Tag Archives: Motivation

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.

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

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Continuing to Fail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eleven Stripe White Belt.

On the continual swing of the big fat Jiu-Jitsu pendulum, you’ll go from feeling like you’re worth your grade to feeling like an absolute spaz in the blink of an eye. You don’t get to decide when that happens unfortunately. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t generous with its learning curve. Just when you think you’re starting to piece things together, Robson Moura or some other technical ninja comes along and blows your tiny little fucking mind. It’s time to rethink your approach to this ridiculous sport.

When I reflect on this year, things have been going quite well to my mind’s eye. Sure I’m still getting caught, because I’m not immortal yet – but I’m getting there. I’m starting to really play with my Jiu-Jitsu game, and shape it around the opponent, or force them to play my game. Different goals with different rolls.
If I’m up against a white belt, I play off of their movement. Looking for various attacks within that. If I’m against a blue belt, I try and flow more under their pressure. Attacking where appropriate. Another purple belt, it’s about who can apply their game best. Brown, I’ll do everything I can to get the tap (thumb in the eye, squeeze of the balls, the lot). Black, I cower into a ball and die. Things are falling into place. Moves (as Billy would call them – techniques for everyone else) are no longer perplexing or difficult. Or at least I haven’t found something for a while that baffles me.

Easing out the year, I decided it would be a really fucking wonderful idea to get the cold/flu/AIDS concoction that’s flying about at the moment. As a result, I’ve had to miss out on quite a bit of training this month (all of last week & this week so far). I helped out with a class on Sunday, but rolling near killed me because of how fucked my chest still was. I’m still finding myself out of breath quite easily, because of how much of a bastard it was on the old respiratory system.

My club is wrapping up the year with a little Christmas grappling competition that I was hoping to attend, but alas – those dreams were well and truly stabbed right in the shitter by my malaria/dengue fever/polio super-virus. I was hoping that this would be the right little taste of friendly competition needed, in a trusted environment to get me ready for next year’s plans. I was also hoping to meet Olly at some point, so that I could pull guard just to fuck him off.

Next year I’m going to do that competition thing that I so seldom do. I’ve always kept an active eye on the competition scene but I’ve always struggled to justify actually doing them. Money, travel, fear, anxiety, etc have gotten in the way. More recently, I’ve taken a look at the team of guys I have around me, and I think it’s apt to use a Scottish term here – but they’re all good cunts. I’m training with good people on a regular basis, and the feedback I get personally from some of those people is great. So myself and a group of guys will be hitting up the competitive mats in the new year. I’ve no illusions of how I’ll do, but the first hurdle is actually getting off of my lazy fucking arse and into battle. If I falter at the first competiton, then my goal will be to do better at the second, and so on and so forth until I am the supreme destroyer of worlds. I figure I’ll be able to enter the competitions as an eleven stripe white belt. That’s cool, right?

This’ll probably be my last waffle of the year, so Merry Christ and happy newness to you all. Cheery bye!

Tightening Shit Up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheery bye fuckers.