Tag Archives: crossfit

Still Kickin’

Ugh. I think that this has been my longest non-injury stretch without jiu jitsu since I started. My layoff initially began due to some life/parenting commitments. And then I caught some type of daycare plague from my son. I’m still fighting off the last little bit of it. These are some tough germs.

I was feeling well enough (and non-contagious) to go to open mat on Saturday. The Crossfitters were doing this year’s Fight Gone Bad fundraiser as well. It was nice to run into some old friends, chat for a bit, and count reps for two folks as well. Good people, good cause.

Open mat was good. I paced myself, being aware of lingering germs. Rolled with Renato, JR and Wade. For the past two weeks, I’ve been entertaining myself with some technique videos here and there, so it was nice play around with new ideas. Chim and some others were working some no-gi, so I had to join in a and do a round with Chim. Renato and I did one no-gi round as well. Memorable because he committed for a kimura from my guard, which allowed me to slide around to his back. He was trying his best to tap me, but realized he was in trouble as my other arm came around his neck. He defended me on his back well, so I switched to mount and went right into an armlock. He defended THAT well too, so I switched to a triangle and baited him to sit up into it. . . he did, but then escaped as I was too loose. Brady was watching and groaned at my loss of position. We had a good laugh about it afterwards.

BJJ Musings

Last year I read a book, “The Cauliflower Chronicles” by Marshal Carper. A pretty good book about his experience as a white belt training in Hawaii with BJ Penn. I recently ran across an article he wrote. It discussed the immense amount of time and effort the truly great grapplers (in this case, Marcelo Garcia) dedicate to their art. Train, teaching, and competing full time. It reminded me of a discussion with Damian that I had a while back about Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”. One of Gladwell’s thesis was that it takes 10,000 hours of practice or experience to become great at something.

10,000 hours, at 5 hours per week…is 39 years. It’s pretty likely that I’ll never reach that point. But that isn’t the goal. Which reminds me of a quote by game designer Reiner Knizia: “When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning.” Play to win, but enjoy the playing.

A outsider may look at me, at my rate of progress, at my successes and failures in the gym and in competition, and wonder…what’s the point? I’ll never be great, or a champion…in fact, I’m be happy merely to be competitive against other people of my age, size, and ability. Helping those following me on the jiu jitsu path, and learning via failure with those ahead of me are bonuses.

So wrapping all of these ideas together has lead me to this….do my best, have fun, and enjoy the result.

But not much this week. Crossfit on Tuesday wrecked me. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm, but it’s been one thing after another recently.

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!

More Goals and Rolling with Style

Back in July, I accomplished my CFT goal for the year. And afterwards, I set a couple of new goals. One of which was to improve my mile run time by the end of September. It’s not a goal that I really trained for or worked on directly. But Saturday was the day, and it was time to test myself.

I did a good warm up and then took off. The last time I did this, back in May, my time was 7:43. My official goal was 7:20, but I wasn’t really sure of what I was capable of doing. I had my watch on so I could pace myself a bit. I hit the halfway mark at 3:20, which is right where I wanted to be. I figured that gave me 40 extra seconds for the second half if I tired and slowed. I was pretty shocked when I crossed the finish and I was only 4 seconds slower for a total time of 6:44. Nearly a minute faster! That’s a huge jump. Once again, the mind asks and the body delivers. Next up is the 300 pound deadlift goal. That one is going to take some time to work up to.

Open mat was well underway by the time I walked a bit and changed. I grabbed JR and we flow rolled for a bit to warm him up, then went a couple of rounds together. This was our first time rolling together, he’s a two stripe white belt. Good rolls. He’s got great posture and is a grip breaking machine. Tough to to attack him while I was on my back. Afterwards we chatted and played with a couple of positions that we ended in. One was the turtle roll that we covered on Thursday night. Brady saw us experimenting with it and came over and pointed out a mistake that I’ve been making. Nice to have the help.

Next up was a couple of rounds with Jason. Made me realize how different peoples styles and preferred techniques are. A sweep that was basically impossible against JR…becomes the easiest thing against Jason. It’s not something I’ve really thought about before, but it seems obvious in retrospect.

Open Mat

Seems weird to have a week with only sparring sessions and no rolling. It wouldn’t be unusual if we were preparing for a tournament, but we’re not.

This week marked my two year anniversary of Crossfit. I really can’t believe it’s been that long. I’ve changed a lot in those two years, and all for the positive. I decided that I’d repeat the Baseline #1 workout and compare to where I was in the past.

500m row
40 squats
30 situps
20 pushups
10 pullups

Two years ago, I did the pushups from my knees, and did the pullups by
jumping on a box to get my chin above the bar. 7:42.

Last year, normal pushups, and kipping pullups with a rubber band. 5:19

This year, hands up pushups and kipping pullups (no band!). 5:08 My goal was to break 5 minutes, and I didn’t quite get there. I probably could though on a good day if I pushed a bit harder. As it was, I had to take a few minutes and walk before going into jiu jitsu, or else my breakfast was going to end up on something.

I was obviously already warmed up, so I grabbed Seth right off the bat. Our first roll he surprised me with a weird choke that he locked up as he was passing. We restarted and this time I quickly got an armbar from guard…only to re-realize that this kid has Gumby like shoulders and I can’t tap him with an armlock. Well, maybe I could, but I’d hate to break the poor guys arm in doing so. So I pendulum swept and then cross choked. Our last roll was a pretty good back and forth.

Next up was Eric and his new blue belt. I tried to recall the last time we rolled together and I’m not certain we ever have. We had a great time together. Good back and forth, plenty of sweeps and open guard work on both ends. Neither one of us submitted the other, but I think we both enjoyed the process of trying to. I’ll have to remember to partner up with him again soon.

Chicago Open

This past weekend was the IBJJF’s Chicago Open tournament….the event that we’ve been preping for for weeks. While I didn’t compete, I did go, along with Purple Belt Tim, Dumi, Brady, Dave, Short Josh, Seth, Bob the Monster and Marcos. It was a pretty entertaining weekend, and not just because of the tournament! We had some good matches, and some bad ones. Brady and Bob won their divisions, Seth got second and Dave got third.

Class last night focused on a half guard passing technique, one that several people had problems with in the tournament. I was paired up with Riley who was taking his first class with us.

The specific technique was passing when you don’t have the underhook. The proper way to do so is to switch your hip, so you’re facing away from your opponent, and overhook his arm/grab his belt. Then you can inch your trapped leg up into a vertical position and pop your knee out. Retreat and situp, with that freed knee in is crotch, weave the underhook, secure his other arm, press with your head and then focus on dropping your hip to the ground. And in all likelihood, your foot will pop free and you can establish side control.

We through in one variation, when if he’s death gripping your foot and you can’t get it out, you can go to double underhooks, switch the quarter guard, and then slide your free leg in between your trapped on and his torso. That gives you much more leverage to free it.

Rolled some with Ron after class too. We did the CFT for Crossfit yesterday, so I passed on doing any 531 strength work. I did add 13 pounds to my max, and crushed my old 1RM squat (190 on July 16 and 175 in Dec-2010) with 215. Only did 100 on the press and 225 for the deadlift, but a 25 pound improvement in the squat is very solid.

Ooops & Saturday Open Mat

I was 95% of the way through the “Badger” workout on Tuesday:

3 rounds:

30 squat cleans
30 pullups
800m run

I was excited about this workout. The first with pullups since my “no more band” pledge. I had 20 pullups to go in the last round. Tired, but I was doing them in sets of 5. And then I tore some skin on my left palm. I stopped, taped both hands, re-chalked, and started up. Did 5 more and then had a pretty big callus tear on my right hand.

Uh, yeah. I guess I’ll go run now and “owe” the last 15 pullups another day. It’s healing, but it’ll be a bit before I can do pullups again. I continued Crossfit this week, taping it as necessary. On the plus side, my ribs are back to normal.

I skipped jiu jitsu on Wednesday, as I didn’t think that gripping a gi with a mostly-open wound would do my partners (or my hands) any favors.

However, by Saturday, I thought that it would be okay. I started off by doubling up on my 531 lifting, doing both presses and deadlifts. By the time open mat started, I was plenty warmed up.

I stretched a little bit, and Iron Mike walks in, eyeballs me, and starts walking over. Ugh. It’s purely a mental thing. He’s good. Both on a skill scale (4 stripes on his purple, so nearly a brown belt), and on a helpfulness scale.

We rolled for about 45 minutes. Some fast, mostly slow. His advice this morning was to relax even more. Apparently I’m too tense, so we slowed everything down. In our last roll I started to armlock from guard, he pulled his arm out, and I transitioned to an triangle choke. In my (mistaken) haste, I didn’t get the right angle on it, so I had to release and adjust…and while doing so, he escaped. I slowed down, and circled around to take his back.

So I’ve got one hook it, and he’s turtled up, and I’m attempting to get an arm around his neck…and he armlocks me. Never seen that done from that position. As is his custom, as soon as it’s apparent that he’s got it, he releases it and we continue. I give up on the choke, and switch to the power half, and get him rolled over and my other hook in. I wasn’t really able to do anything, his defense is extremely good. He wasn’t trying to escape, just prevent me from submitting him. I attempted the Rousimar armlock, but I neglected to secure his shoulder, so he turned into me and back to guard.

Meeting Goals

Physically, I felt like I had a pretty good week. Crossfit was going well, jiu jitsu was good, and I was feeling strong. So I decided that on Saturday I’d skip my normal 531 routine, and do the CFT, or “Crossfit Total” workout. Basically, finding my one rep max deadlift, squat, and press. One of my New Year’s goals was to improve my 1RM in each by 10%, and I added onto that goal by making my “official” Crossfit goal of the summer to have a CFT of 525. Last time I did the CFT was in December, and my total was 480 pounds.

I started off with a good warm up, doing each of the lifts a few times with moderate weight. I decided to start with the deadlift.

The deadlift is about as simple, direct, and unequivocal measures of strength there is. Load up a bar. Pick it up. I did one last warm up lift at 205. Then I did 225, which tied my previous best. That felt pretty good, so I opted to try 245 next. Got it 80% of the way up, but couldn’t complete it. I think on a good day I could. Dropped down 10 pounds to 235, and did that, though it was a little shaky. Even “only” doing 3 maximal, or near max lifts, really sucks it out of you.

Next up was the press. If the deadlift was the ultimate test of “pulling” strength, then the press is the ultimate test of “pushing” strength. I’ve also found that it’s the slowest to improve.

I started off with 90, and did that. Did 95, tying my old max. Did 100. Tried and failed 105. Again, I was about 80% of the way to completing that. There was a little girl at the drinking fountain next to my rack. She must of just finished up the kids jiu jitsu class. She watched me fail and gave me some nice encouragement: “You can do that, you were so close!” I rested for a bit, then tried and failed again. I decided to split the difference and dropped down to 103.5, and succeeded.

Last up was the back squat. I wrangled up Sexy Joe and Ryan to spot for me, since there’s no good way to fail or bail out of this lift. I knew that I was going to break my old 1RM, but I needed 186 to break 525 total. Did 175, tying my old max. And since I was in a crunch for time (since the Crossfit class was getting ready to start, and I was taking up their space), I went for broke and put 190 on the bar. And then lifted it. I felt fine doing it, I know I could do 195 or 200, and maybe 205 or 210.

So, a total 528.5. I got 10% more on my deadlift. And I was painfully close on the press (9%) and squat (8.5%). I’ll keep working on the 531 sequence, and I’m sure I’ll get those last two by the end of the year.

I changed into my gi, grabbed some water and took a few minutes breather. But then it was open mat time. Kicked things off with Purple Belt Tim. Went went slow and played around some. My back muscles felt pretty drained after all the lift, so it was pretty hard to keep any kind of posture going! After a while we switched up, and I rolled with Bacon a few times. Mostly on the defensive, but he only tapped me once. Tim was watching and gave me a thumbs up afterwards.

So, at this semi-mid-point of the year, life is good. I’m healthy. Lighter. Stronger. And I feel great. It’s time to start thinking about a new Crossfit goal.


Saturday, the US Navy dedicated a destroyer, DDG-112 in honor of Micheal P. Murphy, Navy SEAL, KIA in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. Saturday would have been his 35th birthday.

And in celebration of his service and sacrifice, Crossfiters everywhere did the “Murph” work out of the day:

1 Mile Run
100 Pull ups
200 Push ups
300 Squats
1 Mile Run

Last time I did Murph, I only did a half. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to do a full Murph, and Saturday was the day. It wasn’t too bad. First mile was in about 8:30, and I broke the body weight exercises into 20 rounds of 5-10-15. Finished the last round at about 44 minutes, and finished the last run at 53:50. I was pretty happy with that time.

Defending at All Costs

Oy. The universe has conspired to keep me from getting to class with any regularity recently. Sick. Hurt. Family. Dog. Work. Home. Some combination or all of the above. I have been keeping up with Crossfit pretty steadily though. And still 85% paleo. Lost my 20th pound this weekend.

But Saturday is jiu jitsu time. And apparently it was for everyone else too, because we had a packed house. I did twenty minutes or so with Andy, who trains in Woodbury. We started slow, but got going pretty well by the end. I really need to figure out and fix my kimura from side control weakness. It’s easily my #1 method of getting tapped. Our last roll was back and forth for a while, mostly with me on the defensive. However, being on the defensive is better than tapping…and eventually I defended long enough to improve my position and cross choke him from guard.

Next up was Sarah, who was in town on Spring Break. I took the opportunity to practice my armlock from guard and side control escaping. Mostly just moving. Sometimes I just feel so clumsy, like I’m floundering, even though I know that I’m smoother than I used to be.

I took a couple minutes to catch my breath and grab some water….and then Damian called me out. Rolling with him is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great because he’ll point out mistakes and remedies. It’s horrible because it’s a little frustrating. Always humbling though.

We started, with me in his guard. I did the Fabio break, which elicited a “Good”, which was a good start. I stumbled getting to my feet, which allowed him to get his feet on my hips, which is bad. Plus he had both my sleeves controlled. I circled them to the inside of his thighs and started to work towards breaking out of his spider guard. I HATE being in spider guard. I don’t like being strung out. I sprawled and tried to shake a foot of my hip, and did. He let go of one sleeve, and I tried to spin around his Del La Riva guard, failed, and he armlocked my other arm. He released it, pointed out that my grip with that hand is useless, and that I just need to defend instead. So we did. I escaped the armlock, stood back, and Bullfighter passed his open guard. He tried to brace my hip as I came around, but I correctly (I think) led with my shoulder and got to side control. I started to go with head and arm control planning on mounting, but his arm was wide open so I underhooked and started to go for the walk around armlock. As soon as I stepped, he dropped his elbow to the floor to defend. I paused for a second to think, and he walked me through the “Superman” straight armlock that Fabio taught us during the seminar. I had forgotten about it.

We restarted with me in his guard again. He quickly trapped one of my hands in his armpit, and I knew it was in trouble. The rule of thumb is to pull out my arm, elbow first, so I was trying to do so, and he used the opportunity to lock up a kimura. He didn’t tighten it, but I couldn’t defend it because of the placement of his foot on my hip. Normally, I’d post up my opposite foot to create some space, then slide my free hand between us to grip my own troubled arm and pull it free. But because of his foot, I was kind of flat, and there wasn’t any room. Again the lesson was: Defend first.