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