Tag Archives: Martial Arts

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

Advertisements

John Danaher: The New Yorker.

This is a fantastic piece, giving a slight insight into the Danaher Death Squad. Give it a read. and I’ll continue back to my waffling ways soon.

John Danaher, the Jujitsu Master Turning an Ancient Art Into a Modern Science.

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.

Watching Tape.

Last night for the first time ever, I watched a video of myself rolling. Considering how long I’ve been grappling, that probably seems a little weird. At no point did I have the inclination to review how much of a woefully shite catastrophe I am at all of this. I’ve seen a video of me getting drubbed in a competition, so it’s probably why I’ve never thought to review my actual ‘rolling’ game. The worst critic I’ll ever have is going to be me. Everyone else is either complimentary or nice enough to not tell me I’m shite to my face. I appreciate both.

Morbid curiosity got the better of me though, and I needed to see how I looked/moved. I remembered the class well, and felt that I rolled alright on the night, considering how knackered I was. I’d been there from seven, rolling for an hour before class, so the rolls afterwards probably weren’t necessary but I don’t like passing up the opportunity to spar. Sparring keeps me mentally fresh, smashing away any of the week’s REAL stresses, and keeps me semi-balanced as a person. I can’t tell you how many kittens I’d have to kill otherwise.

The whole Lazy Grappler shtick started off because of how lazy my approach to training was. I’m a hobbyist, so sometimes I was all too happy to just show up once a week, or skip weeks altogether. This was at a point when my understanding of grappling just wasn’t there, and motivating myself to go get my arse kicked was difficult. I’d eat Chinese food, and play Xbox instead.
Now, it’s more of a ‘style’ thing. I’m very relaxed to say the least and this video confirms that. Even in difficult positions, I’m probably a little too relaxed.
I don’t think I even know what my 100% looks like as a result. I imagine it’s an injury riddled mess of flailing screams. So I roll calmly, breathe freely and try to flow.

What I can see when I roll is that I’ll give shit away, in a little submission gift basket. Hey, you guy. Here’s an arm. Why don’t you grab it and try to unhinge it? Thanks dude.
I was tapped three times in the video. Two heel hooks from the instructor Fenrir (this wasn’t because I was too relaxed, he’s just very good), and a kimura from a guy I’m lead to believe is called Dave (I D’arced him in return, even though it was my fault I got subbed). I was pretty comfortable everywhere else, even in big bad Ali’s armbar. It looks far worse than it actually was. I shrugged that shit off, and called him atrocious things that should never be spoken of.

Save for Fen, I was hunting subs even in my relaxed state. I used to be pretty lazy to the point where I’d happily roll without hunting for subs. Grinding on people, or floating on them just to work positions; but my understanding of positioning has improved to the point where I should be looking for subs every roll. I’m currently doing that heel hook hunting stuff from different positions, and I’m also partial to a choke or two. NoGi isn’t my strong suit though, so I’m playing with it.

I messaged Fenrir after seeing this video to thank him for filming it, because it’s a highly beneficial learning tool that I’ve completely neglected. I’ve picked out holes in my game, and I’m going to start filling them one by one until I’m a grappling super-machine. Or at least a less shite version of my current self.

I’d appreciate it if you watched the following video (I’m wearing green shorts), and gave my instructor Fenrir a follow on YouTube. His instructionals are straight fucking fire, as the kids say.

Toodles. x

Conquering Demons.

Hello again y’all.

If you’ve read this blog before, or have been following my ramblings for a while you’ll know that I have the occasional bout of competition anxiety. I consider myself lucky that my anxiety is entirely rational, as I know people that have bouts of anxiety that they just can’t control. A feeling of unrest over a seemingly random event. I don’t get that, thank Jebus. I can at least relate my bout to something in front of me at that very moment. I step onto the competitive mats and immediately fill my pampers with shit. Thinking the absolute the worst.
It takes me out of the moment, and can often affect my performance poorly. It’s not nerves or that, it’s a properly derailing experience when it happens. I just don’t deal well with the unknown in that moment. More competition experience is obviously required.

This comes from my lack of confidence as a grappler, and my knowledge of what a good grappler is. My brain will always compare me at my worst, to them at their best. It’s a losing battle, and one my mind regularly trips me up upon. I know you’re only meant to compare yourself to yourself, but when you know the people you’re up against; it’s very hard to do so. So I go all wobbly in the brain.

On Saturday the 22nd of April, I found myself down in Newcastle again for another of Speedy’s patented inter-club competitions. The Origin Team from the North East and beyond comes together in one spot to have a good laugh with one another, support one another and see how we fare in the throws of pyjama battle. It’s a great day out amongst family and friends, depending on how you view all of this Martial Arts stuff. I consider these people a family. That’s what Jiu-Jitsu or grappling is; I know that these people at least understand that part of me, and I understand that part of them. A shared passion for the art of breaking limbs, and choking one another. It’s rare people get on this well with their own family, so it’s a special feeling. Politics, music, tastes etc all go out of the window. We share a common ground, which happens to be covered by mats.

This time around, I made a considered effort to try and coach from the sidelines. It turns out I didn’t really need to, because Origin Tayside excelled themselves. The matches put on were competitive, fun and brilliant to watch with our team doing incredibly well. I’ve already told them how well they did, so I’m not going to give them the shout out they probably deserve. Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all.
I will however mention how important these days are as a team. When you’re training day to day, you do not see the shift in a person’s game. Assuming the world is fair, and attributes are even, you’ll all move at the same pace, progressing at the very same speed. I’ve created a false positive there, to dumb down reality. We’re dealing with a game of variables here, but that aside you just don’t know whether Tom has improved over Dick, or whether Harry has improved at all because you see these cunts every single day. You catch them, they catch you, etc. On these rare inter-club days, you see how far they’ve come and get to appreciate the side of their game that you miss in class because you don’t have to focus on your own shit. You can simply focus on them doing what they do, against someone else trying to do what they do. It’s fucking crack-a-lack-ing, as Snoop D. O. double Gizzle would say.

Once the white and blue belts had done their thing, we took a breather from competition to focus on Andy Bell. He’s a blue belt that had a motorcycle accident leaving him paralysed from the chest down. Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone all had a roll with him, with their legs tied up and the agreement that they wouldn’t use their hips. This was incredible to watch. You got to see the grit and determination of Andy, who is still a super competitive grappler regardless of his paralysis; and you got to see how immediately ineffective brown and black belts are without their hips in play. Suddenly a blue belt who doesn’t view this form of grappling as foreign, is getting the upper hand. He knows how to move, because it’s an entirely natural movement for him. It was a constant back and forth battle and really interesting to watch, but it also served another very important purpose. The room was fed a healthy dose of perspective.

Speedy always starts these inter-clubs by reminding us that we’re all friends and family, so this isn’t a serious competition. Now, whilst that remains in the back of our minds, we’re still doing our best to put on a good show for those that are judging us. Matches rarely do, but they can get heated. It’s a difficult to balance on the day, I guess – but Andy put things into perspective for me at least, and many of the other purple belts who were there. We had the most relaxed and technical matches of the day (Billy and Ant’s match was an incredible watch, an absolute feast of Jiu-Jitsu technique). The purples should be better to watch because of their technical understanding of the game, but I think it was less to do with that and more to do with the weight we had lifted before we were matched.
I looked at my opponents and knew that the worst that could happen was that I’d lose. That’s it. I’m not fighting at the Mundials, I’m no longer in the position where I’m getting battered all over the mats. So what did I have to worry about? Nothing. It was freeing. Andy lifted my spirits that day, and I think I performed better as a result.

With that said, earlier that day we were told it was not only absolute for the purple belts, but James Bland would be joining us. Origin’s Big Daddy himself, and brown belt supremo.
I was first matched with Jimmy, who’s probably my size or a little lighter. So naturally he proceeded to batter me all over the mats. The aim is to get the submission, and Jimmy wasted no time in firing them at me. The match is a bit of a blur. What I can remember is he took me down and started working his passing game from standing. I’m rarely bothered by being passed, because I can usually recover. Jimmy worked an armbar and a reverse triangle at one point (probably picking up on how Mighele finished me last year), but I was able to free myself from his shackles. I know for a fact that the decision wasn’t going my way, so I had to do something. Speedy’s always telling me to be aggressive, but I play the defensive game against purple belts a lot, due to my previously mentioned confidence. I almost nailed him with a loop choke, but shifted my hips when I should have held my position, he started to gurgle but escaped like the crafty man that he is. As the match neared the end, Jimmy sat back into an achilles lock, rather than continue to pass my guard. This was Christmas for me. I moved my hips slightly, sat up and locked up an achilles of my own. I had the boot on so that his own achilles lock was nulled, and proceeded to squeeze my own before putting my foot into position on his hip. The reason I didn’t put my foot on is hip, is so that I could step over if he turned away from me. The squeeze was tight enough, and I got the tap. A surprising end to a mostly one sided fight.

My next match was against longtime training partner Paul. I haven’t sparred with him in yonks, because we have different goals and we train different days currently. He kept his legs out of play, because he knows I’ve been working leg locks for weeks now (stupid fucking Facebook). He passed and used pressure a lot (shoulder of justice), we grip fought from guard, and again my loop choke was thwarted. Eventually he worked a head and arm choke after a reset, and I didn’t have the space to escape without hurting myself. He’s a powerful dude, and it was a good fun match.

So one win, and one loss. Better than I’ve faired in recent inter-clubs, and whilst there’s room for improvement I’m not actually disappointed with my performances. Both of my matches were really fun, and that’s what I’m there to do. Have fun with people I respect, and then reflect on the results afterwards.
I had some good chats with the guys around the mats, positive vibes were exchanged throughout the day, and that’s what this day is all about.

There were plenty of gradings handed out on the day. I won’t list them all but point out the two that I think had the biggest impact to the people involved.
The most deserving/long overdue of our lot, Tony finally got his blue belt. He’s been smashing guys in the gym for a while now, and anyone that walks through the door and saw him as a white belt, had no idea what they were letting themselves in for when they rolled with him. That mystery is gone, as he proudly dons the colour blue. It suits him.
Danny was given another two stripes on his belt, which means at the next grading he’ll either get his blue belt, or a shotgun slug in the face. You never can tell. Part of me hopes for the latter, because y’know King Prick.

Myself, Paul and Grant found ourselves in a very stripy position. We all have four stripes now. With each additional stripe at purple belt, the responsibility gets heavier. It’s time to conceptualise and create where appropriate, evolve creativity and refine the basics. Use ebb and flow to create that tight invisible Jiu-Jitsu we all long for. The next grading is months off and just around the corner at the very same time, so I’m going to make each second I can count. Since Saturday I’ve been to two classes, fuck resting.

Right, that’s enough. I’ve went on for far too long, and it’s getting late.

Today was a cracking day at the inter-club grading. I had two tough matches, won one and lost the second. In my first match, I had trouble dealing with Jimmy's passing game and hip control. I came close to getting my patented loop choke but it wasn't to be. There were scrambles where I could create them. That's where I'm comfortable, scrambles and flow. In the closing minute he instigated the leg lock battle, which I've been working a lot of recently. He took an Achilles, so I paid him back in kind for the tap. He complimented me afterwards as I did him. It's been too long since we've sparred or fought against one another. My second match was against Paul P, the eventual finalist. I haven't rolled with Paul in ages, he's a big scary Judoka. He told me afterwards that I frustrated him in the grip battles, so that's ace. I again went for my patented loop choke but he was wise to it. Handsome bastard that he is. He bested me with a tight arm triangle in the closing seconds. It was a fun fight. I'm glad he didn't Uchi Mata me through the Earth's core. I feel great about today; regardless of the win or the loss I fought well, which for a while just hasn't been the case. I wasn't crushed by anxiety and I was able to just have fun. I think I was helped immensely by seeing Andy Bell sparring with Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone before the purple belts went to war. He's paralysed from the waist down from a motorbike accident, but it hasn't stopped him. He's an inspirational guy, with all the grit in the world to just keep pushing forwards regardless of how difficult it may be. It squashed whatever doubts I may have had about myself, and allowed me to just look at this for what it was, a chance to show off some good Jiu-Jitsu. I hope I did that today. Some of the BJJ on display was incredible. I'm incredibly impressed with the Tayside lot, who far exceeded my expectations against a tough group of guys. I train with these guys all the time, so I don't see the progression until these big days. There were promotions galore. I got my fourth stripe on my purple belt. Which means squeaky bum time. I need to shape up and sharp. #BJJ #BrazilianJiuJitsu #Grading #Interclub

A post shared by Barry Lewis (@thelazygrappler) on

The Dark Arts and Other Wares.

Hello again bastards. I’ve been in hiding for a while, toying with writing bits and bobs, but the bug just hasn’t been there. Training has continued as it normally does, but to the point where I’m constantly thinking about training, and the idea of also writing about training makes my heart ache. Plus, writing with mangled BJJ hands just isn’t cricket.
I’ve just finished up my latest stint, and I’ll be taking a much needed break until Saturday, so I figured I’d use this as a prime opportunity to bring you up-to speed since my Birthday.

Since my last post, I’m still training more Gi than I am NoGi. It’s how my work/life balance fits and it’s suited me this way for years. If I could train every single day like a grappling mega-beast (alternating between Gi and NoGi) I would; but I can’t, so there’s no point on dwelling on it. What I need to do is  make what training sessions I do count. All mat time is valuable, and should be treated as such. Sadly this means I act the cunt a lot less on the mats. BOO!

Being aware of the fact that I can’t just be good at one part of this fabled art, I’ve made a considered effort to train NoGi with the right people, so that my game elevates quickly. The results so far have been really positive. Or at least the feedback has been.
I’ve been working with our local NoGi coach/Norse God; Fenrir Thorvaldsen. Getting a gauge on his leg lock system, and working both defenses and attacks from various positions. We’ve crammed detail into these short sessions, and I’ve done my best to ask the right questions to extrapolate as much data from that big juicy head of his as possible.

The results whilst rolling have been tremendous. There are leglockers at my club that have gone from completely dominating me in the leglock game, to having a battle to a submission. I’m a still a realist, I’m not winning these exchanges currently but my understanding of The Dark Arts has come on far enough in a short period of time, that I’m making these exchanges difficult for my opponents. It’s no longer a whitewash, and I’m able to have fun with that aspect of grappling. Before they’d setup the heel-hook, I’d tap. Rinse. Repeat.
I’ve started to understand leg pummeling, auto-pummels, ankle control etc and how they fit into the big bastard leglock jigsaw. With more time on the mats, and a better understanding of tying these movements together I know that I’m going to be leg-locking the fuckers that are trying to leg-lock me. That’s pretty fucking brilliant, and exciting.

In addition to Fenrir’s guidance in the last month, I’ve also attended another Speedy seminar. Learning some ‘flying’ armbar attacks, and re-working some nasty lapel trap chokes. It was great to refine old techniques with new details.
After the seminar, I had two really good rolls with Speedy. One blindfolded, and one with my eyes piercing through his soul. He absolutely obliterated me with gentle ease. When I was blindfolded, it felt like I was rolling with two or three men. It was a truly horrible experience. All gaps were filled, there was little room to breathe, etc.
When I had my eyes open, it allowed me to shift my focus to his feet/legs. Speedy’s a leg-locker by trade, so I knew I wouldn’t really get anywhere with my attacks/attempts but it’s a fun new approach that I’m playing with, so I had to try and get a hold of him in a new way. All it did was open me up to armlocks that I never thought were possible.
After the rolls, he complimented me on how technically I’d rolled, but I didn’t feel like the strongest swimmer that day, because I was clearly drowning.

Last week I taught some classes at our little club in Billy’s absence.
I feel like my coaching has finally come onto where it should be. I’m actually confident in my own abilities, the techniques I’m teaching and leading a class. Normally I’d be a mess without the support of certain peers, but I finally feel comfortable in front of the class, leading them into battle. This has been helped by assisting Grant as he leads the classes at the Hut. Adding details, refining techniques for the class, and just giving him a breather when he’s getting battered from a kid or something.
I’m going to carry this mentality on at the weekend, when we have another bi-annual inter-club. I want to make a considered effort to coach from the sidelines, because I’ve neglected it before, and my training partners deserve better than that. These guys are family, and it’s only fair that I support them as best I can, like I’ve been supported in the past by others.

Before I go, I’d like to celebrate a cracking day off. I trained three times today. My first session was at 10am at Navarro’s Fitness & Fighting Gym with Danny and Grant. We rolled and dicussed/tried techniques.
My second session was acting ute for Danny’s private with Fenrir.
My third session was my regular Wednesday BJJ under the tutelage of Billy at DMMA.
I feel truly fucking knackered right now, but in the best possible way.
It was a great way to spend my day. I enjoyed each individual session for different reasons, and really wish some bastard would just pay me to do this 8 hours a day. I’ll need at least £35,000 a year please. Any takers? No?

Right, fuck off then.