27 Oct 2008

How to get over a disappointing tournament result...I know, train with the world's greatest grappler - Roger Gracie!
Yep, multiple World Champion Roger Gracie popped down the Nick's Mill Hill BJJ club this evening and took the mat. Roger made us drill some simple techniques, but as is the case with very good instructors, it is the minutiae of detail that makes the difference between a successful technique and one that fails. Today's techniques included attacks from the closed guard, standing passing guards and a counter to the hip escape when in mount. As I say, simple stuff, but with small twists that make them special and very workable.
I've not met Roger before, but he is spoken about by his students with a hushed reverence. He came acrosso to me as a thoroughly pleasant chap. His instruction was articulate and fluent and best of all, happily posed for photos afterwards!
When we all sparred, with Roger looking on, one couldn't help but try that little bit harder to look good. So despite my despite my delapidated body, I put in as good a turn on the mats as I could. I managed to get a few nice techniques to work and moved quite well for an old geezer.

Roger Gracie

How to get over a disappointing tournament result...I know, train with the world's greatest grappler - Roger Gracie! Yep, multiple Worl...

26 Oct 2008

First the bad news:
Meerkat is annoyed. I'm annoyed cos I lost my fight in the first round today because I got my tactics all wrong. I played open guard from the bottom and found it hard to sweep or submit my opponent. I was very much counting on this and it didn't happen. My opponent didn't pass my guard or submit me so I thought I played an even fight but the judges saw it the other way. C'est la vie as they say. Now I know to be more aggressive and avoid fighting from the bottom. Anyway, here is the video for you to see, WARNING: it is very boring...

Now the Good.
Team Imperial had a monster in its midst. This monster was not known to us until the moment the referee shouted Hajime! This mons ter, is now to be called...The Oscarnator. Yes, Oscar, our American chum with one lesson of BJJ and perhaps a handful of g/f sessions at my club BULLDOZERED his way to the most awesome bronze medal in the 80-89Kg group you will ever see. This man got armbarred like about half a dozen times and simply REFUSED to give in. Not only that, but The Oscarnator escaped one wincesome elbow cracking armbar to pin his opponent down and do what Oscar can only do best, hold the mount and crush the poor unfortunate individual. Trust me, the following videos ARE worth seeing, especially his armbar escape.

Round 1 and Oscar takes pretty good control early on against a bigger guy:

Round 2 and he is up against a very good technical BJJ fighter, and somehow, evades an awesome armbar at around 2'06'':

Round 3 - he loses by armbar to the eventual winner of the whole category (this guy is a London Fight Factory BJJer and very good he is too)

Bronze fight off - with NO REST Oscar is on again and watch how his route 1 tactic (take leg, side hold, full mount and hold) works its charm yet again. Magic!

Oscar had to wait to fight right until the end of the day, but boy was it worth it. Finally the camraderie of Team Imperial came out in force as we all gathered beside the mat to cheer on our hero.

Some more good.
Our man Bartek produced some outstanding groundwork skills, exactly as planned. He wanted to work his scissor sweep all week and produced a volley of them at will in his 70-79Kg category. He even secured a number of very excellent armbar attempts before his opponent, rubber jointedly escaped with amazing eel-like abilities! I thought Bartek edged a win but the judges scored two against one, so it was close.

Quick mention to John Hales who also fought in the 70-79Kg group. He lost to a guy who made it all the way to the final so no mean feat in holding him off with some good techniques and all this despite a stinking cold.

Ooh, before I forget. More good news - well done to sensei Grant, he won Bronze in the weapons kata (doing the sai kata with a pair of tonfas!) and Gold in the pairs with Eddie Garvey. It is a measure of their skill and talent that Grant confessed to not having any time to practise or rehease. He simply went on to the mat and did his stuff. Next year they really need to tell him to give the others a chance as it is not fair he always wins gold ;)

The seminar
Most years I plough my way through the dozen or so mini-seminars in the morning but my mind is constantly thinking about the tournament. But this year was really fun and I enjoyed all the instructors. Some that I remember:A very entertaining and funny sensei from Denmark explaining to us about risk assessment before using ju-jitsu on an assailant.Danny Burzotta getting all of us to work a Twister Eddie Bravo style. I loved this segment!A very tiny wiry chinese boxer who wowed us with his padwork session.Some classic JJ from Jikishin stalwarts Graham Seargent and Brian Mallon, and of course a smart and clever hand drills from sensei Brian.Oh and let me not forget our Belgium guests who this time, put way their BJJ techniques and offered us good old fashioned JJ knife defences.So overall, it was a well run and good event. My head was down a bit after my pathetic attempts and then when Bartek lost I was a bit miffed but the sheer delight at The Oscarnator made it all worthwhile in the end. So well done everyone!!!

Southend 2008 - A mixed day of results

First the bad news: Meerkat is annoyed. I'm annoyed cos I lost my fight in the first round today because I got my tactics all wrong. I p...

18 Oct 2008

It's one week to go until our big Jikishin JJ tournament in Southend and I've been putting in some serious mat time. I don't feel particularly ready, especially my cardio which is non-existent, but I do feel I am more tactically aware than in previous comps. I've picked up a lot of new techniques and re-worked some of my well-worn favourites. Groundfighting comps that start on the knees are a bit safer than BJJ comps, which begin by starting in stand-up, because you avoid being thrown and being subjected to jumping techniques. However, g/f on the knees can still be as technical as full BJJ. Recently, I've been working on rubber guard, spider guard, sitting-up guard, butterfly guard and various permutations of triangle chokes, armbars and sweeps - all from fighting on the bottom. And, since your opponent is not allowed to stand up, being stacked is less of a worry, as are standing versions of passing the guard. But there are dangers. Getting pinned in a side mount or locked in someone's very tough closed guard is a constant danger, not because they are winning positions, but because they can take a while to work an escape and within the 2 minute timeframe, one can easily lose a match just trying to escape all the time. The weight categories are not really in my favour. I weigh around 57Kg with a gi and the category I am in is under 65Kg. So I could struggle against a bully-boy 65 Kg fighter. The point I am trying to make is that basically - whatever the rules, the fundamentals remain the same when it comes to good groundwork technique.

For me, the Jikishin comps are special. It may not be SENI or ADCC and it is not noticed much outside the trad JJ radar, but our trad JJ association is a community and when you win an event here, it feels amazing to be acknowledged in that community. This year, my club - Team Imperial - will be entering three competitors: me, Oscar and Bartek. I'm pretty hopeful of some good results, especially Bartek who has been tearing up the mat at the Roger Gracie club where he has recently started a beginners course.
But whatever the outcome, for me, it is hugely enjoyable training and working towards a target. Sport JJ, including groundwork and stand-up grappling, are crafts that need time and energy to master and I've been lucky to work with some great players. The actual competitions are just the icing on the cake. It's the journey that is most fun, and at my advanced age, to be honest I'm lucky to even be able to leave the mat in one piece!

So let the games commence...


It's one week to go until our big Jikishin JJ tournament in Southend and I've been putting in some serious mat time. I don't fe...

10 Oct 2008

One of the hardest aspects - well one of many, many - in my BJJ training is trying to break away from my old habits. Despite learning and drilling loads of new techniques every week, I still rely on the same old techniques when it comes to live sparring. You know the ones - closed guard, scissor sweep, maybe a passably bad one legged guard pass etc. They are the same techniques I did at white belt and still do at blue. But look at any brown or black belt. You hardly ever see them use closed guard, or any of the same techniques that white and blue belts do. Why?

One of the things I have noticed is how my instructors Nick, Eddie and other high grades I have sparred with all are adept at open guard. So I've resolved to change my habits and open up my guard and play a more loose game - attempting to transition between various guard positions. My current favourite is the Del La Riva guard and it's variants. It looks really loose and easy to pass, but when I've started using it against a standing and sometimes even a sitting down uke (who is in combat base), it is amazing how durable it actually is. During my private sessions with Nick, I've been playing with the reverse Del La Riva and X-guard. For me, it's a whole new world that has got me all dizzy. But I am trying to make the effort and use them in live sparring. With some interesting, though encouraging results. I feel this is the start of a new phase in my BJJ journey.

Mind you, none of this is useful in our own trad JJ groundfighting competitions as the rules state - knees on the ground and no standing. This is fine with me, I have no skills in stand-up sparring so starting on the knees is all I know. But it means some aspects of the open guard game is not applicable. Which is a shame as they are really cool. So, come October 25th, watch me as I attempt my same old, same old - passably ok closed guard, dodgy scissor sweep, ropey armbar and choke defying escapes. Who knows, it might just work again.

Opening up

One of the hardest aspects - well one of many, many - in my BJJ training is trying to break away from my old habits. Despite learning and dr...


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