Sunday, May 28, 2006

M. Hughes V. Over R. Gracie

I want to get my thoughts out of my head before they are skewed by all the other chatter that will be tossed back and forth for the next week or so on the Matt Hughes victory over Royce Gracie. I usually do not comment on MMA or things outside my training, so this will be a rare opinionated post. Please excuse me.

I had high expectations for Royce Gracie to come out on top in this fight. I, for many years, have put him and Gracie Jiu Jitsu on a pedestal, even as a Black Belt in Goju Ryu Karate. He was the face of closure in the age old martial arts debate of "my Dad can beat your Dad". Has the foundation been shaken? Of course it has. Because of this fight? No.

The best thing that could happened for the development of Martial Arts is that Royce Gracie would lose to a "Mixed Martial Artist". The reason is; evolution never stops, in anything. We watch color TVs today while our parents watched Black and White. Our kids will probably watch something that makes color look black and white in the future. It will never stop.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu of 1993 and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of 2006 is different. Fighters are different. If we profess that ours is better than the theirs, we put ourselves in a nice, safe little box where we can be comfortable in our ignorance. Development demands impermanence. Foundations must shake and break and then be re-built. And not by us, but those crazy and fully dedicated fighters we try to be like on TV. They lead the way, as they did in '93 when this whole martial art debate went mainstream.

Has my confidence been shaken in BJJ after watching this? Hell no. Every fight was won with the stuff we learn in class every week. I could see every move in almost slow motion; except for the Sanchez/Alessio which was my favorite of the night. This is because we learn what works. Is it or should it be called Gracie Jiu Jitsu? Well, that is the best label for it, so yeah. But in the end it is all called "fighting", and sometimes it all comes down to the man. Tonight that man was Matt Hughes.


P.S. Nothing is as fun as having a couple Guinness and watching fights with the team. I had a blast and can not wait until the next event!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Royce Gracie MMA Highlights

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mizo no kokoro

Kodokan Judo 10th dan Kyuzo Mifune and his students demonstrate Judo tachi- and ne-waza techniques, randori and kata.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tape - My New Best Friend

I am back in class now after taking off 3 classes to recover from a hand injury. I was a little nervous when stepping back on the mat because the guys on our team are so good, you miss only one class, you get your ass kicked when you come back.

My concern was not for my stamina because I stayed active while in recovery. My concern was for my hand. Because I had a pretty bad injury with my thumb 5 or 6 months ago, I know what it is like to not have full use of an essential tool for fighting. But how do I contend without the full use of three of my fingers and a messed up wrist. The answer: very carefully.

The key to avoiding re-injury in this case was imobilization. Over the past few weeks of trying to understand what motions caused pain, I figured out how to best effectively tape my fingers together to allow me a desired range of motion while still protecting the healing parts. In this case, two pieces of tape in between the first and second and second and third nuckle holding my index finger and middle finger together. My index finger acted as a splint for my other three injured finger nuckles. And I had full use of my hand.

So at this point, when I see the professionals tape up, I know that there is a reason. And understanding how to tape an injury just right is an essential art in our kind of combat sport. The best part; 6 rolls of hockey tape at Canadian Tire for just 12 bucks. For that price I can get injured every day of the week and twice on Sunday and never go bankrupt buying tape. Thank you Canadian Tire!!!


Friday, May 19, 2006

My Recent Inactivity

Over the past two weeks I have been nursing a left hand injury that occurred at the Canadian Nationals that I wrote about a week and a half ago. In the No Gi division, I felt like I was being picked apart by this really kick ass fighter from Joslin's; I do not remember his name. He was up on points and with about a minute and a half to go it happened.

On a pass from Half Guard, my opponent pulled his leg out and attempted to roll up to either a high side mount or north south. The only problem was my elbow was braced to the floor and my hand tried to stop the freight train. The result was my fingers were bent back, I do not know how far, and the match was over. The Ambulance guys slowly made their way over to me with a nice bag of ice and said nothing was broken.

Today I have about 30% strength in my left hand and it sometimes throbs in between my index and middle finger and the blade of my hand. Typing is a bitch as well as some other extra curricular activities... You know, lifting things...

I have taken the last 3 classes off to nurse it and it is getting better. I will be in class next week, but the lure of rolling is sometimes too strong and I may just want to jump in and go. But if I learned anything from my thumb injury from last year is that these things take time. So it looks like I get to watch all the fun happen around me and wait.


I have heard Professor say this, and I will take it to heart next time; "Do not get in a position that will turn your injury into a liability".

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Royce Gracie Media Workout

I can't wait until the 27th!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Roger Gracie vs. Jacare

The video is a little shaken, but the fight is good. 2005 Europeans.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My First BJJ Tournament

Part 1: Waking Up

I woke up this morning for the first time in over a week without having to step on a scale because today my exact weight is no longer a concern. Yesterday, my weight was one of the top things on my mind because for the first time in my life, weighing under 170 pounds was actually important. Why was it so important?

Yesterday I competed first grappling tournament; the 170 pound beginner division of the CJA Canadian Nationals in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. I made the decision to compete, not because of the potential glory of placing, but because I wanted to measure my skill against other dedicated students of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from outside my team.

The tournament showing was low. There were only around 9 fighters in my division alone; the most populated division of the day. But each of these nine fighters were dedicated enough to wake up a 6 AM on a Sunday morning and drive over an hour (in some cases 2 hours) to Barrie, just to fight some strangers. Because they showed simply up it implied that they had the potential and the belief to "take it home".

Part 2: The Super Unknown

Nothing could prepare me for what I had to face. I practically starved myself the day before to hit my weight; I had gained a few pounds of muscle over the past few weeks training for the tournament. But starving myself did not make me hungry for food; I wanted to step in the ring and face the unknown.

I found that once I stepped in the ring and faced my first opponent, a great calm came over me. A peaceful quiet. All complications left my mind and I only had to focus on one thing; destroying my opponent. When the clinch happened, it was like fireworks and I swear I heard the bellowing chorus of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in my soul. It was awesome!

I took my opponent down I established series of controlling positions that had been drilled into my head and body over the past 10 or so months racking up points. But I admit I did not do it alone; Professor was playing me like a Nintendo game from the side of the ring. There was only one problem, my opponent was strong and wanted out and after a few minutes he got his wish by pushing up on my trachea. Nice. I was, at this point, not content with winning by points, I wanted a submission so I went for an arm bar. I could hear my entire team shouting to keep control because there were only a few seconds to go. So I took control and won the fight.

And that was the beginning of the end of my chances of moving forward to the medal round that day. Due to an error at the judges table and my ignorance of the form submission process, my opponent was credited with the victory and moved on. The confusing events that followed are not important as the process was tainted and the details boring. But I did defeat myself in my next match. With a bruised trachea from my first match going in, I was magically submitted by guillotine on the ground. Funny how that kind of thing happens.

After the tournament, I do have some lessons learned;

  • You do have to be very prepared physically to compete. Going to class alone will not cut it.
  • Fighting in a tournament is not the same game that you play in class; it is far more serious because there are stakes involved.
  • Injuries will probably occur if you are not careful. And may occur even if you are.
  • There are some really great fighters out there and you will not truly know what a fighter is until you get into ring yourself.
  • The tournament is not as fun as spilling beers and sharing stories at a restaurant with teammates after it is over.
So that's it. I woke up today with a swollen left hand from a no gi fight, bruised trachea, sore muscles, and a desire to do it all over again. Why? Because I see potential in myself to do better the next time. This tournament style Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a different taste and some new tastes, once acquired, taste good.


P.S. Today I played "So What" by Miles Davis for my 15 month old son and he dug it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What was I thinking?

Tonight I did something that is very uncharacteristic, stupid, and certainly way above my skill level. When rolling with one of the Blue belts, Jason, starting from stand up I grabbed his right arm, jumped up, put my right shin in his armpit, and kicked my left leg over his head; I tried a flying arm bar. And here is the strange thing; I had never practiced it and only seen it applied a few times in videos. A very reckless mistake on my part.

I do not know how or why it happened, it just did. And the thing that broke the "almost" lock is when gravity slammed me into the ground and I blanked out for a second. Not to mention that Jason came crashing down onto me and I took a nice unintentional elbow to the nose and mouth causing me to blank out for a moment or two. For the rest of my roll, I was in a dazed auto pilot.

For the past few weeks I have been stepping up my training for my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament this Sunday. This is my last class before my final physical and mental preparation. I am feeling a little bit of pressure, I admit. But it is more excitement to compete with the unknown than anything else. I know I have been training hard and all the tools for success have been given to me. My biggest concern is that my adrenaline will take over and I become clumsy or reckless with my technique; like I did tonight. Guess what I will be thinking about for the next few days... ;)

And, will I try a flying arm bar again? Of course because it is a slick submission! But there are a lot of other things I need to work on first. I am deeply ashamed for losing my head like that and doing something that could have caused a team mate or my self an injury. I am also thankful that Jason is freakishly tough. The only good thing is, I learn from my mistakes. And the bigger the mistake, the more of an impact the lesson will have on me.


P.S. Damn Mikey, how the hell did you get my back again?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Eye on the Prize

How often do you actually look when fighting on the ground? I mean really use your eyes and try to see what is going on? As a product of the Nintendo generation, I thought my hand eye coordination was pretty good. Well, as it turns out, my hand eye coordination is not that good when put under fatigue, stress, and duress of a roll.

Sure, I rely on feeling what is going on as it is happening. But is that enough? Sometimes "as it is happening" is too late. And not only that, if you do not have the ability to use your eyes, you are probably in a bad position; being able to effectively "see" means you are most likely in a good position with good posture. And as Martha Stewart learned from her fights in prison, seeing what is coming "is a good thing".

But is it enough to simply be able to "see"? Seeing is only one part of a sequence of internal events that must take place in order to apply your will. First you must "see". Then you must "interpret". Then you must "respond" to what you have seen. The more you can see, and the more time you have for interpretation (unless you are a fast thinker or have lots of body memory), the better your response should be.

Using your eyes is just another tool that, I think, can be developed in addition to body memory. (Body memory is interpretation without seeing). Interpretation comes from skills developed in class and materials consumed off the mat like videos, pictures, articles, etc.

So, if you are put in a position where you can't see, try to get back to a place where you can. Because, again, if you are in a place where you can see what is going on, you will have a much easier time determining where you are supposed to be going.


ESPN Gracie Family Special

Another nice little Gracie Family documentary from ESPN.