Thursday, April 30, 2009

Noon class; getting ready for the weekend

Downtown class at Richmond BJJ was sparse due to final exams. This gave me an excellent opportunity to go over some basics with a couple of the newer white belts there, and to refine a few details with Parker. Afterward I rolled a couple rounds with Parker and once with one of the new white belts. It was a nice light workout after Wednesday's 6 or so hours of training.

At night, I met with Brian and Chrissy to plan for upcoming U.S. Grappling tournaments. The meeting was great, and we got a lot done. Short entry today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gi, Muay Thai, No-gi

1:30 PM: gi training. Structured six minute rounds with Ryan Hall, Seph Smith, Brendan Raedy, Acie, Parker, Devin, Liz, Jen Flannery, Lo, Jose, and others. Great training again. I showed an attack from side control after 2 hours of rolling.

Muay Thai: knees! Yes! I love the clinch/plumb position. It makes a lot of sense to me as a grappler to control the guy's head and throw knees easily. Cornell didn't kill us with the endurance round today, and I'm not complaining.

No-gi: Vince was late. Weird! I had everyone warm up with the usual half-guard drills, then showed some more deep "floating" half guard stuff (2 entries and 2 basic sweeps), and then watched everyone spar with it. It's pretty impressive to see how easily the sweeps come once the position is acheived. I rolled with Big Jus, Lenny, Brian Maltby, maybe one or two others (or maybe not), and Vince (10 minute superfight death round). Vince is really, really hard to submit with upper body stuff. I worked Kimura grip stuff to death, but he Houdinied out of it again and again. Vince = awesome.

Richmond BJJ stuff (gi and no-gi)

I rolled at Richmond BJJ's noon class (Burdo was nice enough to let me roll, as I was out running errands). I trained twice with Eric, once with Dax, and once with Acie. I went over a little positional stuff with Eric (top secret ninja techniques I've been working on) after rolling.

I came back in time for the no-gi class at 7 PM (no more afternoon classes... boo... but this is a really good thing for Eric since he was doing way too many classes per week, something like 20). Eric went over a closed guard high bite attack for an armlock (nice details), and then a sweep when the guy defended the armlock (belly down finish and then grip breaks). I rolled with Jared Aune, super nice and tough blue belt, Scott Eckert, Liz, and a few others at the end of class. Nice light workout for today (tough training tomorrow). I also worked with Liz a little on an attack from the mount I picked up from Rob Kahn, who has a big head and who is good at jiu jitsu.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Justin = blue belt

Monday night's classes held a private lesson with Lo followed by BJJ Basics at 6 PM (reverse kesa gatame to mount). Monday's 7 PM gi class followed up with deep "floating" half guard stuff. Most students got it by the end of class; some will get it later.

I gave Justin "Big Jus" Kornfeld his blue belt tonight. In case you don't already know Justin, if you ever train at my gym or come to U.S. Grappling tournaments consistently, you will soon. Justin is always there, training consistently, competing, and helping out wherever we ask him to at our tournament. He's not the most gifted athletically by any means, but through consistency and hard work, I've watched Justin turn into someone I'm now proud to call a blue belt. This is only the fourth blue belt I've given out, so it's kind of a big deal for me. I hold my students to a high standard for promotion.

Justin tapped his 3 guys with the same submission from the same setup on Saturday. This was the perfect time for his promotion, and I'm sure he'll remember it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Open mat at Fifty/50

On the way back (kinda) from Winchester, we stopped by Arlington to train at Fifty/50. The women had an open mat at noon, and dudes were welcome after 1:30 PM. I got there around 1:45 and rolled a bunch with Ryan Hall and David Jacobs. Training with Rock was a ton of fun, and I haven't rolled with him for a couple years. We're both very relaxed when training nowadays, but both working on various things while training, so the result is just like I wish it was nearly all the time - like a lab.

I also got to roll with Hobbit for the first time. He's really short. He apologized for rolling crappily afterward, and had to leave early. I hope the little bit of advice I gave him helped out. I like Hobbit.

I rolled with Arial and Eoin as well, both blue belts with Yamasaki, and Jennie "Tigers," a brown belt under Gustavo Machado whom I've known for about six years now. We had some fun training, and I tried to help Jennie out with some simple but practical advice.

Submisison-Only 3

We (U.S. Grappling) ran our third submission-only, no time limits, no points tournament on Saturday. We got to the venue before 7 AM, got the mats and registration area set up, and opened up the weigh ins at 8 AM. Weigh ins officially ended at 10 AM, and the first brackets were printing at 10:45 AM - terrific! We got the matches going right at 11 AM.

Right off the bat, we had our longest match of the day between Micah Crouse and Tim Koren in the advanced no-gi 159.9 division- 3 hours! Both guys withdrew due to exhaustion at the three hour mark, and were unable to continue in their divisions.

Notable performances: Ryan Hall won the 159 division and the advanced absolute division, finishing Rob Mudrak with a heel hook from the 50/50 position (I know - shocker). Mudrak had a great day himself, winning 11 matches and losing only in the advanced absolute finals.

My student Tommy had the second longest match of the day at about an hour and a half. He faced Firas from Tony Passos's school. These guys had rolled the Wednesday before at my gym (and I rolled with Firas a couple times). In the end, Firas was able to finish Tommy with an armlock in a transition. Tommy won his weight division with the gi, which bodes well for his training for the Mundial in June.

Devin won against a tough Mike Troxel in his blue belt division, and then lost in the finals to take 2nd. We've got some things to work on before June, but Devin is game, and is always improving.

Big Jus did great, winning 3 matches by Kimura in his white belt 30+ division.

JB, Sean Kelley, and several other students had some good days, winning a bunch of matches and taking their lumps as well.

Alaina Hardie finished a match with a kneebar. She owes me $100 for that, since I showed her how to finish it Thursday night.

Results are already posted here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MMA, Muay Thai, BJJ

Once again, we met at my gym at 5 to do some MMA sparring at my gym in preparation for Scott's MMA fight in June. It was challenging, but a lot of fun trying to close the distance and bring the fight to the ground, and then trying to land some light strikes on the feet.

Muay Thai class was easier when I didn't think about having to run a tournament the following day. Scott showed a couple good basic combinations, we drilled them, and then did a double endurance round. Whew.

Jiu jitsu was super informal. Several studnets were getting ready to compete the next day, and it was super nice outside to boot. I worked half guard drills, then did a little basic Q&A with the students. Sometimes the small classes are very productive, almost like semi-privates for the students there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Leglocks at night, jiu jitsu by day

During the noon class at Richmond BJJ, I expanded on last week's butterfly half guard theme. It's interesting to teach once a week at Eric's gym because I have to consolidate a week's worth of theme into one day there. Typically, I stick with very basic stuff, but this time got to be a little more advanced since I went over the very basic stuff (guard recovery and a very simple sweep) last week.

I rolled with Chris Ferguson, Parker, and Dax. Ferguson is getting more aggressive, which is good for him. He's technical, but lets people push him around a little much when rolling. Parker is still in competition mode, fresh off his 3rd place finish at the Pan Ams (I refuse to stop calling it that). It's good to roll with him nearly every day, sometimes several times a day. Dax is really strong. Once he calms down a little (white belt), he'll be fine.

During the afternoon and early evening, I got the truck to load the mats, then met up with Big Jus, Bryan, and Aaric to load the mats up. The excitement of the readers of this blog must be hard to contain. I am, of course, looking forward to running our third Submission-Only torunament on Saturday. I just wish we had magic mats that transported themselves to the venue and set themselves up.

At 9 PM, I gave a private lesson to Alaina Hardie, who wanted to work on her leglocks a bit. Alaina has had some success in competition using 10th Planet techniques like rubber guard and half-guard lockdown, so I hope that the lesson helped round out her game.

Here's a video of some of Alaina's matches (before my private lesson, so they're only going to be so good):

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Tough day of training. The gi session at my gym was just plain awesome. I got word from Tony Passos that he was going to be able to come down and train around 1 PM, so I met Tony, his student Firas (blue belt) and his friend Vicente Junior.

Vicente was incredible - about 135 pounds of technical De la Riva black belt knowledge. Vicente was light as a feather as he passed my guard, took my back, swept me, etc, but he also totally let me work. The guy is clearly on another level. I found out later that he placed 3rd in the Mundial (might have been the CBJJE Mundial) at black belt, losing only in the semi-finals to pluma legend Bibiano Fernandez, and he also just won his match at the NY Open last Saturday:

I got to roll with Vicente several times, and each time it was really fun. Rolling with Tony was a lot of fun as well. Tony is quite good. Finally, Mike Crawford was back in to train, and I got in at least a couple rounds with him.

Having four black belts on the mat for a Wednesday afternoon class isn't something you see in every city. I feel very fortunate to have my gym in the position it's in.

Seph Smith also made the trek down, and I got to train with Seph several times as well. Seph can really be good when he's on.

Tommy, Devin, Antoni, Lo, Scotty, Jose (the owner of the gym) and a handful of others rounded out a very full mat. Whew!

Muay Thai was my second wind. We got into a hook punch to the floating ribs, which was new for me, and drilled a lot. Cornell was merciful with the endurance round today.

No-gi jiu jitsu class - Vince, Big Mark, Parker, Brian Maltby, Chris Lombard, and several other students worked on the butterfly half guard to footlock transition I showed, did some situational sparring, then rolled with me and with each other until almost 10 PM.

LOOOOONG day. Whew!

Tuesday - Richmond BJJ and a trip to Yamasaki RVA

Tuesday was another good training day. Eric Burdo's fundamentals class at 4 PM focused on attacking and defending from the back. I picked up a very minor (yet not so minor) detail about back defense, and got to train with Eric a few times, and with Fahs (tough blue belt), Acie (purple belt beast), and a few other students.

From there, I headed across town to Mechanicsville Martial Arts, a gym run by my friends Mike Crawford and Klint Radwani, who have both been coming to my gym to train lately. I decided to return the favor, and got to spend nearly 3 hours rolling with the guys over there, including Crawford (fun roll), Dan "Hooligan" Staats (very tall purple belt who is getting very technical), Matt "McDoublejoint" Fuller, Tyler (blue belt teen), Josh (beast wrestler and new blue belt), and Keith Parknow (purple belt, Senior 1 Pan Ams champ at Pena).

I finished my day a little sore and tired, but not too tired to watch an hour of jiu jitsu on youtube and google video.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday at Revolution BJJ

Private lesson w/Lo at 4:30, then basics class at 6 PM. Closed guard when your opponent stands up. Great drilling from the students the whole class. For whatever reason, the vibe was dilligent.

Group class was solid. Big Mark is back after jacking his shoulder a couple weeks ago (I threw him after putting a third stripe on his blue belt, no joke). It's great having him back in the class because he presents a formidable challenge to everyone he rolls with, including me. Tommy, Devin, Lo, Big Jus, Antoni, Jason, Gabe and Bruno (the kids), and a handful of others trained, along with (of course) Vince. Oh, Greg Hoder is back (my third blue belt).

Lots of the students are getting ready for this weekend's Submission-Only tournament in Winchester.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday open mat (4/19/09)

Revolution BJJ

Open mat at my gym has been a staple on Sundays for a couple years now. I go if I'm in town as a general rule. The man in charge is my older brother from another mother (and father), Vince Newton. Vince might be the coolest guy on the planet. He's 47 years old, a hippie, a father of 3, and my first purple belt. Vince is the last person on the mats nearly every class.

Today, I kept the rounds going at 6 minutes for the folks getting ready to compete. We did 8 or 9 rounds, took a water break, then came back for more. It was pretty laid back training, but it was constant. Blue belts Parker and Snake, and white belt Lo (all getting ready for the worlds) were there, along with blue belt Bryan Moore (does my school's site), Dax (from the downtown school), Lenny "Lendo" Greenberg, and Rebekah Carrow. Jarrod (he's brought the P.A. for U.S. Grappling events in Richmond, and apparently I introduced him to grappling many years ago at the judo club at VCU) came in to roll along with a guy named Ian, who was trying jiu jitsu for the first time. I worked with Ian a bit one on one, explaining the concepts of jiu jitsu, and having a little fun rolling.

All told, it was about 3 hours of good, solid rolling, mostly with the gi, but no-gi at the end.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Saturday's noon class was very laid back. I had the students drill some basic half guard stuff to warm up, then we did a guard recovery drill from butterfly half.

I rolled with each of the students on the ground - Chrissy, MikeByrd, Brian Maltby, Big Jus, and Russ "Meat Blanket" Helm, one of our brown belts. After 5 six-minute rounds, we started on the feet for another set of rounds.

Chrissy also got a bunch of good photos for the U.S. Grappling rules (illegal techniques and point scoring). These pics will be used to illustrate the written rules on our site, something no other major tournament organizations do.

Thursday/Friday training (4/16 + 17) - BJJ, MT, MMA

Thursday's class at Richmond BJJ focused on butterfly half guard. I had the students drill for about half an hour to warm up, light stretch, and then a couple basic techniques from the position.
Rolling was standard, but solid. I rolled a bit with the students, including Parker, who is getting ready for the worlds. Snake wasn't there, although he did train Wednesday at 2 PM and at 7 PM for no-gi. I mention Snake as well because he is heading to the worlds as well.

Fundamentals at 4 PM, Burdo went over some basic mount positions in very good detail. It's good for me to train as a student because I pick up a lot of details for my students from a different perspective than simply executing the techniques. I got to roll with Burdo a bit (neither of us is in "tournament mode" right now, so there was a lot of flowing and little smashing going on). Chris Ferguson, who will "run the gauntlet" next week twice (train at all four classes on Tuesday and Thursday at RBJJ) was there. We partnered up, then rolled. Chris is the bald bear in the pic above.

Friday at my gym - Revolution BJJ

I got a text from Scott Eckert, our Muay Thai instructor, about meeting early to do some MMA training. "Trane UFC? I'd love it!" So we met at 5 PM, put on the 4 ounce gloves, and played a little. Dave "Loco Pony" was there. He's tough both on the feet and on the ground, as is Scott. It's really fun training with light strikes on the ground. On the feet, I'm a bit of a fish out of water, but with consistent training, I'd like to change that.

Scott is getting ready for an MMA fight this summer, so he's looking to up the number of times he spars MMA each week. I'm down to help him get ready as much as possible, and to train a little myself (just for fun).

Muay Thai training afterward was fun. Yeah, that's right - fun. Mark, a new guy, came back with paperwork to sign up (woo!), and he partnered with Kevin, who is super tall. Mark is a big dude himself. I worked with Big Jus, whose balance is getting a lot better, and who already punches pretty hard. The endurance round was kind of a killer, even though it was only three minutes, and you can do anything for three minutes, right?

BJJ class was open rolling with Tommy Nooooo!!! and Devin (who are getting ready for the worlds, blue belt feather and light, respectively), and Big Jus. We did a total of 12 rounds, rolling 4x with each partner. Great training. Tommy and Devin are getting sharp. Justin's conditioning is good and his technique is getting good as well. My weight was 167.5 with the gi on before class, or exactly the lightweight cutoff. I mention this because I am toying with the idea of competing at the worlds, although I have pretty lax ambitions at this point.

A few years ago, I would have thought this was an impossibly tough day of training. Last night, it was just another day at the office. Being able to say that feels good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This week's training: 4/11/09 - 4/16/09

Johnny Ramirez (instructor at New Breed Academy in LA) came to do a seminar at Richmond BJJ on Saturday (4/11/09). I always look forward to training with Johnny because the game he plays is really similar to my game, but he's been doing it for longer, so he has a little fun with me when we roll. His movements are generally a little better than mine on the basic movements, and I seldom do anything that really surprises him when we roll.

Johnny's stuff was very slick. Most of the seminar brushed up on a few basic techniques and some different details (for me, anyway). Some of the deep floating half guard stuff was catered to the upper belts there. We rolled him for something like 25 minutes. It was great - I did a few of the moves he showed us, and so did he (he did them better). Really fun, and I feel like I learn a lot. Most of all, I see that I can be at Johnny's level (very good black belt) in a few years. I like that.

Tuesday brought training at Fifty/50 with Ryan Hall and Seph Smith, two of my contemporaries/training partners/friends. This was the third week in a row I got to train with these guys, and it continued to be really rewarding training- challenging rolling, but not overly competitive. The mats were full of purple, brown, and black belts. I got to train with head Yamasaki Richmond instuctor Mike Crawford, a really cool guy. Mike is tough as nails, but we have a lot of fun when we roll, each flowing through techniques and seeing what the other guy is going to do.

Klint Radwani, the other main instructor at Yamasaki RVA, is another old training partner of mine. Klint has developed at the same pace as me over the years and is now quite good. Although our styles are different, we always have very good, even rolling sessions. Neither of us is "trying to win" every time, which is always annoying in a training partner.

I was able to train with Ryan (who won the IBJJF Mundial at purple belt last year, and who has taken time off for two consecutive surgeries on the same arm) for about half an hour. Ryan's game has completely changed since he's had some time off. He's really thinking about jiu jitsu all the time, even when (maybe especially when) he's not doing jiu jitsu. I see Ryan doing very, very well at brown belt in the upcoming few months back in competition, and I'm excited to see how he does.

Seph Smith and I have been friends and training partners for at least seven years now. For a long time, I beat up Seph when we trained, and then a few years ago, Seph started really challenging me. Now I tap him some of the time, he taps me some of the time, and every time I feel like we both walk away with a fresh perspective. Seph does some things very differently from the way I do them, even more different than Klint. Seph is getting ready for this weekend's IBJJF New York Open, along with Ryan.

It's important to note that these guys are from different teams from me. My team is BJJ Revolution, a Carlson Gracie team started by Rodrigo Medeiros and Julio "Foca" Fernandez. I am absolutely loyal to my team and to my lineage, but I am equally loyal to my friends. It's important to me to continue to train with my friends and to help them get better. I'll root for my friends when they're competing (as long as they're not competing against one of my students or teammates, of course), and I'll be happy to help coach them as well. They'd do the same for me. It's a really good thing to have, especially since I would often be the only representative from my team at tournaments back when I was on the road to compete every weekend. Now I know I can count on the same kind of support for my students as well.

My students are getting ready for a string of three tournaments in a row U.S. Grappling is involved with running. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they perform with the stuff we've been working on!

OK, enough preaching here. Time to get ready to train again!