27 Feb 2009

Just got back from a session with David Onuma, who was a guest instructor at Nick's BJJ club. David is a brown belt under Ricardo Vieira and also a full time instructor teaching JKD (Jeet Kune do) and FMA (Filipino martial arts) based martial arts. This was a great session, a real privilege for me and the guys who attended. David didn't just show us a bunch of techniques, he got us thinking about the theory behind them. He started off with simple counters when the uke defends knee on belly. He asked us to look at what uke needed to do in order to defend his position. Then, based on his response, it was up to tori to capitalise on uke's defences in order to gain a superior position or submission. Another set up we did was when uke is in your closed guard and you try to perform an armbar on him. Clearly a half competent uke would defend this in one of many different ways. So David got us to look at how uke defends and base the next move, most likely a sweep, on his specific reaction.
The theme of the session was not that we should just be spoonfed a bunch of techniques, but for us to think a little but more about the theory, and experiment a little. David suggested that in order to progress in this manner, we should get into a key position during sparring and let uke counter or defend, and study how he does this. You do this again and again untilyou have worked out what it is that allows uke to do what he does and then you work out ways to negate those early steps. This made a lot of sense to me. In fact, I now have the perfect excuse when I next get tapped out...I was just studying how my opponent was moving!
David finished off by showing us a drill where you can stop uke passing your guard just by pushing his head away from you. It was really funny watching this, and even I managed to make it work, sort of. David is an awesome instructor and gives lots of food for thought.

Well, Meerkatsu life is not all BJJ. I'm still doing traditional JJ. The focus at the moment is on ko-budo (traditional weapons) training. I'm stuck half way through learning sai kata number 3 at the moment and had a go at the katana cuts kata. There are 8 cuts to learn, each one increasing in complexity until you end up pirhouetting like a ballerina and slicing the ceiling lightbulb off. Not exactly the graceful jitsuka I thought I was.

A session with 'Malandro'

Just got back from a session with David Onuma , who was a guest instructor at Nick's BJJ club. David is a brown belt under Ricardo Viei...

20 Feb 2009

The dreaded lurgy has manifested itself in my lungs and I'm hacking great plumes of nasty stuff at the moment. It makes training very very difficult as I feel practically asthmatic with breathlesness. It has lasted several weeks now. Of course my 'man flu' is virtually pneumonia and I'm obviously very brave to be on the mat at all.
Anyhoo, one of the good things I like about the tuition I get with Nick at the Mill Hill BJJ Club is that he usually proceeds a technique with an anecdote or story about how he came to learn the technique. Last week he spoke at length about his private lessons with Ricardo de la Riva Goded. Nick wanted to learn the eponymous de la Riva guard, and the man de la Riva himself said, nah, I've seen you roll, you need to learn defence first. So with that, he then spent the next hour learning, according to Nick himself, a series of defence techniques that fundamentally changed his game forever...and the joy for us, was that Nick then went to show us what those techniques were. And I've used those defences myself and they really do work.

Oi Meerkat, what did de la Riva teach that was so damned good? Ask Nick if you really want to know, or better still, fly out to Brazil and pay for a private. Anyway, my point was that it's not what you say, it's the way you say it that counts. Having lots of little stories, anecdotes, funny and/or remarkable incidents to accompany a technique can really help numbskull students like me remember them a tad better. It also underlines the breadth of experience that Nick has and is so willing to share with us.

So there you go. Back to the Lemsip, Vicks and BJJ videos on youtube.

Talking 'bout a revolution

The dreaded lurgy has manifested itself in my lungs and I'm hacking great plumes of nasty stuff at the moment. It makes training very ve...

13 Feb 2009

The BJJ web forums have been abuzz with a recent influx of so-called bogus BJJ schools. Well, they are not bogus per se, rather, they are martial arts schools who claim to include BJJ as part of their syllabus. Like a red rag to a scary bull, various members of the BJJ community have taken it upon themselves to enquire as to the legitimacy of these schools. Some call it a witchhunt, but the BJJ police defend their motives as preserving the purity of the sport...

One martial arts school, based in Rochdale was spotted to claim to teach BJJ together with many other arts that were combined into a whole system. When questioned about the main instuctor's background, the owner replied that he had no formal training in BJJ, just a couple of seminar attendances and watched a few videos. He has since removed all references to BJJ on his website. But before doing sdo, insisted that the term 'BJJ' was not copyright, so he had every right to use it if he wanted.

Another instructor, based in Southampton, also claimed to teach BJJ. The BJJ police enquired as to his credentials and, after a few heated exchanges, the instructor revealed a rather mysterious and unverifiable background. The story goes like this - our man did train in BJJ from a legit school and got to blue belt. Then he left the club to train with a Brazilian black belt who only taught private lessons, but who has since disappeared never to be heard from again. But before the master left, he presented a black belt to his private student. No one in the BJJ community has ever heard of this BJJ instructor. The chap decides he wants to open up a school and apparently gains the accredition of a well known master called Tinguinha. He also claims he is a brown belt under Tinguinha. A few emails from our BJJ police discover to Tinguinha himself discover that our man is not cleared to represent him, but that he did suggest he downgrade his level to brown as his black belt is unverifiable. This is all very strange to the BJJ police, who confront the club owner, who in the end, apologises profusely for alluding to rank and alliegances that do not yet exist. He also alters his website accordingly.

There are probably loads more examples of these exchanges, a visit to any ofthe forums where BJJ is discussed, such as EFN or Bullshido and you can pick up any one of a number of on-going dramas. In most cases, the main ire of the BJJ community is the claim of teaching BJJ when they have no formal rank or record in the sport. Watching a few videos and attending a few seminars does not make you an instructor.

Unfortunately, BJJ is a martial art that has no overall governing body. Anyone can claim anything and in some cases they do. That's why the BJJ police on these forums feel it is important to chase bogus instructors to verify their claims. Anyone who has spent years, sweating blood and tears, on the mat, earning their belts from a recognised instructor, can breathe easy. The BJJ police are on your side. Everyone else, better run or hide.

Of course these situations are different from bonafide BJJ practitioners who are also instructors in traditional martial arts and who feel it appropriate to combine the two disciplines together. Why? I'll explore that in another posting soon.

1. How do you prove genuine BJJ credentials?
Simply state your instructor lineage. For example, mine would be - blue awarded by David Adiv - Royler Gracie - Helio Gracie.
My instructor, Nick Brooks, would be - brown belt from Roger Gracie - Renzo Gracie - Carlos Gracie Jr.
Further evidence of credentials would also include a fight record in all competitions, but since mine is so dire, I'll leave that out for now ;)

The BJJ Police

The BJJ web forums have been abuzz with a recent influx of so-called bogus BJJ schools. Well, they are not bogus per se, rather, they are ...

5 Feb 2009

Nick (blue gi) - finals mens brown belt senior 1 light (Photo: www.combat-bjj.com)

My BJJ instructor Nick just returned from the European BJJ tournament and filled me in on the results:

Nick Brooks - Gold Brown Belt Senior 1 Light
Mark Warby - Silver Blue Belt Senior 2 Middle Heavy
Lubomir Repasky - Bronze Blue Belt Adult Light
Daniel Strauss - Bronze Blue Belt Adult Feather
Anthony Warby - Gold, juvenile blue super heavyweight
Clint Jones and Dan Jones - R1 in their respective divisions.

So an amazing return of results from just one club. As usual the stats tell just one part of
the story.
For Nick, there was only two in his division. Maybe that is what made it, in his eyes, a very
boring fight, with his opponent locking up tight and refusing to budge in any way. the judges awarded the win to Nick as he was deemed to be the one trying the most. I guess if you enter a division and you know you got the silver straight away, it could kill the competitiveness a bit.
Nick went on to compete at the teams event and met a Polish black belt who was just 22 years old and sh*t hot. Nick lost 11-2.

The vagaries of a massive event such as the Europeans (1,000 competitors spread over 3 days) mean that some divisions get tons of people, some just a couple. For Daniel Strauss and Lubo, they were met with a division of 60 and 57 competitors respectively. Both managed to win four fights (Daniel by triangle in each case) to get to the semis before losing. Daniel also tore his shoulder ligaments prior to the comps so to actually step on the mat was a minor miracle, let alone compete and win!

The Warbys did well, young Anthony, only 17 years old won his division and Dad Mark won his 41-45 year olds division. Which reminds me, I'll be 40 this year, blimey how time flies.

Clint told me he was fighting half guard and down on points but managed to sink a good lapel choke onto his opponent. The bell just ran for timout and, according to his opponent, he was just about to tap...literally saved by the bell!

Purple belt Asif got DQ'ed sadly, emplying a foot lock and twisting it - an illegal move under the rules. Shame as Asif is certainly one of the top guys in his division.

So a big well done to the Mill Hill BJJ crew. To step onto the mat and face an unknown opponent is one thing, to do it at one of the world's biggest BJJ tournaments is another. Respect! and Ooooos!

European BJJ Championships 2009

Nick (blue gi) - finals mens brown belt senior 1 light (Photo: www.combat-bjj.com ) My BJJ instructor Nick just returned from the European ...


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