Jan 292013

Good class last night.  The school continues to grow, which is great.  Coach Bing is hustling pretty hard to build his school and I’m happy that he’s doing so.

Class yesterday had 13 people06.  I’ve been averaging 1 or 2 classes per week, which makes it very difficult to get any kind of momentum.  As a result, I’ve gained some weight and my conditioning is really bad.

We had a good warmup and went over a basic mount escape and a basic back escape, and then sparring.

What’s been really cool about having the affiliate school in Covington is that some of the guys who sort of dropped off, largely due to work and family considerations, are finding their way back into the school.  Knowing that it’s a Foster BJJ affiliate helps.  One of these wayward jitieros is a guy named Darin Zabriskie, who trained at Foster BJJ way back when the school was still in Auburn.  He’s a very thoughtful, technical guy, which makes having him back at the school a real pleasure.  But what’s really cool is that he’s a certified Muay Thai trainer and has been coaching Muay Thai after the BJJ classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Darin trained with Greg Nelson, over in the Midwest, and is a certified Muay Thai instructor under the Thai Boxing Association of America under Ajarn Chai Sirisute.  So far, the classes are pretty small, but there’s a lot of interest.  I’ve never been too interested in punching people, which is part of why I was drawn to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  But it looks like a different kind of workout and I might just have to give it a shot.

Aug 012012

Monday was another big class.  James made it back in, and it was good to see him after he’s had a long hiatus.  Fortunately for us, he forgot his belt and was the first person to rock the ‘Belt of Shame’, modeled here by Scott Yamamoto, a brown belt at our school.

And it’s an A5, so it hangs almost to the mat on most guys. Don’t forget your belts!

We also had a new guy, Alex, drop in for an introductory class.  Seemed to be a nice kid.  Another one that seems pretty athletic and I get the impression that he’s a friend of Kenji’s, which is a pretty good indication to me that he’s a good guy.  Kenji has a great attitude, is never negative and works hard.

Overall, all of the white belts are learning fast, which makes being old and tired… tiring.

We did a lot of sparring on Monday, and following class I was wiped out.  I overdid it somewhat and it was a good 20 minutes before the nausea abated and I was able to drive home.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt that bad.

I switched up my multi-vitamin on Monday, and I think that had something to do with it.  We’ll see tonight at class.

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.


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 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).




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

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.