Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking a Break

So it's been awhile since I've updated this blog at all. I've been taking a break from BJJ for a bit for various reasons. I'll be getting back into BJJ soon (hopefully), at which point I'll start to update the blog with more lessons learned.

Until next time... :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

BJJ No-Gi Class - 10.9.2008

Another night of *ding* light bulb moments. I'm very happy with the way my mind has been working lately while training. I'm starting to become more aware of what techniques to use when, and starting to be able to read my opponents. It's very exciting. It makes me smile everytime I think about it :-) Especially since the light bulb moments continued onto a no-gi night. I'm finally starting to get the hang of the underhooks and overhooks, and starting to smartly use my weight while in side control and what not. All this is happening without thought too, so I don't have the delays of "ok, so here we are...I have these options...nope, that won't work...ok, how about this" - then by that time I'm too late. Anyways, more about rolling after this...

Warm-ups were a bit different than usual. Greg led them while Mel took a phone call. We did the usual jogging, side skips, stretches, etc, then moved onto ones I haven't done before. One I can't remember the name, and will probably have a hard time explaining, but here goes nothing... So you lay down, back on the mat, next to a partner who's also laying the same way, but your feet are by their head while your head is by their head...that make sense? Then bend your knees to create a triangle between the back of your legs and the mat. If your partner is laying to your left, then reach your left hand under their legs and lock grip with their right hand, while your partner does the same. Then you'll shoot your legs straight up into the air going up onto your shoulder blades and pivot to the left before bringing your hips back down to the mat. Repeat this process for about 30 seconds or so. It really gets your core burning. Then we did the widely known armbar drill, so you're just pivoting back and forth putting in armbars on each of your opponents arm. This definitely gave my abs a workout. The we moved on to the armbar-to-triangle-to-omoplata from guard drill. I'm not even going to try to explain this, just watch the video below...

I've seen that drill quite a few times online before, but have never done it myself. It's a great drill for warming up, but also practicing the application of the submissions. Mel noticed a few things on the armbar that people could work on, so he stopped us and went over the armbar from guard. I was one of the ones having trouble being that I've never learned an armbar from guard with no gi on...I didn't have any sleeves to hold on to haha Here's what I remember...

Armbar from guard - We're going to attack the right arm... First thing you want to break your opponent's posture. Securing an armbar while their postured up is going to prove very difficult. You can do this by grabbing around their neck or the back of their head and pulling them down. You'll then grab their right wrist with your left hand, then shoot your right arm under their left wrapping your right hand over their right elbow, then suck the right arm into the middle of your chest. With the left foot on their hip, push off while putting your lower right leg across their upper back. This will help keep them from posturing up, and help keep their right arm straight and laying up the middle of your chest. Then swing the left leg over their head, squeeze the heels as if you're trying to bring them to your butt, squeeze your knees together, and lift your hips making sure their thumb is on top. One thing to keep in mind for us beginners is to not cross our legs once we get the armbar secured. Crossing our legs, our knees will have the tendency of opening up giving our opponent an escape option.

Then we moved on to passing the guard. A few things to remember:
  • Never put your hands down on the mat beside your opponent. You can't really do anything with your hands there anyways, and you also open yourself up to kimuras and various other arm and shoulder locks.
  • This sort of plays off of the last one, but don't keep your elbows flared outward. It plays off the last one seeing as how if you have your hands on the mat, your elbows are exposed. This is how they're able to pull off the kimura. But the same goes if you have your hands on the chest or stomach, you don't want your elbows flared. This will take away some of their options when it comes to the various arm and shoulder locks.
  • Your posturing up makes it more difficult for your opponent to submit or sweep you. Looking at it from your opponents point of view, from the bottom one of the first things you want to do is break your opponents posture.
Passing the guard - You want to get your hands on your opponents chest or stomach with your elbows in; doing this your elbows should be either on or inside of your opponents thighs. If you're unable to get this, one way to create space is to put your hands into your opponents armpits and push back. Be sure not to put your hands on their biceps as your opponent can easily swim his arms under and up in between your arms to slide your hold off of their biceps. One way of securing that hold in their armpits is to hold your hand out 4 fingers together and thumb out. Turn your hand so your thumb is pointing toward the sky, and put the 4 fingers under their arm while the thumb is over their arm, crossing right over the armpit. Once you're able to create enough space, get your hands on their lower chest and shift your elbows in. Then shift your lower body a little to the left and get the right knee under their butt. Then the right hand will move down right below their rib cage, giving you something to push off on. Then move the left hand to the same position and push off again. Once you get your elbows into the inside of their thighs, you can start pushing down on your left elbow to break their closed guard. Make sure you keep that pressure on your hands. This will help keep their hips pinned to the mat. Once you get the closed guard broken, continue pushing on the left thigh until it lays on the mat, then move the left knee over the thigh. At the same time you want to "windshield wiper" the lower portion of your right leg underneath you. This will keep your opponent from hooking your right leg with their left leg. Reach out with your left arm and either hook it over your opponents head or over their shoulder. Then pulling with your left arm, slide into side control.

One thing to take note of for that guard pass, when you push off their armpits to create space, some people's torsos are just too long for this to work. In that case, you just have to work to get your hands on them and your elbows in to push off.

Rolling was a whole lot of fun. The technique learning portion took awhile, so I only got one session in, but I was glad to have been able to roll with my instructor, Mel. One huge thing that I'm sure most beginners struggle with is passing the guard. The break down of passing the guard tonight helped me a lot. I definitely needed this. I was so much more confident just after the 15mins of working on it then, and it showed while rolling with Mel. I executed it successfully several times (given that he was taking it "easy" on me, I executed each step successfully). One huge thing that sticks out in my head that everytime I think about makes me smile, is that I've finally successfully executed a guard pass underneath the leg! Everytime I've tried to do this before, I find myself getting stuck in a triangle. Mel was starting to give me a little more challenge while passing over his leg, so I decided to attempt going below. As soon as his leg came up, I knew what was coming. And without a thought, I shot my left arm across his body and over his left should, stacked, and passed! I'm sure Mel saw the huge smile on my face as I landed in side control haha Overall I felt I did very well from the top. Not only am I more confident in my guard pass, but I was able to secure side control better than usual. Time on the mat is definitely helping with that.

Umm, well, that's all I can think of right now. Until next time... :-)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

BJJ Gi Class - 10.8.2008

So I got my new gi in the mail today, yay! I ordered a Howard Combat Kimono last week from Howard Liu's website. I went with a blue standard single. I've been wanting to get a new one for awhile now. The Gameness single weave gi I bought when I started jiu-jitsu never really fit me right. The pants are good length, but a little baggy; and the jacket sleeves are just a tad too long, but overall just baggy on me also. Definitely not made for the tall, skinny types. I've also been wanting a darker colored gi as my white Gameness is starting to get light stains on the back, knees, and elbows. I was looking at Koral and Vulkan gi's as a couple other guys I train with who are of the skinner builds use these. But checking them out online, they both are expensive! I recently came across a blog post posted by Roy Dean (this one). His academy in Bend, OR has been open for almost 2 years now and just moved to a new space...
Last night, members of the Academy surprised me with a thoughtful gift to celebrate the new space. It was a shadowbox displaying the 5 belts of BJJ, all neatly tied and all HCK of course, as Howard Liu was in on it too. I was touched, and it was a beautiful marker for this stage of the journey, nearly 2 years in.
I had to go look-up HCK after reading that. I found that the HCK gi's were around the same price as my Gameness single weave, and had some very good reviews on various sites you could purchase them from. I set out to Google to see if I could find any reviews on discussion forums or what not. Everything I came across was positive: the gi's were awesome and Howard Liu is one hell of a guy to purchase products from. That sealed the deal right there. I found that the gi's size differently that most; where my Gameness single weave is an A4, the HCK I ordered after checking the size chart is a 5. After trying it on right out of the box, this one fits way better for my build. Not bulky or baggy at all. The sleeves could shrink a tad along with the pants, and it'll fit perfect. I couldn't wait to wash it before using it, so I practiced in it tonight haha It's such a light gi, but feels very sturdy and tough at the same time. After practice I purchased a patch from Mel to put on the back to represent the school. His wife is going to sew it on and I'll have it back on Monday when I show up for practice that night. I can't wait to roll in it again :-)

Anyways, tonight was a fun night. It was the all adult class, and it was smaller - 5 of us to start, then John showed up (who just got his blue belt this last weekend, congrats to him!). So there were 3 white belts and 3 blue belts. Two of the white belts, John and Chris, are competing this weekend at the Oregon Open, so we left them to roll with each other so they could work as hard as they wanted to. So that left me with 3 blue belts to leach experience from :-P

First, Mel went over a few things he spoke with the tournament organizer about, mainly some scoring questions. His daughter competed in a tournament before where her opponent had her in side control. The opponent would post her leg out, his daughter would pull half guard, then the opponent would escape half guard...then do it over and over again. The referee of the match continued to award the girl points for escaping. That's pretty cheap if you ask me. Variations of this situation were what was discussed.

Then we moved on to some techniques...

Escape from guard pass #1 - So you have your opponent in closed guard. They break the closed guard hold and attempt to pass under your left leg. Plant your left foot into the floor and begin shrimping away from them until you get into a four quarters position, then switch over to your stomach and come up to your knees (aka "threading the needle").

Escape from guard pass #2 - Same as before, you have your opponent in your closed guard and they just broke it to pass. This time you'll sit up, and with your left hand grab the same side lapel, and stiff arm it. This'll keep your opponent back as you scoot your lower body out and either come up to your knees or stand.

Cross choke from mount #1 - So you're leaning forward and to the left. Bring your right arm to the left-side if it's not already there and put the right elbow to the right side of their face. Then move the forearm across their face, and with your right hand get a deep collar grip with your thumb in. Then reaching under your right arm and get a deep 4-finger grip on the left lapel, and squeeze a walnut between your shoulder blades.

Cross choke from mount #2 - Same as above, except you're going to reach over your right arm and get a deep thumb in grip on the other lapel, and squeeze a walnut between your shoulder blades.

Kimura from blocked cross choke attempt - I can't remember all the details of this, so I'm going to hold off on this one until I can get it cleared up a bit more.

Ezekiel -One way to set this up is to push your opponents head to the right when your right elbow. This will keep him occupied and blind to the left arm you're about to slide right under his head. With your left hand, grab the bottom of the right sleeve, then slide your forearms to the left to bring the sleeve up against their neck as you put your right forearm across their neck. Bend he right wrist down to grab your left sleeve or forearm, then squeeze "the box" (the shape you've made with your forearms, hands, and right sleeve) for the choke.

Rolling was a lot of fun. The first guy I rolled with I believe his name is Chris. Yeah, there's like 3 or 4 of them I train with lol This one is a blue belt (I'm pretty sure all the others are white). He's a very laid back guy, likes to go slow and take his time. So it was great rolling with him as it gave me time to think. Which, I've come to realize recently, has been one of my major hurdles in my jiu-jitsu. I've learned various techniques, but when it comes time to roll, it's just a scramble in my head. This week though, I don't know what it was, but I'm starting to think more clearly and see opportunites and have the technique at the forefront of my mind, right when it's needed. It's been a very exciting week with this happening :-) Chris and I never submitted each other. It was just one sweep after another for both of us. I found myself in positions that I know of, but have never been formally trained in: spider guard mostly. Tried a few sweeps I've watched quite a few times online, but was only able to get one of them to work. Then I rolled with Greg. Greg is another guy who I train with that has at least 40lbs on me. Just a short, stalky guy with a very large neck. Mel set rules on our match since he outweighed me by so much haha He said that he was only able to submit me from the bottom, or execute a successful sweep to submit me from the top. This way he couldn't just plow into me sending me straight to my back. Greg is a really good blue belt, and is really good at taming it down just enough to give me a challenge, but not dominate me. I was never able to execute a proper sweep on him because I was couldn't get the proper positioning. A lot of this had to do with him outweighing me and me just being so damn scrawny lol I was able to roll him a few times as he tried submitting me from the top though. My side control is improving since going over the side control escapes the other night. I'm able to keep one step ahead easier now, having a better idea as to what my opponent is trying to do. He ended up submitting me once with a triangle choke from the top.

I received my first stripe tonight, which was a great way to end the night :-) It's a good feeling knowing that while I get frustrated at times, my instructor recognizes progression in my jiu-jitsu skills.

Monday, October 6, 2008

BJJ Gi Class - 10.6.2008

It was great being back on the mat after more than a week of no jiu-jitsu. I've read on other peoples blogs how difficult it is coming back after taking a break when sick or what not, but never thought that after only a week off it'd be that much of a difference. I got burned out way too fast heh Matt led the class tonight since Mel was going over some stuff with those who are competing at the Oregon Open this weekend. We worked on techniques all starting from full mount. One big tip to keep in mind while in mount is to never come up nose to nose with your opponent. Meaning you want to have your upper body leaning towards one side or the other, with that same side arm posted out. This'll make it more difficult for your opponent to sweep/roll you. On to the techniques...

Cross choke from mount - Starting with your weight leaning towards your left, usually with your forehead into the mat to keep that weight down. With the right hand, get a deep 4-fingers-in grip on their lapel on the right side of their neck. Reach under your right arm with your left and get hold of the other lapel with a 4-fingers-in grip. Shift to a chest to chest position, rotate your hands towards you, and "squeeze a walnut between your shoulder blades."

Variation of cross choke from mount - After you get the grip in with your right hand, instead of reaching under your right arm from that position....rotate your upper body from leaning to the left to leaning to the right. Then reach down with your left hand and grab fabric on the left shoulder. Then squeeze the choke as said above.

Bread cutter - Instead of putting in a 4-fingers-in grip with your right hand, get a thumb-in grip. Reach under the right arm with your left and get a grip on the lapel just like before, then put in the squeeze. It gets its name from the way your right forearm lays across your opponents throat with the thumb-in grip.

Bread cutter to armbar - So you've got the thumb-in grip with the right hand, but they're defending that left hand from coming under and gripping the other lapel. As you slide your left knee up into their armpit, you're going to pull up with your right hand and shift 'em onto their left side. As you shifted them to their left side, a few things should happen: your left knee should be up behind their shoulder or even behind their head; your right leg should've shifted from being down on that knee to standing on the foot, and you'll want your right foot tight into their side to keep them from shrimping out and creating space; and you'll have wrapped your left arm around their right arm, holding it to your chest. This is the arm you're going to attack. Then you'll do what they call "sit and spin". Sit down onto your opponents side and lean forward a bit. As you do this you'll swing your left leg around over your opponents face, then roll back to your butt. Make sure their thumb is on top, squeeze your knees together, and lift your hips.

I rolled with a guy whose name I can't remember at the moment. To say the least, it was very frustrating to roll with him. He's a fellow white belt with not a whole lot of experience. And instead of taking it 50% or so to concentrate on technique, he straight went balls-to-the-wall 100%. The guy was bigger than I (my estimate is about 30lbs more than I, but I've never been good at estimating people's weight), and after he passed my guard and secured side control, he'd go belly down on my face. I thought in my head that this would be a good time to work technique on an opponent who was bigger than I and using all strength...until he did that. Then I couldn't think straight at all. I was able to escape side control and get to his back and submit him with a gi choke. When we started again he went straight for side control and proceeded to lay on my face again. He sandbagged until I couldn't take anymore and submitted me with an Americana. It was at this time he admitted to being "tired of losing." *rolls eyes* I wanted to say something, but I had to nurse a major headache. Luckily Matt did.

Until next time... :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008


I've been sick since Friday night, so I wasn't able to attend the Rylan Lizares seminar at my school yesterday. I was pretty bummed... I was really looking forward to my first seminar at my school, and meeting and learning from a Pedro Sauer black belt. Mel's been talking about getting Johnny Carlquist up here in a month or two though. And I think Pedro himself is going to be up this way soon. I did, however, over the weekend get the photo my friend Chris took of Marcelo Garcia and I at the seminar I went to last weekend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

BJJ No-Gi Class - 9.25.2008

So I found out that not only is the last Wednesday of the month a free roll class for the gi class, but the last Thursday of the month is a free roll class for the no-gi class. Mel wasn't there tonight, which I was hoping for. I wanted to buy another pair of shorts and possibly a 2nd gi.

No-gi is still frustrating. I'm having a hard time grasping the concept of underhooks and overhooks, and not having fabric to grab on to. I've found myself grabbing onto shorts quite a few times haha I rolled with James, who is always fun to roll with. He's a new guy who really soaks up whatever it is you try and help him with. Rolling with him I try to work on the nitty gritty details of my techniques. And because we roll so much slower than I do with other people, I'm able to analyze the situation easier and I'm starting to see my options better. This helps me when I roll with others who are more experienced. I also watch for mistakes he makes. I've found that the more I help other people with technique, it helps to instill it in my brain better.

Also rolled with Frank. I only see him on no-gi nights. I know he's been training with Mel for awhile, I'm just not sure how long. He's the same build as me, so I like rolling with him to see techniques that work for him. I don't really remember much from rolling with him, but I remember feeling good after the roll, as if I did better than previous times :-)

I rolled with Chris (different Chris than the one I trained with at the Marcelo Garcia seminar) a few times. The first time we just started out on our knees. The 2nd we started doing positional sparring, to help me out (he's an advanced white belt, I think up for his blue here soon...he's really good). First positional spar was me having him in side control. I have a hard time keeping a side control position in no-gi. No fabric to grab onto to keep that left elbow out of your hip, and the sweat makes it very easy for the person on the bottom to slip right out. He ended up slipping right out every time. I was able to keep him from taking my back, but ended up in his guard everytime where he'd either submit me or we'd just stalemate heh So the next positional spar I started in his guard to work on my guard passing. This didn't last that long as he was able to arm-drag my right arm to his right shoulder and reach around my back getting a hold of my left arm to basically twist my upper body towards him. My right arm/hand was trapped between us, so I wasn't able to tap. I began to verbally tap, but the way my upper body was facing, my voice projected away from us. By the time he heard me, it was a little too late - my pectoralis had stretched beyond its limit. I hadn't stretched my pec that far before, and really wasn't sure the angle my arm had stretched back, so I was more surprised than anything...sort of in shock I guess. It was a pretty sharp pain, so I headed home shortly afterward. I jumped in the shower as soon as I got home to get some hot water running over it while I massaged it. After awhile, the pain went away for the most part, but it was still pretty tight. I'm going to have to make sure to stretch it through out the day for the next few days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BJJ Gi Class - 9.24.2008

Last Wednesday of the month - free roll! But there was only 3 of us (4 including Mel). John, one of the 3, is also planning on testing for his blue belt come Sunday when Rylan Lizares (Pedro Sauer black belt) is up here conducting a seminar, so we just worked on the technical aspects of various moves that he'd be tested on. There was quite a bit, and if I try and give my in detail descriptions as I usually do, I'll be here forever lol So I'm going to try and sum it up as quick as possible, and possibly come back and fill in gaps as I see them.

So we started with stuff from the feet...
  • "Comb the hair" block, T-up with opponent, hip toss
  • T-up opponent, wrap your right leg around their left leg, step forward with left foot, pull your right leg back sweeping their left, come down onto right knee high up in their left arm pit, pull on their right sleeve and slide left knee in getting high mount
Escape from mount
  • Hip heist (AKA oopa)
  • Double shrimp back into guard
  • Scissor sweep (if you're using your right leg across their stomach, and they sit out or post their right knee out far enough that you can't execute the sweet, post your left foot on their right knee and push it out as you pull on that right sleeve with your left hand. This will flatten their right side on the mat)
  • Flower sweep
  • Half butterfly / half guard sweep (can't scissor (right knee it tucked), butterfly hook your right foot, and sweep)
  • Spider guard sweep
Escape side control
Shrimp away from opponent, bring right knee between you and your opponent, hook their right leg with your left leg (keeps them from mounting), shrimp into your opponent (to create room to get right leg out), then close your guard

Monday, September 22, 2008

Marcelo Garcia Seminar - Day 2 - Gi

Alright, so this post is a little late. I wish I could've done it sooner, like right after the seminar, but I just haven't had time. Had to travel back home after the seminar, then work yesterday, and the 3-hour Heroes season premiere event last night (definitely couldn't miss that). I've been going over the Sunday seminar over and over in my head. Let's see what I can remember...

First off, that seminar was AWESOME! I know I said in the last post how awesome it was, but I just have to say it again. Being such a big fan of Marcelo, it was surreal seeing him in person, let alone meeting him, shaking his hand, and getting my photo with him (photo coming later...I didn't walk to lug my DSLR there, so my friend took a photo of Marcelo and I using his camera). Robert, the instructor over at BJJ Olympia, mentioned how he's hoping to form a lasting relationship with Marcelo to keep him coming back for seminars. I really hope that happens. I'd love to go to a Marcelo seminar twice a year or so :-D

Ok, as mentioned before, Marcelo said he'd work from the top on Saturday (no-gi day), then from the bottom on Sunday (gi day). So let's see what I can remember...

Marcelo started where he did yesterday, with one of us on our butt's while the other is standing. Some of the main point Marcelo pointed out:
  • Knowing where your opponents hands/arms are at all times -When you're doing doing "hands fight" (trying to get the upper hand with your hands), you want to have the inside position; have your hands inside your opponents. So when you do get the inside position, if you can you could scoot in underneath them and work some magic.
  • Knowing where your opponents feet/legs are at all times -Don't let your opponent get to close under their own free will. If they step too closer, use their knee as a post and push off of it. Create space and start working again to get that inside position.
X guard - Get the inside position with your hands/arms inside of his, then scoot in. When you scoot in you'll shoot your left leg between their legs and get a butterfly hook with your right foot, and grab their right leg with your left hand, around the outside. Then bring your foot back through and secure a butterfly hook with your left foot hooking around the front side of their left thigh. After you've placed your legs/feet where they need to be, you'll reach across with your right hand and grab the fabric on their right leg, then switch your left arm from wrapping around the outside, to wrapping around the inside. One good thing to do from here, as you push out with your legs, pull the right leg up and over your left shoulder. From here you can secure a gable grip just above their knee. There's a variety of sweeps you can do from the X guard.

Now sometimes you're unable to secure an X guard. Maybe the person's left leg is just too far, or they rotate it back behind them when you scoot in. If this happens, instead of trying to secure both their left and right legs, we'll attack the right leg. So you'll get the same wrap around the outside of their right leg with your left arm. Except this time,

What if you're scooting on your butt and your opponent is on their knees? You won't be able to do the X guard or the alternative I just explained. What you can do is fight for the inside position with your hands again. Once you get the inside position with both, scoot forward into them, securing underhooks with your arms, and placing your feet between their knees. Make sure when you secure the underhooks, you post your elbows out and up, away from your sides. This will keep their arms from wrapping and them securing a grip behind your back. Them securing a grip behind your back is bad news for you as you won't have as much control as you'd like. From here you'll roll back and lift them into their air when your butterfly hooks, then you'll point your left leg and allow them to slide down your shin. While their sliding down, slip your left arm under their leg...yes, just as you would secure it when establishing the X guard as described above. Then again, as described above, slide that left foot back between their legs and secure the X guard completely.

Another option from that lift is instead of attacking the legs to get X guard, you'll attack an arm to secure an armbar. After you've lifted them, pick an arm. I've found that I usually attack their left arm. So you've got the underhooks, scooted in, and lifted them up and into the air. Remove that left underhook and bring it out and over their left arm. As you lower them back to the ground, push out with your legs as to create space between you and your opponent while sitting up. Your right forearm is going to be across their right arm, just above the elbow and you can just secure an overhand grip (back of right hand into your left palm), and put pressure on the elbow.

A common situation to come across, usually when grappling with somebody who isn't as experienced or when rolling with wrestlers, is when you scoot in they'll bull rush you - charge full force with their shoulder into your chest in an attempt to lay you back onto the mat. This is a pretty cool move for that situation. Say when you tried to scoot in, you were able to get your feet in between their knees, but were only able to secure one underhook. When they bull rush you, as you're going to your back, secure the arm that you have overhooked - this is the arm you're going to attack for the submission. Place your feet onto each of their hips and create space, or onto their knees and flatten them out. Then rotate their elbow to have it point to the ground, the bend in their elbow facing the sky. Lay back the rest of the way if you had to sit up a little to rotate their elbow, then bridge your hips to the sky.

Again, this blog is a few days late...way later than I wanted to post it (I've gone to 2 classes at my school this week since the weekend). The seminar is something I'll always remember, and hopefully I have the chance to meet Marcelo again in the near future :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Marcelo Garcia Seminar - Day 1 - No-Gi

So about a month ago I came across a post on a BJJ blog I read that said Marcelo Garcia was heading this way. I posted about it a little over here.

Anyways, day 1 was awesome! It's crazy to have actually met Marcelo Garcia, a guy I've idolized in all the online videos I've seen since starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The guy is just so good! And he's an awesome person. Soft spoken, a great sport, loves what he does and loves sharing his knowledge with others. All of this showed all throughout the seminar, too. Day 1 was a no-gi day, tomorrow's going to be a gi day. But Marcelo emphasized at the beginning of the seminar that what he was going to show us wasn't go to be "this is for gi, this is for no-gi." What he would show us can be used for either. Maybe with a few minor changes, but could translate between both.

It started off with Robert Owens, the head instructor at BJJ Olympia, introducing Marcelo and talking about him a bit. Then Marcelo thanked everyone for coming out and we got started! Marcelo said that Saturday he'd concentrate on working from the top, while on Sunday he'd concentrate on working from the bottom. So he started out by explaining that from working from the top, you want your opponents back on the ground. You don't have as much control over an opponent when they're on their edge or even sitting up. And so this is where we started out: you're standing and your opponent is scooting around on their butt. He showed us one technique he uses to get the opponent on their back, then stemmed from there.

Alright... So you're standing and you're opponent is scooting around on their butt. You're going to grab their right ankle with your left hand, and your right hand is going to push on their right shoulder. Once they have their back to the ground, you'll more than likely have your right leg between their legs and your left leg outside of their left leg. Then you'll re-position your right hand to their sternum and put most of your weight on that right hand. This'll 1) help hold the opponent down, 2) make it very uncomfortable for your opponent and make it a little harder to breath, and 3) with most of your weight on your hand, this'll help keep you light on your feet so that you can manuvuer left/right around your opponents guard. If your opponent was able to get their right leg outside of your left? Then simply step over their right leg with your left. Once here, you'll move your right hand from their ankle up to the knee. As you pull on the knee to straighten their right leg, swing your right leg back and around toward you, then put the right knee on their belly. If they try to move away, shrimp out, you'll follow them until you find the right time to move into belly down side control (making sure you get that underhook on the far side).

But what happens if they lock your right leg up with their legs? From there you can use that same swing around kick from before, escape to pass guard, you're creating space in the leg lock. After you create the space, drive your right knee up your opponents right side, freeing your foot and sliding into side control.

What if you're unable to drive your knee up to free your leg because you're opponent is blocking your knee with his hands. In this situation you can push your opponents right knee with your left hand, shifting his hips to his left. This'll cause you to drop to your knees and lay across your opponents outter right thigh. If you act quick enough, you can kick/straighten your right leg to escape the lock. Then swing your legs around and secure belly down side control. If you weren't able to act quick enough and kick that leg back to break the lock though, then you can just straighten the leg as much as possible, then reach up with your left foot and peel the lock off. Then move into belly down side control.

Now, let's take a couple steps back... What if when your opponent gets your right leg locked, they start turning their body to grab your left leg with their right hand? It depends really on which way they attempt to grab it. If they just and grab your ankle, then you'll lift your foot and spin the bottom portion of your leg in a counter-clockwise motion, breaking the grip. It uses the same principle as break a grip around your wrist: follow the path of least resistence, the thumb. Now what if they get in little deeper and wrap around the outside of your left leg? Pick up the foot, and pull it out of their attempted wrap. But what if they try to wrap your leg by going in between your legs and hooking toward the outside? Pick up that left leg and "baseball slide" across their chest to their left side. As you slide in, your right foot should slide out of the lock. Make sure you secure that underhook with your left arm as you slide in, too.

Now taking it back all the way to the beginning: you're on your feet, your opponent is scooting around on their butt. What if when you push their back to the floor, your right hand post didn't have enough weight on it to hold them down? Or you never got a chance to get their back to the floor and they scoot in and try to hug your right leg? This is where the guillotine choke comes in handy. Put your right wrist into their neck and cup your left hand around the back of their head. When doing this, you want to put that wrist straight up into their neck, don't slide it in. You want to make sure you get it in there below the chin. Trying to slide it in, you'll be telegraphing the move. The left hand on the back of the head is to make sure they don't back their head out. Then lean over and replace that left hand with your right shoulder. Reach down and put the back of your right hand into the palm of your left, and lift up.

But, someone who's every grappled before is not going to get close enough to just let somebody put that in. So he showed us another way, if the person is just close enough to reach to put it in. Reach out with your left hand to cup the back of the head and put the right wrist into their neck, then do a judo shoulder roll over them. Doing this, you'll both end up on your back, but you'll have the choke in. Then simply bridge up to tighten the choke.

From there we did some free rolling. Now, I'm normally a very shy person, and this was my first BJJ seminar. So I wasn't just walking up to people asking them to roll. But one guy came over and asked if I wanted to roll, so I accepted. On our way to finding an open area on the very crowded mat (seemed there was at least 50 people there), I asked him where he was from and how long he had been rolling. He said he had been rolling for about 2 years, then asked how long I had been rolling. "3 months," I said haha So we kneeled down and began to roll. You could tell he had way more experience than man, but I held my own for a bit. I got a few sweeps in, but could never get a submission. He ended up getting me in a triangle. I was hoping to roll somemore, but you could tell he was there for a "real challange" and he ended up saying thanks and walked away to find somebody else. That sort of killed it for me, so I went and watched Marcelo roll for the rest of the time. It's one thing to see him in the videos on YouTube, but wow...in real life it's a whole 'nother thing. The guy is just so relaxed and so smooth with his game.

Marcelo closed out with some words of wisdom. Talked about how he would've never gotten where he was today without the great people doing BJJ also. He travelled a lot to learn from various people who were more skilled than he was. And told us not to get frustrated or discouraged if something doesn't come to us right away. He's been training for a very long time, and he's put a lot of hours into getting where he's at today. And don't be hesitant in trying new things while rolling. That's the whole point of it - to try these new techniques on a resisting partner.

In all, the seminar ran about 3 hours. It was an amazing day and I'm TOTALLY stoked for day 2 of the seminar tomorrow. Tomorrow, as I said, will be a gi day. I have more experience with a gi, so hopefully when we free roll at the end I won't have people walking away because I wasn't enough of a challenge. Also, Mel said that there was supposed to be another guy from my school up here. Hopefully he's here today so I can practice all the techniques with him. Yesterday I had to roll with a guy who I didn't know. Which I didn't mind, but the dude wouldn't stop farting...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tonight's Practice - 9.18.2008

Tonight was a no-gi night. I've been trying to get a little more no-gi experience before the Marcelo Garcia seminar this weekend (2 day seminar - one day no-gi, one day with the gi). I still don't have much (only a handful of no-gi classes), but at least I have some now. I won't be flopping like a fish now...much haha Tonight we worked a lot from the back, both from the back and having somebody on your back. I've learned a couple chokes from the back during a previous class with the gi, but haven't learned how to escape when somebody had your back. So I was soaking it up like a sponge heh We started off with a basic escape from when somebody has your back...

So your opponent has your back, foot hooks in, and their right arm around your neck. This can work whether you have your hands up and crossed protecting your neck and they wrap their arm, or they have their arm wrapped and youv'e tucked your chin and are pulling down on their forearm with both hands. You're going to want to push and slide up, and put your back on the ground to the left side of your opponent. A good way to remember which way to go is to go the direction their fingers are pointing (of the arm wrapped around your neck), or go toward the opening, not into the bend of their elbow. Once you get your back onto the mat, whizzer with your right around their right arm, post your left hand on their right knee and shrimp out (facing toward them).

From here it depends on what your opponent does. You might get butterfly guard, half butterfly, maybe get full guard. If your opponent is experienced, they'll know to sit back on their bottom to keep from getting sweeped. If you're able to pull butterfly guard and your opponent sits back, you can push your feet out and create space. From here you can get this sweep:

If when you pulled butterfly guard you weren't able to get underhooks, when you push your opponent back with your foot hooks, get those underhooks. From here you'll bring your left hand up to your ear trapping your opponents right arm. Once you do that, stretch your body out as you lay back, and roll your opponent to your left. Sweep successful!

Now, what if you have an opponent that's not as experienced and is really aggressive after you get the butterfly guard and underhooks, and he wants to push into you and get face to face? Then just execute the same sweep. Left hand up to your ear and sweep to your left. The sweep is a lot easier to execute this way since you're able to use their momentum to roll them.

Just a quick note regarding defending the choke when an opponent has your back. The "old school" way of defending it was to pull down on the forearm with both your hands and tuck your chin. But do you really want to allow your opponent to get this in before trying to defend? heh I don't. So a "new school" way is to cross your arms at the wrist, palms facing out, put your face between your hands and tuck your chin. After seeing this I asked Mel, "which arm crosses in the front?" He explained how it's a numbers game. Most people, when they take your back, they're going to wrap their right arm around your neck. Going off that, you're going to want to cross your left arm over your right. It makes it a lot easier to get that whizzer in with your right arm. If you cross your right arm over your left, then when they wrap their right arm around, you'll be blocking it with your right hand/wrist/arm, then try and switch blocking hands so that you can use your right arm to get the whizzer in.

After working from the defense, we moved to the offensive side of things. Now, this move is if you're losing the position, your opponent is getting the leg hooks out and getting away. While your opponent is going to try and slide toward the direction your fingers are pointing, when you the back you're going to want to roll your opponent back in toward the bend of your elbow. So if you have your right arm around your opponents neck and the left arm has an underhook under their left arm, you're going to want to secure your hands together (say with a gable grip) roll them back and toward your right. When you start to lose your leg hooks, remove the left leg hook and move it behind their left leg in a butterfly fashion, then push off with that left leg creating space. Once you've created the space, you want to remove your left arm that's underhooked, secure the gable grip again this time over their left arm, and post your left forearm into their left shoulder. While doing this your right forearm will end up across their throat. Then sprawl your feet out, rolling to your left from your right side to your belly, into a north south position. When rolling you want to make sure that left forearm stays in their shoulder, this will help roll them to their back. And there's the choke.

So let's say you're opponent doesn't allow you to roll to your belly after creating the space? Keeping the gable grip secured, switch your body from their right side to their left by throwing your body over their back. Once you get to the other side, do a sort of baseball slide to get your feet out from under you. And there's that choke.

We did positional rolling, starting with one on the back of another. I was able to successfully execute the escape a majority of the time, but was only able to get the sweep in once. As for the offensive side of things, I need to work on keeping position heh

In between all this, I talked with Mel and another guy named Gino. Gino's been training with Mel for a long time now, and is pretty knowledgeable. I was talking to Mel about how I was trying to get in an armbar from the mount the night before, but the person had their hands locked keeping me from finishing it. One thing I never thought of was which foot to use to put into the far bicep to break the grip. Trying to think back, I just just used whichever without giving it much thought. Last night I was sitting on the left side of my opponent putting the armbar on the left arm. When trying to use my right foot to break the grip, my opponent stopped me and showed me that I should use my left foot instead. Keep my right leg down to keep their head down. While talking to Mel and Gino about this, Gino showed me something. In the situation where your opponent gets their head out from under your right leg, you'll take your left leg and weave your foot between their right shoulder and head. Can you see it yet? Then lock up the triangle! I was really excited to see that haha

Anyways, tomorrow I'm heading up to Olympia for the Marcelo Garcia seminar on Saturday and Sunday. I'll try and remember as much detail as I can to share with the Internet! :-)