There used to be a time where I spent some portion of every day on sites like LockFlow and LapelChoke. It’s been awhile. Today I went to look and they’re both gone. LockFlow closed down September 2, so only a few weeks ago. LapelChoke seems to have closed down September 30 of last year – has it really been that long?

To anyone who’s looking for a site to make – we need a new equivalent to sites like LockFlow and LapelChoke.

Home Mat – Gone

Third post in a day, it’s like I just remembered I have a blog or something…

My home mat is gone now. We took it apart to finish the basement. I’ll have a planned hiatus from grappling in a month or so, but I’ve known about it for the last eight.

For those who are wondering – it held up well, though I never used it as much as I had hoped I would. There just aren’t enough grapplers around to roll with and I never had the ambition to do solo drills on it more than a few times a month. Some judo clubs who used the foam block sprung floor have noted that after a few years of heavy use though – the foam will compact and you’ll end up needing to swap it out anyway. To be honest, the mats are the expensive part anyway, and even those don’t last forever. If you have followed the guide, watch the height of your floor, and if it’s noticeably lower in a few years, just swap out the foam blocks on the bottom by unscrewing the OSB and gluing new blocks in place.

Status Updates

My ankle still hurts when I stress it too much. I was squatting the other day and had to just re-rack the bar and stop. The good news is, I am squatting again and the amount of stress/weight that my ankle can handle is increasing. It feels so weird struggling to squat an amount that’s less than I weigh, but it’s improving. This will be my first week squatting bodyweight again.

My recovery would have been much faster had I been lifting earlier. It’s a relatively recent change that I’m doing actual weightlifting again. Albeit the routine is short – the holy three and then whatever auxiliary I feel like which usually means some kind of curl, pull-up, or dip. To me, that’s all you need.

I’m still playing judo to the extent that I can. That means there are some limits when it comes to strength/force still. I can only go a round of randori or two before I need a break. I’m doing more rounds on the ground than that because the guys I’m going with are good about controlling the pace so that it’s not so stressful.

I miss the ground terribly. Yes, judo has ne waza, but it’s not the same. The approach is different. The focus is different. You don’t stand to pass the guard. The scrambles are typically just fleeting instances between any given position and turtle. To me, the ground is so much more than that. It’s about moving, flowing, submitting; there is no place for stalling, and yet I’m finding my old judo habits are back and stronger than ever so even I’m turtling when I’d rather not.


Saturday I made the drive up to Fond Du Lac. There was a judo referee clinic and novice judo tournament. I figured, I could ref. Well, it didn’t go how I expected…

First off, it was a great clinic. Lots of information. Lots of good questions being answered. The only thing I would change would be us spending some time practicing the calls before a match. All of the presenters were really good. We spent what felt like a lot of time learning the difference between a yuko and no score, and a yuko and a waza-ari. Since it was a beginners tournament we were reffing, there were very few ippons anyway, so not a huge deal that we didn’t definitively cover an ippon. Generally, you know an ippon when you see it. If you’re at all curious about the IJF rules, I strongly recommend going to a local referee clinic, or spending some time talking to your referees.

When it came to reffing in practice… Well, by the end of the day I was confident in my calls for points. At first not so much – call and then immediately look to the senior ref as my hand half hangs there somewhere between waza-ari and yuko. What I was still struggling with when I left were the nerves. Bad nerves. Forgetting my Japanese so I called out “toketa” when I meant “osaekomi” nerves. They’ll pass. I asked. It’s like competing. The first few times are nerve-wracking, but at some point you have the confidence that you’re going to go out there and it’s just going to be what it is. All you can do is your best. Except in this case if I screw up, rather than breaking my foot, a more experienced ref can overturn my call. So there’s that – a solid safety net of some of the nicest and most experienced judoka Wisconsin has to offer.

The next tournament I’m planning to ref for is the Badger Open in Fond Du Lac on October 17. If you’re competing and I screw up, I’m sorry, someone will help correct it. It’ll be my second tournament ever, and first real tournament. I’m pretty excited for the opportunity.

BJJ In The Olympics (Again)

Gamenes… in their latest two blog posts they’re recommending a name change for BJJ will actually help with it getting into the Olympics. They’re going so far as to say we can ignore sport ju-jitsu because the JJIF isn’t making “any serious attempts to popularize traditional jiu-jitsu as a sport”. For reference: 1 & 2

I’ve beaten this dead horse a few times. But since others still really want BJJ in the Olympics, let’s cut the shit and have a truly frank conversation.

First, I call bullshit on Gameness. The JJIF has had several applications to become an Olympic sport and has been actively trying for decades. It’s in the World Games and the JJIF is a member of both the GAISF and IWGA. Saying that there aren’t serious attempts to popularize sport ju-jitsu is just ignorant. The assumption that the JJIF is unused because their website is outdated is… well, it wasn’t until last week that the USJA updated their website, but that doesn’t mean judo isn’t practiced anymore. For that matter, sport ju-jitsu has the recognition of bodies like USJA which now pushes jujitsu tournament announcements to judoka. I promise you, it’s a grassroots movement, but there is a movement to popularize jujitsu. You’re just unlikely to hear about it unless you’re in one of the sports that has a real governing body that can court you about it.

I’m going to say this one more time, and then I’m just never going to bring it up again: Brazilian jiu-jitsu isn’t really a distinct sport from judo. It’s a separate rule set. It’s not even “basically just judo”, it’s literally judo that was taught to some Brazilians before the term “judo” was popular. If you want to compete in the Olympics, learn some throws, or at minimum some throw defenses, and go wreak havoc on the ground in judo. I promise it’s okay. The IJF will happily take you back like the prodigal sons and daughters you are. The rules for judo might even get better if there’s a large population of ground fighters actively competing. If you’re not willing to compete in the almost identical sports that already are in the Olympics, you probably aren’t going to like what being in the Olympics is going to do to your rule set if by the long shot, over the next five decades the necessary stars line up to make BJJ an Olympic sport.

How Game Is Formed

We all have our own game. The goal is to impose that game upon our opponents so that we may be the ones who control the situation. We have our own flows, our own preferred submissions, our own favored positions.

Last week in judo we were doing collar chokes from mount, but we were doing them as strangles and in such a way that we would be giving up the mount for a choke we might be able to finish. I by far favor the choke which I’m guaranteed to finish and which doesn’t cost me mount. That’s part of my game: position over submission. It’s not a part of the game being taught in this judo club.

This morning I saw the same variation we did in judo in an old grainy film and it made me appreciate how much better the variant I know and love is; and how lucky I was to have Professor Zingano come out and teach it to me at a seminar.

Your game is the result of everyone who teaches you; everyone you roll with; every video you watch. It is completely unique to you, and yet all of it comes from someone else. I’m eternally grateful to everyone with whom I’ve rolled for helping me form my game as it is today and to everyone who will help me change it into what it will be. These people are too numerous to name.

I strongly recommend going to seminars and repping the things you learn during class. Out of the couple dozen techniques you’ll be shown, if you walk away with two or three improvements to your game it’s been worth it. You’ll slightly change those things and teach them to others and in doing so make it your own and they will make it their own.

Game is living. Game grows and changes. Never stop revising your game.


I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and hobbled to the shower. It’s been a long time since that heel hook. Most days I’m functional. Some days I’m crippled. Today there is an ache and I feel like I’m not moving how I should be. I stretched out my ankle. I taped it up for the regular day. If I go to judo tonight it will be just for structured practice (drilling, uchi komi, explicitly not randori). The ankle still fatigues after bursts of exertion, especially on the ground. The pain builds up and I have to stop. One or two rounds of standing randori is the best night I can hope for. Some phenomenal days I manage two plus some ground work.

I don’t feel like the ankle is healing. I can do the PT exercises. I can balance on one leg, but the duration doesn’t increase before the pain sets in. 26-years-old and I already feel like I’ve been forced into retirement; that I’m at the point where what I’m limited to is the old man exercises.

Judo has something for this. It’s called kata. I’m aware of an analogue in BJJ. It’s an old concept. Older than judo. In jujitsu you’d do kata for years before doing randori. It’s a predetermined set of movements. Uke moves with a predetermined attack, tori responds with a predetermined defense. You need to know at least one kata (typically Nage No Kata) for a black belt in judo. There are separate kata for throws, the ground, traditional throws, self defense scenarios, you name it.

Back when I competed in judo every tournament would start with older individuals doing a kata competition. They’re judged on how well they execute the predetermined throws from predetermined positions as well as some circumstance around it. You face certain ways to bow. You fix your jacket in a certain manner, and only at certain times. Your uke falls a certain way. It all felt very silly back then, but now I see that it may be the best way to be able to keep doing judo when I can’t even do randori properly without being in pain simply from moving. The guys who do a lot of kata know the throws very well. You have to be crisp and well-rehearsed. It’s very staged, but it doesn’t lessen what it teaches you.

Dear 19-year-old me: It’s not even a full eight years later and you’re now one of those old guys you couldn’t understand.