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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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”

Man can’t runout of pressure or combinations

To build on what was learnt on Monday, the Professor had more details to explain to us. Professor also announced that his academy was expanding, resulting in more space! This is very welcome news as the existing area, although an excellent size, is of late getting really busy! Which is a good thing and makes sparring at the academy very educational due to the vast selection of diverse body types and skill levels.
This evening we started work by doing single leg take downs, setup from throwing a jab. The details were to make sure we weren’t bent over whilst attempting and also to enter in like we are doing a double leg takedown but transition to a single leg takedown. From there, we would split the legs, step the knee through making sure to keep a connection with their hip  and then obtaining the cross body position.
This was practiced very well with little confusion on positioning. Professor then demonstrated obtaining the mount from one of the four demonstrated last week. From here, Professor demonstrated the positioning required to straight arm-lock the person’s arm on the ground, this is the same arm that was controlled from first getting into the cross body position.
We practiced this, with only minor slip ups on positioning the arm for submission. Professor then added another dimension, what if they are really strong and are struggling to get free? The answer generally depends on what position they are able to put their arm in which depicts the next best submission, this was demonstrated by the person on the bottom bending their arm. Professor then adjusted his grips and placed the person in a position to be subjected to a Kimora arm-lock! a very, very nice transition move.
We practiced this a few times, inclusive of the takedown and straight arm-lock with mixed success. My main problem was leaving too much space when isolating the arm, which allowed the person on the bottom to defend the position too easily.
Professor then added yet another detail which meant switching positions to one that setup the Omaplata arm-lock and to finish off the combination, a calculating move to put the person on the bottom in a standard arm-lock. The last two submissions were, for me, the more complicated ones as there are several details that needed to be followed to at least ensure understanding.
We practised this and changed partners as we went along, which made the drilling very varied and educational. Some people performed this very quickly and some performed things very meticulously. This brought the evening to a close.
Professor informed us that he wants to enforce these intricacies to make sure we understand how they work. Plus he’ll be going over connections and more finer details in the friday lesson, whilst adding more wisdom to the techniques shown so far this week.
My thoughts, very, very intense technical jiu-jitsu evening, all with a common theme on connections. I still leave too much room when performing particular moves, which tells me that I haven’t been performing then enough in my sparring!
“Tapping out!”

Pressure and more pressure.

Friday night at the academy brought small additions of information, but plenty of practice and recap for the lessons taught this week. This included a technique to grab the person’s foot you’re trying to mount and in reaction to them kicking out to defend, they give you an opportunity to mount them! Clever stuff.
There was an excellent reason for the recap. Professor has awesome things in store for us next week, to continue an assault on the ground.
Which brings us to Monday nights lesson, introduced as combination week. I couldn’t help but feel that the information transfer this week will be mind blowing…
We started the monday evening class with the warm-up consisting of running, side-stepping, heels to backside and knees to chest. We then did a basic circuit of 20 star jumps, 20 squats and finishing with 20 press-ups… 3 sets. We then done some light free sparring to just loosen up before the lesson began.
We briefly recapped the double leg takedown taught last week and went through the different variations of obtaining the mount. A detail from last week was controlling an arm after maintaining a cross body position, the basis of some of the combinations about to be taught to us this week. We also looked at some defensive options against the double leg takedown, one called the ‘brick wall’, which involved sending your hips forward with a long base, although the more common defence is to sprawl. Afterwards the Professor showed us a counter to the ‘brick wall’ which involved pivoting on the planted knee on the ground positioning yourself behind them, whilst they fall forwards. This was attempted but seemed very tricky to get the hang of.
Professor then demonstrated obtaining the mount position then proceeded to show us the positioning for setting up an arm-triangle from the mount position. The details were a combination of basic mount control with added details to make sure the connections were all tight. On observation everything was very systematic if a limb moved another replaced it pressure also being key.
Applying the pressure of the arm triangle was similar to applying the rear naked choke in the sense that it’s an expansion of the chest to close of any gaps and bringing the elbows together.
This was practiced a few times, with certain details being discovered slowly. Professor was very patient and understanding as he wanted to ensure we understood the details, whilst also answering numerous questions.
We then witnessed pure jiu-jitsu art in it’s most rawest form, a transition from the arm-triangle to an inverted leg-triangle. This involved keeping tight control over the person and making subtle adjustments to have the underside of the leg underneath their chin and locking in the position with the other leg. To make matters even more interesting, from that position it seemed the Professor wasn’t finished! We then were shown options of arm-locks , one being an americana and the other a straight arm-lock. To finish this relentless attack the Professor then repositioned himself to perform another arm-lock. It was truly mind blowing to see so many different attacks all spawning from one position.
We practiced and stumbled along, losing some of the details on the transitions until it occurred to me that this was similar to a multi tiered maths problem, meaning if you had a maths question that required you to use the answer for another question further down, if you didn’t get the first part right, the rest of it will be wrong too. To me, the principal is the same with jiu-jitsu transitions.
That concluded the lesson for the evening. The professor made it clear that this week will be focused around combinations and connections and there would be a lot of drilling to make sure we understand and remember the detail. However, if we wanted to get better we had to make sure to attempt these when sparring otherwise, it’s just another bunch of moves and most importantly the mindset we need to adopt is also paramount.
My thoughts, the wonder of this art is staggering and the basic concepts if understood makes the journey that much more enjoyable. I’ll be sure to do more drilling and cut down some of my sparring to retain as much knowledge as possible.
“Tapping out”

If you can’t take the pressure… Tap

Midway through the week and we continue the lessons on double leg takedowns.

Professor addressed the class by paying homage to three members of the academy that recently competed in a grappling tournament. All of them achieved medals which of course made the professor exceptionally proud. He then explained the format of the lesson for the evening, concentrating on adding details to the techniques taught in Monday’s lesson.

We started a warm-up which included, running, side-stepping, raised heels and raised knees. We then performed hip escapes, cart-wheels and lizard crawls forwards and backwards.

Professor then discussed some basic self-defense concepts which involved clinching, controlling the arm followed by a knee to the groin, finishing with a hip throw. We didn’t complete the hip throw completely due to the amount of people on the mats.

We reviewed the previous lesson, with the professor going into more detail on hand positioning on the attackers legs, shoulder positioning when the attacker is on the ground and where to transfer hands to move to the cross body position.

We practiced this with an emphasis on connections. Professor then gave an excellent explanation on power vs pressure. Summarised, power can’t be maintained on an individual where as pressure can be via the use of positioning and good connection, better described by acting like a ‘wet blanket’ on the attacker.

This was demonstrated on a few students in the academy so that they felt the difference.

This brought the evening to a close. More concepts are coming our way in Friday’s lesson with respect to dealing with opponents who have more knowledge about grappling.

My thoughts, certain elements of the lesson I remember from other techniques taught to me, however some things aren’t working for me as well as I like, which questions my understanding or possibly my execution. To me if it isn’t comfortable don’t do it, but something that’s new is always uncomfortable! Perseverance and practice needed…

“Tapping out”

The mysteries of head locking…

Wrapping up an educational week on head lock counters, the professor addressed the academy congregation present on the importance of sensible sparring, then went into details of tonight’s lesson.
We started off with very light ‘rolling’ to get ourselves warmed up and again advised not to over exert as we are doing this to just warm-up; switching partners as we go.
We then recapped head lock escapes from earlier in the week, emphasising the points when brought to the ground of making sure to be on your side and to defend yourself against punches and head butts.
Professor then went over some added details from the stand up position, this included two additional escapes. The first being if you’re head locked and are still standing but the person head locking you is either attempting to just squeeze or attempt to punch with the other hand. In such a situation it’s important to keep your head turned towards the head lockers body, having one hand on the choking arm and the other braced against the head locker’s free arm. This gives sufficient protection for the moment, to escape the situation requires use of leverage by placing a leg, the one opposite the side your head is trapped, underneath the head locker then performing a squat action whilst straightening from the waist to get up right again. From here an arm lock submission is possible.
Another variation to this is to potentially move the other foot to the side and then straighten which did make executing this counter easier.
We practiced this a while, using varying degrees of resistance to test the technique. The other technique involved taking a person down to the floor. This is achieved by keeping a hand on the free arm or hip of the head locker, placing your hand just above the arch behind the knee, palm up with the fingers and thumb separated making an “L” shape, simultaneously pushing the back of the leg, pulling with the other hand and sliding your leg through the head locker’s legs to bring them down and positioning yourself in a modified mount with them possibly still head locking you. From here the previous drills gave us enough to turn this position into a submission.
We practiced this a few times, the professor stopped us a few times to remind us of safety aspects when doing this manoeuvre, namely to make sure not to land on our own elbow when performing the takedown for reasons that we are on mats and if we ever
had to do this in the ‘streets’ would be landing on concrete! We practiced some more and then brought a close to the lesson.
My thoughts, important details… I think back to some of my ‘skirmishes’ in the earlier part of my life and the headlock plus strikes to the head was such a common attack and probably still is. Plenty more for me to practice…
“Tapping out!”