Steve

Mar 282012
 

Good times lately. I’ve been watching several food documentaries, and while I’m sure that people have their opinions on food, I’ve decided to give a vegetarian diet a try for a while. I don’t have any real moral compunction about eating animals. I like steak and chicken and don’t overthink our place at the top of the food chain. That said, I do try to buy food where it’s pretty clear that the only real bad day the animals had was their last one. Free range just seems to me to be healthier all the way around.

But I’m game, and it seems as though there are many fellow Jiu Jitsu practitioners who are vegan or vegetarian, so I’m looking forward to getting information and recipes. I’ve already received several great leads on websites, from the happyherbivore.com to information on the Dolce diet, which is a lot of vegetarian/vegan stuff.

Training regularly and feeling pretty good. I’m going to try and amp things up a little bit and compete at the Revolution in November. That’s the goal, but in order to do that I’ll need to drop a few pounds. To be clear, the diet stuff above isn’t about losing weight, but hopefully that’s a by product.

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Moving on. That’s the crew from Phantom BJJ. Great bunch of guys. We took a couple pictures, and that’s the hamming it up one. If you look carefully… okay, not too carefully… you’ll see a few of the gis I’ve dyed over the years. The one I’m wearing is one of my favorite gis, and the second one I ever dyed. It’s holding up really well. The orange one and the light green one are two others I’ve done.

I’ve also been pretty busy recently, doing a chocolate brown Gameness for Rhino and a Fire Red Hayabusa for Brandon. I’ve got a couple projects on tap, as well. I picked up one of the Prana “flow” gis and dyed it Mist Grey. I’m going to do a ShoYoRoll “The Count”, as well. Also Mist Grey.

One last thing. I’m going to do ScriptFrenzy again this year. 100 pages or more in one month. Write that screenplay that you’ve been dreaming of. Who’s with me? Last year, I wrote a first draft of a full length screenplay about, what else? BJJ. The goal this year is to push myself a little and write something with a little more dramatic heft. I don’t know if I’ve got the emotional gas tank to make that work, but I guess there’s no way to find out without trying.

Mar 192012
 

Congratulations to both Coach Bing and Kenji. Bing had a couple of great matches and earned a silver medal. Kenji, only a little more than three months of BJJ under his white belt, won a great first match. He lost his second one on points, but time ran out with him in solid control of his opponent’s back and working a choke.

Class tonight was fun. We worked basics, basics, basics. Opening a closed guard and the fundamental knee slide pass to either side. With so many white belts at the school, it’s been really good for me to go back and revisit the basics.

Video below is Kenji in his first match. We worked opening the closed guard and talked a little about posture at today’s class, because it looks to me like he had a little trouble with a strong opponent who was locking him down.

Bing’s first match against Brock Doyle, a tough brown belt from Gracie Barra.

And Bing’s second match against Trevor Prangley. I don’t know how big Trevor Prangley is, but he’s stout. Fun match to watch.

Mar 132012
 

Large class.  Phantom BJJ is growing every week, which is great to see.   I ran class with Scott Y, which is always fun.  

When I do the warm-ups, I’m trying to mix in some different drills to keep things interesting.  I have a copy of Stephan Kesting’s Grappling Drills DVDs which, honestly, sat on a shelf for about 2 years.  I cracked the cellophane and am now wondering what took me so long.  It’s terrific.  The DVD is well organized, and there are a ton of different drills, both solo and partner.  While I’m familiar with many of them already, there were a ton I’d never seen before.  I plan to work a few new ones in whenever I get the chance.

Following warm-up, I took the white belts and Scott worked with the blue belts and up.  We have several white belts, and it’s a good opportunity to go over the basics.  So, we worked an old Foster BJJ standard.  I started by going over good side control, both top and bottom. 

Starting with basic head control, top guy is blocking bottom’s hip with his knee and focusing on driving his shoulder into bottom’s chin in a control position.  Then switching to a thumb-in grip behind the head and switching to block the hip with the other hand.  We talked a lot about controlling the head, keeping your hips low and thinking about pressure and being heavy.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced guys who weigh 150 lbs that feels like 200 lbs.  And the opposite is also true.  Some big guys aren’t as “heavy” because they don’t keep their hips low, leave space or they try to create pressure with their arms. 

From that control, we worked a paper cutter choke that is very high percentage and hard to defend.  From that position above, move to north/south keeping the grip behind the head.  Bring the hand that’s blocking the hip up and control the bottom guy’s arm.  Moving to north/south actually creates space to swing the elbow around the head, then move back to side control and finish the choke.

Looks a lot like the technique below.  A few variations, but the details he points out are right there with what we worked.  Focusing on driving the elbow to the mat and then widening out to get the choke.  I also like that his hips are low on the mat, the way I tend to do it.  I’ve seen a lot of guys who bring their knees up, which is fine, but for this technique, I like the weight.  Anyway, good video of a very similar set up to what we worked yesterday:

There are a lot of ways to finish.  I like to sprawl my legs back and drive my hips to the mat as I move to north/south and keep them there as I swing back for the choke.  Chris pointed out that widening out the elbow is important to get the finish, as well.

Good class, overall.  We have a couple of guys from Phantom BJJ competing on Saturday at the Revolution, along with a lot of guys from the Foster BJJ and Combat Sports and Fitness.  Looking forward to seeing everyone. 

Mar 052012
 

Man, oh man!  Did you guys see that fight on Saturday night?  Holy cow.  Now, I want to say that I want to like Rousey in the worst way.  But her palpable arrogance is making it very difficult.

The point of this post, however, is to talk about the armbar.  I just want to mention a couple of things.  Please bear in mind that I’m not an elite grappler or a professional MMA fighter.  I’m a purple belt who likes the sport and has been arm barred more times than I can remember.  If you haven’t already, check out Ryron and Rener Gracie’s breakdown of the move.  Not only are they entertaining, but they’re very detailed.

A lot of people have talked about how she is doing the armbar incorrectly, but there’s a guy in my school who has always done his armbars this way.   To a casual observer, she has her feet crossed, making it more difficult to pinch her knees together and isolate the arm.

But I’ve rolled with guys before who have caught me in an armbar like this, and it’s not loose.  While I don’t know whether crossing the feet is critical, Rousey’s not being sloppy.  Rather, she’s widening her right knee out to put a lot of pressure on Tate’s head.  Tate can’t roll her hips over to get her knees up and stack Rousey and attempt what is a very typical defense (shown below).  This is a very common defense.

At the same time, she’s got her feet crossed right underneath Tate’s farside shoulder, effecitively keeping Tate from attempting what is a common, last ditch defense shown below.  We’ve always called this one the running man, because it looks like you’re running in a circle.  It’s called the coffee grinder below.

It looks like the one real opportunity for Tate to escape is in the window before her arm is extended, taking advantage of the widened legs to really drive her elbow to the mat.  My personal experience is that this is easier said than done.  With Rousey effectively controlling Tate’s head, she will have less torque in her hips to get the momentum necessary to clear her elbow and begin to come up.  She was successful the first time, but barely.

Ultimately, I’m curious what you guys think.  Has anyone played around with an armbar done in this way?  Or, perhaps more relevant, has anyone been armbarred this way?  What do you think?

My opinion is that it’s not wrong.  It’s different, with its own pros and cons.  And as with any different technique, there are appropriate ways to defend against it.  I’ll also say that I can’t wait for the rematch.  While Rousey certainly won convincingly, Tate hung in tough, and showed some flashes of brilliance.  Tate had heavy hips, scrambled very well and at one time had Rousey’s back.  There’s a brilliant rematch in the future, I think.

In the meantime, I think Rousey’s going to crush Kaufman….

Check out the full fight (while it’s still posted. I expect the following link to disappear at some point):

Feb 292012
 

Monday’s class was good.  Small group, but solid.  I got a gi burn on my eye again from rolling with Scott, which is bothersome.  I end up going to work and looking like I’ve got pink eye or something. 

We worked some spider guard and de la riva sweeps.  Good stuff.

Still not feeling 100% energy-wise, but from what I’ve seen that won’t be better for even a couple more weeks.  Some guys I know have had this crud that’s going around and it’s lingered for months.

The school where I train now has an official website.  I mentioned before that it’s up.  I’m continuing to tweak it, but if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  And definitely look us up if you’re in the Maple Valley, WA area. 

I also got Rhino’s “Hot Chocolate” gi done for him.  Turned out great.  Pictures below for that one.  As always, if you’re interested in giving it try, check out my step by step guide to dying your own gi.  Or, if you prefer, you can pay me to do it for you.  I’d be happy to do it for you, for a fee (of course).

 

After: 

 

Turned out great, I think.  This was a well used, but good condition gi.  The material had been bleached at least a couple of times.  You can tell because the embroidery got mangled a little and the texture of the fabric changes. 

After dying, the gi looks really good.  I think Rhino will be pleased. 

Feb 272012
 

I made it to all three classes last week and feel pretty good.  I’m looking forward to tonight’s class, as well.

Haven’t had a lot of time to post, though.  I put together a website for my friend, Bing Crook.  Since Phantom BJJ in Maple Valley is so new, Bing hasn’t had a chance to put together a website.  While I’m no pro, I like to do this stuff.  Please check it out at http://www.phantombjj.com.

I have a few things I’d like to do still, but I think I got the important stuff on there: the name, the phone number, the schedule and where we train.

And if anyone is ever in the area, look us up!

I also dyed a gi for Rhino, one of the guys over at Foster BJJ.  He asked for “Hot Chocolate.”  I’ll post some pictures tonight.  I think it turned out pretty nice.

 

Feb 222012
 

Went back to class on Monday.  It’s been a rough couple months.  I had the pneumonia, and then felt better, so I tried to get back to class a little too soon.  As a result, I didn’t give myself enough time to heal and ended up sliding back into another bout of bronchitis. 

So, two rounds of antibiotics and some prednisone as a kicker and I think I’m finally back among the living.  I woke up on Sunday and for the first time in what feels like forever, I had energy.  I felt like I was ready to GO.

I went down to Fosters BJJ in Kent for a referee meeting hosted by Jeff Bourgeois, the dude who runs the largest BJJ and Submission Grappling tournament in the Pac NW, the Revolution.  I knew I was on the mend, because we were reffing some practice matches and I was itching to get a gi on and get out on the mat.  That’s a good sign.

I was planning to wait until Wednesday, but pronounced myself healed and headed to class.  We worked on some De La Riva sweeps, which were pretty cool.  I also managed to hang pretty well in sparring.

The hardest part for me now is my wind.  My cardio has always been… let’s call it suspect.  But now, it doesn’t take much to really get me gulping for air.  But the good thing is that I can take a deep breath without triggering a coughing fit.  I got to roll with several guys including Brandon and big Aaron, another guy who looks like he’d be right at home on a Viking longship. 

I plan to head back tonight and, once again, I’ll try to ride that line between listening to my body and not overdoing it, but to also work hard.  We’ll see how that goes. 

Feb 082012
 

funReally fun class tonight.  Small group.  Nine, including me.  with several white belts.   I covered class with Scott Y. tonight.  Bingo had to fulfill his civic duty.

After warm-ups, we worked a couple of basic techniques.  I showed the guys a sweep I like, the basic tripod sweep.  The following video is very similar to how I was taught.  First, I want to say that while I’m outlining some key differences below, I’m not suggesting that he is wrong and I’m right.  There are a billion minor variations, and I’m sure I could pick up details from people better than me.

There are a couple of key differences.  One of the things I brought up and Scott helped demonstrate is that when you get into open guard, whether it’s spider guard, de la riva or whatever, it’s really about creating openings through transitions.  You’re seldom going to move neatly from closed guard to spider guard to hitting this sweep.  Life just doesn’t work like that… at least not for me. 

Unless he’s giving me the ankle by driving a knee in, I tend to pull the ankle in with a de la riva guard, and then switch just as I hit the sweep.  It gives me a much better angle, I believe, to get the sweep to work. 

Another key difference is that I tend to be more underneath my opponent… not quite as stretched out. 

Finally, as I hit the sweep to the same side as the video above, I hook with my right foot behind my opponent’s knee instead of down low at his ankle.  That foot isn’t really lifting as much as it’s just blocking, and it’s going to be a lot harder for my opponent to just step over my hook if I’m up under his knee.

One thing I like about this video that’s also different is that he comes up behind his opponent in side control.  For whatever reason, as I ride my opponent up on the sweep, I tend to end up in a knee slide over into side control on the other side.  I don’t think it matters.  Just different.

Anyway, that’s a sweep I was taught early in my BJJ career, and I still use it all the time. 

Scott showed a slight variation to a straight armlock from side control when your opponent has his far side arm out of position around your head.  The key difference is, typically as you trap that arm and pop up to knee on belly, the opponent turns into you to relieve some of the pressure on his elbow.  That can make or break the armlock.  In this variation, you keep the arm trapped using your head and arm, and with the other hand reach down and turn his head away from you, pinning it with your knee.

Not a friendly technique, but as the head goes, so goes the body.  Forcing your opponent to turn away from you creates the proper angle to finish the technique.  Good stuff from Scott.

While I’m in no way looking or presuming to teach the guys much, I have to admit that the pressure of showing some technique on occasion is forcing me to up my game.  I joke with the guys that I’ve already shown them my repertoire of three moves, but the truth is, it’s good for my development to really think critically about what I know and what I’m comfortable sharing with the team.  It’s the cattle prod that’s forcing me to kind of up my game a bit and I’m confident that it will make me better. 

I’m pretty sore after class, but again, as with Monday’s class, I didn’t over work tonight and even though I’m still at about maybe 80% recovery after the pneumonia, I’m leaving class pumped up and anxious for the next class.  I feel like I did when I first started training… fully addicted. 

Feb 082012
 

Had a great time at class on Monday. I made it through the entire class, but took it a little easy during sparring. While I’m over the pneumonia for the most part, there’s a lingering cough that the doc said might last for up to a month. And while my wind just isn’t there, the thing that’s killing me is this persistent fatigue. It’s like I’m tired all the time. But better every day. Don’t get me wrong. Every day I wake up, I feel better than the day before. I’d say I’m at about 80% now, which is awesome. I’m ready to get back in and train at least three days per week again.

But I felt really good after class, and am looking forward to getting back on the mats tonight. Woke up yesterday sore, but ready to go.

One of our old buddies, Owen, showed up yesterday. He’s been out of the State for work for the last several months, but was up just for the day. Got to roll with him and remembered just how big he was. At one point, he passed my guard and was just grinding with shoulder pressure in side control. He’s a big dude… like Thor. I could totally see him jumping over the side of a Viking long ship with axe in hand, ready to plunder and pillage some small village off the coast of Ireland. Or maybe not.

I have three gis ordered and am looking forward to making them different colors. While I’m going to leave the detailed reviews to Meerkatsu, I’ll post a short review of each with some pictures once I get them. I have high hopes for them both.


I’m also working to put together a website for my modest venture into small business ownership. “Dye, Steve. Dye!” is coming together. While I’m still working on getting the gallery put together of my projects and such, you can get more information at http://www.stevebjj.com/store.