Continuing to Fail.

Next week, I’ve got some time off of the demon devil work that I so often succumb to. The intent is to use that time off to clean up some of the glaring holes in my game. Luckily there are many to choose from.
I’m having one of those moments, a lull if you will, whereby you stop for a second and look at the grand scheme. The horrible thing about that is it can hamper your confidence as a grappler. Your brain is a horrible shit sometimes, and when you’re doing something as complicated as BJJ it’s pretty quick to shout, “Hey Barry, why the fuck you no good?” For some reason my brain is an overbearing Korean mother, disappointed because I didn’t go to medical school.
This train of thought kicked off because quite a few of my team mates completed yesterday, and I wasn’t there to support them/compete alongside them.
As a competitor, I’ve been a total shit. I go to the inter-club competitions and that’s it. I do what I do against the people in my club, but it’s not a fair representation of where I am as a grappler. I know this person’s game, or that person’s game. Whether I can stop it or not is a different story, but I have no idea how I’d fare again Tom, Dick or Harry from XYZ Gym. That needs to change, but it can only change if I kick myself up the arse and get myself out of this big bastard lull.

I’ve been training semi-regularly for years now. Bouts of illness, injuries etc have of course stunted that but my biggest enemy is laziness. There have been times when I’ve straight up missed training because I’m being a lazy fuck and playing the Xbox. I am but a human man. I woke up to where I was at last year, and have been taking things a lot more seriously as a result. That’s something at least. If I haven’t been at the gym, it’s been a cold or a flu or something. Not because I can’t be arsed moving from the couch.

When I’m not being a lazy useless shit of a person, it’s apparent that I’m not Eddie Gordon, Gordon Ryan or Garry Tonon. I am not a grappling savant. I am not a sponsored athlete competing for big cash prizes. With that in mind, I am not afforded the luxury of training 10 hours a day. As a result, I know that my progress is going to be slim pickings over a very long period of time.
I’m cool with that, because well, I have to be. When the effort is there I train 3-4 times a week. I probably get in less training in one week than Tonon gets in a single bloody day. I will never be a world beater, again I’m cool with that – but things have to change. I’m going to have to start using free time more sensibly, so that I can get the most out of this grappling thing with the limited time I have (this isn’t a reference to morality, it’s simply being the best I can be).

I’ve approached one of my coaches, and asked for some one on one time to work some shit out. The hope is that he’ll catch (as catch can) the mistakes I’m making and put me on the right path to correcting them. I’m a completely different person in the Gi than I am NoGi. Sure, I’m shit at both but there’s a skew in favour in one over the other. That’s simply because I’ve trained a lot more Gi, because it fits my schedule better. I don’t actually have a preference, I just love getting down and grabbing a hold of men (steady!).
Having said that, for all the confidence I have in the Gi, it just isn’t there NoGi. So who better to fix that, than our resident NoGi whizz, Fenrir Thorvaldsen? He’s a grapplist of 36 years, which is pretty damned impressive considering he’s early forties. He’s going to be the man that takes me from a defensive, flowy easy going grappler, into a destroyer of worlds. I WILL CRUSH. I WILL MUSH. Or at least, he’s going to give me some tools, and I’ll get out exactly what I put in. That’s how this shit works. So that’s next week’s plan, but for now I will focus on this week.

Tonight’s agenda as per usual is BJJ from under the tutelage of Willheim von Beckerschmidt. The greying Yoda himself. I’ll be doing the same on Wednesday, and then I’ll hopefully take a battering from Fenrir and his crew on Friday in free sparring class, wrapping up the week on Sunday with another small class. Let’s get this mind right.

Right, I’ve splurged enough for one day. Thanks for reading, you fucks. x

Cyclical Drills.

S’up y’all, I haven’t penned anything in a while because my quill has been out of ink. It’s only now that I’ve stored up enough blood of my fallen brethren to scrawl together this literary masterpiece*.

*littered catastrophe. Shit drivel. A fresh fart in an otherwise empty room.

On Sunday we worked basic armbars & collar chokes. BORING. On Monday we worked basic butterfly guard. BORING. These drills are often monotonous and require a partner that you can either have a bit of a laugh with, or someone that you can bang out the reps with. If you strike it lucky, you’ll get both and when it comes to sparring you’re already bloody knackered.
Now I’m not a complete idiot, I’m well aware that these drills are important. Blacksmiths don’t just magic a sword out of nowhere; they repeat the same basic techniques over and over until they’ve completely transformed a block of metal into a sharp nasty bastard of a blade.
As a result of these boring old drills, I’ve turned into quite a fan of the butterfly guard. That’s what reps do. You transcend into a dark place. It’s getting close to the point of muscle memory for me. I’m also partial to an armbar, but when people know  that part of your game; you have to abandon that shit, and start tying stuff together. Ugh.

That’s where cyclical drills come into play. It’s something I’ve dabbled with in the past, but something I don’t do enough of. Sure when I roll, I know that I’m not going to get an armbar by just throwing it up unless my opponent is basically brand new. I know that I’ll have to setup a move X to lead into move Y so that I can finish on move Z.
Last night Billy showed off a beautiful cyclical flow that I have not done justice to, but will continue to work until it’s on point. Whilst we were in the gi, we worked the NoGi variation of the flow so it’s adaptable. Plus it means you don’t have to rely on collar grips, etc.

There’s a lot of details, so I’m going to completely gloss over them and do an absolute disservice to Billy by explaining them really fucking poorly.

Back control seatbelt – opponent escapes to your underhook side – walk around the clock to North/South whilst maintaining seatbelt – haul them up and crawl/walk towards – take the back by placing the underhook side leg flat along the floor by their hips – take hook on overhook side and pull to the ground on overhook side – maintain grip and turn out into head and arm choke – opponent defends – take mount – pull into necktie – switch to armbar – opponent defends – pull opponent passed you and into back control seatbelt – rinse and repeat.

I paired up with Ronnie for this, and we really battered through the reps. It was one of those sequences that immediately made sense. Most importantly, it was fun. Not monotonous. What follows is a wee video of me poorly attempting it.

Toodle-oo motherfuckos.

Haunted.

Hello again, you bunch of shits.

I’m still training away 3-4 times a week. My aim hasn’t changed. I still want to be better at Jiu-Jitsu than I was yesterday. That goal will never change. I haven’t been able to go to NoGi in a while, and my heart hurts as a result.

Since the Speedy visit a few weeks ago, I’ve been going harmbar mental. Drilling as much as possible, and trying to hit them in active rolling as frequently as possible. My success is varied because people know what I’m working or trying to work. I’m not very secretive in my intent. Probably doesn’t help that I’m screaming, “I’M GOING TO SNAP YOUR FUCKING ARM YOU DICK.”

Last night, whilst drilling butterfly with Paul I realised that as my armbar game has started to come on again, my kimura game has plummeted. A sacrifice if you will. I just don’t use them anymore. It’s common for me to neglect one technique for another but to have a truly rounded game I need to play with shit on the fly.
I can sequence well, so I’m not sure why I’ve suddenly just decided to spaz out on kimuras – but it’s clear I’ll need to start playing with them again.

I had a great fun roll with Ahmed last night, full of back and forth exchanges and scrambles. He’s brilliant to roll with. He almost caught me in a lapel choke, but I scrambled out like a kitten bagged up and launched into the river. On one of the scrambles I had a Matrix like moment where time stood still, I was off to his left hand side extending his arm back and the kimura was there to be taken. I grabbed hold, hit the gas and completely forgot to lock his hips in place so he scrambled out like a horrible tiny shit. Even with Matrix powers I missed the pissing kimura. It haunted me immediately afterwards, and I’ve been thinking about it since. So much so that I’m waiting on someone at work saying the wrong word. Fuck that guy, he’s getting his arm twisted off like a bottle-top.

Cheerio y’all.

Pressure.

Welcome back y’all. I’m here to ring in the New Year the only way I know how, by flinging shite at you until you go away.

In the lead up to Christmas, I normally get antsy because impending break knocks my chakra to fuck. Legitimately though, I turn into an even more pissy cunt than usual. Jiu-Jitsu balances me. It kills the ills, as it were.
Luckily this year, I was fortunate enough to catch training sessions here and there to tide me over until classes officially started back up again on Monday.

Today, some two days after that first official class back – myself, Danny, Grant & Sean flung ourselves into a car and hurtled down to Newcastle for a session with our good pal Dave ‘Speedy’ Elliot. It’s 180 miles each way, to get beaten up for a few hours before grabbing some food, and heading back. It’s a LONG fucking day, but it’s worth it for the wealth of knowledge that Speedy will impart whilst you’re there.

Regrettably Speedy invited along my arch-nemesis. His son Tyrone is a four stripe brown belt that has been bullying me on the mats since he was 15 years old. He does the whole nice guy thing well, but I know his game. He’s out to get me. Bastard.

Today we focused on side control and a plethora of armbar attacks from there. It was something I’d wanted to play with, and it was also a great way to better understand this mystical pressure that Speedy keeps talking about.

I cannot appropriately describe the horrendous amount of pressure demonstrated in each armbar. My arms felt like they were about to explode when having the techniques applied on me, and I felt like a destroyer of worlds when applying them. As I switched from side control into kesa gatame for the step over arm bar, I could feel my finger playful pointing towards the big button that said, “DO NOT PRESS: NUCLEAR WARHEADS.”
It was a fucking great addition to the arsenal, and the chain of attacks that came off of it allowed you to better picture how all of this shit fits together.

After learning how to prevent someone from carrying their shopping home, we rolled. I rolled with Danny, Speedy, Grant & Tyrone in that order. I’ll focus on my rolls with Speedy & Tyrone, because Danny & Grant are shitebags that I can roll with anytime.

Rolling with Speedy is very much like rolling with an avalanch. If you’re ever given the liberty of space, it’s not going to be for long, because that gap will just be filled with an unrelenting amount of weight and pressure. I fared better against him this time than I did last time, but I was still tapped plenty – as and when he chose to do so. I didn’t realise until after the roll that I wasn’t able to amount a single attack. I was working for sweeps, and trying to get into an advantageous position but it just didn’t happen. Six minutes of hell.

Rolling with Tyrone was a lot more playful. I think our styles compliment one another well. I tried a lot more sweeps and attacks with Tyrone, but the bulk of our roll was focused on a kimura lock that he was working for, that I refused to give up. I’ve got flexible arms, and as close as it was several times, I managed to somehow wriggle out of it. At one point I managed to create space and reel him right back into a heel hook. We both looked at one another knowing what was there, so I let go like the gentleman I am. It was a great roll.

All in all, the day was fantastic. I look forward to the next time I see Speedy, which’ll likely be in March on my fucking Birthday. The best day.

Toodles motherfuckos.

Eleven Stripe White Belt.

On the continual swing of the big fat Jiu-Jitsu pendulum, you’ll go from feeling like you’re worth your grade to feeling like an absolute spaz in the blink of an eye. You don’t get to decide when that happens unfortunately. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t generous with its learning curve. Just when you think you’re starting to piece things together, Robson Moura or some other technical ninja comes along and blows your tiny little fucking mind. It’s time to rethink your approach to this ridiculous sport.

When I reflect on this year, things have been going quite well to my mind’s eye. Sure I’m still getting caught, because I’m not immortal yet – but I’m getting there. I’m starting to really play with my Jiu-Jitsu game, and shape it around the opponent, or force them to play my game. Different goals with different rolls.
If I’m up against a white belt, I play off of their movement. Looking for various attacks within that. If I’m against a blue belt, I try and flow more under their pressure. Attacking where appropriate. Another purple belt, it’s about who can apply their game best. Brown, I’ll do everything I can to get the tap (thumb in the eye, squeeze of the balls, the lot). Black, I cower into a ball and die. Things are falling into place. Moves (as Billy would call them – techniques for everyone else) are no longer perplexing or difficult. Or at least I haven’t found something for a while that baffles me.

Easing out the year, I decided it would be a really fucking wonderful idea to get the cold/flu/AIDS concoction that’s flying about at the moment. As a result, I’ve had to miss out on quite a bit of training this month (all of last week & this week so far). I helped out with a class on Sunday, but rolling near killed me because of how fucked my chest still was. I’m still finding myself out of breath quite easily, because of how much of a bastard it was on the old respiratory system.

My club is wrapping up the year with a little Christmas grappling competition that I was hoping to attend, but alas – those dreams were well and truly stabbed right in the shitter by my malaria/dengue fever/polio super-virus. I was hoping that this would be the right little taste of friendly competition needed, in a trusted environment to get me ready for next year’s plans. I was also hoping to meet Olly at some point, so that I could pull guard just to fuck him off.

Next year I’m going to do that competition thing that I so seldom do. I’ve always kept an active eye on the competition scene but I’ve always struggled to justify actually doing them. Money, travel, fear, anxiety, etc have gotten in the way. More recently, I’ve taken a look at the team of guys I have around me, and I think it’s apt to use a Scottish term here – but they’re all good cunts. I’m training with good people on a regular basis, and the feedback I get personally from some of those people is great. So myself and a group of guys will be hitting up the competitive mats in the new year. I’ve no illusions of how I’ll do, but the first hurdle is actually getting off of my lazy fucking arse and into battle. If I falter at the first competiton, then my goal will be to do better at the second, and so on and so forth until I am the supreme destroyer of worlds. I figure I’ll be able to enter the competitions as an eleven stripe white belt. That’s cool, right?

This’ll probably be my last waffle of the year, so Merry Christ and happy newness to you all. Cheery bye!

Sleepy Time.

SO tonight after god knows how many hours on the mat, I was put to sleep for the first time ever by the wonderful Frank.
Anyone that’s sparred with him knows he’s a very strong grappler, that puts position before submission. As you well should. He also doesn’t horse submissions on, and just lets the technique do the work.

He caught me with a bread cutter choke. Nice and simple. Basic. Something he goes for a lot, and I’m usually capable of defending or alleviating the pressure of.

In my head, the following scenario played out:

Holy buggery this is tight – I need to tap! Hand on elbow, relieve pressure, stiff arm, bridge, shrimp, create space, sit up and reset.

My brain had other ideas though. I probably flailed about the floor like an idiot, next thing I know, I’m sitting up in front of Frank being re-assured that I’m alright, it happens to everyone. I didn’t even know I was out.

Luckily Frank isn’t a cunt and immediately re-assured me about the time he went to sleep. Grant did the same. Weight lifted.

What freaked me out most is how un-freaked out I was. I’m aware that sounds utterly stupid, but I didn’t feel any different to how I felt before the class. It was just weird. Dare I say normal. I’m lucky enough that it’s taken so many years for it to happen.
I’ve caught people the right way, and put them to sleep, and I’ve seen plenty of other people get put to sleep. It’s just part of this fabled art.

It was bizarre but I’m unscathed! Onto the next class. 🤘😴💤

Tightening Shit Up.

So after Saturday’s grading, there’s nothing I wanted more yesterday than to get back onto the mats. Throw myself back into the foray as it were.
I practically bounded along the road from my work into the club. The cold, dark wintery night didn’t deter me like it normally would. Even my Xbox howling at the moon, “Barry, come play me!” didn’t work, because I was still high as a fucking Snow Leopard, thanks to Saturday.
I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to, but I overcame some personal fears and after watching so many good performances (from the age of 4 up to fucking ancient as fuck), I just wanted to be back where I feel at my most comfortable.
Back in a Gi, getting thrown all over the club by monsters like Frankie.

As the class started, Billy did his usual – leaving it up to the students to decide what they wanted to do. He’s been running this school of thought for a while now, and I really like the approach. Half of the class spars, whilst the other half drills. You can chop and change whenever you want, so it’s a really open learning platform, allowing you to either explore your own thing, or take guidance from the zen master himself.

I chose to roll, because I’m all about that flow y’all. Plus, I wanted to try out a few things that Speedy gave me pointers on at the weekend. Last night I was switching between loosey goosey, and tightening shit up. A lot of my game has been allowing too much space for my opponent, and with that I’ve been caught with shit before that I probably shouldn’t have been. So last night, I made sure I was limiting that space with more difficult opponents.

Frankie was my first victim. I say victim, I was still very much the victim but it added a different pace and strategy to our roll. Whilst it was still a very difficult round (partially because it was actually two rounds we rolled for, ignoring the buzzer), I think I managed to stave off his attack a lot better than I did even last week. I play around with my spacing a bit more and by keeping things tight it stopped me getting crushed as much as I normally do. Obviously I’m well aware that this is a two way street, and Frankie was working on whatever he was working on, so it might have just been a case of taking the right approach at the right time.

I had several rolls after that with a number of the guys. I realised after the class that beyond Frankie, no-one attempted a submission on me. I played between a loose game and tight game as and when needed. I explored submissions throughout, swept and had fun with my floaty pressure top game. If I bested someone, I’d give them pointers afterwards or during. Making people aware of where they’re vulnerable. There were plenty of times in the hour and a half or rolling that I was genuinely fucking knackered. Not out of breath, but I really do need to work on my cardio.

I hit a lot of sequences last night, that just seem to be fitting together now. Things are flowing from one position or submission to another, as it should be, and it feels fucking great when it works. Now, I’m looking forward to the next class.
What I’m still missing though is my NoGi rolls. I haven’t had the time to go to a NoGi class, or sparring session in bloody ages, and that fucking sucks, as the NoGi guys are trying to kill me dead. I need that pressure. So when work dies down, I’ll jump at that shit.

I figured I’d write this whilst I was still riding high, before another inevitable miserable post.

Cheery bye fuckers.