Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 13 & 14

Worked with Diego 2 on Tuesday and Diego Herzog on Wednesday.

Tuesday was grueling. Two hundred Standing Guard Breaks, two hundred Armbars from Closed Guard, not to mention bearcrawls, one-legged bearcrawls, one-legged bearcrawls with pushups. Diego 2 is just bastard. A great, awesome, conditioning bastard. Love it. His classes are all about basics, basics, basics and he makes me a better BJJ fighter every time. Rolled with Anna at the end, a blue belt from Brazil. My size kept me safe, but she was working on a wicked Leg Triangle until I got saved by the bell. Phew!

Wednesday: I was pretty beat from Tuesday so came in kinda slow to Diego Herzog's class. All we went over was the fundamentals of the Spider Guard. And if you don't do a lot of Spider Guard, like me, that positions works your hips, neck, arms, and shoulders. You're basically on your back with your legs and arms engaged and head up. Really good stuff. I rolled with Harry, who is about my size, maybe a little heavier, and I found out that I've been fighting like a heavy guy this whole time. 

In BJJ, like Muay Thai, there are different strategies depending on your size. In MT big guys tend to stay planted to save energy and move less and keep a strong grounded base to throw punches and kicks. The center line tends to be their bread and butter, straight down the middle. And when I fight MT against little guys, I always tell them, don't charge right down the middle, you're just like Charlie Brown and I'm Lucy and you're basically walking into my right cross (though not so with lefties, if they know what they're doing, the orthodox fighter eats the left cross every time; just ask anyone who's gone against TJ Arcangle, thankyouverymuch). For little guys, it's all about angles and speed, angles and speed. And frankly, that's a strategy all MT fighters have. Big guys should ALWAYS fight like little guys. Big guy tactics are bad habits. Well, it's not all that different in BJJ.

There's still a center line, which you're better off staying off of, big or small. And big guys tend to stay planted and use their strength against smaller people. This is white belt level, I'm talking. Higher belts have their own strategy, tactics, challenges, to which I'm ignorant of at this point. 

What this means is I end up in Turtle Guard or in my opponents Side-Control and stay there for too long. Little guys, they squirm right out, get their knees in, recover Guard, all that good stuff. And with Harry, I tended to get him in my Half-Guard and whereas I can roll most people in my Half-Guard onto their back and take Side-Control, Harry kept his hips low to the ground, his balance low, and I couldn't budge him. Granted, he couldn't advance much of an offense, but I was fighting a big guy like he was a little guy and should've had the tables turned and fought like a little guy. Only problem is I don't know exactly how to do that. And by the time I rolled with Diego my arms were shot from trying to roll Harry with my upper body. Pretty sure Diego choked me out like ten times in a row. And then Conrad proceeded to do the same. So, looks like I found a bad habit of mine. Gotta start training like a smaller person, learn how to move and stay active. A new goal. 

Final note, it looks like the careers of both my BJJ coaches are taking off. Marcel Fortuna, my first Black Belt instructor, who fought a close fight to get into the UFC house during the last heavyweight season but didn't get the W, just signed on to the UFC to fight some 6'5" 260 lbs guy already in the UFC on two weeks notice. That's short time, but I know he can do it. And now Diego Herzog, my current instructor, he's in negotiations with Bellator for February after he fought for them last year and got a KO in the first round, AND he's flying out to corner Marcel. So pumped for both these guys who've been in the industry for years sharing knowledge and creating fighters to finally get the recognition they deserve. Oss!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 12

Went down to World Team today. Lucio Muramatsu taught class. 

We did a lot of things, but what was really cool for me was his technique to get to Back Mount when your opponent is curled up in Turtle Guard. Mostly I try to plant a knee in the small of the back (got that from Jorge) or grab a leg and steam roll them into Side Control (also Jorge) or even roll them in to a Loop Choke, though I never get the Loop Choke. So close! And yet, so far.

Lucio, though, showed us this really easy variation where you, once they've turtled up into Turtle Guard and you have the Seatbelt hold, you use your shoulder to apply pressure to the head and neck and then just, bam, roll. It's super simple and once you roll, you can sink in your hooks and then go right from there into a Rear Naked Choke. Lucio's variations are so subtle and kinda idiosyncratic, I can't always find them on Youtube, or find the right search terms, but I found this video below. It's pretty much exactly on point, but this guy walks around his opponent a bit before he rolls. Lucio's works fine, but I see the wisdom of the clock walk. Might try it. Either way, this is it and it's so simple!

After that we did controlled sparring. Two guys sat in the middle while the opponents took their back and got Seatbelt and that's how the round started. Whoever won, stayed in the middle. Who would want to stay in the middle!?!?!? And yet...

Was tough. Went with Oscar, Harry, Rick, Adrian, Conrad, and Lucio. I stayed active with Conrad, but his back was a bit tender so I think he went easy. I got Oscar in a Bow-And-Arrow Choke, which is a bully move I learned from Ricky, but Harry, the new white belt, he just kept me in control the whole time! I got him in Half-Guard, but this dude stayed low, kept his hips near the mat and just worked the position until he got his leg out and took Full Mount! After that, went with Lucio and that guy just slid out, like a ninja, every time, made it look like child's play. And that's why he's a Third Degree Black-Belt. Great class!

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 11

Went to Suginami Aikikai last night. What a great place. Really like it there. Very traditional Aikido dojo, shrine to O Sensei, the works. Anyhow, they have a much bigger class then I was first lead to believe. My first time there over the holidays I had a class with like three people in it, including myself. Last night, though, whoa, much bigger. 12, 16, maybe 18 people. Women and men. Three black belts, blue belts, brown, purple, and a grip of white belts of course. 

Lucio Muramatsu taught. He had us go over the basics, which is always good. We drilled and drilled and drilled guard sweeps from Open, De La Riva, and Spider Guard. The first two I got pretty well, but the sweep from Spider Guard, well, I muddled through it, but it just didn't flow very well. I got it, but it wasn't smooth.

After class I caught the train to Angel's and kept thinking, what did I do wrong? And halfway to Angel's, of course, it totally dawned on me. Too specific to go into here, but it had to do with shifting my hips so that I was getting off the line. I tried to look for a video that went into this, but it's such a Lucio variation, what he taught. Lucio is all about the philosophy and theory of BJJ. His variation is about using your body to get off the line, the line being your opponents main attack line, where he's putting all his force, AND where you're going to redirect the force, meaning make him/her fall flat forward, meanwhile, you're not there anymore, moved off to the side. Lucio has a saying: It's easier to move yourself than it is to move your opponent. And then once you do move yourself, you move into a position where it IS easier to move your opponent. Point is, move yourself first. 

Anyhow, the following video isn't exactly the variation, but the end part, where he gets the shoulders perpendicular to the floor and then goes for the sweep, that's the same as how we finished it. I know, sounds like not a big deal, but I really got the concept of moving myself last night. Small victories. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 10

Man, after Diego 2 yesterday where all we did was fundamentals and Armbar from Guard over and over and over again, my body was sore this morning. But I had to go. Hadn't seen Diego Herzog, our head instructor, for almost a month, holidays and all, so it was time to get in there and get back to training.

Lotta white belts today, which is not a bad thing, always good to go over the basics. Haven, Harry, Regina, and myself wearing Whites along with Oscar (Blue), Mike Kazan (Purple), and Conrad (Brown), so it was a nice sized class. Plump.

After warm ups we drilled a Mount Escape into Side-Control and then Mount Escape into Scissors-Sweep.

Later on we sparred. I went with Oscar and he submitted me twice right off the bat with two chokes that I didn't think he had the proper leg position for (a Guillotine and a Collar Choke from the back), but he worked his angles and used his athleticism as a weapon and just forced them through. One was more crank than choke, but one was definitely a choke. Nearly passed out. It's a good lesson: just cause someone's not in proper position or doesn't have the right hooks, that doesn't mean you're safe. I got him with a sweet Kimura, but it's kinda a basic move and I need to get a better offensive arsenal. I then got him in an Arm Triangle from Half-Guard and held it and worked it and I think had it been anyone else, I would've neck cranked them to a tap, but it's Oscar we're talking about here. He's tough and strong and doesn't give up. He just kept my leg tied up in Half-Guard (can't finish that choke until you free your leg and get on the opposite side of the choke and get your hips to the mat for the proper angle) and my arms started to tire out. I kept the position and squeezed like an anaconda, but he stayed calm. The sad thing for me was that as I worked my leg out from the Half-Guard tie up, I kneed him in the groin. Yikes. The rest of the round it was back and forth, with him dictating most of the pace. 

We switched partners and I worked with Haven, a new white-belt. He's got good instincts, but just doesn't know the positions yet. I tried not to bully him, but show him what was open. One thing I went over is that you have to stay on top, but play the same level. It's all about Level Change. This is my own insight, so might be way off, but it goes something like this: if we're both standing and one guy shoots low, now the game is low, the guy in the higher position, he no longer has control. He can sprawl, get to his knees, or he can get low at the same time, but the point is, the game is now low, levels have changed. And it can go right back. If I shoot low but then change and come back high, now the game is back to high. One guy who's found a way to play both positions, to effectively find the middle between high and low is Lucio Muramatsu. It's hard to find that middle, but right now I think it has a lot to do with getting your elbows to your knees. Or something like that. I'm still learning. But you gotta know what level you're fighting and react. Being in top position is what you want, but if the game changes, you need to reassess. 

I didn't bully him, but did sink in some chokes when I found them, then talked it over what I did and my thoughts on how he could protect more. One thing to always keep in mind is there is never a perfect position. In BJJ there is a counter for everything and an escape for everything and a variation for everything. Nothing is perfect. Gotta stay alert, read your partner, react, and keep your mind open. The best part though, is Haven's a cop. So I got to choke out a cop, like three times in a row, and I didn't even get arrested! My daytime work out is great!

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 9

Diego 2. Man, this guy loves drills. And cardio. Hip escapes, bear crawls, one legged bear crawls, push-ups, sit-ups. And then a thousand arm bars.

Diego 2, Diego Bezerra, Brown Belt, fights out of AKA out in San Jose. And he's hungry. The real deal. Does wrestling and Muay Thai down there with AKA's pro team, and then shoots up to San Francisco about five days a week to do Muay Thai night classes with Kru Sam and teach BJJ Tuesdays and Thursdays. He's training hard for his US MMA debut, which should be coming up soon. He's already 2-1 pro down in Brazil and now is training his ass off and spreading his knowledge. He's a worker and just embraces drills, drills, drills, along with sparing. So right now, it's all about fundamentals. It was just me and him yesterday, so I got a private lesson and we basically did Armbars from Guard a thousand times. Good times.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 8

So, today, besides being a great class, was pretty much a seminar on BJJ as an art as well as a martial art and a sport. Class was taught by Lucio Muramatsu and we started drilling with partners by choosing one pass to do ten times, one sweep ten times, and one submission ten times. I chose the Toreando Pass or Bullfighter PassPendulum Sweep from Closed Guard (which has a Brazilian name that I can't pronounce, something like Bombalagamba, but that's totally wrong), and then Armbar from Closed Guard. Drilling was great, but one of the best things I learned from Lucio is that every pass has three parts: The Advance, the In Between, and the Establishment of Control. You make your move, you have a spot in the middle where you've passed but haven't established control, and then you do. So for the Toreando it's: move the legs (Advance), knee on belly (In Between), and then into Side-Control. It's not enough just to make it pass someone's legs/guard (passing means you pass the legs which is also known as the Guard cause if your opponent can keep their legs between you and them, there's no submission or control there), you have to establish control. I know, doesn't sound profound, but for me it really made sense. 

After that we rolled and I did a pretty good job of staying out of submissions, though of course, I did get submitted, by Mike Kazan and by Conrad. An Armbar and a Bow-and-Arrow choke, respectively. I did manage to get Adrian in Arm Triangle, but that's just cause he held onto a bad Guillotine too long, gotta give that up the moment you figure you can't close it. Oscar, of course, kept the action high. Almost got him in a Kimura, but really, he's so flexible that he let me have it while he set up his legs for an escape. But I did get a Judo throw on Mike! It was crappy, but I got him to the mat with a double collar throw and ended up in Side Control!

But the best stuff came after class. Lucio kinda went over his philosophy of minimum energy for maximum return. Also, discussed how it's easier to move yourself than your opponent. It's hard to put it all into words, mostly cause it is his approach and I'm still trying to understand it. I get it in theory, look for openings, think of it as chess, don't advance, move to the sides, but when I try it, I just get steamrolled by the likes of Mike and Oscar and everyone else. Still, it was nice to hear about his Algorithm as he calls it (yes, he's here in SF cause he has a start-up...). Anyhow, today was great, both physically and mentally. I hope to advance my game by staying calm and expending the minimum amount of energy for the maximum amount of return. Here's one of Lucio's matches, you can see how me moves so calm and methodical. He makes it look easy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 7

What a day. Exhausted. Lucio Muramatsu taught today and it seemed like everybody showed up for their new years resolution. Conrad, Ricky, Mike Kazan, Chester, Oscar, Robert, Henry, and myself, as well as Lucio. We went over the Spinning Armbar from Side Control and some variations. This is more or less what it looks like:

After that we did about a half hour of rolling where one guy is on the bottom and the guy coming in calls the guard: open, closed, half, De La Riva, etc. Whoever passes guard, sweeps, or gets a submission, that guy stays in and the other guy rotates out. It was rough. Somehow I got Conrad in a Kimura and managed to get Ricky off my back and take Side Control, but I think that was more of them giving it to me than me actually getting it, and nine times out of ten, I got swept or submitted. In the end, the question really is, who they hell wants to win and stay in the middle?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Jiu Jitsu Diary - 6

First class of the new year! Today Diego 2 taught and I rolled with Mike Guadamuz, who is a fierce Muay Thai fighter and a BJJ Blue Belt from Ralph Gracie. He's also tremendously strong and one time nearly got out from Side Control just by sitting up. Anyhow, it was a rough but good class. Felt like an old man, which I am, compared to these kids. We did mostly basics again, Armbar from Guard and then drilled from various positions: Back Control, Side Control, Full Mount. I pretty much got submitted all over the place, but I did manage to get him in an Ezekiel from Mount! I'll take it! Was very good but very exhausting. But here's to a new year.