Thursday, April 27, 2006

One Hundred Pound Quarter

The distribution of weight by means of mobility, position, and balance is essential for control of top position and understanding how to escape from bottom. Last night we worked an effective pass from butterfly guard. But it was only effective if certain conditions were created; proper weight distribution was a major key to controlling the transition.

A quarter is pretty easy to pick up off the ground. But what if that quarter weighed over a hundred pounds? Not as easy. And what if that hundred plus pound quarter was sitting squarely on your chest as you tried to do a sit up?

When rolling with some of the guys in my class and especially Professor, it feels like they have a roll of hundred pound quarters and they are constantly placing them on my "sit up" points. I have found that anticipating where they want to weigh me down helps me shimmy out of the way. It has also helps to try to keep control of my hips, stay on my side, and keep my elbows and knees between my opponent and I as much as possible.

As for my hundred pound quarters, I am still learning how to invest. But I have some pretty good advisors and difficult lessons seem to sink deep.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fedor vs. Alek Emelianenko

This is a Sambo fight between Fedor and brother Aleksander Emelianenko. Check out the takedown and turtle flip. I wish I had a brother...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pins and Needles

In order to isolate specific advantage in any position, it is essential to use "Pins" or "Needles" as tools to do so.

A "Pin" would be considered locking down any element of an opponent; getting heavy on a part of an opponent so they can not move. Even using their weight or part of their body to stop their desired motion like pinning their shoulder to the ground, arm across their chest, head to one direction. One pin I find especially effective is using my shin on the inside of an opponent's thigh when passing guard, because they have trouble lifting their leg, and a measure of pain is delivered.

A "Needle" would be considered using pain as a persuader to open up, move in a specific direction, or as in last class, motivate a tap. An elbow on the side of the neck, a knee on belly (also a good pin), or any pressure applied to a nerve are good "needles". And no-one likes needles, so they are effective tools to not only motivate a desired response, but also shift an opponent's concentration away from offence to defense.

It is not the same when a fighter moves because he wants to move, and another when he moves because he has to.
Joe Frazier,
I think is as important, now that I am finally understanding the game, to not only focus on specific techniques, but also the small little "why" and "how" stuff. Every class when I get caught with something, I do my best to remember how it happened and correct it in my mind for next class. One thing, over and over. I find it less likely I am caught with the same thing again, well, it does not get applied as easy if it does happen.


P.S. Someone who always has cool little and effective tips is the Blue belt Jason from our class. Two weeks ago he spent some time with a few of us after class explaining different ways to break someone's resistance to an arm bar. Slick bio-mechanical stuff from his personal experience. These little things are golden.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ba Da Bang! Bang! Bang!

Bas Rutten - Ba Da Bang! Bang! Bang! Ha. Ha. Ha.

Pressure Cooker

You get to determine your own level of involvement. You choose to show up and to bring your game or you don't. And the game is extra hard sometimes, especially when you are nursing injuries or discomforts. And you can injure more than just your body; ego can take a beating sometimes too. But if you can't get past conquering those discomforts, you end up suffering in the end.

The best thing about these different kinds of pains and pressures is that help you understand what you need to work on. If you get your thumb bent back; keep it tucked in next time (this lesson can be taught over a two month period...). You run out of gas; train a little harder. You have trouble applying a certain technique; break it down into pieces and work on it piece by piece. You thought you would own the fight, but your ass was handed to you; ego will always beat you first so it is better to let it go. Facing your challenges makes you an effective person.

Taking challenges head on is the most important thing you can do in life. And always look for harder challenges, because that will help you grow better and faster than those who don't. Do not run away from or give up on the important fights; those kinds of losses stack up and follow you for the rest of your life.

Why the preach? Well, my problem is that I see people quit sometimes who had some potential. And not just BJJ, but other things too. I admit that I am not perfect either and I have my share of shame because I dropped the ball a few times. But I still try to keep myself in the pressure cooker, and so should they. Fight the hard fights. And remember to stay out on a limb, because that is where the fruit is.


P.S. The opinions of others mean less than nothing when you are in control.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rolling with Professor

Last night I rolled with Professor Schilling for the first time in a while. Anytime I get a chance to test my skill against my teacher's is a great opportunity. So here is how it went...

I attack and get tapped. I attack and then get tapped. Then I attack, get flipped, and then tap. Four and a half minutes to go. Tap. Defend. Tap. Tap. Almost fall asleep... Tap. You get the idea. I may have exaggerated the amount of times I tapped, but do not exaggerate the skill in which Professor "Pwnd" me. The best part was after it was over he pointed to himself and said, "Got Jits". Classic.

There was one difference rolling with Professor this time, than the last time a few months ago. My stamina has increased and I can move a lot faster. So basically, I can get tapped faster and more often and still be able to roll a few more times afterwards.

Man, one day, if I can do what he did to me to someone else... ahh yeah.


P.S. Thanks Sam, for looking at my forearm and giving me some peace of mind.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

ADCC 2005 Highlights

Some highlights from ADCC 2005.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

M. Garcia vs. D. Sanchez

A kick ass ADCC Brazilian Jiu Jitsu grappling match between Marcelo Garcia and TUF Winner Diego Sanchez.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Don't Sleep On It

Our past Wednesday class was devoted to a senior belt grading where our blue belts and purple belt graded. I have to admit, it was more like a demonstration than a grading to the white belt line watching. Basically those who graded were asked to demonstrate technique after technique in different situations from memory. It appeared to me that 80% of what I saw was based directly on the white belt curriculum. The other 20% was some pure candy. My personal favourite was Tommy's Turtle Choke. Slick!

From watching the grading, it made me realize how important it is to have a series of techniques dedicated to memory and be able to draw upon them when needed. Earlier this week I wrote about thinking faster; essential. But it is more than that; acting faster and just going for it is even more important.

"G", one of my seniors and solid fighter, expressed the importance of building a strong base technique, or two, or three for each situation that could be drawn upon easily. That base of techniques will provide a strong launch pad for future applied curriculum. That, tied in with Professor's "attack, attack, attack" mentality would make for a pretty good fight plan against any opponent. But more than those two elements, hesitation must be reduced or eliminated to be effective.

If an opponent gets an advantageous position and I stop to think about how to escape; that hesitation will be the opportunity my opponent needs to submit me. So I must act fast and hope for the best. The only challenges for me with this "act quick" mind set is that the game speed will increase, I have to fight to curb clumsy or gross movements, and build my stamina to compensate for the lack of stationary position time.

So, at this point in my game, my biggest opponent is myself. How do I want to roll? How will I go about improving my game. I think, because I am getting to a good place in my training, if I can concentrate on indentifying one personal error and correct it the next time I roll, I will keep getting better and better faster. There are hundreds of classes to come, so I have lots of time and opportunity to improve...


P.S. Always be quick to seize opportunity.

Royce Gracie vs. Kung Fu

I am starting to see a trend here with this clever BJJ propaganda...

BJJ Animal Farm Explained

Two days ago I wrote a short parable about an animal farm based on a weird dream I had after class on Monday. Don't ask. I was aware when writing it that it would be a little cryptic, but I figured I would try to emulate George Orwell a little, the author who actually wrote a book called "Animal Farm", and talk in analogies. And now for the explanations...

Each animal on BJJ Animal Farm represents a belt level in BJJ; or a fighters mind set in a fight. The barn on fire from the storm represents a fight, or a specific situation in a fight with the wide open barn door representing the escape or opportunity.

  • The Farmer would be the Professor or instructor who generally sees a storm (situation) coming from miles away. Their job is to look after the animals or students.

  • The pigs would be Black or Brown belts because they read signs that no one else can see and will act at the earliest opportunity. Why did I chose pigs to be Black and Brown belts? In Orwell's Animal Farm, the Pigs controlled everything; crafty, devious, controlling, and mentally savvy warriors. If you read the book, you will understand. And because that is how it was in my dream... ?

  • The sheep dogs would be a Purple belt; smart, good fighters, helpful, and a little slower to react than a Brown or Black belt in certain situations.

  • The sheep would be Blue belts who follow instructions well. But, no offense to any Blue belt, but still reliant on instruction or "herding" to be a better sheep.

  • Horses would be a pretty good White belt but still not smart enough to leave the burning barn without some help. Not too many horses follow instructions well, but they are known as hard workers.

  • And finally, the Cows are new level White belts who may just stay in a bad situation no matter how loud the farmer shouts instructions.
At the end, I talked about how after the storm, the Farmer surveyed the situation and took count of his animals; gradings and course corrections. Every fight is just a moment in time and will be repeated, just like a bad storm. Sometimes there is damage, but the rebuilding is often better than the original product.

So there you have it, the most far out thing I think I have written based on a weird dream.


P.S. The chickens represent people who don't train. That is just how it was in my dream... ;)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Royce Gracie Interview

Rorion Gracie vs. Hapkido

Rorion Grace vs. Hapkido instructor. Close the distance...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

BJJ Animal Farm

It was a dry, hot August on the animal farm. The farmer worked hard taking care of his animals; making sure they were safe and looked after under the relentless summer heat. The pigs spent their days rolling in the mud to keep cool. The sheep dogs spent their time keeping the sheep together in the field and took a break every once and a while to lay in the shade of the nearby orchard. The cows and the horses slowly chewed the cud doled out by the farmer. And the chickens stayed in their coup, out of sight in the dark.

One night, loud thunder rippled across the wide open farmland. Now because August is so damn hot, it keeps pretty dry too. And when a storm comes, it does not bring much rain with it. A dangerous time for farmers and their animals.

As the animals laid down in their barn for the night, the pigs watched the farmer who stood in the field gazing at the flashing sky in the distance. He began pacing back and forth; not a good sign figured the pigs. Then the farmer headed back into the farm house and closed the door. As the other animals fell asleep, the pigs stayed awake.

In the early darkness of morning the once distant storm came upon the farm. Lightning hit a tree in the orchard with an explosion of sound and light; the leaves erupted in flame. The farmer bursted out of his house and ran into the yard, just as lightning cracked and hit the barn. Flame erupted and engulfed the entire side of the barn.

The farmer ran towards the barn, yelling muffled instructions. As he lifted the latch on the barn door, the pigs were waiting and made a dash into the field. The dogs barked at the sheep; aware that something was wrong, although they could not see the fire from inside the barn. As the dogs left the barn quickly, the sheep slowly followed.

Fire covered the roof of the barn and inside it became smoky and hot. The cows and the horses struggled in confusion. The farmer stood at the doorway yelling something, but only the horses showed some understanding. The horses then clumsily and slowly left through the wide open door.

The farmer stood with empathy as the cows just stayed there, in their wide open stalls. He knew they were just cows, but he continued yelling instructions. They did not move, confused by all the commotion, smoke, and the now unbearable heat from the fire. Some cows eventually exited the barn with burns while others were consumed by the collapsing structure.

As the sun came up, the farmer wandered his farm; surveying what he had lost the night before and took count of the animals that survived. The barn would be rebuilt, but some animals could not be replaced. All the animals were a little more aware of what a storm could bring after the destruction of the barn.

The farmer continued to tend to his animals despite the challenges, because that is what a farmer does.


Think Fast

Drilling techniques requires a mutual give and take by both participants. There is a set up and a conclusion to the technique. In essence, the position is spoon fed to allow the technique or attack to happen properly. This is essential to get the move down pat.

The challenge in rolling is to quickly identify the opportunity and perform a specific technique. And generally the opportunity will pass by as a transition from one move or position to another occurs. There is only a split second in which to identify a possibility and go for it. Many times I find that "I just missed it, crap".

There are times where I can dictate how I want an opponent to move by giving a little persuasion. This allows me to perform the set up to get the attack I want. This works less frequently, if at all, on some of the senior belts; they know what I am thinking for some strange reason. But that does not mean that there is no opportunity, there is. But why do I feel like a deer trapped in the head lights?

After class tonight I had the opportunity to watch Professor and one of our senior belts, Jonathan, role. One of my classmates, Oscar, said that it was like watching "Fireworks". His description was right on. The roll was fluid, continuous, technically fascinating (pardon my assessment, I am in no position to judge technique), and awesome to watch. All I can say is, "that is where I want to go".

So, I will continue to practice. Analyze my game after class. Play in my mind. Work on the tools to make my techniques easier to apply. As of today, I have been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over nine months. And I can say that I feel less clumsy and things are starting to make more sense. As for the "Think Fast" thing, I think I need to think less to think faster. Or as Bruce Lee said, "Don't think. Feel."


Saturday, April 01, 2006

No Gi Arm Bar & Triangle

Nice little instructional of no gi arm bar and triangle from Ultimate Joe.