30 Jan 2009


A legend and an inspiration for hundreds of thousands.

Helio Gracie (1913-2009), RIP

A legend and an inspiration for hundreds of thousands.

28 Jan 2009


I wonder if JK Rowling ever used the Powerball? My first impression of this gyroscopic wrist strengthener is that once revved up it seems to take on a life of its own, as if it is about to fly out of my hand - bit like a Quidditch ball. I guess with all that typing of Harry Potter books, she may very well have invested in a Powerball to ease her writer's cramp. Not sure if this thing will help my grip game, but it is very addictive.

Well, onto matters of the jujitsu kind. Last week I trained with some of the guys who will be competing at the European BJJ Championship. One chap stood out in particular, purple belt Asif. Now I did not know of Asif from before but when I rolled with him it didn't take me long to realise what a quality player he is. I can't begin to describe just how many times he made me tap from all sorts of positions and angles. After chatting to him for a bit, he told me he started BJJ back when no-one had ever heard of it. He joined a club run by a then unknown Brazilian black belt who had a teenage, blue belt son. That teenage lad was Roger Gracie and the instructor was Mauricio Motta Gomez. So by my reckoning, Asif has at the least 10 years of BJJ behind him. No wonder I was being mauled like a kitten in a den of lions!

Big things are happening in my trad JJ development. My head of association told me basically to get my act together and start training for my 3rd dan. It was the kick up the arse I needed and I have worked out a schedule for the year ahead. It began last night at my JJ club with the 3rd sai kata. This convoluted twisty turny kata is actually is not too bad to learn, it just contains a couple of assymetric patterns that throw you if you are not concentrating. It's just a start but its a long road ahead.

Balls of Power

I wonder if JK Rowling ever used the Powerball ? My first impression of this gyroscopic wrist strengthener is that once revved up it seems ...

16 Jan 2009

OK, give you three guesses what these are? Mill Hill BJJ guys keep quiet, you know what they are. I found the photo on fellow BJJ mate Dan's Facebook page. For a clue, read this entry in the blog. Ew.

Im-pus-able

OK, give you three guesses what these are? Mill Hill BJJ guys keep quiet, you know what they are. I found the photo on fellow BJJ mate Dan&#...

15 Jan 2009

Last night's BJJ class was the best I've rolled in ages. Nick wanted to specifically train for the European Championships, that meant the whole class got to spend more time rolling and slightly less time drilling. This was great with me as I love rolling. Last night was particularly productive as I managed to get several subs in a row. But I got cocky. I was sparring white belt Jansen and started fooling around in turtle feeling fairly safe until he proceeded to choke me out. 'OMIGOD what the hell was that technique????' I asked just after tapping frantically and placing my eyeballs back in their sockets. I thought my turtle was pretty good until Jansen showed me the truth. Jansen sheepishly replied that it was the 'Peruvian Neck-tie'. The Peruvian what? I thought he was making it up. But no, he said he learned it off Youtube. Damn that meddling youtube. Well, here it is for your viewing pleasure as demonstrated by the excellent submissions 101 team:



It's a brilliant submission. Unlike other turtle attacks you don't need a good grip of the uniform and once applied, it is both a neck crank and a carotid strangle (and maybe a bit of windpipe). the legs over the lower back and back of neck prevent any sneeky rolling out so you're kinda of just left to hang and dry. From my point of view, it was the closest I will probably feel to being hung from the gallows, it was horrid. No more turtles for me until I learn the defence to this baby.

Speaking of Peruvian Neck ties and turtles, it occured to me what brilliantly ridiculous terminology BJJ techniques have. I mean in trad martial arts, you have one name per technique, usually in the language of origin, with little deviation.
eg ushiro goshi pretty much translates to rear throw in english .
In BJJ however, someone will 'invent' a technique, maybe christens it, maybe doesn't, but over time, if the new technique is popular, it acquires a lore and in the end, no one really knows where the name came from but it just kind of sticks. It is all so random and free-thinking, true memetics at work. For non-BJJ readers, check out this mini list of strange sounding techniques:

Named after wildlife: anaconda choke, spider guard,turtle guard, mata leo (Lion killer), butterfly guard, flower sweep
Named after people: delariva guard, kimura lock, brabo choke,
Named after objects: clock choke, crucifix choke, keylock, baseball bat choke, scissor sweep
etc etc etc.
Despite their colourful names, most techniques pretty much describe what they do and you can see the obvious connection.
Interestingly, for all their history in creating BJJ as we know it, there aren't any techniques I know of that are named after any member of the Gracie family. There are in fact only a small handful of BJJ experts who are honoured with a techniques named after them. How cool that must be? Watch this space...the Meerkatsu choke is coming to an academy soon.

Peruvian What?????

Last night's BJJ class was the best I've rolled in ages. Nick wanted to specifically train for the European Championships, that mean...

10 Jan 2009


A new year and a new gi. My new Faixa Rua BJJ uniform arrived yesterday. It is a bit on the big side so it will have to undergo a rigorous series of hot washes in order to shrink it to my exact size. Shrinking gis is a dark art that is not without its dangers. Boiling hot washes with subsequent high heat tumble drying can fray the stitching and cause collars with rubber inner linings to melt. Too much hot washing can also cause the different segments that make up the whole uniform to shrink and fade at different rates, resulting in a lopsided patchwork effect. Oh and lets not forget the initial salt bath soak to make the dye permanent and the sewing on of patches. Yes, gi preparation is a bit of a hassle but when some uniforms can cost hundreds of pounds, its definitely worth the effort.

The new year also brought in a big surge in students attending my JJ club. Some new faces, some old timers and it was good to see them all. Although my JJ club follows a strict laid out trad JJ syllabus, I have a lot of students who arrive extra early to take part in sport JJ training. Since there are about half a dozen guys who also train BJJ, it makes sense that we concentrate on BJJ drills and it's a very popular segment to the class. But I am wary of appearing to just be a club that practices BJJ-lite. The heart of the club is based on self defence work and the syllabus, so we tend to go over techniques that relate to our self defence work, or techniques that we can use in our version of the ground fighting rules. OK, sometimes we try the flash stuff too, but not often. At the end of the day, at least we get to practice a little live sparring, which I think it important for everyone, regardless of style.

Relating to that is my new found admiration for judo. I've been doing a bit of stand-up grappling at BJJ class recently thanks to the judo black belts there and also a bit at my JJ club. Coupled with my fascination with the Dave Camarillo book, I'm really getting in to it. Judo throws are a bit like my trad JJ throws, only you have a fully live resisting partner and you have to fight for good grips, so its pretty tough. If I have time I might see if I can find a local judo club to develop this a bit further. Yes, 2009 looks like it will be year of the stand up.

2009 - Year of the Standup

A new year and a new gi. My new Faixa Rua BJJ uniform arrived yesterday. It is a bit on the big side so it will have to undergo a rigorous...

 

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