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.



Wednesday, 13 August 2008

13/08/08 - New Team Member?

Congratulations today are in order for Team Ryu BJJ coach Lee Catling and his wife Sonia who today safely delivered their baby girl Lana into the world.

Congrats guys and take care.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

07/08/08 - Nogi Class

Tonight was an exceedingly good night, other than me getting bullied at the end!

The jam-packed session started tonight with around 18 people training which is very good for our club.

Lee started things by introducing, particularly for the newcomers, the concept of holding somebody down when in top guard; following their hip movements, and keeping pressure on their hips or chest to stop them rising up.

After drilling this, we took things to the bottom.

Tonight's technique of focus changed, no longer is the focus on the twister but it is now on a simple arm-crush setup from the closed guard. A little like a good setup for an omoplata, it starts from head and underhook control in closed guard, then passing around their head with your arms; this giving you the leverage to bring your legs into play since his head, thus his bodyweight, is out of the way.

It's a good technique, with a solid foundation and i caught it once or twice in sparring.

Lee then showed a way to take this technique to the next level; if the guy defended this by blocking your hips, Lee showed a way to catch the belly-down armbar and also the Gogoplata, which is the technique i focused more on.

Discussing this with Steve "Dodgy Toe" Wright outside, we both agreed that the Gogoplata feels sort of natural; almost like the neck was MEANT to fit at that particular crook of the foot.

After these techniques it was time for the pass guard drill, an old favourite of mine. I was paired with Tom, one of the best (if not THE best) Blue belts at the club, and a new guy who's name i didn't catch, sorry dude.

I noticed my passing game looked pretty decent tonight, but i still need to work on defending the guard. To remedy this, i'll pull guard more often in training and watch the Demian Maia instructional on it, which i've heard wonders about.

Now to my personal gripe with this session. After the main class had finished, during "open training", Lee showed one of the new guys how to break a guy's grip when going for an armbar from the top; at this stage, both the new guy and Lee had got an arm. Then, whilst defenceless, both of my legs were grabbed by unruly members of the class who proceeded to encourage a fifth party to tickle me. Shocking behaviour, no doubt brought about by the ringleader, Steve Wright. Shame on you.

All in all, great session tonight, some good techniques, some good sparring, what more could you ask for?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

31/07/08 - NoGi Session

So the NoGi tonight was pretty tough. Most of the lads were pretty tired from the Muay Thai which i didn't do tonight, mainly because i had to get some things ready for my social occasion tomorrow. I think in this regard it's important to get a balance between training and social life right; it's all good to be great in training, but if nobody outside of training knows you, what's your headstone gonna look like?

"Here lies Luke Wykes. He had a great stack and liked twister side control".

That's not for me.

Anyway, back to the point.

Tonight's session started with Lee showing us how to attack the turtle with a basic elbow-in-shoulder turnover, nothing new there really.

But then he showed us a technique he called the "catweazle"; a transition from this into the twister, where we simply put the knee in the hip, your free foot locking his near foot, and keeping control of the hand. Possibly the worst description ever but if you want more info, get to class!

The twister is something we've been working on for a while, and it's a totally radical move. It's revolutionary in that since it was re-popularized by Eddie Bravo, it's opened up a whole new system and the Truck position has now become infamous and synonymous with a good reverse kesa-gatame game.

The class then went standing, where we worked on some techniques of our choice. Myself and Steve used a little resistance on each other so we knew what we could get away with, and i was impressed with the results. I felt much better on my feet than i had in months today, and i'm not entirely sure why. I quite like rolling for Kneebars, i sincerely wish that sometime, we can learn some kneebars in class.

The class took a turn back to the ground with some specific training, where myself and Dan trained a little. My focus tonight was on the Z-Guard and playing off the bottom, something i achieved with moderate success.

Within Sparring i noticed my cardio wasn't top notch but i was catching some nice things, some Kimuras from Z-guard, etc.

No update tomorrow as i'm not training!

Monday, 28 July 2008

28/07/08 - Steve Brighton - Video

Good showing here from both guys, i think our own Steve Wright played a smart game but towards the end i think his head let him down.

Oh well, not bad! Anyone who's got the guts to step out there is a hero anyway.


Friday, 25 July 2008

25/07/08 - BJJ Competition Class

As of tonight, the Friday night class at the main HQ is changing to a more competition oriented class, with an emphasis on drilling and sparring techniques rather than learning new ones. This is perfect for us, as a club this will help our cardio and confidence with techniques, so this can only be a good thing really.

I trained with Adam tonight, and as a general rule it went quite well. I worked a little rubber guard, i'm still a little inflexible but i'll get there in the end. The move i was trying was just to gain mission control, then to transition to the Jiu-Claw (aka omoplata, someone please explain the difference, other than holding the leg?).

this is one of my money techniques now, and is certainly a "go-to" move in my gameplan.

That was my main choice of move to drill, and along with the twister side control setups we've been working, tonight certainly felt like an Eddie Bravo tribute session for me.

I quite like the twister side control and the twister move as i've already alluded to on the blog, but i've noticed with the gi on, it does feel a little more awkward. This may be best saved for a Thursday No-Gi session.

Sparring was interesting, Adam's a very physical guy to roll with, and that's somewhat my weakness. I'd like to think of myself as technical from the bottom and quite physical yet technical on the top, which suits my body and movement type better.

In terms of my performance this was okay, but there were times when i felt drained, this i attribute to a hectic week though. My emphasis from the top was on twister side control and s-mount, and on the bottom on regaining half-guard.

Not much else to say really; Fridays are now a very personal class, and as such, things that are applicable to me may not apply to the whole class, so bear that in mind.

Until Monday,

train hard, kids!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

23/07/08 - Brighton - Me - First Video

In a way i'm slightly embarassed to put this on the blog on the basis that for the vast majority of the fight, i'm stalling.

But by the same token, i'm somewhat proud of this as my first win.

I think i could have done better, i certainly should have killed his inside arm whilst in my side control, but hey, during the adrenalin of the competition, i didn't think.

Oh well, there's always next time.

Coming tomorrow will be the rest of the guys from the gym's fights.


Saturday, 19 July 2008

19/07/08 - Brighton Results

Got to the King Alfred Leisure Centre in what felt like record time, and I for one was certainly quite pumped up about today's events. With my PSP full of tunes and a good place to sit and stay moderatley separate from the action, i managed to keep my head more in the game than i did at Bristol.

The organisation was pretty good, Gus (the guy who ran the competition) was friendly and helpful, and he certainly put some decent work in which is much appreciated.

What i liked about today was that there was a good atmosphere, i've never been to a place where everyone seemed so friendly, particularly one of the guys who recognised me from this blog (hey, i'm getting famous!) and a few others who genuinley remind you that the BJJ world is very different to the outside world.

Good showing by 3 of the lads today, unfourtunatley Steve Boughey was injured and couldn't compete, shame.

Steve Wright was outpointed in a very close affair in the first round, but put on an extremley good show to reinforce to all in attendance exactly why he is becoming a prolific competitor. or something like that.

Jez Lord unfortunately lost by RNC, but this was in a relativley close fight.

I won my first fight by points (think it was 7-2, don't quote me on this) against one of the big guys from the Carlson Gracie team (Hellboy?), and lost my second to another guy from the same establishment via Americana.

I'm very happy to get my first win, particularly in such a good fashion as a confident points win. I did have the experience of being up against a guy taller and stronger than me, but on the day that isn't all that matters.

I'm happy to have had the experience of my second competition, and i feel this is really going to drive my training along.

For those of you that haven't yet competed or are sitting on the fence as to whether or not "competition is for you", my advice is to do it. I spent far too long sitting on the fence, wondering whether or not to compete, and in the end the worst that can happen is that you lose, and at this stage of the game, who cares about a loss.

Infact, it's the losses that will DRIVE You forward. If you win all the time, you have no desire to improve, the mindset of a pure winner becomes very one-track and this is detrimental to peak performance.

Went and had a drink in Brighton when i realised my t-shirt was on back to front (yeah, you can see it in the picture) but i guess that's what happens when you're knackered from the fighting.

Take care,

Rev. Luke.

Friday, 18 July 2008

18/07/08 - Four Musketeers?

Tomorrow morning, 4 members of Team Ryu set sail (not literally) for Brighton, where the first "grab and pull" tournament is gonna take place, as i've already stated.

Feel free to leave us some goodwill messages on our mobiles or anything, i think it's gonna be a great day.

Competing from our club are:
Steve Boughey.
Steve "Dodgy toe" Wright.
Jez Lord.
Luke Wykes

Results will be up by this time tomorrow for sure. There'll also be some video from the competition up here on Sunday, so until then, stay safe and TRAIN HARD.

18/07/08 - New Look

New three column layout i'm playing around with, it's nowhere near finished so please bear with me guys. You still have the same access to all the old posts, etc in the meantime, they're going nowhere.


Thursday, 17 July 2008

17/07/08 - Learning to Learn.

Lee got me thinking tonight. Assimilation and integration of techniques takes some time, you don't just jump from learning the twister to being world class at it overnight.

Same with every technique; how many times have we been shown a technique in class, thought you'd never suit it, then you forget about this? Then a few months down the line you're using it a little, then a little more, and suddenly it's a part of your gameplan. It's crazy.

I think the conscious competence learning model relates extremley well to Brazilian Jiujitsu and Muay Thai, and I always think it's a good thing to know what stage you're at.

When you can break down your learning so you know where you're at and what you need to do, you'll get to your goals faster.

An analogy; if you were to drive to Brighton, for example, it would be easier if you knew the route you were taking in advance, rather than learning as you go along.

Anyway, here's the model in progressive stages. I've put a little note next to each stage as to what *I* interpret this to mean, perhaps you think differently? Feel free to start a debate on this :).

- Unconscious Incompetence - You've just been introduced to the technique, and you aren't aware of exactly how important each movement is.
- Conscious Incompetence - You realise what you're doing is wrong and that you need to use the technique fully, not missing any parts of movements.
- Conscious Competence - You pull the move off well, but having to seriously think about what exactly is going on.
- Unconscious Competence. You can pull the move off without even thinking about it, and it's a technique you go to when you know you need something that you're good at.

17/07/08 - No Gi Class (Twister Edition)

Tonight i wanted to take it easy and avoid any possible injuries before Saturday, but hey, that all goes out of the window when you get into the ryhthym of the night.

Tonight, carrying on from recent events, we covered the twister roll. Starting from "reverse kesa-gatame" (or twister side control), we entered the truck position first where the first few techniques of the class were based.

These included the banana split and the regular calf crank. It's a shame i can't calf crank at white belt level because i genuinley love them and it's a great way to finish a fight quickly.

I can personally recommend Eddie Bravo's material on this "truck" position, he wasn't the "inventor" of a lot of this stuff but he was certainly an innovative force in this style of Jiujitsu. His Mastering The Rubber Guard book, while at times a little advanced, compliments his system perfectly and shows exactly how things work. Mastering the Twister is an amazing read, whereas i find his "jiujitsu unleashed" offering a little sub-par when compared with his later works.

Anyway, the class was good, i trained predominantly with Adam, who, as a guy close to my size (alright, he's like 30kgs lighter but shh), and he's got pretty good lately. More to the point, we both caught the techniques tonight, and this will be my focus (i say that far too much) after Brighton.

Infact, i'm going to set myself some learning goals. More on this at the weekend.

After we covered the truck, Lee introduced many of us to the wonder that is the Twister submission. Banned in most BJJ tournaments because of it's legendary status as a dangerous hold, the Twister is, for those of you that don't know, a lock that focuses primarily on the spine and forces a tapout horrendously quickly.

Lee showed us this from the truck to the back control, which i feel is a beautiful transition, and the fact i was looking for this setup in sparring is a testament to it's effective status as an easy-to-use hold, once you've found you're groove with it.

Lee's wisdom tonight shone through at the start of the class where he shared a teaching he'd learned with regards to BJJ; that there is a number for every technique you do.

This number relates to how many repetitions are necessary before you fully are able to implement the technique well, without worrying too much about how you pull it off. In competition you simply haven't got time to fret about whether the foot is in exactly the right spot in the lockdown.

A learning model relates to this well, which i will post something on after this.

Sparring was interesting, i'm tending to play bottom game a little more lately and while it's not neglecting my top game, sometimes i really miss it and want to play it far more often.

Oh well. I'm 17. Time is on my side.

17/07/08 - Tim Lodge X Steve Wright (No-Gi)

okay guys, here's a roll from Steve Wright and Tim Lodge. Tim's one of the newest members of the club and really puts his heart into everything he does, it's pretty inspirational to watch. Keep in mind though, it's no black-belt level superfight, but enjoyable to watch anyway.

The soundtrack is The Prodigy vs Enya, "Orinoco Bitch". Quite an interesting track.

17/07/08 - Brighton Competition

I'll be there. Registration's now over, but i'll be competing in the Super Super Heavyweight White Belt Adult division.

If any of the guys that read this wanna say hey, i'll be the guy with my name on my tshirt. Not hard to spot :).

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

15/07/08 - New Tshirt!

I hate advertising on blogs like this, and this isn't your traditional advertising. Whenever i discover a hidden gem, I'm gonna let you guys know about it.

It's always nice to get some new clothing to check out, particularly just before a competition so you can wear it there and feel like you're a real BJJ player. Competition's just wouldn't be the same without the sea of Affliction and Xtreme Couture tshirts flooding the halls.

However, rather than any of those big-names, i'm trying to keep as British as possible, which led me to order from a new startup company; Respect Fight Wear.

Not only is the design on this good, but the quality of the tshirt is high and if you choose so, it comes personalised with your name, which is always going to be a bonus if you want to be recognised out and about.

The design itself is high quality, and it stands out without being obnoxious. I'm not a big fan of "loud" tshirts, ones that you'd be scared to wear on a Friday night for fear of being arrested for causing a public disturbance. This is why this design is pretty much ideal for me, and i'm sure plenty of you out there feel the same.

The cost is £20, which for a personalised tshirt is sodding good value.

Last time i got any personalised tshirts from a different company, it cost me nearly £15 for a one sided, shoddy-quality print. I know where to come in future.

The company is so fresh that the official website for the clothing line doesn't have much on it at the moment, but they have sufficient contact details and links to their "mother company", Raw Designs, to see you through an order process. Remember to say where you heard about it! - The fight wear brand - General garment printing (good martial arts coverage too)

All of the above will help you on your way..

Thanks to all the guys at the company for sorting me out, it's good stuff. I also ordered a hoody that i'll save to review another time.

Until Thursday,

Train hard, kids!

Monday, 14 July 2008

14/07/08 - BJJ Class

Tonight's class seemed longer than it was to me because of a heavy day yesterday and a lack of sleep last night, but i think i can safely say one thing.

I'm improving.

I did feel a lot of improvement tonight, particularly with my positioning. Who knows, i could get real good soon. Let's hope.

Tonight's class started with Lee covering a technique for us to ponder, one that a lot of us were already familiar with but had'nt had the chance to put into practice. I remember covering this technique a couple of times before, and with the amount i've read "Jiu Jitsu Unleashed", i should know exactly what this technique is.

It was the twister-roll from "twister side control" (Or reverse-kesa gatame for those of you that don't follow Eddie Bravo's naming conventions), but finishing in the "truck" position i believe, and finishing with a calf crank.

Not the world's most competition-safe technique, but i like it and it's a good addition for when us lowly white belts get the promotion to the leglock world that is the blue belt.

The only issue i had was of where to put my elbow, whether to keep it close to the body and push the arm away, or close to the head. After asking Lee it became obvious that keeping the elbow closer to the body and pushing the defensive option of the arm away was the technique of choice.

Tonight's class was pretty physical too, with only one technique being shown and the rest being specific training and sparring.

First came the pass-the-guard drill, which you're all familiar with. Didn't fare too well tonight in this, but did manage to get some good passes in which i'm pleased about. I'm trying to be a little more relaxed off my back, as i think it does give me a slight advantage when i'm not stiffening up like a corpse and holding on for dear life (how much of an oxymoron is that?!?).

Secondly was just some top-down sparring, with the class being split into the competition team for Brighton and those that weren't competing. I sparred with Adam, because we're the closest to each other's weights in the gym and as such it's the best competition training possible. He caught me with a pretty nice takedown but i was impressed with how quickly i regained guard.

After this sparring everyone seemed pretty knackered, particularly a couple of people who had picked up knocks and tweaks, but i'm sure everyone will be okay for the weekend.

All in all, a good session, well worth it.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

13/07/08 - Bristol Open Competition

Just a short review to fill a space today, i'll edit this with a full report tomorrow. Was a tough day and i'm very tired so yeah, not too much in the way of literary goodness coming out of me.

Both myself and Steve Boughey from the club lost our first round fights on points, both were (i'd like to think) pretty close fights, and could have easily gone either way. Luck wasn't shining on us today, but there's always next weekend at Brighton.

I was forced to play half-guard, which my opponent wasn't able to pass which i was happy about, and i was suprised the fight wasn't stood up or someone penalised, but that's what happens i suppose.

Steve's fight was very entertaining, and he gained mount after a sweep in the dying seconds which unfourtunatley wasn't scored so victory was snatched away from him. No hard feelings though, that's the game!

Cheers for the messages of support guys, hope to see you all at Brighton next week.


Thursday, 10 July 2008

10/07/08 - No Gi Class

Tonight's class was hosted by Paul, because Lee was otherwise engaged. Good session all the same, Paul's a great purple belt teacher with some great techniques and a good coaching style.

Since tonight was Nogi, we continued on with the same NoGi techniques we'd been covering for the past few weeks off the overhook and underhook from standing, with the uchi-mata to ankle pick setup. I really like this, it's effective and i can see it being a good competition technique. For those of you that haven't seen it, it's done off the underhook after pummeling,

It's effective, i always wonder whether or not, in some cases, the ankle pick is necessary. Obviously it's not because of the whole uchi-mata thing, it works in isolation, but it does work better with the pick.

Then the same setup we've been covering for a while, the overhook-underhook to high-crutch single leg, drilled it the same as before. I noticed my technique was a little worse tonight, but that could have been to a number of reasonss, not too concerned.

Tonight's focus was though, invariably, side control. Paul had us drill from both top and bottom, killing the arm and switching from knee-on-belly and side control, and from the bottom, escaping. This is exactly what the doctor ordered before competition, and i think everyone benefits from this kind of training. Repetition of simple things like hip shrimps are never going to win awards for looking as sexy as a flying armbar, but hell, they're more useful.

It's function over sexyness i'm afraid. You try telling that to the women though!

Sparred a little with Dan tonight, and for a big, relatively new lad he's got some good movement. Good scrambling in particular.

Didn't do too much of that though, my focus was on defending the shot and keeping relaxed. That's what i need to do on Sunday, too. Tom suggested, quite rightly, that i should just keep relaxed and not worry about the day. It's normal to be nervous the first time around, so i've got nothing to worry about really.

I've done a little public speaking in the past as i've mentioned before, (the perfect guy essex - google this for a picture of me when i was 23st!) so i'm sort of used to the concept of competition, although it's obviously an entirely different ball game.

Also, best wishes to our club's two injured members at the moment, Tim Lodge and Steve Wright, both of whom suffering from some knocks they've picked up in recent times. Get well soon lads.

Off to Bristol on Sunday and i can't wait. Feel free to text me if you've got my number or leave me an email at Lukewykes AT googlemail DOT com if you really wanna wish me luck.

I probably won't be training tomorrow night, but there WILL be a post on here tomorrow so check back - got some things to review.

Until then,

Train hard, kids!

Monday, 7 July 2008

07/07/08 - BJJ Class


No Muay Thai tonight; I've knocked that on the head until after Bristol, i want to be the best i can be, not tired like i normally am at weekends. As such i'm taking it easy this week.

Tonight's class was just what the doctor ordered in terms of basics and more advanced stuff.

Firstly, Lee showed the same hip-switch to kill the arm from side control for the benefit of the new guys at the class, then, passing to the mount when the guy is defending with his knee up.

These were straightforward, don't need to be described in my opinion.

Next, Lee showed a choke that i'd previously seen in Saulo Ribeiro's Jiu Jitsu Revolution tapes, the collar choke from side control with one hand underneath the head and one on the collar. Sounds strange, but this worked great and after competition i'll be experimenting with this in my gameplan. You can also catch it from North South, which Lee showed us, and it worked, although personally prefer the side control option.

Class then went back to standing, and we played around for grips a little. I've really found i'm a pretty good grip player since watching the Jimmy Pedro DVD, but this still needs a little more active, specific training to be 100% in my opinion. It's coming along though.

It's always interesting to gain the grips whilst at the same time defend your own. The analogy of having your cake and eating it too immediatley leaps to mind, but obviously in a more metaphorical sense.

Then rather than some specific gripwork, working for the takedown, which i'm not excellent at but it will get there in time.

You guys will be pleased to hear that tonight i did fairly well at the guard passing drill, which followed the standup, filling me with an enormous amount of glee for some reason. I did fairly well on my back tonight, staying out on the mat for some time, although admittedly i was against newer guys. I feel my guard has become stronger lately, mainly thanks to some great competition within the club.

Everyone's gotten a tonne better lately, ranging from the lowly whitebelts to the more experienced guys there, steel truly is sharpening steel.

In sparring, I just rolled a little fairly lightly, getting a feel for top and bottom guard some more, they're highly likely to present themselves in competition so it's best to work that.

Anyway, coming tomorrow will be a HUGE~! write up of Sunday's session, don't miss it!


Sorry for the lack of video updates. As i'm sure you'll understand, training has been tough lately and i haven't had much chance to get the camera going. I'll bring you something special soon, i promise. Until then, you'll have to make do with some pictures of me to keep you going.


Friday, 4 July 2008

04/07/06 - BJJ Class

So the final class of the week ended up being a pretty small number of us, doing exactly what it was that i was looking forward to doing.

Tonight, the class started with drilling techniques of our choice, with my focus being on gaining the rubber guard and some half guard techniques; both of which i did well. I opted to have two areas of focus rather than one on the basis that one gets quickly repetitive, and although it does help your mind learn, it also helps to mix things up a little to keep your head in the game, or so i've found.

After the drilling came one of Lee's new chokes, and I'll admit i didn't quite get it. In theory, the move worked great, but in practice i just couldn't get into the flow of it. I'm not sure if i was the only one, but this certainly needed some work, which can be done after competition season.

It was done off the butterfly guard, and i think the choke has officially been named the "Stoner #3", although there were other nominations in class. Check it out, i'm sure he'll show it in class again sometime soon.

After this, some damned good rolling; some light stuff and some heavier, and i feel that although sometimes i don't perform as well as i should, i'm learning and thinking more activley lately than i have in months, and this can only be an inordinatley good thing.

I'm also learning that it's easier to move myself than to move the opponent, and i now realise that for about a year i've been exacerbating the problem by not following this ostensibly simple principle.

i think i did quite well. I enjoy rolling with Lee particularly, he encourages me to think about what i'm doing, which is a bonus that i sometimes don't push myself to do, and it's something i desperatley need to think about doing.

The blessing and curse of jiu jitsu is the diverse, multifarious range of ways in which we can become more rounded, there's never a simple motorway; it's all off-road stuff, and that's something that is to be savoured, not looked at as a hindrance.

Anyway, good session, all around, some top training.

There's a small session coming up on Sunday i believe, so i'll talk to you then.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

03/07/08 - No Gi Class

Didn't feel so good earlier today, had a stomach upset, so wasn't entirely sure whether tonight was a good idea to be honest with you guys. Infact, at College today, i felt DIRE. Cleared up by about 6pm though, so i thought why not, as long as i take it easy..

The class shifted focus from the x-guard we've been working on tonight into a more basic focus, which was a good thing for a lot of the newcomers there.

The x-guard is a pretty intense position especially if it's your first time and you're wondering exactly what foot goes where.. we've all been there.

Anyway, the class starts tonight with some amazingly effective pummel-to-takedown and underhook-to-takedown drills, both working off the same principle (the uchi-mata fake and then finishing with an ankle pick.. ).

I found this pretty easy to pull off, and these takedowns are now my focus for the one week before competition; who knows, i could learn something that i'd otherwise be doing wrong.

Stopped for a drink and then back on the ground, where tonight Lee explained the basics of the hip-switch from side control; "killing the arm" to gain a better control position.

BASIC Jiu Jitsu 101. This is perfect; tried and tested techniques and the opportunity to drill them more and more. Hip switching is vital, especially in competition, you don't want guys turning into you.

More to the point, advanced basics is all you need. Watch Roger Gracie in competition.. you see him pulling off fancy stuff? Not often, advanced basics is what works; BJ Penn is another piece of living, breathing, ass-kicking proof. You don't need fancy Rubber Guard or 50/50 Guard stuff if you're new.. relax and enjoy the ride.

This was good, and i did learn to keep a better grip on the opponent elbow, something i'm lazy with. Good point here.

Remember the head and arm choke? Something i barely ever go for and to be honest, it had sort of slipped off my radar lately. Thank the lord that Lee showed this again to us tonight, and i've still got the technique pretty much off pat. It's a good thing to use, but i always have the problem of not gripping hard enough or dipping my shoulder into the choke enough, so sometimes i feel the choke is on tight, sometimes i feel like i'm clinging onto it even though there's nothing there.

I'll drill this more with my new drill plan sheets..

Some light sparring, i went almost exclusivley with the new guys tonight, and let me tell you, the standard is higher than expected. A couple of the guys, it was their first time doing anything like this, and their showing was far better than anything i would have done on my first time. I'm only a lowly whitebelt, but colour me impressed with what was on offer tonight.

Then, to finish the class, the guard passing drill; my Guard is getting a LOT better. The Rubber Guard continues to be an interest of mine, and while i should be drilling my basics i find it a lot easier to get certain submissions from a high control position. Why is this? I'm not sure. Crazy world of BJJ.

And thank the lord, i felt alright at the end of the night.

Anyway, that's all from me tonight. I'm sure you guys are wondering what happened to the last Muay Thai session entry, it's not forgotten... just as of now, i've got some work to do and as much as i love training, Education is important too.

03/07/08 - Muay Thai Class

Was VERY busy tonight, but busy is how i like it. The club's growing, and that can only mean good things.

The class started with some shadowboxing that really brought me to a sweat tonight, could be the heat or could be that i was moving a little more than normal.

Tonight's focus was undoubtedly on kicks. Hooray.. my favourite aspect. Something i've been wanting to work on for a while.

Kick-For-Kick training is interesting, there's a fine line between just doing the technique and a little bit of conditioning. I quite like the conditioning aspect, although i bruise easily it makes me know that i've done something, and that's the sort of feeling i really enjoy.

My lowkicks are much better after Jez's input on Monday, where he was talking to me about stepping into the kick, rather than simply throwing it from your regular stance. I already feel more powerful and my kicks feel more fluid, so thanks for that.

Then, to really work up a sweat, Paul had us defend punches and kicks with punches and kicks; for example, countering a jab with a right straight, or a lowkick with a block then another lowkick. I didn't quite get into the ryhtym of this, but i'm sure with time this won't be an issue.

To finish the class, some Clinchwork, which wasn't as intense as it has been, but was mainly focused on good technique; my emphasis was on not letting my opponent bring my head down, and if he did, to counter this as soon as humanly possible. I feel i did this well, and my re-gaining of the plum grip is getting far greater.

We warmed down as normal with some stretching, and although i'm getting more flexible, i still look to Paul and a few of the others and wonder exactly how some of those things are possible. I've tried some of Kesting's "Yoga For Martial Arts" DVD, i need to get on that more often.

So we warmed down, shook hands, and then it's time for the No-Gi...

Monday, 30 June 2008

30/06/08 - BJJ Class

The BJJ class tonight was once again focused on the x-guard, and i feel we're coming towards the end of this series of techniques, as we've pretty much covered a technique from every area.

Tonight, Lee showed a setup from the halfguard, transitioning to what i call deep half guard (possibly incorrectly) then setting it up the X from there.

Honestly, i can see myself using this, but not as much as a couple of the other x-guard techniques we have learned.

The technique from the mount, in my view, was the highlight of the night, although in competition it will NOT be as effective; when the adrenaline's flowing i think it will be hard to pull off. Pushing the guy's hips up, and swinging in to gain the x-guard from the bottom may sound like a mean feat, but it's not, however i think it could easily be more difficult in a hardcore competition scenario.

After this, we were then given the opportunity to drill any or all of the x-guard or "braulio guard" techniques we've been doing.

I chose to continue to drill the entry from standup, which i feel is my most successful entry to the position, and my sweep when the opponent postures is becoming increasingly effective.

Pass-the-guard drill wasn't amazing for me tonight, for no particular reason i feel, other than the fact that that i made some simple mistakes, that the high-level guys like Tom and Jason are quick to pounce on; that's a great way to train, if you make no mistakes in training, you won't when you get out in competition.

After this, Lee talked to us about the concept of relaxation within the art, with a particular focus on improved longevity over time.

Training at 100% does nothing for either your body, or, in my view, most importantly your mind.

I think every white belt has been in this situation to start with, when you feel at 100% you feel like you've given it your best, but then you're fatigued, bruised and lethargic for 2 or 3 days after.

I remember after my first lesson, my cardio was so horrific that i was literally ready to drop after doing the techniques in isolation. Since i hadn't done PE at school because of health issues, my fitness was pretty poor. But training at 100% made me feel even worse. I had an overwhelming feeling of fatigue for 2 to 3 days afterwards, and whilst at first it was novel, the "high" point of this feeling soon wore off.

The point here being that training at 50-60% in a TRAINING situation is for the best; you both learn more, the pace isn't as fast, and it allows you to truly shine as a martial artist. Especially for newer guys; you wouldn't get behind the wheels of a Lambourghini and get up to 120 at some ungodly rate of acceleration if you hadn't driven before, would you?

Well, you could, but the result wouldn't be pretty. I think this illustrates the point well.

Sparring tonight was good, i sparred a little with Steve Boughey, trying not to overdo it tonight. It was a particularly hot session, and i'm sure nobody could honestly say the heat didn't make them less energetic, particularly after a heavy Muay Thai session.

I'm detemined to work my guard game, particularly Closed, Rubber (when i can get it) and X-guard; i'm working them all, and i'm liking my omoplata game at the moment. In all honesty though, the next two weeks, i want my game to go back to basics. I'll write about this in a new entry tomorrow.

Anyway, no training again until Thursday, but i'm sure you'll hear from me before then.

Until then,

train hard, kids!

30/06/08 - Muay Thai Class


The report will be filling this space tomorrow. I'm rather tired and i'm snowed under with work, the BJJ report will be up tonight though.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

28/06/08 - Bristol Open

Some of you may be pleased to hear i've just signed up for the Bristol Open.

I'll be competing in the Juvenile division: Super Super Heavy and Absolute, with any luck.

I know myself and Steven Boughey from the club are going, are there any others that are considering it?

I can't say i'm too nervous about my first competition. In a way, i'm excited, but at the same time i'm sort of apprehensive, wouldn't say i'm nervous though.

I'd say because of my past in public speaking, i can take pressure pretty well.
(By the way.. google "the perfect guy essex".. there's a picture of me on the first result.. does that tell you something ladies?)

I'm unproven under physical pressure though, so who knows how things will work out.

Will be working on a clear gameplan this weekend, so i'm mentally prepared, and that's what i hope to be working in class over the next two weeks.

D-Day is July 13th. Unlucky? No way.

I'm off to watch some ADCC DVD action now, so i'll talk to you guys either later or tomorrow. I'll be paying particular attention to Robert Drysdale..

Friday, 27 June 2008

27/06/08 - BJJ Class

Great class tonight, although pretty small.

Most notable was tonight's heat, which for some bizarre reason i really enjoyed; there's something really beautiful about training with a gi on in the sweltering heat, just trying to keep the pace up, sweating like mad. (Mind you, i don't think i'll ever beat our very own Steve Wright at that; he's made the role of sweating at the gym very much his own).

Only 6 people tonight, which gave rise to a very good sparring session. With no real technique covered, we just rolled fairly lightly with each other, and my emphasis tonight was on working techniques.

Sometimes, it's far too easy to fall into the trap of going 100% at things. I'm guilty as anyone else, but tonight i made an active decision to try pure technique. And i enjoyed it a lot more. BJJ tends to blend together well when you stop and think, rather than use your physicality.

I caught the old school a couple of times tonight, tried out some S-Mount stuff, some half guard, even had a pop at my focus (the rubber guard) for a minute or so.

I'm also trying to work on my knee-on-belly game, because it's a very important part of mounting and gaining points; K-O-B is a beautiful position with many attacking options, and the best person i've seen at the gym at using this is Jason Fallows. With the right grips, it is very hard to escape, and i can envisage this being a big part of my BJJ future, especially since i'm a heavier guy.

When you're not worried about the outcome, it lets you learn. It sounds crazy, but i don't mind being tapped; it means i've let myself be put into a bad position, and i've tried to work my way out of it. I know deep down that i'm better, when working at 100%, than i will often be when i'm just letting techniques flow.

Since there's not too much i can write about sparring, since it's a pretty personal experience, i'll leave it at there for tonight. If there's any questions or anything, let me know.

Also, i think there's a Braulio seminar in Birmingham for team members on Sunday. Contact Lee if you need info.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

26/06/08 - No Gi Class

NoGi time yet again, and tonight felt very good in terms of my personal progression.

Almost entirely standup tonight, something which my game, self admittedly, desperately needs.

Lee showed us the techniques we'd been working on from the underhook position, such as the ankle pick and the high crutch. They are extremley effective, but Lee tonight showed us some more details.

For example, a few options from each position; defences off the high crutch, including straightening the leg and defending it with your own high crutch, both of which i think we'd covered in Gi classes about a year ago.

Tonight was mainly physical.

Rather than doing much in the way of ground technique, Lee instructed us to do some specific training from any of the guards we'd been working, and my X-Guard feels SO natural. It's a natural progression for me because i feel it's easy to sweep the legs from and transition to leglocks.

We changed partners a few times, and my game was really flowing tonight, caught a couple of crazy techniques like the belly-down-armbar, rolling the opponent over for the finish.

Then we took a minute or so to get a drink, and some more sparring, this time just working on takedowns. At this stage i'm pretty much done, but you've gotta dig deep in this game.

I'm VERY gunshy with takedowns, and as Lee pointed out to me, i need to be more proactive. I'm willing to let people get grips on me, and i really need to spend some time on this. Perhaps something at the weekend?

To finish, some pretty nice drills; pummeling to sprawl, pummeling to a shot, pummeling to a shot to a sprawl; VERY nice, working all the techniques together well. What isn't nice is my inability to shoot, my toes feel very unnatural and even uncomfortable. If anyone has any drills i can do to cure this, PLEASE let me know.

Sparring was ace, trained a little with both Lee and with Steve Wright.

I enjoy training with Lee because of the pace; i can think about what i'm doing rather than playing 100%, which doesn't really suit the training environment.

Steve was also a challenge, that guy has got incredibly good incredibly quickly. Oh well, Steel Sharpens Steel.

More tomorrow with any luck..

26/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

Good class tonight, although VERY tiring.

The class started with some shadowboxing as ever, and this is a great opportunity to work on footwork, which is exactly what i have been doing. After working up a light sweat, Paul introduced us to the focus of tonight's section.

Defending and countering the jab and the jab cross. We did this by changing levels and attacking with a left hook to the body, by both leaning and squatting. Both were effective and easy techniques to pull off.

Then, another similar technique, this time coming inside into a clinch-like phase with a short punch, which i didn't feel there was much power in although the technique worked well.

Not much in the way of leg-kicks tonight which disappointed me, but oh well.

After the jab cross defense, we then sparred with hands for some time; quite a few rounds, really got the blood pumping.

What i'm noticing is that my hands aren't so good, i'm not confident enough, but when mixed with kicks, i do rather well, in my humble opinion.

To "warm down" tonight, we did some kick-for-kick conditioning, and this really cheered me up; i love this with a passion, and it really works the legs, gets them moving.

Stretching was very good, the yoga i did today helped. More on that tomorrow.

Sorry for not writing too much tonight, but i'm VERY tired.

Monday, 23 June 2008

23/06/08 - BJJ Class

The night of heat and passion. Not like that.

Wahey, some more BJJ. I miss the Gi over the weekend, i really need to train on a saturday or sunday or something. Anyone got any suggestions?

Tonight was one of the nights where everything sort of comes together in terms of the techniques covered in class. BJJ is something to be savoured, and tonight i really did savour the half butterfly stuff.

Although i pretty much despised it on friday, tonight i was catching the sweeps without a hitch, and to be honest i liked them all, although i'm not a big fan of my positioning in that guard.

The sweeps were basically off a style of armdrag, one by punching the hand through the armpit, one by grabbing the inside of the leg (similar to Eddie Bravo's "electric chair"), and then the two specific x-guard ones.

Firstly, simply turning in when the guy puts his foot up, or if you can't move him like that, kick him up with both feet and then slide under. The latter is a very effective technique, and i think it's going to be one for the competition gameplan.

Also, a quick word about new guys. There's been a few new guys at the class lately, and they're really putting effort in. It's well noticed, and keep it up lads. Good progress will be made.

Some specific top-down training then, i started with Tim. Here, we had to throw or pull guard, with both of our objectives being to gain x-guard. I managed to do this a few times, and i think i need to invest in the Marcelo Garcia book more than ever, i'm loving this position!

Then some pass-the guard sparring, i was with the two Jasons and one of the new(er) guys, the name escapes me, sorry mate! Very good stuff, i'm still okay with my passing, but Fallow's open guard is giving me some serious gyp. Need to learn to break his grips.. or else im gonna go flying.

Flying was also a phenomenon i experienced in sparring tonight, Lee throwing me about a bit. I'm trying to work my bottom game a little more, and Lee certainly gives me that opporunity, he's been all over me like Paris Hilton on a home video camera lately.

That's a good thing though. SBGi i think have the philosophy "Steel Sharpens Steel". With the quality of the guys at our club now, i think its fairly safe to say we're gonna be sharp within weeks.

Lee's always a pleasure to roll with, and normally gives a very good insight into what's to improve in your game. I really need to tighten some things up. Infact, i think i need a few extra quiet sessions to work over some holes in the game. Weekend perhaps?

Anyway, everyone's getting better. Team Ryu is gonna be a force. Mark my words.

Until thursday,

train hard, kids!

Oh, and sour sweets are nice.

23/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

AKA "Jesus, there's quite a few people on the mats tonight".

I think the class peaked at 17 people on the mat, pretty tight for our place, perhaps its because there was no football tonight? Who knows.

Anyway, class was great in my humble opinion. Haven't had so much fun training in a long, long time.

Started with some shadowboxing as ever, just to get us warm. Not too much room to play with tonight, so i tried to focus on my roundhouse kicks, which have been my focus when hitting the bag at home.

In terms of striking, i'm now on a 8 week program; i spend 2 months training one aspect of my game, looking at examples of people using them in competition (ie, Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome Le Banner) and try to note exactly what it is that makes them so powerful.

The class then transcended into some kick for kick conditioning, and i've noticed that my kicks are getting a little more snappy, rather than being the lame limbs they once were.

Focus tonight though, after some back-kick side kick drills, was on the hands.

Defending the jab was okay, i'm managing to step a little bit more and attack the body, which is my specialty right now.

Defending the jab cross was less successful, i need to keep my hands up when i'm moving my body around. This could be due to fatigue, most likely due to lazy technique. Damn my inability to keep the hands up..

Sparring with just the hands was a bit of a disappointment, i'm not a big fan of pure handwork; mine is pretty poor, i prefer working off the legs, but i've really got to learn to live with it.

Stretching was far better, i can very nearly pull off all the ones we do now; very impressed.

However, theres still room for improvement. Story of the game.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

21/06/08 - Leaving a comment

It's been brought to my attention by a few people lately that there's been trouble adding comments to this site because of the login system.

I once found this pretty tough myself on another blog, but there's a simple away around it.

It only asks you to login if you have a Blogger account; since most of you reading this probably don't, just use the "anonymous" check box and then leave your name at the end of the message so i know who you are.

If you need me to contact you, leave your email address or a contact telephone number.

Bit of a busy weekend since the Grandparents are down, so, perhaps no update until Monday night.

Until then,

train (and comment!) hard, kids!

Friday, 20 June 2008

20/06/08 - BJJ Class

Might as well be called "Luke's Meltdown #2", but there was a saviour at the end of the class. Check it out.

So the class started with some half butterfly guard, something i totally wasn't prepared for. That's probably my worst position, i don't feel entirely comfortable from it so i tend to avoid pulling it like the plague. However, that's not conducive of good learning technique, so i've gotta bite the bullet.

Lee showed a few techniques, based on trapping one of the opponents arm between you and his body, keeping your head in tight, and sweeping with the opponent's inside leg. That's a pretty poor description, but, given the absence of a picture of this technique, use your imaginations.

I didn't do too well at this, but the position, Lee explained, would later allow the x-guard, my new love. So i stuck at it.

The next technique was that one exactly; going for the sweep, and if the opponent bases with his leg (something which i often do), switching to a 2-on-leg foot grip, then to the x-guard itself. Perfect, i thought, when watching Lee perform it. Then i tried it on Adam and my mind fell apart.

I took a couple of stabs at it though, and in the end, i managed to get the technique with some careful pointers from Lee, and i feel confident enough to use this technique in sparring if needs be.

Then, to finish the class, some specific training, top-down, trying to incorporate the guards i've been working. The guys particularly good at pulling these guards, although i didn't feel that my base had gone completley; perhaps a testament to the size difference in some cases, you never know. Needless to say, this was an enjoyable section of training, even if it was a little tiring.

After this, formal class finished with the hand slap routine, then the real messiah tonight was a sparring session with Jason Fallows.

Very good guy, and he's given me a little inspiration tonight, giving me a few pointers on my guard game, which, in my opinion, is pretty poor to say the least. However, he's given me some ideas to think of, which will work in well with my tendency to pull z and butterfly guards, and i think the results of tonight could easily show a few weeks down the line.

These include the concept of stiff-arming; raising off the floor but pushing into the opponent, not letting him put you on your back, allowing your hips to move. This is a great little technique, and while it's not gonna score any competition points, it will really raise my game and let me try some freaky new techniques.

This is what i need to work on, so i'm thankful i've been given this opportunity to train it.

Will talk to you guys again over the weekend.. new video time i think :).

Until then,

Train hard, kids!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

19/06/08 - No Gi Class

Woohoo, some Nogi.

I'd got some energy tonight, and the techniques covered were exactly what i wanted. Some stuff from standing, and my favourite techniques from the ground. Couldn't be better!

Started with Lee showing us another takedown from standing, we've been working the underhook control for a few sessions now. Tonight was a faked-judo throw type move into an ankle pick, quite a wrestling technique. I liked it though, and i can see myself using it in competition.

Speaking of which. Tomorrow afternoon, i'm going to be working on my gameplan. No messing around this time, i'm going to set out a water-tight gameplan of exactly what i'm doing and train that like mad. I need to be able to think clearly, and theres no better way than to put down exactly what you're doing on paper.

Back on the world of the ground, Lee then showed some techniques from the Sprawl position. Firstly, taking the back when you're underneath the position, and this technique is unofficially named the "front crawl" - i'm sure i've spoken about it before. I haven't had too much success with it, but Lee's showed me tonight why, i wasn't cutting the angle. I got this technique well in the end.

Anaconda. This was the next technique we did, swapping to the top of the sprawl. I've always liked this technique, and i actually prefer it from this position to my favoured "Brabo" choke. If you haven't seen it, it's done off a modified over/under grip on sprawl top, rolling to one side and completing the choke. Tonight, we covered this, and then my favourite move, the Brabo.

Brabo's are beautiful, and are literally everywhere. Tonight we covered three; one off the sprawl, one off the guillotine grip, and changing the one off the sprawl to the brabo from side control.

All three are great techniques, and link very well together. Once you've got the grip, if one fails, there's always the other.

Class ends, the regular hand-shaking occurs, then time for some sparring.

Lee is a great sparring partner, and for all of you non-team-ryu members out there, i seriously suggest that you train with your coach like this whenever you can.

Rolling with Lee is always an interesting experience because he's not only aware of what he's doing, but he knows exactly what to expect from each of his students, and he is particularly good at knowing where each of us is at.

Tonight, i feel i progressed a little as a BJJ player; i'm now determined to stick in combat base, keep tighter when on the bottom, and just generally work on my transitions. I'm already in love with the X-Guard, and i think that's going to improve what i'm doing tenfold.

Great session, my cardio was good, the techniques were amazing and the sparring was intense but enjoyable; everything i could ask for from a class. 5 stars.

Tomorrow sees the return of the Gi, which should be fun. Who knows what will happen!

Until then,

Train hard, kids!

19/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

Paul was back teaching tonight, and to be honest it was a sodding good class.

Started with some shadowboxing as normal, then the thai pads came out. I'm not the biggest fan of these, but i'm getting better. The round kick/knee from the same leg combination didn't tire me too badly tonight, so it was good.

10 on each side of those, and 10 on each side of round kick, front kick. Got the blood pumping.

Then some shoulder-to-shoulder stuff, i'm getting better at this, i'm tending to favour body shots as i come away, which is my general strategy anyway. It was okay, but, to be honest, i really need to work on the close range striking, my grappling instinct really takes over and i find myself thinking takedown.

Then some clinch work. More close range stuff! It's what i want to work on, so tonight i was thankful. Starting off the defense to the jab-cross, the active guy moves his head into the opponents chest, keeping control of both arms to avoid the thai clinch, before moving into it himself. It was then the job of the opponent to break out of this using any of the breaks we have been doing. This was good, I did feel as if pushing the head off with one hand as a defense would work best for me.

Then some conditioning. Call me insane, but i acutally love getting my legs "conditioned". Taking a few leg kicks at varying power is interesting, and it's the best thing to get your resistance up before active competition. Since i'm thinking about Amatuer MMA, lord knows that i'll take a few there.

And to warm us down, the stretching. It's getting better, less "crazy" stretches tonight, and i think this is actually helping my flexibility. Infact, i'm even looking at Rubber Guard stuff... more on that tomorrow, perhaps..

Until then,

Train hard, kids!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

18/06/08 - Me X Steve Wright (Gi)

one of my favourite rolls for a long time, some good back and forth action here.

I'm trying to play around with the S-Mount, it looks a little creaky but i'll get there :).

Any comments welcomed, or pointers for either one of us.

More to come later today..

*BE WARNED* - This is a big file and could take some time to load on a slower connection; perhaps leave it for a few minutes on pause and let it load. Please bare with me, there'll be a smaller version within the next three hours...

I'll get the hang of this video business one day..

18/06/08 - Steve Wright X Adam Brind (Gi)

I told you there'd be some videos...

Monday, 16 June 2008

16/06/08 - BJJ Class

Lee continued with his teaching tonight with the Gi Class, and i actually am really enjoying my Gi lately.

Gi is SO much more technical than NoGi. As i've stated before, i dont want to get into this argument, there are plenty of opinions either side. It's a simple fact that to many BEGINNERS, the amount of perspiration increases the reliance on this sweat, leading to easier escapes that are somewhat less technique and more sheer luck.

Sure, there are beginners that won't do this. There are a lotta people in that wide world out there. But when learning something, i know i'd sure as hell take shortcuts if they were there. Why learn a language when you can get away with saying "Do you do chips, por favor?"..

Would you learn to drive a car by wildly cutting accross lanes, doing about 80, not caring about road positioning or signals? No, you wouldn't. Same principle, different execution. And this is coming from someone who loves NoGi. Same world, two different approaches.

Back on track..

Lee went over some more X-Guard stuff tonight, and one particular technique, i've fallen in love with.

I'll preface this technique by saying that my closed guard game isn't what it should be. It's passable, but not to a standard which i'm happy with. That being said, i'm happy with my Omoplata.

I've never even considered transitioning from an Omoplata to the x-guard before, but Lee showed us how tonight. And good lord, it works so well. Training the technique with Tim, i really feel like it's something i'm going to stick into the gameplan, as X-Guard is working very well for me, and i'm falling in love with these techniques we are doing.

We also entered the x-guard from when the opponent stands in guard, which was nice, but i feel it's a little looser than i'd like it to be, because right now i'm playing a tight game.

Basically, you take both a foot and a hand on the same side as he stands, then use your legs to kick his chest away and make the space to enter the guard, which is quite nice, but a little loose.

And to entertain you all, a solemn promise; there's A LOT of new video that will be put up this week. I've finally found the tape with the no-gi stuff on from the other week, and along with the Gi stuff i had tonight, ive got a funny feeling you guys will enjoy what's coming.

Tomorrow and Wednesday there will be videos popping up, next training is on Thursday.

Until then,

train hard, kids!