Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cross Choke and Step by Steps

In class last night we spent a great deal of time focusing on the cross choke from guard. Basic techniques are advanced for new students to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which I find when training personally. I am most interested in the foundations and subtleties because I know as my training progresses, I will most likely fall back on the basics when in a tough spot.

There are basic steps that must be put together in proper order with correctness. If one step is missed or clumsily applied, the whole technique will most likely fall apart. And there are nuances to each step that come with experience; like how to make space where there is none, how to form your wrists and arms to apply extra pressure in the proper places, in what direction to push or pull, etc. Steps within steps. Plans within plans.

With the cross choke, here are some things I need to remember:

  • Loosen the opponent's lapels if possible to make space for the grips.
  • Get the first cross grip in deep; essential for the choke set up.
  • Shift upper body towards the second grip hand to better extend reach under first gripped arm. Look where the second hand is going.
  • Palms face towards myself as I pull my elbows down to the floor with my lats.
  • If I miss a step, I may not get a second chance to apply the choke. Better to go for something else instead because my opponent will defend easier knowing what I want to do.
Flashy submissions look cool, but getting the job done with simplicity is what I am interested in right now. I must focus on the details of the basics because they will be the tools for more elaborate techniques in the future.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Leg and Arm Work Needs Work

On Wednesday we focused on control and transitions for Side Mount and I realised that my ground work across the board is pretty sloppy. I am still amazed when I see Professor get a top control position and keep it, even with a much larger opponent.

My understanding of what my arms and legs need to be doing needs dramatic improvement if I am going to get better at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some things I need to remember are:

  • Make better use of my weight to counter the escape actions of my opponent. Weigh down at the right place, at the right time, and with the right amount of pressure.

  • Remember that I have legs and knees and should use them. Use knees as door stops; close in tight. Use legs as tripods or kick stands to distribute weight to prevent opponent from sitting up or rolling over. Be ready to get mobile and shift quickly.

  • Use top arm to control head loosely when on my side, pushing my shoulder down on side of opponent's head. If I can control where my opponent is looking, I will know he will have great difficulty moving in the other direction.

  • It is easier to use my entire body to pull or push an opponents arm. I can use my elbow to knee to gather up an arm and a head and pinch for control.

  • An opponent can not push what is not there. Shift or roll to deflect and get out of the way of their push. Have a next step ready and when they are extended, my will be done.
I am going to start to concentrate on what my knees and legs are doing over the next few classes until I have a better understanding of how I can make better use of them. That, I think, is a good next step...


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Joslin's 2005 Video Footage

One of the greatest assets to my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu development, in addition to the world class instruction and the awesome facilities, are my fellow students. The senior belts pull me up and the junior belts push me forward.

Two of my seniors, Johnathan Lee and Sam Osman, both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belts, have given me permission to put up some of their footage from the Joslin's Tournament in Hamilton from November 2005.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Why I Train in BJJ

Most people, the vast majority in fact, choose the path of least resistance in life. That gets them exactly what they deserve, far less than what life has to offer. When I first started training, my Professor asked me why I wanted to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I said, "To get sharp".

What is "Getting sharp"?

In life, we are pulled and pushed around by forces all around us; responsibilities, obligations, stresses, discomforts, etc. We have little control over these external forces; they are a part of life. The result of all this pushing and pulling causes one to get dull, tired, and worn out. But if we put a different kind of stress on ourselves, a stress or force that creates internal strength mentally, physically and spiritually, the negative effects of the external forces diminish. I call this growth from positive stress; "Getting Sharp".

"Nothing I do in life is as hard as what I face on the mat, and that makes life outside easier to handle."

Now there are some really challenging things I have faced in my life such as a highway accident, the birth of my son, and other private things. Of course they were tough. But rolling with some of my teammates, pushing myself mentally and physically a few times a week causes intense stress, anxiety, and some physical pain too. I consider the stresses faced on the mat to be positive, because the result of these stresses are good for me. They dampen negative effect of the other things I deal with in my life. The volume decreases and I can hear much better. I am getting sharp.

So, the kind of stress I face on the mat is a stress designed to improve my life, all areas of my life, and I am in control of the results. So that is why I train, to get sharp.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

5 Tips for Getting Fit in BJJ

Since I have started training I have lost more than 10 pounds as a direct result of my training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is no mystery that your body will adjust to the demands put on it from a couple classes a week of intense training, especially if your body was inactive before training. But losing weight was not my main physical goal, it was to get fit...

*My reasons for training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are not based on the physical benefits.

So I was dropping fat and replacing it with good functional muscle. To help accelerate the adjustment to the physical demands, I did some other things outside of my training which I continue today even if I am unable to attend a class or two. Here are my 5 top quick tips that continue to help my physical development.

  1. Make sure I drink lots of water throughout the day before training. This ensures that I am properly hydrated in class without constantly going to the water bottle in class.

  2. Make sure I eat at least a sandwich or a small bowl of pasta at least 2 hours before class and avoid eating anything substantial just before class. You need to burn something off in class and if your body has no fuel, it will suffer. And if it has too much fuel, there is a possibility of unwanted hurl... not fun.

  3. After every class I have a Whey Protein shake. When your muscles work hard, they form microscopic tears from the lactic acid build up (that is why they burn). When the muscle heals, it re-builds stronger than it was before; adjusting to the demands put on it. I drink a Whey Protein shake to give my body the materials it needs, protein, to re-build the muscles as easily as possible.

  4. I stretch every day, especially the areas of my body that are sore due to the physical exertions of the recent classes. I find that my body is in most pain two days after a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, so stretching the next day helps reduce the amount of pain I am going to feel. Stretching also helps my fighting.

  5. Understand that I am not perfect, but always try to move the ball forward. Sometimes I will have some pizza, a couple beers or some other unhealthy thing. I am human. But I do not feel so bad for a broken habit every once and a while, as long as I remember to train a little harder next time to make up for it. Life is a long time and you can always “get back on the horse”. Forget fear and despair and who cares what others think. Lose the ego and keep moving forward.
Those are my top 5 Getting Fit quick tips. Of course they do not include the extra cardiovascular or anaerobic training I do outside class, that is different for everyone. But these 5 simple tips have had a measurable result on my physical well being and my progress in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class Format

One thing, of many, I like about my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class format is the consistency. Our 2 hour class begins with a light warm up of running around the mat in different ways; forwards, backwards, sideways, knees up, kicking behind, and sometimes jumping and sprints.

After we finish running we do some technical drilling like break falls, rolls, shrimps, sprawls, firemen carry, etc. And then stretching top down. All in all this first part of class lasts about 20 minutes to a half hour. And it is easy enough as to not cause exhaustion and gross motor skills for the learning and rolling part of the class.

The learning part of the class is when Professor Schilling, my instructor, shares his techniques and we break out and work with a partner. The teaching style of this is great. The introduced technique is usually broken into sections. You get the first part down and then move on. Then the second. And then the third. This breaking down of the techniques helps get a fundamental understanding of the “what comes first” mechanics before moving on. It is a great way to learn and retain information.

After the warm up, stretching, and skills development, we start the rolling part of the class. Professor pairs up the class for a series of 5, 6 and 7 minute rolls (a roll is a controlled ground fight). Generally senior belts work with junior belts in the beginning and then moves to similar skilled student rolls. When I first began, I did not even roll for the first two or three classes; Professor allows all new students to watch first to get an idea of what is going and avoid injury.

I have attended hundreds of Karate classes to attain my Shodan (First Degree Black Belt). There is far more formality in Karate, but the curriculum is spread out and you never knew what came next; weapons, kata, basics, self defense, drills, etc. I prefer the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu format as it allows me to more easily focus on my development in the art and takes into account how the body was designed to operate; warm up, introduce new function, apply skills in a stressful environment, then rest and recover.

Training in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class 2 or 3 times a week helps condition the body properly without injury and even leaves extra days to spend some time in the gym on cardiovascular or anaerobic workouts. Progression is guaranteed if you make it to your classes consistently.


If you want to know more about Schilling Jiu Jitsu, my awesome Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School, visit scott-schilling.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Getting Past a Thumb Injury

My third month into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, I had a pretty bad injury occur to my left thumb. It occurred when I tried to stop an opponent from passing my guard. As they shot their knee over my left leg, I tried to push their knee back. Rather than push with my palm, I missed and caught the knee with my thumb full on. It bent back and snapped.

I had torn the ligaments in my thumb, but it was not a full rupture and there were no bone chips pulled away; good news. My first response was frustration because I knew this could keep me off the mat. But then I spent some time thinking about how I could keep training and not miss any classes, even with one hand. I had also been watching some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master Jean Jacque Machado videos, so there had to be a way to keep training without the full use of both hands.

After two visits to the doctor and some X-Rays, we decided the best course of action as to isolate and immobilize the joint in order for me to keep training. There was a cast option, but wearing a cast on my hand for 6 weeks was not the way I wanted to go. So we found another alternative; a removable thumb brace.

After a trip to Kinetic Konnection; I walked away with a 60.00 dollar Corflex Low Profile Thumbster thumb brace. This thing was awesome! It completely immobilized my thumb and was strong enough to allow me to continue training. I wore it for 7 weeks and did not miss a class. I was also able to continue rolling because of some very understanding teammates; so my training did not suffer.

Major joint injuries can easily stop you from training, but why let a small joint injury hold you back? If you get an injury, think of ways to keep training, even if it is not at 100%.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Sore Rib Cage?

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team is diverse in size and weight. I noticed that my rib cage would often be sore after rolling with the larger fighters on my team; those who weighed 30+ lbs more than myself. It took me a while to figure out why I felt the rib cage discomfort and then gave some thought to exactly what was going on in my fighting.

In most cases, larger fighters will get on top of smaller fighters... well in my case anyway. If they were in my guard, they would base up with their hands pushing down on my ribs or lean down and smother. Side mount would lead to some pressure as well. And it really sucked if I ever found myself stuck at the bottom of a knee on belly; the struggle to push out put some pressure on my back as well. These positions, I figured, were the cause of my discomfort.

The solution? Well, now when I role I do everything in my power to avoid being on the bottom, even if it means losing a few seconds of rest when tired. It takes far more energy to get out from under there anyway. And you still have to avoid submission on your way out. I would rather push my way to the side and keep my arms outstretched than fall back and get pinned.

If I ever do find myself on the bottom, it does happen, I want to get up as quickly as possible or at least to the side. It has been working for the past month and a half anyway. Less pain. So if you have sore ribs after rolling with larger fighters, try to stay on top at all costs. It may help if you have a sore rib cage.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dragao Kimono / Gi

When I first started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I wore a Judo Gi. It was quite heavy but did the trick. But after I realized that I wanted to study further I decided to purchase a Kimono (Gi) for training as it was more "Jiu Jitsu". I did a great deal of research on all different types of Kimonos and found a company called Dragao in Brazil.

After talking with some of my classmates about Kimonos I decided to make the purchase. Rather than purchase it from a MMA store, I wanted to go to the source. The mark up of many of these stores was unreasonable. As well, dealing with an intermediary can sometimes be a pain in the butt; there are some horror stories floating around.

I visited the Dragao Kimonos website and made my choice; the "Arm Lock" Kimono. I chose the A-2G which was perfect for my 5'9 height and 168lbs build. I made my order, paid around 100.00 USD and 32.00 USD for basic economic shipping. All toll, 132.00 USD for a top of the line Kimono. Shipping took around a week and a half; I was surprised it got here so fast.

I have been wearing this Kimono for over 4 months now and love it. The more I washed it, the better it fit. The only complaint I have is the canvas pants are sometimes difficult to take off after training because of the sweat. The positive side effect of this is I get a second work out taking my pants off after class.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

The First Seven Months

The best place to begin is the beginning. It has been almost 7 months since I first stepped on the mat so this, my first post, will be about my first 7 months training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

A year ago my first son was born which pretty much meant that my plate was full; life was dedicated to someone else and I was neglecting myself. When he turned 5 months, I discussed starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with my wife to get back in shape and put my head back in the right place.

I had attained a first degree black belt in Goju Ryu Karate Do after 10 years of training but had not trained for a few years after getting married, starting a business, and stepping out on my own. Martial arts had taken a back seat. Training and martial arts had always been a major part of my life, so I was not intimidated about getting back into it.

I did some research on various martial arts but had a pretty good knowledge of what was out there. I did not want to start Karate again; I would not feel right wrapping a white belt around my waist in something I spent more than a third of my life doing. Nor did I feel right wrapping a Black Belt around my waist after my neglect. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was new, less formal, and I had always been fascinated by the fighting style of the art.

When I first stepped on the mat, I weighed 179 lbs at a height of 5'9. I admit that for the first few classes I was out of my element. The warm up would tire me out and the moves we were learning left my brain as fast as they entered. But my instructor, Professor Scott Schilling, was an awesome leader and it showed in the lessons as well as the team.

After the first four months I had dropped 10 pounds and I started feeling a difference in my fighting and stamina. I had also earned my first stripe. These things were important to me personally, but more than both of these things, I knew the names of everyone in my class and I think they new me. I felt like I was becoming part of the team.

So that brings me to where I am now and why I started this site. I want to share a play by play of my classes and progress in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I also want to share my perspectives as well lessons learned. This will help my development and perhaps help those sitting on the sideline start training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.