Sunday, 19 July 2009

19/07/09 - BJJ Class

The growth of Team Ryu in recent times has seen the Sunday class become a main feature of the week's schedule, often drawing as many numbers as the more traditional evening classes. The teacher is Paul Cudmore, who as we discussed in the previous post, is a BJJ Purple belt under Braulio with a great deal of experience in multiple martial arts.

The Sunday class started with Paul going through some movement drills. These included bridges, standing up from a butterfly-like position and returning, and some hip-through drills (i'm sure there's a better name but at the moment it evades me).

We then used these drills in a more realistic situation, using them to escape side control and gain a better position. Paul pointed out that while these techniques aren't 100% guaranteed to land you in a better situation, they are guaranteed to move your opponent, possibly setting up something else later down the line.

Working with Simon was beneficial to me, he's a big guy with a lot of talent that tends to pick up on technique easily, and is good for pointing out your rights and wrongs.

I found that while bridging, i was gaining my power from the wrong leg: where i needed to gain power from my left leg, my body wanted to take advantage of my stronger right leg. Working on the other side, i managed to use the correct leg (now the right one), and picked up the technique a little easier on this side.

After this was a little light rolling, with Simon using the open guard and myself trying to pass. The one time i did, he immediatley used the drill we'd been working in in class and returned to his original guard position: this is exactly how rolling should be!

Very good class, and the 10:30am start really sets you up for the rest of the day.

Until next time,

Keep rolling.


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

14/07/09 - BJJ Class

So after last night, i picked myself up in fairly good time to get ready or the class Tuesday daytime, the newest addition to team ryu's timetable. With pretty horrible weather, coupled with the fact it was a new class,hopes for turnout weren't too high, but in the end i had a pretty good conception discussing and looking at principles with Paul, one of the club's top BJJ guys. The focus of the session was on the closed guard.

Rather than looking at any particular techniques, Paul pointed out a few principles i'd never really realized before.

Firstly, i learned that grips from the top of closed guard are not just there to hold, but to use to prevent his movement. Paul pointed out that whilst i had got collar control form the top of closed guard, i didn't use that to control his movement, allowing him to sit up into me.

Whilst not a huge technique by any stretch of the imagination, it does utilise a fairly basic method of control in order to stop your opponent from sitting up, and more easily switching into more offensive positions such as the butterfly guard.

I also got the impression that from the closed guard, whilst it is good to be proactive and look for attacks, sweeps and ways to off-balance your opponent, it's also important to keep note of what he is doing.

A personal example here: when rolling about a month ago, i was too busy attempting to gain mission control that i forgot to notice that he'd posted his hand on the mat, which could have led to a much easier and less cumbersome Kimura/Hip Heist sweep combination, rather than looking to initiate the rubber guard sequence.

Also, by more carefully watching your opponents movements while on top, you can feel exactly what options are working for him against you: this not only gives you an idea how you should be defending, but also gives you options to use when you're on the offensive.

To conclude, today's class was less about technique, and more about adopting a more technical, principle-based game than the one i've been playing.

Real eye opener, well worth attending!

Monday, 13 July 2009

13/07/09 - Back training!

Howdy everyone!

Today, i re-started my training after an exams/injury layoff, and had some real fun, although didn't accomplish what i'd set out to accomplish.

The evening started a bit early: i turned up at the gym, changed into my Gi at the start of the Muay Thai lesson, before Jez made me aware there were odd numbers, so i thought i may aswell take part. A word to the wise: you get hot fairly quickly training muay thai in a gi! The jacket came off fairly quickly, i can assure you.

The class covered mainly punching technique: starting with working on a jab-cross to warm up, defending the hooks, then moving into slightly more exotic techniques with the livershot-left hook combo, some uppercuts, knees, then some clinch work.
Clinch work i always find is pretty fun: there's an element of controlling the opponent that is almost always different with different body types and people's abilities.

The BJJ class started soon after the Muay Thai warmdown, with an emphasis on standup techniques.

Lee showed a throw from standing in a situation where you have an overhook, then almost giving that up to switch to wrist control, then an almost-sacrifice like throw which seemed more effective than first impressions seemed.

When this option failed, Lee then showed a setup from the failure of this technique: if the opponent simply postures up, this gives both the right angle, opportunity and momentum to catch a double leg takedown.

All in all, a good session, although my cardio was a bit of a disappointment: although, after a layoff, i'm pleased at my first night back.

Tomorrow is the debut of the Team Ryu Tuesday daytime class: hopefully see you all there!


Thursday, 9 April 2009

09/04/09 - BJJ Beginners FAQ

Hey guys,

A lot of times, beginners have got quite a few questions. Rightly so. BJJ can be expensive, and sometimes this is the first thing that offputs new people. Judging by the emails i receive, quite a few beginners read this blog, so i figured, let's talk directly to the newcomers and answer some questions. These aren't questions i've received, but are perhaps a few things you might be wondering, as i wondered when i first started BJJ.

Q: What does BJJ stand for?
A: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Q: What's the difference between BJJ and Gracie Jiujitsu?
A: Gracie JiuJitsu is a kind of brand name of BJJ: it refers to the teachings passed down by certain members of the Gracie family, who are amongst the most influential martial artists of all time.
Q: Is BJJ for me?
A: Who knows! BJJ is one of the world's most increasingly popular martial arts, and has been used by the police force, and in many movies.
The best advice i can possibly give is get down there. Before i started BJJ, i was nervous: is this for me, am i doing the right thing? The simple answer is that if you want to do it, it's best to try it and dislike it, than to never try at all. BJJ is a fantastic sport with many positive benefits, so give it a go!
Q: How often will i have to train? how long are the classes?
A: You don't "have to" train at all. You should be training because you want to. When you get out onto the mats and start rolling and training, you will soon forget how long the classes go on for. Many's a time i've run sheepishly out to the car, knowing that the "extra short roll" and the end of the class has made me late.

The classes tend to range anywhere from an hour to about 3 hours.

In most classes, there will be a warm up, some techniques, some specific sparring, then some free sparring. If you have to leave early, ensure that your instructor is aware of this so you do not disrupt the class as you go.
Q: You say it's been used in movies? What celebrities practice it?
A: A quick google search will find you quite a few BJJ celebs. Nicolas Cage, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joe Rogan, Ed O'Neill, Guy Ritchie, Maynard James Keenan....

Q: Will BJJ help me lose weight?
A: In all honesty, BJJ is a great all around exercise. I'm not the lightest (or best built!) guy on earth by any stretch of the imagination, but i can confess that BJJ helped me shift several stones (1st = 14lbs). However, it won't do anything if your diet is still relativley poor: as with all exercise, weight loss seems to come down to the simple formula: Diet + Exercise = weight loss.

Q: What's good to eat before a BJJ class?
A: It doesn't matter so much in your first few classes, but tend to stay away from fatty foods, and stick to simple things like pasta or cereals that provide carbs without a fatty edge to them. Also, stay away from things that cause bad breath or excessive wind: there's nothing worse than rolling with a guy who's been at the garlic, or sounds like a man suffering from terminal flatulence.

Q: Am i going to get punched in the face?
A: No. BJJ is a grappling art, and as such, strikes are not used. Many classes will show self-defence techniques to overcome being attacked in these situations, but strikes are never used in BJJ competition.

Q: What's the grading system?
A: It's more simple than you might think.

The belt grades go: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, Black. There is also a red belt, although this tends to be reserved for members of the Gracie family and a few non Gracies such as Osvaldo Alves and Joao Alberto Barreto.

Also, there is a "stripe" system. This is however not uniform accross every academy. Stripes are generally awarded when it is recognised that a student has passed a certain level of progression. They are awarded at the instructor's discretion.

Q: I've heard BJJ uses chokeholds. Surely this is dangerous?
A: Any sport is dangerous. BJJ is no more dangerous than swimming when performed correctly. The kind of choke that is prevalent in BJJ is a blood choke, which is technically more of a "strangle" than a choke. It works by cutting off blood flow to the Carotid arteries, thus depriving the brain of oxygen. In terms of vascular restraint, it is safer than a choke against the windpipe, which can easily snap under relativley little pressure.

If you go unconscious (which is highly unlikely), in most circumstances you will regain consciousness and have no noticeable side effects.

TRAINING IS NOT A FIGHT TO THE DEATH. In BJJ, a submission is indicated by the use of a tap, which brings the fight to an end.
Any form of tapping, whether it be verbal or any physical signal, ie. a foot stomp, hand tapping, finger snapping, or whatever. Be extremely cognicent when you have another person in a potentially dangerous position, like a submission. When applying a submission, do it slowly so it will give your partner a chance to tap before an injury occurs. You should be able to apply any submission that is effective and correctly setup, slowly. Most injuries in your first 1-2 years of jiu jitsu occur because of careless application of a submission.

Q: I've seen nasty videos on youtube of things called Heel Hooks. Will my legs get hurt?
A: Within the vast majority of BJJ Schools, beginners are not taught heel hooks, and are hugely discouraged from using them. Infact, noone can use them in most competitions until the brown or black belt mark, meaning that by that time, you know what you are doing anyway.
Q: What's the likelyhood of picking up an injury?
A: This depends on how you play. Accidents DO happen: however, statistically, the sport is closest to Wrestling, which has fewer injuries than sports such as weightlifting and boxing. We all pick up nagging pains in sports, and i think that is part and parcel of training.

However, serious injuries do not often happen when you exercise care in your training environment.

Q: Where did BJJ originate?
A: Mitsoyu Maeda, a Japanese Kodokan Judo player, travelled to Brazil, and was helped out by an influential businessman by the name of Gastao Gracie. Gastao's son, Carlos, liked what he saw of Maeda's martial arts prowess, and was eventually taken on as his student. From there, Carlos learned the traditional Kodokan Judo (with a large ground influence), which was eventually adapted by Helio Gracie in order to suit a smaller body type, with less emphasis on strength, more on technique.

After many years of development, and with the Gracie's open invitations to any comers to fight them, Gracie/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became popular in Brazil, and with the introduction of the UFC in 1993, took off in a way that noone could have possibly imagined.

Q: So why not just learn Judo?
A: Judo is a fantastic martial art, with a great deal that can be used in BJJ. However, Judo's newer rule sets do tend to limit the amount of time spent on the ground, which is where, according to rough urban statistics, most fights end up. By spending more time utilising ground techniques, BJJ is highly effective as it allows for an opponent to make a greater deal of mistakes than they possibly could standing.

Q: But are there any techniques that make Judo different to BJJ?
A: BJJ has evolved a great deal since it's incarnation as a Judo off-shoot. In modern BJJ, many practitioners have come up with their own set of movements to fit the requirements of each individual body type. Much like traditional wrestling, each person has different preferences.
Think of BJJ as a journey: the destination is always the same, but how you get there never is.

You will see many of the newer BJJ techniques and developments popularised in competition and in mixed martial arts.

For example, Eddie Bravo has pioneered the Rubber Guard system, which is starting to be used an increasing amount in MMA. Marcelo Garcia, a notable world champion BJJ competitor, has popularised the X-Guard system, which features many techniques that a few years ago, were unheard of.
Q: Are there any supplementary learning materials i can use outside of class?
A: Yes. However, i'd say to stay away from these until you feel they will fit your pupose: to supplement your learning, rather than dominate it. Some beginners find that by watching instructionals, their head gets so full of new ideas that they no longer know what techniques to go for when it comes to sparring time.

However, if you are at that level and you're looking for some recommendations, look no further.
Saulio Ribeiro's Jiujitsu revolution series is fantastic: a Gracie Humaita black belt and one of the world's best competitors, Saulo explains the moves he shows fantastically, and tend to be effective moves for both the beginner and more advanced player alike.

Many videos can be found on youtube, but if you're looking to purchase instructionals, Budovideos seems to be the best site.

I'll throw in a word here about forums: there are some places that (for a fee), provide a great deal of learning resources. This includes sample gameplan outlines, move combination videos, teaching, video analysis of top competitors, and a place to talk about anything BJJ or grappling specific.

One of these sites that i'm a member of is The Grapplers Guide, which is run by a Brown belt in the USA, who runs his own school. I can't recommend this place highly enough, especially given he runs regular promotions, meaning that the materials there are always worth the cost of membership.
Q: Can you recommend some good BJJ guys to watch? Competition footage, etc.
A: Personally, i like to watch a few guys in particular. We all have our own preferences, so just watch around and see what you like. Some good guys to watch are Braulio Estima, Marcelo Garcia, Xande Ribeiro, Andre Galvao, Demian Maia and Roger Gracie.

If you're looking for guys you may recognise from MMA, try watching guys such as Matt Serra compete in the ADCC, where many guys from the UFC also have competed: Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, Ricco Rodriguez, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, etc..

Q: What should i do in a class?
A: Relax, enjoy, and above all listen to the instructor. Don't go hell-for-leather at submission attempts, and don't go 6000% on your opponent. This is how injuries occur, and it will only stall your BJJ progression. Ask the instructor about class etiquette, or if there is anything you need to take note of. For example, if you need to use the bathroom, ensure you put shoes or flip flops on first, so that you don't gain germs from the bathroom on your feet, and then spread them onto the mats. Yuck!

Q: I feel tired, confused, and helpless on the mats. Help?!?
A: We all get like this at times. Plateaus are not unheard of in grappling sports, and this is why it is important to remember that grappling is meant to be fun. If you're not enjoying it as much as you used to, then relax, and remember your performance is not that important. It's better to roll loosely and freely, remembering that this is just a hobby right now!

Explain to your coach how you feel, they've been there and will always have some words of encouragment for you. If you still have trouble, try taking a break for a few sessions. Get your head back in gear, but don't wait too long!

Q: What do i need to bring on my first lesson?
A: If you have a Judo Gi, bring that. In my experience, thinner gi's such as the uniforms provided in Taekwondo tend to be a little too light, and can easily be damaged when being pulled around or used for chokes.

If you dont, not to worry: many academies will let you try spare gis they have, before pointing you in the direction to purchase one yourself.

If your academy doesn't have a spare gi, just try to wear loose fitting clothing (don't wear your armani stuff, things that you dont mind getting pulled about), and nothing with metal or zips that could possibly damage the mats.

BUT, please bring a towel and some water, or at least ask if there is a place in the gym where you can grab some water or other drink. You will sweat a lot, so replenishing these fluids is vital for optimum performance. Plus, if you don't drink enough water, you'll feel a lot worse the following morning, your body needs h20!

Q: Do i need to have prior experience?
A: Most certainly not. Many people enter BJJ with no prior martial arts experience, and do fantastically well. Prior experience in grappling arts may help you out, but by no means consider this essential.
Personally, i came in to BJJ weighing 19st at the age of 16, and with no prior martial arts (or sports) experience. If i can pick it up, believe me, you can!
Q: I want to compete. What's the easiest way to find out what's on, and where?
A: The guys in your academy will almost always know what competitions are coming up, so don't be afraid to ask. This also means that if more than one of you go, car-sharing works out a lot cheaper than individual car or train rides, so if you're on a budget, remember that being social is the way to go!

in the UK, EFNSports tends to be the place where the organisers of events publish their dates and times: the EFN forum is the best place to check out for this.

Q: Competition? The thought of that makes my stomach turn! Do i have to?
A: No. Competition isn't for everyone, although bear in mind it is the easiest way to test your skills against people from other academies, in a truly resisting environment. It always looks good in the eyes of your instructor to have a gold medal, but do not feel that there is pressure to get you to compete. If it's not for you, then it's not for you.

Q: Oh.. there seems to be SO much in the class, should i take notes?
A: Yes. If you think you are going to struggle to remember what happened in class, please take notes! Not only take them, but read them occasionally. It's like going back to school to a large degree: notes are of no use if you don't revise them.

Most importantly though, if you feel you need to, take a small notebook to class and write down the techniques while they are still fresh in your mind. Practice them with a friend, and make sure that they are at your disposal.
Q: What colour Gi is best?
A: To be honest, there are so many colours of BJJ gi now available i've lost count. White, Blue and Black tend to be the most popular from what i've seen, although the occasional Red can't go unnoticed. There are many gi colours available, you can even get a tie dyed Gi now: but it's key to remember that BJJ isn't a fashion statement. If you're a woman (or just like it), you can even get pink gis, which often look fantastic!
Q: What brand Gi is best?
A: This really does depend on your preference. If there's a guy a similar size to you at the academy, ask to try his jacket on before practice, so you can quickly gauge how you feel in it, and how well the cut of fabric fits you.

There are hundreds of Gi brands available at varying prices, both domestically and internationally. Brands you tend to see around are Koral (that tend to be pricey but of a good quality), Atama (which tend to be a little smaller), Blitz (cheap but reasonably good quality, and UK based), Tatami (fairly new UK company, but are cheap and the Gis look VERY good), and Vulkan, who produce a particularly light Gi when you want to cut those last couple of pounds for a competition.

Q: How do i tie the belt? It looks a bit complicated!
A: Don't worry. Help is at hand, YOUTUBE TO THE RESCUE! Good video there.
Q: Why is there a coloured tab on the belt?
A: I've heard people say to me that if a black belt has a red patch on his belt, then he is a red belt. This is quite a misguided, but not unheard of interpretation.

The truth is that the coloured tabs on the belt are a part of the grading system. They are there primarily to hold stripes. These tend to be black on every belt, apart from a black belt, for obvious reasons.

Q: What is "no Gi BJJ"?
A: Nogi BJJ is simply BJJ without the Gi. Many practitioners prefer this, as without the handles and grips that the gi provides, one is forced to use more natural features such as underhooks and overhooks to control the opponent, rather than sleeves and collars. There are many arguments for and against NoGi BJJ, but honestly, dont worry when you're first starting. If your academy runs a class for both, then try both and see how you feel.

Q: I have a medical condition, can i still train?
A: It depends on what you class as a "medical condition". If you have consulted your doctor, and your instructor, and they both say "yes", then it is purely your choice.

If you are infectious, or have conditions that can easily be spread through close bodily contact, then i'd say, give training a miss. Even with blood conditions, cuts do happen in close combat sports, and your training partners wont be too happy if you spread something around the class.
Q: I still have questions. Where can i go for further support?
A: There are always questions that can't be covered in these kinds of guides.
If you are looking for more information, either contact your local BJJ school instructor, email myself at Lukewykes AT googlemail DOT com, or check out another BJJ blogger's fantastic resource for beginners: Slideyfoot's Blog.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

26/03/09 - BJJ Class (Lee)

The BJJ Class this Thursday covered a few areas.

Lately, the focus of the class has been on the closed guard, and in particular breaking the opponents posture.

Tonight this theme continued with Lee giving the class some time to look at each technique in detail: In all, i believe there were 7 techniques shown. These included:

: Breaking the opponent down using your hips when he stands
: When this fails, using your hips in one of his knees to make a sweep
: When this fails, using feet-in-hips to initiate a sweep
: When this fails, switching to DLR guard to initiate a sweep.
: An Omoplata sweep which utilises the leg aswell
: When this fails, a simple star sweep to knock the opponent off balance and go for a single or sweep.

I'm sure there is one more that i'm missing, but either way, those are the main techniques that were covered tonight.

Just looking at the list you can see exactly why Lee's style of teaching is described as progressive: each movement has a logical life, including a setup, a middle, and a variety of conclusions depending on the opponent's reaction and basic body type. It's always going to be easier to catch an omoplata on a super heavyweight than toss him over your head with the foot-in-hips sweep, particularly if you're the smaller guy.

By giving the choices here, this really allows for everyone in the class to develop a series of attacks from the opponent standing up that suits them, rather than follows one particular line of thought.

Following this, some light specific training followed, again being initiated from the closed guard. Each person had around a minute to work something from the bottom and top of closed guard, in a 50% environment.

This was a great opportunity to test out the techniques, and on a personal level i find that the omoplata setup that Lee showed will be good for my gameplan in a variety of ways, thankfully.

These really are techniques that aren't to miss, so if you haven't been to class for whatever reason, they are probably worth going over, particularly if you are newer to the club.

More updates coming in the next week! Perhaps even with a few shiny videos.

Until then,

keep rolling!

Monday, 23 March 2009

March 23rd, 2009 - Hello world


It's been a while!

The blog hasn't been seen in a long time, nearly 5 months now. This has been for a variety of personal reasons (health, transport, social and academic) but now, with training back in full swing, i figure it's time to get the blog used as a real resource.

I'm hoping that the site will be more of a training resource than a log: with information, useful tips and hints, videos, and perhaps even a couple of pieces of audio...

Until then stay hot!


Monday, 24 November 2008

24/11/08 - BJJ Class

Monday's class is always something to be savoured; not only are the techniques always good, but a good bit of training on a monday night can really set you up for a good week.

Given my next normal training day is a Thursday, the gap between training is sometimes frustrating, but on the other hand it does give enough time to consider exactly what you'd covered, exactly what direction you're going and more importantly, the direction you want to go.

Tonight's class was no exception, and it was honestly one of the best sessions that i've attended in many weeks.

Lee started the class tonight by showing the "XXX"; a choke technique which seems a little suicidal at first glance, but after you look into it, it's a seriously effective technique and it looks to be quite a high percentage move; there's not much chance of the guy getting out of it. He also showed a variety of ways of finishing it; just simply pulling, inserting your knee between his head and your body, and the more flashy, reverse-gogo-plata-style setup which i immediatley fell in love with.

Lee showed a setup from this from the top turtle position, then from the sprawl, which is possibly my favoured method. Because of the way that the grip is achieved, you can either go straight for the XXX or tease the clock choke, which is something that i did with some degree of success during the specific training.

The specific training itself was fairly interesting; i trained with a few different guys and got a feel for the movement types. One problem i did encounter was in the XXX choke that Lee showed; as i went to grip his belt, i found this would give him enough space on the hip to turn into me, but i'm sure this is a problem more with my execution rather than the structure of the move itself.

Mixing together the clock choke, the XXX, and taking the back into a rear naked choke seems like a natural combination of techniques, and it's beautiful when in your mind, a series of submissions such as this clicks. This is an area i'd like to look into more, and particularly with the current worldwide turtle renaissance that seems to be taking place, it's good to get to grips with attacking this defensive position.

The class then turned to some light rolling, again training with different people to get a feel for the way people move. It's awesome when things flow, which is something i felt particularly happened tonight, although by the end of this part of the session i found that my lack of fluid intake during the day was adversley affecting my performance.

Training with Adam, i looked to keep my guard and regain guard, and training with Tim i looked to pull guard; as i'm sure this indicates, my current focus is very much on the bottom game, and in particular the closed, rubber and open guards.

After the class finished, and a short water break later, i found myself sparring with the newly promoted Jez Lord, who has become a (relativley) phenomenal BJJ player in a short space of time.

A quick note here; the standard of jiujitsu at the gym has become increasingly high lately, which is only reflected by the promotions that both Lee and Braulio have distributed. With an ever growing intake of new members, the gym seems to be going from strength to strength, an improvement that has showed throughout the class, i think everyone would agree.

Jez raised the most salient point of the night to me, as i was beginning to (read: try my best to) transition to mission control, he pointed out i'd forgotten that he'd posted his hand out, essentially allowing for a Kimura. It's these kind of short-term lapses of concentration (or more likely a short term focus rather than allowing everything to sink in) that can cause issues come competition time, and the mental aspect such as this is something i'll be looking into in the next few weeks.

Regardless, tonight was an excellent training session with some good sparring, techniques and specific training that in my opinion, pushed my game forward.

Until next time,

Keep rolling kids.

Friday, 21 November 2008

21/11/08 - BJJ Class

I always look forward to the Friday class because of it's fragrant mix of the weekend, sparring, a smaller class and a chance to get some decent BJJ in before we spend a decadent post-millenium weekend. It also gave me an amazing excuse to get the new gi it's first taste of action, a full review can be found elsewhere on the blog.

Tonight's session was pretty amazing from my point of view; the sparring was good, and although the room was as cold as the McCartney/Mills divorce saga, it's safe to say that i took something away from this class that was certainly missing from a few of my previous sessions.

I rolled with three people tonight; Adam, Mark and Simon. Adam in himself poses a unique challenge because of his strength, with Mark being perhaps one of the most technical fighters at the club, and Simon being the true beast that he is.

I was impressed with my performance, as i managed to swing from move to move with a little bit more fluency tonight, although by the end of the session i was noticing my cardio was beginning to let my mind down a little bit.

I think we've all been at the stage where by the time we've thought of a solution to the problem, the guy's already moved on and poses a new and exciting threat. That's what keeps BJJ fresh.

Anyway, my rolling was okay; i'm continuing to work on my bottom game, with my closed, open and rubber guard now seeming to be a treat in my mind, rather than the chore they were 6-8 months ago.

No techniques were shown (as is the norm on Friday) which gave me a chance to try and work some of the butterfly guard stuff we've been doing, and some techniques that I've picked up from instructional and the endless goldmine of BJJ knowledge that is youtube.

The butterfly guard is an interesting position, because quite simply, it works. It's a position that i never thought would be as effective as a regular closed guard or more exotic open guard variants like the De la Riva, but the guard WORKS. And that's what's important in BJJ, not the flashyness of the move, but the effectiveness of it.

Particularly since Braulio's seminar, there's been a bit of a butterfly renaissance at the classes i've attended, and in my opinion, this can only be an amazingly good thing.

I hope that the butterfly guard is the focus of the coming week's sessions, as i have a sneaking suspicion it will be.

All good, and i'm seriously looking forward to monday. Be there or be square.

21/11/08 - New Gi!

With Xmas around the corner i know a lot of guys start buying the Christmas Gi's, and i thought since i've been a good boy all year, i'd make sure Santa got me something new to choke people with. Santa loves a bit of violence!

Scouring around the net wasn't something i fancied this time around, and i couldn't really be arsed paying out ridiculous amounts for shipping which i think we've all faced at one time or another, so the one remaining option is to get one from inside the UK.

Seeing a few tshirts featuring "Faixa Rua" at the club, i thought id check out the brand and was pleased to see they sell Kimonos.

This morning i received my first Gi in a long time, the white Faixa Rua gold weave, which i can honestly say I'm thrilled with.

This is my first a5 Gi, and the top fits roughly the same as my Koral a4 does, which gives you an indication of the cut size. However, I'm expecting a little shrinkage but nothing too major.

Upon first impression, the Gi trousers are well fitting yet loose and comfortable, and the jacket seems to be soft yet strong.

The price was also pretty phenomenal; a Gi of a decent quality for £60 in this country is almost unheard of, so to say my pocket is thankful is an understatement.

The patches that come with it are reminiscent to me of a regular Koral gi, yet they are unobtrusive and look quite professional; i was worried at first that the Gi would look like a generic Judo Gi, but i can most certainly say it has a unique character that I'm more than chuffed with.

There is enough space to personalise it, with the back being just plain white, giving enough room to sport the BJJ version of go-faster stripes: the team patch.

Training with it in the first session was a pleasure, although the sleeves were perhaps a little long for the more technical stand up work, although reportedly these shrink after the first few washes.

It washed nicely on 40 degrees, and i haven't noticed a huge amount of shrinkage, but this is something i'll keep you updated on.

The pricing is competitive, with a gold weave white costing £60, a Blue pearl weave costing £70, and a black double weave costing £80. For more information please see or email

My score: 9/10.

Pros: Pricing, quality of gi, seems quite light, great service, looks and feels good.
Cons: The sleeves are perhaps a little large (although im expecting them to shrink).

This Gi has a serious chance of becoming my first choice gi; if you want to move away from the regular brands, go for Faixa Rua!

More reviews coming this holiday season? let's see what Santa brings!

Monday, 17 November 2008

17/10/08 - BJJ Class

And the soundtrack for tonight's update is Muse - Supermassive Black Hole.

So the start of the regular updates is here again, and what an apt time to start updating.

Tonight was a fairly interesting class; started a little late, but the class was one of the best that there has been in a while.

Following on from what Braulio Estima showed us last monday, Lee's focus tonight was on teaching the Butterfly guard, and in particular a potentially gorgeous Gi collar choke, rolling the opponent over during the technique and applying the choke by bridging up and into him. My descriptions haven't got any clearer, have they?

Lee then went on to show the same choke, but from a standing position, where he would grab the collar grip and then roll, when the opponent is in a butt-scott style position.
Steve Boughey and I also found a wonderful way of faking a pass to grab the collar in the first place, so i've got a funny feeling this technique could be winging it's way into the competition gameplan.

For the guys without a gi, Lee showed a little variation of the technique that looks like the lovechild of the brabo and rear naked chokes. I didn't catch this quite as well, although i feel if i found myself with the grip i'd go for it.

After exploring this technique, Lee switched the focus to a little specific training, with each partner starting from top of butterfly, bottom of butterfly, top of buttscoot and bottom of buttscoot.

My bottom game lately has increased from 0 to approximatley 10mph, i'm not exactly overtaking Marcelo Garcia at this stage, but i'm actually catching sweeps and just the entire flow of movement a lot better lately.

After the class ended, a couple of questions were asked about the techniques showed (more questions lately, that's a good thing!) and then Lee said there was something else to cover, which he'd hinted at towards the start of the class.

Luke Monaghan, Tim Lodge received 2 stripes to the white belt, and i received another one, putting us all a little bit closer to that goal that was achieved by a few members of the class just one week previously.

Thanks for that Lee and of course Braulio, and a big congrats to Tim and Luke, and in my opinion the stripes are more than well deserved, particularly given the amount of dedication and effort both of these guys put in.

Once again,

Thanks, and keep rolling!


Monday, 10 November 2008

10/11/08 - Braulio Estima Seminar

Hey guys, and welcome once again to my blog!

On the 10th of November, we as a club were lucky enough to have current Pan Am NoGi champion (double gold, might i add) Braulio Estima teach a seminar at the club once again, which as always was an interesting experience, but due to a "technical error", Braulio left his black belt at home, which is always pretty handy..

The night started with some warmups, and the customary forward and backward rolls that always get me pretty tired whenever it's a seminar.

Braulio's focus was on the Butterfly guard, with the techniques he was showing obviously taking some inspiration from his recent no-gi direction, with most of the techniques applicable both with and without the traditional kimono.

Braulio's teaching style is best described as progressive; in my experience, he introduces a concept and then expands on it, giving the student more options after the original technique has either failed or succeeded.

Starting with a basic elevating sweep, Braulio then showed us a progressive series of moves including an armbar, defenses to the original sweep, as well as a beautiful way of catching a rolling armbar from the butterfly guard, perhaps even taking the back if you can't get the right momentum.

After the barrage of awesome techniques, specific training started, and this started with some butterfly sparring, with one starting in the butterfly position and one not.

This was also my first time physically "rolling" with a black belt, and Braulio did not disappoint, flattening me with the same armbar he'd showed about 5 minutes previously. I suppose you've gotta prove it works!

Overall though, my personal performance was good throughout the night, my cardio gradually returning to what it was a few months ago.

The real story of the night though was in the gradings.

Graded tonight were 7 members of the club.

Blue Belt:
Jez Lord
Matt Figg
Steve Wright
Mark Dos Santos

Purple belt:
Tom Wilson
Sam Gaunt
Jason Fallows

To conclude, thanks a lot to Braulio for perhaps the best seminar i've been to, and thanks a lot to everyone who showed up and supported both Braulio and Team Ryu.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

14/09/08 - Nick Mason, R.I.P.

Team member Nick Mason was this weekend killed while on service in Afghanistan.

He was a great member of the team and a Blue belt in BJJ under Braulio, whilst being an active fighter in everything he tried.

Our thoughts are with you, mate.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

30/08/08 - SEMINAR: Nick Brooks

Okay, let me just start off by saying that this seminar blew me away.

Nick is one of the best teacher's i've ever had the pleasure to learn from, either on the mat or via instructional. Although a brown belt this guy has got a phenomenal amount to offer, and is one of the UK's most successful BJJ competitors.

Starting at 3pm, the session started with some light warming up and straight into some fresh techniques from Nick; starting with the reverse De La Riva guard.

The Reverse DLR is something that, to my knowledge, we haven't done much on; so it was really refreshing to learn something that i'd never even seen.

Starting in this main position, we learned numerous sweeps, with Nick's main focus on showing us moves for almost every situation; depending on his posture, movement, etc. There were a good 6 or 7 sweeps; many similar but with subtle nuances that could seriously change the way i look at the open guard.

Then Nick turned his attention to the "regular" opn guard, where we learned a few new entries into the omoplata, after opening and placing your foot on the bicep (but not in a spider-guard fashion; more on this if i get pictures), giving way to a number of triangles as well as sweeps.

Sparring was intense, and i rolled with 2 or 3 people if memory serves me correctly; Nick being one of them. Even though we were all pretty tired at this stage (we'd already over-run the 2 hours the seminar was expected to last for), the sparring was top quality.

Nick put me on my back early on and from there i stood little chance; realistically speaking, there was little i could do, but hold on and at least attempt to do my best impression of surviving. The guy's a monster.

Overall, an enjoyable day; topped off with some brilliant sparring, that's left me pretty damn tired, it must be said.

Pictures will be up when i get them.

Monday, 18 August 2008

18/08/08 - BJJ Class

My first BJJ class in a week and by god i felt the lack of training creep up on me with all the subtle, cat like movements of a runaway freight train.

Got to the gym at about 7pm, enough time to stretch out (which i've been doing more of in my absence from the class) and get ready for the BJJ class at 7.30.

Getting back into the swing of things felt good, and we started with a simple drill; breaking your opponents posture while he's sitting in your closed guard. This is a vital part of any guard system, and sadly something that a lot of beginners forget, myself included. I'd quite like to drill this with more active resistance, which i think would help to integrate this into my gameplan.

After this, utilising the Gi, Lee showed the class a technique where, by wrapping the gi around an arm, you can secure a grip which maintains a level of control on the arm for long enough for you to grab an armbar. Failing this, Lee showed us the next technique in the series where you can take the same Gi-grip and if the armbar fails, use this as a gogoplata-like choke which can then in turn be used as a setup for other things, if failed.

This seemed like a very nice little setup and i'm VERY impressed with it. The techniques in class seem to be making more sense to me lately in the wider scheme of things, and for that i'm eternally thankful. Understanding moves is nine-tenths of the game itself.

A little light sparring followed these techniques, with myself and the returning Tim being paired up for a little guard-passing work. Tim's getting much better, and i feel like my guard is getting more effective; i'm no longer just going for double-wrist grips and using the lay and pray strategy, i'm actually trying to set things up. The omoplata has become my best friend, that move is just SO versatile.

At the end of the class Lee spoke to us on the concept of injury; something close to my heart after my thumb was in agony all week. Alright, not the worst injury ever.. shh.

It's true; injuries suck. And the more you put 100% of your strength into every training session the more you'll have. This isn't the finals of the mundials or the ADCC, just tap for crying out loud.

Anyway, after the class i paired up with Jez for some tougher sparring. I'm noticing that he's putting me on my back easily off of the kneeling position; but given that this isn't a natural position that occurs in a fight, this isn't an issue to me. He's developed a pretty solid smashing top game which isn't pleasant to be under, believe me.

I think that's enough said for tonight. Again, sorry for the lack of updates but there you go, that's what happens when you're stuck in the world of technology; "sh*t happens". :).

18/08/08 - Lack Of Updates

Guys, many apologies for the lack of regular updates.

Between some personal issues keeping me from updating the website (not to mention tech issues) and having a slight injury, i havent been training or posting on here much.

That will all change as of tonight, you have my word.

If not, come and give me a hiding.