Saturday, February 28, 2009

2/28/09 jiu jitsu notes

Two months of the year done already. Goes faster as I get older, that’s for sure. Rolled with SP, M and JC.

Felt good today. Energized by watching Demian Maia clips and realizing I continually set myself up in a bad part of a scramble by starting my rolling sitting on my butt. Agreed that the on the knees world doesn’t exist, but from now on I’m going to start on my knees and if I’m pulling guard, I’ll fully pull it with handles and everything, rather than starting in an open guard where I have nothing and am already behind in the game.

SP’s game continues to get better and his physicality impresses as well. We drilled single leg takedowns, which I look at as extensions of the half guard game, so with this mentality it was much easier for me to focus. Pure takedowns don’t particularly interest me at this point as I have little desire to compete and the injury potential is much higher with them then ground grappling. But in my mind if I can pull half guard and then do the technique, it immediately becomes more interesting.

Was able to stand up in half guard and reestablish that position as well. The wrestling shoes make me want to avoid a lock down as it's much hard to get out of.

Felt my passing was better today but still not where it needs to be. Used a lot of standing up posture that Rener showed on youtube. Really focusing on jamming my shin into their hip to negate their hips and set up the slice through pass. Kept picturing them being able to kick me in the face which made it easier to get the correct posture.

Found some new angels on getting the back. Other subs didn’t feel as available but remembering that half guard is also half way to his back from a different angle.

Focusing also on moving when it’s important then resting when it’s available. Resting in mount, closed guard, top of half guard and other positions where that’s doable. Conditioning feels decent as long as I focus on my breathing and again work on relaxed movement. Thinking about smiling always seems to help the movements feel light.

Things done well
1) Open guard posture. Can also set up the flop guard pass. Time to start bringing back and integrating weapons from before
2) Rear naked choke. Got one with my left arm. Patience in timing when to grab the shoulder and initiate the attack.
3) Top half guard to back. Feeling their window of strongest movement and slipping around while baiting them into it.
4) Seeing the move a moment before it happens. Need to still get better at actually predicting this along with other backup scenarios but today was decent.

Things to work on
1) If I start slice passing to their right and they get a hook on my right leg, I should slice through the other side with my left leg.
a. Really a note for all my guard passing, need to see the other side and maybe over top possibilities rather than forcing through on one side.
2) Sidemount attacks. Not using enough shoulder pressure on their chin. Need to rotate around to north/south and get their arms crossed and them onto their knees more.
3) Leglocks. Still lacking real goto setups. Half guard kneebars from top and bottom can help with the pass and the sweep. Need to start getting in more reps with them. 100/week at least.

That time I almost got that kid killed in the desert…

So about 8 years ago my buddy Sean came up with the grand idea of going to Death Valley for a little weekend vacation. I quickly agreed as I enjoy an outdoor adventure from time to time. So I headed off with him, some other jiu jitsu buddies and three kids around 12.

We got to our campsite in the late afternoon when things were starting to cool down. There was a quick bout of “snipe hunting” that night where we convinced the 3 boys that:

A) Snipes exist
B) you can catch them and knock them out by swiping them with a bag then swinging them overhead.

One of the kids got so enthusiastic he even set up a trap with a Snickers bar as bait before he went to sleep. For those of you who haven’t fooled kids with this time-honored tradition, I highly recommend it. I could barely stop laughing the whole time and almost blew the whole story.

The night ended up around the campfire with the adults drinking beer and talking while the kids kept on the lookout for more snipes before they fell asleep.

The next day was dune hiking. Armed with a powerful breakfast of an ice cream sandwich and a cup of black coffee, I was ready to conquer the desert!

We gathered the crew together and drove out in my buddy Dr Rob’s SUV. He led the way as we stared walking out to the vast dunes of the Death Valley desert.

At first it wasn’t too hot. We brought a few liters of water as almost an afterthought as I first figured we’d hike up a dune or two then call it a day. But Rob had different ideas as he started leading us further into the sea of dunes.

I had jokingly pointed to the farthest and highest dune at one point saying we should hike up that one. And at some point I realized Rob might be taking me up on this.
Then I got an impulse.

Now sometimes I just get these compulsions to do things. Usually they involve something physically painful that normal rational people would say, “Why would you want to do that? You’re an idiot.” Somehow hearing this feels me with glee and makes me want to do the “it” even more.

So I pointed to that farthest, highest slope, said “let’s climb that one!” and started racing off. The rest of the group, being rational, sensible people merely shook their heads and kept walking at a normal pace. I kept running up one dune and down the next.

I finally got to the bottom of the big dune and decided I would sprint up it and have a glorious “Rocky” moment at the top.

I got about half way up then all of the sudden, the lack of water, 118 degree temperature and the fact that sprinting up a nearly vertical incline of sand is stupid hit me all at once.

I tried to tough it out but the thought of Rob and Sean explaining to my parents how I died of heat exhaustion while trying to show off in front of a group of 12 year olds just didn’t seem worth it. So I hobbled and crawled the rest of the way up.

The view was awesome. It was worth it. There was an ocean of dunes as far as the eye could see.
The rest of them made it to the top and we all took in the view for a few moments. It was really starting to get hot now. As I strained my eyes in the distance I could barely make out Rob’s car. I caught Sean looking at it too and I think we realized the same thing at the same time:

that car was far away…really far. And we had to walk all the way back through the scorching sun with less than a liter of water between all of us

Rob didn’t seem to mind as he handed his 12-year-old son his keys and wallet then dived down the dune rolling over and over in the blazing hot sand. Sean and the others shrugged and we all started heading back down.

Again, I don’t know if it’s just a sad need to show off or the fact that I just enjoy such things but I started running up and down the dunes again having a good ol’ time. I looked back and noticed,

Mike, one of the 12 year olds, seemed to be staggering.
I yelled out that he was being wimpy and losing a race to an old man and he just mumbled something about “passing out”.

I wanted to ignore him but thought the only thing worse than Sean and Rob talking telling my parents how I died, is me having to tell Mike’s parents that I accidentally let him die of heat exhaustion by challenging him to a race when he was about to fall over.

So I did the only rational thing. I ran back to him, squatted down and had him climb on my back.

Now Mike was probably only 110 lbs or so which may not seem like a lot but those pounds start to add up when your carrying them up and down sand dunes in what’s rapidly approaching 118 degrees.

Of course he wasn’t making it any easier as he kept saying he was going to pass out and we had to make it back to the car.

So I started running, up and down, dune after dune. It seemed like Rob’s car was getting further and further away with each step. Mike continued to complain. I was really starting to worry and realized that this is how idiots die in the desert…because of people like me!
I figured I should try and keep him calm and make him laugh.

So I started to sing. Brittany Spears.

Why? I really have no idea, that’s just what popped in my head as at that point, I was starting to feel woozy too.

Apparently either my incredible vocal abilities or my meshing together of all the song lyrics of hers I knew into sometime of inane mashup worked because Mike started to laugh and I sighed in relief as I knew he was going to be alright.

We got back to the car and I got Mike some water. The others slowly trickled in, shaking their heads and laughing at me. It probably looked ridiculous and really was. But every time I see that picture, I think of that story.

I ran into Mike a few years later when he was close to 16. He was already taller than me and probably out weighed me. So next time he’s carrying me! But I’ll still do the singing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jiu jitsu notes 2/27/09


Rolled with J and M (two talented blue belts) today. Things were better than on Tuesday but there’s still much work to be done. Guard passing is effective especially with J in getting him to his knees. That’s probably a better idea if they’re no gi (which he was) but I felt like I wasn’t seeing the path of least resistance and was forcing him into passes that weren’t there. But sometimes I wonder if it’s better to just have a set number of passes and a lot of ways to get to them rather than just trying to use what’s right in front of you. Sometimes going with the flow works and sometimes the flow works me. Didn’t feel I was doing well against J so much as he was just playing into my strengths. Did not feel particularly effective on bottom, but was able to reverse or get the back so maybe sometimes that’s good enough. Would like more submission threats though.

As always impressed with M’s inventiveness. If I’m not calm about the position being something I need to figure out, I’ll find myself rushing and forcing things. His submissions are getting better and better so it’s hard to find that balance of moving quickly and yet calmly. Was able to get an interesting triangle from inverted guard but not sure how I did it. Again is it better to just run with that flow? Hard to say it is as when it’s gone then my head’s just fogged and I freeze up.

Things done well
1) Forcing them to their knees off the pass.
2) Back control with trapping an arm as well.
3) Inverted guard triangle.
4) D’Arce from transition. Recognized it a split second before it happened.

Things to work on
1) Guard passing. I’m getting past their guards but couldn’t teach or really say what I’m doing. Things do not feel precise and tight except with over/under pass.
a. Need to start drilling leg over shoulder pass with cupping the back of their head. Always rush through on this one and while I get them to their knees at times, it leaves me open to them scrambling out.
2) Inverted guard activity. Need to see what other threats are there, especially if I start to use momentum from rotating. Might look more into going from inverted back to sitting especially with some arm drags thrown in.
3) Back threats. Want to work on keeping my body aligned while twisting and stretching them more. Should be easier to get the choke that way. But also need to look more into the armlocks, reverse triangles, coller chokes, twisters and everything else that’s available there too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2/24/09 Jiu jitsu notes

Rolled with J and M yesterday. One of those days where I question why I do any of this shit. Just felt like I suck and will always suck and how could someone suck as bad as I do? How is it possible to put so much time and thought into something and just suck? Why do I bother?
I know these thoughts are temporary but consistent. I know the self-doubt will always be there. But I also know that somehow I’m just not quitting. I know that I’m getting better. But every once in a while I want my due.

Anyway main mistake yesterday was having the urge to drill the escapes from the seminar. Letting my guard get passed too easily as always. Was able to pass theirs fairly easily but need to work on side mount pressure and control next. J is very good at timing the pass to quickly reverse. I was letting him and M get up on my chest and it’s very hard to reverse from there keeping with the principals I learned last weekend. But still why do I always feel the need to abandon everything I've learned through the years at moments like that? Probably still need to work on some chokes and distractions from underneath to get some space.

Inverted guard has become a useless crutch at the moment. I ‘m simply going there and not making it an attack. I’m just sitting there waiting to get beat.

Things done well
1) Getting MBF posture from the bottom.
2) Getting to half guard
3) Passing half guard
4) Decent wind

Things to work on
1) Inverted needs to be an attack or get out of it. Hanging out there will just hurt your neck and do nothing. Sweep, triangle and kneebar.
2) Still getting passed too easily. Start from the knees and jump to closed guard.
3) Forced the triangle on J. Not getting real wrist control
4) Not attacking. Just waiting to get beat. I was just hoping at one point that M would crank what he had so it would be over. Some days I’m just a coward.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MBF principals applied to BJJ

Being the obsessed dork I am, this weekend brought me to San Jose, California in search of more knowledge and principles that can add to my jiu jitsu game. I want to be looked at one day as someone who really has mastered jiu jitsu and I also hope that I never feel that way personally.

So the seminar was put on by my friend Mike Jen who introduced me to Muscle Balance and Function (MBF) over two years ago. MBF is basically the idea that your load bearing joints: the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be aligned on top of each other from the front and the side. If things are out of whack, which they are on almost everything, the MBF system has a series of exercises designed to put the body back in its natural alignment where it is strongest and functions at its best level. The exercises themselves and the sequences they're done in depends on what the indivual needs. This idea of "it depends on the situation" fit in nicely with the weekends events.

So Mike has taken the principles of alignment and plugged them into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). The basic mindset is have your body in as much alignment as possible (again shoulders, hips, knee and ankles) while misaligning your opponent as much as possible.

What's especially interested about this series is that it's all about being on the bottom in the side mount position, yet through keeping your body aligned, you are able to misalign your oppenent so much that it is too painful to want to do anything other than fall over.

But what's even more exciting to me (again obsessed nerd about such things) is that these principles can be applied to every aspect of jiu jitsu. An armlock from the guard becomes the bottom player misaligning the top guys neck to the side and up with his forearm, then his shoulders are misaligned with one leg and finally the neck is misaligned even further with the leg over the head. The armlock itself is almost secondary to the fact that he's so out of alignment that all he can really do to relieve the pressure is to fall over.

It's a very interesting way of looking at all of jiu jitsu and I see how I can plug in all the techniques I already know but have an overall concept (get in alignment and get the other guy out of alignment) that guides my every move. In addition it makes me look at all escapes, pins and submissions in this same way which should makes subltle adjustments that make everything much more effecient, effective and painful!

I'm really excited to try all this stuff and really continue to develop the sensitivity to make these techniques work as everything depends on the situation. Much like MBF exercises and order depends on what is misaligned, then MBF/BJJ combo is also very dependent on where the opponent's weight is and where your body needs to go in order to be in alignment.

Oh and I feel sorry for anyone not involved in either BJJ or MBF who had the misfortune to run into this blog. I promise future ones will be more interesting to normal people ;)