Author Archives: Josh

Morning No-Gi

I have a few days off, and a busy weekend, so I hit up the morning class today.

Smaller than last time, it must of been that Friday mornings are busier.    We did the same thing as last night, same passes and pass to mount.   I paired up with Sam, who also did it before, so we worked on speeding it up and resisting a little bit more too.

After class we rolled a few times.  The first he shot in and armbared me quickly.  I had it defended, but I moved my hand to push his knee over my head and it slipped as I was pushing  and he sunk it in.   He got me in the next one too, another armbar.   In our last roll I reversed him from side control, mounted.  He tried to pop out, but I took his back.  It took a while, but I eventually got the rear naked choke.    Afterwards, I look up, and who is watching us?   Brock Larson.   Cool.

I said hello, chatted a little bit about his next fight (as of yet undetermined), and took off.

No Gi Week

Since it was so hot last week, Damian declared that this week would be all no gi.  And whada cooled off.

We did our warm up as usual.  Doing the Sidecontrol 101 was a little weird because I only know 2 sweeps that work for no-gi, but we dealt with it.   To start class, Damian wanted us to attempt to pass guard, anyway we could.  3 minutes per side.  Just to kinda see where we were at.   Well, I didn’t need 6 minutes to tell him that I don’t know anything.   When on top, I got submitted 4 times.  When on bottom, I got passed 5 times.   So, no where to go but up.

We worked a new pass.  Break the closed guard, pop your OUTSIDE leg in (which is opposite of what I’ve been doing to gi), and use that leg to hook/pin his down.  Esgrima (windshield wiper leg switch) your legs, and sit into side control.  We did a variation where the bottom guy hooks your leg, you just switch your head to the other side, underhook, tripod up and slide you leg out.   And one where you wishbone the bottom guy’s legs and go directly to mount.   Cool stuff.  I was a little anxious about doing no-gi…just because I never have.

After class, Russ-the-former-spaz was there for the fundamentals, and wanted to do some sweeps and stuff.  So we fooled around some.  Now Russ is ~220, and wrestled for a long time, so no stranger to the no-gi realm.  He got me a couple of times, but I did manage to reverse him once and recover guard a couple of times..  And we ended up in a turtle guard like position, but he had hooked my arm, so the peek out wouldn’t work.  We were both curious about it, so we asked Damian what was proper to do here.  I could shoot my knee in and regain guard.   We finished up me me showing him the armbar double arm trap from mount we did last week.  He defended, and being alot stronger than I…defended it for a long time, but I wasn’t going anywhere and eventually got it.   Damian said I need to buy a weight set!

Sweating to Death

Wow was it hot tonight. All of us were soaked after our “warm up”, even with the fan blowing. First up…25 take down attempts. 15 dry runs, then 10 following all the way through. Me & the Mongoose paired up, with another guy working in. I made it to about #8 before just about wanting to die. I had to quit, take a drink and cool off for a couple of minutes or I was going to puke or pass out. And I wasn’t the only one.

Another “fundamentals” type class today. We reviewed the techniques for gaining mount from side control, and then worked the cross collar choke and the double armlock we did on Tuesday. Then we did a knee pillow paper-cutter-like choke and the bow and arrow choke too.

After class Mike and I rolled a couple of times, going light. He’s doing the tournement on Saturday and already has a tender rib. I let him work his top game and just defended in our first roll. I’d throw some offense at him from my back too.

Fundamentals was elbow escaping and threading the needle from within side control. Threading the needle is something that’s always given me trouble, so it was nice to work on it slowly. We also did a headlock escape from within side control too.

Basics are basics for a reason

A hot one tonight. Thankfully they’ve got a 4′ industrial fan blowing across the mat now, that helps.

Everyone was taking it easy tonight and moving a little slow. We spent class reviewing and practicing the cross choke from mount. Which may seem odd, because it’s a very basic technique. But it’s one of those core attacks that is always effective. In fact, Roger Gracie just won the Heavyweight World Championship. 9 matches…9 cross collar chokes from mount. Good enough for him…good enough for us.

Roger Gracie

We also did a variation of the armlock from mount. If the guy on bottom gets to his side trying to escape, you can trap his top arm with your body weight, switch to a knee pillow position, grab both arms and armlock him that way. I found a key spot where I was getting stuck and realized where I was going wrong.

After class I was going to roll some, but Russ-the-spaz wanted to practice some sweeps, so we went back and forth. He’s calmed down alot since that last time I partnered up with him. He even made a comment to the effect that he knows he could power through alot of us…but is consciously trying to focus on the techniques. Good for him.

Fundamentals was supposed to be….cross choke from mount! But Luke mixed it up and taught us two new chokes. The thrust choke, in which you cross grip his lapel and thrust it across the neck while pulling the other side. And a variation of the paper-cutter choke from the knee pillow position. Demoing thrust choke was a pain, the motion tends to pinch your neck. I liked the paper-cutter. It’s similar to the bow and arrow choke we learned last week.

Saturday Sweat

Another match day today. I was paired up with Bryann. I got two take downs on him, one directly to mount. Not enough time to finish him however.

We spent the second half of class drilling some butterfly guard passing/defense. I discovered pretty quickly that I suck at both. We ended class with 4 guys in the middle, and the rest of us rotating in. Guy on bottom has to get to full guard or sweep. Guy on top has to get to half guard. Winner stays. I cycled through 6 times I think, but didn’t pass any of them. To be fair, 3 of them were against Luke and 2 were agains Mike the purple belt.

After class I rolled around with Ethan, who was joining us for the first time. I went slow, but he made the mistake of getting one arm in between my legs and one out…which means I have to triangle him. So I did. I squeezed it for a while, and he quit struggling, but didn’t tap, so I was afraid he passed out. I asked if he was okay, and heard something, so I kept squeezing…and he tapped a few seconds later. Damian jokingly accused me of smack talking the new guy, but I honestly was just concerned for him. I explained to him his mistake and demonstrated where he went wrong. Then we went again. I got him in the arm over wrap position we worked yesterday, and he (unknowingly I’m sure) started to escape. I transitioned into the world’s worst omaplata, and he popped out of that too. Eventually I back mounted him and he was so gassed he just tapped there. He seemed to enjoy it, hopefully he’ll be back.

Yawn. Early Class

Day off, nothing to do…so off to class I went. I’ve never gone to the morning class before. Lots of new faces, but some I knew already too. Big one, 20 guys.

I’m always a little stiff in the mornings, especially the morning after a class. Not as bad as I was 3 or 4 months ago, but still…I’m not as young as I once was!

More matches today. There’s a couple of pretty good looking wrestlers in the morning class, so some of the matches were pretty competitive even before it got to the ground. One intresting stat that got shared was in wrestling, the guy who gets the first take down wins 80%+ of the time. So the lesson of the day was be aggressive! I got matched up with John, a newer guy. Tall, but not heavy. A definite difference from going up against the Mongoose. He tripped me for the take down and started to pass, but I circled my legs in pretty easy. I started with the combo attack of the deep collar grip (for the palm-up/palm-down choke) and controlling his elbow (for the armlock). He jumped up, but made the mistake of letting me get my foot on his hip. I hip push swept him to reverse the position. I stuffed one leg and passed to side control, and immediately mounted. I might of waited to score for the side control before mounting, but he was open so I took it. I got the collar grip and started to get the other side for the choke, but he rolled as I was moving and off balance to escape. I held the choke, and probably would have gotten it, but time was called right after.

Unlike the past couple of nights, we actually did have a lesson today. But Clint taught it. It was similar to a position we learned a couple of weeks ago. Over wrap one arm, and with the same arm get a collar grip. Then you can go to a choke, an elbow crush, or if he drives into you a painful americana variant, or if he defends that the triangle. If he bends his arm and tries to escape, boom…omaplata. So lots of attack options from a pretty basic position. I was paired up with Pat, who seemed like a pretty nice guy, and we ran through them all a few times.

It's Not Just a Piece of Tape

Another match night. 3 minute rounds this time. And once again, me and the Mongoose throw down. Back and forth, back and forth. We ened up with a score of 11-9…but neither of us knew who won! Great match either way. Ed compliemented us afterward, saying we don’t look like white belts when we’re going out there.

The last few matches were “first take down wins”, so we cycled through everyone pretty quick. Mongoose and I took a little time, I kept pummeling in, but get got a single leg and ankle picked me to win it.

No real class, just a few questions and answers, plus some drilling the related positions. We worked some single leg stuff, and the bow and arrow choke. Mike just about choked me unconscious the first time he did it. I didn’t realize how deep he had it or how quickly it cuts off the blood flow. He cranked it, and things got dim and fuzzy right away.

And at the end of class, I was called up and awarded my second stripe. It may just be a piece of athletic tape, but it’s more than that. It’s recognition of my hard work and time, and acknowledgment of my progress. And I’m proud to have earned it.

Afterward I rolled a bit with Ed, and asked him a couple of questions about the elevator sweep I’ve been experimenting with. Skipped the fundamentals class. It’s one I’ve done a couple of times already…plus it’s time to go home and celebrate my progress!

Fight Night

I quit working on the 100 Pushups program. Every set I did last week resulted in a pounding headache. It only started when I improved my form. Perhaps the extra exertion is causing it. In any case, taking some time off on that project.

I was excited for class tonight. I was feeling pretty healthy and not sore or anything, so I’m as close to 100% as I get.

Warming up was miserable. It wasn’t hot, but the humidity was killing us all. Everyone was dripping wet. And Damian apparently was running late because we warmed up for a looooong time. No class, just tournament style matches tonight. I like watching matches, it’s interesting to anticipate what each guy is doing and watch it unfold.

And, for the first time, I got paired up. Me vs The Mongoose. 5 minutes, and starting from our feet. I noticed earlier in the night that Mike got his second stripe last night, so my hope was that if I submit him, then maybe I’d get mine too. We started. I got a sloppy take down (2 points), but he escaped to my guard. I started working for an armlock, and then swept him (2 points), mounted (4 points), and went for the cross collar choke. I got it, but by right hand wasn’t quite deep enough to finish him, and while I was squeezing, he bucked and escaped (2 points). I held it even in guard to no avail. He ended up passing to side control (2 points), and I heard the beep indicating 30 seconds left. My arms were jello, so I concentrated on not loosing at this point and kind of stalled out the remaining time. So I won on points 8-4. Woo! I don’t recall much of the next match, I was too busy panting and shaking from the adrenalin dump.

There were a few more matches, including some guys who did 2. There were a couple of pretty sweet take downs, but everything else was pretty vanilla.

In between classes, Mike and went at it again a few times. My goal was to work the armlock from guard, so I generally let him start out on top. Got it twice, so I must be improving.

Luke taught the fundamentals again tonight. This might become a regular thing for him now. Class was taking the back and the “Mata Leão” choke. Taking the back from mount is dirt simple. If it happens, it’s because the guy on the bottom is desperate or in a hurry. The mata leão choke is your standard rear naked choke.

Standing Rear Naked Choke

We learned two different variations, and drilled it with various amounts of resistance. When it gets sunk it, it gets uncomfortable quick!

Strengthening the shell

Didn’t do my pushups on Wednesday…but I made them up on Thursday before class. W3D2b done. Again.

Even more turtle guard stuff today. Bob and I paired up and drilled away, amping up the intensity as we went. Nothing new the class, just focusing on committing it to muscle memory.

After class we rolled a couple of times. I was thinking the other day about some the take downs we’ve learned, and wondered if I could apply them to our rolling. We generally start from our knees, it’s just easier on bodies and takes up less mat space. Rather than pull guard, or push into his guard, I tried to angle for a kind of T-position. It kind of worked, because we ended in half guard, which I quickly passed to side control. I started working to control him with my own lapel, which leads to a choke, but it got tangled up in our arms. I switched to a regular cross choke from side control, and would have gotten it, but the wall was in the way, and I didn’t have enough room to sprawl out and really put my weight into it. And just like with Ed the other night, he did a one handed collar choke back. I tried to turn my head to relieve the pressure and gut it out, but no dice. I escaped, but had to release. I don’t remember what happened next, but he got me somehow. Our next round, all I remember was being mounted, escaping, him taking my back, me escaping, and then being mounted and americana’ed. I was pooped. Bob and I are pretty even I think.

Mongoose and I rolled too. I was going slow, and he was being his usual fast self. Fundamentals started before we finished.

Luke taught again. Three different mounting techniques, the usual folding of his knees, pulling on his ankle until he kicks, and holding your own foot and pulling it over. The second one I’ve never seen before, I liked it a lot. The third, I just don’t have the flexibility to pull off. We also did the americana from mount too.

It's turtles all the way down.

I thought for sure we were going to switch themes last night…but more turtle guard techniques. I warmed up and partnered with a newer guy, henceforth known as wrestler-Mike. Felt weird teaching the 101 sequences, but he caught on fast. Strong guy too. He had a little trouble with some of the turtle guard sequences; his wrestling instincts were leading him astray. Since he was new, and I was still a little tender, it was nice to take it a little slow.

My lower back hasn’t given me ANY problems so far, which was one of my big fears. My back rib is still a little tender to pressure, but my front one wasn’t as bad as I feared last night.

Class wrapped up and people started pairing up to roll. I took a few minutes just to stretch and catch my breath. Tom was back, so we went a couple of times. He gave me a little trouble, but I tapped him twice. Afterwards he commented that he was afraid to have me in his half-guard. Guess those classes drilling the chokes from that position weren’t wasted! And to think that I though that they were a little silly. Ed was there, so we went a few times too. The first he pulled guard and did the world’s slowest armbar, I started to defend it, but missed hooking his leg and that was that. In the next, he was in my guard and a I had a pretty deep collar grip, and was working for a cross collar choke, but he had my other arm pinned. Afterward, he showed me how I could rotated it above my head to break the pin and finish the choke. Our last roll I had the cross collar choke going, but he was in side control over me, and I didn’t quite have the angle to finish it..and he started choking me. I balked first. Afterwards, he said it was close to finishing him.

Damian, some others, and I were chatting about the BJJ Mundials last weekend in California, the World Championship of gi BJJ. I had to comment that I felt it was pretty odd to have a white belt champion…I mean really. If you’re the best white belt in the world…aren’t you probably really a blue belt? Seems to me to be pretty open to sandbagging. Must of been some intresting flights from Rio to LA. No hijacker is going to take that plane over!

Mongoose Mike was rolling with Big Mike, Mongoose had him mounted for a while but wasn’t able to finish him.

Luke taught the fundamentals tonight. Maintaining mount. I’ve learned some of the ideas we reviewed, but some was new to me. I love the fundamental classes that way. Always some details I missed the last time around. Doubly good because I had trouble keeping mount on Tom earlier in the night. And now I know why…and how to stop him from doing it again!