26 Oct 2007

My second visit to Mill Hill JJ club last night and Nick worked on guard passing. Now if there is any technique in the myriad of BJJ techniques that reveals the differences between clubs and styles, guard passing is it. At RGDA, one of the passes we learned was the Gracie trademark one arm under one leg and stacking guard pass. Done correctly, it should work a treat, but many people, like me, don’t do it so well and get easily triangled or it falls apart. At Mill Hill, they follow the Roger Gracie ethic and consider placing one arm under as a definite no-no. Instead, they work on opening the guard and pass by walking or hopping over the legs, or the really cool both arms under the uke’s legs and flipping them to the side or the really flash flipping them upside down. I really liked these guard passes, they worked easily and were hard to counter.
Then came sparring. I must admit, I am finding it hard to adjust to the more full-on sparring style here. Many of these guys are just too good (and big) for me and I got swept and subbed by the blue belts with consummate ease. One guy, 85Kilo blue belt Ollie, just ripped me apart with endless subs. I think the most I lasted was about 20 seconds at one point. He finished me off with the evil knee on belly where you use the knee to force down into the gut and he pulls up with both grips so you get squeezed to hell. Then I sparred with a couple of white belts with four stripes (so blue belts in all but name) and they were very tough to break guard and swept me easily, but I avoided the humiliating tapouts of before. The drive home was a bit sombre for me. The new club is a bit of a step up for me and I struggled to cope. I hope I can improve over the coming weeks and months.


My second visit to Mill Hill JJ club last night and Nick worked on guard passing. Now if there is any technique in the myriad of BJJ techniq...

19 Oct 2007

Last night, the chance came for me to finally check out the nearest BJJ club in my new location – the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club, a newly anointed representative of the Roger Gracie group run by Nick Brooks. It is only a few minutes drive away from me and I was looking forward to continuing my BJJ training there. I’ve known Nick for several years through ties with my traditional ju-jitsu training, but Nick has converted his club fully into a BJJ and subgrappling club.
So I turned up and the class ran pretty much as I expected – the same as any BJJ class around the world – a short series of simple warm-ups, then drilling of techniques (Nick went through escapes from side control) and then sparring. And it was the sparring that gave people the opportunity to check out the newboy – oh, that’s me. In a slight change to my experience at RGDA, the partners at Mill Hill are chosen by the sensei. At RGDA, we just partnered up with whoever we wanted. So I was partnered up by probably the youngest member there, a slight framed by youthful blue belt called Daniel. Oh my god, within split seconds Daniel had me tied up with omoplatas, rear nakeds and armbars seemingly out of nowhere. All the time, Nick was standing watching over me and I felt a sense that I was being set up with the brightest spark in the pack – kind of a way of sussing me out.
(I’ve since discovered that Daniel is someone with form – he recently won gold at the ADCC UK Nationals to become the youngest ever national champion at….16 years of age.)
The time thankfully ran out and then Nick offered to spar with me. I think I did a little better this time, but was still reeling from the shell shock of being subbed at will by a kid half my age – make that more than half my age. Nick was a little more forgiving, pulling me to guard and trying to sweep or counter which I was more comfortable with and countered myself with almost success. I didn’t get subbed this time, but I’m sure Nick was only playing with me. It was interesting to see the subtle differences between sparring with Eddie and Nick. Both highly accomplished brown belts, but both with quite different games.
Next up was the only female in the club that night, a firey and feisty challenge which had me trying everything I knew just to get out of a rather punishing lapel choke. Finally, I sparred with one of the bigger guys. This time I wasn’t gonna lay around helpless, so I pulled, yes you guessed it, spider guard. He found it infuriatingly tricky to pass but I found it tough to sweep him. We ended stalemate, I was pleased not to get subbed four in a row – that would be humiliating. But I think I mostly held my own.
Overall, it was a good night of training and a good op to blow away some cobwebs. The guys and girl at Mill Hill are a friendly bunch and I don’t think I made too much of a twat of myself. The young prodigious talent of Daniel was jaw dropping, and, since we are roughly similar in weight, I suspect there will be many more opportunities of being – to coin a vulgar term – bitchslapped. Although people were curious about my BJJ background and wanted to check me out, it was also a chance for me to check them out. Nick is a good instructor and explained the techniques very well, so looks like I have found a new BJJ home for the time being.

Oldboy, Newboy

Last night, the chance came for me to finally check out the nearest BJJ club in my new location – the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club , a newly anoi...

18 Oct 2007

The MEERKAT is back.
I’m back! After a brief hiatus spent moving home, I am finally settled into my new den in leafy Borehamwood. But before severing my ties with Hackney altogether, I had one more commitment – to attend a seminar at Eddie’s RGDA-UK gym given by the dashing Rodrigo Gracie.
Rodrigo is what some refer to as one of the ‘new’ generation of Gracies. Actually he is a bit older than the current crop of ‘new’ generation Gracies (Rener, Ralek etc), but he is clearly still a fighter in his prime.
The session didn’t begin until Rodrigo completed a TV interview, so we all sat around listening to him bat away some rather strange and off the cuff questions by the WOMA interviewer.
Rodrigo, like many Brazilian BJJ instructors, cuts an air of laid back calm with perhaps the added twang of having spent many years in the good old US of A. He seemed to come alive only when talking about fighting (both sport and ‘street’ fights) and girls - no difference to the rest of us then ;)
The seminar began with Rodgrigo introducing some simple self defence techniques against a head lock, then almost immediately progressed to sport BJJ where you use your own gi to strangle the uke. This was my favourite technique which, although a bit tricky, is probably one of the flashier moves in groundwork. After a few more gi techniques, Rodrigo moved to subgrappling techniques, and it was here that he clearly relished teaching – and spent most time on. I must admit, that my fading energy levels and concentration on the camera lens meant I did not really take in what Rodgrigo was teaching us so this part of the session flew over my head.
After the taught part of the session, Rodrigo offered to roll with students. Sadly, this Meerkat missed out yet again, as there were simply too many queuing up for their chance to be tapped out by the master…and he did not disappoint as tap after tap, all of our toughest guys got subbed within seconds. It was pretty amazing to watch.
The night ended with photos and smiles all round. Everyone warmed greatly to Rodrigo and he carries the Gracie name with honour and pride.
My night was not quite over as I offered to spar with long time training pal Ozy. Oz has just spent a year in Korea and has been training hard in BJJ over there, and cor blimey it really showed as this poor old Meerkat was rather ripped to shreds with Ozy’s now trademark butterfly and x-guard sweeps. Gulp, back to the drawing board for me! But nice to visibly see a fellow BJJer make such a great improvement and rise to his potential. It makes me wish I could devote more time to training. Still, I’m happy to take whatever I can get and this seminar was a great experience. Thanks once again to Eddie and the RGDA crew.

Gracie time

The MEERKAT is back. I’m back! After a brief hiatus spent moving home, I am finally settled into my new den in leafy Borehamwood. But before...


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