Update 4/24/12

Well, I haven’t posted in a while, have I? Once again, I’ve been rather busy with all sorts of stuff. I have a new project at work, I have bugs to fix on the new website at work, I have customer’s technical issues to deal with at work, we recently bought a car for an amazing price, because it was horribly dirty, so I’ve been cleaning that every day (yes, it is/was that dirty, I’ve been cleaning it for 5 days), and I’ve also been helping some friends move into their new house. So, all in all, it’s been a bit busy.

Even though I haven’t been posting, that doesn’t mean my BJJ craziness has diminished at all. It’s just gone mobile. Ha ha ha. Recently, when thinking about my game, I realized that my pressure and submissions from the top are really rather strong. Of course I’m not claiming that they’re awesome or that I’m some sort of phenom who destroys anyone when I’m on top, but that part of my game is the strongest. So, I’m going to focus on some other things I need to work on, without completely abandoning my pressure and submissions from the top. I’m still working on passing, but I feel as though my passing is getting better. Currently I’m working on the knee-slide pass and the leg drag. The guy over on the blog The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory posted this video on the leg drag, which is awesome:

I’m also working on going for more submissions from the bottom. My main goal, when on the bottom, is to sweep and get to the top. But, as I posted not long ago about chaining techniques, I realized recently that going for submissions is just as advantageous. Of course, if you are able to lock in a submission and actually submit the person, then you’ve reached your goal. I realized that just going for submissions opens people up to sweeps much more. So, now when on the bottom, here’s my thought process:

  1. Get good grips and positioning on the bottom -> attempt sweep (works)
  2. Get good grips and positioning on the bottom -> attempt sweep (fails) -> attempt a sweep chain (works)
  3. Get good grips and positioning on the bottom -> attempt sweep (fails) -> attempt a sweep chain (fails) -> attempt submission (works)
  4. Get good grips and positioning on the bottom -> attempt sweep (fails) -> attempt a sweep chain (fails) -> attempt submission (fails) -> attempt sweep (again)

If the final sweep fails, then where I am depends on what I do. If I’m in full guard, then I just continue the sequence for a second time. If I don’t catch the person, then I try to back up out of full guard and stand up again. If I’m in half guard, then instead of continuing the sequence, I work to get back to full guard and I then do the sequence from there. Of course, that’s not set in stone. If a submission presents itself anywhere in there, then I’m going to go for it. But, that’s my basic game plan from the bottom. Main goal is to sweep, but go for any submissions available.

Anyway, I also had started watching Caio Terra’s 111 Half-Guard Techniques recently, but realized that his techniques are for a smaller person, which makes sense, since he is smaller. So, I picked up Cyborg’s guard collection (since Cyborg’s size matches mine more closely) and have been focusing on his half-guard DVD, which I ripped and put on my iPod so that I can watch it anywhere. That’s why I said my craziness went mobile.

On another note, the CTRL Industries Rook gi I ordered is on it’s way and I should have it sometime in the middle of this week. So, tonight will be the last night, for a while, I wear my Fuji gi. Recently the guy from GiReviews.net posted a review on the Rook that made me really excited. He said it fit him better than any other gi he owned and from the pictures of him and his size description (6’1″, 200-210lbs), he is identical to my own size. So, needless to say, I’m very excited!

Hopefully I’ll be able to post a little more regularly soon, so that I won’t post a huge dump of information, but I can’t make any promises.


The Chain Gang

I went to BJJ on Thursday night, but I’ve been so busy recently that I was unable to post about it. I’ve been working on a new website/storefront for the company I work for and it went live Thursday, so any problems or bugs that we ran into had to be taken care of on Friday.

Anyway, it was a good class and I was really feeling it. I had thoughts on why I was feeling it and accomplishing things, but I’ll save that for later. Here’s the technique we went over:

Armbar from Mount (if the bottom person has their arms wrapped around you, holding you down)

To set up the visual image, let’s do it like this. Say you’re in top and in mount, from left to right you have, your arm, opponents arm, opponents head, your head, your arm and opponents arm. So, basically a reversed arm triangle position, instead of the head on the outside it’s on the inside.

To effectively armbar from this position, you need to get into s-mount, but you have to their inside arm shoulder out of the way. You do this by using your right arm (the one that is inside) elbow to push down on their outside arm shoulder, which will angle their body. This will open up a path for your knee to slide behind their shoulder/head. Transition from there into s-mount and finish the armbar as usual.

Progressing in Chaining

On my drive back home from class, I often sit in the quiet and reflect on my rolls and anything positive/negative that I did. Since I had some really good rolls Thursday night, I tried to discover what made my rolls so good and I think I realized it. I was chaining things together really well. So, I’m going to try and really start to do that more.

Anyway, as I was thinking about that, I started thinking about how I previously viewed chains when I started out. So, here’s a breakdown:

Starting Out >>>

1. One track mind. I just went after the only things I knew from the position I was in. I had one sweep from guard, that’s what I would go after. (if you’re in this position, don’t worry about chaining yet, you need to learn the basics still)

2. Still one track mind. Now I had two techniques to go after from a position, but I would pick one and go after it like crazy, with no thought of trying the other technique..

3. Chaining submissions. I started grasping the couple of submission chains that I had been taught. I saw them as I rolled a little at first, but it got better as time went on.

4. Making my own submission chains. (Blue Belt) This began a little before I got my blue belt. Instead of using taught chains, I started taking my own favorite submissions and chaining them together in a way that worked for me.

5. Realized you can chain more than submissions. (Where I am at Now) Now, I’m realizing I can chain all sorts of different things and they work effectively, and it’s not so one track anymore.

You don’t have to just chain an escape with an escape, or a submission with a submission. You can chain an escape with a sweep, a sweep with a submission, etc. You can even chain submissions with transitions and then transition back into a submission.

My point is, I need to keep trying to think more three dimensional than one dimensional, because it’s much easier then trying to force one thing. If you’re not to that point yet, hopefully this will help you. If you’re past the point I’m at now, maybe you can leave some advice in the comments below. Train hard!


How to Take Care of Mat Burn

I often hear people talk about mat burn and how long it takes to heal, often times because nasty things happen to the burn, for example, like it getting stuck to your sock, hitting it on things, etc. When I first began BJJ, I had this problem as well, but came up with a good method for dealing with it.

1. You should have Germ-X or Alcohol/Alcohol Wipes in your car. After training, if I have mat burn, then I apply alcohol to my mat burn. It hurts horribly, but it’s much better than getting MRSA or anything else.

2. You should have neosporin at home. After showering, I always apply some neosporin to my mat burn and let it sink into the skin. This will help it heal.

3. You’ll need some liquid bandage and a fan or blow dryer. I found that I needed a bandage on my burn, otherwise I would hit it on stuff and hurt it even more. But, bandaids wouldn’t stay on long enough and would stick like a sock. So, I used liquid bandage and it’s been amazing. I’ll take it, spray on a layer and dry it. Then I’ll put three or four more. It stays on your foot till the burn is healed, it protects your foot while it’s on, and it actually cleans your foot when applied. You can easily train with it on if you tape your foot, just for extra protection.

Follow these steps and your mat burn should heal rather quickly. For me, it usually only takes four to five days.

Don’t Ask Ryan Hall for a Lighter!

On December 11th, 2011, Ryan Hall was enjoying dinner in the company of friends, when a man approached the table, requesting a lighter. After informing him the table was comprised of non-smokers, the man became enraged, demonstrating violent behavior and directly threatening Ryan Hall. This video displays the occurrence in its entirety, to show exactly how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be used in self-defense as a means to control and subdue an opponent. Without a single punch thrown, the opponent is first controlled, and in a second encounter choked unconscious as a means to end the confrontation.

Xande Ribeiro – 2012 Abu Dhabi Trials (San Diego)

Last weekend was the 2012 Abu Dhabi Trials in San Diego and it was rather action packed. Xande Ribeiro ended up facing Rômulo Barral in his weight division final and Andre Galvao in the absolute final. Now, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a big Andre Galvao fan. Andre has an extremely hard guard to pass and I was extremely surprised at how Xande passed it. Not taking anything away from Xande, because I know who Xande is and I know he’s one of the best in the world, but so is Galvao, so it was interesting to watch. It is good to note that Galvao did win his division, beating Clark Gracie via points from a pass. Anyway, below is a highlight of Xande’s exploits, enjoy!

Ringworm: Thou Art a Heartless Wench

Fun, fun! Actually, no. This sucks. So, I woke up Friday morning (went to class Thursday night), to find ringworm on my neck. Which is bad for two reasons: 1) I’m a clean freak and stuff like this on my skin drives me crazy as I just want to get rid of it and 2) I can’t go to class, which sucks because I really miss BJJ! I knew this day would come, but it still sucks.

I’ve been applying liquid wart remover to it every day, which is majorly drying it out. In fact, I might need to stop. Salicylic acid is some strong stuff. Now my neck looks even more freaky, but I’m pretty sure I’m drying up the ringworm. At the moment, the spot of ringworm is really dark and dry and the skin around my neck is red and dry because of the salicylic acid. Hopefully, the fact that the ring is dark and dry means that it’s about gone. I’d post a picture, but I don’t want to gross anyone out.

At the moment, I’m shooting towards going to class on Friday. If my neck looks way better Thursday morning, I might go Thursday and Friday to catch up. Oh well, I guess I’ll do some drills and maybe go for a run since it’s such a gorgeous day.

Hard Work = Success

There’s no doubt that the guys from Atos are some of the most accomplished champions in the world, especially with people like Andre Galvao, Rafa Mendes, Bruno Frazatto, Guilherme Mendes, Gilbert Burns and Mike Fowler in their ranks. Atos competitors have been winning all over the place and many have said it’s because of their hard work and conditioning. Hopefully, the video below will inspire you, as it did me, to go train!

Ultimate Absolute 2011 Highlight by Tyler Johnson

If you’ve read my about section you would know I’m a video editor. Sometimes, during my lunch break, I like to edit video to sharpen my overall skills. Today, I found some upbeat music and decided to see if I could use the Ultimate Absolute footage posted on YouTube to get some good video/sound correlation. Here’s what I came up with:

The Ultimate Absolute is happening again this year on 2/25/12, which is this Saturday. It starts at 4:00pm and only costs $9.99 to stream from SplitDraw. If you post this video anywhere, please give credit to where it is due by posting a link to this blog. Thanks!

Exercise Balls: Getting Pressure & Balance

One year ago I weighed 260lbs, which was overweight for my height. I realized it and started to work out and eat healthy, which in turn resulted in me losing 55 lbs. With that said, when I started BJJ I began looking around for BJJ specific exercises that would give me a good cardio workout and would help my BJJ game. While searching for exercises I stumbled upon this video of Andre Galvao and Leo Vieira balancing on an exercise ball.

I then decided to research what they were doing and found out it was to help their balance. Several days later I was at Ross and found an Everlast exercise ball for $5, so I got it. I then added some balance ball work to every workout and the benefits have been tremendous! The balance I have on top feels so much better and it has also helped my pressure on top. In fact, one of the BB’s at the school I attend even commented on that, saying that I had excellent pressure and felt much heavier than I actually was.

I recommend an exercise ball and some balance training if you really want to improve your top game. With that said, here are some tips:

1. Get a burst resistant exercise ball. And pump it up all the way. A slack ball is easier to balance on. You want it to be hard to balance on.

2. Practice in a safe area. I practice on a 12x12ft. square of mats and I’ve accidentally fallen into stuff. Some good places would be a huge open room with soft carpet, some mats obviously or outside in a huge patch of soft grass.

3. Start slow. I started just balancing on my knees, using my hands on the ball to help me stabilize.

4. Build up slowly. I’ve been using a balance ball consistently 2-3 times a week for 7 months and I can’t stand on it yet. I can stand on it and use my hands, so I’m in a bear crawl position, but I can’t stand straight up.

If you start training balance with an exercise ball, let me know in the comments whether or not it helps you!


Class Update

So, last night, as I stated, I wanted to concentrate on passing. Well, ends up that we worked the Gracie Gift Pass almost all class. Leslie typed up the information on the pass, which can be seen HERE.

I had said I was going to work on the Toreando/Bull Fighter pass, and even though we drilled the Gracie Gift Pass during class, I got to work on the Toreando during our warm-up roll at the beginning of class. I was only able to attempt it three times, because my first warm-up roll was with Tim (which was surprisingly the first time I’ve rolled with him, I’ve rolled with Justin tons, but never Tim) and Tim was using the Gracie Gift Pass to see if that’s what he wanted to go over in class. So, obviously my wanting to even attempt to pass didn’t happen. Anyway, out of my three attempts I only achieved it once.

I decided to go over the points I listed yesterday and see how I did. Original points are italicized and what I did last night is bolded.

1. Put the leg opposite of the side your passing back and away so that it can’t be hooked. And remember, it’s okay to stand-up! For some reason I feel awkward doing so.

Okay, even though this was the first thing, I for some reason completely forgot about it. I realized this the second time I failed at the pass, because my leg got hooked. I apparently need to beat this point into my head! I also need to study the video of Andre Galvao and see what kind of stance he’s taking before getting his grips. I don’t really remember how he stopped them from hooking at that point. It’s amazing how much goes into one technique.

2. In order to pass the person needs to be on their back. They cannot sit-up! I need to remember to place my head under their chin, directly in the center of their chest, and flatten them out.

This point I actually remembered and did rather well. I feel like I still need more pressure on my hands and head, but I did much better with this point. One thing I noticed when watching the video of Andre Galvao is that he did the pass in two ways at the same time. He didn’t run around the legs as he held them in place and he didn’t use his grips to just pull the legs past him. He ran around the legs and used his grips to pull, so it looks much more fluid. Need to keep that in mind.

3. When I’ve passed the legs, I need to block their hip, but I can’t block their hip by turning my hips to the side, as that could give up my back. Instead I need to pressure down with my hips.

I did this point rather well also. I was never in danger of getting my back taken at this point and I was able to keep my hip pressure down so that my opponent couldn’t hip back into me.

4. The hand with the pant grip needs to shove all the way through and past me and stay there, until I’ve blocked the hip and fully passed.

On this point, I failed a little. I did push the pant gripped hand through, but I just didn’t do it enough. I really need to put a little more force into pushing it through, to make sure it stays there.

Anyway, I’ll keep working on this pass and I’m going to start really working on the Gracie Gift Pass as well. We did positional sparring at the end of class where one person was on top in guard and had to pass, the other was on the bottom in guard and had to submit or sweep. In top I was actually able to do the Gracie Gift Pass and complete it, even though we just went over it. Tim also says it’s a solid pass, if you do it right. Seems like a good thing for me to add to me very small arsenal of passes.