Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BJJ, 12/29/15

After stretching, we worked on partner drills for scissor sweeps, knee & elbow escapes, pendulum sweeps, and S-Mount arm bars. The version of the pendulum sweep we did was way easier than the one I'm used to. The "pendulum" leg didn't have to do much at all except get out of the way.

I rolled 5 times. I dominated the first two rounds, then fought a black belt (I tapped a lot), a blue belt (I tapped even more), and a brown belt. The brown belt was in the UFC years ago, and has another fight (in a smaller organization) coming up, so he wanted to start all his rounds standing. I was pleasantly surprised at how I did while we were on our feet! Of the 5 times we stood up, I threw him at least twice! One was with an Osoto gaeshi counter to his Osoto gari, one was an ouchi counter to his tani otoshi, and I forgot the other one. And the times he did take me down, it wasn't decisive. Of course he decimated me in the ground, haha. But I felt great after throwing him.

We got a rare treat at the end of class. The instructors had a Q&A for things we've been having trouble with. I was shown how to properly do the running escape from side control. I've been getting into the first position a lot but haven't been able to complete it. Apparently I wasn't controlling top guy's arm. Can't wait to drill it more!  Good class!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

BJJ, 12/15/15

Today we started by doing the both-guys'-hands-in-their-belts guard passing drill. That's exhausting. Then we went over fundamentals of the lasso guard. How to get into it, key points, common mistakes, etc.  Most of our drilling time was spent doing a lasso sweep when your opponent moves around to the inside, or pushes your leg that's on his hip to the outside. It was kind of like this:

Live rolling was a pleasure for a change, and I was pretty happy with my performance, if not my cardio endurance.

Judo, 12/14/15

Last night we worked on miscellaneous mat work in our rank groups. I'm still having a little trouble with the stock turnover, but just because it's new to me. Worked on a butterfly sweep a lot. We didn't have a "whole class" lesson, because the juniors had a promotion night and cut into the adult Judo time. I did one round of ground randori against an enthusiastic white belt who's only been coming a month or two. He had good pressure, and goes a little hard, I guess to compensate for his newness, but my defense was good, and I was never threatened. He was asking if he could work his scissor sweep on me, so I let him. He's having trouble with it, so I showed him the way I tend to do it (keeping my partner away / stretched out rather than pulling his weight on top of me). That seemed to work ok for him as well. We got a few more reps in after class. It's nice to be able to help guys that are even newer than me.

To end the class we had several rounds of tag-team randori, which is always fun.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

BJJ, 12/10/15, and a Rant

I'm kind of frustrated. I've been thinking lately about the typical BJJ pedagogy. At least it's typical to every BJJ school I've ever been to: About half the class (if that) is warming up / stretching, and learning and drilling a technique or two, and the other half of the class is spent rolling. BJJ guys take some pride in the fact that it takes SO long to get a black belt (~ 10 years), but I think the same level of proficiency could be achieved in a much shorter time if more time was spent on technical work, and less on drilling, up till purple belt or so.

I'm not saying eliminate live rolling for lower ranks, just spend more time building a foundation. Rener Gracie has been a big proponent of a similar method (his students don't roll until blue belt). His reasoning is that jiu-jitsu is a martial art designed for weaker people, but the typical approach weeds out weaker people so only the tougher ones ever make it past white belt. I know that's a generalization, and people will argue, but speaking from the perspective of a weaker person, who gets frustrated when he can't do anything with higher ranks (or even other white belts, depending on their experience), I agree with him. Most people aren't going to keep taking that kind of punishment long term. Yes, sticking with it will make them stronger, but it's questionable whether they will stick with it.

There are a few reasons I think it can be so punishing. First, like I said, there isn't enough of a foundation when you first begin. You're expected to learn by experience as you go. "Oh (six months later), I see that letting my elbow get far away from my body opens me up to an attack".  Why not teach things like that on the front end instead of waiting for the universe to reveal it to them. Thankfully I've got enough experience (and had some exceptional teachers) to know enough fundamentals to at least survive for a little while against better grapplers. Secondly, I don't know what it is, but I find Judo's spirit of Jita Kyoei ("Mutual welfare and benefit", or as Pat puts it "you and me getting better together") is missing from every BJJ school I've been in. The typical student (especially white belt, but I've rolled with some blues like this too) just goes so hard in rolling, like there's money on the line. If live rolling is supposed to be a learning experience, it just doesn't strike me as the most efficient way to learn something, going pedal to the medal, all-out, out of the gate. This approach seems to be encouraged (or at least not discouraged) by the instructors. This might sound like whining, and maybe it is; I just feel like it's a shame that jiu-jitsu could be such a beautiful art, but it gets "thugged up", and a lot of the gracefulness is obscured by current training methods.

That brings me to today's class. A guy I'll call Captain Sambo was teaching the class, and had a room full of white belts doing an advanced rolling armlock (we did some basic ones first, as well as some grip breaks). Basically, the white belt I was drilling with was not being at all cooperative. He was trying to stop me from drilling every move we were working on. I don't know if he thought he was doing them better than me because I was actually letting him practice the techniques, but whatever. I just had to work a lot harder to get them to work, and they didn't look as pretty. He was much newer than me, so he probably just didn't know how to be a good drilling partner. Anyway, he was going hard even during drilling. Like he didn't get the point that there was no trophy up for grabs, and we were supposed to be learning the techniques. During the rolling armlock thing, the guy hyper-extended my elbow. Kind of badly. It didn't hurt as badly during the rest of the class as it does now, but it seems to be hurting more and more. Anyway, I was able to finish the class, but don't think I'll make it to tomorrow's class if it's not feeling much better.

To sum up the rest of the class, I rolled with the same white belt first. He was huffing and puffing, and going all out, but I survived everything he tried. I stayed safe, but couldn't work on much offense. Still valuable I guess. Good thing he didn't have a knife.  We started each round standing, and the next white belt I went against seemed like he really wanted to throw me with deashi. I countered with a fine tsubame gaeshi and dropped him soundly. Then I went with a black belt, and of course got nowhere. Next roll was with a white belt that I pressured pretty well the whole time, and submitted him once. Last roll, another white belt, strong guy, that got me with an armbar on my by-then-hurting-much-worse arm.

I'm considering not doing BJJ any more. I still enjoy the kickboxing class a couple mornings per week, so I'll probably continue doing those. I'm still doing Judo a couple nights per week at a much cooler school anyway.  I need to reevaluate whether it's worth me continuing to do BJJ there. It's a sport-oriented school, anyway, so maybe the effort I'm putting in doesn't have enough of a payoff given my personal goals and interests. I guess I was hoping getting more mat time in during the week would help my Judo. Maybe I can still drill with friends a couple times a week for lunch. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Judo, 12/7/15

Last night our rank group worked on all pins and escapes, chokes, and armlocks for yellow, orange, and green belt.  The whole class then worked on okuri iri jime (I think). Clock choke, in BJJ. I didn't realize the clock choke is the same as koshi jime, with one hand placed differently (it grabs a lapel instead of going on the mat in front of the guy).  We also worked on putting weight on the guy's head if he tries to get up out of it. Instinct makes you want to lean on his back to keep him down, but weight on the head does it way better.

I only had one round of light ground randori last night. I tried out that nifty collar choke I mentioned in my previous post, and I'm pleased with it!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

This Week in (My) Martial Arts (Dec 1-5, 2015)

It's been a super busy week, so I haven't had a chance to post. My wife is still recovering from hip surgery, so I've been taking care of her, the house, etc, and I've fallen behind in my training logs.

To compound matters, I've trained a heck of a lot more this week than normal. I've joined UFC Gym, and in addition to a couple of pre-workday kickboxing classes, I've added no less than three BJJ classes per week! They offer them at lunch, so it should be easy for me to make most of the classes.

Here is the breakdown, as I remember it:

BJJ, 12/1/15
We worked on a ground mobility cycle that took us from kesa, to side control, to ushiro kesa, to mount, then up the other side. Basically everything except north-south. The focus was on not getting rushed, and constant pressure.
We also worked on an Americana and straight armbar with the legs, both from kesa.
We wrapped up the class with five, 6-minute rounds of rolling.

BJJ, 12/3/15
We reviewed the two armlocks from the previous class, then went over the following choke from mount:

We rolled for three, 6-minute rounds to end the class.

BJJ, 12/4/15
We reviewed the two arm locks again, then looked at another choke from north-south. I hardly remember the details, sadly. I need more drilling.  We ended with four rounds of rolling.

Karate, 12/5/15
Promotion time is coming up, so 90% of the lesson, we worked on my orange belt promotion material. Kihon, three-step sparring, and heian nidan. I need to fix the following things in heian nidan:

  • My spear hand is too high
  • My back foot always turns out on the second kibadachi, for some reason
  • I need to work my hips more in that same transition
We also went over my tendency to do things really slowly. I need to start moving faster. Not just the strikes and kicks themselves, but from the moment it begins, it all needs to be faster. I'm concentrating a lot on doing it correctly, and that's slowing me down. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Judo, 11/23 and 11/30

The 23rd was just a pre-thanksgiving open mat night. I was a throwing dummy for a fellow orange belt, and he let me work some side control escapes. I got one round of ground randori in, against a yellow belt. One of our school's BJJ students was there watching, and paid me a high compliment: "I like the way you move, very relaxed and flowy."   That's what I'm shooting for, glad it was noticeable.

Last night, the 30th, our rank group worked on green belt throws first, then the whole class worked on the green belt self defense scenarios. I had one round of standing, and one round of ground randori.