Tag Archives: Brazlian Jiu-Jitsu

The Dark Arts and Other Wares.

Hello again bastards. I’ve been in hiding for a while, toying with writing bits and bobs, but the bug just hasn’t been there. Training has continued as it normally does, but to the point where I’m constantly thinking about training, and the idea of also writing about training makes my heart ache. Plus, writing with mangled BJJ hands just isn’t cricket.
I’ve just finished up my latest stint, and I’ll be taking a much needed break until Saturday, so I figured I’d use this as a prime opportunity to bring you up-to speed since my Birthday.

Since my last post, I’m still training more Gi than I am NoGi. It’s how my work/life balance fits and it’s suited me this way for years. If I could train every single day like a grappling mega-beast (alternating between Gi and NoGi) I would; but I can’t, so there’s no point on dwelling on it. What I need to do is  make what training sessions I do count. All mat time is valuable, and should be treated as such. Sadly this means I act the cunt a lot less on the mats. BOO!

Being aware of the fact that I can’t just be good at one part of this fabled art, I’ve made a considered effort to train NoGi with the right people, so that my game elevates quickly. The results so far have been really positive. Or at least the feedback has been.
I’ve been working with our local NoGi coach/Norse God; Fenrir Thorvaldsen. Getting a gauge on his leg lock system, and working both defenses and attacks from various positions. We’ve crammed detail into these short sessions, and I’ve done my best to ask the right questions to extrapolate as much data from that big juicy head of his as possible.

The results whilst rolling have been tremendous. There are leglockers at my club that have gone from completely dominating me in the leglock game, to having a battle to a submission. I’m a still a realist, I’m not winning these exchanges currently but my understanding of The Dark Arts has come on far enough in a short period of time, that I’m making these exchanges difficult for my opponents. It’s no longer a whitewash, and I’m able to have fun with that aspect of grappling. Before they’d setup the heel-hook, I’d tap. Rinse. Repeat.
I’ve started to understand leg pummeling, auto-pummels, ankle control etc and how they fit into the big bastard leglock jigsaw. With more time on the mats, and a better understanding of tying these movements together I know that I’m going to be leg-locking the fuckers that are trying to leg-lock me. That’s pretty fucking brilliant, and exciting.

In addition to Fenrir’s guidance in the last month, I’ve also attended another Speedy seminar. Learning some ‘flying’ armbar attacks, and re-working some nasty lapel trap chokes. It was great to refine old techniques with new details.
After the seminar, I had two really good rolls with Speedy. One blindfolded, and one with my eyes piercing through his soul. He absolutely obliterated me with gentle ease. When I was blindfolded, it felt like I was rolling with two or three men. It was a truly horrible experience. All gaps were filled, there was little room to breathe, etc.
When I had my eyes open, it allowed me to shift my focus to his feet/legs. Speedy’s a leg-locker by trade, so I knew I wouldn’t really get anywhere with my attacks/attempts but it’s a fun new approach that I’m playing with, so I had to try and get a hold of him in a new way. All it did was open me up to armlocks that I never thought were possible.
After the rolls, he complimented me on how technically I’d rolled, but I didn’t feel like the strongest swimmer that day, because I was clearly drowning.

Last week I taught some classes at our little club in Billy’s absence.
I feel like my coaching has finally come onto where it should be. I’m actually confident in my own abilities, the techniques I’m teaching and leading a class. Normally I’d be a mess without the support of certain peers, but I finally feel comfortable in front of the class, leading them into battle. This has been helped by assisting Grant as he leads the classes at the Hut. Adding details, refining techniques for the class, and just giving him a breather when he’s getting battered from a kid or something.
I’m going to carry this mentality on at the weekend, when we have another bi-annual inter-club. I want to make a considered effort to coach from the sidelines, because I’ve neglected it before, and my training partners deserve better than that. These guys are family, and it’s only fair that I support them as best I can, like I’ve been supported in the past by others.

Before I go, I’d like to celebrate a cracking day off. I trained three times today. My first session was at 10am at Navarro’s Fitness & Fighting Gym with Danny and Grant. We rolled and dicussed/tried techniques.
My second session was acting ute for Danny’s private with Fenrir.
My third session was my regular Wednesday BJJ under the tutelage of Billy at DMMA.
I feel truly fucking knackered right now, but in the best possible way.
It was a great way to spend my day. I enjoyed each individual session for different reasons, and really wish some bastard would just pay me to do this 8 hours a day. I’ll need at least £35,000 a year please. Any takers? No?

Right, fuck off then.


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

A Fresh False Sense of Security.

Recovery is a bitch. We’ve all been there, whether it’s injury or sickness. You have that burning desire to get back to what you love most, but the sensible part of you says no. That part is your brain, your big stupid fucking brain.

I work in an office, one that happens to be fucking huge, has several floors, doors, etc the usual. With that comes DISEASE. The common cold spreads like wildfire in my workplace, and it fair kicked me in the balls for the past week or so.

Today was my first BJJ class in FIVE YEARS. No wait, two weeks or so. It felt like five years, because the common cold has been wrecking my body with each painful symptom. Naturally I was apprehensive going back, so I loaded up on painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen), had a big swig of sugar (Coke), and threw myself merrily onto the mats. Fuck anxiety, I’m doing this.

The warmup was painful, and the drills weren’t much better. My movement was pretty damn awful throughout, because my hips just haven’t had to move beyond walking recently. I really should stretch more at home, but I was ill, so fuck that.

We then set up nine minute rounds to roll. There were four of us there, so we were to roll three times with a minute rest in between. I kept myself chilled throughout the rolls, and did everything I could not to get flustered. I wasn’t anywhere close to being tapped, and I tapped each of the people I rolled with. This is where a fresh false sense of security comes in.

A long time ago, I would have left the mats beaming, impressed with my performance, but today I came away with one thing in mind. I can do better. I will do better. I’m going to beat the person that I was yesterday, and that will always be my goal going forward. Whether I tap a thousand people, or get tapped by a thousand people, nothing changes if I don’t progress past where I am currently. I have Marc Walder and Speedy Elliot to thank for this mentality, and it’s one I believe everyone in combat sports should adopt, if you haven’t already.

STOP! Bacon sandwich time.

Letting Go.

This is another opportunity of mine to gush over the wonderful Marc Walder. I attended another seminar of his on Sunday (I’ve been to three now). I don’t think I’d be able to accurately summarize how much I idolise this man. His Jiu-Jitsu is beautiful, and it’s complimented by this understanding and informed philosophy that he has clearly built up over the years.

He’s three for three currently, as each time I see him, I up my game both physically and mentally. At the end of each seminar, he opens the mats to his students like a forum. You can ask him anything you want, and he will likely have an answer. Some of the questions asked were great.

I asked him when he was able to let go of his anxieties when competing. His answer was interesting to say the least. It took him until brown belt to truly let go and just enjoy the competition for what it is. You should be focusing on right now. Not your past failings, or the possibility of future mistakes, it’s easier to squash anxiety if you approach with  this open attitude to your opponent. Look at the competition as just another opportunity to play this beautiful game, that’s what I’ll be doing.

I like that. Sure it’s easy to have hang-ups about yourself and your own game, but there’s no reason why you can’t let go far earlier, no matter what belt you are. I’m going to try to apply his method of thinking when I next compete. Shit out all of my anxieties and just have a laugh, that’s what I want. Probably because I’m not a competitive person when it comes to this fight-jitsu stuff.

Granted I’ve simplified massively, but you get the meaning. Later, a friend asked about progression and plateaus. His answer for this was so actually blatantly obvious. He actually took the time to draw a line graph to demonstrate his point. Now myself and a friend are blue belts, we both feel that currently we’ve hit a bit of a plateau and we’re not moving forward, although the white belts seem to be rapidly learning. Marc explained why this is, and it made us feel pretty fucking stupid that we couldn’t see it.

Here’s how it works. At white belt, you are but a vegetable. Let’s presume you know nothing. Whereas at blue belt, you’ve learned enough of the fundamentals to earn that belt. So whilst you’re on your path to purple, all you’re really doing is honing those fundamentals and adding bits and bobs to your arsenal. This process is tightening up your game. The jump between blue and purple is arguably huge but the only change really is the understanding of the game. The jump between white and blue isn’t as huge, as such blue belts tend to hit this plateau whilst the white belts steadily progress. It’s perspective. Much needed if like me you’re a sea of self doubt on the mats. And he stated that it actually gets worse. Purple to brown and brown to black will be longer journeys filled with more moments of self-doubt, but that’s part of the sport. You’re going to see people below you come on leaps and bounds, but you have to remember you were once in that position with the higher belts noticing your progression whilst they felt stale.

Just because you’re moving at a microscopic pace, does not mean you’re not moving. Obviously there are still variables. Athleticism, flexibility, drive, etc will all play a part in how you move forward, but it’s entirely normal to hit a wall once in a while, you may not have the ability to go through it, but you’ll definitely get over it.

Hopefully all of that shit made sense because I really can’t be arsed re-reading it.