A few things of note really in terms of what we've been doing - a lot more stand-up stuff with self defence application which has been great, a neat defence/escape from spider guard and really just focussing on the movement. There's little technique involved - a few set points here and there, but it all revolves around this movement and sensitivity.
Dean also brought in his set of "bodylastics" - exercise tubes, to illustrate how these can be used to practice the movements we've been doing whilst also doing specific conditioning. This was really interesting and guess what's now on my Christmas list?! Again, it's part of this ethos that with an appreciation of Jiu Jitsu and the true ethos within the art, you can train and develop a long way on your own.
I've also spent a bit of time chatting with Dean after training, sharing thoughts, philosophies and i've appreciated this insight into the way that Dean approaches Jiu Jitsu and it has made me appreciate all the more what we've been doing over the past months. A bit more on that later.
Earlier in the month I went to the Kent Open for my first tournament as a Blue Belt. I guess by many's standards, it was a quick entry so soon after promotion, but I'd entered (and paid!) as a white belt (I wasn't expecting to get my Blue Belt so soon!) but I couldn't lie and I'd paid my entry fee! It was a mammoth event brilliantly organised by the Carlson's guys, held at the Olympic Judo training centre at Dartford - just up the road from me (bonus!) - a great facility.
I knew that by going up to Blue Belt that I'd meet Janos AKA "Dumptruck" who had so resoundingly beaten me at the Southern Open. An absolute monster. Anyway. It turned out that in my category it was just me and Janos - one other Hungarian guy hadn't shown, so only one fight. This would be the only criticism I had of the day (and it's not a huge gripe - that's the way it goes), but there were two guys in the same weight class in the Adult category (I'm Masters) so by merging the categories we could all have had a couple of fights at least. To be fair, looking at the numbers there maybe there wasn't time to mess about with the schedule, but to have one fight (and lose!) for £25 ...well, I just wish it had been different.
So...yes, I lost. Pretty early on Janos got a single leg take down. I fell quite well and managed to frame him off and as far as I know he failed to secure cross side or knee on stomach. He tried a a choke with the fist in the throat quite early but didn't have the purchase. Eventually (and it must have been approaching time) he took a decent Gi choke. Janos won, but I must say I didn't feel as overwhelmed as I had at the Southern Open - maybe a combination of more experience of both Jiu Jitsu and tournaments? I'm annoyed with myself that I pretty much got consumed with holding him off rather than working some movement to improve my situation, but I guess that's my learning point from the day. It was also strange to be awarded a silver medal for losing one fight!
On the flip side, getting my stuff out of the way so early meant that I got to watch some good (and some not so good!) Jiu Jitsu for the rest of the day.
Si had a great day at the office ploughing through his division with relative ease to take Gold. Here's a film of Si's final - it speaks for itself - great roll to reverse the takedown and a trademark cross collar finish from Si:
All in all it was a good day and a huge congratulations goes to all the Carlson's guys that made it happen - hopefully one for the annual BJJ calendar! It was good to hang out with the guys (Dean T came along, as did Dave, Big Dean (who is in LA training at Rickson's Academy at the moment - can't wait to get the low-down when he gets back) and to cap it all, there was a Subway van there and I had a Meatball Marinara Sub - my favourite!
On to some other stuff that I've found interesting. I mentioned eralier that I've had a few good chats with Dean T and he's spoken about how a lot of his recent philosophy has come from reading about Morihei Ueshiba - the founder of Aikido (there are some great clips of him well worth a look on YouTube) Dean mentioned a collection of Ueshiba's writings - "The Art of Peace" (which you can read here) so I thought I'd have a little look into it to see what it might have to offer me in my training.
It's a small, digestible book, full of short quotes on a range of subject, some more spiritual than others, but found a good few words that held resonance for me in the way that I am experiencing training. Here are a few of my favourites - whilst they ultimately stem from his practice of Akido, I feel that the sentiments are equally applicable to true Jiu Jitsu:
The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.
Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through forging, it becomes steel and is transformed into razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion.
Instructors can impart only a fraction of the teaching. It is through your own devoted practice that the mysteries of the Art of Peace are brought to life.
Progress comes to those who Train and train; Reliance on secret techniques Will get you nowhere. Fiddling with this And that technique Is of no avail.
In your training do not be in a hurry, for it takes a minimum of ten years to master the basics and advance to the first rung. Never think of yourself as an all-knowing, perfected master; you must continue to train daily with your friends and students and progress together in the Art of Peace.
Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path.
There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.
A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
On the philosophy of the art
The Art of Peace is the principle of nonresistance. Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. The Art of Peace is invincible because it contends with nothing.
It is necessary to develop a strategy that utilizes all the physical conditions and elements that are directly at hand. The best strategy relies upon an unlimited set of responses.
Techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow, smooth-flowing like water, or as empty as space.
If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly.
When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way.
The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.
In the Art of Peace we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control.
Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control an opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it.
Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there. Enter deeply into an attack and neutralize it as you draw that misdirected force into your own sphere.
Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own, and his strength will dissipate.
The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand where you like.
Whirl in circles around A stable center. Manifest yang In your right hand, Balance it with The yin of your left, And guide your partner.
The techniques of Peace Enable us to meet every challenge Seeing me before him, The enemy attacks, But by that time I am already standing Safely behind him.
Pretty cool huh? That's how I want my Jiu Jitsu to be.
One last thing - proud dad moment. I took my 4 year old son to his first Judo class last week. Dartford Judo Club run a "Pre Judo" class for under 5's which is great as most clubs and classes don't start 'til after 5 years. Anyway, he got really stuck in and loved every second. He even won a couple of his fights! I'm so proud and his new Gi just arrived today - the smallest Gi you've ever seen! Cute.