Tag Archives: judo

Fenrir.

Fenrir Thorvaldsen
The word Fenrir comes from Norse Mythology, you can look it up if you feel so inclined. I’ll save you the bother though, it basically means Wolfbastard.

That’s exactly what Fenrir Thorvaldsen is. He’s a total fucking Wolfbastard of grappling. I’ve been fortunate enough to know this man for around 7 years now, and for the most part I’ve completely taken that for granted. I’ve dipped in and out of his classes for years, preferring a more Gi-centric approach to my training. Fenrir doesn’t do Gi. He has in the past, but I’ve never seen him wear one in the flesh. His strengths are NoGi, in what can be best described as a hybrid grappling style. He’s been training so long (36 years) that he can easily point out what’s shit and what isn’t. He uses elements of Catch As Catch Can, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Folkstyle wrestling, Sumo (when he was fat) and well you name it he’s probably used it, played with it, added it to his game or disregarded it altogether. The fact is there is no supreme grappling art because it’s all very much attribute based, as most Martial Arts are. X will beat Y if X is a massive monsterous cunt. Y will beat Z if Y has greater technical knowledge, etc.
It’s knowledge vs braun and very much the inbetween bits too, to put it simply.

I think I first met Fenrir back in January 2010. I’d briefly dabbled with training elsewhere at another local club that now specialises in K1/Kickboxing. They did MMA previously, but their strengths have always been kickboxing. From training there for a while, I had this notion that I could grapple. It was the bit of MMA that I wanted to understand, so that I can properly enjoy the sport as a spectator. I had no illusions of ever doing MMA myself, because the idea of getting my head caved in, properly seriously frightens me. I just wanted to get to a point where the boring bit of MMA made sense (the grappling).
So when the long rumoured DMMA opened, I went over with a curious eye, and as I’m sure you can imagine the rest is history. Needless to say, I don’t find grappling boring anymore. It’s my go to therapy.

I remember the first time I met Fenrir distinctly. Billy (one of the other coaches) was taking a packed NoGi class, and Fenrir was just there looking laid back and all dreadlocky. There were plenty of familiar faces, and I felt right at home quickly. That was probably a big part of my immediate downfall.
At the end of the class, the ritualistic rolling started. I’m not sure who asked who, but I ended up getting to roll with Fenrir. The clock started, and he immediately started working an X-Guard. I had no clue what an X-Guard was at this point, so in my usual serpeant laced tongue I may have thrown some shit his way about how it wasn’t doing anything. I think my  words were along the lines of, “Is this meant to be a stretch or something? Because I’ve already done that before class.” His head shifted to look at someone else nearby, they locked eyes in a knowing way. They both knew I’d fucked up, but I didn’t. Fenrir then swept me through the centre of the earth. I could feel the Earth’s core burning my arse hair to a cinder. From there, he moved to side control and swiftly into North/South with such ferocity that my contact lens found its way onto the side of my eyeball (a horrible fucking feeling that I don’t recommend you try). That was the first time I felt the Monson choke. After the roll, I was told by someone else that he’s one of the other coaches there. So he probably thought I was a massive fucking cunt from day one, but hey that’s life – I wonder if I ever apologised to him for being a prick? If I didn’t he’s had plenty of time to learn that it’s just my way. SORRY FEN.
Apology or not, I was hooked. I hadn’t been so quickly dismantled whilst grappling before. It was a fresh feeling. I was still very much a novice, but it wasn’t a pressure I’d ever felt before. I knew that DMMA was going to be my new home away from home.

Fenrir over the years regrettably has had an injury or two (he was basically Mr. Glass from Unbreakable). He still took the NoGi or the affectionately dubbed Submission Wrestling classes as he called them, and showed a ton of techniques but we weren’t really getting to see what he was capable of. The back of your mind knows what he’s capable of, but you quickly forget/neglect those thoughts when you don’t see a coach sparring alongside you.
It’s what happens when your life revolves around grappling, fighting and extreme sports. He’s basically one of those adrenaline wankers that are all over YouTube now.
In the last year though, he completely changed his approach to his own rehabilition and started doing Hot Yoga; with that, he lost quite a bit of weight and has strengthened ligaments, tendons, muscles in areas where he was probably weakest/or most vulnerable. He’s able to roll again.  Being honest, I think I preferred rolling with him when he was 90KG or thereabouts, because I could blame my size and his strength for his absolute domination. Now at 74KG, I know he’s just techniquing the fuck out of me. He’s a complete Wolfbastard to roll with. A relentless, technical, snarling beast of a shit, but they’re definitely the best rolls I’m currently getting. I’m getting pressured in ways I didn’t know were possible, and I’m learning on the fly through threat recognition. My leglock game is basic, but through Fenrir’s insistent attacks, I’m starting to learn how to defend subconsciously. That’s the sort of coach that he is. Complimentary, brilliant and he’ll help you along the way with your roll. Also helping you after the roll, etc. Why have I been taking this man for granted for so long? Injuries aside, I could have been taking a more concerned effort to learn from him over the years, in addition to my focus on the Gi with Billy, Speedy, etc.

My Gi game and my NoGi game are worlds apart as a result. I wouldn’t class myself as a great grappler by any means, but I have a far greater success in the Gi than I do NoGi. Recently, I’ve been trying to balance that out with extra NoGi rolling sessions. That’s where Fenrir’s top students come out to play, and fuck me up with stuff I should know but just don’t. Getting a tap off of one of them feels very much earned. It’s also allowed me to re-focus my training and make sure that Fenrir is very much aware of his part in making me the grappler I am today (he’ll probably want to abandon ship now).

This week I’ve had some time off work to chill. So I wanted to grab a couple of private lessons with Fenrir to make some adjustments in my game. I’ve worked a ton of stuff this week in addition to my usual training regime; and whilst it’s a lot to take in, for some miraculous reason it’s gelling with me. Good coaching I guess. I’m pretty sore as a result though, but it’s been a fucking blast being able to train during the day with a grappler of his calibre. Even the rolls before and after, whilst absolute drubbings are an incredible learning experience in which I’m able to try new shit, old shit and just see what works and what doesn’t with someone of his  grappling acumen. I’ll play my game, whilst he plays away at his own game, colliding somewhere in the middle with a yelp or two along the way. On Monday after working some super top secret stuff, we rolled for about an hour, filmed it and it helped serve as a great stepping stone of things to work today. We’ve already put in place adjustments to strengthen my game where it was weakest, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work those aspects so that the next time we roll, I might be able to give him a little hell back for a change. That’s how this works isn’t it? We learn from the best, so that we can crush the best.

If you’re ever in Dundee, or the surrounding areas (Tayside, Fife etc) and you’re looking for a brilliant grappler with a ton of knowledge, it’s a disservice to yourself if you do not seek this man out. You can find him on Facebook and Youtube.

I’ve rambled enough now. I’ve got another class to go to. Toodles y’all.

Happy Anniversary.

To my clavicle (collarbone) getting snapped. HOO-FUCKING-RAY!

A year ago today I managed to break my collarbone by being a fucking idiot (something I’m adept at). How did you manage that I hear you ask, unless of course you already know the story. Well I’ll fucking tell you regardless.

Myself and a fellow blue belt were rolling, his name is Paul. Paul happens to have a slight advantage over me when it comes to grappling. It’s something to do with his 2 degree black belt in Judo, I think. So knowing this, it’s understandable that my attacks upon him would have to be either very technical, quick in the hope that I’ll catch him, or as powerful as I can muster up. His base is solid.

I’m not a powerful guy, and I don’t think myself all that technical (although I’m leaning more towards that now a year on), so a frenzied approach is all I had. Somehow, Paul was turtled up. He was clearly cowering from my grappling prowess, silly man. Picture this if you will, I was hip to hip on his left side with a seat-belt about to be locked up. From here, the sensible thing to do would be to take the back, but I’m sure it’s already been established that white and blue belts aren’t the most sensible of people. We do dumb shit.

Now I have no idea what crossed my mind here, being that I know chokes from the turtle, and I have a few chokes from the back, but no my mind wasn’t having any of that sensible, well though out shit. A firework went off in my brain, and it spelled out ‘BELLY DOWN ARMBAR’ in the sky. So with this, I scooped up his right arm tightly and dived.

At some point during that dive, I thought it would be sensible to try and roll with this armbar, using momentum pull him over and onto his back so I could finish up with a tight elbow splitter of an armbar. That wasn’t to be. What actually happened is I smashed my shoulder into the ground at a pretty decent force, and then freaked out at the pain I had caused myself. His base was unflinchable. Bastard.

I stood up and the reaction of others alerted me to what had happened. I thought I’d knocked my head. “Your collarbone is fucked.” someone said. I looked in the mirror, and that’s when the shock and pain started to properly set in. My arm felt heavier than it has ever felt. I was sat down whilst a couple of guys (Sloany and the aforementioned Paul) helped me control my breathing. Others watched on in horror, as I repeatedly said Jesus Christ. Once I was calm, and driven up to the hospital by another friend (Adam), who sat with me for hours whilst I waited to be seen. I had to stay in over night to await surgery. They did not like the position of the break. It looked dangerous, apparently.

I stayed the night in hospital, to be sent home the next day without surgery. The collarbone didn’t nick any arteries whilst I slept, so they thought fuck it, go home. We’ll get you surgery later. Fast forward to Thursday that week. The surgery lead to what is the worst fucking pain I have ever felt in my life. The 24 hours after the operation were what can only be described as hell.

When I woke up from the surgery, I was given a shitload of morphine (the feeling from that is delicious), but from there I wasn’t told I could have painkillers whenever I wanted. I was just left to my own devices to suffer. Sometimes a nurse would pop in, steal blood, inject something into my hand and give me a codeine tablet. Great, that’ll take the sting off my flesh being prized apart, bone placed back together and a plate being drilled onto the fucking bone before stuffing all that flesh back together and driving a needle through the hole you had to create to seal it up. No wait, no it fucking won’t. It’ll cure a headache. Barely.

There were a series of fuck-ups that had me clawing for the door of the hospital. I’m thankful that my girlfriend looked after me that day and didn’t take any of my incessant whining personally, because I was a fucking mess. As a non-drug user, taking a shitload of morphine one day, then none the next made me a bit of shivering agitated wreck. The shivering was something I wanted to stop, as it was jerking my newly attacked shoulder around like buggery. This was not pleasant. I couldn’t sleep comfortably, I had no appetite, and I was an irritable cunt until I woke up the next day, feeling fresher much fresher no longer craving that delicious morphine but still really fucking sore.

Now not being able to train for several months of last year was beyond shite. I felt lost. I quickly accepted that I was going to fall behind, so coming back to it all was frightening, and it wasn’t until I was dealt a fairly hefty throw onto my shoulder that I realised things were cool. That sounds a bit stupid really, but getting over the mental block after an injury is one of most important things you can do. I spent weeks afraid of rolling properly, of drilling certain techniques, etc but that blow cleared my head of fear. I’m now able to roll comfortably again, and whilst there’s still pain from time to time, I whinge about it a lot less. Luckily, I don’t feel I’ve lost any progress. At times I feel I’ve become stagnant, but that’s normal I’ve heard. This is a pretty wild sport, with so many branches to it, it’s hard to expect a consistent improvement.

I’m going to finish up this lovely anniversary piece with some pictures. Enjoy!

Before Surgery / After Surgery

Before Surgery / After Surgery

Bite Your Lip, God Damnit (or don’t)!

Now I think it’s common knowledge that a grappler’s worst enemy, is a non-grappler. I mean, how could anyone be so ignorant as not to have Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, or even Submission wrestling in their life? What are they? Some kind of fucking arsehole or something?

No wait, that’s not true at all. There are people out there, that aren’t into this nonsense that we ‘The Grapplers’ love. People that are quite happy to ignorantly either discredit your art before having tried it, or indeed just getting things plain wrong whilst in general conversation.

Now it’s not difficult to wind me up, I’ll admit that (in certain cases of course). For instance if you’re having a conversation with me about a particular subject I happen to indulge in, it’s in your best interests to get your facts together before starting that conversation. I understand that not everyone is going to have the same knowledge base, but if you have no interest or desire in taking up these sports, watching them or following the characters that surround them, then please don’t try to fucking talk to me about it. I don’t go out of my way to speak to cricket fans about cricket, because I haven’t a fucking clue what goes on in cricket. It bores me, and the same can be said for others of my gentle art. Call it gay, call it whatever, but if you’re going to sit there and pretend you’re interested in this conversation when you’re actually not, I may as well single leg you onto the fucking concrete, and then choke you until the Paramedics come rattling along the road screaming NEE-NAW.

Woah, I don’t know what came over me there… I was meant to be staying calm, biting my lip so to speak. What I’m getting at is, I need to develop some sort of bastard filter. A way of switching off when these people approach me, whilst still appearing engaged in the conversation. Is that at all possible? I’m sure this is more of a reflection on how much of an arsehole I am, than other people but let’s pretend that’s not the case. Because you love me, don’t you? Good. Please write your suggestions on a postcard, for how you deal with these cretins.

Also, I’m going to be branching out a bit. Speaking about a few other things on this blog, because I’ve realised that grappling is simply one side to my ever illustrious character. Expect chatter about over things that interest me, although maybe not as regularly as the grappling pish. Ya dig?

I’m done.