Sunday, 27 January 2008

Let's get it on!

I gotta lot of catching up to do so here goes…

Monday last week there were five of us. I wanted to work on going round open guard so Little Dean showed a few variations that he’s seen lately. These all worked pretty well and I remember elements of them, but here’s the rub with not keeping up with the blogging – I’ll need to revisit these sometime. He also showed us a drill which was great for just working movement – omoplata to triangle to armbar. You need to work with your partner to make it work, but it’s a drill, not a contest – just trying to keep the movements flowing. Really good for a warm up – might try and get a film clip of it up soon. We had a little bit of rolling at the end – usual story – nothing significant to report.

Except....that is....a bizarre conversation about what super power you'd have if you could pick one. Without being too graphic, one of our number (he shall remain nameless!) chose the ability to freeze time and re arrange things, then start time up again. He must've had some bastard teachers at school because he went off on a tangent about freezing time, putting teachers into comprimising positions and taking photos of the evidence. It was just far too detailed to have been an impromptu thought - a whole lot of repression there if you ask me...scary! I am frequently left dumbstruck by the direction our conversation takes at times.

Dean T had scheduled to teach on Thursday this week, and due to domestic arrangements I had to choose between Weds or Thurs, so Thursday it was. We covered a lot of ground, so here’s a quick summary. (1) Escape from omoplata – rolling into the opponent. (2) Escape from armbar – 3 variations all involving disrupting opponent’s base (3) 3 variations from opponent taking back- 1 escape from position – 2 escapes from chokes (gi choke and Rear Naked). It’s a whole lot to remember, but the principles for all of it was the same: move as you are attacked to either the escape, or to disrupt you opponent’s base. These principles are essential to just about every technique – move to late and you’ll have to fight for what you want – timing and sensitivity are everything. No time for rolling this session, but my mind was working overtime to store all I’d seen. We did just finish of with a sensitivity drill – one person making a move, the other just exploiting the movement to off-balance the opponent – a really useful thing to do and something I’ll aim to do more of.

On reflection, I also felt I picked up the value of small movements rather than big bold attempts at techniques, particularly in the armbar escape drills – 10% this way, 20% that way, 30% this way, 40% that way and so on rather than 100% that way and then fail.

All in all a good session.

Onto the main event of the week - UFC 80: Rapid Fire!!!

Big Dean had arranged for a few of us to go and see UFC 80 in Newcastle. I took the opportunity to blend the event with a visit to the in-laws so drove up on Friday, whilst the rest of the guys flew up Friday night. Sounds like I got the better end of the deal as they were all delayed getting away from Heathrow following the crash landing there the day before.

I arranged to meet the guys Saturday afternoon in Newcastle, so we met up (Me, Big Dean, Mike, Si, and Dean's mates Mick and Robbie) and had a few beers. After a short detour for the guys to spruce up we headed to the Metro arena - a decent sized venue.

Once inside we had seats about 30 meteres away from the Octagon and I was impressed by the set up - big screens, great lighting and a good buzz of expectation. The crowd was pretty mixed crowd - nerds, guys that train and know their stuff and a spattering of steroid abusers posturing their way to the bar, but all in all a good atmosphere.

The early fights were pretty good- most notably Paul Taylor V Paul Kelly (a unanimous decision to Kelly) - two British scrappers embroiled in a war of attrition - great stuff. Some other notable fights with surprise outcomes were Jess Liaudin losing by TKO (a sweet punch straight on the jaw - out before he hit the mat), Kendall Grove losing by TKO to a couple of punches that sent his pupils wide like black holes, Gabriel Gonzaga losing by TKO to Farbricio Werdum and also a very quick win by Antoni Hardonk over Colin Robinson (TKO within 1st 30 seconds of round 1). Hardonk's win is notable to this blog since he carries a Rickson Blue Belt and was proudly sporting Rickson's logo on his fight shorts - a proud moment for us all!

And the main event - the interim World Lightweight Championship bout between legendary BJ Penn and Joe "Daddy" Stevenson. Wow- the place went mental right from the off. Expectation was high and both fighters have a great record. Penn looked in great shape as he entered the Octagon, calm and determined. Stevenson looked pumped and ready for anything. Right from the off, Penn had the upper hand with excellent boxing skills and on the ground his BJJ pedigree shone through - such amazing control. Part way through round one, everything looked to be over as BJ dropped a nasty elbow that split Stevenson's face open - blood everywhere. Saved by the bell, Stevenson's cut-man started his fight with a losing battle. Round 2 was more of the same with Penn keeping Stevenson at bay with good footwork and well placed shots, but it looked more and more as though the fight would be stopped - BLOODBATH! The Doc had a quick look at Stevenson, but judged that his vision wasn't impaired by the blood. Eventually Penn off balanced Stevenson with a few good shots and took it to ground. More big blows gave Penn Stevenson's back - hooks in and after a few brief attempts by Stevenson to halt the inevitable, BJ sunk in a textbook rear naked choke for the tap.

What a fight - what a result - what a champ. I've also gotta give big respect to Stevenson - he put in a big effort, but BJ was just sooo superior on the night. Despite being absolutley distraught (you've gotta feel for a guy who has put months of focussed training into this one night), he still went across to raise BJ's arm to give him his due plaudits. Really nice to see.

See round 2 of the fight here. (Get it while it's hot - it's bound to be taken down sometime soon!)

BJ's message? "Sean Sherk- you're dead" - what a fight that'll be and on this form and in this shape you'd have to put your money on Penn.

Certainly this was my first live MMA event and I wasn't disappointed - well orchestrated, very professional and I was impressed by the time given by refrees, announcers, fighters etc to the fans for photos and autographs. The UFC have it sewn and know that it's the fans that keep it where it is.

So, cheers Dean for sorting it out, and to all the guys for the company - a great night. Here's a few pics:

So, one more session to cover off and that was taken by Dean T on Wednesday. Good to see French Steve back again and Ian aka "Monkey" after a while. Continuing with the "least energy used" methodology, we covered a nifty little escape from Kimura (on your side with attacker over your head). Main points: weight on - pull the attacker in to off balance, swing legs to side you're facing, then bridge back in to get the escape. Weight off, swing legs opposite way to spin out from under the position.

The rest of the session was largely given over to practicing more sensitivity and staying in control from cross side. Dean made the point about keeping the hips connected - the rest, the arms and legs were irrelevant and all the fancy grips you see many people using are just counter to what you need to be happening. We all spent a long time doing this - it's a pretty tough thing to do, but when it's right, there's little your opponent can do. I felt pretty good under cross-side in this drill, securing some good escapes and making good movement for myself, so pleased about that.

We also looked briefly at taking an armbar from allowing the opponent to make an escape from cross side: as the escapee pushes you away, you accept the push which over-extends your opponent's arm allowing an armbar to be executed using your knee to apply pressure. This fitted in nicely with a talk that Dean gave about accepting opponents' movement from the outset rather than resisting - going with the flow. It makes a lot of sense but runs counter to instinct, so needs to be trained as hard, if not harder than the myriad techniques in BJJ. It's great stuff.

Really enjoying training at the moment but I'm suffering with Catarrh. I don't actually remember having a cold, but I'm just so congested lately - I've gone deaf in one ear too. It's a pain in the arse- I'm not ill, but it's making life uncomfortable and stopping me going to the gym for a decent workout lately. May have to go to the doctor's to try and get something to clear it - it's taking too long on its own.

'Til next time - keep on training!

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