Friday, September 30, 2011

September 29th - Gi Class (Glasses suck for Jiu-Jitsu)

I decided to finally make a trip to the eye doctor yesterday.  I had been experiencing some blurry vision on and off in my left eye and was getting concerned.  I have some scratches on my eye that will eventually heal.  This I took as relatively good news because I was afraid that I had cataracts or something permanent.  Still I had to get some very expensive eye drops to take for 5 days.  Plus I can't wear contacts until this is fixed.  Not that I want to, but it makes martial arts a lot easier when I don't have to worry about breaking my glasses or not being able to see when I have them off.

I wore my glasses for the majority of class.  Conan's theme for the class was working from guard by request of Matt.  We worked on trapping their arm and then going to kimura, then oma plata, and finally triangle.

For the Judo portion of class we worked on Soto Makakomi off of making them step.  Sensei Beggs talked about the triangle that you want to work with when throwing someone.  He used some sticks on the floor to make an x and show how when someone moves how the x moves.  This helped me visualize how to throw a little better I think.  I may have to think about it more.

During open mat I ended up only rolling with Matt.  It was a small enough class that we were able to start from our feet.  I was pretty much able to dominate and keep top position or back mount through our first two matches.  I got him into an anaconda choke in our first match.  In the second match he was doing a good job of keeping me from getting a good side mount position, so that has improved for him.  He did a lot of good hip escaping and shrimping.  I also found it difficult to go to mount on him.  However he eventually went to turtle position and using the seat belt grab I was able to pull him into back mount.  I got a bow and arrow choke from there, which was awesome. 

Our last roll I was able to get mount and eventually worked into a triangle.  I made a mistake though and was rolled to my back and he was able to posture.  I'm not sure what I should have done differently to lock up the triangle better.  Eventually he broke it open and he was able to put me in side control.  I was pretty tired at this point but I was able to squeak my leg around one of his and put him into guard.  I then surprised him with a well timed scissor sweep.  At this point everyone else from class was watching us and giving Matt pointers.  While I was in mount I went for a sloppy armbar and he was able to grab his hand.  During this time everyone was trying to tell Matt how to escape and I was trying several things to break his arms apart.  I tried the far side pull on the elbow and eventually got it with a figure four kind of kimura motion.

Afterwards I asked for some pointers on how to make that position better.  Apparently I wasn't squeezing my knees as much as I should have which would have helped considerably.  I think I might ask someone to work on breaking the armbar grab defense if I can make it to open mat today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For those of you wondering why

Ray reminded me a few months ago that I haven't really delved into the reasons for no longer teaching Hapkido and starting Jiu-Jitsu on this blog.  I wanted to avoid any perceived negativity to Hapkido and the people involved.  I've also been editing this post for a while trying to make sure it says what I want it to say.

I've been asked by several people why I quit teaching and I even got a couple of calls from a Hapkido organization trying to recruit me and bring me back in.  The truth is there isn't a single reason why I decided to stop teaching and start training in Jiu-Jitsu.  There are many.

It mostly started because of my lack of a student base.  For some reason after Christmas my class size shrank to 2 or less students per class.  Last year about this time I thought I was finally becoming a successful teacher.  I was maintaining classes of 6 or more students, I promoted a student to black belt and I had other students at various levels.

The 2nd factor was that I had to drive across town to get to class.  I've lived with it for 5 or 6 years but it's been getting more difficult to do as my kids get older.  Driving across town and having no students show up was a constant let down.

I had written a lengthy message to most of the martial artists that I respect and look up to.  Asking for advice and voicing some of my concerns.  I started off with the two points above and then the message turned into a rant about some of the other things I have problems with.  Namely things like getting rid of belt ranks, not wearing doboks or gis, do I need to make students call me sir in class, do I need to teaching Korean terminology.  Probably stuff that all traditional martial art's instructors think about from time to time.  The discussion went on for a little while and I got different responses in favor of and against some of the things I asked about.

A lot of these questions draw from my desire to be true to what I believe.  I don't want to teach something that I don't agree with or believe in.  I really want to be honest with how I present Hapkido but I also wanted to be respectful of my teacher and the way he taught.  I was in kind of a difficult place.  I knew I could probably advertise more and build up my student base again.  I could fix my website.  I could change the way I teach and make it more self defense oriented, get rid of the things I didn't agree with.  I thought I could make it work.  I thought that these changes would make me happy.

Eventually I was overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness.  I questioned if I was as skilled as I should be to teach Hapkido.  While I had made some improvements to my curriculum and I felt successful in teaching my students I also felt like there were things about Hapkido that I didn't understand and I had no idea how I would reach that understanding.  With Hapkido not being a popular martial art in this area and my instructor living in another state I didn't feel like I had a mentor or someone more knowledgeable than myself to turn to.

I had been visiting classes at Roseberry's on and off for several years.  I was always amazed at how I could be easily submitted by guys with just a couple of years of experience. This is something I wanted to be able to do.  The way that Conan could be relaxed and make little movements and I would fall all over myself into his trap.

I decided to take on a new journey of Jiu-Jitsu and so far I've gained quite a bit from this experience.  I know I've improved, people that rolled with me before I started see some major differences in my game, even though I still get submitted on a regular basis in the dojo.  Sure I wear a white belt and there have been quite a few blows to my ego.  It was difficult going from being the instructor and most knowledgeable person in my class to being at the bottom of the totem pole.  However, it helps drive me to get better.  I'm excited to get out on the mat for each and every class.  I can't wait to try a new concept or technique in open mat or when I make a break through and foil a move that I fell for so many times before.

There is a wealth of knowledge at our dojo, with many unique humble practitioners that have a drive to improve and the willingness to share and help other team members improve.  It's a great atmosphere for learning and growth, and I'll be busting my ass there for a long time to come.

September 26th - Gi Class

Jerad taught and the theme of the night was gi chokes.  While I like the idea of them and doing them to others I really don't like having them done to me.  Just something about using the gi material to be choked with makes it seem more like a strangulation homocide.  Maybe I watch too much Law and Order with my wife.

We worked on the basic cross collar choke (a little bit different than I've done before), the baseball bat from both bottom and top side control, and the bow and arrow choke.  Not only is my neck a little sore, but my fingers are also fatigued from having to grab the collar so much.

At the end of class we did guard passing/retention drills.  I went with Adam and Nick.

For open mat I rolled with Andy first.  He made several good attempts at collar chokes on me that I was just barely able to stop by pushing on his elbows.  However,  I eventually got his back and was able to sink in the bow and arrow choke.  I was so excited to pull off such a cool move but held it in because I didn't want Andy to feel bad.

I went with Ken next and we worked on standing sparring again.  I'm glad we've started doing this cause I'm getting a little more comfortable with being aggressive from the feet and trying some things out.  We rolled and Ken gave me a hard time.  It was a good match and there was a lot of back and forth but I found it exceedingly difficult to make it past his guard.  Eventually he tapped me out with an americana.

I finished out the night with Jerad.  I sensed that he was playing with me a little bit because he skipped some submission attempts that I kind of fell into.  He also passes my guard very easily.  He also got me in an americana but by using his legs.  We talked for a little while and I mentioned that there is something that I'm missing when it comes to retaining guard.  He said that if I feel like I'm at that point were someone is almost going to pass to just shrimp away a little bit and try to regain guard.  We also talked about some things that I could do on my own to get better.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26th - No-Gi Class

I got to class a little late yesterday and everyone was already working with partners on side control escapes.  Conan was teaching and mostly we were from getting an underhook across the body and then going to a tripod and ending up on your knees or deep off to the side.  It was a good progression and nice to work with a lot of good partners.

During open mat I only rolled with Fuji.  He submitted me the first time after a hard fought battle in his side control.  I don't really recall right now what it was that he got me with though.  Our second match we ran out of time because the other class was about to start.  I had him in back mount though for the first time and was working my butt off to get the RNC but I couldn't get my arm around his neck.  I kind of switched to a arm triangle but that didn't help my position and time ran out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 23rd - Open Mat

According to my post count I have stepped into the dojo somewhere around 50 times since I started Jiu-Jitsu.  It seems hard to believe but thinking about how much I've learned and how much better I've become in this short amount of time it helps me look forward to the next 50, 100, 1000 classes.

Yesterday at open mat turned out to be a good session.  I actually made a few people tap for once.  I've been contemplating still if I want to talk about my matches in open mat on this blog.  While I want to keep a good record of my Jiu-Jitsu journey I'm not interested in making anyone feel bad because I submitted them and then wrote about it.  However, if the roles were reversed and someone was writing about submitting me, I wouldn't mind (depending on how it was written of course). 

I rolled with Fuji first.  I succeeded in my goal to stay off of my back with him in the first match.  I was able to keep him in side control and mount.  I tried quite a few submissions but I was never able to get anything.  Eventually I got a head and arm choke.  When we went again after that he got me with a neck crank that was pretty slick holding my bicep with the arm that was behind my head from half guard.  I think I'm starting to play a little smarter with him as usual I always try to go for certain things when the opportunity presents itself.  In this case a darce choke.  Whenever I would try to get Fuji in it he would get to his knees and be able to scramble and regain a top position.  Yesterday when I saw that happening I'd abandon the choke and push his shoulders back to the mat.

Next I rolled with Andy.  We hadn't rolled before except for practicing techniques in class, so I really didn't know what to expect.  It seemed like every time I did something right he would have his legs up trying to trap my head in them.  It was something a little extra that I wasn't expecting.  However, I was eventually able to submit him once with a rear naked choke and the other time with a kimura although I think he was gassed at that point.

I then spent a lot of time with Mike.  He was able to submit me with a guillotine choke which I might have been able to roll out of, but I decided to play it safe and tap.  We then worked a while on guard retention and passing which was very informative and something I'm lacking skill in.

Finally I got a taste of the Bauer power.  Like usual we were pretty evenly matched, but I was able to keep the top position for the majority of our bout.  I was having a hard time isolating one of his arms but eventually I started going for wristlocks and I got him to move enough for me to put on an armbar.  I really enjoy rolling with the guys that I rolled with today.  Because even though I can lose to them on any given day at least I know there is a chance that I can win.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 19th - Gi Class (On Guard)

Jerad taught class last night and asked for requests of what anyone wanted to work on.  Since class the day before when Greg suggested that I improve my guard I asked if we could work on maintaining the guard.

We worked on several defenses to common passes.  It turned out to be rather informative for me as I do know the passes and have had them done to me, but don't always know how to defend them.  One defense pass that I really like was from the double unders pass (or whatever it's called).  When they put both arms under your knees and try to stack you up, you sit up and hook your feet inside of theirs.  Then step over and make a shoulder lock.

We finished the class with 2 minute partner drills trying to pass the guard.  I worked with Fuji, Nick, and Ken.  I feel like I'm improving.  I can see some avenues to get half guard at times where I didn't before and I'm anticipating my opponent's movements.  Still there is a lot to learn and some bad habits that need to be corrected.

I rolled with Ken and James afterward.  Ken and I did quite a bit of standup which was nice, but tiring.  Hopefully I can get him to work with me on this more and help with my kazushi.  Once we went to the ground I had a tough time with Ken today.  I think he's stopped being as nice to me as he was when I first started.  Which is a good sign.

I rolled James next and I surprised him with a wrist lock.  I don't think he liked that very much at first.  He eventually took my back and really stretched me out.  Afterward I showed him and Ken some more Hapkido jointlocks which they thought were cool.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 18th - No Gi (New Guard)

Good class yesterday, I'm always amazed with Greg's skill and ability to demonstrate techniques with great ease.  It had to take an amazing amount of hard work to get to this point.

To warm up we first went up and down the floor with various shrimping movements then partnered up and worked on takedowns and throws.  Jerad was my partner for this and the rest of the class.

The theme of the day was the Shawn Williams guard.  It's similar to the rubber guard in that it helps control the top person's posture by trapping the arm.  You put your arm under your own knee while trapping their arm into your armpit area (kinda sorta).  The two main techniques that we worked on from here were the triangle and the omma-platta.

I had injured my knee and ankle the day before but it only bothered me a couple of times.  It did prevent me from doing the omma-platta well on one side.  We ended up drilling this quite a bit and I was starting to feel comfortable getting it.  That was until we worked guard live.  Jerad passed my guard several times and I'm starting to realize the mistakes I'm making or seeing a pattern of how I am getting passed when I move a certain way.  I just need to stop making those mistakes.

I worked with Greg during round 2 and he pretty much did the Shawn Williams guard at will.  After we went he had 2 pointers for me.  One was when I'm in someone's guard don't put my hands on the ground, which I knew but I'm obviously not paying attention to it.  The second was that I'm letting my guard open up too easily.  I should have some type of purpose behind opening my guard.  While I know I'm getting better having my guard get passed so easily is a problem.  It's something I'm going to focus on this month along with bridging or side control escapes.

I rolled with Jerad and Fuji during open mat.  Nothing really to write about with those matches except I was submitted by both.  Fuji with armbar and Jerad with a north/south choke.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 12th Gi Class (Spiderweb)

Finally had a chance to learn a little bit about the Spider Guard Monday. I've been interested in it ever since I first rolled with Greg.  It's a cool position that can only be done with the gi from an open guard you kind of shrimp out to where you have a hold of their sleeves and your feet on their biceps.

We started with just a basic way to get to the position and worked up from their to a sweep.  While Greg seemed concerned that we would think it was boring, it was not the case for me.  I love to drill and drill the basics of stuff and get it down.  I was partners with Rob for most of the class. I like his attitude and his willingness to keep drilling stuff.

A major part of this position like many is hip movement and timing.  By the end of class my fingertips and forearms were very sore from holding on to sleeves.  At the end we learned a very cool sweep that I think I got pretty well but I had to really concentrate and think about all of the steps.  To finish up we did two minute drills with one person trying to pass and the other person trying get and maintain spider guard.  I had no success here against Rob and Mike.

During open mat I rolled with David and tested my new side control defense.  It worked better than usual.  I could tell that he was trying to go north/south a couple times and I was able to stop it.  I felt like I was in a little more relaxed position from the bottom.  Now I just have to work on getting out of there more.  He tapped me out twice one from taking my back and kind of a crossface neck crank and the other from north/south choke/neck crank (so my defense wasn't absolute).  

Next I rolled with Ken.  It had been a while and it actually turned out to be pretty fun.  I was able to get spider guard.  I was able to maintain it for a while, but I couldn't make a sweep happen.  Then also was able to do the x-guard sweep.  I'm sure it's because he's kind of going with the flow and not trying his hardest to submit me as soon as possible.  He did eventually submit me with like an americana or something like that.

Me, Ken, Mike and Jared ended up hanging out for a while after class and discussed stuff like doing more repetitions and how our school compares to bjj classes elsewhere.  A very thought provoking discussion.  We also talked about lunch time JJ class.  I wish I could do something like that but the logistics just aren't there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11th No-Gi Class (2 epiphanies 1 class)

Had a good class yesterday and I'm glad I could make it.

Greg taught a pretty small class of Ray, Jared, Adam, Matt, and myself (James showed up later).  We started out working on a wrestling technique going off of pummeling taught by Adam.  I had a pretty tough time with it and it tweaked my back a little.  I couldn't get the hang of the off balancing.  I wasn't the only one though.

After that we did a stand-up live drill where we tried to take each other down from the pummel position.  I was not impressed with my performance here.  Standing grappling is something I should be good at but against some of these guys I feel like a beginner.  I think I just have to loosen up a bit and try to use off balancing a lot more.

Next we worked on a guard pass that utilized the armpits since with no-gi there isn't any clothes to grab.  I have done this before and I really like it.  Like with everything it's a little more difficult live, but not completely undoable.  We finished with some live training on trying to pass the guard or not get passed.  I felt pretty good about this.  I went with Adam and Matt.  I'm not very strong at keeping my guard closed and I have a hurt ankle so I pretty much opened up right away.

During open mat I rolled with Adam.  It was a pretty good roll for me.  After it was over we were talking about deep half guard and Greg showed me some things that I was doing wrong.  One major thing is I wasn't blocking a crossface from this position which was putting me at a huge disadvantage.

After that I rolled with James.  He pretty much dominated me and put me in a arm triangle choke.

I rolled with Jared last.  I was able to implement the deep half guard sweep that I just worked on with Adam.  However Jared got me in a kimura and made me roll over and tapped me out.  I was discussing with him how I seem to get put into North/South position all of the time lately.  He showed me how he puts his hands and arms in bottom side control.  I had my arm that is down by the hips under the body way too much.  Hopefully this change will help me prevent letting guys put their crotch in my face repeatedly!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 5th - Gi Class (Mount Fuji)

Jared taught class and I had requested that we work on the triangle choke.  We set it up from overhooking their arm and grabbing the gi collar.  I wanted to work on triangles because whenever I'm presented with one it seems like I'm usually stacked and I get passed and put into side control.  I think my major problem is that I'm not breaking them down and controlling their body enough.  Also, my legs are short and I've had some trouble locking it in.  Now with the Teepee in my arsenal I should be able to go to that.

We did some secondary techniques if the triangle didn't work.  Like teepee, kimura, bolt lock, and some sweeps.  We also talked about putting them into no mans land when trying a mounted triangle instead of falling to your back to go to the side and keep them off of their knees.  That was a cool concept that I'm going to use.

We also talked about starting slow with submissions and increasing the pressure incrementally.  Kind of playing a mind game.  Instead of going 100% right from the start and potentially blowing your load, you start and 60% and make the submission tighter and tighter and not going backwards.  This is good to remember as I sometimes get excited when I get something and then go 100% right away.  They weather the storm and I have to eventually let go.  I already knew this but it was a good reminder.

When open mat started Fuji was standing there in front of me so I asked him if he wanted to roll.  I think this might be the first time we've rolled together.  He complained that he wouldn't compare to Bauer, which made me hopeful that I could submit him.  We started from standing and after I failed at a throw I ended up on the bottom.  This is not where I wanted to be.  It was very difficult for me to move and I worked really hard to get out of side control.  I had guard a few times and finally I rolled him over and was able to take side control, knee on belly, and mount.  However, I could not submit him with anything.  I tried for armbars, and arm triangle chokes, but nothing was working.  He eventually rolled me over from mount, and I ended up in side control again.  He had me in a really good americana at one point and even though I wanted to tap I decided to fight out of it and weathered that storm.  In the end I believe he got me with a kimura.  That was tough.  In the future my goal will be at all costs stay out of side control.  Should be my goal anyway.

I rolled with Alec next and as usual we slow rolled.  It's kind of fun because I can play around a bit and try new things.  I eventually got him in the twister this time.

Mike and I rolled next.  There was a point that I had him in an armbar but couldn't get his arms apart.  There are some things I should have done differently but I was afraid to screw it up and decided to strength it.  Wrong move.  He eventually got out.  I don't remember how but he submitted me eventually.

Jared was next and he was trying to get me to reverse him so he could work from the bottom.  I tried a vertical wrist lock instead of reversing him and got him to tap.  Awesome!  However, I'm humbled from my other losses of the night.  Jared soon submitted me with an armbar later on.

Friday, September 2, 2011

September 2nd - Open Mat (The Battle Rages On)

I was able to make it to the dojo by 5 after a long day (actually a rather long week).  Seemed like a full house when I got there.  There weren't any free partners at the time so I stretched and warmed up as best I could.  I've been fighting a sore back so I did need some extra stretching.  I watched David vs Bauer and Ray vs Jerad.  When David and Bauer quit, I was summoned to roll with Bauer. 

We started on the feet and I decided I would try to setup soto makikomi and see if I could pull it off.  I got his hand trapped in my armpit and went for it.  It worked!  I couldn't believe it, I executed the throw and ended up in side control.  Maybe this will be my throw.  I fought for a good side control position and when I got it, I decided to relax and try to work on being heavy.  In the past I've rushed and tried too hard to keep a constant pace at this point and ended up gassing out.

I ended up in mount and then eventually he rolled over and I took his back.  I tried to flatten him out but I couldn't.  I kept a kimura kind of hold on Bauer's arm as I worked for the rear naked choke.  And eventually I got it.  He tapped! 

The second match was a blur.  I tried for a double leg.  It was a failure but we eventually went down and I was in side control.  From there I was rolled over and eventually ended up in closed guard.  Somehow after that I positioned myself to get an armbar from guard.  He made the comment that I felt really strong today.  It felt pretty good to submit somebody for once.  I'm so used to being smashed in side control after having my guard passed and then getting submitted.

As I write this I feel kind of bad.  I don't mean any disrespect to anyone with what I write in this blog.  It's one thing for me to talk about the people that beat me during open mat time, but when I submit someone, I don't want it to seem like I'm bragging or talking shit about my fellow Jiu-Jitsu brothers and sisters.  Today my game was better, but I have no doubt that I could lose to Bauer again.  However, I'll try my damnedest not to. 

I rolled with Ray next and he submitted me 3 or 4 times.  Most of them were a blur as well.  With him, it seems like I never recover once I make a mistake.  He's always improving his position or twisting me up and I never regain a better position.  I was kimuraed once and choked twice I think.

I talked to Ray for a little bit about soto makikomi.  He said that it wasn't a good throw for Jiu-Jitsu, because if done right you end up in back mount.  That makes sense.  I'm going to stick with it for a little while and see if I can't figure out how to prevent my back from being taken.  He did say that the foot position for that throw was better for Jiu-Jitsu though.

David was my final roll partner.  We were just talking about me doing some wrist locks before that.  So I put David in a wrist throw right off the bat and got side control.  From there is went down hill after I attempted a darce choke.  I was eventually on my back and then mounted.  David was crossing his feet under my butt and I couldn't find a way to get out of it.  I tried to get to my side and that led to an arm triangle making me tap.

We talked about that mount that he put me in and I might try it tomorrow when I workout at my school.

September 1st - Gi Class

I was so excited to get back to Jiu-Jitsu after a week off.  I ended up getting pulled into a project at work and spending a great deal of time on it this past week.  I would have considered myself giddy on my way to the dojo yesterday.  As opposed to the pissed off state I was in this past Thursday, Friday, Monday during class times when I was sitting at a computer trying to create reports.

The theme of the class was passing the butterfly guard with a mule kick to smashing their leg.  We did quite a few variations off of this.  It was a relatively small class with Conan, Jared, Gina, Sara, and I.  Adam showed up later.

During the Judo portion of class I worked with Adam who was a little injured.  I showed him my new favorite throw the soto makikomi and I think I converted him to liking it too.  I think I'm going to try to make this my throw and try to drill it to where I can use it in competition effectively.

After class Conan told me that testing would be delayed a couple of months.  I said that was okay and my only goal is to defeat David Kluthe on the mat, then I will gladly accept my yellow belt.