BJJ Class, May 24, 2008

So I hobbled along to BJJ last night to cover for my instructor who is in Tokyo getting his ass whupped in preparation for the Mundials.

I did get a few strange looks when I came into the dojo on crutches with my gi pants on and a cast sticking out of the bottom of them, but that was to be expected.

Friday nights for BJJ have been pretty quiet lately, so I just sat there and watched the Shooto guys go through a really intense exercise session. Then a couple of people rolled up for BJJ including my buddy Sam, which was cool. I really didn’t do anything other than keep an eye on the timing and lead the warmup. I did some pressups, situps and later chinups, but I realised I have to be careful not to work up much of a sweat otherwise my cast will get majorly funkalicious.

It was great to be back in the dojo, that’s for sure, and I quite enjoyed just sitting on the sidelines and watching, analaysing, yelling out the odd bit of advice in Japanese. I think I was yelling “Grab his lapel with your right hand” but I might have been saying “Your mother sucks donkey balls in hell, stupid-head”… we’ll never know.

That class was over and then a couple of drifters came in for the 10pm class, including one blue belt who is very tough. (But has no stamina… I remember him completely killerising me a few weeks ago, then five spars later, he had nothing left…) He was kind of teaching a few moves to a white belt so I just let him get on with it. The class was very relaxed, we messed around with some rubber guard stuff, I got some pointers on the triangle from the blue belt, and then I watched them spar.

I am really, really looking forward to when my foot heals and I can train again. It was quite frustrating to be there, in my uniform, watching people spar, and not be able to join in.

I had a good opportunity to watch how people roll though and I think this break will ultimately help my game. I could see so many times when people were just doing completely the wrong movements. Wrestling and fighting for some grip or some position when all they had to do was change direction or switch some minor thing and they could have got a sweep or a submission with half the effort.

I am going to try to make my game much more efficient. I don’t mean that in a crappy kung fu way, I mean in a smart way. See the openings and do the techniques that require the least grunting and shoving and gurning. Be like water flowing down a river… when it reaches a boulder too big to go over, it simply flows around it… okay maybe in a vaguely crappy kung fu way.

I did manage to bone up on my BJJ reading, and got through the whole of Mitsuyoshi Hayakawa’s Basic BJJ and Alberto Crane’s Advanced BJJ books. I have rolled with Hayakawa-san when he came to visit our dojo, the man is wickedy-awesome-bo-diggety-wizard. The only thing I know about Alberto Crane is that his legs are bendy and he gets his face punched pretty hard in the UFC.

My verdict? I loved the simpleness and the large clear pictures of the Hayakawa book. Alberto Crane’s book was full of moves with ridiculous names (“Reverse flying omoplata to spinning heelhook armbar counter with extra fries”) and tiny, badly exposed pictures. Still, there was a DVD which might have been more clear.


Headspace, evaluation, bollocks.

I had started to write a big post about my situation and my headspace and other early-90s pop psychology terms, but the words of Hywel Teague echoed in my head (sounding surprisingly like those gents from Dirty Sanchez and saying something like “You’re thinking too much, Matty boy. Leeks. Cardiff. Sheeeeeep.”) and I thought, bollocks to that.

Pat at MMALife, a fellow kakutougi blogger, wrote a pretty decent self evaluation here and here, which made me think I should do the same. But I am definitely not in the same situation as he. He seems to be pretty confident with his game at the moment, as he should be, coming off some good wins at the inaugural Rickson Cup tourney. The kind of self-evaluation someone coming off a win writes vs. someone coming off two losses is very different.

Plus, he seems to have everything in order. One of those guys that knows how many calories he eats or what HIIT stands for. (Have Internet, Imbibing Tea?). Unlike me.

So I thought, fuck it. I don’t need to do that.

I’m going to keep it simple.

Turns out, my foot is broken. I had an MRI at the weekend which revealed a squiggly line in the bridge of my foot which is apparently a BAD THING. One of the big bones was fractured but has begun fusing together again in the last week, which is good. No big deal though, there is almost no pain at all and I think I will be able to persuade the doc to cut this cast off in three weeks.

That gives me time to chill and think about stuff. I’m still scheduled to teach a few days at the dojo to cover my sensei while he is in America at the mundials, and I think I will still do that. Chuck the gi on, direct the class, maybe do a technique and some pressups and situps, but skip the sparring. I can do that with a cast, right?

As for my game itself. I’m going back to basics. Keeping things simple. When I’m healed up I’m going to attack BJJ with a new vigour, a new mindset.

Priority number one: FUN! When I enjoy something, I do it well. When it becomes a chore, I don’t. Competing had become a bit of a chore. The next comp I’m going to go out throwing uchi-matas, wild triangles and crazy scrambles. Who cares if I lose, as long as I enjoy myself and perform well.

Priority number two: THINK FAST. My physical game has reach a certain (not very high level), but my mental game has yet to get there. I know the escapes. I know the submissions. I know the sweeps. But I am always a second too late in seeing the opportunity. So I am going to work on my reactions, my mugen, my zen mind state thingamjig. See the moves before they happen.

Priority number three: WORK HARD! That means never to “settle” for any position, to always push harder than the other guy in the scramble, and basically, make the other person work really, really hard to get position on me.

I’m going to print out some really basic self-affirmations and stick them on my wall to look at and remind myself when I am doing a little training at home. Nothing too cheesy… Something reminding myself to think fast, to play the game, and that I can win.

Oh, lastly, I can heartily recommend bashing your students with chairs* if you ever want to let off a little steam. Look at him, he loves it, the little bugger.

* I don’t actually recommend this at all, dickheads.

Prognosis: Suckitude!

So I went to the doctors today because my foot was really sore. I got an x-ray, which came up negative… so no large bones broken. But apparently small breaks don’t show up on x-rays. You need an MRI for that. So I will wait until Friday and if it still hurts, get one of those.

I believe the doctor’s complete prognosis was “what a load of fucking shit” with the recommendation to “be really pissed off and headbutt stuff pretty hard.”

So that’s what I’ll be doing.

Hopping around Elementary Schools teaching English is not fun on those metal leg thingamyjingies. I thought I could be all cyborgy and awesome but I was just crap at moving and stuff.

I will use this opportunity to do some “mental training” (of what that will consist I am not entirely sure yet) as well as some upper body and core strength work. Fancy names for pullups and situps.

Arse cocks!

Kick him when he’s down!

Sheesh. I went to training today with a fresh, positive outlook.

Jiu jitsu is a game and I was ready to play it more enthusiastically than anyone.

Had a good warmup. There are a few coloured belts there so sensei decides to stage a mini tournament, as practice. I’m paired up with a purple belt.

We square off and I shoot in, get the single leg and the takedown. Two points. There is some scrambling and stuff,  I stand up, and his spider guard is too good for me so I decide to sit down sharpish before I lose my balance.

Wham, I land weirdly on my foot, crushing it under my weight. Something goes pocky.

I hold on for the rest of the fight, wondering whether to quit and see to my throbbing foot, but decide to grit it out, Japanese-spirit stylee. I lose 11 points to 5 then crawl to the corner to inspect the damage… not good. Foot is buggered. Swollen, with a dark blotch on it. I can’t put any weight on it at all.

Training is a half an hour cycle from my house. I had to come back on the bike which was probably not a good idea either.

So now I’m nursing a mangled foot and a severely dampened spirit! When it happened there was a cloud so black it was almost visible over me. I was seriously pissed off. I really don’t need this at the moment.

Still, I managed to snap myself out of the funk and now I’m just hoping it’s not too serious and after a night of icing and shippuing this inteeeeeense pain will have subsided.

Shit burgers.

Works, meet Mr. Spanner. No, no… you stay right there. I’ll throw him at you! NHGYRG!

Spanner in the works, in case you didn’t follow.

Me roll with big Yakuza man.

Him got Yakuza sleeves on him legs and arms.

Me got foot tangled in him tree-trunk legs.

Him spin around quickly.

Me foot go twisty ouch.

Me kneecap go POP

Me hopes and dreams go POP, too.

Actually, it’s not toooo bad. My knee made a fucking loud pop as my foot twisted round a bit too far. It was very scary and painful. Luckily I went straight to the bone-doctor dude, a friend of my BJJ teacher, and he checked it out and said it wasn’t too bad. Taped it up real nice for me. Try not to get too aroused by the picture of hairy manflesh.

Fuck, the day after, it hurt like buggery. Now it’s abated a little. I hope for a speedy recovery. But it’s another thorn in my fucking side, along with a wife who won’t stop feeding me huge delicious meals (I know–my heart bleeds–but I am almost four kilos too heavy now, with only 3 weeks left!) and a constant, nagging kind of cold.

Anyway, I will do my best to rehabilitate the knee, get back into training, and prepare for the comp.