Friday, 20 December 2013

Feedback

I thought I’d post the below email chain from a conversation that I had recently with Jadon. Although getting feedback from your instructor is key to developing your game sometimes feedback from your peers can be a bit more honest and in some cases brutally so.



Hi Jadon

With me being injured I’m doing a lot of reading on Judo and BJJ blogs and also places like reddit.

Anyway, I’m looking for constructive criticism regarding my game particularly my newaza. What do I need to improve on? What do I do well?

Do I roll like a typical Judoka or can you see some BJJ influence in me? Anything else you care to mention would be appreciated.

You can also critique my stand up as well but I know your area of expertise is on the ground.

Cheers
Stuart




Hi Stuart

Stylistically I think you are well rounded. You transfer from standing to ground very well and it doesn’t come across if you favour one more than the other. On the ground you can play bottom or top but are more advanced on the bottom. Although your top game is more advanced than most dan grades I have come across.


Top game:

Good work rate, you know what to look for but often don’t act on the opportunities as they arise. You can nullify different attacks and setups with good intuition and your top defence to submissions is a particular stand out. Your base is often your weak point as you can lose awareness of it when distracted by attacks from below. However any direct sweep attempt is easily defended. Unfortunately you haven’t had the opportunity to learn many standing passes which would greatly develop your passing (albeit not as useful for current judo rules). If you can add more pressure and restrict your opponent’s hip movement you would find passing easier. This could be done by having more confidence in your base and using your arms more to focus on breaking open the guard and controlling the legs. Your posture is generally always pretty good. Once past guard you have very strong pins with good pressure, you have a good variety of attacks. Sometimes you lose your pressure and allow too much space when attacking.


Bottom game:

Very good, your affinity for it is more natural than most judoka and bjj'ers your size. Good grips and good control. You can lockdown and keep control anytime you want. You have a very good triangle but could experiment more with entries and combo's (with armbars and sweeps). Understandably your weakness is standing passes but this is improving quickly. You can sweep and attack but often not in combo. You can defend low passes very well but sometimes give up to easily before the pass is completed. Don’t be afraid to scramble and create space. When pinned you can keep yourself safe and easily defend direct attacks. Combo attacks will sometimes find a gap in your defences and distract you from regaining guard. Your ability to regain guard is pretty good when you are feeling safe and you have a good sense of how to conserve your energy. Timing is generally good but you could make things easier by cinching up submission attempts tighter and breaking down defences.

I’ve tried to be super critical in order for it to be useful but please don’t let it demotivate you. I am judging your performance against the very best I have sparred with. Training with tough dudes who smash you is the key. So for Dorking the best you can do is focus on the weakest parts of your game in every roll but that is quite difficult with the very short time limits....

Cheers Jadon




Hi Jadon

I think I developed a bottom game mainly because I can’t be bothered with the knee wrestling that sometimes happens in Newaza, which can either result in no actual newaza at all or, if the guy you are sparring with is a lot bigger, can just result in them pushing you back and pinning you. When I first started Judo at Dorking the next nearest belt to me was a brown belt who seriously outweighed me. He would quite often push me back and pin me so I decided pulling guard was a better option. Things have changed at Dorking and this has helped me develop a more attacking game from the top.

So if I was able to focus solely on BJJ how far away from getting a blue belt would I be?

With regards to giving you feedback, well on the ground it’s hard for me to say anything other than “Damn” due to you being so much better than anyone else at Dorking but I’ll try to be constructive. Obviously remember this is from someone who holds no rank in BJJ.

Top Game:

You have some excellent guard passes although you do have the tendency to sometimes stand up when you do this. I’m not sure if a ref would stop the contest if we were in competition for doing that but I know they do in a Newaza only competition. You are good at using the gi for chokes and your chokes are very tight. You are able to quickly transition to armbar without being obvious about it (something I need to work on). Another thing you do well is that you are able to make yourself feel a lot heavier than you are. I can sweep some heavy guys at will but when I try that on you it’s like you weigh 20 stone. I hope that makes sense, I think what I’m trying to say is that you have a good base. Your pins are pretty good but not your strongpoint. However when someone tries to escape from one of your pins you are normally able to grab an arm or a neck and get the submission anyway. Still if you are looking for one area to work on which could win you lots of fights when competing for your dan grade then I’d say work on your pins. Ref’s at low level competitions have very little idea of whether the two fighters are making progress on the ground and matte could be called just as you are cranking on an armbar.



Bottom Game:

Ok, so you clearly favour being on top but passing your guard is ni on impossible for me at the moment. You shrimp well and have good hips. The few times that I have been able to get to half guard you have been quick to regain full guard or sweep me from there. Again, half guard is another position which I am not very experienced at and don’t really know what to do from there other than push down on the leg if I’m passing, or hang on for dear life If I’m on the bottom.

Standing up:

You are quite explosive with your throws and you have some good sacrifice throws. I think what you need to work on is chaining attacks together more. For instance go for a tai otoshi and if it’s not successful immediately go for a tani otoshi or or ko uchi gari. I think Seoi nage in to ko uchi gari maki komi should be ideal for you. I think at our level we should always attack with two throws and possibly three. Other than that I can’t fault you. You already have good enough newaza for a dan grade you just need to refine your stand up a bit more and then you’d be worth a black belt.

Let me know what you think

Cheers
Stuart



Hi Stuart,

Lots of useful stuff there. Definitely agree with the chaining attacks part in standing, something I have been finding quite difficult to do without consciously thinking about it in randori. Standing passing is a bad habit for judo your right :(

Belt wise it’s hard to tell but I would want you to be able to survive well against blue's and also be able to occasionally sub them whilst also doing very well against the whites, so more performance orientated than curriculum based, but also having some tools for every position, but definitely getting there. I think it’s just consistency in ground work holding you back, as it’s just the little adjustments and timing that need honing.

Cheers,
Jadon





Hi Jadon

I know I’m not BJJ blue belt standard, I guess if Nova Forca did stripes I’d be worth a couple?

I’ve never subbed a blue belt but have come close a couple of times.

For chaining attacks check out this http://princetonjudo.org/princetonjudo/gokyu/ It has a nice video of every throw from the Goyko and has suggestions for counters and combinations. To start with just add a combination to each of your favourite throws (no more than 4 or 5) and try and work on them in randori. Against the young-uns is a perfect opportunity to practice them.

Cheers
Stuart




Hi Stuart

Cool thanks, Ill check it out.
Oh yeah, solid 3 stripes.

Stand up:

Good gripping, good tricky ashi waza. I think you could use these 2 strengths more to help setup your big throws like harai goshi and uchimata but they are formidable in their own right as well, particularly the gripping. I find I have to use unconventional attacks and grips just to survive. I have spent time asking for coaching pointers and training them to specifically deal with your game. Your awareness of kuzushi is good which is why I think your ashi waza is good. You could be meaner! and more aggressive, although I know you aren’t always encouraged to do that. You know which throws you are weak on and I think they are always classically difficult for any tall guy to do against short opponents.

Cheers
Jadon

Monday, 9 December 2013

Review of the year 2013


With me being out for the rest of the year through injury (Superficial Thrombosis in my lower leg) I may as well write my review of the year early as I won’t be getting in any more Judo training.

I started the year as a green belt but was eager to grade for my blue. The club saw the return of Duncan, a 2nd dan, who had trained and taught Judo extensively in Japan. Duncan has been a very welcome addition to the coaching staff at Dorking Judo Club and his son has been a very welcome addition to the cadets and has great promise and some lovely Judo.

The only competition I entered this year was the Surrey Open Blue Belt and below ( I got a silver last year) but unfortunately due to the lack on entrants it was cancelled for the seniors.

I managed to get some training in at the following other clubs throughout the year:

Witley – Run by the excellent Pete Swettenham, who also visited and took several of the classes at Dorking.

Yoshin Ryu – My number two club really. I have only attended their Randori session on a Thursday night but can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants some hard randori and also an excellent work out at the same time. All the coaches here are very friendly and have some excellent Judo and this is reflected by the high standards of the students. On a good night there are a dozen or so dan grades on the mat and another dozen kyu grades.

Nova Forca – My number one and only BJJ club. After an absence of a couple of years I managed to get a summers worth of training in with Ricardo and his excellent team in Epsom, Surrey. I don’t think there was a single night when there weren’t at least forty guys present. I’m always made to feel very welcome by Ricardo and will of course be back again sometime next year. Who knows, one day I might actually have the time to commit properly to BJJ.



That's me, back row, 5th from the right


In March I attended an excellent seminar held by Aneta Szcepanska, a former Olympic Silver Medallist from Poland. This was held at Yoshin Ryu where we had upwards of forty people present.


April saw me receive my blue belt which made me think I should actually start to feel like I’m getting good at Judo.

I missed Brian Jacks visit to Yoshin Ryu in June because the arrival of Edward, my son, was imminent. He duly arrived on the 1st July.




My boy, Edward

Black Eagle very kindly sent me their new Judo gi to review. Subsequently I was also asked to review some products from a new company called Martial Herbs who, according to their website, are the premier British sport supplement company providing unique formulas designed especially with the martial artist in mind. I was sent approximately 1 months’ supply of their strength and recovery supplements but due to lots of different injuries, some more serious than others I haven’t been able to finish this review as yet.



September was greeted by the good news that Graeme’s son, David, had earned the final 20 points needed to gain his first dan black belt. The BJA decided to change their grading syllabus, without much, if any, prior warning. The main difference affected the brown belt syllabus, which I was working through and included several throws which I had already performed to get my blue belt.

A car crash saw me miss some weeks in November with whiplash and although I returned to Judo and completed half of my brown belt syllabus I missed the last class of the year and the chance to get my brown belt due to the injury I have now, a Superficial Thrombosis, which is basically a burst vein in my lower leg. This has resulted in a very large swelling, where the blood collected and massive bruising down my leg and in to my foot. Three visits to my GP and one to A&E confirmed that all I can do is take pain killers and wait for my body to heal itself, which could take anywhere between 3-6 weeks.

Andrew received his yellow belt on the last session of the year and he has shown some steady improvement in his game and his overall fitness. Some of his pins are particularly crushing and I’m sure that if he continues to train regularly he could make newaza his forte.

At the beginning of the year my main training partners were Oli and Meho but unfortunately both have since left the club for various reasons. Ivan, another regular, who has an incredible fighting spirit, saw injury ruin his year as an operation to fix a damaged cruciate ligament put paid to any training whatsoever. Big Stuart has been another casualty and has been absent the whole year, again due to a knee injury. Also Black belt Stewart has retired from Judo due to work commitments. This has meant that my main training partner for most of this year has been Jadon, a fellow blue belt, although his main club is Guildford Police Judo club. As I’ve stated before, Jadon is the reason that this blog started as I found myself reading his excellent blog in BJJ several years ago now. Jadon stopped blogging but continued to train BJJ at Andy Roberts’s club in Farnborough and was a high ranked blue belt in BJJ before some personal issues got in the way of him training there and subsequently saw him return to Judo, something that he had trained in before as a child.

Having someone like Jadon to train with has helped keep me motivated this year and has filled the gap left by Oli. With his BJJ training Jadon obviously has some very good skills on the ground and can normally submit me at will. A victory for me is being able to survive a three minute roll without tapping, something I have occasionally been able to achieve. On our feet Jadon makes up for his lack of size by using his speed. We have had some excellent randori sessions this year and usually we both manage to throw each other with good technique. Jadon has also written some excellent blog posts for me this year which was particularly welcome when I was too busy with work commitments to keep my blog updated.

Looking forward to next year I hope to get my brown belt early so that I can concentrate on making a start towards getting my black belt. Hopefully I’ll be accompanied by Jadon, who should be getting his brown belt soon as well.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Nate Diaz throwing Gray Maynard


Apparently Nate has had some Judo lesson from Ronda Rousey, the result of which can be seen above.
As for naming the throw, its a mixture of Harai goshi or Harai maki komi. Any other ideas?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Injured again!

Yes I must be cursed as I am injured again but hopefully not for too long, anyway more about that later.

Graeme was back coaching, after doing his best Phileas Fogg impression over the last 5-6 weeks if not 80 days. The warm up flowed in to uchi-komi and that flowed in to throwing our partner with the 3rd repetition. We started with tai-otoshi, changed partners and went on to Seoi-nage and then changed partners again before going on to o-uchi-gari. Graeme was using this as a way of grading a number of us for our next respective belts, myself included. I would then be asked to demonstrate a throw, for example sumi-gaeshi, to the class before we all went on to practise it. This was repeated for a number of the throws from the brown belt syllabus and carried on when we changed to newaza. Graeme asked me to demonstrate my favourite submission, San-gaku-jime, to the class and also the complex entry where you attack the turtle. Whilst the rest of the class were practising this Jadon showed me a nifty little escape which I’ve never seen before, demonstrated below.

I need to drill this so I’ll be putting myself in to san-gaku-jime’s as much as possible when doing newaza randori to test its effectiveness.

We finished up with some light randori, with Jadon and I going throw for throw and getting plenty of nice techniques in. We changed partners a number of times until we had all been with each other. Then Graeme called two pairs out and said it was winner stays on randori. I got the better of Jadon to start with before I went through all the cadets and faced Jadon again. This time he threw me and he then went through most of the cadets before being nice to one of them and allowing them to throw him. Matte was called shortly after on what was an excellent class, full of high tempo randori and plenty of throwing practice and half my brown belt theory completed. Mojo restored:)


Now back to this injury. I woke up the nest morning and found a large cricket ball size lump on my left shin. At this point it wasn’t painful, however as the lump got smaller the pain increased so I went to my GP who diagnosed Superficial Thrombosis. I have been prescribed painkillers and antibiotics and have been told to rest for 3-5 days. However some websites state it can take 3-6 weeks before returning to normal which would be very frustrating and would mean waiting until next year before finally get my hands on that brown belt.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Guest Coach


This was another session taken by excellent coach Pete Swettenham (3rd Dan). He told us the focus was going to be more on physical training than technique. We went through quite a few techniques, which is something I am normally critical of. However they all flowed well and were using complimentary skills and the emphasis was on sustaining a good work rate while being effective.


It was nice to see more faces tonight. Some adults returning from injury and my friend Tim, who trains at Guildford and Witley, also made it to Dorking for what was his first training session there.

Randori was light and relaxed with all partners trading throws and trying things out. Newaza was particularly good as we did some pressure drills from a variety of positions as well as having an additional four minute roll which allowed us to experiment a little.

Myself and Stuart had a good tussle where I spent a lot of time playing guard. I particularly was trying to set something up from spider guard (feet on biceps rather than closed behind opponent) rather than my usual closed guard. Trying to either lock up a san gaku or a sweep. Stuart, however, wasn’t having any of it and was wise to most things I did.

I had a short roll with Pete which was great. He has a very tight strong top game, and uses the lower gi lapels very effectively in reducing my hip movement. So playing off my back just wasn’t going to work. At one point I am attacking his turtle and I feel a popping grinding sound in my ribs and let out a “Aaaaaaaarg”. It wasn’t particularly painful, but it just felt horrible, like the ribs had moved in a way they were not meant to. I checked to feel if I had broken one and was reasonably sure I hadn’t, probably a inter costal injury or cartilage. So I carried on! Went for a suicide single lapel choke against his turtle which felt tight but unfortunately he had tucked his chin and I was just crushing his face instead.

A lot of good stuff from the youngsters who are showing good aptitude on the ground and are just absorbing everything. Pete had a lot of complimentary things to say about the Dorking youngsters which is good to hear as he works with some high level players.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mojo


I was involved in a nasty car accident at the weekend, the details of which I won’t go in to other than to say that thankfully no one was seriously injured. Both my wife and kids were in my car so it was a pretty scary experience, especially with both of my kids screaming their heads off and my wife and I unable to immediately determine if they were injured or not.

This has resulted in some mild whiplash for me which has obviously meant I have been unable to attend Judo or do any other form of exercise. This is proving very frustrating.

At the moment I’ve lost a bit of my Judo mojo, due mainly I think to the absence of a lot of the seniors from the club and partly from not being able to train. Looking at the club photo that was taken last year, i'm the only kyu grade still regularly attending the club, which is a real shame. At the moment Jadon, who is not in the photo, is the only thing keeping me interested.



Anyway that’s all for now folks. Not a lot I can do until my GP gives me the all clear to train again. Hopefully it won’t be too long and hopefully by then I will have rediscovered my Judo Mojo. Until then 切断

Friday, 1 November 2013

One Handed Tai-otoshi - Yoshin Ryu


With DJC closed for the half term holidays I made my way to Yoshin Ryu for another randori session and this time I was accompanied by Jadon.


Last week I mentioned that there was a low turnout, for this club anyway. Well this week there were only seven of us present. 3 dan grades, 2 brown belts and 2 blue belts. This was most likely due to it being half term and Halloween. However as per last week this didn’t affect the quality of the coaching or the lesson.

Following the warm up, which lasted about 15-20 minutes, we practised the footwork entry for tai-otoshi. This was done with a partner walking up and down the mat. We first practised it walking backwards and then did it walking forward and also moving sideways.

Sensei Neil then had us add the arm movement but instead of taking the normal collar grip with our right hand, assuming you are doing a right handed Tai-otoshi, we instead planted our right hand in the crook of ukes left arm.

Here’s two time Olympian, Travis Stevens, doing the exact variation of Tai-otoshi that we practised.



We got plenty of practise in with this throw, doing it first statically and then on the move, both left and right sided. We also swapped partners a number of times so we got to practice on different shaped people.


We then had spell of about 5 minutes were Sensei Neil called out throws which we had to do on our partner. Last week the throws were all dan grade theory level with names I had never heard of but this week they were a lot more familiar. I like this drill as it gets you to think on your feet and use throws that you wouldn’t normally choose to do.

Before the newaza randori started, the crash mat was brought out for some Ura-nage practise. Despite my uke being 102kg I managed to get him airbourne enough. Next up was Kata-guruma, a throw I found a lot harder to perform on my considerably heavier uke. I remember struggling with this in my blue belt grading and unfortunately the throw is now part of the brown belt grading so there’s no escaping it for me.

3 rounds of Newaza randori followed, all 3 were against dan grades. The first two ended largely in a stalemate, with me on my back trying in vain to sweep or submit. On the plus side I was able to nullify their submission attempts and keep them in my guard. My last spar was against Sensei Neil who slowly set me up for virtually the same pass every time. Putting his left arm under my right leg and grabbing my collar he stacked me and slowly passed to my right where he kept hold of my right leg and pinned me. I tried a San-gaku-jime on a couple of occasions but never really had enough control to do this. One thing he did point out to me was that I need to attack more quickly when I’m on my back, before he gets settled. Attacking him first would put him on the defensive and make him weary of doing anything against me.



My first round of tachiwaza randori was against Jadon and we both executed a few successful throws on each other. I caught him with an O-uchi-gari and a tani-otoshi and he caught me with a nice uchi-mata feint to Sumi-gaeshi. The last two rounds of randori were largely uneventful but I did at least attempt a few throws which were duly blocked by my dan grade ukes.

So that’s two weeks running I’ve been to Yoshin Ryu, will I make it a hat trick next week???
















Jadon


I’ve been very keen on revisiting the club as I really enjoyed the training on my last visit.

Yoshin Ryu has the strongest general level of newaza out of any club I have trained at, so it’s a great opportunity for me to learn to adapt to the judo style of groundwork, and they don’t have any secret to it, they clearly just put the time in on the ground. Can’t have upstart BJJ folk think they know it all!

Standing wise I received some useful corrections to my Tai otoshi and Uchimata.

Something that stuck with me this training session is not only are the dan grades helpful, they are also very encouraging. As a full time professional outdoor instructor I feel I have quite a bit of knowledge on good coaching and instructing, and positive encouragement is very important. We all like to pretend we are big tough men or maybe I’m just a wuss, but when someone compliments me in training it makes me feel good. And that makes me want to train harder to improve even more, and that makes me a better judoka.

So kudos to Yoshin Ryu, I feel battered and exhausted. I left a lot of DNA on the mat and I am going to hurt tomorrow. But mentally I feel reinvigorated to do MORE!.

Harder, better, faster, stronger.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Crushed again - Yoshin Ryu


I was a little disappointed that on my return to Yoshin Ryu Judo club there wasn’t more people on the mat (only 8) compared to the 20-30 that are normally there on a Thursday night. However the quality of those 8 persons present (not including myself of course) was what really mattered and this insured I had a high level lesson.

The warm up tonight was more intense than usual with lots of breakfalls, shrimping, shuttle runs with press ups and exercises that involved pulling your partner across the mat, with the duo finishing last getting press-ups for their efforts.

After we were suitably warmed up or knackered in my case, we worked on the set up for O-uchi-gari, practising pulling uke in to position to be able to execute the throw properly. Sensei Neil also stressed that we shouldn’t be hooking the leg but taking it out wide to the side, the same way Duncan showed me at DJC which I wrote about here . We then did a drill where, following the O-uchi-gari, we pulled uke up and then did a two footed Tomae-nage on them but instead of throwing them we did a number of reps of leg presses with Uke being the weight. This started off fairly easy but as the reps piled up and the lactic acid built up it got progressively more difficult.

Then, with our existing partner (I was already paired with a dan grade), Sensei called out techniques which we had to perform. Most of these techniques were dan grade theory level and as such I hadn’t heard of or seen them before. The Kyu grades, of which there were three present, were told to try and copy what our black belt partners did to us. I was particularly impressed with how easy I was able to replicate these throws, especially as I had never tried them before. I was also able to complete the throw with a decent amount of control and my uke mostly got a clean soft landing, as did I when I was thrown.

I was feeling pretty good about my Judo after this but a few rounds of Newaza randori soon put an end to that as I was ritually crushed by everyone I rolled with. To be fair I didn’t roll with anyone under 1st dan so I guess it was to be expected. My first spar was probably my most successful as I was only pinned once and was mostly able to keep my opponent from passing my guard. The next two people I sparred with were both 3rd dans and as such they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. My guard against them was passed in seconds and if I was able to get top position I was quickly swept and pinned, choked or arm barred.

Following a very quick water break we progressed on to Tachiwaza randori and I didn’t fare much better here either. I tried in vain to move my opponent in to a position where I could execute any of my throws but again they were all black belts so I shouldn’t be too harsh on myself.

Another hard but enjoyable class at Yoshin Ryu.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The News

A combination of work, holidays and a trip to A&E with my daughter has stopped me from posting for a few weeks, so thanks to Jadon for keeping the blog going. Coming up in the next few weeks I will post part 2 of my review of the Real Kimonos Gi that I started here

I’ve also been sent some products to review from a new company called Martial Herbs who, according to their website, are the premier British sport supplement company providing unique formulas designed especially with the martial artist in mind. I’ve been sent approximately 1 months’ supply of their strength and recovery supplements, so expect not only a review but hopefully tales of superhuman feats performed by yours truly.

Other than that, I’m slowly working my way through the brown belt syllabus which I would love to get before the New Year and, as Jadon has already mentioned, Kata is actually quite interesting and helpful in explaining key elements of Judo, like Kuzushi.

Before I go, an idea just popped in to my head which I thought I would share before I realise it’s a bad idea and change my mind. The idea is to train at 4 different clubs on consecutive nights. Now that might not sound too challenging to young Judoka or those black belts who have been practising for years but for normal folk like me it would provide an interesting challenge both to the body, through repeatedly being thrown, and the mind, especially knowing that the hardest session of the week will likely be the last session of the week. Probably the hardest part of this mini challenge will be to convince my wife that it’s a good idea that she puts the kids to bed on her own for 4 nights on the trot. No doubt she’ll be seeking payback by way of some R & R of her own but all’s fair in love and war.



The schedule I have in mind would be the following:

Monday – Witley
Tuesday Dorking
Wednesday – Guildford Police
Thursday – Yoshin Ryu

This might have to wait for the New Year but we’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guildford Police Judo Club

Since restarting my judo training as an adult, the majority of my instruction has come from the Judo police club. The two main instructors are Andy grand (4th Dan) and Richard Stothard (2nd Dan). The classes take place in a hall normally reserved for the police, so it’s interesting to see their combat diagram posters, body armour and dummies scattered around the facility.


Classes are normally around 8 to 16 adults (men and women) with the whole spectrum of belts in attendance, typically 5 of which are non-instructing Dan grades. Warm ups are functional but not overly intensive. When injuries have occurred the casualty has been in very good hands, with Richard being a 1st aid trainer and plenty of resources (including an oxygen tank I’ve seen used).

It’s very common to receive visitors at the club with a new face almost every 2nd week. Some are beginners who are trialling it out. But quite a few come from very strong clubs who want some extra training. There are always at least 2 or 3 people who fight at a county or national level present. Occasionally Rachel Wilding attends who was a former British Olympian and is a 5th Dan. The club has a good reputation and from what I gather it is regarded well with a tendency towards strong randori. If you compete in a competition the club will refund you your entry fee. Grading's and belts are also paid for by the club.

Over the last few weeks the club has been giving some focus on its newaza which I have been enjoying. This is often my opportunity to be the hammer instead of the nail for once. However I have been caught out by pins on occasion. There is a fun competitive training vibe at the club with everyone more than willing to give pointers and help to lesser experienced judoka, but also quite capable of dropping bodies when training hard.

I am hoping to try and build stronger links between the Guildford club and Dorking, as they train on different nights and both have complimenting attributes and a greater variety of training partners helps everyone.




This is an old Picture taken when I first started training, as can be seen by my white belt. (thats me bottom left in case you are wondering)

 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Jadon and Stuart Vs Kata

I am filling in for Stuart today as he wasn’t going to be able to write this article in his usual timely manner.

The day before training at Dorking, the facebook BJA forum blew up as the new syllabus was suddenly released with almost no prior warning or discussion with coaches. So there were a lot of angry people who wanted to voice their opinions, this was also coupled with a hike in grading costs.

Stuart and I were both affected by the changes as they dealt mainly with 2nd and 1st kyu. Almost all the leg grabs techniques were removed bar one or two fundamental ones like kata garuma. The other significant change was having to do a kata set which before was optional. My initial reaction to this news was.......poor. Especially as I had recently been researching judo kata as some judo leg locks still exist there (a credit to kata). But was mortified by how half of the whole process seemed to be ritualised bowing and shuffling about.

Knowing the likely hood of doing some kata tonight was extremely high I tried to keep an open mind.

We did some light warm up with some animal movements which I enjoy as they offer variety and are very in keeping with my BJJ warm ups.

We were then introduced to doing some Nagano kata focusing on the Seoi-nage set.

The ritualised bowing was as I feared, highly detailed and specific, the purpose of which I could not ascertain, other than keeping with tradition. However I think the coaches sensed myself and Stuart’s trepidation and did not spend too much time on it, focusing on the bare bones of what we needed to know.

We then moved onto the Seoi-nage section which shows tori executing a Seio-nage as an evasion and counter to a very strange hammer fist to the head. Stuart and I partnered up and were very pleasantly surprised with the results. Stuart sometimes has trouble with Seoi due to his redwoodesque height but it all flowed perfectly today. The stepping forward momentum and the hammer fist action almost gives you all the kuzushi you need, making the throw almost effortless. And despite a 20kg difference, the throw seemed just as easy with Stuart as uke. I wouldn’t say we are converts just yet, but we both certainly developed a greater appreciation of kata’s applicability.

The session was then balanced out by having a good old tussle with some light randori and newaza. Stuart and I went throw for throw, varying our throws as much as possible. We switched a few times with the young guns and did a few rounds of newaza. There is some real potential on the ground at Dorking. A few of the youngsters have some good instincts and will definitely be terrors later. I always try keep our rolls fairly educational, giving them plenty of room to escape but not to easy so as to enforce bad habits. Letting them put me in bad positions and escaping, or if done well tapping to their submission.

I always use a lot of guard in judo training as Judo guys just seem to love jumping straight into it. It’s definitely weaker than my top ability so it has been useful to work on it. After an initial armbar (Juji gatame) spree people are now keeping their elbows a lot closer which is good to see. However this has led to people forgetting the 2 in or 2 out rule, so San gaku jime (triangle) has been rampant. At the moment not much is taught in the way of counters and defence to submission attempts (at any dojo I have been to), but I can definitely feel people naturally developing their own ways of staying safe the more we roll. Keeping in mind the strength difference, there are youngsters at Dorking who roll better than some 1st and 2nd Dans I’ve practised with. Practise doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. And these young guys possess squidgy sponge like brains which absorb information at an amazing rate. I hope to be apart of that and show them everything I can. It would be fantastic if I was given the opportunity to do some newaza coaching, but I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to ask yet. I have taught many sessions at my old club in Farnborough but I haven’t quite built up my relationship to the same extent at my judo venues just yet.

To finish off we were given the chance for some harder randori with newaza allowed if appropriate. I struggled against Stuart as I just walked straight into his grips and didn’t do enough to make life hard for him. He caught me a few times; my only victories were a Tomoe-nage where he landed on his side. And dodging his own Tomoe-nage and getting a pin. Lots of fun and some good learning points to be had.

So all in all a good lesson that did away with some of my prejudices regarding kata. At least for the moment!.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Back to the Drawing Board


Duncan took the class last night and our warm up consisted of very light newaza randori. For Jadon and I this quickly descended in to a little more than “light” randori, so Duncan stopped us and reiterated the point that this was just a warm up so try and flow between positions and not use any strength.


There was a distinct lack of seniors tonight, just myself and Jadon present, but there was an abundance of cadets so we changed partners regularly. Following our Newaza warm up Duncan had us practice Tai-otoshi in to Juji-gatame. The point of this was moving seamlessly from tachiwaza to newaza, with no pause. In fact the technique could have been called Tai-otoshi-juji-gatame (a Roy Inman special) such was the emphasis of flowing from one technique to another.

This set the tone for the night as we practised other throws straight in to groundwork like O-uchi-gari, Harai-goshi and Morote-seoi-nage. First with little to no resistance from Uke and then, following the throw, full resistance.

When I was practising Morote-seoi-nage I was paired with Ynez, who is, shall we say, vertically challenged somewhat. This meant that I had to get even lower than normal to throw her. I was unable to perform even one throw properly on Ynez and even when I changed partners to someone approaching my own size I still was not able to throw them. This was in stark contrast to a lesson we had in June where I seemed to have gotten the hang of this throw. With the parents of the cadets looking on they must have wondered how the highest ranked kyu grade on the mat was not able to perform the throws that their Yellow and Orange belt sons were able to do so easily. I found this both frustrating and demoralising.

We finished off with some throw for throw randori, with the caveat that we use the throws we had been shown tonight, and we were told to follow in to groundwork but not to spend too long trying to get a pin or submission. Again the key here was that the throw and the groundwork were as one. I felt quite comfortable doing this but it’s hard to gauge my skill level when most people are half my size and strength. My Harai-goshi works great on the cadets but I could pick them up and throw them without any technique because they are so light. All of this has made me realise that I need to get 100% fit quickly so I can get myself back to Yoshin Ryu where I can test myself properly.


It was an excellent lesson tonight with plenty of throws and groundwork, however I’m left with mixed feelings. My inability to perform Morote-seoi-nage at all, following last week’s class where my Ippon-seoi-nage was almost as bad, has really dented my confidence. Graeme mentioned to me the other week that he expected me to grade for brown belt by the end of this year which would leave me one step away from black. At the moment I feel as far away from being a black belt as I ever have.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

How many of these throws can you do?

Found this posted in the new Judoforum, under the tagline "how many of these throws can you do" I was particularly impressed with the double O-uchi-gari at 1:08. Enjoy

Bicep Injury

I’m nursing a bit of an injury at the moment, picked up whilst doing Lat Pulldowns in the gym last week. Basically my bicep just started getting very tight, like severe cramp, so since then I’ve been icing it as much as I can and taking Ibuprofen. Anyway I still managed to make it to Judo on Tuesday, although I was a bit wary when we worked on Juji-gatame.

Ippon Seoi-nage was on the menu tonight, with Ko-Uchi-gake-mata-maki-komi used in combination. The Seoi-nage was for the benefit of Andrew, who needs it to pass his yellow belt theory and the Ko-uchi-gake-mata-maki-komi was for Jadon and yours truly as it’s on the brown belt syllabus.

Now I’ve never been a fan of any Seoi-nage throw, mainly due to my height and the fact that presently there isn’t anyone near my height at the club. This means I have to get really low down, which at my age isn’t particularly easy. It’s the reason I have never really attempted this throw in randori and the reason I don’t give it much thought when doing uchi-komi. As I was partnered up with Duncan I knew that my sloppy seoi-nage was not going to work but it was as much about my poor kuzushi as it was about my inability to get low enough. I do feel that, at blue belt, I shouldn’t have so many things wrong with my technique. Sometimes it feels like I am a complete beginner who doesn’t deserve to be wearing a blue belt let alone to be looking towards grading for brown. If the class had ended straight afterwards I would have left feeling a bit depressed but Newaza and tachiwaza randori made me feel a lot better. There’s nothing like throwing someone with a Harai-goshi or submitting someone with a Juji-gatame roll to get your confidence back up again.

So with this annoying bicep injury keeping me away from doing any upper body weights I have been concentrating on doing squats, lunges and other horrible leg exercises in a bid to strengthen my legs, which should hopefully help when I have to bend down low for seoi-nages. One legged squats were particularly nasty. Hopefully the injury heels quickly as I do not want to miss any Judo whatsoever and, assuming it does, I need to pay Yoshin Ryu, Witley and Guildford Police Judo clubs a visit to get some extra sessions in.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Dorking Judo has a new Black Belt.

I was back at Judo last night after two months of training solely BJJ and was very much looking forward to it. Upon arriving we were given the good news that one of the clubs brown belts, David, got the final 30 points needed for him to get his 1st dan black belt, which at just 17 years of age is a great achievement. David is the son of one the clubs coaches Graeme and will be presented formally once all the paperwork is completed and signed off by the BJA. I will post photos of his presentation in the coming weeks.


After we warmed up I was paired with Andrew for some Newaza randori. We started with one kneeling up right and the other standing behind them. The person standing pushed the other to the floor and once they hit the mat the Newaza begun. I started in the kneeling position first and Andrew attacked. I went in to the turtle position but turned the attack on him and quickly got his back. From here I secured a collar grip with my right hand across his neck and swung my leg over his head to finish the choke. I got the same submission on him when we restarted and finished off with a nice Juji-gatame. Now it was my turn to attack him. I tried and San-gaku turnover but he managed to squirm out, however he left his arm behind and I finished with another Juji-gatame. We restarted again and this time I turned him over on to his back and held him in mune gatame but my grips were not great and he was slowly escaping so I moved to tate-shiho gatame , pushed him arm across his neck and sunk in a Kata-gatame. To finish I moved from Tate-shiho to side control and he duly tapped.

Next up was Jadon. I attacked first but his turtle was good and he managed to grab my leg and use that to get me on my back where he was quick to pass my guard and mount me. Now if this was BJJ I would have defended my neck and waited for him to attack before trying to escape but as this was Judo and I was in a losing position, the emphasis was on me to escape, which I tried in vain to do. When Graeme called matte Jadon had one cross collar grip in place and was seconds away from applying his usual choke on me. I do struggle to escape from the mount, or tate-shiho-gatame, and this is something I need to work on. I could of course roll over on to my front, which would mean I have escaped the pin but would then expose me to being choked. Not only that but, from a self-defence point of view, I really don’t want to get in to the habit of escaping this way. That said, if I was losing in a competition I would certainly use it as a last resort.



Anyway here are some simple escapes from the mount demonstrated by the excellent Roy Dean.


We restarted, this time with him attacking and somehow we ended up in the same position, me on the bottom and him sitting on top waiting to pounce. Again he secured one of the cross collar grips and I knew it wouldn’t be long until he sunk in his choke. I tried to push his hips back but they wouldn’t budge and eventually I made the mistake of pushing his chest with a straight arm which he collected up and put me in Juji-gatame. I tried to escape from here but it was on tight so had to tap. When we stopped I realised that his foot had hit me in the face and my nose was streaming with blood. This meant I had to sit out the next 10-15 minutes until my nose stopped bleeding.

After my nose stopped gushing blood I paired up with Andrew again for some on the move Uchi-Komi, concentrating mainly on Tai-otoshi. Then Graeme got out the crashmats and had us do an interesting exercise with our partners whereby one of us (Andrew) would assume the turtle position and I would do a rolling breakfall over Andrew towards the crashmats. Then Andrew stands up and moves quickly towards me where I take a grip and immediately do a forward throw. I really enjoyed doing this as it got us all working hard doing multiple repetitions of throws and encouraged us to grip and throw. We changed this around after a while so that the person who had been in the turtle got up and did a rear throw on the one standing by the crashmats.

The class finished with 4 rounds of Randori. Jadon and I had a really good scrap, with multiple throws for both us and not too much attention paid to grip fighting.

Against Andrew I was allowed to follow my throws in to groundwork which was good fun. I managed quite a few successful Harai-goshi’s, which was encouraging and was the perfect ending (Nose bleed aside) to a perfect Judo class.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Choke - Nova Forca BJJ

Tonight’s technique was a simple but very effective choke which gets tighter as you allow the other person to pass your guard. Using my left hand I take a cross lapel grip with my palm facing up. You then pull the back of your partners head down with your right hand so that it’s tucked under your arm. Most people will look to pass to side control from here as a normal reaction to escaping what looks like a guillotine attempt. However this just further tightens the choke. If they attempt to move further around in to the north-south position (Kami-shiho-gatame) the choke becomes tighter still. From what we were taught there are a couple of escapes. One is to roll over on to your back, however you can stop them from doing this by simply grabbing hold of their gi pants with your right arm whilst applying the choke. The other escape was to move in the other direction, so instead of passing to your right, they move to your left. Ricardo showed us a simple counter to this which involved putting pressure on the back of your opponent’s neck with your right arm, in a scissor movement.

I liked this choke as it’s quite easy to get the initial cross lapel grip without your opponent feeling duly threatened. When I practised this I substituted the pull down of the head by grabbing the jacket just behind the neck. This way the technique becomes Judo legal.

The below video shows this technique being used in competition. Here the attacker not only passes the guard but actually takes the back of the guy applying the choke, probably in the hope that the further around he moves the less effective the choke becomes, when in fact the opposite is true and he gets choked out.

As a Judoka, one thing that screams out at me whilst watching the above is the un-Judo like posture and total lack of any throwing attempted by both fighters. To me, this more closely resembles wrestling than Judo, which is odd when you consider that BJJ is derived from Judo.

Sparring followed and my first roll was with a young guy (only 16) who was having only his 4th lesson. Not much I could do other than let him try out what he knows. I’m certainly not good enough to start teaching him nor would I want to in someone else’s club. I did however just point out to him that it’s not a good idea to push me with straight arms when I have him mounted.

Next up was a stocky guy who was training nogi. He spent most of this roll moving from my guard to half guard. He was looking for a guillotine choke when in half guard but I was able to defend this. I wrapped up his right arm with my left but there was no collar to grab hold of, in fact the lack of any grips made this quite a difficult roll for both of us. I’ve never trained nogi myself as it’s not really applicable to Judo but I might give it a go one day.

Next up I rolled with Jadon. We fought for grips quite a lot with me trying to pass his guard. I eventually got to half guard but then I got reversed in a scramble and the bell went with Jadon in full mount putting on a cross collar choke that I was fighting not to tap to. Definitely a case of saved by the bell.

My Last roll was against Tubes who’s a purple belt. Following on from my roll with Jadon I fought for grips and tried in vain to control his legs which would have allowed me to pass his guard. He pulled me in to his guard but I was very weary of him sweeping me so I was constantly adjusting my leg position so he couldn’t get a grip on them. What I failed to notice, whilst I was concentrating on this, was that he had raised his hips and had slapped on an arm bar. At this point I tried to stack him but that allowed him the opportunity to grab my gi bottoms and roll me over to complete the arm bar and get the tap. We resumed and this time instead of getting me with an arm bar he caught me with a triangle and got a second tap. I found myself smiling through this roll, mainly as I was really impressed with the technique being used against me. I do this often when I train Judo and get thrown with a really nicely executed throw. It’s my way of saying good technique; I aspire to be like you one day.

The class finished with one of the white belts getting his birthday whipping and although he was entitled to run the gauntlet he opted to walk instead. Hardcore!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Guard Sweeps - Nova Forca BJJ

I paired up with Rob a four strip white belt for the first technique of the evening which was a sweep against an attempted guard pass. I’ve been meaning to ask Rob if he had ever trained at Yoshin Ryu as he looked very familiar and following the roll that I had with him last week I was convinced he had as he used the same technique to pass my guard as he done when we did Newaza and that was the stack pass. It turns out that he has been training at both places for a few months now.

Back to last night’s technique, I start on my back with Rob in my closed guard. He stands up in an attempt to break open my guard and I underhook his left leg with my right arm and drive my hips in to his knee, which pushes him on to the floor. All the while I keep hold of his right arm with my left arm. From there I raise my hips and drive the shin of my left leg behind his neck, whilst pulling on his right arm and rotate clockwise in to him and end up in an armlock. It sounds complicated and looks complicated but after a few pointers from Tim, one of the black belts, I had this technique down.

Ricardo go us doing a guard pass drill where one person starts in the closed guard of another. It’s the person on tops job to pass the guard whilst the person on the bottom has to defend by sweeping, submitting or catching the other person in half guard. We played winner stays on.

At first I was one of the people trying to pass guard and my first two attempts didn’t go well. On my third go against another white belt I managed to pass his guard and get to side control. Now it was my turn to start on my back and from here I had quite a bit of success as I managed a perfect flower sweep on one person and then another sweep which is the first one shown here.

The only difference when I did this was that with my left arm, I wrapped up my opponents right arm and grabbed his left side collar, thus making him think I was looking for a choke and also taking his right arm out of play. Then I swept him and ended up in mount. I like this sweep a lot as there is little set up work needed, unlike the version of the flower sweep which I do that most people know.

I stayed on for another couple of goes before Ricardo called time and told us to take a quick water break before we started sparring.

I managed 5 rolls in total, all but one were against fellow white belts. The one non-white belt I rolled with was a blue belt that I managed to hold down for a while, switching between mune gatame, Kesa gatame and Kezure kesa gatame. I was actively looking for a submission but I knew that as soon I went for one he would escape. However I am here to learn BJJ not to sit there in a pin and feel comfortable so I went knee on belly and tried to mount him (Tate-shiho-gatame). Unfortunately he took this opportunity to escape to half guard and eventually managed to sweep me but I regained full guard and remained in this position until the buzzer went.

My other rolls, against white belts, went pretty well with me being largely dominant and attacking with sweeps and submission attempts. The only time I was in trouble was my last roll when I was very tired having had no rest in-between.

The class finished with Ricardo making us do two minutes of knee jumps, press-ups and squats. The two minutes was actually more like four as he kept adding on time when someone didn’t jump high enough or do their press ups properly. Another tiring but very enjoyable session.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Letters from Nova Forca

The following is a review of Tuesday night’s class at Nova Forca as seen by two different people. (Myself and Jadon).There’s some overlap here, the kind you might get in a Tarantino Film (Think Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction) but I think it makes for interesting reading.

Stuart

Another very well attended class last night at Nova Forca’s new venue as again there were 40+ guys on the mat. Due to the restriction in mat space the normal brutal warm up workout was slightly less brutal but still enough to get me sweating profusely in my shiny new BJJ gi. So I’m no longer that Judo guy who does a bit of BJJ I am now just another BJJ white belt beginner.

The first, and as it turned out, the only technique we were taught was a very interesting combination of techniques. Starting off my back I apply an armbar but they pull their arm out, I then attack with a triangle but they defend by clamping their arm to their leg so I switch to an omoplata which they then cartwheel out of I then sit up and grab their trapped arm and roll them over into a mounted triangle. When Ricardo first started showing the technique I thought there was no way I was going to remember this or be able to put the moves together but I was pleasantly surprised how well I did and loved how these techniques just flowed in to one another.

A quick water break before we started sparring and first up I was paired with a big white belt who said he fought MMA. This was a tough roll for me. I spent a long time trying to pass his legs to get side control but he was defending well. I did manage to get to half guard but his sweeps were good and before I knew it I was on my back trying to stop him from passing. When he passed he quickly went knee on belly before mounting and then subbed me with a mounted triangle. We started again with the result pretty much the same, he passed my guard, went knee on belly and this time was looking for an armbar. However I was able to defend against this but he switched to another triangle and I tapped again. I smiled afterwards because I had been caught twice by my favourite submission.

My next roll was with a four stripe white belt who Jadon had just finished rolling with. This was quite a technical back and forth type of roll although he definitely had the best of it. He used the stack pass twice to get past my guard but in trying to secure the armbar I was able to reverse and even mounted him. When the bell went he almost had me with an armbar, so I was definitely saved by the bell.

I paired up with Jadon for my next roll and even though we have rolled before at Judo we’ve never really had a proper go at each other. He straight away secured a grip on my collar which left me feeling threatened; I tried to pull guard but he pushed my legs down and jumped over them in to full mount. He then takes a grip on my collar again and I am too preoccupied with trying to fight off his other hand to look for any escapes. After a few seconds he gets the cross collar choke in and slowly tightens it up for the tap. We restart and this time I decide to attack and almost pass his guard but he managed to get to half guard and then sweeps me to mount. From there he sinks in another choke, this time an Ezekial and I tap. We start again, with me on the bottom but Jadon grabs my leg and sinks in an Achilles lock. Apparently I was defending against this by holding him upright and not giving him the leverage to apply it but foolishly let go of him, definitely a white belt beginner move. Just before the bell went I attacked Jadon with an attempted stack pass and he rolled out in to turtle. I immediately attacked the turtle and was looking for a triangle turnover but the bell sounded before I could finish the move.

My last roll of the night was with another white belt who had been training for two years. This was a fairly even roll with most of the time spent trying to pass his guard. I got to half guard on several occasions but every time I thought I had passed he managed to escape again.

So I didn’t manage to submit anyone tonight but I did get subbed a lot myself. What I realise I need to work on are the following:

• Guard/half guard passing
• Defence against knee on belly
• Escaping from the mount.

Jadon also mentioned that I need to get tighter when I try to control my opponent legs. By leaving gaps they are able to pull me into half or full guard and immediately attack with sweeps.

The class ended with one of the blue belts getting promoted to Purple. At Nova Forca they favour belt whipping as a way of celebrating such things. I’ve seen a couple before but the guy being whipped has always worn a gi. However for Purple belt and up you don’t get the protection of a gi jacket which makes it that little bit more brutal, as you can see below.



Jadon


Myself and Stuart made our way to Nova Forca in their new temporary residence in Epsom. It was a relatively small room packed with people, not even enough room for people to do sprawls. Nova Forca is a friendly club known for their hard "warm ups" and high standard of students. The warm up was luckily light due to space constraints but would be considered tough by any other standards. Myself and Stuart paired up to drill the series of moves Ricardo demonstrated. From bottom, you attacked the armbar, they pulled their arm out so you transition to triangle, they wrap their arm around your leg and posture up so you then you spin 180 and go for the omoplata, they cartwheel over to escape and you then sit up and grab their trapped arm and roll them over into a mounted triangle!. Ricardo had to show it several times, as its quite a long flow drill. But nice as it gave a chance to drill many different fundamental moves.



We then moved onto sparring.

1st spar:
I paired up with a 4 stripe white belt, he was solid and had a good guard game. I could pass his guard but couldn't keep him pinned. He gave my guard a hard time and I was on the defensive for a lot of it. I did manage to land a straight Achilles lock which he tapped quickly to. The bell ended with him giving me a hard time in half guard, I was going for a Kimura but he had it locked down. Ricardo came round and showed him how to rip his arm out of it.

2nd spar:
I paired with a blue belt of similar size. His posture indicated he was going to play guard, he put in a baseball bat choke grip early on but I didn't think to much of it as he has to spin to put it on. I go to pass which happens suspiciously easily, I land in side control and I can see his plan now with the baseball bat choke. His now got the angle he needs but from underneath he wont have a great deal of leverage and I can just turn out of it. So I carry on working on top, he then throws his legs up which lock me in place and the choke starts getting tight. I try to hold on hoping he will burn his fore arms out, but they don't and I have to tap. Feeling abit light headed!. He is pretty dominant the rest of the roll but I survive until he lands a triangle, I defend the choke but he then attacks the arm and I have to tap.

3rd spar:
Stuart and I decide to pair up as our rolls are always fairly constrained in the judo club. We both hate knee wrestling and our body language indicates whether we want to play guard or top. Initially he goes for guard, I stand (as I am not often allowed in judo) and push his legs underneath me quickly to land in mount. Its not a tight pass but its quite quick and can catch people unawares. I sit in S mount, as I anticipate he may roll me off so I can try grab his arm. I work for my favourite move, cross choke. I get the 1st hand in deep but he defends well and I cant get the 2nd hand in as deep as I like. But I get enough top pressure and eventually get the tap. We restart and Stuart attacks from on top, he pretty much passes my guard but leaves abit of room before getting side control tight and Im able to retain guard. I am able to sweep from half guard and pass to mount, he defends his collar well so I decide to go for an Ezekial (named after a Judoka) which I hope he isn't as familiar on how to defend, it works out and I get the tap. I then decide its my turn again to go on top, and I had pre decided I wanted to go for a straight Achilles lock (my 2nd favourite sub) as we arnt allowed to train these in Judo but it can be very effective and good practise for other leg locks. Initially he has the defence in perfect but keep me curled up by holding my collar, but unfortunately didn't realise his instinct was correct and lets go. I put it on abit high on his leg so the lock doesn't come on fully, however with this move even done loose it can crush the lower calf. The next roll and Stuart is on top again and is going for a solid stack pass, my defence is ok but he is going to pass so I decide to roll back into turtle. He is straight on me and has grips in my collar for a choke, luckily for me time runs out.

4th spar:
Another 4 stripe white belt. This guy has a serious top game and he wrecks me. Quickly getting me with a north south choke I had no idea on how to escape. Then a arm triangle from mount. I go for a straight Achilles but he has a super solid defence. I try my leap frog pass on him and he sweeps me!. The rest of the roll is survival at best, I try a few sweeps but he is able to scramble out. Great fun!


The class finished with a guy getting promoted to purple which is a big occasion at any club. Nova Forca are one of the BJJ clubs that follow the tradition of belt whipping. This guy was massive and was in seriously good shape, he has to do it without the jacket. The belt whipping was savage!, with a few spots bleeding and some bruises already going black. I gave him a good one but nothing compared to the others. This is the first whipping Ive seen and it was pretty brutal. An interesting tradition but not one I am keen on experiencing.

All in all a very good training session, I feel myself getting abit sharper on the ground. The more I tap the better I feel as its highlighting my weaknesses. I have still got some work to do before I get back to my old form. Timing, pressure and my guard all need to be improved.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

"I'm new here, lets go light..."

Guest Blogger - Jadon


 It has been quite some time since I have done any blog writing but Stuart has inspired me to start writing again and he has been kind enough to host me on his blog. My old blog was Tapping like River Dance, which focused on my journey from white to blue belt in BJJ.

I am now mostly training Judo as I couldn’t afford to keep up BJJ, and judo just made sense, as it’s a close cousin and probably the cheapest martial art to train. Due to the BJJ and training for a number of years as a junior in Judo I’ve made relatively quick progress to 2rd kyu. I’ve tried to keep an open mind where possible and I am really enjoying Judo, if possible I would still love to continue my BJJ training in the future. ARBJJ Farnborough has always been very good to me, and it still is. But I can now mostly be found at Guildford Police Judo club, Dorking Judo club and very occasionally Witley and Yoshin Ryu. This multi club approach is itself something that is still abit novel to me, as I’m used to a much more competitive team dynamic, which certainly makes things fun and it does work well with full time clubs. However the vast majority of Judo clubs only run twice or three times a week, so this open and welcome to all approach is a great attitude.


At the moment I am not competing, the plan is to keep fit and build up my repertoire until I gain 1st kyu, then go crazy and get my 100 points. I have medalled as a junior in Judo and as an adult in BJJ so competing isn’t new but I am determined to do well. My judo is abit unconventional; I have a good arm drag to ura nage. Although I’ve stopped using it as much as I think it’s considered a bit of a rude technique for day to day randori. My favoured techniques are a range of sacrifice throws, I feel comfortable with these as messing them up often leads to newaza which I am……….happy with. I am working hard on my other throws but am mostly successful with only the throws above and counters. I have quite good leg grabs which are now illegal in competition, which is a shame but that’s another post.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Real kimonos – BJJ GI Review Part 1





This isn’t really a review as such, at least not yet, but I’m excited because last week I bought my first BJJ gi which duly arrived yesterday. I had been scouring eBay for the last couple of weeks hoping to pick up a 2nd hand bargain but I couldn’t find one in my size (A4). However there are plenty to choose in the A1-A3 size bracket.

After realising that no one was selling a 2nd hand A4 I looked for a budget new gi and found Real Kimonos which were retailing for £35, which included postage and packing.

The Jacket is advertised as a 550 GSM pre-shrunk pearl weave. I do hope that those claims are true as straight out of the bag it fits me rather well. I can’t yet comment on the quality or comfort of the gi when rolling in it because I haven’t yet worn it to training but I’ll report back on that in the coming weeks.

The gi pants are made from a 100% cotton premium twill fabric and are reinforced from mid-thigh to ankle. There are white loops with thick drawstring system which gives a more secure fit. There is a choice of three colours, White, Black and Red. Being a bit of a traditionalist I plumped for white. I’m certainly not brave enough or good enough to wear a red gi to class but if they offered blue I may have given that some thought.

Looks wise it has enough patches to differentiate it from a Judo gi but is not too blingy as to make you stand out from the crowd. I’ll let you decide if you think that’s a good or bad thing but one of the reasons in me wanting to buy a BJJ gi is that I don’t want to always be “that Judo guy” and therefore this will help me just blend in.

I’ll report back in shrinkage, comfort and wear and tear in the coming weeks so watch this space.