Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Same old story; the busier I get, the more stuff I let slip, including this journal.  Training has been going pretty well.  I seem to have shifted most of my training to the secondary location, as the primary one moved its hours too early for me to get in there and still have a reasonable hope of completing my degree. 

Stuff that’s been somewhat working:  Have been nailing Doc Ken’s sweep off the arm drag where you reach around their back and just grab their lat and pull ‘em over the top.  This has been working like a charm.  Downside: tried it on Matthias and he laughed at me as he passed my guard off this.   Still, must remember to thank Doc Ken and tell him this has been working for me. 

Stuff that’s still no good:  Escaping side mount.  Working from half guard.  Establishing an attacking base from half guard.  Passing the open guard of just about anyone who knows what they’re doing.

Stuff I should look up:  Setups for baseball bat choke from side.  Anaconda from turtle.   Saulo’s x-pass to the open guard.  Stacking and smashing pass.

Notable taps since last entry:  Don’t really remember how long it’s been since I updated. Pretty far back, I caught brown belt Tran with an armbar from guard. 

Caught Eddie (black) with an arm triangle from mount  last night, but in fairness, he was pretty exhausted.  Also, I can see him letting me get the tap to prove a point or teach a lesson.  In a way, he’s the most selfless of the blackbelts, although he definitely rolls the hardest out of the three (which I love).  

Set up a darce on Marco.  He was DEFINITELY letting me work and seeing what I had, but the entry into the position still felt somewhat legit; it was Charlie’s gable grip and dump from turtle.

Tapped Gavin with a guillotine from darce in nogi.  Pretty sure this was a legit tap, although Gavin is also very selfless and lets me get position all the time.  I only think it was legit because it felt like we were going pretty close to full out.  Which brings me to my next point-

Whining:  I miss training at the bigger school and getting all kickass training partners. I miss Collin and Gavin teaching nogi, and I’m not really interested in checking out the new Sambo class which fills up that spot.  I miss training with Andy all the time.  I’ll have to figure out a way to get back in there.

Random thoughts:  I like how Marco teaches.  Matthias is also an awesome teacher, but he teaches right to the middle of the class.  I feel like Marco, intentionally or not, teaches toward the upper half of the bell curve, and frankly, I feel like that benefits everyone.  Rising to the level of the lesson is a good thing.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lots of Mat Time.

Caught the nogi class last night, but the teacher wasn't there so we mostly just rolled after reviewing some triangle stuff.  Then today, went across town to another gym and trained with a couple fellas preparing for an mma fight.  Totally fun, but a little different than i thought it would be.  I thought it would be rolling with strikes, but it was just rolling today.   

Rolls were all good and challenging   Hit a tripod sweep live against charlie, which felt pretty cool.  Reviewed a couple of sweep options from open with Gavin and did some slow rolling.  Got mauled by Shawn (but had a good time) and had a decent roll with Chris.  Hit a darce on some guy who's name I can't remember, and hit two armbars on Dorian.  That shouldn't matter for his fight though, it sounds like his opponent is a boxer, so if it goes to the ground, it'll be on Dorian's terms, most likely.

Good training.  Am a little banged up, but would love to work out at that gym again especially if its all good guys like today.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quick Update

Made it in a little late, we were working on standup.  Hopped in the mix, and did pretty well, much better than i thought.  Went against Marco twice, and once time I got his back (and hopped on it, like a clown) (Charlie yelled at me for that, and told me always bear hug and throw him on the ground), and the other he kind of missed my leg and I got his back.  Awesome.  My whole theory of standup is a Frankenstein's monster combination of arm dragging (Marco and Eddie), posture (Gavin), and composure (Doc Ken).  I had more fun with it last night than I ever have before.  

Rolls:  1st up was Charlie.  I passed his guard with the knee over the leg pass. He turtled, I went for the loop choke we did the other day (which I didn't record because I was too busy praising myself), set it up wrong, and he reversed me.  I turtled, he darced me good.  If I don't beat those grips, that attack is over before it starts, especially with Charlie.  We reset, I muscled the sucker sweep from leg lasso, and time.  Roll seemed really, really short.

Next was Ricky (Blue).  Passed his guard after a fight.  He played de la riva, and I think it was working for him.  (after Class, richard showed a pass for de la riva where you throw his left leg across your body and collapse your right knee to his side.  Seemed legit.)  Tapped him twice but I forget with what.  God, his half guard is strong.  As time was being called, I had baseball bat grips, and was already trying to crank on it as I tried to pass his half guard.  Once Ricky realizes he's better than me, I'm not gonna stand a chance against him.  Also, this roll convinced me that de la riva is the future of my oopen guard, as it slowed me way down when he played it on me.

Last was exhausted Mark (blue).  I went for a triangle and he tried the smash pass.  I reached underneath my leg to adjust, while placing the other foot in his hip. This seemed to keep things a bit tighter than than reaching over the top.  Will have to try to play this in the future.  Got two triangles, and one time he tapped from knee on belly.  Brother, I've been there, although i don't think my knee on belly is anywhere near as painful as the "Eddie Special."

After class, hung with Richard, Ricky and Henry for a minute.  Tried the Collin sweep a few times on Henry and Ricky.  Richard showed a tripod sweep and a counter to the guy fighting the tripod sweep. Grad near ankle , hook outside ankle with foot, push body with other foot.  

Monday, August 1, 2011


I read all over the place the dangers of using other people in your gym as a barometer of progress, and by and large, I agree.  Ideally, the gym should have guys who you're a lot better than, to try new and risky stuff on, guys who are right there with you, and guys who are way, way better than you , to point you in the right direction.  Also ideally, one should be comfortable enough with  one's ego to not keep a "tap tracker."  Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and when I tap someone who I know is much better than me, I can't help but get excited and wonder if this means that I'm finally getting good at jiujitsu.  

Tonight, I tapped out Collin (brown).  This guy is easily one of the best guys at our school, and has taught me more about jiujitsu than just about anybody.  I think he probably understands jiujitsu at as deep a level as anyone at our school, and honestly anyone I've ever met.  I should say right now that I only got the tap because of some weird, fluke position we were in where he was attacking the legs.  Well actually, let me start at the beginning.

We started from my guard. He baited with an arm to get me to open, which I did.  I somehow always take the bait.  So the first breakthrough I had was to not try to leg lasso or do any of the other dumb stuff that i do from open guard.  Instead, even though I really don't know how to play it,  I went right to de la riva.  Now don't get me wrong, he still easily, easily passed, but it slowed him down noticeably more than anything I've tried so far.  So he gets side on me, and I somehow get a leg in and take him over the top. 

This is when stuff gets interesting.  We kept reversing each other in either backwards half-guard or backwards  sidemount. ( I think it was half.)  Then he starts attacking the leg.  I did as Vaughn showed the other night, and figure four'd my legs to slow him down.  He layed out for it, and I rolled and kicked him off. Somehow, I don't remember how, we wound up in that same weird position.  He locked me up tight, almost felt like some kind of slicer.  Some how I wound up on top, and posted my hand in such a way that i could feel my leg coming loose when i stretched.  I used the posting hand to keep him from turning over and to start setting up an arm triangle.  As soon as I came loose, I popped over the top and locked it on.  Put my foot in his ribcage and just squeezed.  

When he tapped I couldn't believe it. I asked if it was a choke or a crank.  He said choke, but I don' t know. It probably was mostly the fact that he had just gone with Marco (black) and didn't want some huge guy on top of him...  In any case, we reset, and I somehow got out of there without him tapping me.  

As weird as this sounds, I felt ungrateful, like I was screwing him over after all he'd taught me and shown me. In addition to being almost ridiculously knowledgeable about all manner of grappling minutia, Collin is also a super nice guy, and a very patient and attentive teacher. He's also the best guy who I get to roll with consistently; because of that in a way, he's taught me more than anyone else.   And although I know its ridiculous to feel bad, I can't help but think it just feels wrong to tap your teacher.  It's tough to explain, but there it is.  

And then on the other hand, as I mentioned before, doing well against someone who's game is way better than yours can be a good sign that you're actually absorbing technique and doing the right stuff naturally.  In any case, I'm proud that I've tapped him once, for the hundreds of times he's tapped me.

In other, sadder news, tonight was Vaughn's last night training with us, as he's headed back to NYU. We caught a roll tonight and he was all over me.  I lucked my way out of a choke, and the rest of the time, he was looking for sweeps or passing my guard.  I swept him exactly once, and it did me no good.  Its almost funny to me how much I learned from him in 10 weeks.  Even tonight, before he left he showed me a version of the toreando pass that I'm excited to try.  Bottom line:  It sucks to lose that guy.  He raised the bar for the skill level of blue belts, and even gave upper belts stiff competition.  

Finally, rolled with this Marine guy who had a black belt in whatever combatives course they offer.  Interesting roll, way different than a typical bjj roll.  He had me in some pretty compromised spots, but I somehow turned one of them into a sweep, and even got my first baseball bat choke in awhile.  Hope he keeps coming.

Interesting night.  As I said, mixed feelings about the roll with Collin, but I have absolutely no doubt I'll pay for it in the very near future.  Stuff to work on:  passing the open guard, pulling de la riva against good guys.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Downs, Ups, and What To Do From Scarf.

Made the basic class tonight.  Really really wish I could make it in there more often, as I could definitely use a review of some basic jiujitsu concepts, which will become apparent as the entry unfolds (scary foreshadowing...)

In guard pass drills, I hit a bunch sweeps, including Henry twice.  Its good to know i still have any aptitude against him!  He's really made a few breakthroughs lately, and may be on the cusp of a few more.  Scary....  Sat out on the wall after the second time, I was gassed.

Partnered with (Chad? Chase?)  a tough white belt, who's given me some problems before in guard pass drills.  We went over a standing guard break where you pop your knee into his butt.  We also played with a stack pass and a pass off a counter to the stack pass.  I'm going to give into the temptation not to describe those in detail because 1. I'm tired and 2. Well really, i should go on and descibe them.  Sucks being lazy.  Anyway, (Chad? Chase?) was a great partner, and I hope to work with him again.

Firt roll was with Richard (white), the huge MMA guy who gives me a hard time.  We started from my guard.  I got the underhook cross collar grip, and opened up to try to do something with it.  Big mistake.  He hopped over my leg right in to scarf hold side control.  I tried that defense where you triangle the guys head but he was having none of it.  He armbarred the shit out of me, and it popped twice loud enough so that we both heard.  I don't really know the guy that well, but he seems super nice, and I definitely don't think he meant to or anything.  He's just so big that any extra pressure he gives counts for a lot.   Any way, i guess he felt bad, because he basically let me guillotine him after that.  I wish I got to roll with this dude more, because he's a challenge everytime. 

Alright, that was the Down.  The Up was that I did pretty well against Eddie (black).  Started from his guard.  I broke it open , he switched to a modified DLR, I alternated from low to high posture, and once I cleared the leg, I passed his guard into mount.  Got the grips for a head and arm choke, but he locked up tight, and I didn't feel like it was close, so I switched for the armbar.  Tried twice to break his grips but he was locked up.  Thought I was close, but he pulled it out when I gave him a little space.  Good Roll.  He was definitely letting me work, but he doesn't just give stuff away, so I must have been doing something right. 

I think that was it for rolls.  Before our roll, Eddie showed me an escape from scarf.  The first thing is to fight your elbow to the ground, no matter what.  It won't be pretty, it will definitely be a dog fight, but the second anyone gets there on you, commit yourself to winning that battle.  Its 100% the most important thing to do to survive that position.  Following that, you can do some stuff that Richard suggested (from wrestling). Its called chasing the leg, and you just run towards the guy's leg and start climbing him.  Once you get there, use both arms to push his arm over the top of your head, and take the back.

After my roll with Eddie, he asked why I didn't commit to the attack.  I told him I tried twice on that armbar.  He said, I meant the arm triangle.  Makes me think I should have gone for it harder.  Just go ear to ear with the guy and put the pressure on.  Next time.  In the meantime, I'm taking my sore left arm to the shower. 

Vaughn's Triple Attack From Mount.

Against all expectations, I showed up early for once in my life.  Caught a quick roll with a slightly winded Richard (blue), who had just finished rolling with this monstrous new blue belt.  Used some of Andy's guard passes, and passed to side, then quickly to north south.  Went around to the other side, and somehow managed to secure mount, but I don't remember how.   Set up technical mount and secured the arm, but couldn't break his grips.  Made two attempts to finish, but Richard pulled off a very savvy escape.  We basically called it there as class was about to start.

Guard pass:  I got swept by some of Vaughn's excellent movement from guard.  Hit a hip bump sweep and maybe a pendulum sweep, but i don't remember on whom.  Ended up sweeping Cue (purple), but i think he was playing light.  He swept me easily later.   

Vaughn taught tonight.  It was potentially his  last class with us as he is moving home soon, and I know I will be very sad to see him go.  Learned so much from that guy in such a short time, and its always a pleasure just to be around people who are as enthusiastic and excited about  BJJ as he is.  He showed a triple attack from the mount. 

Setup:  Grab left sleeve with left hand.  Pull straight back, as if doing a seated row.  Once arm is extended, grab over the elbow on the FAR SIDE of the arm, pull it over the body, then fall on top of it, putting your weight o it.  Reach around the back of the guys head with left hand, grab the guys wrist.  Pull the wrist and push on top of the elbow with other hand to bring the guy to his side.  Sit high up on him, keeping the knee to the back of his head and other foot tight to his chest.  

From here:  You have the arm bar, the normal gi choke, and the choke i don't know the name for where you put your underhook arm behind his head.  For the normal gi choke.  Get a cross collar grip with the arm underneath his head, i.e. his right collar, and grip on other collar with other hand.  Pull down toward his belly with that hand, and towards the ground with the other.  Switch posture to very erect (huh huh), ans shrug shoulders upward for the tap.  

Rolls:  First got Henry (Blue) again.  More of the same.  Hard to break him down, and increasingly difficult to pass his guard.  Got mount at one point i think, but he quickly reversed me.  Need to work with him more, as finding away to be at his hips will help me a lot.  

Last roll.  Went with Jeff, a white belt close to my size who i actually remember from when I first started training at school.  I remember him being good, and he said he'd trained before, so i figured I'd give him a roll.  Went for an armbar from mount, but he bumped me off and I pulled guard.  Got him with an armbar from mount, a triangle and a guillotine counter to a single leg.  Good roll, but I was probably still keyed up from trying to work on Henry and went a bit hard.  Buuuut... this guy stepped on my glasses back in the day and I had to pay for 'em, so I don't feel too bad.   

After class, worked on some open guard stuff with Henry and Richard.  My thugs Andy and Charlie both skipped tonight, so I didn't get my traditional post-class working over, but that's okay.  

The first time I ever wore a mismatched gi top and bottom

Super late. Showed up with just a gi top and borrowed a blue pair of pants.  Unfortunately my lack of preparedness was reflected in rolls as well. Basically missed the class, just enough time to get destroyed rolling. 

First up was Wylian.  I went super hard, and I think he did too.  Unfortunately this pretty much ruined me for the rest of my rolls.  He passed my guard, but I put him in in  half and actually caught one of the sweeps that ken showed the other day.  First I went for the grab the wrist pull him over the top, but when that didn’t work I took the back door once he gave up the under hook.  Still, couldn’t pass his guard.  Overall, did worse than last time we rolled. 

Next up was Henry, a new blue belt and old friend from school.  He caught me off guard with how good his guard recovery is now.  Obviously training with Wylian has tightened his game up in spots.  Passed twice, but he recovered easily and put me back in half and full.  I’m pretty sure he swept me at some point.  To be honest , I rolled like  shit against him, and he’s gotten a lot better.  

I think I need to not give up the closed guard so easily.  I’ve been trying to work the open a bit more, with mixed results.

Last two rolls were with Mike S. (blue) and Vaughn, and to be honest they were a blur.  Nothing too significant to report. Overall a bad night, but bad nights usually just make me want more at the end.