Apr 042012
 

Here’s a question that was posed by Prof. Giva Santana:

Question:
You rather be that blue belt that everyone gives you compliments and says you should be a purple?
Or would you rather be that purple belt that no one says it, but thinks you shouldn’t be it?
I was just wandering….

What do you think? 

I think that they’re often the same person.  I’ve been mulling this over for a while now, and I have decided that what I really think is that it’s easy to be a big fish in a little pond.  I’ve said in class that the perfect rank is four stripe blue belt.  My rationale for that is that there’s really no pressure.  You are expected to know stuff, but you’re also expected to have holes in your game.  You’re on the cusp of purple belt, but aren’t yet required to carry its weight. 

But, you have to grow.  Ultimately, my response was to worry less about the other guys belt. Train more and trust your coach.

Apr 042012
 

Still training regularly and having fun.  I watched the Pan Ams this weekend and it was great.  As you can see below, I went a little nuts and watched it on the 110” screen. 

panams

I have to hand it to Budovideos.com.  They did a great job and really held nothing back.  They had an HD feed with commentary, along with dedicated feeds to all 12 mats.

I was switching back and forth, but even the "non-HD’” feeds looked okay on the big screen.  I mean, there was a little artifacting and pixellation, but nothing major.  Kudos to them.

The only suggestions I’d make is, if possible, throw lower-third CGs on the screen to show the names of the competitors and where they’re from.  I realize that this might not be possible for every feed, but for at least the main/commentator feed it would up the game somewhat.  Also, and I don’t know if this is possible, but either position the cameras or in some other way add the scores to the feeds.  It’s great to see the action, but there were several times when the fight was close and I wasn’t sure if the ref awarded an advantage or what.  

Class is going well.  I have to say that having watched the Pan Ams, I’m truly humbled by how effing good everyone looked.  Technical at every level. 

Oh, and I’m really working to eliminate animal protein from my diet.  I have no problem eating meat on an ethical level, although I have long tried to ensure that I’m eating meat that was raised in a somewhat natural state.  I’ll try to keep you guys apprised of how I’m doing. 

And finally, I’m still dying gis.  I have a ShoYoRoll Count to dye grey.  I didn’t get to it last weekend because of the Pan Ams, but it’s definitely on my list of things to do this weekend.

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.

20120328-200415.jpg

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.