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Open Mat & UFC

Friday night the UFC came to town, putting on a decent show. A bunch of us went and had a great time. It was odd watching the fights without commentary and multiple camera angles, but still exciting. It was an interesting experience.

I wasn’t feeling 100% Saturday morning. I figured it was a combination of being out late and having a few beers. But I went to open mat anyways. Christine introduced me to a blue belt visiting from Kansas City. I introduced him around to a few other people, then went out to stretch. I warmed up with Matt H, then grabbed Wes, the visitor.

It’s a strange situation to be in, for both us. We’re both interested in trying out our styles against someone new. I don’t want to be a push over, but neither do I want to crush the guy either. And he’s in the same boat, but for different reasons. In any case, he was pretty strong, and knew what he was doing. We went for a couple of rounds at a slowish pace.

I switched to JR, and we had some fun playing around with a few things. I grabbed Megan too for a cool down round, as it was getting close quitting time for me.

And then Damian gave me the nod. We had a great round and a half or so together. He started out with a quick loop choke. I have seen it in a video a while back, but never seen anyone use it, so it was new to me. He rewound and showed me how he did it. I’ll have to play with it some. We restarted and went back and forth in his guard for a bit before he swept me, but I landed in half guard. I switched to De La Riva, and started to switch to a hook sweep, but he stopped me and pointed out that it’d be easier to use a De La Riva sweep, rather than switch everything around. He’s right of course. I swept to mount, inched up, and then did a armlock/cross choke double attack. We restarted, and he was on top. He passed, and I rolled to turtle, then trapped his arm and tried to roll him over me. He ended up with a crucifix and choke. I commented that that turtle roll is 50/50 for me, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. He took a minute and pointed out that I needed to roll at an angle, over my shoulder, rather than over my side. By doing so, he doesn’t have the angle to crucifix or take my back. I was pretty happy to have gotten 3 good pieces of advice. He commented that I seemed to be moving pretty good, and had more of a plan of attack (or defense) in each position that we were in. Nice to hear from El Jefe!

Open Mat

This was the first Saturday roll day that I’ve been able to make in a while. I was looking forward to it all week!

I started off with Eric, a newer guy, but he had trained elsewhere for a while. We went back and forth for a while, with both of us having our chances to submit, but neither of us getting it. We called it a draw and switched partners, and I got Tall Josh, who I haven’t seen in a while. We had a pretty good roll. It seemed to me that he was a bit rusty. Back and forth, back and forth for a long time, but he eventually took my back, and did the double attack armlock/bow and arrow choke, and got me. We rolled again, which didn’t go as long, and he tapped me again with something.

We took a break to get a drink and catch our breath. Lots of chatter about the UFC fights that were coming up that night. Everyone seemed to be thinking Penn was going to crush Edgar and get his title back, but I wasn’t so sure. (And it turns out that Edgar just man handled Penn to defend his title.)

Damian called me out for a roll. Ugh. I always enjoy rolling with him, but it makes me nervous. He starts on his back, and I stand up and pressure a leg, and get half guard immediately. Okay, so time to work the passes we’ve done all week. I have the underhook, but he’s blocking head control….so none of this week’s passes are going to work. And I have a complete brain lock of what to do next. It eventually dawns on me that I can grab his low arm, switch my head to that side, and tripod up and pass, so I do. I then try to knee slide into mount, but he’s blocking that too. After two tries, he tells me to open his high side elbow up…which prevents him from blocking, and I get the mount. I’m aiming for the arm triangle, but I can’t my head past his now-opened-arm, so I try for the americana/kimura. Every time I get a grip on his arm though, he switches it back and forth. But eventually I just secured the straight armlock.

We restarted, in a similar half guard situation. He secures my underhook and switches to the clamp position, and I’m stuck. He explains that rather than pulling my arm out, and then getting straight armlocked/kimuraed/triangled (his choice), I need to shove it in deeper, open my hips to get his foot off of mine, and stuff his leg. Then I can work on passing. I love the one-on-one time and advice. But I feel pressured because I know I’m being evaluated.

Afterward, I paired up with Eric again for a continuation of our roll from before. Twice I’m in half guard and work the midline pass we did last week. Twice he blocks my leg, escapes his hip, and regains guard. I have to ask about that and figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Back on the mat

Well, last night was my “triumphant return” to jiu jitsu. I’ve been feeling very good the last few weeks, and have been handling Crossfit fine, so I felt it was time to ease back into things.

Everyone was happy to see me suited up and ready to go. The lesson last night was a dissection of George St-Pierre’s failed kimura at UFC 111 against Dan Hardy. He had it secured, but was unable to finish him, and ended up releasing it.


As usual, we started with the vanilla kimura from side control, and built it up from there, adding in variations, a wrist-lock backup, and a flashy finish option.

GSP’s main mistake was that he didn’t keep Hardy’s arm bent enough. That’s where the pressure on the shoulder comes from. An option we drilled was to pull his arm into our chests, and then use our chins to hold down the elbow and use our entire body in a crunch to keep it bent.

It was a great class to come back to. Active enough to get a good sweat going, but nothing too stressful. No rolling afterward yet, but eventually.

Watched UFC 111 this weekend with the gang. A solid card of good fights. I’m looking forward to Carwin vs Lesnar.

Taking it Easy

My back was still a little tender this morning, but I still wanted to go to class. I decided to go and just take it easy.

Small group, only 8 today. All higher ranked than me, except for Ron. It was a little odd standing so low in the line up again. Ron and I partnered up, we’re a good fit for each other. 8 minutes of flow training to finish the warm up, got the blood pumping but still fit within my “easy” criteria. Once I got loosened and warmed up, so pain or tightness at all. It’s odd.

We did the same armlock/triangle/omaplata sequence we’ve been doing all week. We both just took it easy, working the techniques but not hurrying or anything. After class we drilled it a few more times and played around with some other situations that came up in our flow drill. We sat and chatted and stretched a little bit, cooling down, then joined Damian and some other guys. Chatted with them for a while about a bunch of things, ranging from tonight’s Ultimate Fighter Finale to old school Vale Tudo matches to how rule set dictate behavior.

When home, stretched some more and iced up. Hope this clears up soon.

Saturday Sparring

The Saturday classes have been a little light in the past month or two…but not today. Perhaps everyone else is ramping up for the tournament too? Anyways, a full mat today….but no Damian. He must of had something else going on this morning. So, more rolling. 5 minute rounds, 45 second breaks.

I started off very well, pacing myself and executing. First up was Derrick, who got a little sloppy with the s-mount that allowed me to reverse him. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to do much, but it’s still an accomplishment for me to make it 5 minutes vs a blue belt and not get tapped. Sam was next, and we each tapped once. Chuck…well…he’s big, strong, and good, and had me mounted me for 5 minutes with a couple of armlocks, a cross collar choke and an americana thrown in. Tim (in his brand new urban-camo gi) was next, but not before I saw Damian sitting in the observation are, just watching us all. Tim got me a couple of times, which is expected.

Mongoose was next and we went hard, and ended up going 3.5 rounds total. I really made sure to keep underhook while I’m in half guard with him, he really loves to sneak out the side and take my back if I don’t. He still did it atleast once, but at east I know what I’m doing wrong in that situation. He did armlock me hard one time, which tweaked my elbow a little bit. Sore afterward, and even today. Glad that I’m taking it easy on Sunday, and probably not doing Crossfit on Monday. Hopefully it heals up quickly.

UFC 104 last night. I’m really shocked that Machida pulled out that decision. I think Rua got robbed. Velasquez looked like a beast, as usual.

Experienced Basics

Three classes in three days, then 3 days off. Felt a little strange.

Another small class tonight, But heavily experienced. 4 purple belts, and 3 blue belts. Only Mongoose, Tim, and I as the whites.

We warmed up with BJJ 101, and I was paired up with Tim…who apparently has never done it before. It quickly became apparent that our lesson of the night was going to be some portion of the basic routine. Which I think is pretty cool…that the same lesson (with varying degrees of detail) can be applied to a group of 8 white belts…or to a group of 5 purple belts. We all can get something out of it.

We focused on the upa and roll escape from mount to start with, and then moved into a new mount escape, one that I don’t think I’ve seen before. It may be on the Roy Dean Blue Belt DVD, but I didn’t have time to check. If you upa, and your opponents hands are posted too wide to reach for, you can fall on your side (a elbow escape component that I had forgotten), and try to elbow escape…but if he’s on you tight, you might not be able to. But if you continue to block his knee, you can do some magic with your feet to get to half guard, then switch your hips, repeat, and you’re back in guard. Took some getting used to, but we drilled it alot.

After class, Purple belt Matt paired up with me. Obviously going slow, but it was a good couple of rolls for me. I head pushed him a couple of times, I screwed up the head push a couple of times (staying flat when he had my knees, duh), but escaped side control to half guard. I got the underhook once, but couldn’t roll him. I did pull off a hook sweep, but as I was transitioning to being on top he grabbed my leg and drove back into me. He arm barred me, but allowed me to practice the escape, and then transitioned into an omaplata.

Tim I went a couple of times too, a little quicker and harder this time. I almost push swept him, which stopped his pass attempt cold. He mounted, but was loose on me, and I squeezed out the back, and reversed him into his guard. He started to armlock me, I defended, and he transitioned into a omaplata. Weird to get nailed with a relatively rare submission twice in one night!

I did accomplish my two mental goals of the night: sweep and avoid/escape the mount.

Went home and watched the first half of UFC 102. Everyone’s talking about what a great display of jiu-jitsu Nog used against Randy, but I didn’t get that far in the show. Poor Damian Maia. Why do all the jits guys suddenly think that they’re boxers or muy thai guys? Stick with what you know.

Poor Maia

Friday Morning Rolling

I had the day off, so I decided to go to the morning class instead of the evening on last night like I usual do. Different faces, cooler temps, but same good stuff.

We started some new things today. Maintaining the open guard. Ideally (most of the time anyways), when you have someone in your guard, you’d like it to be closed, to have your feet locked together behind them. That generally allows more control. In an open guard, and there are many types, your feet aren’t locked, so both you and your opponent have more freedom of movement. And with more freedom comes more flexibility and options.

I generally shy away from the open guard if I can. I’ve found that most of the time the extra movement that it allows…allows my opponents to pass and get into a good position on me. But now, I know a couple of ways of defeating their passes. It’s so simple, I should have thought of it, but it’s unintuitive. They body can’t turn any farther than the head can. Block the head…block the body. All this time when someone is passing me, I’m blocking their hip, their leg, or their knee, which is hopeless, because they have gravity, leverage, and muscle on their side. But by pressing on the head, it causes them to pause and gives me the leverage to square up so that we’re facing each other again, nullifying their pass attempt.

It was a good lesson. I overheated a little during our warm up, so I took it easy. Plus I was partnered up with Raymond, who’s very new, so my taking it easy was just about his speed anyways. We warmed up with take downs again…I’m getting alot better at the following foot sweep.

After class Rob wanted to roll, so we did a few times. I pulled guard, and he dove in and went right for his usual ezekiel choke…but I looked up how to defend it last week and did so. He was pretty surprised! He broke my guard, and started passing…and I shoved his head, started to square up, but I had an underhook, so I wrapped around and took his back instead. He defended pretty well, and turned into me before I could choke him. I swept him into a good scramble which led to me escaping his armbar attempt too. We called it a draw. Pretty good performance for me against him.

Raymond wanted to roll too, so we did. I pulled guard and worked some grip breaking and posture stuff, taking it easy. He passed to side control, and as I was hip escaping he jumped into mount. He started doing something weird, but I had his arm so I rolled out. We stopped there and I showed him a better way to maintain his mount and a couple of simple attacks. He’s stuck doing the morning classes so he can’t attend the fundamentals classes.

On my way to change, Brock Larson walked in. So after I changed, a few of us hung out and watch Brock and another guy train some no-gi/MMA stuff with Damian and Klint. Good stuff!

Cool and easy.

Cooler tonight, thankfully.

Apparently Damian had something come up, because Tim taught class. Same choke/armlock/kimura as last night. Just with more intensity this time around.

Warm ups were strange tonight too. Quintin led them, which I don’t think he’s ever done before. Less stretching and more thrusts, escrimas and wrestling shots. My double leg take down shot is pathetic and really, REALLY needs work. I’d hesitate to even say I know how to do it properly. Alex tried to explain it to me while warming up, but I kept mixing up which leg is supposed to be doing what and when. Something I should lookup and learn.

I didn’t stick around to roll or for fundamentals. My back was a little tender.

I did watch a few fights from UFC 101 afterward. I always enjoyed watching the grappling portions of the fights, but now I can really appreciate it a lot more. And it’s kind of cool to be able to recognize the techniques and realize that “Hey, I can do that too!”

Rollin’ Round The Bend

Tracy (my beautiful wife) decided to come and observe me in class today. Apparently she’s had enough of me telling her about things, and wanted to check it out in person. I joked that they probably had an extra gi laying around…she could join in! No dice.

No class today for her to watch…just hard sparring! 5 minute rounds, 45 second breaks, round robin style. Uffda. I used the “Prison Bitch” strategy. I picked the largest guy to go up against first. Figured I might as well get it out of the way while I was fresh. So it was me and JP. Went about as expected. Joe was next, and I think I did pretty good against him. I did got a sweep off, he escaped my mount, but I saw it in time to switch to s-mount and then to having his back while he was turtled. I went for a clock choke, he grabbed my leg, and Damian stopped us there to tell Joe how bad that was. Apparently he got submitted doing the exact same thing in the last Submission Hunt.

Everyone blends together after this. I did get to “roll” with Damian for the first time. It was good, because he pointed out a couple of my flaws/mistakes right off the bat. I get hung up in open guard alot, I need to keep my hips in and break those grips. Purple belt Mike pointed out a few things when we paired up too.

Hard, sweaty class today. Tracy met Damian and Christine, and seemed to enjoy watching.

UFC 101 tonight. Penn vs Florian should be an pretty good fight.

6 Months In

The last couple of weeks have been a perfect storm of work, life, laziness, and other things, all taking priority over going to class.  But now the skies have cleared, and I’m (hopefully!) back to my normal routine.

Six months ago today, I took my first jiu-jitsu class.   Maybe it’s a milestone, maybe not.  But I made it.  I struggled during some classes, but never quit.  I’ve tapped more times than I can count, but I’ve succeeded too.  I know enough now that I realize I’ve forgotten things.  And it’s been a wonderful experience, despite the effort, soreness, and occasional injury.   Who knows what the next six months will bring?  The next year?

I think I’m back on the 100 Pushups bandwagon.  I did W3D1(b) last night with no signs of the pounding headache that I ran into before.   I wasn’t totally lazy last week, I did pound out a few sessions on the treadmill.   I’ve been doing either the 300 calorie/40 minute run, and one the  400 calorie/40 minute run.   Doing either  a year ago would have been probably impossible.  The top 100 UFC fights countdown provided excellent motivational viewing while doing it too!

I’m down about 15 pounds since my back surgery last October.  A noticeable percentage of that has been converted to muscle, I’ve noticed myself leaning out.  I’m close enough to a NAGA/Submission hunt weight class break that I could consider cutting a few pounds to move down a class too.   It’s a nice change, and one that not only I have noticed.  I don’t anticipate loosing much more, though I may continue loosing the fat and building muscle as time passes.

Class tonight was takedowns.  Ironically enough, we were working the same take down I learned on about my third class.  I like doing takedowns, it’s something we don’t do very often and it’s something we don’t usually do in sparring.  There’s just not enough mat to support it.  We also did some hip throws.   Damian’s original instructor, Dave Camarillo, is also a black belt in judo.  He’s well known for his throws and flying submissions.

Judo Hip Throw

After class Damian paired me up with Jeff the giant (who’s about 6′ 7″ or so).  Things were going good, I was working my guard, trying to armlock those long limbs, and going for a triangle here and there.  Then he stacked me, rolling me up on my shoulders, which is uncomfortable, but not horrible.   But he kept going, and I did a backwards somersault with him on top of me, so I heard about 18 vertebra in my neck pop.  I yelped, he stopped.  That’s going to be sore tomorrow!

I took a breather, then paired up with Alex, who I don’t think I’ve rolled with before.  We went a couple of times. He’s a white/blue belt, but I think I did okay. I defended an armbar for a long time, and escaped his back control once. And defended my neck the next time he got my back a LONG time. Afterward he told me he was nervous about switching grips because of the way I escaped the first time.

Tim taught the fundamentals since Luke was gone. Armlock from guard. We reviewed the basic way of doing it, then experimented with different setups, grips, and some combo attacks.