Tag Archives: flow

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.

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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.

Savages.

Hello bastards. It’s been a while.

I thought I’d give it a few classes before I did the obligatory new year, new me post. After the Christmas break, I can definitely say this is a new me.
I seem to have forgotten the improved part though, opting for FAT instead.
I weighed myself on Monday at 79KG with a gi on.
Not just any gi, but the lightest gi that Scramble has ever made, the Athlite. So that’s good. I’ll likely be laying off the fat jokes for a while. Sorry.

I’ll catch you up quickly, since I haven’t actually posted in bloody ages. Leading up to the Origin Interclub, I held a few forums for my white belt brethren. Trying to iron out holes in their games, so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes I made. This was pretty well received, and the results at the interclub were pretty cracking. That’s not a sole effort of course, the people that went to the interclub have also attended Billy’s, Euan’s, Fenrir’s and Grant’s classes. It’s a group effort, with a wealth of knowledge on offer.
Win/lose/draw the Scottish charter of Origin did themselves fucking proud.
That wee wanker Danny got his blue belt. I would have welled up, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m completely dead inside.

Since the interclub, my training slowed down a bit. Picking up the occasional class here and there, with a bout of cold/flu and the ever catastrophic shites. I’m only human.

With the new year kicking off, I managed a Hogmanay open mat, followed by a joint class run by Grant and myself on the 7th (closed guard submissions). Back to basics, because you can never have enough basics.
On Monday, the club re-opened with an expanded mat space, and I used that mat space to run through a ton of training partners like they were made of room temperature butter. It’s a rare treat to have such a successful night of rolling on the mats. I had no goals, I just rolled and found submissions everywhere. This is no easy feat nowadays, with how quickly people are developing.
On Wednesday, there were more basics (covering escapes from mount) taught by the wonderful Billy.
Tonight’s menu was NoGi, taught by Fen.

I haven’t done NoGi in bloody ages. I’m not very good at it, so it’s a bit daunting going along to meet Fenrir’s band of merry, heel-hooking, arm-snapping, neck-wrecking savages. I’m aware of their progress, and the club is now at a point where you don’t really stay a beginner for very long. People are too good for you not to excel. Unless you’re a bit non-committal, I guess (which incidentally still happens).

Before class, there was rolling. I rolled with Graeme, Fenrir, Richard, Ross and Tony. Not one of us roll alike. It was a knackering hour and a half to be honest. By the time class rolled around, I was pretty buckled. Having caught a battering, whilst dishing out a few nasty subs of my own, including a slick kasa entry and heel hook on Captain Heel Hook himself.

Class was great. Fenrir taught basics. Passing a seated guard from standing into a strong side control, and the options you have from there. I worked with Yuri, because I haven’t seen him in ages, and as much as he tries to deny it he fucking loves me.

Afterwards we rolled, and weeks of him chatting shit about fucking me up came to a head – as I ripped him apart like a cheesestring. His tapping arm was put to good use, and he called me a cunt or something afterwards. That’s basically a medal.

I had a few other rolls throughout the night, and watched Fenrir lead his competition class. This looks like it’ll be highly beneficial to all involved. Coaching strategies, recognising styles, understanding rules etc. All vital if you want to excel on the competition scene.

Now I’m going to wait until the feeling of wanting to spew passes (grappling is hard, yo), eat some food, and go to bed. I may write again soon, or I may not. That’s how this shit works.

Toodles. x

Taking a Slice of the Action.

Hello again, you horrible fat slobs.

You’ll be pleased to know I haven’t died, yet. I’m still doing what I do, which is lead a fairly bleak existence working for the man, whilst trying to juggle some sort of family/social life and of course training as much Jiu-Jitsu as is possible.

I haven’t been yapping much on here of late, because I’ve been trying to write the same fucking thing for-fucking-ever and I got so frustrated with my inability to be truly diplomatic with it that I sacked it all off. Since then, the bug hasn’t been there. Fuck it. FUCK IT ALL.
Plus, I’ve reached one of those grubby grappling plateaus. I’m not getting better, I’m not getting worse. I have days where I’ll be caught a thousand times, then days where I’ll shut cunts down and flow between submissions like someone that actually knows what the fuck they’re doing.

Out with my own training, recently a ton of the DMMA guys threw themselves into competition, and they did great; earning some much needed experience, with a few picking up medals. This is brilliant, but more could be done to help them along their way.

As of next week, I’m going to run a small competition class on Wednesday evenings. Billy’s class will run as normal from 1830 – 2000, and my class will run from 2000-2100.
For a while now, Wednesdays have been a sparring class. So I figure bolting on another hour when people are nice and warm should be a good idea.
The aim is to cover positional sparring, shark tanks, tailored drills, etc so that the people that need the extra training are getting it in a controlled environment.
Drilling can be difficult without structure, and usually descends into rolling – my hope is after an hour and a half of rolling, the guys will be fairly compliant in doing what the fuck I tell them. Time will tell whether it’s a success or not, but the reception has been positive thus far.

The timetable is now looking mighty meaty for grappling at our little club and the satellite sites we run.

Monday – DMMA
Freestyle Wrestling with Euan Maddox 1800-2000.
BJJ Technique class with Billy Beckers 2000-2130.

Tuesday – DMMA
Open mat regularly runs from 1700-2000 with sparring taking centre stage.
Submission Grappling with Fenrir Thorvaldsen 2000-2130.

Tuesday – Evolved Training
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Euan Sloane 1830-2030.

Wednesday – DMMA
BJJ sparring with Billy Beckers 1830-2000
BJJ competition training with myself 2000-2100

Thursday – Wolseley Street Shed
BJJ sparring with Grant Cruickshank 1000-1100 (subject to announcement).

Friday – DMMA
Open mat regularly runs from 1700-1930 with sparring taking centre stage.
Submission Grappling with Fenrir Thorvaldsen 1930-2130.

Friday – Evolved Training
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Euan Sloane 1930-2130.

Saturday – DMMA
Open mat 1200-1600. Drill, spar or kill. The choice is yours.

Sunday – Wolseley Street Shed
BJJ kids with Grant Cruickshank 0930-1015.
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Grant Cruickshank & myself.

Hopefully I haven’t missed anything, wouldn’t want to look a cunt now.
Right, toodles bitches. x

Sloanzilla.

Big Uncle Sloane runs a class up at Blairgowrie’s Evolved Training (Andrew Usher’s place) every Tuesday and Friday. This burly technical wizard bands together with a group of like-minded people (y’know, the grappling sort. Mat ninjas, that love strangulation and limb destruction). His aim is simple, he’s going to blow their tiny little minds.

Friday was no different. This was my first time managing to get up to Evolved Fitness. Blairgowrie isn’t exactly local for a man without a horse and carriage. Luckily though, one of my NoGi rolling partners Adam was keen to go up. He’s a modern man, not bound by the Victorian constraints of a horse and carriage. This man has a car. A real life motor car.

Rolling at DMMA was great, but when we had thoroughly soiled their mats with sweat it was time to hit the long and winding road to Blairgowrie. We arrived a little late, but Sloany welcomed us with open arms like the gentleman he is.

We slapped our gis on and immediately got to work on triangles, moving onto a sneaky Machado-esque armbar off of the failed triangle and finally the omoplata. The Holy Trinity as everyone but Sloany calls it. Sloany calls it Three’s Company after his favourite American sitcom. He explained how these techniques fit together, and how effective each can be in their own right, but how dangerous they are on the transition.
After drilling it was time to roll. We rolled for a good while, and then played a bit of sweep or submit/pass the guard. Everyone was knackered, and suddenly they had nothing but technique left. This is the sort of training I love.

I’ve known Sloany since 2010. Like myself, he’s a purple belt under David ‘Speedy’ Elliot. In the time that I’ve known him, he’s always been a hell of a man to roll with. People are often put off by his size, because they think he’ll just beast them into oblivion but that’s not the case at all. What’s actually going to happen is you’re going to get technically outworked by a very clever grappler; that understands the game to a high level. He’s spent a fair bit of time on the tatami to say the least. This man is incredibly generous with his knowledge and time, and if you’re given the opportunity to work with him, you should snatch it.
For a while now he’s been running his own little classes at his work on lunch-breaks, but this opportunity allows him to better hit the big time. His coaching and simple, well explained and clear. His own technique will only explode from here as he re-visits his approaches to grappling, and introduces a new wave of mat warriors to Scotland. It won’t be long before I can only roll full prison rules with this guy. Wrist locks motherfucker.

I love this big bastard, and I’ll definitely be back to his classes in the near future.

Rickson Gracie.

Too often we pass up on the opportunity to stare greatness in the face. As crushing as it is, people aren’t immortal and we tend to have a highly variable expiry date. You only have to look at the 2016 death curse, and the more recent passing of Chris Cornell to know that our time on this floating watery space rock is a tiny insignificant little blip in the grand scheme of things. With that in mind, I’m taking a more active approach to seeing the people I want to see, whilst I still can. Morose eh? More notably, I’m going to be focusing on BJJ and training with the baddest motherfuckers alive. That’s the plan anyway.

Rickson Gracie is a polarising figure; not without his critics. The Gracie’s warhorse has gone to battle four hundred million times and never given up a single point, but conveniently those records are hard to come by. His own father discredited the records for their alleged hyperbole (stating that Rickson counted rolls as victories, alongside actual fights), and the truth of it is, we’ll never really know for sure. This crafty old bastard predated the internet and all things social media, so if there’s bullshit there, anyone that has called him out on it hasn’t had the reach of today’s crowd. So let’s not dwell on it? Let’s focus on the positive, and what we do know.

What we’ll focus on is those that have experienced this man’s grappling, and the brave wee souls that faced him in MMA fights. The talk ringside was that no-one wanted to fight this guy. They saw how Royce dismantled people, and it was well known that Rickson was capable of dismantling Royce. He was never meant to be that guy, but things in the family shifted and it was decided it was Rickson’s time to take the stage and show what BJJ could be when combined with a raw animalistic athlete.
Whether his record was embellished or not, this man is the best the Gracie family had to offer. Rolls shaped him into a killer on the mats, and from that close family death he honed his skills and carved out a path for himself in martial arts history.
His philosophy, understanding of technique, motion and physiology gave him an edge that others didn’t have. Apparently he’s the strongest fucker ever to walk this earth too, but all great grapplers are. Once you crack how to take a hold of someone, it’s REALLY fucking hard for people to shake that off (Taylor Swift might be able to). Rickson fought like a bear though. Ferocious.

A whose who of BJJ and MMA royalty cite Rickson as the best there ever was.
If you’ve got Fabio Gurgel singing your praises (Marcelo Garcia’s coach), then the chances are you’re pretty fucking brilliant at what you do. The Machados, Faddas and every other Gracie all speak about him like he’s at the very top of a very dangerous pyramid. All the BJJ elders speak incredibly highly of this man’s grappling abilities, and his reputation proceeds him as a result. So when the opportunity presented itself, I threw a gold brick at it (that’s a wee joke about the cost of his seminars – this dude ain’t cheap).

As we sat by the sidelines in the Glasgow Emirates Arena, the roof parted and a bright light shone down on this Jiu-Jitsu deity. He put his gi jacket on, tied his coral belt and started to warm up. He runs through a very similar warmup routine to myself. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because he has about 4 bulging discs, and is pretty fucked physically. I’m hoping that’s from his countless hours squeezing people to death, otherwise my future is pretty bleak.

As I looked out onto the mats I was nervous in a good way. It was a pretty special moment when it hit me that I was about to train at a Rickson seminar. The mat space was fucking huge, filled with 188 people. There was a pretty even mix of white, blue, purple, brown and black belts. I’ve probably never seen so many black belts together, all seeking the very same thing we all were, understanding of technique from someone that’s been around the mats a fair few times.
It’s refreshing to see black belts as students. Incredible life long martial artists like Rick Young are still looking to learn wherever they can, and that’s a good insight into what’s to come. Learning doesn’t stop when you get your black belt, you’re continually evolving your own understanding of this horribly complicated art. For one day, regardless of rank we’re all on the same page. Or at least, in the same section of a library.

Rickson’s far shorter than anyone expects, but still looks absolutely fucking solid at 59 years old. He manages to be wholly intimidating and personally welcoming at the same time. He shook everyone’s hand as they walked onto the mat, but fuck that noise, I stole a quick hug. I drew the line at a kiss on the cheek because I didn’t want to tempt fate with my own expiry date. He has a back like a bag of rocks.

He started his seminar by taking about breathing and using your full lung capacity. This is something that has always been at the forefront of his training, and you don’t really give it a second thought (even if you have watched Choke far too many times).
I don’t consider myself fit, but I know when I roll with less experienced grapplers, they’re going to tire far quicker than I do. Panting away like a puppy in the park, whilst I casually place their arm where I need it to be so that I can viciously explode through with a spiral armbar, ending their dreams of being an oil painter. Fucking oil painters man.

Rickson’s breathes properly. It may look like he’s a marble short of a game of kerplunk when he’s doing it, but he’s using his lungs the way they should be used. Full diaphragmatic breathing, combined with meditation to give himself the edge on his opponents. He explained that before competing; even with a full sweat on he’d get his heart rate back down to 60 beats per minute, so that he always had further to go in his gas tank than his opponents. It’s something I want to better understand, because I haven’t really bothered in the past when Billy the Yoda mentioned it. Billy the Yoda is a clever cookie it would seem, he’s been going on about this shit for years.

After the introduction was done, we worked flying berimbolos, floating inverted guard and trans-dimensional-worm-hole guard. No wait, we didn’t. We  actually worked on some self-defense principles. Being honest, I’m really not interested in self-defense but what he said resonated and made more sense as the seminar went on. The seminar focused entirely on base. Understanding when you’re in base, and when you’re not. We refined standing and grounded techniques to make sure we were an absolute shit of a bastard to fight against. That’s what he’s going for right? As I continue to refine his approach to these techniques, I’ll hopefully one day be able to hold fuckers down like they’re shackled to the earth.

What I really appreciated in his instruction is how he got a technique into your head. He instructs by feel. So if you’re struggling, he’ll have you do the technique on him, and he’ll correct it appropriately. This is something a lot of instructors do, but it felt like something more with him. I don’t know why. I was probably just gushing like a school girl because it’s Rickson fucking Gracie.
I don’t think I can think as well in reverse like that yet. Maybe with some techniques, but it’s cool to witness the process. The man’s also a gentleman. He didn’t at one point say, “Woah man, your technique is fucking dogshit. Go get changed right now.” I’ll never have that decorum, fuckers be getting telt yo.

It was a great seminar. His philosophy & approach to technique etc surprised me (I’m aware that sounds stupid, he’s a coral belt for fuck sake, and has been harping on about effectiveness being missing from Jiu-Jitsu for a years now).
However, we’re so often you’re caught up in the mythos of these characters, that you just assume Rickson was super successful because he could bend girders with his bare hands. Whilst it played a part, it doesn’t seem to be the full story. His techniques are simple, efficient and highly effective. There’s white belts at that seminar, that will hopefully start using his techniques from here forward. They’re going to have an understanding of fundamentals that has been drilled into them at a very early stage in their game. Whereas us wiley veterans are now going to have to work hard, to correct our dirty bad stanky habits.
His Invisible Jiu-Jitsu seemed like more clever Gracie marketing, but there was none of the Rener or Ryron flair or bullshit with it. He explained clearly, and made sure a room of nearly 200 people were on the same wavelength. I feel I’ve got a better understanding of it than I did before; making simple adjustments to techniques that I’ve been doing for years, and my partner was literally fucked as a result. Those lightbulb moments. This is what a good seminar should be. Taking away vital details that have an overall impact on the effectiveness of your game.

If you get the opportunity to attend one of these seminars, jump at it. Starve your kid for a week, sell your dog, default on your mortgage, drive without an MOT, maybe skip a night out or two. It’s worth it. Cheerio cunts. x

Back row: Tony, Chris, Rickson, Grant, myself. Front row: Danny & David.