Friday, October 29, 2010

Counting the numbers

I spent most of my lunch counting the number of people I think will try BJJ at the new club. There are a few people I know will cross train but most are a question marks. As I sit here writing this post I realize I am spending too much time worrying about it. Hopefully the people that cross train now will continue to cross train and serve as leaders in a growing program.

Thr Class - Last night was open mat followed by Judo. I arrived in time for open mat but did not take full advantage of the time. I got some throws in and I drilled a particular sweep I have been working on, but I cannot say I was really WORKING. I certainly could have joined in on crash pad throws or done a little live training on the ground but I did not push myself. I find open mat is always more successful with a designated leader, at least for me it is.

Judo Class - The TOD was the Hari from the high collar lapel. This is one of my preferred grips and my preferred throw so I enjoyed the work. We then did some Toki Waza followed by randori. I always found it odd that we never did any kind of Toki Waza in BJJ. This is something I may incorpate into my classes. For those that dont know what Toki Waza is, Toki Waza is "your favorite technique". The idea is to give the player a little time to drill whatever they would like to work on.

Often in BJJ we learn a technique, drill it a bunch of times in that class and move on. It is up to each player to try it during training. The problem is most techniques take a lot of reps to make work. As a consequence new players either get smashed several hundred times before figure out what they are doing wrong or they throw out the technique and stick to the few they are already decent at. Toki Waza give you the time and fits to figure out the technique you were shown last week but have not gotten the feel of yet.

Anyway, randori was good. First set was with one of the lighter Black belts. i did well and had some good attacks but nothing spectacular. Second set was the visiting Green belt. He was pretty strong but played too defensively. When I went for my Hari he telegraphed going for the suplex. In response I faked the Hari and when he tried to pull me backwards I simply pushed him down flat on the mat. I figured one or two of those and he would stop sitting on the Hari. Unfortunately (for him), he did not stop so I just kept faking the Hari and pushing him flat. It was a decent set, after a while I tried to thrown other stuff anyway but it was hard with him pulling back so much. Third set was with one of the girls in the club. During open mat I noticed she was practicing her grip fighting and she used those grip fighting techniques against me in randori. I have to say it was messing me up a little. I could use a more work on grip fighting, I know it is important at the higher levels.

Ground work was fun, we did the pin off the trap and roll where yo are facing away from your opponent and you have their arm trapped in your armpit. I found a flaw in my holding technique. Anytime I can find a hole in my game it makes the whole night/week/month worthwhile. It was a small adjustment in how I place my hips but the little things make a big difference.

I had two newaza sets, both were fun, I got some triangles, some arm locks, some sweeps. Nothing really of particualr note.

New Club New Location

By now most of the people following me both publicly and anonymously know the Judo club is moving to a new location. For those of you that didnt know it...the Judo club is moving to a new location :). Last night was the last official night the Judo club trained at Maxercise. While I am sure we will be back for team training, in houses and just "one off" type training sessions it still felt a little weird as we bowed out last night. Maxercise has been good to me over the years but I decided it was time for something different. I will be helping Ray by teaching BJJ on Tue and some Saturdays. I also plan to attend as many classes (both BJJ and Judo) as humanly possible. Just having the numbers in class will help us grow.

About the Club - The location is great. We are offering Judo, BJJ and Kettle Bell classes to start with other programs to come. We are steps from a subway stop and we have a big glass window in the front that is very welcoming. The building is really old so we have been working on it A LOT over the past month to get things "up to snuff". My main area of focus this month has been building a foam sprung floor for the club. Big thanks to the Denver Judo Club for providing detailed instructions on how to build a foam sprung floor. See the links below

So far the floor is coming along exactly as planned. I made a few modifications to the instructions the Dever Judo Club provided and I cannot wait to take some falls on it. Truth be told, I am a little nervous. I really hope it the floor lives up to the hype. After the floor is done there will be plenty of "weekend warrior" project to do.

After class we all went to our favorite watering hole to celebrate the move. I always liked a beer after class, but last night the beer tasted particularly good.

Jumping around a little but, I am a little nervous we wont get enough bodies in the BJJ classes. There are lot's of folks in the Judo club that would benefit from cross training, but I am not sure they will actually make the commitment. The fact is the Judo guys like standup more than ground work. If the BJJ portion of the club is going to be successful we will need to retain the few people that cross train, perhaps convince a few more to cross train, but most importantly attract new people to the club that are primarily interested in BJJ.

I am really hoping the girls in Judo step up and cross train in BJJ. I have always thought the mark of a strong BJJ club is a club with a strong women’s program. A club with no girls or just 1 or 2 girls is usually a snake pit.

I am willing to do what it takes to make the club a success, I can only hope we catch a few break here and there to help us out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10/25 Judo

Judo was primarily a randori / newaza night. On the feet we did a little Uchi Mata practice before randori. I had more trouble with the Uchi Mata than I should have so I will need to put in a little time on that technique. I prefer the outside Uchi Mata to the inside Uchi Mata. But that is not a good excuse for sloppy technique. I shouldn’t be having trouble with such a basic technique.

Randori was fine, I was not really in the mood for it but I am glad I did it. I had a bunch of different sets but there were only two things that stood out for me. First, one of the other Brown belts has switched to a left sided game. This is great for me because there is a Judo guy on the tournament circut that plays a very strong left sided game. I attempted Yoko Tomo Nage a bunch of times but I didnt really get close on any of them. I need to focus more on the hand movement when I attempt it. I may put in a bunch of right and left sided Yoko Tomo Nage fits. That technique would blend well with my game for BJJ and Judo.

The other stand out was I successfully hit the drop O'Uchi Gari a few different times. I am starting to figure out the technique. For me there are two key points to using it correct.

1 - Understanding when to using it and when to use something else. It is not really a "go to" technique that can be used against everyone. For me it seems to work best against a squared up stance where the person DOES NOT have their arms locked out.

2 - My preference is to hold the lapel on the side I am dropping too and think about driving the point of my elbow directly into the ground while I am dropping. I hold the lapel the entire time to avoid a Hansoko Make. Holding the lapel is probably not as good as let go and grabbing the leg, but it does have the benefit of forcing me to apply the downward pressure through the leg I am attacking. I find when I let go I have a tendency to not apply the pressure correctly which allows Uke to step out of the attack. Lastly, I find I can effective trap the leg by hugging it between my elbow and my body without using my whole arm to grab it. I am not sure if this description makes sense, I hope it does.

Newaza - The Newaza sets were fun, I had a Green belt that was visiting our club. During one of the sets I caught a bent arm lock off the modified trap and roll. When he asked what I did I told him I would show him after class. Ray had me show the technique to the entire class and it went well. Some in the class had a tendency to roll over there sides instead of their shoulders so I tried to emphasize that point while showing the move.

Leave your ego at the door

I felt a little off on Mon. I think the combination of stress at work, not a lot of sleep and not making it to a lot of classes lately may have added up. The TOD was the old school double lapel choke from the mount. I had a little trouble with it because the fingers on my left hand are jacked up. But the trouble I had with the TOD was just the beginning of my troubles for the night.

BJJ - I had 3 training sets. The first was with one of the other Purple belts. I started well getting my sweep when he tried a standing pass and controlling the position by smashing his legs together. I was trying to implement what Xande talked about during his private with us. In my head I was thinking control the position with my hips not my arms and it was working. Then for some reason I started lifting my hips and using all arms. I was THINKING, all hips and USING all arms. I think there was a short circuit somewhere between my brain and my body. It was pretty freaking annoying b/c I was actually thinking, "stop using your arms you idiot, drop your ass and use your hips". O well, it was a good set. He was eventually able to get back to guard and regain hip control. Later in the set I lost elbow discipline and gave my back eventually tapping to a collar choke. I was ticked with myself for making dumb mistakes but I don’t want to take anything away from my partner either. He capitalized and came back form being behind in the set.

Second set was with one of the White belts. The set went fine, he goes for leg locks too often. He would be better off working on positioning then leg locks but that is just my humble opinion.

Third set was with one of the bigger blue belts. His size makes him a real handful, but his technique is improving as well. I tried to get a little fancy at the start and paid for it. He ended up making me give my back and when I tried to regain half guard he got to side control on me. I re-turtled but I did not respect his back attack enough and he sunk his hands into my collar fairly deeply. The set ended just after he got my collar but if he had more time it may have been a problem.

Mon was really not my night but I am glad I want because John reminded the c lass of something I needed to hear. The comment was not directed at me, but I would be wise to heed his advice. He told the class not to fight with emotion, it hurts your training and stifles your progress. Tapping to lower ranks is something people often say is ok to do, but no one likes to do it. I will have a pretty big target on my back at the new club, I need to take my own advice and remind myself I am not invincible. It is ok to have an off day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10/18 BJJ Judo

Mon was a really good class for me, I had a long weekend and I have not had the opportunity to make as many classes as I would like to have made this month. I really needed Mon to blow off some stream.

John covered a pretty standard series of sweeps for when the opponent stands in your closed guard. I like all three and it was a good series for the experience level in the class.

Sets - All my sets were good sets and I felt like I got something out of each set so I was very pleased.

First set was with one of the bigger white belts. I have been playing with different places to put the knee when I do knee on belly. Mon showed me a flaw in what I have been doing. For the past few months I have been positioning my knee on Uke's far hip with my shin cutting directly over the opponents hips. I liked this placement b/c it made it difficult for my opponent to roll in either direction. Oddly enough no one ever bothered to just sit straight up until my white belt opponent last night. That is the great thing about rolling with white belts, since they dont always know the "correct answer" they come up with unusual answers to different situations. So anyway it was good b/c it showed me the old school knee on the ziphod processor(however you spell it) might be best but I am going to experiment with putting it on the floating rib a little before I make up my mind.

Second set ws with an even bigger white belt. He has better ground work than most give him credit for so I always like rolling with him. His size and strenght expose any little mistakes I might be making in positioning and I cannot get away with relying on my strength to make a position work against him. If I am even a little off balance he can throw me clear off of him :). Like I said it was a good set, I got my sweeps and held the positions I wanted.

Third set was with a blue belt. Also a good set, he managed to get behind me with a sit out and he put me on the defense a little when he tried to reverse my turtle. I always enjoy going with him and I see him trying the stuff we work on.

Forth set was with one of the other purple belts. This was a really great set. We really pushed the pace and I was really happy with my fitness level. I was able to keep a very high pace the whole match without allowing my technique to break down. That set alone made up for a whole weekend of wiping noises and sleepless nights.


We did a little work on Hari and using it when the person is driving forward. I had two sets on the feet and two on the ground.

Randori - My randori sets were with Ray and Yoni. The set with Ray was both fun and productive, the set with Yoni was good too. Yoni is a young and very promising Judoka. I think he is around 15 or 16ish but I am not good at guessing age. He has really really good techniques and he is fast. He will be a real handful once he puts on some size. As for now the 50 or 60 pounds I have on him served me well, but in 5 or 6years it will be a whole different ball game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Princeton Judo Inventational

I went to the Princeton Judo Invitational on Sun. It was a good little tournament that ended up being bigger than I thought it would be. I weighed in at 192 and fought men’s 198 and masters. I wanted to fight 198 and 220 but they dint have any 220 guys. All of their heavy weights were 220+. I have been in a bit of a Judo slump lately so my goal for this tournament was simply, WIN MATCHES! I know it sounds silly because winning matches always the goal, right?

Well not really, not for me anyway. I try to win my Judo matches with throws instead of ground work. I have come to the realization that relying on my ground work to win Judo matches has been holding back my standup a little. In the novice divisions there are lots and lots of bad throw attempts that lead to groundwork. However, in the advanced division most throw attempts are at least "good attempts" and often end up with either a score or an ippon.

Yesterday was different yesterday I was willing to win ugly as long as the result was a win.

Men’s 198 Division

Match 1 - My first match was against a yellow belt that was killing guys in the novice division. He was around 6'5 or 6'6 but very skinny and wiry. I watched him fight I think everyone was underestimating him. At first glance he looked very vulnerable to O' Ochi Gari or Kosoto Gake. But I saw three different people try those throws on him and each ended the same way. He did a "mini sprawl" and used his long arms to leverage the guy over and land him flat on his back. So when we fought my strategy was drop Seio Nage. I surprised him a little with the drop but he didnt go over cleanly. Once on the ground I turned toward him, over hooked his outside leg with my right hand, and blocked his other leg with my left hand essentially double legging him over. Once on top I finished with a pin. I actually get this move quite a bit in Judo. It does not look very technical but I am setting it up and doing the moves in a particular order going for a particular finish. So technical or not it gets the job done. Lex has a video of me on you tube doing this exact move during the Beltsville Open.

Match 2 - Second match was against a Brown belt from Liberty Bell Judo. He was ok, he liked to throw Tai Otoshi from both the right and left side. We were going back and forth for a while before he hit me with a left sided Tai Otoshi. I didnt think it should have been an ippon I thought it was a wazari. The head ref actually called Yuko, but the two side refs called ippon so that was that. The left handers continue to give me trouble, but I am working on a game plan for them. The truth is this was one match were I should have just thrown Hari, Hari, Hari, Hari, instead I was playing to defensively so I deserved to lose.

Match 3 - My third match was against a Shodan. I was watching his other matches and I noticed he played with a weird stance. Most of the time he played a standard left sided stance (great another lefty) but he would occasionally switch to a left sided stance with right sided grips. I also notice he didnt really attack, instead he waited for his opponent to attack and then he would drop his ass and counter them backward. I was not having any of that countering crap so I decided right off the bat, Hari and no Uchi Mata. Everything was going to be drop Seio, Tomo Nage and Yoko Tomo Nage. When the match started he went right into his standard left sided stance so I went for the Yoko Tomo Nage I have been working on specifically for lefties. It actually worked perfectly!!! I dropped in, he lowered his base and then his back leg popped out from under him and he spun right to his back. The only problem was they didnt give me a score for it, not even a Yuko! To make matters worse while I was waiting for the score to be called I didnt get up and get on top of him so I missed my opportunity to pin. I was pissed but would not be deterred. I spent the rest of the match relentless attacking with drop Seio and Tomo Nage. I tried to set up the Yoko tomo Nage again but after the first attempt he played with a very squared up stance and refused to give the far sleeve when grip fighting. At this point I was pretty tired.
Even thought I am describing this as my third match it was really my 5th match of the day. I already had my master division matches at this point. This match was my third match in the mens division. Despite being tired I continued to push the pace and frustrate him. The match finally ended with no score, but I got the decision victory. I thought I clearly earned the decision, I think he had one lame Uchi Mata attempt the whole match.

Masters Division

Match 1 - First match was against a Shodan. He scored a VERY questionable yuko early in the match. I thought the throw started out of bounds and I landed on my stomach. None the less they gave him the small score. He spent the rest of the match playing defense on his feet and literally running out of bounds every time we went to the ground. I had two really good opportunities on the ground but couldnt capitalize on either. I had 1 arm bar attempt from close guard that I turned into a belly down armbar than transitioned into the Jui Gatme turnover. Everything was going perfectly until the end of the turnover when he yanked his arm free (crap). Second opportunity was when he tried to flat turtle. Originally I was attacking his up turtle so he transitioned to a flat turtle thinking he was safe. I immediately tried my flat turtle reversal but I was very rushed. The refs weren't giving me any time on the ground so I really did not have a chance to properly set my position before attempting the reversal. I went for it anyway and I almost got it but not quite. He was really taken off guard by it. After the flat turtle reversal and almost armbar he wanted NO part of the ground. Whenever we went to the ground he would instantly jump up or quickly crawl out of bounds.

This is one part of the rules I really disagree with. If it is a penalty to run out of bounds on your feet it should be a penalty to run out of bounds on the ground. Breaking a hold by going out of bounds is one thing, but sprinting out of bounds to avoid the ground game is an embarrassment to the sport. After all it is a grappling art. He ended up winning 1 yuko (and one shido for stalling) to none.

2nd masters match was against a young guy who was very good. They just found someone willing to fight and made the division even though he was nowhere close to 30. The tournament director asked me if it was ok and I agreed to it. He was very good, I overheard his coach talking about his matches at the junior Olympics.

The only comment I am going to make about this match is that his gi was the stiffest gi I every felt. It took 3 false attacks just to pull it out and I was never able to get the left lapel out. It was like trying to grab a flat piece of cardboard. I am not accusing him of cheating I am just saying….What’s with the stiff gi dude, did you pick that up from the armory on your way to the tournament?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Changing Course

I have been on the weight loss path for quite some time now and I have made significant progress. I am down from 215 to 190 (188 this morning), but I am stuck at in this high 180 low 190 range. Initially I wanted to go all the way down to 175 for Pan Ams but that really means going all the way down to 170 so I can weigh in with the gi on. At this point I have come to terms with the reality...170 is just not realistic. I am already very trim and very fit, I have more fat I could lose, but not 20 pounds worth. Even 15 pounds would be very very difficult.

So I am going to try to climb back up to 198, but I want to do it the smart way. I spent all this time cutting the fat away and I really like my current fitness level so I am not about to "fatten" back up to 198. Instead I am going to try to pack on some muscle pounds. 10 pounds of muscle at 33 is not going to be easy especially while keeping up my fitness level. I am going to need to figure out a workout routine that lets me pack on power without sacrificing fitness. I have not figured it out yet but I am working on a plan....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Philly Judo and BJJ Cup - Competition


I only had one other guy in my division and he was much better than me. He is a left hander with a strong left sided stance. I was talking to Lex and he said this guy has been running through everyone at 198 for a few months now. I am normally very critical of my performance and I often get really mad if I lose to someone I think I should have beaten. That is not the case here, in this case this guy was just better than I am right now. I think if we had 10 matches I would have gone 0-10 against him. I need a strategy to get this guy on the ground and work a ground attack. That is probably my only chance against him right now.


We started out with 2 decent sized purple belt divisions. I we had 3 middle weights and 3 heavy weights. Unfortunately due to various reason one had to drop from each division. That left us with 2 really light guys and two really heavy guys. We probably could have done 1 absolute division if we knew ahead of time, but the lighter guys were a lot lighter so I am not sure how well that would have gone over. Instead we did it best of three style. My opponent was another guy from my club. I really give him a lot of props for stepping up an fighting, it would have been really easy for him to back out and ask for his money back. He also agreed to a best o three rather than a simple one and done.

I was happy with the matches and I won them both. I threw in the first match and pulled guard in the second. I am pretty comfortable pulling guard , but getting a throw and landing on top will always be my primary strategy. This was only my third time ever pulling guard in a tournament. I bet I am one of the few BJJ purple belts that can count the number of tournament guard pulls on one hand. I am not really sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing... :)

Philly Judo and BJJ Cup Ref-ing

Ref'ing - Ref-ing at this weekends tournament went well, I ran a bunch of the kids matches and some of the teens and adults. For me the kids were the most nerve racking. Some kids put a lot of pressure on themselves and they hate losing in front of their parents. I tapped for 1 of the kids on two separate occasions. Both times there was no screaming or caring on by anyone, my decision to tap for the kid was excepted by both the kid, the parents and the coach. I really dont care how much complaining anyone does, I am not letting a kid get hurt on my mat, but it is nice to not have to deal with screaming parents. Oddly enough the kids were the hardest to score, they move so fast and furiously!

The level of BJJ in the kids division was really impressive. There where armbars and triangles everywhere. One of the kids was really really good. He was one of the smaller kids in the division and he ran through everyone. I think he was around 9, and if he keeps at it he will be a total monster in 10 years. Thank goodness for masters divisions!

I had a few people disputing calls in a couple of teens and adult matches but for the most part I think I got most of the calls. Ray said I got one of the back mount calls wrong, and someone else disputed a guard pass call. Overall I was happy, I gave some points too quickly but I dont think any of my calls questionable calls changed the outcome of any matches.

Philly Judo/BJJ Cup

This is going to be a long one.....

This past weekend was the Philadelphia 1st annual BJJ and Judo cup. Liberty Bell held the tournament as a Judo only tournament last year. This year Maxercise and Liberty decided to get together and run a BJJ tournament concurrently with the Judo tournament. I thought it was a great idea, combining saves money and spreads the costs over more students. It also (hopefully) advocates the benefits of cross training between the two sports. For my part I ref'd some of the BJJ matches, competed in BJJ and competed in Judo. Overall I think the tournament was a big success.

On the tournament itself

What we did right

Combining forces and forming alliances with the Judo community. I am sick of the political bull. I am convinced that praticing both is the best way to training.

Making accommodations for competitors in both Judo and BJJ. Both sides did what was necessary to make sure players were not running directly from one mat to another and no one was DQ'd for not showing up to their match b/c they were in the middle of another match.

Price was very reasonable, I think $40 to enter plus $20 for each additional division. So for me it was $60.

The rules were very clear - BJJ = CBJJ rules, Judo = standard USJA rules. If you want to compete you need to know the rules.

Location - Easy to find, clean, temperature controlled AND it had showers!

What we did wrong

I dont think we really did anything "wrong" but I did make three observations for improvement.

1) The Judo side of the tournament had a lot more competitors and they were still able to finish about 2 hours ahead of BJJ. I am not really sure why, but I suspect we had more down time between matches. That said there may be an opportunity to further educate some folks on how to run the tables from a bracketing and division management perspective. Basically, a 101 on how do you run a mat with as little deadtime as possible. Speaking for myself, I have never put together a bracket or decided who would fight when so when decisions had to be made those decisions took extra time.

Side Note: BJJ had Gi and No Gi, but I still think Judo had more total matches.

2) We ran Judo kids, teen and adult at the same time we ran BJJ kids, teen and adult. If we mix up the order it might encourage more cross competition and there would be less running back and forth between sides of the gym. My recommendation would be run

Judo BJJ
Kids Teen
Adult Kids
Teen Adult

3) We need to take the other BJJ and Judo tournaments running at the same time into consideration. This tournament conflicted with the NY no-gi open. October is packeted full of tournaments, but we may have gotten more BJJ competitors if it was on a different weekend.

Over all I think the tournament went very well and I hope it turns into an annual event I can attend for many years to come.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Second First Post

I decided to take down all of my previous posts. I didn't delete them they are saved in an "edit" mode. I re-read a lot of my old posts and I decided to take my blog in a different direction. My future posts will be more focused on what we are learning in class, what challenges I am having and what my plans are to overcome the challenges.

I will continue to publish how I am doing in my quest to lose weight. I left up my post on what my strategy has been and it is relativly unchanged. Right now I am stuck at 190ish. My next milestone is holding 185, the long term goal is 175 by Apr. I want to see if I can compete at Pan Ams at 175, so I actually need to get down to 172ish to account for the Gi.

My standard disclaimers:

I do not pretend to have invented any moves. Sometimes I will write about moves I came up with on my own. When I write that I mean, no one showed me that particular movement but it does not mean I invented the move. I have no doubt that someone, somewhere has probably already done the move I stumbled upon.

This is a record of my training, if you dont like what I am writing please feel free to read something else.

Please post your feedback whenver you have something to say. I welcome feedback, advice or just random comments.

I do not claim to know everything or be an expert in anything. What I write is just my opinion.