Tag Archives: nogi

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.

Smited.

Tonight, I went down to my usual Friday NoGi rolling. I’ve been lucky for the last however many weeks, in that Kenny hasn’t been able to get his rotund frame through the door as often as he’d like; due to his ear taking the same form as the rest of him, by bloating.

I knew tonight was coming, ever since I wrote my previous post all the way back in July. I had a warmup roll with Olly, and he tasted my fear (I may have farted in his mouth, a little bit). I’ve been playing with leg attacks a bit more recently. Getting used to going inverted, etc. I don’t really understand any of it, but it’s good fun to just explore. Olly smashed me slapped me about for my troubles.

Kenny slowly pulled on his safety helmet (to protect his knotted ear – he refuses to call it a cauliflower ear, because it sounds to healthy). He stared me right in the eyes, and then we did that usual awkward handshake bullshit that grapplers do, where you slap hands, then try to fist bump and what actually happens is you sort of stroke one another’s fingers. It’s horrible, but also a welcome alternative to actually rolling with the fat, vengeful cunt.

I’d be a lot happier if he just subbed me a thousand times, but that didn’t happen. He caught me a couple of times, and then blobbed all over me, using his weight well, and basically just running through me like I’d somehow sullied his good name. I’ve no idea where he got that from. My shoulders and upper back really, truly ache. I didn’t really get the chance to threaten him with anything, because he was quite simply too much to handle (fat jokes are all I’ve got right now).

I’ll get him back. I’ll probably keep it to myself though.

Toodles.

Polaris 2.

It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything. I’ll cut the bullshit, I haven’t had anything interesting to say, or at least publish. I’m still training as frequently as possible, and mixing between Gi and NoGi. So that’s good. I’ll likely touch on that another time.

RIGHT. Onto Polaris. After the first Polaris I’d pretty much reserved myself a seat on the sofa ready to watch the next one. I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty sweet setup at home. I have a home theatre PC setup in the living room, connected to a 50″ Sony Bravia. So grappling events get a  pretty great airing when they come around.

The thing that Polaris has going for it, was here again. Passion. The people involved with Polaris, from what I can gather is a collaboration of some of the UK Jiu-Jitsu scene’s greatest minds. The UK scene reached a point with Polaris 1 whereby companies like Tatami and Scramble were in a position to put on this show, that no-one really expected. It was an incredible show, and it seems that the whole scene is behind it. Rightly fucking so.

FloGrappling handled the streaming of the event itself, at a pretty reasonable price. I hope in future though that they up their bandwidth, because I had quite a bit of pixelation throughout, on a 152Mbps connection. That might have been a problem with the location of the event actually. I work in telecommunications, and happen to know that quite a bit of Wales infrastructure is piss poor. The player controls weren’t the best. I couldn’t rewind anything, and the quality control was stuck on Auto. It mostly streamed in 720p by the looks of it, but I’d have preferred to have knocked the quality down if it meant no pixelation. Aside of that, things ran pretty smoothly.

The announcement team were Josh Palmer, John Kavanagh and Nick Osipczak. This is a pretty great team. Josh runs the show with John and Nick adding their opinions where needed. MC Tone again did a great job with the intros.
The venue looked pretty great with the lights dipped, and things ran pretty well throughout. Now let’s talk about the fights.

Luca Anacoretta vs Pedro Bessa.
Gianni Grippo vs Tom Barlow.
Robson Moura vs Baret Yoshida.
Vitor Ribeiro vs Daisuke Nakamura.

Eddie Cummings vs Reilly Bodycomb.
AJ Agazarm vs Dan Strauss.
Michelle Nicolini vs Gezary Matuda.
Gary Tonon vs Maskazu Imanari.

There was not a bad fight, and I really urge every one to give this event a watch. For me, it further cemented my opinion that submission-only are the only truly entertaining grappling events. Points fuck things up. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but I just don’t get the same buzz with the Worlds that I do with either Polaris or EBI.

I’m not going to cover every fight, but simply highlight my three favourites. You should really watch the whole fucking lot though.

Robson Moura vs Baret Yoshida was incredible. Moura is a technician on the mat, approaching 20 years as a black belt. He’s 37 years old. Baret we know is a very tough grappler, that has a very dangerous crucifix game. If this were a points match, the judges would get RSI from turning cards constantly. It was stunning to watching. Moura arguably had the best flourishes of the fight, coming close to finishing Baret a few times in a nasty sequence, but Baret wasn’t without his dominance. Moura is always calm, but he looked as uncomfortable as everyone else in Yoshida’s crucifx. This was an instant classic.

Daniel Strauss vs AJ Agazarm. The social media heat between these two guys was pretty hilarious. Even the handshake at the start showed the tension between them. There was shoving throughout, words exchanged, taunts, and more importantly than anything else, some really fucking high level wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu. The size difference was really noticeable, but AJ seemed unfazed, having fought many big guys before. They had a great back and forth, with Strauss creating far more submission opportunities. This was my fight of the night.

Garry Tonon vs Maskazu Imanari. On paper this seemed like a great idea, but I think a fair few of us knew how much of a mismatch it was likely to be. Tonon is successful at elite BJJ competitions with his attacking style. Imanari on the other hand had great success with his leglock game in MMA, at a time when people didn’t know what the fuck leglocks were. The attacks and knowledge between the two were great, but even with a big weight cut, Tonon looked huge compared to Imanari. This was a smashing fight.

All in, this event was another brilliant success by the people running the show. There were plenty of finishes, some more shocking and devastating than others. And one thing that was prevalent throughout the entire night was the respect and love for grappling.

Get your arse over to http://www.flograppling.com/ and get it watched. It’s only $19.99 for a month of viewing, which I believe will include the Pan Ams, as well as a plethora of other content.

Keep it Simple.

Hello again wonderful people.

This week I found myself in the unlikely position of teaching. The club’s head BJJ coach is away on holiday, and I was given the opportunity to take his place. I’ve been training regularly, and it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be at the BJJ classes come rain, sleet or shine. My complete lack of confidence in myself didn’t deter me from teaching, I just charged forward in both classes and made sure the focus was on keeping it simple.

I wanted to keep momentum on what Billy was already covering, whilst maintaining a basic enough approach that everyone could pick it up, and it seemed to go down well.

On Monday night, I covered a mount escape (knee elbow nonsense) that lead into a half guard. Once you’re in half guard, I gave the option of creating space to take the back, or sweeping from deep-half. The deep-half lead a few places too with the assistance of a fellow purple belt by the name of Grant (Donald asked a question that I failed to answer, and luckily Grant knew the answer. I’d forgotten, like a chump).
I then made a simple game out of this. You start in mount, escape to half, use the deep-half sweep then step over into mount. Your opponent now has a turn. Rinse and repeat until the time is up, then swap partners. It was bloody exhausting, on a very hot and humid night, but it went down WELL.

On Wednesday night, I showed off a simple triangle setup that I saw a while back from a visiting black belt by the name of Yannis. I’ve since added my own little tweaks to it, not because it’s better but because it works for me, that way. That’s all Jiu-Jitsu is really, concepts and ideas that you adapt to suit.
From here, Judo Paul was exploring the armbar off of the failed triangle. So we added that in, then later tweaked it further with some grip changes to make it a super-tight armbar.
I then put Paul in a shark tank because he’s training for a fight so fuck him, he needs to work. We then rolled normally for the rest of class. It was good fun, and again I think it was pretty well received. It’s certainly boosted my confidence in the techniques I know, because whilst I still roll like I’m drowning in quick-sand, I do know shit, and I think from time to time you have to show people what you know, just to realise yourself that you actually know it. That sounds a bit stupid, but it makes sense in my ghat damn brain box, yo.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I finished up Wendesay night by attending Wrasslin’ Paul’s weekly NoGi Question Time. Paul’s a wonderful grappler (and also a different Paul from Judo Paul, who knew?), who has dabbled in many differents arts, but his specialities lie in wrestling and Catch As Catch Can. He’s a very smothering grappler, that will drive you through the floor until you can feel Satan’s pitchfork stabbing at your arse.
He has these little sessions, where you’re given the opportunity to work whatever the fuck you want. So tonight we worked some techniques from turtle, and pressure in side control. It really is question time, you say “Uncle Paul, show me a really fucking tight choke from turtle.” and he will. It’s all basic stuff, but from a very different school of thought, which is vital in this sport, because whether you want to admit it or not, grappling’s grappling.

I’m still on a very enjoyable path at the moment. I’m far less of a cantankerous cunt, because I’m training often, and enjoying each class I attend. In the words of some self-help wanker, it’s never too late to invest in yourself. DO IT. DO IT NOW.

Love and kisses, fuck off. x

Fighting Boredom.

I’m back-ish. WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? You ask. Well, I’ve been busy doing a disservice to my name, by training 3-4 times a week. Don’t worry though, my ‘style’ is still lazy as fuck. So don’t go expecting a name change. I will always be the lazy grappler, whether I’m training a million hours a second, or not.

This new found training regime has caused me some problems though. Firstly, I don’t get to play Xbox as much, which means I’m lowly level 23 in The Witcher 3. I’ve been doing my best to catch up on a Sunday when I don’t have work to attend. What the fuck has become of me? Secondly, I’m getting really fucking bored not being on the mats. I’ve had some really bloody good classes/sessions recently, and by Christ I think I’ve finally hit puberty because I feel my muscles forming.

It’s a strange feeling, and it’s taken me a long time to get to where I am right at this very second, but I fucking love training right now. I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to love it though, because several of the club’s killers just aren’t there, through injury or financial struggles, etc. But luckily I’ve always had a very open mind to grappling. Whether you’re training with a white belt, or a black belt, you can learn. You just have to know where to focus your learning. My focus is movement, or at least trying to move. I want to be the guy that flows with minimal effort, like an albatross, except that’s a poor analogy because as David Attenborough once demonstrated, the albatross is bloody awful at Jiu-Jitsu. Their wingspan is too big, and they get frustrated in the Gi.

Things are looking good at the moment. I’m seeing openings that I wasn’t a couple of months back, and genuinely feel I’m improving with every class. I’m no longer in one of those shitty BJJ plateaus, but I’m aware that could change overnight. Either way, I’ll prevail and continue working towards being the best I can. I’ve also been doing a mix of Gi and NoGi, because grappling’s grappling, and more importantly  I actually love both now.

Anyways, up next will be a product review that I should have done a while ago, but I’d been wanting to test more fully. That’ll be in the next day or so.

Off you pop.

Polaris: A Summary.

Hello again mat warriors. I’ve decided to write a little bit about Polaris from the weekend. I’m not going to be negative about it, because it doesn’t really achieve anything, and it’s not my place to do so really.

Let’s start with the presentation. I thought it worked well. They clearly set up some mats on a theatre’s stage, and I imagine with that it gave a lot of the audience a very good view. They had a fight announcer, and a pretty decent commentary team. Nic Gregoriades being in my mind the most important addition. His wealth of grappling knowledge really added to the team.

Darragh O Connaill vs Max Campos (gi) – This was a tough fight that mostly had them cancelling each other out. Campos hit a couple of lovely sweeps from open guard, jumping straight into top control, only to not be able to capatilise on anything. I think they were both just too evenly matched to get off on one another.

Kit Dale vs Victor Silverio (gi) – Kit Dale was clearly injured coming into this fight, as his ankle was strapped up. Victor could have attacked it, but being a gentleman, he didn’t. This fight hit a bit of a stalemate too, I think they were both very concerned about gassing due to the fifteen minute time limit.

Michelle Nicolini vs Angelica Galvao (gi) – This was a contender for fight of the night. Galvao is clearly a very strong competitor even in her infancy as a black belt. She very nearly got Nicolini in a dominat position, but Nicolini was having none of it and pulled a slick toehold out of nowhere. I remember thinking this was a bit of a mismatch prior to the fight, as Nicolini has had a black belt for around 8 years now, and she’s been very bloody active with it.

AJ Agazarm vs Oli Geddes (no gi) – AJ thoroughly dominated this fight with his superior top control. Oli was giving a fair bit of resistance back, and it was thoroughly engaging throughout with AJ even playing up to the crowd a bit. The finish was a ridiculously tight triangle.

Whilst the intermission was on, there was a presentation by BJJ Hacks that was superb. Three short films if I remember correctly. It was good to see things broken up that way, and other events could definitely learn from it.

Eduardo Telles vs Mike Fowler (gi) – This match was a slow burner. Telles being a veteran of the sport, has a slow methodical, smothering style. Fowler really couldn’t get going before of that.

Pablo Popovitch vs Eduardo Teta Rios (no gi) – Everyone seen this as a mismatch, but Teta very seldom looked in trouble. He was cool, calm and composed throughout and I think he’s one to watch.

Marcin Held vs Garry Tonon (no gi) – Another contender for fight of the night. All three-four minutes of it. Both fighters were extremely game, and thoroughly up for scrap, exchanging positions multiple times before Tonon locked up the toehold and got the tap.

Keenan Cornelius vs Dean Lister (no gi) – The final fight of the night, and one that the commentators referred to as the passing of the guard. What you have to remember here is that Keenan and Dean are friends, and probably weren’t trying to kill one another. It’s this fight that convinced me that Keenan is just fucking incredible. His control throughout, the opportunities he created and the finish of a savvy veteran just convince you that at 21/22 Keenan Cornelious really is one of the best on the fucking planet, and that’s scary.

Roll on Polaris 2, please. I think it had a better production than Metamoris throughout, and I certainly enjoyed it more (although that may be down to the matches booked). There are still problems with the submission only format though, and that’s a shame but I’m not qualified enough to come up with the solution.

Peace out for now.

Brain Fart.

Last night’s open mat was a bit of a mess to be honest. I couldn’t conceivably achieve the thing I wanted to do, because A) I’m not good enough and B) physics. It’s OK though, I swiftly moved on and worked other stuff with different people. Kev’ and I practice at least a few drills before every class now, so we continued that into the open mat. A mount escape, a De La Riva/Berimbolo to side control (which I fucked up multiple times), a sneaky little triangle that cuts the arm in, to move it out of the way (it’s brilliant), and Kev’ had this delicious armbar from Spider Guard. I’ll be stealing that and adding it to my game, because I was able to get it tighter than a duck’s arsehole. I can say confidently, if I can implement this into my game, I’ll be snapping arms. SNAPPING MOTHERFUCKING ARMS.

I rolled with Grant, as he was wanting to work something new into his game, that was quite trickily setup. I’m not sure if he was able to do so against me, because we tend to cancel one another out even when rolling slowly/easily. I always enjoy rolling with Grant, because it’s good to know we can still catch one another.

Then for the grand finale, I rolled with Neil. Christ knows how long we rolled for, probably around 30-40 minutes, of back and forth experimentation. Both with different aims, entirely. I always try to survive with Neil, with the occasional attack. He attacks throughout, from various positions to try and link things together. Submission transitions for instance, and he’s fucking good at it. All in all though, it’s always a great roll, because you find yourself in really shitty positions, and just have to work out of them.

Now my fitness is bloody terrible. I really have no desire to do anything outwith classes, bar my usual run of pressups and situps. I’m hoping that fitness just takes over again. Cardio through grappling, and all that shit. I’m toying with the idea of training tomorrow night. Submission Wrestling with the king of brutality himself. That depends on how much seething anger and hate I can build up from today and tomorrow at work.

Adios motherbitches.