Some Sumo Size Shenanigans

Yokozuna, which is the top rank of sumo (think “black belt”) comes with a lot of responsibility. You can’t just be awesome at wearing giant g-strings and slapping fat guys in the face.

You’ve got to be a fine, upstanding citizen, must always talk in a low grunt, and must never, ever act in a way unbecoming of your rank.

Hakuho and Asashoryu are currently the only yokozuna in sumo, and they are also not Japanese. They are dirty foreigners, Mongolians to be exact. Which probably explains this dirty business!

The two of them have an interesting dynamic. Asashoryu is the fiery Mongolian warlord, Hakuho is the quiet Mongolian warrior… and they are both sitting on the top of the pile of Japanese sumo at the moment. (Quite the image, that…)

NB If you don’t live in Japan or give a shit about sumo this article might be completely irrelevant in which case click here.

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Submissions Spirits 2

Just to let you dudez know another perk of living in Japan… totally wicked awesome sweet DVD magazines with the latest shiznit from the world of BJJ and grappling.

Here is Submission Spirits volume 2.

I’m reading it now. Actually, I lie. I’m looking at the pictures and trying to figure out what all the squiggly lines mean. But I’m working my way through the DVD, which has Shinya Aoki, Eddie Bravo, Jacare, Drysdale, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff as well as some hardcore Japanese BJJ and grappling tourneys.

I’ll probably write more of a review with some more information when I get time to sift through it all, and I will definitely post some video clips from the DVD up here and you can be sure they will be EX-CLUUUU-SIVE.

BJJ 25th May

Taught a class on Sunday, and it went pretty good despite having to hop everywhere.

I chose the bow and arrow choke because I have been using it a lot lately and find that I’m able to work it from just about any position.

It ended up going really well, I taught it from the back, from side control, from the turtle, and even from guard.

I did a little boning up before I went courtesy of Lockflow and Aesopian.

One other blue belt came who is my sempai, has been there longer and is generally better than me. I offered for him to teach the techniques but he stood back and waved his hands, and I learnt a small lesson then, that the teacher doesn’t necessarily have to be the best guy in the room but he does have to be willing to stand up in front of everyone and take responsibility for things.

The guys sparred pretty hard.

Here is pro-Shooto fighter Sugi-pro playing possum with one of our other resident gaijins, Kevin.

And here he is slapping on a reverse triangle in a pro shooto match.

Tomokazu Yuasa (blue trunks) vs. Toshihiko Sugimoto
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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.

Osu!

Off Topic: JapanLOL

Japan makes me laugh sometimes.

It’s like the entire country has a mazacon (mother complex), an Oedipus Complex.

Everywhere you go, there is a soothing female (sometimes male) voice reassuring you that everything is fine.

Example:

Elevators. This is an example of your average elevator journey in Japan (translated, naturally.)

Good morning! Welcome to the elevator. Please step in. The doors are opening now, please watch your step. Thank you. Please choose a floor. You have chosen a floor. The doors are closing now, please be careful. The elevator is moving now. The elevator has arrived. The doors will be opening shortly, please watch out! Thank you. The doors will close now. Be careful. See you. But watch out. Ok I’m leaving now. Bye. Careful.

Apart from the ending where I got a bit carried away, it really is like that. All delivered in the squeakiest little girl voice.

On buses, the bus driver has a microphone and gives a running commentary for the whole journey. It really is this bad:

Hello exulted customers. This is the 1-2 bus to Nokonoshima. The doors are opening now. Would anyone like to get on this bus? Yes, welcome. Please sit down. The bus will be moving shortly, be careful. Please excuse me. The bus is pulling away. The bus has pulled away. The bus will be stopping shortly, please be careful. The bus has stopped for a moment. Please wait. The bus will be moving again, forgive me for disturbing you. The bus will shortly be turning to the left, do watch out. The next stop is Yadda yadda street. Would anybody like to get off here? Alright, I will be stopping the bus now. The bus is stopping. Excuse me. The doors are opening. The doors have opened. I’m sorry. The bus is leaving again. I am touching myself. I will shortly begin decapitating my passengers. I’m wearing women’s underwear.

You get the picture.

Today while getting my leg strapped up I managed to snap this brilliant picture. It is a full A3 sized poster devoted entirely, and with no hint of comedy, to ensuring that you remember to take the pill out of the aluminium and plastic wrapping before you try to swallow it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go, my Bladder-tron 3000 is politely reminding me to go to the bathroom where my toilet will explain to me in a soothing voice how to take a dump before giving me a full-service buttwash.

WTF…

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.

DREAM matches!

I’ve just cast my votes over at the DREAM website for who I think should fight next in the middle and lightweight GPS.

You can do the same!

Head here for the middleweight matchups, and here for the lightweights.

It’s really easy, the fighters’ names appear in the dropdown menu in the same order that they appear in the picture above. You will see the fighter’s picture once you select him, anyway.

Once you are done, press the big blue button at the bottom.

Here are my pics.

Middleweight:

I have Kin Taei-whatsisname against Mousasi. I think this could be a good fight and hope that Mousasi get’s through it.

Then the Dongbar against Zelg Galesic, who I think is awesome and showed much improved ground skills in his last outing. I think the Dongbar will take it though, as Galesic is too green to be winning any GPs just yet.

I’ve got Sakuraba against Mayhem, because I think that would be an awesome fight and I think there would be some lovely-jubbly jiu jitsu on display there.

And Jacare vs. Tamura, which I think will be a great fight, and will test Jacare.

I hope that the next round will have Mousasi, Dongbar, Sakuraba or Miller, and Jacare.

Lightweight:

I quite like Caoru Uno, and was very impressed by his handling of Ishida, but I personally don’t think he has enough star quality to win something like this. Eddie Alvarez is on a tear and this could be his breakout performance. These two will show a good fight.

The other dude I don’t really care about, but I hope Aoki gets through and the final will be Aoki / Alvarez.

Head over and cast your votes, let me know how you chose!