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.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

On the Mat Day 681: Visitors

We had a few visitors last night at training. A guy called Dustin who lives in Alabama came with his wife to train with us. His wife is Japanese and they were visiting her family who live in Toyota City which is close by. He told me that he trains at a club called Triad Jiu Jitsu and that he was one of the smallest members. I wish I had been able to train most of my career with larger opponents. It would have made me more technical and less strength dependent. There are so many people at our club who are lower in weight and size than me and I am only 72 kg.

It was interesting to get a perspective on BJJ from a brown belt who comes from not just another club but from another country. We sparred a single round (I'm only allowing myself 3 rounds right now to heal my neck) and it was very light and relaxed, the sort of roll I have with Yoshida-san. I really like rolling like that because it gives me time to reflect on what I am doing and to see mistakes as I make them. His use of frames and legwork to recover guard was very good. He had some solid jiu-jitsu principles he applied during the roll like keeping knee and elbow contact when escaping from mount or bad positions. I also noticed that despite going some 10 plus rounds he did not look tired. I really need to be more relaxed like that to go further. I also liked his guard recovery using the knees then to spin back into the opponent which worked well on some opponents I have problems with at our club. His 14 years of training have obviously helped him stay calm under pressure.

I also got to roll with his wife who rolled very well. Like her husband, she was very active, never resting in one place, shrimping often and butt-scooting to recover a better distance for guard work. I wish my wife would get in on the act and train with me. I also liked how they both used a whizzer to counter a single leg and turn it into an uchi-mata. I usually do this too but execute it faster. They both did it fairly flowing and slow but it still worked. Watching Dustin roll I recalled a moment when Damon who visited us from France a while ago mentioned that I looked stressed when rolling and that I should try to be more relaxed. I do try to do this but it's easy to forget mid-roll. In my gut I still have a long way to go in destroying the ego.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

On The Mat Day 677: Probably the best idea I have had to get over an inury

I trained judo yesterday and today went to morning class BJJ. I've still been having trouble with my neck but getting it treated again at a physiotherapist. What usually happens is I go to class and feel good because I am warmed up, spar a lot, then my neck hurts like hell either that night or the next day. To be honest, I am sick of the pain. In fact I can't remember what it feels like to have no pain in my neck.

I basically have a choice of not training but I don't want to do that because, well, life would get really boring or I can limit sparring time. I've decided to do the later for 2 rounds. I will keep this up until next week at which point I push it up to 3 rounds for the following 2 weeks on the caveat that I have no pain next week. I plan to do this slowly instead of resting completely.

My physio also mentioned that I should think about strengthening the muscles in my neck and I have a harness for doing that so will start light to rehabilitate.
Head harness for neck strengthening

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

On the Mat Day 671: Night Training

F-sensei showing spider guard
I've been off training just over a week due to the holy trinity of work, injury and a cold all hitting me at the same time. It was a much needed break. My neck was sore as hell when I trained last Sunday so it was good to be busy with work while resting.

I originally planned to train judo yesterday but the high school has examinations so I decided to train BJJ at night. Tuesday is for some reason one of the better nights to train at our club. There are always a lot of people.

I've decided to attempt to train smarter. That means use less strength and only go with technique. I no longer struggle hard to not have my guard passed since I am trying to get into bad positions and survive better. Over the last year or two I have become lax in my defense. Since there are a lot of tough blue and purple belts at our club it presents a good opportunity for me to really work on improving my defense because they are all gunning to catch me. I'm basically trying to do jiu-jitsu with the minimum amount of energy possible. I think this is the best way to proceed from here.

Some things I am focusing on right now are:
Turtle sweeps
Butterfly guard
Getting my hands into a good position when passed so I can escape better
Kimura locks from bottom (looking for the elbow sticking out as a Trigger)
Half guard

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

On the Mat Day 666: Ramblings on Judo versus Jiu-jitsu

There really are too many techniques in grappling. It's just so easy to get bogged down with them. Judo on the other hand seems so simple. Although, that doesn't mean it's easy to throw an opponent because it isn't. Judoka seems to practice a handful of the same techniques over and over again. One kid I train with only does seio-nage and o-uchi now and again. It's said that many of the top players only use 2 to 3 throws. The rest is just body position, reading the opponent, athleticism, stamina and strength from what I can gather.

Jiu-jitsu on the other hand has so many guards, different passing methods and ways to submit an opponent that you need an encyclopedia brain to hold them. That or teach all the time. I suppose this is why it takes so long to reach black belt and why people get so addicted to it. It engages the mind more than the rules of Judo ever do.

I'm not knocking Judo though. I enjoy training it once a week now. I think any good grappler should be training in both. It's even made me consider trying drills judo-style with BJJ sweeps, etc. I'm also attempting to cut down to a core set of techniques only but maybe this is a side-effect of doing BJJ for almost 6 years now.

One thing I can say is that Judoka are very serious in their attitude here in Japan and reflect the society in its nose-to-grindstone no nonsense attitude while BJJ takes a relaxed approach and practitioners tend to smile and laugh a lot more than their Judo counterparts. Perhaps if Judo in Japan were a bit more forgiving and fostered an enjoyable atmosphere more kids, like my own son, would practice it.

Monday, 14 September 2015

On the Mat Day 661: Open Mat with A Dodgy Back

Injuries seem to have come to a head right now. I've been nursing a sore neck. pulled crotch ligament and now I have a tweak in my back which when I look at my toes sends out a spasm in the left side of my back. Despite this I received a call from James to join him and David at open mat on Sunday so I decided to train.

I went with the notion that I would just watch and practice a few techniques but ended up sparring and I actually felt OK and tried to move carefully. As long as I didn't invert or get stacked I was fine. I think the damage has been due to Judo nagekomi and maybe some awkward turning when I was sparring BJJ. I won't stop doing Judo though because I enjoy it so much. It gives me a lot more confidence when standing and I can feel myself becoming a more rounded grappler.

I'm mostly just working on half-guard right now. Nothing fancy. Old school sweep, London bridge sweep, Knee shield to get the underhook and turn into them, etc. Nothing that would aggravate my back. I played half-guard a lot at blue belt and it feels like I am returning to an old friend.

As part of my rehabilitation I went to an onsen last night. Got into a bath that was almost 43 degrees Celsius and just felt the aches leave my body. It was so good.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

On the Mat Day 657: A Weekend of BJJ

We have just finished Obon holidays over here during and after which I did a lot of activities with the kids. Canoeing, camping and generally taking them to parks and stuff. This meant that I didn't do any BJJ for a week. It was a much needed rest to let a few niggling pains heals. James is away back home for 3 weeks so I did not go in during the mornings at 10am to train. After a week of rest I started back yesterday during the day class.

There is always a good attendance for Saturday morning. A lot of guys after a week of hard work probably like to come in and blow off some steam. There is a good mix of belts at both ends of the spectrum so I get rolls I can work on stuff and rolls where I get my ass kicked. This is good.
I sparred with Ito-san, it's been a while, apparently he has a back back which is a common ailment among practitioners. This didn't stop him putting me in an ezekiel choke. I must admit that I am a bit lax about defending chokes. It's something I need to be more aware of.

I am currently working on half guard. I pull to half guard and the opponent either follows me, where I then work for knee shield if I don't have an underhook or I dive under for old school pass if I have the underhook. Sometimes the opponent wont follow me down so I have to play with reverse de la Riva and go to Kiss of the Dragon or something like that. I recapped these scenarios today during the drilling class to the addition of a few techniques I pulled from the Caio Terra half guard DVD. It is such a massive resource that I don't know where to start with it though. The more I watch it the more muddle my brain gets.

Things to drill: Counter to low underhook/head on other side pass from half guard.
1) Grab pants/belt and obtain a butterfly hook and elevate
2) OR failing 1) bring free hand under their leg and turn away to get to deep half (Yoshida3 showed me this).

Friday, 14 August 2015

On the Mat Day 655: BJJ and Judo thoughts

With my appetite for stand up whetted by my once a week judo I have been playing around with half-guard again as of this week. It's a position I feel comfortable in since it was my survival position at white belt but now that I have more experience I have more time to think and analyze the position. For instance, at a glance, I consider how far my opponent's leg is in my half guard (is the knee poking out or are my legs around the thigh), do I have an under hook? I then start to see branches off in my mind leading to sweeps or the next technique. For some reason, experience and staying calm allows me to think more carefully about what the opponent is doing and act with the best move. It doesn't always work out but now that I can do this in my mind, after class or a day later, I can review what went wrong more easily and think about a countermeasure. I wish judo was like this for me but right now it's just a flurry of arms and legs then I'm on my back.

I'm feeling a little beaten up (probably judo) and the heat is taking its toll. I can train about 3 times a week right now and its my limit. I know that given cooler weather where my heart rate isn't already high even before sparring, I could train 4 to 5 times a week for sure. I went out and bought some Protein the other day because the aches are taking so long to go away. I think it's helping, along with all the chicken breasts. I'm down to around 71.2 kg right now. I haven't been lower than 72 kg for many years. It's probably a lot of water content as well as the hard workout that judo brings.

Right now I am really enjoying training in both bjj and judo. It makes me feel like a more complete grappler. I'm also able to ask F-sensei about counters in Judo and he gives me good advice. Like today he told me how to better drill ko-uchi-gari and also how to counter ippon seio nage since just stepping around was not enough as my opponent simply adjusted his angle and continued with the throw. Grappling is like a big jigsaw in which more pieces keep getting added to the table as you are about to complete it. It's frustrating but it occupies my mind so much.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Judo Day 2: Aches and Pains

Arriving at the judo dojo this morning I saw Yuuki-san from my BJJ club also at the judo club. Apparently he had trained there for a few years a couple of years back. No wonder he got really good at seio-nage.

We started off with newaza and I decided to just play half-guard and see what they do. All of them distribute their weight far too high over me so it was easy to sweep them either by using knee-shield to Shaolin sweep them over my head or get an underhook and go to an old school sweep. They immediately do the dead turtle when I come out the back and it makes me laugh each time because it really is a bad habit since there are much better things to do like re-guard. At one point I had one of the more lively youngsters in my full guard, he used my collar to choke while standing (I like to do this as a last option) but he did not consider the armbar so I took it. He should have been ready to bail on the choke.

For uchikomi and nagekomi I decided to keep it simple. I don't want to exhaust myself until I get more stamina so only practiced kouchi gari. I like this approach and once I feel good about each smaller technique I will try to move onto bigger throws.

Sparring was tiring. It really beats me up. Towards the end all I can do is try to defend. I appreciate the tai-otoshi throws and foot sweeps but one kid kept doing a seio-nage and just launching himself forward so I had to roll with it and into an ippon. In BJJ I would just take his back and choke him. My hand was in his collar without thinking and I had hooked him so it would be trivial for me to submit him but under judo rules he wins from the ippon. That part was frustrating. At one point my arm was not free so that I could not post so face planted. I did no enjoy that and it made me mad. I had to calm myself down to continue.

I just hope that I can get better with time. Learn small throws in progression and focus on the details. Always try for throws that I am working on during uchikomi. Standing vs Judoka is not easy that's for sure.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Judo Day 1: This is Hard!

We have an older guy at our BJJ gym who is a high school teacher and takes care of the judo club. Since it's the summer holidays now I sort of invited myself to train with his judo club. They don't have many members but he said I could go along and train with them.

Today was the first time I went to workout with them and I got a shock to my system at how little stamina I had. This is what the lesson comprised of:

3 min x 6~8 rounds of Newaza with about 30 seconds to allow partners to change. This was the easy part for me as none of them can pass my guard and it was very easy to triangle or armbar them. I was shocked at how long they take to tap when stuck in an armbar position. Eventually I had to with slow control extend it until they tap.

Uchikomi: This was about 30 min of standing 10 repetitions of any technique you want with more power on the last one but not necessarily throw them.

Nagekomi: We took turns to throw each other 10 times each. This was where I felt really tired. My technique is not great standing so I use a lot of strength and it tires me out. I practiced ippon seionage, o-uchi gari and uchi-mata. I'm still unsure if I was doing it correctly and they were hesitant to correct me so I asked a lot of questions. (Asking questions helped me get a breather!)

Randori: 3 mins x 10 rounds of sparring. This was the most fun for me but I had to rest more than the young guys. I just don't have the stamina. The 2 young black belts handled me fairly easily and I was thrown by Tai-otoshi quite a lot. On my part, I tried ude-gaeshi (semi-successful), sumi-gaeshi (no success) and tomoe-nage (not successful but I am getting better at this as I almost got one of them).

BJJ (bad?) habits: There were many times they threw me for a yuko because as they turned into drop seio-nage I just took their back and they pushed into me with their legs so my back hit the floor. This is a yuko in judo but in BJJ I am in back mount and can go for a choke. It's weird for me to think of this as a loss as I end up in a dominant position.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

On the Mat Day 648: Drilling escapes and nogi

The heat is peaked right now around 35 Celsius in the daytime and I easily get through about 2 liters of water. I actually weighed myself on the scales the other day to see what the weight loss was in water before and after training. See the photo results below.

After (almost 1kg of sweat!)
So, despite going through a whole 2L bottle of water, I also lost nearly a kilo in weight. No wonder I feel beat afterwards. I should probably take some electrolytes in the drink as well come to think of it.

Today James and I worked on escapes from kesa-gatame and side control. I'm very comfortable getting out of kesa-gatame but when in side control I am still not good at efficiently using frames, bridging, shrimping and then returning to guard. I just need to drill it more with resistance. The escape is very easy with no resistance but when done with a resisting opponent who is the same size it is way tougher. It's just something I need to work on more each session.

We ended the workout with 3 x 5 min rounds of nogi. It's much better to do nogi in these temperatures. There are lots of people (usually old) dying right now in Japan from heat exhaustion. It's no joke.

Friday, 17 July 2015

On the Mat Day 644: Self-defence and Nogi

I started the day out training self-defence from 10 am with James. We put on some open-handed gloves and hit each other lightly while taking turns to take the other down to the ground and immobilize the opponent. I noticed that my timing is not so good, I tend to flinch on entry to the clinch and my distance to attack was not so great. I tried to get the correct distance using the length of my arm which helped towards the end. I mostly ended up on the side of the opponent then switched to the back for a hip lock take down then tactical (S) mount. This was good training which I hope to do more and become more comfortable with. While doing this drill we both decided that a non-trained person would probably give their back very easily for the rear naked.

The later half we trained nogi for a couple of rounds. A new guy who joined, who is a bit older than us, joined in. He was bigger than me but surprisingly didn't go crazy and was very humble in his attitude and light, although he didn't have a good base so was easy to sweep. We plan to do self-defence and nogi every Friday morning from now. It seems a good mix for areas where I need more training.

I'm working on losing weight right now to get down to 68 kg but it is slow going. I use MyFitnessPal on my phone to count calories. It is a great app because I can scan barcodes on food and don't usually have to type them in which is a pain in the arse. So far I've lost about 1.5 kg over 3 weeks. My calorie deficit is about 800 calories so I eat about 1700 calories a day. Lots of chicken breasts, avocado, nuts and fruit if I can. I do stray though and eat sweet things, bread and milk, but counting calories and seeing what I eat each day really helps me to stay focused on this goal. My energy is high and I feel lighter during sparring so move faster than usual.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

On the Mat Day 642: Double Sunday Lesson

I started training this morning doing drills from 8 am and finished at 12.30 afternoon. I took a break from 10 to 11 am to go get some breakfast and returned to the gym afterwards. It was unbelievably hot today and I felt a little ill from the amount of sweating I did at the end so had to leave early.

A couple of guys came from a different club so got to spar with different folks was good. I tried and failed to implement the new takedowns I am working on which are tani-otoshi and tomoenage. For both throws I think I am not getting deep under the opponent enough.

I also trained with Miura today and ended up playing his game which I shouldn't. Knee shield open guard and closed guard. He pulls me tight with his strong arms so I get little space to move. I should probably try to work on butterfly guard more with bigger guys. I think this is something I need to start doing - and soon. I'm tired of getting stuck in a game of arm strength and fighting grips with guys who are stronger than me.

Things to work on: Butterfly guard!!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

On the Mat Day 636: Scramble Kimono

We are now into July in Japan and it is still raining. In fact it has intensified. It's very easy to become depressed in this weather. The rainy season lasts around a month and should be over in a couple of weeks, after which it will be very humid. It's not a fun time to train in Japan so if you plan on visiting come before June or after September.

I bought a Scramble Athlete kimono because I was so impressed with the feel of the Rebel that Furukawa-san gave me. It's a little long in the arms and legs but that because I haven't washed it yet. It does feel good against the skin and doesn't rub like some of my old gis. My first white gi feels like cardboard but I've now had to retire it because it has holes in it. I should probably get the wife to make it into some type of apparatus for pull ups and grip strength.

Training started at 10 am this morning with James. We worked on collar stiff arming to prevent the bullfighter pass. I've been looking for a foolproof method to stop this pass but haven't come up with anything great against extremely strong passers. Then I stumbled on Firas Zahabi's method of stiff arming and really like how it's done. I messed around with it a little today during sparring and it hurts the collarbone of the opponent if they push in hard. When done on K-sensei he was a little wise and repositioned the collar of his kimono to get my fist over his chest to try for a wrist lock, which he used to make me let go. I suppose the stiff arm is susceptible to a flying triangle so you have to decide on whether to use it based on your opponent.

James and I are also working on self-defense techniques a lot now. Today we continue to do o-goshi after stuffing a haymaker. I actually tweaked my inside knee ligament when breakfalling (old injury) so am icing and using ibuprofren right now. Such is the life of a jiu-jitsuka.

Very humid and sweaty today during training but it was fun training as always.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

On the Mat Day 631: Been a while since I trained at night

I've been feeling a bit knackered recently with the weather here (it is now the rainy season so very humid) and having not had a day off work for as long as I remember. I can usually tell my body is run down because I get cold sores. Those little shits - I hate them. They do sell a good over-the-counter cream here that wipes them out fast which I am thankful for.

Anyway, last night I was umming and arrring over going training since I am unable to go Wednesday due to work. Then I watched this and it resonated with me.

Don't be a malingerer I thought and so went to train instead.

 Watching this video and EBI3 got me up off my arse!

Since my neck is still not fully healed I have been limiting myself to 4 rounds of sparring. I sparred with Furukawa-san last night and accidentally hit him with my knee in the face. I felt so awful. It was just during passing. I told him that he is crazy for not wearing a mouthpiece but nobody does over here. He wasn't the only one who got hit in the face. Yuki also walked over with blood on his teeth. It's just stupid not to wear a mouthpiece it really is.

As always I was glad I went. Had a good couple rounds of movement, didn't re-injure myself and also got crushed under side control while fighting to get on my side.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

On the Mat Day 625: First day back after 2 weeks

I've taken a full two weeks off training to heal my neck. I've been to a physio for about 4 sessions
Do Cardassians get neck pain I wonder?
so far and it has helped. He told me that the pain in the areas of my neck and back are the same as for whiplash. He basically just massaged pinpoint areas of my back and neck. Weird things start to happen when the knots unravel. For example, the pain on the right side of my neck moved to the left side and then back again as surrounding muscle tissue relaxed from the massage. He told me that if I had continued to train, I would probably end up with a hernia which can lead to weakening in the muscles of the neck. It was the right decision to stop training altogether.

I attended class today just for drilling purposes and to catch up on what was going on. I just drilled some things with K-sensei and asked him a few questions. Matt turned up a little later on and we finished the lesson without sparring since K-sensei has a bad case of asthma right now (although he looked fine). I was tempted to do positional sparring but glad I didn't because I could feel a lot of tension in my neck by the end of the lesson. It would have been much worse if I had sparred. You hardly realize how much tension stays in the neck while doing BJJ until you actually injure it. Not to mention it has to hold up a fairly heavy skull and brain. I plan to stick to drilling for the next 2 weeks then begin strengthening it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

On the Mat Day 624: Marco Barbosa class #2

Last night Marco Barbosa taught the class again. The theme was how to choke from mount Roger Gracie style. The technique was extremely painful and involved getting the first hand deep in the collar, using the head to base, coming around to the other side and using the elbow of the free hand to push against the opponent's jaw right beneath the ear. He showed it to me and it was the most painful thing I've experienced in BJJ. The point of his elbow was in the nerve cluster under my jaw, which forced my head to the side so the 2nd hand could clamp onto the shoulder and finish the choke. It's like getting a slow elbow into the side of the neck and I still feel pain in that region of my face today.

Another technique was also using the elbow on the side of the opponent's face under the cheekbone to turn their head. This was applied from top half-guard to complete a choke. I am not a fan of these painful techniques but they are amazingly effective. I'm not sure about using them all the time on my team-mates, perhaps I will from time to time but I can see everyone hating me if I did.

After three rounds of sparring last night I have decided to bite the bullet and take a whole month off training. It's not something I want to do because I had to do this last Summer when I injured my groin muscle. I am tired of constantly being in pain in the morning so I need to take a long rest. It's important that I keep in shape during this period. Perhaps cycle or swim, do lots of stretching and yoga as well as eat better.I plan to be back on the mat from June 16th. I also need to take a trip to the physio to check there are no problems with the skeletal structure of my neck.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

On the Mat Day 623: Drilling and a bit of Nogi

Went to do drills this morning with James. This is a weekly thing now and we have decided to increase it to twice a week on Friday as well. That gives us around 2 hours of complete drilling and working on ideas for techniques. My personal opinion is that it is essential to get better on the mat. You need a good partner who will give you feedback in the right places. Shawn Williams even went so far as to say that you should be drilling 70% of the time. That's a lot but given how good he is, I have to agree.

We basically worked on closed guard but with a high guard position. One leg over the shoulder which James calls the Pit Stop. So now we call it the Pit Stop Armbar. After you get the position you rotate the far elbow to force them down and then head over the head for the full armbar. It's very effective if you can get the leg over the shoulder and feet locked together.
I also did a few spider guard attacks/sweeps and passing the spider guard which has been the theme this week. It was a very productive morning of troubleshooting.

After that I sparred a couple of 10 minute rounds with 2 guys. The first was Yoshida-san and the roll was really good. He is very slippery and we have a semi-light flowing roll until he eventually caught me in a rear naked choke. We talked a little afterwards and he said he focuses a lot on putting all his pressure onto a single point when passing. I feel it when he does the over under pass for sure. He also gave me some tips for aggressive passers when I am playing guard since I asked him. I was tempted to stay for the 11 am class but too much work to do at home. However, we decided to make the nogi rolling a normal thing after drilling so I'm happy with that.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

On the Mat Day 622: Marco Barbosa Lesson

Marco Barbosa is currently in Japan from Brazil. He visits once a year and either puts on a competition or does seminars. My instructor received his black belt from Barbosa so he came to our club to teach a class on Thursday night. There are a lot of clubs affiliated with Barbosa in the Aichi area. He has taught some very high pedigree black belts in the past such as Masakazu Imanari, Luiz Panza and Cicero Costa.

There was a mix of other clubs at our dojo on the night. Barbosa had us run around the room then do shrimping and similar drills along the mat. He then went into controlling the back position with a face lock. I never do this type of move because I don't like to hurt my training partners but it seemed very effective. There were a lot of variations after establishing the facelock and getting the hooks in to move to armbar and triangle. He stressed the fact that we must be tight leaving no space and also that we must make the opponent uncomfortable all the time because if we don't they will escape and put us in the same situation. He also told us that we should never have our hands on the mat but they should be on the opponent putting pressure on them.

A lot of the techniques he used and the way they are applied are very painful. His philosophy seems to be to that Jiu-jitsu is a fighting art so give them no space and make them feel uncomfortable/painful all the time. Use all your strength to win.  If you are not doing this, then you are not winning. I'm not sure how I feel about this because I've always preferred to work to finish my opponent without causing them severe pain or injury. This doesn't mean that I will not use pressure to control them or dig in a deep choke to finish. Barbosa seems to be highly influenced by his judo background. I don't like the idea of using all your strength either. I will go full out in a competition but not in sparring unless the opponent picks up the pace. It just isn't practical or sustainable for me to do it that way. Instead of pushing against a large force I would much prefer to find the path of least resistance around it. I can see his hard style of sparring being perfect for a young man's game but not for an over 40 year old man.

Despite this puzzling moment when I felt that his philosophy for jiu-jitsu did not match mine, I found Barbosa to be a very welcoming and kind-hearted person. His skill in the art is profound and his top control is like a ten ton truck sitting on you. It's the spartan aspect of it that am no longer able to absorb. As always, I enjoyed the class and love to get a new aspect on a hobby I am crazy about. Another Barbosa lesson is scheduled on Tuesday next week, which I hope to attend.