Arghh! my back!

Title says it all, since my last postings on the wonders of Kimura arm-locks, i’ve managed to do the thing that most people do in training and that’s injure themselves, or in this case I’ve injured myself.

So what did i do?

During a simple warm up exercise i managed to hurt my lower back, not terribly serious, but when the following day comes and you can’t even put your shoes and socks on without screaming in pain? you know this won’t get easier any time soon. Luckily, or unluckily,  i’m not a stranger to injuries so i know that the first point of call isn’t your local GP, it’s a specialist that knows about lower back pain, i.e. an Osteopath. But before we get to that point, i was helped out by a member of the academy who also went through this themselves and helped me stretch my lower back out a bit, no it wasn’t pleasant!

Later that particular evening a very hot bath to try and relax the muscles in the area, which helped slightly. Gingerly getting into bed and the fighting for hours to find a reasonably comfortable position to sleep in. I don’t recommend lying flat on your front or on your back. The following day comes and disaster already struck! I’m on my back. I attempt to sit up and quickly lie back down again, my back in telling me things… don’t try to sit directly up! I manage to roll out of bed and come to my knees. It feels like my back doesn’t understand the concept of movement. So i grit the teeth and slowly come up straight, even though still slightly stooped.

Dressing myself was a challenge, i.e. putting on trousers, socks, etc. Getting to work was generally unpleasant. Sitting at a desk to operate a pc, yeah that didn’t go down well, considering every time i got up was recipe for disaster. A colleague gave me a contact number for a local Osteopath in the area, which he recommended very highly, so i dutifully made an appointment.

After answering all the normal questions, you do on a first visit, it was time to strip then get on the table. The hour flew by… crack, crack, crack, crack… crack some more. No training for the week, ice the back to reduce swelling, do not sleep on your front or back, sleep on your side with a pillow between the knees. Plus the Osteopath put these strips on my back, why? apparently it helps blood flow to the area.

Days past, movement is coming back, pain still there but I’m moving better. Decided to have another assessment done, as i really want to get back to training, went and saw the Osteopath, another series of cracks and checks. Confirmation, my back is a lot more  responsive and feels like there’s some give in places as before there wasn’t any. Warned me of going back to training and to take it easy, otherwise i can undo all the healing that’s been done. For good measure they cracked the sh1t! out of my neck too and my upper back. (I really do think that back cracking is like ‘popping your cherry’ for Osteopath’s)

But my range of movement is a lot better now and next to no pain. I will now look forward to going back to training, but no high impact stuff. Being injured isn’t cheap!

“Tapping out!”

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I’m ready to tell you my secret now. I see Kimura arm-locks!

As we bring the Kimura arm-lock to a conclusion this week, Professor did mention of an epic UFC fight between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira where Mir broke Nog’s arm using a Kimura arm-lock.
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Tonight the Professor will be completing the technique of the week but whilst reminding us of it’s application can be used in many, many different situations depending on what circumstance you’re in whilst in the fight.
After the warm-up, we did a recap of the previous lessons from the week, then after going through a brief drill, we steeled ourselves to take on more knowledge.
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Three more positions Professor had in store for us, one being an entry to getting the arm-lock whilst still on your back, generally via an opening given to you when your assailant attempts a punch. To fully take advantage will require applying  some knowledge from the ‘punch block’ lesson to bridge the arm over the shin, once this has been done we can kick our foot up, which in turn moves the assailant’s arm forward giving us an opportunity to set it up for a Kimura arm-lock.
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Another position which dove tails off a previous position we learnt where you end up on top, but the assailant grabs with both arms around your body whilst you have them in the mounted position. From here you arch your back, like a cat, to create space to place a frame between you and the assailant’s head. Whilst doing this, you move your knee up, can be either, and trap the other arm between your thigh and body. This will allow you to get the necessary rotation to apply the arm-lock.
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The last position was from the guard and this required a little more guile to pull off. It relies on action and reaction, a topic the Professor always comes back to when showing us different techniques, why? because he understands that in a real self-defence situation no one will offer up anything without resistance. Professor always makes us aware of this. So with the head position, by pushing it in one direction the most human reaction is to resist and fight, when doing so we use that momentum to push the head back to the other side.
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This places the assailant to one side and off balance within your guard, from here we can go for the Kimura arm-lock on the opposite side to the head.
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However if this isn’t doable, for example the assailant is being very stubborn, resistant or strong, there is always an option. We can effectively go in reverse and go towards the head side; this is doable via hip escapes in the direction of the head and bringing the leg up to keep the other arm exposed, from here we can attempt the arm-lock on the other side.
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For me this was definitely the trickiest of all the Kimura arm-lock positions and the Professor and his talented black belt made it look so easy!
We practiced all moves with varying levels of success and befuddlement, however Professor and Coach did an excellent job of breaking down the areas we found initial difficult. This concluded the lesson for the evening.
My thoughts, this is going to be a submission i’ll go for in future sparring sessions, I have my favourite which is the Americana arm-lock and as i see this as the same submission but in reverse, it makes sense to understand it’s applications. Not to say i’ll neglect the rest, particularly chokes, but I’m thinking already of how i can apply this.
“Tapping out”

Sore shoulders and a sore neck

Moving on steadily into this week’s lessons on the application of the Kimora arm-lock, Professor had designs on teaching us this move when you have your assailant within your guard and the options that are available to you.
We started of with a recap of the positions we learnt from the previous lesson and drilled those to reacquaint ourselves.
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Professor then explained the execution of the arm-lock when in the guard, again it does depend on what your assailant is doing in reaction to the position you have them in. Ideally, it’s best to apply the Kimura when the assailant has their hands on the floor. This gives the opportunity to place your hand on their wrist. The timing for doing this is when the assailant tries to sit up, at this point you allow them to pick you up as well.
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Once you’re in a seated position, reach over the shoulder and thread your arm between their body and arm to grab your own wrist.
Then it’s a shoulder and hip movement exercise to bring the assailant back to the floor with your legs crossed.
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At this point it’s a question of applying pressure until they submit or get their arm broken!
We practiced this a few times and took time out to understand any troubles we were having, my personal gripe was that I had the arm too far away from my own body, which made the execution a little loose. But after a few adjustments it improved.
Moving on, Professor put in a scenario if the person you’re trying to arm-lock is resisting, what are the options? again questions went out and as usual Professor put us out of our misery.
He explained that we can still wrap the intended arm with the one that is used to go through their arm and grab our own wrist. But instead of grabbing our own wrist it hooks on the back of the assailant’s arm. We then move the hand that was on their wrist and use it to support ourselves. Once stable, we can then do a hip bump forwards and roll them round so that they are on the ground and we obtain a cross body position over them whilst still having the arm partially locked up.
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We practiced this a few times inclusive of moving round the assailant’s head to execute the Kimura finish.
Professor then went on to show us a potential early escape for the arm-lock from this position, he explained by just moving our head forwards, we can make it difficult for them to move their arm around to get the initial grip on the Kimura.
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However, Professor also explained that there’s a potentially nasty counter that can be applied instead, which he named the ‘loop choke’.
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We practiced the escape and counter a few times. I struggled initially with the choke but then, with help from the Professor and other students on the evening, i was making fundamental mistakes, which I have now corrected.
This brought the lesson to a close.
My thoughts, some very nice details handed over this evening, which allows another attack to watch out for if I’m in someone’s guard or another attack to attempt if they’re in my guard. Only downside is that now people know another choke, which isn’t my strong point whilst defending.
“Tapping out”

Tools of the Gracie hunter…

This week Professor introduced us to another arm-lock, famous in history to it being successfully used against hi-profile Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioners that just happen to be part of the Gracie family.
Helio was caught with this, Renzo was caught with this and even Royler was caught with this. For those who know, this could only be the Kimura arm-lock. Professor explained that to begin we’ll look at applying this particular technique standing up first and then slowly work our way to the ground.
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Before going into the details of the Kimura, Professor showed us defences if an attacker grabs you from behind and the proper action to take.
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Lowering your height which affects your centre of gravity, whilst forcing your fingers inside the grabbers hands provides a decent point to push your arms down and also to expand your waist out to potentially break the grip. Professor did also advise us that while we are lowering our base, we can also execute a reverse head butt into the face of the attacker.
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After practising that a few times, Professor then taught us the position to be in to execute the beginnings of the Kimura.
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Leading off from the earlier drill, we needed to break the grip, double up on an arm and turn in the direction of the arm you have partially locked.
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From here we were shown two options, to bring them to the floor and place them in the guard but on the side.
A key detail with forcing this submission is that we need to stretch away from the body and then turn, this made the whole move and lot tighter and enabled the submission to go on very quickly.
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Or to be in a cross body position over them. Key details with this particular position required us to make sure that we prevent their arm going to their side, incase they are trying to reach for weapons. In addition, shuffling the arm up towards their shoulder sets up the finishing Kimura nicely in the next part.
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Stepping around the head, then dropping your hip or body weight on their shoulder begins to put vast amount of weight on to their shoulder and make the submission very tight. Then a very gentle twist of the arm that confirms the submission.
All was practiced very diligently, with questions and re-explainations happening in the class. This concluded the lesson on the evening.
My thoughts,  with my long arms I realised how susceptible i am to this particular arm-lock and in fact, all arm-locks in general. However, i did like this addition as I believe it compliments the Americana nicely.
“Tapping out”

Doubling down

With a continuation of the week’s lessons the Professor, as promised, added details of the double leg ankle sweep to incorporate with the lessons on the arm lock/bar. This adds a key dynamic to the classes we’ve been having to give us options if we are ever caught being at the bottom of a street fight.
We went into the standard routines for the warm-up with the normal running, side stepping, hip escapes, shoulder rolls and finishing up on stretches that again required the use of the belt.
As normal, we went over the details of the previous lesson and drilled that a few times to refresh memories.
Now the Professor gave an example as to what could happen if we are pinned down and the person on top manages to get to a standing position, as this could happen, this negates the previous counters taught from the previous lesson. So in comes the use of the double ankle sweep.
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With the hands around the person’s ankles and the legs condensed into the middle of the person ideally on their waist line, it’s a case of pulling with your hands and push with your legs to bring them down to the floor.
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A very simple maneouvre to execute when timed correctly. We practiced this a few times, which also was a good opportunity for people being swept to practice their break fall.
The next detail was how to move once you’ve brought them down. This came down to connections, we would need to put pressure on one of the legs, hook the other leg and keeping low almost walk on your hands up to the top to obtain the mount position.
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With this added detail more practice and drilling was necessary, with different questions being asked and dutifully answered by the Professor. One additional detail was mentioned about preventing people at the bottom from sweeping you by grabbing on to them,
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the answer to that particular problem was explained and then demonstrated, the ending being pretty much the same, ending up in full mount.
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That concluded the evening’s lesson, the Professor made it known that he would be unavailable for friday’s lesson as he was going to be out of the country however, one of his top coaches would be taking the lesson and will be providing information on what we worked on this evening and potentially talking about wrist locks!
My thoughts, this ‘martial science’ that the Professor refers to GJJ as, is exactly that a science and everything is very logical. Some of it feels odd, looks awkward but once you’ve gotten your head around it makes a lot of sense. It can have a very overwhelming affect on you when you realise the different things you’re able to do, to the point where you see people and start thinking about body shapes, strengths, weaknesses and this isn’t just limited to people you don’t know but also people you do know…
“Tapping out”

Chronicles of the arm collector, vol4

New week, same topic… almost… Professor intends to move into double ankle sweeps this week but decided to share additional details on the arm knowledge started from last week. Mainly to focus our attention to how many different scenarios that can bring arm bar/lock opportunities.
Without further ado, we dived straight into a warm up consisting of running, side stepping, backwards running. Then moving to hip escapes and backward rolls. Now we did some different stretches this evening which were new to me but effective. They required use of our belts, focusing on stretching our legs, shoulders, arms and also working core muscles.
Professor then did a quick recap of the last technique taught from Friday’s lesson, which we practiced briefly. He then demonstrated a scenario if the attacker attempts to stand up whilst in the guard, one leg at a time whilst attempting to put one or both hands on our throat. As Professor demonstrated this also gives us an arm bar/lock opportunity, difference being on the emphasis to twist onto our shoulder to secure hyper extension of the elbow joint.
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We practiced this a few times, which was slightly tricky given the awkward position of the submission, which i knew was partly due to not doing it before. Added details were also explained about having a higher guard position on them to drive their weight forward making it harder for them to get up. We moved on to the next technique which involved rotating underneath them to off balance them and take them down to the floor. What isn’t nice for the person being swept is that both arms are caught up in the initial arm bar/lock which means it isn’t easy to break fall. I found this out the hard way and crash landed on my shoulder!
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We practiced this a few more times, i needed to make a small adjustment as I was getting caught against the leg. This was remedied by pushing on the leg to assist off balancing the person in order to execute the sweep. The Professor went on to  show a further variation in the event that taking the leg wasn’t an option was to go for their hip and pull them down to the floor.
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At this point, more explanations came from the Professor about the concepts and ‘fluidity’ of movement to catch someone in the arm bars/locks from different positions and to always be on the look out for them. Understanding positions being the key to knowing how to move next and also to counter certain positions.
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Professor also showed us a more elaborate arm bar/lock manoeuvre involving getting someone lifted into the air and literally ‘dropped’ into an arm bar/lock.
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He also quickly followed this up with it being not necessarily the best arm bar/lock technique to perform in a street fight. Either way we  attempted a few times, being sure to maintain control of the suspended person at all times.
This ended the lesson, Professor was conscious of the fact that a lot of details were shared this evening and made concerted efforts to answer all questions and encourage the asking of questions.
My thoughts, this was again, a valuable addition to last week’s lessons and also gave me more to think about when attempting submissions. However, after the lesson I drilled the different arm bar/lock’s from the closed guard to get more comfortable with attempting them as I find that i don’t do this often enough when sparring.
“Tapping Out!”

Chronicles of the arm collector, vol3

We have arrived at the end of the week and the Professor had a massive treat in store for us. A lesson passed down from the great man himself, Helio Gracie. Professor described this particular technique he was going to teach us as the glue to all moves. When he first mentioned that, admittedly I wasn’t quite sure of what he meant. But I look down, see my white belt hanging from my waist and realise this is one of those moments not to think but to watch, learn and do!
We went into a warm-up which consisted of recapping the arm bar/lock position taught this week. Once we had done that enough, Professor explained situations that can occur when someone is in your guard and they seem to pass your guard with almost relative ease.
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The technique about to be shown is ideal if the person in your guard has double hooks under both arms.
First part involves a head shove followed up by threading an arm inside to lock down one of their arms, having a tight hold on their gi, placing foot onto their hip and performing a hip escape to the side. This will straighten the arm that’s locked down. The other arm is then controlled by the free arm, now at this point moving the leg thats not on the hip to the back and applying pressure on top of your own arm will create a submission attempt on the person.
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Lots of technical details on this move, but surprisingly a very simple manoeuvre to complete. The interesting part about this move is that it’s a gateway to other submissions or setups.
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We continued to practice this move for the majority of the evening, until the Professor taught us another technique to counter someone’s guard pass attempt. This move involved good use of the legs, framing and manipulation of the arms to put yourself in a position to retake the guard position back.
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With this move added to all the details this week meant for a very significant addition to the jiu-jitsu knowledge. Professor gave quite a significant speech on friday evening about the academy, training, getting the most out of the time on the mats and various other things including Royler Gracie’s pending visit next month. The whole week struck a cord with myself, am i actually progressing?, am i doing myself and/or the academy a disservice?
My thoughts, the details this week were awesome, feel very lucky to have close to the original source jiu-jitsu  being taught to me. However,  I feel i’ll need to have periodic spot checks with the Professor to see where  I am potentially going wrong.
“Tapping Out”