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.

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Weekend Stuff

I took a few days off training for various reasons. Tonight though I’m off to OJJ.

Yesterday I went into the city with the missus and checked out my favourite overpriced Reversal stockist, and lo and behold the famous “Who says the striker can’t grappling?” t-shirt was there!

With Reversal t-shirts costing as much as a small island nation, I could simply stand and stare with my tongue hanging out. The shopkeeper saw my tattered jeans and non-gold-plated head and promptly shooed me out of the shop, but not before I had a chance to snap this baby:

My BJJFJ membership card came through, ysss! *fist pumps air* Ysss! That means I can now… um… well, it means fuck all except I’m 2000 yen poorer and I now have the priviledge of paying to enter lots of competitions. Woo.

Last but not least, some Lego models of World Heritage sites, on display at a shopping centre. Fascinatingz!

One more thing… anyone who has cauliflower ear out there… how long does it hurt for? Mine has been tender for about a week, and even though I took about four days off training, it’s still hot and hurts like buggery. It doesn’t help that a three year old punched me in the ear the other day, but still…

Know your blogger! Japan edition.

Inspired by Hywel Teague over at Notes from Ringside, I decided to get some film of me sparring at OJJ on Sunday night.

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It was another good session. We just did a warm up and then got straight into the sparring. Five minute rounds. I think I did about six in a row before my muscles started to really ache and I took a rest. Things are going pretty well at the moment, my stamina isn’t bad and my techniques are working for me. The blues and purples still give me hassle (and the occasional white, if they are good), but overall I’m feeling pretty good. If I can get my strength and stamina up a little more and just refine a few combination techniques, standup techniques, and my finishing, I should be okay. Not much then /sarcasm.

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I can’t recommend filming yourself enough. Well, not too much, but you should do it now and then and check yourself out. There are many reasons… if you look like shit, most likely you are doing something very wrong. You get to check your posture, you can see the huge holes in your game, see missed opportunities, and whether or not you have a big sweaty arse crack.

Without further ado, I present a freshly-shaven monkey in a jiu jitsu gi for your amusement. I am the one with a big nose and round eyes.

OJJ March 23

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My body hurts. My fingers are red raw. My face is still glowing like a beetroot.

All signs of a good training session! I had a fantastic time last night at the 32nd OJJ. OJJ is a kind of social club at our dojo which originally started as a club for middle-aged men (or parents) who couldn’t come at other times, or just wanted to hang out and talk about cars or soft porn DVDs or whatever the hell it is middle-aged men talk about. It has mutated now into a wicked group of all ages and sexes that train very hard.

I had all the different aspects that, to me, signify a good training session during last night’s “jiu jitsu marathon”.

In no particular order:

I got owned.
The all-Japan blue belt champ from a few years ago (now a very solid purple) totally ownerised me, including an accidental knee to the head and a palm smash directly to my nose. Aside from those sneaky tactics, he was very quick, very strong, and very technical. Total ownage, great fun.

I owned.
There was a monster of a blue belt who I was paired up with. I wasn’t looking forward to it because last time we rolled (even though it was about a year ago) it was a slow, painful death for me. To my great surprise and joy, he was completely out of shape and I managed to triangle, armbar and collar choke the shit out of him. After about four minutes of this I realised something was up, and after the round ended I think he went off to barf in the toilet, but hey, we have to take these small victories where we can.

I persevered.
I had a few of those rolls where you feel as weak as a baby. Where your arms feel like useless pieces of balsa wood, and as you grip someone’s collar or sleeve, you know the chances of you moving them or controlling them are slim to none. Kind of like grabbing an elephant by the tail and trying to push it around. But I made sure I just kept pushing myself to keep moving, keep trying, for the full six minutes. Those rolls are very good for you.

I didn’t learn anything new, but it was a good, physical session. I managed to do one sweep that I’ve slowly been working on and now can count it as a useful part of my arsenal. It’s a good counter to a guard pass. If you can’t defend the pass and it looks like he’s passing, let’s say to your right, make sure you have a spider-type guard on his right arm, but instead of your foot pressing into the crook of his elbow, it’s your left shin. Keep that grip on his right sleeve with your left hand. Bring your right leg up, knee/shin across his chest if you can, and put your right heel on top of your left heel, basically so that your heels are touching but with your right one on top because you are going to push with it. Grip his left pant leg at the knee with your right hand, then push your heels down, your shins out, punch his leg up into the air, and roll up to sweep and land in knee on belly. Difficult to follow hey, but it worked last night.

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Ten coloured belts… that’s a pretty good number. Including 2 all Japan champions and one all-Japan absolute third place!

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A good chance for white belts to practice as much sparring as possible.

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Ide-san, the don of OJJ.

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Hardcore sweat, steaming up the lens!

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Where to put my patches?

I have got a couple of patches for my new gi, and I plan on buying a new academy patch for my other gi. But where to put them? I found this image on the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu federation home page, I hope it is accurate. I’ve heard rumours that patches on the legs are just a big no-no. Maybe it’s my crappy Japanese? Anyone got the scoop?

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OJJ-ness

Today I went to OJJ.

OJJ is like a mini club we have at training. It stands for Oyazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a play on the Japanese word oyaji, which means old man (middle aged man, really), and Brazilian.

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Originally it started for all the old farts to get together and train. They sometimes brought their kids and wives. Then we all realised that the old farts are fucking tough blue and purple belts, and we wanted to join in. The old farts realised they needed young nippers around to keep things interesting. Anyway, now it’s basically just this club that meets on Sunday nights and does some really good training. I designed t-shirts for this group a few months ago.

Tonight was the first one of the year and it was great. Some peeps came from another school at least two hours drive away, which was fantastic. They were pretty tough, too. At the end of the class, the don of our group gave a nice little speech about how all BJJ schools in Kyushu are a family and we need to work together to get tougher, so that we can fight in Tokyo with the best of them. I hope this is the sign of things to come; sparring with good students from other schools can only help us all in the long run.

Training was good, although my first roll completely exhausted me. It was with a big, tough white belt from this other school, who completely drained me of my strength. There was some kind of pride thing going on, with both of us wanting to do well for our dojos. I tried not to have that feeling, but it just kind of came. I felt terrible and he was able to pass my guard and hassle me, but not submit me. After that my physical condition was pretty low, so I resigned myself to one of those training sessions where you really have to grind everything out, but you know it will improve your stamina in the end.

To my surprise, things picked up after that and I was able to dominate a blue belt from the other school. This year, I really want to become a monster in jiu jitsu, someone who never stops attacking and never stops moving. To do that, I basically need to build up my strength and stamina to the point where I don’t stop for the whole six minutes. Of course, it really isn’t as easy as that… the first spar killed me, and the second, I felt bad because the guy was smaller than me. From now on, if a guy is smaller than me, I will relax and use technique. If a guy is my weight or above, I will relax and work on refining technique, but also just go as hard as I can, every time. That’s my plan this year.

Then I had a roll with my instructor, who despite weighing about 20 kilos less than me completely kicked my arse all over the room.

I had a good, technical roll with a guy who recently won the blue belt category at the Campeonat Japonais, and got his purple. It was one of those fun rolls where you are not being too aggressive, you can ooh and aah at each other’s moves when you pull off something nice.

The class sparred for over an hour with only a few minutes break, which was pretty tough, but more sessions like that will definitely do wonders for my stamina. Train hard, fight easy.