Hello darkness, my old friend.
No, this isn’t a Simon & Garfunkel appreciation post – although it probably should be. The title’s actually a quip on my absence from here. I’m dead fucking clever like that.
Recently, putting pen to paper hasn’t been as easy as it once was. I still frequently write and talk about grappling, but it’s less public. I have a few go to people that I regularly discuss Jiu-Jitsu with (that includes the hot new techniques, people’s progression, concepts etc).
By the time I’m done complaining about the club’s multiple spazzy white belts, I’m burnt out and can’t write a single bloody word (I can say that, because I’m a spazzy purple belt – pulling rank, yo).
Updating my blog just hasn’t been the priority it once was. Free time now belongs to training. It’s the one place that quells whatever stresses I’m having, even if those stresses are Jiu-Jitsu related.
A few people have asked when I’m going to update this shit-tip, so here it is.
I used some of my *I’m broken* free time to throw some words together. This turned into something big, pretty quick. Ooo-er.
Let’s bring you to speed, since my last post way back when – I’ve been training four times a week – sometimes more. My usual classes are a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and a Friday – but I’m a bit more adaptable, throwing in Thursdays and Saturdays if I can. I still try to mix between Gi and NoGi, and I’m still far more heavily focused on the Gi. I’ll probably always have that bias, in the same way that some of the club members have a NoGi bias. Different Strokes, for different folks.
What you talkin’ about Willis?
Last month (May), I attended Origin’s bi-annual interclub grading day. I felt well prepared, had no nerves whatsoever and still got absolutely smashed by Mighele. From what I can remember, I wasn’t in danger – until I was. He pulled guard, I toyed with passing as he went to sweep, I looked for Ashi, we ended in a pretty tight single leg X. From here, there were a few scrambles as he tried to pass, and I did my usual chaotic inversions to clean the mats / prevent the pass.
We ended in one of those non-positions. Not quite dorsal, not quite knee on belly – something in between. I didn’t even feel Mighele setting up the double wrist lock. His hips weren’t sitting heavy, but in hindsight this is because he was waiting for me to make a move. So I did – I fed a hand up to his belt, to try and pull myself through to the back. I knew that if I could get enough of pull, I’d be able to use a butterfly or two to launch him out of my way so that I could try and take the back. If I didn’t get the back, I’d have settled for a bit of top control. What actually happened though is that as I started to pull myself towards the back, he stepped over and finished the kimura. Que bitch scream. I’m dead. Shit happens.
I came away from it pretty sore, and genuinely pissed off with my performance. I’m ever the person to pick people’s spirits up when they’re down after a bad performance, but I’m not the best at listening to people when I do bad myself. Mighele’s the current British Champion at purple belt, so I’m expected to lose and that’s fine – but I wanted to give him more of a back and forth this time, because I’ve been spanked by him before. One thing is certain, I should probably be competing between these interclubs – and I just don’t. It’s never interested me the way it interests other people. Movement is very different in active competitors, there’s an urgency that I just don’t have currently – I can play aggressive, play heavy or whatever but I don’t have that spark in me to kill just yet. I need to work on that. I’m too nice on the mats, which is a stark difference to how I am off of them. I’m a bit of a prick, y’see.
Origin Scotland took a fair few guys down, with Scott Malone of Cage Warriors fame winning out the purple belt category by doing what Scott does best. Smashing everyone to bits. He’s a demon on the mats. He batters people all the time, wee bastard that he is.
The level at each of these interclubs is getting better all the time and a few of our pesky wee white belts are now on the brink of that coveted blue belt status. Thank god, because currently I have to fight like a bullying bastard with them.
The ever wonderful Sean Middleton got his blue belt on the day, which made me super proud because since coming back to BJJ, he’s worked hard as hell with as many of us coaches as possible to bring himself back up to speed. He’s now hooring and touring in Brazil for the next three months. Jammy little shit.
The Interclub turnout.
Barely a week removed from the interclub, we were super lucky at Origin Jiu-Jitsu Scotland to have Meerkatsu (Seymour Yang) reach out to us for a bit of training.
Seymour’s a Nick Brooks / Roger Gracie black belt. So he’s no slouch on the mats, that’s for sure.
If you’ve been doing BJJ for longer than a hot minute, and are fortunate enough to live in one of the parts of the world with access the internet, you’ll see him abso-bloody-lutely everywhere. The reason you see him everywhere, is because he does a great deal for the sport in this country.
Rather than list all of the plates this man spins in the UK BJJ scene, please do check him out – he’s everywhere you’d expect him to be (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, his own website, his blog, etc).
On the Monday night, we held a small class for some rolling. This wasn’t advertised to the greater populous, because it would impact on other classes and whilst he’d agreed to come, our societal cynicism has conditioned us to only believe stuff when it actually happens. Grim.
As I went to peer outside at the baking sun, a wee Chinese man walked in. I greeted him with a “Welcome! I’m Barry.” which is about is friendly as I’ve ever been in my life. Once the pain of being nice wore off, we did a quick warmup, belthered a bit about the godfathers of BJJ in the UK and got to rolling.
I lucked out and got to roll with him first. He was super calm, chilled and we just flowed with him casually bitch slapping any sort of offensive I played with at the time. I threw a triangle up early, but there was no ill intent. His ability to switch from super-chilled to grappling ninja was very cool to experience. There were times when he’d let me pass, or start to work something before sweeping me through to the very depths of hell. He has a very skeletal approach to Jiu-Jitsu. Not relying on strength, instead creating frames and using stiff arms when necessary. Similar to Marc Walder. He also has that egoless approach in BJJ, that you’re sold on day one but so few actually have.
In our second roll at the end of the night, he was a lot less friendly. Setting up foot-locks several times, because I was entertaining De La Riva or Reverse De La Riva. It’s something I’ve been playing with a bit, and I’ve had pretty decent success with it against the club scrubs. He shut that shit down immediately. Swallowing up my feet like a hungry pervert. He also tried wrist locking me, which as we all know turns a friendly roll into a no holds barred fight. I called him out there and then. His online persona may be super friendly, but he’s clearly out for the blood. The buzzer rang before I could finish my tombstone piledriver. He’s getting choke-slammed if we ever roll again.
On Thursday night, he came back to teach a class. There was a small but respectable turnout because we’d opened it up for all to come. Lots missed out on some cracking details. Shit happens. Life gets in the way.
Seymour covered entries for the straight Achilles lock. It’s one of those, that’s not sore – OH YA BASTARD! techniques.
The class was really well received, because he covered a lot of initial setups for the Achilles which clearly branch into other things, should you wish to explore the dark arts further.
In short, Meerkatsu’s a really cool guy – he hung out for a bit after the class with Grant and I – we shot the shit about BJJ. If he’s ever up this way again, he’s more than welcome to stop by. Similarly, he gave us the impression that we’d be welcome at his place in Borehamwood BJJ, or even to drop into Mill Hill BJJ. Legend.
Meerkatsu and I.
On Wednesday I traveled to Speedy’s for a daytime session with a few of my favourite prized pricks. Danny, Grant and Tony. The journey there was a bit of a farce – we almost ended up in fucking Glasgow.
Once we’d gotten there, it was straight to business. Gis on, lapel traps with Speedy demonstrating each painful technique on his poor son Tyrone.
These lapel traps were great, and they feed into positions and techniques that he’s shown us before. They’re fucking heinous, and so positionally sound that you can really fuck with your opponent. That’s what this stuff is all about, isn’t it?
Afterwards, we worked a little bit of honeyhole – because it’s all anyone ever talks about. This was familar ground for me, having fucked about with heel hooks for a while now – it was a simple setup into a deep and dangerous world. I dig it.
Roll time. My first roll was with Danny. It was fairly flowy, and fun. Lots of positions switches and no actual submissions. He tried to take my back. I shut that shit down, with the old salmon method. Aggressive flailing.
My second roll was with Tyrone. He completely shut everything down with pant grips, and a knee constantly feeding inside to control the hip or the shoulder, depending on where I was trying to move from. It was pertty hellish to be honest. I’m used to this little fucker playing a tight guard game, but no – he’s doing top control now, and pissing through me with it. The only saving grace was that when he did eventually catch me with a choke, I made that little fucker work for it. Grunting and snotting everywhere whilst flailing about like an octopus in a bottle of whisky.
Third roll, Speedy. He goes through a few scenarios with me when we roll. Likely to see where I’m doing well, or where I’m going wrong. My biggest win here was probably preventing a belly down RNC from happening, if you’ve had the pleasure of rolling with Speedy he has this crazy fucking pressure game. So being able turn back into him and actively stop that felt good. He flowed right into an armbar after it though, I didn’t really fight the armbar because I knew I was gubbed.
After the tap, I figured I’d go for broke. Put a bit more pressure on, and try to be a bit more aggressive – as that’s what he’s always looking for. There were a few scrambles, and I managed to get a pretty dominant mount. I feel really comfortable in my top game now. My pressure/float switch is pretty spot on, so that escapes are often thwarted, although I have no doubt in my mind that if Speedy wanted to switch out my mount into the Walls of fucking Jericho, he definitely could.
I was having difficulty finding an arm or a neck from the mount, because Speedy’s tight as a motherfucker. I had to switch shit up. Fuck it, try a leglock. I switched position but I wasn’t particularly careful with my own feet as I dropped to catch his own foot in a foot lock. This is the consequence of rolling with a lot of white belts. You can afford to be really careless as a purple belt, and that creates bad habits.
He set up his own foot lock at the same time. Speedy has a lot more experience in this game, and my ankle made a lovely pop. There was no crank, he didn’t try to rip my foot off or any of that capers – he legitimately just set his hands in place and that was it. The pop made him let go immediately – my verbal tap probably wasn’t even necessary but the kid inside of me needed to scream like a bitch.
I got a pretty big fright, in my head I was about to look at my foot to see it pointing at six o’clock instead of the usual 12 o’clock. But it wasn’t. It was just SORE. I had a good feel to see where the pain was, and after about ten minutes I did a pistol squat to check the integrity of the joint (that would have been a shite idea if it was fucked). It was still sore, but it was fine. Good enough mobility, that I could walk about, etc.
My lack of warmup probably contributed to unnecessary tightness in the joint and I’ve likely just got a bad sprain. It’s still a bit swollen now, but it’s getting better. No snapped ligaments or any of that capers.
Coaching is going really well. Whether going it solo, or coaching alongside Grant on Sundays and Thursdays – things seem to be going really well. We keep things simple, add a bit of humour and really drive home the technique of the day, whaever it may be. Classes are fun, which is important to keep people engaged.
Going forward, I’d like to have a monthly sit down with the other coaches to see how people are progressing – because we’re training out of three separate sites, we need to be on the same page with progression, attendance, etc. All that boring shit. I don’t want to be in position six months down the line, where people are getting overlooked for promotions, etc. It’s not cool, so let’s go for a coffee you cunts.
Coming up a few of our guys are doing the Rickson Gracie Cup. I think we’ve got til the end of the month to register. Support will likely be needed for that, so we’ll get some competition structured classes in place, etc.
Couple of seminars coming up. Marc Walder in Newcastle. Daniel Strauss in Dundee. Speedy’s due a visit too I believe, so we’ll need to get that sorted.
What else? Oh, I rolled yesterday for the first time since my ankle mishap. Hurts like a motherfucker today – so I’m skipping the sparring class tonight.
I had some good fun rolls yesterday. I made Gary my wee bitch, because he was a bitty stressed. There’s no better stress relief, than being tapped every 30 seconds in a four minute roll. I think I inverted triangled him three times, from different setups because fuck Gary.
Right, I’m done. Fly my pretties. 2571 words. Oh you fucker.