Saturday 17 November 2007

I said a hip hop the hippie...

...the hippie to the hip hip hop, a you dont stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat...

I didn’t train last Friday and I skipped the gym on Thursday – the cold I had brewing that I mentioned in my last post was in full flow and I wasn’t in any fit state to train…it wasn’t a bad cold per se, but it left me feeling absolutely knackered.

After a bit of a rest (although my kids’ third birthday on Sunday and party was more “active” rest!) and plenty of vitamin C and zinc, things had cleared enough to get back to training on Monday. I wasn’t 100%, but 99% is good enough – just meant a bit more sweating than usual. Not a bad turnout – the usual crowd, plus French Steve and Little Dean. We trained some escapes from knee on stomach (KOS). The first involved bridging up and then scooping an arm under the foot of the leg that is KOS. Frame in with the other arm then scoot out, creating a void for the knee to drop into. Since you have the foot scooped, this prevents posting and the opponent falls backwards enabling you to follow up and take cross-side. A nifty little move, but actually pretty difficult to execute well – one to just try out when the opportunity arises. The second variation arises when the KOS is not quite as “deep”. In this instance, you roll away from the KOS, enabling you to brace the back of your uppermost elbow against the knee, creating a frame. Using this frame, you execute a reasonably explosive shrimp out from under the knee and turning to face the opponent. Depending where you end up will determine next moves, but the ideal is to be able to take a leg and drive back into the opponent and coming to rest in side control. I found this one pretty tough as my shrimp movement is pretty limited by my back mobility.

I’m finding rolling a little tough lately. I don’t think having the cold has helped and added to this I’ve been getting up early to go to the gym and my kids are going through a phase of waking at 0400hrs so I’m not getting great sleep at the moment. Not making excuses, but things are tough when you’re tired. I think I’m also in a bit of development dip at the moment – when I roll, I’m not really conscious of what I’m doing, pushing too much and just seem to get nowhere fast. It’s demoralising, but as Si said, I’m rolling against guys that have got anywhere between 4 and 6 years training on me. It could well be time for another visit to Tonbridge. It’s good to roll with others at your own level as it gives you a better measure of where you’re at and how you’ve progressed. I know I must have progressed – there’s no way that you can train 2/3 times a week, every week, and not improve. The issue at our club is that the other guys are improving too, so I’m chasing an ever-moving goal line. I think I also go in phases when I’m learning loads of new stuff and it takes a while to assimilate the information and put it into action. Once it is assimilated I then seem to have a phase where things are good, then I go back into a learning phase – maybe this is a better way to see it rather than being in a “bad patch”.

I had an interesting day Tuesday. I mentioned this in passing a few posts back, but a few months ago, I went on a course called “The Athlete at Work”, run by a company called K2. In my work, I’m an “Organisational Development Manager”, which means that I look after the development of staff in all areas of the business. As part of this I source appropriate training and education and so get bombarded daily by companies offering their services. Once in a while, something interesting comes up, and K2 was one of these. The majority of the K2 team come from sporting or sports science backgrounds and work with top level sports performers to improve their performance through managing training, mindset, nutrition etc. They’ve taken this arena and put it into a business context, based on the data that sports science has given them – a really fresh approach to the whole subject of performance. Anyway, they offered me a free place on the Athlete at Work course, so I gladly accepted. The course dealt with topics such as nutrition, hydration, rest & recovery, bodyclock, self-talk, using imagery and planning training for peak performance. It was fascinating stuff, all well researched and compellingly evidenced. I guess I could credit the course with giving me the inspiration for setting myself my blue belt goal and starting this blog. The knowledge and inspiration it gave to me to set some hard targets and plan a campaign to achieve it was excellent (sure, there was a load of stuff transferable to the workplace, but I figure, whatever’s good for me personally, must be good for my work performance). Anyway, on Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to have a follow-up coaching session with one of the guys from K2. There was a dual agenda with this, one for me to personally gain form the experience, but also a professional motive for me to see the learning process first hand to assess its relevance for the company I work for. It was a really useful session (not least as I was reassured that taking time off from training while not 100% was absolutely the right thing to do). Through some well placed questions from the coach, I was able to understand certain habits that I’ve developed that make my nutrition an issue for me and to create small actions that will help this. I was also able to examine how much rest and recovery I’m getting and create some strategies to manage the transitions between training, rest and then training again very soon after. Most useful of all was some good advice about my training regime – BJJ and MMA are givens, so I need to be smart about my gym work. I was advised to switch my training from CV work and weights to just doing short, intense CV workouts. It was felt that my BJJ etc would maintain strength and functional muscle workout, but the CV work would (a) make my workouts more manageable in the time I have available, and (b) be better for me in my goals and losing weight is the major factor at the moment. I was also helped to understand a bit more psychology of managing goals. For example – running. My goal is to be able to run 3 miles in 21 minutes – the RAF Officer standard and one that I used to be able to do, so something that I think is achievable. So, what I’ve been doing is running 21 minutes every session and trying to see how far I get. It’s tough and when I show no improvement, or worse, actually fall back, it gets really demoralising. It was suggested that instead of this “testing” every session, that I test myself monthly. This way, I should usually see improvements month on month towards my ultimate goal. Even if I fall behind, using this methodology, I can still see net gains on my starting point so there is still an overall success. I’ve already started this and the running, whilst still hard, is so much more pleasurable and relaxed. I will apply the same “ethos” to many other areas as it’s a far healthier way to view progress than constant pressure. So, the whole K2 experience has been invaluable in setting me up to stand a chance of achieving my goals…oh, and it is also something that I will be implementing at work by the way ;P.

Wednesday’s session was only four of us and we trained taking the back from someone that’s in “turtle” position and not allowing you to get foot hooks in. First off, the ideal position to work from…sort of to the rear and on the hips while making your opponent carry weight. Transitions from this – first one was kind of gripping the same side lapel, low down (prevents opponent from grabbing arm and rolling you over), one foot up behind, one to the side and the drive with the legs over the opponent’s shoulder, maintaining hip and body contact. This takes you to controlling the opponent’s back from where you can get hooks in and execute a choke. There’s a risk here that before putting in the 2nd hook, the opponent could turn out. So long as you’ve maintained good position, it’s pretty easy to follow the turn and end up with cross side. 2nd variation prevents the turn out – by driving your knee in between the opponent’s elbow and knee, you can create a sort of “cradle” after you’ve turned the opponent which prevents any turn out. In executing this knee positioning, you of course open up the other side of the opponent’s body to move out to that side, so for that reason we looked at a simple switch to prevent this. Major point in all of these is the hip to hip contact throughout (hence this post’s title – hips… get it? Get it? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?). Rather than roll this session, we did some cross-side positional training. I’m still facing the frustration of not really being able to do a whole lot but getting tapped in seemingly the simplest of ways. That’s just BJJ. I’m relatively certain that this cloud will lift soon – it usually does.

Only other bit of news right now is that I’m going to UFC 80: Rapid Fire in Newcastle in January – should be good – there’s a few of us going up – Me, Big Dean, Si, Mike and a couple of Dean’s mates. Can’t wait! More on that when the time comes.

I'm off to see the Foo Fighters tomorrow and then I'm off work most of next week an I just had a great session at the gym so feelin pretty good right now... good times, let's rock!!

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Oops up side your head!

I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, so apologies for being lax and for the long post that is likely to ensue…

Wednesday’s session last week was just me, Big Dean and Si (surprise surprise!). We looked at taking mount from cross-side, using the same cross-side variation that I’ve written about recently. There were two variations here. I’ve seen both before but it’s been a long time so was really to good to go at them again. The first variation involves kind of sitting back under the opponents armpit, controlling the hips with the “bottom” knee, then posting the “top” leg over the opponent and down on the other side. From here, it’s a pretty easy transition to full mount. I really like this one – it’s pretty simple…important to maintain good base throughout, but simple in principle, and easily overcomes the “foot on knee” defence that so many seem to try and use to stop the mount (which is pretty ineffective at the best of times). The second involves threatening the neck to allow you to move your “top end” knee into a more favourable position for base and the “sliding” your lower knee across the abdomen – almost knee on stomach, except you maintain a low body position over your opponent with your body, maintaining the pin. From here, you push the knee down and backwards to complete the mount – pushing the knee in this direction counters any attempt by the opponent to block the knee with their hand – their pushing the knee only serves to assist the movement you want. From securing mount it’s important to aim to get high mount where possible. I don’t remember much about rolling, although I’m pretty sure it was the usual affair of me being tapped repeatedly…oh, hang on, I do remember. I had some kind of strange lower back twinge – really bad pain which flared every time I tried any kind of upa or shrimp. I couldn’t stand up straight at one point. After all kinds of potions, stretching and some pain killers, it subsided enough for me to roll, but I didn’t feel at all confident or comfortable. Strange – the day after I went to the gym and not a trace of any pain….I was expecting to have to lay off, but it was fine…must have been something trapped rather than damaged, which was a relief, given my back track record.

We had MMA on Friday – just me, Dean and Tugboat Steve. We worked from guard, framing against a fence from being pushed backwards, getting to standing, then reversing your opponent onto the fence. I remember doing this a while back and really enjoyed the drill – really hard work, but a good functional workout and very useful with some direct cross overs to Jiu Jitsu principles. We then worked a pad drill with a few pointers on punching technique. Not having done a striking art for over two years now, I can really feel how slow my reactions have become – I’m not worried – I’m sure with a bit of training it will come back. It’s good to hit the pads every now and then – working good punching technique and hand speed is always a good thing to do – a good sharpener. We then did a few 5 min rounds of light (ish) sparring. Dean was being kind to me, going real light and only playing at Superman Punches – enough to make a point. Kind to me to the point when he shot in and I punched to the pack of his head – not full pelt and without malice. I now understand that’s not allowed, and fully understand why. By way of explanation, I can only offer (a) I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed and (b) it was an automatic response, probably from the self defence stuff I’ve done, which is basically taking whatever I’m given – if it’s there, I’ll strike it, gouge it, whatever to stop the attack. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not excusing it, but offer it as an explanation. Dean dealt with it in typical fashion – telling me it wasn’t allowed, then reinforcing the learning with a kinetic reminder – namely a well placed punch to the bonce. Fair enough. Point made and no animosity beyond that. I think again this comes back to control – a little less “excitement” on my part would go a long way to preventing these “rushes of blood to the head”. Sorry mate.

I then sparred with Steve and was able to use my reach to good effect, keeping him at bay with some good jabs. I also landed a couple of decent body punches and a nifty upper cut up inside his guard. Steve got in a good body/head combination. Major pointers that Dean was giving to me were that I was very upright and my guard could be higher – I need to “hunch” into a tighter posture… I’ve covered this with Steve Morris before and just need to keep focussing on it. Dean also mad the point that I had far more capacity to double up on shots rather than just single shots…just need to build confidence in this, and a refresher on the way that Steve Morris generates and positions his kicks was useful. Anyway, all was going reasonably well, until I stepped in to throw a punch and at the same time Steve threw a belter, which landed square on my jaw – really took me aback and for a couple of seconds the world went a crazy shade of blue and yellow spots. I think we could all tell it was a great shot – Steve backed off and Dean stepped in. It was a pretty hard, shot but thankfully within sparring force. I think I’d have been down if it had been full-on. Proof indeed that I was too upright and my guard was low – another learning experience from instant “feedback”.

I was shattered and pretty lethargic the day after. It was a hard session and being smacked upside my head couldn’t have helped. I’ve also got a bit of a cold at the moment – I’m not sure I’ve adapted yet to training every day (gym included). It’ll come. But I also felt a bit down about the back of the head thing in sparring. Not sure what that was...I think I’m just disappointed in myself for not having more control and doing something to a mate that was potentially dangerous. I’m OK now – no point in dwelling on it, just making an observation really on how things like this can affect my mindset and the need to reflect and move on.

Last night (Wednesday), there were four of us. A quick revision on blocking punches, then we went over the mount from cross-side again – the one with the knee sliding over the abdomen. I think it was good to drill this some more – it’s really important to drill single techniques like this and get beyond superficial detail – these moves are so important to achieving dominant position and without that, there can be no submission. We started to look at some submission possibilities and transitions off of it, but that was not the focus, so nothing exceptional to comment on with that. I was pretty disappointed with my rolling – not because I got tapped time and again, but more that I was pretty purposeless – I wasn’t really thinking what I was doing and pushing far too much. I think I need to take a few moments before rolling just to focus on what I want to do, maybe even visualise how I want it to be. I don’t expect that I’ll get my way, but if I can roll with a bit of direction, that will be sufficient for me to feel satisfied.