Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Goals

As the New Year approaches I think it's important to outline some key goals as I step onto the mat for the first time as a blue belt. My technique library is really solid and I think I know more than most entry-level blues based on how immersed in the grappling scene I try to be. With that said, there are a few problem areas that need improvement and minor tweaking:

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.

2. Polishing bread & butter sweeps from guard.

3. Polishing and chaining submissions from guard. Tight armbars, MORE TRIANGLES, and omoplata options (especially the plethora of sweeps available from that position).

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.

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.

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.

7. Polishing transitions, TIGHTLY securing positions, being aware of weight distribution.

8. Improved guard passing and utilizing good shoulder and chest pressure to safely pass.

9. Improved takedowns, especially my wrestling.

10. Breathing

Ten goals for 2012. Doesn't seem too bad at all. I predict this will be a great year for my Jiu-Jitsu game.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marcelo Garcia Promotes His First Two Black Belts

While this is obviously awesome news for Alliance and of course Marcelo himself, the real interesting point here is just WHO he has promoted. Of the two students, one was the subject of the 1993 film Searching For Bobby Fischer, Josh Waitzkin. Mr. Waitzkin was a child Chess prodigy. I find this to be incredibly fascinating, and it further illustrates the notion that Jiu-Jitsu is human Chess. Waitzkin has a goal of becoming a world champion by 2013, and I think with his unique ability to think ahead several "turns", he just may be able to do it. Gotta watch this one play out.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

I am officially a Blue Belt!

I had been trying to prepare for the test for the past week and I'd gone over the techniques with Casey and Coe, trying to make sure I had everything looking nice and had a bunch of alternatives if Jacare complained. I left Athens at 9:15 and arrived in Atlanta at 10:45. Kinda sat around while one of the black belts, DJ, taught the beginner class. The front manager told me Jacare would be there shortly so I waited until he arrived at about noon. Coe arrived right before that and he tried to keep me relaxed. I ended up staying around for the whole class and paying the mat fee, but it's whatever. Warmed up, learned some new stuff that unfortunately I don't remember too well (too much else on my mind), then paired up with a blue-belted gentleman named Chris. He was just slightly bigger than me, maybe by 10lbs or so. He had *really* great top pressure and kept driving his shoulder into my neck and chest. I tried to keep him back using Z-guard but he passed me on a few occasions and I spent most of the round trying to get out of bad situations. He subbed me a couple times but my sub defense was pretty decent. I had a decent escape, too, off an attempted armbar. The second fellow's name was Austin. He was also a blue belt, but damn near the exact same size as me. I felt more confident but he ended up murking me. Passed my guard with ease, had super nice transitions and tons of subs. Consequently he had only been training for 1.5 years, but I guess that means a lot more considering he trains at Alliance HQ. Funny thing I realized when I left: the two people I rolled with had the same first and middle name as me (Kristopher Austin)...

Jacare pulled me off to the side around 2:00 and I snagged Coe to be my test partner, which was a lucky break. Another lucky break: Jacare only asked me a handful of techniques and not the whole test. I had to demonstrate the following:

- 1 double-leg takedown
- 1 hip throw
- 1 way to defend standing guillotine
- 1 knee-on-belly submission
- 1 side control submission
- 1 sweep from closed guard
- 1 sweep from open guard w/ a standing opponent
- 2 submissions from back mount
- 1 escape from back mount
- 1 side control escape
- 1 mount submission
- 1 way to defend the headlock on the ground

That's it. I was kind of shocked he didn't ask about passes and the variety of other things that are required, but I'm definitely not complaining. He caught me surprised with the open guard sweep, since I didn't think that was explicitly a requirement, but I proudly pulled a hook sweep out of my ass. Well, I think it was a modified hook sweep. But whatever, because it worked nicely.

After that, I posed for a picture with Jacare and ran the gauntlet to get whipped like a slave. A couple choice idiots were sure to whip the fuck out of me but overall it wasn't too bad. Got acquainted with several of the people there and told Jacare that I would be back at some point but it was "muito caro", which he replied to with "don't be a cheap bastard". LOL. I definitely need to get some training in up there, so I guess that means picking up extra shifts at work to cover the cost. Hoping to go at least once a month, though more than that would be nice.

I am glad everything is said and done. I am drained like a motherfucker. Worse than my finals drained me. Looking forward to a great night sleep and getting back into the groove after New Years. Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blog Update Complete!

I have completed the transformation of my blog from shitty to semi-professional. Feel free to share any and all constructive criticism you may have. Big shout-out to my buddy Paul Watson for designing the custom background for me. Hopefully we can get some regular followers and hopefully I can keep this updated with more reviews and news than ever before.

"Vai muito do dizer ao fazer."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blog Overhaul

I will be cleaning/changing the blog within the next several days. Look out for some cool design stuff (probably not that great) and some content-related ads similar to my BJJHQ banner. Hoping to increase traffic a little bit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gear Review: Brute Exo Kneepads

I have been in the market for new kneepads for a while now, hoping to get a set that really protect my kneecaps. One of the most prolonged injuries I've had has been bruised kneecaps. Possibly bursitis, I don't really know. It hasn't been particularly bad in terms of regular life activities, but it has greatly affected my ability to work from inside my opponents' guard, turtle, etc. I began BJJ with some regular oversized white padded vollyball pads, but after 6 months the padding began to break up and shift around. For the past year I've used Mizuno pads (quite similar to THESE), but a year and change later I found the need to replace them too, as the padding was on the decline and no longer protecting my patellas.

I picked up a pair of Brute Exo pads in blue. They were very pricey at $16.99 a piece plus shipping, but hey it's protective gear! Anything that helps my knees is worth the premium price. These are wrestling pads and thus you need to take into account the issue of knee mobility -- ability to triangle, if they affect your half guard escapes, etc.

Firstly, the quality is very nice. These are some fairly heavy duty pads. There is a center circle of injection molding that protects against impact, especially when shooting doubles. There are also some smaller molded areas around the center. Stitching looks good; I don't anticipate having any problems with quality. The pads are lightweight and extremely comfortable. I barely even notice they're on, although I have yet to try them out in no-gi.

The back has mesh which allows your knees to breath and subsequently prevents excessive moisture build-up. I assume that this will work in favor of the life of the pad, as less sweat build-up can only be good. And then there's the lack of slippage, which is obviously very important. I am ~145lbs, 5'10" and I purchased a small. They fit perfectly, don't slide around, and I don't think I've had to adjust them AT ALL while rolling. I've had no issues triangling my legs, so chokes and body-locks are no problem. I have yet to be in someone's VERY tight half guard, but as of now I anticipate no problems there, either.

Overall these were a great buy. Despite the overall cost of approximately $40 including shipping, you just can't put a price on gear that saves your body parts. carries them for $14.95, but they only have black. For a better color selection (for the extra couple dollars, of course), check out They are a great site with fast shipping.

FOLLOW UP, 7/15/12:

I keep forgetting to reply with a follow up, so here it is before I forget: these are great. I use them every class and I haven't had bruising on my knees. Well worth the price and highly recommended. There is NO issue of working half guard, triangles, or anything. They stay in place and do not inhibit mobility in any way. They are staying in pretty damn good shape, even after X number of washes. I expect them to last over 2 years with no problems, maybe even longer.