Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Guard. BJJ Nova Forca

I was feeling slightly lethargic today and when Oli text me to say that he wouldn’t be able to train I was looking for an excuse not to train myself. As no excuse was forthcoming I plodded off to BJJ but I’m so glad I did.

Tonight’s warm up and workout were slightly easier than usual but nonetheless we still worked up a really good sweat especially going from knee jumps to sprawls.
We were then shown a couple of techniques by Ricardo which emphasised using your legs to help retain guard.
So with me on my back, knees bent, Uke stands by my feet and then steps with his left leg across to my left side and places his foot by my waist. My reaction to this is to shrimp on my left side and then bring my right leg over and place my right foot on Uke’s left leg and push off of it to regain guard and shrimp to my right where Uke then steps with his right leg and repeats.
After a while Ricardo then showed us an extension to this technique where, after the initial shrimp to my left I grab Uke’s leg with my hands and roll across my shoulders and pull guard. Annoyingly I don’t know if this technique has an exact name so I can’t find any videos of it but if I do I may add them later.

We must have drilled these techniques for about 30 minutes before we lined up. Then six of the senior guys were called on to the mats and we all had to take it in turns to try and pass their guard but we started by holding both of their legs together at the knees. This is a pretty good position to start off with but I was first paired up with a black belt and not just a BJJ black belt but a Judo black belt as well. As you can imagine I was unsuccessful in my attempt but I wasn’t alone. Some of the other seniors eventually had their guard passed but not the Black Belt and neither did Tim, a brown belt.

After ten or so minutes we were given a couple of minutes to take water before we started sparring. I paired up with James who was roughly my size and had been doing BJJ on and off for a couple of years. Although he caught me early on with Sode-guruma-jime for the rest of the roll I was able to defend pretty well and almost caught him at the end with a reverse triangle (San-gaku-jime) so I was pretty pleased with myself.

Ryan was next up and I got subbed with an Americana (Ude-garami) and then later on Ryan got full mount and was working towards an Arm Bar (Juji-gatame) when Ricardo called time. I really need to work on my escapes from the mount as at the moment I only know one and I’m usually not very successful with it.

My final roll was with a guy, whose name escapes me. He was quite small but also practised Japanese Jiu-jitsu. I caught him early on in a triangle (San-gaku-jime) but was not able to finish him as he was keeping his head close to my chest and trying to stack pass me. Also the fact that, for most of the time I had him in the triangle, I had locked my legs the wrong way. By the time I realised this my legs were getting tired and he was trying to pass my guard to my left. Realising that it was inevitable that I was going to have to let go of the triangle and that he was going to immediately end up in side control (mune-gatame) I was preparing to turn in to him and shrimp. I was therefore really pleased when my plan worked and I was able to shrimp back to full guard.

Although I couldn’t finish him with a submission I was really pleased that I was starting to think steps ahead and that my shrimping was improving.

Judo awaits me on Thursday and the continuation of my Yellow belt grading. I can’t wait.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Mellow Yellow

My first Judo lesson for two months, due to the club being closed for the summer holidays, and I was very surprised that Peter told me that he was going to start my Yellow belt grading. As with my Red Belt grading this doesn’t have to be done in one go, which I was very grateful for as I did feel more than a little rusty especially with my throws and use of Japanese words.

There was a new senior tonight, new to me anyway, his name is Mark and he is a Green belt. He used to train here about 18 months ago but due to work commitments hasn’t been able to attend in that time but he was back and according to him, enjoying himself.

Having someone a little bit closer to my level can only be a good thing as apart from Ryan, who is a white belt but also a Blue belt in BJJ, everyone else in the club is either Brown or Black Belt. I didn’t get the chance to train directly with Mark tonight but at least when I do he will be less likely to be “taking it easy” with me, which I’m sure most of the others do.

After a quick stretch and warm up we went in to various breakfalls (Ukemi) and as I was doing them Peter ticked the ones that I have to for my grading off of a sheet. One of the breakfalls I did was Mae Ukemi which is a front breakfall. This was the breakfall I did several months ago which gave me my shoulder injury and I was little nervous about doing this but I managed to get through it ok and got another tick from Peter.

Following this we went in to some turnovers when Uki is laying flat on his stomach trying to stall for time. This is something I have not seen at all in my BJJ training as giving up your back in BJJ is like Boxing with your hands by your waist, sooner or later you’re gonna get put to sleep. However in Judo competition the referee will call matte if you are not able to improve your position very quickly when your opponent is just defending like this.

We then did some Newaza and I was paired with Troy. We were told that this was to be light Newaza so I was conscious not to use too much strength but although Troy is considerably lighter than me he is a Brown Belt so is obviously technically better which then means I resort to strength over technique. I took Troy down and tried to work towards Mune-gatame (side control) but couldn’t properly hold him down so I tried to get full mount but Troy managed to get half guard. Peter was watching and said that I shouldn’t have given up my Mune-gatame as now, unless I quickly got out of side control, a referee in competition would stand us back up.

This is the fundamental difference between Judo Newaza and BJJ. In BJJ your main objective is to submit your opponent by either a joint lock or a choke. If your opponent does not give up by tapping you continue until the joint is broken or until the person is choked unconscious. This is why BJJ works so well in MMA where the focus is to make your opponent submit or knock them out. Judo on the other hand now has such a large focus on what works in Judo competition.

If I got in to a real fight that went to the ground I would not want to hold someone in Mune-Gatame as it would achieve nothing. I would try and get a superior position, ie the mount and then punch them into submission or look for a joint lock or choke. I personally think Judo is losing its way as a form of self defense by concentrating so much on what can be done in competition and I think this focus is wrong but who am I to voice my concerns openly to experienced Judo Black Belts.

We went on to practice Ippon-seoi-nage which is a throw I need to perfect for my Yellow grading. We broke the throw down in to entry, braking Uke’s balance and picking Uke up and holding them on your back. Then when we finally got to do the throw I was able to perform it pretty well. I was paired up with Oli for this and he allowed me to just practice my throw on him rather than the other way around as he knew I had to nail this throw for my yellow belt. Of all the people I train with at the club Oli is probably the best Uke for me as he is reasonably close in height and weight, he resists just enough to ensure my technique is correct and always gives good feedback.

The lesson finished with some light Randori and I paired up with Troy again. Apart from the Ippon-seoi-nage, which I was never gonna get on Troy as he is a lot shorter than me, I am very rusty at throws so not surprisingly I struggled to get anything to work and even my trusty old Tani-otoshi failed me. Troy did point out that I was very stiff in the arms which I need to work on.

Next week I will have to perform Ippon-seoi-nage ona resisting opponent to get a tick on my Yellow grading and no doubt we will then concentrate on the other two throws (O-ochi-gari & Tai-otoshi).

I’m fairly comfortable with O-ochi-gari but my Tai-otoshi definitely needs some work on as does my knowledge of Japanese words for all the technique’s.

Providing I pass my yellow grading I should get this within a month which means I might be able to grade for Orange before the end of the year or at least be well on the way towards it which would be great.

Now on to BJJ and last week I mentioned that I had purchased an A-5 size BJJ Gi from eBay, well the bloody thing would not shrink at all in the wash despite a 95c wash and two at 60c. As I can’t send it back I have now put this up for sale on eBay and once sold I will purchase an A-4 from the same company as I know it should fit me. If however I bought an A-4 from a different company then their Gi’s would more than likely shrink and end up being too small like my Judo Gi is now although I’m gonna keep it for a while as I’m not sure my wife would appreciate me buying two new Gi’s in quick succession.

Next week I intend to write two blog entries, one for BJJ and one for Judo so I’ll be busy

Friday, 17 September 2010

Analyse This. BJJ Nova Forca

Since last week I’ve realised that I can’t give the BJJ up neither can I just take the odd BJJ class when my Judo club is closed for three reasons.

1) I want to keep pace with the other beginners and if I didn’t train until the next holidays i.e. Christmas, I’d get totally owned by them.

2) There is so much to learn with ground fighting and taking what is essentially a Newaza lesson every week can only help my Judo.

3) I just enjoy it too much.

I’ve also purchased a BJJ gi from eBay as, with my BJJ class on a Tuesday and Judo on a Thursday I’ll struggle to get my gi washed and dried in time. Also my Judo gi has shrunk quite a bit and to be honest will also need replacing but I’m going to wait until I get my Judo yellow belt before I treat myself. The name of my blog will still remain the same though as I still consider myself a Judoka first and a Brazilian Jiu-jitsuka second.

I went to Tuesday’s class with one eye on the two day spa break that my wife and I were going on the next day so I was slightly conscious that I didn’t want to be sitting around the pool at the Spa or having a massage whilst covered head to toe in bruises and for that reason I wasn’t quite on the ball tonight, at least that’s the excuse I’m sticking to.
After another tiring warm up Ricardo showed us a really nice sweep/reversal (not sure what the difference is between a sweep or a reversal btw)

So you start on your back with Uke in your guard grabbing your gi near your sternum. To break Uke’s grip you use both hands and grab his gi around his wrist and pull hard upwards and then to your right side. Then your left arm grabs around Uke’s back and grabs their gi by their right shoulder and at the same time you move your head towards Uke’s left knee. You then slide your right arm under Uke’s left leg and lift them up with your right arm and pull them with your left arm thus ending up in full mount.

I practised this with Oli and he seemed to like this one as it was one he hasn’t seen in Judo and he was clearly quite looking forward to trying this out at Judo sometime.

When Ricardo shows us a technique he gives us a good twenty minutes or so to drill it so by the time we go on to sparring we have all really got something that we know works and that we know we can make work. As usual when Ricardo walked over to check on me I had just swapped sides from doing this on my right to my left side which usually takes a few minutes to get the hang of as everything is in reverse and so of course I did it all wrong and he had to show me the technique again. The same thing happened last week so I’m not sure if he thinks I’m totally useless or just not trying.

We finished up with sparring but I didn’t manage to pull off a submission on anyone tonight and I left feeling a little deflated. In fact the title of this blog was going to reflect how I felt at the time but since I have had a few days to analyse things I realised that I rolled mainly against Blue belts and I’ve never managed to sub one yet. I only rolled with two white belts one of whom is a big stocky guy who has been training quite a while and I did manage to escape a few subs and try a couple of my own before finally being subbed twice but we rolled for about 5 minutes with each person so again that wasn’t too bad. The other White belt was Oli who is of course a Brown belt in Judo so again there is no shame in being submitted by him. In fact I did manage to sub Oli once with an Ude-garami or an Americana. I also tried a Juji-gatame (armbar) from my back a couple of times and got close to catching him but he was able to get out of it twice and then able to get side control. I did feel when rolling with Oli that I was maybe using too much strength at times which is a habit ’ve tried to get out of as it doesn’t really achieve anything in the long run. So maybe on reflection I was being a bit harsh on myself and next week I should maybe seek out some other white belts to roll with so I can check my progress a bit better.

One thing I did learn was that trying to use the spider guard that Ricardo totally dominated me with the previous week is not something that you can pick up just by watching YouTube video’s, especially not against blue belts.

Next week will be interesting as it will be the first time I will have trained both BJJ and Judo in the same week so I’ll see how my old body holds up. I should also find out in a couple of weeks if I have been successful in my application to run next year’s London Marathon and if I have then I really better start doing some serious running as at the moment I’m only running two miles on a Tuesday and 4 miles on a Thursday which is someway short of the sort of distance I should be running.

Oh and before I forget, I’ve been reading Forrest Griffin’s book “Got Fight?” I haven’t finished it yet but so far it is one of the wittiest and ‘laugh out loud' funny books that I have ever read. While it may not be a "how-to" guide for MMA, it certainly provides useful information peppered in amongst hysterical stories and anecdotes. Griffin's self-deprecating humour and unique writing style make for an extremely entertaining read that will you have you laughing until your sides hurt. I would recommend this book to anyone even vaguely interested in MMA or to anyone with sense of humour.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Things to work on. BJJ Nova Forca

I've been youtubing since my last lesson to see if I could find out what the technique was that Ricardo used on me on Tuesday to control me and I can confirm it was the Spider Guard.

I've attached the youtube vid below as I think this is maybe something I can work on in my next lesson against the beginners and hopefully I can perfect it enough so that it might work on some of the more experianced guys.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Crushed. BJJ Nova Forca

Oli and I turned up at 7.45 but we didn’t realise that because the school holidays were finished the class would revert to normal and start at 8.30 so the pair of us sat in my car discussing Judo and BJJ techniques. Oli has a lot of knowledge on Judo as he has been practicing for quite some time so I picked his brain as best I could.

This was to be my first “normal” lesson tonight then as previously we had literally just sparred for 2+ hours so I was expecting a real hard warm up and workout and I wasn’t disappointed.

We ran, jumped, star jumped, sprawled did various types of press-ups, sit-ups, leg raises for about 20 minutes. We also did a lot of neck exercises which I felt later on when we were started practicing techniques.
Anyway I managed to complete the workout but I had certainly worked up a good sweat. The class was then split into two groups of white belts and junior Blue’s and Senior Blue’s, Purples and Browns.

We were then shown an armbar technique from your back by Ricardo which is the first time I have been taught this. With Uke in your guard and with their right arm grabbing your gi by your sternum you use your right arm to pull Uke’s elbow and arm across your body and then using your left foot you push off of Uke’s right thigh to create an angle. You then ensure that your right leg is high up on their back which stops them from pulling away and then you lift your hips up and place your left leg over their head trapping their right arm. If done right you should be able to make them tap just by raising your hips instead of flattening them out like a normal armbar. We practiced this for about 30 minutes but because we did so many neck exercises both Oli and myself had to change over regularly as keeping our necks off the floor when on our backs was uncomfortable to say the least.

A short drink break followed before we started sparring and like last week half the class spared for two minutes thirty seconds whilst the other half rested and then we swapped over. As the class was slightly shorter tonight this only lasted about 30 minutes. I did have the pleasure of having a roll with Ricardo tonight which is my first time rolling with a BJJ black belt and it was an experience. Ricardo exploded in to various submissions on me and totally controlled not only both my arms but both my legs as well rendering me totally useless and unable to defend anything. It made me feel like I did as a small child when I used to try and wrestle my Dad only for my Dad to grab both my wrists with one hand and sit on me until I gave up.
I was subbed numerous times but two of the subs that stood out were Sode-guruma-jime (not sure of BJJ name) and a very tight triangle which I had to tap to immediately as I could feel myself passing out.

The Sode-guruma-jime which Ricardo subbed me with was done from inside his guard with him on his back. He basically grabbed the back of my head and pulled it down towards his chest and slapped it on so quickly I didn’t know what hit me. This particular sub I was shown in Judo in one of the last lessons I had before the summer break. I didn’t realise it could be used from your back as we were shown it from full mount. This is one I will try and pull off next time I roll.

I got to roll with Seb again this week and every week I roll with him he improves a little. His posture was a lot stronger this week and as I decided to pull guard I had real trouble stopping him from passing my guard. I did let him get full mount on me as I wanted to try a reversal that one of the Purple belts showed me earlier. Unfortunately Seb seemed to be wise to this and was able to defend it. I then noticed he was looking for an arm to try for an Americana so I basically just muscled my way back to half guard and then regained full guard. I know this is a bad habit to get in to as against any of the more experienced guys I would have been arm barred but hey I hadn’t subbed anyone at all tonight and I’d be damned if I was gonna get subbed by Seb as well. Time was called shortly after so it was kind of a draw but he did have dominant position on me tonight so I’ll give him the win on points.

As I said above I didn’t manage a single submission tonight but apart from Seb I rolled with Blue, Purples and one Black Belt so maybe next time I need to choose someone nearer by own level.

Next week Judo starts up again after the summer break but I am away with the wife at a Spa hotel so I won’t be able to go. When I started BJJ my initial intention was to only do it when my Judo club was closed but now I don’t think I want to stop. That’s not to say I’m giving up on the Judo, far from it, I really want to push on and get my Yellow belt before Christmas. So have I got the time and effort and money to train both? …………………..i’m going to try.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Rolling, rolling, rolling. BJJ Nova Forca

Oli (Judo Brown Belt) accompanied me again this week for another BJJ session and we arrived around 7.50, 10 minutes early. Ricardo got us all warmed up by doing various breakfalls and shrimping across the mats before we settled down to do some light stretching.

The class started with some techniques which is different to how it’s usually structured on a Tuesday. The first technique was a defense from a double leg takedown attempt which basically involved me sprawling and pushing down on Oli’s back and taking a grip around his back and under his chest. Oli then isolates my right arm by pinning it with his left arm and then by keeping his head in contact with my body he reaches his right leg across his body and scoots out before taking hold of my back. We both practiced this technique for about 15 minutes before Ricardo had us try a variation whereby the person defending the takedown gets an underhook with one arm, which is the best way of defending. Again we practiced this for a while until it was really drilled in and by this time everyone was really working up a sweat.

As there was a lot of people in the class Ricardo split the class in two and had half of us sparring for 3 minutes while the other half rested and then we swapped over. This went on for over an hour so I must have sparred for about 40 minutes.

First up I rolled with a blue belt and we went at it pretty hard. He was able to get the better of me choking me out with my gi a couple of times in the 3 minute period. Next up for me was Dan a Brown Belt and he totally blitzed me getting 4 or 5 arm bars from different positions all in 3 minutes. I think he must have been specifically practicing his arm bars as this was all he attempted. I noticed whilst rolling with him that he controlled my legs with his own legs which meant I could never get a good base from which to attack from. Now I don’t expect to submit a brown belt but it would be nice to at least make him work a little.

After Dan I rolled with a purple belt who let me control his legs with my arms so that I was able to get side control. Actually control is not the right word as he was able to easily sweep me and then submit me. Again when we restarted he let me pass his legs to get side control but I just couldn’t work anything from there.

After we finished our roll he said he had gotten an under hook when I got side control which meant he was able to control me easily. I will look on YouTube sometime this week to see if I can find out what he was doing, if not I’ll ask him next week as he seems like a nice guy and this is the second time he has given me some good pointers.

I noticed that a couple of the beginners from a few weeks ago were now sporting nice bright white gi’s and I was approached by Seb to have a roll. When I rolled with Seb previously I commented that he was strong and I basically let him attack me and caught him from my back. For some reason he didn’t look as big as I remembered so I decided that as had about a month’s experience he was fair game so I attacked him and took him down and got nice side control. I passed to mount and he turned over giving me his back. I quickly got my hooks in and went for a gi choke by grabbing his left lapel with my left hand across his neck. Despite cranking it on hard he never tapped so I eventually gave this up and tried for a rear naked choke but he defended his neck well. I then let him roll on to his back but I didn’t let go so I was still in mount. This time I worked my way up his body as I was intending to go for an arm bar but he recognised what I was trying to do so he kept his arms close to his body. Eventually we ran out of time so Seb did a good job defending. Although I was able to totally dominate him I could definitely see an improvement in his grappling awareness.

After I rolled with Ryan I rolled with one of Sebs friends, and like Seb he had a new gi. He attacked a lot more than Seb but he was a bit lighter and once I got hold of him I was able to get a good position and submit him with a couple of Americana’s and eventually an arm bar. He was good though and if it wasn’t for the strength and size difference he would have given me a harder fight.

Before the end of the class I got another roll with Seb and it went pretty much the same as our first roll with the only difference being that I was able to armbar him right at the end.

Because the sparring was brutal and constant quite a few people either left early or sat out a couple of rolls but I managed to go until the end so I’m pretty happy with my fitness at the moment. I did learn from my previous mistake of going for a 4 mile run on the day of training which meant I got cramp in my calves, although I did still manage a cheeky 2 mile run but this was done at a slow pace (18 minutes).

On the way home in the car Oli and I chatted about Judo and the techniques I need to learn to get my Yellow belt. I think once I go back to Judo I will make a concerted effort to drill my Yellow belt techniques as I’d like to get it before Christmas. Not long to go now, which means only 2 more BJJ lessons. Although I do enjoy the BJJ, Judo is my first love so BJJ will have to take a back seat for a while, probably until the next school holidays when my Judo club will close again.

Looking tired but still going after two hours of training