Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Color Purple


I haven’t laid down a blog post in quite some time—primarily, because I’ve been in the throws of a lot of technical writing for a few consulting gigs that I’ve picked up. So, the last thing I want to do is associate something that feels like work with something that I love, that being Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; for the “Gentle Art” does mean so much to me. The mats have really been a source of refuge for me during some somewhat stressful times over the past few months.

My training has been going well, with a lot of attention being placed on making my guard more and more active. I feel like my closed guard, especially a high closed guard, has improved a bit. My open guard is still my most vulnerable position off my back. My half-guard has probably been my most improved position this year, and sometimes I slip to it just because I’m really getting comfortable playing sweeps and taking the back from this position.

A few days ago, I received a bit of a surprise. In the wake of this surprise, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, and really feel the sense of urgency to dial up my training even more. Professor Ricardo put a purple belt on me. Truth be told, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with my blue belt, and was thinking that maybe next summer I’d be in a position to start pondering the purple. But he disagreed with me, and told me it was time. I told him that it was “too early”, but he said “I know what I’m doing, Larry.” So he put it on me. I was pretty humbled by this. I started my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey a little over 4 years ago. It’s truly changed my life, and how I handle day to day issues off the mat. I owe so much to what this Martial Science has done for me, and I really want to represent its principles the best I can.

Right now, I think I’d get destroyed on the national competition scene, and I have a lot of growing to do to really grow into the belt, but I’m committed to making it happen. I’ve been pretty “happy go lucky” about my training over the past few months, and this promotion has really sobered me up to the reality that I have a lot of work to do.

I’ve heard it said that only 15% of people who begin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu actually make it to the purple belt. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I’m committed to upholding the standards of this belt to the best of my ability. I’ve got a pretty tough core group of guys who I train with, and guarantee them that they’ll get the best of the LTrain in 2011, and we’ll get better together. I’ll try to get another post or two in before the end of the year, but will take this opportunity to wish anyone who reads this post a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season.

With much respect,

Larry, the LTrain

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot Summer Training

My lack of blogging hasn’t been due to a lack of training. I’m making time for a minimum of four to five Jiu Jitsu classes per week and have been tearing it up with my man, Ulric most Sunday mornings, although we had to miss our session this morning due to Ulric’s work schedule. Ulric and I have unofficially formed the two man team, “Blind Jalapeño”, and have loosely kicked around a few T-Shirt designs—my favorite being a caricature of a jalapeño wearing sun glasses with a white cane! So, if we go ahead and do this, I’m expecting my Jiu Jitsu friends to show us a little bit of love and part with some coin and buy the damn T-shirt!

We've started 7:30 a.m. classes twice per week for our summer schedule. I must say that while it's tough to get to the gym, it's awesome to train hard in the morning and have the whole day ahead of me! Professor Ze is still down in Brazil sorting out a few things with his visa, and I must say that in his absence, Ricardo’s really beginning to change things up. We’re playing lots of open guard working on a number of sweeps and he’s also working us through a few different open guard passes. I’m still faced with that ever-growing challenge that keeps dogging me—that being my transitions between closed and open guards as well as tying my submissions together as I transition between these two guards. Sweeps are feeling better, and I’m using the Gi a bit more aggressively to create tension when my partner is either kneeling or standing. We played some open guard no-gi the other day and my game totally sucks without the Gi grips.

Ricardo showed a reverse scissors sweep that is very basic and can be taken even from the feet. The trick is to keep on your side and create tension on the same side Gi sleeve as you pick a side, use your same side leg to hook inside the same side as your partner while using your opposite leg to scissor the outside of the leg that is being hooked.

I’m actually planning to cash in on two private lessons that Ze owes me when he returns and we’ll be focusing specifically on tightening up the most glaring weakness in my Jiu Jitsu game. One exercise that I’ve been drilling from the feet that is helping me tremendously is working with Ulric where we take turns with one of us pulling guard while the other guy pushes for the takedown. This really gets tiring when you drill this for an extended amount of time, but it’s really been helping me to defend against a Jiu Jitsu guy who might want to pull guard as well as boosting my confidence in pulling guard if I feel that I can’t take down a Judo player or wrestler who has better takedowns than me.

I’m really starting to feel much more confident on the feet when wearing the Gi. I’ve been working a great deal on breaking my partner’s Gi grips and establishing more dominant grips. My takedowns have always been fairly decent, but I’m really trying to take them to another level with the Gi. When I go from the feet no-Gi, I feel pretty good on the feet. I wrestled in high school back in the State of Iowa when Dan Gable was every high school wrestler’s hero, but I can always improve these takedowns as well.

I have a pretty busy work schedule this week, but still aim to get a minimum of three to four sessions in along with my Sunday morning work-out in with Mr. Jalapeño.

With Much Respect
Larry, the LTrain

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting My Head Around the “100 kilos”

Firstly, June’s been pretty uneventful since my return from Vegas. Upon my departure, Gabriel Kitober undoubtedly gave me worst black belt beatdowns that I’ve ever had in my life—and I’ve rolled with a fair number of black belts. I mean, he really put it on me the last class I attended at Throw-Down MMA, and he laughed and provided color commentary in his broken, Brazilian English for the entire roll. My ribs and sternum were actually pretty sore for almost a week. I guess he lives by that adage that sometimes you gotta hurt the ones you love! Seriously, my time spent with him was great and his tweaks to my game have been paying dividends since I returned to Cleveland.

I’ve gotten a bit more aggressive with my open guard while recognizing the necessity for me to stay connected and stick to my gameplan when opening the guard.

This week we’re going over a series from side control that was the first series that I ever witnessed Ricardo teaching. Last Fall, when I wisely made the decision to visit RPBjJ he showed a series of side control positions based off of a position called the “100 kilos”. It’s a position perfected by his instructor, Aswaldo Alves, one of the pioneers of BJJ who is still based in Rio.

Some might say that this position is a “big man’s game”, but it’s really not—I’ve been around when 170 lb guys have tapped bigger guys just from the pressure of this position.

The “100 kilos” is established after passing the guard and moving to side control. It involves trapping both arms while placing the bone of your hip just beyond the guy’s sternum. You then keep your body straight and slide across the guy’s body whereby your bottom rib is driving into his diaphragm. If you do it properly, the guy is completely helpless, you are controlling him without even using your hands, and he can’t even speak. You can then use your hands to work a series of submissions.

This position is very “feel” oriented, which works great for me. This morning while training, it was if a light went off in my big head and I really began to feel the mechanics of this move. I feel like I got just a glimpse of what Rickson Gracie refers to as the “invisible Jiu Jitsu”. I need lots of work with this position, but I really dominated a couple of big guys with this position for I purposely worked it while rolling today. I’m so amped up about my progress with this position, for I like lots of arm-bars and shoulder locks from side control, and this “100 kilos” position plays right into guys putting themselves in immediate danger of being submitted.

I really wish I could explain how awful the position feels. Ricardo uses me as a dummy for much of the class—partly because I’m blind, but he also knows that I can take the pain. And when he lays that position on me it feels like I’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler that decides to stop right on top of me! It’s so nasty, man!!!!

Anyway, more work on this for the rest of the week, and then there’s the 4th of July weekend. I typically work a trade show for a couple of clients of mine over this holiday weekend, but not this year! So there’ll be much fun for the train this weekend, and then I really kick things into gear for July. I’m pondering doing a couple of fairly big tournaments this Fall—one of which is the “NO-Gi Pan-Ams” but much depends on my travel schedule and work load. But if I can swing it, I’d like to medal in one of these international events before I get too much older and beaten up to do so! Anyway, in the event that I don’t make another post this week, have an awesome, yet safe 4th of July, and amongst all the partying, remember what a wonderful country those of us in the US are fortunate enough to call our home and for all of those who have laid down their lives to make it happen for us!!!

With Much Respect

Larry, the LTrain

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Training in Las Vegas

(Note: Check out the photo of UFC fighters Matt Riddle, Mike Pile, and the LTrain horsing around after a no-gi work-out at “Throw Down MMA”!)

As some of you know, I’ve been in Vegas on business since last Tuesday. While the glits and glamour of Vegas isn’t my scene, it’s an awesome place to be if you enjoy training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, submission wrestling, or for that matter, any of the mixed martial arts. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve set up shop at “Throw Down MMA” where Gabriel Kitober, one of Ricardo Pires’ guys, another Aswaldo black belt runs the Jiu Jitsu and submission fighting program. I visited there back in January. Gabriel’s an awesome teacher, but I didn’t find the guys to really push me as much as they are doing now. Some of the guys have gotten better, and new guys have joined on. We’ve been experiencing 100+ temperatures for most of my stay here, and I have to tell you that this dry heat can really take a great deal out of you. The upside is that my diet here has been pretty good (aside from those awesome garlic fries last night!), and I’m feeling terrific! I trained very hard four times last week and am on pace to train another four times this week.

Gabriel has a really tight, mean game much like his instructor’s. He’s about my size—perhaps a bit leaner, and he’s been showing lots of basic ways to control via side mount as well as transitioning to the mount. He’s also tightened up my game as it relates to taking the arm-bar from side control, transitioning to the opposite arm for the arm-bar when the guy defends, and transitioning to the back when the arm is not a viable option.

We roll an average of four to five matches, and I’m enjoying rolling with the unfamiliar bodies in this gym. I’m faring pretty well, for the most part, but really got taken to the limit last night by a blue belt about my size who took the gold medal in the tournament sponsored by the UFC and Grapplers Quest (I believe) two weekends ago. He’s a tough guy, and an awesome training partner for the train. His name is Chance, and he’s becoming a friend as well.

Last Saturday, Gabriel went to California to take in the BJJ World Championships, so I used this opportunity to do something that I thought I would never have done a number of months ago. I went to visit Marc Laimon’s Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu. I was pretty turned off by Marc Laimon on the Ultimate Fighter season 4 TV show with all of the Gracie bashing, and really enjoyed Matt Serra talking him down in front of a room foul of fighters on one particular episode. However, as I’ve trained with more and more Jiu Jitsu players, I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to stay out of the politics of Jiu Jitsu and just focus on my own training. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Laimon’s school, and while he wasn’t there for this particular class, I had a great time training with his guys last Saturday. Some brown belt named Aqeel taught the class, and taught some really awesome back defense techniques. He showed us how to use our head to control the guy’s head who has our back by bridging back with our head under his chin. He also showed how to transition for the escape by placing our head on the mat next to our opponent’s head and turning into the guy. It was really helpful for me. He and a few of the purple belts made it clear when I arrived that they were pretty a tight-knit group and that I’d need to earn my props there. They really made me feel unwelcomed at first—it probably didn’t help that I went in there wearing Ricardo Pires gear, for Cobra Kai’s dislike for the Brazilians is well documented. But once we started training, they warmed up to me. All the guys were really tough and technical, and I really had a great time there. I may actually try to go back one more time, but really enjoy Gabriel’s teaching, so I’m a bit torn right now. But I would recommend Laimon’s school for anyone who doesn’t mind an old-school gym with a fairly rough group of guys who will push you to your limit. I must have made an OK impression there, for I was invited back at the end of class, and considering that they really gave me the cold shoulder at first, I feel pretty good about this invite.

Well, it’s a few more days here, and then back to Cleveland. I’ll jump back on this blog if anything else noteworthy happens this week. Until then, train hard and be safe.
With Much Respect,

Larry the LTrain

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Fantastic Idea!

While I really can’t directly benefit from this idea, it’s still a great one. A few days ago, Professor Pires had a live webcam at the Academy and had a live internet feed of the entire advanced class for Professor ZE and others to watch down in Brazil. He did this for the entire duration of the class and the technical training after class. The plan is for all RPBJJ students under contract to have a log-in to an Url that will give them on-line access to instruction when they can’t make it to class. I really think it’s a clever idea and a nice touch to an already excellent BJJ experience. These classes will not be recorded nor archived, but will be viewable as they occur. I’m often Ricardo’s demonstration dummy, so those of you who will have access to these live feeds can watch the LTrain get twisted and smashed quite often!

Well, it’s off to Las Vegas for me next week, for I have some business there. I’m looking forward to getting some good training in while I’m there. I’ll be spending most of my time training with Gabriel Kitober, one of Ricardo’s guys who runs the BjJ program at the Warrior Training Center, home to a number of UFC fighters; who knows, maybe I’ll tap one of them-smiles—if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know. I’ll also try to spice up the blog with some photos and videos while I’m there. Until then, have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

With Much Respect,

Larry, the LTrain

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feeling Better About My Open Guard

Quite often on Sundays I train with my training partner, Ulric. Ulric and I started training BJJ around the same time; he’s about 170 pounds—25 to 30 pounds lighter than yours truly, but is incredibly strong for his size, and has a very solid understanding of the BJJ game. We have access to a bit of private mat space where we drill whatever we feel we need to work on, and then roll a fair amount. Ulric also trains in Judo, so we spend a fair amount of time working takedowns, and he’s really helped me gain a better understanding of the importance of grip fighting and obtaining and maintaining dominant grips.

One aspect of my game that I’ve been focusing on while training with Ulric is my transitions from closed to open guard. When I joined RPBjJ, I had a somewhat OK understanding of both guards, but have been struggling with transitioning from closed to open guard when someone stands up in my guard to pass. Ricardo’s done an awesome job with helping me become more aggressive with my closed guard by controlling the guy’s posture and working towards either a sweep or submission. However, there are times when people get pretty far along when standing to pass my guard, and he even concedes that when this happens, switch to open guard.
Part of my problems with open guard are psychological because I can’t see my opponent, and I often freeze up, lose my open guard connection with my opponent, and either transition to half-guard (which isn’t the end of the world) or get my guard passed (which sucks!!!!) I’ve really been thinking about when to transition to either Della Riva or Spider Guard once a fair amount of tension is placed on my open guard. A few weeks ago we worked a series of sweeps from the Della Riva Guard, and the timing of these drills was fantastic for what I have been needing to improve.

Rule number one for me when transitioning to an open guard is to stay connected by maintaining a dominant grip on one of my opponent’s Gi sleeves while creating tension by stretching him out by placing one foot on the hip. This gives me room to slide in the Della Riva hook on the opposite side from the hip on which my foot is placed. About 15-18 months ago, I had a hard time putting this hook in, for my leg would cramp up for some reason. I think the added work on my flexibility bending my leg in this manner has paid off because I feel really strong with this hook and am able to really affect my opponent’s balance by moving him around. Maybe it’s also the extra bananas in the LTrain’s diet to up the potassium level-just call me “LTrain, the blind monkey-boy”—LOL!!!!!

My second strategy is to really create tension with this hook by turning my same side hip that has the hook towards my opponent’s leg. I also try to ensure that my butt is sitting practically on my opponent’s foot of the leg that is hooked; to be fair, I have to credit my prior coach’s instruction on this last detail to really being an important way for me to keep a tight connection when playing this guard.

There’s a number of sweeps that can happen from this position. Yesterday, when rolling with Ulric, I really shocked myself from hitting a sweep by this guard whereby I went to this guard when he stood up, trapped his leg and moved my far leg from his hip to behind his knee and completed the sweep. I actually thought he gave the sweep to me, but he assures me that he didn’t. Ulric’s got a great base, probably because of his Judo training, and I really surprised myself by transitioning so smoothly to this guard and hitting the sweep. To be sure, I really need to work harder on these transitions, but yesterday was a turning point for me where I plan to really open up these transitions and playing a much more aggressive open guard.

With Much Respect,

Larry, The LTrain

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Long Overdue!

Weight = 201 lbs—a tad bit heavy, but nothing too alarming!

I’ve been crazy busy with work and with training and this morning after training I realized that I’m falling back into my non-blogging ways!

A great deal has happened since my last post on April 8. For starters, I spent three weeks in Memphis Tennessee where I trained at Memphis BJJ, a Marcello Garcia affiliate. All the guys there were pretty tough, and while I didn’t really learn a great deal of new technique there, those guys really worked me out and made me feel at home. One of the most craziest things there were that a few guys brought there dogs there who just hung out while we trained!!!

I learned a very neat catch of an arm-bar from the standing position when your opponent hits the osotogari (pardon the misspelling). I felt good drilling it, but if the Judo guys who I know hit that throw on me, I’m not sure that I could hit that arm-bar in a straight match—it’s a traditional arm-bar once the throw is complete—you just elevate your hips and take the arm-bar while the guy is standing and moving to side control. Again, very cool—but I know how it feels to get drilled into the mat by good Judo players.

I want to thank Alex Shundi, a Marcello Brown Belt for giving me some awesome mat time and for my man, Pride Venceil for hooking me up with some rides to and from the gym! As I told you all before I left, you are all welcome to visit my BJJ home in Cleveland!!!

While I was gone I missed the OGC Tourney on April 24, and the superfight between J. T. Torres and Dustin Hazelet. Congrats to J. T. for finishing a solid BjJ Black Belt and UFC Vet.

A few of my BjJ friends brought to my attention a fair amount of propaganda being circulated about the circumstances surrounding J. T. Torres’ departure from Team RGDA so that he might join Team Lloyd Irvin. Well, oddly enough, Torres discusses his move to Team Lloyd Irvin Here on a Fightworks Podcast episode that aired in December, so this should put any questions about why he joined Team Lloyd Irvin to rest. From what I hear, this trend appears to be contagious, and it sounded like Irvin’s boys really cleaned house at that Tournament—not too surprising, for when world champions train together and impart their fighting spirit to their other teammates, that’s what happens.

As for me, I’m really trying to focus lately on grip fighting and working from the feet. I feel that I’m becoming more of a top guy when the chips are down, but I’m also forcing myself to play guard against guys who are better than me to round off my overall game. This past week we worked arm-bar and triangle defenses from the guard which was really good for me, for as I mentioned, if I can get the takedown and even land in some sort of guard, I need to play aggressive and pass, but do it safely.

We also worked a very cool takedown when the guy has double underhooks and the body lock. We create space with our hips and with the opposite arm from the side where one’s head is located, we lock up the arm, sit to the same side hip, and hook the guys opposite leg with the far foot sweeping him to one side and landing in side control. Again, it sounds harder than it is, and since this blog also serves as notes for me, I don’t expect it to make sense to you. I was trapping the wrong arm and botching the throw for the first two days of drilling this, but really got the throw down the rest of the week.

A last bit of news—it’s somewhat official and will be taking more full shape when Professor Ze returns from Brazil but Ricardo Pires Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is partnering with Evolve Sports Mixed Martial Arts in Medina whereby Ricardo and staff will be handling their MMA program with an emphasis on submission fighting. Go figure—Evolve now has access to a Jiu Jitsu player who has actually won professional MMA Fights (including bare knuckle Vale tudo contests in Brazil) and who has led fighters to UFC Gold! I think it’s a great fit for Evolve, and am excited that some of their guys are interested in putting on the Gi and visiting our school. I’m also looking forward to possibly picking up some wrestling classes from the Evolve staff. The one thing that I’ll say about the Evolve guys is that they’re definitely in shape—with the proper guidance and tutelage, some of these guys could possibly make a serious impact on both the regional and larger MMA circuits. I think you’ll see Ricardo bringing a few more black belts up from Brazil to make sure that everything is being handled in typical Ricardo fashion.

As for me, I’m around for one more week, and then off to Las Vegas for almost two weeks. I plan to train with one of Ricardo’s employees, black belt Gabriel Kitober, who I’ve trained with before—he’s awesome. I may also visit a couple of other places, but will set up home base with my man, Gabriel at the Warrior’s Training Center where Ricardo and crew run the grappling program in Vegas. I’ll definitely keep you posted, but will touch base before leaving for Vegas. Until then, train hard and train safe!

Respectfully Submitted By:
Larry, the LTrain

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Post-Tourney Update, and Update for the Week of April 5

Well, the Tournament in Mansfield went pretty well. It was pretty small, and had a number of tough wrestlers and MMA guys, but everybody was pretty cool at the Fight Farm Gym, where the event was held. We brought five guys down and walked away with five gold medals-AH SNAP!!! OK, maybe half a snap; it wasn’t that big of a tournament, but was a good venue for me to get my RPBJJ Competition Cherry popped, so to speak! Being coached by Ricardo is unlike any wrestling or BJJ coaching that I have ever experienced. The guy plays no favorites, throws himself headlong into coaching his students, and really does a hell of a job helping us all stick to our game plans. I think he was as tired as we were after it was all said and done. He coached me through a dicey situation in my second fight where I got thrown, became pretty pissed off about it, and almost got arm-barred for losing my cool, but he got “The Train” back on track and I ended up winning handily 8 to 2. I actually won all three of my matches, was happy about my work on the feet, minus being thrown, and was happy about control, establishing positions, and throwing up lots of submissions. It was my first entry into the advanced division and they combined my weight class with the one above mine, so I got to roll with a couple of big old boys out there! Again, we all had a great time; I actually beat two brothers (not black guys—real brothers—smiles) and they wanted a picture with me between them after the matches. I thought they might have had a bigger brother waiting for me, and got some laughs out of them.

Ricardo really chatted with me afterwards about what went well, and where to improve, and both he and Ze are taking an interest in curbing that ability I have to lose my cool and are teaching me how to mellow out (Brazilian style, I guess), relax, and play my game. I now see why Ricardo has coached BJJ world champs, and UFC veterans.

This week we focused a bit more on Judo, principles, foot trips, taking angles, and focusing more on breaking balance, and transitions rather than just worrying about one throw. We had Stew in from Baltimore. I actually don’t know his last name, but he’s a 3rd degree Judo black belt from Hawaii who also has a brown belt in BJJ. He’s a great guy, and once during a demonstration, he threw me harder and higher than I’ve been thrown in my entire life. I’ve been break-falling for years, but I hit the back of my head and the throw almost knocked me out. He spent some time with me Monday night focusing on using my entire body to break my opponent’s balance. Good stuff for the LTrain to work on!!!

On the ground, we focused on a number of chokes while controlling folks who are turtled up. I’m actually learning how to catch the crucifix off the turtle and finish with a Gi choke. If nothing else, that crucifix is a bad spot to get someone in, but I’m really feeling good about trapping the arm with my legs, controlling the opposite arm and rolling over my opposite shoulder to take the guy over.

Rolling was o.K. this week, except for today, I had a hard time working my half-guard offense with someone who is way bigger than me. Ze actually got a bit frustrated with me, and rightfully so. I just wasn’t getting my body to respond to what he was saying. Go figure.

I go to Memphis Tennessee for 3 weeks, and unfortunately will miss the Ohio Grappling Challenge on April 24. RPBjJ will be well represented, though, and I’m actually not happy that I won’t be with them. Ricardo really has his competition team geared up to win, and not accept anything else. Probably one of the stupidest things that I’ve ever heard a number of people say about BJJ tournaments is that “It doesn’t matter if I win or not.” Why the hell do the tournament then. Sure, everybody loses, but why spend the money and time preparing for the tournament if you don’t know in your heart that you can win it? I’m serious—I just don’t understand how such a shitty way of thinking has found it into the competition circles of some parts of the BJJ community. Ricardo wants no part of this, and we all know that if we lose, we lose, but we shouldn’t lose due to a lack of effort, and we should never tap just because are spirits are broken. “Keep fighting” is his mantra, and it’s actually catching fire with some of the more talented guys in the room.

I found a Marcello Garcia affiliate in Memphis where I’ll be training while I’m there. So I will get my dosage of Alliance BJJ which is cool by me. New perspectives, and new guys to train with. I’ll keep you all posted as to how it is going.

With Much Respect

Larry, the LTrain

Friday, April 2, 2010

Touching Base

(Weight: 195.6 DELICIOUS pounds!!!!—Delicious in a Neanderthal sort of way!)

Well, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. My trip to San Diego was crazy busy and the only evening I had free to go training, Saulo was leaving early, and I would have gotten to their school late. The same was true on the Fabio Santos front—I would have been an hour late to his class. The good news is that I’ve shed my 8 pounds of winter CHUB and feel great. I trained five times this week, and on the spur of the moment, have decided to go scrap in the no-Gi tournament tomorrow in Mansfield, about an hour away from here. We’re taking only about 7 guys down because it’s no-Gi. I still haven’t figured out people’s reservations to fight no-Gi. Maybe it’s because I wrestled in high school or something. I feel good, and we’ll see what happens. I checked the weight classes out two days ago and learned it was not standard BJJ weight classes, and that if I wanted to fight middle weight, I’d have to drop to 185 lbs. No thanks. I’ll just deal with some bigger guys this go-around. I’ve been training hard with guys who outweigh me between 30 and 130 pounds, so my body is conditioned for it.

This week, we focused a great deal on the tomianagi (pardon the misspelling) throw from the feet. The throw is executed by using the Gi grips to get your opponent to step back with his lead leg and change his stance. Place your opposite foot on his lead hip, grip the lapel of the lead hip side, grip behind the elbow of the Gi on he opposite side, (turn the wheel) towards the elbow side and sit to that side kicking in the opposite direction of the lapel. It’s actually easier than I described it. I learned this throw at a Judo school once where you sit straight back and use your leg to launch the guy over the top of your head, but I have always found that you can’t control guys very well when they hit the ground in this position.

On the ground we worked mount escapes, by connecting the knee to the elbow primarily and getting that knee inside the top guy’s knee to create space. A few different scenarios can happen from there, and I’m too tired to describe them all right now. Ricardo’s really into guys using technique and fighting like hell to get out of bad positions. We worked that a lot this week. It’s actually also helping me develop a better mount having these guys really working to escape my mount.

Well, enough babbling. I wish any Christian who might be reading this blog a very Blessed Easter, and I’ll get after it early next week on the blog front!

With Much Respect
Larry, the LTrain

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Touching Base, Before Heading To San Diego

(Weight: 198.5 SUCCULENT pounds)!!!

Alright, we can strike the “succulent” from the record, but a man can always dream!!!! I head to San Diego tomorrow for the entire week, and have a pretty jam packed schedule out there. But I think I’ll get to train a couple of times while I’m out there. I have to train! I feel too good not to train! I’m only a few pounds heavier than I need to be for “tourney shape”, as I like to call it. I’ve been feeling really healthy and focused the past four weeks, and I was commenting to a training partner of mine how Ricardo is really teaching me how to train hard, but smart. The end result is that I have days where I train extremely hard and other days where I keep up the intensity, but maybe focus more on technique verses hard rolling. I’ve been training with guys 40 to 100 lbs heavier than me, and have been rolling matches with them at a pretty stepped up pace, so my cardio feels really good.

I’m working a bit more on the feet to push my cardio even further, and, I’m stretching quite a bit to improve my flexibility. I’ve always been somewhat flexible, but I’m trying to up this a bit to round out my bottom game a bit more. I actually hit a half-guard sweep earlier today on a really solid “top guy”, and it was my commitment to flexibility that pulled it off.

We’ve been working a great deal on both maintain and escaping side control. Ricardo has a position termed “100 kilos” that when done properly is truly the closest thing to hell on earth that I’ve ever experienced!!! When he does it to me, I want to TAP just from the pressure of it! The position involves driving your hip into your opponent’s sternum and completely isolating their arms from being able to make a frame to escape. All kinds of Americana, Kimura, and arm bar submissions are available to the top guy from this position which plays well into my top game.
He’s also instilling in me the need to fight to get out from side control and either reverse the position or establish guard—this line of thinking is way different than how I was originally trained which was quite a bit more defensive from this position. No need to just “lay there” like a bitch wile the top guy runs out the clock!!! Now, I don’t stop and don’t quit until I’m out of there, and I am really focused on bringing pressure with solid technique from both side control and the mount.

So I head out to San Diego, and still don’t know where I will train. I’m looking for somewhere close to the Manchester Grand Hyatt which is near the old part of the City. Most of the Gracie Barra schools appear to be out of the City, so I’ll probably go with my GUT AND go visit Saulo & Xande Ribeiro's University of Jiu Jitsu. San Diego California. I’m also thinking of hitting Fabio Santos’ Academy as well. I’ll let you know how it goes, and who knows, maybe I’ll get a pic of Diego Sanchez teaching me how to do the ”YES!!!” cartwheel!!!” Have a safe week of training, my friends!

With Much Respect,

Larry, the LTrain

Monday, March 8, 2010

Training Recap for the Week of March 3

Hi folks,

Sorry that I’m a little late with this past week’s recap. In short, this week we primarily spent our time training positions from the half-guard. Half-guard has become a fairly offensive position for me, and while it’s not my first preference, (for I feel that I’m developing more into a top game player) I’ve worked pretty hard to shore up this position to where I can stay fairly safe and pull off some sweeps and submissions during live rolling when I play half-guard.

From the feet, we worked on pulling half-guard. I worked this position with a few people who have never drilled this before, and was very much aware of the need to really choose a hip to fall to when pulling half-guard, or any sort of guard from the feet. It was a good exercise for me, for we drilled it all week long, but I really don’t see myself using it for no-Gi very often at this stage. Not until I get a whole lot more comfortable with pulling half-guard without the Gi grips!

Regarding the ground, we worked two submissions and two sweeps. From taking the overhook on the top guy’s arm, we worked a Gi choke as well as an Uma-Plata. The Gi choke details were interesting, and Ricardo fixed a really bad habit I had acquired when trying to finish this choke. He showed how to really drop one’s shoulder of their choking arm to get deeper in the lapel when setting up this choke to finish. When the choke isn’t there, abandon ship and switch to the Uma-Plata (shoulder lock). Again, he showed a cool detail as to how to advance the bottom knee, thus making it easier to rotate one’s hips away and move toward finishing the shoulder lock. He also showed me privately a variation of this shoulder lock that one of his black belts, Cameron Diffley likes to use whereby rather than shifting to the Uma-Plata, you simply trap the near side shoulder with your top knee and rotate your hips clockwise towards the mat for the tap. I actually picked up on this rather quickly and really like it.

The sweeps were just reviews of two basic half-guard sweeps that requires your head to be on the top guy’s hip. One involves pinning the guys foot to his butt as you switch your legs on the bottom trapping the guy’s leg and pulling it towards you as you push into him. The other sweep is when the top guy bases out and takes the whizzer, nullifying your underhook; simply trap that arm by pinching your elbow tight and roll toward your opposite shoulder. In both instances, I find it’s imperative to control the top guy’s leg that you have in your half-guard, for there’s nothing more irritating to me than sweeping someone and ending up in their half-guard, so I’m really ensuring that I complete the pass.

Yesterday I trained privately with a buddy of mine, and we focused a great deal on grip fighting and working from the feet, an element that I feel is neglected in a lot of BJJ schools. If I’m not traveling for work and am healthy, I plan to compete next month, and my gameplan is to do a better job dictating how the fight goes by having a strong showing from the feet, regardless of whether I choose to pull guard or work for the takedown—the point is, I want the choice to be mine to make! I hope everyone’s weekend was good, and let’s all have a safe and fun week training!

Respectfully Submitted By:

Larry, the LTrain

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview With Royler Gracie

Just a short blog post to make you aware, if you are not already, that this week’s FightWorks Podcast feature interview is with none other than the world renown Royler Gracie. Click Here to download the entire 200th episode of this great resource and listen to the interview. No matter what my team affiliation may be, Royler will always be THE MAN! His commitment to “keeping it real” by personifying what Gracie Jiu Jitsu is makes him a true example for all of us to attempt to emulate his habits, techniques, and fighting spirit. Thanks, Royler, for all that you represent!

With Much Respect

Larry, the LTrain

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recap of This Week

Weight: 201.02 lbs (6 pounds heavier than I need to be—blame it on the awesome fish fry followed by the piece of carrot cake last night!)

It’s a mildly sad morning for “The Train” this morning, for due to inclement weather, RPBJJ staff did the responsible thing and cancelled class. The upside is that I got to sleep in and eat a less than healthy breakfast, but the downside is that my body feels really good, and I have all of this pent up energy! May have to settle for a good hard lift later this afternoon, but it’s not the same.

So, since I’m not training, I might as well be true to my new found blogging convictions and recap this past week of training. It all started last Sunday where my good friend Ulric and I had a private training session on some mat space that I have access to. Ulric’s a little smaller than me, but has amazing grips while going from the feet due to his background in Judo. So he gave me some pointers of achieving and maintaining dominant grips on the feet, and I showed him some defensive to, and passes for the Spider Guard that Ricardo had covered the prior week. The training session was Gi specific, and Ulric and I (as usual) had a very spirited “roll” to wrap up the training.

All this week, Ricardo focused on two throws from the feet and three positions for the guy in the top position of half-guard.

One thing that I love about the RPBjJ curriculum is that every class has a portion focused on throws from the feet, with the fundamentals class also focusing on self-defense. Yes, it’s true--Gracie Barra also believes in the importance of BJJ self-defense! He and Professor Ze (José Dias) spend about 15-20 minutes after our warm-ups working positions from the feet. Ze is especially proficient at teaching these positions due to his training in Judo. We worked both the “uchimata” and “osotogari”. I know I’m butchering the spelling of both throws, but both are set up from similar grip positions and I’m learning that the effectiveness of these throws are dependent upon:
1. One’s dominant grips
2. Breaking your opponents balance
3. Creating a “triangle” between your lead foot and your opponent’s other two feet
4. The actual footwork between stepping either between the opponent’s legs or toward the outside leg on which all of the opponent’s weight is placed.
5. Controlling the opponent when he hits the mat—Ricardo has a brutally vicious knee on belly which I can vouch for being his “dummy” as he teaches the rest of the class.

I’m feeling better with both throws, but I still need to really drill the footwork.

As for the top half-guard, he showed three submissions. One was a lapel choke when the guy playing half-guard tries to take your back. The other was an arm-in “DARS” choke using the Gi. A very cool detail that he showed was how to not just use the lapel, but reach over the guy’s head and use his Gi, or his belt for secondary leverage on the choke.

The third submission was a counter to the guy taking the Kimura from bottom half-guard. I already knew to trap the hip, and had been taught to stand up and turn this into an arm-bar. I learned a much simpler, quicker alternative than trying to stand up. Ricardo showed how to step your leg up closest to the guy’s face and use that leg to brace against the guy’s shoulder. You then trap his hip and the top arm going for the Kimura, break the grip, make sure your hands are locked, and rotate your shoulders towards the guy’s head. The end result is a very quick shoulder lock for the guy on bottom. Let me tell you that when done properly, it’s a quick tap.

I felt pretty good rolling, but need a few tougher rolls next week with some upper belts. I had a few of them, and I know that Ricardo mixes up the match-ups to give some of the new guys time with those of us who have trained a little longer, and I don’t mind this. But my knee, which has been bothering me for a few weeks, is feeling really good, and I really and up for charging hard in technical training this coming week.

Respectfully Submitted By:

Larry, The LTrain

Monday, February 22, 2010


Greetings! Greetings! And Thrice, greetings! Some of you have been inquiring of me privately as to “what’s up with the blog, or the lack thereof?” After a six month hiatus, the LTrain is back, totally reinvigorated and throwing himself full force into his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. So where have I been over the past six months. Well, a great deal has happened, not all of it good, but I’ve come out of the last six months a better man, and so much happier and more focused in my training, and in life in general. To cut to the chase, due to a variety of circumstances, I no longer am a part of team Evolution. I owe my introduction and foundation of my Jiu Jitsu training to the instruction I received from Team Evolution, as well as Professors David Adiv and Royler Gracie. No matter what has happened, Professors David Adiv and Royler Gracie Jiu Jitsu has left an indelible mark upon my life, and I will always have a high degree of appreciation for what Team Evolution and Team RGDA has done for me.

Having said all of that, “all’s well” does not always “end well”. Last May, I was asked to assist with actually running the Team Evolution Business, and in theory, I was a 20% owner of the school; I’ll spare the details as to how this came about so as not to bore the reader. Suffice to say, in early October I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to continue to assist with running Team Evolution business, for I had become extremely uncomfortable with most of the Team Evolution business practices that were driving the overall welfare of the school. On January 3, 2010 I submitted my long overdue resignation and forfeited my 20% ownership of Team Evolution. I tried to continue to train at Team Evolution, but irreconcilable personality differences between me and my coach which were born out of a business relationship came to a head on January 31, which was, and will forever be, my last day training on a Team Evolution mat. I have no regrets over the past 3.5 years, except that I didn’t man up” and cut all ties back in October, for that would have been the right thing to do for me. But I put the needs of my business partners and my teammates before my own needs, and let’s just say that my own training began to suffer simply because I didn’t make a hard, yet wise decision back in October.

But as I have said, I am training hard once again, and have a new home. Allow me to introduce you to Ricardo Pires Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I began to train with Professor Pires about once or twice a week back in September. Why did I do this? Because I guess I wanted to “hedge my bets”, and ensure that I always had a place where I can train and call my BJJ home. As it turns out, it was a smart move, for I’m training with him full time and loving it! While I’m still in the “feeling out process” with many of my training partners, RPBJJ has amassed a number of blue, purple, brown, and black belts that I’m beginning to click with , and Professors Pires and Jose Dias, are taking my BJJ foundation and beginning to not only shore up the many holes in my game, but actually are interacting with me on developing a BJJ style conducive to my strengths while addressing my glaring weaknesses. At RPBjJ, I have access to:
1. A clean, state-of-the-art facility to train.
2. A lead Professor who is a black belt multi-time world champion who has trained longer than my previous coach has been alive.
3. Access to two, and sometimes 3 top level black belts on the mat to roll with me and give me different, equally helpful perspectives on my BJJ game.
4. Exposure to both self-defense as well as sport aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
5. A willingness by RPBJJ to allow me to cross promote my own business with his clientele and visa-versa. I’ll do all I can to promote RPBJJ as well.

The level of professionalism coupled with my desire to learn under the guidance of Professors Pires and Dias has made this an awesome move for me. While I do miss some of my former training partners, I gladly take three public busses each way to train with RPBJJ and will do everything in my power to be the best training partner for the RPBjJ Team who is a proud member of Gracie Barra. Some will criticize my decision to train at RPBJJ. Let me tell you that I exhausted all efforts to continue with Team Evolution, but I couldn’t do it for reasons which I don’t need to put in writing. A few may accuse me of training at RPBJJ because i'm "chasing a belt". I had a private discussion with Professor Pires about this, and he knows that I'm not looking for any hand-outs or fast promotions, and he now knows that I know that "slow and steady wins the black belt race".

The end result is that I now have a coach who I enjoy learning from, and who has taken an interest in me learning a Martial Art that he has practiced for over three decades. I look forward to sharing with those of you who care to follow this blog my continual journey studying “the gentle art” under Professor Pires.

I’ve also been traveling a fair amount, so look for posts about my adventures and learning in other BJJ Academies around the country.

Again, it feels great to be blogging again, and for those of you interested, check out the link To RPBJJ which I provided above, and come by and join us and decide for yourself if RPBJJ is for you.

With Much Respect,

Larry, The LTrain