Month: February 2008

Class: Gassed out in 10 minutes

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Last night was exhausting… We worked on guard passes and I gassed out in the first few minutes of class. Breathing wise, I was okay (at first) but I ran out of strength quickly. My goal last night was to begin working harder in practice to prepare for this tournament, but my body had different ideas. So most of the class I was fighting off submissions and being positionally dominated.

I also learned a technique on how to pass the butterfly guard. Basically you wrap an arm (bicep) around the shin and use your forearm and hand to clasp the thigh and calf together of the inside leg. Then take your furthest leg from the trapped leg and pin the trapped leg with your knee. From that point you can release your arm from holding the trapped leg, push down the knee of the trapped leg and quickly switch into a scarf hold position. I have to admit that I felt like a dummy while learning this as it took a while for it to click.

I also worked on takedowns with Big “J.” This is one of my strong suits so I am always encouraged by the fact that if I can take him down with relative ease (because of my Judo experience) then I can become as good as he is (from his BJJ experience) on the ground. It will just take continued dedication….

Tournament Time – April 12, 2008

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Most of my family lives in Jacksonville, FL. While looking up some information on BJJ in the city, I bumped into a website advertising a BJJ tournament.


It is about 62 days from now and it is only 3 1/2 hours from where I live. I noticed that JaxBJJ, the academy that I dropped in on over the holidays, will be running the tournament. Therefore, they will probably have a good turn out and some very solid competitors.

Starting today, I have to come up with a training plan in order to prepare…

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on!

“The Knuckle Choke”

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I promised that I would put up the video of the choke I used in class that I learned from watching the guys at Submissions 101. Since we don’t use the gi and can’t grab clothing at all, we have to be really creative to be able to catch people in chokes. I ‘pulled off’ the choke that you will see in the above video after watching it at home and then drilling it for a couple of days before class.

After I achieved mount, I edged up high so he couldn’t buck out of it. From that point, I was able to easily get into position without him figuring out what was going on. After I obtained the choke, he told me that he felt that he had just been smothered. I can remember thinking that it must be one powerful choke….

Drill, Drill, Drill…..and…..Drill some more

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Last night we drilled intensively. We worked on three different sequences for the majority of the time we were there. The first sequence involved us breaking out of closed guard and transitioning into a scarf-hold and then transferring to side-control. Then the bottom guy would regain closed guard and then we start over again.

Next, we practiced the scissor sweep, from guard, 15 times to each side. Following that we worked on passing from the half-guard and transitioning to full mount or side control. The technique required us to use our shoulder to turn our opponents head to the side while using the unclasped leg to help release the leg trapped in the half-guard. I always seem to have trouble using my shoulder in that fashion.

After the drills I sparred with a guy in class and I can see that I am still improving with every class. I outweigh him by about 30 pounds but only recently have I been able to maintain a dominant position and tap him out. I was able to use the half-guard escape we had been working on in class and then a choke I observed from the 101 submission guys (I’ll find the vid and post it later.)

I also suprised myself when we were grappling. I pulled his head down and then I leap frogged over his head and then spun around and took his back. I heard him laugh I as leaped over his head. From there I was able to sink in the hooks and eventually get a rear naked choke. However, it wasn’t a one-sided affair. He tapped me with some sort of weird neck crank/choke that I couldn’t figure out.

All in all, class went well….

Working on the X-guard

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During this Jiujitsu365 project there are a number of different styles of guard that I want to learn. One of them is the x-guard. It has always sounded exotic and I have been fascinated by the concept of being able to do it. Since beginning this project I have been able to improve my open guard as well as add the butterfly guard with a couple of sweeps to my bag of techniques.

This Saturday, I started watching videos to learn how to pull off the x-guard and why it is useful. It seems to be excellent for disrupting your opponents stance if they are standing over you and allows you to take them down in a position advantageous to you. I have an understanding of the technique, but this is definitely a move that requires a partner to grasp the true mechanics.

From watching the video (7 min.)  above, I can now recall some people using the x-guard on me and that I have accidently used it once or twice.

Brief Comments on Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar

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The UFC wanted a spectacle and they were able to achieve it by recruiting Brock Lesnar. Although they offered Lesnar a respectable opponent, they figured that Mir just might be a ‘tomato can.’ I am glad Mir pulled out the victory and wasn’t a victim to the many variables and lucky punch possibilities that could have ended in a loss to Lesnar.

Although Lesnar is no joke in wrestling and his size and strength appears to be out of the average man’s world, there is no substitute for mat time. I think BJJ and MMA would have lost a little bit of credibility if Lesnar would have won. I think the UFC was just chasing a buck with this one. White said he didn’t want to put on “freak shows” like some of the fights in PRIDE. Well this was close. I would love to see Lesnar do well, but not because of ‘freakishness’ alone.

If there is any giant that is deserving of top billing in the UFC it is Tim Sylvia. I know he is not a fan favorite and sometimes he says the ‘wrong thing’ after fights, but he is a trooper and he has proven himself again and again. Noguiera also continuously demonstrates the potency of BJJ and what a hard head can achieve…

Checking out a New Facility..New to Me…

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I visited the TKD center that offers BJJ. The program is being offered is a Gracie affiliated program which allow academies to offer BJJ through their schools. It was explained to me that, for adults, testing is offered every four months. There are 26 skill sets that had to be mastered for the blue belt. If a person succesfully passes the testing period, then the participant is awarded a stripe. Testing continues every four months until 4 stripes are earned. Then you are eligible to test for a blue belt.

They started the program this January so everyone, including the instructor, are just beginning. Therefore, the instructor was very concerned with everyone’s safety. There were at least 20 people in the class. He had us do some breakfalls, we practiced o-soto-gari as well as bridging exercises. As far as BJJ drills we practiced two escapes from the mount, one of which called for an upa, grabbing the arm and then bridging to the side. We also practiced the scissor sweep. 

The instructor was right, they were very concerned with technique, which is excellent. The only thing that gave me pause is that the guys that I was training with, who admittedly only had 3 classes each, were at different times, instructing me to perform techniques wrong. What stood out is that I knew that they were wrong; from how to perform the o-soto-gari and scissor sweep, hand placements when gripping, how to shrimp and how to perform the basic mount escape. Twice, the instructor came by and told them that the original way I performed the exercise was correct. In a conversation that came a little bit later, I informed them that I had been doing no-gi BJJ for a few years and had a background in Judo. They stopped trying to instruct me after that.

Whenever I go to a new dojo or academy I always try to let the people I will be dealing with know what level experience I have. I also make sure that I am humble and do not carry an arrogant attitude. However, during this class I started to ask myself did I really feel like being the new guy who has to listen to instruction even if I know that it is wrong. I am not saying this about the instructor or speaking negatively of the students as they were only trying to be helpful, but I couldn’t help but wonder. 

During the sparring session, which for everyone only lasted about a minute, I quickly passed my opponent’s guard, went to side control and then the mount. He was bucking really hard and I went back to side control and then the instructor called an end to it.

Since everyone there was new, they went at it pretty hard, even though the instructor really stressed that they should relax. I am always worried about grappling with new people who don’t know their own strength or who panic.

Overall, although I originally believed I would return, I question if it would be the right course of action. I did appreciate working on the drills and working in a gi, but I do not want to learn any techniques that may be inadvertently taught improperly… The people are nice and I wish them well, but I think I will pass….