Gi, DOMS, and Coming to Terms with the Switch

If you’re not familiar with the acronym DOMS, it’s “delayed onset muscle soreness”. It’s that terrible soreness you feel a day or two after you workout, and the only solution is to work out more. Eventually your body gets used to the work. This message brought to you by my entire body feeling like I got hit by a truck.

The format of class was what I’ve come to expect – about 30 minutes of drilling, about 30 minutes of techniques, about 30 minutes of rolling. I was having a rough time with my asthma last night so I didn’t roll as much as I would have liked to. It happens. The techniques were back to the basics – getting to reverse scarf hold when you opponent tries to do an arm-drag while you’re in their butterfly guard and North-South choke from reverse scarf hold. Rolling was a good learning/remembering experience. I went with a blue who has some solid hips and was continuously moving through guards and inverting to keep me from passing. I also went with a white belt who had solid head control as a former wrestler. Again, my back got taken, my half-guard stuffed. I also got a none-too-friendly reminder that BJJ allows pig-nosing, cross-facing, and the use of the neck crank to attack for a choke. These to be covered below.

Junior was there and asked why I wasn’t in judo last night. He seemed very accepting of the fact that this is what I need to do right now, and that I’m keeping up my judo on Saturdays with Matt. I’m hoping everyone is as accepting.

Pig-Nosing (or Hog-Nosing): Suppose you have someone’s back, and they are burying their chin so you can’t get the choke. Take your forearm (or hand) and place it across their mouth. Now lift and turn your forearm so that you’re pressing up into and crushing their nose. This is pig-nosing. It’s grossly painful. Typically this fits into the “don’t be a dick” category of techniques along with fish-hooking, eye gouging, biting, hair pulling, and single digit manipulation. Having said that, it’s not explicitly banned by IBJJF rules so it’s a referee discretion thing.

Cross-Facing: Suppose you have someone’s back, and they are burying their chin so you can’t get the choke. Take your forearm and place if flat against their cheek. Drive your hand forward and rotate your hand like you’re punching. The resulting force will be forearm directly into their teeth. It’s fine if they’re wearing a mouth guard, a bit painful on the neck since you’re actively holding their body one way and turning the head another, but it remains an effective way to turn the head to get the choke. It’s also openly accepted in BJJ and you can see it a fair amount in competition. This one’s just a matter of courtesy – if you’re in class and your partner isn’t wearing a mouth guard, don’t do it.

Neck Crank: This one is one that I knew was legal in BJJ, but took a reminder. In judo you’re not allowed to manipulate the head to get your choke. Pulling on the forehead, the chin, or use of the cross-face can all be considered neck cranks which is an immediate disqualification in judo. Remember, this is the sport that doesn’t let you pull down on the head to finish a triangle choke. This is one of those things that when you’re used to fighting judo where people have to dig to get the choke it kind of comes out of nowhere. I have no declared problem with the fact that it’s done, but it is one of the fundamental differences between judo and BJJ – what’s considered a cervical lock.

No-Gi Class, Fushida, and FPTC

Last night felt great. It wasn’t stale. I wasn’t just going through the motions. The S&C is still killing me and I feel like a complete tool leaving puddles on the mat when we do headstands, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about the fact that I sweat (a ton). So on my off days I’m going to try to spend 15-30 minutes just doing some of the solo drills at home (two thumbs and a mat… this guy).

What we did was straight forward – 30 minutes of S&C drills for warm-ups, 30 minutes of arm-bar from closed guard (juji gatame), 30 minutes of rolling (give or take). I love working on the basics. I also felt really good rolling. People are still taking my back, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things – rolling out of turtle back to guard, establishing a half-guard with the deep underhook, and even doing submission attempts. I’ve been left with some definite things to work on, but lucky for me they are things directly off the blue to purple syllabus Wade gave me. Even when I don’t know what he’s up to he’s still helping my jiu-jitsu.

So, now the other jazz in the title. People have been finding my blog more and more frequently with searches related to two things – Fushida and Fight Prime. My reviews of the Fushida gi’s are honest and are in comparison to other gi’s I have as well as gi’s my training partners have. Is there stuff you want added to these reviews? Since they’re proper reviews I’m assuming they hold at least some of the information the people doing Google searches are looking for.

As far as Fight Prime – the post that keeps coming up is the one about my first night of judo at FPTC. I have to say, the post is very little about what Fight Prime is like as a gym, and a whole lot about the problems I’ve been having getting my judo off the plateau lately. I will do a proper review of the gym after I’ve been there long enough, but I’m not really sure how to have certain posts be more prevalent in Google searches so that people get something relevant instead of just seeing a random post about how I’ll never be able to throw Tanner.

I Swear I Used To Be A Blue Belt

I went to Fight Prime on Saturday. Judo was slow, but nice. To be honest, I went for the BJJ so any judo is a perk. For those asking “where is the chase, and how do I cut to it?”, I’ve officially switched gyms. The rest of this post is going to be about the BJJ class and my super apparent short-comings. Continue reading

The Hard Choice

I love judo. Throwing, scrambles, submissions; a well-crafted judo class contains every aspect of grappling. I hate Judo. Governing bodies, rules diminishing the sport, Eastern philosophy; Judo and the notion that we should train to the current IJF rules kills me. I know I need judo because I get thrown a lot, but I don’t throw a lot of people any more. If I’m trying to become a more balanced grappler judo is what I need.

I love jiu-jitsu. Chokes, arm locks, scrambles; the chess that we play on the mat is a thing of beauty. I hate BJJ as a sport. Points, stalling, guard pulling, politics about association; I think we all have our own beefs with the IBJJF. Regardless of the rule set, the ground is where I am comfortable now. It’s where my skills are, where my heart is.

That’s pretty much where I’m at right now. In Judo I feel like I’m just going through the motions, but the last two classes I have seen marked improvements from working with Leslie – her style of teaching clicks with me and she’s cool about me replacing my techniques in to her combination to have the same conceptual effect, but with throws that I’m good at. I also have a lot of strong personal ties to the Judo club. I’m afraid that when I finally find the time to go to FPTC for a real BJJ class, especially a no-gi class, that I’ll fall in love with the ground all over again and want to leave judo behind. Even then, at FPTC, there are two judo classes per week, but I just don’t have the same ties there.

It’s even more complicated than just the ground versus stuanding. FPTC has a better mat, more people, a higher average experience level if we’re considering general grappling. Madison Judo has been a second home for the last three years, much less expensive, and has no contracts – fees are more like donations to keep the club running. I don’t do well with the notion of being locked into a school with a contract.

It’s a very tough call. It’s been bugging me since I found out Anders was leaving, and now that he’s gone it’s something I’ve been considering every class day. Do I show up to Madison Judo tonight to say my goodbyes, or is it just another day? I know there are people who swing going to both like Tim and Junior, but I don’t have the time to go to both. I really am in an XOR situation here.

Tonight I’m going to show up wondering the same thing I wonder every class. It’s not an easy problem, and no one can make it for me or judge me for my decision. It’s a choice that remains on me alone.

Gi Review: Fushida MANTIS & KOMODO

I haven’t tried the new Fushida CompGS yet because I still have too many perfectly usable gi’s. Since the KOMODO and MANTIS came out at the same time and were discontinued together I thought it would be nice to give them a shared review. Links thanks to the Way Back Machine

Fushida MANTIS
Weave: Pearl Weave
Price: $90 CAD +
Cut: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Quality: 4 of 5
Comfort: 4 of 5

Fushida KOMODO
Weave: Pearl Weave
Price: $125 CAD +
Cut: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Quality: 4 of 5
Comfort: 4 of 5

Weave

Both kimonos were a pearl weave of similar weight and strength. It’s definitely lighter than the TOURNAMENT, but considerably stronger than the CLUB. The pants were rip-stop. The MANTIS is actually one of the reasons I hate rip-stop so much. Christo, being as awesome as he is, let me order a KOMODO with judo pants the second time I got one.

Fit

The MANTIS had your basic A0-A5 sizing. The KOMODO was the introduction of Fushida’s X-sizing. For example, while I’m normally an A2 or A3 depending on the manufacturer (generally an A3), for my first KOMODO I was able to get an A2X. The A2X is essentially the length of an A3 for the jacket and pants, but the width/body of the A2.

I own an A3 MANTIS, A2X KOMODO, and A3 KOMODO. The A2X does not allow itself to be grabbed – there’s simply no fabric to grab. This is considered a competitive advantage in BJJ, but since I also use the kimonos for judo (AAU allows them), I ended up making the switch to the A3 for more general use.

Quality

The kimonos are of sound quality. The pants are rip-stop.

Story time – my MANTIS kimono did get ripped, but it’s not the fault of the jacket. My gi got washed with a red shirt so it got some lovely pink swirls. In order to remedy this I used bleach. The rip is in one of the areas that used to be pink where too much bleach was probably used so it comes down to the fact that if you don’t take care of the fabric it’s not going to hold up. User error.

Other story – my KOMODO pants got ripped really badly. I was in judo, the gi gives you nothing to hold onto, but judoka have a pretty infamous grip. My coach grabs them to do a turtle turnover and the pull causes a rip about 10cm in length. It continued to grow because of the location (right along the side of the knee) – it turns out that rip-stop does not stop rips. This is the origin story for my distain for rip-stop, that and the fact that it just doesn’t feel as comfortable as drill cotton. Again, the second time I ordered Christo let me get judo pants instead for no extra charge.

Comfort

I would liken wearing either of these kimonos to wearing a TOURNAMENT that’s not going to make you sweat during the summer. They’re essentially the same jacket. I still love to use both the A2X and A3 KOMODO during the summer because it’s so much lighter than my judo gi’s.

Overall the jackets are very comfortable. They were a bit more coarse than a judo gi on the inside, but once I got passed that I loved them. The pants are rip-stop so I find them terribly uncomfortable, but some people love them.

Price

The price point for the KOMODO was the better customization in sizing and color (the MANTIS never got released in blue or black). Other than that they were pretty much the same gi, so unless you really want a colored gi or need the X-sizing I’d recommend just going with a MANTIS if you can still find one laying around. It’s a great gi for the price considering the market for BJJ gi’s is so much more expensive than that of judo gi’s.

Ju

I’m going to use the Romanization of “ju” for this, not “jiu”. The character in question is 柔. The reason is, it doesn’t matter, both jujitsu and jiu-jitsu are really 柔術. So when I say jujitsu in this post, you can feel free to have that include BJJ.

My understanding of the character and its meaning comes from various white guys much like myself trying to explain conceptually what judo/jujitsu is. The literal translation comes out as “gentle”, which is where we get the terms “the gentle way” and “the gentle art”. I don’t speak/read/write Japanese to know if that’s correct or not. What I do know is that “gentle” is a misnomer. It may be the literal translation, but some things don’t translate. A great example of this is to plug “schadenfreude” into Google translate. Schadenfreude apparently translates to “glee”, or if we want to be literal it’s “harm joy”, but when we do a dictionary look-up we get something along the lines of pleasure as a result of someone else’s misfortune. The closest thing we have in English is “sadism”, but even that isn’t the same thing.

So what is this concept of “ju” that doesn’t translate, or what’s a better English equivalent at least? Mark’s definition was that “gentle” is the opposite of “hard”, and it’s not the concept of being gentle, it’s the concept of doing something in the way which isn’t hard. So in that sense “lazy” or “easy” would be closer in meaning. Greg’s definition was that ju is the concept of “giving way”. For reference about what “giving way” seems to mean, you can check out the Wikipedia article about soft and hard martial arts. “Yielding”, well, it certainly is a lot closer than “gentle.” I really don’t like the notion of soft and hard martial arts because people get super sensitive about if their art is soft or not. “Soft” is another one of those misnomers for ju. When I think “soft” I think blankets, not triangle chokes.

My favorite interpretation to date is the notion that “maximum efficiency, minimum effort” is the concept of ju. To me, that’s the closest word we have in English – efficient. Jujitsu should be the “arts of efficiency” and judo the “way of efficiency”. The emphasis is on redirection, parrying, taking advantage of instants, and efficient movement. Think about BJJ, doesn’t “efficient” describe what we’re always trying to work toward? The jujitsu isn’t the submissions or even the positions, it’s all the stuff in between, and the difference between someone who’s okay and someone who is phenomenal is the efficiency of their control and transitions. I don’t care if you’ve got the best damn osoto gari in the world; if you don’t have an efficient way of setting it up, it’s never going to work.

When someone shows you an armbar from closed guard where they first transition to butterfly guard and then setup a sweep to fail to go for the armbar, your first question should be why they didn’t just throw the leg over and do a plain-old armbar from closed guard to begin with. There’s something Jesse from LapelChoke posted awhile back:

Did you ever roll with an old school black belt? They will pwn you with stuff you learned your third week, because in our new school Jiu Jitsu ways we tend to forget that guys like Royce beat multiple dudes in one night with armbars and RNCs. Here we have a super simple and effective knee tap sweep from half guard. You probably know everything here, now chain it together.

Jiu-jitsu is a game of fundamentals. In my opinion, a proper translation would do a lot for the community in terms of remembering their roots and knowing what to focus on. When I look at the overly complicated guards and submission setups of today all I can think is “that’s a hell of a lot of jitsu with absolutely no ju.” It’s the same for the Olympic level judo where people just stall out and play the rules.

Once you’ve wrestled…

Tanner posted this today on Twitter. Take a read through it, it’s an opinion piece about how wrestlers make the best employees.

I disagree with it. Let’s just get that out there right now. I think the article leaves out a lot of stuff that needs to be considered and oversimplifies a very complex issue. Not everyone who wrestles, even at an “elite level” would make a good employee. There are plenty of guys and gals I know from the gym that I would never want to work with professionally.

I think more interesting is the quote at the end though. “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” If only. Competing in grappling bestows upon one a certain level of mental and physical toughness. We overcome exhaustion, hunger, and pain. But there are definitely things I’ve had to do in life which were harder than missing a few meals or walking on a broken foot. Overcoming my nerves to compete in front of a few thousand people would always be preferred over trying to overcome my nerves to talk to even twenty strangers. I’d take an overly-personal physical confrontation or a workout in 100*F heat any day over trying to deal with customers. A match has a defined beginning and end with clear goals and expectations. Life doens’t have a rule book updated regularly by FILA. Interactions with people off the mat don’t always have a clear “I won” or “I lost” end.

Maybe it’s just me, but compared to life, wrestling is a piece of cake.