Month: August 2008

Jiu-Jitsu & Back to Work

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Well, classes have resumed at my college and I’m teaching again. It has been hard re-adjusting to working after vacationing for 3 1/2 months. I know, poor me…

I made it to BJJ once this week as I am getting used to my new schedule. However, on the night I did go I had a good time. We reviewed how to take someone’s back from half-guard and perform either a ‘Billy Jack’ or ‘The Twister. ‘ During sparring I tapped the first guy I rolled with (a newer guy) with a head and arm choke while I had him in my guard.  While I was working the choke, Tony, the new Judo Black belt was walking around giving out pointers. When I first sunk in the choke he told me to squeeze harder because my opponent wasn’t giving up. So I did.  He held out for a while, then tapped. Then he stood up and started holding his throat. Tony asked him what was wrong and he said his windpipe hurt. I normally let go when a person is being stubborn about a choke, so I felt bad about it. However, in this art you can’t be stubborn in these areas or you will end up hurting yourself or others. He was okay after a minute though.

The next guy I rolled with immediately tried to do a jump spinning armbar from his knees. I pulled back and then pinned him to the ground and achieved side control. After I put him in side control he said, “That’s all I have.” He then pointed and told me that another guy had just tapped him out with a similar move and he wanted to try it on me. I spent the next two rounds instructing him on takedowns from the knees, guard passing and how to achieve the mount from side-control.

More on that in the next post….

Judo Baby!!!!

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I started my transition to the night classes this week. There was about 18 people attending class, which is a lot more than what I am used to in the morning classes. I came when everyone was running laps and I joined in. After running laps we shrimped and then stretched. I noticed that there is also a tendency toward longer and more intense warm-ups the larger the class as well.

We worked on front falls and scissor sweeps that led to mount and back control.  I worked with a purple belt the entire class who showed me some of the more finer points of the technique. It is good to see that there are always endless variations on simple techniques.

After drilling we all matched up for rolling. I actually had a few people ask how long I had been practicing BJJ so I knew I would not be short of rolling partners. I first rolled with a woman named Melissa who had a good base and it was tough dislodging her when she had the mount. My butterfly sweep would not work on her as she would just jump up for side control. I tried using technique rather than power the entire time and she had a lot of spoiler techniques to disrupt my flow from position to position. I slapped on a head and arm choke near the end but she wouldn’t tap so I let it go.

I next rolled with a guy who said, “I have been taking it for a while, but I am not as advanced as you guys.” I didn’t know what to say. I have started to notice a lot lately that people use disclaimers before they roll. I don’t know how to take them unless they are letting me know about an injury. I have had people use a disclaimer before and then wrestle like a bat let out of a cage. When we rolled I was able to obtain positional dominance for most of the time and at the end I transitioned from side control to a hip switch to mount and then submitted him with a knuckle choke. Thanks to Submission 101 for that choke. It is a quick go to choke that I am losing count of on how many time it has worked.

After that I sat down and then a guy who asked me earlier how long I had been practicing BJJ walked over (He has been practicing for a year and a half). He said, ” You wanna roll Big Man.”

After we slapped hands, I attempted to place my hands on his neck and shoulder and I kid you not, I have never felt so much sweat in my life. I lost my balance and said, “Whoa!,” and we both laughed. I had seen him grapple before and knew he was tough and he is very solid so I expected it to be rough but he was relaxed. I was able to push his head down and spin to a back mount where I sunk my hooks in and brought him back to work on a RNC. I made a mistake by not fully shifting his weight to sink my hooks in and not establishing an over-under grip.  He spun around into my guard. He tried to pin one of my arms under my body, but as that is one of my own tricks, I was not having it. I fought it and was able to obtain a reversal, which led to him putting my leg in half guard. I attempted to extract my leg and saw an opening for a knuckle choke (I know: position before submission) and attempted it until the buzzer rang.

Good news: We had a 4th degree black belt in Judo come in tonight and sit in on class. Smiley announced that he will begin to teach Judo on Friday nights in a few weeks or so. My jaw dropped. I can earn that black belt in Judo after all. When Smiley told him that I have a green belt in Judo the instructor, whose name is Tony, said, “You are a green belt.” I responded,” Yes, Sir,”  and then he said, “Good, then you know how to fall.” I didn’t think anything of it until later when I realized that I might be one of the ones used to demonstrate throws.

Seminar with Luiz Palhares

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I am exhausted! I attended my first BJJ seminar, ever….

It was an eye-opening experience for me and it was an honor being around one of the legends of the martial art. Professor Luiz Palhares is a black belt (6th degree) and was awarded his black belt by Rickson Gracie. He originally trained under Rolls and later Carlson Gracie before working with Rickson Gracie.

We started by stretching on our own before the seminar started. Then we ran laps for about 5-10 minutes while doing things like high stepping, running sideways, twisting and crossing your feet, etc. After that we began drilling. It was interesting how he led the class as he taught us a sequence of techniques that we could add on to the original movement. Professor Palheres described it as “kata – like.”

I knew that we would be drilling so I thought I was ready for it. However, after performing takedowns repeatedly and getting thrown repeatedly while continuing to add movements such as sweeps and submissions, I began to wear down long before I anticipated.  The only thing that kept me going was my partner, who was going full blast until about 3/5ths of the way through the seminar.  At certain points, I began to see black while going through the drills.

However, the great thing about it was that at the end of class when he asked us to go through all 16 of the techniques twice (each) we remembered them and in order. We worked on single and double leg takedowns, a number of sweeps and chokes from sidemount.

We finished off by rolling. I rolled with my partner during the seminar. He said he has been attending Combat Athletix for three months and goes to the night classes. I essentially dominated the entire time we rolled until the very end. I was able to obtain and maintain the mount, attempt a number of chokes, missed two armbars until he caught me in an ankle lock. The first that he attempted I defended easily so I didn’t think I had to worry about it. However, in his last attempt, it felt so tight, I figured I better tap if I wanted to walk out of the gym.

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Rolling with Smaller, Faster Guys who are also Strong

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Yesterday we worked on a cross-elbow sweep from the guard. Then we worked on establishing the Kimura when the person recognizes the sweep and holds their base by planting their hand. We followed that up with a Guillotine if the person grabs your back.

We also worked on a an Eddie Bravo move where you can jump into triangle when both people are on their knees and holding onto a whizzer.

After that we had our rolling session. I am the point again where I can do multiple rolls (after warm ups and drills) and rolled for about 25 minutes or so. I rolled with Big K and also a blue belt, Steve, who comes to the day class from time to time. Once again, I was surprised by speed as Steve is a smaller guy. However, he was also strong and knew how to use his weight. He obtained a knee on belly that almost took the wind out of me and his side mount felt like I had a rock on my chest. He also used his forearm with good effectiveness.

With some guys you can relax and roll and with others it feels like you are in a fight for your life. I will be switching to the night class soon as I will began going to meetings at the college next week in preparation for teaching this upcoming semester. Smiley reminded me, last Saturday, that there will be a lot more people for me to roll with. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed the daytime classes and would stick with them if I could, I need to roll with all types so I can re-learn how to quickly adjust to the different grappling personalities.

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Week Round-Up.. Aug 4th – 8th, 2008

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Earlier this week we worked on rolling out of a guard pass back to guard. We practiced re-obtaining guard after the opponent moves both legs to one side and after they open the guard and slide over for a knee pass. This was the exact technique I wanted to work on and in fact, I had promised myself that I would get a good handle on it this week.

Dean Lister is demonstrating one of the techniques above. Our instructor, Smiley, has this roll nailed down and it gives everyone I have seen him go up against fits.

Today was no-gi, which is my favorite class. After practicing no-gi for so long, it is really hard to adjust to the restrictions of the gi. We worked on single leg takedowns and single leg take down defenses that lead to a neck crank, triangle choke or arm bar.

After drilling, I rolled with a new guy who I quickly realized needed more instruction than grappling time. Then I grappled with a former wrestler who was also much lighter and shorter than me. His speed caught me off guard. I am used to wrestling with the bigger guys so I had to quickly adjust. I had to tap out quickly the first time because my foot got caught in his shorts and he kept spinning while my foot became more entangled. On our second roll we grappled until time ran out.

Then I wrestled a guy who is going to be a senior (I believe high school) this year. I got him with a butterfly guard sweep which momentarily suspended him in the air. I brought him down safely though. He was also quick and when I was butt scooting toward him he stood up and jumped over my defenses and mounted me. I wrapped one of his arms up and bridged for a reversal. Then he caught me in a lockdown calf-crank. It was funny because he smiled at me and asked, do I have you? I answered him by shaking my head from side to side (no).  We went back and forth until time ran out.

One of the major realizations I had this week is that I really, really have to improve my flexibility, so I have been stretching after class and I started a new routine which I will detail in another post.  I am at that stage where I know exactly what I need to do in many techniques but lack of flexibility is becoming a hindrance. I have a prescription for that headache though….

I also realized that I have to learn how to get out of half-guard more effectively, because I am able to get the mount pretty quickly on most but then lose it quickly due to half-guard defenses. I can tap people out when I’m in the mount, but I have to maintain it first…

Outstanding News: Black Belt Magazine published my Article

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Great News!! This weekend I found out that Black Belt Magazine published an article (September/2008) I wrote concerning exploratory research I conducted on what percentage of “fights” actually go to the ground. I bumped into a forum on the net where people I never heard of were having in-depth discussions about me and the article and it was surreal.

After I went to Black Belt Magazine’s  website to make sure it was real, I noticed that my article title made the front cover at the very top. It was 10 PM but I hopped into my jeep and drove to the nearby Books-A-Million and scooped up a few copies. Sure enough, just as on the web, my article’s title was featured at the top of the cover and featured on page 92. On the website it states:



A Ph.D. studied videos of 300 street fights and analyzed them for lessons that will benefit all martial artists.

Black Belt Magazine is a magazine that I used to really enjoy as a child and teenager and who would have thought that I would be published in it one day. This is not my profession, so it took me by surprise.  When in communication with Black Belt, I was still teaching at my former college. So when they decided to publish it, they had no way of contacting me, using my old email address. I’m glad I found it.

If BJJ  and Mixed Martial Arts would have been around when I was a kid, even a teenager, I probably would have been in MMA instead of being an academic. Maybe not. But it sure is an honor to have them publish my work.

BJJ: It’s a Family Thing….

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I signed my nephews up for BJJ classes so they will be attending most Saturdays. Today Smiley had them run at least 7 minutes of laps around the academy followed by shrimping. They still haven’t learned to pace themselves yet and were gasping for air after the third minute.

After the warmup they worked on half-guard and taking their opponents’ back from this position. They both seem to be improving quickly, but still have a long way to go. One thing I noticed is that it is better for them to work with others because it forces them to keep working. The oldest (10) will keep moving, but the youngest (8 years old) will rest if you let him.

When it was time to roll, my nephews still had their handful with the other two little brothers who attend the class. They still don’t know how to respond to takedown attempts, someone climbing on their back and to someone who knows how to dominate them.

But they’ll get it.

Cartwheels and Airplane Taps

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Big K led class again this Wednesday. I am posting late so all I can remember from the technique portion is learning how to achieve the Twister from controlling the back. As a big guy, I had to modify it a bit. Big K told me I should perform the butterfly stretch more often to loosen my hips and my inner thighs. He believes this will give me a lot more flexibility.

I had a good rolling session. I achieved the airplane tap on a newer guy. This is a technique I learned from my first instructor, David Fermin, where you have your hooks in on your sparring partner and they are laying on their stomachs with their arms pinned underneath their chest. As soon as their elbows seem to be in the middle of their chest, the person on top lifts up and spreads their arms wide as if they are flying. It is an inconvienence tap and skinny and less skinny guys can pull it off.  After this, I tapped him again with a knuckle choke.

Then I rolled with Big K. I was able to pull off a cartwheel in the middle of our roll to get to his other side. We were going pretty good (reversals and passes) until my hand fell into an awkward position. I felt a lot of pressure on my wrist while I was in his guard and I had to tap to get out of it.