Tuesday, 1 August 2017

You're a Wizard

My first post in a long time but I felt recent events deserved a quick update. So why the title?
Let me explain.

The first time I ever attended a Jiu-Jitsu class (that’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) I had been training Judo for just a few months. However due to my rather large size and general athleticism I was already giving many of the higher belts at Judo a hard time in Newaza.

I had been studying groundwork since I first watched Royce Gracie win those early UFC’s and Judo was the closest thing, both in terms of distance and similarity, to BJJ in my vicinity.
However Nova Forca in Epsom wasn’t a million miles away so when my Judo club was closed for one of the school holidays I rang the instructor and asked if I could come down for a class. I explained to him that Judo was my thing and that I was hoping to make the occasional foray in to BJJ only when my Judo club was closed and he was fine with it.

In my first proper BJJ class I got to roll (spar) with many BJJ students of all levels. Against some of the new guys who had but a few weeks of training, I did ok, managing to submit some of them. Against the white belts who had been training a few months things were pretty even. I remember thinking at this point that I was quite good. I was half expecting the instructor to single me out as a great example to others. Then I rolled with a blue belt.

This blue belt moved effortlessly on his back as he submitted me with a succession of armbars, triangles and all other manner of weird chokes that I had never seen before. He was also able to take my back with ease, sweep me and basically do whatever he wanted.

I quickly came to the conclusion that Blue belts were basically wizards and I aspired to be one.

Roll forward many years later and on Saturday I was awarded my blue belt by my instructor Martin at Reigate Martial Arts. It felt great to be acknowledged for all the hard work and training I had put in and whilst I felt I was ready, due to how I performed when rolling with the other students, I certainly didn’t feel like a “Wizard”.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that Purple belts are “Wizards” and I now aspire to be one……

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Knee Op

1 month until I get the first of two knee operations which I hope will allow me to return to training as good as new. My knees have definitely gotten worse recently so there is no doubt that I need the operations.
I haven't actually done any Judo for months now which i'm quite sad about considering how big a part of my life it has become over the last 6 years. The only thing keeping me sane is BJJ which I am now as enthusiastic about as I once was about Judo. The advantage BJJ has over Judo, with regards to my dodgy knees, is that the vast majority of the training and focus is on groundwork. Being thrown repeatedly, even if  tori is an experienced Dan grade and knows how to do the technique properly, puts a massive strain on the body, just from getting up off the mat time and time again.

So will I ever return to Judo?
Assuming the operations are a success, I would like to but probably only for the odd class. I feel my future lies with BJJ now and the club I go to offers me everything I need. 

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.