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!

16/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

In the absence of Paul tonight, Lee took the class, which went pretty well for me personally, given i was a little tired after redecorating and a bout of illness over the weekend.

As a fighter, i feel my progression has been fairly fast in Muay Thai, although it is my genuine belief that i need to glue my hands to the side of my face to teach me to keep them up. It's a shocking state of affairs when after all these weeks, i've still not got that basic off-pat.

That being said, tonight Lee's teaching was focused on range, particularly with hands. Being a terrific Boxer, Lee has got a pretty good teaching style with this, and mainly tonight, we worked on the jab, both using it to create distance and to counter it.

Defending the jab, we parried into both a sidestep-combo, and a leg kick of your choice, with most of my attacks coming from below the waist, although i did work my hands sufficiently more than i normally would in this situation.

We then went on to do some flurry defense, coming out of the flurry with a low kick, which worked well, although i need to work on my switch.

Quite honestly, this is all i remember off the top of my head, but it was a great class which i can truly say that i've learned quite a bit from. As always, i think i'm doing pretty well in Thai.

Friday, 13 June 2008

13/06/08 - BJJ Class, Friday 13th Edition

Howdy all,

Tonight was a particularly good class.

In the absence of Lee, Paul took the class, his first opportunity to teach a BJJ class since his newly gained purple belt (which, by the way, i feel was well deserved; faixa pesada, as the Brazilians would say).

We covered many of the same techniques that we have been doing for the last few weeks.

to start, Paul had us warm up, with a focus on bridging and rolling from side to side, to give us an idea of the movements that we would be using within the class.

Then, Paul quickly went over the Elevator sweep, using the side to side motion; this worked well as ever, and i really like this sweep, although i almost never catch this in sparring.

Also, when i'm going with my right food lead (pulling down to the left), i have no idea where my left leg should be and it feels very awkward, but this is something i'll work on.

Then, in a series i particularly loved, Paul gave us a good idea of three escapes from bottom positions, one from the mount, and two from side control, one from the over-the-body-hug, and one from the hand-on-hip hug. All of these used the bridging motion, so needless to say, bridging was the order of the day.

Then, to really polish off the techniques we've been covering, we drilled both the stand to x-guard and the stand to "Braulio Guard" transitions, which i absolutley adore now, and i'm looking forward to catching these in sparring.

The x-guard does genuinley feel very powerful, and it's a guard i want to learn more of. If any book stores care to send me a free copy of Marcelo's book, feel free!


Next you'll hear from me is on Sunday with a portuguese update.

Until then,

train hard, kids!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

12/06/08 - Competition Time!

...No, i'm not giving stuff away.

This coming Bristol could be my first BJJ competition; i'm seriously tired of not giving it a shot, and i figure what the hell, it's gotta happen someday. It might as well be sooner rather than later.

It's July 13th i believe, so check your diaries.

Is anyone else up for it?

Give me a buzz or shoot me a comment if you are, i'd love to gauge some opinion about it on this here site.

Train hard, kids!

12/06/08 - No Gi Class

Nogi is a wonderful world, but as i've stated before, i'm more of a Gi exponent these days. That being said, I've found myself preferring both the monday and friday sessions.

Tonight, however, was a great improvement on my monday night meltdown.

Why? The techniques felt very natural tonight.

Lee continued the current series by showing us a few techniques; firstly, an effective way to switch to the high crutch from under/over control when standing, which i found particularly easy, and it even led me to have the belief in myself to shoot in; more on that later.

This was a cool technique, but the next i felt was better. Lee's focus lately has been on the importance of head control, and the subfocus on this technique was on defending when your opponent gained that same control. Using the underhook and by grabbing the back of the head, i had no idea how easy it was to Sprawl and gain a takedown; or at least, end up on top of the guy on the back.

Whilst not my favourite position, in NoGi, there are quite a few Brabo and Anaconda chokes that just scream my name from there, and i've got to admit, it's an area that i feel i could excel in.

The "swimming arm" technique i didn't have much luck with, an escape from the turtle/sprawl position, which i've never been fond of, although i've gotten better at it.

Top-down sparring was an intriguing experience. Looking at it from a philosophical angle, i actually am quite disappointed in my earlier days at the gym. Once upon a time, i took quite a nihilistic approach to the whole concept of "stand up BJJ", thinking it wasn't what BJJ should be focused on. I originally thought, hell, if i was great at every other position, standup wouldnt matter, i could cope with anything. Oh, how i learned!

Lately, i've realised that it's actually a very interesting world, and something which needs to be worked on desperatley, especially given the bad positions a poor standup fighter can put themselves in given half a chance.

Sparring was okay, but at times i feel like i'm hitting a brick wall, other times i feel good; you've got to take the rough with the smooth in this game.

Noone ever said this would be easy.

12/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

This entry might as well be called "Essex Transport Failure", with the trains being crap, there being a huge tailback on the a12 and Witham itself was absolutley full of cars. For this reason, the class was cut a little shorter than normal, so don't expect an essay.

Tonight's Muay Thai class focused on what i needed to focus on, and that's handwork; there was no kicking at all, which stopped me from relying on my lowkick to keep to a safe distance.

Basically, my hands are clearly my worst feature. This is mainly because of my reluctance to continually create angles, although i find that when i consciously force myself to do this, i have a lot more success in terms of sparring.

Session opened with some shadowboxing, as always, which was good.

Shoulder to Shoulder work isn't something i'm particularly fond of, but as an aspiring MMA player, i should get used to it. I find it difficult not to grab onto something (more of a wrestling instinct), and just go for the strikes.

Paul's progressive style of teaching continued, with the class evolving into some ranged boxing, just light enough to keep a good pace without killing each other in the process. Range is where i feel i excel, and i enjoyed this part.

There's something very interesting about range, and although i'm not a great fan of his Kickboxing, Crocop is a very good exponent of exactly where range is a good thing; he tends to be a precise striker, picking people off without letting them into the pocket, which is an interesting concept within MMA, particularly to those that favour striking.

Class then finished with some stretching; only when i stretch in Paul's class do i realise just how inflexible i actually am. I really need to focus more on this; how often is often enough?

Anyway, tonight was a good session. Perhaps not the best i've had, but still reasonable.

Until BJJ,

Train hard, kids.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

11/06/08 - Lee Catling X Jason Fallows

At last, a video update!

Here's a 10 minute (be warned) video of Jason Fallows, a very good blue belt guy from the academy, having a gentle roll with Lee Catling, the BJJ coach at Team Ryu.

Sorry if it's a little pixellated. It was either that, or upload a 300mb file.. and that's really not happening with my upload speed.

That being said, this is a pretty good match, in my opinion, Lee has a pretty fantastic top game, and Jason put up a pretty decent show himself.

Enjoy! Comments welcomed.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

09/06/08 - BJJ Class - Luke's meltdown edition!

I don't know whether it was the heat, the lack of food, or the intense Muay Thai session before BJJ, but tonight i really lost it. Both mentally and physically.

Not in a horrific sense, but in the sense that my mental game wasn't there; i kept going dizzy and feeling quite hazy, but i managed to stick it through the class and get some pretty good techniques going.

Lee started the class by introducing to the guys that weren't there on Friday, the x-guard techniques. These x-guard techniques start from the standing position, to give us some practice of transitioning from the top to the bottom more fluently.

These techniques worked on a similar basis to those that we have been studying recently. The x-guard shares similar concepts as the "Braulio Guard" we've been working, and it does give us a pretty good base to all bottom guards, particularly since the x-guard is more about balance than many of the other guard positions.

Tonight, we covered some sweeps, both from either sleeve, and when the opponent postures up. There were 4 sweeps in total; with the near sleeve, far sleeve, when he postures up and you trip his legs, and when he postures up and you escape around the back door, flattening him out with leg control.

Although by the time the fourth technique made it's appearance, my mind and body had decided to go off on a little holiday, i got the jist of every technique there, and a part of me wishes i was in much better shape so i could appreciate what we were doing more. As a series of techniques, i don't think it's something we'll only cover the once though, so i pehraps have another chance come Thursday to put a rejuvinated body behind the thought process.

Keeping the classes focused on a particular series of moves is something which i've always liked about BJJ, and particularly Lee's teaching style. You don't have to fall in love with every technique, as there's always an alternative that works better for some people than others; as an example to illustrate this, my regular armbar from guard is weak, whereas my slow, trapping armbar is fairly successful.

It's also this concept of alternative techniques that makes learning as a series so effective; this, i made particular note of when, during "top-down specific" sparring, i pulled "braulio guard", then transitioned into the x-guard without a horrendous amount of hassle.

It's beautiful when you don't just train positions in isolation, but when you can link them together. We can all dirll the armbar from mount 10,000 times, but what's the use if you haven't got any guard passes and you can't get past the guy?

Although i digress, my point remains constant.

Next session, i intend to go over these techniques once more.

Until next time (which will be tomorrow with a PORTUGUESE UPDATE!),

train hard, kids!

09/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

Good class tonight. Not only was it an interesting class, but it also seemed to go incredibly fast. I'm not sure whether this is an indicator that "time flies when you're having fun", but it certainly seemed, at least to myself, that the session was shorter than normal.

That being said, it was still intense.

The same beginning to the class with some shadowboxing to warm up with. Each time i shadowbox now, i do it with a goal. As i've preached in previous pieces, setting goals is a must for personal development.

Today, i decided to focus on my hands, and keeping them up. All of you at the gym have no doubt noticed the fact that i don't particularly have my hands glued to my face at all times, which is a total curse when you're trying not to get hit, so i figured i'd put a stop to this with some focused training.

What i found was, that my returns from the punches wasn't quite as snappy as i'd like, but thats nothing a few half-sessions of the Bas Rutten MMA workout won't cure, skipping a few combinations here and there and focusing on technique rather than power.

Some kicks and knees on the pads, which, as ever, gave me a little stomach ache, but it's nothing that i couldn't cope with. Any ideas why this is? Just the muscles getting used? What i've noticed here is that, for some reason, i feel more powerful with my left leg, even though i'm an orthodox striker. Odd.

Sparring was nice, although i've noticed that my hands need a lot more work. Right now i'm more than happy to take a more ranged stance and go in with the lowkicks, and whilst this will make my ego feel a little better, it's avoiding the issue that i'm brutally underconfident with my punches, particularly my jab-cross.

Finally, the stretching. It's a nice thing to stretch out at the end of a session, but it's an uncaring reminder that i'm still pretty inflexible, which, i need to work on pretty desperatley. At this rate, i think i need to start a to-do list...

All being said though, it was a pretty enjoyable session, even if a little tiring!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

08/06/08 - Portuguese!

Not a particularly coherent blog entry, i'll tell you that right away. And not particularly relevant to "training", but i'll try my best to keep you guys interested.

Brazilian Portuguese is something which has always intrigued me. It's always sounded to me like a beautiful language that seems far too fast for me to comprehend.

On the GrapplersGuide, there's a particularly nice guide to "Essential Portuguese for Grapplers"; it's a short guide to key portuguese words that are used in gyms in Brazil, but also, i think this is something important to do. Apparently though, there's more to the language than random cornermen screaming "AYYY!" everytime a lowkick is thrown, and hilarious english-portuguese mix ups ("Handy Couture"). So, let's LEARN ME SOME PORTUGUESE!

Whilst i realise that the vast majority of bjj players now speak fluent english, it's still a good life skill to have. I've tried learning languages before (I was pretty good at French and German at school, and had some moderate success with basic japanese on online courses), but i've never really had much of a motivation to follow it through past the basic stage.

Following BJJ gives me this motivation, as there's always a good instructional, event, or news story that comes up about the world of combat sports that's only in portuguese; understanding these, i think, its a step in the right direction for me.

So since i'm young, i thought i'd take the plunge, who cares!

Started the Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese tapes.. and good lord, they are intense. 4 lessons in 4 days, and i remember about 80% of what has been covered, which is pretty good, considering.

Does anyone have any experience of this kind of learning? Any kind of books you can recommend to me? Any comments? Want to hear about my struggle learning this on this site? It's all yours.. let's make this site interactive!

Until Thai and BJJ tomorrow,

Train hard, kids!

08/06/08 - Steve Boughey News!

Hey guys,

Just a heads up to let you know that our very own Steve Boughey had his Judo grading (for a different club) this weekend, and performed pretty well, getting 2 Wins and 1 Loss. The loss won't be covered by video on here.. let's try and keep things positive shall we lads?

As such, he's just got his promotion to green belt.

Congrats to Steve!

Friday, 6 June 2008

06/06/08 - BJJ Class

Okay guys, Friday night session just drawn to a close and I'm happier with my performance tonight than i was last night, mainly due to me not being as fatigued.

Techniques themselves were pretty hot, in my estimation.

Started with some light banter as normal, then the class progressed into some nice techniques, working again on our entries into what I've dubbed "Braulio Guard", and working on the sweep from there.

After some time of working this, Lee introduced us to the same sweep, but from the X-Guard position; this also gave us the perfect excuse to work on our entry to the X-Guard, which is something I've wanted to work on for a little time.

While it looks a pretty tricky position, as Jason quite rightly pointed out to be, it's one of those positions where, the more you're under your opponent, the more his balance is going to be off, which is exactly what you want in the game.

To quote a blue belt i often talk to, "nobody said this shit was ever going to be easy". That's how i feel about the x-guard right now, but with time, i think it will become a valuable tool, particularly as i'm a big guy.

Then some light-specific training, looking for the grips from standing and transitioning to any one of the guards we've been working lately; the x-guard and braulio guard in particular. This was nice, and since watching the Jimmy Pedro "Grip like a world champion" DVD along with the Mike Fowler Seminar DVD, my grip game has been feeling a lot tighter.

In terms of actual sparring, particularly against Jason, my performance when within the closed guard is pretty good; i occasionally get tapped from there, but i think i'm becoming increasingly difficult to move, which can only be a good thing. I'm experimenting with double-bicep control, and although it's primarily a defensive position, i'm just trying to see what it's like along with the knee in the butt, and so far i've been using this with moderate success.

After tonight, i'm pretty hyped about the next training session.

Also, a big happy birthday to everyone celebrating this week; Paul, Tim, and Steve Wright.

Until next time,

Train hard, kids!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

05/06/08 - No Gi Class

Okay, so after the rollercoaster ride that is my cardio, i managed to regain some sort of energy before taking on the night's second hour of fun.

At the start of the class, it was decided that today's focus would be on the standup game. Standup in No-Gi, i've found, is a very different world to that of the Gi. On a personal level, i feel more comfortable with something to hold onto, and if you're not living and breathing on some half-naked beach (you lucky people) then in a street situation, Gi is probably more useful.

But the age-old Gi vs NoGi argument aside (winner is Gi), i think it's going to be much harder to pull guard for a big guy in NoGi. I could be wrong, but hey! Who cares at this stage.

The actual techniques started from the Pummel position, first as a defensive move when he gains double underhooks (into a double leg takedown), and then the class moved into more aggressive techniques.

This included something which i'd covered briefly in my first 2 months as a student of Lee, that is the High-Crutch, which i'd TOTALLY forgotten in the year of sweat that it's been.

I didn't catch the technique horrificly well, but in hindsight, i remember that i'd never caught it superbly before, although now is the time to work on that, obviously.

The high crutch "series" consisted of one with the knee down, the classic entry, and then an entry off the pummel.

This was cool, although by this stage, i was pretty tired and the techniques didn't have my full awareness, which became a problem towards the end of the class.

Specific training wasn't too horrible, all things considered, where we just stood up and attempted takedowns on each other. I'm still VERY gunshy about shooting in, and i really need to work on this. I need to drill this more often.

Sparring was very poor for me, to be honest. At this stage, after the Muay Thai class and the Bas Rutten MMA workout earlier in the day, i'd got very little left in the tank, and i was being tapped all over the place. I realise the taps don't matter, but tonight, i did particularly poorly, although no excuses.
The videos will be up in the morning, i need to get some sleep before i even consider taking on that project tonight. Vids include Tim, Steve, Jez and myself, so keep an eye out!

Until then, train hard, kids!

05/06/08 - Muay Thai Class

As a reverend for the Universal Life Church, i feel more than qualified to state the following.


Tonight was one of the most intense training sessions i'd ever had. This afternoon, before i came out, i did 5 rounds of Bas Rutten's MMA Workout Boxing tape; good just to get the blood going. I don't think this affected my cardio too much, althouh i noticed a considerable decrease on normal performance.

This might be because of the class, however.

Starting with the usual shadowboxing, the class quickly progressed to some more kick-for-kick sparring. And this is where, traditionally, i really enjoy the class; i love lowkicks with a passion, although i genuinley would love to work on their power some more. If anyone has any suggestions about this, give us a shout.

Back to the point, the kick for kick sparring lasted quite a few rounds, and by the end i was starting to show a tiny bit of fatigue. Then came the pads.

Oh good lord, these knackered me. First, i held the pads for Jez which was an experience to say the least. While i don't particularly want to inflate his head as he's already had a mention within these walls, he's got SO much power, which really shows when he's kicking the pad.

But then again, having guy like him in the class motivates me; he's always a good character to push me to my limits, and if it was solo work, i'd have given up long before the final kick/knee combination was thrown.

The rest of the class was pretty much a blur from then on; i'm really attempting to work on my power, but at the same time, i'm finding that i'm not breathing as i probably should. This has always been an issue i've faced during exercise, and it really doesn't do wonders for my cardio. It's How to Gas, 101.

After this, the class "warmed down" with some clinch drills, working from a position where both people have their posture down, coming up to throw knees. Good technique, although it's something i could drill more often.

After a stretch or three, the class closed, bringing an end to yet another session of Muay Thai, and i can safely say this is a session i won't be forgetting in the near future.

Until then,

Train hard, kids!

Monday, 2 June 2008

02/06/08 - BJJ Class

It's a sod when you're too tired to write down on the blog right away, but it's even worse when the memory of what you did escapes you momentarily. Stick with this entry, and i'm sure by the end i'll remember. (read: i'll text the guys until one of us remembers exactly what happened). (edit: Thanks Steve Boughey for reminding me!)

BJJ class was today focused on working off the single leg takedown and sprawl positions.

It's always good to have a water-tight top game off the sprawl, because it translates brilliantly for both Gi and No-Gi stuff.

First technique was when he shoots in, you grab a guillotine-with one-arm-in-grip and Sprawl; putting your instep of the leg he's shooting on to the floor, meaning he can't disrupt your balance as he could if you were on your toes. This technique and entire principle is a very decent idea, and obviously something to remember if i'm ever shot in on (which is all the time lately, it seems!).

From this grip, one can change to the over-under grip and go for the back control, which is essentially what the second technique of the night showed.

Lastly was one of my favorite moves in weeks, which is where, after being sprawled on, you isolate one of his controlling arms and sit through to that side; allowing you to come up to take the back. I've made a pretty poor job of explaining this, but it's a really common drill and i guarantee you've all seen it a thousand times, although i'm sure none of us really drill this enough. Adam caught this on me REAL nice during sparring.

Lee then spoke about the concept of power and physicality during training; not with techniques, but with light sparring. I think everyone from time to time relies on their physical aspects, but when just trying to learn, this is entirely counter-productive. Something to work on, no doubt.

Sparring was okay, although limited; after the Muay Thai session and 3hr exam, i honestly didn't have much left in the tank, and it really knocked the sense out of me when i got on the mat for some phyiscal rolling. No excuses though, as my performance wasn't as bad as expected, actually.

One thing was proved tonight, and that's that i'm back in love with the Gi; for a while it was irritating me, the adrenaline-high and streamlined speed of the No-gi game is attractive for a while, but as Lee rightly pointed out to me last friday, the Gi game is what makes a technical grappler, as in No-Gi, there is a tendency to rely on the looseness for escapes.

That being said though, i can't wait until Thursday!

02/06/08 - Muay Thai

Muay Thai!

Can't beat it. I'm REALLY enjoying this lately, particularly this session.

I think the most effective thing about Muay Thai as opposed to a lot of other striking martial arts is the low-kick. The focus of this session was just that; getting the legs working.

And Good lord, those legs were working! We started the class with some shadowboxing, which incidentally, i'm feeling much more comfortable with. There's still a case of how much power to put in the shots; the Bas Rutten MMA Workout has always taught me to go 100%, but i need to remember not to do that for what is essentially a warmup, there's little point in this training situation.

After this, came some Kick-For-Kick stuff, just practicing low-kicks in particular. After time, this developed, under Paul's instruction, to kicks anywhere on the body, although obviously not trying to kill each other with them.

In terms of my own performance, i've noted that while i feel my lead low-kick is probably a little better in terms of speed, my back low kick is much better in terms of accuracy and power; i think i'll be using this more often in the near future. It genuinley does feel more natural, and as such it's something i need to integrate more finely.

Class then went into sparring-mode, with each of us partnering up and getting some light sparring in. I'm trying to focus on my footwork and head movement when sparring, i'm not particularly bothered about landing shots right now. It's the defence which makes any striker good; any guy off the streets can walk in and throw some wild haymakers, but it takes a true artist to defend the more vicious blows.

Sparring went well for me, even though at times i felt like a fish out of water; having trained in Muay Thai for just over a month though, this is to be expected. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Then some clinch sparring, going over once again the plum work that Jez has been having us do, which is a pretty intense, but worthwhile thing to drill. As a K-1 fan, i don't see enough clinchwork, and i think i need to start watching more pure Thai.

Finally, some stretching! I'm no contortionist but my stretching is gradually improving, i'm not feeling as stiff and immovable as i used to be.

Definitley a great session; i'm enjoying this even more lately, for sure this is something i intend to carry on with.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

01/06/08 - Sunday Session

It's always good to train a little whenever you can, and that's why i always try and make the effort to get down and train on the weekends, where normally i wouldn't be able to get any in.

Getting at the club for 2pm, i warmed up with a little work on the swiss ball, which is a great tool for helping your top control game. If you want more information on this, youtube SBGi swiss ball. You'll love it.

Today was basically a continuation of the last training session of the regular week on Friday, where i managed to improve my performance after Thursday's diabolical excuse for a night for me.

So after the warmup, we went on, as a group of 4 (Steve Wright, Steve Boughey, Adam and myself) to cover a few techniques, that we'd both seen on instructionals and particularly the techniques from the Braulio seminar and those that Lee has taught in the past couple of weeks.

We all did pretty well, and i think it's always a great idea to use these sessions to cover whatever you're thinking could be a problem at the time. I took the opportunity to drill the side control escape that Lee showed me a few times, and i honestly think i'm going to be able to put it to use in sparring pretty soon.

Steve Wright brought the "Suicide Choke" to the table, which seemed to cut off the blood flow ridiculously quickly, i was going a bit dizzy after a second or two of it being on, and i'm certainly not going to be a fan of being put in that one.

Steve also looked at the Flower Sweep from Guard, which we've covered in class a few times, but it's always good to remind yourself of that movement, because it's great to link in with an armbar.

Then, some sparring. What i've noticed is, rightly or wrongly, i'm catching a few more achilles locks; i think this is partly due to the fact that i'm activley noticing them now, whereas before i never really gave them a second thought.

It's important to not make them an integral part of your game, but it's also very important to be aware; you're never too far away from getting your leg locked in some way.

We discussed the fact that, at times, Leg locks seemed a little too "easy"; there are many little tricky moves like the one i'd learned from Billy Robinson's Catch Wrestling DVDs, which really don't require any effort. It's not strictly BJJ, but as far as grappling goes, you'd be foolish to say that Catch still isn't a force. If you don't believe me, go watch Sakuraba vs Royce, Renzo, and Royler, etc.

Sparring was good, and i'm happy with where i'm at right now for the first time in a long time. I think part of me has got to learn not to panic so much, and that i can't let the guy get control so much. Even little things like keeping him away from your head in the half guard are very good things to learn.

One note is that i'm having trouble dealing with guys from my back when they stand up in my closed guard and put their weight forward. Anyone got any ideas?

What i've come to love about BJJ is the fact that it's so "meaty"; there's always something to work on. I can't actually imagine doing anything other than Grappling. Regular gym stuff is too boring. Grappling is a constant challenge, and that's what makes the game alive.