Tag Archives: 531

On the Back for the Holidays

I’ve been busy with holiday and family stuff, but it did feel nice to get back into the gym. Started with my 531 deadlifting…in which I felt weak. No surprise, given my sedentary activity level and diet for the past week.

Class was pretty simple. Since it’s kind of a weird week with the holidays and attendance, we played Winners and Losers. Pair up, submission only. Winners go with other winners, losers go with other losers. There were tales of people going for 25-45 minutes straight in other classes this week!

I started off with Seth. Slowly, because there’s no need to rush in a submission only match that could go for a while. He pulled guard, and it took a bit, but I managed to pass eventually. Established side control, and started probing with a couple of attacked. I worked the five positions on him a bit, trying to get his arms to move into a bad place, but his defense was pretty good. I ended up switching to mount. I ended up jacking his arms up, and then switching to an armlock. He defended, but couldn’t escape, and I couldn’t break his defense, despite the technique that Damian showed me a couple of weeks ago. I gave up on it and switched back to mount, where I secured a cross choke. He rolled me, but I held it and became a Winner.

I grabbed a quick drink. Damian greeted me with “Good job beating Seth. Now you get Policeman Tim.” Uh oh. Tim may be a white belt…but he still weighs 235. We start, and the only thing running through my mind is to keep his weight off of me.

I pull butterfly guard, and start breaking grips. Things are going okay, and I’ve got his sleeves, so I go to try to get to spider guard….and then he rips his arms away while I’m transitioning. He ends up laying to top of me, and I’ve got one butterfly hook. No es bueno. I’m trying to escape my up enough to get back to guard, and he’s messing around trying to americana me…when it occurs to me that if I bump hard, I can just switch to his back. So I do! I’m attempting to channel Marcelo “The Human Backpack” Garcia, staying on tight, working for his collar and the choke. Tim’s defending, and he’s got a grip like a gorilla, so I’m not getting anywhere. I start to switch to the Rousimar armlock, but Tim ends up spinning around and I end up in half guard again. He starts with the americana attack again, and it’s not really working…until he pins the back of my hand to the mat and it turns into a wrist lock. Damian was watching and pointed out that Tim posted up with one leg to get the leverage to attack…and I could have easily switched to a butterfly hook and swept him.

Back to Seth. Another good back and forth with him, which included a failed wing choke and armlock on my parts.

Last round of the night was with Powerlifter Matt. We were both pretty tired, so it was a little slow, but still a good battle. I ended up using the same bump to the back technique with him that worked on Tim. And I even got the choke, and thought I had him, but it wasn’t quite enough. Tried to switch to the mount, but he reversed, passed and then eventually kimura’d me.

Private Lesson-Half Guard Sweeps

I’ve been meaning to take advantage of the other private lesson my wife bought for me back in Feburary…just never had the time until now.

I arrived early enough to squeeze in my 531 squats and presses. The gym was predictably empty on a Friday night. Since we’re getting down to the end of the year, I really should do another CFT test. Maybe in early January.

The lesson was a continuation of the last private. Instead of focusing on regaining full guard from half guard, this lesson was all about sweeping from half guard, and getting on top.

We started with a sweep for when I have the underhook. You start with creating some space with your other elbow, escape your hips out from underneath the top guy, push into him, he pushes back, and then you switch directions and roll. Pin his knee, grab his collar, and pass to side control.

Now, you’re not always lucky enough to have an underhook, so we added another technique for when the top guy has the underhook. Similar, space, escape, push, push back, and then you trap his under hooking arm and roll.

The third variation chained off of the second. If he feels unstable and posts his hand out to prevent you from rolling him, then you can reweave the underhook and switch back to the first, or you can post up yourself and take his back. We also covered how to defeat the wizzer defense to taking his back.

We rounded things out with two attacks from side control. The first is a pretty standard armlock, but with an interesting setup to do while transitioning from side control to north-south. The second is a nearside armlock that I found to be pretty awkward.

All in all some pretty good stuff. Now, just to put it into practice!

Roughneck Chokes

Deadlift day. I decided to skip the cleans and do some pushups and pullups instead for small muscle support work. Had 7 down on my last set, the max reps set, and decided to do an eighth. Got it, but had an instant headache like I dropped the barbell on my skull. Didn’t last more than 30 seconds, but hurt like a bitch.

Class was all about choking from the back. We did four variations on the lapel choke. The first was the basic one. Open the collar, establish the choking grip, roll to your side, and then tuck and hide your choking elbow. I partnered up with Powerlifter Matt for drilling. We started off with doing the choke normally, but after a few reps, we were both coughing and our necks were getting rubbed raw, so we dialed it back from there.

Second variation was the same thing, but when he attempts to escape out. In that case, you can switch to s-mount and choke. Third was if he half escapes and then attempts to lay on one of your legs to prevent the mount. In that situation, you can kick one of his legs to move him off, then switch to the s-mount and choke. The last one was a variation on the bow and arrow choke, except it’s a lot tighter.

For our sparring, we started out with our partner’s backs and the over-under grip. Submit or escape, then switch positions. I paired up with Matt, Jen, and then Tina twice. I got a couple of chokes and a couple of escapes against most of them. Did get Matt with the Rousimar armlock and also on Jen. Took me a bit to finish it on Jen, but Damian pointed out my problem.

A recovery time experiment….as soon as I got home last night, I scarfed down a bunch of protein and an apple. Then later on spent 10 minutes rolling out my hamstrings on my foam roller. One or the other helped, because I feel pretty good this morning.

De La Riva Sweeps

531 squats and presses before class. Failed for the first time to hit the minimum number of reps for my last set. Guess I’ll have to reset the press progress. Not shocking, it is the slowest lift to improve.

Class was a couple of different De La Riva guard sweeps. We started in spider guard, and then switched to De La Riva. So we’ve got both sleeves controlled (rather than one on the foot), one foot with the De La Riva hook behind his knee. Swing the other foot out and reweave it onto his other hip. Then we can elevate and sweep him either straight over our heads or do a simple sweep like motion and sweep him to the side.


The main lift of the day was my favorite, the deadlift. One of the features of the 531 method is that you’re only doing 3 working sets of lifts, but the last set is always “as many reps as possible.” So last night after I warmed up, I did 5 deadlifts at 175#, 3 at 195#, and then as many at 215# as possible. Two weeks ago, I did 4. Last night I did 5. Incremental improvement. I had some time before class began so I did some clean and jerks as well.

Brady lead the class last night, and it was all about wrestling. It was fortunate that we had a very small class, only 8 of us, because it gave us plenty of room to be standing. We reviewed some arm drag techniques, and then spent a while drilling the arm drag into a double leg take down.

Then we switched it up and just sparred…starting standing and going until there was a take down. I was paired up with Mark, a lanky purple belt. He took me down everytime…but one. I got him with drop seoi nage. We switched partners, and I got Long…who apparently wrestled. No success with him, but he took some time to point out a few things that I was doing wrong. Renato was next, and I think we each got one, but most of the round was a draw.

Tiring stuff, I was pretty gassed by the end of class!

On the Side

Oy. So busy.

Did my usual normal 531 squat and press work.

Class was all about side control, but from the point of view of being on top this time. How to maintain it, how to open up the nearside arm and trap it, how to best mount, and then an interesting way to completely jack up both of his arms and armlock from the high mount.

We closed things out with some directed rolling. Starting in side control, top guy has to mount or submit. Bottom guy has to escape to at least half guard. 6 minute rounds. I was grouped up with Jen, Seth and JR. Did okay with JR and Seth…got smoked by Jen. She kept her elbow in so tight, I never could separate it from her body. And when she was on top, she was a like a lead brick. But she did point out a few things that I could improve on.

Omaplatas and a New Game

531 squats and presses tonight. Nothing special, just moving weight.

Class was same escape side control technique, with regaining butterfly guard, full guard, and then going into an omaplata. Tons of drilling tonight with Ron and Jason.

We rounded class out with another sparring game and 3 person groups. It’s a ladder of full guard, side control, mount, back. Jason started in guard with Ron, and swept. Ron is out, I’m in…and I start in Jason’s side control. He mounts, I’m out and now Ron is back in…with Jason in mount. Winner stays and advances position like that until he looses. Then the new winner starts with full guard on his own ladder.

I never made it to the second stage (IE sweeping or submitting from full guard), but I stopped Jason’s ascent twice when he was mounted on me by popping out the back door. Ron and I had a couple of good battles too in the lower stages. It was a pretty fun game that forces you into bad positions.

Escaping and Sweeping

Packed gym last night, both for jiu jitsu and Crossfit. Due to the crowd on the Crossfit side, I was a bit rushed, but did squeeze in some deadlifts.

Our jiu jitsu warmups have changed a bit in the past couple of weeks. We still do our usual jog, shuffle and crisscross, but no calisthenics. Instead we do a bit of synchronized drilling. Last night, we did 10 single leg takedowns to penetration. Then 10 singled leg, he defends, switch to double. Then 10 seoi nages. Then 10 more seoi nages. And the pace isn’t leisurely. I’m pretty sure I only managed to get in 9 of each in the time given.

The lesson of the day was a quick review of the new side control escape, and then a modification of the same technique to escape if/when your opponent switches to kesa gatame. We also did a neat sweep from within kesa gatame.

Class finished up with 30 minutes of a new game…Winners & Losers. Pair up, roll until someone is submitted. Winner finds another winner to switch to. Loser finds another loser.

Ron and I paired up. 30 minutes later, we were still going. We both had our chances to finish each other, but never quite pulled it off.

Escaping Side Control…Alliance Style

This past weekend, Fabio “The General” was back for a multi day seminar. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but I did get a taste of one of the techniques he taught tonight. Escaping side control, the Alliance way.

It starts the same as a traditional side control escape….brace the hip with you low arm, and frame the head with your top arm. Hip escape as normal, but then switch your top arm to your opponent’s lapel. Using that and the arm on his hip, you can move away and transition to your knees. If he sits up and attempts to regain top control, you can ankle pick him and end up on top.

We spent almost the whole class drilling this sequence over and over. Great stuff, I can’t wait to see more of what the General brought. We rounded class off with some sparring. Derrick, Ron, and I, plus Tom, a blue belt visitor from NYC. Two guys sparred for 3 minutes, the other two flow rolled. And then we rotated in and out. Damian complimented me on my movement after I finished a round with Tom. Felt pretty good to be back on the mat and moving again.

Before class I did my usual 531 squats and presses.

Back and boo and something new

It’s been a hectic week, with the new addition to the family. Gracin was born early on Oct 23, and fatherhood has been pretty amazing so far.

Things calmed down enough for me to duck out on Halloween…however it turns out that the advanced class was canceled. :/ Should have thought of that!

In any case, I did get a good sweat going doing some deadlifts and clean and jerks. New personal best in the deadlift again tonight. One of the great things about the 531 system is that you’re constantly given chances to compare how you’ve improved over the past month, but in a broader sense than just simple 1 rep maxes. Doing a 1RM is pretty taxing, and isn’t really productive to be doing every few weeks. But if I lift 195 six times…and then the next month I do 205 six times, well that’s just means I’m stronger than I was last month!