Tag Archives: Sparring

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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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.

Fenrir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haunted.

Hello again, you bunch of shits.

I’m still training away 3-4 times a week. My aim hasn’t changed. I still want to be better at Jiu-Jitsu than I was yesterday. That goal will never change. I haven’t been able to go to NoGi in a while, and my heart hurts as a result.

Since the Speedy visit a few weeks ago, I’ve been going harmbar mental. Drilling as much as possible, and trying to hit them in active rolling as frequently as possible. My success is varied because people know what I’m working or trying to work. I’m not very secretive in my intent. Probably doesn’t help that I’m screaming, “I’M GOING TO SNAP YOUR FUCKING ARM YOU DICK.”

Last night, whilst drilling butterfly with Paul I realised that as my armbar game has started to come on again, my kimura game has plummeted. A sacrifice if you will. I just don’t use them anymore. It’s common for me to neglect one technique for another but to have a truly rounded game I need to play with shit on the fly.
I can sequence well, so I’m not sure why I’ve suddenly just decided to spaz out on kimuras – but it’s clear I’ll need to start playing with them again.

I had a great fun roll with Ahmed last night, full of back and forth exchanges and scrambles. He’s brilliant to roll with. He almost caught me in a lapel choke, but I scrambled out like a kitten bagged up and launched into the river. On one of the scrambles I had a Matrix like moment where time stood still, I was off to his left hand side extending his arm back and the kimura was there to be taken. I grabbed hold, hit the gas and completely forgot to lock his hips in place so he scrambled out like a horrible tiny shit. Even with Matrix powers I missed the pissing kimura. It haunted me immediately afterwards, and I’ve been thinking about it since. So much so that I’m waiting on someone at work saying the wrong word. Fuck that guy, he’s getting his arm twisted off like a bottle-top.

Cheerio y’all.

Pressure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toodles motherfuckos.

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!