Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bring the noise!

So this is my last post before Christmas. I’ll start with this week’s news.

Firstly a big CONGRATULATIONS to Neil and his wife Jen on the birth of their Daughter! Really chuffed for you mate. Enjoy the ride and the months of sleepless nights! It really is the greatest privilege ever to be bestowed on a person.

On Sunday, having had limited training last week and also looking forward to this, I went along to Tonbridge on Sunday.. I’m not sure what they put into the water over that way, but there seemed to be a lot of big guys down there at the moment! Anyway, Muttley kicked off the session in typical Carlson’s style with a hellish phys session. After what seemed like an age of “duck walking”, my legs had all but given up on me.

A bit of practise on breaking guard – this is where you really see the focus on basics being sooo fundamental. It was winner stays on and I was on my back. My objective – keep guard and/or sweep/submit the opponent. I was there forever, choking, sweeping and just holding guard all day – all on my terms. This sounds big headed, but at one point I just felt like there was little point in me being in that position any more and I let one guy pass just to be able to switch up. There was a certain pleasure in doing this – all on my terms. I’m not telling you this to come across as arrogant, I’m just really chuffed that in this session, I had so much control over my opponents that I was able to dictate how the game went – a far cry from rolling with Si and Dean!

We then went on to some positional stuff from cross side – winner stays on again . I started off on the bottom. Cross side is so hard, but all the training paid off – I was escaping very easily, rolling guys off, scooting out, the works – really chuffed. The objective for the guy on top was to mount or submit. There was one guy – clearly a very powerful chap who seemed to have missed this point and just laid on top of me with some kind of headlock/facebar combo. I’m not sure if he was just trying to stay secure in cross side or thought that he was executing a submission, but he just lay there squeezing my head. It was pretty uncomfortable to be sure and I’ve now got a nice “Cheesegrater” effect on one cheek from his Gi, but, man, I ain’t goin’ out like that! Squeeze all you want big boy, but unless it’s breaking something or choking me, I ain’t tapping. I worked on the back of his elbow and the harder he squeezed the easier it was to just pop his arm off and I came out the back and took his back. Easy. Don’t get me wrong – he was a really nice guy but he was either quite inexperienced or over confident in his strength.

We then did some rolling, but this was with the objective of scoring ten points under tournament rules before you could submit your opponent. This was really interesting. I’ve said before that the guys at Carlson’s do well in tournaments and they train very hard for them and this showed in this drill. The guy I rolled with (a blue belt) was all over me – cross side, knee on stomach, mount, cross side – he soon racked up his points and there was little I could do about it. Just as I was about to deal with one position, he was on to his next. Very fluid. However, and here is the major difference with how I’ve trained to date – at no time was there any actual threat to me – it was all about the positions. It’s actually pretty hard to do anything to an opponent who is not doing anything to you except scoring points. Once the submission game kicked in, it was a different story. He tried to take my back and I bridged out of it (the drill we’d trained a week or two ago) drove into him, managed to take his back, hooks in and tapped him out with a Gi choke. And herein lies the difference with competition Jiu Jitsu. Give me some gaps, mistakes, overbalances, an arm or whatever and I can turn it around and get my submission – a submission cancels out any points anyone scores, but my worry, as with the tournament I entered, is that if the opponent plays an “anti” Jiu Jitsu game and just scores points all day, I could effectively lose without having been threatened once. Is that right? Dem’s da rules, but it just doesn’t feel like real Jiu Jitsu to me.

Rolling with Dave (main guy at Tonbridge - Blue Belt) was a different story and I think expresses his understanding of combat and Jiu Jitsu clearly. He was able to score his points with ease. I did get a few points, probably due to my size advantage but Dave was easily out-manoeuvring me. He was also able to translate his dominance into a submission when the time came and was very adaptable in his execution. It felt entirely different – like he was in total control, could take his points at leisure and still get his submission in a controlled fashion when he chose. There’s a huge difference in skill here. To be able to get a dominant position and hold it without making any threat of a submission is actually pretty easy, regardless of your level. I’ve seen white belts hold cross side forever with a mix of weight, strength and tenacity – very little skill involved in that.

I’m not meaning to be judgemental – each person will take Jiu Jitsu in his or her own way and make a style unique to his/her attributes. That’s how it should be. It’s just that I judge my ability on being able to gain dominant position, maintain it and then submit. It has to work that way for me otherwise there’s little to be gained in my opinion.

Anyway, some good food for thought, a confidence boost, and a hellish workout. As always, thanks guys. I suspect I may be training at Tonbridge a whole lot more in 08, and I look forward to it – have a great Christmas guys and lots of success in 2008! Oss!

Wednesday was our last session of the year, but much like any other – just me, Si and Dean. We just rolled in rotation in 5 minute bouts. I rolled with mixed success, holding out sometimes, tapped very quickly others, but I did pull off a few escapes that I was very happy with – much better movement and far more of a “plan” behind what I was doing. I think mindset has a lot to do with it. Certainly my “successes” at Tonbridge helped me to realise that I’m not doing all that bad and this confidence is a great help in feeling like you can do stuff, that you do have options. I was mainly tapped with armbars and kimura’s and I knew they were coming – I’m leaving my arms all over the place – something I need to be more aware of.

In my last roll of the evening, Dean told me to take my belt of and he gave me his blue belt to wear (only just fitted!). He said it was for the effort and commitment I’ve given this year – a really kind gesture and one that I appreciated. It was also a timely reminder of the goals that I’ve set myself. Cheers mate. None of the belt’s “power” rubbed off on me though – maybe the batteries needed replacing, as Dean tapped me out three times in five minutes, giving me one of his running commentaries as we were rolling. He was, as we say, “bringing the noise”…except that the noise was literal and carried noxious gas right in my ear! Ahhh…the perfect end to another BJJ year! LOL :D.

So, 2007. I’ve come a long way this year. My Jiu Jitsu is far better and my understanding is far improved. I have a clear vision of what I want and what I need to do to get there and most of that is due to Simon and Big Dean. A HUGE thanks to you both for your time, patience and friendship – it’s been a pleasure. Thanks also to Rick. His observations have been well timed and incisive and have mad a big contribution to my learning this year. Thanks to all the guys I’ve trained with. Despite my rantings, it’s all been good.

What does 2008 hold? We’ll see. I’ve got my eye on a few tournaments, I need to keep on with the fitness, lose more weight and just keep training and trying to learn and improve. With regards to the club…? I have no clue. We’ll meet up in the new year and decide. I think we’d all like to keep meeting up but the problem is where, when and how often? Still, all that’s a decision for another year.

Merry Christmas to anyone reading this.

All the best ,


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