Back in the Saddle

Went back to training last night after about 3 weeks of back to back illnesses. No weights, no exercise, no jiu jitsu. Not that I lift anything other than my own flabby arse and a couple of rubber dumbells.

I was interested to go back and check my level, to see how crappy I had got. You tend to get crappy really quickly when you take time off. But it kind of threw me when I was the only jiu jitsu guy in the dojo.

My stupid sensei had decided to go to France for a week and not tell me. Or maybe he did tell me but I didn’t understand, and just nodded my head and laughed as I am wont to do when I don’t understand what someone is saying to me. I learned later that a student had won a trip to France in a raffle, and just gave it to him, so he took it. Fair fucks to him, the guy doesn’t even take Christmas off, so I hope he has a good time, and eats loads of foie gras and truffles and comes back all tubby and out of shape so that I can have a vague chance of beating him.

So I ended up rolling with the Shooto class. The instructor kindly made it a grappling only class. Whether that was for my benefit or not, I’ll never know.

I did alright, better than I thought. Learnt a few things, the main thing being… LEGLOCKS! HOLY SHIT! I couldn’t do anything without getting my legs twisted off like bottle tops. Man, it was ridiculous. I was tapping like crazy, it was like a non-stop tattoo. There was a guy there who had won the Kyushu Abu Dhabi trials and a bunch of amateur fights. He is a monster. Not big, but in amazing shape, and crafty as fuck. He’s like Masakazu Imanari, who he cites as one of his idols, in that he’s an innovative and dangerous grappler who likes nothing more than to twist your feet until your knees go pop. One thing I learned, though… or had reinforced. Don’t play the other person’s game! He would always pull me into guard, or go on his back, wait till I tried to pass, then spin round and leglock me somehow. The first and only time I pulled him into my guard, I triangled him! That felt good. But then he heelhooked me about ten times in a row, and the feeling disippated somewhat.

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Had a few good rolls with various people. Enjoyed rolling without the gi and experimenting with different stuff. I find it easier, actually, to grapple without the gi. Physically. With the gi, when you roll with someone with a tight game, you have to fight for every inch. No-gi is a lot faster and looser.

Anyway, back in the saddle and it feels great. Except for the pain all over by body, that is.

Judo on Wednesday!

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Vintage Video – Shooto vs. Judo

Found this classic clip…

It’s Satoru Sayama, the founder of Shooto, against Yoshinori Nishi, the founder of Wa-jyutsu.

It’s from the Lumax Cup, which was an early days MMA contest in Japan. Enjoy, it’s rare to see the founders of two systems lay it all on the line.

My friend’s tattoo…

Check this dude’s tat out… first time I have seen the whole thing. I had only seen the sleeves on his legs until now.

This is taken during a competition last Sunday. He won the Kumamoto Free Fight.

Dude looks like a full blown gangster… but I am almost 100% sure he is nothing of the kind. Just a far out tattoo.

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Someone from my dojo fighting

Sugi-pro, in the black pants.

Hell of a fight.

People frum mah gymz, in ur ringz winnin ur fightz

Two peeps from my gym (Paraestra Hakata) won their professional fights recently.

Okumiya and Sugi-pro.

Okumiya I know kind of well, since he speaks really good English (complete with New Zealand bloody accent mate!) and we got pissed up a couple of times at various Paraestra parties.

Here he is. What a handsome chap!

Sugi-pro I only know a little. We sparred once in one of my rare shooto training sessions and naturally he kickalised my bottom.

Anyway, they both won, advancing to the next round of the Shooto Rookie tournament, which is freakin’ sweet. This really is a step up the ladder. If they do well, and get wins in the tournament and go pro, well it’s only a matter of time until they get famous (providing they actually succeed.) Pride generally skims the cream of the crop from Shooto at various points and turns them into superstars (Mach Sakurai, Takanori Gomi, Shinya Aoki, etc. – BE sure to check that last link to see the arm-break in the first few seconds. OUCH!)

Okumiya is a really nice guy, despite his badass exterior… Very humble and friendly. But in the ring or on the mat… Yikes.

You can see the results here.
Scroll down to see our friend flipping the bird at the camera. In his post fight interview, he said he was going for the omoplata (Hello machinemind!) but ended up getting pounded to fuck. He felt nearly unconscious taking those punches, but ended up winning the decision.

He also said that training is incredibly different to competing at a pro level. (I’ve watched them train hard at our gym… they really go at it, but rarely do they actually punch the shit out of each other, especially on the ground.)

I’m going training, WOO!

Shooto… where have you been all my life?

So I turn up to training last Friday at 10:30 a.m. When you are jobless, you get to do things like train martial arts in the day time.

I walk in with my gi all wrapped up in my bag, and the room is full of stocky guys with ears so deformed they look like shellfish. Nobody is wearing a gi. My jiu-jitsu instructor is wearing jeans and about to go out the door.

“Oops. Shooto class this morning, is it?”

They’re looking at me like the way a hungry person in a cartoon sees another person as a giant comedy steak.

I consider going home. I’ve had two weeks off training and I don’t fancy getting the shit kicked out of me on my first day back.

“But you just cycled 20 minutes to get here!” says a whiny voice in my brain.

What the hell, I’ll give it a go.

The shooto instructor, the silent but deadly type (actually a very friendly chap when you get to know him) decides, I think for my sake, to work on grappling first. The no-gi grappling I can handle.  So I partner up with some guy who’s got all the gear: the Reversal shorts, the reversal top, and, um, knee pads. I like rolling with these guys. When they have all the expensive gear, it either means they are really good and I’ll get to learn something, or they are a poser, and I’ll get to beat someone up whilst wearing an outfit that costs less than their left kneepad.

That day, the guy was the latter. He had good forward pressure and very bendy legs, so for the first few minutes I was on my back defending the guard pass. But once I found my rythm, I swept him a few times and subbed him by triangle and then arm triangle.

Moved on to the next guy, another strange Japanese phenomenon… looks like a fucking killer but as humble as anything. Guy has the yakuza sleeve tattoos on his shoulders and thighs. He’s strong as an ox and kicks my ass, in a very polite way.

I roll with a couple of other people and don’t feel too bad, all things considered.

Then came the kickboxing sparring… what the hell, I tried it out. Paired up with the same poser as before, and just boxed like anybody knows how to… ended up getting through to him a few times. I think the guy was even more a beginner than me actually. After all, I have done four years of Wing Chun Kung Fu, a deadly and efficient martial art based on my arse.

I sparred a few people. It’s funny how they all have different rythms. One guy, a judo guy that I had secretly been checking out for a while (in a non-homo way) just because he moves so well, and uses his judo very well. So we sparred, and he had a great “spirit”… his stare was so strong I couldn’t look him in the eye. He played a counter-attacking game, waiting for me to throw some retarded donkey punch in the air and countering with something that usually connected with my face. It was fun.

Had a few more sparrings with different people. Got a high kick to the face and a low kick to the thigh, ouchy!

Then there was padwork, which felt really natural and fun. I’m basically a beginner, but I could feel that I was doing well, and hitting hard. The coach said the same thing.

In short, hello Shooto. Nice to meet you. Let’s do this again some time!