Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22nd 283rd day

Had a very nice training session today, filled with joy, sweeps and chokes.

First thing I noticed, is how some people use the word "love" whenever they talk about jiujitsu in general. I mean these guys won't say I like jiujitsu. They'll say I LOVE jiujitsu. They won't say I like to do this technique like this and like that. What they will say is, I LOVE to do it like this, while grinning with sparkly eyes. There's a point in someone's career when they stop liking jiujitsu, it becomes a passion. The rest of the people might end up quitting around the way, sadly, unless they have some other strong reason to keep on course.

I am very fortunate to be part of an ever-growing school where I am constantly exposed to different styles and ideas. There is no uniform mind-set here. Some people are born warriors, with huge hearts, others are incredibly technical and patient, and some are both. We have people who play inverted, deep half, DLR, spider, you name it. Prof Bruno can use his x-guard occasionally to fill the void, however.

On a personal level, I've found that transitioning to deep half is effortless when I can't play spider guard anymore, and it's a bit too late anyway. I can always try a sweep, maybe fail, but at least get back to open guard after the ensuing scramble, or back to deep half. The thing to look out for in deep half, are kimuras, collar chokes (but they don't seem to be that threatening), and the persons slipping out the other way. Control those few, and you'll be golden. I am actually grateful to both prof. Bruno and Didier for teaching me proper hand placement when playing deep half. Fooled with that position for a bit, but I need to work it some more to get consistent about it.

December 21st 282nd class


I've observed a new cycle : I discover a new move, and catch almost everyone with it (usually a sweep). A few weeks down the line, people know it, so I have to tweak it, and combine it with something else, based on their reaction and whatever I might have researched, remembered. Usually, it ends with an entry to the holy triad : triangle, arm bar, omoplata, but it can also be a sweep in the opposite direction. Now for the next few weeks, I will make believe I forgot that killer move, but would apply for it when the person least expects it.

Conclusion : we certainly grow together as a team. The better the environment, the better the athlete will become.

At this point, however, my rate of growing has slowed a bit down. I research less new stuff, and I'm more concerned with perfecting whatever I know so far, and that mostly includes thinking ahead, as in, what will be two of the person's reactions, and how can I capitalize on them?

For that to happen, I need to slow the roll down, and before acting on whatever, I now try to guess the person's reactions, and piggyback on their momentum. Purple belts roll like this, and honestly, it's a very fun way to roll : it's rewarding whenever you guess their move right AND capitalize on it.

Had an insane 10x10 training this week. Hard workout for everybody. Managed to complete the sequence, but I realize I could use a little bit more strength/intensity here and there. It was probably easier for me than for people who attempted to pass my guard, since I have to expend less energy, generally.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15 278th class

I hate the knee slide pass. I totally despise it, and all its variations. I especially hate the knee slide combined with a near lapel grip, which sets up a cross choke. I hate this pass more than I hate hot beer. I'm still debating which is worse : getting stabbed in the head, or getting knee slid for the umpteenth time(in the same training session), followed by the obligatory choke out.

This pass is so extremely hateful, that no amount of counters can actually appease my hate for it. This pass should not exist. It should be taken off the map when people roll with me. It's so much easier to protect passes on the ground, when the person tries a lazy torreanda, or doesn't know what the fuck they're doing while tossing my legs left and right while I continue taking a sip of my favorite sports drink. Why the hell did they invent this pass in the first place, to make my life harder than it already is? I think I need to do something drastic. Something so incredibly drastic, it'll appease the passing gods, like sacrifice a goat, or burn a brand new Shoyoroll gi. But will that be enough? 

Unlikely. In the end, all that matters is Bruno's broad advice : fight for those damn grips. When the dude gets all hyped up and chooses to run around my guard, and I'm still deciding which grips I should be working on, while he already has a pant and arm grip, I need to put it through my thick head that I'm about to get fucking passed. That's bad. Ok, maybe burn a brand new Shoyoroll gi, AND miss a black belt class on purpose? Will that appease the passing gods? Maybe I need to go back in time, and make sure the technique never gets invented in the first place. Like find the guy who invented it, and kick him. Then run. 

Okay, okay. I need to calm down. If I know my problem, I have half of the solution already cooked up. This pass, like any flesh-eating disease, is better cured by prevention. So other than never playing guard ever again, my options are…. Learning the damn thing in the first place, and its entries. 

Here's one : From butterfly guard, if somehow one leg ends up across the person's midsection, HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS! Or another one : Open guard, pull on one side, and place one leg in between his. HELLO KNEE SIDE PASS! Or another one : Simply put your damn knee in between his legs, and HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS! Or another one. Half guard, then stand the trapped leg up. HELLO KNEE SLIDE PASS. God damn that's a lot of entries, a lot of options. Okay, what really matters in a knee slide pass, is actually sliding the damn knee in the first place. What if I get reaaaaaly sneaky and don't allow them that luxury? What if I chose the right path to bliss, and instead of trying to push their hip with my other leg, I hooked behind their GOD DAMN KNEE SLIDING .. KNEE instead? I know for a fact there's a sweep from there. Hard to get, but it's there. SEcond thing : don't let the damned passers grab my inside lapel in the first place. Or of they have it, find a creative way to freakin brake it, while ALSO protecting the GOD DAMN KNEE SLIDE PASS. Yeah… I need to calm down.

That, and learn how to recover spider from a stuffed knee slide attempt. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dec 13th 276nd class

Rolled with mostly purple belts today. Had the chance to remember the importance of grips once again, a point prof. Bruno stressed with me the previous day. Effectively, I can dictate what's going to happen much better when I first focus on grips.I can limit the game they play, the passes they try, and I can see where I continue fucking up. Luckily, I plugged a few gaps in my little game, but the more I roll, the more I discover new things to work on.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Dec 12th 275th class

This marked the first time I was on the spot ever, and it went pretty well. Learned a few tricks, such as not giving out all the details at first, since this is a Fundamentals class. Students not only forget the details on the second try, but it might stop them from developing their own skills.
I might have to look at the techniques in more detail for next time, in case I'm put on the spot.

Got owned by Prof. Bruno as if I had just discovered jiujitsu last week, and honestly, it's extremely humbling. Witnessing the level of timing this person developed is otherwordly. Take your best brown belt, divide his timing by 1000, and that would be Bruno's timing - from ANY position. It's simply unbelievable, unless you witness it yourself - and he was still holding back his skill. He was just playing with my timing, just provoking a little reaction, I was going berserk, and next thing i know, I'm defending my back as he was already transitioning to a choke from mount. Rinse and repeat. Unbelievable. I felt as if I was drowning… repeatedly. I tried my best to grip something, but his hip placement was ages better than what I could anticipate based on my own previous experience. He was effectively beating my guard with an inch more or less in either direction. Later on, got the tip to focus more on my grips… I am lazy with my grips, and I admit it. I let the guys give me some grips, then work from there. Wrong attitude.

On the other hand, had another mini-epiphany today. Everything seemed to flow. Technique from technique felt as one, for some weird reason. Everything made sense, in a more general context of sorts. I felt this not during rolling, but during flow. Every move I was doing felt connected.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7th 274th class

Big day for Gracie Barra Montreal today : Rodolphe Beaulieu obtained his black belt from Prof. Bruno Fernandes, and Georges St-Pierre, UFC welterweight champion, got his 1st degree on his black belt.

Helped teach the Fundamentals class, as usual tonight, but realized something pretty cool : people do things differently, both good and bad. For example, when escaping the rear bear hug over the arms, some people weren't stepping close enough to the other leg, so their trip wasn't powerful enough.

Got a really nice tip from Didier for playing deep half : grab right away the far end of the person's pants (of the trapped leg).

Worked a really nice transition from the underhook butterfly pass, but whenever the person  shrimps and uses a leg to push away : switch for an underhook pass, but pull the second leg back : the pressure really sucks, as it breaks your legs open. I see one opportunity though : grabbing a kimura from that exact position. Got it twice today, on big dudes, and that stuff works!! 

Had some really productive rounds with pretty much everyone I rolled with : took the speed down a notch, and so did my more experienced partners, so we can both feel where the hell we're headed. As the saying goes, you must learn to walk before you can run. 

Overall, a great, great training day. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday December 6th 273nd day

Had a tougher time than usual both sweeping people and controlling them. At the start of the round, I don't really hunt for sleeves anymore. A lapel grip and some pressure on the person's hip seems to be quite adequate to stuff the first few attempts at passing. I occasionally end up in half guard, with people threatening a knee slide, or an esgrima pass. At that point, I seem to be able to either frame their neck and work for an underhook, or push on their near hip. They might insist on the knee slide, or even the nice shoulder pass prof. Bruno showed from open guard. I can usually recover, but my sweeps are harder to apply. I need to set people up more and more : everybody's getting smarter! I guess I'm making progress myself, but I clearly remember stuff being much easier to do before.

What I did notice, though, is that everybody is using ankle locks, including myself! Insane.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday December 5th 272nd day

Taught my first-ever technique : inner leg trip from the clinch. Got compliments from both the class' instructor, as well as a student. Led the warm-up, and gave the usual details. I've varied it a bit today. After jumping jacks/squats/push-ups, I went on to the open guard movement (three positions), neck, legs over the arm, and a bit of stretches. Forgot to do the bridge and shrimps this time around, but it was still a great warm-up.

Learned Shaolin's classic sweep from half-guard, or so it's called apparently. Need to have the person put pressure on the shin, and grab her top hand as you somersault backwards for the sweep : you also end up in half-guard.

This is going to be my technique of the month.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday dec 2nd 271th day

This is my time, this is the day I start to get bjj. Yep, today is the first time I really get it. The big realization at blue belt level is well that you only use a small portion of the incredible arsenal of moves out there. This is especially evident when jumping from gi training to no gi. First of all, for me, that means dropping 90% of my spiderguard attacks, and that's a shocker in the great scheme of things. But the thing is, once you start reviewing your rounds, you see what really works for you and what kills you as well. After a while, you realize the same basic ideas are in pretty much every move we do. Get those fundamentals right, and you become a beast. It's incredibly easy to get swamped with so much info from left and right, but nothing really works in sparring until you get those fundamentals right. I'm obviously not talking just about basic submissions and escapes, but about a general educated feel of when you are in trouble and when you're ok to push some more into a given direction.
As far as I am concerned, this is a very humbling realization. Whatever I think I know, I've just scratched the surface. A little detail like a hand placement an inch higher or lower changes the position completely. It's really hard to believe this, until you realize it for yourself.
This is obviously very encouraging, since it means I can't possibly get bored exploring, not just in breadth, but also in depth. Truly fun times await.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On running

Our ancestors apparently ran their prey to exhaustion, barefoot, on whatever surface they needed to run on. No, they didn't have cement back in the day, but close enough.

According to recent research, there's no need for fancy shoes when running, regardless of surface. Technology doesn't replace proper technique; not in running, or auto racing for that matter. It just turns out we don't run properly anymore.


Back at the lab, Lieberman found that barefoot runners land with almost zero initial impact shock. Heel-strikers, by comparison, collide with the ground with a force equal to as much as three times their body weight. “Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain.”

So what are we to do about this? This is something I will try, in order to rediscover proper running form :

The 100-Up consists of two parts. For the “Minor,” you stand with both feet on the targets and your arms cocked in running position. “Now raise one knee to the height of the hip,” George writes, “bring the foot back and down again to its original position, touching the line lightly with the ball of the foot, and repeat with the other leg.”
That’s all there is to it. But it’s not so easy to hit your marks 100 times in a row while maintaining balance and proper knee height. Once you can, it’s on to the Major: “The body must be balanced on the ball of the foot, the heels being clear of the ground and the head and body being tilted very slightly forward. . . . Now, spring from the toe, bringing the knee to the level of the hip. . . . Repeat with the other leg and continue raising and lowering the legs alternately. This action is exactly that of running.”

Obligatory Youtube video

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday November 21 264th class

Did my first warm-up ever, and apparently it was good enough in its purpose. Worked the classical sequence : jumping-jacks, squats, push-ups, crunches, side crunches, the three open guard motions and the neck warmup. Class was rather big, but hey, it was Monday.
Helped a few people with technique, to the best of my ability, but I stood within my circle of knowledge, refusing to wander out. When I didn't know the move, I stick to whatever we're told to teach.
Had a very enlightening black belt class : it was on passing the butterfly guard, taught by no other than prof. Bruno himself. That usually means it's the best advice we can possibly hope for with regard to butterfly. Surprisingly enough, he didn't emphasize running around the guard, or any funny movements, but rather controlling one or the other legs, from the inside or the outside, then either sprawling the weight + moving in a clock-like fashion, or a quick stopover.
Varied my rolls quite a bit. IN some, I insisted on playing open guard, others half-guard, others not breaking a single sweat. All in all I find it funny how little energy you really DO need to expend. Most of the time people fight for little things a bit too long, in sparring. Yeah, I have to pay for that with the occasional side control or mount, but if I can survive, all the better. I can better read the person's intentions by rolling this way. Also, I tried to go from spider to half back to spider quite a bit, in order to improve those transitions. There is a lot of work to do in that area, as far as I am concerned. Now I luckily also have the butterfly guard passes to play with as well.
All in all, good times.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16th 262nd class

I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to, but today I rolled with GSP himself for a quick 5-minute round. He used the butterfly guard a lot, as well as kimura/armbar attempts and finishes : no chokes so far. He seems to have a very simple-functional game : nothing fancy, just solid fundamentals. His arm bar was as perfect as could have been, in my opinion.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Instructor

Prof. Bruno surprised me the other day by asking me if I'd like to become an assistant instructor, in a few months time. I am obviously extremely excited about the opportunity. I would love to spread my passion for the art through detailed instruction !

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17th 240th class

On Black Belt pressure
I have realized today that BJJ is taught in a very specific way. This is the way Grandmaster Helio Gracie apparently taught, and this is the way most, if not all, schools teach. This method apparently has success, but is it the right one? That question might be tacked another time. It's not like we have much of a choice anyway. There are reasons people get taught BJJ this way, and not any other way, probably rooted deep into Samurai tradition. Again, just because it's an old method doesn't make it the best one.
What I have realized is that you rarely get taught how to hold a position, the real nitty gritty details of a specific position. We, as BJJ practitioners, most of the times get taught isolated techniques, and the rest of the time we get taught counters. This means that we get taught the "affirmative" of a position, and not ways to STOP a certain position from happening. For example, it took me a while to learn the right moments to link the different side control transitions, but it's going to take me another five years to learn all those little details small, 140lbs technical brown belts keep to themselves, knowingly or not. Small details such as holding the opposite triceps, or grabbing the far leg from under both legs in side control. These are truths the practitioner either silently stole from someone, or discovered by himself, through laborious training. There's a reason even small brown belts have such a complete and total dominance on someone less experienced but much smaller than them. It's not really the breadth of techniques, but the finesse they developed through applying the same techniques over and over again on all types of bodies. They find the right angles, the right timing and the right "invisible" controls to totally crush people two or three times their size. And that, my friends, is good jiujitsu!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

On the watering down of BJJ

As long as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's focus will remain on submissions and live sparring, there is no way the art will water down. Yes, I need both criteria to be true for my argument. Live submission sparring simply means that both people will use their entire strength and knowledge to choke unconscious or bring enough pain to coerce the other person to 'tap'. There are no short-cuts to becoming better, and there are no fancy doors for people to hide behind. If so and so holds a high rank and gets ass-whooped by a much lower belt, it either means the person never obtained that rank, or that she stopped sparring a long time ago.

I guess that if the individual schools were kept in isolation, and stopped competing with one another, it would be easy for an instructor to dish out belts to their students, much faster than other schools, and people would still validate their rank through sparring inside the school. But it's much harder for the whole discipline to water down when schools are in constant competition with one another in a system based on points.

Of course, it means that the rules themselves promote an openness and a focus on submissions, and not prohibit technique after technique until the art is no more, but luckily the people in charge of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation are not idiots : the last thing they would want is their life work to be discredited by the watering down of the ranks.

I sincerely hope that schools will continue to compete one against the other, under a system of rules which promotes growth and openness, instead of increasingly focusing on safety based on anecdotal evidence of perceived increase of safety by the prohibition of such and such technique which twenty years ago caused someone to break their arm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21 222nd class

Another fun day at the gym. Wanted to quit early, since I have to get up early in the morning, but what the heck. In the end, it was worth staying. I got to explore once again the way Bruno manages to pass my guard. At the same time, he would undertook the leg, as he stands up, but also sprawling so I have no pressure on his hips. I have already tried inverting, but he's already passing that guard as well before I can establish it by smashing my hips to one side. I try to turtle, but he's already holding my position while already preparing his choke. While I figure that I can't really escape his control, his choking hand is set. I"m essentially playing catch-up with him, pretty much all the time. Richard can sometimes be that much far ahead, and it's kinda humbling because he really makes me pay for my mistakes, unlike Bruno who moves up to a quick choke. 

Anyways, I didn't roll with prof. Bruno today, that was just a reflection on our previous rolls. I did roll with another purple belt who's sadly been out of the gym for almost a whole year, and it shows. Reflexes do go away, sadly, but the technique doesn't. I guess with a few weeks of serious practice, skills do come back rather violently. The knowledge does stay, however, and that kinda makes the whole prospect more encouraging. We all know how important, nay, vital some details are in some techniques, such as the clamping down with your leg while triangling someone, or flattening the far shoulder for a clock choke, or squeezing the knees for an armlock, or having a deep grip for a choke, etc… It's actually pretty darn amazing how a little knowledge like this can make a whole difference between getting tapped and surviving, or tapping the guy out or just controlling him. 

Again, nothing new about today's class, even though it was f****** fun. Richard showed me a sweep I should study some more, but I kinda find it douchy. Hey, if it works, I'll use it. A DLR hook would overbook a person's leg, whereas this control undercooks it. Underhook the heel on the same side with your arm. You've got two directions. EIther push away and kick the leg, or put his weight on your second leg, and sweep him overhead with a tomoe-nage. Thank you Richard!

I've had various success with the one-two spider guard sweep (for lack of a better name), but on lower belts. It's definitely, fucking definitely fucking fucking definitely good technique I have to polish, combined with the other two basic spider guard sweeps, but let's not forget the DLR, knee push sweeps, with which I have a little less success, to be honest. They are more dangerous for me than spider guard, since i can easily recompose spider, but a failed DLR control gets me to half-guard or about to get passed. Mitch does this. He forces me to play DLR (my weak game) by pushing his hips into me to break my spider guard. I need to find a way to counter that properly. So my new problem to think about is : how do I take advantage of someone pushing their hips forward into me to break my spider guard?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15th 218th day

Got the chance to roll with Prof. Bruno once again, and so I took full advantage of it. Although I still don't fully understand how he passes my guard, and I honestly think it would be a bit pointless to ask, since the whole point of sparring is to find out solutions for yourself. My take-home advice for today is to never accept inferior positions. Say my half-guard sucks. Don't accept to settle for it in any way. This time around, Professor didn't quite allow me to play my game. He stuffed it almost completely, and that's what I need to accept. From now on, I will make an effort to not settle for crappy positions. What I do find increasingly mysterious about jiujitsu, and for this I thank professor Bruno, is how one centimetre in either direction adds or removes leverage in a position. This is very evident when forcing against him and we're pretty much equal in strength. He would move in the proper direction and INCREASE his leverage just enough to overcome my position and jockey his way into a superior position. It's a mental attack first of all.
In other news, I have started inverting quite a bit more often, from pretty much any position (half guard, whenever I defend an underhook pass from spider, etc).
I have had some trouble with people me over my head when working a spider guard pass. I intend to let it happen way more often, in an effort to see what's up. This time around, professor Bruno will accompany us as a coach in the Ottawa competition in October, so I will make an effort and show up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14th 217th day

Great strides equal many baby steps, except they leave too much to chance.
I have officially bruised an ego today, and he's not exactly the nicest person to be around in the first place. Not that I did it intentionally, but it just happened. (Much higher belt than me) Guard pass, mount, side control, half, pass, mount, knee on belly, got submitted with an armlock. Passed again, side, back control time ran out.
Take-home advice is that the simplest techniques reap the most rewards, whereas fancier stuff may work sometime, but the windows are much rarer in between. That's why it's paramount for people to play games based on baby steps, where there's room for various simple techniques, but that are chained properly, based on proper timing which generate enough leverage to overcome the person's strength.
The only constant in this martial art is consistency. The more consistent the person, the better the person. There are no ifs or buts. Consistent, smart training begets success. As Master Renzo Gracie said : The trick to this sport is : while you're the nail, hang in there, until it's your turn to be the hammer. The point was that the more you get your ass kicked, the more you learn defence. A good defence begets a good guard, which begets good attacks. It's a vicious circle.
But next time, don't take offence, shut up and train.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8th 213th class

The usual two and a half hours. Got the chance to Roll with Bruno in the advanced class, so I obviously took it.

I tried to open my mind while rolling with Bruno, and he found some of the same weak spots Mitch found in my game, except Bruno can multitask much better and catch me off-guard a lot better than Mitch can. As an example, to escape a spider guard control on one of his biceps, he would sprawl on the opposite side I had my grip on, and at the same time underhook my spider leg, all while I was wondering what the fuck was happening. He did it TWICE. The same exact move. I tried putting more pressure on the biceps, but he put his hips forward to break the control. All in all, that's what I would have done too, come to think of it. It's just that he does it so much better. I might therefore have to reflect on how I'm getting my spider guard passed a bit more.

How my spider guard gets passed.

  • Strong guys tend to use their arm strength to put my hooks on the ground in a butterfly-like position. I would then have to settle for playing that, eventually moving to half guard. My game is effectively KILLED quickly, effectively and silently. Then I would get guys like Duong ask me how come I'm known for spider guard.
  • Technical guys, like Mitch and Bruno tend to push their hips forward into my guard and undertook one side. I would let go of the grips, since I would have no pressure on their biceps.

How I control the spider guard with less experienced opponents

  • Less experienced people first of all never stand. Most of the times I get passed, it's because someone stood up. Yes, I can admit now that I suck when people get up. That's what Bruno did anyway : stand up to try to pass my guard. On the knees, no such luck. That's my territory.
  • Secondly, some guys have the inspiration to simply pull guard after I pulled guard, effectively granting me a sweep. A no-go obviously. 
  • I use the leg lasso to control the position for a while, or go for the regular sweep, when the guy thinks he's passing me on the opposite side of the lag lasso.

How to control an opponent who stands in my spider guard.
  • If I don't have two grips, preferably on different sides of his body, as well as at least one foot on his hip, biceps, whatever, I'm getting passed.
  • Switch from foot on the biceps to foot on the hip with a cross grip, lapel grip ASAP, forgetting about the  biceps. If he's sprawling, arm drag maybe?


Much, much to learn.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6th 211th class

Only one hour of training today : black belt class. I initially wanted to skip one rolling session, but I went for it anyway : my knee hurts. It somehow got tweaked when I was holding mount a few weeks before. I felt the initial pain, and that should have been my cue to sit it out for a while, but I continued to train regardless, and I am paying the price right now.
Maybe the lesson to be learned is that I should let my knee recover fully. I also realized I stopped eating my litre of fruits, which means I get less nutrients in my body for repairs such as these. Must absolutely find some frozen fruits ASAP.
Other than this, had a good training session today. I am now making a few changes to the way I roll. First of all, I've switched my grips a bit to regular spider guard, for some periods of time, but I like to keep one foot other than on the second bicep, most of the time, even when I prepare a sweep. I'm also playing with the leg lasso, alternating between the omoplata and the two sweeps I currently know from there. THe new grips got me a nice sweep today on Cyrus. He found it a bit too fancy in technique, but it worked in live training. Thank you Abmar Barbosa. I also set up a peruvian necktie look-alike from side control, by faking I want to work from knee on belly. The dude didn't protect his neck, choosing, like I expected, to push my knee off. <Insert Evil Laughter here>. I am actually finding a new kick out of jiujitsu : setups. Man those are fun. Nothing more laugh-inducing than your partner walking straight to the trap you've cozily set up for him. The whole time, you know what's going on, what will go on and what his reactions are. You control the fight.
I have made a conscious effort to apply Bruno's advice : grips, especially when playing guard. I need to keep my grips tighter. That actually has improved my game quite a bit, and I am grateful to him for it. Come to think of it, it's not the first time he told me : GRIPS.
I also find I rely a bit too much on the double leg half guar pass, and that some dudes are able to either get to their knees and push me off (the right escape), or get their knee out and put it between us : requires quite a bit of work.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29 207th day

God Mondays are Rough. Could it be that crappy Mondays are the price I
pay for an unhealthy weekend of pool food intake? Tuesdays seem like a
god-given gift after Mondays. Hell, any other day beats Mondays,
Thursdays seems to be second hardest, but somehow I still have the
energy on Thursdays, but not on Mondays. Oh well.
Got smashed and passed a number of times by different people. Hell,
people I usually dominate triangled me today. I guess this is just
another regular training day, but one of the harder ones. Could it be
that I'm finally hitting a bump in my training? Do I start having the
feeling I'm actually getting worse? I think so, maybe. I think I am
actually evolving as a fighter. These few weeks will probably be a bit
harder than usual until I get over this plateau. No worries, I am
getting better, as long as I walk through that door and fight the rounds
properly. I think this is a beautiful and natural thing. Tough times
precede a sudden leap in skill and evolution. I welcome those tough
times with open arms.
It's like I feel I want to have more force and energy to impose my will.
It's a feeling I haven't had before. It's maybe that my technique is
getting de-adjusted, or maybe that I need to take some time off to
absorb all those techniques and let my body mend. What would be the best
thing to do? Either continue training, change my training or take a
break. Anyhow, I feel within my bones that this art is a marathon. You
can't rush things, you have to let them come to you. The take-home
advice is to find your own beat and follow it. Take as much as your body
and your time allows, without burning yourself out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25th 206th day

Rolling notes :
Rolled with Prof. Bruno once again, and got a free tip from him : work
on my grips. When playing whatever type of guard, I seem to half-ass the
gripping, so I could work on my grips outside the gym a bit more, or
grip with more conviction. I'm not hurting anyone if I grip the GI a bit
more. He's definitely right on this one.
Second thing I'd like to work on is guard replacement, the ones Cobrinha
shows on his DVDs, for the spider guard. Drilled enough, those are bound
to get me to guard replacement nirvana, which is where the hot chicks
and the booze are. Ok, maybe not, but it's what I should really be
spending my time doing. I personally think that guard playing is a bit
like holding a dominant position. What's the point of studying
submissions from side control if you can't hold the position in the
first place? The same applies to the guard. You can surely learn sweeps
and submissions for most of the positions you find yourself in, and get
by, but it's not until you get your guard replacement up to notch that
you get to practice those sweeps and submissions enough to develop a
cogent game.
With this in mind, I am changing my rolling strategy from now on. I want
to risk getting passed more. I want to get in bad positions (for my
guard), which will force me to use innovative ways to replace my guard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24 205th day

Techniques I remember:
Shrimp side control escape: push with the elbow and circle for the underhook
Inner leg hook after failed ippon.
Brabo with the gi from half: once he gets the underhook. Drop the overhooking elbow. Keep the weight off the guy.
Knee reaped Mitch when escaping fifty fifty by mistake. He pushed my leg over to pass my spider grd.
Fought like 4 minutes to escape an inv triangle from someones side. Bonehead move. Hate it when guys grab my head from side control then stall.
Played with Donovan from sweep to sweep to sub to sub.
Fucked up a leg under pass stuff so opened up the elbow and rolled. Maybe learn to put the damn knee back in.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18 201th class

Yay, broke the 200 number of attendances, but in reality classes are only one hour in duration, so I've trained at GB for 345 hours so far.

Very happy since my brother joined the team today. Gave him some tips on holding side control, and given he's a heavyweight, he can easily hold people down. The problem, as usual, comes when he makes a move. He's so sloppy in his transitions, but he seems to understand very quickly the concepts.

Anyway, so far it looks like this month is really ass-kicking month, since Bruno is showing us more and more deadly moves, and I really mean deadly. As deadly as a creeping slow full guard to back transition using the person's lapel (there's squat the person can do about it, with the right grips). The same lapel that can be used for the brabo variations he showed last week is now used to  terrorize a top player.

Then he dropped the bomb on us with super effective sweeps from half guard with the underhook. Hey, if they work on a brown belt, I'll add them in (they did). The fun thing about them is that they can be combined so well, like steak and potatoes. Man is it fun!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 10 198th class

Making up for yesterday's laziness, here is what I have learned. Mr. T.
showed his transition from side to mount, which I am likely to remember
for quite some time. I've already used it successfully in sparring, so
that speaks volumes about its usefulness, if I was able to implement it
so quickly.
From reverse kesa gatame, grab the person's collar, faking that you're
going for a choke. Then let go of the collar and slide your foot over
the same lapel over to mount, by grabbing it. Sneaky, deadly and useful.
This month's technique of the mount has to be the armbar from the back
with the reverse kimura grip. The overhooking arm grabs the opponent's
opposite wrist, and the underhooking arm grabs your own. Loop the
person's head out from under your overhook while keeping the grip.
Shrimp out. As the person gets up, lift up the person's elbow (easy to
take your time).
Thanks to an ex-wrestler, got another lesson in head control. I was
turtled up facing him, trying to get my head out on one side. His
reaction? Push my head down on the mat with his hand to stuff it. Man,
was that properly executed and timely!

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8th 196th class

Learned another big(tm) lesson in grappling tonight. Actually two. First
of all, I really do not need to win at the gym, well not every round
anyway. My past competition changed my whole perspective about
grappling. There's clearly training and competition. From now on, I will
make a conscious effort to flow with the go, because I finally know what
it means. Let the guy advance just a little bit on his positioning, then
steal it back with a good angle and timing. This works especially work
from open guard, since the hips are usually very free to move about.
This attitude opens up the whole aspect, and is an opportunity for both
to improve. I have a newfound appreciation of rolling thanks to this.
Second of all, as a direct consequence of the first point, I will really
make a conscious effort to expand my game, go for stuff I don't know
well or don't know at all, and see what happens. This means ending up in
weird positions pretty often, and that's exactly what I'm looking for.
In competition, I have a totally different mindset. I will use force to
put the other guy in the situations I want him to be in, so I can apply
my stuff.
Thirdly, we have finally learned more critical details about the armbar
from our instructor.
1. Push your groin as close as possible to his triceps.
2. Extend the leg over his neck and put pressure as much as possible.
3. The hand closest to his head will be used as base.
4. Grab the collar with your other hand as you loop your forearm in
between his arms.
5. Keep the grip, use the other leg to push in the crook of his elbow
and start falling to the side a bit.
6. Grab his arm thumb up so he can't spin.
Variation :
1. The guy is too strong.
2. Loop the other hand through.
3. Gable grip by looping the other arm through.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bronze at the Copa Ontario 2011 Blue light adult.

Had a great time this saturday at the Copa ontario in Toronto, organized by Toronto BJJ. About one hundred people signed up, with around 25% blue belts and up. There were even enough people for a masters division apparently.


Third fight



About eleven people in my division means some people got a bye for the first round. I wasn't so lucky. I had a total of three fights, which got me a podium. All of my fights I pulled guard, for a couple of reasons. One of them is that I am very confortable on my back and I have a few deadly sweeps I can use, another being that I don't want to be taken down since I lack takedown skills. Once my takedowns and escapes get better, I will risk working for a takedown, since I have a usable guard to fall back on. However, I still believe the guard is the most valuable asset in anyone's game, and is hardest to develop, so should be focused on as soon as possible.

I finished the first fight with a choke from the back, since the guy was busy stopping my second hook from getting in (instead of working his escape). It was pretty funny, since I felt that point of no going back, when his defense were broken, and he pretty much gave up (as in knew he was losing, so was like what the hell, and used half his usual strength). I've noticed I used a shipload of strength that fight, which made it hard for me to do my second and third fights. Apparently the guy has been training for three years. After pulling guard, I worked a DLR sweep which failed, transitioned to tripod, which got me an advantage. The guy started running away from me, but had his leg. Took him down. He turned his back away and I got mount. Put my first hook in and started working on the second one. As he stopped it, I worked a choke and he tapped.

My second fight I don't remember all that well, but I do remember being gassed the hell out. Pulled guard and worked for a double grip on his left arm. Tried to work my sweeps but guys were smart enough to lift the knee off the ground. This guy lost patience and worked a straight ankle lock. Now I have to thank our professor as well as Mitch for having trained us both theoretically and practically at escaping an ankle lock. Without their help I would probably have tapped out. The guy crossed his outer leg on my knee for a knee reap, but the ref corrected him and let the fight continue. I basically got a free sweep as I stood up with my leg planted on the ground. He closed half-guard, and I squeezed his legs together to pass. Held him down in side control, but time ran out before I could continue my attack. All the while, the guy was trying to choke me from his half guard. I just put my first on his throat every time he did that, and he had to let go.

Third fight, I was really dead. So dead I didn't want to fight anymore, but thanks to Luigi I got out there. I pulled guard. The other guy was clearly a top guy. After a few spazzy attempts to pass my guard, he got to this knees and tried to work from there. The whole stinkin' time he tried to go for a single underhook as I tried to force him to stand up. I tried to sweep him, but got no advantage for it. Tried to choke him  from closed guard, again no advantage. He tried to pass and he gets the advantage... 0-0 points 1-0 advantages for him. For me that wasn't a loss. If you can't even pass my guard, you can't call yourself better than me.

I've learned that I need more options for my guard, and concentrate on linking techniques better next time.

Loved it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27th 191th class

About a month passed since the last log entry, but I sure as hell have been training since.

I have continued to improve my spider guard, and am starting to see the weaknesses that I have when I use it. Since I don't have particularly long legs, people taller than me can sometimes let off that pressure by sprawling back, which leaves me with only a handful of good choices. One of them would be a leg lasso on the side he sprawled. That would actually stop him from passing to either direction and sets him up for the basic leg lasso sweep we've been taught. Another choice, although harder to put into practice, is to try to pull guard. Since the person is so far back, I would normally go for half-guard, at which point I would fight to regain open guard. If I have the luck to regain full guard, I immediately go for the modified flower sweep which hasn't let me down in a while. It's fun to note that people at the gym know me for my sweeps, so they're naturally way more cautious and open up much less than before because of that. It remains to be seen how my game works in competition. I have a workable top half game, couple of submissions from side, mount and back, I can regain open guard from half and I have a decent open guard.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22nd 170th class

Had a pretty informative roll with Shawn, who has a way of shutting my game down quite a bit. Threatened a tripod sweep a couple of times and a hip push de la riva sweep, but to no avail. For both sweeps, he just gets one leg slightly back, so my sweeps are either way harder to complete, or darn near impossible. Next up, he threatened to complete a torreanda pass more than once. He is very very explosive with it, so that gets me off-guard quite a bit. I have to be more agressive protecting my ankles and grabbling his top collar. In other news, I should review my torreanda defense. Thanks Shawn!

Held side control very well against a stronger guy, and I could see after the roll he was a bit upset. Well, I tried going for subs, but he wiggled out of them, but I always flowed back to side. Not my fault!  He doesn't use proper escapes either, so too bad for him. 

Health-wise, I ate like crap today, and it showed in how quickly I got tired on the mats. It's incredible how important diet is.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21st 169th class

Had a couple of revelations today.

- When going for the torreanda, and the defender insists on crunching his body, lift his legs up, and he will have to put his back on the mat. Secondly, if he tries to push with his legs, there's a way to keep the position regardless, it just takes practice.

- Discovered a sweep from combat base, but I still need to work on it quite a bit before I make it useful. Top secret stuff.

- Discovered the single-leg guard, and what makes it tick : controlling the outside leg, as far as I understand, as well as posture. One defense seems to be sitting into a reverse half-guard position, and go for a pass. By controlling the leg, and having the de la riva back take ready, the risk is a bit lower so far. Definetly need to work on my transitions from DLR to situp guard.

- Discovered what I do to break a Torreanda grip while sitting up. Pull one hand towards me and kick the leg back.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 9th 163rd class

Practiced my open guard quite a bit on all sorts of body types and experience levels. The more I practice my sweeps, the more I start to see then whole point of the art, and I am blown away. I have read about it, or heard about it; jiu-jitsu is a game of leverage and timing (as well as balance, strength, flexibility, power0 , but I think nowhere else do you see this more than in sweeps. The human body seems to generate excellent points for leverage, which actually are dependent on the position it takes. The funny thing is that you always have a direction where you have no base. Take the base away from your opponent, apply the technique when his weight is at the right spot, and boom, you're on top, regardless of how much said person weighs. It's absolutely amazing.

I want to get in competition mode, and to do that, I am focusing on sharpening whatever tools I already have in my repertoire, and I try chaining them as much as I can. However, there's a very fine balance between wanting to impose your own game on your opponent (and missing nice opportunities for sweeps/submissions) and listening to your opponent's movements and capitalize on them. This distinction is still pretty much unclear to me, however I do seem to do a whole lot better when I piggyback on whatever move the person is doing. Actually, my worst rolls come when people are extremely conservative and avoid exposing any sort of limb (for example grabbing my gi pants at the knees and just staying there). I really have a hard time with that sort of game. My best sweeps are those when someone stands up after I've tried sweeping them from the knees. My most favorite sweeps come when the person leans their weight into me in some way or another.

All in all, I've got a lot of thinking and rolling to do in order to become a competitive player.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26 155th class

Black belt class, followed by advanced and fundamentals (technique only, as usual).

Had myself a few competition-style fights, and I sure as hell learned a lot (read: got my ass handed to me). The main thing that really got me out of my comfort zone is the fact that we started from standing. I wasn't ready for that kind of fight, but hey, it's good stuff regardless.

First thing I learned, is that in a fight, you can't leave the takedown to your adversary. The difference between one practitioner and another might be so small, that you might never get those two points back. Secondly, the only things you actually attempt when you're on adrenaline, are those things you know best, and have worked best for you in the past. I seem to gravitate towards a bottom game, based on simple sweeps, as well as some closed guard action. In all honesty, my game from the closed guard sucks. I need to practice it more often if I actually will use it more than a resting place.

Next, I really need to learn to escape guillotines from bottom half guard. Those are really nasty, and work particularly well for a couple reasons : I have a rather long neck, I don't defend it properly (long enough), and I lack escapes from there, whereas the guy can jockey his position to mount or side control. This is definitely something to cogitate on in the near future.


Another point, is that I lack proper options from bottom half guard when the person has their back turned and my arms are free. The best I can do right now is to shrimp out of it, which so far results in a scramble, a turtle and back to half-guard, at which the person can go again to that point. This sucks big time, but hey, I know I have to work on it.

A big big mistake I keep making from bottom half-guard is really starting to get on my nerves as well. A deep half sweep should keep the opponent's stretched leg trapped THROUGHOUT the sweep. I can't switch from one sweep to another mid-way.

It wasn't all that bad, in reality. I got a few sweeps going myself during sparring, against fully resisting people.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16 148th class

Saw an interesting counter to the knee cross pass. Some awkward grips can really stuff the pass or at least delay it. Both hands are needed to trap the ankle as well as plenty of angle, but I am unsure as to how well this would work full force. We do seem to let each other work, but only enough.
A blue belt was promoted to purple today, very happy for the school as well as him.
Overheard an experienced purple as to how bjj is about injury management. Its such an integral part of what we do, we have to cope.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27th 144th class

Two and a half hours, despite having strained some back muscle yesterday.

Worked from bottom, as usual, my defense and escapes, mainly. Actually
got a bit surprised as to how little energy is needed to defend most
attacks. Since I was low on power, I had no choice but to use my brain
more, and foresee what the other person would do with said grips. Had a
kind of a mini-revelation today, but some people may get pissed off.
There's two sides to BJJ : defense and attack. Most people can get good
at defending, or at least they look good while defending, but here's the
thing : they defend well because the attacker's moves generally SUCK.
Yes, I've said it, people have crappy attacks in general. Rarely would
you see a well practiced 1-2-3 combo, outside of the closed guard (with
the proverbial armbar/triangle/ (omoplata)). People generally have
crappy attacks (or put quite simply, crappy submissions). As a direct
consequence of that, you will get a lot of chances to play defense. Man,
you can even let the guy get a triangle, and depending on who's applying
it, he could be so far from submission it's not even funny.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26th 143rd class

Black belt class followed by technique in advanced class. Rolling was quite enough for today, with three seven minute rounds. Rolled with professor Bruno first. He put me in a few situations to see how I react, and even studied an escape I attempted. One of the things I learned from today's roll with him is how he uses his leg to cup around the shoulder for an armbar, instead of the regular armbar. He would then use both his arms and his right leg to stop my spinning free. What I found really weird is that I would think that I'm getting somewhere, but then BAM, he would use that momentum to transition to even a better position. He would do it inch by inch, until side and/or full mount. The difference between a purple and a black belt is extremely clear in my eyes now, as opposed to six months ago.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6th 133rd class

Did Fundamentals.

Practiced the single under the leg pass with the choke and pants
control. Standing headlock escape, as is customary, by pushing the inner
knee from the inside and pulling the opposite hip.

In rolling, opened my guard right away and let people get me in
butterfly guard. Practiced getting double underhooks and/or the classic
sweep. People put their weight forward like crazy, trying to flatten me
out. I kept working either trying to whip them up with double
underhooks, keeping my position with one underhook and basing with the
other, or defending the smash pass people love to do.

Worked only with blue belts today, so that's a good feeling anyway.
Worked the DLR back take Mitch showed me in live sparring.

Advanced techniques were standing sweep from x guard and standing spider
guard far side sweep (with the leg extended).

Took it slow today to allow my body to recover slowly instead of just
jumping in and being dead tomorrow.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st 132nd class

Two and a half hour of training today, including two warm-ups. Training
was a mixed bag, as usual. There's people I can manage, and there's
people who can manage me. Overall, a real difference is seen about every
six months of training, in my opinion, and this has nothing to do with
stripes or belts. It is a purely honest-to-god assessment of what it
means to progress in BJJ. Obviously, there's different degrees of black
belts, but time-based graduation seems to be a fair one, as long as it's
more or less every six months of regular training.

Got choked by three different people with the same choke from
half-guard, and got tooled by Mitch, but in a different way this time.
Defeated his DLR, but he switched to inverted and trapped me into it.
After what seemed like a scramble, he started working a choke. Defended
my lapels while being locked with one hook, but seem to be having the
time of my life getting the hell out of there... in a bad way. As soon
as I let go of one lapel, here cometh the bow and arrow. I didn't give
it to him, so he switched to an RNC with one hook in.

I have finally asked someone how to defend the dreaded cross choke from
half, and will be applying it in my sparring, thank god.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30th 131th class

Two and a half hours today, as energy levels were up there. Great
training sessions, with opportunities for both kicking ass and learning
from more advanced players.

The most important technique so far, has been the knee cross pass, done
from combat base. As I've often encountered, my main problem lies in
pinning his leg with my arm. In itself, it seems pretty silly, since
it's arm strength against leg strength. The best I could do for now is
put a fully extended arm on his knee and put all of my weight on it,
prepping the knee cross. I've found it very important to close my elbow
on his chest as I go for the knee cross, not letting him slide a knee in
there.

I'm grateful to having both great training partners, as well as
challenging ones. I've successfully applied a reverse DLR sweep on two
people, and man, is it gratifying!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29th 130th class

Back to a one hour format class, at least for today, for the simple
reason that I need more energy and time to advance in other aspects of
my life. I will be doing a two or three class session but every once in
a while. I will be attending at least a class a day, but won't make it a
habit out of training excessively anymore.

Technique-wise, I've observed how important are the legs in breaking
down a posture for an armbar. I've also discovered that if someone
protects one elbow from the closed guard, but underhooks the far leg, I
can still yank the tucked elbow out, since I have two hands against one:
the armbar would be waiting for me right then and there.

In sparring, I've successfully transitioned more often to the butterfly
guard whenever the partner would get too low, or at least stand up. With
great success, as usual. Worked in sparring the DLR back take by
grabbing the opposite ankle and the belt. It seems to work rather well,
even when done halfway through, since I can jump easily to the back from
there.

Overall, enough JJ for today, can't wait for tomorrow's training.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24 128th class

March 24 128th class

Had tremendous amounts of fun during sparring. Used as little energy as possible and used the momentum my partners were giving me to transition where I wanted. Even asked an intermediate white belt my age weight and power to give me every ounce of power he had: transitioned to his back with ease.

Points to continue working on: keep a cool head throughout sparring. Ive outsmarted a stronger faster blue belt from my guard while he was forcing his way through and swept him.

Transitions worth remembering: guard pull tripod lumberjack. Kimura sweep kimura if partner bases. Waiter to omoplata to situp sweep.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21st 126th class

March 21st 126th class

Worked on one thing in particular during all my tolls that i have noticed before: keeping a relaxed face at all times allows you to see whenever you're forcing or not. For all the rolls I did, I took note of my facial expressions.

Bodylock escapes : put the weight in the knot and trap the top leg with your own. Push the knee with your elbow and bridge into the triangle. Insta tap.

My being relaxed then zoning into a sweep quickly raises my success rate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 125th class

March 17 125th class

Two and a half hours, as is the norm in Andreiland these days.

Applied two things I stole from saulo's revolution. Actually three. Transition to kob from kesa, worked pretty well. Positioned the knee as he suggested, and it seems to work very well into applying pressure properly. Did a peruvian necktie from side even without properly locking the guy up and it worked nicely. The second time around a disfferent person tucked their chin and bitched about it later. Transitioned to mount as well but forgot to position my leg properly to avoid a shrimp escape.

Did my favorite sweep from the knee cross pass from half which involves rolling the person. Realized that dlr cannot be played if the person goes for a torreanda. Must sit up and work frommthere instead.

I love Bjj.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10 121th class

Good
My evil arm drags to full mount combos. Nowadays I start in butterfly, with either an over or under grip and do the classic sweep. If it fails I grab the same side knee with my hook in the same side, outside and keep the person close, especially the arm. Start the armdrag sweep combo.

If my butterfly sweep worked, it's because i remembered to grab the right arm, so I finish with a knee cross into kesa and work for a stepover mount then do my double attack armbar crosschoke and eventually get the back for a bow and arrow.

In defense I spend time getting the double ankle or tripod sweeps and blocking pass attempts. I get into trouble when I defend a pass poorly and the person knows how to attack from turtle. If she doesn't, i usually recover butterfly and restart my sequence.

Bad

Technique

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9 120th class

Good
When the opponent is going for a knee cross but got caught in half, and he based the free leg, and he has no crossface set in, sweep by getting my hips under him and grab his knee. Basing out with only his free hand won't cut it.

Got my knee cross pass Saulo style, and I can say I love it especially since it doesn't twist the knee during the pass. Got it right by putting all my god given weight on the guy, with his back mostly flat on the ground.

Great job protecting the neck today, I am proud my myself. Got caught in a face smashing neck cranking smothering shallow triangle which the guy desperately tried to put on after I swept little baby jesus out of him and escaped his best attacks, including an armbar. He used pure espresso to pull in a crappy triangle, so I called it a day.

Used Valentin's own pissing off escape from side kontrol: push hip and arm as you shrimp away. He fell into his own trap. Good times. For me.
2.5 hours of fun as is usual this week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday March 8th 119th class

Good
Control of dominant position. Managed a torreanda, Saulo style. Managed to control even Valentin, most of the time.

As he transition from kob from side in positional sparring, executed bruno's escape with great success.

Swept V with the turtle defense/ escape.

Bad
Over under defense needs work. People still grab my neck making me vulnerable to chokes and cranks. My defense is getting better but it needs to be much better given the number of times I use the turtle.


Technique
For the knee slide to mount from side with the crossface, I am having a lot of difficulty controlling the inside arm. I've found that my side control might be a bit off. The solution seems to push towards the outside arm while trapping the inside arm in between my hip and her shoulder.

With a really wily opponent, such as Donovan, I'm finding myself hunting for the stepover mount with the reverse kesa gatame, but his legs are everywhere. I could transition to regular kesa gatame, but it's a whole other can of worms. As Valentin pointed out, sometimes it's good to fake going for a sub, which makes the guy forget about impeding doom and opens him up for the kill.

Actually what's really interesting is that the person gives up her back if she overdefends the stepover mount.

Personal note. Sparres with a three stripe white, stronger than me. Swept him from a high guard straight into an armbar which was tight but I was too lazy to fight for, and went to side instead.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday 7th 118th class

Two classes as well as techniques for the third class, for a whopping 2.5 hours of training.

Stuff to work on.
I need to both recognize and escape clock chokes from side control. They seem to work when the person is shrimping away from under the side control thus exposing her neck.

Stuff I do well.
Getting mount after a long and evil bridge escape from side control. I seem to stepover mount at the right time. People who tense up as I go for reverse kesa gatame and resist usually fare much better than those who bridge into me.

Techniques worked
Omoplata from a whizzered arm in closed guard. Keep the persons head down as a first point and grab the belt to avoid her jumping over. Should be used as a platform for attacking or setting up a submission.

Triamgle defense counter when person hides the choking arm under the attackers body. Break the grip at the wrist level by underhooking it. Takehome point: with enough time, the person will tap, if the choke is set up at its best.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3rd 116th class

Was able to defeat Mitch's De la Riva back take using Saulo's sequence,
and that was a pretty big win. I didn't quite pass his guard, because he
ended up working from half-guard.

Used the same defense he showed us earlier from the back : pull the
overhook at the elbow, and also pull at the wrist level. It got me a few
moments of respite until he switched to use his legs with aiding in the
pull of the lapel and seal the deal. I still need to learn to better
defend my back, whenever I do end up giving it to my opponent because of
turtling. The key seems to be protecting against that pesky overhook.

Brando's guard proved to be too much for my lazy self in fundamentals.
Got to half eventually, but we ran out of time (3 minutes only). When on
bottom, I managed to sweep him and take side at least once. The combo I
like more and more seems to be the armdrag combined with armpit knee
sweep combined with triangle, when in open guard. I also play a
triangle/hook sweep combo from the double grip foot on the hip guard.
Lately I've been experimenting with the butterfly sweep, for which I
seem to need a combo or two. I also like to transition to the back from
butterfly more and more.

Sparred with the new blue belt, and the New york blue belt who is really
interesting to roll with as well. I don't yet understand his vocabulary,
but it seems to be centered around sweeps from X-guard/deep half, a game
used by Pierre as well.

Defended both the double underhook and single underhook pass with
Saulo's techniques, and they work like a charm.

Personally, a technique that gets me worried is the straight knee hop
half guard pass, with the second hook at the knee and the crossface.
When I get there, I'm stuck. Can't move my hips, which is scary, and
can't even move my head. I do have at least one hand free in the worst
case, so that could be used somehow to break the guy's balance or something.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28 113th class

One class, due to very low energy levels.
Managed to pour enough sweat on the mats in fundamentals to warrant for
a few hours of rest. Yesterday's night sleep was a bit shallow, and it
shows.
Did an alternate escape from the standing headlock, this one used when
the opponent decides to start punching the hell out of you. Lock his
punching hand with your same-side hand, and posture up. Grab his second
wrist and bring it behind his back for a quick shoulder submission.
The second part was the classical knee wedge guard opening followed by
the standard bull pass.
In sparring, used a combination of torreanda + knee pass as well as a
leg rope pass whenever my opponent would attempt a crappy z-guard. In
defense, rolled with the armpit knee sweep a number of times. Escaped a
failed triangle attempt by turtling up away from the opponent. Worked
with the over under from closed guard and threatened to get the back a
few times. Did a really fancy escape from bottom half-guard, which
involves pushing the person's head with the outer leg, for a sweep. I
saw Bruno do it in competition, so I stole it. Works wonders if you're
the least flexible, and the guy doesn't keep his head at the right
place. Got a double ankle sweep as well as my now very appreciated
sickle sweep. One nice way to do it, in order to amplify its power, is
to handstand on the free hand, while twisting the legs and under-hooking
the ankle very close to it.
Overall, I've successfully applied in sparring two techniques I've seen
used by the highest-levels blackbelts when under stress in competition.
The thing I'm most proud of is the armpit knee sweep combined with the
knee underhook used for the pendulum sweep. It really adds extra power
to it, and I feel I can take anyone out with it.
Defeated the two on one hip control with the usual way of pushing the
leg off.
Had some difficulty passing Brando's half-guard : actually I didn't pass
it in two and a half minutes, after having tried various techniques. At
least I held my end up very well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24th 112th class

Two classes, plus technique of the third class.
This is going to be the new norm, since it doesn't really get me home
any later, and instead of waiting for nothing on the bench, I could
really use extra technique, especially if it's shown by a different
instructor. Stopping cofee definetly has me pushing me more, and longer.
I'm also starting to bring snacks to chew on before getting home.
Today, it really was a revelatory experience, since people emphasize
different aspects of the technique. For example, up to this point, I was
always taught to bring the top leg in an armbar from mount as close to
my hips as possible. This was shown to be false for two reasons. First
of all, by extending the top leg, the person gets an automatic
cross-face, so the armbar is tighter. Secondly, it puts a lot more
pressure on the person, and is harder to escape. I really can't
understand how this detail escaped me for this long. I've lost a good
number of armbars to this detail, especially against stronger guys.
Rolling notes
Used the leg rope pass in combination with the "knee to the face" slow
pass with great success. The leg rope really works wonders against lazy
guys who don't put on a proper z-guard. It really does allow for a pass
on both sides, as far as I saw. The more I roll, the more I start seeing
a pattern, a game emerging, and that is a good(tm) thing, since I'm not
really forcing myself to do a particular series of moves, it just comes
naturally.
I am especially proud of the far side underhook pass, done while
flattening the guy on his back against this bigger dude. I got caught up
pretty bad in his half-guard, but nothing a good cross-face can't fix.
I realize that the second I get put in a half-guard, or the second I
grab it, I instinctively block the cross-face and work for getting my
knee in. My efforts of recovering full guard from half seem to be paying
off more and more. The second option I go for, is the simple backdoor
sweep from deep half, whenever an opponent puts his knee very close to
my face (making it veeery tempting to transition to deep half for the
simple pass).
A second, and very memorable thing I've learned from Glen today is the
importance of pushing at the ankle level when going for the single
underhook guard pass. It really puts a lot more power on the leg. Very
noteworthy technique.
Enjoyment 8/10
Technique 8/10
Energy levels 8/10

February 22nd 110th class

Two hour session.

Fundamentals
Valentin
We stopped as soon as someone turtled up. I almost passed with a torreanda towards the end of the round I started on top. He never actually passed my guard. It's quite unbelievable how annoying a grab at the knee can be when on top of the closed guard. Got my fair assortment transitions from bottom closed guard, never actually letting him get comfortable for a pass.

Louis 1
Learned the importance of the two on one sleeve grab plus the extended leg. It's quite good control, but personally I find it's quite dangerous since the whole pivot is on the leg (which can be either bended or pushed off the hip). It's quite good opening for triangles and tripod sweep, however, and it does allow transitions to delariva when desired. It's a pretty good stalling position, until the other person realizes what makes it tick. Got annoyed quite a bit by his open guard, which is based on this position. Now, I actually see its weakness.

Martin 1
Got the chance to practice my double underhook University of Jiu-jitsu escape from the (white/blue) section, it works like a charm. Was lucky to practice about three times the knee jerk half guard pass, with a good crossface, and the person flattened out.

Advanced:
Juan
Point to remember for next time : when executing a backdoor deep half sweep, how the hell do I keep him from turning and escaping it? I did it twice, and failed. Swept him twice. Once, with the fundamentals double leg wrestling move, and a second time, but forgot which technique. Ended up in the mount preparation, full mount, he bumped, I cross-faced and landed in an arm-bar. My legs were not pinched/hugging his body enough and he wrestled out of it.

Louis(/)

Martin 2
Showed him the same things I'm working on : recovering full guard from half.

Steve(n)
Recovered full guard/open guard from half a few times, but he almost passed a couple of times so I had to turtle up. I did the escape we were shown, but he managed to shrimp out of my control, since I didn't close my elbow enough on his opposite hip and/or he was too strong for this kind of control. He's not really my weight class, so whatever. I had that pass! I also finished attacking with a torreanda, but ran out of time. My attacking seems to be pretty darn dangerous. I use the classic torreanda, or parallel knee combined with an underhook on the other leg. The dudes usually turtle, which allows me for some control. I did a good job defending the clock choke about twice, but be rnc'd me once, and bow and arrowed. The beauty of the bow and arrow is that you don't need the second leg hooked to do it. My main problem with escaping his control was that I couldn't bridge on the other side to escape his control, and he took advantage of it. Blame the weight difference.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23rd 111th class

One class. Fundamentals was pretty much empty, with a bunch of new guys
coming in, so it was relatively easy to work. Sparred with three
different guys, in increasing order of experience.

The new guy whose name I can't remember
Practiced today's pass on him as I was attacking. When he attacked,
swept him overhead and arm-barred him once or twice, for good measure.
He's a potential partner since he seems to be smart about his attacking,
and doesn't go full force.

Martin
Used only my legs to defend his passes. Used the double underhook pass escape
with great success.

The big asian guy with a crazy half/deep half game
Got a high guard, and worked a triangle, for which he defended by
putting his pivot arm inside, opening up the omoplata. He stepped over
my body for the escape, readying a pass, and I turtled calling it a day.
I actually had a good grab on his belt and his arm, but maybe I didn't
sit up fast enough.
When I attacked, it was mostly me trying to pass his half using
yesterday's technique, while also threatening an ezequiel. It didn't pan
out since I was too lazy to finish the ezequiel.
Great traning today, but I really have to cut down on coffee. The amount
of acid it generates is insane. I feel drained at the end of the day. I
want a replacement, or simply to stop drinking it. It might help if the
darn coffee machine weren't in my field of vision all day long, two
meters away.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feb 22nd

Two hour session.

Fundamentals
Valentin
We stopped as soon as someone turtled up. I almost passed with a
torreanda towards the end of the round I started on top. He never
actually passed my guard. It's quite unbelievable how annoying a grab at
the knee can be when on top of the closed guard. Got my fair assortment
transitions from bottom closed guard, never actually letting him get
comfortable for a pass.

Louis 1
Learned the importance of the two on one sleeve grab plus the extended
leg. It's quite good control, but personally I find it's quite dangerous
since the whole pivot is on the leg (which can be either bended or
pushed off the hip). It's quite good opening for triangles and tripod
sweep, however, and it does allow transitions to delariva when desired.
It's a pretty good stalling position, until the other person realizes
what makes it tick. Got annoyed quite a bit by his open guard, which is
based on this position. Now, I actually see its weakness.

Martin 1
Got the chance to practice my double underhook University of Jiu-jitsu
escape from the (white/blue) section, it works like a charm. Was lucky
to practice about three times the knee jerk half guard pass, with a good
crossface, and the person flattened out.

Advanced:
Juan
Point to remember for next time : when executing a backdoor deep half
sweep, how the hell do I keep him from turning and escaping it? I did it
twice, and failed. Swept him twice. Once, with the fundamentals double
leg wrestling move, and a second time, but forgot which technique. Ended
up in the mount preparation, full mount, he bumped, I cross-faced and
landed in an arm-bar. My legs were not pinched/hugging his body enough
and he wrestled out of it.

Louis(/)

Martin 2
Showed him the same things I'm working on : recovering full guard from half.

Steve(n)
Recovered full guard/open guard from half a few times, but he almost
passed a couple of times so I had to turtle up. I did the escape we were
shown, but he managed to shrimp out of my control, since I didn't close
my elbow enough on his opposite hip and/or he was too strong for this
kind of control. He's not really my weight class, so whatever. I had
that pass! I also finished attacking with a torreanda, but ran out of
time. My attacking seems to be pretty darn dangerous. I use the classic
torreanda, or parallel knee combined with an underhook on the other leg.
The dudes usually turtle, which allows me for some control. I did a good
job defending the clock choke about twice, but be rnc'd me once, and bow
and arrowed. The beauty of the bow and arrow is that you don't need the
second leg hooked to do it. My main problem with escaping his control
was that I couldn't bridge on the other side to escape his control, and
he took advantage of it. Blame the weight difference.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb 21 109th class

Rolling notes
Two hours.
Having a problem with defeating Mitch's de la Riva whenever I try to
step out of it by turning my knee inwards. He puts his second shin near
the hook and grabs the belt. From there, he often is lightning quick to
grab a dominant side overhook and go for a bow and arrow. The first
problem seems to be his second hook, as well as his belt grab. As a
solution, I might try to squat down as he tries to get the second hook
in to go for my back. Alternatively, I should maybe open his delariva
hook by squatting even before he gets the second shin in the danger zone.
Had a little trouble passing Cyrus' half-guard as he was grabbing my
head as if preparing a guillotine, and I didn't want to bother yanking
my head out. Tried to cross-face him, but his chin was way too far away,
so I tried to put my shoulder into his throat in the hope of getting out
of it. I did pretty good by taking his back from bottom half guard :
protected the cross-face and grabbed the under hook like a madman.
Did a very nice transition against Fred : from de la riva, by grabbing
the ankle, I switched the hook to a foot on the hip as he was standing
up, grabbed his shin and hooked his left leg for a sweet tripod sweep.
It still feels good to this moment. He also didn't like me grabbing his
free leg, so must remember to control it. As I shoved it once out of the
way for a pass, he shrimped out as I didn't have a good underhook.
Did a great job keeping Donovan's attacks off by only using my legs.
Also very happy with the toreando pass I did on Cyrus as he overcommited
on one side.
The next time I play spider guard, and the guy stands, forcing me to do
the classic sweep, to grab his ankle as well.
Did an awesome pass of Hong's butterfly : the knee skip. He transitioned
to the knees, making my live more difficult. In the end, hey, I
transition to my knees as well, but Mitch was already countering this
with proper grips when I tried that on him. One thing to note about
Mitch's game is how I reaaaally need to protect against that overhook.
He's got small hands, so he's quick as hell.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feb 7th 103th class

Two classes, as is usual these days.
A couple of techniques really stand out from the rest, and I haven't had the time to really ink them down.
The first, is probably going to be my technique of the month. The first one is used when defending from mount. If a frame at the person's hip combined with a shoulder walk failed to secure a low mount position, push upwards on the person's armpits to fend off attacks. To escape, push his armpits using your feet and roll over one shoulder.
The second technique of the month has to be an escape sequence for a standing overhook grab of the neck, in preparation of the Rnc. Hit your hip hard against the attackers and sweep him over. If he has one leg forward pushing on the lower back, the inner leg goes in between his own, and the whole body unwraps (look at his overhooked shoulder to escape).
Noticed that if I turn up the intensity just a tiny bit, I'm able to get more submissions and get where I want a lot more. What really surprised me was how Mitch refused to defend my double ankle twice, except for using force. Next time, I should remember to grab the lapel as he goes down for an easy mount.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27th 97day day

Three classes today, for a total of three hours of fighting. Two
fundamentals as well as one advanced class. Successfully applied Saulo's
scoop sequence again, and it seems to work rather beautifully, as long
as the person has no over-hook in place, or control over the free elbow.
I've personally noted the importance of keeping the elbows in. With
enough power and rest, the attacker could open the elbows for an armbar.
Worked my open guard a lot in free sparring, and noted that unless the
person has reaaaly good control when initiating a pass, I either stuff
it or go to four points and recover half-guard.
Even got my favorite sweep working in sparring today, but was a bit lazy
to get up once I did it, and the person recovered. It's most likely to
happen in competition if I don't act fast.
Had the chance to see the same technique explained in two different
ways, and the two ways really seem to complete each other. Actually, the
most important thing I've learned today is how to do a proper
cross-face. First off, the point of the cross-face is to have the person
look away from you, because if she can't look in a direction, she can't
turn her body in that direction. Secondly, it's very important to have
an over-under after a sprawl, so as to block the person from advancing,
or a double overhook control. Thirdly, the cross-face should be
performed by sliding the hand between the upper lip and the nose and
grabbing the opposite shoulder. It really should feel like a crank. It's
apparently the most basic wrestling move there is, and man, does it seem
to be effective. Here's an example : from the top of a sprawl, with the
defender in four points. Slide your right arm from the left to the
right, between the person's upper lip and nose, then grab the person's
left shoulder. She is now looking away from you. Grab an under-hook on
the person's left side with your free arm, and transition to her side.
Aim for proper hip to hip pressure while on the side. Your outside knee
should touch the person's outside knee. Switch for double under-hooks
and grab them high. Kick your free leg towards your back and transition
to back control.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26th 96 th day

January 26th 97 th day
Trained for one hour only, since I start having symptoms of overtraining, such as a negative attitude towards training. It has a lot to do with me not sleeping enough for how much I train. I could easily do two hours during vacation and still have enough for a third class, but it's a bit too much during regular hours.
Sparred with two people and had ample opportunities to practice my scoop escape as well as my chokes. Observed how people generally open up for an overhook control as they try to push one hoom off. Frommthe back, two details really changed my game. The scoop as well as gluing mymchest to their back with a seatbelt control or double underhooks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25th 95th day

Two hour format, as is usual these days.
Actually the previous blog spot was inaccurate. This month, I have two
favorite techniques. Yes, it's true that the double attack from mount
(armbar, cross-choke) still my number one technique this month, however
it's also not the only one. I have just remembered the escape sequence
from knee on belly we have been shown.
The first one is actually the preferred one, since it's much more higher
percentage. From bottom knee on belly, the outside hand will stiff-arm
the belt at the knot, pretty much around the belly button. A discrete
shrimp away from the attacker combined with a strong push on the belt
will naturally lead into a technical stand-up. As an added bonus, the
free arm, the one close to the attacker's body, can actually grab the
ankle for a single-leg take-down. In case the person resists, or is
heavy, the option to simply pull the ankle inwards still exists.
Rolling was pretty good today. In fundamentals, I've successfully
protected using Saulo's sequence (squat down lower and lower,
cross-block your lapel while the free hand blocks incoming lapel
attacks. Pinch with your knee the attacker's hook at the knee and after
finding the space left between yourself and your attacker's knee with
the free elbow, kick that leg hard and put the elbow to the ground).
I've pretty much been unstoppable with this attack, and I personally
find it's way more effective than what I currently know, since the other
methods momentarily open up the neck for an overhook lapel grab, which
is mostly a game-over or a question of time. Grabbing one hook with the
hand is probably one of the worst moves I could make.
The second major improvement in my back game, came from at least
grabbing a double over-hook and gluing my chest to the victim's back.
Control is pretty darn good, and in the worst case, you will momentarily
lose one hook, but there's always time to put it back afterward, just as
long as the legs are locked in a half-guard-like manner.
Free sparring was a mixed bag, but overall a very nice display of
technique. I've personally found out I rely a lot on the butterfly
guard, which I don't really understand that well or have transitions
from, other than simply grabbing the half-guard. Note for next time :
transition to spider-guard instead, from which I have quite a bit more
moves. The good news is that while in half-guard, I am careful enough to
block the pesky cross-face and either transition closed guard right away
or to z-guard, then full guard. While in full guard, I threaten quite
often with either a high guard or a sweep. My biggest complaint about
closed guard at the time comes from when opponents stiff-arm at the
stomach level and go for the single underhook pass. Played both the top
and bottom position in sparring, with different partners. From side
mount, isolate one hand by stepping the knee over. Actually while on the
bottom, I've had the common sense to protect against the person stepping
the knee over my head. How did I get in that crappy position ? The
person forced a knee slide pass a bit too much as compared to what I was
expecting (my usual training partners are maybe lazier), and I got stuck
in a very shallow half-guard. While squirming away, it was only a
question of time until I tried to transition to the turtle position, but
the person saw it coming and flattened me into side control. I've tried
bridging, but his control was superb, transitioning to kesa-gatame and
not letting me put my elbow to the ground at all. Tried to off-balance
him a few times, but his control was damn good. I didn't let him have
the mount, and he knew it would be a dead-end, since I was awake. So he
tried the so-called step-over side control, which he failed to complete
for lack of time.
The other sparring sessions were not as memorable, except the last one.
The person let me attack, and I quickly transitioned to top half-guard.
After quite a bit of fighting, I got side control. The mount preparation
was pretty hard, since the person was grabbing the step-over leg just
before I would transition. Played his game a bit, until I finally got mount.
Played another round against a dangerous bottom deep-half player. He
tried quite a bit of sweeps, but his setup was crappy, so I generally
transitioned to half, which opened the whole game of who gets the
underhook. It was a good call of closing my half-guard (by locking my
legs together), since that stopped quite a few of his sweep attempts and
let me work for that underhook-cross face combo. Passed to his side
about twice from half.
The other memorable technique of the day was Ippon-seoi-Nage. The
professor showed it as a two-step process, similar to a hip throw.
Recalling what the black-belt Judo person said, the two most important
things of the throw are the initial off-balancing, right after freeing
the attacking arm, combined with a darned good pinch of the person's
armpit by using your forearm and arm. Once the arm is locked, it's just
a question of time.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24th 94th class

Did the usual two hour format. First hour was fundamentals, starting
from the back position. Got to practice Saulo Ribeiro's survival
position for the back, as well as his back escape. Was decently good at
defending chokes, but exposed myself for the occasional armbar as I
overprotected the choke occasionally. Had quite a bit of difficulrty
while trying his escape for the back, mainly because the opponent was
stiffening his leg as I tried to push the hook off with my free elbow.
Had the chance to practice the body lock escape as well, with pretty
good success : i got it open, but opened up for an armbar somehow right
after. Not sure what quite went wrong.
Had quite a bit of fun in the advanced class as well. Worked from and
passed butterfly guard a few times. Found the importance of the double
underhook when defending with the butterfly guard. Tried the sweep a few
times, but got caught in half guard, or Z guard most of the time. Did a
decent job of defending the cross-choke, and of either recovering full
guard, or getting a deep half position, at times. Got a nice triangle as
well as a sweep from spider guard. Recovered full guard and worked the
kimura, kimura sweep a few times. Been so long I did a proper Kimura
from closed guard, I acutally forgot to position myself properly to
finish it, when I actually had it on a rather big dude.
Worked the Ippon-Seoi-Nage from the regular Judo grip. Must first break
the grip by circling outwards and then upwards, then, very importantly,
pull the person abruptly and go for the first part of the move, which
consists in simultaneously underhooking the person's armpit right about
at the elbow level, and pinching hard. Hip out on the same side and
bring the second leg in line. Had the privilege of working with a black
belt Judo guy for this move.
I believe that my technique of the month will be the cross-choke to
armbar transition from the mount. It would go like this : Get one hand
in the lapel, quite deep, and prepare for the unavoidable mount my
shifting the weight on the right side. As the person does the Upa, give
her space, and lift up her elbow in transition. At this point, you have
a choice. You can either let her come down, into a cross-choke, or
continue upwards, for an armbar after a good-ol crosschoke.
The point I kinda question, is what happens if the person frames the
attacker at the hip, or tries to shrimp out instead of bridging ? That
seems to be a rather good defense, but most people don't use it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jan 20 93rd class

Jan 20 93rd class

Two classes.

Noteworthy tehhniques

The hip throw, also called O-goshi, can actually be performed on the opposite side. The technique likely bears a similar name.

Instead of the now classic, and personally preferable way of escaping a knee on belly, we now have a second option. Wrap the top knee from the outside with the outer arm while also shrimping away from the attacker. Perform a techical standup after making sure the leg is completely wrapped at the knee( and not higher.

Sparring notes
Starting to tap into controlling the mount as well as escaping. While I have better and better equilibrium, experienced blues catch me in chokes, from weird transitions as well as healthy doses of strength.

To my pleasure, I find myself escaping from more and more positions, while seeking more and more sweeps.'In general, I should keep focusing on preventing either neck or lapel control. It seems to be a rather weak point due to my having a decently long neck.

Even with the occasional tap to the experienced blue, I take note of whenever they resort to brutish strength as a personal victory that I am escaping quite well.

As far as controlling white belts of similar experience, I have no trouble whatsoever, getting the occasional side or back control.