Monthly Archives: August 2013

View from the bottom…

There’s a wonderful book (and movie) titled “Gardens of Stone“.  I read this book in college as a young Air Force ROTC cadet, and have since re-read it a handful of times.  In one scene, the senior sergeant tells the young private after a particularly rough barracks inspection, “Some days you eat the bear…some days the bear eats you.”

Last night felt like the bear ate me.  Why?  Because I can’t seem to learn how to drink enough water and properly fuel my body before training.  It was hot, I couldn’t get ahead of my thirst, and my gi felt like a wet blanket suffocating around me.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fantastic class.  But in the case of last night, I spent way too much time on the bottom, getting eaten by the bear.

We drilled a few basic armbar, kimura, triangle drills after warmups, and then worked on kimura set-up/transition to guillotine.  This was difficult for me, as I constantly felt that my gi sleeve, and my partners lapel, was getting in the way of me setting up the choke.  Looking back, I think the majority of the times I’m able to get the guillotine choke is either from a scramble, or my partner dives in for a takedown.  In either case, the angle is different than setting up kimura from guard, then wrapping your arm around the head for the guillotine.  By adding a simple stack, my partner (Eric) was able to nullify my technique.  Oh well, more work needed there.  Then we drilled double-leg guard pass.  We did this on Saturday in no-gi, but last night was refining the technique in gi.

A fellow blogger, Sarah, author of Trainwrecking, (great blog, you can check her out here), posted some pictures of her rolling.  I thought that was a great idea, so today’s blog will capture some of the good, the bad, and the ugly of last night’s open rolling.


World’s laziest armbar setup!


On the bottom, where I spent a lot of time last night.


Nate, who has unlimited energy, and is as strong as an ox.


On bottom, again…


Opened my guard and sat up for kimura, but felt a sweep was available.


Both arms in, or both arms out. If not – triangle. The only thing I could do was stack Nate, and try to use my superior weight (ha!) to pass into side control.


Working hard. From the bottom. Again…


Instructor calls time. Class is over. I’m exhausted. (Meanwhile, Nate is thinking what club he is hitting later that evening.)

Thank you to Eric, Nate, Andrew (?), and others for rolling.

All in all – a good class.  Jon (from JonJitsu, another fantastic blog here) reminded me several weeks ago that once you get 4 stripes on your white belt, and blue may be in the future, you start getting harder on yourself when you make beginner (read: white belt) mistakes.  When, in fact, you ARE a white belt.  So when I get caught in an armbar (like last night), or a few other submissions, or spend 30 mins on my back (like last night), I need to remind myself that I will continue making beginner mistakes, and that I need to learn from them to improve my game.

And for goodness sakes, man, drink some water, will ya?  Stop gassing early because you’re not properly hydrated.

Take care of each other.  Cheers!

PS – Yes, there were other pictures of me from last night: ones of me snotting, bleeding, throwing a temper tantrum before curling up in the fetal position and sobbing uncontrollably….but I omitted those.  It’s MY blog, and I can tell the story any way I want!


A guillotine choke and a smile…

After a bit of business travel, I was happy to be back on the mats this past week.

Wednesday’s class was in gi, and I was happy that (1) I remembered where the gym was, (2) I remembered how to tie my belt [even managed Rener Gracie’s ‘hollywood’ variation – ha!], and (3) Keith (blue belt) didn’t smash me too badly.  Ok, Emil (purple belt) did smash me a little…but all in all, it was a good first day back after two weeks of hotels, rental cars, and on-the-run eating.

Saturday morning’s class was no-gi. I might have mentioned this before: I have a love/hate relationship with no-gi.  Before class, all I can think of are the ways my sloppy technique will leave me in horrible positions, countless chokes, and each of my flaws will shine through.  I don’t have this fear with gi…mainly because at 6’5, 225, I have a size advantage over most, and even if I’m in a bad position, I feel  comfortable so long as I have a hold of your sleeve or lapel.  Not so with no-gi.  However, it was a good (albeit, tiring) hour and change.  After warmups and drilling double-leg guard passing for 20 mins, I live rolled (5-min rounds) with Keith, who has solid technique and wicked side control, and a few other 3 & 4 stripe white belts.

Then came Terry.  He is a fellow 4-stripe white belt…who by all accounts should be a blue belt very soon.  Anyway, we scrambled around for 3 full minutes, countering positions and sweeping each other.  During one scramble, he got me in a weird mounted-guillotine-choke-kind-of-thing.  It was tight, but not so tight I felt like I had to tap.  So I worked my hands to gain some space, hoping he’d give up the submission before I actually felt the urge to tap.  It worked…and Terry went back to work, improving his game.  When we were done, we thanked each other for the roll as always.  After class, I had a huge smile on my face as I rubbed my neck.  Yep, I’m gonna feel that in the morning.

So what did we learn yesterday?

  1. Kris’ ego is still alive and well…and still pops up every once in a while to say, “He’s pretty close with this submission, but we’re not going to give it to him…“.
  2. Do not, under any circumstance, give Terry your neck.
  3. When you watch Chael Sonnen tap Shogun Rua with a guillotine choke from his back, you end up thinking, “How did Terry get me in that from mount?”  I wish I had video to see how we ended in that position.

Random aside from last night’s UFC…did anyone else laugh when Chael told Joe Rogan, “I just got done with a world champion. If you don’t think I’ll add a middle-aged comedian just for the goddamn pleasure of it, you better think again”  That that guy is a character!  Now, Sonnen and Rogan are friends…he’s been on Rogan’s podcast before.  Also, I think it would be interesting to see those two go at it.  Maybe not striking, but in a pure BJJ match for sure.  Rogan is a Jean Jacques Machado black belt, and also has a black belt from Eddie Bravo, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.  Ok, enough about Sonnen and Rogan.

After class, a few of us stayed back to talk about the personality of our gym.  Here in Northern VA / DC, we have several schools to choose from.  Leo Dalla is just down the road.  Lloyd Irvin has a few schools in the local area.  Royce Gracie has a school about 15 miles away.  Yamasaki has a school minutes from my house.  Etc., etc.  However, we all decided that you can’t go by name when it comes to a gym.  What is most important in a BJJ school is that it fits your personality.

We are a relatively young school.  Professor Rios started around March-April of 2012.  Our ‘regular’ student cadre consists of two purple belts, 5-6 blue belts, and a dozen or so various-striped white belts.  And of that core group, we never see anyone who wants to prove themselves.  Sure, we roll hard.  But nobody is there to hurt anyone.  Nobody is there to one day become the next UFC champion.  No one is there to play king of the mountain.  Everybody works hard, everybody learns, everybody is respectful, and we all walk away eager to return the next training session.

I’ll take my nearly-successful mounted guillotine choke with a smile.  I’ll learn from it.  Tomorrow night’s training is in gi, and I’ll be looking (hoping) to grab a collar or two.

In the mean time, let’s take care of each other.  Cheers!

Thanks Chewy!

Hey everyone.

I’ve had lots of travel, and little BJJ / Krav Maga training these past two weeks.  I consider it a big win if I manage to string a few ‘good eating’ days together while I’m away from home.  In the mean time…

I wanted to post a quick thanks to Nick Albin, aka Chewy, for participating in my recent blog poll, “What hurts after training?“.  Not only did Chewy join the conversation, but he uploaded a video describing three tools to ease the post-training aches and pains.  You can see it here:

I don’t know about you, but the foam roller is definitely in my future!

Chewy is the head instructor at Derby City Mixed Martial Arts in Louisville, KY.  His blog site is  Check it out when you can!  While you’re at it, check out his other videos – he’s a warrior!

Thanks Chewy!

Take care of one another.  Cheers.

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