Friday, March 11, 2016

New Blog - Please Update!

Faithful readers, honored guests, I'm writing to announce my new blog, that will replace this one. There will be a broader range of topics, and hopefully be more fulfilling for me, and more interesting for you. I'll still keep up with martial arts training logs, but will also be blogging about general health and fitness, nutrition, prepping, and whatever else. I'll leave this site up as an archive, but I don't plan to post on this site any more. 

With that, you are cordially invited to update your bookmarks, and head over to my new Fit to Live blog at

Cheers, see you on the new blog!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Krav Maga, 3/10/16

Today the warmup wasn't as intense. We had a smaller class size too (four students today vs eight on Tuesday, but the rain may have something to do with it).

First we worked on an arm drag drill, then did a "head block" or "head catch" or something off a one-handed collar tie. Basically, uke puts one hand behind your head, and that forearm on your clavicle, for control. You turn your body, catch his arm as you escape it, and ram the top of your head into the side of his (for gravy you can step behind him for a trip / gedan ate kind of thing). In both the arm drag and head thing, the guy's reaction of pulling away from you (or trying to stop you) just helps you do the technique on him. Aikido, anyone?

Next we worked on one guy doing an arm drag into a rear naked choke. Then into a bear hug from the rear (under the arms). For the bear hug variation, the other guy would counter by:

  • Dropping his weight
  • Throwing alternating back elbows to the attacker's head, until enough space is created to....
  • Turn around and push his head into place for an enthusiastic knee strike, hammerfist, etc
Then we moved on to a standard pummeling drill, working on footwork, and imposing our will vs flowing with our partner's energy. There were karate-like ideas here, of being relaxed until it was time to exert. Relax while pummeling, then BAM into the guy as we come into position.

Lastly we worked on three different ways to deal with a muay thai clinch, and drilled them back and forth a good bit:
  1. The "CPR" technique; Put one hand over an arm and one hand under, both on his chest like you're doing CPR on him, and push away. When space is made, get him into a clinch of your own, and he does it to you.
  2. Reach around the back of the guy's head and secure an ear (or eye, or whatever). Then with the other hand, grab under his cross-side elbow, and twist both like a big steering wheel. Difficult to resist! Then secure a clinch of your own and it's his turn.
  3. If you can't do either of those, use a hand to spear between your head and his, and push his face away by his eye region (kind of like gyakugamae ate). Replace with your own clinch, and trade turns. 
We ended the class by putting it all together. Flow drills, to help get lots of reps and build reaction time.

As I drove to the class today, I could not get the smile off my face, in anticipation of training. As I came back, I was wishing I had spent the last several months doing krav instead of BJJ.

Krav Maga, 3/8/16

So I went to the trial class Tuesday, and really enjoyed it. We started with an intense warmup. Actually, it was less of a warmup and more of a "wring you out" session. The stretching portion afterwards was heaven compared to the conditioning.

We drilled foot movement in all directions, and a 1-2 punch combination focusing on body rotation. Then we partnered up to work the following drills with focus mitts:

  • 1-2 punch to focus mitts, then step off the line to a safer position (while practicing footwork)
  • Same thing, followed by the mitt holder shooting for a double-leg takedown
  • Same thing, adding an "arm block" to defend the takedown
  • Same thing, following the arm block with an arm entanglement and counter attacks to finish

Next we did a choke-from-the-rear defense which was similar to what I've done in aikido and judo, except instead of ending with a waki-gatame or takedown, there were more knees to the face, etc to finish.

Then we did a similar drill when the rear choke is replaced with a knife to the throat. Like in aikido with Pat, a knife can change things real quick. The drill ends with bad guy getting stuck with his own knife.

At the end of class, we put it all together. One guy would be in the middle of his group and perform the following, in sequence:
  • 1-2 punch to a guy holding mitts...
  • ...after which a different guy tries to double-leg you, and you have to defend, arm entangle, and finish.....
  • which point, guy #3 either chokes you from behind or holds a knife to your throat, and you deal with that as practiced.

It was all nicely paced and controlled, but still intense. Seemed like a good group of people, and there were no thugs, like I've found (at least a few of) in BJJ classes.  I joined the school, and I'm going to my next class in a few minutes!  I guess for now I'm a Krav practitioner!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sad Tidings, and New Developments

There have been a few recent developments in my martial arts life; man, things are always interesting and challenging. After the euphoria of getting to pursue Judo again (alongside BJJ) on my lunch hours, it was quite a blow when my Corporate Overlords (good call, Pat) decided to tighten up our lunch schedules at work.

For the past 6 years, as long as everyone got their work done, it didn't matter how long we took for lunch. No one cared. Last week, all that changed. Doing several BJJ classes, and Judo study sessions per week, was taking 2+ hours for lunch (driving time, class, showering, etc). So my work friend and I had to cancel our gym memberships at the BJJ place, which is also the space we used to practice Judo a couple times a week. In a nutshell, my throwing and grappling studies sadly ground to a halt.

I'm not complaining, I know I still have it better than most people do, with the job I have, and they had every right to tweak their expectations. I take SOME comfort in the fact I'll still be able to pursue karate, but that progress has been slow.

The powers that be aren't completely locking down lunches to one hour - we can get a little more, we just have to make up the time elsewhere. But they still don't want us gone for 2 hours.

It was crushing me to have to halt lunchtime martial arts, but there is a possible solution.  There is a Krav Maga school 6 minutes from where I work. The schedule is good, they have lunch classes, and the classes are only an hour, so I can do a few classes per week, and just work 30 minutes late on those days. They also have some classes that start 15 minutes after I get off work so those are possibilities too. The lineage is good too; it's in the "Fit to Fight" organization, which split off from KM Worldwide. The head of the organization was a high ranking guy under Darrin Levine of KMWW.

I've always had some interest in Krav / Combatives / "Reality Based" arts. The only thing I really don't care for about them, is how *in general* a lot of their practitioners pooh-pooh the value of traditional martial arts (some of which is justified, but they paint with too broad a brush for my taste). When it comes to martial arts, I don't get into the exclusivity, the "my art is better than all others" mentality. Of course I had to deal with that in BJJ as well. I learned from Pat, "all martial arts are the same". ;-)    There's something to be learned from all of them.

I'll continue to study karate, but I'm going to a trial Krav class today, to see how it goes. I'll report back here!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Judo, 2/22/16

Today Mitch and I worked on all yellow belt throws for him. He's getting really good at them, and consistently throws me with hiza. I went through all yellow, orange, and green belt throws. I'm feeling much better at ukigoshi, which used to really frustrate me. I threw some very nice-feeling taiotoshis today too, and practiced transitioning into an armbar on either side, depending on how uke reacted after being thrown.

We spent the last third of our time with vigorous ground randori. Worked up a great sweat!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Study Group, 2/16/16

Today Mitch worked exclusively on his yellow belt throws (osoto, deashi, kosoto, and hiza). We were both really getting some good hiza gurumas today! I worked on all of those, plus all orange (ukigoshi, seoinage, sasae, and koshiguruma) and green belt (kouchi, ouchi, ogoshi, and taiotoshi) throws. That was a lot of throwing, so it was mainly a review, spending more time on the ones that felt wonky. Probably the wonkiest one for me today was ouchi, for some reason. Sometimes I nailed it, other times, it was a miserable failure, haha.

Today we actually went through lesson 1 (all 4 "slices") of the Gracie Combatives curriculum. We did the standard Trap and Roll, punch block variation, headlock variation, and open guard pass. Mitch hasn't seen the videos yet, but he will watch them before the next time we practice. Then we'll ad the Reflex Development Drill to the end of it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Judo Study Group, 2/11/16

Sorry in advance for the short update today; super busy!  We reviewed all yellow belt throws again, and went over all orange belt throws. I tried a few reps or okuriashibarai, but I'm gonna need a lot more practice with that one!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Judo Study Group, 2/10/16

We went through all yellow belt throws today, as well as ippon seoinage and sasae tsurikomi ashi.  Everything felt really good. We practiced kosotogari from a failed deashi, the way Pat originally taught it to me, and I think I have better success with it that way.

We ended the class with light, standing randori. It was fun, and I got a very slick kibisu geashi. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Judo Study Group, 2/1/16

Today we went through all yellow belt throws, sasae tsurikomi ashi, seoinage, koshiguruma, ogoshi, and ukigoshi.

Polished it off with light standing-to-ground randori.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Study Group, 1/28/16

We got LOTS of reps of the yellow belt throws (osoto, deashi, kosoto, and hiza). Then we worked on sasae tsurikomi ashi for a good while. This is one I have limited experience with, but I felt like it was going ok! We ended with 10 reps each of ippon seoinage.

Nothing but live rolling today. Oh, I also showed Mitch how to do an arm triangle choke.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Judo Study Group & BJJ, Jan 25-26, 2016

Judo, 1-25-16

We reviewed our yellow belt throws, then worked mainly on ukigoshi (still a little sloppy for me) and koshiguruma (we're getting pretty good at that one).

BJJ, 1-26-16

We drilled a few options from closed guard (bottom), including pendulum sweep, hip bump sweep, and kimura. I had a few rounds of live rolling, all of which started from standing. I felt like my judo was going my way today! I got a kouchi gari against another white belt, a drop knee seoi counter, tani otoshi, sumi gaeshi, and I countered a tai otoshi with a tai otoshi of my own against a blue belt, and an osoto gaeshi against a brown belt. Lots of throwing folks around today!  I had some good transitions, good pressure, and a successful americana against the blue belt. Fun rolls!

Friday, January 22, 2016

BJJ, 1/21/16

We drilled some guard passing motions, while dealing with a couple defenses bottom guy might resort to when you're passing. Then we drilled a few arm drag techniques from bottom, while our partner was in our guard. The first one was a really tight arm bar, then an Americana, then a sort of pendulum sweep. All very slick.

I did 4 rounds of live rolling, and did about as well as I normally do, nothing much to note.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Study Group, 1/20/16

Today we started with the Foot-Sweep-to-Control drill, several times back and forth across the floor. Then our "nine-uchikomi-throw-on-the-tenth" exercise, for all yellow belt throws, as well as seoinage and koshiguruma (orange belt throws). We actually did two rounds for the yellow belt throws, so it we basically each did the following amount of reps:

Deashi: x20
Kosoto: x20
Osoto: x20
Hiza: x20
Seoinage: x10
Koshiguruma: x10

I still feel like kosotogari is the throw that's feeling the least natural to me. I can't put my finger on exactly why yet, and I am getting the throw okay pretty consistently, it just feels a little wonky to me. I'm going to surf YouTube for some things to try next time.

We also worked on transitioning from each throw to groundwork, so we got some good short rounds of ground randori too. That helped tori throw into a controlling position, and helped uke work on defending himself even after the "chaos" of getting thrown.

Study Group, 1/19/16

I've been too busy to post yesterday's training are the highlights: we went through 2 sets of uchikomi for each yellow belt throw, then played light randori with only those throws. We also did a brief intro to koshiguruma (an orange belt throw). I feel like we both did well with it.

I worked a lot on the excellent arm bar drill from the video below, and we worked on the basic D'Arce choke from side control, too. A little live rolling to finish up our time. Fun!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Study Group, 1/18/16

I worked with Mitch again today. We went through 2 sets of 10 uchikomi's (throwing on the 10th) each for each of the yellow belt throws (deashi, kosoto, osoto, and hiza). I feel like were both throwing them all very well today. Mitch shows a lot of improvement. Of those 4 throws, I think the one we both need the most work on is kosotogari. We also got a few reps each of ippon seoinage and seoi otoshi, and we were both feeling good about those.  Lastly we played with countering deashi with tsubami gaeshi, and countering seoi otoshi with the first method in the video below. It works really well and it's super easy!

We drilled a leg separation guard pass several times each, and then rolled a lot. I practiced a pretty cool arm attack series from my new Erik Paulson DVD series.We spent some time live rolling too, and both got some good work in. Mitch has been getting deadly with his triangle attacks, so I had to pretty much resist 100% to give him some tougher practice.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Karate, 1/16/16

We did what I'm going to call "homeopathic" karate training today! The first principle of homeopathic medicine is similia similibus curentur ("let likes cure likes"). The oversimplified idea is that if a patient has a headache for example, the homeopathic doctor might give him something that causes headaches in healthy people to cure the headache of the patient.  Fascinating stuff!

Anyway, one of the troubles I've been having in my karate development has been slowness. Taking too long to initiate and/or complete a technique, or taking a long time to step from one stance to another. In my teacher's words, "like I'm dragging a heavy weight behind me".  Today, we warmed up doing our blocking series while holding 10 pound dumbbells in the blocking hand. Then, for about half the class, I was attached to a resistance band that was constantly pulling me backward! I had to step through kicks, punches, stance changes, etc. What a workout!  For the last part of the class, without the band on me, my teacher was well pleased with the quick improvement!  I may start doing that at home occasionally too.

I went through a few reps of heian nidan, and I need more work on my kime. I can't think of anything analogous to kime in aikido or judo - kake doesn't really need kime, usually.

Finally, we sparred for several rounds. We used karate gloves and mouthpieces so we could go a little harder today, and what fun it was!  I got popped in the eye a few times, kicked in the gut, but nothing bad.

A couple things to note: My teacher insists I'm probably really about green belt level in skill. That's great news to me, as I'd rather be a yellow belt with green belt skill than a green belt with orange belt skill. I might test for orange at the end of February. The other thing is my homework for the whole week; he says my biggest enemy is tension. Apparently I'm still really tense while doing a lot of kihon, kata, or kumite, or anything. I'm a pretty analytical guy, and to try to think "fast, relaxed, & powerful (not to mention "with correct technique")" it all just jumbles up and conflicts in my head. I think that's what's bogging me down. We'll see how things go this week.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Study Group, 1/14/16

It's been a great week - I've gotten to do 3 days of judo study group this week!  Today I worked with Mitch again. First we did a lot of uchikomi for the throws we've been working on for review and reps. So for osoto gari, deashi barai, hiza guruma, and seoinage, we'd do 9 uchikomi's and throw on the 10th one. My hiza guruma felt better today, and Mitch's osoto was feeling better.

Then I taught him kosotogari. The first time I showed it to him, I nailed it and got a great throw. Apparently that was because he didn't know what to expect, because then we had to go over being a good training partner, and stepping naturally, even when you know what's coming. We worked on kosoto for about half the time, and got just a brief intro to ukigoshi, which has never been one of my good throws. We watched Kyle's video below, and once we work on it a little more, I'm sure we'll get it.

We ended with a discussion about throwing into a controlling position, like Pat's been talking about lately. We played with that idea during "trading throws" randori. We'd move around and take turns throwing, and try to control uke enough that we could transition into newaza.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Study Group, 1/13/16


Today I practiced with Mitch again. We reviewed osoto gari and deashi, and both got a couple dozen reps of each. Emphasis on the reaping action in osoto and "standing foot" direction and sweeping leg motion in deashi. Good stuff!

Then I taught Mitch ippon seoinage and hiza guruma. We both got several good seoinages. We worked on hiza for most of our judo time, and I felt better about it today. We both reviewed Kyle's video from my previous post, and things went ok. There were no huge airfalls, but almost, on a couple occasions!

For gravy, we looked at a hip block counter to seoinage, and what I remember of a hiza counter (relax the back and step over).


After some more triangle practice, we looked at creating more top pressure when you have your opponent in side control. We talked about making bottom guy so uncomfortable that he feels like he needs to move, and when he does, you can capitalize on it. We also looked at what Saulo Ribeiro calls a "defensive bump", that buys you some time and disrupts an attacker's efforts. Finally, we practiced a couple of udegarame variations from side control.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Study Group, 1/11/16


Today I worked with my other drilling partner, Josh. I mainly drilled ippon seoinage today. I got a lot of reps in!  And my ippons today were some of the best I've done. Admittedly, I think some of them were more like ukigoshi, but I was really happy with most of them. Josh has a good osoto gari and deashi barai already, so I worked my counters for those throws. I tried a few reps of hiza garuma too, but I've never been great at that one, and it really needs some work. We had some extra time, so I was trying to remember some of Pat's koshiki no kata coolness. I think the closest I could recollect was sort of a sumi gaeshi. I'll have to look up the videos on those too. My plan next time is to work on hiza until I feel more comfortable with it. I'm gonna try this approach:


Josh is getting ready for the Houston Open coming up next month, so we drilled a good bit of guard passing, pressure, back taking, arm dragging, and all manner of transitions. I was mainly a grappling dummy for him, but I got to drill lots of the guard pass series we worked on in Friday's class.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Karate Homework, 1/10/16

Tonight I did the following:

A few stance cycles through front, back, and horse stances. There's some stance progression exercise I saw in a book I referenced a couple days ago, but for the life of me, I can't remember which book it was in.

Next I went through the block/punch microkatas I talked about last time.

  • Rising block microkata: 10x each side
  • Outside block microkata: 10x each side
  • Low block microkata: 10x each side
  • Forearm block microkata: 10x each side
  • All of them together: 2x each side
Then some kicking kihon:
  • Front kick: 10x each side
  • Side kick: 10x each side
  • Roundhouse kick: 10x each side
  • Back kick: 10x each side
  • Kicking microkata: 5x each side

Finally, I went through a few kata:
  • Heian Shodan: 1x
  • Heian Nidan: 2x
  • Heian Sandan (as well as I could recall it): 1x

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Karate, 1/9/16

After warming up, my teacher introduced me to something he's trying with all his students this year. He's noticed that when students perform kata, they aim for meticulous technique, but are more lazy about it when doing kihon. In order to encourage more care during kihon, he's come up with a few "micro kata".

They all begin in a front stance and are done on both sides. So, assuming a left-foot forward front stance, the kata run as follows:

  • Left rising block, right rising block, left punch to the face, right punch to the body
  • Left outside block, right outside block, left punch to the face, right punch to the body
  • Left downward block, right downward block, left punch to the face, right punch to the body
  • Left forearm block, right forearm block, left punch to the face, right punch to the body
  • Finally, perform all of them end to end
All of these are done with a hip switch for every technique, and it is quite a hip workout!

The kicking microkata are also performed on both sides, and assuming a left foot forward front stance, go like this:

  • Right front snap kick, landing in a right foot forward front stance
  • Step backward into the original left foot forward front stance, then left front (lead leg) snap kick
  • Bring feet together and do a right side snap kick 90 degrees to your right, and land in a right foot forward front stance, facing that same 90 degrees to the right of the original direction
  • Execute a right roundhouse kick toward the original direction you were facing, landing in a right foot forward front stance
  • Execute a right back kick, landing in your original left foot forward front stance
Whew! I hope all that made sense. I'm going to try to get a lot of reps in over the next week.

Next we worked on heian nidan some more. We did some fine tuning on my side snap kick toward the beginning. I still need to increase my speed when moving from one step to the next (we figure I'm thinking about it too much). I need more kime in my techniques in general, and I need to punctuate the kiai techniques more. 

This karate experience, in traditional Shotokan, has proven to be a much more precise approach than either judo or aikido. That's a mixed bag to me; I can see the drawbacks, but there's also something in me that loves it. Even if it can be frustrating at times. Sensei is constantly fine tuning my karate. While I do enjoy it, and know it will make me better, I can relate to a quote from Funakoshi from Karate-do, My Way of Life:  "This constant repetition of a single kata was grueling, often exasperating, and on occasion humiliating."   Ha! You said it, Gichin. 

We ended the class looking at some sparring applications. Kind of a triple punch designed to cover a lot of distance and overwhelm an opponent. I am always amazed how my teacher can seem almost to teleport, haha. He will be way too far away to do anything to me, and next thing I know, he just lightly tapped me in the throat. I really look forward to getting better!  Now that I'm not doing judo two nights per week, I hope to practice more at home.

BJJ, 1/8/16

We started class by doing a standing pummeling drill, and a discussion on some situations where pummeling well is useful. When we were pummeling competitively, I stunk at it!  Apparently even the other white belts in class had wrestling backgrounds. One gave me a tip about not flaring my elbows when I did it, which I was apparently doing.

The main class lesson was about leg separation and guard passing. We worked one pass, and an alternative for when bottom guy gets savvy. While drilling the passes, I felt like my top pressure is way better than it used to be, especially my shoulder pressure.

We had four rounds of live rolling which wore me slap out. I think a strength of mine is surviving on bottom more and more. I end up in bad positions pretty quickly with more experienced guys, but I'm getting better at fending off / frustrating their attacks. Of course that's all while striking isn't allowed - I might be way worse off if they could hit me!

Oh, we started the rounds standing again, and I got a nice, smooth kouchi gake / maki komi takedown on one guy. The other guys just tended to pull guard rather quickly.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Study Group, 1/5/16

Yesterday I taught deashi to my drilling partner. We started with the foot-sweep-to-control drill and worked that a good long time, then worked on getting 4 feet on a line, and completing the throw. My buddy was reacting funny when I would try to do the throw on him, because he's still getting used to it; and that made the throw a little harder for me to do, so I used something Pat taught me years ago - let his foot almost all the way back down, and stop it just before he expects it to touch back on the mat. It worked beautifully over and over, and he'd fall immediately (and more dramatically than he would have otherwise) whenever I'd do it.

Once he had a feel for the throw, we did a good bit of deashi-only randori, focusing on getting the off balance as the guy is stepping backwards, by gently exaggerating his motion and momentum. We talked about the "maximum efficiency, minimal effort" concept, because he kept trying to off balance me against my motion instead of with it. He picked up on it quickly and we had some productive play!

We drilled triangles and D'Arce chokes again, then rolled for the remainder of our time. It was good and exhausting! When we were done, though, we were horsing around, and ended up chipping my tooth (crown actually)! Fortunately the dentist was able to grind and polish it down some so I didn't have to replace it. Still put me in a foul mood though, haha!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Judo, 1/4/16

Last night I had the pleasure of going to Pat's grand-reopening of the new dojo space for Mokuren Dojo.  The lesson was a pretty deep dive on deashi barai, the advanced foot sweep. MAN it was good to get back to Pat's style of training again!   We started out teaching the new folks to fall, then moved to the foot-sweep-to-control drill. I can attest that doing a few years of that drill back in the day helped with my timing and sensitivity in my recent, more sportive training environment.  Pat talked a lot about how in a sense, Judo is about control. Whether it's controlling ourselves, or being able to control a crazy guy that might hurt us or themselves. So rather than just trying to bust our partners with a slick deashi, we worked on protecting them as they fell, and maintaining control of them so they had to fall on their butt, facing away from tori.

It's great to be able to practice Judo that jives perfectly with my aikido, both practically and philosophically.

After class, Pat gave me a couple osoto gari pointers for the study group I'm working with. I'm looking forward to trying it out later today, along with the sweet deashi goodness we went over last night.

I think the relaunch was a success. I was glad to see such a good turnout, and hope that bunch sticks with Pat for years to come.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Study Group, 1-4-16

What a nice way to begin the year!  Me and my drilling partner worked on Osoto Gari for a good long time. He hasn't done any judo before, so it's all brand new to him. We went over the basics, and got lots of uchi komis. After working the throw to death from static, we did it stepping back and forth, looking at extending uke's step, and using that for more kuzushi. 

Lastly, we worked for a little while on an osoto-gari-to-osoto-makikomi against a resisting partner, and countering osoto gari with osoto gaeshi. By the end of it, he seemed to be feeling better about his osoto, and loosened up a lot. 

After we moved on from osoto and worked on our ground work, we did several rounds of light, standing randori. I played very light with him, and mainly worked combos and constant attacks. Then I'd just move around and let him try to find osoto wherever he could. I did catch him with my first sumi gaeshi in randori, and was able to do it gently enough not to throw him far or hard.  ;-)

We drilled a lot of triangle chokes. My buddy is getting really good at his setups for it, and I'm having more and more trouble stopping him. I was doing better with mine today. We've been working on a Ryan Hall version of it where uke's arm being across your body is irrelevant, but for my body, or movement tendencies, or whatever, the arm is still very relevant to me getting the choke. 

We also drilled a D'Arce choke when you have the guy in side control and he turns in to you. This is getting to be a bread and butter move for me. Today I was working on a D'Arce-to-armbar combo for when bottom guy keeps his elbows in too tight for a D'Arce. Needs work, but I think there's a good combo there. 

I got a few reps of my "running escape" guard recovery, and I'm feeling better about that too.