Thursday, January 14, 2010, nogi

So achy again this morning. I think this is from Tuesday night, mostly, with some remnants from this weekend hanging around. New bruises have appeared, even some on the bottom of my feet. My hamstrings especially are hurting, as are the backs of my knees.

Lunch was sushi. Yum!

Really small class, six of us and Justin. Rolling to warmup.

Got to start with Will. He wanted to work some different variation on the RNC, I think, so he took my back several times. Also lost to several omoplatas and similar shoulder locks. I forget what else I fell prey to, though. He let me take top a few times and work to pass his half guard, not that I had much luck.

Then with the kid who’s been cautious with me this week. I could see that he really, really wanted to go crazy, especially when I hit the hook sweep several times, but he held himself back. (I’ve seen him throughout the week, and he’s been going fierce with the other guys.) Actually got up and over and passed to side control at least once. Hit one pendulum sweep cleanly; he didn’t try to push up this time, though I was thinking of that armbar if he had. Struggled and screwed up several more pendulum sweeps. Also missed a step-over armbar; should have pushed his head as I spun to keep my weight down, but didn’t, and he scrambled away.

Drilling was… *drumroll please* pendulum sweep. Yay! Found my biggest (current) problem: when you get the overhook, slide down to their elbow for better control. (Higher seems more logical, but then they can move their lower arm and post.) Also, as you pivot, keep that arm tucked along your ribs and keep your elbow pinched in. Drilled with Will.

Rolling again. Will again, and he was still working that RNC. I need to see where I’m giving up my back again. Then, somewhere he got mount, to a triangle, and then started working for the kneebar. While trying to defend by alternately crossing my feet, I kneed myself square in the eye. Doh. Think I lost several other limbs or chokes, too. A good roll.

Then I ended up with a new guy. He’s trained before, but not at a real school. I just wanted to work defense and maybe some sweeps. He was trying to grab and squeeze things, though at least he wasn’t pouncing on anything that moved. Worked my butterfly guard actually quite a bit, though I couldn’t sweep him because he’d stand up. Somewhere in there, I went to full guard and got the pendulum sweep beautifully despite his thrashing. When I finally flattened him, he said, “Oh, nice sweep.” Wanted an americano or armbar, but he was jerking his arms away. He wanted to benchpress me off and/or roll me, but I was more interested in keeping mount. Stayed there most of the round and let him thrash away. He nearly gave up his back a few times, but then realized what he was doing and rolled back under my mount. He did get me over finally and back in to my guard. I wanted another pendulum sweep or a triangle, but it wasn’t there, so I mostly worked on keeping his posture broken down. It wasn’t a pendulum sweep, but I did finally get something else and back to mount. My knee and his forehead collided on the way, and I apologized. More of the same in mount. I think we finished there.

(Oh, and I totally took advantage of the position and my, er, anatomy to help hold him in mount. He didn’t know where to put his face. Yes, I can be shameless. πŸ˜‰ )

My hamstrings still really hurt, and my hips never really woke up during class. Gonna take tomorrow off, and then go on Saturday.

I watched Renzo Gracie: Legacy last night and some of the bonus material. As if I didn’t adore the man enough already. Wow.

Post-Turkey Day Rolling

You would think that at some point I would learn. But I don’t; I continue to sit on my butt and eat during holidays. And I pay for it when I go back to class. Most I did over the loooong weekend was some urban hiking (aka window shopping).

At least Tim was feeling kindly toward us tonight, else I probably wouldn’t have made it. (Even then, felt a little woozy during the warmups and some of the drills.) Short warmup — should have been easy, but I felt like a lump of cranberry jelly.

Then, instead of rolling, we partnered up and went straight to drilling. (Just like I told the visiting guy last Tuesday, it depends on which night you come.)

First, throws. Any 2 that you know. I got stuck with a new guy (the one I rolled with twice), who doesn’t know anything. I worked a hip throw first and then called Tim over to show him what to do. All night during drilling, the guy alternated between falling down as soon as I touched him and resisting as absolutely hard as he could. I’d get in position for the hip toss, and he’d slide sideways to the mat. (Seriously?)

For my second throw, I was trying to remember this sacrifice takedown, but was fuzzy on it (got the hands, but couldn’t remember how to get him down), so I asked Tim for help. He showed me, and then decided that the entire class should drill that one. So we did for a bit. Then I was having trouble a couple of times getting his weight forward first, so Tim showed me how to hook and turn in for the single leg (similar to the end of this one), and then he decided we should move in to single- and double-leg takedowns.

Geez, my double-legs stink! Did not help that my partner was falling backwards as soon as I tried anything. And we started by pulling down on their sleeves, to which the partner was supposed to pull back up so you could fling their arms up and shoot in — except my partner wasn’t trying, so I could pull him until he was entirely bent over…

Next was sweeps from the guard, any 2. I worked scissor sweep first. Asked my partner if he knew any; he said no. Tim was helping another pair, so I decided to do the pendulum sweep first and then call Tim over when he was finished (or teach bump sweep if he was still busy). The pendulum version where you overhook the arm… yeah, that one wasn’t working so well. The one with the arm trapped in was great, though. Called Tim over, and he showed the guy bump sweep. (Ha!) Let him drill that a few times; then I did scissor sweep and walked the guy through it as I did. Then he tried, and didn’t do too badly. We alternated sweep practice for a while.

Then I think was chokes from the guard. Started with the double-lapel choke, showing my partner as I went. Then the single-lapel and shoulder grab (I’m sure it has a real name, but I have no idea what it might be), and finally another single-lapel choke that I first had to have Tim help me remember (had the set up, couldn’t remember the submission).

Finally, we did armbars from guard, any 2. (Tim was also saying any other submissions from the guard, but I wanted to keep it simple for my partner.) Started with just the regular armbar, walking my partner through as I did it on him, and then let him try. We worked on that for a while so he could practice. Then I did the double armbar, and he got in a little practice, too.

On to rolling. Got the same partner. Pooh. He just wanted to fling and bear hug and squeeze. Didn’t help that my brain was mush and my body was unresponsive. Got him in guard and kept trying to sweep him, but he’d lay on me and grip and squeeze and pin my wrists down. Bah. Did almost get one of the sweeps, though he picked me up and tossed me away. I turtled and he tried to take my back. Tim stopped us to point out that I should’ve started rolling out as soon as I headed toward turtle, instead of trying to wait until he was on my back and consolidating his position. Ah, gotcha. But couldn’t do much the rest of the round.

During this round, Sundance and Brandon had started with two different partners. (Tim was matching everyone up. That’s a sure sign he’s evaluating someone for a promotion. Doesn’t always mean it’s coming that night, but it means he’s watching.) But during the round, Tim switched them up so they were rolling together. Then at the end of the round, he hollered and pulled out two blue belts and whacked them both at the same time. Congrats, boys. πŸ™‚

Second round, I rolled with Mark, who had a hankering for some kimuras. Lost a couple of arms from under side control to them. Also an armbar and I think something else. He eventually laid back and let me have half guard, which lead to a gi D’Arce. It wasn’t working at first, but I remembered Mike Crawford telling me, when I tried a similar choke, that it wasn’t deep enough. I managed to flatten him out again and get that hand in even deeper, and then when I went back to the D’Arce he tapped fast. He turtled to let me attack. I picked clock choke, elbow variation. Got it set in and got my legs walking around; he tried to turn up and in to me, but somehow I kept my weight on his shoulder/head, which forced him back down into position. Then he let me set up an armbar from mount (mount? how in blazes did I get to mount?!) so he could defend by stacking up when I sat back; I turned back to guard to contain him, since he was trying to pass, and then tried to angle off for a triangle but couldn’t get my leg in front of his arm. My brain finally clicked on for a second and whispered Omoplata. Turned further, legs dropped in, and there it was.

When I got to class, the guys were already talking about Renzo’s interview on the Fightworks Podcast. And everyone who came in after would say, “Did you hear the interview…?” I love Renzo. πŸ™‚

Saturday, 24 October 2009

No creative titles today. Still stiff and sore from Thursday. Small class. Saturdays usually are. Tim’s son had football. We had a guy visiting from Team RAM in Lynchburg. He was hitting the heavy bags before class. Sharp standup. Throws hard and tight, no windmilling or flailing. Also a college wrestler; real slick wrestling.

Rolling to warmup. Guillaume first. Worked on playing spider guard some, though he can just stand up to pass it. Little bit of X-guard, too, when he kept dropping himself into my half guard. Tried the sweep where you take them over your head. … Yeah, not so much. He gave up his back a lot, so played a lot from there. He was defending the RNC; tried the armbar setup from there, but he was blocking everything I needed, so had to work to a gi choke. Trying triangles from guard and spider guard, but couldn’t quite get in there right. Also saw some mount. Can get the triangles from there. πŸ˜›

Drilling next. The Renzo variation on a gi choke. (Maybe I should start learning what these things are called. I just have to make stuff up.) From side control, turn to reverse kesa gatame. Pull out your own lapel on the side further from their body. As you pull it out, palm the end of the lapel and curl your fingers around it. (That’s the Renzo part. Another sneaky Brazilian trick is to put the lapel in your mouth.) Turn back to side control. Slide the hand holding the gi across their chest to the far side of their neck; the lapel will be hidden by your arm and hand. When you reach your other hand, turn the hand holding the lapel palm up and grab the lapel with the free hand. Pull that elbow in to tighten the lapel, and make sure your top knee is deep behind their shoulder so that their arm is trapped. Use your now free hand to post on their near-side hip. Drive your top knee up along their arm, so their arm stays trapped, and base out on that foot as you move around toward north/south. Your head switches sides, coming down in their armpit.

Another note on this choke: it works best when you and your partner are wearing the same color gi. πŸ˜‰

I had missed the arm-trapping details and so was having trouble finishing it. Adam pointed out how to fix it, and then showed all of us what to do if that arm gets out — with your free arm, pin their closest arm to the ground, and then sprawl your hips back, like the Monson choke.

More rolling. Perry first. Going slow and watching out for wrist locks.

Then another guy. Thought maybe, with no one watching and it being a slower Saturday, that maybe he’d be chill. So tried the open guard pass that Scott and Buddy had shown me Tuesday — grab pants by the ankles; when they pull in, follow and pressure in their hips with yours; when they kick out, guide their legs to one side; come down in side control. It worked beautifully. And then he flipped his lid. Majorly. Picked me up, slammed me over, and drop-elbowed me in the face. Probably didn’t necessarily mean to, but did. Rest of the round was survival and trying not to panic. He tried the move from class but did it wrong; my arm came out and I had space to move (not to escape, just to move), and he didn’t move to the variation to finish that. The rest of the round was him trying to stuff me back down to finish that choke — and mostly cranking on my neck — and me staying just ahead of him, though by the slimmest of margins. Really wanted to tap and walk away. Eventually will learn that that’s a valid option.

The skin on my neck had been stinging during that round, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Looked in the mirror — his gi must have been sliding and sawing along my neck because that whole side was red and raw. Also, neck pain from the cranking. Did sit out the next round. (Also a valid option. Small bit of panicking that took a minute to control. Don’t like it when training partners are willing to hurt you to get a tap. Maybe I should mention that to Tim as an alternative to straight kicking me out: let me sit a round and pull myself together.)

Guillaume again. He noticed my neck and asked if I was okay to roll; he tried to stay away from that side. We rolled a second round after this, too. All mashed together. More spider guard playing. More trying triangles from my guard. A little more on his back (ah, figured it out — he’s turtling to get away, but isn’t tucking tight, so the hooks slide right in. Will try to remember to tell him that on Monday.). Went for several omoplatas in all 3 rolls with him, but couldn’t finish any; most came off failed triangles (wohoo for transitions!). Several sweeps where I actually recognized that his balance was off and took him the right way. Got an armbar that he defended well, but I stuck with it, fixed my positioning, and then got it on the second try. That ended the first round, and he said he thought he had defended that well; I said that he had, but pointed out that he hadn’t also escaped from the bad position. Not good enough just to defend the submission; you also have to get away from letting them do it again. The second round ended quickly when I dropped my bruised rib on his knee. Owie, am done.

My neck was still raw after class. Several of the guys saw it and asked what had happened. This is one of the guys who, just a month or so ago, was okay to roll with. He’s near his blue, and he knows it. Maybe he thinks he needs to smash a blue to get his blue and/or he’s a little ticked off that I got it before him. I don’t know, and maybe I’m imagining it, but it feels as if he’s been trying to rip me in half since then.

But seriously, guys, if I’m not tapping fast, check your technique. If it’s right, and I have no defense available, I’ll tap. If it’s wrong, and I have space, I’m gonna try to get out. If you’re pulling and ripping and I’m not tapping, the problem, 99.99% of the time, is your technique, not the amount of muscle you’re using.

More Renzo

Can never have enough Renzo. I went back today for his 3rd seminar. Nick and Clifton showed up to watch and meet Renzo and Paul.

First, a takedown with two different lead-ins. One, they’re behind you and have wrapped both hands around your waist (they’re trying to do what we worked Wednesday). Two, they’re behind you and trying to RNC you from standing. Both of your hands grab on one of their arms (in the RNC variation, grab the arm around your throat); shoot your hips forward. Step one leg through, around, and back (opposite leg from the side you’ve grabbed on). Then drop to the front knee, put the same-side hand down if you need to, too, and then roll over that shoulder. You land in side control.

Second, the papercutter (I think) choke when someone tries to take you down with a single leg. They shoot in with their head on the outside. Slide the hand that’s on the side their head goes to under their chin and cup it; use that hand to drive their head into the center of your stomach. Now slide the other hand behind the first hand. Pinch your elbows in. Now rotate your wrists toward you (so the tops of your hands are turning up toward the ceiling) to finish.

Third, a roll from top half-guard to a toe hold/ankle lock finish. When you’re in top half guard, they have their legs wrapped around one of yours, the one that’s further away from their head. Take that leg and rotate it under your body, toward their head, and then sit down heavy on it, trapping their bottom leg. Now rotate your upper body around and toward their feet and roll over your shoulder to the other side of their body. You want them to go almost-but-not-quite to their stomach. Both of your knees should be controlling their top leg. On their other leg, grab their toes on the little toe side with your top hand; get a kimura-type grip with the other hand. Turn their toes back toward their head.

Also, if they try to return the favor and toe-hold you in return, use your other leg as a brace to help keep your foot straight.

Fourth, an anaconda choke from side control. From top side control, reach under his head and bring your hand up at a 90-degree angle with your top hand. Use your face to push his face back toward your shoulder. Reach as far toward the far side of his head as you can with the other elbow, and then slide that hand around your upright fingers and toward your other armpit (the one his face is smashed toward). Once the arm is in as deep as it can go, make a fist with the inside hand and grab the opposite bicep with the hand that’s at 90 degrees. Squeeze. (I don’t think I described that very well at all… It looked very much like a front/side RNC.)

Renzo told us during this technique that he’d used this on a guy in a fight — I forget which one he said — and the guy tapped, so Renzo let go. And then the guy kept fighting. So Renzo kept fighting back. Said he made the guy tap 3 times before they finally said Renzo had won.

Worked again with one of Bob’s guys, Seth. After the seminar, Nick and Clifton came over to meet Renzo and Paul and get pictures with them.

Then Renzo and Paul went to teach the kids. I was going to leave, but somehow got dragged along with them. Glad I went; it was fun. I wish I’d taken my camera, though. Renzo and Paul were both great with the kids. Renzo showed the kids the far-side kimura, the spinning armbar from mount, and a side headlock escape, and then a double-leg takedown. He was playing with the kids while showing them how to do them, letting them work on him. Then he set up an extra padded mat and let them do the takedown on Paul, on him, and on Seth. The kids thought that was absolutely great. Then he set Paul and Seth up as grappling dummies and put the kids in a line and let them do the earlier techniques on them. Finally, he had kids go out one at a time against either Paul or Seth to do the takedown, to pass the guard, and to do one of the finishes; Paul and Seth played back a little to make it more fun.

Toward the end, this one little kid came in. He’d been out in the hallway watching through the window but hadn’t come in. His dad got Renzo’s attention and whispered (right in front of me) that the kid was shy. Renzo picked the kid up and carried him out to the middle of the mat, talking to him and trying to get the kid to smile. Renzo laid down on his back and started juggling the kid above him with his feet. (Oh for a camera!) The kid finally smiled a little. Then when Renzo set him down, he told him to go after Paul to do the takedown and to finish. And that little kid suddenly became a mat monster! Great double-leg takedown. Paul played a little defense, but the kid passed his guard, got a good side control, slide to mount, and did the spinning armbar quite nicely. Those of us on the sideline were laughing so hard — shy little kid’s got some mat skills!

Tried to leave again, but they were going for dinner and a few games of pool (Renzo loves pool, and he’s good, too) and insisted I come along. Not that I needed much urging… We went to a nearby bar so Renzo and Seth could play pool. After dinner, they headed off to shower and change for the closing ceremonies for Karate College; I finally headed home.

Karate College ’09

The guys first decided we would leave this morning (Friday), then decided today to leave Saturday morning instead. So, after talking to them this morning, I headed over to Karate College to see if I could get in for a little bit.

They’d moved Paul Creighton around a bit, so he only did 1 session last night (instead of both of his, like last year) and 1 this morning… which was finishing up right as I got there. I did get to watch the last technique and worked in a little bit with Bob Gracie’s guys.

Armbar from guard. Slide one hand up between theirs and control their head. Other hand controls same-side elbow. Pivot just a little. Open your guard and ride a high guard, far leg coming over their shoulder. Drop the hand from behind their head to control their wrist; shift the other hand up to the near side of their face. A little push with your hand, and bring the leg from their shoulder over their face. Raise hips to finish.

Then Paul, Bob, and Josh went off to pick Renzo up from the airport. His sessions are tonight.

Went back tonight for Renzo’s seminars.

First hour:

First, a reverse armbar off a wrestler-type trying to squeeze your head from inside your guard; he’s reached foward and wrapped one arm around your head and is squeezing for dear life. (Secret wohoo!) Use your hips to push against his hips and give you some space. Take the hand on the inside and brace it across their throat; take the other hand over their wrapped arm and grab your other wrist. Use the second hard to stabilize the first. Brace them away from you as you get your hips out to the open side; they fall in the hole, and their now-trapped arm should be propped across your shoulder. Bring your knees up, one under their near shoulder and one over. Blade of your top arm just above their elbow, and turn.

Second, a guard pass to ankle lock. A little advanced, probably, considering most of the people there hadn’t done any ground work before, but I still at least like the pass part. So you’re in your opponent’s guard, and your posture is broken down. Stay down, but get your hands on their biceps. Stay relaxed, he said, and wait until you feel them relax or breathe. Jump up on your feet and turn about 45 degrees, stepping in to them. Continue to follow that angle, walking your hands around and driving with the knee that turned in to roll them over their shoulder and on to their stomach. You end up in reverse back mount, with them flattened; you’re sitting on their hamstrings with their legs bent and their ankles in your armpits. (They’re now at 90 degrees to where they started.) Reach one arm around a leg and through to trap it, then drop your forehead to the mat. Step the opposite knee over their leg so it’s between theirs; reach the other hand up and hold the first hand. Now slowly spread your knees apart, like you’re doing a split, while slowly turning your body toward their foot.

This one was a little tricky, and we were having trouble with it. Renzo demonstrated on me for one of my partners, and it felt like an ankle lock. Paul demonstrated it on me again later, and it felt like an Achilles lock. (And both my partners kept turning it into a calf pinch.) I think it depends on the placement of the arm when you shoot it through: Renzo got my ankle locked in deeper, while Paul went a little further down on my leg. Anyway, the roll-’em-over part was fun.

Third, a can opener defense to armbar. (Yay for more wrestling defenses!) Renzo said he used this one in Pride 8 because he knew the Japanese guys like to do can openers, so he actually stuck his head up there so the guy would grab it! So, from inside your guard, the guy reaches forward, gets both of his hands behind your head, and tries to can-opener you. One arm shoots to their far bicep; forearm stays parallel to the floor, with your elbow under their ribs. As they try to pull you in, this arm braces against their chest and gives you distance. The other arm goes to the opposite side of their head to control their neck. So your arms are crossed in front of you. Now swing around to the armbar, pushing their head away with that hand and controlling the arm you’re taking with the first hand.

In this seminar, I worked in with Bob Gracie’s guys again. Technically, you’re supposed to pick a group (A or B) and then do all the seminars for A or B; you’d get to at least of everyone that way. But I stayed on Renzo’s mat for another session. One of Bob’s guys left to go to the Krav seminar with Mike Lee Kanarerk on the other side, and Perry came over from doing the previous Krav seminar. And he told me that he’d knocked a guy out in that one. The guy had for some reason tried to kick Perry in the crotch as hard as he could. Perry deflected it just enough that the kick hit his inner thigh, but still high and hard. (And if Perry said it was hard, then it was pretty hard.) So he threw a kick in response, right at the guy’s jawline and using his foot. He said if he’d really meant to knock the guy out, he would’ve used his shin… But the kick must’ve caught the fellow just right because his eyes rolled back and he stiffened and dropped backwards. And that side of the gym doesn’t have mats, so his head bounced off the concrete. Um, ouch. They had to call an ambulance and cart the guy away to the hospital.

Perry also came over bearing actual bad news: Adam’s fight is off. The guy backed out at the last minute. As of then, we have no explanation for why he backed out. And the promoters couldn’t find another fighter in time. So we won’t be going down tomorrow at all. The other guys already know. (I’ve been learning to text all weekend. I stink at it. But it’s apparently what all the kids are doing, so I’m having to learn to keep up with them.)

Renzo’s second seminar:

First, a neck crank from side control. Be sure you clear the guy’s inside arm and get your knee behind his shoulder. Next, reach around and under his head with your top arm. Slide around to about 11 o’clock and grab the reached-under hand with your other hand. Sit through toward his legs, and then step over toward mount with the far leg. Now turn your upper body toward the ceiling.

Second, an armbar from side control. Clear the arm again and stay tight. Slide your bottom knee up as if going to knee-on-belly and tuck your top leg further up under his shoulder and along his ribs. Fall back at about a 45-degree angle from his shoulder, sliding along the arm you’ve trapped and hooking around the arm with your top arm. Your knee-on-belly knee slides up to their shoulder/side of their face. The finish is a reverse armbar. When you’re doing this one for reals, you do it fast. Renzo did the first time, and made Paul wince and jump. But with partners, you take it slow so you don’t rip their arm off.

From here, if for some reason their arm turned and you can’t finish the reverse armbar, bring your top leg across their neck and pivot your hips out to the opposite side. Finish the armbar there.

Third, the choke that Nick’s been trying on me for weeks! I think it’s called the “Big Poppa” choke, but I’m not sure. Anyway, from side control again; this time the guy has his arms in pretty tight and you can’t isolate one. Reach around and under his head with your top arm. Take that same-side leg and shoot it straight backward, then turn onto that hip, being sure to turn your body with it. The turn helps get your shoulder in front of and under their chin. Now walk back to about 11 o’clock and grab the reached-under hand with your other hand. As you walk around, you should feel their face being pushed away from you; you can use your ribs to make that happen even more. You want them looking away from you. Once you’re to about 11/12 o’clock, completely relax your lower body. Hold your arms where they are, but let your body weight press in to their neck; don’t try to crank it.

And I got pictures!