Monday, November 18, 2013

Update: 11/18

Just a small update on my BJJ activities. I've been out of the gym since early October due to financial hardships. I'm not sure if I'll be back until January. This is my longest hiatus yet and it's the hardest thing I think I've ever done in my life. Here's to hoping things get better.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jaco Hybrid Training Center: Training with the Blackzilians!

So it turns out that I blatantly missed the obvious choice for MMA training in South Florida: the Jaco Hybrid Training Center. I had originally thought that they only offered full MMA training, but I'm a complete idiot because they offer a nice amount of Gi BJJ classes. So I'm training MWFS for now, and might get into some no-gi at some point, or even the early morning (7am) classes once my job stabilizes. I'd also like to get into some strength and conditioning work on my off-days. I've been so out of shape and it's time to get my ass in gear.

The facility itself is fucking amazing, which should be a given, since they have so many high-level MMA guys there. So far I've met Thiago Silva, Vitor Belfort, and watched Eddie Alvarez and Rashad Evans training. Even got to watch UFC 165 with a bunch of fighters at Hooters. It was really nice being around people that care about the sport as much as me. The conversations were great. The same group of guys are regulars at the gym and they're turning out to be great training partners. Very helpful and friendly. I think I'm going to really like this gym. Plus, the classes are HUGE. Like, over 40 people. Mats are ALWAYS full. It's like being at Alliance. And there are a ton of people my own size, all belt ranks, male and female.

My new coach is Many Soares, and he's a really nice guy, great teacher and definitely going to become a great friend. Oh, and a beast on the ground. Brutally smothering, demoralizing top game....and I'm pretty sure he was only going like 60% with me. I'm going to learn a lot here for sure.

I also really like that people can maintain their team affiliations. We are Jaco Jiu-Jitsu, but there are a number of different teams that come together there: Nova Geracao, ATT, GF Team, and even Alliance. It seems like no one there is about BJJ politics. Just the love of the sport, friendship, and camaraderie. And if that isn't the right gym for you, then you need to rethink your priorities.

Classes are a little under 2 hours and consist of a warm-up, 1 specific technique or technique chain that we drill for a while, and then 3-4 10 minute rounds of rolling. The blue belts I've rolled with are definitely better than me for the most part, but not completely dominating. I've gotten my own offensive techniques in, but I'm plenty challenged.

One of the techniques we've been going over a lot is a berimbolo back take from top half guard. You can hit it when you try to step over to pass and they end up trapping your bottom leg. We've also gone over some sweep/passing sequences off of collar/sleeve control when your opponent tries to pass your closed guard.

I'm really excited about being back in the gym after 2 months off. Unfortunately, I don't believe I'll be able to afford the Miami Open. Between being out of shape and broke it's just not gonna happen. I might try to make it down there for team support if need be. But for now it's just a day at a time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Overdue Update: Florida!

Well, it's been a long ass time since I last updated, so I thought I should drop an entry so the blog is a little more recent.

Basically, I'm in south Florida now. I'm still moving around, staying at friends' places and generally trying to get settled with a job. Consequently, I haven't been able to train much.

That's not to say I'm completely out of the BJJ loop. I've been checking out gyms and I'm still trying to find one that suits my needs. Mainly, lots of gi training and a large number of people to train with, ala Alliance HQ.

ATT is huge down here and they love MMA and the search is not as easy as I had hoped. Currently I'm thinking of either Liborio's or Popovich's school, both in Coconut Creek. But I need to get some income going first.

I checked out Rafael Rebello's ATT Deerfield Beach locations. Watched the first time and trained a couple days later. I was thinking at first that there wasn't a huge number of higher ranked people to train with, but when I actually rolled the class got much bigger and a bunch of purples and blues showed up. Everyone was SUPER nice, one spent some time training at Hardcore with Brian Bowles, and most knew of the Alliance HQ guys. Rafael was awesome as well. Got crushed but 2 purple belts and had a nice, competitive roll with a bantamweight blue. I might check it out again, but there are tons of other places to see first.

Marcelo Silviera has a school in Boca, as does the Moncaio brothers (black belts under Popovich). As I continue to settle in and get some income I'll check out more schools before signing up. Here's to hoping it's not too long!

Here's to ALSO hoping I can get down to Miami sooner rather than later. BLACKHOUSE!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Looking Ahead: Graduation and Beyond

I've been so busy with the need to work and finish school that my frequency at BJJ has been around 2x per week, both Gi. This doesn't bother me too much since I'm not a huge fan of no-gi, but I'm really looking forward to getting more training in over the next year.

Two weeks ago, I graduated from UGA after four and half crazy years. I have no business left in Athens or really anywhere in Georgia, so in a month or two I'll be relocating down to Florida and taking a year off to prepare for the LSAT. During this time, I'm going to be working full time and training my ass off.

So where do I go from here? I've spent over three years at Megalodon MMA and I'm going to miss it immensely. I learned how to first apply a triangle choke and scissor sweep an opponent there. I wouldn't be the grappler I am today without their help.

I'm part of the greater Alliance family, and I want to keep it that way if possible. So I have some scouting to do once I move. Hopefully I can find an Alliance gym that suits my needs in the scheduling department. I want to be there around 5x per week and compete a bunch before law school takes my time. But "best laid plans", as they say. My injuries are still lingering but not hindering, at the moment.

I've been working more guard passing and general top game and I see improvements even still. My guard retention is better and I'm hitting berimbolos and other DLR sweeps.

Also of note, at the beginning of April I participated in an in-house tournament at my gym and took 3rd. I finished my first match with an armbar, got choked by a massive dude in the second, and took another armbar in the third. I'm not too happy with my performance, but this was the first time I took a medal so I'll cut myself some slack. Really looking forward to demolishing the competition scene in the next year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Injuries Mark The First Quarter of 2013

I haven't updated this in a while, and that's mainly due to the fact that the year thus far has been nothing but injuries for me. Back around the middle of January I had my toe rolled on at a VERY awkward angle and was limping for several weeks. By far the worst turf toe I've ever had. Usually I just tape it up and continue on, but I thought it might have been broken for a short period of time. Luckily, it's mostly healed, although there is definitely trauma to the area every time I train which aggravates it.

Toward the end of February, I was unfortunate enough to have my left arm hyper-extended by a very douchey training partner. Long story, but needless to say, I won't be rolling with him anymore. My elbow has been sore as hell with limited range of motion. I wore a brace for a bit, but it has been healing nicely and I'm about ready to return to the mats (with the brace!) in the next few days.

It really makes you think how much we take for granted when we train. Injuries can keep us away from the mats for far too long.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of 2012: What Has Changed & What Lies Ahead

December 17th marked the one year anniversary of my blue belt promotion. Looking back, a lot has changed for me in 2012. As part of my New Years post I outlined 10 key points which I would be looking to improve over the course of the year. At the time, I had no idea I would be training 15 hours a week over the summer. Needless to say, this year has been better than I could have ever envisioned with regard to my Jiu-Jitsu abilities. Every single aspect of my game has improved, I've met tons of new grapplers who have impacted my game in various ways, and I competed in a pretty high-level IBJJF tournament. The following were my goals listed from last December, with notes on what has changed.

1. Improved control from guard. Head control, sleeve/wrist control, overhooks/underhooks. Essentially, continuously breaking posture. I play so much open guard nowadays that my closed guard needs improvement.

- While my closed guard hasn't significanty improved, my guard as a whole is very much blue belt level. My main goal here was to improve it in that sense, and defensively I have taken it up several levels. Offensively, I am feeling closer and closer to what will eventually be a very dominant and dangerous De La Riva-based game. 
2. Polishing bread & butter sweeps from guard.
- I've noticed increased use of the scissor/push sweep, which are great sweeps to be proficient at.

3. Polishing and chaining submissions from guard. Tight armbars, MORE TRIANGLES, and omoplata options (especially the plethora of sweeps available from that position).
- I find myself attempting sweeps from open guard much more often. Consequently, I go for fewer submission attempts from closed guard.

4. Heavy development of Half Guard. Avoiding being flat on my back, framing the knee, controlling the bicep and GETTING THE UNDERHOOK! Summed up: avoid the cross-face.
- I find that my transitions from half guard to Z guard to full guard are pretty smooth. I don't get cross-faced and smashed much from here. Occasionally I will get the underhook and shrimp to a back-take, or get underneath , grab their foot, and look to roll to the top.

5. Getting the submission I want. Transitions are crucial to ground fighting but maintaining a position (example: back control) and getting say, the rear-naked choke, is also important. Patience and good technique.
- I have a better time maintaining a position and getting the sub I want. Still needs work.

6. More collar and lapel use. Cross-collar from guard and top half-guard, Brabo chokes from top half, etc. Implementation of paper-cutter options into my side-control/north-south game.
- I am still working on these, however, my collar chokes from the back have improved greatly. The Bow and Arrow submission is pretty high percentage for me.

7. Polishing transitions, TIGHTLY securing positions, being aware of weight distribution.
- I am learning how to maintain top position more and more each time I roll. I can move from KoB to side control to mount fairly smoothly now, and back control to mount and side control is easier than ever. Balance has improved immensely.

8. Improved guard passing and utilizing good shoulder and chest pressure to safely pass.
- The real star of the show is my passing ability. The summer was good to me and my top game is several levels higher than it was last year. Torreando pass, double under, etc. I would like to continue to work my OVER passes, such as knee-slices, in the coming year.

9. Improved takedowns, especially my wrestling.
- Wrestling is hard lol. My judo is MUCH more polished, and my techniques are better. Need more drilling. I really like the single leg, so I would like to work that especially well.

10. Breathing
- I am much more composed and relaxed when rolling. I save my energy for when I need it. Controled breathing is definitely better now. 

 There are just a handful of things to work on, specifically, in 2013:

1. Improve offensive guard. There are 4 or 5 De La Riva sweeps that are really great and high percentage. I've already begun working with them and I'm seeing success. There is one for every grip and every reaction of your opponent. When I commit these to muscle memory, my guard is going to be vicious.

2. Improve escapes from side control, mount, and back control.

3. Improve takedowns.

4. Improve my passing and work hard on improving over-style passes, such as knee cut.

5. Compete more, get those competition wins!

That's all! 2012 was a great year for me in EVERY way, not just for Jiu-Jitsu. I know that with all the changes that will happen in 2013 -- such as me graduating, moving out and subsequently leaving my home gym -- that this year will be an even better one. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Progression, Improvements, and More Berimbolo

I've been working a bit lately on improving my side control escapes as well as my offensive guard, and I definitely see some changes in my overall sweep percentage. I've also managed to hit a half guard sweep (where you have the underhook and are underneath your opponent, grabbing their foot) several times. It seems like a lot of older techniques that I haven't drilled much are coming back to me in live rolling, which is always cool.

I've been trying to not use my hands when having some of the more experienced white belts and Mike (who's now a blue) attempt to pass guard. It's a great drill and I've gotten to bait people with the reverse scissor sweep with virtually zero effort. Everything just feels really smooth. I will continue to work escapes over the next couple months.

We continue to dick around with the berimbolo and I really want to get it going because it's really cool. I had some trouble driving back my opponent onto his butt/back from standing, but I think I'm understanding the mechanics a little bit better now that Mendes released his video detailing the sweep. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Evolving my De La Riva. Also MOAR PASSING!

Been working a bit more on my offensive guard, and as far as my standing sweeps are concerned, I've been working DLR a good bit lately. I am familiar with a few sweeps, so I will be integrating them into my game in the next few weeks.

- DLR push sweep (control far sleeve, drive them back with your free foot while pulling them toward you)
- DLR roll-over sweep (invert while controlling near sleeve, swing free leg to lasso position and kick out.  Cobrinha style)
- Berimbolo- if they break any sleeve grip you have
- DLR arm trap (switch your gripping hand of their far-side arm under their leg, drop free foot to floor, collar grip, drag them down)

I think these are 4 great sweeps to work on. My DLR guard will be a lot more dangerous once I get good at them.

Also, refining scissor sweep/reverse scissor sweep combination, push sweep and flower sweep. These are great bread and butter options for kneeling opponents.

Passing is getting much better, mostly by combining the bull fighter pass with double under or even single under passes. The risk here is posting out with my leg too far and being underhooked. Casey hit me with that all the time.

It is looking like Mondays will be work-all-day days, so I might be on hiatus from no-gi for a while; and while any training is good training.... I ain't even mad.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Post-Competition Thoughts and the Berimbolo

So the Atlanta Open was last Saturday, and it was a truly great event, despite me losing my first match. My opponent got some grips, pulled De La Riva guard, and inverted for a Berimbolo sweep. He took my back and sunk in a tight collar choke. I'm pretty angry that I didn't even have a chance to use my jiu jitsu, but it was a good experience nonetheless. I made weight successfully, which meant that I took my diet and preparation seriously. The tournament was run VERY well, especially when compared to NAGA and Lutador. They had all the blues/purples/browns competing first, follow by black belts around 2pm, Open divisions at 3pm, and white belts from 4pm onward. It's great because the white belts aren't taking forever and making the other belts wait, and the organizers can have these black belt super fights in the middle of the day. I will definitely be back for the next nearby IBJJF competition. The professionalism cannot be beat, in my opinion.

So now I'm back to training and we've gone over the Berimbolo so I can maybe see it coming next time. It's a cool sweep, but if you aren't familiar with it, it's definitely WTF when it hits you.

Things to improve:

Side control escapes
guard recomposition/hip movement
back mount escapes
not giving up back hooks so easily
maintaining back control and finishing the submission from there
offensive guard sweeps

I took a dose of creatine yesterday, but figured since it was the weekend, it's a bad time to be loading (I don't want to be drinking while loading especially). I would say I'm hovering around 140lbs at the moment. Back to eating whatever I desire. The goal is 155 lbs with some good muscle mass without sacrificing cardio. We shall see where the creatine takes me, and if I even like it at all. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Atlanta Open Preparation Going Strong

I've been back at my home gym for a while now, and I can honestly say that my time training so much at Alliance has helped me take my game to the next level. My guard is so much better from a defensive standpoint (although offensively I still have work to do) and my passing is exponentially better. I have improved balance, weight awareness, and a pretty effective Torreando pass to knee-on-belly that I'm hitting people with non-stop. I've been trying to roll in the gi as much as possible, and we've started Saturday Open Mat sessions that are grueling but so satisfying. Rolling with our purple belts who outweigh me by 70+ lbs, but it's definitely helping me prep for the fight on September 15. I've been dealing with some injuries, namely a jacked up knee that has been braced for a while now. It's going to affect my game plan at the Open, so we'll see what can be done when the time comes.

Dieting down from ~145 to ~139 has been interesting thus far. This is my first venture into any weight cut, and since I usually eat whatever I want, whenever I want, it's not easy. But failure is not an option, so I am eating fewer calories but VERY healthy (lean proteins and veggies/fruits) and seeing the results I need to see.

Things that need to be improved ASAP after the competition are: offensive guard, side control escapes, and turtling without giving up my back with hooks. Top game and takedowns will continue to be worked on. I just wish more people would want to play guard with me!