Good training

Training update:
BJJ and Judo are going good. BJJ two times a week, judo once a week, and at least one good hard round on my chin up bar and free weights at home, and I’m really seeing a difference.

I need to: practice my drills. I have learnt an inside sweep, outside sweep, and an over-the-back throw. Crap, my mind is all fuzzy at the moment but when I get back to judo, I will remember the names and write an outline here for myself, to help me remember.

Jiu Jitsu 
Training is going good. Today I rolled with a pro-shooto fighter who was in town for something or other. He Darce choked me about eight times in a row, ankle-locked, kneebarred heel hooked my face off. The only thing I managed to do was pass his guard, keep side position for about a minute, then transition to knee on belly and go for the baseball bat choke. It was really fun though, and, like many Japanese fighters, he was super-humble, and knew when he had a submission–he didn’t need to crank anything, so I didn’t get injured.

Random thoughts:

– My triangle choke wasn’t working lately. I figured out how to cinch it now, though. Always hide my opponent’s shoulder under my thigh. If I can see their shoulder, they have breathing space. Also, until now, I’ve been getting into position, and then just squeezing, which usually doesn’t work. What I need to do is get into the best position, squeeze, then adjust my legs tighter, squeeze again, and keep adjusting until it is cinched as deep as possible. Then raise the hips and pull down on the head. It’s all things together, not just squeezing.

– Passing: For example, passing from standing, to my left (opponent on the ground, their right.) Until now I have been passing by pushing their legs to the right, then circle stepping in with my right leg, jamming their legs and transitioning to side or knee on belly. My coach has changed the sequence now, so that as soon as we are clear of the legs, we switch our hips and put the left leg forwards, ideally to knee on belly. Then, sit on their chest, facing away from them. Keep hold of the legs so that they cannot shrimp or sit up.

– Using the half guard on judo people. From half guard, instead of going for butterfly or sweeps, I’ve found that half guard attacks and sweeps work better. X-guard (mine sucks), so that I control one of their legs with my legs, and the other, I hook my arm under their knee. Pass their hand to mine and hold there, take the balance and sweep.

– Been trying to use some Eddie Bravo stuff. I’m not ready to plunge into the rubber guard yet… after all, I can use the gi to control people and I am still working on my traditional guard and open guard. But I like the lockdown, whip up, and half guard work from there. I’ve been able to make use of old school.

Andre Galvao Seminar

I got my hands on this cool video, Andre Galvao, BJJ legend, giving a seminar somewhere in Japan. Here is a clip from a fantastic documentary called “Arte Suave” where you can see his innovative and enjoyable-looking training.

He outlines some pretty sweet techniques, three of which I will stick here for posterity. Hopefully the act of writing them down will help me remember them. There are two half guard sweeps which is great because I really feel my half guard needs some work lately and gets too easily passed.

1) Rolling Sweep
From half guard. I’m on my right side, right leg in between his legs, left leg up in the right side of his body. If I don’t have any space I need to frame up on him (push him away with my forearms) to get some space to work with. I grab his gi at the wrist on his left arm with my left arm. My right arm grips the folds in his gi pants on his left knee. Initially I try a kind of scissors sweep, getting some action/reaction going on. As he pushes back against me to stop the scissors sweep, I use that, switch my left hand grip under and to the inside of their wrist (so that I can pull the arm towards me easier.) I arc their arm over my body, pulling their weight over me. As I bring their arm down to the mat, at the last minute I thrust it away and down, taking away any possible base, and roll over my shoulder for the sweep, landing on top in half guard.

2) Half to back
Almost the same setup as before, except my grip is left hand in the collar, right hand gripping their left knee. I push and pull, get them up over me on my knees, then quickly shove my right hand, and thus their left leg, away and down from me, kicking my legs out, and rolling their back towards me. Then get the hooks in and take the back. Sounds weird but looks great on video, and I can’t wait to try it.

3) Counter against passing half guard sweep
I’m on my right side, they are passing towards my right. As the knee comes through my legs, I hook my right foot on their right thigh, so that my knee is gripping his knee, kind of. Foot curled around their leg. Then I secure his gi at his left wrist with my right hand. My left hand is in his left collar. Put my left leg on the floor, pull him over me, stuff his arm down between his legs and roll over my shoulder for the sweep.

I really want to try these out next time I roll.

While googling for Andre Galvao I found this cool video, I’m going to have to see if this is as easy as it looks, too.

Some smooth-as-hell BJJ

It’s a demonstration. Unscripted, freestyle. Obviously they are not fighting each other, but flowing really, really nicely.

Check it out.

BJJ class

What a difference a day makes!

24 little hours.

First of all, I’m not going to keep writing down every little technique just for the sake of it. I’m going to only write down the ones that I feel “click” for me during class, or that I feel might click. Otherwise it’s just too many techniques for a noob like me. I’m going to try to collect my thoughts on the basics, and things to remember when executing the sweeps or subs that I do know, and about the training process in general.

Back to the title of the post.

What a difference a day makes! For the last few months (too long, really…) I’ve been coasting along doing two lessons a week, basically just to keep myself in shape and maintain my level. But I was definitely not improving, despite kidding myself.

I came into the new year with new determination and an eye on competing in the spring time, and stepped up my training and for the last 3 weeks, I’ve gone either three or four times per week. And wow, what a difference.

My stamina has gone up (but I think that’s also to do with my moving house, and having to cycle home half an hour up a steep hill), my techniques are getting crisper, and I’ve felt myself finally, tangibly improving. I tested my theory at the last three training sessions, where there were people that I’ve been training with at the same rate for the last six months, and used to always give me a tough time. I was able to control them and submit them with a lot less grunting effort than I used to. The big test was this big guy who always goes all out and freaky eye poppy veins coming out whoah watch out please I broke my nose just a couple of months ago and I’m a bit paranoid stop shoving me, that guy. I watched him totally decimate a newb with his pushy shoviness, which I thought was just not on, old chap. He called me out for the next sparring sesh. I started off my usual relaxed self, thinking I’d practice my open guard sweeps, but he starts the old bullsrush hulk smash technique and something snapped in me and I said, bugger it, I’m going at his pace. I swept him, held the mount for a while, can’t remember what else, he got side control, reversed that with the dodgy triangle sweep, knee ride, finally ending with just a few seconds to go doing the bow and arrow choke (what did I call it? Cradle choke).

Yes, I know. Sparring is just for improving technique. But damn, this guy only has one speed: “WAR”. It felt good to be able to not only match his pace, but exceed it and chokalise him. Unfortunately he split his lip and got blood on my new white gi.

With my ego nicely polished, I proceeded to be nice to him for the rest of the session and all was right with the world. I told him in broken Japanese, “that’s the pace you set when you roll with everyone else.” Trying to tell him not to spazz out on everyone because one day, someone will spazz out on YOU!

Here endeth the lesson.

What did I learn?

1) When getting a grip, think about the grip. I shouldn’t just randomly grab something. If I am grabbing the collar, how deep can I go? I realised getting a good grip is more than halfway to finishing whatever collar choke you are looking for.

2) Work on a gameplan. But not too rigidly. No more random rolling and looking for opportunities. I want to start linking moves together. Use one to set up another. I want to have weekly goals and themes. This week, I’m working on my guard game. Aggressively going for armbars and triangles, and when they defend, see what opportunity I have for sweeps. And, vice versa – go for the sweep, while they worry about that, change to a sub.

BJJ Class, Tue. Dec. 27

Haven’t been for a while, so it was good to be back. There was only one other BJJ guy there, and a class full of Shootors (MMA). Which is fine by me, I like some one-on-one tuition.

The teacher was subbing for the regular sensei who now teaches out at a branch on Tuesdays. This particular guy, only a young lad, just got back from 3 months of BJJ training in Brasil, with the Brasa team (or at Vieira’s gym or something… anyway) so he is chock full of good info, funny portuguese words and interesting odours.

We decided to work on some guard passes.

By the way, you should know, I basically communicate in some kind of English / Japanese hybrid at training, and rarely catch the correct names for anything, so if you want to give me the right name for something, feel free to! Although the “right name” is a relative concept, janai desuka?

Standing open guard pass
I am standing. Opponent is sitting, playing some kind of crappy open guard. I grip my opponent’s gi, left hand inside his knee, right hand on the other leg, lower down near his sushi roll. This particular pass involves dropping to my right knee and jamming my right shoulder into his left inner thigh. My left leg is posted out behind me. Keep the grip on the left leg but bring my right hand out, around his leg, across his chest to the lapel on his right breast, Grip with the thumb inside and little finger down (as opposed to putting the fingers inside and the thumb being up). At around the same time I rip his right leg down with my grip, so that it is flat on the floor, and sit on it, knee on either side of his knee.

Then, I sneak my right foot over his leg, and tuck my toes under the outside of his right leg… basically, getting your hook in, ready to pass the right leg. Let go of the right pant leg and bring your left arm up to grab his collar behind his head. Same grip as before. At the same time, switch your hips to the right, passing his leg, and let your right leg swing all the way back out behind you to slap on the floor.

Jumping open guard pass
Similar set up to before, except instead of dropping to one knee and driving my shoulder in, I pull his right leg down to the floor, jump right over it (my left foot landing clear of his leg), allowing my body to twist and naturally fall to the ground ending up in the same position as the end of the above technique. My shoulder drives into their chest. Key point to remember is to keep both grips on their legs and keep their legs off the ground until I have secured position. It is difficult if not impossible to shrimp away when you can’t put your feet on the ground and your legs are being slightly lifted.

Ha, I finally learnt a useful application for a wing chun move… Huen sao. I was trying to pass someone’s open guard, and ended up fighting their spider guard. He had a grip on my wrist, and his foot wrappped over my arm and basically in my armpit. I sat down to try to escape the grip (he had a very, very strong grip on my gi at the wrist) and couldn’t, so he helped me out. This guy, Ide-san, is 40 something years old, and always gives me tips on how to use strength less and technique more, and this is a perfect example of it. (He came silver in his division and age group at the all-japans). So, I am stuck with my arm in between his calf and thigh, he has a kind of deep spider guard, and man, it is almost a bicep slicer, it is so secure. All I have to do is huen sao (rotate my wrist out to the right) so that my hand sneaks to the outside of his thigh. Then, creep my fingers up his leg (it helped, strangely, to do it cm by cm, like a spider… ) then clamp over his knee and pop my wrist up. His grip is invariably broken.

Dang, that’s hard to explain.

Sparring was good. There were only a few of us by the end of the class, so we joined with the shooto guys and rolled with them. I was thinking of something I read in yrkoon’s training log about the chair and ball analogy, and taking away a leg etc., and it came to me in a flash of inspiration as I was under someone in a kind of strange half guard and he posted out on the arm and I thought “chair leg! chair leg!” and scooped it out from under him while kicking my leg up for a nice sweep.

I have got this really simple butterfly guard sweep working nicely now. I don’t know why but people seem to always fall for it… I can practically dive one-footed towards them, jam my foot under their thigh / knee, fall on my side and flip them. Soon they’ll catch on I’m sure.

I had a great roll with a purple belt where we flowed from one technique to the other, a positional kind of roll rather than the grab-someone’s-arm-and-try-to-rip-it-off-while-gnashing-your-teeth type roll I often get. He even did the Rickson Gracie flip on me… I felt him overbalancing towards me, scooted under him, and flipped him right over my head a-la-Ryu and Ken’s grab attack from Streetfighter II, but to my surprise I felt him twist in the air and land with his feet on the ground… sneaky bugger.

One more sneaky bugger move, more of a “ha ha” move than a serious technique, kind of a novelty.

You are in side control or attempting knee-ride. Person puts hand on your knee or wherever and shrimps out. The point is, they arm is now across their body around or just above their belt. Here is the technique: shoot your hand through their belt (go in under where it is tied so your hand pops out above where it is tied) and then clamp onto their forearm. Voila. You now have a very strong grip on them at or around their centre of gravity, so it gives you quite a lot of control.

BJJ Class, Sun. December 10

A monster 2.5 hour class! Well, not that monster, but pretty good nonetheless.

I’m changing my “person” in these to the first person, because really, I am just instructing myself—I am not good enough to instruct “you”.


“Peekaboo” Sprawl Counters
1) Bodylock
I shoot, opponent sprawls and locks both arms around my body under my arms. Step one is to choose a side, start to peek my head out to that side, under his armpit. I go for the left side. Then I reach my left arm out and back, down the side of my body, and clamp his right arm tight against my body. My left leg is posted out to the side, my right hand posted on the floor between his legs. This, combined with my head pressing up and into him, creates some space to switch my right leg out, which I do, sitting on the floor. My right leg should go out almost in line with the direction of his body, not out at ninety degrees. So, as I sit out, keep the arm gripped tight and my head pressed against his body to control him. Then quickly let go of the arm, switch my legs back, turn to face him, and take his back with a clutch grip.

2) Head and arm hold
Shoot, sprawl, and opponent has grips around my left arm and head. I again post my left leg and right hand on the floor, ready to switch my leg through the gap and out to the side. Reach up with my left hand and secure a grip on his forearm under my neck. Then, switch my right leg out to the left, this time, perpendicular, immediately spinning to my left after posting, keeping my head pressing into his body at all times. Spin all the way to my knees, securing him with my other hand. He ends up chewing the mat with his right arm practically kimura’d.

The problem with these techniques is that when someone does a good sprawl, you don’t have the room to switch your hips under you. So I guess the important things I have to remember about these techniques is to not let my opponent sink down on me, set up the counter quickly, and work to create the space.

There was another technique too… I just need to remember that if I am halfway through the technique and I lose a grip on my opponent’s arm, or if he lets go, then I should change and go for the single leg, assuming that I am close enough to it to be able to grab it quickly.

BJJ class, Sun. December 3

Went over some very basic techniques as there were some kids and a beginner present. Learnt a hot tip for the RNC though… only a small one. Once one hand is around the neck and hooked on the opposite shoulder, instead of putting the other hand over the top, cupping your bicep, and then bringing the foreram back to behind the head, put your hand behind the head first, then wriggle your hand into the crook of your elbow. This way, you don’t put that second hand in front of them at all, and don’t give them a chance to defend that stage of the choke.

Sparring was relatively uneventful except I met a guy who hauls blocks of ice for a living and is amazingly strong. Also a guy scraped his shin down my nose while setting up some kind of armlock and scared the crap out of me and my recently-broken nose.