Archive for November, 2010

Bem mas Nao Tam Bem

November 28, 2010


Saturday was a good lesson.  The lesson being that you should not train B.J.J. on only 4 hours of sleep.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good reason as to why I only got 4 hours of sleep the night before.  I didn’t go out and party, Iwasn’t up playing WoW, I wasn’t playing Farmville on Facebook.  I just couldn’t sleep.

I could barely drag myself out of bed, but I am proud that I didn’t let that keep me from going to class.  I’m glad I went, but did my performance suffer.  I realized something was wrong after I got into my gi and finished stretching.  I partnered up with BB Mick and rolled for a while.

We did a lot of back and forth.  He was sweep me, I would reverse him.  About half way through I felt my energy level completely drop.  I mean to the point that I had barely escaped an arm bar attempt.  If I had a fuel tank gauge on my chest I would say at this point it’s about just over a quarter of a tank.

We went through our usual warm up routine and Joe showed us the first stand up technique.  An attacker grabs your collar, you grab hold of their wrist and forearm, step back with the opposite foot pulling them with you, turn your back to them, and bring their elbow onto your shoulder and press down.  They should tap immediately or risk getting their elbow broken.

We used to practice that move a lot when I was learning Tae Kwon Do.  It’s pretty destructive if you led the angle of your elbow go to far.  Not to mention it hurts like hell.  We ended up working on that for a while because a lot of guys showed up late.  I haven’t seen that before.  Maybe they were still suffering from food comas brought about by the Thanksgiving holiday.

The tank gauge is the same because there wasn’t any energy used to do practice this technique.  Also, we went really slow (so as not to break each other’s elbows) so I was able to conserve a lot of energy.

Then, we moved to the ground techniques.  The attacker on top slides his knee across your stomach to get to mount.  The defender puts his hand on that knee to push it back and turns his body towards his attacker.  The attacker than snakes his arm underneath that pushing arm and locks a grip on it.  The attacker steps over and across the defenders head to obtain an arm bar position and you finish it off.

It’s a good move if you maintain control of your opponent.  Any space you give them will result in an escape so there are risks.  I was partnered with PB Steve and he escaped a few times to show me how I was leaving ample space when I transitioned to the arm bar.  After a while I got it and he couldn’t find the space to escape.

At this point the gas tank gauge is just under a quarter of a tank.

Then, we trained on escaping from that side mount to full mount transition.  It’s quite easy and I’m surprised I never thought of it before.  Basically, as the attacker is attempting to slide his knee across your stomach you execute an elbow escape towards the side he’s coming from.  And the elbow escape is quite easy because all of his weight is on his knee coming across your stomach.  It’s genius.

Looking back on all my rolls I could’ve used that technique a million times and would’ve avoided being mounted.  Damn you learning process!

If you get the timing right it’s so easy it’s not even funny.  I was glad we worked on that for a LONG time because I made sure I worked on it from both sides.  I tend to just work the one side and that’s not smart.

At this point the tank is very half way between a quarter tank and empty.

Finally, we worked on attacking the attacker from the bottom during the elbow escape.  You grab their head and shoulder in a head lock.  You keep tight to them and finish part of the elbow escape, meaning you get one leg out and bring the other leg that’s still underneath your attacker as close to the leg on the side you just escaped as possible.

The reason for this is that you’re going to take his back so you want that leg inside to become a hook.  You reach over your attacker, grabbing one of his wrists, sink the other hook in and roll him over.  You finish off by applying the classic back mount collar choke.

I’m really good at this choke because I learned early on that it’s all about the first part where you wrap the collar around his neck with your one hand.  The other hand takes the slack out of the other side of his gi top and you just sit back and let the pressure build.  It’s a brutal choke.

We worked that whole sequence for a while before we started drilling.  At that point my gas tank was just above empty.  I’m hurting at this point.  Can barely think about what we’re going to do next.

The drills were side mount drills.  If you’re on bottom you have to escape, if you’re on top you have to achieve the full mount or get a submission.  I did neither the entire time.  It was so messy I’m too embarrassed to talk about it.

After I worked with three partners Joe called the end of class and the start of open mat.  I was past empty at this point.  I was dead.  However, PB Steve challenged me to a roll so I obliged.  I shouldn’t have done that.  It was dumb.  I spent the entire 6 minute round tapping to everything.  I got caught in 2 triangles, 2 arm bars and a collar choke.  All of which I can normally defend or escape, but with my gas tank empty I couldn’t do anything.

I went home, showered and slept for three hours afterwards.  I think next time I’ll skip class if I only get a few hours of sleep.  There’s really no reason to put myself through that and risk getting hurt.

Chau e bom dia!


Agora que estou aqui, que vou a fazer?

November 26, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving!

I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a great life, a great wife, great family, great friends, a great job and a great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu  journey.  What more can I ask for?  I’m sure you all have things you’re thankful for, by all means leave a comment, be great to hear from you.

So I couldn’t make it to my Tuesday night class because I had to take care of something so I went to the No Gi class yesterday.  However, rather than a regular class where we go over a specific technique, PB Art decided to make it a 1-hour open mat.  I believe that was a really good idea.  I love learning techniques, but it was good to do something different once in a while.  Sometimes I don’t get to roll a lot during the open mat.  I might get one or two rolls in and that’s it, this way I would roll with all different people and it would be for a solid hour.

Surprisingly there was 12 of us; usually it’s only 6 to 8 guys.  I guess guys were coming in to make sure they got some training in this week given the holiday.  I partnered up with WB Roy and the rounds were set for 6 minutes.

Roy and I had a lot of back and forth for at least the first 3 minutes.  Looking back, it was really good.  I was impressed with is ability as well as my ability to keep moving without getting caught in anything.  The last three minutes were spent with me in side mount on Roy and then transitioning to mount.  A problem occurred when I achieved the mount: I said to myself, “Now that I’m here, what do I do?”  (This is what the title of this blog post means)  I literally had to stop and think of what to do next.

I haven’t been to No Gi in a LONG time so I only know a few techniques.  The rest I know are with a Gi so I had to rethink my approach.  I spent a lot of time trying to score an arm bar or key lock and then the round ended.

I sat out the next round because another guy wanted to sit out so the number would have been uneven.  Then, I partnered up with PB Nick.  He’s a cop.  He’s in amazing shape and has excellent technique.  His favorite is the triangle, which he can apply at will.  I can’t remember how many times he tapped me with it, but it was A LOT.  Next time I roll with him I’m going to think through a different strategy to either avoid it or get out of it before he can clamp it down.  I think he pretty much spent the night tapping people with it, which is pretty inspiring as well as scary.

After PB Nick, I partnered up with WB Trevor.  He’s a big boy; probably 325.  He spent a lot of time in my guard and couldn’t get out.  At one point I swept him to mount and worked on a few attacks and locked in a key lock.  We reset and I got into his guard, passed it and applied a kimora from side mount.  We reset again had him in my guard until the time round out.

Then, I partnered up with a brandy new white belt named Mike.  He was really big and strong and for the most part I kept him in my guard.  I controlled him pretty well and then time ran out.  He was breathing pretty heavy afterwards because he was using all his strength to try to hold on my arms.  Wish I had done more.  I think I couldn’t gotten an arm bar or two in there, but in the moment I didn’t see them.

Then, I partnered up with a white belt named Joe.  He’s in his twenties and has a collegiate-level wrestling background.  I was a little concerned about this one because there’s a BB also named Joe who is hyper aggressive and I struggle just to keep up with him let alone fend off his attacks.  However, I found myself not having much trouble.  He tackled me back to get into side mount and I turtled up enough to make him try to move around me.  I was able to find the space to get into the proper side-mount position and then swept him so that I was in side mount on top of him.  I then was able to apply a key lock.  We reset, he tried the same thing again, I reversed him and tapped him with another key lock.

We reset and I got into his guard.  I passed it and applied a kimora.  We reset and I got a hold of his head and brought him down so I was in side mount.  I then got to the first part of an arm triangle.  I wrapped my arms together, passed over to the other side and locked it in.  He tapped really quick saying that the pressure was way to much for him to even try anything.  That was a surprise given the struggles I’ve had with that move lately (I forgot to mention that I almost applied it on Roy, but couldn’t tap him with it so I had to let it go).

We reset, I pulled his head down, he rolled around like crazy and turtled up, I took his back, sunk my hooks in and rolled him over.  He left his arm out so that I could hook it and I slid on through to apply an arm bar.  Finally, we reset again and he tackled me, I almost locked in an arm-in guillotine, but he pushed forward to get on top of me, I rolled with his momentum and flipped him over so that I landed in mount.

Unfortunately, I let enough space get between him and his neck that I couldn’t apply a neck crank, but I was able to apply a quick key lock from there.  When the bell rang (can you believe I tapped him that many times in 6 minutes?  I’m still don’t believe it.) he said that he was dog tired and couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to apply my techniques.  I told him that I’m surprised too, but that even after 2.5 years I still don’t feel like I know anything and that I’m sure he’ll be able to do the same thing in no time.

I have to say I was surprised how well I did with him when I thought I would struggle.  Where did all those techniques come from?  I had no idea I had them locked away in my brain.  How was I able to react so quickly and apply the correct technique given the situation?  Especially, the final flip/roll over thinggie?  Where the hell did I get that one from?  It’s not like that situation happens all the time.  I’m still in shock over the whole thing.  It’ll be a while before I absorb it.

Then, I partnered up with a WB named Nick.  Didn’t get him, but was able to control him in side mount and mount.  He said afterwards that he hadn’t struggled like that in a while.  What?  Someone struggling with me?  Am I in the matrix?  Where the hell is this coming from?  Maybe everyone is being so nice because of the holiday.  Really incredulous about the whole thing.

Finally, I partnered up with WB Roy again (a lot of guys had stepped off the mat after that so he was really the only guy left).  The same thing happened.  A lot of back and forth with a few decent attacks, but no completions.  No big deal.  A roll is a roll and it was good.  PB Art called time and closed the class so the night of a bunch of really good rolls came to an end.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I am really amazed with how well I performed.  Not tooting my own horn, but more in shock.  I can’t believe I didn’t get rocked.  I can’t believe that I was able to apply techniques as well as I did.  Maybe this is a really high performance crest and the trough is coming and it’s going to be really bad for a while.  LOL!

Maybe I got lucky (most likely).  Maybe I do know something (unlikely).  We’ll see if I can keep up this level of consistency.  I’m going to train on Saturday, but will spend every minute not on the mat thinking about Wednesday and trying to learn as much as possible from it.  Hopefully, I’ll have an a-ha moment and it’ll take me to the next level (not likely, I’m not that smart).

One thing I did learn is that an hour of open mat is NOT EASY AT ALL!  I’m sore in all sorts of places and the places that are not sore are stiff as hell.  I read a lot of great blogs like BJJGRRL, Georgette Oden, Steve BJJ and DevBJJ.  They all roll for an hour consistently and in some cases (like Georgette) they go during the day and go right back to work.  I have NO IDEA how they do it.  I have a new found respect for all of them.  Hopefully, I’ll be back to semi-normal by the time I hit the mats on Saturday.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and a great weekend!

Chau e bom dia!

Estou Fazendo Bem

November 20, 2010


The title of today’s blog post means “I’m doing well.”  The reason being is that I have been doing really well.

A few weeks ago I put a line in the sand.  When I practice and when I roll I’m going to do it the Helio Gracie way: with patience and technique.  No more getting into strength against strength games, no more rushing through a technique just to pull it off and no more sacrificing position to apply an attack.  Finally, I close my eyes every time I roll from now on.

I began doing that about two weeks ago and noticed that it has been working tremendously.  I noticed that I do way better when I have my eyes closed.  I’m more focused and rely on feeling my training partner’s position, weight and attacks.  I haven’t been tapped so far so I’m really happy with my performance.

On Tuesday I rolled with a guy before class for 20 minutes and he didn’t tap me.  Today I rolled with another guy for the same amount of time and he didn’t tap me.

We’ve been going over a lot of basics in class.  Lot’s of basic guard passing, chokes from within your guard, collar chokes and arm locks.  Our instructor has been really grilling us on doing them right.  He points out the right way to do it and then goes after you when he sees you doing it incorrectly.  He also forces us to do them again and again.

It’s like the time last year that he made us work on head lock escapes for 3 weeks straight because we weren’t internalizing what he was teaching us.  That was torture.  I couldn’t turn my head properly for a few weeks afterwards.  The difference this time is that everything is sore because we are working on all sorts of techniques rather than just one.

Today was no exception.  We worked on the basic triangle for half the class and then the correct stacking technique when you’re trying to pass the guard.  That was brutal because you’re getting all your weight plus your partner’s weight on your neck for 1.5 hours.  Not fun.  I have a hot water bottle against my neck right now to reduce the soreness.  I’ve also taken some pain killers so I can sleep comfortably tonight.

After class we had open mat and I rolled with three times.  The first was with this white belt named Roy.  I didn’t tap him, but he never got me.  I escaped everything properly and defended really well.  The same thing happened the 2nd roll (which was with the same guy I rolled with for 20 minutes before class) and the same situation happened.  He almost got me once or twice, but I was able to get out.

Finally, I rolled with a guy named Neal who is a 2-stripe BB.  He has the classic, deadly combination of technique and strength.  I usually struggle with him, but lately (because of my new strategy) I’ve been holding my own.   He has only tapped me once in the last three or four times I’ve rolled with him.  We rolled the other day, he couldn’t get from under my mount and cried out “This is the longest 3-minute round ever.”  Too funny.

Today was pretty much the same.  I used to be so afraid of his guard.  It’s quite active and aggressive, yet I’ve been passing it using nothing but technique.  Yea me!  I didn’t get him either, but I was happy that I was able to stuff his attacks and keep him from mounting me.

Very proud of my performance so far.  I’ve gotten compliments from some higher belts too, which adds to the good feeling.

I think I’m on a good path here and I hope I’m making Helio proud.

Chau e bom dia!


Sem Consistencia

November 14, 2010


I have to apologize for my inconsistency in posting.  I keep meaning to post, but then get distracted by things happening in the real world.  however, my inconsistency in posting is matching my inconsistency in Jiu-Jitsu.

I’ve been training my standard 2 times per week, but I haven’t been able to maintain a consistent performance.  Some days I do really well and others that I don’t do so well.  Those days I don’t do so well are usually really bad.  It’s what I’ve called my waves of progress; I’m on the crest and I’m in the trough.  Most of the time I hang out in the trough so long that the wave crashes on me.  Hard.

Rather than try to catch up on every single class I’ve taken since my last post I’ll go into the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good

  • Guard passing.
  • Defense.
  • Side mount.
  • Gas tank.

The bad:

  • Guard.
  • Mount.

The Ugly:

  • Escapes.
  • Offense.

So I’ll briefly analyze these a little.

The good:

My guard passing has definitely improved a lot over the past 5 weeks.  I’ve noticed that I’m more patient with it and make sure that I have hip control and apply my weight appropriately.  I’ve been able to cancel out my opponents triangle and arm bar attempts.  My defense had been very good.  Guys who would tap me 10 times in 10 minutes now only catch me once or twice and in some cases don’t catch me at all.  I’m especially proud of that.  In the end this is self defense so if I can defend myself I’m happy.

Side mount is a good position for me.  I’m able to hold it despite guys completely freaking out underneath me.  It is to the point that guys now make comments to the effect of “Don’t let Jaime get side mount on you.  You won’t get out.” when they watch my rolls.  One guy completely gassed himself out and tapped when he tried to buck me off him.  Gas tank is doing really well.  Today I rolled for 25 minutes before class and didn’t realize it until our instructor called the start of class.  I’ve been worried about my gas tank for a while, but I’ve seen it improve a lot, which is good.

The bad:

For some reason I don’t do much with my guard.  I kind of just lay there waiting for the guy to attempt a pass.  I’ve noticed that I don’t even attempt a triangle or kimora.  Nothing.  I don’t know why.  I mean, who does that?  The whole point of a guard is to control your attacker and attempt a submission.  Not to lay there and let stuff happen to you.  It’s completely idiotic.

My mount isn’t much better.  I’m too late in reaction to things.  If the guy tries to escape by the time I react to it I’m in half guard or he’s completely out.  And it keeps happening and happening.  Either I don’t know what I’m doing or I’m not paying attention.  Go to watch that mental focus.

The ugly:

My escapes still suck.  God do they really suck.  It’s really pathetic and has been a source of my thoughts of quitting.  They don’t work.  I started to think that I don’t have what it takes to be good at this martial art.  Fortunately, a cooler head prevailed and I’m still doing it.  But there was a good two or three weeks where I almost walked away.

I’m still getting stuck in mount and can’t get out of it.  The only time an escape worked for me was against a few new guys who didn’t know how to maintain their position.  It’s been a serious source of frustration for me.  I don’t seem to improve no matter how much I practice.  I’m considering buying 6 private lessons in a row to get my instructor to break down my escape techniques in the hope that he’ll fix whatever I’m doing wrong.

This is really a sore subject for me because I’m so bad at it.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to escape only to have the guy end up back in mount over and over again.  I bet if you put a YouTube highlight real it would look REALLY funny.  I should put make DVD with the title “How Not to Escape the Mount.”  At least I could make some money off of my lack of ability.

Finally, there’s my offense.  I practically have none.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve completed an offensive technique.  Every other time I’m usually just controlling my opponent and that’s it.  It’s not that I don’t know the techniques.  It’s just that my attempts fail a lot more than succeed.  My friends tell me they’ll come with time.  I just don’t see that happening.  I’m sure I’m being short-sighted.

That’s about it.  I have class again on Tuesday.  Hopefully, I’ll start heading toward the crest of the wave again rather than remaining in this deep trough I’m in.

Chau e bom dia!