Friday, 23 October 2015

Meniscal tear

I’ve been having some knee pain recently which I only noticed when kneeling down, or I should say that I am unable to kneel down. Anyway after a visit to my GP, a hospital referral and an MRI scan I got the results from the surgeon who told me that I have a medial meniscal tear and a meniscal cyst on my left knee and the posterior horn of the medial meniscus in my right knee is torn a long with a rather large bursa which is on the lateral aspect of the tibiofibular joint. In addition a localised area of signal change is seen in the cartilage of the patella which raises the possibility of a cartilage defect.

I have been offered keyhole surgery to repair the meniscal tears but the surgeon recommended that I only do that if I was in pain with my knees all the time or they were stopping me from doing certain activities (like Judo). At present the only thing my knees are stopping me from doing is kneeling down, like when I bow at the beginning of a Judo class, but I’ve bought a couple of knee supports which I’ve been wearing in the gym and more recently when I did BJJ.

I have been advised by the specialist not to do any impact sports, like running and although he didn’t specifically say not to do Judo, I would imagine tachiwaza could be an issue.

So where does this leave me? At the moment I’m giving Judo a rest and concentrating on BJJ where there is less chance of injury, however I still love Judo and miss throwing people so maybe I’ll do one class every two weeks, just to stop myself from going too rusty, and then if I decide I want to try and get my 2nd dan sometime I can up the training accordingly.

So for the time being I’ll be training BJJ exclusively and trying to improve my knowledge of the ground game.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Reigate Martial Arts – Checkmat BJJ

Since deciding to train BJJ properly at Nova Forca a couple of things have changed in my life. One being my job and the other my Daughter starting school. This has meant that getting to Nova Forca in Epsom was becoming difficult. A quick Google search brought up a fairly new BJJ club in Reigate, which is literally a 2 minute walk from where I now work. Reigate is also a lot nearer to my house as it takes 15 minutes by car. So I’ve made the difficult decision to stop training at Nova Forca and start training in Reigate. I can think of nothing negative to say about Nova Forca though, it is a great place to train and the standard of the students there is very high.

Reigate Martial Arts is run by Martin Hollis who is a brown belt under Keith Mckenzie. The gym is a permanent matted dojo big enough for 20+ guys to comfortably train. So far I’ve attended three classes and have been made to feel very welcome. The Monday class that I’ve attended is two hours long, the first hour focusing on teaching beginners and the second hour for slightly more advanced students, although there are still plenty of white belts present.

The format for both classes I’ve attended has been the same thus far which consists of a warm up with the usual shrimping and breakfalls etc and then on to techniques. This is usually one technique and then either a variation of that technique or a continuation. Then towards the end of the first hour there is some situational sparring, both classes I’ve attended so far have focussed on guard passing so one guys starts on the bottom and the other starts in his full guard. The guy on top has to try and pass the guard and the guy on the bottom has to try and sweep or submit the guy on top. The winner stays on. I’ve found it really beneficial to practice guard passing and also guard retention and I think this is a good way to introduce rolling to complete beginners.

The second hour of the class will then follow on from the earlier technique and finish with around 30 minutes of rolling. Martin chooses who rolls with who, which isn’t a bad thing as far as the instructor assessing the students skill level.

I’m really enjoying the training at Reigate Martial Arts and who knows, this may even inspire me to start updating my blog more regularly.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Uchimata: Practical vs Classical

As Uchi Mata is one of my favorite throws I had to post this video. Not a lot I can add other than watch and learn.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


It’s said that the role of a BJJ white belt is to survive and the last couple of classes I’ve been doing just that, surviving. When I started doing BJJ a few months ago I was really surprised just how ineffective my Judo newaza skills were against all but the very new guys. I was getting tapped a lot, seemingly with ease and this was more than a little demoralising. However I’ve been tapping less lately, in fact last night I didn’t tap at all, but I don’t think that means I’ve suddenly become a grappling god, I think it means I’m slowly eradicating some bad habits that BJJ guys seem to capitalise on even at white belt level.

When I do Judo newaza with lower belts I probably exhibit a number of these bad habits, however these are only  capitalised on by the higher belts, usually other black belts and let’s face it you expect to get tapped by black belts so it’s still not obvious whether they are subbing me due to a mistake I made or because of something they did.

So what does this all mean? Well in the short term I need to ensure I don’t get sloppy when I roll with lower grades in Judo. I should use those roles to work on a specific area of weakness but still keep everything tight. In BJJ I need to continue what I am doing, keep turning up and training hard, absorb as much as possible and ask questions when I get tapped by the higher belts.

Some things I need to add to my game are guard passes and opening a closed guard. Also my armbar from mount is poor, I really need to practise that as much as possible even if it means I end up losing a good position, after all its only practice.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

And so it begins – Nova Forca BJJ

For the last 6 weeks I have been training BJJ at Nova Forca’s new headquarters in Epsom. They now have a fulltime dedicated dojo which includes a reception area where they sell training equipment and sports drinks, a well-equipped gym, toilets and of course a fully matted area with kick bags and a half cage for those also training MMA.

I’ve been training at Nova Forca for almost 5 years now but usually my training consists of a few classes in the summer when my Judo club is closed. However this time it’s different, I am here to stay. Unfortunately I am not able to commit any more time than once a week which does put me at a disadvantage especially when you consider that some of the guys train 5-6 times a week. So what I need to consider is that I need to measure my progress against myself and not the other guys who are currently at or near my level as its likely they will improve faster than me.

So what are my aspirations and goals in BJJ? I think I need to be realistic here and understand that getting a black belt in BJJ will take me forever if I’m only able to commit to one class a week but that’s ok. What I’d like to do is to get to a decent level of groundwork ability and I think a blue belt represents just that level. This doesn’t mean that I would quit once I got to that level it just means that blue belt is an achievable goal if I consistently train for the next couple of years.

This doesn’t mean that I will be giving up on the Judo though, I will still continue to train and try and make myself a solid 1st dan.


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Brian Jacks visit to Yoshin Ryu

I had the pleasure of sharing the mat with a true Judo legend on Monday, none other than Brian Jacks 8th Dan. Mr Jacks is the club president of Yoshin Ryu and close friend of the owner of Yoshin Ryu, Sensei Errol Field 7th Dan.

Anyone growing up in the 1980's would perhaps remember Brian more for his exploits on the BBC's Superstars program which he dominated for many years. He made Parallel bar dips fashionable until people actually tried to do them themselves and realised just how bloody hard they are to do. I think he managed 100 in 60 seconds which was a world record. Funnily enough when I was heavily in to lifting weights I would always end my session doing dips but I never managed to do anymore than 60 before collapsing in absolute agony.
Anyway Brian Jacks was one of my childhood heroes and sharing the mat with him and posing for a photo with him afterwards was a fantastic experience.

Front row from left, Me 1st dan, Danny Hardy 6th dan, Errol Field 7th dan
Back row, Brian Jacks 8th dan, Oliver Bradley 1st kyu.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Newaza @ Yoshin Ryu

Since my last post I haven’t trained that much due to my elbow being popped, however I have being doing stretching and rehabilitation exercises which seem to be having a positive effect so hopefully It’ll soon be 100% again.

Before the injury I started doing the 5x5 stronglifts routine in the gym. For those who are not aware what it is you can find more information here . I liked the look of this routine mainly because it focuses on leg strength which is something I am lacking, especially when I have to get down low to do seoi nage’s. With my injury I had to stop all upper body training but I have recently started doing deadlifts and bench press again, albeit with fairly light weights but I’m already up to 80kg deadlifts, 80kg squats and am pressing 30kg dumbells (Using a bar for bench hurts my shoulders, old injury, long story)

I’ll update my blog with any gains I make and as I’m still in the early phases of the routine I expect my gains to be quick especially as I have, in the past, squatted 130kg and benched 120kg. They do say your muscle has memory so I’m hoping I can get back to that sort of weight sometime, assuming my old body holds together.

Last night I trained at Yoshin Ryu (Newaza night) which is a class I really enjoy. Although I originally injured my elbow in a Juji-gatame I feel that I’m less likely to re injure it doing groundwork than I would if I was thrown and had to break fall using my left arm, which less face most people get thrown by right handed throws so always use their left arm to break fall.

There was a really good mix of experience in the class last night with plenty of kyu grades from white up to brown and then 6 dan grades from 1st to 4th dan. Last week I had trouble sweeping a heavy yellow belt from inside my guard so this week I pulled guard again so that I could try and solve this problem. Again I was not able to sweep him. He seemed wise to the flower sweep and being strong it was difficult for me to control his arms. I attacked his neck and got close with a  couple of collar strangles but it ended in a stalemate with no submissions of hold downs to either of us. I complemented him afterwards for having a good strong base and will try again next week to solve this problem. Obviously I could refuse to pull guard and push him down but I like the challenge and besides this a clearly a weak spot in my game that needs working on.

Next up was another stocky guy, an orange belt, but unlike the yellow belt before him I was able to sweep and submit on multiple occasions, changing between playing guard to working on my top game and passing. So I was feeling good and then Sensei Tim called me over for a roll and I was made to feel like a beginner as he constantly passed my guard, strangled and arm locked me at will. I managed to take his back at one point and had both hooks in but he very calmly and slowly reversed the position and squashed me in to the mat.

Next up was a young brown belt (anyone under 30 is young in my book). I’ve rolled with him before and I mentioned in a previous post just how good his newaza is. I think the biggest compliment I can pay him is that he moves like a BJJ’er, very light and quick with a good guard. I’m sure he’d beat the majority of brown belts on the ground. I decided I wanted to play top game and he seemed happy to play guard and so the chess game begun. Most of this roll was me trying to pass his guard, all the while being aware of his sweep attempts and his attempts to choke me. It was a good tactical battle and right near the end I managed to pass to side control but he quickly escaped. However in the scramble I found an arm and got the tap with a belly down juji-gatame. I think I got lucky but will always seek this guy out as he is really technical and presents me with different problems to some of the others.

Against Sensei Neil and Sensei Paul I faced a familiar problem. They both like to use the same technique to pass my guard, ie one arm under my right leg which leaves them open to the san-gaku-jime. However each time I try this I get stacked, folded in half and eventually passed and subbed or just held down. To be fair against Paul I’ve been close to getting the san-gaku-jime but against Neil he never seems in trouble. I need to look in to ways of either perfecting my san-gaku-jime or  defences against that particular guard pass.

Another excellent Wednesday evening at Yoshin Ryu which is now my favourite class of the week.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Maven BJJ - Woking

I felt compelled to write my first post in quite a while as I met up with my old sparring partner Jadon, who was back from Worcester for a few days visiting family and friends. I had intended to take Jadon to Yoshin Ryu on Wednesday night for their newaza class but unfortunately he was only staying for a few days and wouldn’t be able to attend. However he did tell me that he was going to a BJJ club in Woking which is run by an Andy Roberts brown belt, Dan Geoghegan, who Jadon had started training BJJ with many years previously.

We arrived early and were made to feel very welcome by some of the members who were waiting to go in. The club is located in a room in a very large gymnasium in Woking, so not a permanently matted area. However the jigsaw mats were very quick and easy to lay down unlike those heavy large mats most Judo clubs seem to favour.

The warm up was made up of the typical shrimping, breakfalling, commando crawling and sprawling type of exercises that seem to be quite normal at most BJJ clubs. I think this type of warmup was the right amount of balance between a warmup and a light workout that one needs, especially as the class was only one and a half hours long.

Dan showed us first the flower sweep and then a flower sweep set up to triangle. I’ve been having some success recently with the flower sweep at Yoshin Ryu but the version Dan showed me was slightly different but just as efficient. I think we drilled it enough so that I would remember it again in the heat of battle, which is something that BJJ gets right in their teaching. When you drill only 1 or 2 techniques in a class you normally remember them forever. The flower sweep that Ricardo showed me almost 5 years ago at Nova Forca is still something that I use today and a technique I will never forget.

We finished off with about 30 minutes of rolling or sparring and I was lucky in that I got to roll with Dan. He has a very relaxed and calm way about him and most of his transitions and movements were very smooth and deliberate. He didn’t embarrass me, although I’m sure he could have if he wanted to, but he did just enough to make me work hard to survive. He spent a while going for an ude gurami and as he was being nice he allowed me time and space to defend against it several times until eventually he got the tap. It was a nice roll and one that I could definitely learn from given more opportunity. The standard of the students I rolled with was, in my opinion, high. The only gripe I had was that I got arm barred by one of the guys who slapped it on a bit too fast and hard for my liking. So hard in fact that I felt my elbow pop. There was no malice intended though it was just one those things that happens from time to time.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at Maven BJJ and will try and get back there sometime, maybe when Jadon is next in town or when my elbow has healed.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A Rich reward as Dorking Senior earns black belt

It appears I have gained a certain amount of notoriety as the local paper printed an article about my black belt presentation here. Actually I can't act too surprised as I was asked to write the article myself. It's a good advertisement for the club especially the seniors.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Black Belt Presentation

Although I have been wearing a black belt since the 16th of November, I've only been wearing a plain black belt that I bought online. I knew that the club had ordered me a nice embroidered belt because Graeme asked me what I wanted written on it. however a belt like this takes a little time to make so I've had to wait until now to receive and be presented with it.

 I blame Mr Miyogi for not bowing properly when receiving the belt from Graeme. "Always look eye"

A firm handshake is certainly more preferable to the belt whippings some of my BJJ friends receive when being awarded with their new belts.

Tying my belt in front of the whole club, including the parents of the kids, meant I did a rush job and therefore my name and the kanji for Judo is round the wrong way.

A nice club photo, something we don't very often do.

I just wanted to add a few thank you's for those who have helped me on my Judo Journey so far.
Peter Leach and Stuart Mcdougall were responsible for coaching me through my early grades and without them I wouldn't have stayed with the club.
Oliver Bradley was the best Uke I ever had and gave me encouragement and also taught me lots. He also followed me on my numerous club visits to Yoshin Ryu and my many BJJ excursions.
Ynes Anderson taught me that everything ends with a Juji :)
Stewart Park helped keep the club running with Stuart McDougall and taught some old school hard Judo. It was a real shame that he had to give up coaching.
Jadon, for pushing me hard when we trained together,
All the coaches at Yoshin Ryu, you know who you are (Neil, Tim et all). Even though I was not a member of Yoshin Ryu they always treated me as one of their own and gave me some excellent advice and coaching, not to mention a few bruises.
Pete at Witley for giving me some great advice just before my dan grading contest at High Wycombe "just do your Judo Stuart"

Lastly Graeme for believing in me and making me believe in myself. I wouldn't be a black belt today if it wasn't for him.

And there we have it. My Oscar speech. I wonder who i'll be thanking when I get my 2nd dan!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Two Gis for sale.

I've decided I need to make some room in my wardrobe so i'm selling two of my gis. The first is an Adidas J500, size 200 which has shrunk so that its more like a 190.
The second is a Mizuno Shiai size 5.5 jacket only.
The links to both of them on ebay are below

If you need any more details then let me know

Happy Bidding.