Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last night's class and UFC 94 picks

I had a pretty good class last night. Didn't perform as well as I would have liked rolling, but I was having some stomach problems so I wasn't at my best, physically. I did have one important breakthough, however. I used a technique Frank had shown me. When in side control, using the arms to block your opponent's knees and keeping your knee near your elbow and letting your knee follow your elbow across as you slide into mount. I actually was able to use that while rolling. I got bucked off pretty quick, but it felt good to make a little technique work.

UFC 94 picks:

Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida: I think this has the potential to be quite a good fight. Guida has a lot of heart and a lot of skill. Nate Diaz has some sick jiu-jitsu skills. Diaz is a cocky little punk, but it is hard to take much away from him. I will predict Diaz by submission in the second round.

Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim: Not terribly familiar with either fighter. I have seen Parisyan fight and don't believe I have seen Kim. Based upon my lack of knowledge about these guys, it is a tossup, but I will say Parisyan by TKO or unanimous decision.

Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones: Having seen the two classic fights Bonnar had with Forrest Griffin, I have to say that I really like Bonnar. There is NO quit in him. None. I don't know anything about Jones. I will pick Bonnar by first round TKO.

Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva: Not terribly familiar with either fighter. Saw Lyoto Machida fight Tito Ortiz in Tito's UFC farewell and do very well. Based upon that, I will pick Machida by submission in round 3.

BJ Penn vs. George St Pierre: This has the potential to be one for the ages. Their first fight, GSP won by split decision, but in terms of damage done, GSP by far got the worst end of it. He was a bloody mess. The consensus seems to be that GSP takes this fight. I am a huge BJ Penn fan, however. His jiu-jitsu is some of the best on the planet. I am therefore going to pick BJ Penn to defeat GSP by submission and become the first fighter in the UFC to hold two titles simultaneously in 2 different weight classes.

We're going to watch the fights tonight and I will post again tomorrow, reviewing my picks.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RIP Helio Gracie

Just heard that Helio Gracie, the grandmaster and patriarch of the Gracie family, passed away this morning at age 95. At this advanced age, he was still routinely rolling and doing very well. I hope to be half that active at 95.

RIP Helio Gracie (10/01/1913- 01/29/2009)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday Night Class: Epic Roll

Went to class last night and had a really good time. We started off with a lengthy warmup (jogging, side skips, running backwards, duckwalks, spidermans, shrimps, and slugs). We then did the "swimming" drill and drilled a couple of takedowns. We then reviewed a little armbar defense and then we rolled. I was a bit tired last night, so I decided in advance that one roll was going to be it for me. But, what a roll it ended up being.
I rolled with Tony, who, as I have mentioned in previous posts, outweighs me by 50+ pounds. It was gi night. We started off on knees and I pulled guard. He pulled the tail of my gi up and attempted the "baseball bat" choke which I was able to evade. I then grabbed his gi and pulled it up and over his head, in an attempt to both impair his vision and his ability to breathe.
He passed into side control and tried to mount me but I was able to transition instead into half guard. At that point, his gi is still over his head. I began to attack his left shoulder, working to try to lock in a kimura. Tony has very flexible shoulders, so the kimura wasn't doing much to him. He finally yanked the gi off his head (at this point the gi top came completely off) and slipped out of my half-guard and back into mount. I bucked and turned and inadverantly gave him my back.

He then tried to work an arm under my chin to set up for the rear naked choke. I grabbed his wrist and blocked his other arm. I was then able to turn into him and recompose half-guard. We then jockeyed for position for awhile. He finally got hold of my head and began to try for a guillotine choke. I tried posting up on a leg to take some of the pressure off, which was a fatal mistake. He swept me at that point and really was able to sink in the choke. I quickly evaluated the situation, realized there was really no way out and tapped.

Eleven and a half minutes had passed, which was a LONG roll (at least for me). Although I didn't "win", I more than held my own with a bigger, heavier, stronger opponent for a long time. That, supposedly, is what BJJ is all about, so I am very pleased. Little victories! Roll on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Spiritual Parallels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The Guard

First and foremost, let me start this post off by sharing something else about myself with you. I am a Christian and my faith is something that is very important to me and very much a part of me. Over the weekend, I was contemplating the many parallels between BJJ and our spiritual lives. I decided it could make for an interesting series of blog posts. The metaphor of mat sports is an integral part of the book of Job, in which Job actually wrestles with God, so these concepts are nothing new.

As Christians, we are constantly under attack. The Adversary, combined with our own sinful natures, throws temptations and other attacks and spiritual traps into our lives on an ongoing basis. We struggle with these attacks, which are often very strong and can come from unexpected directions. Oftentimes, we are tremendously overmatched in these Spiritual Jiu-Jitsu maches and, as with BJJ, the only hope we hav to emerge victorious is to emulate our Master and employ the techniques He teaches us. I am going to diagram these attacks below as they would relate to a typical roll or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match.

The Adversary attacks, with a temptation or other trap. Doing what we know to do initially, we engage and attempt to tie up the Adversary, "pulling guard", spiritually.

A good guard, as we know, is an effective means of basically controlling your Adversary and keeping his attacks at bay. When you have your Adversary in guard, you should be working to keep his posture broken and his means of attack limited. However, you don't want to get complacent or lazy with your guard, and you don't want to exhaust yourself by just playing a "control" game with a strong Adversary. I speak from experience both in Brazilian and Spiritual Jiu-Jitsu. Your Adversary is vey strong and anything but complacent.

The Adversary is going to be constantly working to "pass" your guard or otherwise advance his position. The techniques of the Adversary can include bringing people, things, or circumstances against you, which may get you to "open" your guard or give the Adversary an opportunity to pass your guard and move into a more dominant position.

You need to be well-versed in techniques to advance your own position and dipose of your Adversary's attack as quickly as possible. This comes from spending time with your Master and learning from the examples He provides in the great instructional He has written. Also, as with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match, during Spiritual Jiu-Jitsu, as you grapple wit the Adversary, your Master is in your corner, calling out instructions. It is our choice whether we take those instructions to heart and follow them. If we do not it is often to our peril.

A way of advancing your position in spiritual jiu-jitsu is, when you feel the Adversary attempting to pass your guard, spring into action. Remove yourself from a person or circumstance that may lead you down a dark path, begin a different activity, pray. As much as possible be proactive rather than reactive to the attack. Go to work to both defend and advance. Sometimes, depending upon the type of trap or "pass" the Adversary attempts against your "spiritual guard", defending the pass may give you an opening for a "submission" a "spiritual triangle choke" if you will:

In this case, using what you have learned from your Master, you have defeated the Adversary's attack. Keep training, however, as another attack could come at any time and the Adversary may employ a new technique that you are not expecting.

In upcoming posts about the Spiritual Parallels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we will tackle topics including :

How to respond if your "spiritual guard" is passed
How to respond if your counter to a "spiritual guard pass" does not lead to an immediate "submission"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Affliction: Day of Reckoning

Well, I have ended up getting to see the Affliction card after all. I am going to blog the show and give my thoughts on it. It is 8:20pm. Am watching the tail end of the undercard.

The undercard main event is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Little Nog) against Vladimir Matyushenko. Don't know a lot about either guy. Well, the first round just SUCKED. Neither fighter broke a sweat. The announcers are even mocking them. Well, Nogueira just pulled a TKO in the second round. Waiting for the main card to start.

First main card fight is going to be Dan Lauzon vs. Bobby Green (?). Fixing to start. They are saying this is going to be grappler (Lauzon) versus unorthodox striker (Green). Lauzon took a shot to the cup early in round 1 and took a couple of minutes in timeout. The fight resumed, Lauzon took him down, healthy triangle attempt by Lauzon and a SECOND groinshot by Green. and a THIRD groinshot. Herb Dean (ref) is deducting a point from Green. And, with 9 seconds left in round 1, Dan Lauzon gets a rear naked choke on Green and taps him out. 1-0 in predictions!

Second fight: Paul Buentello vs. Kyril Zedelnikov. Zedelnikov is a 20 year old protege of Fedor's. They even call this kid "Baby Fedor" Might be interesting. So far Buentello is doing a lot of damage with his jab. After Round 1, Baby Fedor is in some trouble. Round 2 is more of the same. Zedelnikov had a brief flurry, but Buentello dominated the second round. In the third round, Zedelnikov was out on his feet, with a cut under his eye. The ringside doctor called a stop to the fight, so Baby Fedor falls. This one I had made no prediction on. Didn't know it was on the card.

Third Fight: Babalu Sobral vs. Sokodjou. So far, Sokodjou is using great takedown defense to keep things standing and avoid Babalu's jiu-jitsu. Round 2 Babalu took it to the ground and got an Anaconda Choke on Sokodjou. I am now 2-0 in predictions! Post-fight interview between Babalu and Tito Ortiz. Tito mentioned the possibility of a future fight between them and Babalu called him Toto. LOL.

Fourth Fight: Vitor Belfort vs. Matt Lindland. Belfort knocked him out with a left about 20 seconds into the fight. Lindland was kinda gorked out for a few minutes after the fight but eventually got to his feet. Nasty. 3-0 in predictions!

Fifth Fight: Josh Barnett vs. Gilbert Yvel. Exciting first round. Barnett worked a lot of BJJ and ground and pound. Yvel was lucky to make it out of the round. Round 2 Barnett spent most of the time in full mount pounding Yvel, but didn't finish it. Round 3, shortly into the round, Yvel taps out from strikes. 4-0 in predictions!

Sixth Fight: Main Event: Fedor Emelianenko Vs. Andrei Arlovski for the WAMMA world heavyweight championship. Fedor drilled Arlovski with a very sudden right as Arlovski went for a flying knee and knocked him out. Very sudden end in the first round. Wow. Goodnight! 5-0 in predictions!

Back Injury/Affliction: Day of Reckoning

Banner 2 Banner 1 go!

First off, tonight is Affliction's second show: Day of Reckoning. It should be a dandy. Not planning on probably watching it live, but will be interested to see the results.

Last night, I went to class, rolled with Frank and sustained a back injury. During the roll, he took my back and flattened me out. I resisted and felt a pop-pop-pop in my back. It felt more like a hard chiropractic adjustment than anything else, but I am kind of sore. I am hoping it is just minor. I was hurting bad last night when I got home but it is not nearly as bad this morning, which I am hoping is a good sign. I didn't get to roll much last night because of that, so not much to report on the training front. We went over the D'arce choke and Arm Triangle choke from side mount:

As far as the Affliction card, here are my picks:

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski: FEDOR. I think Arlovski will put up a good fight and it will last more than one round, but Fedor will continue to be the man.

Josh Barnett vs. ? Yvel: BARNETT. Barnett is likely to dominate this guy.

Vitor Belfort vs. Matt Lindland: BELFORT. A good fight. Might go the distance. Belfort by decision if it does.

Babalu Sobral vs. Sokodjou: BABALU. Babalu will win this by submission.

Dan Lauzon vs. ??: LAUZON. The Lauzon boys train and fight hard.

We will see how good my picks are.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First clas/rolls, Post-"Plague"

Went to class last night for the first time since the creeping crud descended upon me last week. It was a good class and very well-attended. We reviewed the short arm bar, the triangle choke (which I struggle with a bit due to having short legs), and transitioning from triangle to arm bar if your opponent defends the triangle.

We then rolled. I rolled with Alan, Tony, and Keith. Alan is basically a Mexican stand-off, which gets a bit boring. Tony is bigger and heavier, so ultimately he usually gets me based upon power. I rolled with Keith and got mount on him. I went for an Americana on him and he defended it. I decided to try something subtle and continued to focus on the Americana as a distraction while trying to also trap the near arm. Once I had the near arm trapped, I begin to slowly position my feet, got them where I wanted them and then quickly moved to an armbar and got the tap.

That was the first time I have really attempted to be deceptive while rolling and managing to pull it off felt pretty good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pushup Challenge

I had taken the pushup challenge last week and managed to do 25. I started week one of the program just now, which, after six weeks, will theoretically have me able to rattle off 100 consecutive pushups. We shall see. Session 1 went well. I was able to go through all 5 sets with no struggle. It'll be interesting to see how it gets as I move along in the program. It'll definitely help with my upper body strength. I am excited to see what sorts of benefits that brings. Resuming BJJ tomorrow night. Decided to give my body one more day of rest to finish getting over the sinus crud.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sickness May be Abating, UFC and submissions, etc

This sinus infection has had me down for the count all this week. My throat has been raw from the sinus drainage and my head has felt like it is in a barrel. I did not train at all this past week, partially because I have felt lousy and partially because I didn't want to potentially spread my "plague" to others by close contact. I am going to probably go tomorrow (Monday) night though. I am feeling better, definitely not 100% but better. I am looking forward to getting back to training.

There is a disturbing (to me) pattern I see forming in MMA (UFC in particular). The art seems to be taking a move away from submissions and more toward ending fights by striking. Now I realize that a lot of the "casual" fans want to see these guys slug it out and that they get bored and restless when fights go to the ground, mostly because they haven't taken the time to educate themselves on the intricacies of the jiu-jitsu game. I also realize that there are a lot of more "serious" fans who love the striking and ground and pound game. I don't mind it if there are some submission attempts and some jiu-jitsu thrown in as well. But, if I wanted to watch boxing, I would watch boxing. The last 2 UFC cards, exactly ONE fight has ended by submission. The Mir/Nogueira fight from UFC 92 by all logic should have been a jiu-jitsu classic. Instead it ended up being mostly a kickboxing fight with Mir winning by TKO. I can't help but think the fighters may be being pressured to keep it standing. Is the Mixed in Mixed Martial Arts being watered down?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Friday Rolls and Being Sick

Went to class on Friday and rolled a bit with Frank. It ended up being more of a social session however. One of the younger folks in the class demonstrated a lack of some basic knowledge about a few things and Frank and I tag-teamed a history and political science 101 class. I escaped a pretty good rear naked choke attempt by Frank which felt pretty good.

I woke up yesterday morning with a sore throat and painful swallowing. I was working from home yesterday and I took some time to run to the doctor and get on some antibiotics. Throat is still sore and my head feels like it is in a barrel, but I am a little better than I was. I will probably go back on Friday.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Learning To Breathe

It has been brought to my attention that when I roll, I have a tendency to hold my breath for long periods of time, which apparently makes me turn all manner of funny colors. This is something I am not doing intentionally, because, who in their right mind would? It is something, however that I am trying to become conscious of as I roll. Oxygen is an important thing, even more so while engaging in strenuous activity. So, when I go to class tonight, I am going to continue to focus on respiration and oxygenation. :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Last Night and Taking The Challenge

Last night had a very good training session. It was Gi Night, which is always a challenge. The weight of the gi and the additional sweat equity it drains from your body makes it a night that sometimes seems like it will never end. I had some very good experiences however, which I will get to shortly. Last night, Frank reviewed the traditional armbar from the mount (see video below)

and the single underhook guard pass (see video below)

After the technique reviews, we drilled a bit, running the "gauntlet". Two guys in the middle, pulling guard. Other folks rotating in trying to pass or submit. The guy in guard is trying to sweep or submit. I ended up rolling a bit with Tim, a newly minted blue belt. I ended up getting into a bad position, in the guard with one arm in and one arm out. He tried to throw a triangle choke but I was able to posture up and keep him from finishing the choke. He then tried to transition to an armbar, but ultimately I was able to escape from that predicament. He ended up getting me shortly thereafter with another armbar, but I prefer to dwell on little victories.

Then, I rolled with Tony, one of the newer folks at the gym. Tony is 200lbs plus, so he has quite a bit of weight on me, not to mention a strength advantage. We got into a bit of a scramble for position and I ended up in the mount on him. I grabbed his gi collar and got a collar choke. I didn't have a very deep grip on the collar, so the choke wasn't that tight, but it was enough to get him to tap. So, for the first time I was able to submit someone a good bit larger than I am. Tony is a good guy and someone who I think I am going to enjoy rolling with.

Today, this morning, I was looking in the message forums on Lockflow, and noticed that someone had posted a message about the 100 Pushup Program and 200 Situp Program. The idea is that you see how many consecutive pushups and how many consecutive situps you can do. Based upon this, you start the program detailed on the website, which takes 30 minutes per week. You go for up to 6 weeks, depending upon how many you could do to start with. Then, at the end of the program, theoretically you should be able to do 100 consecutive pushups and 200 consecutive situps. I am a bit sore from rolling last night, so I am not going to take the tests until this weekend, and will plan to start the programs next week. I will let you know how I do when I take the tests. In the meantime, check out the site:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Choking Out A Pitbull

Kid in California was out walking in the neighborhood and saw a girl and her dog being attacked by a pitbull. The kid waded right in and applied a rear naked choke to the pitbull. The girl and her dog are going to be okay. Great story. Gutsy kid. Read about it here

Monday, January 5, 2009

Aches, Pains, Injuries, Recovery, and Age

As I mentioned in my first post, I am 39 years old. I got started doing BJJ in May, while I was still 38. I am the oldest person in the class by a few years. The physical toll that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu occasonally takes on the body sometimes makes me question why I do it. Thus far, injury-wise, I have popped out 3 rib heads (did that pretty early on) and hyperextended my neck when somebody stacked me and pushed forward hard. While I am very far from old, I am not as yong as I once was and it takes the body a little time to recover and recuperate. I just ty to listen to my body and do what it is telling me. Truthfully, though, the benefits have far outweighed the toll. I am probably in the best shape of my life (due to both running and BJJ), I have a great hobby, I have made a lot of friends, and I have a goal to work toward.

Being the oldest guy in the class really isn't that bad. It IS kinda funny the times that I am rolling with some of the real young'uns in the class and it hits me that I am old enough to be their father. Now THAT is sometimes enough to make one feel elderly.

Roll On!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Running and Rolling

A bit more about me--I also enjoy running. I recently completed my first half-marathon (The Atlanta Half-Marathon, held Thanksgiving morning, November 27, 2008). I was on a pace to finish in under 2:30 (my rough goal), but around mile 10, my right calf muscle seized up. I stopped and tried to stretch it, but every time I would start to run on it again it would spasm after the first couple of strides. I ended up having to "power walk" the last 2.5 miles. I finished it in 2:50. I am planning on running the ING Half Marathon coming up March 29th and am hoping for a better result.
The running has helped with cardio (although I still gas somewhat during rolling), so it all works together nicely.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last night

Went to class (no-gi) last night and we had a few new people in the class so Frank went over a few basic moves:
the bridge and roll escape from mount (see the video below)

and the Americana shoulderlock from mount (see the video below)

Although I had done these moves before a few times, it is always good to review them. The 2 new guys both outweigh me by a considerable margin so I really couldn't do much against them. Two of my foci this year are going to be strength training and also fexibility. Julia and I are going to start going to yoga classes and I am hoping that will help with flexibility.

I rolled with Frank for a bit last night while the 2 new guys drilled the moves they learned. He caught me with an armbar but I was able to partially fight out of it (I got his leg off my head and was trying to escape). He was able to readjust and torque the arm to ultimately get me to tap, but it felt good to at least make him work a little for it. The subtle differences that the position of an arm or leg can make are one of the things i LOVE about this art. Good stuff.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goal for 2009-Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt

Hey. My name is Matt. I am a 39 y/o guy living in suburban Atlanta. I have been studying the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months now and have been tremendously enjoying the challenge. It is both a very physical and very cerebral art, as well as a very effective self-defense system. Although I have been studying BJJ for 6 months, I am still very much a newbie at the game and still end up getting tapped out most times when I roll with people. I do think that my game is starting to improve a bit however. I have set a rough goal for myself to test for my blue belt (second level) by the end of 2009. This blog is going to chronicle my training, my thoughts, my aches, my pains, my injuries (minor, hopefully), as I journey toward that goal.

I am blessed to have a wonderful, very supportive wife, who, when I return from training does the ritual "bruise check", with our half-joking mantra that if I don't have a new bruise, I am not training hard enough. We both enjoy watching MMA, such as the UFC, old PRIDE videos, etc. I have a tendency to get a bit bored if a fight stays standing (yes, I am talking to you, UFC 92!), much preferring to watch the fighters grapple and try to submit one another rather than trying to win by strikes, ground and pound, etc. BORING! Some of our favorite BJJ practitioners include BJ Penn (Julia's favorite), Kenny Florian (my favorite), Demian Maia, etc. I am going to try to post here frequently with my thoughts and updates on training. Thanks for viewing!