Tag Archives: 531


This is a picture of my son and I.

It was taken a few months ago by my father. For those of you who can’t read Japanese, the kanji (calligraphy by Eri Takase) reads “balance”. A reminder to keep things in perspective.

With that in mind, and given the large amount of thinking I’ve done over the past month or so, it’s time to reevaluate and refocus. I have neither the time or ability to keep juggling jiu jitsu training, Crossfit, and supplemental strength training in addition to all of the non-athletic facets of my life. Perhaps if I were 25 and single!

So, the strength training is the first to go. I’ve been generally happy with the 531 system, but I don’t have the time to dedicate to it. In addition, I think that jiu jitsu and Crossfit are hampering my recovery. Perhaps I’ll come back to it, Starting Strength, or some other program in the future.

Jiu jitsu will obviously continue. Crossfit will continue. Maybe I’ll get to attend the beginners classes once in a while as well. It couldn’t hurt to review some of that material!

BJJ class tonight was pretty packed. We did a good long warm up, and then reviewed three cross choke variations from knee on belly. We did the traditional one, one where you feed his lapel to your bottom side hand, and one, the “Cowboy” choke, where you get a little sneaky and feed his lapel to your top side hand.

We then started sparring. 9 minute rounds tonight. I kicked things off with Bob the Montster. He got me right off the bat with a pass to knee on belly and then into one of the cross chokes. Our second go was better, with me on top. I really have been working on preventing grips after thinking about my roll with Damian on Saturday. So I broke and broke, and kept him busy and unable to sweep, but I was also unable to pass. He eventually did sweep me, but I had an overwrap and lapel grip that kept him busy enough to run out the clock.

Next up was JP. We had a pretty good roll too. I played open guard for a while before trying to take his back and ending up most of the way there, with back half guard. It took a bit, but I got all the way there and started working a choke. He spun out of it and we started again.

Dave was next. He got me with a sneaky straight armlock super fast. And as is his style lately, he’s focusing on playing on the bottom. He swept me a couple of times, but never took advantage of it for some reason. Last roll of the night was with Ron. We’re pretty evenly matched, so it was a great back and forth for the whole 9 minutes.

I took 5 to catch my breath, and then attempted my 531 squats. I realized during my warmup set that if I actually tried to do the prescribed weight, I’d probably crush myself. I compromised and did 3 sets of 5 at the highest warm up weight instead. Even that was a challenge with a tired core.

Intros and Personal Pointers

It’s only been a year and a half or so since we moved into this new space, and already it’s showing signs of being crowded. There was no way I could have squeezed myself, let alone had room for a barbell, into the Crossfit area Saturday morning. It was a zoo!

Open mat was about to start when Christine grabbed me, and introduced me to Greg. He’s here for his first lesson…and Damian’s not here. Being drafted to do so, I give him the basic introduction to jiu jitsu (as I know it). He’s a MMA fan, so he has some idea of the terminology, so thankfully one hump was mostly out of the way right off the bat. I took him through the BJJ 101 thread of yore, dusting off my memories of it one step ahead of teaching it to him. He seemed to enjoy the process of learning, and with each iteration through the thread, I introduced more and more. After a while, I saw Damian and brought Greg over to meet him. They chatted a while and then Damian paired him up with Renato to “roll” some.

In the mean time, Damian grabbed me to roll with. I had done a fair amount of thinking about my roll with him last Saturday. It helped that I was mostly fresh today. He started off with the same De La Riva, but today I realized the mistake I was making last week. I still didn’t pass, but he didn’t sweep me right off the bat. He transitioned into deep half guard, and I correctly remembered the pass. I did make a mistake at the end securing side control. He pointed out that I needed to keep my weight lower. We switched sides so he could demonstrate it, and how I could transition to back control. We switched again so that I could give it a shot. Took his back and collar choked him. We reset, with him in my guard. I over wrapped his arm, but didn’t grab his collar. He pointed out that by grabbing the collar gives me choke options as well as the clamp position options I was aiming at. All in all a pretty good roll with some excellent pointers included.

I grabbed Long to roll for a bit too, but quit a little early so that I could do my lifts in the now empty gym. Only got 2 out of the prescribed 3 reps on the last set. Lifting after rolling makes a big difference!

Maintaining Side Control and Ladder Climbing

My 531 squats are reaching a point where I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable doing them alone. On the plus side, I did have enough time last night to a half dozen cleans as well. No where near heavy, but something to at least knock some dust off of my form.

Class started off with some side control retention drilling. It was an interesting technique that we can use when our opponents start to escape where we can switch sides and establish control. Long and I were drilling together. Towards the end, we added in an elbow crush/armlock combo attack.

Training was the position ladder game. Long, Brady and I were a group. Brady ran through us like a hot knife, finishing the ladder (passing the guard, mounting from side, submitting/taking the back from mount, submitting from the back) against us three times. Two highlights of my night. The first was pulling off this sweep against Long…

The second was starting with Brady mounted on me, blocking his cross choke, and escaping his mount. Even though he remounted and got my back (thus ending that rung of the ladder), I was happy to have escaped the fire, if only temporarily.

Speedy Sparring

Saturday was a quick hit and run for me. I did manage to squeeze in my 531 press work before open mat started.

I started off with JP. I like rolling with him, despite his size advantage. It forces me to be quick and technical. After a couple of rolls, we took a minute to catch our breath, and Damian called me out.

I love rolling with Damian…but I hate it too. He played De La Riva most of the time, which allowed me to work (but fail) at passing. It’s frustrating, being constantly off balance and struggling to make progress. A couple of times over the past couple of weeks, people have commented on how I’m improving or moving well or what not. But I don’t think you’d realize it watching me with Damian. And part of me feel pretty self conscious, just KNOWING that he’s taking notes on me as we’re going.

Afterwards, Renato and I went for a few rounds. I had some good positional success with him, but didn’t have enough to tap him.

Couldn’t stay very long due to non-BJJ life events.

Ramping Up

The Chicago Open tournament is a month away. Tonight started our specific preparations for it. Even though I’m not competing, it’s good training. Working on techniques, takedowns, more sparring, and a bit more serious atmosphere.

I squeezed in my 531 deadlifts, but had to cut them a little short because of the size of the Crossfit class.

We started with a Brazilian style warm up that ran nearly half an hour. I saw atleast two guys that had to drop out of the cycle to take a breather. Three years ago, that would have been me. Not tonight though….tonight I was razzing a couple of guys about their lazy ass pushups. Chest to deck everytime, cheating on your form only cheats yourself.

We spent a few minutes reviewing and drilling the Fabio guard break. It’s shockingly difficult to force a guy’s legs open when he doesn’t want to. Leverage is our only option in this case. Extra practice never hurt.

The rest of class was a series of 3 minute rounds. We were in groups of 3 or 4, in a rotation. I ended up with Long, Dumi, and Tim in mine. So 6 minutes on, 6 off for the better part of 40 minutes. Everyone was exhausted by the end.

Chatted up Ryan a bit afterwards about changing up my strength work.

Open Mat

I am so glad I’m finally over that stupid cold! Started my Saturday off with 531 squats and adjusted my new jump rope to a proper length. Now to work on those double unders more!

Open mat was going by the time I finished up. Continued warming up with some flow rolling with Greg. We chatted a little bit about cross choking from mount and how he avoids being rolled.

First roll was a light one with Dave. He seemed pretty intent on playing from the bottom the whole time, and I didn’t argue. He was working on some type of butterfly sweep that he got me with a couple of times. Next up was Zack and then Ron. Ron and I had a pretty good back and forth going. He armlocked me once and I got him in a arm triangle.

Serious training for the people going to the Chicago Open starts on Monday. I’m expecting many nights of sparring coming up.

De La Riva Pass

What a week and a half it’s been. I got sick. Wife got sick. Baby got sick. Unfortunately I missed out on the last bit of Lucas’s visit….but fortunately I have the benefit of everyone else having been there! Also, I’m back on the Crossfit bandwagon. Thought I was going to die in Tuesday’s WOD, as it’s been about 3 months since I’ve gone, but it wasn’t so bad.

Kicked off the evening with 531 press work, with my newly reset weights. It felt pretty light in comparison to the previous cycle or two! As I was finishing, Ryan asked about how long I’ve been doing 531, what my results were like, etc. Then he suggested that I finish this cycle and then switch to Starting Strength. SS is widely popular, and I’d love to do that program….but it would take more time each session to do. Instead of doing one lift per session, as with 531, SS requires 3. And I’m already stretching what precious gym time I have.

Jiu jitsu class started off with a extended warm up/calisthenics session. The lesson of the day was the De La Riva pass that Lucas taught. We also covered a variant for if your opponent switches to the reverse De La Riva guard where you can go directly to mount and cross choke.

Class finished up with six 4 minute rounds of sparring. Highlights included me *almost* pulling off the half guard to taking the back on Roberto, a new purple belt. I also flubbed (yet again) the cross choke from mount with Zack. I have GOT to figure out what I’m doing wrong with that. Also hit the turtle guard to top side control roll three times, and didn’t get my back taken while doing so these times!

Omaplata Sweep

Class with Lucas continues…

But first up was deadlift day. And I’m making steady progress. Will I hit my goal by April 1? Maybe, we’ll see. In the mean time, I’m going to keep on eating meat and lifting heavy stuff.

First up with Lucas was what I’m going to refer to as a “Brazilian Warmup.” Every time we’ve had a Brazilian instructor, the warm up has been, uh, comprehensive. IE, longer and harder than what we usually do. Tonight’s included psudo-bench pressing our partners, and then rowing ourselves up by holding onto their belts.

Class was firmly in the “advanced” end of the technique pool tonight. And omaplata sweep from open guard to either side control, a shoulder lock, or an armbar. Good stuff, but complicated!

A New Treat

We have a special guest instructor for the next week or so, Lucas Lepri. Alliance black belt under Fabio Gurgel and World Champion in both gi and no gi. Should prove to be some good classes!

The Crossfit side of the gym is still completely nutso, but I still managed to squeeze in pressing. This was the heavy week of the 531 cycle, and again failed at the minimum number. Since the cycle restarts after this, I’ll dial things back a bit on that one. I would have liked to deadlift too, but there wasn’t time, space, or barbells available.

Lucas led us through a solid warm up, and then started teaching. The technique of the day started off with a ‘deep’ half guard sweep. Deep half guard is a relatively new style that has become popular in sport jiu jitsu. Starting in regular half guard, you can re-grip and then bait your opponent by lowering your outside leg. He moves to smash and pass, you use that momentum to shove him to the side. Now you’re basically perpendicular to him…underhook his leg and you’re in deep half guard. From here we did two different sweeps. The first you sit up, and lead into him with your hips and sweep. The other, you stand up in base, circle around, ankle pick, and end up standing over him. Mongoose Mike and I paired up for the first time in a while for drilling.

The third variation we did was a way to take the back instead. Rather than underhook the leg, you can sit up, break his posture with your arm across his back, escape your hip and one leg out, seat belt grip his neck and arm, and then roll backwards to completely take his back. Both Mike and I liked this one, it suits both of our styles.

We closed out class with a few rounds of sparring, starting in half guard. Mike and I went first at a brisk pace. He swept me, and ended up taking my back when I attempted to turtle. Trapped my arm BJ Penn style and then got the choke. Both of the next two rounds were with JP. He choked me twice, but I did slip out of one and took his back for a while. Later he attempted to americana me (Like Officer Tim did last week), and I swept him as he tried (applying what I learned vs Office Tim!)

Untangling the Web

2012 is here already. Seems like last year flew by in a blink.

I was able to squeeze in my 531 squats, despite the Crossfit class being a little bigger than usual. It was full of new faces and resolution-ers…hopefully some will stick with it. It was the “heavy” day for squats in the 531 cycle, which always makes me nervous doing solo. I was only 10 pounds lower than my last measured 1RM.

Jiu jitsu class was three different ways to break out of and pass spider guard.

The first two were very similar. Shuffle to one side or the other, and then use either your knee or your foot to pin down his now flattened leg, break the grip, then shuffle back while keeping some pressure in on him. From there, you can use your knee to pop his leg off your other arm and pass.

The third was for when he’s got you wrapped up more tightly. Start by squatting low to avoid the sweep. Elbow off his foot from your hip, circle your other hand and break that grip. Here he’ll typically re-grab and switch from the wrap to your bicep…and then you can go back to either of the the first two escapes.

Class rounded with two 9 minute rounds of sparring. My first was with Dr. Nope, Seth. He was pretty intent on being on the bottom tonight, so I did my best to oblige him. Passed a couple of times, mounted once and managed to get him into an arm triangle choke.

It wasn’t quite tight enough though, so I switched back to mount. He escaped, and then I started working the armlock from north-south that Damian taught during my last private. Worked great….but I couldn’t break his grip defense. I’ll have ask about that.

Second round was with Tina. We went light, as she had some tender joints.