Tag Archives: Confidence

Continuing to Fail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Tightening Shit Up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheery bye fuckers.

Harmbars.

Tonight’s class was great. More rolling from the get go, with my focus being the Megadeth approach. Seek & Destroy. This did NOT work on Frankie. He’s a tiny little tank that happens to be packing nuclear warheads. Fucker.

Luckily there was plenty of new blood to snaffle up, and slowly obliterate. There were of course exceptions, some of the more knowledgable less spazzy guys for instance – but I just took my time, and created the openings I needed to work the techniques I wanted to work.

My focus currently is getting back into the routine of doing armbars. A million years ago, I was quite good at them. So I’ve been exploring them again recently, and catching them from tricky little positions.
The aim of course is to get away from people identifying me as Barry the loop choke guy. I want to be known as the armbar or harmbar (trademark pending) guy. That way I can start loop choking the fucking shit out of people again. I’m crafty, see.

I still don’t feel especially comfortable giving people guidance when rolling. I don’t want to be coaching someone as we roll, because it gives an excuse after the roll if they best me. Fuck that noise.
So I’ve been giving pointers after the roll. Specifically with pressure and how to alleviate that pressure. It’s somewhere that I can confidentally speak from experience, because I’ve been crushed a LOT in my time as a grappler.
I’ll occasionally add little tidbits about how to tighten up certain techniques, when people are just throwing them at you in vain. Beyond that, it’s Billy’s domain.

*throws up shaka* Piss off.

Kicking it Old School.

After Monday’s disasterous class, I put a bit more thought into tonight’s. A few people gave some insight into similar experiences, and others imparted some wisdom on how to avoid a similar story. So that was much appreciated. They know who they are, the glorious shits.

I’ve been speaking to Grant, a good friend and training partner of mine since day dot with all this grapple-lark. I mentioned how good it would be to teach some of the old stuff, to the new guard (that’s clever wordplay there). Grant agreed, and had already been running through it at another club that he’s been teaching at recently, called Granite Strength & Fitness.

Yeeears ago (almost six in fact), Speedy showed us a series of Gi chokes from closed guard. What made them so mind-meltingly special was how you used the Gi like a rope to choke your opponent. The idea is to punch an open Gi through to your opponent’s back and pass it over to your other hand. This creates a very tight lapel that doesn’t move like a collar does. Chokes like the cross-collar choke, become insanely powerful. We played with a few, and ended on the puppet-master triangle. A technique we affectionately dubbed, because you turn your opponent into a puppet by using the lapel to control their free arm with your foot. It’s a complete disservice what I’m describing right now, but I remember the epiphanal moment when I trained it for the first time. The lightbulb went off in my head, burst into flames and killed everyone inside. It’s absolute magic.

Grant and I took turns demoing techniques tonight. Pointing out the finer details to those that needed it, and generally delivering a good fun lesson plan to the class. As a result, I’m far better spirited than I was on Monday. I was fucking miserable, but now I’m back to my usual jovial self (scathing evil little cunt).

Tally-ho!

Bleurgh.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu again. Every time I’ve been given the opportunity to do so, I feel I’ve stepped up to the plate pretty well, and taught a cohesive series of moves, that people understand and should be able to put to use pretty much immediately.

Tonight however I ditched that idea, and decided to just spew all over the mats in the hope that people would clean up after me. It was a fucking shambles.

I went to class with an idea in mind, but when it came to teaching the class, I immediately ditched it and worked something on the fly. There were a ton of new faces, and I immediately became anxious. I’m not one for anxiety normally, but tonight I just went blank. I had a brain fart, as it were.

I think my own view of my grappling abilities may have hindered me tonight (if I can do it, anyone can do it! because I’m shite). This was a pretty short-sighted view. I’ve been training for years. Sure I’m a hobbyist, but I’ve picked up tons of techniques, and thrown away tons too. I know better than to put on a class like that absolute shit-show this evening. I muddled my way through three very different techniques. I didn’t explain them well, or demonstrate them well, because when I looked back out to the class and tried to correct where I could, the moves still weren’t getting hit cleanly. This was a reflection on my own poor teaching tonight, rather than the classes’ abilities. In certain cases, you misjudge the room. And in other cases, you misjudge yourself.

I’ve already started to work on a lesson plan for the next time I teach, if I get hte opportunity to do so again. I refuse to have a repeat of that embarassment tonight.

BLEURGH.

Caging an Animal.

We’ve all been in someone’s full guard, unable to pass. It doesn’t matter what belt you are, what belt they are, sometimes you just don’t have the knowledge to get passed their damned dirty legs. It doesn’t really matter if they’re lanky and flexible or have two super strong tree trunks sprouting out of their hips, if your technique is good, you will pass. If it isn’t, you won’t.

Assuming like myself you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll have amassed multiple techniques to pass the guard, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport of waste. You’re constantly searching for the technique that works for you. So you’ll quickly disregard what doesn’t work for you. The problem with disregarding techniques is that just because it didn’t work then, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. As you get further into your understanding of this fabled art, you start to realise that you may have been wasting the wrong techniques. We’re all too quick to ignore something because it doesn’t fit our body. But why doesn’t it fit our body? Is it that we’re too fat? Or are we just lacking the mobility required? Body-type, attributes and understanding of movement are all vital to make a technique work, but you have to re-tread old ground to understand whether you were just being a bit of a spaz before, or whether your body is truly incapable of those particular movements.

Body-type and attributes can be altered by getting fit, but let’s dumb shit down right now and assume you haven’t changed shape at all in the whole time you’ve been doing this Martial Art. You’ve somehow managed to gain no fitness whatsoever, you’re no more explosive than you were when you first started, no faster, no stronger, etc. You’re the same as you were on day one (that’s obviously not the case, even if you don’t look visibly different, you’re an animal now).
So what can change? Even with your suitably inept body, there’s one thing that will have changed that you have no control over in this ridiculous hypothetical world that I’ve created. That’s your understanding of movement. If the diseased carcass that you hoist around the mats isn’t fit for the job, luckily your brain is.
You see, the longer you do BJJ, the better your body becomes at proprioception.
That’s your understanding of how your own body moves in relation to itself. Crack that, and you’re cracking a code that will improve your grappling no end. BJJ is a human game of Twister. Left foot yellow spot, right foot red spot. Etc. Understanding where and how you should be moving is so bloody important, and as you get further down the rabbit hole, you should be revisiting techniques to see if you can now crack them. Let’s jump back into our own dimension! Holy smokes, what’s happened Batman? After years of Jiu-Jitsu, you’re faster, stronger, and fitter?! Then you’ve got no fucking excuse. You should be combining that with your new fangled understanding of movement, and get on the fucking mats.

Tonight, it was bestowed on me to teach some good old fashioned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I revisited the concept of passing the closed guard. I worked some variations with the class, both knee slice passes (delicious). Both used a similar concept, which was caging the hips (or caging the animal if you will). Your opponent cannot sweep or submit you, if you cage their hips. Or at least, that’s the plan. I wanted to show that you could use either the near side or far side knee for the slice. We then either ended up in side control or scarf hold depending on how you approached the knee slice. To wrap up, from the scarf I showed a few bonus subs, because it’s always beneficial to know that there are finishes off of the techniques you’ve just worked. Kimura, straight armbar and a wrist lock. They’re nasty, but that’s life. That’s what people say.

We only had ten minutes of rolling at the end, which is dreadfully low I know, but I wanted these techniques to sink in. The purpose of both passes was simple, passing the guard (obviously), and understanding how to move. I hope that I got enough of that across tonight, and if I didn’t, shit happens. I’ll just look forward to the next time that I get the opportunity to coach, and do better.

Right, toodles!