Month: February 2009

I am a Blue Belt!

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Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

At 10 AM this morning I officially became a Blue Belt.

I had just finished 10 minutes of sparring where I rolled with a new person every minute non-stop. I thought the 10 minutes would be no problem because after classes we roll 5 four minute rounds and I participate in 3 to 5 of them with no problem. The only time I sit out is usually due to a lack of a partner.

I miscalculated how hard it would be. Before we began my instructor, Smiley, casually stated that it should be so intense that “someone should have to drive me home.”

I had hallucinations about halfway through. At one point I said to myself, “Doesn’t Smiley know I am going to pass out?” After the third person switched they began to jump on me in whatever position I was in. I was grunting like the guy who was taking his Purple Belt test with Roy Harris and I actually became scared at one point when I was being smothered and had a flashback to Big Rick in Georgia. Finally, I lost count and couldn’t remember how many minutes I had left. When 1 minute was called out I thought 1 minute with the person I was rolling with or one minute after this one. Luckily that was the last minute. And with that, it was all over.

I suspect anxiety and adrenaline played a roll in my exhaustion. Oh yeah, did I mention I was the only one testing. So the guys had nothing to do but stand and wait for their turns to jump in.

Before the rolling session I had to demonstrate 11 techniques (submissions, escapes, sweeps and reversals from every position) and then demonstrate them again with an explanation of what I was doing.

It was all smiles and hug-pounds at the end as I was congratulated and we bowed out. The kids BJJ class had started to stream in so the kids and their parents (some of them take BJJ too) had a opportunity to see me have my behind handed to me. They offered congrats as well.

I have to admit it was one of my finer days in the lovely art (sport) of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I’m off to celebrate,


Brief Updates: Last week’s training; rest and good news!

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Last week I trained Tuesday and Friday. I tried to take it easy and go through with my intention of just going through the warm-ups and drills and then sitting out, but I ended up rolling both classes anyway. 

I feel like a kid who should know better.

Well, I am going to class this week, but only to watch. I am going to let my body heal. I was also given the name of a specialist to see about my shoulder and elbow. I haven’t performed any exercises since Friday and I feel much better. But if my elbow and/or shoulder flare up again I’ll go ahead and set up an appointment. 

I also received some good news after Friday’s class, but I don’t want to say anything until it’s official. Hopefully I can share with everyone in less than a week. 

Until next time….

Gains and Minor Injuries: BJJ

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I have been consistently improving. Classes twice a week, reviewing my books and videos (mostly University JJ and Blue Belt Requirements) and my new exercise regimen has increased my ability to defend and gain positional dominance. However that same regimen has also left me a little broken.

I have a nagging shoulder problem, my neck clicks, my left knee has felt gimpy as of late and I believe I may have torn some cartilage in my left elbow last Friday. I was trapped in an arm bar and we both heard my elbow make a tearing sound. All of these ‘injuries’ have taken place in the last 30 days or so. In my quest to get better I think I have tried to accelerate when I should have slowed down and slowed down when I should have stopped.

My wife commented that we are training like athletes so we have to take care of ourselves the same way. I know it sounds simple but I needed to hear that from a casual observer to let it sink through. The most I do to recuperate is stretch and use Aspercreme to avoid cramps. I think I need to learn how to treat my minor injuries (ice, warm compresses, eating correctly, etc.) and start taking advantage of the healthcare plan I have. My brother suggested I go to a chiropractor when I told him about my neck. Maybe I need to look into that as well.

I may have to just go through warm-ups and drill so I won’t make any potential injuries worse.

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

Roy Dean’s DVD: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Blue Belt Requirements

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Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

I had been aware of the DVD set for months. Either in the blogosphere or maybe on a random check on Youtube I bumped into the Roy Dean academy’s Blue belt test videos. The movements the 4-stripe white belts were displaying were crisp and smooth. They also performed quite a few techniques before they had to spar against people of varying ranks including their instructor. I was thoroughly impressed.

I watched each one I could find over and over again. Then I saw the BJJ combinations clips, the BJJ Purple Belt Exam and other videos from the Roy Dean  Academy and I knew I had to buy it. But  I hesitated. After buying the University of JiuJitsu, which is awesome, I decided to curtail my spending on BJJ related items. My training fees, my nephew’s training fees, online membership (which I just cancelled), books, magazines, etc., was (is) getting to be expensive.

But one Friday after watching Roy Dean’s videos on YouTube a dozen times I couldn’t resist and ordered the DVD set, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Blue Belt Requirements on Amazon. It arrived last week on a Tuesday and I have been reviewing it every day. As a four stripe white belt who will be testing soon for blue this is an awesome resource.

It reviews “escapes, submissions, guard passes, ukemi (falls), takedowns, demonstrations” and Dean’ guidelines for his Blue belts. Dean also reviews the techniques from numerous camera angles and explains the philosophy behind the techniques. It is a comprehensive resource as all of the material one would probably need is in one place.

Even though I am a four stripe white belt, I started training no-gi BJJ in 2004 and only since June of last year have I been learning BJJ with a gi. I know that a DVD set like this would have been a very valuable resource for me in 2004.  Many academies provide you with the basics, but unless there is a BJJ beginners class after a while you will have to join in with the rest of trainees and either sink or swim. But to be fair, most training in academies is cyclical and if you stick around long enough you will see most techniques again and again. However, a DVD, such as Blue Belt Requirements would have let me continue to refine my basics while learning the advanced material as well.

I can’t say enough good things about it as I believe the DVD will help you to become a master of the basics, increase your technical proficiency, prepare you for your own Blue belt exam as well as serve as a fundamental review of techniques for anyone who needs a review. It is easy to navigate and thorough.

Well worth it…

Crowdsourcing: Need Advice on Nephews’ BJJ Woes/They let everyone dominate them

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I recently read Jeff Howe’s book “Crowdsourcing.”  The basic idea of crowdsourcing is to take a problem you have and share it with an audience for a solution. Hopefully an educated audience. It has been very useful in business, computer and science circles. To an extent we all have been participating in this experience as web users and more so as BJJ bloggers and readers.

So, here is my problem.

My nephews let everyone dominate and submit them in class. Everyone. They barely put up a fight. But when they roll with each other, they go all out. The bad part is not that they are getting submitted or dominated, but that when they grapple with each other I see evidence that they understand positioning, guard defense, minor submissions and have developed technique.

I signed them up for BJJ and Kenpo Karate 8 months ago. They are now 9 and 11 years old. In the Karate class they are doing fine and have progressed rapidly in terms of katas, promotions, etc. However, in BJJ, not so much. They attend class once a week (Saturdays) and have probably have had 28 -30 sessions. That’s not a lot in the scheme of things but they have the extra benefit of having a brother of similar size and stature around to practice with during the week. The are usually the biggest or are close to being the biggest kids in their classes but get controlled by guys and gals half their size. 

What really frustrated me and their father is when a new kid who had never been to a BJJ class and who was smaller than they are tapped the oldest with a arm-bar that looked like he made it up on the spot and roughed up the youngest.  This is not the first time something like this has happened. He was not a phenom as other members of the class quickly showed him the hierarchy that existed in class.

The boys have never complained about coming to class or said they do not want to take BJJ. I don’t want to be the uncle who puts undue pressure on them, but it’s disheartening to see them allow other children take advantage of them. Especially when they have more skill and have a size and strength advantage.

Any ideas, comments or suggestions. Am I missing something here?

Mr. Click Clack – BJJ

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Last night I was a few minutes late to class and when I went in there were at least 30 guys in the no-gi class. The gi classes usually has fewer students and I hadn’t been to no-gi in a while so it was a shock. I immediately jumped in to the warm-up and we started doing this exercise where you stretch out your arms and then take one arm and touch your shoulder, your upper chest and then your opposite shoulder. Well while performing this exercise each one of my elbow and shoulder joints clicked each time I touched down.

We worked on a self-defense move to a bear-hug from the front and then a number of combinations from the butterfly guard. What I really liked about drilling last night is the review of the proper positioning and strategy of the butterfly guard. We also worked on another way of establishing the triangle for opponents with big shoulders and torso.

During sparring I rolled with a guy who I knew had a little bit of experience because of his technique during drilling. It turns out that he has been training on and off for four years. He caught me a little off guard with his ability to escape side control and when he reversed me he went to a knee on belly. I had to wake up and recognize he knew what he was doing. I actually thwarted it with the running defense I learned from Saulo Ribiero’s (book) where you turn away from the knee, which is counterintuitive to most BJJ practitioners. When I finally reversed him and secured side control I threw in my own knee on belly. I tried to secure an opposite side arm-bar I observed on one of Roy Dean’s Youtube videos. We stalemated.

I also rolled with Paco who seems to be getting bigger and stronger. When I pointed that out he countered that I was getting smaller. Usually when we roll we go back and forth and get a lot of almost submissions. Last night was no different. I did notice that my ability to defend is still increasing. I also noticed that Paco is getting better. He was promoted to blue belt when I received my four stripes so he is already a solid player. But I noticed an increased level of technical efficiency which was a little scary.

(A funny story about Paco: We rolled many times and never tapped each other. On the day of Blue belt testing we started to roll and he tapped me in about 15 seconds right in front of Smiley and Phil (purple belt who assisted in grading)).