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 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. 

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 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
 

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.

Feb 022012
 

kellygreen2I made it to class last night and felt… okay.   Last week, by the time Friday rolled around, I finally admitted to myself that I was getting worse, not better.  I was planning on going to the doctor on Saturday if I didn’t feel better, but Friday morning, when I began coughing up a charming combination of phlegm and blood, I figured I’d probably better get some help.

Sure enough, I was diagnosed with pneumonia, given a stern look or two by the doctor, and a couple of prescriptions.  By Friday evening, I was already feeling better. 

kellygreen1Bing had some personal business to take care of, so we worked some basics. I showed a simple scissor sweep along with a couple of variations, including the elevator sweep. Nothing fancy, but we have several white belts, and I figure that you can’t get enough of the basics. I also talked a little about the “dead angle.”

My energy level remains very low and I’ve still got a cough, but I’m feeling so much better.  I just feel like I’m dragging through the day, but I guess it takes a while to get over pneumonia.  I’m just thankful that I’m on the mend and able to get to class, and I’m looking forward to Friday. 

I was really pleased that Brandon was at class last night.  I was able to give him his newly dyed gi and he really seemed pleased.  In the second picture, I made the mistake of looking directly at it.  While it’s not quite as bright as Bing’s Orange Crush, it’s pretty bright. 

Also, after giving it a lot of thought, I’m going to offer my services if anyone is interested in having a gi dyed by me.  While I think that the process of dying a gi is very accessible, I get there are people who want a unique color, but who aren’t interested in DIY. 

The price is something that I gave a lot of thought to, and I’m going to charge $80 for a single colored gi.  Considering the cost of materials, shipping and the time involved with hand dying each gi, one at a time, I think this is a very fair price. 

I’m in the process of putting some actual policies together on a website so that everything is very clear.  But the way I look at it, I’ll help you with information for free. I have made a lot of information available, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to give it a shot.  But, I’m also available to do it for you, if you’d like to pay for the service.  It’s something I enjoy, and I have done enough of them now that I’m confident that I can make your gi look really good.  I’ll also be working on some hand dyed gi patches and shirts using batik.  More to come on this in the near future. 

Jan 302012
 

Pneumonia_cartoonWill need to take it easy.  While I’m definitely on the mend and the doctor says I’m fine to return to normal activities, I didn’t tell him that normal for me involves sparring.  But he also advised me to listen to my body and don’t overdo things. 

Yes.  I went to the doctor.  Probably about three days later than I should have, but I finally decided that my wife was right and I’m sick enough that I need some help getting better.  The diagnosis is pneumonia, and the antibiotics are helping tremendously.  I’m on day four of five right now, and my energy level is much improved.  My head is clear and I can think again.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of… mushiness that I had, but I’m sure it’s something we’ve all felt at one time or another.

I’m a little concerned about the cough, still.  The doctor said that the cough could persist for several weeks.  Right now, I cough whenever I take a deep breath, so I suspect that when I do go back to class, I’ll need to stick to warm-ups and technique.  Sparring will depend upon how I’m doing at that point, but if anything, it will be light.

I’m REALLY pumped to get back to class. 

Jan 262012
 

I’m really excited to be training regularly again.  I had been diligently making two classes per week and was looking to bump that up to a routing of three classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Then the Snow Storm came, followed by the freezing rain and down went our power.

And now, after all of that, I have this really nasty cold.  I started feeling bad on Sunday and by Monday morning, I gave up at work and went home to bed.  Now, a few days later, I feel worse, if that’s possible.  My head is pounding and I can’t stop coughing.  I’m chugging Theraflu like it’s fruit punch, and I just can’t wait to feel better.

I’m going to give this through tomorrow, and if I don’t feel better by then, I’m going to go see what the doctor has to say.

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying all of the videos that everyone’s posting.  Jason Scully has been killing YouTube with his terrific “8 minutes or less” videos.  Here’s the latest:

There’s also this one I picked up on Facebook.  It’s a compilation of some pretty damned spectacular takedowns from the Russian Nationals.

Enjoy and I’ll hopefully be feeling better and back on the mats soon.

Jan 182012
 

Well, I wouldn’t quite call it the storm of the century, but we did get a good three or so inches here in lovely Covington, WA. My work is closed. Classes at FosterBJJ are also cancelled for the day, and I’m presuming that Phantom BJJ in Maple Valley will follow suit. But as I sit here drinking a cup of coffee, I have a pretty full day ahead of me.

I have a three year old who’s never really played in the snow. She is pretty excited to try building a snow man. So, after the Sun comes up this morning, we’ll get bundled up and head out to play for a while.

After lunch, I’m hoping to get busy dying a gi. Brandon has a white gi he wants to make bright green. After the usual disclaimers, he picked Kelly Green from the Dharma Trading website. I continue to have people ask me about how this is done, so I am going to take some time and try to put together a simple instructional.

Dying the gi is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to clean up an old gi or personalize a new one. It’s not difficult. The way I look at it, if you’re detail oriented enough to train in BJJ, you can tackle dying a gi.

On Monday, my son and I rolled the mats out in the loft. He thought he could take me. Kids are so cute. Having just turned 16, and officially a moose at 6′ tall and about 210 lbs, he’s bigger than me and still growing. But I cheat. Hehe. It was fun. Maybe we’ll do that again this evening.