Tag Archives: Competition

Conquering Demons.

Hello again y’all.

If you’ve read this blog before, or have been following my ramblings for a while you’ll know that I have the occasional bout of competition anxiety. I consider myself lucky that my anxiety is entirely rational, as I know people that have bouts of anxiety that they just can’t control. A feeling of unrest over a seemingly random event. I don’t get that, thank Jebus. I can at least relate my bout to something in front of me at that very moment. I step onto the competitive mats and immediately fill my pampers with shit. Thinking the absolute the worst.
It takes me out of the moment, and can often affect my performance poorly. It’s not nerves or that, it’s a properly derailing experience when it happens. I just don’t deal well with the unknown in that moment. More competition experience is obviously required.

This comes from my lack of confidence as a grappler, and my knowledge of what a good grappler is. My brain will always compare me at my worst, to them at their best. It’s a losing battle, and one my mind regularly trips me up upon. I know you’re only meant to compare yourself to yourself, but when you know the people you’re up against; it’s very hard to do so. So I go all wobbly in the brain.

On Saturday the 22nd of April, I found myself down in Newcastle again for another of Speedy’s patented inter-club competitions. The Origin Team from the North East and beyond comes together in one spot to have a good laugh with one another, support one another and see how we fare in the throws of pyjama battle. It’s a great day out amongst family and friends, depending on how you view all of this Martial Arts stuff. I consider these people a family. That’s what Jiu-Jitsu or grappling is; I know that these people at least understand that part of me, and I understand that part of them. A shared passion for the art of breaking limbs, and choking one another. It’s rare people get on this well with their own family, so it’s a special feeling. Politics, music, tastes etc all go out of the window. We share a common ground, which happens to be covered by mats.

This time around, I made a considered effort to try and coach from the sidelines. It turns out I didn’t really need to, because Origin Tayside excelled themselves. The matches put on were competitive, fun and brilliant to watch with our team doing incredibly well. I’ve already told them how well they did, so I’m not going to give them the shout out they probably deserve. Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all.
I will however mention how important these days are as a team. When you’re training day to day, you do not see the shift in a person’s game. Assuming the world is fair, and attributes are even, you’ll all move at the same pace, progressing at the very same speed. I’ve created a false positive there, to dumb down reality. We’re dealing with a game of variables here, but that aside you just don’t know whether Tom has improved over Dick, or whether Harry has improved at all because you see these cunts every single day. You catch them, they catch you, etc. On these rare inter-club days, you see how far they’ve come and get to appreciate the side of their game that you miss in class because you don’t have to focus on your own shit. You can simply focus on them doing what they do, against someone else trying to do what they do. It’s fucking crack-a-lack-ing, as Snoop D. O. double Gizzle would say.

Once the white and blue belts had done their thing, we took a breather from competition to focus on Andy Bell. He’s a blue belt that had a motorcycle accident leaving him paralysed from the chest down. Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone all had a roll with him, with their legs tied up and the agreement that they wouldn’t use their hips. This was incredible to watch. You got to see the grit and determination of Andy, who is still a super competitive grappler regardless of his paralysis; and you got to see how immediately ineffective brown and black belts are without their hips in play. Suddenly a blue belt who doesn’t view this form of grappling as foreign, is getting the upper hand. He knows how to move, because it’s an entirely natural movement for him. It was a constant back and forth battle and really interesting to watch, but it also served another very important purpose. The room was fed a healthy dose of perspective.

Speedy always starts these inter-clubs by reminding us that we’re all friends and family, so this isn’t a serious competition. Now, whilst that remains in the back of our minds, we’re still doing our best to put on a good show for those that are judging us. Matches rarely do, but they can get heated. It’s a difficult to balance on the day, I guess – but Andy put things into perspective for me at least, and many of the other purple belts who were there. We had the most relaxed and technical matches of the day (Billy and Ant’s match was an incredible watch, an absolute feast of Jiu-Jitsu technique). The purples should be better to watch because of their technical understanding of the game, but I think it was less to do with that and more to do with the weight we had lifted before we were matched.
I looked at my opponents and knew that the worst that could happen was that I’d lose. That’s it. I’m not fighting at the Mundials, I’m no longer in the position where I’m getting battered all over the mats. So what did I have to worry about? Nothing. It was freeing. Andy lifted my spirits that day, and I think I performed better as a result.

With that said, earlier that day we were told it was not only absolute for the purple belts, but James Bland would be joining us. Origin’s Big Daddy himself, and brown belt supremo.
I was first matched with Jimmy, who’s probably my size or a little lighter. So naturally he proceeded to batter me all over the mats. The aim is to get the submission, and Jimmy wasted no time in firing them at me. The match is a bit of a blur. What I can remember is he took me down and started working his passing game from standing. I’m rarely bothered by being passed, because I can usually recover. Jimmy worked an armbar and a reverse triangle at one point (probably picking up on how Mighele finished me last year), but I was able to free myself from his shackles. I know for a fact that the decision wasn’t going my way, so I had to do something. Speedy’s always telling me to be aggressive, but I play the defensive game against purple belts a lot, due to my previously mentioned confidence. I almost nailed him with a loop choke, but shifted my hips when I should have held my position, he started to gurgle but escaped like the crafty man that he is. As the match neared the end, Jimmy sat back into an achilles lock, rather than continue to pass my guard. This was Christmas for me. I moved my hips slightly, sat up and locked up an achilles of my own. I had the boot on so that his own achilles lock was nulled, and proceeded to squeeze my own before putting my foot into position on his hip. The reason I didn’t put my foot on is hip, is so that I could step over if he turned away from me. The squeeze was tight enough, and I got the tap. A surprising end to a mostly one sided fight.

My next match was against longtime training partner Paul. I haven’t sparred with him in yonks, because we have different goals and we train different days currently. He kept his legs out of play, because he knows I’ve been working leg locks for weeks now (stupid fucking Facebook). He passed and used pressure a lot (shoulder of justice), we grip fought from guard, and again my loop choke was thwarted. Eventually he worked a head and arm choke after a reset, and I didn’t have the space to escape without hurting myself. He’s a powerful dude, and it was a good fun match.

So one win, and one loss. Better than I’ve faired in recent inter-clubs, and whilst there’s room for improvement I’m not actually disappointed with my performances. Both of my matches were really fun, and that’s what I’m there to do. Have fun with people I respect, and then reflect on the results afterwards.
I had some good chats with the guys around the mats, positive vibes were exchanged throughout the day, and that’s what this day is all about.

There were plenty of gradings handed out on the day. I won’t list them all but point out the two that I think had the biggest impact to the people involved.
The most deserving/long overdue of our lot, Tony finally got his blue belt. He’s been smashing guys in the gym for a while now, and anyone that walks through the door and saw him as a white belt, had no idea what they were letting themselves in for when they rolled with him. That mystery is gone, as he proudly dons the colour blue. It suits him.
Danny was given another two stripes on his belt, which means at the next grading he’ll either get his blue belt, or a shotgun slug in the face. You never can tell. Part of me hopes for the latter, because y’know King Prick.

Myself, Paul and Grant found ourselves in a very stripy position. We all have four stripes now. With each additional stripe at purple belt, the responsibility gets heavier. It’s time to conceptualise and create where appropriate, evolve creativity and refine the basics. Use ebb and flow to create that tight invisible Jiu-Jitsu we all long for. The next grading is months off and just around the corner at the very same time, so I’m going to make each second I can count. Since Saturday I’ve been to two classes, fuck resting.

Right, that’s enough. I’ve went on for far too long, and it’s getting late.

Today was a cracking day at the inter-club grading. I had two tough matches, won one and lost the second. In my first match, I had trouble dealing with Jimmy's passing game and hip control. I came close to getting my patented loop choke but it wasn't to be. There were scrambles where I could create them. That's where I'm comfortable, scrambles and flow. In the closing minute he instigated the leg lock battle, which I've been working a lot of recently. He took an Achilles, so I paid him back in kind for the tap. He complimented me afterwards as I did him. It's been too long since we've sparred or fought against one another. My second match was against Paul P, the eventual finalist. I haven't rolled with Paul in ages, he's a big scary Judoka. He told me afterwards that I frustrated him in the grip battles, so that's ace. I again went for my patented loop choke but he was wise to it. Handsome bastard that he is. He bested me with a tight arm triangle in the closing seconds. It was a fun fight. I'm glad he didn't Uchi Mata me through the Earth's core. I feel great about today; regardless of the win or the loss I fought well, which for a while just hasn't been the case. I wasn't crushed by anxiety and I was able to just have fun. I think I was helped immensely by seeing Andy Bell sparring with Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone before the purple belts went to war. He's paralysed from the waist down from a motorbike accident, but it hasn't stopped him. He's an inspirational guy, with all the grit in the world to just keep pushing forwards regardless of how difficult it may be. It squashed whatever doubts I may have had about myself, and allowed me to just look at this for what it was, a chance to show off some good Jiu-Jitsu. I hope I did that today. Some of the BJJ on display was incredible. I'm incredibly impressed with the Tayside lot, who far exceeded my expectations against a tough group of guys. I train with these guys all the time, so I don't see the progression until these big days. There were promotions galore. I got my fourth stripe on my purple belt. Which means squeaky bum time. I need to shape up and sharp. #BJJ #BrazilianJiuJitsu #Grading #Interclub

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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!


On Saturday, I decided to get my arse into gear and go back down to Newcastle for another of Speedy’s bi-annual grading days. I hadn’t been down in a whole fucking year. Which is pretty shitty on my part but it couldn’t really be helped due to problems with anxiety and health. I say arse into gear, I had to be coaxed into going but hey. This is a big ‘un by the way, sorry about that.

This time last year, I had my arse well and truly punted all over Tyne Met by Hubert and Fahad. Their technique was far superior to mine, and I felt embarrassed by even being there. You’re inevitably going to go to battle with people that are better than you, but that’s the first time I just wasn’t able to put up any fight at all (that I can recall). It was a whitewash, and I’ve felt shitty since.

Fast forward to May and I couldn’t attend the grading for two main reasons – I was having issues with my stomach (AGAIN!), and I really couldn’t face the idea of getting absolutely obliterated in front of my peers again. I’m not what you’d call a competitor. I was never athletically gifted as a child, or even inclined to be (save for riding my bike fucking everywhere, and being shite at football behind the park). It wasn’t until my adult years I actually found something physical that I genuinely fell in love with, in grappling. What I haven’t fallen in love with of course, is the peaks and valleys that go with it. There’s trippy highs, agonising lows and the plateaus in between. That’s some difficult shit right there. When you’re not an athlete, the highs are few and far between, so you’ve got to push through all the bullshit to get there.

Since last year’s grading, I’ve missed quite a bit of training to start the new calendar year, so that I could focus on fixing the physical ailments that governed my abilities (or inabilities, as it were) on the mats. With a bit of help from the doctor, I’m now in the best place physically I’ve been for years (my fitness is still shocking, because I’m still pretty fucking lazy). I don’t worry about pain or discomfort when going to training, and I can actually just focus on the training. So that’s great. Leading up to this grading, I’ve been far more attentive in my training – taking in as many classes and sessions as I can with a busy work schedule.
I’ve been able to teach here and there, and most importantly I’m not focusing entirely on Gi training. I’ve been sparring NoGi  and picking up bits and bobs from the people I’m rolling with, and the coaches around the NoGi scene. This approach and mix of training partners has allowed my game to come on from where it was last year. I feel confident on the mats in my own club, and that’s pretty cool because it took a long fucking time to get there.

Where I still don’t feel confident is the competitive scene. I’m well aware that a friendly inter-club shouldn’t be considered competition, but it is. Doing poorly there, reflects poorly on the training and learning I’ve been given over the last year. I’m not only embarrassing myself, but my coaches and training partners. So that’s not a position I like to be in. That’s where my anxiety stems from. Looking foolish in front of my peers, when I believe I can do better.

This year it took me quite a bit of convincing to get back down to Newcastle for this grading day. Strangely enough I feel comfortable as a purple belt now, but when you’re pulling up the ever lengthening measuring stick of where you stack up against other purple belts, I still consider myself wholly shitty at this sport. As a result, going to war with other people my age/weight/level crumbles me. I’m fine until I step on the mats, but it’s then that I just shell up into oblivion. If I’m having a friendly roll, I’m cool. If I think competitively, I shit my pants.

My other half was very instrumental in pushing me towards overcoming this anxiety. I also turned to Speedy, Sloany and Grant who all delivered choice words to help me take the pressure off of the inter-club. I felt suitably relieved and actually happy about going down to Newcastle to support my teammates.
I’d shifted the focus off of my own journey, onto my peers. I want to see them do well, and to do that, I need to be there.

The Dundee and Perth lot did really well. I took the side of the mats, and coached where I could alongside other seasoned Jiu-Jidiots. Adam, Ronnie and Sloany were the standouts of the day, all getting long overdue shiny new belts (blue, blue and purple retrospectively). Something I really appreciated from the Newcastle and Darlington lot was their coaching instruction when the Dundee and Perth guys were facing each other. Naturally at the side lines, you can’t pick a side when you know both parties involved well, so it was great to see other guys taking that on, and helping out.

For my own match, I faced one of Dom’s up and comers ( a 10th Planet Purple belt). As soon as Dom approached me about it, I lost whatever spark I had for my proposed match. I was meant to be facing familiar ground, and now I was facing the great unknown. Scary. I could see him warming up, and I was already defeated mentally. I needed a moment to collect my thoughts and get my shit together. As I was walking over to the other mat to see how Sloany’s match was going, I was called up. This was it. Me vs Mighele right fucking now. I faced him, shook hands, bumped fists etc and he went for the takedown. I just did what I could, where I could to stop his onslaught of attacks. In my mind’s eye there were scrambles, but I don’t know if I’m remembering the fight better than I actually did, because of the positive comments I received afterwards. At one point, he had me in an armbar that I was later told the ref was on the verge of stopping the fight over, but I just waited until I could find my way out (a big thanks to those who were coaching me from the sidelines at this point. I distinctly remember hearing Ant). Once I’d worked my way out of the armbar, I managed to scramble to my feet before getting tripped again.
I attempted a single butterfly sweep, but failed miserably and ended up in a dorsal-fin kimura. This wasn’t good, but I wasn’t tapping. Mighele adjusted and lead me into the reverse triangle. When he pulled my arm across my neck, I was truly fucked. I was done. Life was leaving my lungs and I tapped.

In all that though, I felt calm. I don’t think I lost my cool, became panicked or embarrassed myself like I did last year. Sure, I was bettered in the fight but I actually had fun going against Migele, and would like to do so again one day, regardless of the result. If I’d had a moment to collect my thoughts, I probably would’ve picked more faults in my game, as I often do. Afterwards, I spoke with Migele and Billy (another of Dom’s guys). It was a good reflection on the match that just happened, and also part of what makes this sport, and these inter-clubs so great. There’s no animosity between anyone. It’s not the demon filled hell pit I seem to have in my imagination. I shouldn’t be fearing this like I am, or suffering whatever anxiety I do. I need to move on. I need to move forward.

Next year, I’m going to take a more active approach to competing. It’s something I’ve severely neglected in Jiu-Jitsu and part of what I believe makes me such a shitty purple belt. The first competition I have my sights on is in February, and a lot of guys from the club are already keen to go. I’m going to have to get out there, and start getting my arse kicked by people that people that actually want to kill me, so that when it comes to the inter-club I can better make the distinction between war and fun.

I also had some great rolls with Big Show, Dom and Speedy on the day that deserve a mention. Dom and Speedy toyed with me, like the devious bastards they are. Speedy gave me a few things to work on, so that’s cool.

I’m aware I’ve rambled throughout this piece, but that’s entirely the point of this blog. I have to be able to put down the good, the bad and the ugly. The big difference with this year’s ‘performance’ is that I’m raring to go, and ready to get back on the mats tonight. Which is exactly where I need to be to continue improving. I’ve made progress in that defeat, rather than shying away like I did a year ago.

Off you fuck then.

Goddamn Ills.

The human body is a complete bastard. Those of you that have one, will know that. I’ve had my fair share of minor niggles throughout my life, but nothing truly major, fortunately. This’ll seem like a walk in the park to most of you, who have probably smashed your bodies to bits, but what I’m about to go into, whilst grim is completely taken for granted.

Recently my digestive health has plummeted. My body has become absolutely fucking useless at taking in food, stealing all the nutrients required and disposing of the waste in a timely manner as you’d expect. I’ve been constipated. Boohoo, you’re probably thinking. However, this started properly before Christmas. It’s now fucking May. It’s a maddening cycle of getting constipated for several days on end, all the cramps that go with it, and then your body saying, hey fuck this. Once your body decides fuck this, operation megashit kicks in, and everything needs to be evacuted. This can also be painful. A proper knee wobbler, if you will. There’s no point in diluting that. That’s exactly what’s happening. It’s awful.

I’ve had IBS all of my life. Normally, it’s perfectly fine. I’ll have a stress related bout of the shits, or a food based bout of constipation. Normal people get that. Lately though, my bowel is being a total fucking wanker. If someone could conjure up a ‘go to fix’ pill, that’d be great. Doctors will tell you to try something, and when it fails, you’ll try something else and so on and so forth; until you die some weeks later suffering from complete boredom and total disdain for the stupidity of your own useless fucking meatbag body.
I’ve been through various diet modifications that don’t fix anything, and then all of a sudden one day, things just go back to normal. Hey presto, I’m no longer suffering from a spastic colon and the hellacious cramps that go with it.
Several months in, I haven’t yet met that day. I’ve been through this nonsense before, and it usually just rights itself. This is without a doubt the longest period of bowel misery since I broke my collarbone. That was caused by the accompanying medusa like painkillers turned my shit into fucking stone. ANYWAYS; I’ve been grabbing a class when I can, on the days I don’t feel like punching a hole in the earth.

This Saturday coming is one of Speedy’s bi-annual grading days. It’s a day where you get to meet up with a load of pals from Speedy’s other affiliated clubs, and have a friendly Jiu-Jitsu competition between one another. You’ll be matched up against people your size and grade, and the higher belts assess how you’ve progressed from the last time they saw you. If the stars align, you might get a stripe or a belt, or a wee friendly pat on the back from Speedy. Hey you’re not as shit as I thought you were. It’s a great day out.

Naturally, I’ve made the decision not to attend this grading. This year my training has been fragmented to say the least. I’ll grab a class here or there, but nothing consistent. I don’t feel I’ve progressed since November, and whilst I had a really positive class tonight where techniques were all fitting together and just working as they should, it’s not representative of how my training has been of late. I also can’t count on my body not to be an absolute fucking prick to me over the next few days. I felt good enough today to have a decent day at work, followed by a brilliant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, but tomorrow is a brand new day that could be filled with stabbing pain in the abdomen. Yipee.

My current focus is to get back to normal health. Once the ill is conquered, I’ll be catching the next rocketship to Newcastle to get an absolute pasting from Speedy’s finest. Once I’ve recovered from that battering, I’ll get back on the mats frequently and focus on the grading in November. If I get smashed to bits then, so be it, but at least I’ll be my best self, and have no excuses. My goal in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to be the best version of me that I can be, and currently I know I’m just not that. It’s one thing not progressing, but there are days when I feel like I’m going completely backwards.

If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading and getting through the grim stuff. It took every fibre of my being not to be super graphic, but hey this blog is a PG-13, not completely Rated R.

Right fuck off. x

Peaks and Valleys.

In Jiu-Jitsu, a lot of people talk about plateaus. You reach a certain point in your training where you don’t feel like you’re progressing. It happens to the best of us, but I’m going to approach it with a different school of thought. One that’s used everywhere else, and can be applied to Jiu-Jitsu also. A man called Spencer Johnson wrote a book called Peaks and Valleys. It’s a simple school of thought, that can completely alter the way you view anything. Whether you want to be minimal and alter the mundane tasks in life, or why not be grand? Alter life itself, and everything within. It would be a discredit to mention his school of thought (albeit a very crude understanding) without mentioning him.

Jiu-Jitsu has peaks and valleys. If you picture with your mind’s eye how a four-year-old would draw a mountain range. There’d be a peak, then a valley; and so on. There would probably be a disgusting oblong sun too, but hey! This fictional kid is only four. Give him/her a break. That fictional four-year-old’s crude drawing is enough to give you something to visualise. If you can’t picture it, I suggest you find a four-year-old and hold them to ransom until they draw a mountain range. Alternatively, draw one yourself. Whatever lands you less jail time.

What I’d like you do to is put your accomplishments with Jiu-Jitsu at the top of the peaks. Your bad training days, competition failures, can sit in the valleys.
It doesn’t matter which one has a bias, as that isn’t your primary focus here. The positivity you will have when you a reach a peak, will far outshine what it does when you’re in a valley. I guess that’s because you’re closer to that fictional ugly oblong sun.

On Saturday, I had two matches and was pulled apart like a a bit of melted mozzarella. Both opponents were more technically proficient. They didn’t waste time, or energy and made me look like a novice on the mats. I was as far into the valley as you can be.

I’m not going to give up there though, because you can only go up from here.
So after my drubbing, I had a great roll with a new purple belt. The sort of roll that takes you out of whatever funk you’re in at that time. It was flowing, and fun. That’s the very beginning of my climb to the next peak.

On Saturday whilst driving home, I started thinking about hand placements on the lapel, and where the fundamental mechanics of the body can lead to certain grips. I came up with something, but I wasn’t sure whether it would work. I knew I’d have to wait until Monday to find out. So I sat on it. Visualising the same sequence over and over again.

On Monday I had a great training session. We were learning something fun, and afterwards, I had some brilliant rolls. Attacking throughout, whilst defending. I caught people, and they caught me, that’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

At the end of the class, I got to try ‘my’ move. It worked without a hitch, and my teacher immediately stole it for his own game. So that’s something! Now, I’m not going to take total credit for creating a move, because this is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Someone else would have been through the same thought process as I, and the same epiphanal journey, realising that even when they’re not doing Jiu-Jitsu, they can create or imagine attacks that can actually work. I think I’ve reached a peak.

Two days after sinking into a valley, I’m back on top. Wednesday was more of the same. I’ve been nursing an arm injury since the weekend, but I partnered up with Grant and Ronnie, and we blitzed through the technique. I then had some fun flowing rolls, and went home to watch a film.

Sooner or later, I’m going to have another horrible session. That’s just part of the sport, but I’ll be climbing to the top of the mountain again right afterwards.

What a cheesy fucking post that was. Anyways, off you pop.

Polaris 2.

It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything. I’ll cut the bullshit, I haven’t had anything interesting to say, or at least publish. I’m still training as frequently as possible, and mixing between Gi and NoGi. So that’s good. I’ll likely touch on that another time.

RIGHT. Onto Polaris. After the first Polaris I’d pretty much reserved myself a seat on the sofa ready to watch the next one. I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty sweet setup at home. I have a home theatre PC setup in the living room, connected to a 50″ Sony Bravia. So grappling events get a  pretty great airing when they come around.

The thing that Polaris has going for it, was here again. Passion. The people involved with Polaris, from what I can gather is a collaboration of some of the UK Jiu-Jitsu scene’s greatest minds. The UK scene reached a point with Polaris 1 whereby companies like Tatami and Scramble were in a position to put on this show, that no-one really expected. It was an incredible show, and it seems that the whole scene is behind it. Rightly fucking so.

FloGrappling handled the streaming of the event itself, at a pretty reasonable price. I hope in future though that they up their bandwidth, because I had quite a bit of pixelation throughout, on a 152Mbps connection. That might have been a problem with the location of the event actually. I work in telecommunications, and happen to know that quite a bit of Wales infrastructure is piss poor. The player controls weren’t the best. I couldn’t rewind anything, and the quality control was stuck on Auto. It mostly streamed in 720p by the looks of it, but I’d have preferred to have knocked the quality down if it meant no pixelation. Aside of that, things ran pretty smoothly.

The announcement team were Josh Palmer, John Kavanagh and Nick Osipczak. This is a pretty great team. Josh runs the show with John and Nick adding their opinions where needed. MC Tone again did a great job with the intros.
The venue looked pretty great with the lights dipped, and things ran pretty well throughout. Now let’s talk about the fights.

Luca Anacoretta vs Pedro Bessa.
Gianni Grippo vs Tom Barlow.
Robson Moura vs Baret Yoshida.
Vitor Ribeiro vs Daisuke Nakamura.

Eddie Cummings vs Reilly Bodycomb.
AJ Agazarm vs Dan Strauss.
Michelle Nicolini vs Gezary Matuda.
Gary Tonon vs Maskazu Imanari.

There was not a bad fight, and I really urge every one to give this event a watch. For me, it further cemented my opinion that submission-only are the only truly entertaining grappling events. Points fuck things up. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but I just don’t get the same buzz with the Worlds that I do with either Polaris or EBI.

I’m not going to cover every fight, but simply highlight my three favourites. You should really watch the whole fucking lot though.

Robson Moura vs Baret Yoshida was incredible. Moura is a technician on the mat, approaching 20 years as a black belt. He’s 37 years old. Baret we know is a very tough grappler, that has a very dangerous crucifix game. If this were a points match, the judges would get RSI from turning cards constantly. It was stunning to watching. Moura arguably had the best flourishes of the fight, coming close to finishing Baret a few times in a nasty sequence, but Baret wasn’t without his dominance. Moura is always calm, but he looked as uncomfortable as everyone else in Yoshida’s crucifx. This was an instant classic.

Daniel Strauss vs AJ Agazarm. The social media heat between these two guys was pretty hilarious. Even the handshake at the start showed the tension between them. There was shoving throughout, words exchanged, taunts, and more importantly than anything else, some really fucking high level wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu. The size difference was really noticeable, but AJ seemed unfazed, having fought many big guys before. They had a great back and forth, with Strauss creating far more submission opportunities. This was my fight of the night.

Garry Tonon vs Maskazu Imanari. On paper this seemed like a great idea, but I think a fair few of us knew how much of a mismatch it was likely to be. Tonon is successful at elite BJJ competitions with his attacking style. Imanari on the other hand had great success with his leglock game in MMA, at a time when people didn’t know what the fuck leglocks were. The attacks and knowledge between the two were great, but even with a big weight cut, Tonon looked huge compared to Imanari. This was a smashing fight.

All in, this event was another brilliant success by the people running the show. There were plenty of finishes, some more shocking and devastating than others. And one thing that was prevalent throughout the entire night was the respect and love for grappling.

Get your arse over to http://www.flograppling.com/ and get it watched. It’s only $19.99 for a month of viewing, which I believe will include the Pan Ams, as well as a plethora of other content.


I’ve been here before. It’s the bi-annual grading for Origin Jiu-Jitsu. Celebrating the North East and beyond. It’s a chance for the teams in Newcastle, Darlington and Dundee to come together, meet up, chat shit, have a laugh and a bit of an inter-club scuffle. We’re all good cunts, y’see. Probably best to strap yourself in for this one, it’s bound to be long.

Saturday was due to be a big one, there were murmurs of BIG promotions on the side-lines and an aggreeance that those that were due to be promoted, heartily deserved it. Although in typical human fashion, I later heard the opposite well after the day’s events. Not everyone is a good cunt y’see, and people are pretty quick to critique the accomplishments of others rather than focusing on their own. Time and time again we’re told that the important focus in Jiu-Jitsu is your own journey. You shouldn’t give a shit if Claude from Team Bumchum got his purple belt after only 6 months training. You’re not the person in charge of that person’s journey, and if they don’t actually deserve it, then they’ll be found out on the mats anyways, and with a bit of work and perseverance they’ll mature over time until they do deserve it. Ya feel me? You are the creator of your own destiny, YOU ARE THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS. Woah, sorry.

I had three fights, and in each of them I was crushed. This is my first time attempting to fight as a purple belt, and my first time at the inter-club that I didn’t pull off a single victory. I felt very nervous, and very green but I wouldn’t say nerves got the better of me, because I only really get them before a fight. As soon as we shake hands, bump fists, moonwalk to our sides, twirl and then starjump I’m ready to go. This is as much a competition in my head as it is a friendly roll. These people aren’t going to try and kill me, but like a friendly roll they do want to beat me, and likewise I want to beat them.

My first fight was against a guy called Jimmy. I’ve rolled with him before some time ago. He pulled guard and I went to my usual loose knee slicer pass, it’s got pretty high success so when I failed the first time, I managed to hit it the second time and land in side control. I dropped my hips and as I loosened up to attack, Jimmy had already started to recover guard. I should have held the position, and worked out my bearings a little better, but it wasn’t to be. Not long after he recovered guard, he started to set up a cross collar choke. I could see it coming in what felt like slow motion, but my defense against it was so fucking poor. Before I knew it I had to tap or die. Shit happens, be quicker Baz.

My second fight was against Tyrone. It was a round robin, and he’d just attached himself to Jimmy’s back for an RNC. That should have gave me an insight into what to watch out for, but stopping it is another matter. His Jiu-Jitsu is sick. Tyrone is a fucking wizard, when I can’t even find your card in the full pack. Tyrone hit a single leg because he probably knew I’d expect him to pull guard. From there he attempted an armbar which I valiantly (shat my pants and pulled my arm out whilst standing up) escaped. Before I could find my bearings he was on my fucking back. I’ve watched the video, and I think he paused time or something. Once there he started to work on the choke. I defended at first, hand fighting etc. but the pressure I felt was everywhere. It was weird, but I could feel my hips and ribs tightly locked up, even though I don’t think he had a body triangle. He adjusted his grips slightly, and before I knew it he was trying to pop my head off like a cheap bottle of plonk with a vicious bow & arrow choke. It was a clinic. I tapped, brushed myself off then shot him dead in front of a startled crowd. “Just where did he get that Revolver from?” I heard one guy say. With that, I dropped a smoke bomb and left. Never to be seen again (until the open weight). 

Speedy being the cunning bastard that he is decided that rather than have your normal divisions then an absolute, he’d set the day up so that we were graded between. This meant a plethora of fresh blood in new belt categories. Fighting for their lives against seasoned veterans, or something like that. Basically if you graded up to a new belt, your confidence boost was so much so, that you felt obliged to go and get smashed in the open weight. It was a great idea.

As soon as I signed up for the open weight, I knew who I’d be fighting. This is how my luck goes, y’see. Last year at the blue belt open weight, I was given Captain Redbeard, and if I told you he was a lumberjack that just pulls the trees out of the ground with his bare hands, you’d probably believe me. He made quick work of me last year with a rolling kneebar from standing, because why would I expect fucking Megatron to be able to move like that?
This year though I was given brand new, just out of the wrapper, purple belt called Karl. Let’s not kid ourselves people, Karl eats purple belts for breakfast and likely should have gotten his purple belt a long time ago. I’ve seen him roll plenty, and I’ve seen videos of competing, and dispatching his foes like they slapped him with a wet glove beforehand.
He grabbed a hold of me, pulled guard, and the rest is a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember him reaching behind my head with his right hand, passing my right lapel with his left hand to his right hand, and then things started to go blurry. I lasted a few seconds more than I should have on the account of my big chin, but once he adjusted my brain said fuck you Barry, as the oxygen supply was restricted. I tapped. Karl went on to win the open weight, with everyone suffering the same fate. Couple of minutes, max. He’s a beast.

Before I move onto the gradings, let’s talk a bit about the rest of the competitors I was lucky enough to see. I’ll start with us Dundee lot, because I train with them all the time, and it would be a bit of a dick move if I didn’t. So besides myself, Donald, Frank, Grant, Kev, Paul C, Paul P, Roddy & Ronnie competed. Now Roddy’s actually a defector, he moved back to Ebinburgh and more commonly trains through there, but he still makes the occasional fleeting pass through our gym just to beat people up, so we’re still lumping him in with us.

The guys I watched compete were great.
Paul P as ever is a stud, that makes people question strength as a concept when he gets a hold of him. His base is so fucking solid it’s ridiculous, but then a judo black belt will do that. He effortlessly got people to the ground, even when they tried to throw him, and he handily won fights with not even a bead of sweat broken (he was a fucking mess, looked like he’d been through a pissing car wash).
Paul C and Donald impress me every time they step on the mat. They’ve come on so far, so quickly it’s great to see. Their resilience and determination is incredible to watch, as they constantly hunt for submissions. Neither of them particularly cares about being in a bad position, because this is submission only, and that’s the way you should be thinking. You have the liberty of time on your side, so they regroup, work their way back to a better position and go on the hunt again. It’s brilliant to watch either of these guys compete.
Frank was very excitable and there for the experience. He looked like a man possessed when he hit the mats. I’m not really sure what he was possessed by, but he gave it his all.
Ronnie had tough fights. He’s seldom in a position where the person he’s fighting is stronger than him, or at least that’s how I feel when I see him roll. He’s improving all the time and using his strength when necessary, but not relying on it entirely. His maturity on the mats have been there from day one.
Kev looked good in his fights, his attacking in the first was on point but he didn’t take the piss, because his opponent was quite green, and his second fight was against Captain Redbeard. I hear they’re still cleaning Kev’s blood off of the ceiling. Captain Redbeard hit the right button combination and landed a FATALITY.
Roddy was basically Odin of the white belt world. His movement, positioning, and hunt for submissions was all incredible to watch. He’s an absolute monster, and will be seriously fucking people up in the grappling world for years to come.
Now Grant. He had a fucking hellacious first fight. The guy was strong as fuck and looked like he couldn’t really be shifted. Grant still controlled, but afterwards he looked like he’d gone five rounds with a fighting fit Mike Tyson. Grant and Paul P had to clash for the good of mankind. At one point, I could see Grant muttering to Paul that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was shit, and Paul lost the plot and pulled his arm off there and then.

I fear I’ve rambled an awful lot here, but I’m going to keep going because I have more to cover. Sorry guys, you can have a tea break if you want. Have a biscuit.

The day actually started with a load of kids competing. It’s a very different atmosphere to watching kids play other sports, because the parents at the sidelines actually know what they’re talking about, and throw constructive feedback, rather than anything harmful to the other party. I didn’t expect there to be kids competing to be honest, but it was great to see the future of the sport at such a young age. They all had a fun, and were trying to pull each other apart. Watching kids beat each other up is bloody brilliant.

It was really good to see the likes of Scuba Steve, Foz, Kung Foo Panda there and competing. They’re all great guys. Scuba’s progression in the last year is obscene, and he wasn’t bad to begin with! He was strong, clinical and aggressive in his approach to his fights. His understanding of the game has drastically changed with his more focused approach on teaching. When you have to compartmentalise something as basic as an armbar, you start to realise how many steps there are in that process. If you can explain an armbar to kids, and have them do it with good technique, your own understanding of that armbar is going to be heightened. Rinse and repeat for every technique, ever.

Shall we waffle on to the gradings now? Now, I can’t even begin to cover everyone who was graded because there as a lot of gradings handed out. So I’m going to focus on notable ones, the ones that I remember.
The jist is, everyone did well and the few that weren’t graded now have fuel for the next one in November. All the kids ranked up, which was great to see because they went for it. It’s an accomplishment they should be proud of.

Donald, Paul C, Roddy & Ronnie all received stripes on their white belts.
Some devious bastard came up with the idea of giving Kev his fourth stripe of his white belt, before calling him back for his blue belt (me). I can only imagine the torment he felt when he received that stripe, because he has been training for years, on and off admittedly but training nonetheless. I think he started BJJ before I did, to be honest. He pissed his pants with excitement when he got his blue belt, and his face has never looked more smug.
Grant and Paul P were awarded their purple belts. I was so happy to have have witnessed this, because we’re all very much on the same page mentally with all this bollocks. We know when one another is down, or not putting the effort in that they should be, and have pushed one another at the right times. They truly are great team mates.
I don’t really what to skim at this point, as I know other notable members of Speedy and Dom’s gyms received stripes, but we have to move onto the big ones.

Tyrone and Scuba both received their brown belts. There aren’t two more deserving people I can think of. Each has a completely different approach to Jiu-Jitsu, but they’re both so fucking good it’s sickening to watch. If I’m half as good as either one day, I’ll know I’ve made it, and I think I can speak for everyone else that frequents any of the Origin affiliated gyms. Their hard work, determination, and approaching to not only their own progression but everyone else’s is exactly the sort of thing Jiu-Jitsu needs. They’re open books of technique, and for only $9.99 a month, they share that knowledge on tyroneandscubalovetograpple.com.

A big thanks goes to Speedy and his wife Ritu for organising such a fun day out. Everything pre-5pm was brilliant. You can tell they really care about this sport, and the people involved.

The less said about my journey home, the better.
OH! I got a stripe. I forgot about that. Right, time to go. Adios.