Archive for March, 2010


March 31, 2010


I’m kind of on cloud nine right now.  I had class yesterday and I’m really happy with my performance.  I was so in the zone I still don’t believe it was real.

Class started with the usual warm up routine and then moved to a standing self defense technique.  The situation is an attacker is shoving you backward.  After a few shoves you clasp his hand against your chest with your right hand (or left if you’re a south paw) and grasp his elbow with your left hand.

You lean forward keeping his hand pinned to your chest.  The pain of having his hand hyper extended will make him bend down as well.  When you get down towards your stomach you grab his elbow with both hands and take a big step backward.  That should bring him to the ground.  Once you’re there you can grab him behind the head and knee him.

Then we moved to work on guard passing.  First and foremost we worked on positioning ourselves so your attacker can’t pull you down.  That’s something I’ve definitely needed as I have had trouble with that with some of our stronger guys.  Then, we worked on a standing guard pass.

If the guy does pull you down close to him, you bring your hand that’s not on his bicep to the floor and quickly bring it to his collar and wrap it across his neck.  You put your weight on that hand (thus on his neck) and stand up.  Pull him in to bring him in to stack on him on his neck.  Get into the same position as when you were on the floor with your elbow on your thigh so you’re controlling his hips.

You put your opposite hand on his knee and twist your hips slightly to break his guard.  You immediately bring your opposite elbow inside his hip and lean down leading with the hand you used to break his guard so that you hook his leg.  You reach down and grab his collar, lower your hips and you’re doing the basic guard pass where you stack him up on his neck and go around his leg.

It’s an excellent technique if you’re the guy doing the passing.  It sucks when you’re being passed because of the pressure on your neck.  And lucky me I was working with one of the heavier guys.  Ouch.

Then, we worked on a variation on that technique that addresses a wiggly opponent.  If you’re opponent starts to wiggle around as your standing you slipping slide your knee behind his butt and put your hands on his stomach and simply sit down.  The attacker should feel a lot of pressure and let go.  Then based on the position and weight of his legs you proceed to pass the guard either the basic one around the leg or the one where you go over the knee.

That is definitely something I needed to learn because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reversed, swept or brought back down into guard due to a wiggly opponent.  Then, we started guard passing drills where we lined up, 5 guys got onto the floor and the rest of us attempted to pass the guard.  If you passed the guard you stayed and passed the next guy’s

That’s where I started entering the zone.  I did really well, even against Blue Belt Joe, who is really athletic and uses a lot of strength.  We did that for about 20 minutes and then the open mat started.  I took on BB Joe and out of two 10 minute rounds he only got me twice instead of the usual 10 times.  LOL!

I was almost outside of myself looking down at me working my game and was like, “Who are you and where did you get this technique from?”  Now, I mostly defended stuff.  I didn’t get to attack much, but that’s OK.  I’m glad that my defense has gotten better such that I was able to roll with BB Joe and do well.  What was funny was that the entire time we were catching up.  It’s been a while since I’ve rolled with him so I was asking him for updates on the family.  To my surprise the guy is 42 and has 4 kids.  One is 22!!! Wow.  Some people start early.

Next up I took on this teenager named Steve who is a white belt.  It was actually quite relaxing rolling with him.  I let him tap me a few times.  I’m of the opinion that rolling is a learning experience for both people and I think it’s wrong to just dominate someone just because you can especially a teenager you out weight by 60lbs.  That’s just not fair in my book and could be discouraging for the kid and make him quit.  I have plenty of years to make guys tap in this Jiu-Jitsu journey, letting some kid tap me and work his techniques on me isn’t going to kill me.

Then, I rolled with a purple belt and again I was in the zone.  He only got me once.  I survived and I did it with technique, not muscle.  Whoa!  I did panic at one point because I thought he was going to get me in a choke, but I calmed down and worked out of it the right way.  So that left me really pleased.  Then, I took on another purple belt who spent most of the time mounted on me, but that’s OK, because he never got me from that position.  It wasn’t until I gave up my back that I got taped because I didn’t defend the RNC effectively.

I’m OK with that, I left it out there for him and he took it.  No big deal.  Learn and avoid that in the future I always say.

Now, the class didn’t go without it’s problems.  There’s a new guy in the class who is a black belt in Judo.  No matter how many times my instructor has spoken to him the guy just doesn’t get it.  He uses way too much strength and piss-poor technique when he rolls.  He always says to his partners, “Go easy on me” and then attempts to go crazy on them.  He’s lucky he was rolling with guys who were really patient because he’s going to roll with a guy who isn’t patient and will hurt him badly.

Well, he pissed off one of our purple belts and the guy dominated him.  Not in a bad way, but just worked his game and beat him.  The funny thing is that after tapping three times in a row this new guy gets all upset saying that they are trying to hurt him.  Want some cheese with that whine?  It’s rediculous.  The guy is in his mid-thirties and he acts like a baby when he loses and he doesn’t get it when my instructor tells him not to rely on his strength.

I’m not sure why my instructor is putting up with this guy.  Hopefully, he’ll just fire him as a student.  I think it’s not worth speaking to a guy over and over again and he still doesn’t get it.  Every time he’s been to class he gets spoken to about his behavior.  At some point something’s gotta give before he hurts someone.  We’ll see what happens this Saturday.

Until then…chau e bom dia!


Cem Kilos

March 30, 2010


Saturday’s class was a good, but frustrating class.  It was good because we worked on escaping from side mount and getting back to guard.  Frustrating because of the three techniques we went over I only did one of them right.  Deep breath.  Deep breath.

The first technique you started in side mount.  If you’re flat on your back you turn to your side towards your attacker.  If you’re already on your side then you’re already on your side.   Duh.

After you turn on your side you slide your hips away from your attacker to create space.  You then bend the leg closest to your attacker and slide it deep across their belly button.

If you can, you trap your attacker’s near leg with your leg that’s not across his/her belly, if you can’t trap it it’s not that big of a deal.  Now you’re ready to complete the technique.  You use your knee that’s across your attacker’s belly to push your hips underneath your attacker.  This’ll allow you to bring your leg to their backs and close your legs.  And there you go. You’re back in guard.

That’s all I remember from class because the other techniques were very complicated and I totally did not get them right.  Not even once.  I’m definitely going to have to work on those techniques A LOT!  Fortunately, I have a grappling dummy so I can work on the one I did learn.  I’ll ask my instructor to  show me the other techniques and I’ll work on them later on.

I’m in no rush to perfect everything today.  There’s plenty of time to work on techniques and improve my overall game.

We then lined up, 5 of the higher belts got on the floor and we worked a side mount drill.  The guys on the bottom tried to escape, the guy on top goes for submissions.  If you escaped, you stayed on bottom and a new guy came in.  I was not one of the guys on the floor, but I did end up with one guy for a long time.  He’s a spazzy white belt who kept trying to buck me off of him at the wrong time.  I just put my weight on him and kept him there.

He eventually got me off him by muscling me.  And boy was he straining.  I’m not a skinny guy, I’m 213lbs when I should be 170 and I know how to use my weight.  By the time he got me off of him he was huffing and puffing like no body’s business.

After some time we started the open mat.  I worked with another blue belt named Brian for two, 10-minute rounds.  Brian is amazing.  He’s athletic and naturally gifted when it comes to jiu-jitsu.  Like seriously gifted.  It’s amazing how good he is.  I did nothing, but defend the entire time.  Although I never caught him I he only tapped me twice when normally he taps me 5 times in a minute.  So I was proud of my defense.

I was totally hearing Grand Master Helio Gracie in my head saying, “You’re never defeat me.”  I’ve read that he used to roll with guys and sometimes wouldn’t catch them, but they would never catch him.  So I took the same approach and in my opinion I was successful.   And that was it for class on Saturday.  A bunch of us went to Ferry Street in Newark afterwards to eat some Portuguese food.  So good.  Love that stuff.

Chau e bom dia!

March 24, 2010


It’s been a while since I’ve posted  because work got the best of me these last two weeks.  The only reason I’m able to post today is that I’m waiting for a meeting to start and the people who I’m meeting with are late.

Over the past two weeks my instructor has been focusing on timing.  Especially in a situation when you’re facing someone who is ready to fight you.  No sneak attack or anything.  Your attacker is right in front of you, hands up and ready to throw down.

So our instructor has been teaching us different methods to close the distance and clinch.  From there you can transition to a hip toss or a take down.  And that’s all we’ve been doing up until yesterday.  Although it wasn’t much of a physical work out (not that it has to be) it was definitely a great mental work out.  You really had to ignore your initial instinct to rush in or chase the guy down.

Instead you had to let your attacker come to you and time the clinch or take down based on how when he threw a fist or a kick.  Thankfully, my instructor and Steve (one of our purple belts) were wearing very padded MMA gloves because on several occasions I took a shot right to the side of the face.  Even with padding you felt it.  Not so much from my instructor, but from Steve.  He has a few friends who amateur box (a big thing in North Jersey) who have taught him a thing or two so he knows how to throw a punch.

Although it doesn’t seem that way the classes were really good.  It was completely different from what we’ve been doing before and really made you think.  Some guys struggled with the idea of not chasing your attacker down and paid the price for it.  Others were awesome right off the bat.  I hope we do something like that again in the near future.

Last night’s class was back to the basics.  We started with a standing self defense technique.  Where if your attacker has both hands on your collar, you bring your left arm up under their arms and place it against their wrists.  You brace your left arm by grabbing your wrist with your right hand.  You turn to the opposite direction, bring your leg up to their hip and twist.  With little effort you should get the guy off of you.  It’s pretty effective especially if your attacker doesn’t want to let go.

Then, we worked on the collar choke from the guard.  I love this choke because it’s so effective and you don’t have to squeeze.  You just let the twisting of your wrists and pulling of your arms do the work.  In a relaxed environment it doesn’t matter how long it takes for the choke to take effect, but if you were in a fight situation the guy would pass out instantly because of the increased blood flow getting blocked to the brain.  I know this because there’s a purple belt named Nick at my school who is a Newark cop.  He has actually used the collar choke and a RNC on two separate occasions and because the guys were all nuts they passed out right away.  Pretty cool.

Then, we worked on transitioning from an arm bar if your attacker defends the collar choke by putting his arm on one of your biceps.  You “lead” his arm over to the opposite side of your body, open your guard, slide your legs up, pinning him down towards the floor, bring your other leg around and voila: arm bar. Finally, we worked on a sweep from the arm bar position should you not be able to get it.

We did that for a long time.  It was awesome.  The only reason someone would have walked out of that class not knowing anything is because they weren’t paying attention or really trying.  That’s how much we worked those moves.  We ending the class with guard passing drill.  Three minute rounds with one guy trying to pass the guard and the guy on bottom going for a submission or a sweep.  You do that for three minutes, then switch top to bottom.  After those three minutes you switch to another partner.  We switched up three times total.

For the first time ever I passed the guard on every attempt.  I was quite happy with my performance.  I used all technique (I could tell because I wasn’t breathing that hard) and controlled my partner such that I could control the pace of my movements.

Then, we started open mat and I went for about two rounds with this guy David.  David is a former collegiate wrestler so he knows a thing or two about positions and pressure.  However, I held my own and got him to tap twice.  He got me with an ankle lock once because I forgot that he loves doing those and unfortunately for me I don’t know how to defend many of them.  The only bad part about the roll was that he accidentally elbowed me in the eye.

No big deal, but it stopped the action for about two minutes while my eye attempted to see again.  After that passed I got back in his guard and we started all over again.  All in all it was a great roll.  Great class and a great sparring session.  Can’t wait for Saturday’s class.

Chau e bom dia!


March 10, 2010

Last night’s class was all about the basics.  The reason being is that there were only 4 blue belts and 10 white belts.  That’s right, 10 white belts.  I haven’t seen that many in class in at least 6 months.  Especially on a Tuesday night.  Usually, a lot of white belts come to the Saturday class.

So we started with a stand up technique that involved sucker punching again.  The difference being that instead of hip tossing your opponent you move to the side and they start to pull away.  You hold on and hop along with them as they do that putting yourself in a “almost squat” position bringing your legs in as close to the center of their body between their feet.  After a few hops you are close enough where all you need to do is lift your leg and trip them.

Some of the white belts had issues with the timing, but that’s typical.  Hell, I still have issues with timing now and I’ve been at this for two years.  Because of that we worked that technique for a while.  When there are a lot of new guys in class my instructor will work certain things longer so that they feel comfortable.  They are far from perfect, but at least they get it, which is fine.  If it hadn’t been for that I probably would still be a white belt now.

Then, we worked the key lock from the mount.  I love that move.  It’s easy to apply and does a lot of damage.  The only thing I kept doing wrong was forgetting to put my head down and face away from my opponent.  I guess I’m asking to have my eyes poked out.  LOL!

We worked that for a long time.  Some guys couldn’t get the mechanics of the technique.  They would have their arms in the right position, but didn’t get the rowing motion.  In some cases it looked like they were applying a wrist lock instead.

Then we worked on the defense of a key lock and transitioning from defending to applying a foot lock.  I had a lot of trouble with this one.  There’s a lot of parts to it and it makes sense, but I kept having issues with the transition.  Applying it was fine, but getting to the point where I could apply it correctly proved difficult.

Then, four of us got on the floor, everyone else lined up and we worked on an “escaping the mount drill.”  It was great.  I did really well, but a lot of the new guys were using a lot of muscle so I am really sore right now.  In too many cases I used strength as well, which is completely wrong.  I walked out of there completely frustrated with myself.

I should have never done that.  I should have kept myself safe and waited.  Instead I muscled a bunch of escapes to the point that I was so tired and out of breath I couldn’t get up when we were done.  Not good.  I am going to work on that on Saturday during the open mat.  No excuses.  That was wrong and I know better.  I’m thinking about working on that during open mat for the next month.  That’s how frustrated I am about my performance.

I was so frustrated (and tired) that I didn’t participate in the open mat.  I cleaned myself up and went home.  Hopefully, I’ll do better on Saturday.   I’ll let you know.

Chau e bom día!

Bem Feito!

March 10, 2010

Class on Saturday was great.  My instructor is big on not only working on different techniques, but the transitions between them.  Class usually starts with stand up techniques and then moves to the ground.  We started with your opponent trying to sucker punch you.  You put him/her in the clinch and maneuver to a hip toss.  Once your opponent hits the ground you put their arm in an arm lock.  We worked that for a good 15 minutes and then started on the ground work.

The ground work involved defending a punch from the guard and then applying a kimora.  It’s a great technique especially if you time the punch defense correctly and sit and wait until your opponent tires out.  Then, we worked from the same spot, but with your opponent standing up and trying to punch you.

You keep your feet on their hips and lift your hips up so that your knees are in their chest.  If your opponent continues to try to hit you they’ll find it difficult to reach your face and if you time it right you can bring them down into your guard and get them in an almost inverted arm triangle position.  From there you transition to taking their back and applying a mata leãõ.

I had a some trouble with catching my training partner in the inverted arm triangle position.  And he’s one to slide out of a hold if you’re doing something wrong.  It’s his way of showing you that you’re not applying it correctly.  At first I found that a bit frustrating, but then realized that it was a good thing.  It made me think more about getting him in the right spot and maintaining pressure.  Especially against a guy like him.  He’s big, strong and can move very quickly (not to mention the guy is a cop).

After about an hour of working on that, our instructor lined us up and had four of us lay on the floor.  The guys on the wall had to pass the guard of the guys laying on the floor and the guys on the floor had to maintain their guard and attempt a sweep or submission.

I love drills like that because you get to work with different people and really apply your technique.  Hopefully, if you’ve gone around a few times you come to realize what you’re doing wrong and adjust it with each new opponent.  I did fairly well.  Definitely could use some improvement, but overall I was happy.  We did that for thirty minutes straight.

Finally, the open mat started and those of us who consistently participate got busy.  This is where I get the title of this post from:  bem feito means “well done” in Portuguese and that’s what I did.  I took on this blue belt named Joe who is a former college wrestler.  He’s 42, but don’t let that fool you.  He’s strong as an ox and can move like a snake.  If you’re going against him you better be on your A game.

I can’t tell you the amount of times he’s dominated me as a white belt.  Now he dominates me as a blue belt, but I did hold my own.  He didn’t get me as easily as before and in some cases I could tell he was a little frustrated that I could defend things so well.

Then I went up against a purple belt named Steve and I actually impressed myself.  Steve is more like me, he waits, uses patience and perfect technique (not that I use perfect technique it’s that I don’t rely on strength as Blue Belt Joe does).  It was a great roll.  We went for a good 15 minutes with a lot of back and forth.  My only frustration is that I tend to defend a lot and not attack as much.  I have to work on that.  I’m sure with time I’ll get better.

OK, that’s enough about Saturday’s class.  I had class last night and will put in another post so this doesn’t become long and arduous.

Chau e bom día!

Sem Gi

March 4, 2010

I usually like to go to class twice a week.  I’m a traditionalist when it comes to martial arts so the classes I take are gi classes.  However, if my schedule isn’t playing nice I’ll go to a no gi class.  The problem is that it happens so infrequently that I have a terribly ineffective no gi game.  I don’t really care, it’s all about the journey for me, it’s just a fact.

Today’s class was the no gi version of Saturday’s class and because I practice no gi so infrequently it felt weird to me.  The warm ups felt weird, the starting exercise felt weird.  I needed a lot of time to adjust.  At one point while I was rolling I got to mount and stopped because I had no idea what to do.  I couldn’t figure out where to go from there.  My partner just looked at me and said, “Is something wrong?”   It took me a second to make a decision.  By that time he escaped my mount and got me back into his guard.

No biggie, but it got me thinking that I might want to go to do no gi at least once a month on a regular basis.  Or maybe during a Saturday open mat I’ll ask if anyone’s open to doing no gi round.  That might help a lot.

The only thing that has me worried is my knee.  While a purple belt was passing my guard some how my leg got into the wrong place and he twisted it at my knee.  It wasn’t intentional on his part, but it happened.  It feels a little weird right now, hopefully it’ll pass and I’ll be able to go to class on Saturday.

Until then, chau e bom dia!

Eu Fiz!

March 1, 2010

I haven’t posted for a while because I wasn’t training.  Every time I was going to class my foot reminded me that it needed more time.  Finally, it started feeling better and I was able to go to class last Saturday.  Work kept me away during the week, but I went again this past Saturday and everything has been fine.

No pain in the foot, no issues, all good.  I was even able to put weight on the blade of my foot while in mount.  It was great.

Class was great too. We covered different methods to apply an arm bar when you’re starting to spar from the knees.  The one that I remember clearly (and one that I did the best with) starts with you and your opponent in the ready position on your knees.  You bring your right (or left if your left handed) foot across their waist right at their belly button, lay back, bring your other leg around their heads, bringing the leg on their waist up across their chest so your knee is in their armpit.  As you do this you keep your left (or right hand depending) on their elbow so that when it’s in your crotch it acts like a wedge and increases the pressure and thus the effectiveness of the arm bar.  Raise your hips and a tap you will get.

Class was about an hour, which is rare, usually it’s an hour and a half and then 30 minutes of open mat, but my instructor felt that the class was really productive so he gave us an hour of open mat.  After re-hydrating and resting for about 5 minutes I partnered up with my good friend, Luis, and rolled for 45 minutes straight.  No joke.  We’re both blue belts although Luis has two stripes and I just got mine, but he’s just awesome.  He totally dominated me, but I don’t care.

Luis’s B.J.J. is all stone cold technique, which allows me to do the same thing.  It makes every time we roll educational and productive.  I’m really fortunate to have guys like Luis at our school.  They really internalize our instructor’s credo on technique over strength.  I have to say that ever since I started rolling (about 6 months after I joined the school, a school rule) I’ve seen my B.J.J. get better and better.  I still get caught in submissions (sometimes the same ones over and over again because I don’t see them coming), but because of my school’s culture of learning, I really don’t care.

I’m so happy to get back on the mats after 6 weeks.  It was too long of a wait and I can’t wait to get back on Wednesday.

Until then, chau!