BJJ April 26 & 27

My cough/cold/allergy/plague thing threatened to resurface during the last week, plus my ear felt like if you so much as breathed on it it would pop and shower your face with blood and gore, so I didn’t train. I went back last night with some mild trepidation but everything was still in order. My small measure of skill had not disappeared into the ether and I still feel ready for the competition.

There is something… I don’t know. Wholesome? Satisfying? Supremely geeky? About training late into the night on a Saturday with a group of people who share your love for your sport. While most young men and women are out pickling their livers with multicoloured, overpriced drinks, we were in a sweaty little dojo training our underpants off.

The black night outside the windows, the occasional drunken reveller on his way home weaving to the window and then weaving away again, mystified, with 1970s punk blaring out of the stereo, we trained hard. There was a blue, a purple, a couple of whites, and our coach the black belt. I worked on my takedowns for the competition, with some success.

I’ve christened my first move the Cross Pick. I have no idea if it is a real move, being out here in the bubble, but basically I armdrag across my body. This brings my opponent closer to me, hopefully planting their foot in front of me. Then I drop down and across and pick the leg and work the single leg. I was actually able to do it on my instructor last night, but he does weight 20 kilos less than me. My backup plan, kind of like a suicide move, is the uchi mata, a judo flip basically, which leaves my back exposed but if I commit to it hard enough, and follow up with something else, it shouldn’t be too high risk. They will have to work on defending it before they can counter it.

I was able to collar choke a purple belt but he is quite a laid back kind of guy who has “retired” from competition so I don’t think he was too bothered.

That was last night, and I decided to go today, too, as I had been slack the week preceding. Today was much more laid back. I rolled with two young kids who I think enjoy rolling with me, basically because I am a foreigner. They are fun to roll with. A brother and sister. The sister is actually tougher than the brother and moves really well. She will be good when her body develops and she has some strength to add to her technique.

My instructor leant me his earguard because my ear is really painful. I figured I would be safe with the little girl and not need it.

Big mistake. At the end of rolling, I was moving into side control and she suddenly sat up and headbutted me square in the fucking ear. I can’t tell you how excruciating it was. Imagine having an ear that feels like it has been inflated to bursting point and that the slightest breeze wiffling over it causes your nerves to spasm like so many retarded jellyfish (?). Now imagine someone headbutting the crap out of that ear. OUCH. I tried to laugh it off, I think she felt pretty bad, but it was incredibly painful. Suffice to say I used the headguard after that which turned out to be pretty useful.

The ear may be a problem in competition though… I had to tap out to the Whitebelt Headlock (TM) today because my ear hurt too much. Hmm.

Just found out that Ao-san will also be entering the competition in May. It’s great to have another person from the dojo coming. Not so great is that he is seriously good and competing in the same category as me! Shit-flaps! Maybe we can meet in the finals…

34th OJJ, April 20

Cross posted (kind of) at the OJJ blog.

Last night was the 34th gathering of OJJ.

As usual the training was very high level. Lots of coloured belts and tough guys. We had people from Paraestra Kumamoto come to visit in preparation for the All Japan BJJ championships, being held next weekend.

After a really great warmup (10 reps of any takedown drill followed alternately by ten situps, pushups, burpees, back-ups, etc.) we got straight into the business of sparring.

We sparred seven-minute rounds for about an hour and a half, so it was killer. I went up against Yamauchi-sensei, the purple belt teacher of the Kumamoto school. Naturally he submitted me a few times but I feel that I was able to hold my own a little. My confidence in my standup game has improved beyond belief. Probably because my confidence before was “zero” and so any kind of confidence feels good.

I feel that I am in good condition for the competition. If I lose, it is because the other people were better than me, not because of me not being in shape or not ready.

I managed to De La Riva sweep then triangle a very, very large blue belt which made me happy (although my shin didn’t speak to me for a while after that.)

I guess you could say my cauliflower ear status can be upgraded to “Brutal.” I am actually vaguely worried that it will affect me in the competition as it is very painful to the touch. But now that I think about it, you never notice small things like that when you are competing. Only when the adrenaline has worn off.

The dojo that cleans together, wins together! Or something.

BJJ April 13

First things first: I’m feeling great!

Had a good Sunday session. There was about nine people there, a mix of whites and blues.

My game is coming along nicely. I can deal with pretty much everyone except my coach and the higher blues and purples. My stamina is good, my strength is functional, my kneecaps are stable, my earlobes are at the appropriate consistency.

There was a guy there from the HQ, Paraestra Tokyo. He is the same class as me… Blue belt, pena weight class, and he’s competing in the All-Japan tournament very soon. Coach kind of saved us up to spar each other until the end so there was a bit of a build up.

I knew it would be a good test for me as he was the same stats as me, from Paraestra HQ, and he would obviously be in good shape if he was competing in All Japan. We started standing and went for six minutes, so it was basically the same as a competition.

I have a way of giving up in my mind before I’ve even started in situations like this. I think, “oh shit, he must be good,” or “I should lose to this guy, so I will,” or I’m just not confident to be doing the things I should be doing.

This time, though, I was ready. I tried a couple of takedowns which didn’t work but was able to pull guard which I was happy with. Although the fight wasn’t fireworks, I was able to control him and negate almost all of his attacks. He was definitely surprised and probably a little frustrated. He did manage to pass my guard in the end but that was it for the whole six minutes. I had almost got him with a collar choke and threatened him with a triangle or two.

For me, that was enough. I am pretty sure that he was on top of his game so for me to be able to hold him off and in put pressure on him, and only drop a couple of points, was good news.

I learnt a very valuable lesson which I am going to make into a separate post.

In other news, I am definitely getting cauliflower ear in my left ear. I am pretty pleased about it, but it fucking hurts. It has been building up for the past week or so, and now it is tender every day, and blazing red and swollen after training.

It doesn’t look like much in photos actually but it’s a doozy and there’s some definite skin foldage going on.

If I can keep up this pace and condition then bring on the Copa South!

One year ago…

I was competing in last year’s Copa South. I looked at these old videos, and I feel that I have come a long way.

In the first fight, I could feel that I was much stronger than my opponent but lacked the confidence and maybe the finishing skill to go for the finish. I should have submitted him much earlier.

In the second fight I got completely overwhelmed by a very solid Hawaiian guy. I made a big mistake by putting my arm under his leg without attempting to pass, basically giving him the triangle on a plate.

Let’s hope I get a better run at it this year in the blue belt category…

Kyushu Grappling News

I took a snap of the upcoming schedule for most big grappling / BJJ events in all of Japan. If you can read Japanese, click on the filename for the full size image. It’s over a megabyte.


Here is some schedule information for Kyushu grapplers, in English.

  • The schedule isn’t entirely clear yet, but at either the beginning of April, May or July, there will be a GI (Ground Impact) grappling contest held around Japan, with one of the events being in Kyushu.
  • On May 6th the Copa South (BJJ competition) will be held in Wakamatsu near Kitakyushu. I have entered it the last two  three years running and taken bronze twice. This year, GOLD!
  • The De La Riva Cup will be held on June 8,15,22,29 at various locations around Japan, with Kyushu / Hiroshima being touted as a possible location.