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