Tag Archives: flow

Cyclical Drills.

S’up y’all, I haven’t penned anything in a while because my quill has been out of ink. It’s only now that I’ve stored up enough blood of my fallen brethren to scrawl together this literary masterpiece*.

*littered catastrophe. Shit drivel. A fresh fart in an otherwise empty room.

On Sunday we worked basic armbars & collar chokes. BORING. On Monday we worked basic butterfly guard. BORING. These drills are often monotonous and require a partner that you can either have a bit of a laugh with, or someone that you can bang out the reps with. If you strike it lucky, you’ll get both and when it comes to sparring you’re already bloody knackered.
Now I’m not a complete idiot, I’m well aware that these drills are important. Blacksmiths don’t just magic a sword out of nowhere; they repeat the same basic techniques over and over until they’ve completely transformed a block of metal into a sharp nasty bastard of a blade.
As a result of these boring old drills, I’ve turned into quite a fan of the butterfly guard. That’s what reps do. You transcend into a dark place. It’s getting close to the point of muscle memory for me. I’m also partial to an armbar, but when people know  that part of your game; you have to abandon that shit, and start tying stuff together. Ugh.

That’s where cyclical drills come into play. It’s something I’ve dabbled with in the past, but something I don’t do enough of. Sure when I roll, I know that I’m not going to get an armbar by just throwing it up unless my opponent is basically brand new. I know that I’ll have to setup a move X to lead into move Y so that I can finish on move Z.
Last night Billy showed off a beautiful cyclical flow that I have not done justice to, but will continue to work until it’s on point. Whilst we were in the gi, we worked the NoGi variation of the flow so it’s adaptable. Plus it means you don’t have to rely on collar grips, etc.

There’s a lot of details, so I’m going to completely gloss over them and do an absolute disservice to Billy by explaining them really fucking poorly.

Back control seatbelt – opponent escapes to your underhook side – walk around the clock to North/South whilst maintaining seatbelt – haul them up and crawl/walk towards – take the back by placing the underhook side leg flat along the floor by their hips – take hook on overhook side and pull to the ground on overhook side – maintain grip and turn out into head and arm choke – opponent defends – take mount – pull into necktie – switch to armbar – opponent defends – pull opponent passed you and into back control seatbelt – rinse and repeat.

I paired up with Ronnie for this, and we really battered through the reps. It was one of those sequences that immediately made sense. Most importantly, it was fun. Not monotonous. What follows is a wee video of me poorly attempting it.

Toodle-oo motherfuckos.

Pressure.

Welcome back y’all. I’m here to ring in the New Year the only way I know how, by flinging shite at you until you go away.

In the lead up to Christmas, I normally get antsy because impending break knocks my chakra to fuck. Legitimately though, I turn into an even more pissy cunt than usual. Jiu-Jitsu balances me. It kills the ills, as it were.
Luckily this year, I was fortunate enough to catch training sessions here and there to tide me over until classes officially started back up again on Monday.

Today, some two days after that first official class back – myself, Danny, Grant & Sean flung ourselves into a car and hurtled down to Newcastle for a session with our good pal Dave ‘Speedy’ Elliot. It’s 180 miles each way, to get beaten up for a few hours before grabbing some food, and heading back. It’s a LONG fucking day, but it’s worth it for the wealth of knowledge that Speedy will impart whilst you’re there.

Regrettably Speedy invited along my arch-nemesis. His son Tyrone is a four stripe brown belt that has been bullying me on the mats since he was 15 years old. He does the whole nice guy thing well, but I know his game. He’s out to get me. Bastard.

Today we focused on side control and a plethora of armbar attacks from there. It was something I’d wanted to play with, and it was also a great way to better understand this mystical pressure that Speedy keeps talking about.

I cannot appropriately describe the horrendous amount of pressure demonstrated in each armbar. My arms felt like they were about to explode when having the techniques applied on me, and I felt like a destroyer of worlds when applying them. As I switched from side control into kesa gatame for the step over arm bar, I could feel my finger playful pointing towards the big button that said, “DO NOT PRESS: NUCLEAR WARHEADS.”
It was a fucking great addition to the arsenal, and the chain of attacks that came off of it allowed you to better picture how all of this shit fits together.

After learning how to prevent someone from carrying their shopping home, we rolled. I rolled with Danny, Speedy, Grant & Tyrone in that order. I’ll focus on my rolls with Speedy & Tyrone, because Danny & Grant are shitebags that I can roll with anytime.

Rolling with Speedy is very much like rolling with an avalanch. If you’re ever given the liberty of space, it’s not going to be for long, because that gap will just be filled with an unrelenting amount of weight and pressure. I fared better against him this time than I did last time, but I was still tapped plenty – as and when he chose to do so. I didn’t realise until after the roll that I wasn’t able to amount a single attack. I was working for sweeps, and trying to get into an advantageous position but it just didn’t happen. Six minutes of hell.

Rolling with Tyrone was a lot more playful. I think our styles compliment one another well. I tried a lot more sweeps and attacks with Tyrone, but the bulk of our roll was focused on a kimura lock that he was working for, that I refused to give up. I’ve got flexible arms, and as close as it was several times, I managed to somehow wriggle out of it. At one point I managed to create space and reel him right back into a heel hook. We both looked at one another knowing what was there, so I let go like the gentleman I am. It was a great roll.

All in all, the day was fantastic. I look forward to the next time I see Speedy, which’ll likely be in March on my fucking Birthday. The best day.

Toodles motherfuckos.

Sleepy Time.

SO tonight after god knows how many hours on the mat, I was put to sleep for the first time ever by the wonderful Frank.
Anyone that’s sparred with him knows he’s a very strong grappler, that puts position before submission. As you well should. He also doesn’t horse submissions on, and just lets the technique do the work.

He caught me with a bread cutter choke. Nice and simple. Basic. Something he goes for a lot, and I’m usually capable of defending or alleviating the pressure of.

In my head, the following scenario played out:

Holy buggery this is tight – I need to tap! Hand on elbow, relieve pressure, stiff arm, bridge, shrimp, create space, sit up and reset.

My brain had other ideas though. I probably flailed about the floor like an idiot, next thing I know, I’m sitting up in front of Frank being re-assured that I’m alright, it happens to everyone. I didn’t even know I was out.

Luckily Frank isn’t a cunt and immediately re-assured me about the time he went to sleep. Grant did the same. Weight lifted.

What freaked me out most is how un-freaked out I was. I’m aware that sounds utterly stupid, but I didn’t feel any different to how I felt before the class. It was just weird. Dare I say normal. I’m lucky enough that it’s taken so many years for it to happen.
I’ve caught people the right way, and put them to sleep, and I’ve seen plenty of other people get put to sleep. It’s just part of this fabled art.

It was bizarre but I’m unscathed! Onto the next class. 🤘😴💤

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.

Progress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off you fuck then.

Rolling with The Master.

After another hiatus from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I wanted to throw myself back into the deep end. I asked fellow grapplers if anyone wanted to roll on Friday night, and the response was brilliant. I aim to roll from six to half seven every other Friday (work permitting), but Paul and Sloany were opening early to work on a few things. That was my in.
I swaggered into the gym at five on the dot ready to take skulls home with me, for the mantlepiece.

We drilled some techniques, then it was onto rolling. I got the fat straw first and rolled with Kenny. It was a fun roll, with him attempting various submissions and myself doing my best not to become another man trapped inside the stomach of Moby Prick. Kenny’s always a delight to roll with.

Then I rolled with Robert. I’d never rolled with him before, as we’re normally on different paths through the club. Opposite classes, different time tables or whatever the hell you want to call it. I’ve always passed him and thought, how does this guy roll?
I’d watched him roll with Kenny for a bit to try and gauge how he’d get on, but it’s hard to tell, when Kenny is on someone.
Rolling with Robert was fun. Plenty of back and forth and opportunities from both of us. It’s also good to roll with someone that is in a similar weight bracket. Although, with my ongoing fatness I’m probably quite a bit heavier than him. Gah.

Next up was Paul. The master himself. Paul’s been the staple submission grappling coach since the club’s inception. Without him and Billy we just wouldn’t know any of the shit we do. He’s a fan of catch-as-catch-can, and loves to wrestle. Tonight from the second I got into the club, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He’s the smallest I’ve ever seen him, at 76 kilos. I’m sure the last time I rolled with him he was at least 90KG, but it’s hard to tell because his top game is so dominating.
Apparently he’s eating yogurt five times a week, and the weight has just fallen off. Goes to a yogurt class and everything.  Amazing.

We tickled fingers, slapped hands, bumped fists, kissed each other’s cheeks, signed the necessary papers and got to rolling. I was completely thrown by everything he was doing, because for several years Paul has been very much a crush and smash sort of player. He gets top control, and makes you feel like you’ve never grappled before in your life. He has a few attacks that he’s able to get to from anywhere, and you’re just along for the ride.
Friday though, he was actively playing guard, and attacking from angles that I hadn’t seen him do before, unless giving the class a demo. He was inviting passes, attacks, etc. He thoroughly kicked my arse in a whole new way, expected of course – but not like that. He fucking Jiu-Jitsu’d me, when he’s meant to be a bloody wrestler. This will not stand.

Along the way he was doing what a good coach does best and correcting glaring holes in my game, and adding new tips and tricks to my arsenal. It took me a while to realise that I could actually move him, which never used to happen before. Obviously it was a friendly roll, so he’d turned crush and smash off for a more flowing approach – but it was just surreal to play with that energy.
You’re looking across at someone that used to be one of the strongest people you know, and now they’re this super flexible, relaxed grappler in the space of only a few months. It’s one thing knowing how dangerous he was when he was a big strong lump that could smash you through the floor, but this lighter, flexible Paul is a whole new animal. He’s always been the end game boss, but this is the sequel and he’s back with new tricks. The knowledge was obviously always there, but this further cements the necessity in understanding mobility and flexibility in grappling. It can completely change how great a grappler you are. Paul was always great, but now he’s greater whilst being less (fat). Mind fuck.

I don’t get to Paul’s classes enough, or train with him enough. That has to change. I might have to set my gis on fire and retire my Shaka to be allowed though. 😕

Ninja Shit.

Let’s be honest. We didn’t get into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for self defense. The realest, and illest killers got into this mastery of limb destruction, and oesophageal terror to become modern day ninjas. This is the closest you’re ever going to get to pulling off some ridiculous move, that no-one will believe anyway.

Tonight Grant lead the class, and in the spirit of kicking it old school like we did on Wednesday, we’re revisiting old techniques (we’d discussed prior to this class). Once you get to a certain level in this sport, you have to start thinking about where you’ve been before, and why you ditched certain techniques.
There can be many reasons why you’ll get rid of a technique, but you’ve got to be real with yourself. It didn’t fit your game. You’ve been plagued by an injury, and you have a mental barrier. You thought it was absolute fucking toss. Or even after tons of drilling, you still don’t get this move, so it’s easier to fuck it off.

Tonight we revisted some spider guard stuff, that I haven’t thought about in years. I’d actually forgotten how to even comprehend doing them. Luckily though, my body hadn’t. Once Grant demo’d the techniques, I had a epiphanal grappling moment. God spoke to me. He said, S’UP DAWG. YOU CAN DO THIS PLAYA. I don’t know why God is so urban all of a sudden, but I just rolled with it.

The first technique was a spider guard sweep. Lasso, opponent tries to pass, you c-cup or pant grab the leg and use your shin on their hips to blast them over like an angry bag of potatoes.
The second technique was an omoplata. This could be approached two ways. Spider guard, reaching through to the pant leg on the side you want to take the omoplata, granby roll to finish. If you had difficulty with this, you could create space for yourself by coming up onto a knee prior to the granby.
The third and final technique was everyone’s favourite/the class destroyer (you either got it or you didn’t. It’s difficult, see). A spider guard, granby triangle. The trick to this is how you launch into the triangle. It’s a move of momentum, and it takes a lot of work to understand what the hell you’re actually doing.

Afterwards, we rolled. I didn’t embarass myself in any of my rolls tonight, which is great. I try to put myself into precarious positions, without actually being hurt by them. It backfires sometimes, but not TONIGHT. Oh no, ninja shit tonight.

Right, toodles.