Tag Archives: Confidence

Kool-Aid.

Hello friends, foes and other hoes. A few of my closer friends have asked why I haven’t written anything for a bloody long while.
I’ve been pretty busy scrapping on the floor as much as I possibly can, but the honest answer is that I normally write when I’m in a darker place mentally with my grappling; if things are going shitty – it’s far easier to write something from a self-deprecating point of view. If they’re going well – it’d be all rainbows and unicorns – and that’s just not what I’m about, son.
When I started this blog shite, it was a way of venting my frustrations. There was also some catalouging of progress, etc. but now, I’m in a better place more often, so my frustrations are squashed when I next train. If you get my drift.

With that said, I wouldn’t be writing this pish if I didn’t have something to vent.

On a weekly basis I spend as much time on the mats as possible, sharpening my own skills, coaching and doing my best to positively influence others. I will not lie – This can be a fucking grind. I’m hardly a ray of positivity, and tend to lead in what could be called an informal manner. Bit of a bastard, innit.
The balance between training and coaching is a difficult one to strike, and people are vampires. You’ll quite often see coaches get bogged down by their own game, because they’re so focused on everyone else in the room (one of my head coaches is guilty of this, even though he’s a technical monster – you know who you are, you fuck).
When this isn’t your main gig, and you have to work for a living, being sensible in your approach to training is vital. I only have so much time in the week and with that it’s an almighty balancing act. Watching, thinking and doing Jiu-Jitsu is only enough if you’re investing your time wisely.

I’ve taken the following approach; I attend three classes a week and teach one class. I’ll usually try and muscle in something additional to that too, a bit of extra sparring for instance. That only accounts for a linear view of the learning / coaching split.
Being a senior grade comes with an expectation to lead by example and to impart that fabled ‘wisdom’ they talk about in the movies. So quite often, I’ll be coaching within classes in an assistive manner to the lead coach – or one on one with various students. My primary focus is still learning, and it always will be. I want to make it clear that when I get that illusive black belt in the years to come, I’m not going to fuck off into the sunset. I’ll still be in classes regularly, learning like a dirty little white belt – I’ll have just been here longer.
In addition to the learning and coaching, I try to roll as often as I can. I find it interesting to see what approaches people have to certain techniques. We’re all built differently, so there’s micro-adjustments that we all make to try and get shit to work. Some people kill you slowly and methodically. Others are bulldozers. Some wrestle. Some invert. Some people are straight up ninjas. Techniques are only guidelines in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s you that turns them into a game.

Over the years, I’ve invested a fair few hours into this hobby of mine.
My own progress aside, in return for my invested time I’ve seen countless people progress into absolute warriors, but I have also seen people come and go. That accounts for great talents, average Joes and the truly abysmal.
Of those that stick it out, again there’s a split of great talent, average Joes and somehow a small bunch of ham-fisted thundercunts (bless their hearts).
With that in mind, knowing who to invest your time into is difficult, because you just don’t know whether they’re going to stick it out. It’s an absolute fucking cunt of a thing. Everyone’s all about that #JiuJitsuLife throwing up selfies and shakkas when it suits their social media, but let’s face it our turnover rate at white and blue belt is bloody embarrassing in this Martial Art of ours. People can, and often do very quickly fade away into obscurity. That’s not to say I don’t love a bit of self-indulgent social media, but I train, so it’s allowed.

Having a pool of people you can rely on is seemingly hard to come by, even with a fairly large team. People break, they holiday, they family, they relax, and at one point or another I have been guilty of all of these things. Life somehow finds a way to ruin grappling. Let’s not forget I used to bin training pretty frequently for a new game on the XboxStation. Don’t be THAT guy.

I haven’t yet worked out how the hell we’re meant to get people to stick this shit out. I’ve seen so many brilliant grapplers dissipate into nothingness over the years. I also often look back on people with a what could have been mentality, that gets me down. I can control my own training, and I can try and make my own classes engaging, fun, whatever – but sometimes it just seems like we’re fighting a losing battle. People are going to quit, because people are shit. Also, there are people that you haven’t invested enough time into in the early days, that have pushed through the shit and are now high level blues and purples. What’s all that about?

As good as our current roster is, I don’t feel I can genuinely rely on a lot of these goons to stick around and continue to drink from the Jiu-Jitsu Kool-Aid.
My biggest worry currently is whether those that are on the cusp of new belts are about to fuck off into the ether forever. This is commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the great ignored realities. I’ve walked a fine line recently, trying to ensure I’ve been good with the students and I’m not ignoring people or just rolling and engaging with the same people over and over again, as was the norm in the good old days – but I just don’t know if that’s enough.

I felt compelled to write this so that you know where I’m coming from. If you’re not engaged, please don’t just give up. Speak to a coach, speak to your training partners. There are slumps in this thing. Jiu-Jitsu isn’t easy. It’s a bloody grind with very little loot at the end for us hobbyists. Let’s try not to lose any more people from our fabled little Martial Art, stick this shit out and all be really terrible black belts together. I need people to roll with in the next god knows however many years.

Right, m’aff.

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Elevation.

If you read last week’s issue of The Lazy Grappler, you’ll know that I was promoted – but I’m not the only cowboy in Dodge. Loads of people were promoted alongside me at the same time, or the following week too. It’s a fucking who’s who of stripes and belts across the board. Finally we’re in a position where there are tons of coloured belts on the mats. This has always been the aim, and it makes me so god damn proud of all your wee faces.

I’m not going to list everyone that was promoted, becuase it’s a massive list and more importantly; I definitely would forget someone, they’d throw their toys out of the pram, and it’s just not a can of worms I can be arsed with the ballache of opening.

For a long time, a lot of people in my wee club have suffered from the idea that promotions aren’t especially important,  because if you’re having fun and just enjoying doing what you’re doing, I guess they’re not.
When it comes to NoGi, you legitimately don’t know how good someone else is until you roll with them or see them roll. Gi is a little bit different. The senior grades have a big target on them, saying HEY! fucking look at this.
The belt should give you an idea of where someone is at. That strip of material along the waistline should be a measurement of a few things; attitude, discipline, technique, knowledge, time, etc. The further up the ranks you get, the more inherent trust others will put into you. The game changes. Your own progress now has a knock on effect to everyone else in the gym (that cares). As more people around you get promoted, people start to elevate their games across the board. It’s a very positive thing to see and experience. Plus for the team, the club or whatever, you have a far easier sell of the Martial Art that you’re demonstrating to masses.

Grading is a very personal thing. I think the right way to do it (and I may be wrong here), is to judge a person against themselves. That’s how I was graded. Are they a better version now, of what they were say X amount of time ago? When judging someone’s progression, you should be looking at their expression of Jiu-Jitsu, how they move, what their attitude is etc. Comparing two people like for like is difficult because of how different those people can be.
For instance, I am not a supreme athelete, I am not a fighter, I’m just a hobbyist that happens to have put a decent amount of time into this. My arse can still be kicked if/when I get lazy, but I do have an A-game that works very well against a lot of people. So I try to keep it real, yo. I am not Cobrinha. 😦

To wrap up for those of you who didn’t get promoted; be happy for those that did and stay hungry. By trying to beat the promoted people up, you are getting better. They’re also getting better and so on. It’s a ripple effect. We all elevate one another in this Jiu-Jitsu stuff, from white belt all the way to black. We’re all getting better together. There will come a day when you’re also promoted for the effort you’ve put in, and someone can start trying to kick your cunt in for the privilege. It’s the circle. THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE. x

In Good Company.

On Sunday, the 18th of November I was promoted to brown belt. This might get soppy. Bear in mind I can remember the shock, followed by being completely enamoured with being promoted to blue belt. It seemed so alien to me at the time, and such a privilege. I didn’t ever really think about the possibility of becoming a blue belt, so it goes without saying that I didn’t ever see myself surpassing that. When I started all this, there really wasn’t BJJ in Dundee. Sure there were a few places doing NoGi grappling, but let’s for a moment make the distinction and suggest that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is in the Gi. That’s what people think of in their mind’s eye when someone says BJJ. Pyjama fighting, innit.

Way back when (eight years ago) – Billy, Grant and myself grabbed the bull by the dick and started trying to familiarise ourselves with the gi (Billy had already dabbled, he was a seasoned blue belt). In its infancy, I’m not even sure whether the aim was actually to build something or not, but that became a byproduct of what we were doing. For months we trained on a Sunday when the gym was free, and we’d dabble at open mats too. The love for the Gi was just there for us, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it just clicked. We built a relationship with David ‘Speedy’ Elliot our now head coach, we visited him and he visited us regularly – helping us grow our repotoire of techniques. Fast forward a little bit, and there’s now multiple classes in Dundee and the surrounding area hosted by us Origin Jiu-Jitsu coaches. Somehow, we did that. Our influence has made its stamp, that’s pretty weird to think of.

Credit where credit is due – I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if it wasn’t for Dundee Mixed Martial Arts welcoming me into their little club.
The grappling scene around this neck of the woods is also now healthier than it’s ever been. There’s Judo, Sambo, Freestyle Wrestling, NoGi, Catch & to top it all off Gracie Barra also run some classes in Dundee. This place is flourishing!
If you dig grappling, Dundee’s a pretty fucking decent place to be now with differing views and schools of thought on how to approach all of this limb destruction. Spread your wings a little further, and the world’s your lobster with places like Fair City Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Barra Fife, Jax MMA,  and Results Gym to name a few. That’s not even going far from Dundee. Scotland as a whole now has reclaimed its title as a land of the savages, but we no longer weild Claymores. It’s all double legs and kimura traps now.

Let’s get back on track before I put you to sleep with words instead of chokes.
On Sunday, Speedy hosted another interclub. He does this twice a year. The bi-annual interclub extravaganza.
The turnout was immense, the matches on the day were fun, technical and great to watch and be a part of. The level at each belt division is going through the bloody roof, because of the hard work that all the coaches are putting into their individual teams. A white belt when I started compared to now, is a very different thing. It’s great for us all to come together, on one big day (well two) to celebrate how far we’ve come. As a coach, that’s pretty god damn cool to see how my guys stack up against their guys in a non-threatening environment. Before and after your own matches, you can help coach friends, drill/spar or just hang out and enjoy the day. It’s ace.

The day has become a bit of blur. One minute myself and my chauffeur Danny are arriving in Newcastle, next minute we’re fighting in our retrospective categories (I was really impressed with Danny on the day), and then I’m standing in line alongside Grant and a fuckload of Origin black belts as promotions are being handed out to each team – one by one. It was immense to see some of the guys that I work with on a weekly basis get promoted. Whether that was stripes, or belts.
The big one for me though, was seeing my main man Tony getting his shiny new purple belt. It came as a complete surprise to him, because Grant and I had finished our promotions and Speedy gave him the belt personally. He’s improved so much since getting his blue it’s frightening, and there isn’t a person in the club that doesn’t value him as a training partner. He’s just the best fucking dude you’re ever likely to meet.
Once the team promotions were handed out, Speedy asked that the coloured belts go back into line so that only the black belts were at the front of the room. This didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary at the time, but my team freaked out as Grant and I walked back into the group. It’s like they realised what was about to happen before we did.

Barely a minute removed from the lineup, Speedy mentioned that today was going to be a special day and he had a few more promotions to give out. The next people to be promoted would be joining the Jiu-Jitsu elite as he put it. That next big step. Speedy doesn’t give out promotions lightly. He promotes when he believes you’re ready, and not a moment before.
That’s helped me immensely whenever I’ve doubted whether I should be wearing the belt around my waist, or how well I’m doing – I take a moment and remember who promoted me, and the standard he holds people to. It’s a small comfort when you’re sliding down the side of a hill, into a deep dark valley of despair (or in Grant’s case, being pulled off of his feet by his daft dog Hugo!).
To Grant and I it seemed obvious what was coming; Billy and Mighele were getting their brown belts. They’re two of Darlington’s finest – absolute gentleman off the mats, and utterly terrifying to compete against on the mats.

Speedy mentioned that he was going to call out these next people together so that they could ALL be promoted at the same damn time.
Mighele. Billy. Barry. Grant. Fahad. What the fucking fuck.
As I walked up, I was fucking shitting myself. My team went mental seeing myself and Grant getting called up; just like Dom’s and Speedy’s teams did seeing their own guys called up too.
I can’t explain how nervous I was, but I had to hold focus so that I didn’t burst into tears like a wee bairn. Had I been promoted alone, I would have been fine, stoic and locked in on the moment – but this was different, I felt so privileged to have shared that little moment with those four people in particular, because of how much I admire them all as individuals. They’re great people. It felt rare and special – and it’s one that I’m going to remember for a long time because of what it means to me. I’m sentimental like that, for the cantankerous cunt that I am.
I’ve had belts before, but this was different. For a brief moment, five purple belts stood ahead of five black belts and we were welcomed to that next level. I’m in good company here, supported by friends and team members to be the best I can possibly be as a brown belt.

The reception I’ve received upon getting back to Dundee has been incredible.
My self-deprecating appraoch has likely clouded my judgement on whether I’m actually good at this stuff – but I certainly didn’t expect so many people to say how happy they were to see me get my brown belt, or how much I deserved it for the amount I train, time I put into helping people, and the techniques I use/show on a regular basis. It has been surreal, but highly appreciated.

Going forward, the aim is the same as it’s always been. I want to be better at Jiu-Jitsu today, than I was yesterday. I know that the people around me will help me achieve that goal.

Right, fuck off. x

Myself, Speedy on his tippy toes, Grant.

Guillotines with The Raspberry Ape.

On Saturday, I packed my favourite pair of grappling shorts for an afternoon down at Dundee Mixed Martial Arts. Daniel Strauss was in town to show us all how to choke the fucking shit out of one another.

Last year, I travelled up to Aberdeen with a few pals to attend his butterfly seminar. The details were simple and effective, and it was great to spend three hours just going over one thing in great detail. It’s the sort of drilling you’re meant to do, but just don’t. Drill to kill and all that jazz. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I had a good idea of what I was in for.

This year, the same format returned. Daniel doesn’t fuck around, once there’s a quick head count down and it’s definite that there’s no other cunts due to show up, the class starts and you’re put to work immediately. There’s no warmup, because it’s summer. Really though, you’re about to drill for hours, at a very gradual pace, if you need a warmup you’re probably about to die. Sort your fucking life out, mate. Whipped cream on chips, you savage.

Each section is broken up meticulously and probably labeled appropriately. There’s a beginning, a middle bitty and an end. With some caveats thrown in, just to keep things funky. I’m downplaying things a bit here, because I don’t want to go into specifics and take money out the poor boy’s mouth. He’s clearly a very hungry boy. It’s shitty to chuck lesson plans online, when he’s still touring the seminar.

What I will say though, is that I am wholly shit at guillotines (or at least that’s how I felt at the beginning), but after three hours of practicing them and listening to the concepts and ideas that Daniel has about them, it really fucking gelled with me. I legit think I can guillotine anyone now, which is a gross over-estimation of where I’m at – but that’s not the point I’m making here. The point is, for £25 this is probably the best seminar I’ve ever been to. I fucking loved it.

Like most top black belts, he really takes the time to ensure you’re picking up the correct details, and he does this by observing everyone in the class, listening to your gripes and correcting them as you go. You’re encouraged throughout to ask questions. You don’t move on until everyone’s getting it, or at least that’s how it seemed. Granted there were a few right dumb fucks in the class, so it’s hard to tell. We might have been there all fucking day had he waited until EVERYONE got it.

I’ve been playing with the setups this week, and even when the success isn’t quite there yet, it’s ingrained in my brain. I just need to keep practicing and before you know it, I’ll be snatching up motherfucker’s necks whilst wearing only my rainbow coloured godzilla spats. That shit’s scary, yo.

Daniel Strauss is probably one of the nicest black belts you’re likely to meet, fuck he’s probably one of the nicest guys you’re likely to meet. He’s approachable and friendly with everyone, and there’s a real genuine quality to his character and coaching. You already know what he’s capable of, but his warmth as a person really hammers it home (even when he’s asking if Scotland has iPhones yet. Motherfucker). If you get the chance, look him up on Instagram or one of the numerous grappling shows he’s been on – and if you’re interested in learning how to get good at grappling, go to one of his seminars before his broken body catches up with him. I’m in my thirties, and shit’s getting real. He’s fucked.

Here’s some pictures of The Raspberry Ape and I, and the rest of the group. Don’t play spot the dumb fuck, it’s nasty.

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What an absolute dude. @dundeemma hosted a seminar with @raspberry_ape Daniel Strauss today. He’s touring Guillotines this year; the detail and instruction he gave was brilliant. It’s a submission I’ve always struggled with, but now that I understand Dan’s concept – I feel I’m going to have great success going forward. IF I don’t, then at least I had a fun afternoon. After last year’s butterfly seminar and this one, I will be attending whatever shit he’s pedalling going forward. Hopefully he sticks with Jiu-Jitsu, because if he starts teaching that no-touch bollocks I’m going to be pretty pissed off. #BJJ #BrazilianJiuJitsu #NoGi #GuillotineChoke #Dundee #ShackleAndBlade

A post shared by Barry Lewis (@thelazygrappler) on

 

 

I’ll be back soon for more shit talking. Toodles.

 

The Sound of Silence.

Hello darkness, my old friend.

No, this isn’t a Simon & Garfunkel appreciation post – although it probably should be. The title’s actually a quip on my absence from here. I’m dead fucking clever like that.

Recently, putting pen to paper hasn’t been as easy as it once was. I still frequently write and talk about grappling, but it’s less public. I have a few go to people that I regularly discuss Jiu-Jitsu with (that includes the hot new techniques, people’s progression, concepts etc).
By the time I’m done complaining about the club’s multiple spazzy white belts, I’m burnt out and can’t write a single bloody word (I can say that, because I’m a spazzy purple belt – pulling rank, yo).
Updating my blog just hasn’t been the priority it once was. Free time now belongs to training. It’s the one place that quells whatever stresses I’m having, even if those stresses are Jiu-Jitsu related.
A few people have asked when I’m going to update this shit-tip, so here it is.
I used some of my *I’m broken* free time to throw some words together. This turned into something big, pretty quick. Ooo-er.

Let’s bring you to speed, since my last post way back when – I’ve been training four times a week – sometimes more. My usual classes are a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and a Friday – but I’m a bit more adaptable, throwing in Thursdays and Saturdays if I can. I still try to mix between Gi and NoGi, and I’m still far more heavily focused on the Gi. I’ll probably always have that bias, in the same way that some of the club members have a NoGi bias. Different Strokes, for different folks.

What you talkin’ about Willis?

The Interclub.

Last month (May), I attended Origin’s bi-annual interclub grading day. I felt well prepared, had no nerves whatsoever and still got absolutely smashed by Mighele. From what I can remember, I wasn’t in danger – until I was. He pulled guard, I toyed with passing as he went to sweep, I looked for Ashi, we ended in a pretty tight single leg X. From here, there were a few scrambles as he tried to pass, and I did my usual chaotic inversions to clean the mats / prevent the pass.
We ended in one of those non-positions. Not quite dorsal, not quite knee on belly – something in between. I didn’t even feel Mighele setting up the double wrist lock. His hips weren’t sitting heavy, but in hindsight this is because he was waiting for me to make a move. So I did – I fed a hand up to his belt, to try and pull myself through to the back. I knew that if I could get enough of pull, I’d be able to use a butterfly or two to launch him out of my way so that I could try and take the back. If I didn’t get the back, I’d have settled for a bit of top control. What actually happened though is that as I started to pull myself towards the back, he stepped over and finished the kimura. Que bitch scream. I’m dead. Shit happens.

I came away from it pretty sore, and genuinely pissed off with my performance. I’m ever the person to pick people’s spirits up when they’re down after  a bad performance, but I’m not the best at listening to people when I do bad myself. Mighele’s the current British Champion at purple belt, so I’m expected to lose and that’s fine – but I wanted to give him more of a back and forth this time, because I’ve been spanked by him before. One thing is certain, I should probably be competing between these interclubs – and I just don’t. It’s never interested me the way it interests other people. Movement is very different in active competitors, there’s an urgency that I just don’t have currently – I can play aggressive, play heavy or whatever but I don’t have that spark in me to kill just yet. I need to work on that. I’m too nice on the mats, which is a stark difference to how I am off of them. I’m a bit of a prick, y’see.

Origin Scotland took a fair few guys down, with Scott Malone of Cage Warriors fame winning out the purple belt category by doing what Scott does best. Smashing everyone to bits. He’s a demon on the mats. He batters people all the time, wee bastard that he is.

The level at each of these interclubs is getting better all the time and a few of our pesky wee white belts are now on the brink of that coveted blue belt status. Thank god, because currently I have to fight like a bullying bastard with them.

The ever wonderful Sean Middleton got his blue belt on the day, which made me super proud because since coming back to BJJ, he’s worked hard as hell with as many of us coaches as possible to bring himself back up to speed. He’s now hooring and touring in Brazil for the next three months. Jammy  little shit.

The Interclub turnout.

Meerkatsu.

Barely a week removed from the interclub, we were super lucky at Origin Jiu-Jitsu Scotland to have Meerkatsu (Seymour Yang) reach out to us for a bit of training.

Seymour’s a Nick Brooks / Roger Gracie black belt. So he’s no slouch on the mats, that’s for sure.
If you’ve been doing BJJ for longer than a hot minute, and are fortunate enough to live in one of the parts of the world with access the internet, you’ll see him abso-bloody-lutely everywhere. The reason you see him everywhere, is because he does a great deal for the sport in this country.
Rather than list all of the plates this man spins in the UK BJJ scene, please do check him out – he’s everywhere you’d expect him to be (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, his own website, his blog, etc).

On the Monday night, we held a small class for some rolling. This wasn’t advertised to the greater populous, because it would impact on other classes and whilst he’d agreed to come, our societal cynicism has conditioned us to only believe stuff when it actually happens. Grim.

As I went to peer outside at the baking sun, a wee Chinese man walked in. I greeted him with a “Welcome! I’m Barry.” which is about is friendly as I’ve ever been in my life. Once the pain of being nice wore off, we did a quick warmup, belthered a bit about the godfathers of BJJ in the UK and got to rolling.

I lucked out and got to roll with him first. He was super calm, chilled and we just flowed with him casually bitch slapping any sort of offensive I played with at the time. I threw a triangle up early, but there was no ill intent. His ability to switch from super-chilled to grappling ninja was very cool to experience. There were times when he’d let me pass, or start to work something before sweeping me through to the very depths of hell. He has a very skeletal approach to Jiu-Jitsu. Not relying on strength, instead creating frames and using stiff arms when necessary. Similar to Marc Walder. He also has that egoless approach in BJJ, that you’re sold on day one but so few actually have.

In our second roll at the end of the night, he was a lot less friendly. Setting up foot-locks several times, because I was entertaining De La Riva or Reverse De La Riva. It’s something I’ve been playing with a bit, and I’ve had pretty decent success with it against the club scrubs. He shut that shit down immediately. Swallowing up my feet like a hungry pervert. He also tried wrist locking me, which as we all know turns a friendly roll into a no holds barred fight. I called him out there and then. His online persona may be super friendly, but he’s clearly out for the blood. The buzzer rang before I could finish my tombstone piledriver. He’s getting choke-slammed if we ever roll again.

On Thursday night, he came back to teach a class. There was a small but respectable turnout because we’d opened it up for all to come. Lots missed out on some cracking details. Shit happens. Life gets in the way.
Seymour covered entries for the straight Achilles lock. It’s one of those, that’s not sore – OH YA BASTARD! techniques.
The class was really well received, because he covered a lot of initial setups for the Achilles which clearly branch into other things, should you wish to explore the dark arts further.

In short, Meerkatsu’s a really cool guy – he hung out for a bit after the class with Grant and I – we shot the shit about BJJ. If he’s ever up this way again, he’s more than welcome to stop by. Similarly, he gave us the impression that we’d be welcome at his place in Borehamwood BJJ, or even to drop into Mill Hill BJJ. Legend.

Meerkatsu and I.

Speedy’s.

On Wednesday I traveled to Speedy’s for a daytime session with a few of my favourite prized pricks. Danny, Grant and Tony. The journey there was a bit of a farce – we almost ended up in fucking Glasgow.

Once we’d gotten there, it was straight to business. Gis on, lapel traps with Speedy demonstrating each painful technique on his poor son Tyrone.
These lapel traps were great, and they feed into positions and techniques that he’s shown us before. They’re fucking heinous, and so positionally sound that you can really fuck with your opponent. That’s what this stuff is all about, isn’t it?

Afterwards, we worked a little bit of honeyhole – because it’s all anyone ever talks about. This was familar ground for me, having fucked about with heel hooks for a while now – it was a simple setup into a deep and dangerous world. I dig it.

Roll time. My first roll was with Danny. It was fairly flowy, and fun. Lots of positions switches and no actual submissions. He tried to take my back. I shut that shit down, with the old salmon method. Aggressive flailing.

My second roll was with Tyrone. He completely shut everything down with pant grips, and a knee constantly feeding inside to control the hip or the shoulder, depending on where I was trying to move from. It was pertty hellish to be honest. I’m used to this little fucker playing a tight guard game, but no – he’s doing top control now, and pissing through me with it. The only saving grace was that when he did eventually catch me with a choke, I made that little fucker work for it. Grunting and snotting everywhere whilst flailing about like an octopus in a bottle of whisky.

Third roll, Speedy. He goes through a few scenarios with me when we roll. Likely to see where I’m doing well, or where I’m going wrong. My biggest win here was probably preventing a belly down RNC from happening, if you’ve had the pleasure of rolling with Speedy he has this crazy fucking pressure game. So being able turn back into him and actively stop that felt good. He flowed right into an armbar after it though, I didn’t really fight the armbar because I knew I was gubbed.
After the tap, I figured I’d go for broke. Put a bit more pressure on, and try to be a bit more aggressive – as that’s what he’s always looking for. There were a few scrambles, and I managed to get a pretty dominant mount. I feel really comfortable in my top game now. My pressure/float switch is pretty spot on, so that escapes are often thwarted, although I have no doubt in my mind that if Speedy wanted to switch out my mount into the Walls of fucking Jericho, he definitely could.
I was having difficulty finding an arm or a neck from the mount, because Speedy’s tight as a motherfucker. I had to switch shit up. Fuck it, try a leglock. I switched position but I wasn’t particularly careful with my own feet as I dropped to catch his own foot in a foot lock. This is the consequence of rolling with a lot of white belts. You can afford to be really careless as a purple belt, and that creates bad habits.
He set up his own foot lock at the same time. Speedy has a lot more experience in this game, and my ankle made a lovely pop. There was no crank, he didn’t try to rip my foot off or any of that capers – he legitimately just set his hands in place and that was it. The pop made him let go immediately – my verbal tap probably wasn’t even necessary but the kid inside of me needed to scream like a bitch.

I got a pretty big fright, in my head I was about to look at my foot to see it pointing at six o’clock instead of the usual 12 o’clock. But it wasn’t. It was just SORE. I had a good feel to see where the pain was, and after about ten minutes I did a pistol squat to check the integrity of the joint (that would have been a shite idea if it was fucked). It was still sore, but it was fine. Good enough mobility, that I could walk about, etc.
My lack of warmup probably contributed to unnecessary tightness in the joint and I’ve likely just got a bad sprain. It’s still a bit swollen now, but it’s getting better. No snapped ligaments or any of that capers.

Speedy session.

Everything else.

Coaching is going really well. Whether going it solo, or coaching alongside Grant on Sundays and Thursdays – things seem to be going really well. We keep things simple, add a bit of humour and really drive home the technique of the day, whaever it may be. Classes are fun, which is important to keep people engaged.
Going forward, I’d like to have a monthly sit down with the other coaches to see how people are progressing – because we’re training out of three separate sites, we need to be on the same page with progression, attendance, etc. All that boring shit. I don’t want to be in position six months down the line, where people are getting overlooked for promotions, etc. It’s not cool, so let’s go for a coffee you cunts.

Coming up a few of our guys are doing the Rickson Gracie Cup. I think we’ve got til the end of the month to register. Support will likely be needed for that, so we’ll get some competition structured classes in place, etc.

Couple of seminars coming up. Marc Walder in Newcastle. Daniel Strauss in Dundee. Speedy’s due a visit too I believe, so we’ll need to get that sorted.

What else? Oh, I rolled yesterday for the first time since my ankle mishap. Hurts like a motherfucker today – so I’m skipping the sparring class tonight.
I had some good fun rolls yesterday. I made Gary my wee bitch, because he was a bitty stressed. There’s no better stress relief, than being tapped every 30 seconds in a four minute roll. I think I inverted triangled him three times, from different setups because fuck Gary.

Right, I’m done. Fly my pretties. 2571 words. Oh you fucker.

Not the Master of the Universe.

Being a professional ass kicker has its draw backs you know. For starters, I don’t get paid, so I’m not actually a professional.
I’ve been doing this shit a while, and my once vibrant purple belt is starting to look a bit worn – to say the least. My stripes have fallen off so many times, I’ve stopped putting them back on (a clean belt, is a healthy belt).
I’m training frequently, I’m coaching frequently and I’m doing what I can to ensure the betterment of other people’s games, in addition to my own – but I still get really pissed off all the time, that’s the bit you don’t see. Jiu-Jitsu can be a pain in the fucking arse, and not just for white belts.

After I roll with someone, if you’re doing something that could do with a bit of work, or if you specifically ask, I’ll usually use my rest time between rounds to try and help you by explaining positions, techniques and concepts. I’ve been there, I’ve fucked up a million times before – so I try to give a little back. My coaches have done the same for me in the past, so it’s become a part of my grappling ethos.
Sharing knowledge in anything can be interpreted positively or negatively if it’s not asked for. My intent is always good, but I guess it’s not always seen that way at times. The idea is to try and nurture people, so that they get better and in turn so do I – however it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m still seeing people make the same mistakes over and over again, and my own game is still a lazy mess of shit. When I apply myself, I’ll happily show you around sweep town or submission city – but I wouldn’t be the lazy grappler if I applied myself, would I?

On Friday, I ventured up to Sloany’s for a bit of NoGi. We worked on the head and arm choke, the north south choke and a choke from scarf hold that I hadn’t seen before (very similar to Josh Barnett’s finish of Dean Lister at Metamoris yonks ago, but there’s no crank).
Afterwards we rolled. I fucked shit up. Flowing between sweeps and submissions like I actually know what I’m doing. You have these days now and again, where you’re aware that you’re not untouchable but you just roll really REALLY well.

On Saturday, I attended a charity competition in Dundee. I missed the last one and felt shitty about it, so I made sure to get myself along to this one. It’s especially important to show your support for these events when so many people you know have worked hard to put it together, and the cause itself is something that affects people you know. A friend and training partner of mine has a son with Duchenne’s, which is a form of muscular dystrophy. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult that is currently, and how difficult it may be down the road, but what I can do is donate to a good cause so that treatments are researched and explored for current and future generations.

I’ve never competed in NoGi before, and my competition résumé in the Gi isn’t exactly glowing either to be honest. For me, Masters of the Universe (yes, that’s the real name) was about three things – donating to good cause, conquering competition anxiety and seeing how I got on.
The results were mixed. I got bronze, but it was a default medal as the third place match didn’t take place. My opponent had to pull out. Shit happens eh?

In my first match, I was against one of the Results Gym guys. They’re good wrestlers, with a Catch focus.
He didn’t shoot, just went straight to a body lock and worked to my back – I just dropped, rolled under myself and took guard. I feel safe in guard. He was wearing wrestling shoes, so had a lot of purchase on the mats to try and drive forward and pass my guard. My guard’s pretty solid, I’d say. I was lazy with my attacks, but I was making sure I was maintaining a solid and difficult to pass guard. I think he passed to half guard at one point, but I recovered back to z-guard then full guard. Biding my time. I wasn’t really interested in inherent risk, so I didn’t look for sweeps – I was just monitoring hand positions and trying to gauge when would be best to throw up a triangle. Once I had the triangle in place, I played about with the usual shit, pulling the head etc (thanks Adam) but I didn’t have the angle completely right and wasn’t about to adjust it in case I lost the position entirely. So I started playing with his trapped arm. The pressure I can keep with my legs is decent enough, that I’ll be able to manipulate the position into a pretty tight armbar. That’s how I got the tap.
At any point, he could have looked for the slam but I heard later that he didn’t want to be a dick. That’s appreciated, because I would have let that shit go so fast.

My second match was against the day’s double gold medalist. He won the men’s -80KG and the absolute by taking everyone into EBI overtime. In the match itself, I was super lazy – thinking I’d be able to get away with the same shit I always do. I was a bit thrown at the start of the match when he requested no heel hooks, and I basically abandoned whatever leg lock game I have, which on reflection was pretty stupid as I have kneebars and straight footlocks for days. He tried setting up a few submissions on me. Some Americanas and a head and arm choke, iirc but I never felt in danger. Before I knew it, I’d squandered the match and was in overtime. He won the flip, and attacked first from the back. I tapped to jaw pressure like a bitch after 38 seconds (it felt like hours).
Before appropriately thinking about the situation, I took his back and went for the choke myself. I managed to work my forearm under his chin pretty quickly and had my arms in the correct position but this dude would not die. That’s kind of his thing.
Had I rolled to his belly, or taken spiderweb instead would things have been any different? Probably not, but I’ve got something to work on now – so that’s positive.

I’m relieved that I didn’t embarrass myself too much, at least taking a victory in one match – but I was deflated and sore by the time the absolute came, so I swerved that, and enjoyed the remaining matches of the day.
I need to hold myself to a far higher standard than I am currently. I’m so fucking lazy when I roll it’s ridiculous. I thought for the most part I’d corrected a lot of my bad habits, but the weekend proved that not to be the case. In your own club, you get used to other people’s games fast, and I know I can get away with a very lazy game against a lot of people – so they’re very much self-inflicted traits.
One thing that was good though, is that I wasn’t nervous. There wasn’t the usual anxiety I get when I’ve competed in the past. That could be because I’ve grown, or it could be because I was in a safe space surrounded by good people. Comments afterwards were positive, and I appreciate that – but I know now what to work on. The work began yesterday, a day removed from the competition. A taught a pretty solid class, that I’m going to revisit again on Wednesday and tonight’s rolling night – with me taking the lead. Ergo, my rules FUCKERS.

I’d like to give a mention to Fenrir Thorvaldsen and Alistair Anderson for putting on such a well run show. They both promoted it well in the lead up, and with that quite a bit of money was raised for Duchenne’s.
Thanks to all the sponsors that made it happen too, there’s too many to list – but The Dungeon Bar is worth a shout, for being cool.

Here’s a donation page, if you’re interested.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROSomeoneSpecialPage?pageUrl=TeamDex

Pushing Through the Shit.

It’s no secret that I fucking love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/Submission Wrestling or whatever bastardised word entanglement you want to call it.
I do not live in the realms of grappling paradise though. I’m currently in that horrible period of time when you fall into a dank, dark pit of dispair – fatigued by it all. I’m still that same self-loathing cunt that I’ve always been.
I know where I’m at and I’m confident in myself as a grappler. I still get caught, but I know why I’m getting caught and how to address those problems.
My technical, physical and mental grappling acumen are better than they’ve ever been, thanks to my coaching of certain people, being coached myself by great coaches and roughing up lousy stinking stupid grubby little white belts. Woah, I got a bit carried away there. I’m also happy to butt heads with the best grapplers in the club, because I fear no man, yo.

Even as a self-proclaimed lazy grappler, I know that I’m one of a very small group of people that showed up to my club on opening night, and still attend regularly.
I’ve seen white/blue/purple/brown belts come and go. People that run through the club for a while, show real promise then either move away, or just stop grappling altogether. I find that bewildering, because even at my most down-trodden, I’m still attending classes. I’m still pushing through the shit.
I’m one of the ‘reliable’ guys to train with. If I don’t make class A, I’ll be at class B and so on – even at my most miserable. Lately I’ve had a slew of health mishaps (nothing serious), just a combination of guff that can’t be helped; along with ailments of my old broken body, but I still went to class (it’s not contagious, yo).

This passed weekend, I got the opportunity to nip down to Newcastle with Sloany and Scott for a much needed reawakening. Speedy brought in some heavies for a bit of rolling. Experienced grapplers. Two blue belts, two purple belts and two black belts. Fun.
Myself, Sloany and Scott are purple belts. Of the three, I’m the hobbyist, Sloany’s the longtime veteran (ex-kickboxer/pro MMA fighter, grappler) and Scott’s the athlete (pro-fighter currently signed to Cage Warriors/Judo black belt, commonwealth gold medalist). We all no doubt went down with different ideas in mind for what we wanted to accomplish, and it’d be a disservice for me to speak on Sloany and Scott’s behalf – so I won’t.

My goal was simple. Don’t get smashed. I fared a lot better than I was expecting to. I was caught a few times, because I’m still not invincible yet – but I didn’t come away from the rolls feeling as battered as I normally do. I wasn’t roughed up or brutalised by anyone (that’s not to say, I couldn’t have been – you don’t know what percentage someone is rolling at). It was just good fun rolling, with people that love to train, like myself.

I feel rebooted, which can only be good. How I’ll fare tonight at sparring after my lunch of carbonara and chips, followed by a sausage casserole for tea – who the fuck knows? But you can bet your arse I’m going to try and take a few limbs home.