24 May 2010

Roy Dean Seminar, Poole, UK

I've just come back from an awesome weekend in Bournemouth where Roy Dean was teaching a seminar at the K3 Martial Arts Academy. For those who don't know who Roy Dean is, he is an American BJJ black belt under Roy Harris who, previous to BJJ, had spent many years training in aikido and several other Japanese martial arts. He also spent some time in Japan as a live-in aikido student (uchi deshi) but he is probably better known through his many youtube videos, especially the belt demonstrations, and highly rated instructional DVDs. This seminar coincided with the UK's first hot spell of weather for what seems like eons and proved to be another meeting of some of the UK's BJJ bloggers in one room...

Prior to the seminar, my wife and I did a photo-shoot of Roy and the head of K3, Steve Greenaway. I really loved taking these photos and, together with my written interview, you should see the result of this in a martial arts magazine coming soon.

The Seminar
There is something of the theatre about a Roy Dean seminar. I don't mean in a showbiz sort of way, it's much more subtle, but the way we all sit there in a straight line watching him teach reminded me of sitting in the front row of a cinema or theatre. There's also the way Roy conducts his seminar. He orchestrates everything with precision and enunciates with the kind of clarity of language you rarely see in a BJJ seminar. He uses very interesting little metaphors and verbal embellishments. And, once he has finished demonstrating, he performs a loud hand clap to indicate it is time to drill what he has just shown.

Maybe I'm exaggerating the theatrical aspects, but I really enjoyed the seminar. I partnered up with Can - aka the blogger Slideyfoot (NB. if you ever meet Can for the first time, you pronounce his name 'Jun'). You can read his seminar review here. And I also met up with another blogger, Matt from Grappling Dummies and Scramble wear fame. Matt lives in Bournemouth and was gracious enough to show me around town the night before.

Roy chose to showcase about half a dozen techniques in the three hour session. Each one was taught progressively, building up the steps piece by piece until he felt we were happy that we had it nailed. Whilst were were drilling, Roy took time to observe and correct each of us, using a lot of positive comments and answering any queries we had with an instant suggestion on how to improve what we were doing. In fact language seemed to be as important to Roy's style of communication as the physical. I don't think I heard a single "no, that's wrong, do it like this" it was much more "hmm, nice movement, but perhaps try 'trusting' your hands more when doing this" etc. The result of training with Roy is that you are never left feeling like you are fumbling around with something unfamiliar.

Techniques in brief

For ultra detailed summary of the techniques, do visit Slidey's blog. But here are my thoughts and highlights of the techniques that Roy taught:

1. Stand-up: here was a neat entry to the ankle pick. It began as a judo style inside leg sweep merged with an ankle pick and ending with an achilles lock. The detail Roy showed here was so that it took one hour to go through the entire sequence. He showed how to move from a beginnery-intermediate level version of the achilles lock to what he suggested was the way an advanced student would do it. In short, the advanced student would lock on the achilled very tight before falling down and to his side. The final killer blow on the lock would be of course a hip raise, but Roy added that you should try to arch your back as an additional means of leverage. One could also do this for ther armbar and a couple of other BJJ techniques.

2. Side control - Roy began with a cute move - roll your opponent towards your body (or let him do it himself) and place the palm of your outer hand beneath his shoulder blades, thus creating a very close contact with your uke. We tried it and it certainly changed the dynamics of how one could pin a person down in side control, but it did kind of close your options for subsequent attacks. Roy did in fact mention this too and showed how to move out of this into the next phase.

3. Submissions from side control - Roy showed an americana, straight arm lock and kimura combination against an opponent who wriggles his arm trying to avoid the first attack. No problem you might think, this is easy peasy abc stuff right? Not when Roy taught it. He made you re-think and reconstruct those seemingly simple submissions into something waaaaay more effective. And here is a clue to why so many people, like me, really dig Roy's style - he interprets BJJ through the eyes of a traditional martial artist...Roy puts the 'jiu' back in to jiu-jitsu and adds a unique touch to what seems to be fairly mundane BJJ techniques. It makes you gasp, wow so I see, THAT's how it works. For example, he talked about the way you can take a complete back step (whilst in side mount) before using your hip momentum to snap back into normal side and punch into an Americana. The extra momentum and leverage gained by the backstep creates something far more powerful than all the Americanas I've tried before.
A Meerkat and a Roy

Oooh and I nearly forgot my favourite submission of the day - the kimura-reverse triangle double submission combo! I loved this. You basically have the opponent about to tap from a kimura but also have your legs twined around his head and arm squeezing your knees for a reverse triangle - Braulio stylee. It sounds awesome and Roy's set-up for this was all based on the basic side control aspects he built on from the beginning of the sequence.

4. Lapel chokes - again more seemingly simple beginner level techniques that were transformed into something much more thoughtful. Roy talking about using 'soft hands' and 'contouring your hand shape' when reaching in with the first lapel grip. He then showed how to choke effectively when the second hand goes under your first. Now this really got me interested because I have always found whenever I have tried this version of the cross collar lapel choke, that it rarely works. With Roy's soft contouring hands suggestion and the additional advice to narrow our forearms together before applying the squeeze, I found it worked very effectively indeed.

Roy also showed the suicide choke if your uke defends your first lapel grip by ducking his head under your arm. I like the suicide choke but I find it only works on white belts, and not all of them at that. But Roy showed his personal set-up with this. He basically opened his guard and dropped one leg flat on the floor tempting his uke to pass his guard (or now non-guard). Now here is the new thing for me, as uke passes you to side, Roy showed how he would turn his back away from his opponent. The turning motion prevents uke from establishing any balance and of course he is tighting the collar choke at the same time. I asked about the likelihood of the opponent countering and armbarring your prone arm (the undergripping one) and he said it was less likely if you kept turning away from him and keeping him off balance. So a handy tip for me to try in class next time (although my own instructor discourages us from using the suicide choke in competition, seeing it as too risky against seasoned competitors).

Steve and Roy share a joke

In between each hourly segment, Roy sat us all down and offered to answer any general questions. This was really great as it ended up being a technique Q&A masterclass - most of the group kept silent, except for a certain small gang who kept asking tons of pesky difficult technical requests - yup it was us three bloggers.

I asked what Roy's favourite high percentage techniques were on passing the guard?
Answer: Roy likes to use the double unders and the grab knees and step past (toreando?) pass.

Sllidey Can asked about how to get better spider guard? Roy paid huge compliments to Can's instructor Braulio, stating that Braulio was the master at controlling the sleeves but in short, Roy suggested Can should alter his angle of attack when engaging spider guard. Can also asked about the north-south escape where you roll over your partner and take his back. Roy agreed it was a tricky move and he preferred to swing his legs and get a knee in, as his escape route.

Grappling Dummy Matt asked how to deal with a stubborn opponent during stand-up. Roy suggested trying different angles of pulling/pushing. The obvious and common way to grappling standing up was to move forward or backward, but Roy showed how changing it to an upwards or downwards angle of attack could prove beneficial - even going so far as dropping to your knees in order to pull your uke's posture right down.

Rolling Time
At the end, Roy presented a blue belt to one of the K3 academy students. The way does his promotions is very different. The chap was brought out in front of the whole audience and asked to untie his belt, the poor lad took ages to undo his belt, but finally managed. Roy presented the blue and there were lots of bowing. Roy seemed quite emotional about the whole experience and gave a little speech. Certainly, when Roy promotes his students, it's a very big deal indeed.

Matt grabed Roy for a video interview so rolling time was left to the rest of us. I rolled with John, a toughie who clearly has more grappling experience than his white belt suggests. Then I rolled with K3 Steve, who is close to being graded for purple. This was interesting for me, I wanted to see how Roy's style of jiujitsu had filtered down to his students. Steve was very technical, patient and I had a hard time escaping his pins. Both rolls were great but in the mini-heatwave we were experiencing I had to call it a day after those two sparring bouts!

All in all a fantastic seminar. Added to that I spent a hugely enjoyable weekend in the sun by the beach with my family. If Roy comes next year, I might make this a regular thing every year!
Thanks to Steve and all the gang from K3 for making me feel so welcome. Thanks to Can for being a great trainign partner and to Matt for being an awesome host all weekend. And huge thanks to Roy who patiently posed while I blew lightbulbs and tripped over cables in an attempt to photograph him.

Just a coupl'a Kerrrazy BJJ bloggers, oh boy we show'd em

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


fenix said...

A seminar with Roy Dean. You lucky buggers!!! When you are done with him, can you send him down to Oz? :-)

Great write up, thank you. Loved the photos, particularly the one "Kerrrazy BJJ bloggers" at the end. You guys look scary...

Oh, and good to see you are wearing your super duper belt, too!

MartialArtAngel said...

It was indeed another amazing Roy Dean Seminar!

I really can't wait for the article in the Magazine, especially after reading this wonderful review and having seen the photo shoot. I am sure there will be some great photos!!

slideyfoot said...

Great write-up! Now we're just waiting for Matt's blog piece to complete the trio (unless it is there already: I'll have to go look), perhaps explaining what the hell he was doing with his eyes there at the end. Scary stuff! ;p

I'm also really looking forward to seeing your article in the martial arts mag, and then Matt's video interview. Very cool to have such a multi-media aftermath.

Meerkatsu said...

Indeed Slidey and so interesting to see how three people attending the same event can bring their own perspective on matters without much overlap - hopefully anyway.

Georgette said...

Love the last pic :)

So the suicide choke as a followup to when they duck their head under your cross collar grip-- this, especially with the setup described (flattening your leg to bait the pass, rolling with your back to them) sounds like what we call a baseball bat choke. Was your final grip one with thumb in, palm down and the other fingers in, palm up, and pinky of one hand snug against the thumb of the other?

Meerkatsu said...

@Georgette - basically yes. Slidey used the term baseball bat choke which would I guess be the more universally accepted term, but out of habit I (and most of us in our academy) refer to suicide choke whenever you are 'baiting' your opponent with an open guard to pass or turning your back. So I guess if you were pedantic you could say: Suicide choke using the baseball bat grip.
I imagine the term originates from traditional jiu-jitsu and judo where 'suicide throws' are commonplace.

Jim said...

Great write up. I'm a big fan of Roy and own all his DVDs. Wish he'd stop by Colorado and teach a seminar.


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