Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Nova Forca BJJ

So due to my Judo club being closed for the summer I finally made it to my first BJJ class and what an eye opener it was.

As I approached the club I was hit with a smell which can only be described as men’s sweat. This smell intensified as I walked in to the club and was an indication of what my body would be doing very shortly, I.e. sweating……a lot.

I introduced myself to the instructor Ricardo and was made to feel welcome I then made my way to the corner of the room where I changed in to my gi. I noticed as I was doing so the chiseled physiques of most of the other guys which made me realise that this was a serious dojo.

After a short wait we started to warm up which involved us running around the mat for about 5- 10 minutes before we took it in turns to do various break falls and various methods of shrimping up and down the mat. Apparently tonights class would be different to the normal lesson which would normally consist of 45 minutes of warm up and cardio followed by 45 minutes of techniques and 45 minute of sparring. Tonight our warm up only lasted 15 minutes but then we went straight in to light sparring.

First up I paired off with Ryan, my friend from Judo who had incidentally only recently received his blue belt. This was to prove the most gentle roll I had all evening as Ryan was clearly being nice to me and allowed me to work some submissions and transition from side control to mount although he did sub me a couple of times just to keep my ego in check.

After Ryan I was feeling good, and thought that my 4 months of Judo Newaza was going to stand me in good stead for the rest of the lesson. I then paired up with a young lad who didn’t have a gi. This meant he was either a beginner or maybe an MMA guy who prefers no-gi BJJ because it more closely relates to the grappling in MMA fights. We started to roll and he immediately caught me in a triangle but I managed to squeeze my other arm between his legs thus forcing him to give up on the sub. I then worked on trying to pass his guard and was able to do so and go straight in to kesa-gatame. As this isn’t Judo holding him down in Kesa-gatame would not score me any points so I transitioned in to Mune-gatame and then I got mount. From here I managed to work an Americana until he tapped.

I was feeling good now as I thought I had just subbed an MMA fighter. We started again and this time I pulled guard. I was then able to sweep him so that I got full mount. He tried to bridge but I let him turnover and then I had his back with both hooks in where I was then able to sink in a choke.

We started again and this time he was slightly more aggressive. Again I pulled guard but this time he passed and got side control where he tried to work a Kimura and almost had it when Ricardo called out to change partners so I was saved. We shook hands and I asked him how long he had been training. He said this was his second week and then it suddenly hit me, I was a complete beginner doing BJJ and unless we started sparring from standing I was gonna have a long tough night.

As there were probably around 30 guys everyone took it in turns to grab a drink and I didn’t mind sitting out for a few minutes so I could catch my breath. I was then approached by a blue belt for a roll and off we went again. In Judo you bow before you spar but at this club you kinda shake hands and then touch fists which fits in with the more modern feel and as this is a Brazilian Martial Art certainly feels more normal than bowing would be which is a Japanese custom.

From here on in the rest of the night was a total blur as I was submitted and totally controlled by everyone else I sparred with. I did manage to spar a Purple Belt who managed to submit me 4 times in 60 seconds, surely a record. What I would say though is that, certainly with the Blue and Purple Belts, they were very willing to give me advice and help me. In fact everyone I sparred with seemed like a nice guy even though a couple of them looked like the kind of people you would cross the street to avoid.

We had a brief respite from the sparring when we stopped to do a couple of techniques but this only lasted 30 minutes before we went back in to sparring.

Things I learnt from tonight’s lesson were as follows:
· 4 months of Judo equates to about 4 lessons in BJJ where Newaza is concerned. Obviously this is because each Judo lesson is split about 60/40 in favour of throws to Newaza whereas every 2 hour BJJ lesson is 2 hours of Newaza.
· Passing the guard and good guard control is essential in BJJ and is probably the most important thing to work on rather than flashy submission.
· If someone is sitting down trying to pull you in to their guard do not grab the lapel of their gi or go straight in to their guard with your arms stretched forward as they can easily control and probably sweep you. What you should try to do is to control their legs so that you can pass their guard.

Towards the end of the class the mats, in some places were so saturated that puddles had formed and if you were unfortunate enough to walk on one of these puddles your feet squelched beneath you.

When the lesson finally finished we all lined up to shake hands with the instructor and give each other a manly slap on the back. There was just one more thing however. One of the guys in the club had been disrespectful towards Ricardo, not in a malicious way but more of taking the Mickey out of Brazilians type of way, which is not clever when your Black belt instructor is a proud Brazilian. Anyway as punishment this guy had to run a type of gauntlet between the rest of the club whilst we are whipped him with our belts. Again this was all done in good spirit but was a lot different to what I am used to at Judo.

The morning after I am aching like I have never ached before so there is no chance of me going to the next class on Thursday however will I be fit for next Tuesday’s lesson? Just watch this space.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Decisions, Decisions

The club closes for the summer period so tonight’s lesson was the last until September which kinda sucks. I’m not sure yet where I’m going to train for the next 7 weeks but I do have a few options with Reigate and Witley, nr Guildford, the obvious choices. The only issue I have is that my shoulder still isn’t right after I injured it so I’m not comfortable turning up at a new club and asking them to take it easy on me.

I also have the option of training some BJJ at either Nova Forca in Epsom or Novagen in Sutton. Ryan (the BJJ guy from my club) trains at Epsom so at least I would see a friendly face if I trained there. Of course I would still have the issue about informing everyone that I have a slight injury but at least with BJJ the chances of being thrown hard are less than they are with Judo.

Last night’s lesson was cut short because it was the last one before the summer break so we finished 30 minutes early and retired to the Bar for a Shandy. The club is based at Dorking Rugby club so when we went in to the Bar and asked the barman for 6 Shandy’s he looked confused, like we had just ordered some exotic cocktail. I’m pretty sure that no self respecting Rugby player would dare to water down their lager with lemonade but luckily there were no Rugby players in the bar at that time so I think we just about got away with it.

Not much to report technique wise from the lesson, we just went over some entries to throws and worked on combinations or set ups, so basically I would act like I was going to try Tai-otoshi but then use Osoto-otoshi instead. I got paired with Inez (2nd Dan) who is technically very good and a good teacher so it was a shame that the lesson was cut short.

Now to decide where I train for the next 7 weeks, decisions, decisions.

Friday, 9 July 2010


We had a couple of visitors tonight, Sophie and Peter, from a Judo club near Guildford. Sophie is a 2nd Dan and Peter is a 4th Dan. Sophie was given the task of warming us up and she soon had us running around the mats and then practicing various break falls. With it being so warm lately it didn’t take long before we started getting sweaty and I have never been so glad to have got this lightweight gi as I did last night. I can only imagine how hot I would have been had I been wearing my double weave Blitz.

Graeme took charge of the lesson tonight and had us practicing Ippon-seoi-nage which for someone tall like myself will never be my best throw but as I was paired with Oli, who is really good at explaining the throws, I soon got the hang of it. We then all lined up at the edge of the mats and took it in turns sprinting up and down the mats and then throwing the person to your left before continuing until you had thrown everyone. Once you had the next person would start. My mind went blank when doing this so I threw everyone with Ippon-seoi-nage( because I couldn’t remember any other throws) even Sophie who is about 4ft 11.

After this we did some Randori and I got paired with Peter the 4th Dan. Although he was quite a bit smaller than me he totally controlled me with his grip and really gave me a lesson in grip fighting. The tips of my fingers are all aching this morning because of this. Peter was able to move me around the mat at will and really made me work for my throws. He did let me throw him with O-soto-otoshi and I also tried Tani-otoshi but I didn’t set this up right and anyway he’s a 4th Dan so I’m unlikely to throw him.

Graeme called matte and it was time for me to move on to Ryan, the BJJ’er. Ryan and I fought for grip and I am sure we resembled a couple of noobs at first as we were both a little defensive. I noticed Ryan’s stance was literally side on to me so I pulled him in the direction he was facing and then pulled him back the other way and successfully got him with Tani-otoshi, lovely. I haven’t officially been shown this throw in class yet but it is one I remember from when I attended Westcroft Judo Club for a few months several years ago. I then went on to get Uki-goshi so I was pretty pleased with that.

All change again and this time I was against Big Stuart, again I got controlled with grip and pulled all over the mat and thrown a couple of times, all good though. When we changed again I even got thrown by little Sophie although I did manage an O-soto-otoshi on her.

Graeme then went on to show us a couple of choke’s, one was a fairly basic rear naked choke and the other a nice one using the sleeve of the gi. Basically your arms are parallel to each other with Uke’s head in between them. You then grab the sleeves of of your gi with both hands and twist your wrists which then crush’s Uke’s neck between both your arms. It was effective because you can pull this off from a lot of different positions, either on your back with them in your guard or even the other way around with you on top but in their guard. The beauty of this choke is that Uke is not aware that they are in danger of being choked until it is too late.

We then followed on to some Newaza and first up for me was Big Stuart. He was quite aggressive and attacked my neck straight away and at one point I thought he was going to guillotine me but then I remembered that this is an illegal move in Judo and maybe he remembered that as well as he allowed me to pull guard. From here he was constantly trying to pass but I worked hard and maintained position and then managed to land Hiza-gatame which forced him to tap. I think this was the first time I had subbed Big Stuart when he appeared to be trying properly. Although I felt that he ignored some chances of pins to go for a submission which then allowed me to get one myself.

We then changed and I wanted to roll with Peter the 4th Dan but I was too slow so ended up with Oli.

Oli was able to get me on my back but I straight away managed to sweep him and go to half guard. Oli was then attempting to choke me but I chose to ignore this and work on passing his guard which I did getting side control. I tried to trap his right arm with my left leg but he then managed to get out and before I knew it I was on my back but with Oli in my guard. From here I managed a perfect Hiza-gatame which is quickly becoming my favorite submission which is strange because I haven’t been shown this yet. Again i'm never quite sure how hard Oli or Big Stuart try when doing Newaza with me, I guess they must be letting me get some submissions.

What I have noticed after tonight’s lesson is that I now know all three throws required for yellow belt. The other techniques required seem fairly rudimentary in comparison so I am pretty pleased. Who knows maybe a Yellow belt grading will be on the cards within a couple of months.

A really good lesson tonight and Peter and Sophie were a welcome addition to the class.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Summer Gi

This was my first lesson for a couple of weeks because the club was closed due to legionnaires being found in the water systems.

Peter was present but was unable to teach due to an injured back, Graeme left after he taught the juniors due to jet lag which left Big Stuart to take the class.

The shoulder injury still hasn’t gone away either but now it’s more of a nuisance then something that will stop me from training but for obvious reasons competing is not an option.

I was also wearing my new Black Eagle lightweight Gi or my summer gi as I am now calling it. I wasn’t the only one sporting a new gi as Oli had a new Adidas gi which really looked nice. I’m tempted to try and sell my Blue Blitz Olympian and buy an Adidas myself but I’ll leave it a while as there is no point in me having a competition gi if I’m not competing.

Back to the class and after warm up Big Stuart was keen to show us San-gaku-jime (Triangle) as he had perfected this technique recently with the help of another black belt instructor, Richard, who is Gill’s husband.
Big Stuart showed us first the slight tweak he had made on Oli and basically it was just insuring that Uke’s neck is in the crook of your right leg. Providing you have control of Uke’s arm you can almost submit him without the need to use your left leg but of course once you used the left leg Uke tapped.

I got to try this out on Ryan who being a BJJ’er must be very used to this technique so I was pleased when he told me straight away that it was on.
Big Stuart then showed us some interesting turnovers which are useful if Uke turtles up or is laying flat on his stomach protecting his neck.

We then went on to some throws where we first practiced O-uchi-gari and then set this throw up by first attacking Uke’s right foot before going in to O-uchi-gari on Uke’s left foot.

Then we used the same throw but first we attempted Tai-otoshi and when Uke stepped over our right leg we went straight in to O-uchi-gari. I really love the way one throw opens up options for other throws and I can see why, for advanced Judoka you really need to think a couple of moves ahead to actually get a successful throw when competing.

At this point Ryan had to leave so we finished off with some Newaza between myself, Oli and Big Stuart.

Oli and I had quite a tussle and I nearly caught him with Juji-gatame but he grabbed the sleeve of his other arm to prevent me from pulling it free, although I did eventually loosen his grip I didn’t control his arm properly so he was able to re-grip his sleeve again.

Round two and this time I did manage to submit Oli with what I thought was a submission I had just made up but was in fact Hiza-gatame

Following this Oli and Big Stuart rolled and then afterwards I got to roll with Big Stuart but unfortunately he was able to pass my guard quickly and gain side control where he pinned me with Mune-gatame. As I only know one escape from this position he was easily able to stuff my attempts and get what would have been in a competition a win with a pin.

Despite only four of us training and Big Stuart taking the class for the first time since I have been training I really enjoyed the lesson and got a lot out of it especially linking the throws together. The new gi felt good and despite the humidity I wasn’t overly hot so for £28 I think it was a smart purchase.

UFC 116 this Saturday and I am literally dribbling at the thought of Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin swapping punches. I think Brock will win this but Carwin definitely has a punchers chance.