Archive for May, 2010

Bom Fim de Semana Part III

May 31, 2010


Well, yesterday was a bust.  There were supposed to be 3 of us getting together for a sparing session at noon on Sunday, but both guys canceled on me.  So I was left to roll with my grappling dummy.  Nothing to report there.  Just practiced some basics on it and left it at that.

Probably will do that again tonight and then go to class tomorrow.  Should be good.

Happy Memorial Day!


Bom Fim de Semana Part II

May 29, 2010


So class went really well today.  Nick, one of our Purple Belts was celebrating his birthday so our instructor let him choose what we worked on today.  This is not really common practice at our school, but Nick and our instructor are very good friends.  It’s not like anyone cares because we all will work whatever.  Sometimes guys put in requests for stuff they want to work on, but  that’s few and far between.  Most of the time our instructor warms us up and then begins showing us techniques and we gladly follow along.  I really don’t think anyone would have a problem if we worked the same techniques for a week straight.

So we worked on taking down an attacker who is trying to punch you and two mount escapes.

I was partnered with a brandy new white belt, which actually helped because I got to talk through the movements with him.  I accidentally hurt his wrist in a bump-n-roll reversal because he forgot to turn his hand despite our instructor’s repeated warning.  Eventually he came around and we got back to work.  No biggie.  We worked on the mount escape techniques for a better part of 45 minutes.  Then, we went drilled.

4 guys on the floor, the rest of us in line.  The guys on the floor had to escape the mounts, the guy on top had to submit.  I didn’t submit anyone as I kept getting reversed, but it was good practice nonetheless.  Then, we started the open mat.  I was the only blue belt doing it this time, which has never happened before.

I was a little apprehensive about training given my terrible performance on Tuesday, but I stepped up.  I rolled with this guy named V who is as strong as they come.  His real name should be ox because even though we started from the knees he damn near lifted me over his head and got me in side mount.

Before we started though I thought to myself “Defend, defend, defend. Do NOT attempt anything unless you have the position.  Let him give you the submission.  Do NOT go hunting for it.  Do NOT force anything.  Period.

And…… worked!  I let him muscle everything.  I let him get side mount.  I let him get to mount and just defended.  Eventually I escaped his mount and let him get into side mount.  I waited and felt his weight shift and I reversed him.  Now I was in side mount and I captured his arm between my arm and my head.  And I waited.  And I waited.  When he relaxedI applied a key lock and he tapped.  Did that feel good (not the tapping part, but the part about listening to my inner voice).

We started over and I ended up in side mount again and I waited.  Unfortunately, the round ended before I could do anything, but he was completely baffled with what to do.  He even called over to our instructor and was like, “What do I do?”  To which he replied, “You let him get your arm, you’re kind of screwed.”  Nice.  The rounded ended like I said and then I switched to this other white belt named John.

He’s been training for a little while, but I’ve never seen him before, he probably comes to the day classes or whatever.  Anyway, we started rolling and I kept the same strategy.  We started from the knees where I pushed him over and got into side mount.  Somehow he escaped and I ended up in his guard.  I stacked him up on his neck and then passed his guard.  I ended up in side control and had his arm.

I just flattened him and kept pushing my base out so that he really couldn’t do much.  But I waited.  I didn’t feel that safe enough to apply a submission and according to my inner voice I was not supposed to so I didn’t.  The round ended with us still in the same position.  I was OK with that.

It was satisfying to feel me do something right two times in a row.  I was winded, but that’s because I left my weight creep up again so my body isn’t as efficient as it used to be.  I am in the process of working on that.  If you want to know what I’m attempting go to and check it out.

Tomorrow is going to be 2 hours of straight rolling, which is going to be awesome.  I can’t wait.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Chau e bom dia!

Bom Fim de Semana

May 29, 2010


This is going to be a good weekend.  Going to jiu-jitsu today for a normal class then a bunch of us are getting together for 2 hours of rolling tomorrow!  Can’t wait!

Happy Memorial Day!

Cabeca Baixada

May 27, 2010


The title of this post means bowed head.  It’s called that because that’s how I left class last night.  The reason I did that was because I was tapped by a white belt.  Now, I know that you’re probably reading this and are rolling your eyes something fierce or you just about to hit the close button on your browser.

Totally get that, but I wasn’t upset about being tapped by a white belt.  I was upset with myself for making a really stupid mistake.  Like first-day-of-class-stupid mistake.  Class itself went well.  We worked on head lock escapes.  Something we haven’t done in a while.  As a matter of fact our instructor asked “Who here is an expert in escaping a headlock.”

The response, “cricket…cricket…cricket.”  Sounds odd, but it really is a profound showing of humility.  No one felt that they were an expert in the technique; even the purple belts.  Most of them looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and mumbled “Not me, I need work” etc.  It was pretty cool.

We worked on that all class.  From the defense against a headlock when you’re standing up to the defense against a headlock from side mount.  It was good.  I really like working on something so specific for an entire class.  It keeps you focused and gives you ample opportunity to work the technique correctly.  And I’m not alone in this.  Most of the guys were very happy working on this.  A lot of us shared tips and asked questions, which made for a very productive class.

Then came the open mat and that’s where I messed up.  I rolled with this new white belt who looked like he weighed 280 at least and it was all fat.  Not that I’m judging, I’m just mentioning that so you get a picture in your head.  His technique was OK, but he muscled everything.  That’s about all he had.

So, keeping in mind what I’ve been telling myself for a while I said to myself, “defend, defend and defend” and let him tire himself out.  I was doing pretty well for the first three or four minutes of the round (this was a 10-minute round).  But then he got me in side mount and I left my arm there, which he trapped between his arm and his head.  Then, he proceeded to position me on my side and put my arm in a kimora.

I tried fighting out of it, but he had it in too deep so I tapped.  I was so mad at myself I almost couldn’t take it.  It took all my willpower to not slam my head into the floor.  We reset and started over.  I let him do his thing and kept defending and eventually the round ended.  I was so mad that I just got up and with a “bowed head” walked off the mat, got dressed and went home.

Apparently, it was noticeable enough that my friend PB Steve called me on the way home and was like, “What’s up with you?  Why did you leave like that?”  I explained the situation and he beat me up verbally about it and I deserved it.  Instead of focusing on what I did wrong I was focusing on how dumb I was and I was being counter-productive.

He basically said (and this is typical NJ bluntness) “It happens. Stop being a baby and focus on what you did wrong and make sure you don’t repeat it.”  I got off the phone still feeling down and am still dealing with it.  Hopefully, I’ll come out of my funk in time for class tomorrow.

Chau e bom dia!

Uma hola facil!

May 20, 2010


Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit.  I’ve been totally wrecked at work.  I don’t even have time to pay bills.

And the worst part is that I haven’t been to class since last Tuesday.  So this will be a relatively short blog post.

Class was a little weird.  There was an odd number of white belts and only two blue belts (me and a guy named Kevin).  I haven’t seen that in a while.  Usually, there’s a better balance of belts.

The class started with getting an attacker off of you should they grab both lapels of your jacket.  I’ve mentioned this technique before and it still surprises me how effective it is.  Doesn’t require a lot and if you’re attacker tries to hold on tight the more it hurts them and easier for you to get them off of you.

Then, we moved into a neck crank from the guard.  You lean forward putting your elbows on your opponent’s neck.  You place your hands behind his head and just sit back.  The presence of your hands and the motion of your body drives their chin into their chest and over-extends their neck.

Then, we worked the defense of that, which is quite simple.  You put both your arms on the floor and let your opponent’s arms raise you up to a sitting position.  That’s it.  That’s the defense.  So beyond common sense it’s not even funny.  The next technique linked off of the defense.

Once you let your attacker raise you to a seated position, you clinch their arms and lay back and at the same time put your legs on their hips.  As your legs come up you drape their arms on your shins.  This is the same position you use when you defend yourself in the guard from a punch.

Then, you transition to a kimora.  Then, we started open mat and that was it.  That’s the class.  Pretty easy overall, which is not the norm.  Usually, I walk out of class barely able to walk.

Even open mat was easy.  I rolled twice and then left.  No big deal.  Given the amount of classes that are usually brutal it was a nice change of pace.

Unfortunately, due to work I could not again.  I’ll be back on Tuesday though.  I can’t wait.  I really don’t like missing class so I may end up going to three classes next week.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with this:

This is the trailer for a capoeira movie called “Besouro.”  It’s a true story of a Capoeira fighter.  Looks really cool!

Chau e bom dia!


May 12, 2010


Como estao voces?

Tonight’s class started with an armbar from standing up.  I call it that because you start from standing up, but technically you apply the armbar when you’re on the ground so wouldn’t a better name be a transitional armbar?  Discuss.

You start in the ready position from standing.  One hand gripping your attacker’s lapel and the other holding on to the cloth of their gi at their elbow (if it’s no gi you grab behind the head and at the elbow).  You then apply this technique by putting your right leg on the attacker’s hip.  As you do that you turn to your left so you’re perpendicular to your attacker.  You then lower yourself with your standing leg, sit down, lay on your back.  As you do that you move the leg that was on your attacker’s hip up into his armpit sinking in that first, all importation, bite for the armbar.

Then you wrap your other leg around his head, raise your hips and you have the armbar.  The key is to keep your hand on your attacker’s elbow.  That acts like a wedge that helps sink in the armbar.  Very effective technique.  I went nice and slow and I did pretty well lover all.

Then, we worked on how to defend yourself should your attacker attempt this “transitional” armbar.  I can’t really explain it because it’s a bit complicated, but you end up in side control.  Then, we worked on a standing guard pass.  It’s very effective if you have a guy who has a really active and tough guard (basically any guard, which isn’t mine, LOL!).

You are in your opponent’s guard with your hand on their bicep and the other hand grabbing their gi right at their liver.  Then, you go to stand up with your right left first, then your left leg.  You pull them in so they are stacked on their neck and your hips go forward.  Your left arm is still holding on to their gi with your elbow on their knee.  That’ll help you control their hips.  You twist your hips slightly and use your other hand to put pressure on their knee.

Once they break their guard you take your left hand and scoop up their leg so your arm is underneath it and bring your other elbow inside their hip so it’s secure.  Then, you reach down and grab their opposite lapel.  You lean down and stack them up even more on their neck.  Drop your hips and you’ve passed the guard.  Very nice and effective.  I’ve used it against some the stronger guys and found that it works very well.  You just have to watch your timing and make sure your hips are really forward or you’ll get swept.

We worked on this and a variation or two and then we started guard passing drills.  I didn’t do that well with that.  My guard kept getting passed and my defense wasn’t up to par.  No big deal just have to work on that better.

Then , we stared the open mat.  I rolled with a guy named Patrick.  He’s a white belt and fiercely quiet.  I don’t ever remember him speaking in a class at all.  He’s young, but really good.  If he sticks with this he’ll be deadly.  I tapped him twice.  Once with a kimora as he attempted to pass my guard and another kimora I was able to get from side control.

I was very happy because I didn’t muscle anything, I just concentrated on timing and kept my eyes open for any holes in his defense.  When I found them I exploited it and locked in the Kimoras.  It felt good to have that happen given that I’ve been treated like a rag doll by the higher belts.  Not that they did anything nasty on purpose, but they were that much better than me so I couldn’t do anything other than try to survive.

I was going to go to the no gi class tomorrow, but I remembered that I have a prior engagement so I won’t be able to get there until Saturday.  No big deal.  I’ll just have to make sure that I train very effectively on Saturday.

Chau e bom dia!

Estou mulhado de suar.

May 8, 2010


The title to today’s post is Portuguese for “I’m soaked in sweat.”  I’m using that as my title because that is exactly what I was after the No Gi class on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, I can’t give you the full gamut of the class.  That’s because I was stuck in NASTY traffic.  There was an accident that backed up my route to class something fierce.  I left my house at 6PM and didn’t get to class until 7:45 (the class started at 7PM).  The fact that it took and hour and forty-five minutes is ridiculous, what’s even worse is that my class is only 15 miles away.  Can you believe that?  Insanity!

So I finally get into class and what have they been going over?  Elbow escapes from the mount.  Just my luck.  A technique I terribly need to practice and on the one day we’re learning it I’m horribly late.  Wonderful…sigh…

So I get in there and fortunately BB Luis let’s me work on it for a long time.  Every time I escape, he gets right back on top and we start over again.  I was very thankful to him afterwards for letting me do that.  I really needed it.

Once we got done we started drills.  3 guys got on their backs and the rest of us mounted.  If you escaped you stayed on the bottom, if you are on top and make your opponent tap, you go to the bottom.  I got bumped and rolled a lot, except for once where I successfully armbared one guy.

We worked that for about 20 minutes and then started the open mat.  This is where the covered in sweat title came from.

Our instructor likes to keep things au natural, if you catch my drift.  Our school is pretty simple, just mats on the floors and lining the walls.  That’s it.  No punching bags or grappling dummies (although I have one at home, see one of my previous posts) and no air conditioning.  There are some fans in the ceiling, but all they do is circulate hot air.  I really don’t mind it.  I actually prefer it because it makes you focus on learning jiu-jitsu rather then getting distracted by the toys.

By now you can imagine how hot it was in the room given the fact it was an 80-degree day.  That coupled with guys who like to go hard when it’s a no gi class and you have a mess. Especially when you have 4 guys rolling for 40 minutes.  I did OK.  I didn’t tap anyone, but I made them work for my tap.  I escaped many armbar and choke attempts.  Even got out of a d’arce choke.  Don’t know how I did it, but I did.

At the last round me and BB Neil were rolling and we were both spent.  I mean, totally spent.  For a good three minutes all we did was reverse the other’s side mount.  I almost got him in two armbar attempts, but he escaped and he almost got me in several triangle attempts, but I escaped.  It was crazy.  When the bell rang we were all done.  I mean done.  All of the guys who were sparring collapsed.  No one moved or spoke for a while.

We just laid there breathing heavy completely covered in our sweat and everyone else’s sweat.  The mats were covered in it.  It was so bad that a couple of guys slipped as they were trying to get up.  It was pretty cool, pretty gross too, but pretty cool.  It’s good to get a workout in like that once in a while.

It was so bad for me that when I wiped myself down I barely finished my arms before the towel became saturated.  I couldn’t dry anything else.  I had to put my clothes on over all my sweat and my sweat actually soaked through.  It looked like I peed all over myself.  My shirt was soaked, my pants, even my socks had that squishy feeling.  Gross.

I got home and my wife wouldn’t come near me.  She said she could smell me and the five other guys I rolled with all over me.  It was too funny.  I took and extra long shower and got myself good and clean.  Then, off to bed.

This will probably wrap up my entries for this week.  I am trying to work something out to train tomorrow, but there are some logistical difficulties.  If I am able to train I’ll post something, if not you’ll hear from me on Wednesday.

On a side note I got the first issue of my Gracie Magazine subscription.  It has me excited for two reasons.  One, it’s Gracie Magazine.  I’ve been visiting that web site for a while now and I am a huge magazine fan (I subscribe to several per week) so I finally bit the bullet and subscribed.  The second reason I’m excited is because it comes in both Portuguese and English!

I’m all about authenticity so if something is written by a Portuguese author like Jose Saramago or Paulo Coelho then I want to read it in its original Portuguese.  So not only do I get to read about my favorite marital art, I get to read about it in Portuguese!  Yea!!!  The coolest part is that it’s my first issue and they have an article about my favorite Gracie: Rickson Gracie. Squeek!!!

Chau e bom dia!

Leijei o Meu Obido

May 1, 2010


This was a weird week for me.  I mentioned in a previous post about the ups and downs of learning B.J.J.  Those ups and downs are real, but this week had a weird dip and ended with an injury (nothing bad, more stupid than anything).

On Wednesday I attended a “Sem Gi” class (No Gi) because my friend Purple Belt Steve was teaching it and asked me to come.  How could I refuse a friend.  Steve is an awesome jiteiro and an awesome teacher.   So much so that our instructor will usually have him work with the new guys and as you can see teach classes without my instructor in attendance.  We worked on defending the punch from the guard and then applying a Kimora.

I really enjoy this move because it makes you remember to be patient.  You block your attacker’s punch with your knee and forearm and then trap his arms against your shins.  Then you just wait.  The guy starts bucking and trying to roll you and when he tires out you go for the Kimora.  The Kimora part is cool because it relies solely on twisting your body.

Now I don’t remember what we worked on after that.  For some reason I’m drawing a complete blank.  Then we started the open mat and that’s where I hit the crest of the wave.  I rolled first with a new white belt named V (yes it’s like the TV show, but no one ever calls him by his full name so he’s just V).  V is brandy new.  He’s only been learning for about a month.  However, he has some skill on his side and a  TON of strength.  We started rolling and I couldn’t believe how he was manhandling me.

The only thing that kept me out of trouble was that he really didn’t know what he was doing.  I praise his effort for sparring when he’s not really ready, but in some cases he kept pushing for stuff like arm locks and chokes that he really didn’t have.  He almost caught me a few times, but I was able to defend myself or escape.  Eventually I caught him in an armbar from the guard, but with too much effort on my part.

Then, I sparred with Purple Belt Steve and things went really well.  In our 10-minute match he only tapped me once.  I was shocked at how well I defending his attacks.  I still need to work on escaping the mount and getting in the guard when my back is taken.  Too many times Steve would take my back from the mount and I would defend or roll and end up right back where I started.  I really need to work on keeping his legs from getting back over me.  I’m either not doing it right or my timing needs to be worked on.

After the round ended I rolled with Neal and he caught me a bunch of times, but was able to defend pretty well over all.  I didn’t catch Neal in anything, but that was OK.  Overall a great night.

Then, I went to our Gi class on Thursday and here’s the dip.  We had a new guy starting and a bunch of white belts.  It’s weird to me when that happens I think because for a long time it was usually just me and one other white belt in the class surrounded by blues and purples.  Seems like we’re getting a lot more new guys than I suspected.  They’re also sticking with it.  About 6 months after I joined we got a bunch of white belts in, but they all dropped out.  That’s pretty common.  My coach puts quality over quantity any way so it really doesn’t matter.

So we worked on a defensive scenario where one move links to another.  An attacker gets in front of you and tries to push you.  You clinch their arms, put your dominant foot forward (the foot that correlates to your dominant hand – if you’re a righty then it’s your right foot and vice versa) with your left foot back and perpendicular to your dominant foot.  This takes away your attacker’s leverage.  No matter how hard they push they are not moving you.  If your attacker drops his head you grab it from behind and draw him in for a standing guillotine.

Because there was an odd number of students I was paired up with two white belts.  One is named Nick who is pretty cool.  He wants to do things correctly and asks a lot of questions, which is OK.  The other white belt is a guy named Michael.  He’s one of those guys that adds his own little flairs to things and doesn’t really do what our instructor tells him to.  It’s really frustrating and makes for a terrible round of training.

We worked that technique for a while and then went to step two, which if the attacker tries to push you even as you get him into position for a standing guillotine you then drop down to a guillotine from the guard.  I had a lot of trouble with that.  One because Nick doesn’t know how to control his weight (he’s a pretty chunky guy) so instead of coming down slowly like we’re supposed to do we ended up falling to the ground.

I really don’t like that because I’m afraid of my partner and me getting hurt.  And Michael was being Michael so I just dealt with it.  I’m a new blue belt who has only been training for two years and struggle with basic techniques (see a few of my previous posts to read about them) so I don’t feel like I should be telling anyone to do anything let alone teaching them until I get my own act together.  So I struggled and bit the bullet.

Then, we worked on applying the guillotine from the guard and if that fails you pinch your opponents arm to your body and bump him over so you land in mount.  I really love this technique.  It’s simply, easy to execute should you do it correctly and effective.

Then we worked on a neck crank technique from the guard should the guillotine attempt fail.  You go for the guillotine, if you can’t get your arm around your attacker’s neck you then slide your arm underneath their arm.  You reach around and clasp your hands together.  You then roll to the side opposite of where your attacker’s head and end up in mount.  You release your grip and slide loose arm underneath your attacker’s other arm keeping your attacker’s head in your armpit.  You step over to whatever side and lay on your hip.  Then, you raise your head as if you were trying to look at something on the ceiling.  The pressure on your attacker’s neck should cause them to tap and tap quickly.  It’s a really painful move.

Doubly so if you have a chronically stiff neck like me.  Overall it went well and then we started guard passing drills.  I let the white belts pass my guard just to get them to practice.  I don’t believe in smashing guys just because I can and I feel that everyone should have the opportunity to practice so I let them pass my guard or submit me.  When I got with the few higher belts that were in the class is when I worked it.  I did really well there.  I was successful a few times and failed only twice.  Pretty good in my opinion.

Then we started the open mat and that’s where I ended up injuring myself.  It’s not bad, just a little cauliflower ear, it’s the stupidity with which it happened that makes me mad.  I was rolling with V again and he was muscling something fierce.  At one point I submitted him by chocking him from a standing guard pass.  He actually collapsed down completely gassed so I told him not to use so much strength.  Just relax and focus on the techniques he knows.

Well, we went a second time and he got me in a sloppy guillotine.  It was more around my jaw than anything else.  I was defending it, but I didn’t have the defense cinched in deep enough.  So I pulled on V’s wrist to give myself some room and thought I’d wait it out.  However, he just kept squeezing and trying for something because he’s not trained enough to know he didn’t have the guillotine.  I waited and realized that this is going to take forever so I decided to pull my head out of it.

That’s when I tweaked my left ear and could feel the fluid starting to seep in immediately.  So dumb.  No reason I should have done that.  I instantly cursed myself in my head.  I finished the round without another submission.  I should’ve called it quits then, but I felt like I wanted to roll so more.  So then, I rolled with BB Joe.  We had a good roll where he only tapped me once.  I had the same thing happen to me that happened on Wednesday.  I really struggled to escape Joe’s mount.  I’d give up my back, get out of any RNC attempt and end up mounted again.

I’m going to schedule a private with my instructor and get some help on that.  I can’t make that a habit.

One thing I came to realize after rolling with V, Joe and Neal is that with guys like them, who use a lot of muscle, I need to wait.  I need to ride the tide and defend myself and let them tire themselves out.  Then, work my game.  I don’t want to get pulled into that strength against strength game.  First of all I am not that strong so I get easily out-muscled.  Second, I you don’t practice good technique that way and third, you could get hurt.  My ear is proof of that.

Although it’s a minor injury versus what happens to other guys, it is a reminder that something bad could happen.  Not to mention all the muscle soreness I’m going through right now.

So the lesson of this week is to be Helio Gracie when I roll.  Let the muscle guys use their muscle and just wait.  I’ll have to keep that in mind and keep thinking it every time I roll with one of those guys.  Let’s see how I do at the next class.

Tomorrow I’m getting my ear drained and then relaxing for the weekend so it’ll be a while until I come back.  Wish me luck.

Chau e bom fin de semana!