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!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The "Summer of Jiu Jitsu" -- A Retrospect

I have been off the mats now for 2 weeks, rotting away in a hotel room with family without anything to do. This time off has given me an opportunity to look back on training so much this summer and analyze where my game currently stands.

1. The stand up work I've done this summer (mostly judo) has made me so much more comfortable on my feet. I would like to expand upon this and really work hard to sharpen my takedown ability. I don't want to feel like my only option in a match is to pull guard.

2. My guard has developed a bit on the defensive level. I feel like my bottom game has expanded a lot and I'm seeing a ton of good transitions now. I got my feet wet with X guard, played some spider guard, and worked a bunch of De La Riva and Reverse De La Riva. There are a lot of good sweep options I'm now familiar with and I need to continue to develop my guard so that it becomes much more offensive and aggressive.

3. Guard passing needs more work. Torreando in particular. Grips, grips, grips.

4. Take the back, maintain position, finish. Tons of great collar chokes are open. Seatbelt grip FIRST, hooks second. Glue upper body to their back and follow them as they struggle around. 

I can't wait to get back on the mats within the next week and start preparing for the IBJJF Atlanta Open on September 15. Win or lose, it will definitely be an awesome experience.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Seminar with Fabio Gurgel/The Final Week


Fabio was there gearing up for the grand opening and seminar on Thursday. Warmed up lightly with some triangle drills, omoplatas, and collar chokes. Fabio stepped in and taught some cool collar choke techniques as well; using the one choking hand to wedge up their neck and make room for the other hand to slide 4 fingers in UNDER the other arm. Also, Head to the side of the original (first) arm that went in and forehead to the ground. If they try to bridge and roll, you need to post out with your legs and feel it out.

Got some good rolls in. Felt great and very energetic. Worked guard, got some reverse scissor sweeps, played some reverse de la riva and maintained top position a bunch. Also hit a triangle/armbar submission. This whole week is going to be great. Tons of big names are coming out for the grand opening, including Bruno Malfacine, Marcelo Garcia, and a bajillion other black belts. Can't wait.


Fundamentals went over some great ways of escaping side control. Arm inside their bicep and blade of your wrist at their throat, bridge up into them and then HARD the other way while stepping over. You need to step big or else they can get to your back. Some other stuff included an ankle pick of sorts from a single leg position when they're turtled and you have their leg, or recomposing guard from this position, maybe even into a triangle. Lucas pulled me off to the side to help a white belt test for his blue, so I left the fundamental class early. Don't recall the main class lol.


All I remember from this day is that I rolled a ton.

Thursday (Seminar and Grand Opening!):

The place was packed with over 100 people. We watched a cool presentation with some Alliance footage and went on with some belt promotions. The seminar with Fabio began around 8:30. He showed some great turtle attacks. A few that I remember were: grabbing same side collar with hand under their armpit (if you cannot get a full seatbelt, this is better than nothing), blocking the opposite elbow and pulling them over before getting a hook in, a clock choke, a sleeve choke off the one hook, a couple cool ways of taking the back, and best of all, this awesome variant off a clock choke counter. Basically, you have the deep collar grip and the same side wrist is controlled, but they defend by pulling that arm all the way in and prepare to shoulder roll out of the choke. You follow them by hopping over to the other side, go belly down and force them onto their back. You drive your shoulder into the back of their head with the deep collar grip and get the choke. Definitely awesome, definitely using that one in my game.

After, I got a bunch of pictures with Bruno Malfacine, Lucas, and a Jacare/Fabio combo shot. It was a great night, and I even got to see Casey, Coe and Ian from Megalodon. Very memorable and a great way to close out the "Summer of Jiu Jitsu".


This was my final day training at Alliance full time. I'm going to try making it up there a couple Saturdays a month for extra training.

We worked a bunch of single leg variations of the day. Fake guard pull, get leg while maintaining collar grip to break their posture, step INSIDE leg out and look to pass. Another one was gripping the shoulder, stepping OUTSIDE leg out (like running the pipe), knee-cross pin, STAY LOW with your head, and slide into Kesa, then switch into side control. Drilled guard passing for a while, then rolled for 2 rounds. Got some great training in and I'm gonna miss the ~12 hours of practice I've been getting all summer. Time for school and work to take over again. Can't wait to get back to Megalodon and see everybody again. Thanks for a great summer, Alliance.

PS: Yes DJ, if you're reading this, it was a lot of fucking information to remember. LOL

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Deep Half Week!


Main: This week the focus was on Deep Half sweeps. I was pretty excited about this, because I know NOTHING about this position. First sweep was reaching under gripping lapel and belt grip and bridging over shoulder. Baseball slide double under pass, step over, block hips and upper body and take side control.


Fundamental: baseball bat choke off lapel arm-trap, half guard pass, self defense was hip toss off thai plum/double collar grips.

Main: more deep half. Transition to x guard, tech stand, pull other leg out for sweep. Also hook deep half'd leg, grab ankle, kick out and come on top for sweep.

We then drilled some deep half, and I really suck at this guard....


Fundamental class included some self defense hip throws, but the meat and potatoes was back escapes. If they have the collar grip, you're grabbing the sleeve with both hands and pulling down, locking your shoulders to your side, then turning to relieve pressure on your neck in the opposite direction of the collar they're gripping. Then, knee up, bridge back and over their hook -- choking hand points to freedom. Head to the mat, then your upper back and then whole body. Block their mount attempt using your own hooks and try to get on top. In the very least, get back guard. If they stop you from bridging the right way and shove you the other way, use their momentum to turn over and tripod upward. Grip their collar, back up a bit and then bring your head out of the choke and try to assume side control.

Main: warm ups included some funky 3 way rolling and sprawl drills, then the gi tug -->ankle pick --> uchi mata or the gi tug --> drop ippon seoi nage.

Technique was more deep half. Pass through lapel, try to turtle and wait for them to sprawl. they cant sprawl too hard because of the lapel grip blocking them from shifting all the way back, so you use your other hand to grip knee material, bring a knee up, and then flip them over onto their back. There was a second technique, but I can't remember it.


Fundamentals discussed the Osoto Gari leg throw and how it segued into KOB and the armbar (as do nearly all judo throws). Also drilled the paper cutter from north/south with some great little details on body weight distribution, and finally how to trap the arm from a basic, strong side control and mount using KOB followed by walking the fingers up to trap the blocking arm.

Main class had Humberto and DJ teaching, since Lucas had a seminar and Jacare was somewhere else. We went over some complicated spider/leg lasso passes and also some great X guard passes. The first one is essentially to step back with your back leg (if there is no back hook), then return to position and assume side control. If they DO have a hook on the back leg, you can pretty much push the hook down while pulling their arm (that's grabbing your front leg) up and end up in a nasty tight triangle position.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Week 6


Main class consisted of more grueling plyometric warm ups. Went right into self defense techniques, standing headlock escapes specifically: block punch, grab near kneecap, leg thru sit down into side. Also the step back version, kimura and choke. Also if they try to throw you, use your momentum while rolling yourself to end up on top.

Rolled with 4 people. Hit reverse scissor 2 times, played some x-guard and almost took back. Got ankle locked a shit load by the one blue belt who apparently would rather just latch onto my leg and keep leg locking a much less experienced blue belt than work anything else.


Intermediate class was some drilling-style warm ups. Shoulder roll --> Ippon drop seoi, switch, then the same drill with Morote drop Seoi. We skipped to rolling because Alliance wanted all the competitors who got medals in major comps to take a picture. So I rolled with a bunch of SUPER spazzy white belts and gassed myself out BIG TIME. Had to skip the main class, because the idea of more warm-ups was not amusing and I already felt like I was gonna die.


In the fundamentals class we went over headlock/Kesa escapes from on the ground, which is something I've largely forgot. Frame the face, hip escape, lift legs and swing them down, coming to your own knees and ending on top. Basic armbar from here after getting your head free. I don't remember how this segued into the next technique, but whatever. It was getting the choke from the back. Double lapel grip. Hand under the armpit flicks the collar back and feeds it DEEP to the choking arm. Under armpit arm grips lapel about halfway down the chest. Roll to support the choking arm (onto the forearm) and drive your shoulder forward and elbow back for the tap. 

Main class was more sickeningly grueling warm ups. Side note, I've lost 5lbs since I started here in late May. So I really wish I could lay off the warm ups a little....I know they're important for cardio, agility, etc but I'm a skinny motherfucker and I'm not too keen about ending up back at 125lbs. 
I can't remember what the techniques were for this class. I know Lucas is on vacation so Jacare was mostly working alone. Anyway, I rolled in a 3 way gauntlet with 2 other blue belts my size. I actually did really well this class, getting 2 triangle chokes, a reverse triangle w/ armbar finish from the back, and cross collar choke transition. I rolled out of turtle almost into an omoplata and hit a triangle off that sequence, which felt awesome.


More crazy warm ups for the fundamental class. Jacare went over some basic KOB stuff from a few days ago. Not sure if he forgot that DJ did it already. Just basic near-side armbar and cross collar choke.

Main class was some drilling from spider--->X guard. Just going over whatever sweeps you like from there. I'm aware of the tripod sweep, back take, and the thing where you grab the belt and load them up and roll them into side control.
The whole class was drilling in gauntlets of 3-5. We drilled from every position: back w/ hooks, mount, guard, deep half. Then Jacare made everyone do pushups and more workouts, presumably as punishment for talking so much during the fundamentals when he asked everyone to be quiet.

Fabio Gurgel is gonna be present for a seminar on July 12th as part of the Alliance HQ grand opening festivities. $50. I am all paid up and hoping to be in Georgia on that date, but who the fuck knows what can happen.

If anyone needs information on the seminar, feel free to contact me. Everyone at Megalodon should be there!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Week 5


Grueling warm up with Lucas for the 6:30 class. Then we went over some half guard passes. Shin through onto hip, control the knee and pull your leg out. This was always my half guard pass of choice but it was nice to revisit it and correct a bunch of details that made it lower percentage. Then we drilled the leg hook (on their knee) pass. Switch head to other side, free your leg, control their arm and slide up to Kesa. Switch hips back into classic side control. Rolled with a large white belt and armbarred him once, took his back, etc.

Main class was more warm ups. Felt like I was gonna die. Techniques were footlock escapes;  sitting on their leg or passing over their knee if they go belly down. Had some good rolls with other blue belts and worked my guard a bunch.


Fundamentals class was a take down w/ sitting down from headlock (extending your leg through theirs). Then a standing guard pass w/ knee cutter and step back...more or less my pass of choice, except I'm adding a needless step of switching the sleeve grip when I could just pass to the other side. Noted. Also went over a "retard sweep" as Josh calls it from half guard.

Main class was a very nice spider to X guard transition, which I really loved. Switch sleeve grip to cross grip and pass behind their leg, grab the same side collar and sweep and pass to side control.
Gauntlet training was with Austin, a Brazilian blue belt, Julia (the blue belt Mundial gold winner), and a white belt whom I armbarred. I was able to play more guard with Julia this time and almost get under her to take the back, but she stopped me in time before passing and crushing me.


Guillotine standing defense at the fundamentals class. Cross leg grab and lift them into side control + knee buckle defenses. Then some knee on belly techniques: near side armbar, farside armbar, cross choke. All very nice to revisit and correct problems to make them more successful.

Partnered up for drill warm ups, then worked one of Lucas's favorite De La Riva passes. On the leg that's on your thigh/knee pushing you back, you grip the inside of the gi by the ankle with your other hand on the same side lapel. Step back then forward again, trapping that leg between yours. Cut down on the hooked side, then back the other way over their leg and pass. Switch grips to the back and if they try to turtle, take the back and collar choke them.
There was actually no rolling today, only drilling from DLR. We drilled the pass and defending guard, winner stays on top. This meant that my guard got a TON of work. LOL. I was paired with a purple belt and a blue belt who was better than the purple and will likely be promoted next month at the Grand Opening if he tests well. I worked into the 3 man gauntlet about 25 times. My fingers got WRECKED from those grips. I lost to the blue belt every time, but the purple wanted to play guard a couple times and we switched. I was able to pass 1 time which made the night awesome. Also took his back off reverse DLR while he was trying to pass, and nearly mounted one other time but he stopped it with a butterfly hook. All in all I would say I "won" 2 times out of maybe 25 attempts. I consider this a victory!

No Jits until Monday or maybe Tuesday because I'm busy this weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Final Week?

This was supposed to be my final week at Alliance and I woke up on Monday feeling like shit. I still don't know how I managed to work through half the week, but thankfully I didn't have to take time off from making money. I returned to training on Thursday.

The beginner class consisted of taking the back and getting the choke off a standing headlock attempt, then some guillotine options off a sprawl: standing by pushing your hips forward, or pulling guard by stepping on a foot so they can't walk around, then sitting back. Then we worked getting the flower sweep when they post up with the wrong foot to pass guard....although this is applicable to any flower sweep situation. This is one of my favorite high percentage sweeps so no problems there. I helped the white belt get the hip mechanics and then we worked the armbar off a failed flower attempt.

Main class was footlocks. First one was a fake De La Riva pass (while in combat base) to basic footlock....scoop the ankle, sit back, outer foot on hip, squeeze knees. Second was "hydraulic" mount escape to footlock. We went over this technique in megalodon for no-gi, so it was a refresher for me.

Rolled a bunch and felt really good. My breathing is INFINITELY better. I actually feel like I'm burning less energy than the blue belts who destroy me, even when I'm fighting for position, like in their guard. Since I've reverted to getting smashed by nearly everyone, as opposed to doing well against the white belts I usually roll with, I've been "receiving" well and preventing ultra bad positions better such as a cross-face. I rolled with this Randy fellow--the same guy who smashed my Z guard the first time but couldn't defend the me passing. I held my guard for a significant amount of time before he passed this time. All in all, huge improvement.


Went in for the main class at 12 and saw Coe there for the first time in weeks! We chatted a little as a white belt got his promotional whippings, then we all warmed up with a variety of drills, from back takes to torreando passing, to knee on belly switches.

There were no new techniques today. Instead, we broke into groups and worked top vs. bottom game. Winner stays in and choose to work guard or pass. I had no success at this. Tried passing Lucas's guard a couple times but he toyed with me for a while before flinging me off and sweeping.

Rolled 3 8 minute rounds, once with a female blue belt whom I swept but couldn't pass (she had great spider guard), once with a young purple belt whom I had rolled with before, and once with a slightly older purple. I damn near finished an anaconda choke when I tech stood up from guard and caught the guy with his head and arm dangling, but couldn't roll him or hook a leg for the finish. He said it was very tight, so at least I locked it up properly.

This was supposed to be my last week at Alliance, but I'm gonna sign up again since I'm still here. Hopefully I can train as much as possible before I have to stop going and assist my family in relocating before school starts again.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Week Three


The intermediate class at 6:30 was taught by another Alliance black belt, Humberto Borges, who told me he knows Casey very well. Super nice guy, really helpful and didn't seem to have any kind of ego when talking to the lower belts. I missed the 10 minutes of running and line-based warm up, so I jumped right in to techniques. We went over some AWESOME top half chokes, which is a concept I've been toying around with based on some Youtube stuff I've seen. It was really exciting to get to learn it formally and drill it a bunch. First technique, you sat back in top half, keeping a crossface and getting the lapel from under their arm to around the other side of their neck. Control their pants leg so they aren't holding you in half above your knee, pop up ala knee-on-belly, and switch grips. Then reach across and grab some material, head to mat, and get the cross choke. Second technique was if they're blocking your second cross grip; grab the sleeve, drive it across their face, and push your chest down while pushing your bicep into their tricep for the tap. Third is if they don't allow you to pull the sleeve across; grab their elbow right at the point of the bone and step over, landing next to them on your own back. push their arm into their neck for the tap.

Got some good rolling in and managed to crush another blue belt, so that was awesome.
For the main class, Humberto stuck around and a few higher belts joined in. We warmed up with some drop Seio Nage stuff. I've been at Alliance for 2 weeks now, and this seems to be the choice judo throw of X number of days/weeks. I've already drilled it so much that I'm feeling REALLY comfortable going for it. We mixed in some other trips and stuff, including a failed single leg attempt to drop Seio which felt really smooth. After 30 minutes of throws and varying stand up, we went to the ground for some technique. Today's lesson was on Reverse De La Riva, and I was super pumped to learn about the position I see a lot of advanced grappers use, especially Satoshi. Your opponent has what is essentially a combat base position and you have a hook on the inside, above the knee while you cross grip their collar and use your other hand to grip their pants leg, locking them in to the RDLR. Extend out, which should push them forward while you use the pants grip to spin under them while still controlling the leg. Reach up, grab the belt, kick out and take the back. We drilled this a fuck ton and I felt pretty good about it. Got some more awesome rolling in and got smashed even more. One dude really murked me with scarf hold but couldn't get a sub. I left drained as hell with various lacerations and gi burns. Yes!!!


Started at 6:30 with the intermediate class. Warmed up with line drills.Today's techniques were spider guard and leg lasso stuff. Leg lasso on one arm and spider on the other. I'm writing this 3 days later so my memory is not too good, but I think you're driving up on the spider and sweeping to the lasso side. Similarly, we drilled the leg lasso + grab their other leg sweep; this is something I'm familiar with as went over it a bunch in Megalodon over the last 2 years. I liked that you can still sweep them over even if they appear to have passed. As long as you still have the lasso in tight, you can still attempt to grab some part of the pants, switch your hips, and roll them over. I usually give up on this move if I fail to load them onto my shin, but this is great. You just gotta really switch your hips. Rolled with some white belts for a few minutes before the main class got started.
Lucas warmed us up with some Ippon Seoi Nage. Hand positioning was different and I looked totally spazzy. I questioned DJ about this today (Saturday) and he clarified some stuff for me. Essentially, there is Ippon Seio Nage and Morote Seoi Nage. And a bajillion variations of each. From some google searching:

  • Ippon
    • Lapel
    • Armpit
    • Sleeve
  • Morote
    • Sleeve + Lapel: cross lapel and same side lapel
    • One handed 
So Seoi Nage is pretty complex. I have no idea if you can use ippon for the Drop Seoi or if it has to be Morote. I think I've only done Drop Morote. Damn Judo.

I believe the technique of the day was a De La Riva + Leg Lasso sweep. DLR on one side and spider --> lasso on the other. Square up, pull the lasso in tight and sweep them to the lasso'd side. Come up quickly into mount or drive forward into side control. Which you choose depends on how your opponent reacts. 


Fundamentals at 6:30 were taught by Jacare. Went over side-control safety. T-rex arms tight into your body, forearm into their neck (don't let them get the underhook) and other arm under their armpit. Leg up, defend the mount. Shrimp out while driving them away with your arms, then back in with your bottom leg. Get a hook in with your top leg to keep them in place and recompose guard. Discussed some hip bump sweep stuff and basic kimura from guard. I worked with an older brown belt named Dave who was very helpful and I got a bunch of small details from him.

Main class was more lasso/DLR/Spider stuff, but I literally cannot remember the details of this class.


Fundamentals at 11am included some basic hip throws, tomoe nage off of double sleeve grips when on the ground (is that still tomoe nage??), and a basic cross collar choke/armbar double attack from S mount.

Lucas kept the theme of the week by introducing another move off the deep hook DLR/leg lasso...instead of sweeping them over toward the lasso'd side, they post out with their opposite arm. Let go of the sleeve, grab the belt, switch the hook and take the back. Drilled the position a few times with a blue belt named Joe who I've worked with before and a couple black belts.

I rolled with three guys today, all black belts. The first two were a bit older and thus less fast. They established position and tried to keep energy by only going for a few subs, which I defended. The last guy was Damian, who's a nice dude and has been helpful to me over the past few weeks. He's around my size. He let me work a bunch and I almost got some nice chokes from half guard, but lost position, scrambled for the back and ended up passed and mounted.

All in all this was a good week. Got 12 hours on the mat. I have a week left and then I have to come up with more money for another month :/

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: Week Two


Today was Memorial day, and like always, this day messes with me on many levels. No work and no money, but I figured I would train early and get some sleep tonight. Went in at 11am for the fundamental class, but only like 3 people were there, and no black belts to run it. I left and returned at 12pm and the class was getting started. Many people at Alliance are preparing to leave for the Mundials on Wednesday, and so Jacare wanted to pretty much do a massive gauntlet so everyone can roll with everyone. We warmed up and went over some basic Torreando work and passing defense for if they try to pass from chest-to-chest half guard while underhooking your free leg. I drilled with this purple belt Ryan who I knew from last year when I first tried to test for my blue belt, then again when I passed in December. Super nice guy, really supportive and always willing to help me better my technique. We then got the gauntlet going with Lucas and Gabriel Goulart being "team captains". I rolled with a few blue belts and hit the reverse scissor on one of them (he was about 175lbs and mostly better than me). Got destroyed by some purples including a Brazilian fellow whom I was chatting with in broken portuguese. I got to roll with one of the brown belt managers (or former manager?) Jonathan Thomas who pretty much danced around me and made my guard look like that of a white belt. The highlight of the roll for me was getting to roll with Lucas. He obviously did whatever he wanted but he let me work and pretty much choose my own rope to get hanged. He countered everything and baited me into thinking I was doing something right before crushing my hopes and dreams. It was awesome. He subbed me a few times but it felt more like a flow roll session because even when he easily mounted me he rolled back to guard and let me work a few times.


Everyone is leaving for the Mundials tomorrow so it the climate felt like a "last sharpening session" since people are leaving. The fundamental class at 6:30 was supposedly the last of the white belt sessions in a set of 25 classes. We went over some standing striking defense. Sorta felt like a Gracie Bully Proof course. Blocking the punch, clinching, double underhooks, squeezing the back for the takedown, etc. Then some kick defense: catch the kick in your armpit, get an underhook, sweep their free standing leg out from under them and end up in an ankle lock position. Then we went over some ankle lock mechanics, which are always welcomed IMO.

Main class was more training, so Lucas assigned some matches and we got to it. Nothing new to report here mostly, except in one match I was paired with a slightly bigger and stronger blue belt who had been training for 3 and a half years. He blew past my guard with ease and had some nasty, crushing top game. Very technical and very methodical. After 9 minutes of getting cross-faced with no escaping, I offered to switch it up and let me play some top. I worked the torreando and actually managed to pass to north/south! Even gassed. I kept it moving for the sake of the match and he recomposed to half as the timer went off. Told Lucas I was going to skip the last roll and probably got some 3rd degree. Well, I worked 12 hours today so yeah...... Pulled a variety of muscles like groin and hamstring and needed to take a day off.  Plus I had a staff meeting on Wednesday, so I had that excuse to heal up.


Arrived for the main class at 7:30. DJ was teaching since Jacare and crew are still gone. We warmed up with some butterfly lifts off double underhooks and got to work. DJ showed the classic butterfly sweep off over/underhooks, then the sleeve/collar grip variation of the same move. Then we worked some X guard. I was pretty excited for this, because I know very little about X guard. My training partner went over some basic sweeps with me, such as getting the position, stretching out your opponent, and then pretty much technical standing with their leg on your shoulder so you can achieve the single leg. Second basic move was the same set up, but you stretch them out and slide your back of the knee-hook down to the ankle and kick out their leg, coming on top and looking for the pass. DJ's technique was entry to X guard off a failed butterfly sweep attempt, for when they post out with their leg to block the sweep. You scoop it up to your shoulder and get the high hook in. Then, kick out and stretch them. From here you can control the same sleeve as the leg on your shoulder and pass it -- along with the leg -- over to the other side of your body. Then control the belt, get rid of the high hook, and load their weight onto you. You can then roll them easily into side control with some awesome control grips. We also worked on the obvious transition to the back once you're grabbing their belt. I rolled with a bunch of people, including the two guys I tested with back in December (Austin and Chris) and a few other people. Got completely destroyed by everyone. Chris has gotten a bajillion times better, it seems, although it could be that he took it easy on me last year. One thing that I'm realizing is that my guard sucks. My top game is definitely better. My posture has improved a lot and I'm sensing submissions before they happen and avoiding them mostly.


Fundamentals class was at 11:00 so I made sure I arrived in time for that. DJ went over some more self defense stuff, like blocking a strike, getting an underhook, driving around to their side and sitting down with your leg out to side control. Basic stuff. We went over mount defense and how to get the upa...with patience! Some great details in there that definitely made me better in escaping the mount without getting choked, punched or armbarred. He showed his favorite guard pass, which is the double lapel grip pushing down on their sternum, gripping the pants at the waist, stepping up and driving back with your hips to break the closed guard. Enter into combat base and initiate the single underhook pass into side control. Finally, we drilled some keylocks from mount.

Main class was taught by a black belt from Paragon named Adam Benshea who was present during my blue belt promotion. Super nice guy. He warmed us up with some single leg entries off  a sleeve/collar grip, then executing the takedown by either running the pipe, driving forward and grabbing the other leg, or lastly by cupping the knee and circling back while driving them down. Drilled some more classic butterfly sweeps, except off the overhook you can reach in and control their cross collar and lock the overhook in with your knee to thigh, then come up in scarf hold while keeping your head low.

Rolled with a bunch of people including a purple belt named Johnathan, a white belt, a few blues and then Adam. Again, got steamrolled by everyone. Managed to hit the reverse butterfly on the white belt but that's pretty much irrelevant. Rolled and talked with a black belt named April who knows Casey from back in the day. She has some busted up ACLs and a brace on a knee. We rolled super light and I worked a bunch of guard technique and mount escapes.

I think I clocked 10 hours of mat time this week. I want to train more, but it's pretty hard with my sleep schedule. 6 hours is rough when I have to chase kids around the next day in the sun. I'm still feeling good and noticing improvements. Mostly:

I've been having much more success when using the torreando or just controlling the pants leg in general. On to week 3.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Training at Alliance HQ: The First Week

I was fortunate enough to scrape together the money necessary to train at Alliance headquarters for a month, and I am super excited about it. I signed up on Tuesday and immediately jumped in to the 6:30 fundamental class, which consisted of a couple blue belts, but mostly white belts. One of the black belts, DJ Farmer, led the class. We went over drop Seio Nage using a sleeve and collar grip, then taking three steps back before pivoting your body underneath and dropping down for the throw. You are putting your head on to the ground and essentially bumping them over from what appears to resemble a turtle position, except you're underneath them with grips and they have no center of gravity.

We then drilled a "leg wave" north/south escape, where you are keeping your arms in tight by your neck as to avoid a submission, and swinging your legs a few times to get out from under them. Then, you go to upside-down guard, bring your knees in to their shoulders, and rotate to guard. Get your sleeve grips, drive them away with the foot that is on their shoulder, then get your feet to their hips when you have achieved the distance for a recomposed open guard. If you are unable to escape your hips from under them, you can plant your feet and hip bump while turning to your knees and grab a leg for a single leg attempt. They will most likely sprawl easily, and you can recompose guard by doing what is essentially a reverse technical stand by bringing your leg through and upward (if you're grabbing their right leg, you post out with your left and bring your right outward as you fall back).

For the advanced class, Lucas Lepri and Jacare showed some attack techniques from top of turtle. The first one is if your opponent doesn't allow you to complete the seatbelt hold and you can only snake your arm through their armpit, which is always possible no matter how tight they turtle. You grab the far-side collar via their armpit and feed it to the choking arm, then grab their armpit-side arm at the wrist and shift weight forward, then back as you snap it up onto their own thigh. Then, stick a hook into the choking arm side and roll that way. They will most likely attempt to block the other hook, but you already have a grip on their wrist, so you can guide it down and trap it with the hook and look to secure the rear-naked choke with the collar gripping hand.
As an alternate situation, if you cannot secure a wrist grip (if they stretch their arm out to stop you from grabbing it), you can double grip the collar, roll, and switch the second collar grip to behind their head, escape your shoulder and secure the collar choke by extending outward. We then drilled in a 4 man blue belt group from turtle. I lost a bunch and won one time by escaping and passing guard.


6:30 was the intermediate class, and there were mostly blue belts and a few whites thrown in. Lucas warmed us up for a half hour with some nasty calisthenics which consisted of a bunch of running, jumping jacks, shoulder rolls, leapfrog stuff, and bridging up and crawling under the other people. Probably the most intense warm up I've ever gone through. After, we did some more drop Seio Nage, except instead of using the collar and sleeve grip for the throw, we used ippon positioning with our arms and bicep to throw. There were some more turtle techniques, but I'm sure they're mixed up with the other classes in my head...
The main class involved some warm ups with a collar and sleeve grip where you plant your foot in their hip and fall back while getting a de la riva hook on the inside knee and lifting them up. You can get the helicopter armbar here, or if you fail to lift them and initiate a Tomoe Nage, you can shrimp out, grab their ankle and hit a sickle sweep. The guy I worked with here was a blue belt and he was the biggest dick I've ever come across. Had a huge attitude and just complained about everything I did. Whatever. We went over some mount techniques after the stand up, including the basic sleeve choke off an elbow escape attempt, and an armbar utilizing mounted triangle positioning. We then did "heart attack" drilling, which was a 4 person group with one person constantly defending a person from passing their guard without breaks or "high fiving before you go or any of that kissy stuff" LOL. Rolled and got dominated mostly, but managed to sweep a very solid blue belt using that reverse scissor sweep before getting tapped and hugely outpointed. I was destroyed from all the calisthenics and couldn't make it in on Thursday from the DOMS.


I went in at 6:30 for some no-gi even though I fucking hate no-gi. I was surprised to see that because of the Mundials training camp, it was a gi class. I had my white alliance gi so I joined.

Lucas led a nice relaxed yoga-style stretch warm-up for the half hour. We jumped right into the rolling and I was paired with a brown belt my size with one hand. He was an amputee or something. He had great pressure and was better than me for sure, but the lack of second gripping definitely posed a problem for him as he couldn't secure an armbar or kimura on me and had to transition to the back. It was a super chilled, technical roll, and it was awesome. It amazes me that even with one hand, the guy would kill most people in a regular street fight.

Second guy was a larger purple belt with a thick accent. He just sat back for 2 ankle locks on me, which OK, you got it, but why?? This is training, you don't get a medal for how many times you tap me quickly.

He swept a bunch and caught me in sub or two, but I escaped a bunch to his guard. He definitely toned back his game late into the rolling. I also avoided an omoplata attempt, which was nice.

Third guy was a super nice blue belt from Fort Benning, training here for Worlds. He subbed me with a couple collar chokes that were very tight, but I actually had a nice, competitive roll with him. I had great posture and avoided a lot of his subs from closed guard. Tried for a standing pass from closed guard, but could not complete it. He said he thought I was pretty good and would do well at NAGA later in the year, so I thought that was nice. We talked about techniques for a bit and ended the class. I grabbed Lucas for a touristy picture and got one of his patches for my gi. Swag.

I planned on going in today (saturday) but got drunk last nite and didn't make it. I'm gonna go in on Monday, tuesday, thursday and saturday this week, which should be my permanent schedule, with alternating wednesdays thrown in. That's 11 and 14 hours of BJJ a week....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Progress Update: Two Year Anniversary Edition!

Today, April 30th, marks my 2nd completed full year of Jiu Jitsu. I am very excited for this landmark and look forward to many more years of rolling fun! Today also marked a sad day, as long time fellow lightweight grappler Antony said his farewells as he is moving back to Atlanta post-graduation. He's been training with Casey since before there was even a Megalodon -- for 4 years -- and I will miss rolling with him for sure. This reminds me of just how quickly time can fly. I have one year left in Athens. Then I too will move on.

I showed up at 7pm and rolled with Josh for the half hour. He destroyed me. His no-gi game is light-years ahead of his gi game, IMO. Anyway he is preparing for US Grappling in May so he needs to be on his A game.

We went over some basic butterfly sweeps. The first was a two-on-one sweep similar to the one-leg sweep. Kill an arm, half collar tie, and get momentum going back to take side control. Second was armdrag to back-take. I use this technique a lot when I can. Lastly we went over what to do if they initiate an escape from back mount in the wrong direction. Help them slide over the choking arm and drive your locked arms through to an arm-triangle. Good stuff. Antony got to roll with everyone and he caught me in a twister, which is always bad ass. Went over some butterfly passes with Coe. Controlling both feet at the heels and pulling. Wait for them to pull back with one leg and step over to knee-on-belly. I'm still not a huge fan of no-gi. I really enjoy the thinking and methodical way of attack that goes on in gi.

At this two year mark, I find that my half guard has greatly improved. I play a lot of Z guard and can sometimes hit sweeps from there. More development is necessary, though. Been hitting many more triangles and even transitioned to omoplatas a few times. I will be continuing to work on maintaining back control and getting the choke from there.

In other news, I am trying to get a job near home this summer. I was gonna stay in Athens, but I would greatly prefer to take work that isn't mind-numbing (TeleNet...). If I can get a job at Jew camp in Dunwoody, I will be right near Alliance HQ. Michael mentioned a deal that Jacare offered him for like $180/month for a 3 month contract. I think that's doable. It would be cray to train there almost every day. Here's to hoping everything works out, and it will be an awesome summer indeed.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feels Great To Be Back!!

So my injury is almost 100% better and today was my return to the gym. Everything went well. Made sure to stretch everything out and I don't think I'll have any continued issues with my quad muscle. We worked some omoplata escapes, including where you simply pull out, the jump over to side control escape, and the counter omoplata if you try to roll forward and they attempt to block you. Nothing particularly new to report on. Been having continued success with the reverse scissor sweep from full and half (Z) guard. I've also been working on stripping grips and it's enabling me to move around easier and frustrate my opponents. The biggest thing I'm uncomfortable with at this point is top game and guard passing. So I'm gonna be working a lot of that in the coming months. Hopefully a summer job with 40 hours a week will enable me to train at Alliance in Atlanta a bunch. Then I can really take my game to another level.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Torn Quadricep

I've been training for almost 2 years now, and thankfully I haven't had any serious injuries that would require significant medical attention or a large amount of time off the mat. I can still say that's true, but man, this injury sucks. About 3 weeks ago I was running around with some friends and I must have pulled something in my right quad. Aggravated it somehow. I stretched well beforehand, but I'm not a runner and I probably overdid it. I was rolling fine for the week after, but I didn't even realize that the muscle was tweaking and cramping on me during regular activities throughout the day. I went in to roll some no-gi and like a complete idiot I didn't stretch. I guess my mind wasn't right. I loaded up a lightweight onto my shin, sorta like a scissor sweep position when he was trying pass, and the whole muscle cramped up like never before. Really shitty pain. I sat out the rest of class and couldn't really move around much. Ended up taking some ibuprofen for the swelling when I got home and of course, R.I.C.E treatment. I'm thinking it's a stage 1-2 tear, somewhere in between. I've been out for 2 full weeks now and my leg still hurts. Aiming for a Wednesday return, but if it isn't much better I'll need more time off. Always stretch, kids. At least I've been making that minimum wage cheddar while picking up shifts at work instead...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gi Review: Shoyoroll Batch 11: "The Count" Maeda Edition

Ladies and gentlemen, after 4 months of waiting, the newest Shoyoroll has been shipped to customers worldwide. I am not one who supports the idea of pre-ordering a jiu jitsu gi and having them take my money 4 months in advance, but Shoyoroll is notoriously hyped in the BJJ world as being a premier gi that fits like no other. So I bit the bullet. I don't spend my money on much, mostly because I'm a poor college student, but I was in the market for a new gi anyway. The biggest reason is because although I love my Keiko Raca Limited Edition blue gi jacket, the pants are awful. Seriously Keiko, where do you get off selling these crappy pants? Anyway, I digress. How does the new Shoyoroll measure up? Let's begin. And please note, these are POST-WASH measurements. I'll talk more about this later in the review.

The kimono top feels great. There was a small amount of bunching at the back shoulders, but the wash (warm) and hot, complete dry seems to have fixed that. Before the wash, the cuffs stopped about a half inch above my wrist. Post-wash (actually 2 washes later, since I rolled in it last night after the initial shrink), it's about 3/4" above the wrist. Quite honestly, it fits almost perfectly. One thing that I really like about the Keiko Limited kimono is the tapered collar that curves downward. It's a different style, and there's more material. Merely a matter of opinion, I would think. This shoyoroll is definitely lighter. Less material overall, and a different weave (pearl, compared to Keiko's gold). This of course also factors into the shrinkage issue. Here are some more pictures of the kimono.

Lining looks fancy. Stitching is a bit crooked.

Close-up of the trademark patch.

Let me quickly address the stitching on the kimono. Some others who reviewed the previous model shoyorolls have griped about the crooked contrast stitching. This model is by no means perfect, but it's pretty damn good, in my opinion. Nothing is too muffed up looking. The seam tape is also straight all around. I think Shoyoroll fixed any problems they had with previous manufacturers, which is good. Now, on to the pants!

I'll cut straight to the point: these pants are perfection. They feel custom made. There is no excessive bunching in the crotch area, and there is the RIGHT amount of material, given the size, at the waist so I don't look like I stuffed a pillow over my ass. The cuffs are slim and don't provide an excessive amount of material for easy gripping. The crotch is reinforced with a slice of gold weave gusset, and the inside of the knees, pictured below, are reinforced with a layer of gold weave for extra durability.

Post-shrink. Honestly, the cuffs lost maybe 1/4". I'm talking virtually zero shrinkage here. Enough for it to pretty much form-fit you.



Here are some stats for you. I'm 5'10", about 147lbs, and the gi size is A1L. This is apparently a new size from Shoyoroll that is made for taller, skinnier guys. As you can see, even out of the box the thing fits wonderfully. For those unfamiliar with the weave, "pearl" refers to a treated material that withstands shrinkage better than any other weave. From what I can tell, this is true. My Keiko is a gold weave that that thing is STILL making me paranoid to dry it, even 6+ months after I got it.

The Shoyoroll, on the far right, boasts the thickest collar. This could be attributed to wear and tear on the other two (blue is the Keiko, white on the far left is my pearl weave Alliance gi).

Final picture is the gi bag that came with it. I don't intend to use this, and it doesn't seem to be particularly durable. It took me a minute to realize the glaring typo here ("repsect"). I know it isn't the gi, but they should have made sure this didn't happen.

The retail price of this gi was $165 + $15 in shipping. On a scale from 1-10, I have to give it a 9/10. By comparison, given my complaints about the Keiko pants, I would have given that gi a 6.5/10. Shoyoroll needs to kill their waiting period and have gis ON HAND. I also expect a premium gi to NOT have typos on any part of the package.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave any questions or comments, and please subscribe to the blog for future gear reviews and more thoughts from a grappler!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

3/7/12- Gi

Let me just start off by saying that the new gym looks baller. The ring is badass and the Zebra mats are super nice. Plus the finish on the mats is such that I will never get mat burn again. Great success!! Even the old wrestling mat is pretty comfortable and it serves a purpose on the other end of the room as additional mat space.

Worked some wrestling with Johnny teaching. Went over pummeling for double underhooks, locking up your hands and getting them to the ground with really any kind of trip. Also drilled the over/under position with an inside trip on the underhooked side as well as the outside trip on the underhooked side. After this, we drilled technical armbars from guard, scissor sweeps, and then combo'd them together.

We have a bunch of new folks already which is pretty awesome. A couple guys my size and even smaller. One is Reid, about 125lbs and another new guy I met today named Brad, who's probably around 135-145. I rolled with Brad and although the dude was a white belt, he put on a hell of a fight. Pretty close to blue belt I would think. I pulled guard but he wouldn't let me close up and pushed combat base from the beginning. I struggled to make anything happen from half guard because he had good shoulder pressure and was doing everything he should have been. He wouldn't let me get the underhook there either, and he ended up passing my guard a few times. He wasn't particularly tight from there and I reversed him a few times and snagged a nice inverted triangle off a scramble. Second roll, he got swept off my butterfly hooks (I think) and tried for an armbar but I defended well, blocked his triangle transition and passed into side control and north/south and the round ended. Actually a pretty chill, super technical match with him. Looking forward to rolling more. Rolled with Johnny and got raped as expected. Closed out the night with Antony and a bunch of back and forth until the end minutes when he mounted a few times.

We actually have a bunch of people now but I've yet to see some of the other, more regular people.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rolling No-Gi with Casey!

I guess everyone was super hungover from Saturday night because no one else showed up! That wasn't my excuse though. Their loss anyway, because I got some great practice in rolling with Casey.

I went over some tips on how to secure the rear-naked choke when your opponent is fighting tooth and nail to keep your arm off their throat. Pretty much, I'm going to need to AGGRESSIVELY slide my arm across their neck if I want the choke. I guess I'm too complacent. The RNC is a super important, bread and butter submission and I want to work on making it high percentage for me. This means going for it whenever I have the back. Nothing else. No collar chokes, no armbar transitions, just being patient and fighting for it. Some tips included trapping their arm, which I'm capable of doing but I need to do it more often. Monkey-pawing the non-choking arm and keeping it out of the way, then forcing your knuckles across their throat and looking for the palm-to-palm or bicep grip. Also remember that if necessary, you can pull the non-choking arm out and look for the choke that way. Finally, if they try to slide out of back mount over your choking arm, you can lock arms, let them slide out and pull around for the arm-triangle.

Rolled for over an hour and just felt super smooth, technical and dynamic. No injuries and my mind felt clear. Played a lot of butterfly and De La Riva and actively looked for the hook and sickle sweeps. Tried some X guard but I'm pretty incompetent there. Overall it was a great night of rolling and I definitely see a difference rolling with Casey now. Biggest thing: not as intimidated and not feeling nearly as out of my element as I was a year ago.

In related news, this all took place at the all new Megalodon MMA in Watkinsville. Yep, our own gym. We have the ring set up, dressing rooms, locker rooms office space and a kiddie area. It's awesome and in prime location in the heart of town. Definitely gonna get some high school wrestlers in there to choke and armbar. Can't wait! Zebra mats should be coming in today, and I'm sure my knees will be less bruised in the long run. Super excited to never go into Athens Tae Kwon Do again. Stigma! "It's not a TKD gi, I actually use it to choke people!! I train in a real, practical martial art! I swear!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Advanced Gi Half-Guard Techniques

We had a rather small class today consisting of me, Michael, Coe and Ian. Casey was sick and couldn't make it.

Started off with some armbars, triangles and omoplatas from guard to warm up, then Coe showed us some judo stuff. One could be used when you cross sleeve grip your opponent and gain access to their back. Reach around to their armpit and try to trap or trip their near leg. When they step back to avoid the trip, you can hook their far leg, above the knee with your instep and roll backward, ideally landing on top.

Worked some Lucas Lepri half guard techniques which I want to implement into my game. One was the lasso pass from "quarter guard" for when you're trying  to knee-cut pass and they turn into your trapped calf. You're pulling up on their same-side arm and lasso-ing your free leg around their head and dropping, then switching, your hips into side control. Second technique was if they under hook or bodylock your opposide side (not trapped leg side). You grip their arm and you can walk your free leg up to their neck and hit a monoplata, gogoplata or straight armlock. Final half-guard tech was if they're blocking you from lasso-ing your leg around by grabbing gi material. Underhook that arm and cross face, dropping your weight and releasing their grip. You can then knee cut over their belly, switch your hips and take side control.

Rolled in a gauntlet and managed to hit the double underhook pass twice. Boa!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Standing Guard Passes and Top Game

It's all about the standing guard passes. I've been having a ton of success with them, and although they can still be very sloppy, I'm making them work more than ever before. Consequently, my top game has been improving. Better side control, easier time maintaining mount and less struggling for control in top half guard. I've been working wrestling a lot more thanks to Johnny's instruction on Wednesdays, and it's translating to me feeling more comfortable with takedowns and transitions from guard to single-legs. I've been securing back mount much more as well. Thing is, my attacks from the back are not where they should be. I need to work rear naked choke, collar choke variations and the occasional armbar transition.

I've noticed higher percent Torreando passes and double-under passes. The former will sometimes allow me to pass to side control or knee-on-belly, but the latter is harder to finish into side control. When I do get it working, I can usually scope out a path to their back by driving their hips away with my shoulder. Nothing wrong with that, though.

Sweeps from guard have been getting better. I've committed the opposite scissor sweep variant to muscle memory and it's been super high percentage lately. I want to integrate the hook and sickle sweeps and De La Riva sweeps into my standing sweep game and continue using the bread and butter ones for a sitting opponent.

So, the thing that's really glaring in my head right now is back finishes. Nothing else too major and I feel like my game has been steadily improving in nearly all facets.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gi: 1/25

Started off training with Johnny teaching some wrestling stuff. Single legs, specifically. He taught the one where you pull their leg out with you completely on the outside (not with it trapped between your legs), reach around and trip them down. Also the one where they try to crossface your head to the outside and you have to act quickly by turning the corner toward their free leg as opposed to the other way. I suck at describing takedowns. Johnny mentioned he's doing TDs on Wednesday now which is cool. I need to work my wrestling more. Just hope my kneecaps don't get fucked up too badly.

Casey went over the kimura from north/south and armbar transition. Both among my highest percentage attacks. Third attack was you grabbing their own far side lapel with your laced through arm (as if going for the kimura but not grabbing the wrist of your other hand; instead you grab their lapel from under their belt), tie up their arm, drop your weight and take the paper cutter. Hadn't seen that technique before, but I like it.

Rolled with Sergio and Antony. Played some good guard with Antony. Had some great hip movement and tried working De La Riva with little success. Rolled with Michael at the end and had the scissor sweep variation sweep, guard passing, etc. Nothing too remarkable to report on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

1/20 Gi: Nut Shots and Turtle Rolls

Did some warm ups which involved running around the gym, double legging the heavy bags and taking down the last person to run the circle, then getting taken down yourself. Worked the baseball bat choke, the lapel choke where you pull your own lapel, the one closest to their head (when you're in side control), feeding across their neck and spinning to north/south for the finish. I think it's called the Jacare choke on youtube. Maybe. Also worked the modified bow and arrow from crucifix, which you achieve from side control after jacking their lapel up to their neck and passing behind their head.

Drilled from side control then rolled with Sergio and Antony. Some triangles and armbars for Sergio but Antony and I had some great competitive rolls. Our last one had some epic scrambles. I escaped to turtle at one point and rolled through while controlling his leg and managed to recompose guard. Felt pretty good about that. At the end, JC and I ganged up on Coe but ended up losing miserably. Although it doesn't really count because Coe insisted on kicking me in the nuts. The damn cup slipped and caught a testicle at one point which sucked so fucking much.

Been taking the back a lot more than before which is nice. Still gotta work on securing the submission that I want without being forced to transition because of sloppiness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

No-Gi: 1/15/12

Got to the gym at 6pm and rolled with Josh until the main class at 7:30. He got me in his ridiculous Rick Flair style kneebars off my De La Riva attempts. If I'm gonna do that, I probably need to better control his wrists. Worked some open guard since I can't ever establish closed with him, got choked, armbarred, etc. Didn't want to over train since I got over a cold this week and energy-wise, I wasn't back to 100% yet.

Sat out most of the main class and watched. Two new guys were there. One might have been a UGA student and the other was a young guy who recently moved to the US from Germany. The techniques were arm-triangle from mount --> side control finish, keylock from scarfhold and some sort of neck crank. I tried watching them roll but it was torturous; new guy kept struggling to get out of JC's guard (expected) but his arms were posted super high near JC's shoulders and no armbar was occurring. Thus, he kept posting his arms high and thought it was OK. Michael kept RNC'ing the German guy (Roland, I think) until the guy realized he needs to protect his neck. I stepped in to roll with about 20 minutes left. Got Michael in an ankle lock, RNC'd Roland a bunch and armbarred the other guy into oblivion. Gave him some tips at the end on how to avoid getting your arm cranked such as don't extend it when in a bad situation, posture up in guard, etc. I think they both signed up, so fresh meat to train with.

In other news, I think butterfly hooks are my new bestest friend. I've been using them a lot to sweep, prevent passes and such. Combined with improved hip movement, I'm seeing my guard continue to evolve and improve. Looking forward to some gi on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No-Gi: 1/8/12

Fun night of no-gi action. Worked some more Z guard techniques. One was a pass where you reach down behind their top leg and monkey paw right above the knee on the bottom leg. Grab a hold of their bottom arm wrist, plant the top of your head into their stomach, kick back the trapped leg and pass into side control. The counter to that was to fight back and control THEIR wrist (same one trying to grab yours) and push their head downward into the ground. When you get enough space, you can recompose guard. We also discussed how you can counter the pass by controlling their monkey pawed arm wrist (thumb up for you), slide your shin into the bicep and work leg lasso position for the bicep slicer, the sweep (controlling their closest leg and kicking out), or spinning under and around for the omoplata.

Rolled with JC, Katie, Sean and Fausto, who's finally back from getting his Master's out of state and will be training with us while he looks for work. I felt like I had my strongest no-gi night possibly ever. Worked on maintaining good posture control, over/underhooks, head control and working submissions from guard and playing with hooks. Got tons of sweeps, played top game and worked passing, hit some nice transitions including armbar --> flower sweep --> armbar finish with opponent on his back, triangle-based sweeps, mounted triangle attempts, head scissor finish from north/south, etc. Felt really relaxed and in control the entire night, never losing guard and imposing my offensive game to the fullest. Even got out of JC's closed guard and passed/mounted/dismounted/north-south. Passing his closed guard is definitely an accomplishment because he's got those crazy long legs and can hold you there for ages while you gas out defending submissions.

All in all it was an awesome night. I need to work on getting used to more no-gi because the gi feels like a security blanket at times, even though I know my ground game is really solid right now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Power of the Blue Belt

There are a lot of people that make snide comments about shiny, expensive gi's and gear, saying "I hope these make my armbars better", etc. Well, there's something to that. New stuff, including a new belt rank, DOES make you better. How? The grappling game is part physical, part technique, and a whole lot mental. Sometimes a new piece of gear will give you that confidence you need to get your game to the next level.

When I replaced/retired my shrinking white Alliance gi from my lineup and put on a slick new blue Keiko Raca, I definitely felt more solid: because I looked fucking pimp. Now with the blue belt, I not only feel pimp-er, but I feel the need to kick my game up to the next level. It's like I can't take mediocrity. How does this directly translate? A HUGE problem with newer grapplers is the inability to get out of a bad situation if you're gassed or feel it's pointless. I feel the need to FORCE myself to escape from bad positions. I have that extra breath. I will not settle for complacency! Why did I have the tendency to "chill" in certain positions (eg: guard, mount)? That is not acceptable, because if you're not on the offense, the other person is.

Constantly attack. Show no mercy.

I felt great tonight, back in training for the first time since December 19th when I was promoted. I was fierce and constantly attacking. Using hooks to sweep. Armbars. Back to guard. Cross-sleeve control. Throw that nigga around. Take the back. Give me your fucking neck.

We worked some Z guard stuff. Triangle, Omoplata, Mir lock and some straight armbar options. I was familiar with all this stuff as I play a lot of Z guard, but I usually opt for the armdrag --> back take. I'm going to work on implementing more of these attacks as Z guard is my prime half guard position. Also, as mentioned, work for the underhook and check out the sweep options. I don't intend to explicitly work on deep half any time soon, but if it happens, it happens.

As a bonus, checked out the berimbolo position... but much like my initial attempts at tornado guard, I couldn't figure out the mechanics of the position enough to take the back. I *may* continue to work this out, because it's an awesome counter to the combat base (or standing de la riva); and I need something like that in my game. Check out the video. Warning: very fancy.