The grueling week

I wasn’t able to train four days this week due to an unfortunate snowfall and the holiday schedule. I was able to make it to four classes. I did two gi classes, one no-gi class, and wrestling over Thursday and Friday. I am still sore.

Gi is what it is. Meaningless tautologies aside, that means that there were no surprises. I worked out with pretty much the same people I’m used to even though it wasn’t my normal nights (along with a few people I hadn’t met including a brown belt who trains on an opposite schedule). It was productive. One class was attacking the turtle. I always feel overly confident when we do this because of judo. No matter what cool clock choke variant or turn-over we learn I find myself doing the Juan Gonzalez no BS turtle breakdown, the quarter-Nelson turnover, and jigoku jime (hell strangle). They are my go-to moves that judo has instilled as effective. The other class turned into open mat and it was working on a variety of techniques and situational rolling. I just tried to burn through some positions I’m having trouble in but know that I know techniques from. I also used it as an opportunity to try out the Top Rock techniques. I’m really digging vegan mount and plan to play with that more.

No-gi was full of surprises. I didn’t readily recognize anyone in the class and got a royal lesson in humility. All of the sudden my fancy gi-based turtle turn-overs weren’t there and someone of higher skill submitted me time and time again. I got frustrated when I was getting neck cranked, but after just had that moment of clarity about how some days you’re the guy tapping everyone and some days you’re the guy who gets tapped by everyone. Thursday night was my turn to be the guy who gets tapped by everyone. If nothing else I learned some cool ways to take the back as I was giving mine up like I was making money every time someone sunk their hooks in.

Wrestling was the most exhausting class I have done since I used to train for MMA. Every shot, sprawl, and drill felt like doing 10 of the equivalent from judo. That’s not to say wrestling requires more work, but rather that a series of movements that I’m only vaguely used to from judo and which need to be done explosively don’t lend themselves well to someone who’s too far out of shape considering they practice regularly. It was the kind of class where I felt like after a month I could drop maybe 10 pounds and be in great shape. I wish I could make it to the class more, but I’m still at work most Fridays when the class is going. I have to admit – I liked it a lot more than judo classes have been lately for a variety of reasons.

All-in-all it was a fantastic couple of days. I really miss when I could do 2 or more classes every day. Life gets in the way. As an aside I’ve started on my first blog post for BJJ Life. It’s on the matter of why we need to standardize ranks. My basic arguments deal with accidental sandbagging and rank recognition. If we’re going to continue to use ranks we should at least use them meaningfully. Most of the arguments don’t apply to no-gi where competition frequently doesn’t care about rank and when visiting another school no one can see or cares what your rank is. I guess I could have written about why submission wrestling has it right instead.

Semi-Pro Blogging

I was notified today that I’ve been accepted to the BJJ Life Bloggging Team. What that does not mean is the end of this blog. I still plan to keep this blog updated with semi-regular posts as per normal for me. What it does mean is that a great company has given me the opportunity to contribute content to their site. Keep an eye out for posts about training, techniques, and the lifestyle at the BJJ Life Blog and the occasional video on the BJJ Life YouTube channel.

Earlier today I re-read a post by Brendan over at Ok! KimonosThe TLDR of it is that when you’re affiliated with a company it’s important that they represent things you’d want to stand for. I think BJJ Life and Combat Corner represent things I believe in. I started BJJ at a school which was a CC wholesaler, have continued to go to CC for BJJ and MMA equipment over the years because it’s quality gear at a reasonable price, they put on one of the best BJJ tournaments in my area, and I’ve fought Luke on the mats in Fond Du Lac for judo tournaments. That last one’s big to me. Not only is this a company that’s making gear and running tournaments; it’s one where the faces of the company are people that I’ve met, fought, and plan to train with at the occasional seminar.


Review of Reilly Bodycomb – Top Rock

Top Rock is a top-game and leglock instructional video by Reilly Bodycomb released in December 2013. The format is a seminar filmed at NY Combat Sambo with some added clips of the techniques being used in competition. The quality of production isn’t as phenomenal as DVDs explicitly filmed as instructional videos, but as far as filmed seminars go it’s pretty good. You’ll notice times when the audio seems to have a weird effect applied as though Reilly is really far away and some issues when Reilly is facing away from the camera, but there’s no points where you can’t understand what is being said. There’s also aberrant noise because it’s a filmed seminar – at one point there are sirens, for a few minutes someone is taking a phone call that you can hear the conversation, etc. Unlike other filmed seminars which are just direct presentations of 120 minutes of material Reilly does insert title information, so just like Reilly’s other filmed seminar (Sambo Leglocks for Nogi – here to be referred to as SLfN) it’s really easy to find what you’re looking for.

When it comes down to content the video focuses on a few key positions and how to obtain a set of leglocks from them. It begins by discussing passing the guard and the relationship between passing and leglocks. No explicit passes are taught, but rather a basic pass is assumed and used as the basis for all of the scenarios. Next is the quarter-guard and the importance of keeping top quarter-guard in your repertoire of top-game positions. Quarter-guard moves into “vegan mount”, descried as such because “it looks like mount, but it’s not quite it.” Vegan mount then moves into knee-on-belly which Reilly refers to as “the knee ride”. The major technique emphasis tends to be on the “straight” ankle lock, inverted heel hooks, and knee bars. Toe holds are mentioned, but there’s not explicit setup, instead Reilly focuses on the positions which can be modified to perform any leglock. The video wraps up with a Q&A session. In this session you’ll find such gems as the “Admiral Neck-bar” – a sneaky submission/trap from the top of deep half-guard.

Overall I’d say it’s a solid seminar. I would strongly recommend checking out SLfN first to learn the finishing details of the leglocks and to understand the bottom-game Reilly references at the start of the video. Overall SLfN is a much better introduction to leglocking while TR is more of an exploration into using those leglocks you already know from top positions and a discussion about when passing or leglocks are the better option. In any event, there’s no excuse not to check the video out – you get to name your own price for a DRM-free version of Top Rock by picking it up directly from Reilly’s website. The asking price is $30, and if you’re into supporting this style of video I’d say it’s worth it. If you’re on the fence I’d say it’s still worth the $10 or $20 option, but you’ll likely feel compelled to chip in the extra when you start getting knee bars while passing guard like crazy.

*I haven’t seen Dynamic Entry yet to compare it to that DVD or say how you should prioritize it among these two seminars – however, the production quality is likely higher given that it’s a true instructional instead of a seminar.

Two months later: ankle, seminars, getting back on the horse

As you probably gathered form me not updating this for a couple months (well, over three now, but, who’s counting?) the ankle injury was pretty bad. Not surgery bad – but like I took 16 weeks off to let it heal and still have certain positions which induce crippling pain. The X-rays and everything were normal and I was just instructed to wear a brace and rehab it. Ironically, the day-to-day is much worse than grappling is. I can’t sit in seiza for very long, but other than that, I’m back to BJJ and judo. What’s way worse is trying to kneel for pictures or when taking the dog for a walk/run on the ice and he pulls out of no where which causes me to have to put a ton of pressure on it at an awkward angle to recover. While I was out it seems like everyone else got their purple belts, so I certainly have some catching up to do.

I’m having trouble getting back into the weekday regimen. I still do judo and BJJ on the weekends, rolling when I have time enough at the end of class, but lately I’ve just been too busy with life to make it in to the gym between Monday and Friday or stay extra on Saturdays. With the snow it’s getting easier and easier to say “tonight’s not a good night to go out, I’ll just go on Saturday”. So for my holiday vacation I’m making a point to go to the gym at least 4 times during the week. I also have a friend who’s interested in coming over and going over the basics on my home mat. That would be pretty great.

Last Saturday we had a great seminar with Mauricio Zingano. It was mostly just fine detail work on the basics with a few super simple but slightly unorthodox techniques (such as a brilliant side control to mount transition). He recommended practicing them for a few months before showing them to others in the gym. When you tap someone out with them and they ask what you did, just say “I don’t know.” That they could have come to the seminar, and that if they know it to defend it right away you’ll never get to work on it. He also explained this is why he’ll teach an attack and he’ll wait to teach the defense for a few months. Overall, it was a solid seminar and I was really glad to see Thales get his first stripe on his black belt at the end.

Finally, let me do a shameless plug for Reilly Bodycomb’s newest leglock instructional – Top Rock. I haven’t gotten to watch it yet, but the promo video looks great and if it’s anything like his other videos it’s filled with all kinds of great details. What’s cool about it is that Reilly is letting you name your own price for it. It’s also gotten some good press on LockFlow already.