Tuesday 22 April 2008

The value of tournaments...?

A quick catch up on all the goings on since all the stuff I’ve just written about. I hadn’t trained any since last Wednesday except for a Gym session on Thursday. Friday and Saturday I just felt really tired so took the chance to rest. Sunday, I spent all day out watching Saracens Vs Wasps – gutted to see Saracens (playing in pink for Charity, which turned them all into a bunch of girls) go down 29 points to 40. A great game with some good tries but if only Sarries had played throughout like they did in the 2nd half….

Sunday night I went round to Big Dean’s to watch UFC 83. The main event was Matt Serra Vs Georges Saint-Pierre (GSP) for the Welterweight championship that Serra took from GSP at their last outing. I had hoped that Serra may pull it out of the bag again, but this was always a long shot. GSP looked to have his conditioning spot on and looked focussed in front of a home crowd. Sure enough, it panned out as per the script and GSP was in control every step of the way. Serra’s gas just ran out and at one point was too tired to put up much defence against some well aimed shots. I did see some of the BJJ for which Serra is famed, which was good, but GSP was just too dominant and with some nasty knees going into Serra’s ribcage, the fight was stopped to give GSP the win by TKO. Both fighters were consummate professionals giving each other due respect and plaudits and that was nice to see.

Another fight that I was impressed by was Mike Bisping’s debut at Middleweight against Charles McCarthy. Bisping looked trim and fierce at his new weight and easily outclassed McCarthy to get a TKO in the first round. It’ll be interesting to see where Bisping goes from here in this weight division. Even if he does sound like Ashley from Coronation Street.

So, Monday night’s session, just four of us again and I arrived not feeling 100%. I think it’s a continuation of the tiredness I’d felt last week and has transformed into a weird feeling of mild nausea and weakness. I can’t explain what it is, except that I just don’t feel “right” and it sucks – I’d rather be properly ill – at least that way I’d know what to say about how I feel. Anyway, we focussed on the stand up in prep for Seni – defending base, against throws and against opponents jumping guard. We also did some ankle picks which I found hard, but it was all to do with my posture. I found defending the jump to guard tough too, until Si pointed out that I shouldn’t try to hold onto my opponent as this was dragging me down – problem fixed! I found the whole thing tough – physically I mean – sweating loads more than usual, breathless real quick and my concentration wasn’t too sharp so I came away feeling pretty fed up with myself, but I guess it can’t be helped.

On to the “big” news from me. I’ve decided today that I’m NOT going to enter Seni. There are a couple of factors in this decision. The major one is poor organisation on my part. I thought that I had time to enter and logged on today to do that thinking that the cut off was 23rd (which it is). However, I’ve missed the deadline for early entry and late entry is at a fee of £40. It makes a significant difference to me financially and also in terms of the value that I attach to competing (i.e. do I consider the tournament and any potential benefit to be worth £40 – in short, the answer is no). I feel a bit down about it, mainly because of the time that Big Dean and Si have given in helping me train. I just want to say thanks to you guys. I hope you don’t feel I’m letting you down or that any of that time was wasted – tournament or not, it has all been useful and will still be useful as I turn my attention to other tournaments later this year. Sorry and thanks.

The second, less significant, factor is my current “wellness”. I could well be 100% again by the weekend, but right now I feel mentally and physically ropey, so why spend £40 and potentially give a less than honest account of myself at a tournament. I’ve done this in the past – played in important Rugby games with injury when I should have stepped aside. The result makes you feel a lot worse than if you hadn’t played.

I’m disappointed, but I guess that now, I just get on with training as I always have and I’ll have a look to see what tournaments are around for the rest of the year and decide whether I want to go in for them.

Hit me on my beeper, beeper, beeper, beeper...

There’s been a whole lot of training since my last post, so I’d better capture it now before it all runs away with me.

I’ve been to another two of Tonbridge’s Friday sessions and both times Si came along. Both were much better sessions in terms of free rolling and again, I managed OK, particularly against their white belts. Against their blue belts is a different matter – these sessions have been the first time I’ve really felt a marked superiority in their blue belts and it’s a testament to how hard they train and how committed they are. Notable from the first of these two sessions was the attendance of Dickie Martin – one of Carlson’s brown belt instructors (and current Euro Brown Belt Champion). It was interesting to hear him talk about his philosophy and good to see him roll – the brown belt standard was clearly in evidence – very controlled, dominant, yet it was also clear that he had the sensitivity required to make it jiu jitsu and not just aggressive grappling. A really nice guy from what I saw and I was really impressed watching him roll. As always, both sessions were tough and I’ve taken away learning points from each one – mainly a mindset I’m going to need for the Seni tournament which is only a couple of weeks away now. Carlson’s have got some exciting times ahead – good targets for Seni, a Seminar with their top man Rodrigo Medeiros in May and a tournament of their own – the “Kent Open” in November. Good luck to them all and another thanks for some great training and an always warm welcome.

Sessions back at Rickson’s have been good, although attendance has dropped back again. I’m not sure why this is or if it’s going to stay this way, but at the moment it feels as though we’re back where we were a few months ago, which longer term, is going to raise the same sustainability concerns as before. We’ll see what happens. Numbers have ranged from just two and up to five, with Nuri now seemingly a regular, which is great, Mike’s been down a couple of times (work allowing) and Lee popped in too - always good to see him. The ethos of cooperation in training and trying to engage a “sensitive” approach has been retained and it’s evident that people are trying to make it work, which is good. We’ve been training regular Mondays and Wednesdays and also threw in a Sunday last weekend, which was a nice set up for the week ahead. One session we looked at a combination from the mount – going for a cross-collar choke and playing between that, arm bar and dropping to cross side for a collar choke. Last Monday, we looked at guard again, defending whilst in the guard, maintaining posture and passing guard and from the bottom, we looked at breaking down the person in the guard and a collar choke (you bring down the opponent, wrap an arm and grab the opposing lapel. Scoot out and grip up with your other arm for a cross collar choke – leg heavy across the top of the back to keep the opponent down.) – all good stuff and good revision. All sessions have ended with a bit of rolling and an inevitable round robin of opponents for me in prep for Seni.

A couple of sessions have been solely rolling, but with a purpose. Dean has a little beeper thing called a “gym buddy” so we’ve been rolling for 5 minute intervals with a minute rest between, switching partners each interval with around 3-4 rotations – about 45 mins rolling in total. This is a good exercise and serves a dual purpose – it’s good cardio and 5 mins is the length of a tournament bout so it focuses the mind on what needs to be done in a match. Last wednesday we did this and I also ended the session rolling with Si, Mike and Dean for 5 minutes each, consecutively with a minute recovery between each opponent. That was real tough. I did score a few points, but by the second round I was really gassing. By the end of the last round I was shot – I felt more than a little nauseous. My cardio’s not great, but it’s not bad either –I’m not too concerned – I didn’t find the Southern Open too taxing and I’m a lot fitter now than I was then. I was also rolling a lot harder than I usually do because this is how it’s going to be – there’s a fine line however between rolling hard and rolling angry – a line that I need to stay on the calm side of.

Off the matt, the conversation has been fairly typical – upcoming UFCs, a myriad politically incorrect topics for which we’re all going to hell, and the usual focus on faecal (do you want a flake in that?) and methane expulsions. I’m not sure if this is common within BJJ, something that just happens when you get a bunch of guys together, or says something about us specifically. Then again, I’m not sure I care – it’s fun and that’s all that matters. One little thing that just made me chuckle…upon arrival last night, Mike made his usual visit to the loo and all we could hear from inside was him laughing to himself, which was funny in itself. It transpires that the usual lack of bog roll had forced someone to stash a bunch of napkins in there and on each of these napkins was written “You’ve missed a bit”. :D

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Row, row, row your boat...

I think this is going to be the way of things – updates every two to three weeks. Time moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep a weekly update, plus I’d run the risk of repeating loads of stuff.

So, the last few weeks…?

I’ll start with a visit to Carlson’s at Tonbridge – they’ve added a Friday night to their schedule as an “open mat” night – a session to try out new stuff, work through problems or just roll with a variety of guys – a great idea. I have to confess I was a little disappointed – the session was billed as open and flexible, but was still very structured with activity being dictated which wasn’t what I’d gone along for. It was fine – a good workout, but I’d rather have just rolled. I’m led to believe that the Friday session is usually loose, but I just caught an odd night, so I will definitely give it another go sometime soon.

Things did get looser as the evening progressed and I acquitted myself reasonably well. I was trying to work with what we’d been doing recently, i.e. balance, weight etc and did pull it off a couple of times, but it’s hard to resist fighting when guys are coming at you in the way that only Carlson’s guys do! I was pleased to hold good posture against their blue belts and to be able to break them down when in my guard. Against the other white belts I was fine and got some good sweeps and a couple of decent taps with relative ease and importantly, I was patient, just rolled with it and played my game – my basics worked well for me. It had obviously been a hard session as I retired early with my legs teetering on the verge of all-out cramping every time I moved, so rather than cramp up and face a day or two of limping about, I thought it wise to stop.

Something else to come from Carlson’s that I’ve been trying out recently is a good workout on the rowing Machine – here it is, taken from the forum at www.bjj.eu.com. I think it’s from one of Carson’s Brown Belts, Simon Hayes:

If you have access to a concept 2 Rowing machine continue reading:

Set the resistance to '10'
Set the computer to 'Interval'
Set the distance to '250 metre'
Set the rest time/interval to '30 seconds'

You should do every set at an absolute 100% sprint. As if someone has a gun to your head. You will complete the distance in 45-55 seconds.You then rest for 30 seconds (the machine will count this down for you)You then do your next set and try to match the time of your first set. YOU MUST GO 100%

You continue doing sets until
a.You Puke
b.You cannot get within 10 seconds of your first set.

If you can do 3 sets that’s not bad.
If you can do 6 sets you are fucking fit.
If you can do 10 sets I do not want to fight you.

(Please do not bother with this if you are the sort of wastrel who cannot go 100%).

If you want to get fit for BJJ and only have 5-10 minutes this is the best exercise available.

I’ve given this a couple of goes. First time, I did my first set in 55 seconds and managed 11 reps. Second time I did my first set in 52 seconds and did 10 reps…not bad and was pretty tough. I’ve since learned that you really need to go sub 50 seconds in your first set to be “in the zone”, so I’ve got a bit of work to do. It’s a good workout, but not something for every session!

I’ve managed to get back into the gym with some regularity again and I’m dropping weight again which is good and I’m enjoying my sessions there and have been mixing up the programmes on the machines to do loads of interval work, mainly just for the variety, but also because intervals are good CV work. I generally try and do 60 mins of good quality CV work each session.

Sessions at the club of late have been typical of the last few weeks – lots of the sensitivity stuff. A session we had a couple of weeks back was really good – there was a good number of us and it was all free rolling and semi cooperative. Dean T was coaching as we all rolled and there was a good vibe in the room with people really taking on the ideas and making it work – really good fun...it felt like anything was possible. I felt really energised after that session. Last week was similar in nature, but for some reason I just wasn’t getting it – I think I was going too flat and a step behind the movement – that’s just the way it goes….I also had a lot on my mind.

Last night we had two new guys join us – Nuri and his brother Haider (sp?). Two really nice guys with no experience but a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’s always good to have new guys train and both were willing learners and seemed (I hope) to get a lot from the session. Nuri says he’ll be back, but his brother is normally at Uni, so we hope to see him when he can make it. Thanks to big Dean, I had my usual round robin of opponents at the end of the session, in preparation for my tournament at Seni later this month – phew! On that subject, I’ve just joined the Grappling Arts Association – a body set up by the leading BJJ guys in the UK to support people in BJJ and other grappling arts. It cost £7.50 (membership is free until Seni 08) to get some reasonable insurance cover which is something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. It’s a good venture and I wish them every success – BJJ needs a body like this to move things forward.

On to the wider world (it’s all intertwined you know – I see my week as moving from weekend to BJJ sessions to weekend, interspersed with the annoyance of work). Things aren’t great. I’ve been feeling pretty low lately – tons to do at work, in a job that I have no passion for, knowing that none of it is recognised (in fact quite the extreme – work I’m doing is being claimed by others!) and knowing that peers are earning in the region of £10K more than me, my boss is on almost double what I’m on and I perceive that all the good results from my department are majoritively down to me (and there’s plenty of evidence to support this). This is against a context of me being the sole wage earner in my family with two young kids. I wouldn’t change that for anything, but it’s hard. It’s really getting me down. I’m going to have to address this, but have no faith that speaking up will do any good whatsoever. I already know that I’m being stitched up, so will probably get a publicly sympathetic ear only to be stabbed in the back behind closed doors.

What’s this got to do with BJJ? Sometimes it impacts on my ability to concentrate, to be motivated (but I always manage to get out to training – I’d feel a whole lot worse if I didn’t). On the flip side, BJJ really helps me to be free of the worries for a few hours each week and is valuable in suspending the stress for a moment or two. The other really great thing is that the guys I train with are genuine people, some not a million mile from where I am in life, and their genuine concern, advice and support is essential to helping me feel like there are some people out there that are on my side – thanks guys.