Training Log

The Upa (Bridge): Can you do it when you’re tired?

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The upa or bridge, when properly executed, is an awesome way of disrupting an opponents balance, setting them up for a sweep and helping to secure a sweep. However, in my experience of practicing BJJ and watching boatloads of submission grappling and MMA videos, it is highly underused.

Whenever I remember to use it in practice it always surprises me how effective it is. I also know that at certain points in grappling, and I suspect in MMA, conditioning affects its use. The more tired a person is, the less likely it will be used.  I have often noticed that many people can only upa or bridge a few times when another human being is on top of them, then their attempts fizzle out. This is fine in grappling class because you can always work for another position. However, in MMA we have seen people get smashed even when a couple of upas could either prolong or prevent the inevitable ‘beatdown.”

So my question is how can one train to execute multiple upas or bridges when they are under pressure? When training I am sure most of us can hammer out 30 to 100 bridges in warm-ups without breaking a sweat. But when we have a fully resisting opponent of the same weight or higher on top of us, it’s not so easy.

As an experiment, I grabbed my 65 lb heavy bag and held it perpendicular to my body, with it resting on my stomach. I then began bridging backward. I reached 30 reps and then I began to feel fatigue. My lower back muscles began to tire and just about gave out as I reached 40 reps. Although my legs could have continued for a little while longer, my back muscles would not allow it. So perhaps deadlifts and more squats would help.

By itself, 40 bridges with a 65lb heavy bag may (or may not) seem sufficient for grappling. However, I wrestle guys who often weigh well over 200 pounds. It is easy to see that after grappling for a few minutes and then trying to defend against a mount those 40 reps of 65lbs wouldn’t stand for much.

So how do you guys train so you can pull off that upa or bridge when you are at your weakest?

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Last Night’s Class: Improvements

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I made it through last night’s class with no problems to my shoulder. I drilled and sparred with Big Man the entire time so my shoulder was put through a workout.

We worked on a number of half-guard passes and then our instructor tested our knowledge of a number of different positions. During our sparring session I could see improvement in my aerobic and anaerobic conditioning from my workouts at the new gym. I was able to keep bridging and shrimping when Big Man was on top and I could see that he was susceptible to those movements when I could keep pushing the issue.

I also noticed a slight increase in strength as I was able to assert myself with authority at certain points. I visualized myself being on the leg press when I held open guard and had my feet on his hips. When I pushed forward his body complied. Further, I was able to counteract his takedown ability (from the knees) and that allowed me to work a few different positions instead of the usual of being trapped in side control and then being submitted by a keylock. (He still has the ability to do a quick shove that will put you on your back. He shoved me this time and instead of falling straight back I performed a 360 degree turn without completely losing my balance and then we re-engaged.)

Overall, it was a solid class.

Switching Camps…Temporarily

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I am burned out. Recent travels and driving over 140 miles on training days have left me mentally and physically drained. I know I said that I was not going to train at the TKD academy that offers BJJ 2 miles from my house. However, it now looks like a good option.

I have kept up the 100 reps a day regimen, however, I have been sporadic with the cardio and anaerobic conditioning. This Friday, I will join their class and start logging in class time again.

Traveling, but keeping pace….

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I will be traveling often these next few weeks (academic job hunt, weddings, etc..). However, I have maintained the 100 reps a day regimen I set up last week. The positions that I have applied for and that have responded to me are in cities that have plenty of BJJ and submission grappling academies. That is one of the quality of life issues that is very important to me.

I am still looking forward to the tournament (April 12th), but I am wary of losing class time. I have to stay in rolling shape and be ready for a tournament pace. I know the 100 reps regiment will not be enough.

I’ll figure something out though…

BJJ and the Stability Ball

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I have finally used a stability ball (my wife’s) as a part of BJJ training. In the past, I have seen a few videos with guys describing the benefits of using it for BJJ, but it never prompted me to act. I tried it out Saturday night just to see what would happen.

It truly does require balance, timing and coordination. A few times, I found myself rolling faster than anticipated and crashing to the floor. The guide it came with, says that it “trains the body in functional movement; helps balance; strengthens the core; promotes flexibility; and stabilizes the spine, etc…

I can’t vouch for any of that yet, but I can see how my ground game, in terms of mobility and agility could improve if I used it enough.

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Training Chart: Preparing for Tournament

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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 want to participate in the April 12th tournament in Jacksonville, so I need to alter my training regimen. After a week of knowing about the tournament I hadn’t changed my routine, at all, of a minimum of 30 reps and attending class until yesterday. I drew up a chart that I will use to prepare for the event.

I am happy with being able to participate, etc., but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to do well.

Here is what I came up with. I will attempt to do 10 reps in every category (for 100 total) every day (except class days) unitl the tournament. I completed my first run through yesterday (Sunday) in about 30 minutes with the assistance of my heavy bag and imagined resistance:

Throws: Double overhooks w. leg trip/Overhook, underhook hip throw/Elbow grip, underhook foot sweep/Side step, side step foot sweep/ Tai-otoshi/ Osoto-gari/Ouchi-gari

Takedowns: Ankle pick/Single leg (spin out)/ Double leg/ Bearhug, inside leg trip

Positional Dominance: Mount/Side control/Back mount/ North south/Sprawl

Basic Submissions: Ezekiel choke/Knuckle choke/ Americana/Kimura/Mata leon (RNC)/ Armbars/Guillotine/Triangle/Head and arm triangle/Lock down calf-crush

Guard Defense: Open guard/Butterfly guard/X-guard/Spider guard (only tried once)

Submissions from Guard: Armbars/Kimura/Guillotine

Guard Sweeps: Butterfly guard sweeps/X-guard breakdown/Scissor sweep

Escapes: Side control escapes/Mount escapes/Upa-bridging/Shrimping (both sides)

Guard Passes: (Sorry – I don’t know the names of these techniques) Knee in over thigh to scarf-hold/Grab both legs and throw to side/Gable grip both thighs and toss to side/Bear hug legs and inch upwards/Chicken wing leg – butterfly guard pass

Side Control to Mount: Knee on belly/Hip switch to mount/Create space w/arm to slide knee over/Knee over slide

Extra Place to Train: Gi Included

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I found a Tae Kwon Do academy that offers Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in my city. Further, it is located about 2 to 3 miles away from my house. I could walk there if I wanted to (I wouldn’t be able to make it back though because I am usually toast after grappling).

I talked to the owner and he told me that they are qualified to offer blue belts in BJJ. They also train with the gi or kimono, which is awesome. I believe that they are ‘Gracie affiliated’ due to the way that he described the program, however, I will have to wait and see how that will pan out.

The classes are held twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays and one Saturday a month. I would only be able to go on Fridays and the one Saturday class because the Tuesday class conflicts with the place where I currently train. I am going to sit in on a class this Friday at 7pm and hopefully I can start training in BJJ with the gi.