The Marc Walder Seminar.

Grab a tea/coffee, this is probably going to be a big one. Expect errors, I’m still awaiting my English degree coming from Uganda. It only cost me £15,000. Bargain!

On Saturday I woke up quite early with a bit of a buzz. Myself and two friends were off to Newcastle for a Marc Walder seminar. The UK BJJ scene is growing steadily, and that’s thanks to people like Marc. He’s a second degree black belt under Mauricio Motta Gomes, and he’s a very important figure in the UK Jiu-Jitsu scene due to his ethos, philosophy & ability.
Marc travelled around 300 miles to get to Newcastle. Myself and my friends travelled around 190 miles. This gives you an idea of the gaps there are in the UK scene. More and more black belts are popping up all the time (I’ll come back to that), but there is still a lot of travelling to be done throughout the country to source them. This definitely isn’t Brazil, but we’re making steady progress.

Now a Saturday evening isn’t my preference for a seminar, but this is an opportunity not to be snuffed at. We set up the gym and got changed into our Gis. Looking around the room, I could see once again that I was the only person wearing a non-conventional Gi (white, blue or black). I must look such a prick, but I like purple so that’s the one I brought with me.

Marc wasted no time in getting us to work. I was a bit taken aback by the work rate. As you can tell by the blog name, I’m quite lazy, so for us to warm up with takedowns is probably a great idea on his part, but it kicked the shit out of me. In the first half hour, I was sweating like an old man. I’m twenty-six for Christ sake.

Word of warning, this’ll be a mess. Think of something majestic like a Flamingo. Now erase that from your brain. A friend comes along to tell you about this new thing he’s seen. He doesn’t know it’s a bird, what colour it is, or what it does, but he’s going to explain it to you anyway. That’s what is about to happen here. I’m a blue belt, and I can barely string a logical sentence together. What happens is my brain goes, OH but.. and but.. this but.. but you did.. and then.. So forgive me if you’re reading through these techniques and think, what the fuck are you going on about?

First up, we did an exercise to feel range. Typical kickboxer stance, patting your hands to feel range. Once you feel your opponents hand ahead of you, kick low and grab a double underhook. Locking up with the gable grip and driving forward.

We then complimented this with a classic double leg takedown. We’re not animals, so there was no punching in the face to distract our opponent. Instead we placed our palm on the face as we shot in. Grabbing at the legs, getting good posture by squating properly with a sensible stance and driving them through the mat like they slapped our mothers. Straight into knee on belly.

We moved onto a failed takedown. You’ve been caught in a standing guillotine, because you’re an arsehole. Why did you do that? Well that doesn’t matter. Grab the choking wrist, place your opposite hand over their shoulder and point your fingers down their spine. You’ve just relieved a shit-ton of pressure, well done. But we’re not done yet. Step out to the opposite side of the choke and drag your opponent to the ground. You can do this by placing a knee behind theirs. Once on the ground, he can no longer choke you, so let go of his wrist and feel for his hips. One hand is placed on his hip, and your knee on the other hip. That’ll stop the wriggling little bastard. Now, take your opposite hand and slide across the throat, gripping at the shoulder, and driving a pressure down onto his neck, the remains of his guillotine will release, and you can take side control.

You’re in a failed takedown again, you’ve landed in the standing guillotine again. You grab the wrist, and reach over his shoulder, step out and nothing happens. He’s moving with you, like some sort of choking ninja. The last takedown has been rendered useless. So what now? Reach over and around his neck, crank into your own guillotine – if this doesn’t choke him out with the extra leverage generated by the twist on his neck and drive of your hips, then you can switch out to another crafty little takedown. You want to move out to the opposite side that you’re choking on, so that you’re facing his hip. Your hands should be on their opposite hip (around the back), and tricep (around the front). Now pull these apart slightly, it will make things awkward for him. Now you want to scoot out, step backwards so that your body is parrellel to the ground. You now need to take a step one leg stepping in front of their foot, and the other behind their legs as you sit down. Make sure you don’t trap your own hand, so release the hand that’s on the hip, to place on the mat as you fall. Now scramble into either mount or side control and that’ll take us onto the next techniques.

First up, you’re in no-man’s-land, a side control but you haven’t got him pinned. You’ve landed awkwardly and your opponent, god bless him can do one of two things. He’ll roll away from you, or into you. Now if he choose to roll away, place a hand on his hip to delay his roll into turtle, thread a leg under his other hip and get your other hook in. Take seatbelt control. He’ll trying to stand and shake you off, but you’re clever, you’ve modified the back mount so that you’re off to one side. This slight angle pertubes him. Your legs need to be like a zig-zig pattern off of a pair of ’80s curtains. Threading through his legs with the back of your knee threading through his and your foot resting on the opposite side. Now work the rear-naked-choke. Your opponent will drop to the mat, and you can palm off their attempts to stop the choke with your free hand. Now sink in the choke, and hold until your fellow students pull you off of your opponent. The police are called for some reason unkown to you because all you can see is red, and all you can hear is screaming. Wait, what?

Same awkward no-man’s-land, non-pinned side control. This time the saucy bugger decides to turn into, and you’re like, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? As he turns in, you quickly throw an arm triangle on. I found this was most effective for me if I did it the following way. Picture side control, your opponent starts to turn to you, you need to block this with your shoulder, you the take the hand that would be beside their hip and quickly thread under so that you have one arm trapped, whilst the hand goes around their neck. Now I reached through as far as possible before flattening them out, this made the choke easier for me to obtain. Flatten yourself, rest your knee against their hip, and grab your bicep. Now grab the tricep of the trapped arm and push it into their neck. The result of this mess of words is they get that fuzzy feeling, blurred eyes and then suddenly start to tap as the air is being stolen from them.

Marc explains things very well, and relates techniques to the street, much like a lot of the Gracies do. He doesn’t shy away from new techniques, and trains each aspect of BJJ to keep his game active, which allows him to defend appropriately. Can you imagine being knocked on your arse by some burly man, then butt-scooting into a berimbolo? You’re in a car park, and suddenly your favourite jeans have scores on the arse, your shoulder is about to get fucked up, and you’re probably going to scratch up your scalp. All the while Punchy Bastard is repeatedly trying to punch you in the face. That’s not gonna fly, dawg. That’s why Marc teaches exactly what is most effective for the scenario.

There was a Q&A after the seminar, that lasted around 45 minutes. This gave great insight into Marc’s mentality towards BJJ, life, etc. He’s clearly a very clever man, and had an answer for everything asked of him. Whether it was dealing with try-hard one-hundred-percenters trying to break you, or how to deal with bad positions. He demoed a lot here, to show that someone being on your back/in mount/side control etc wasn’t actually something bad at all. There’s no need to panic, you will become comfortable, you will find your place.

His roll with Ian Malone was something to behold. Playful, intricate, enjoyable to watch. They flowed.

At the end of the seminar, we were lined up, and Ian was deservingly promoted to black belt. He’s been a brown belt the whole time I’ve been doing BJJ. He has taught for a number of years, to my knowledge and he’s the perfect example of proper Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, fighting MMA at flyweight he doesn’t rely on strength, beasting people, etc. He is the purest form of technique, much like ‘Speedy’ and of course Marc. This is how I want to be one day. Emulating traits from either one, and defining my own style.

And I’m spent. Toodle pip!

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