Wednesday, 19 October 2016

On the Mat Day 760: Back to Wednesday Morning Training

I woke up really early this morning, felt really run down, then went back to sleep for about an hour to wake around 9 am. I told myself last night that I would go to class this morning and I did. K-sensei was teaching butterfly guard sweeps. This is something I feel I need to move on to. Butterfly guard is used a lot in MMA to restand or sweep but it's also a good guard for older guys who train straight BJJ because there is little force on the neck and the opponent cannot drive their weight down onto you so easily. I should start working on this guard soon.

In an effort to allow my neck to heal I did not spar and instead went to work on squatting. I started doing Stronglifts 5x5 a week ago to improve my overall strength and strengthen my leg muscles to give more stabilization to my knee. My left meniscus has a tear but there is no pain right now. It is quite weak if I hindu squat deep or sit in seiza and move side to side. However, I can slowly feel that squatting is improving my knee stability.

Currently I am only lifting 57.5 kg on squats. For some reason I messed up how much an olympic bar weights and believing it to be only 10 kg, I though that I was squating 47.5 kg. I'm such an idiot. It's been something like 10 years since I squatted so I am taking it slowly and increasing 2.5 kg each time. My goals are to get strong and injury free/resistant.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

On The Mat Day 753: More Thoughts on Deliberate Practice

I'm slowly getting through the book I've been reading and am gradually getting a picture about the best way to train. I'm sure everyone has asked themselves, how is that guy so good? Is it really just mat time or are there any quicker ways to advance with BJJ?

I ask myself this all the time.

Some more thoughts I've had while reading the book are as follows:

1. Drilling focused on a single aspect of training where my weakness lies will improve my BJJ immensely.
2. This type of drilling needs to be focused, not veer away from the set goal, to the point it becomes almost boring to me. It's no wonder judoka get good at throws because they practice them ad nauseam. BJJ tends to do jump around doing different things while drilling so you only get to do a few repetitions then move on.

3. Feedback from someone better than me is necessary.

With this in mind, during today's drilling all I did was one single technique for the entire hour. I'm not particularly good at passing and since I want to learn how Damian Maia passes, I chose to work on the sequence that goes tripod, isolate one leg, switch to dope mount and then full mount. After this I did some sparring with Yoshida to see how well it worked. There was one outlying problem that came up and it was that I could not switch my hips enough to get my leg to the dope mount finish. I asked him what he thought and he replied that I probably need more pressure with my head into his chin. I also felt my hips weren't heavy enough.

It's true that this training was not fun. That's the way it has to be to get better. I wanted so many times to try other things to make it more interesting but stayed focused on the one technique. I think this is how it has to be from now.

The days of going to train without a clear goal are gone.

Another concept I got from the book is that if you are doing techniques or movements automatically then you are not improving. It went on to give the example of driving a car. When learning to drive you are very focused on the task, which is a sign that you are improving. When you attain an adequate level to get your license and after a few years on the road your body takes over to the point where you can arrive at a destination and have no recollection of the journey there. No improvement took place during that drive.

I'm sure it would be wonderful to have a BJJ level that meant you hardly have to think about what you are doing during the entire roll to beat your opponent but this also means that no improvement is taking place. Your brain is not engaged. If I was to drill techniques that come automatic to me while sparring, I would be wasting my time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

On the Mat Day 751: Deliberate Practice

I've noticed that sleeping with the correct pillow setup has made an improvement to the health of my neck. I got up this morning and it felt great. The muscles are still weak but it seems to be slowly improving. I just need to control myself and not go crazy when sparring. Case in point. After Sunday morning drilling, a few of the guys started sparring and a young white belt kept looking over at me and I knew he wanted to spar. Since there was nobody else to partner with him I obliged. Despite the fact that seconds before I had told myself that I had to not spar to let my neck heal some I went ahead and sparred. Sometimes I think I have no self-control. I hate it. Particularly, when it comes to food.

I went ahead and joined the Yoga class this week. I actually enjoy the discomfort. Yoga is a good compliment to BJJ.

Hamstrings about to explode..arrgh.

I've also been interested in something called Deliberate Practice after starting to read a book called "Talent is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin. I'm only a short way in but the footnotes seem to be:

1. There are no real geniuses or gifted people.
2. Most people are proficient but not amazing at their jobs, even though they may try to come across as being so. There is little difference in say the decision making ability of a new entrant to a company over his boss.
3. There is a practice method that creates efficiency to achieve better goals than average in sport, your job, a hobby (playing the guitar, etc.) - I've yet to reach this in the book

For many years I've been thinking about how to improve BJJ efficiently. I'm starting to come to some conclusions.
1. Drilling is just as important as any other aspect of training if not more
2. A training partner to give feedback is essential
3. Tools are excellent to analyze and improve your skill level (i.e. filming or watching videos, writing out notes or even simply talking about techniques)
4. You do not have to constantly exhaust yourself in training (boxers do not have to slug it out with sparring partners and likewise you do not have to spar constantly at every lesson until you are a bloody mess on the floor, although, it is good to do that now and again)
5. For over 40s, sleep, diet and recuperation are important. You have to listen to those aches in your body and rest accordingly.

I'm still looking into Deliberate Practice and hope to have some more input on this with tangible examples somewhere down the line. Stay tuned.

Monday, 12 September 2016

On the Mat Day 749: Drilling Damian Maia Techniques

I've been really interested in Damian Maia's method of passing as outlined in BJJScout videos. I first started taking notice of Maia when he dismantled Gunnar Nelson who I consider having excellent ji-jitsu as well as the right mindset.

I've pieced together and used bits of Maia's techniques in the past such as the reverse sitting half guard top but I've never really become proficient in attaining the dope mount, which F and K-sensei both use well. I think Maia's system is well worth researching because it obviously works versus a punching opponent so its both good in sports BJJ and self-defence BJJ.

There are some caveats when wearing a gi though. Such as you need to be careful about collar chokes when tripoding during the pass. Seeing this passing system explained has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Most of all, it has made me realize that I need to string techniques together more with prediction for what the opponent will do. The simpler the technique the simpler his reaction and the easier it will be to execute.
Here are the videos below.

I've lost count of how many times I've watched these videos so it's nice to have them here in one place to go through.

There is also an excellent writeup at the link below. It's worthy of being a thesis from a university student. Maybe some day they will have BJJ as a subject to be studied at University as the Korean's do with Judo.


Monday, 5 September 2016

On The Mat Day 747: Drills and Yoga

I woke up for the early drilling lesson this morning that runs for an hour from 8am. I mostly rotated with Ogiyama and Kato-sensei and did bag drills in between. Check out the video below for a great bag drill video from Chewjitsu.

It was great to see familiar faces again and be so welcomed back. It really is like a 2nd family.

Afterwards I joined the yoga class that runs for an hour. I feel it in my hips today. Hopefully, I will keep it up and improve flexibility and attain better posture.

Moon pose for the win!

Friday, 2 September 2016

On The Mat Day 746: I'm Back

After a 4 month hiatus I finally went back to training. To be truthful, I think I could have done with a further 2 months off to let my neck heal more. It feels like it's at the point where it is about to fully heal. The stress of not training is too much for me though plus F-sensei contacted me by Facebook and asked how I was. I was 50-50 about starting back this month before he contacted me. It pushed me over to go back and train.

The last 4 months have been rough. Hot humid summer, which I've had a hard time acclimatizing to since I am not working out. I've had an MRI on my knee and discovered I have a torn meniscus. This means that if I twist the bottom half of my leg it can cause the knee to swivel into the tear which makes it feel like the knee is dislocating. In the future, I may need to get an operation but I am going to see how it goes after starting a squatting regime from now.

I also got an x-ray for my neck. It didn't show any herniation so the doctor presumes it is a musculature problem. He did note that I had some bone spurs on the front side of my neck. He gave me some exercises to do and they help to some extent. I think it is something that may get better if I focus on correct posture more. With that in mind, my club offers a yoga class so I will be joining up. I plan to play a low-key for BJJ for the moment and focus on things that will improve my posture and alignment.

When I decided to go back to BJJ last night (instead of waiting another 1~2 months) it gave me a warm feeling inside. I felt very happy and as soon as that euphoria hit me I knew I had made the right choice.

The journey to the gym has changed with quite a few new buildings having been finished on the way. Japan changes so fast. The dojo also has a new pull up bar rack and now a new shower room! It looks a lot more spacious on the mat too as well since F-sensei has obviously re-arranged a lot of stuff around. It was already a large gym but it is so much better now than when I started there 7 years ago. I am so happy to be back.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Dealing with a knee injury

So it's been a while since I posted. A lot of things have happened since March. For some time I have been plagued with a knee injury. It is probably due to wear and tear over the years. My knee felt quite loose whenever I would spar and I kept re-injuring it. Every time I squatted down low the knee would move out of alignment so that I had to extend my leg to "pop" it back into place again. It felt like a dislocation.

Along with the knee problem I have also had a neck injury for over a year. After each training session I could barely lift my head from the pillow when waking up the next day. The muscles in my neck were so strained. With these two injuries holding me back I just felt my body was falling apart so decided to take a long time off training. In the past, I've only ever taken a few weeks off training and that was when I broke my foot. I decided to take 2 to 3 months off this time to let my body heal. 3 weeks into the recuperation, I believe it was the best decision and I should have done it much sooner.

I've also subscribed to, which I will write a review on later down the line. Suffice it to say that it has really helped my recovery and I stretch almost every night.

Today I went to the hospital that has a reputation as the best knee specialist in Nagoya. My son also has knee problems so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get us both sorted out. The doctor said that I have probably stretched my MCL but no tear. My bones are fine but I will get an MRI next week. My son on the other hand has problems with his meniscus, it is either too large or is impeding the movement of his knee, which prevents him from fully extending his leg. He will probably need an operation.

Each day I feel better in my body and hope to recover fully to resume training as soon as possible. I really miss how stimulating BJJ is and how fun it is to roll around on the floor with another human being!

Friday, 25 March 2016

On the Mat Day 734: Teaching Back Escapes

I really enjoy teaching escapes since we have a lot of white belts at our club right now. It's something I wanted to do more when I first started along with specific sparring so I want to give the new guys more tools to survive.

I had everyone drill RNC, collar choke and armbar from the back just to warm up then I taught some escapes. These were:
1. Look for crossed legs and submit with an ankle lock (more of a reminder about this than an escape)
2. Sliding down escape (listed in BJJ University page 53)
3. Double hand (like holding a baseball bat) grip on one arm before they get a grip and lock it then hip switch out. (see video below)
4. Brandon Mullins escape where he walks and switches his hips to either come to side or stay in half-guard.

After this I did 10 mins of specific sparring split into 5 rounds. I like this part the best and think it is a good pre-cursor to all-out sparring.

I'm currently nursing an MCL injury and still have neck issues. It seems to be getting better slowly. I am pondering whether to enter the Dumau tournament in May. It's been a whole year since I competed. I've also been trying to eat differently. For a long time I have known about Mark Sissons and his Primal Blueprint but about a month and a half ago I started to incorporate more fat into my diet and drop sugars. Of course there are bad days where I weaken but that generally doesn't get too crazy then I get right back onto eating fats. I eat things like avocado, macadamia nuts, walnuts, camembert cheese, coconut oil, lard, coconut milk and very rarely eat bread and milk. This has made a large impact on my feeling of fullness after eating and I don't really get any carb crashes where I have no energy and want to sleep (this does happen sometimes but it has more to do with having 3 kids). I started at 73.4 kg and today I weighed myself at 71.5 kg. My weight actually went to 70.9kg after training BJJ one day last week. The way of eating (I hate the word Diet) seems like a good way to slowly and safely lose weight. I would ideally like to get to 68 kg for the pena weight category.  

Friday, 26 February 2016

BJJ Day 724: Side Escapes and Attacks

I have a confession. I am not very good at escaping side mount. Instead I rely on not getting side mounted by using good guard work and turtling when needed. There are still times when I get crushed though but those are not as frequent as when I was just starting. Oh that was a hell of a time back as a white belt, suffering under someone's side control. With that in mind I taught this lesson unsure how it would go and whether I would be able to do an effective job of teaching it.
This is what I taught:

Drills:Side mount prevention
1. Opp throws legs to side of person on bottom who frames, shrimps then re-guards.
2. Opp again throws legs, but there is little room to re-guard, person on bottom underhook escapes.
3. Same scenario, guarder frames and person moves their arm over top to which guarder responds by pushing the arm and moving out the back door (Marcelo Garcia escape)

For a great video on drills, see below. These were very helpful for my class.

2 Escapes:
1. Ghost escape (which is my go to escape, particularly versus half-guard head-down passing)
2. Underhook escape

2 Attacks
1. Far side lapel sling to kimura
2. Far side lapel sling to ezekiel choke

We then did 10 minutes of specific sparring in side control.

I don't know about the people who attended but I enjoyed the class. More and more I feel like I get more out of teaching than maybe the students do. Everything seems to click better in my mind. All the techniques I had that were swimming around inside my brain are now being compartmentalized.

Last week I sprained my MCL. It's an old injury come back to haunt me. I have to be very easy with it so am trying deep half guard which I am terrible at, because it allows me to keep my legs away from the opponent and not get twisted akwardly, thereby further damaging my MCL. Injuries suck so much.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

BJJ Day 718: Sensitivity

Big class Friday - my teaching is still a work in progress
I keep thinking about BJJ a lot recently now that I have to teach it. Particularly what white belts need to learn so they don't have to go through some of the rough patches I went through. After much pondering I simply don't think there are any short cuts. However, there are a few things you can do to accelerate your learning. You can do drill work but it must be geared in such a fashion that it is exactly what you need to be working on. In the past I've tried to drill techniques I will probably never use and went away from the session feeling like I wasted my time. Here is what I think you should prepare for a drilling session.

1. Take notes on every position in which your situation worsened during regular sparring for a set period of time (a week or month depending on how often you train).
For example, you could not escape side mount, your single/double leg tackles are always getting stuffed, you are being passed easily by the bullfighter pass, etc, etc. The list can go on.
2. Give priority to the ones that happen the most or you are frustrated with.
3. Drill the position for a month then have a trusted partner do positional sparring with you slowly increasing the pressure.
4. Doing the same technique over and over again will get boring so associated 10% of the drilling session to techniques that you feel are "cool" or want to maybe develop but are probably low percentage for your body type or persona. i.e. In my case this would be flying armbars, berimbolo, imanari roll.

Don't just turn up at a drilling session without a plan and then follow what everyone else is doing or just think "Hey, x-guard is cool. Let me try some of that." Work on what you need but above all make it simple.

Drilling will help in the long run. I know it works because I've seen how judo is trained over here in Japan. The most important thing I believe, however, is sensitivity. If you want to improve a certain position then you have to jump right into it every round of sparring. Say you are working on spider lasso guard, get into the position each time and react to your opponent's movement. There will be times that you fail and he will pass but you must analyze it (don't forget to ask your rolling partner) so that next time you register that moving that way or going down that path will lead him to passing you. Chose a different option at that point and see how it works out. Sensitivity is about feeling. It's about knowing what will happen before it does. It's like having spider senses because you have been in that position so many times. This can't be taught to white belts, they simply have to go through their dues and experience it.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

BJJ Day 717: Aching Knee

This week has been really cold but it feels like we are finally getting into spring. The thing is, my body seems to hurt more during this season and after Friday's lesson I felt my knee begin to stiffen up along the inside tendon. There was nothing that comes to mind during the class that hurt me so I've put it down to some freak twisting action that I never noticed while my body was warm. The worst injuries generally happen for the most mundane reasons. It's hard for me to bend right now so I was considering taking it easy and not training today but eventually went off to the dojo. James also contacted me to say he was injured. Weakness in the arm from weird nerve pain or something.

I still plan to teach mount escapes/attacks on Friday focusing on chokes this time and lower percentage escapes but something that may be useful. I'm trying to emphasize techniques that would have helped me as a white belt. Soon I will have to teach the dreaded side control escapes so not sure how that will go down as it has never been my strength. It should be a good opportunity for me to research it more though.

Friday, 29 January 2016

BJJ Day 712: Teaching Turtle

I'm continuing to add warm up drills that I think are important as fundamental for the turtle guard or when you are turtled in a transition from an escape. These were:

1. Granby roll when the opponent has not completed the seat belt clinch on you
2. Switching as in wrestling when the opponent is in front of you on top and you are turtled
3. Rolling over the opponent using the most basic turtle roll when the opponent has the seatbet clinch on you and it is tight.

Gaining sensitivity and timing in these 3 techniques will help you get out of trouble fast when turtled.

For techniques I taught 2 sweeps and 2 attacks.
The attacks were the clock choke and crucifix armbar from top.
The sweeps/escapes were grabbing the pants and turning into closed guard/butterfly guard and also the full roll over sweep when the opponent has the collar and going for a collar choke.

I ended the class with 10 minutes of 2 minute rounds with one person turtled and the other on top so we could practice some of the techniques shown. It was basically specific sparring to give everyone a chance versus a resisting opponent. I find it best if this is not done at 100% strength but allowing the opponent to get a good position and test for any holes.

James was at the class today and 2 white belts so it was a big help to have him branch off and work with one of them. I think it is always important to have a coloured belt paired with a white belt to give them pointers. I also really enjoy the specific sparring and taking the emphasis off rolling to win and placing it on rolling to work technique and also help your partner. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

BJJ Day 710: Teaching Turtle Attack and Defence

Turtle defence and the attacks is something I've wanted to get to grips with myself. With that in mind I decided to teach this aspect of BJJ for the next 2 sessions. I've always loved how Telles innovated the turtle guard and wanted to emulate some of his skill. I've also wanted for a long time to improve my crucifix. My preparation to teach these has really made me break down the techniques and both understand and memorize them much better.

At the beginning of the class I did a warmup drill with a standing passer simply throwing the legs of the person in guard to one side. The guarder turtles then does a Granby roll to return to open guard. I think the Granby roll is an important technique for any guard player to learn and it should be drilled as often as possible. I then moved on mixing attacks using the clock choke and crucifix and showed reversals using the trap and roll variations as well as reguarding. I think it's important to show both aspects of the technique you are studying. Finally, after the techniques I set the timer to 2 minutes and had one person turtle while the other attacked. We had to use the techniques covered but not go full out 100% strength. Instead help each other but give some resistance. I think this is super important to solidify the techniques covered in class.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Judo Day 14: Sore Everything

I met an old friend last night back from Australia for a week and went out for a few drinks to a British pub. He is such a c**t and took like forever to order me a drink or go to the toilet. :) (Inside joke and not true). It was good to catch up. Good to see you again Jim! However, this morning I was paying for it with a splitting headache and thought to myself "Uh huh, no way I'm training judo today".

I did a few things around the house and tried to recover. I've been looking at throws a lot recently and have come to love how beautiful a well executed throw is. The more I kept watching them on the computer today, the more I wanted to go and train. I'm also going to teach Turtle defence and attacks on Friday so wanted to see what the judo boys would do to me when I gave them the turtle position.

I of course ended up going to train (still a little worse for wear) and totally enjoyed it. Although, training was a bit rough for some reason. Maybe the cold because I couldn't feel my feet. I felt like I broke them a few times as they bent the wrong way a couple of times but no...they are still intact and fully functioning. Against turtle, the judo boys never really attacked me from the side even though I kept turning that way so I could sweep them. I either sat back into closed guard or butterfly guard or had to do a sit out because they would never attack me from the side. A few times I forced them to turtle so I could attack them. They just pancake out most of the time so I easily caught them in a calf crank. I know its illegal in judo but on the floor it's fair game for me since I meet them on their field while standing later on. I caught one in a crucifix but he wouldn't tap so I didn't want to put it on too heavy. I could not get a clock choke, they hunker down too tight leaving no gaps.

I feel beaten up now because I did almost the entire class and 8 rounds of standup sparring at the end. I usually do 5 or 6 at the most. I need a good sleep tonight because James and I will do some drills from 10am before class tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Judo Day 13: Back to Training

I feel a little off. Poor timing and winded easier after only a week of no grappling over the holidays. I hope to build my stamina this year and improve on stand up more than ever and become more efficiency in jiu-jitsu. I am also very interested in movement, namely the MovNat workouts and Ido Portal. I've considered weight training but I think a more natural approach using body weight is probably best for me now at my age. With that in mind I went with my daughters the other day to the park where there are some hanging rings and pull up bars and messed around a bit. I've lost a lot of strength with pull ups and can't do many now. I think I need to work out a sequence of movements I can do in the park and get my arse out of bed in the morning and do it.

This kind of thing!

Today at Judo I got some tips from a very strong black belt on uchi-mata. He showed me what I was doing wrong and then informed me that it is risky to use it in BJJ (he also does BJJ) because of people going to single legs or taking you down with tani-otoshi. I still like the throw and enjoy the mechanics of it. It seems like a great technique to strengthen the upper body. I was also trying to get kosoto-gari a lot and managed to on lower level people. It seems like a good technique for BJJ after seeing Kondo-san use it a lot.

F-sensei asked me to teach and I told him I could do so on Friday morning. So from hereon I will teach the Friday morning class. I want to do things a little different, fewer techniques to drill and more focus on specific sparring. Also, more focus on escapes and survival for white belts. Basically, I want to cover stuff that I felt frustrated with as a white belt.

Good times.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Judo Day 12: Foot Sweeps

I wasn't aware that Judo would start 30 minutes earlier today so arrived just for the last round of newaza. I was a bit bummed by that because I wanted to practice hiding the arm and neck against cross-facing when an opponent comes around for side control.

Still it was good training and I enjoyed it a lot. I asked Kumagai-san, who is one of the older guys who comes to train at the dojo, for advice on uchi-mata. He showed me the correct hand position. It seemed different to what F-sensei taught me so I am beginning to believe that like BJJ, Judo has small variations depending on who you ask.

During sparring I landed an outer foot sweep (kosoto gari) against one of the black belts and both of us were completely shocked. It was so well time and I don't even remember thinking about it. In fact, I have no idea where it came from. This gives me hope in the fact that I can perfect this technique because it is very useful in BJJ. I used it a few times after that on the white belts to test it by pulling them hard to make them move back so their front foot becomes light and easy to sweep.

Monday, 14 December 2015

BJJ Day 697: Requested to Teach

I'd finished up most of my work over the weekend so on a spur of the moment idea I decided to go to class this morning. I'm glad I did. Expecting to see only one or two people attend I was pleasantly surprised to see Matt and Yuki come through the door. They both are strong and give me a good roll. There was also a new guy attending, which I'm happy to see as the club is flourishing better recently with an influx of new folk.

Matt and Me during class talking about the Darce choke (pic:Yuki)
Before class F-sensei came over and asked me if I could teach a class once per week starting in the new year. I was initially surprised because there are other guys at the club who easily outrank me or beat the crap out of me on the mat. I've never expressed an interest in teaching although I find it to be very important to evolve my own level of understanding. It makes me think more about the techniques and how better to train so I can help others not fall into the pitfalls I went through. Of course, I said yes and have yet to decide a time and day that best fits into my schedule.

Today we were taught hip bump escapes following into Kimura. It's a super basic but important submission chain that I must admit have failed to use effectively because I've stayed away from the kimura until now. I tried to hit it during a roll but grasped too high on the opponent's arm after the hip bump sweep. Just another reminder that the small details matter.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

BJJ Day 695: Teaching Nogi Chokes

Our bounenkai (end of year party) was on the weekend. It was good to go out with the guys for a drink and talk about BJJ in a relaxed atmosphere. I'm always comfortable out with guys from the club, there is no bravado or taking the piss out of each other, just conversation with mutual respect. After the party F-sensei asked me if I was available to teach on Wednesday and despite hating to train at night because of the cold and how hard it is for me to get to sleep after class (my brain just won't stop thinking about techniques) I said that of course I would teach.

Since summer I've been having some success with nogi chokes, especially the Japanese necktie so decided to focus on teaching those since I enjoy them a lot and find collar chokes a pain in the arse to get. I planned the lesson beforehand and taught the following techniques:

1. Warm up with 1 set of 10 double leg takedown

2. Basic standing guillotine (arm out) against double leg takedown
   -Counter to guillotine (arm out)
   -Von Flue choke versus stubborn opponent

3. Sprawl versus double leg takedown
   -Anaconda choke from sprawl position when opponent is not basing with leg
   -Peruvian necktie from sprawl

I suppose looking at this it was more of a lesson of nogi chokes versus a double leg takedown. I did not plan it with that it mind because I also wanted to add counters to these chokes and cover the Japanese necktie but there is never enough time.

-There is never enough time to teach all the techniques you plan
-I found it easier to teach in broken up stages of a scenario i.e. Double leg takedown ->Guillotine->Guillotine counter->Von Flue choke sequence and I think it is easier for the student to absorb if the techniques have a natural flow like this.
-I did not focus enough on checking whether everyone was doing it correctly.
-Teaching reinforces the feeling in me that I need to focus on technique while rolling (if possible the technique I just taught) instead of having a win mentality where everything is simply scrambling and thoughtless movement.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

BJJ Day 689: First time teaching

K-sensei is away right now in Taiwan teaching for about a month because Makoto is coming back to Japan for a holiday. That means we only have F-sensei, the owner of the club, to teach classes. He also does some moonlighting at other gyms so asks a few of his higher belts to teach. In the past I've been to Yoshida-san's lesson on deep half-guard and a couple of others but this time he asked me to cover the class on Wednesday night.

For the lesson I decided to stick with what I know best, which is lasso spider guard. This guard has seen me through a few competitions and has been my go to technique when I really needed something. I planned the lesson our roughly on paper because I didn't want to half-ass it. In the end it didn't turn out exactly how I imagined it in my head.

Only 2 guys, Matt and Kaba-san, turned up to train. I was hoping for more of the beginners to come because a lot of them either just rely on their judo/takedown so never play guard or are guard players who are still green and unsure what to do. I think the spider/lasso guard is a really strong guard to play especially for beginners. It gives excellent control over the opponent, you can sweep, submit and also move into other guards seamlessly. At the end of the class I planned to do specific sparring at 1 min with one person taking a lasso grip and trying to use the techniques while the passer try to give 50% and attempts to free himself from the hooks. Unfortunately, there were not enough people and I ran out of time.

Things I noticed about teaching for the first time:
1. It is hard to explain a technique in detail even if you know how to execute it. This is especially applicable when teaching in a second language.
2. The time will go faster than you think so focusing on a smaller aspect of the guard is probably best. Example: What to do when the opponent performs a certain action. How to submit only from this position. Transitioning to other guards.
3. You have to have confidence in the technique you are teaching. If you teach a technique that you have never or seldom use, the student will pick up on this and it will show in your explanation because there will be less details that you can give.

Despite the crappy weather and low attendance it was a fun night. Some good sparring with Matt and Kaba-san of me trying to work out of bad positions mostly. Jiu-jitsu never gets easier but it always stays fun, or at least it should and if it doesn't, go find another sport like ping pong or something.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

BJJ Day 686: People come, people go

Thursday is my day to lick my wounds and recover. I do Judo on Tuesday then train BJJ on Wednesday morning. It's about today that I start to feel my age after working hard for the past 2 days to stay strong against the young guys I train with. It's an enjoyable sort of humming inside my muscles and bones soreness though and I think I might just take a nap after writing this to help my body recover. I can do that since I work for myself and this month has been very slow work-wise.

I've heard from people at the club and confirmed by my instructor that there have been a few people leaving recently. Tanaka-san who was the older 66 year old guy (he gave me hope for the future) decided to finally hang up his belt and quit BJJ. He has been plagued with a knee injury for quite some time. It's a real shame because I really liked seeing him on the mat and give it all for the 3 minutes that he sparred with me. Another person who has left is Chris. A Brazilian guy I have known since he was a blue belt. He lives in Toyota which is quite a drive away and decided to move to a closer gym. I think the gym near him has more Brazilian folks too. I don't blame him really. If there was a gym full of Brits, I would probably go there too. This month has also seen the return of Takuo who always beat the crap out of me when I was a white belt. I still have a slightly chipped tooth from his collar choke and will never forget the unpleasant feeling of tooth dust dispersing in my mouth. I've yet to spar with him but his long time off has apparently slowed him down. There were also a few white belts started recently, young and gamey. It's just an added incentive to polish my jiu-jitsu to the bare basics and strengthen my techniques.

This week I have been a little bit annoyed with myself. Take yesterday for example, I wanted to work escapes with the smaller white belts but it always ends up with me quickly sweeping them and getting a dominant position. I feel like I need to flop down on my back and let them go again. It's like I have the best intentions of letting them play their game and have their way with me so I can practice from bad positions but my body/brain simply refuses to let them. I don't know whether it operates out of instinct or spite to not let me improve inferior positions. I suspect it's part of the ego.