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#401999 - 07/12/08 04:54 PM Training notes from So Cal I
Xibalba Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
Posted this on a Google group site which I share with some friends and training buddies. Thought I would share here:

Greetings from Los Angeles!

We are on our bi-annual visit to Teresa's family in sunny California. In addition to visiting family, eating good food, taking the kids to Disneyland, and hanging at the beach, I try to squeeze in a bit of training (as this is the U.S. mecca of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). Today, at Dan Smith's recommendation, I checked out Machado jiu-jitsu academy in Redondo Beach - just 4 miles from the in-law's house.

The Academy is in an old storefront just west of the Galleria (the local mall). It is much smaller than that "other" academy (the Gracie Academy - literally a mile down the road), and had much more of a small dojo feel. I was greated by Roger and Rigan Machado, the brothers (and cousins of the Gracies) who own and operate the school. Both were quite friendly, and the vibe was one of "weclome, and make yourself at home".

Class was small, as I chose to train in the morning session. Only five other students were present, and we all got a fair bit of personal attention from Roger. Training was relaxed, but intense, if that makes sense. No one had an ego or anything to prove, although most there could have choked me six ways from sunday if they had chosen :-P We did lots of conditioning up front, and then worked some takedown drills - I needed this, as they are the weakest part of my game. We did a double leg-takedown drill, and I got some good pointers from both my partner and Roger.

The latter half of class consisted of drilling guard passing and defense. The first bit, if you were on top in guard, you merely tried to pass and your partner merely tried to stop you from passing. Then the ante was upped a bit, and the person on bottom was allowed to try to sweep (basically reverse the position and end up on top). Finally, at the end, sweeps and submissions were allowed from the bottom. At any time if a pass was completed, the partners swapped positions and the other person was put in guard. It was fun and exhausting. I was unble to pass my partner's guard, but I did score a triangle submission once from the bottom - but I think he was going easy and gave it to me :-)

Class ended officially after only an hour, but Roger noted that we were free to stay and drill or spar. I chose to find a sparring partner, and hooked up with a blue belt who, believe it or not, was originally from Michigan! We had a VERY long match, which ended up being a war of attrition with me on bottom and he in my guard. He passed twice to mount, but I was able to replace guard both times. I ended up calling uncle the third time he passed - the California heat and an already hard 60 minute workout did me in. It was a fun match, and I honestly was happy just to not get submitted. I then stuck around for a bit to stretch and watch some other sparring. There were at least 4 black belts milling around - a huge number for me considering that BJJ black belts are quite rare in mid-Michigan. I saw some good matches before I finally picked up and went back to the inlaws house.

I plan on training there once more during the evening class tomorrow night (this one taught by Rigan Machado). Then on Thursday we head to Thousand Oaks to visit Teresa's other sister, and I will train with Craig Husband (the Rickson Gracie protoge) on Friday AM. I love being on vacation, because it means much more gym time than I normally get at home :-)

Take care, everyone, and I will write more SoCal MA musings when I have more to share.


#402000 - 07/12/08 04:55 PM Training notes from So Cal II [Re: Xibalba]
Xibalba Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
I barely survived another training session at the Machado Acadamy last night :-)

Class was taught by a Brazilian black belt who spoke mostly Portugese and relied on one of the blue belts to interpret. Class only lasted an hour, but given its intensity, it was more than enough.

We did warmups for the first 20 minutes or so. Started by running laps around the gym, then moved on to "shrimping" back and forth across the length of the mats. This was followed by some other movement drills on the ground, and then by multiple sets of good old pushups and crunches. Finally, we did a drill simulating the beginnings of a standing guard-pass, which ended in essentially you deadlifting your partner's weight while they held you in their guard.

This lead right into the technique of the night, which was the same standing guard pass, culminating in a side-control gi choke. I got some good tips from the instructor on how to more effectively tighten the choke, and can't wait to try this one in sparring :-)

Speaking of sparring, we ended the class with four 5-minute rounds with no rest in between. The instructor started barking in Portugese and pairing folks off - my first match was with a lanky blue-belt who had a pretty squirrelly and evasive guard game. He started from his butt, and put me in his butterfly guard. He ended up sweeping me into mount, but I was able to reverse and replace guard (putting him in my guard). I snaked my left foot up into 'rubber guard' (where I had my calf high across his back and held my ankle with the opposite hand), and worked for an omiplata submission (an arm lock in which you flatten your opponent out and use your leg to lever their arm), but I was not able to keep his hips down and he rolled out of it. After some scrambling he got me in an armbar from knee on belly just as time was called. Whew!

I fought two other blue belts and another white belt. One blue belt and the white belt submitted me once each, while I was able to stave off the attempts of the third. I got a 'nice defense' comment from the third, which felt nice.

All in all everyone was very friendly, and asked if I would be back the next time we visited. I felt that my skills were right where they should be for my level - which is nice to know coming from a small school in mid-Michigan and not getting a chance to roll with many folks of very high rank.

Well, tomorrow AM I am off to Craig Husband's class in Camarillo. Hopefully my sore muscles will abate a bit before then.

Thanks for listening!

#402001 - 07/12/08 04:56 PM Training notes from So Cal III [Re: Xibalba]
Xibalba Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA

Yesterday I attended a 6:30AM workout with Craig Husband and his BJJ group in Ventura County, CA. As always, the workout was informative and challenging, and it left me pondering the greater mysteries of jiu-jitsu and martial arts in general :-)

Craig's focus yesterday was on how jiu-jitsu is really about the small movements rather than the big, flashy, 'crowd pleasing' moves. Sure, those flashy finishing moves are cool, but those moves are really set up several, sometimes dozens, of moves in advance via good understanding of balance and jiu-jitsu basics.

Jiu-jitsu, according to Craig, is all about destroying your opponent's base and structure. The finishing techniques all flow from this - if you cannot upset your opponent's base and structure, you will never be able to finish the fight, and will most likely end up getting "finished" yourself. And usually it is a small move that upsets your opponent's base - a slight shift of the hips here, a minor change of angle there. "Too often," Craig told us "are people thinking they have to do something big in order to better their position." Usually it is just some small movement that will shift the advantage from one fighter to the other.

Craig then stood one of the participants up and demostrated this principle in terms of striking arts as well. If you do not have the right angle, do not have base, your strikes are also ineffective. Having done so many years of karate, I undersood this point quite well. However, as a relative jiu-jitsu beginner, I still struggle with utilizing these small shifts of center and angle when I am on my back on the mat.

One of Craig's final demonstrations of this point was regarding controlling your opponent while they are in your guard. He put me in his guard, and proceeded to show how he could use his hips alone to control my body via extreme sensitivity to my motions and minute angle changes. At one point he even swept me over, while I was in his closed guard, without opening his guard or even bringing his hands into play. I have never been tossed around like that while in someone's guard before, and I vowed to try this with my training partners back home until I could do this myself :-)

Alas, my week of training in So Cal has come to an end. As usual, I am left with more to work on, and the realization that I have only just begun my journey into understanding jiu-jitsu. But I am getting there, and loving every minute of it!


#402002 - 07/12/08 09:19 PM Re: Training notes from So Cal III [Re: Xibalba]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Great log, Mike! Thanks for sharing. Very interesting to read your notes from the Machado school. My BJJ school is Machado-based also, and many of the drills you mentioned are things we do. The guard-pass drills, shrimping across the floor, the standing guard partner lifts (with the partner then doing a situp)........yup! Tough stuff.


Craig then stood one of the participants up and demostrated this principle in terms of striking arts as well. If you do not have the right angle, do not have base, your strikes are also ineffective. Having done so many years of karate, I undersood this point quite well. However, as a relative jiu-jitsu beginner, I still struggle with utilizing these small shifts of center and angle when I am on my back on the mat.

Again, I am right there with you on that. I can intellectually understand that they are similar, but it is only just now (about 2.5 years in) that I am able to physically translate some of those skills onto the ground.

Frustrating but fun. Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin


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