or chattering.
You are not on display.
It is not an exam.
You are not wrong.
Simply try to come close.
Then repeat.
And continue repeating.
As the mind-body-ki connection is healed through practice THE TECHNIQUE WILL REFINE ITSELF.
Not because of stress or volition or undue striving.
Nor because of intellectual understanding, which will come with time, but because you are MOVING.
Movement is life.
Breathe and move.
Do the best you can do for that moment and let it go.
You are not here to be judged or to judge yourself harshly.
You are in the dojo to unlock and release all that junk that is getting in the way of you being YOURSELF.
The dojo is a place where with respect, you have permission to be YOU.
So drop the social acting, role plays and expectations.
Stalling in this way is useless.
Trying to intellectually understand a technique before doing it is futile. MOVE!
Do something. Anything is a good start.
There is no “wrong” movement, just less or more harmonious movement but you can only make a start from where you are at right now!
The more you move, the better it gets and improvement is guaranteed!
Provided you do move.
Standing around thinking is a waste of time.
Just do what is best for you for that moment. AND LET IT GO. Forget it.
Tomorrow is another day.
Remember, however, that it is a martial art and one thing which will get you hurt or killed in a real situation is freezing.
This freezing is a reflection of old trauma, parental abuse and bad schooling where you were told you were wrong, embarrassed, humiliated, violated, or abused.
None of these are teaching techniques.
They are abusive.
The error lies with the abusers.
Reclaim yourself… MOVE.
You are not expected to do a technique perfectly for the first 500 years.
And after 5000 years you have to begin refining again.
It never ends but now is now.
Start with a single step.
Even the best sensei and the greatest master is still learning and will continue to do so.
So when you train do so for enjoyment.
Yes it is a dojo, show respect.
Yes it is a combat art, be aware, awake and vigilant.
Yes it is physical, mindful and intense so be present.
But above all leave your ego, your worries, the world and the past OUTSIDE.
When you bow onto the mat you enter a ‘spiritual’ domain where you and your dojo compatriots are dancing with The Great Cosmic Universe.
Nothing else matters.
There is nothing wrong with you.
We all get a tad “rusty” from the rigours of life on earth and lack of regular fine tuning and proper use
And though many will not admit it, we all started with some degree of clumsiness, two left feet, all thumbs and possibly even bad suicide habits from other arts.
That’s life. Accept it. Accept yourself. And accept that all new endeavours carry some measure of discomfort because CHANGE is disturbing the inertia of old entrenched habits.
This too will change, but only with regular, manageable installments of regular training input and movement.
Transformation is guaranteed but it takes time and due season and cycle to bear fruit.
There is great healing in this, for you, for those close to you, for society and ultimately the world.
So enjoy training, MOVE and be kind to yourself.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

more figure fours

Monday night we worked on attacks from closed guard. Following last week's theme of figure fours, we first drilled the figure four from guard.

Then we looked at the hip bump sweep and got in a fair few reps just working on getting good technique at smashing our hip into our partner. Lots of reps. It was pretty jarring to be on the receiving end, but it was really good to get a feel for it. It's a technique that's always been hard for me, and I think I have a much better handle on it now.

Next we looked at the hip bump sweep to figure four combination. Essentially, as he posts his arm on the floor to avoid being swept, we secure that hand by grabbing the wrist. Next, we separate that hand from his body (to forestall him grabbing on to something to defend later) by pushing our hip against his hand. For this, we have to open our closed guard, and I found I ended up sitting about 1/2 body width toward the side of his trapped hand. Next step is to bring my knee forward to tip his elbow towards me. That angles his body across mine and makes it much easier to reach over and get the figure four grip on my other arm.

Next thing I do is to bring his elbow to my armpit (on the side where I'm reaching over his arm) and then I rotate the lower arm for the submission. Bringing his elbow forward like that really makes the lock come on sooner. I experimented with this and found that by the time I reef his elbow across and into my armpit, I get the tap. If I just rotate the lower arm, I need to rotate it a long way.

When I looked at the angles, it corresponds perfectly with what Ryan Hall says in his back control concepts, where he talks about the figure four grip from the back. It made a big penny drop in my head.

We rolled for a bit at the end of the class. I had one partner only, one of the bigger white belts. For my taste, I spent a bit too much time having him in my closed guard and not enough time doing stuff. But I nearly got an armbar, and I got his back once, easily. Stupidly, I was too busy trying to choke him and not spending enough time ensuring I controlling him, so I lost it. Oh, and I was too busy laughing because a certain someone was making comments about the "poor guy". End result was he got away. Oh! Ah well, he had three chances to try for a submission from good positions, and ever time I got him back into my guard. In the end it was a fun roll. I could have done much better, could have worked more open. But what the heck, I'm not going to continuously beat myself up over stuff. He's a big boy, and I gave him a lot of grief. Plus, we both had fun and we both took something away from it, some thing was learned. And that is (to me at least) one of the measurements I apply to determine if it was a good roll.