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.