Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Night Workout.... and San Miguel Beer

So, it was a rather slow night, I stopped by Seattle Jujutsu for my Monday Night Workout. Tonight there were 5 of us and a visitor. It was quite an intimate class. Started with doing light uchikomi.

The standing technique was a variation of the body drop or valley drop from an ankle block? This one passed by me through a haze. I need to review the technique as I have a vague understanding of this. It was a cool technique when done right. I just need to review it again that's all...

Then we went onto newaza. It was back to basics night and we went over the kesa gatame hold. It's amazing how bad habits develop over time, and it was a good night to go over the basics. First of all in kesa gatame you want to be a bit more forward and lift your opponent's shoulder off the mat. Secondly there must be constant rib to rib pressure. It must not feel comfortable. My leg position needed to be a bit more forward. My inside hip has to be forward, and not only that with contact with the mat. It's important that I maintain pressure.
I pulled this photo from

In this picture I was actually doing it like that. To improve it you must reduce the space and make it tighter and be more forward with greater pressure.

We then worked on juji-gatame from the scarf hold while maintaining pressure during the transition. As always the key is maintaining pressure on the head. From a Kesa you can go to a jujigatame near side or far side. We practiced both that night.

And as always, Aaron broke down the bio-mechanics of the juji-gatame. It's important that you have control of the shoulder for the juji gatame to work. Basically, isolate the joint that is the next joint up from the joint that you are trying to lock. Once isolated, then you can apply with great control and precision the lock you are trying to achieve.

We then proceeded to go into randori trying to eventually trying to get a juji-gatame with the principles shown. One of the things learned tonight was flow. Just flow with it. Roll, roll, roll to wherever direction your opponent is taking you and that the armbar keeps on working. As always maintain control of the shoulder, roll where you need to be and you should all be good.

I did get an armlock last night using my legs, which was pretty cool. Seen it done a few times, and haven't really practiced it as much, but the opportunity presented itself, and so I took it.

Brad brought in some San Miguel Beer last night and it was good to actually drink some San Miguel after practice and chew the cud.

Sunday Night Open Mat... and fresh baked cookies.

So I stopped by Sunday Night at Seattle Jujutsu. Matt and Lana were running open mat. There were a few observers with some people from the club coming back with a visitor or two. There were perhaps 8-10 people in the club that night. The night's open mat was just newaza randori.

Things I was working on:

1. Passing the Guard
a. Guard Using the knee to the half guard then from the half guard to a scarf hold (Kesa Gatame) or shoulder hold (Kata Gatame). Relatively successful.
b. Guard passes using an arm to get underneath one leg. Bad Idea, very prone to triangle choke (Sankaku Jime) or straight arm bar (juji gatame). I'll make sure to scratch this off the list, as it did work sometimes, the bad thing about it is that I'll be prone to arm bars or triangles. I think I'll just chalk this up to bad haits, and probably worked because of my opponents most likely using the guard as a delaying tactic, as opposed to the guard as an attack position.
c. Keeping myself posted up, and keeping my arms out of reach to prevent armbars.
d. Defending against sweeps. Have to lookout for sweeps.

2. Reversals.
a. I executed a few reversals, mainly by bridging or shrimping.

3. Hadaka Jime (Rear Naked Choke)
a. I worked on this but, I have a hard time in getting the arm and the right angle.
b. I managed to get on my opponents back, bring him backwards, and executing control. I just have to work on the final aspects of the choke. I do have control on rolling someone so that they're back is to me and execute control. The hard thing is to actually fish in there to get the choke, but usually the opponent tries to fight the arm going around their neck.

4. Positional adjustments.
a. I was doing okay in getting the initial position, and I'm quite strong in position, going from a scarf to a shoulder to a north south and a side hold. I just have to maintain pressure, and at the same time, slowly attack to get a bent armlock (ude garami). From a pin (oseakomi), I only know submissions from the side hold (yoko shiho gatame); and consequently, I'd hate to give up my strongest pin (north-south) to a side pin to execute a bent armlock. Or I could attack and go post his shoulder up and then execute a straight armlock (juji gatame).

Overall it was a fun night at open mat, and there are some things I'm working on in newaza mainly, guard passes. A lot of people keep a closed guard, some people keep a relatively open guard and others keep a butterfly guard.

I have decent pins, and for me, easier to execute than the more technical submission. As an oseakomi for 25 seconds will get you an ippon; consequently the pins are hard to break from, and I just have a habit of stopping at a good pin. Now the bad thing, is that I'm not that good in transition from a pin to a pin. The transitional pin and mobility is where I need to work on. And it's a good habit, as I look "beyond" a pin and look for a submission. I think this thinking opens up a whole array of options. Now that I think about it, I'm actually starting to connect what Bert from the Budokan told me about the "weave." The "Weave" is to go for a pin, go for an armbar, go for a pin then back to an armbar or armlock..... and the key is transition from attack, to attack, to attack, to attack... And to attack from different angles... Wow. I finally made a connection. He's been saying do the "Weave" for over a year now, and I finally get it.

I think that stepping back and looking at things from a "generic" grappling standpoint is good. Looking through things in a context of rules is quite myopic. As always, competition rules change. However the big picture is to maintain control, and not only just control to maintain the status quo, but control to push things forward. And that's the big picture, always look ahead.

And Sarah stopped by the dojo to visit and dropped off some cookies! Fresh baked. Wow. Eating freshbaked cookies after a workout is just plain delicious. Yummy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicken Wing! And no, not the KFC Wings...

... I love KFC Wings. They have this new $ 5 dollar fill up box, and you can get lots of wings. I just love wing places in general and there are some really really cool places where you can get wings. There's the wing dome, and of course the infamous Jersey Shore Wing place with the Nuclear Wings where you have to sign a waiver to eat the wings. I ate those wings, and never again will I do it again. That was more painful than being peppered sprayed. (Yes, I have been pepper sprayed before, and you get this nifty certificate that you keep in your training folder). As hot wings coming in was hot, but more importantly was HOT COMING OUT! That's all I have to say about that...

Wow, all that wall of text of digression. Now to the training part of the night, was:

1. Control the head.
2. Grab a hold of the wrist.
3. Get a key-lock.
4. Get a chicken wing.
Option A: Use wing to roll opponent so that they end up in a triangle pin.
Option B: Use wing to roll opponent the other way, pivoting ending in a cross body hold.

The chicken wing was highly effective, although it's effectiveness is determined by control of the head. If you lose control of the head then you lose the technique and they can simply (gasp) sit up, and the position is reversed, and they have your arm and shoulder. So as always, control the head, and the body follows.

Funny thing, today after I was reading this, I read the Growing Judo 2009 August Issue, and well, that was the technique of the month. Actually the USJA publication actually explains it better with pictures! Take a look it starts at page 5.

That's about it, the rest of the night was spent doing randori both newaza and stand up. I have to work on placement of my feet and balance, as I was horribly prone to foot sweeps. UGGH.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Casual Friday .... the martial arts apparel blog entry!

Hmmmnnn, adventures in washing your gi. So, I have sprawled across three chairs, three stinky gis. I have to get washed, and haven't. I know it's bad. I only have one Gi left that is clean and hanging in my closet, and it's my competition blue gi. I just used my competition white gi Thursday night.

And yet again, everytime, I break out my white gi, I get blood on them. It was funny, one of my friends, Ferdinand, told me, I never see you in your white gi. Well, for good reason. It usually gets blood on it. I don't know why, it just is. Anyways, it's usually minor and not that much, mostly from random cuts on fingers, nose, or lip. Usually we stop and say yeah someone's bleeding. And tape it up, use distilled bleach or peroxide for clean up and call it good. I usually don't get blood on my blue gis.

So, looking into my martial arts closet, I have 2 white gis (1 double weave for competition, 1 single weave for dojo use only), 2 blue gis (1 double weave for competiton -shrunk to fit/within regulation, and 1 double weave that needs to shrink some more) and 1 ASA Kurtka for sambo. I use my Kurtka now and again. It's great for training in the summer as it is a lighter weight and the best thing is wearing shorts with them. Of course with all this stuff comes compression shorts and rash guards to round out the equation and my very valuable mouthguard. Which I tend to misplace during times when I most likely and definitely need them, such as practice involving dozens and dozens of throws in a night, or my last competition, where my mouthguard went MIA just before the fight.

And of course gis cost roughly a hundred bucks or so (and I'm rather cheap, some gis cost 200 and really high end tailored one cost 300 bucks.) I get mine at Hatashita Sports You can talk to the lady on the phone, size you up. You can order half sizes and have a split order of pants and gi tops. The split sizes are cool, my last order was a 5 top with a 4.5 bottom. I think I can move down to 4.5 top and a 4.0 bottom. I have the Fuji Double Weave. It's cheaper than Mizuno, fits me okay, and for my purposes suits me well. For the Sambo Kurtka I got mine from the American Sambo Association (ASA). They are pretty cool and I heard they are getting some new kurtkas from Bulgaria.

Now the funny thing about the gi pants is that they usually end up too long. I don't know what universe the gi pant model is from, but the majority of people practicing this sport are fairly stout and usually on most occassions don't have a runner's build. I need to shrink it down in the dryer on high heat several times to get it down to size. Then again, I could just go to a seamstress and get it rehemmed. Also, those annoying gi pants waiststring, how the center migrates or how you can sometimes lose one end of the string. Those gi pants waiststring never seems to stay put, and heaven forbid you lose one end into the pants, trying to fish that out is a royal pain.

For the other stuff, I just get my rash guards and compression shorts from Under Armour although pricey, gets the job done.

But grappling is an affordable sport. You just invest in some good gis and you can use it for a couple of years. Besides, you just end up building your gi collection little by little and it's more of a necessity really. I plan on training at least 2 days a week, at most 5 days, and usually hit it 3-4 times a week. Getting your gi washed/dried and ready for the next day takes time, as it takes around 2 hours to get a gi dry, usually have to run it twice in the dryer on high heat twice. And of course washing machines/dryers don't usually like gis as they are fairly heavy, and amazingly heavy when wet. So if you are quite busy, you'll end up running through 2-3 gis a week.

I started with a generic single weave white gi, and I still have that that I break out on occassion for dojo use. This one is good, and is lightweight enough that you can use it for most martial arts. It's sometimes fun to try out some other martial arts, and just having a white gi with your white belt allows you to do that. Oh and that is why, it's good to have one with no patches. We don't need no stinkin' patches! That way you can fit in and use it for other things....

And for training camps.. well thats when you need to bring some more gis as the last thing you want to do is to roll with someone with a stinky gi. And of course, that is one cardinal rule about grappling. BE CLEAN. If I had a hard sweaty day at work, I shower before I practice. My old roommate always puzzled about this. She said, "You're going to work out and you are taking a shower before?" I replied, "Why yes, I'd like to be clean for working out and I'm sure my training partners are doing the same thing. " She said, "so is it like a date?" I said, "no, it's just in practice you end up with close body to body contact.... ." She said, "Well it is like dating then... good dates end with body to body contact..." I said, "Only if it's a good date..."

Oh and I went to practice twice this week. Once at Seattle Jujutsu Monday and Thursday at the Budokan. It was good. I forget what I did. It was sooo busy this week. I'm tired. I actually fell asleep at 7PM on a friday night, hence the reason I'm awake at 1 in the morning. Practice was more of the same. I was noticing that my endurance is slowly getting better. My left ankle still bothers me. And that there was a funny post workout incident involving dancing...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frequent Flyer Miles

Today's practice at the Budokan was all about throws. Lots of it. Figures, the day I can't find my mouthpiece is the day that we do dozens and dozens of throws.

After the normal warmups, we go through uchikomis where we practice our different throws. I was working on tai o toshi which, I desperately need work on.

Anyways, after the uchikomi we alternate throwing each other 20 times for a couple of times.

After that we get grouped in threes. On the sparring square, one each end, and a person in the middle. Then you go through a round of speed throws. Just attack, and throw one side, run to the other, attack and throw. You throw from the grip. Attack, throw, attack, throw, attack, throw.

You'd think that being in the middle would be fun since you are the thrower, but after a dozen or so throws, running from one side of the mat to the other gets tiring. You start out with nice beautiful throws like seio or ogoshi, uchi-mata, sode tsurikomi gosh.... Then you go to the more simpler foot sweeps as you run out of steam. Just getting up was an exercise.

Anyways, getting thrown lots was a different experience. I mean lots. And throwing lots. It was a good practice, as it lets you finish you're attack. Just the execution of it all. It was tiring and I was beat. That was one of the rougher practices I've been to. Overall, I think I've accumulated some air time that night...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barbecue at Ravenna Park.

So had a barbecue at Ravenna Park with some good friends from the club. There were some delicious food. Very very healthy.

It was a beautiful day to hang out. Of course, there was practice afterwards. The fact that I ate half a burger, a stout, tabouli, couscous, chips and kebabs. Needless to say, this was not really a recipe for success for practice.

Um practice was mostly open mat, with a lot of uchikomis. Then some gripping drills and then did a clockwork mat drill. It was just good to get an easy day workout.

I've been tired as of late. I helped a friend bring shingles up a roof. Two pallets full. Each pack of shingle is 70 lbs. or so. I moved 60 packs, for a total of 4200 lbs. of shingles.

I digress. It was a nice day to just rest a bit, as I was still sore.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Foot Sweeps, sticky foot... Arm Locks and chicken wings...

It's Sea Fair weekend in Seattle. It's been wicked hot as of late. And I think all Seattle-ites are not used to the hot weather, myself being one of them. Now if we were in Texas or Death Valley, yeah that's one thing, but this hot beautiful weather is just amazing. Not quite yet acclimatized to it, but nevertheless, went down to practice Sunday Night.

I was rather early, so I spent some time hanging out at Cowen Park. Which is a park catty-corner between Green Lake Park and the U-District. There's lots to see and it was a nice shady place to feel the grass underneath you. I remained rather cool and just chilled out at the park. I was enjoying myself, then headed to the dojo for practice.

The usual warm ups, then practiced deashi-barai.

I always had trouble with foot sweeps, as I usually don't keep my feet straight and I usually don't power through with my hip. It is one of those things that I'm not too good at, as this technique requires timing. I'm not in tune with timing. It's a good attack and one to prep for another technique. In order for it to work as a preparatory technique one must commit to it. I also have commitment issues, but that's another story altogether. Then there's the technique of the "sticky foot" which Lana showed me, and which I have seen previously, but haven't permeated deep down to my subconscious. I need to practice this more.

After the foot sweeps we went to the arm lock portion of the night, and worked on the major variations of ude-garami also known as a kimura for those who practice BJJ. There are many many variations of ude garami, the main point being is the immobilization of the shoulder joint so that you can torque the elbow joint. Unlike the juji where it's a straight arm lock, the ude garami is bent and is more of a torquing motion. It's amazing as to how many different ways you can apply ude garami, with Aaron showing many of the ways.

Here's some more info on Ude Garami:

The thing is like anything else, you have to isolate the joint, and immobilize the joint further up the body. Meaning, for any arm lock you immobilize the shoulder, and then apply the arm lock. Same thing with leg locks. Immobilize the hip, then apply the knee bar/lock. For ankle locks, immobilize the knee, apply the ankle/heel hook. I guess it's all about human anatomy. I should take an anatomy and physiology class, as a lot of the principles is bio-mechanics.

The last part of the night was newaza randori. It was a good one, as I was getting to be in better shape, true that my technique may be less than perfect, but I found I was quite resilient last night. Going into the second hour of working out you start learning the efficient use of burst energy, when to apply it, and well how to most efficiently leverage your strength against your opponent. For some reason the dull aches and pains of prolonged activity, spurs the deep recesses of your mind for the most efficient use of limited resources.

Perhaps, is this what they really mean all along about one of the tenets of judo about maximum efficiency? Seriously, is it only after pushing yourself to your physical limits do you start learning about efficiency. And when pushed, your limits grow larger, where limits are simply places where you haven't gone before, but can?

Anyways, it was good working in newaza and had a good solid time working through different body positions. I'm still weak in my guard position, and learning through trial and error the different ways to pass guard without getting arm locked. Ah, forgot to pass on the key focus on last night's newaza, and that was try for an ude-garami submission. And there are many ways to achieve this. The best randori partner for the night was Greg, who was visiting from out of town. He had some excellent techniques from the guard position and it was quite an amazing thing to work with him.

So that was that. I was tired and I spent the night after I came home icing my left shoulder, more of a precautionary measure. As I tend to lead with my left most times. For some reason, even though I'm right handed, I've developed this amazing grip with the left hand. Well mostly because, a lot of judo players are right handed and usually don't mind it too much if you achieve a left lapel grip. I usually like to grab the crease of the left upper shoulder of the gi, as it lets me have more control, and you can usually get a good chunk of gi cloth. Consequently, even in newaza I tend to use my left hand more to probe my opponents defenses. Hence sometimes, my left arm sometimes gets trapped, leading to an ude garami.

Anyways, it was a fun night. I'm tired.