Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 30th Gi Class

Another good class and I was really feeling it last night afterward.

Jerad taught class, I think there were 8 or 9 of us.  We did some armbar drills from the guard and mount and a chain of submissions from a failed armbar from guard that went into triangle, omma plata (sp?) and another armbar on the opposite side (my favorite).  I like that we rotate with each technique and get to work with several different people.  Will was especially helpful with omma plata.

My core strength has really been tested these last several classes.  There's been a lot of being smashed and trying to buck and shrimp.  David especially drilled me on this last night and I learned a very good lesson.  Apparently I was taking in deep breaths and tightening up before I would attempt to buck and shrimp.  Letting him know that I was going to try it each time and he would be able to stop me easily.  I was also not moving away enough like I should have been and pretty much just staying in the same place while he smashed me.  Once he pointed that out, I was a lot better at getting out of side mount but I was already tired.  I'll be working to perfect this the next several classes.  I've also noticed that when I get side mount on someone they are usually very quick to put distance between us and turn on their side.  Almost like I have to chase them to keep side mount.  Hopefully I'm starting to understand how they do that.

I also rolled with Aaron who is a 2nd degree Judo black belt.  He is great to work with standing up and he showed me some Judo techniques after he used them to throw me to the ground repeatedly.  I feel this is a real strength of our Jiu-Jitsu school.  So many people flock in from other martial arts that you get exposed to wrestling, Judo, Karate, now Hapkido, and probably other martial arts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27th Gi Class

Ray taught yesterday's class.  I think it's pretty cool to have different instructors on different days.  You get some different perspectives and teaching styles.  They may even present the same information but give little hints that help the technique work for them.

We started the class with a regular warmup of jogging and rolls then some pushups and an ab workout that was pretty good.

Ray went into some takedowns with controlling the opponent's elbow and then hooking their leg with yours. 

The bulk of the class focused on half guard lock-down, whip up and some other cool techniques.  I love working from here because I end up in this position a lot and I've already researched Eddie Bravo's half guard stuff.  There were some things that Ray taught a little differently that helped with one of the sweeps I've been having trouble with.

For open mat I started off with Ray.  Once again he has a different style than Ken, David and Jerad.  I'm always amazed when he points out that he could easily leg lock me in whatever position that we are in.  He doesn't do it because I'm a whitebelt and there's a rule about that.  I guess the best way I can describe Ray is that when he's going for something there are quick repeated bursts of movement.  First he always gives me his neck but I'm not able to choke him.  Then there's some scrambling on my part and he'll end up on the offensive.  He got me in a pretty nasty bicep cutter that I'm still feeling this morning.  As well as a triangle and I think a Kimura too.  I then sparred with a fellow white belt (I think his name was Brad).  He was pretty tough and neither of us submitted the other and we quit to bow out of class.

Although in my previous post I said I shouldn't focus on winning as much, I really dislike losing all the time.  While it bruises the ego to have my ass handed to me repeatedly it is also pushing me to improve.  Working with these guys that have been doing this for a while helps me appreciate the training methods, how good they are and how good I will be.  I wonder how different I will feel when I reach the skill level that they are at now.  I suppose if I look back at teaching Hapkido even though I've done the beginner techniques hundreds if not thousands of times, I'm still always trying to improve them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trying and Failing is Better than Not Trying

I've been reading some Jiu-Jitsu internet forums lately.  Focusing on advice for beginners covering topics like how to take care of your gi or how to get the most out of sparring.  Something that is really starting to sink in, is that our open mat time is not supposed to be a competition.  Meaning my focus should not be on winning or tapping the other guy out it should be more about experimentation and improving my Jiu-Jitsu or helping my partner improve.  This has several implications.

I shouldn't just work from positions or on submissions that I'm good at.  If all I did was work on the things that I already feel comfortable with my game will eventually plateau.  The best advice I read was to always try to incorporate the techniques that we learned in class.

Ask for help.  I already do this but what I read reaffirmed it.  Whenever I get tapped or get swept by surprise I always ask what happened, what I could have done differently, how did you do that, etc.

Tap frequently.  While it's good to know for competition how to stave off a tap and work for that reversal.  It really isn't the best use of my time to defend an armbar to the death by gabble gripping my hands until my opponent wrenches out the technique.  I can probably use my time a lot more wisely by tapping and starting over again. 

Don't play it safe.  This doesn't mean do dangerous moves like flying armbars and triangle slams.  I'm talking about not trying submissions or techniques even though they may fail and I could end up in a worse position.  For example there are times when a triangle choke presents itself from guard but there is always a danger that if I try it my partner will stack me and pass my guard.  The alternative is I just stay in guard and wait for a safer more perfect opportunity at a technique that won't backfire.  The problems with this strategy are plentiful.  Obviously my inaction can give my partner a chance to work his game.  Without attempting those techniques I won't figure out how to set them up better and minimize the chances of getting reversed.  If I do get reversed I can work on my scramble and regaining position.

It is my goal to be a very active Jiu-Jitsu player.  Always going for some type of submission and putting my opponent on the defensive so it makes it more difficult for him to impose his will.

May 23rd Gi class

In class today we worked on what I believe Jerad called a reverse arm triangle.  Basically from side control your partner's arm is in your armpit with your arm around the back of their neck.  We did some chokes, neck cranks, and an armbar (Hapkido Armbar #2) that all kind of strung together.  Hopefully I can remember all of it for class with AJ tomorrow.

We had a lot more time for open mat.  I started working with David and he really helped me with guard and some sweeps.  I then worked with Ken and showed him some Hapkido wristlocks.  He also showed me some Judo.  It felt like our average roll where I would try things and he would get out of them.  He eventually coached me into getting him in an armbar and he told me to put it in my blog.  Jerad was interesting to grapple with he got me with a couple of sweeps that completely off balanced me.  I can't wait to learn those.

I love this stuff.

Friday, May 20, 2011


With the majority of the Jiu-Jitsu classes starting at 4pm, it is a little difficult for me to make it to class.  Luckily my job is being a little flexible in allowing me to come in earlier so I can make it to class.  Of course if a work emergency were to come up I'd have to stay until it was resolved.  I'd go to Jiu-Jitsu everyday if I could but for now my best bet is to go Monday for sure and then try to make it to Thursday and/or Friday and maybe Sunday if my wife lets me.

This past Tuesday and Wednesday I felt like I was going through withdrawal.  I was restless like I had to get on the mat and grapple.  Luckily I workout Wednesday mornings with AJ.  We've been doing Hapkido Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 am for several months now.  Since I've started Jiu-Jitsu, I use the first part of our Wednesday workout as a review from Monday Jiu-Jitsu.  This has proven to work really well for both of us.  I can get more reps in on techniques that are fresh in my mind and through teaching it to AJ I also understand it better.  Plus if I run into problems I can bring questions to my next Jiu-Jitsu class.  The great thing about AJ is he is much stronger than me and if I'm not going to get away with overpowering a technique.  I also repeat the same techniques in my Saturday class.

Thursday had a rather large class in Jiu-Jitsu, there were probably 15+.  Conan led class.  I met some students that I hadn't worked with yet.  As usual everyone is helpful and a pleasure to work with.  I wish I was better at remembering names.  We started off the class with falling, which was no problem.  That's one thing Hapkidoists do well.  We also worked on some judo type kuzushi by grabbing the lapels and pushing and pulling until we got our partner off balance.

The rest of the class was centered around half guard escapes mostly using the lock-down.  It was different than the 10th planet lock-down that I have been doing and Conan pointed out the benefits of the differences.

During open mat I spent most of the time with Patrick and I believe he submitted me 3 times.  I met him a couple of years ago and he's improved a lot since then.  I also worked with a Karate brown belt named Dave.  The first thing I noticed about him was how solid he was.  When we clinched up I felt like I was grabbing a tree trunk.  I was still able to work through this and pull some things off but it took some effort.

We bowed out and I'm still not sure what everyone says.  I noticed Ken had showed up and he asked me if I wanted to roll.  It was the same as usual, I get the feeling that I'm accomplishing something and he eventually gets out of it.  One of these days hopefully I'll make that backfire on him, then after that I'll probably be in trouble.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blue is my color

My wife ordered me a blue Jiu-Jitsu Gi from Amazon last week and last night was the first night I wore it to class.  It is a Shockwave from Piranha Gear.  It is a lot more comfortable than the one I got from Century and I think I might ask for another one for Father's day.

There were 6 of us in class.  Jerad had guard passes be the theme of the night.  While I knew some of the ones we learned already there were some little differences that I hadn't seen before.  We took turns identifying a guard pass that we knew and then Jerad would clarify proper technique and little details.  At the end of class we did a minute of guard pass attempts with resistance.  David kept pulling on my elbows and I wasn't able to pass.  Very frustrating but he's been very helpful in helping me learn.

We rolled for a while and I tried to protect my stitches as much as possible.  I tapped early from an arm triangle because I didn't want to defend by talking on the phone right on my stitches.  I was told I'm good at controlling from the top position when I get there.  However, I have a really hard time keeping people in my guard.  I get passed very easily it seems.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I got to Jiu-Jitsu a half hour late on Friday for open mat.  It seemed like I missed the good stuff because everyone was sweaty and sitting around talking.  I got ready really quick and got out there.  Mostly they were talking about the tournament that would occur the next day.  I rolled with a couple of people got beat a couple times and won a couple of times against a blue belt.  I was really surprised and thought he's just messing with me.  No way I beat him so easily. 

I was also surprised to find out that wristlocks are legal in Jiu-Jitsu stand up as long as they stay away from the fingers.  I'm going to work harder to execute them and maybe get people interested in Hapkido.  Ray was trying to talk me into competing in the tournament but I had to teach class and I wasn't really mentally prepared.  Might have been better that way so I didn't psyche myself out.

I had my Saturday morning class this morning.  Only Mike Catron showed up, but we worked hard nonetheless.  We worked on the chokes that I worked on in Jiu-Jitsu on Monday.  I was even able to get a darce during sparring.  I can really see a differences in my game from just these few classes.  I think the thing that's made me stronger is that I have to fight so much harder for position at Jiu-Jitsu. 

After we ground fought we put the pads on and did some stand-up sparring.  Mike was mostly having the best of me, but I got more relaxed as we sparred and landed a couple of shots.  We were wearing helmets so we could hit to the head and face without as much worry.  I took a punch that turned the mask on my face.  It felt strange.  As soon as I took my helmet off I could see the small but deep cut over my eyebrow.  I pulled the skin apart and it started to bleed a little bit more.  There was a little leather stitch inside the helmet that had scratched me.

Mike patched me up and I ended up having to get stitches at Lincare later on.  Now I have to be careful with it for 3 weeks.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do but I don't want to stop training.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rules I don't need no stinking rules

Yesterday's class was in preparation for the tournament coming up Saturday.  It was very interesting.  I'm sure all of the rules have their purpose most of them for safety so I do see their value in the competition setting.

Basically you score points for getting to and holding top positions like knee on stomach and mount.  Sidemount does not give any points but if you pass guard into side mount you get 3 points.  All of these require keeping the position for 3 seconds.  You can also reverse from bottom in guard or half guard to get 2 points.  If you give a good try at a reversal but don't make it you get an "advantage" which doesn't count for anything unless you are tied at the end of the match.

Then we discussed the several different illegal moves.  Because of the dangers of some of the techniques white belts can do less than blue belts; blue belts can do less than purple and above.  Mostly  centered around ankle locks and spinal locks.  No gi rules allowed for more of these techniques than gi.

While it is interesting it's also kind of off putting.  The stringent rules were why I didn't like Taekwondo tournaments.  Granted this is a completely different thing.  I'm still going to try to compete and see how I like it and give it a chance.  I'll make a goal that I cannot stop competing until I've at least won one match in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament.

After that there was open mat time where I rolled with 3 fellow Jiu-Jitsuists.  Each one had a different style.  One was very aggressive and strong but a little spastic.  Another was pretty new but had some Judo experience, he was also very strong but doesn't seem to know enough submissions yet to finish.  The last guy I rolled with was a blue belt, Ken.  He was very passive and let me try several things and almost gave me the sense that I could win then after I try and fail a bunch of things and I'm tired he finally submits me.  Beaten not only physically but also mentally.  I've had this happen to me before with higher ranks so it's no surprise.

Lately I've been thinking about personal style and how each person does Jiu-Jitsu at different ranks and with different body types or attributes.  How they figure out how to make it work for themselves through sparring and testing it.  I'm interested to see how my style will change as I figure things out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An evening of chokes

Another good class.  Quite a few more people were at Monday evening's class.  Jerad taught again with the help of David.  The theme of the night was chokes, specifically the anaconda and the Darce.  We did several setups for the Darce from a defended anaconda, half guard, and sidemount.  We also did a sidemount escape and then the same escape that led into the darce.

One thing that I'm going to try and push my partner to do more reps.  It seems like everyone just wants to do techniques 2 or 3 times and then wait for the next one.  I'll have to insist to do more.  Hopefully it will make a difference in my learn process.

Rolling after class was difficult as usual.  I only rolled with David and a blue belt named Ken.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Beat down in open mat

Friday classes are no-gi open mat at the Jiu-Jitsu school.  Basically it is an hour and a half of Jiu-Jitsu mingling. You get there in shorts and a t-shirt or rash guard, stretch on your own, and then when you and another guy are ready, you roll (spar on the ground) to submission.  Then when someone wins you shake hands and/or bow and move on to another fellow grappler.  I got beat several times, almost every time, maybe all but two times.  Out of the guys that I submitted one was a little less experienced and another guy I outweighed by 60 to 80 lbs.

Going against some of the bigger guys just seems like a lesson in survival.  I guess I know enough to realize when I'm in trouble and usually then it's too late.  I really need to work on side mount defense as well as keeping someone in my guard.  I think improving these two aspects will go a long way.

I try to ask as many questions as I can.  Get them to tell me what I'm doing wrong.  Most say that I'm doing good which doesn't really help me.  I got a few pointers and some things a couple of students helped me notice.

Afterwards I don't feel sore like in pain, it's more like a dull kind of tired body feeling all over.  I got up Saturday morning and had my own class with 3 others.  I shared some of the stuff from Monday's class.  I think it's going to be good to keep Saturdays for the time being because I get to solidify some of the things I learn from Jiu-Jitsu during the week and try to explain it and use it on someone else that isn't familiar with it.  Then if I have any problems I can ask the instructor next time I'm in class.

I realized that this is going to be a lot harder than I thought to get good.  All the more reason to see it through.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Official Class - May 2nd

So not technically my first Jiu-Jitsu class, it was my first class as an official Jiu-Jitsu student.  It was a relatively small class of 4 this past Monday.  Although it was small it's always good to have even numbers.  2 purple belts (Jerad and David) a yellow belt (Bryan) and me.

The theme of the night was starting from mount and then moving to armbar position.  We progressed to dealing with armbar defense by pulling the far side arm, doing bicep crush, and a few others.  We did some techniques to get the opponent's back as well.

At the end of class we took turns rolling with each other.  I felt pretty good.  I think Jerad (purple belt) was a little too nice to me.  He let me feel like I was winning until I basically got gassed then submitted me quickly. 

All in all a good first class.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back Story

I recently became a Jiu-Jitsu student at Roseberry's Martial Arts Center in Lincoln, NE.  I decided to try and document my journey into the art of Jiu-Jitsu.

Quick History:

I have been involved with martial arts since 1991.  I did Taekwondo for a few years and then mainly practiced Hapkido until now.  I was in the Marines as a Security Guard and then a Machine Gunner from '96-'00.  I came back to Lincoln and worked at the Detox center for 1 year and then the County Jail for 3. I decided I didn't like that kind of work and went to a local community college and got my Associates in computer programming.

I started teaching Hapkido around '04 out of my garage and then a student's basement.  I found a TKD school that I really liked and would visit and they eventually let me teach Hapkido at their school.  My student base fluctuated from 1 or 2 students to 8 and then back down again.  I promoted my first blackbelt student last year, she soon graduated college and left the area to start her career.

I was at a point where I had 2 committed students.  I found myself weighing reasons to keep teaching or starting something new.  I like teaching but I also had reasons to stop.  I had a desire to be a student again.  I also wanted to compete in something and TKD tournaments were not interesting anymore.

I had trained with my new instructor Conan sporadically for several years.  I was always amazed by their skill on the ground and how easily I could be beaten.  I'm also really into the chess match mentality of Jiu-Jitsu.

To clarify, I still love Hapkido and may teach it again in the future.  Going through this process will make my Hapkido better.

I have a wife and 2 boys that I love dearly.  It's awesome watching my boys learn and grow.  I work as a software developer.