Monday, 5 February 2018

On The Mat Day 948: Takedown Lesson (Double Leg Takedown)

This is the 3rd lesson I've attended taught by T-Sensei. The lesson started with break falls. 20 to the back, 20 side to side and 10 to the front. The front ones, although done from the knees, are stingtastickly painful on the hands. The mat is cold and in fact during the morning 8AM drilling lesson the room was -1 Celsius! that slapping the mat in any kind of fashion is particularly discomforting. But we are all warriors here right?

Following the static break falls we moved onto break falls along the mat. This is similar in fashion to what Aikido practitioners do or Judoka for that matter. You roll forward on the "unbendable" arm and finish flat while slapping the mat and keeping both legs apart. T-sensei mentioned not to have the legs close together or stacked, nor to hit the mat with the flat of your foot. Both legs should be flat. Oh, and tuck your chin!

I'm pretty sure that's me at the back doing a forward break fall

Initial drills were wrestling switches. You face your partner and turtle while they grab you under the armpits. You then perform the switch. Grab their arm, post foot, duck the head out and spin to the back. There were a few alterations that I have not seen before in the technique. Namely, hugging their arm and leg as you duck out.

The next part was double leg takedowns. T-sensei showed how we have to get the timing of pushing and pulling the opponent before shooting in for the double leg. We basically practiced, push-pull timing, shooting in for double leg and finally a counter to being sprawled on. The points I picked up from T-sensei as he talked are below.
T-sensei controlling the inside space for the double leg

1. The double leg is performed from 相四つ (aiyotsu). If your left leg is forward, the opponent's left leg must also be forward.

2. To have a successful double-leg you must control the inside. That is, both your hands must be inside the opponent's. One on their arm and one on their head/neck area.

3. Your front leg must pass the heel of their front leg as you shoot in so you can drive forward enough.

4. The back leg must quickly move around in an arc as you drive forward.

5. Most people grab the back of the knees or clutch their hands together but this allows the opponent's legs to widen out and possibly back out so they can sprawl. Instead keep your arms extended and rotate them to face your palms outwards as your straight arms compress their legs together. The takedown is done by pushing their legs together (they should become knock-kneed) and hitting them with your chest.

6. Don't go in head first. Your chest should be hitting them on their quadriceps.

After this we did 1 minute specific drills for 5 rounds. Both people obtain aiyotsu position, one will shoot in for 1 minute while the other must try not to be taken down. This was hard. I enjoyed it a great deal but wow was it exhausting. I liked how T-sensei set it up when he said the tackler must be 100% committed to taking the opponent down. As soon as the opponent says go (by clapping their hands) the other should shoot in immediately. The defender only needs to stop the tackle and disengage to win. I felt myself floundering a lot and annoyed that when I became tired I dropped back to bad habits and not use the technique we were shown.

I really enjoyed the lesson and can't wait until the next one.

Friday, 19 January 2018

On The Mat Day 939: Chokes. Be Persistent!

As I train BJJ, over time common themes appear as I roll. Recently one thought that has popped into my head while rolling and securing a choke is that human's can be extremely stubborn. Particularly training partners when it comes to chokes. With joint locks people tend to tap quickly, and rightly so, because the result can be catastrophic if ignored. However, with chokes I've noticed that sometimes it doesn't feel quite in the correct position. It might be uncomfortable but the guy is not tapping.

When this happened in the past I would let go because I felt the technique was not perfect. You should realize by now, there is no perfect technique, just perfect timing while executing the move with a good level of technical ability. When the choke is on, hold it and allow it to sink into the opponent's neck. This doesn't mean that if it's not working, do it stronger and with more force! It means relaxing every part of your body except the choking grip and let it slowly do its job. Trust the technique.

Most of the time the opponent will eventually tap as their neck is no longer able to cope with the force of your arms or the kimono shrinking around their neck like a boa constrictor. A good rule of thumb is when you think you should give up on the choke, hold it for a count of ten. If it doesn't work even after that, move on to something else. If you can't hold it for 10 more seconds, work on your squeeze by doing pull ups.

Be Persistent with the choke. Especially when gravity is on your side.

Monday, 15 January 2018

On The Mat Day 937: Takedown Bi-Monthly Lesson (Single Leg Takedown)

I trained twice yesterday and am really feeling it today. I drilled in the morning, went to get some breakfast at a local coffee shop then returned to the dojo to take Tani-sensei's takedown lesson. He is a decorated wrestler and judoka and black belt in BJJ. I think it's been about a year since he moved to our club from the Barbosa Handa club.

Although I exclusively play guard I have always loved takedown and understand the need to know them so I can use them in the future or in turn teach them to somebody else. The focus of the lesson was on the single leg takedown from kenkayotsu (ケンカ四つ)or same side leg forward. We started with the basics of breakfalling, that is rolling into a breakfall, back, side and front. After everyone's hands were stinging from slapping into the cold mat Tani-sensei moved on to the single leg.

His explanations were long but full of knowledge of what to do and what not to do during a takedown. You can tell he is talking from experience. He showed the single leg entry, a standard pivoting takedown, counter to when they pull their leg away and bring it to the front and a counter for when they turn their back to you.

Notes I have in my head concerning advice for single leg takedown are as follows:

1. Never have 2 knees on the ground. You will get squashed. Always have at least one foot standing so you can drive.

2. You toes of your entry foot must be behind the heel of the opponent's leading foot after you have stepped into the tackle.

3. Don't keep pushing into the opponent once the leg is held because they will just hop around. Pull them into you and move back then pivot to take down.

4. Having their leg between your leg is good but having their leg in front of your chest area so you are approaching their back is more offensive and has more variety in what you can do to them.

We ended the drills with specific drill sparring. During 1 minute rounds, 1 person held the leg and had to take down while the other had to think about escaping. You had to keep trying for a full minute and resetting. The next minute was the other person's turn then we changed partners. I think it lasted for about 6 rounds in which we changed with different partners and it was exhausting.

I have to say that I was beat after doing the wrestling drills and then sparring until the end of class. I have a lot of respect for wrestlers and judoka. They grind away at these hard drills until they get really good. Since first starting BJJ, I always wanted to study takedowns like this. I fear though it may be too late to get out of bad habits and injuries might hold me back. I will try to put these into what I do when sparring though and look forward to the next lesson on the 21st of this month.

Monday, 1 January 2018

On the Mat Day 930: Happy New Year 2018!

So this year has been OK in terms of my improvement in BJJ. It's hit some high points and low points. There have been many times that I have felt I was getting worse but I think it's just the fact that everyone around me is getting better. The younger blue belts are getting tougher to spar with probably because their learning curve is so high and with a couple of years of BJJ training a young and athletic blue belt can give someone like me, who has 8 years experience, a hard time. This is normal particularly if they are training more frequently than me at a pace of 4-5 times a week compared to my 3 times a week.

Training more frequently will definitely up your game. As long as you train smart and are either trying new things or polishing your best moves. I'm at a point right now where I'm thinking about how to improve more efficiently, just as we want to roll more efficiently. I've considered more cardio training to help me roll longer. I've also considered adding an extra drilling/flow and specific sparring session per week. I definitely need to sort out my diet, I don't feel in shape at all. I will continue with the X-guard, single-X and butterfly guard route because it is working for my body type and is not as hard on my body. I'd also like to attend some judo classes and start out at an easier pace this time. I was just too gung-ho in the past, thus leading to injury.

Another thing I am considering is making mind-maps, I've actually already started. Perhaps even make some technique videos that tie in with this mind-map so I have a clear and definite picture of what I want to do in various situations.

Goals for 2018
(Keeping in basic)

1. Improve cardio and drop some weight

2. Rehab my knee with weights and machines to improve its stability

3. Attend the wrestling lesson from Tani-san

4. Improve leg-locks

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

On The Mat Day 922: Extra Activities

Today James and I added an extra hour before the morning class. The following was what we did:

1) 10 mins quick passing drills for warmup (it is Winter after all)
2) 10 mins each working on an attacking technique (mine was isolating arm in side control)
3) 10 mins flow rolling (increase stamina and quickness of thinking)
I did plan to do some time on weak areas but the time was up and class was about to start.

We are back on track doing this and hope it will accelerate our technique. I think it is super important you don't take the BJJ journey alone. Tag teaming with somebody will put 2 minds together to work on flaws, weaknesses and analyze problems. I think this is a necessity and makes the journey less lonesome.

I've been doing well with butterfly sweep using the belt as leverage. I have confidence enough to sweep pretty much anyone with it now. Today, I managed to butterfly sweep a guy who outweighs me by about 30 kg. Although, I failed to maintain top after the sweep (something to work on). I am astounded by how powerful this sweep is, in fact smaller guys are the only ones I find I have problems with because they are very nimble and will either base out with a leg somehow or immediately stand back up.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

On The Mat Day 916: What I am focusing on

We are soon moving into December here. The mat is getting cold and I've started getting slight frostbite on my toes. I'm actually enjoying BJJ more than ever right now because I know what to focus on. These are what I am doing right now.

  • Butterfly Guard
  • Single-X Guard
  • X-Guard
  • Leglocks
In no particular order I am trying to improve these 4 parts of my game. I've discovered they are less likely to cause an injury or exacerbate current injuries, namely my knee and neck. They also tie in really well with each other. I don't know why I didn't start doing these guards earlier. I will also sometimes use 50/50 but its more of a safety net for me to use so I can slow the opponent down.

I've also been training in both gi and nogi by an equal amount which I really enjoy. My philosophy is that you need to do both.

The only area I really need to get working on is my nutrition and building stamina. It's constantly on my mind. Right now I can be efficient in rolls with younger less experienced guys but put me up against somebody who is equal or better than me and has more gas in the tank and I get smashed. I like to get smashed though, it makes me want to train harder.

Some images below courtesy of K and F-sensei.

Sparring with Yayoi, I should have better foot position

Sparring with James in my sexy new Adidas rashguard

Thursday, 16 November 2017

On the Mat Day 911: Couple of Brown Belts in the Mix

Wednesday morning class is getting good. We have a few regulars now. Mostly people who work nights and then drop in before going home or work for the government or in the service industry so have the day off.

I had a couple of brown belts to spar with which is always great because it pushes me to do better and examine my skill set. Here I am sparring with both of them.

As you would expect, they both have good pressure. A solid passing game and quick to react with sweeps. I simply try to use butterfly guard or single-X now as any savvy BJJ player can see from the photos. This takes a lot of pressure off my bad knee and allows me to continue sparring. I find it hard to use lasso guard and Z-guard because of the danger to my knee. These 2 guards were instrumental in my development from blue belt so I have basically had to re-design my game from the ground up since getting back on the mats last October.

My motivation is fairly high considering the cold snap we have now. My brain constantly turns over thinking about weaknesses I have when in certain situations. It can be really hard to turn off my thoughts.
With Tsuzuki
With Hasegawa

Saturday, 14 October 2017

On The Mat Day 897: The Path to Leglocks

Despite having a busted up knee, one that moves out of alignment when simply looking at it, I have been persisting with learning leglocks. The Modern Leglock Formula has really helped me delve deeper into the leglock game. It basically maps out all the leglock positions, outside ashi, standard ashi, 4-11, 50-50, discusses how to hold the position, entries, digging into the submission and how to finish. It even has a DVD for defense against leglockers. There is just so much content to get through but I've learned so much in the limited time going through it so far. I think I've also received a small level up having rolled with Imanari a few weeks ago. You just have to get a feel for how an expert leglocker goes about his business.

After a few weeks of minimum sparring and trying to strengthen my legs with squats and Turkish getups I've been sparring a few times. Things went well until I sparred on Wednesday and my knee came out of joint again. It's basically a common thing now, just a ticking time bomb. I can spar rounds for a few weeks then it will suddenly tell me to go fuck myself and dislocate. I really need to get it sorted this month so I dug out my hospital card to make an appointment Monday. I should keep a log of how that goes.

Anyhow, here are a few pics from sparring Wednesday.
Twister, yup, looks nasty but I assure you sir, I apply it extremely slowly

Reverse leg triangle on Yayoi. She's like a Tazmanian Devil so I have to use any means necessary to slow her down.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

On the Mat Day 891: Imanari Seminar

Me, the only one with hair
This isn't the first time I've met Masakazu Imanari. He was kind enough to let me take a photo with him a few years ago. This time, however, he did a seminar at our club. The reason he came all the way to Nagoya from Tokyo? Well, my instructor and him both received their black belt from Marco Barbosa.

Our dojo is really big for Japan but it felt surprisingly full on the day, also hot and sweaty. I was expecting Imanari to have us doing a lot of running around and physical stuff at the beginning but thankfully he only asked us to do leg pumps to the left and right, sort of like a gymnastica naturale movement. Just to get our hips warmed up.

He showed us the following techniques:
  • Imanari roll from sitting
  • Rolling from side to side while sitting
  • Crouching side on against the opponent and doing Imanari roll
  • Front ankle lock
  • Front ankle lock with both legs controlled and switch to the other side
  • Butterfly guard with kimura grip, invert into 4-11 leglock position

I think there were a few more things he showed in between but it went on for 2 and a half hours so I was a little addled by the end. He gave us lots of time on each technique which I appreciate because I often get lost when shown too many techniques in one sitting.
Everyone who came for leg crippling fun

I noticed that he is really fast at the Imanari Roll as you'd expect and he really elevates high on his shoulder with the leg whipping around to create momentum. The hand behind the knee really pulls hard to topple the opponent. The front ankle lock he showed was a bit sneaky in that it appears to be a straight ankle lock but in fact the foot is extended like a ballerina foot with pressure moving the tip of the toes outwards. To get an effect of this, completely straighten your leg with your toes pointed and slowly make your pinky toe point outwards. Imagine Imanari is grabbing that leg and its locked in place. I think you get the picture how much it would hurt. One other thing was that when doing the straight ankle lock, his legs don't just simply bite down but the inside leg pushes while the outside leg pulls.

He was really cool at the end allowing whoever wanted to spar with him. The timer was set for 2 minute rounds and I think I must have been the 3rd person to roll with him. I have to admit I was a little frightened for my legs but he went easy on me and I tapped really fast. He allowed me to wrap up into a straight leglock and he countered with the Dean Lister toe hold near the crotch area. It hurt a lot and I tried to spin out of it but to no avail. I tapped about 4 times in the space of those 2 minutes but it was really fun to go against somebody of his calibre.

There was talk of him coming again next year. I hope so. I will work on leglocks as much as I can from now. If you ever get the chance, and are interested in leglocks, I recommend Imanari-san's seminar because you just have to feel how strong the technique is from a master.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

On The Mat Day 886: Leglocks

Things have been tough with work recently and with the North Korean missile looming over Japan I've been feeling a lot of stress. I went to class today feeling tired, probably from being stressed out and came away feeling refreshed. I read on the reddit/BJJ board somebody asking whether you ever get tired of BJJ? Well I do, for sure. It's hard work going mano-e-mano against someone. But it has the benefit of being able to just go into the club for an hour or so and focus on nothing else but the technique you are doing. The world outside just disappears and I am totally focused on what I am doing at the moment. I think a lot of people have the problem of not being able to live in the present. I know I do. Doing BJJ brings me back to the point in time where I am existing at that moment. That's why I can never quit doing it, despite the injuries, the pain that comes with it and the hard summers and winters training.

I've been slowly going through the Modern Leglock Formula. I'm sort of savouring every small piece of it and not rushing through it. I'm currently working on Standard Sankaku, Top Sankaku and Outside Sankaku. The tips on maintaining control of the opponent seem to be paying off as I am gaining confidence in simply holding my opponent in the leglock position and not going for submission. It's weird I suppose. To a layman it looks like I'm entangling my legs then just sitting there while my opponent (usually a lower belt for now) strains at getting out of the position.

Leglocks seems to be pairing up well with butterfly and single X that I am using now. I'm really enjoying changing up my game to something that stops people putting a lot of weight on me. I'm also doing nogi so I don't get my knee hurt again. Next month, I will take a trip to Mitsubishi hospital to get my knee sorted out. That will probably go on for months.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

On The Mat Day 875: Rare Night Training

I went to train last night with James. It's super rare that I train at night but since there is a 10 Celsius degree temperature drop from the afternoon class I decided to go at night. Even so, sweat was just dripping off me and my Scramble Rebel pants were dark black from sweat by the end.
Getting underhooked by Tete, looking for butterfly hook to get out of trouble
I only sparred 4 rounds then used the Bulgarian bag to do lunges in attempt to strengthen my knee. I'm super careful when sparring but once I get tired I have to be very wary of not getting injured again. When I am fresh I can concentrate on keeping my knee out of trouble but once I hit that stamina wall I have to stop for now.

I was told by James and K-sensei that Imanari Masakazu will come to our club to do a seminar. Hopefully he will show us leglocks and I am really looking forward to it. Be nice to get a signed DVD or some memorabilia. I think they have set a date for September 24th. Both my instructor and Imanari have the same instructor in Marco Barbosa who awarded them both black belt.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

On the Mat Day 873: Private Lesson

Yup, I'd try it if it cut down the Cicada population
So I haven't been able to get to training much during the latter half of this month. I've been swamped with work. There have been other factors that have kept me away as well such as not enough sleep, my poor beaten up knee and lack of motivation. Now that we are deep into summer, each morning I am woken up around 5.30am by the sound of cicada. The sound is just overwhelming and I often wonder if it will make me crazy someday, just like the Chinese water torture. I hate the sound, not only does it make me feel hot, it makes me want to go outside and cut or burn down the trees near my house - maybe I am going crazy after all.

I went to train on Thursday morning since it was unusually cool after some passing storms. Unfortunately I was the only person who turned up. Wednesday seems to have a good turnout and means lower numbers on Thursday. This might have actually been good luck because F-sensei asked me what I wanted to work on. I told him I am really into butterfly guard right now and he promptly went on to show me how he operates in the guard he uses all the time during sparring. He went over getting a standing opponent into butterfly guard (something I have problems with), dealing with close passing using the butterfly hook and reverse shrimping, John Wayne sweep (why is it called this? anyone?). He went on to tell me he actually doesn't mind if someone underhooks his far arm when they are passing him, as long as they don't control his head he has no problems sweeping or getting out of trouble. He showed me a few tricks from half-bottom to recover from being underhooked.

Because I love leglocks and am interested in learning a system, I just ordered the Moden Leglock Formula DVD from Stephan Kesting's grapplearts. In the past I have ordered the Spider Guard Masterclass and enjoyed it, although I don't focus on it right now. Hopefully this DVD has a few tricks and great drills I can work on. I will honestly devote a year of entirely doing leglocks if I find it has the material to help me do that. Can't wait till it arrives.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

On The Mat Day 867: Increasing Training Frequency

From last week I decided to increase how much I train. I went 5 times last week during the day and 4 times this week. I usually do 2~3 lessons per week. These are my personal findings:
  • It is easier to constantly train every day than it is to take breaks in between. This may be a personal thing but I find I lose motivation on my days off and lose momentum. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Going every day is like working everyday, or brushing your teeth everyday. It is habitual and gives you little time to think about not doing it.
  • The above depends on my sparring partners. Heavier and tougher opponents means that I was more tired the following day. Light and lower belt opponents meant I felt very good the following day despite having trained 4 days in a row on the 1st week.
  • My retention of techniques was high the more I attended. Even a week later I can still retain every technique I learnt in the 1st week.
  • I got injured more. My knee has been playing up as a result of not resting in between days. I've had it tweak on me 3 times over the 2 weeks. Tweak meaning I feel the ligament stretch as my knee moves out of position. It makes me ill thinking about it. This is in comparison to it not giving me any problems for the past 4 months.
  • I am more confident sparring with people who usually give me a hard time. This, I assume, is a mental advantage in which I know I am working harder than them so can probably dominate them.
If you have no injuries and train 3 times a week, I would recommend you bump it up to 4 or 5 times a week just for a month. See how it goes. I have to dial it back now that my knee injury is returning. I'm seriously considering surgery to repair my torn meniscus at the end of this year. I couldn't bear having to wear a knee brace during the Japanese summer.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

On The Mat Day 859: Summer and Mosquitoes

Right now I'm not doing anything except BJJ 3 times a week. 4 if I get time away from work and family. I did actually start P90X3 a few weeks ago but just got to the first week. I enjoyed it but had some pain in my ribs when breathing so stopped...and never continued. It seems hard for me to stick to a program right now that I don't have a competition coming up. Getting ready to compete is a great stimulus for lighting a fire under your arse.

I'm considering starting training again from July and then competing around 2 months later. I'd like to do another competition this year before I get on with a lot of DIY projects around the house I've been putting off. I'd also like to start writing a novel again. BJJ is not the only thing in my life, though, it is a huge part of it - which keeps me mentally healthy.

It's getting hot at night. I woke several times last night and felt the sweat dripping down my back. I don't like using the air conditioner because it makes me feel like crap if I sleep with it on. I use it only a few times during the peak of summer, which usually comes around the middle of next month. I've also had a few mosquitoes visit me at night, a common occurrence this time each year. I killed 2 of the little shits, mashed them into the wall, leaving a splatter of blood on the wallpaper. Very satisfying but it's more mess to clean up. I fixed my mosquito tennis racket contraption so am now ready for them. Disturbed sleep over the last 2 nights has really taken its toll on me. During sparring today I felt so crappy and moved like an old lady.
Weapon of choice - cue Christopher Walken

Thursday, 1 June 2017

On The Mat Day 846: New Yet Old Member

Yesterday was jiu-jitsu. I felt unusually tired out. I still went to train though. I think you get the best training when you feel tired or a bit drained of energy. Needless to say, after finishing up I felt fine.
I was surprised to see Tani-san, who has just joined the club. He is in fact a black belt from a sister club. Apparently, things didn't go well for him or he had a falling out so came to train with us. I've not asked the reason and it's really none of my business. I'm just happy to have another black belt on the mat to train with. I've trained a long time ago with him and he crushed me. He seems to have mellowed out, that or I have got better at preventing him putting his weight on me. He has a long history of judo, wrestling and MMA. He told me later on that he is actually licensed as being disabled due to all the injuries he has from martial arts. For instance, he needs to wear boots because he has damaged the nerves in his feet. He doesn't move like a disabled person on the mat but I can feel him hesitate in positions where he might re-injure himself. I know I do that. Especially when I feel like my knee is about to be bent badly and possibly re-injure it, I will not fight a sweep or something similar.

Today I did the P90X3 Challenge workout and wow it was great. All you do is pull ups and push ups. You set a goal (mine was 6 and 15) and I am grateful that I set it low because sustaining those numbers is hard. I was super pumped by the end of it though. This is the only workout of P90X3 so far that I feel condenses an entire workout of the original P90X into 30 minutes. I look forward to seeing how much better I will be on the mat in a few months. I always consider the words of Steve Maxwell when I am working out. P90X3 is just auxiliary fitness to support BJJ, if I hurt myself doing P90X I am missing the point. That is why when I feel a knee creak or joint move in a weird way or strain I will immediately stop or modify. In the past I used to push through this - such an idiot.

I got a new photo from the Dumau photo team on Facebook. I quite like how grizzled I look. Take a look below.
Bling, Bling!

Monday, 29 May 2017

On The Mat Day 845: Ready for the next fitness phase

Where did I get with P90X? you might ask. Well, I did it until the competition, which was my goal, then I let it go. That means I worked out with P90X for 9 weeks and had 4 weeks to complete. It served its purpose and got me into shape for my competition, which I won, might I add.

Now it's time for the next phase. I'm moving onto P90X3 and hoping to compete again after 2~3 months from now. The reason I left behind P90X was mainly because of the length. It was just too long, was starting to show its age (Tony's jokes started to grind on me) and I felt that I had done it way too many times already. P90X3 is bright and shiny and packed nicely into 30 minutes for each workout. I think this will give me more control over my time and perhaps add more BJJ sessions and jogging if I need to drop weight more.

I started with Total Synergistics this morning and it seemed fairly easy apart from the pull ups. The girl in the video is really in great shape. Definitely my type but then again I'm probably the thousandth man who has done the video and thought that. I'm also using Fitday again to record my calories. Something I haven't done for the past 3 weeks and have noticed a softening in my body.

BJJ training has been really good recently. I'm trying to improve my mental toughness and how I think. I've been listening to a lot of Jocko Willink podcasts and can related to what he says since he is also a BJJ black belt and makes references to it.

Here is me rolling with my instructor on Friday. Even when he is in a bad position, he uses subtle movement to sweep me.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

On The Mat Day 838: Day After Dumau International (Video Added)

It's Tuesday now and I feel like I am starting to recover. Up until the competition on Sunday I started to feel rather drained and over-trained, not to mention the stress of competing for the first time in 2 years. It's been a tough year for me since getting back after my knee injury. I started off squatting to put some strength in my legs to support my knee, switched to P90X at the end of February and cut calories from March. Needless to say my body has probably been riddled with cortisol. However, scientists nowadays do say that putting the body through hardship and stress can make you and subsequently your descendants live longer. Who knows, maybe I've just added another 5 years to my lifespan.

On the day of the competition, I went in the car with F-sensei, who kindly drove me there. It was good because I got a bit of insight into his thinking, such as how he dislikes drilling (judo background), his placing of importance on formalities (coming from his complaint of how a visitor to our club never even said goodbye) and his understanding of the BJJ family-man (how we are ruled by restrictions because of having a family and wife).

My match was 3 pm and I arrived there at 9.30 am. In future, I think I will take a train down to the event. Waiting is tough on the mind. I constantly kept switching from doubting myself to knowing I had prepared well over the past 2 months. My stamina was good from lots of 10 min nogi sparring and I was strong from all the pull ups and push ups P90X throws at you. I tried to listen to a podcast but it was impossible over the noise of the crowd. I tried to go outside in the park but couldn't rest my mind.

The match itself was well...5 mins as I am in the Senior 2 category. It's nothing really. I tried to tell myself that the outcome does not matter. I still wanted to win though, oh how I wanted to win to prove to myself that I deserve to be a brown belt. You never quite feel reassured that you are at the correct belt level until you win in a competition - which is why I believe you need to compete at least once at each belt level.

I started the match working for a collar drag, failed and got smashed. However, I recovered. My opponent felt very strong. Strong grips and I couldn't really strip them, although, I am quite good at that. The first 2 minutes I was basically fighting from inferior positions. Until I heard someone in the crowd, later I learned it was Yasuda-san, shouting HALF TIME! I was down 3 points to zero and had to get back. The opponent almost took my back but I managed to turtle tight then reverse him by going around him with my legs to take side control. It was at that point that I felt him break. I mounted with ease and went on to try a baseball bat choke and the Marco Barbosa choke we had learnt in class just that week, these didn't seem to work (people in competition will fight damn hard with chokes) so I switched to my favourite Japanese necktie, which sealed the deal. I really cranked it on too, although in small increments, because he was still resisting.

I had came back from a 3-0 loss and had choked my opponent to submission. I really wanted to get that choke in competition because it is sneaky as hell and has been a great weapon in my arsenal. I got my medal then the folks from Dumau took my photo for free, very professional looking too. Here it is.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

On The Mat Day 833: Marco Barbosa Lesson

I took off to class last night, which is unusual for me, since I always train in the daytime. Marco Barbosa is in town and was teaching at our club. The room was packed full of people and also some folks who came along with Barbosa himself from both Brazil and I think Peru.

The techniques he showed were, as expected, painful. He stressed controlling the head which basically meant putting your ribcage and upper body on the opponent's face while in top position. This controls their movement and opens up attacks. It's extremely painful to be under that kind of pressure. I never compact the head of my opponent but go for the standard chest to chest with an over and under hook. Compressing the head is really effective but might not make you a fan of your team buddies. I can see its application in MMA and a street fight. The conundrum is, how to train using this kind of painful pressure so that you can use it naturally when the time comes but not alienate your training partners.

His philosophy seems to be:
If you are on the top, make your partner as uncomfortable as possible, so that he wants to tap or make a mistake.

I sparred with both him and Diego Martins who both seriously made me want to shrivel up and die under their top pressure. It's both extremely claustrophobic and soul-crushing. I admit that there were a few times I considered tapping under the pressure. I think if I was in the physical shape I was 2 months ago before starting to work out in the mornings I may have tapped out. It was just sheer determination that kept me going and I got a glimpse of what it was like to be a white belt again.

I know I need to develop this kind of pressure of control and as I sped off home on my bicycle after the lesson I wondered to myself if I am just too nice to people when we spar. It's not the first time I've had this thought. Am I too kind? Should I be mean and put more pressure on my opponent? It certainly is a great weapon to have.
Group photo after the lesson

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

On the Mat Day 831: Rolling with Brown Belts

I did Triometrics yesterday morning then cycled to jiu-jitsu. I feel it today because there were more people attending the day session than is usual. I got to spar with some other brown belts who have more time in than me, which was great, because it means I get beaten up which exposes my weaknesses. I've been fretting for a while since I only really get to spar with white and blue belts. It doesn't challenge me as much as a brown or black belt does. I constantly envy the blue belts who I train with because they have a huge pool of people who are better than them so they are improving all the time whereas I felt that I've been in a rut.

I sparred as much as I could yesterday. BJJ is not easy, especially in your 40s. I'm bruised and aching all over today. It's tough doing BJJ while doing P90X and also counting calories so I am at least 500 calories under required. I love it though. I feel like a gladiator getting my body ready. There are also so many things to work on, I constantly watch the videos I make of rolling and make notes and stuff I need to fix. It's like being in a laboratory.
I finished the session by sparring for 10 mins Nogi with Kameda-san, who constantly beat the crap out of me and tapped me more times that I can remember. He is a good training partner in that he is around the same weight as me and rolls without ego. Both happy to be offensive and work defensively. He also has different techniques I'm not used to going against that most folks don't do at our club. Those 10 minutes of rolling at the end go fast but the last 2 are exhausting.

My weight has dropped some, I'm around 73.6 right now. Down from just over 75 kg 2 months ago. It's not a huge drop but even when counting calories I find my weight yo-yos around from day to day.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

On the Mat Day 827: 50/50 Guard and P90X Week7 Complete

I'm still chugging along at P90X while doing BJJ. My stats this week hadn't really changed at the time of recording them. I was still 74 kg and 83 cm waist. Although, just today, after training I weighed myself and was at 72.6 kg. I couldn't believe it so had to weight myself again. I must have dropped a lot of water during today's training at the club.

I'm basically calculating all my calories on Fitday and it seems to be slowly and steadily working to drop my weight. My greatest consumption comes from fats in the form of avocado, macadamia nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, cream, cheese, MCT oil and eggs. My mood and energy is constant and I have even found that I think more clearly while sparring. Just today I saw a counter to a position I've never seen before. It felt like I was taking a back-seat and just pointing myself in the correct direction to get around what my opponent was doing.

Just the other night I watched That Sugar Film on Netflix. Wow, what a great movie, funny and informative like only an Australian could do. It really hit home how much crap the food industry tries to sell us without giving a shit about us. It added fuel to the fire for me to eat healthy. I try to only eat stuff in its natural form, this is not always easy, but I feel it is paying off both in my health and while doing BJJ.
I've also registered for the Dumau competition on May 7th. To get ready for it I've been adding 10 mins of nogi sparring at the end of each session with whoever will roll with me. I need to build up my gas tank.

I'm currently doing lots with the 50/50 guard. Just deconstructing leglocks, sweeps and how to get out of the damn thing. Does it look like 2 dogs having sex? Sort of but it really has opened up my game into other areas. I'm also right now digesting a 50/50 guard DVD loaned to me by Yoshida-san and made by Felipe Pena. It's achingly slow to get through and can at times make me go to sleep, but it has a lot of good stuff in there to pluck out.