It’s been too long since I updated this blog so here we go.
This blog primarily is about my fitness and BJJ and there has been some big steps towards normality. Firstly since starting training in June I’ve obviously had issues regarding my leg injury so I’ve had to work slowly. I’ve been training 2-3 times a week depending on how the pain is from my calf and by December I kinda had the all clear and started attending 4 times a week. I mainly go on the ‘Basic Gi’ lessons which are for members up to a blue belt but since gaining confidence I’ve been a regular participant on the ‘Advanced Gi’ lessons. The advanced lessons have 45 minutes of rolling as well as specific positional training. Regular rolling is obviously allowing me to build my own game and try out new techniques. I’m not the type of person who is too proud to tap and I always ask for an explanation of what I should’ve done. As well as tapping myself I do on occasion make my fellow students tap – one very scary incident was when I choked out a fellow white belt unconscious as he refused to tap while I cranked the choke more and more. My strength and conditioning is also improving; I’m slowly dropping weight and becoming stronger and more agile. My main concern now in training is hip movement while on my back. I drill a lot after my strength sessions and find these in either books or from YouTube uploads.
My hope now is to weekly update this blog to aid my training and mental understanding of BJJ.
I’ve had a few set backs regarding training these last few weeks. I’m starting a new chapter in my life with university and I’ve been taking part with inductions, enrolling and introductory lectures. As well as that I’ve had a bad flu which seemed to last for weeks and then really attacked me last week hard. The academy obviously frowns upon a student coughing and spluttering all over everyone training so it’s been BJJ YouTube videos for a while.
I went training today and we worked on half guard, I just couldn’t seem to get it which obviously played on how demotivated I was already. I managed to complete the manoeuvres but I struggled. We then went into positional sparring but I switched on my survival mode and sat there like a sitting duck. After switching so I was in top position, people who I’d easily dealt with in the past rolled me. I stood to the side and gathered my thoughts for a minute. My final spar was with a higher belt than I so I went all out. I sat into his half guard and quickly laid put my opponent driving my forearm into his jaw. Driving forward and posting I managed to remove my leg from his guard and transition to side control and grasp a strong scarf hold.
This has got me thinking; why am I so negative? Why do I lack motivation and give in very easily? And this isn’t in BJJ but all throughout my life. I’m starting a new chapter so I need to get my mind in gear. It’s something I need to work on and it’s obviously going to take time; this needs to be the first step!
I was speaking on twitter about switching my training a little for October. My BJJ will stay the same; I’m at Gracie Barra Birmingham usually around four times a week. My strength and conditioning is going to be changed a lot though. If you’ve dabbled in BJJ you’ll know that there are a lot of positions where you have to support your body weight in some strange positions. As a big guy I generally struggle with this side of my training because although I’m strong, I don’t think I’m agile with it. So it has made me think about how to improve this so I’m going old skool! Basically I’m for the next few weeks going to put all of my training towards ‘body weight’ style exercises. I’m going to devise a circuit which I’ll do each morning which will include press ups, burpees, chin ups and some of the crazy drills from my ‘Drill to Win’ book by Andre Galvao. You maybe asking yourself ‘what’s the point of this? He goes to a perfectly good weights gym!’ and that’s a good question BUT I’m losing more weight at BJJ so paying for both is a bit tough on the wallet. My subscription with Bannatynes finishes in November so I’ve got to get used to hitting the treadmill so I can get in road work and doing circuits with out luxury facilities. Tomorrow will be my first session so I’ll let you know.
I went to the gym for my usual Sunday session today but instead of hitting the weights I watched my Mrs on the treadmill & thought ‘I could do that!’. I’ve not done a lot of cardio because my calf injury was that severe I had no power or push off it. I bought some Brooks trainers & Skins lower leg supports a few months back so I could at least do a little on the treadmill but still there was pain so it was quite minimal. Even climbing Snowdon was very slow because again I could only use my left leg to push off when hiking up the path.
I’ve been doing a lot of leg work to get my calf and ham string free. It’s took a while with a numerous types of training including cycling, squats, and weights machines to get where I am now which brings me back to this afternoon. I ran on the Cybex treadmill for 40 minutes with a break of 2 minutes do some quick lunges to keep my calfs free.
But this got me thinking; I can run now for a decent distance so I’ve got to build my cardio up because that’s what is holding me back in my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sparring. So from October which is only a few weeks away I’m going to dump the weights and go old skool concentrating on cardio and body weight exercises. My plan is that the only equipment I will use will be a TRX, treadmill, medicine ball and some mats. Will this be better than hitting heavy weights? I’ll let you know on November the 1st.
Since starting at Gracie Barra Birmingham I’ve stuck to the Gi classes because I feel that they are slightly more technical than the No Gi sessions. Today however I kinda messed up and went on the wrong class and was convinced to stay and try it out. I’m so glad I stayed because I’ve missed this no fuss style of training. Over the last few months of training my Gi has become a comfort blanket allowing me to get hooks and grips on my opponent with ease and manipulate the cloth to my advantage. No Gi however is a whole other game, the speed I feel is a lot quicker and the body sweating can both help and hinder you & your opponent. I was the new guy to the class which is made up of blue belt standard guys with one or two brown belts scattered here and there. This class was an excellent time for me to practise my harder style of guard passing and scrambling from bad positions. I went with different standard of guys but all of them were impressed with both my positioning and intensity. I must say I was more aggressive which my instructor loved because usually I’m quite relaxed and apparently make far too many jokes (most of which are shit). By the end of the session I had only been tapped twice by guys a lot more experienced than I so I was elated and will definitely be a regular on the class from now on.
Today we revisited the ‘De La Riva’ guard but instead of doing a pass we were doing sweeps and take downs while in the position. We done some great reversals and takedowns which were brilliant for me because I struggle in this position. I don’t actually like any open type guard position because I’m a big guy and generally a little less mobile than the small guys. We did some situational sparring and as a big guy I don’t like to go too hard and would rather be technical than ‘bull-ish’ and pound at my opponent. I’m quite happy passing guard at the moment because I’ve been working a lot of my base, grips and pressure. While passing people’s guard I know when I’m clear and could easily gain a better position such as mount but because I want to keep working with different people. Some of the other white belts are a little naive and refuse to admit that I’ve passed their guard; they don’t have hooks in and I’ve locked either their legs or have pressure on his hips but still they protest! I don’t get this to be honest; I want to progress and roll with different standards of guys. I’ve also been doing a lot of conditioning which is working well when it comes to shifting me hips to gain better positions. BJJ is a game which has many small parts which once working together finally click; this is why I’m really hooked training and this will be a part of my life for many decades to come!
Today is officially my last day of my summer holiday from school and I’d have to say it’s been positive. My goal for these weeks of training was to obviously lose weight but do so by improving my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Both I and my instructor is very happy with my improvement and my confidence has certainly grown. I have been purposely allowing people to gain strong positions against be to combat my fears and psychological wariness about being ‘stranded’. I have used a number of books to help; the best one was Saulo Riberos ‘Jiu Jitsu University’. This book is a step by step guide for any one wanting to improve their BJJ game. I focused on the white and blue belt section which include escapes and positional transitions. I also bought Andre Galvao’s ‘Drill to win’ which is awesome for building muscle memory with techniques and has lots of solo drills. This has been great improving my flexibility and I’ll continue to do these drills as part of my daily training regime. Getting back into training like this has been great not only physically but also mentally. I feel ready for the next steps in my life and will try to continue with this positive outlook setting small goals as part of a broader picture.
Just got back from an afternoon advanced session at Gracie Barra Birmingham and I’m feeling pretty smug with myself! We started the lesson going through the ‘De La Riva’ guard which I for one am not at all comfortable with. I was training with a blue belt with quite a bit more experience than I and he was happy to assist me in improving my guard. After the teaching session we went into sparring; first positional and then open sparring. I took my Saulo Ribero Jiu Jitsu University book with me to Germany and scanned through it a few times noting things I’d like to try. I also downloaded a few podcasts from iTunes by Budo Jake. One of the podcasts was an interview with Andre Galvao who Jake interviewed and went through a simple but effective guard sweep. Which brings me back to today’s session; I managed in sparring to use this specific sweep numerous times on various classmates. I have through the summer been focussing escaping bad positions and it’s really improved my game. So as we’re close to the end of August it’s time to focus on a new transition; my new focus now in training for the next few weeks will be guard passing and sweeps from the guard.
I’ll keep you informed!
Last week I was in Germany visiting my other half’s family. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t that excited about going because I’ve been enjoying training so much and I didn’t want it to be interrupted. We left on Swiss Airlines and because of a delay because of the moronic Birmingham Airport baggage handlers we missed our connecting flight in Geneva. We got a little apology from the staff and a five euro refreshment credit but it was still an inconvenience. Arriving in Frankfurt we were met by family and drove to a small town called Worms one hours drive away. The town is tiny but very quaint and randomly has an ‘Erotic’ sex shop on the high street next do delicious bakeries and coffee shops. After spending a few days in Worms I rented a car because I was going a little stir crazy and hit the Autobahn in the direction of Munich.
Munich is awesome! The nightlife was busy with plenty of places to hangout along Leopold Street. We hit a few bars but the drive made me knackered so sadly it was an early night at 1:30am. Next day we visited the old town which is gorgeous! I downloaded a free city guide from iTunes app store and went for a stroll through the picturesque streets and high end shops and watched the performance of the Glockenspeil in the Marianplatz. I had a delicious ‘traditional’ lunch of German beer and pork leg in the huge beer garden in the Viktualienmarkt and reluctantly made our way back to the car for the journey back to Worms. Our final night out in Worms was kinda cool because it was my missus sisters birthday; so yes drunken night out with huge beers! Waking up early the next day I felt like crap and caught the plane home hungover. Thankfully the efficient Germans helped us get into Geneva thirty minutes early and get home on time.
There’s definitely an improvement! My weight is slowly coming down and my athletic ability seems to be improving. I am still trying to fight from the bottom more and get used to ‘exploding’ into different positions but that I’m told will come over time. I’m learning a lot from the more experienced guys and I’m trying to take it in and use it while we roll. I’m going to try to do more drill work alone while at the gym to build what I need. I’ve also been told about hyrdo and Bulgarian bags which are used by MMA guys, anyone know about this? I’m resting tonight and then next week pushing hard again twice a day sessions while I’m not working. My main goal now is the ‘No Gi British Open’ in October; I’m planning on entering in the hope to get some experience in tournament situations.