Tag Archives: Submissions

Kool-Aid.

Hello friends, foes and other hoes. A few of my closer friends have asked why I haven’t written anything for a bloody long while.
I’ve been pretty busy scrapping on the floor as much as I possibly can, but the honest answer is that I normally write when I’m in a darker place mentally with my grappling; if things are going shitty – it’s far easier to write something from a self-deprecating point of view. If they’re going well – it’d be all rainbows and unicorns – and that’s just not what I’m about, son.
When I started this blog shite, it was a way of venting my frustrations. There was also some catalouging of progress, etc. but now, I’m in a better place more often, so my frustrations are squashed when I next train. If you get my drift.

With that said, I wouldn’t be writing this pish if I didn’t have something to vent.

On a weekly basis I spend as much time on the mats as possible, sharpening my own skills, coaching and doing my best to positively influence others. I will not lie – This can be a fucking grind. I’m hardly a ray of positivity, and tend to lead in what could be called an informal manner. Bit of a bastard, innit.
The balance between training and coaching is a difficult one to strike, and people are vampires. You’ll quite often see coaches get bogged down by their own game, because they’re so focused on everyone else in the room (one of my head coaches is guilty of this, even though he’s a technical monster – you know who you are, you fuck).
When this isn’t your main gig, and you have to work for a living, being sensible in your approach to training is vital. I only have so much time in the week and with that it’s an almighty balancing act. Watching, thinking and doing Jiu-Jitsu is only enough if you’re investing your time wisely.

I’ve taken the following approach; I attend three classes a week and teach one class. I’ll usually try and muscle in something additional to that too, a bit of extra sparring for instance. That only accounts for a linear view of the learning / coaching split.
Being a senior grade comes with an expectation to lead by example and to impart that fabled ‘wisdom’ they talk about in the movies. So quite often, I’ll be coaching within classes in an assistive manner to the lead coach – or one on one with various students. My primary focus is still learning, and it always will be. I want to make it clear that when I get that illusive black belt in the years to come, I’m not going to fuck off into the sunset. I’ll still be in classes regularly, learning like a dirty little white belt – I’ll have just been here longer.
In addition to the learning and coaching, I try to roll as often as I can. I find it interesting to see what approaches people have to certain techniques. We’re all built differently, so there’s micro-adjustments that we all make to try and get shit to work. Some people kill you slowly and methodically. Others are bulldozers. Some wrestle. Some invert. Some people are straight up ninjas. Techniques are only guidelines in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s you that turns them into a game.

Over the years, I’ve invested a fair few hours into this hobby of mine.
My own progress aside, in return for my invested time I’ve seen countless people progress into absolute warriors, but I have also seen people come and go. That accounts for great talents, average Joes and the truly abysmal.
Of those that stick it out, again there’s a split of great talent, average Joes and somehow a small bunch of ham-fisted thundercunts (bless their hearts).
With that in mind, knowing who to invest your time into is difficult, because you just don’t know whether they’re going to stick it out. It’s an absolute fucking cunt of a thing. Everyone’s all about that #JiuJitsuLife throwing up selfies and shakkas when it suits their social media, but let’s face it our turnover rate at white and blue belt is bloody embarrassing in this Martial Art of ours. People can, and often do very quickly fade away into obscurity. That’s not to say I don’t love a bit of self-indulgent social media, but I train, so it’s allowed.

Having a pool of people you can rely on is seemingly hard to come by, even with a fairly large team. People break, they holiday, they family, they relax, and at one point or another I have been guilty of all of these things. Life somehow finds a way to ruin grappling. Let’s not forget I used to bin training pretty frequently for a new game on the XboxStation. Don’t be THAT guy.

I haven’t yet worked out how the hell we’re meant to get people to stick this shit out. I’ve seen so many brilliant grapplers dissipate into nothingness over the years. I also often look back on people with a what could have been mentality, that gets me down. I can control my own training, and I can try and make my own classes engaging, fun, whatever – but sometimes it just seems like we’re fighting a losing battle. People are going to quit, because people are shit. Also, there are people that you haven’t invested enough time into in the early days, that have pushed through the shit and are now high level blues and purples. What’s all that about?

As good as our current roster is, I don’t feel I can genuinely rely on a lot of these goons to stick around and continue to drink from the Jiu-Jitsu Kool-Aid.
My biggest worry currently is whether those that are on the cusp of new belts are about to fuck off into the ether forever. This is commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the great ignored realities. I’ve walked a fine line recently, trying to ensure I’ve been good with the students and I’m not ignoring people or just rolling and engaging with the same people over and over again, as was the norm in the good old days – but I just don’t know if that’s enough.

I felt compelled to write this so that you know where I’m coming from. If you’re not engaged, please don’t just give up. Speak to a coach, speak to your training partners. There are slumps in this thing. Jiu-Jitsu isn’t easy. It’s a bloody grind with very little loot at the end for us hobbyists. Let’s try not to lose any more people from our fabled little Martial Art, stick this shit out and all be really terrible black belts together. I need people to roll with in the next god knows however many years.

Right, m’aff.

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Elevation.

If you read last week’s issue of The Lazy Grappler, you’ll know that I was promoted – but I’m not the only cowboy in Dodge. Loads of people were promoted alongside me at the same time, or the following week too. It’s a fucking who’s who of stripes and belts across the board. Finally we’re in a position where there are tons of coloured belts on the mats. This has always been the aim, and it makes me so god damn proud of all your wee faces.

I’m not going to list everyone that was promoted, becuase it’s a massive list and more importantly; I definitely would forget someone, they’d throw their toys out of the pram, and it’s just not a can of worms I can be arsed with the ballache of opening.

For a long time, a lot of people in my wee club have suffered from the idea that promotions aren’t especially important,  because if you’re having fun and just enjoying doing what you’re doing, I guess they’re not.
When it comes to NoGi, you legitimately don’t know how good someone else is until you roll with them or see them roll. Gi is a little bit different. The senior grades have a big target on them, saying HEY! fucking look at this.
The belt should give you an idea of where someone is at. That strip of material along the waistline should be a measurement of a few things; attitude, discipline, technique, knowledge, time, etc. The further up the ranks you get, the more inherent trust others will put into you. The game changes. Your own progress now has a knock on effect to everyone else in the gym (that cares). As more people around you get promoted, people start to elevate their games across the board. It’s a very positive thing to see and experience. Plus for the team, the club or whatever, you have a far easier sell of the Martial Art that you’re demonstrating to masses.

Grading is a very personal thing. I think the right way to do it (and I may be wrong here), is to judge a person against themselves. That’s how I was graded. Are they a better version now, of what they were say X amount of time ago? When judging someone’s progression, you should be looking at their expression of Jiu-Jitsu, how they move, what their attitude is etc. Comparing two people like for like is difficult because of how different those people can be.
For instance, I am not a supreme athelete, I am not a fighter, I’m just a hobbyist that happens to have put a decent amount of time into this. My arse can still be kicked if/when I get lazy, but I do have an A-game that works very well against a lot of people. So I try to keep it real, yo. I am not Cobrinha. 😦

To wrap up for those of you who didn’t get promoted; be happy for those that did and stay hungry. By trying to beat the promoted people up, you are getting better. They’re also getting better and so on. It’s a ripple effect. We all elevate one another in this Jiu-Jitsu stuff, from white belt all the way to black. We’re all getting better together. There will come a day when you’re also promoted for the effort you’ve put in, and someone can start trying to kick your cunt in for the privilege. It’s the circle. THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE. x

In Good Company.

On Sunday, the 18th of November I was promoted to brown belt. This might get soppy. Bear in mind I can remember the shock, followed by being completely enamoured with being promoted to blue belt. It seemed so alien to me at the time, and such a privilege. I didn’t ever really think about the possibility of becoming a blue belt, so it goes without saying that I didn’t ever see myself surpassing that. When I started all this, there really wasn’t BJJ in Dundee. Sure there were a few places doing NoGi grappling, but let’s for a moment make the distinction and suggest that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is in the Gi. That’s what people think of in their mind’s eye when someone says BJJ. Pyjama fighting, innit.

Way back when (eight years ago) – Billy, Grant and myself grabbed the bull by the dick and started trying to familiarise ourselves with the gi (Billy had already dabbled, he was a seasoned blue belt). In its infancy, I’m not even sure whether the aim was actually to build something or not, but that became a byproduct of what we were doing. For months we trained on a Sunday when the gym was free, and we’d dabble at open mats too. The love for the Gi was just there for us, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it just clicked. We built a relationship with David ‘Speedy’ Elliot our now head coach, we visited him and he visited us regularly – helping us grow our repotoire of techniques. Fast forward a little bit, and there’s now multiple classes in Dundee and the surrounding area hosted by us Origin Jiu-Jitsu coaches. Somehow, we did that. Our influence has made its stamp, that’s pretty weird to think of.

Credit where credit is due – I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if it wasn’t for Dundee Mixed Martial Arts welcoming me into their little club.
The grappling scene around this neck of the woods is also now healthier than it’s ever been. There’s Judo, Sambo, Freestyle Wrestling, NoGi, Catch & to top it all off Gracie Barra also run some classes in Dundee. This place is flourishing!
If you dig grappling, Dundee’s a pretty fucking decent place to be now with differing views and schools of thought on how to approach all of this limb destruction. Spread your wings a little further, and the world’s your lobster with places like Fair City Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Barra Fife, Jax MMA,  and Results Gym to name a few. That’s not even going far from Dundee. Scotland as a whole now has reclaimed its title as a land of the savages, but we no longer weild Claymores. It’s all double legs and kimura traps now.

Let’s get back on track before I put you to sleep with words instead of chokes.
On Sunday, Speedy hosted another interclub. He does this twice a year. The bi-annual interclub extravaganza.
The turnout was immense, the matches on the day were fun, technical and great to watch and be a part of. The level at each belt division is going through the bloody roof, because of the hard work that all the coaches are putting into their individual teams. A white belt when I started compared to now, is a very different thing. It’s great for us all to come together, on one big day (well two) to celebrate how far we’ve come. As a coach, that’s pretty god damn cool to see how my guys stack up against their guys in a non-threatening environment. Before and after your own matches, you can help coach friends, drill/spar or just hang out and enjoy the day. It’s ace.

The day has become a bit of blur. One minute myself and my chauffeur Danny are arriving in Newcastle, next minute we’re fighting in our retrospective categories (I was really impressed with Danny on the day), and then I’m standing in line alongside Grant and a fuckload of Origin black belts as promotions are being handed out to each team – one by one. It was immense to see some of the guys that I work with on a weekly basis get promoted. Whether that was stripes, or belts.
The big one for me though, was seeing my main man Tony getting his shiny new purple belt. It came as a complete surprise to him, because Grant and I had finished our promotions and Speedy gave him the belt personally. He’s improved so much since getting his blue it’s frightening, and there isn’t a person in the club that doesn’t value him as a training partner. He’s just the best fucking dude you’re ever likely to meet.
Once the team promotions were handed out, Speedy asked that the coloured belts go back into line so that only the black belts were at the front of the room. This didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary at the time, but my team freaked out as Grant and I walked back into the group. It’s like they realised what was about to happen before we did.

Barely a minute removed from the lineup, Speedy mentioned that today was going to be a special day and he had a few more promotions to give out. The next people to be promoted would be joining the Jiu-Jitsu elite as he put it. That next big step. Speedy doesn’t give out promotions lightly. He promotes when he believes you’re ready, and not a moment before.
That’s helped me immensely whenever I’ve doubted whether I should be wearing the belt around my waist, or how well I’m doing – I take a moment and remember who promoted me, and the standard he holds people to. It’s a small comfort when you’re sliding down the side of a hill, into a deep dark valley of despair (or in Grant’s case, being pulled off of his feet by his daft dog Hugo!).
To Grant and I it seemed obvious what was coming; Billy and Mighele were getting their brown belts. They’re two of Darlington’s finest – absolute gentleman off the mats, and utterly terrifying to compete against on the mats.

Speedy mentioned that he was going to call out these next people together so that they could ALL be promoted at the same damn time.
Mighele. Billy. Barry. Grant. Fahad. What the fucking fuck.
As I walked up, I was fucking shitting myself. My team went mental seeing myself and Grant getting called up; just like Dom’s and Speedy’s teams did seeing their own guys called up too.
I can’t explain how nervous I was, but I had to hold focus so that I didn’t burst into tears like a wee bairn. Had I been promoted alone, I would have been fine, stoic and locked in on the moment – but this was different, I felt so privileged to have shared that little moment with those four people in particular, because of how much I admire them all as individuals. They’re great people. It felt rare and special – and it’s one that I’m going to remember for a long time because of what it means to me. I’m sentimental like that, for the cantankerous cunt that I am.
I’ve had belts before, but this was different. For a brief moment, five purple belts stood ahead of five black belts and we were welcomed to that next level. I’m in good company here, supported by friends and team members to be the best I can possibly be as a brown belt.

The reception I’ve received upon getting back to Dundee has been incredible.
My self-deprecating appraoch has likely clouded my judgement on whether I’m actually good at this stuff – but I certainly didn’t expect so many people to say how happy they were to see me get my brown belt, or how much I deserved it for the amount I train, time I put into helping people, and the techniques I use/show on a regular basis. It has been surreal, but highly appreciated.

Going forward, the aim is the same as it’s always been. I want to be better at Jiu-Jitsu today, than I was yesterday. I know that the people around me will help me achieve that goal.

Right, fuck off. x

Myself, Speedy on his tippy toes, Grant.

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

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.

Caging an Animal.

We’ve all been in someone’s full guard, unable to pass. It doesn’t matter what belt you are, what belt they are, sometimes you just don’t have the knowledge to get passed their damned dirty legs. It doesn’t really matter if they’re lanky and flexible or have two super strong tree trunks sprouting out of their hips, if your technique is good, you will pass. If it isn’t, you won’t.

Assuming like myself you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll have amassed multiple techniques to pass the guard, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport of waste. You’re constantly searching for the technique that works for you. So you’ll quickly disregard what doesn’t work for you. The problem with disregarding techniques is that just because it didn’t work then, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. As you get further into your understanding of this fabled art, you start to realise that you may have been wasting the wrong techniques. We’re all too quick to ignore something because it doesn’t fit our body. But why doesn’t it fit our body? Is it that we’re too fat? Or are we just lacking the mobility required? Body-type, attributes and understanding of movement are all vital to make a technique work, but you have to re-tread old ground to understand whether you were just being a bit of a spaz before, or whether your body is truly incapable of those particular movements.

Body-type and attributes can be altered by getting fit, but let’s dumb shit down right now and assume you haven’t changed shape at all in the whole time you’ve been doing this Martial Art. You’ve somehow managed to gain no fitness whatsoever, you’re no more explosive than you were when you first started, no faster, no stronger, etc. You’re the same as you were on day one (that’s obviously not the case, even if you don’t look visibly different, you’re an animal now).
So what can change? Even with your suitably inept body, there’s one thing that will have changed that you have no control over in this ridiculous hypothetical world that I’ve created. That’s your understanding of movement. If the diseased carcass that you hoist around the mats isn’t fit for the job, luckily your brain is.
You see, the longer you do BJJ, the better your body becomes at proprioception.
That’s your understanding of how your own body moves in relation to itself. Crack that, and you’re cracking a code that will improve your grappling no end. BJJ is a human game of Twister. Left foot yellow spot, right foot red spot. Etc. Understanding where and how you should be moving is so bloody important, and as you get further down the rabbit hole, you should be revisiting techniques to see if you can now crack them. Let’s jump back into our own dimension! Holy smokes, what’s happened Batman? After years of Jiu-Jitsu, you’re faster, stronger, and fitter?! Then you’ve got no fucking excuse. You should be combining that with your new fangled understanding of movement, and get on the fucking mats.

Tonight, it was bestowed on me to teach some good old fashioned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I revisited the concept of passing the closed guard. I worked some variations with the class, both knee slice passes (delicious). Both used a similar concept, which was caging the hips (or caging the animal if you will). Your opponent cannot sweep or submit you, if you cage their hips. Or at least, that’s the plan. I wanted to show that you could use either the near side or far side knee for the slice. We then either ended up in side control or scarf hold depending on how you approached the knee slice. To wrap up, from the scarf I showed a few bonus subs, because it’s always beneficial to know that there are finishes off of the techniques you’ve just worked. Kimura, straight armbar and a wrist lock. They’re nasty, but that’s life. That’s what people say.

We only had ten minutes of rolling at the end, which is dreadfully low I know, but I wanted these techniques to sink in. The purpose of both passes was simple, passing the guard (obviously), and understanding how to move. I hope that I got enough of that across tonight, and if I didn’t, shit happens. I’ll just look forward to the next time that I get the opportunity to coach, and do better.

Right, toodles!