Month: July 2008

Good Class: Sub-par Roll

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Monday, we worked on hip movement, guard passes and a hip toss. The first exercise was a hip toss. I haven’t been thrown that much in a long time. However, the good news is that I can still fall correctly without being injured.

Our second drill consisted of all of us laying on our backs and then Smiley would walk left or right. We had to follow him by rocking and rotating our hips. We had to keep our head and feet off the ground. The purpose of the drill was to make sure that we always have our legs in the proper position to defend someone trying to pass our guard while standing up. 

The remainder of the drills were guard passing techniques. The main drill consisted of grabbing the gi pants of the person between their knee and groin, folding them into a ball and then “driving” them left or right. Then we insert the knee over the leg that’s on the ground and step around for the pass.

I have to admit that by the middle of class I was just holding on. When it was time for rolling I had a sub-par performance with Big K. I could barely defend and was only able to hold out just long enough that it didn’t seem like I was pitiful.

Defense is Picking Up!

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Last Wednesday we worked on quite a few techniques.  Big K led the class. The three techniques that stood out were; a choke from the guard; a cool way of obtaining a knee bar when someone tries to stand up while you are holding them in guard; and obtaining a calf crank from half-guard (also from a turtle position).

I believe I once posted a technique of the calf-crank from Sambo Steve a few months ago on this blog. However, I found a similar technique offered by the Abhaya Academy. The technique we learned didn’t require us to roll on our back as in the video above . Also it was just a calf-crank and doesn’t feel as if  stated in the video that “your kneecap is about to pop right out of your leg.” (Although I know they use care and caution.)

I also had a good rolling session. I rolled against a guy in class who usually takes the boxing and MMA classes and just stays with the BJJ class through the technique and drilling session. This time he stayed until we rolled. We are about the same weight and I could tell he had wrestling experience. Especially how he yanked me out of mid-air when I went for his back from a sprawl. The only other guy that had done that so effectively was a former wrestler I used to roll with.  Later on, I was almost able to end it with a triangle but he was able to escape. In retrospect, I forgot to pull down his head which would have probably garnered the tap. We went back and forth until I finally ended up on top. He had to tap out because of a cramp.

Then I rolled with Big K and we had a long rolling session. Sometimes I can’t remember what I tap out to when rolling with Big K or Smiley because they are technicians and are pretty intricate with their attacks. However, I believe it was an armbar where you start off in mount and creep up to isolate the arm at about a 45 degree angle and force the tap. That is about the best I can describe it.

After that he complimented me on the roll. When I thanked him, I stated that I believed that I had improved a lot since I began coming there. He then energetically told me that he had commented to Smiley, the other day, that my defense is getting good.

I am happy with that assessment….

Meathook to Triangle: Variation

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I was about 15 minutes late to class Monday. I entered during the technique demonstration.

We worked on a variation of the Meathook to Triangle on the above video.  The variation of the technique also led to an armbar as well. It also required underhooking the leg.

On another note: I am going to have to start writing down some of these techniques right after leaving class because we are learning a lot of technical information and I am having trouble remembering it. And it’s only been one day. However, we are reviewing a lot of these moves constantly so it usually falls into place.

I rolled with Big K at the end of the session. Nothing new to report there, mostly gi struggles. I’m still trying to catch my bearings after practicing no-gi for almost 3 years. I believe he caught me with an armbar…

Family Training: BJJ

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I invited my brother and nephews (ages 8 and 10) to check out where I train. I wanted to see if my nephews liked the training so they could sign up under me on the family plan. It was a small class (5 students) this Saturday. One of the parents told me that there are usually between 4 and 15 children present. Personally, I like the smaller classes because you get more personal attention. (Although I am sure owners of studios prefer larger classes.) 

Smiley had them run laps around the academy/gym first. My eight year old newphew acted as if he was being tortured, but my oldest nephew flew around the academy like a trooper. Although he didn’t realize that he might be running for a while, he held out until the end. After the jog they stretched for a good five minutes. Smiley also had everyone go around and shake hands and introduce themselves to the other children.

They started out working the mount and then guard. They performed an exercise where they had to hold the position for 30 seconds each. My oldest nephew was into it and the youngest was going through the paces. Once when Smiley made a bet with my youngest nephew that he had to do 10 pushups if he couldn’t get out of rear mount, he made a motion as if he were going to bite his older brother’s arm to get out. (Everyone had a good laugh when Smiley told him, “No biting.”) Training for them didn’t really perk up until it was time to roll. Smiley paired them up with two other brothers in the class who were also 8 and 10. Except these guys were much shorter than my nephews and since my nephews are pretty tall for their age they also outweighed them by about 30 lbs each.

Both nephews found themselves “fighting for their lives” to keep the little guys from being all over them. You can definitely see the value of BJJ when watching two little kids dominate much larger children. The two smaller guys could have tapped out my nephews pretty quickly except Smiley told the smaller brothers, “No submissions.”

When I asked them about their rolling session in the car, my youngest nephew acted like he was in control the whole time and the oldest stated that he couldn’t stop his from “walking all over me.”  The oldest had smiled the entire time he was rolling even though he wasn’t dominating.

They said they enjoyed it, so I will see if they want to go back when the time comes. I think the youngest nephew will be motivated after having a much smaller child control him. His older brother out wrestles him all the time, so being dominated by him in a BJJ class is not new, but  being dominated by someone his own age and much smaller was a new experience.

Friday’s Class: “Good Movement.”

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Friday was a good day for my BJJ development. I am having trouble pulling off certain techniques in class because of flexibility. Just about every class, I have to be given a variation of a technique in order to pull it off. I am not a basket case, I just need a serious flexibility regimen.

I must honestly say Friday was the first time that I could remember during a class feeling embarassed. I couldn’t quite pull off a movement and there was an older women present watching the class. I just couldn’t get the technique and I felt a twinge of feeling like a ‘dunce.”

Go figure.

But that was fleeting and it doesn’t matter because I am not going to stop training BJJ.

Now here’s the good part of class. As I rolled with the instructor (Smiley), during the last portion of class,  I could literally feel the improvements that I have been making. I was able to pull off a Granby roll, a sit-out, escape a rear mount choke, escape from a couple of armbars and generally protect myself better. Smiley’s technical instruction has really provided me with a lot of new tools. I still spent most of my time defending, but I have added more offense to my defense. I can’t remember what I tapped out to the first time we rolled, but the second time it was to an armbar. At the end of our first roll, Smiley said, ” Good roll. Good movement.”

I was jazzed because I actually could sense the improvement.

Then I rolled with a new guy to the day class. I believe he takes the night class and brought a couple of his friends to the day class to try it out. He seemed to have some experience because I noted the way he took his friend’s back easily from his guard using an underhook. I actually remember saying to myself that he wouldn’t be able to take my back like that when I was watching him wrestle his friend. But I’ll be doggone if after we started rolling he was able to take my back from my foiled butterfly attempt. I could tell he hasn’t been doing it that long though because he stood up while I was in butterfly guard and basically ran around my defense. Either way he had my back. I grabbed his right arm placed it over my left shoulder and then twisted into his guard. I broke and passed his guard and went from side control, a small sit out and then a quick mount. After about a minute of struggle I was able to tap him out to a knuckle choke.

From time to time I enjoy rolling with average students and the newer students. It lets me see the progress I have made. I usually grapple with the most advanced student (Big K) or the instructor since it is a morning class of usually 6 to 8.

Note: The above video demonstrates the Granby roll again. The wrestler gives up his back to achieve a pin. I would spin to guard in BJJ.

BJ Penn: “Believe in Yourself and Never Quit!”

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This weekend I watched the DVD, Rumble on the Rock 6, which is a MMA event that is put on in Hawaii. It was pretty interesting all around, but the main event  was most exciting for me as I watched BJ Penn soundly defeat Rodrigo Gracie. At the time of their meeting Penn was 5-1 and Rodrigo Gracie was 5-0.  They fought at 185 which was a compromise for both fighters since at the time BJ was fighting at 155 and Rodrigo was fighting at 205.

At the end of the bout, Penn did his obligatory interview where he thanked the crowd and stated his oft repeated comments about Hawaii having the best fighters in the world. However, the best part of the interview occured when the announcer asked him what was his gameplan going into the fight. Penn said, “You don’t need a gameplan when you believe in yourself and never quit!”

I know that this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a strategy going in or tactics he won’t use, but it demonstrates what is behind the mystique of his greatness as a grappler and as an MMA fighter.

His thought process.

Those two things; believing in oneself and never quitting are two areas that I am always working on and I am glad that BJ Penn lists it as a fundamental element of success.

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

Back in the groove….and a question to all.

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After missing three classes of BJJ due to traveling I was able to jump right in without getting too tired. Fatigue didn’t set in until sparring. This time we added a variation to our shrimping drills in the beginning. We practiced shrimping on the wall. Which we later used as a technique while working with the x-guard. We practiced another sweep with the x-guard leading to side control and then using x-guard to establish a triangle.

After that I rolled with another guy (Ant) who usually attends night classes. We started from standup and I was able to quickly take him down with a controlled hip throw and established side control. From there we pretty much went back and forth for about 10 minutes. I was able to incorporate a lot of the moves that I have been learning since I arrived here and I can see that I am becoming a lot more technical. I also was able to reverse his mount position by slapping on a body lock and bridging to my side.

I did, however, have one thought while grappling though. I had on a gi and he had on a rash guard and shorts. While I had to work with gripping his arms and torso, he constantly used my gi and collar. I have very little experience grappling with the gi on in BJJ so it put me at a disadvantage. I will be fine because I need to learn how to defend (he tapped me in the end with an armbar) but what do you guys normally do when you are grappling no-gi and the other person has on a gi? Do you also wrestle them ‘no-gi style’ or do you use their gi to your advantage?