My new favourite green smoothie

Just wanted to add this here as well. Adding pear to the mix really made a difference for me amidst my war on candy. It is really simple but can be quite expensive here in the north.

- A small banana
- One pear
- One avocado
- Spinach
- Green tea (chilled)

Stuff before they go into blender:

Stuff when they get out of the blender:

Besides drinking these ridiculous smoothies, I have started taking a lot more supplements than just a post-workout shake. This is partly due to my girlfriend's advice, as she is a long time nutrion enthusiast, who is now studying nutritional therapy at the University of Helsinki. Should probably get her to share some views on nutrition issues on this blog as well.

A list of what I am "on" currently in addition to a balanced diet:
- Magnesium (I believe this is the nitrate form which the body can absurd better or something)
- Vitamin D (because of the winter -> no sun)
- Fish oil (make sure it is omega 3 rich, as the average joe gets a ton of omega 6 anyways and it ia apparently linked with inflammation)
- Multivitamin (some iron and other minerals in there)

Wrapping up 2013 and resolutions for 2014

As the year is drawing to a close, people and especially jiu jitsu practitioners are making plans and resolutions for the coming year in terms of training, competition, diet etc. Last year my big decision was to start a training log an how much I train and what I train. I don't want to post any stats yet because the year is not done yet but it looks like I will be arriving at roughly 215 trainng sessions in 2013. This averages 4,1 session a week which is pretty decent but could be higher. One excuse I can use is that I don't take into account the basic classes I teach.

What I was able to get better at in 2013:

- Berimbolo (did not want this to happen but it did)
- Takedowns/Wrestling (more time put to this than before)
- Reverse DLR (a lot of time spent here)

So, I figured out what to focus on in 2014 also:

- Wrestling at least once a week (I had a pretty solid year in terms of training wrestling/stand up in 2013, but I want to continue on that as I am getting confident on my feet)
- Leg locks, especially the knee bar since hardly anyone is "immune" to this (This is the other aspect in addition to wrestling I want to get better in before reaching brown belt one day. I don't want to be the guy who gets his brown and starts getting leg locked from everywhere. I am going to look at what Buchecha and Dean Lister are doing for this)
- Do at least one nogi competition (Could be adcc or nogi rules. This is a nice and concrete goal which forces me to train smart)

I did not want to do any target for my diet or weight, but I have currently been not eating sweets for 2 weeks and it is hell.

My trip to Brazil is in 6 weeks and I am really excited to get out of the dark and cold Finland. It also looks like the exchange rate of EUR vs Real is favouring me. Also, a trip to Japan might be in the horizon.


It's been a while

Decided to break radio silence..

First thing, I had some money riding on Yahya to win against Niinimäki at UFC this weekend (odds were pretty good), but Niinimäki won by split decision. Still glad it went that way, so Niinimäki will get more fights with his contract. In addition to being a fellow Finn, the guy is really competent in all aspects of the fight which is more than you can say about most UFC fighters. I mean, he took on the former ADCC champ Yahya on the ground and got his hand raised...

To start of, I went to an open guard seminar this Sunday taught by Santeri Lilius, a very active brown belt competitor from Finland. He opened some ginastica natural and then Buchecha's variation of the long step pass sequence he learnt from him. The sequence utilised "reverse grips" (see post about them HERE). I have been drilling these types of passes against Reverse DLR and Z-guard, so I enjoyed this a lot.

The sequence:

- The first step of the long step sequence was to attempt a normal long step pass with the reverse grips falling on your side
- If this failed due to closing your leg in between his legs, you just put your shin or foot to block your opponent's legs and scoot to pull the leg out
- If the opponent shrimps, I switch side by bouncing on your released leg to the other side of his legs (Gui Mendes taught a very similar combo, but he just circled to the other side using the reverse grip on the pant leg)

Other techniques included leg drags, the Keenan stomp pass (video below) and the Victor Estima foot lock from open guard top. Anyways, there was a lot of stuff and I think the seminar will be posted on youtube. If so, I will let you know.

Got to spar a bit with the instructor himself and got leg locked a few. Have not been focusing on the enough as they are legal from brown belt up.

Overall, I have been training quite diligently and should be up to 220 training sessions by the end of this year. Of which, I'll post my stat break down at the end of the year. I consider this a fairly good result as it has been truly hectic at the office. I am also fairly annoyed because the Christmas party season is messing up my training and forcing me to drink more than I usually do. I am looking to find a personal trainer after the holidays.

One thing I have to say about my own technical development is that my guard is starting to more and more resemble what the Mendes bros teach (due to watching their website every day). I am hitting a lot of wrist locks from the bottom as well. I decided I want to train them after losing due to one in Rome Open this summer and my secret idol Calasans using them a lot.

My tournament match (the guy won at least the next match with the same wrist lock as well):

Here's Calasans teaching something similar

Oh, and I am going to Rio to train on February the 8th...


Drop-in at Trumpet Dan's new jiu jitsu school

Ever since I've started teaching class I've become more interested in seeing how to teach better. The first guy who came into my mind to show my how basics can be taught was "Trumpet" Dan Lukehart. Dan is a brown belt from Ralph Gracie team and has recently opened his own academy in the small city of Brea in Southern California.

How I learnt about Dan was though his youtube channel, where he used to do a lot of high quality breakdowns of Roger Gracie's game. As he was and is really into basics, he also opened a website www.grapplingbasics.com which has free quality instructional material on basic jiu jitsu. His teaching ability is really good and partly comes from the fact that he used to be a music teacher before he got into jiu jitsu. That is where the nickname also comes from..

I arrived 30 min early for and got to chat with Dan for a little while. The academy was really nice and new with a large mat area and chairs on the sides. What is also good (Europeans, don't take this for granted) was that they actually had showers as many academies in the US don't.

The class that I attended wasn't about basics, but on spider guard to De La Riva to berimbolo position with a deep De la Riva hook. This was something they had been practicing for a while at the academy (a good way to teach imo) but I tried to catch up. Luckily, I use the DLR a lot, so I managed to do ok.

The berimbolo position was done with a deep hook on which Dan commented that this is not the Mendes brothers way to do this technique (the use the shallow hook) but the Samuel Braga version. This is something that they did a lot, naming technique variations after certain competitors. If you look at some online material from the academy, you can see that they sometimes refer to things like Leandro Lo grips (against DLR) etc. This is just goes to show that Dan watches a lot of competition material and keeps himself updated on everything going on at the highest levels of competition.

Watching competitions and having idols that you root for (and want your technique to look like) has been really important for me in boosting my development and keeping my spark for jiu jitsu alive. I guess this is important in every sport. For example, when the Jamaicans have become very succesfull in sprinting there are a lot of kids on the island suddendly trying to become the next Usain Bolt.

When I look at a list of who I'd consider my idols, I notice that the things I try to do in sparring somewhat resembles what these guys actually do in competition. My all time idols are probably the following

1. Cobrinha
2. Galvao
3. Terere

We had a good amount of rolls after the techniques and the California (inland) heat was getting into me. What was different from what I am used to, is that a lot of the guys training there used both knees on the mat to initiate passing. What this does is that it doesn't allow me to play De La Riva against them. I went to spider instead and felt a bit lost.

I got to roll with Dan also. What was surprising, he was able to pressure pass into mount (one inch at a time) and finally cross choke me despite being lighter than me. This just goes to show that pressure is not about size.

What stood out at Brea Jiu Jitsu was how welcoming everybody was. Everybody was really talkative and wanted to roll with the Scandinavian stranger.

If you want to see more about the teaching methods at Brea Jiu Jitsu, check out the post below

Old post on Brea Jiu Jitsu


Visited Cobrinha's and learnt about passing the reverse de la Riva

I think what made me first get a little more serious about jiu jitsu was watching Cobrinha compete around 2009. Not only was he really dominant during that time but also had a really active style with constant attacks from every angle. His style was significantly influenced with his background in capoeira allowing him find balance and attacks from difficult positions.

Good balance, athletisism or superior flexibility are traits that I don't share with Cobrinha but seeing him doing his thing also made me include a lot of spinning attacks, speed based passing and oma platas into my game. I've actually done so much of them that they are now my go-to techniques. Come to think about it, I actually could have progressed quicker if I had only focused on techniques that suited my limited abilities and heavier body a little better. On the other hand, you could argue that trying to perform these more challenging techniques have most helped me development at least some new athletic ability on the way. I also think I had more fun this way.

So, when I went to Southern California a few weeks ago, I knew I had to train at his academy. The academy is situated in West Hollywood but a bit off the busiest part of it. There is a lot of traffic in these parts of LA but I did not have to go to evening class, so it was ok.

The rumours about Cobrinha were true in the sense that he was very welcoming. We also did a lot of basic capoeira as a warm up, which was expected. The choreography was easy enough for a first-timer to follow but it really still pushed my endurance. I would think that even the more experienced practitioners got something out of it as the routine included things like spinning head stands.

The biggest technical revelation was that I realised that a lot of good guys at Cobrinha's (I've seen it elsewhere too) use "reverse grips" to pass the reverse de la Riva guard. The reverse grips allowing for a better chance to get a succesfull cross knee pass, smash pass or long step/hip break pass.

When I am talking about reverse grips, I better start by explaining what I mean by traditional or "non-reverse grips". Here is a picture of Rafael Lovato demonstrating. The grip on the side of the trapped leg is holding the collar and the other grip is holding the pants on the other side.

These traditional grips might not be optimal because it often too easy for the guarder to get his outside foot on the hip and get control of the distance. This can either happen by circling the foot in from the top in a manner similar to setting up the leg lasso or by simply putting it on the hip below the elbow if there is space. I think this is the main reason why many prefer to switch to reverse grips here.

The reverse grips help to control the pushing leg but also keep opponent from inverting easily according to the Mendes brothers. Below you can see what I mean by reverse grips.

Something that helps passing from this position is what I call the "knee pinch". It simply means that unlike in the foto, you can sometimes control the reverse de la Riva leg by standing with your feet together and pinching. This helps with all the passes from reverse grips but especially with the cross pass if you are able to pinch from above his knees. If this happens, he can not use the knee shield to prevent passes.

Towards the end of my fruitful trip I managed to catch a flu, probably an influenza according to the doctor I visited. As I was flying the same day, she game me a very strong medication. I guess people are used to that in the US. She even suggested I'd take a steroid shot which I respectfully declined


Shoulder injury and my favourite use for coconut water

Not much blogging going on lately, despite the fact that I've had a lot of jiu jitsu related things on my mind. Firstly, I have been starting to get succesfull with the berimbolo back take. This is probably thanks to the Mendes bros site. It also seems my game is subconsiously starting to modify itself to resemble their style because I just casually watch the site every day.

The big problem at the moment is that my shoulder keeps hurting. I don't know if any single thing damaged it but it just might be a bit inflamed all the time. Took a lot of ibuprofein this week which has made it better. Despite the pain, I've been training consistently at five times a week even though I should probably give my shoulder a rest

Today, I decided to give coconut water a go in a smoothie. I tend to use flaxseeds for fiber and goji berries and blueberries a lot with my smoothies, so here's a nice basic smoothie with coconut water.

2 dl coconut water,
half a banana,
handful of goji berries,
a larger handful of frozen blueberries,
a tea spoon of grinded flaxseeds

Tastes really nice. The thing is that coconut water is quite expensive, so I won't be using it all the time.


World's best acai bowl with AJ Agazarm

Sweet recipe

My summer jiu jitsu trip finally booked

So, I've booked the flights to California again to get some inspiration for my training. I am going to stay in Southern California for 2 weeks starting July 23rd.

Despite not staying in central LA, I am determined to fight the traffic one or two times to go train at Cobrinha's. After all, he is one of the guys that got me excited about jiu jitsu to begin with. I am a big fan of his movement oriented styly and really interested in the way he drills and incorporates capoeira in the warm up. Since I teach now, I notice I am constantly looking at ways to keep the warm ups fresh but still BJJ centric. Going to Cobrinha's is pretty the only thing I've decided so far. I am also thinking if I could afford a private lesson.

I am also keen to perhaps go to Brea Jiu Jitsu, which is closer to me if I am staying on Huntington Beach. This is because Dan, the guy teaching seems to be very methological and hopefully I could improve my teaching by seeing how he teaches.

There is an abundance of school in the proximity of Huntington Beach, even the original Gracie Academy is pretty close in Torrance. Still kinda looking for the place I would do my regular everyday training near Huntington. If any of you readers have ideas on where to do drop ins, just let me know..

March & April training stats

Despite being very lazy about blogging the past 2 months, I've been training quite actively. I also turned 30 last week, which I hope motivates me to train more not less.

As a total, I did 4,2 training sessions per week in March and 4 per week in April. I have to say I am fairly happy with this rhythm, especially since I was sick for a few days and have had problems with my right shoulder for the past 2 weeks or so. In March I did a lot of gi jiu jitsu but in April I was able to also no one nogi session each week. I haven't done a lot of wrestling these past 2 months but the majority of the nogi classes are strictly takedowns anyways.

If there is a thing that has improved during past months, its my takedowns and feints for takedowns. I've come to finally realise the importance of constantly changing levels and slapping the opponent's head down as a distraction. I've also been able to be better in combining takedowns, such as changing from a double leg to knee tap. I think I've also improved my ability to finish the high single leg by either catching it high in my armpit or switching the opponent's leg to the outside and tripping him. I don't think running the pipe works really well on its own.

Nogi has been useful in another sense as well, because it helps me get in shape much better than jiu jitsu where I can dominate with grips a lot. As the Rome Open is approaching, I have to improve my conditioning and watch what I eat. You can't really rely on a last minute weight cut in the promised land of pizza and pasta.

Just got my summer holidays sorted as well..Not going to the mundials this year but I've got a jiu jitsu & surfing holiday planned anyways


Trip to Rome confirmed, been focusing on just a few techniques

Haven't posted anything BJJ related in a while. This is partly because there is a lot going on at work and partly since there hasn't really been any great revelations recently.

Basically there has been 2 things I've tried to get going

1. What I call an americana arm bar break when the opponent is defending my armbar from top. This was taught to me by one of our brown belts and it has really been a magic bullet for me. The thing is that with this break, the opponent's strenght really doesn't matter much, which I find appealing. This break has given me a lot more confidence to go for arm bars, and be more submission-minded

2. Finishing the sweeping single leg takedown. Every Tuesday I do nogi stand-up and actually I did it on Thursday as well this week. My ultimate goal is turn my takedowns from a weakness to a strength. Also, in a certain way, I think people who go for takedowns a lot, are also able to keep an aggressive and attacking mindset on the ground too. I managed to get a few nice takedowns this week, and I really really happy about it. Toni and I were actually discussed that at this point we wouldn't mind getting submitted in a match if we managed to score a takedown. I guess that's because it would be a great sign of improvement

Here is one of the finishes I've tried to get going by AJ Agazarm of Gracie Barra. I use a different set up though.

Beside trying to get these 2 things going, I've just done my regular training and teaching routine. I teach 2 classes each week and I really like it. I guess it takes away from my own training time but I don't really mind since I seem to be training over 4 times a week anyways. I think today was my 64th training session this year (training log stats to be updated shortly)
Another thing what's happening is that I booked my flights and accomodation for the Rome International Open on June 29th. My friend Sebi from Zurich is also going to compete there so we get to hang out. I don't really know whether there is going to be a Master's division there or should I just enter the adult. I am turning thirty in a week, but haven't really thought about it at all.

I am also looking to make another training focused trip this summer/fall, perhaps to Cobrinha's or Paragon if I end up in California. I think that at this point of my training it is becoming more and more important to get some input and deeper details from top black belts just to keep things fresh and my mind thinking. I think it also valuable to get effortlessly destroyed every once in a while. This is because there is a difference between losing to top guys in Finland where I can get my game going at least 10% to losing to top guys in the world who really don't even break a sweat against me and I am completely shut down without them even trying.

As a final note today..Despite me focusing more on toreanda style passes recently, I haven't tried this version presented here by Leandro Lo. I someone is looking for some new inspiration regarding this style of passing, I suggest you take a look

Leandro Lo toreanda pass


Kurt Osiander seminar on tape

Found this Kurt Osiander nogi seminar. Sweet.."1996" jiu jitsu

Simple green shake

I mostly drink berry-based smoothies when I do, but have recently started experimenting with even crazier "green" shakes. These shakes are rich in vitamins A and C and usually contain a lot of dietary fibers.

Here is a recipe I've put together for myself after researching which ingredients are often used in green smoothies.

Basic green smoothie

1 banana (good base for almost any smoothie, whether berry or green)
1 large handful of fresh spinach
1/2 broccoli
1 cup of water (or add cucumber)
A few tablespoons of protein powder (whey, soy etc.)

Mix in a blender of sufficient size. Depending on your taste, at least ginger and kiwi also work well with this.


Gi Review: Shoyoroll Competitor

Overall impression and fabric

This review is for a Shoyoroll's new Competitor A3 gi in white. This batch of Shoyoroll's also had a blue version of the gi made. The theme of the gi is to have a slightly flashier SYR gi with patching along with very light materials. The color scheme is grey/red, so basically the same as the count, only with the yellow replaced with red. The grey linings are really subtle but more to my liking than something brighter.

Despite the material being light, it doesn't sacrifice any comfort compared with regular Shoyorolls. The fabric feels really soft and I actually couldn't get my dog of it while trying to get some photos. Apparently, he likes it too.

The jacket is a pearl weave and the specs only mention it to be a light weave with no exact weight of the fabric given. I think it is slightly lighter than a regular Shoyoroll jacket but don't know for sure. The weight difference is most likely too small for me to measure accurately so I base everything on a hunch.

There is a lot of patches on the gi, as can be seen here

I usually prefer soft cotton pants to rip stop, but the Competitor makes an exception. Normally rip stops can feel either too stiff (thick rip stops) or too thin. Another thing is that I think they don't seem breathe as well as regular cotton pants. I din't encounter any of these issues with these pants as they almost feel like slightly lighter cotton pants. I also think they are thicker than the pants I've seen on the Shoyoroll White Mamba which were not to my liking. The dog also felt comfortable with the pants..

Close-up of the rip stop fabric

Fit and sizing

First of all, let me start by saying that Shoyoroll gis shrink a lot if you wash them in anything but cool water. I've seen many guys my size wear an A1L or an A2 (I'm around 182cm, 84kg), but they probably don't wash them in hot water. I prefer to do so to make sure bacteria is really removed after training. Because of this my A2 Count shrank so much that the IBJJF guy measuring it didn't allow me to compete in it last time I tried. So this time around, I got myself an A3.

The official sizing chart of the gi is as follows

The rough measurements of my gi (after 1 wash)
Key issues with fit

- The gi is better suited for not so bulky guys because the cut is fairly slim
- In size A3, the pants are quite wide (see weight range), so you should be able to fit in them even if you have quite muscular legs
- The sleeves are much roomier than in the A2. This means the sleeves on this gi are pretty standard to what you see on the market

Here, I will compare the Competitor to an A3 Ouano Light Competition gi which has seen many hot washes. The gis are both light gis meant for competition so the comparison makes sense. Also note, that I've competed with the Ouano in a few IBJJF tournaments so it should not officially be too small for me.

Ouano's sleeve cuffs are much tighter. However, the sleeves alltogether are much roomier on the Shoyoroll. The Shoyoroll Competitor's cuffs are around 17,6 cm.

Shoyroll has a slightly thicker collar

Details include some loose threads and some unremoved fluffy stuff inside the sleeve patch. The loop system is the standard loop system for SYR

Overall grade:

This is a really nice but pretty standard Shoyoroll gi that did not disappoint. I'd say a 9,5/10 in my book, but most SYRs are.


Analyzing competition footage as part of teaching

In a recent interview, I remember Trumpet Dan saying that at his new school Brea jiu jitsu they often analyze competition footage as part of their lessons. This is of course something many dedicated students of jiu jitsu do on their spare time, but that is of course "without supervision". Being a fresh teacher and having never seen this done, I became very curios to see how they actually do it.

Well, now I came across a video by TrumpetDan to answer just that.

First of all, they clearly look at the stuff they've just trained on tape, choosing competitors that prefer the techniques they have just trained. In this case, they start with the oma plata and sweeps related to the oma plata control by watching Brian Morizi in action. What made the tape especially interesting is that I had the chance to roll with Morizi on one of my travels when he was a purple belt and remember thinking that he is basically an improved version of me. Better on every aspect of the game.

Wathing Morizi, they really look at every phase that happens during the build up to the technique performed in class. Dan stops the tape frequently and if something doesn't really show because of the angle etc. he demonstrates what's going on. The second part of the tape focuses on Gui Mendes sparring against Benny Dariush at the Art of Jiu Jitsu academy.

For me, this type of approach seems to work and I seem to be getting a lot out of these tapes this way. Oftentimes, when just looking at competition tapes on my own, I get anxious and skip ahead too quickly and basically never have the patience to rewind.

All and all, TrumpetDan is a former music teacher and along with analyzing tape with his students, he is also known for teaching positions and concepts instead of focusing on a large amount of techniques. You can get a hang of what I mean by checking his website clips at http://grapplingbasics.com/


February training summary

I had 18 training sessions in February which totals exactly 4,5 sessions per week. This is a clear improvement from January where I only had 3,5 trainings per week. What makes February's good result even better for is that I was sick for 2 days. Without being sick, I might have been able to do 5 trainings a week on average. I also didn't take into account the sessions when I was teaching.

What I am not so pleased with, that despite my goal of doing more wrestling and nogi, I only had 1 wrestling and 1 nogi class in February. This is something I should start to improve starting this Saturday when I have a wrestling class.
The increased training in the gi this month (and this year I guess) seems to actually improve my performance in sparring as well. I feel like I am slowly getting better. One thing that has been important to me since last year is that I've also started to focus into a few things for a longer period of time. For example, currently I try to work on the following things in sparring and drilling:

1. A new "wrench" arm bar break. This has been very good to me as I used get to arm bar position quite often but had trouble with getting the opponent's arm extended if the guy was stronger than me.
2. "Jacare" ankle pick from standing (gi)
3. Creating an angle by grabbing opponent's tricep (neck arm) and going for a flare double (nogi, wrestling)
4. Switching to knee tap if flare double fails due to opponent spreading his legs (nogi, wrestling)
4. 2 RDLR sweeps (roll over and roll under) (gi, nogi)

I can honestly recommend keeping this type of training journal to everyone, because it not only helps you track your training but motivates you to train more. If only I had the guts to start keeping track on what I eat as well.


DVD review: Rafael Lovato's Pressure Passing System

I have not wanted to watch a lot of instructionals for a long time as I feel that watching information that sometimes contradicts between different sets is often counterproductive. I currently watch a little Ryan Hall's set on back attacks and Mendes online for some of my guard attacks (arm bar and reverse DLR mostly).

Otherwise I only use what I've collected so far to my own word document throughout the years and dig deeper to those techniques and concepts. Of course some of these techniques were learnt in classes and seminars (my DLR game and fireman's carry takedown for example) and some were learnt from dvds (nearly all my side control techniques: general position from Osiander, NS choke from Marcelo and the triangle from side control from Jeff Glover) and the word document puts it all together so I don't forget anything important.

Despite being reluctant to look into any dvds, I had to look into Lovato's pressure passing because it is basically exactly the game I play now. It took me a few years to gather the bits and pieces for this and suddenly someone has done exactly the same, only at a higher level. Even the way he opens closed guard is exactly the same as the way I do it.
All the passes in the set (disc 1) are set up from the "Headquarters position" which I basically call the "Combat position". The main idea with this position is to put your opponent in a sort of a "killed" de la riva guard, meaning his DLR hook is loose and the pushing leg is trapped between your legs while you are squatting on it. There are slight differences between what I have been doing and the "headquarter" such as I am used to being more upright and have the grip on the collar a bit lower, but they are basically the same position

This position is fairly safe and allows you set up at least an x-pass (if you're opponent is not crossing the ankles) or go for a cross pass (knee-cutter) or do a folding pass (Lovato calls it side smash) depending on which side your opponent is letting you pressure him to. Lovato also uses the long step pass (he calls it butt flop) from this position, which I don't. So, in my opinion there are 4 core passes from the "Combat" or "Headquarters" position. The DVD covers more, but I think they require for you to either create distance or release the trapped leg on which you are squatting on.

The "headquarters" position

The 4 basic passes from the position in my opinion are

Cross pass

Folding pass (side smash), I stay lower on the legs than Lovato though

Long step pass (butt flop)

Despite these being the core concepts and passes behind the pressure passing system, the set provides a lot of related material such as opening a closed guard, forcing half guard, troubleshooting the leg lasso in different positions etc. I've found the majority of the material to be very applicable.

The set revolves mostly around the headquarters and troubleshooting it and the passes themselves, but some of the techniques are combinations of the passes that flow together nicely. On the other hand, there is not a lot of material on what to do when an opponent tries to recompose guard etc. shrimps and turns into or away from right after a certain pass attempt such as an x-pass attempt. Don't get me wrong, there is some counters to counters but from my experience, this is often the difference between success and failure with some of these passes. Especially latching on to your opponent's back if he tries to turn away and turtle roll to guard or spinning behind him when he turns into you for a single. Good sources for this info are perhaps Ryan Hall's back attacks and Pablo Popovitch's no gi guard passing set.

The headquarters position, in my opinion, can not directly be applied to nogi grappling because there is no collar to grab or a pant leg to hold. Apparently there will be a similar nogi set by Lovato published soon, which should be interesting. I have done my share of research on this and use a position where the blade of my arm controlling the pushing leg is on the back of my opponent's knee with the leg still between my legs (sometimes due to lack of control, I have to put one or two knees on the ground also) and the hand that is usually holding the collar is on my opponent's hip.

All and all, the set would be ideal for a fresh blue belt because it gives a game which consists mostly of solid basic passes wound together. It also gives you one specific position "the headquarters" where you can go back to all the time and hone your posture in it. Even Rafa Mendes says he prefers positions where he has multiple attacks without moving his grips around too much, and "headquarters" fits that description nicely.


Gear review: Adidas Combat Speed 3 wrestling shoes

As I've been on a hunt for decent wrestling shoes for my freestyle wrestling classes for a while, I can finally say I've found a nice pair. The problem was that in Finland, there aren't many sports stores that carry wrestling shoes (and if they do, they are for kids) but I was lucky to find a decent pair with out ordering them from abroad.

My Adidas Combat Speed 3s are US size 9,5 which should translate to FR size 43,3. I normally wear a size 43, which is a bit loose for me. These however, fit pretty snug. This means I would advise getting about one size larger than your regular shoe for the Combat Speed 3.

The shoe is really light and the sole is bendy. While searching for a good shoe, I tried on a few different shoes that had stiff soles that felt like they make springing with your feet uncomfortable. The soles are dark but the parts that touch the ground so you won't probably leave any marks on the surface if you decide to play other sports with these.

On quirky detail about the shoes are that the ankle fabric actually has holes in it for better "air conditioning"

Despite not having a lot of experience with wrestling shoes, I can attest that I am really happy with the Adidas Combat Speeds. However, not even good shoes have prevented me from twisting my ankle numerous times while sprawling or scrambling. Don't know if I'm tying them too loose or what


Don't forget to watch Gunnar Nelson fight this weekend

When I was watching the 2009 ADCC in Barcelona, I remember the first day being all about watching Marcelo Garcia's, Andre Galvao's and Braulio Estima's great matches. Had some acai and there were bikers as security guards. Everything went as expected.

Then, on the second day there was more of the unexpected. For example, Marcelo Garcia lost the final of his weight class to Pablo Popovitch on a last minute guard pass. What was even more surprising, there was an Icelandic fighter called Gunnar Nelson who refused to lose in the absolute division despite losing early in his weight class. First he wrestled his way through veteran MMA fighter Jeff Monson (3-0) and then submitted David Avellan on the second round. Finally, he had to surrender to Xande Ribeiro by a kneebar in the semifinals but his 2 wins were pretty impressive because virtually nobody had heard of the guy. At least I've been a fan ever since..

Gunnar's highlight

Gunnar earned his black belt in 4 years and has a back ground in karate. This week end he is fighting for the second time in the UFC against Jorge Santiago. He's 10-0-1 so far with no decision wins. What makes me believe in this guy is that he has decent striking to compliment his ADCC level grappling skills (there are also comments by Kenny Florian that he can "hang" with GSP's wrestling in training). On top of all this, he is only 24.

A nice interview with Gunnar

Gunnar's interview in MMAFighting


Testing the new protein toffee pudding

This week, just out of curiosity I bought a new type of protein supplement I've never tried, a protein pudding. It is designed for those people including me who always need to have a dessert. The supplement itself is in powder form and you mix it with fat free milk to make the pudding.

The powder has a fairly high energy content (350kcal in 100 grams) but the thing is that you really don't use a lot of it per serving. It also has loads of protein in it, 80% to be exact. What was also positive is that it contains 10,6% of dietary fibers because at least for me it is sometimes hard to get enough of them in my normal (poor) diet. The sweetness comes from sucralose.

What the powder consists of?

The way I prepared this was first mixing the milk and powder in a regular shaker and quickly pouring it to a cup to set in a fridge. After it is done, the pudding has a foam-like texture to it, which is like very much. The taste is not too artificial either although with my ratio of powder to milk to toffee flavour is pretty mild. I don't know whether anyone can actually replace desserts or protein shakes permanently with this but I'm gonna try to replace maybe half of my desserts until the powder runs out.


What to drink for recovery?

Since I'm recovering from only having slept 8-9 hours combined on two past knights I can't go and train tonight. I don't feel bad about it because I saw this coming. I woke up between Saturday and Sunday to watch the UFC and yesterday I watched superbowl at my friend's house (also in the middle of the night) who made American style coach potato food for us. This guy is also a serious kitchen hobbyist who currently competes in the Finnish Masterchef so I had all the pulled pork, chicked wings and key lime pie I could handle.

While resting at my house tonight I noticed I am running out of supplements and since I am a bit low and funds, I really started researching what I should get. I ran across this very simple but nice write up on recovery drinks from a guy who is definetly more informed on the subject than I am

What to put in a post work out shake?

I'll probably get some basic whey protein and some malto + some berry powder I've grown to like.

Come to think of it, I should also probably start listing all the blogs I visit regularily to a sidebar on my blog so people can find them more easily


January training summary

I am recording my training for the first time in January and checked what it really looked like. I felt I was getting an ok amount of training done and the stats were almost what I thought they would be. Fell a little short of my 4 times a week long term target though. My new German Boxer dog has definately snatched some of my time this month.

Here is a quick summary:

Altogether I recorded 16 session for January which is a little over 3,5 per week. What I was pleased with is that after a long layoff I also did 5 sessions without the gi. I have to say it felt much harder to go back to nogi than I thought.  

As I also recorded the themes of each training session, I was happy to notice that takedowns were the thing I trained the most in January with a total of 6 sessions. One of my aims this year is stop pulling guard in training and competition. I've been told recently that my top game is stronger than my bottom game, so training takedowns (my past weakness) suits my agenda really well


Shoyoroll selling Competitor gis next week

Just got info that Shoyoroll is coming out with white and blue competitor gis next week

Looks pretty similar to comp lite sold in the mundials. If this has cotton pants, might consider getting it


The lesson of Magid Hage's baseball bat choke

In the recent Abu Dhabi Pro trials in San Diego, Magid Hage tapped out 2 big name opponents in Zak Maxwell and Clark Gracie with baseball bat chokes from half guard bottom. The choke is actually finished from bottom mount position which makes it a very uncommon sight in high level jiu jitsu tournaments.

The match against Clark Gracie:

The match against Zak Maxwell:

What makes the case very interesting is that not many people focus on things that are considered by nature "low percentage" or not often seen in high level jiu jitsu competition. Some even gather statistics of most common submissions, passes etc. and focus their training around those. I guess the lesson here is that you can also to believe in techniques that are not often seen at the high level and be succesfull with them. One could also argue that there are a vast number of potentially "high percentage" techniques out there that people just don't polish enough.

In order to do this, you of course must believe in what you're doing when you start focusing on a certain technique. Don't get discouraged even when Rafa Mendes or Marcelo Garcia doesn't believe in it. There is still a chance that you can make it work for you.

I guarantee if someone would show me the berimbolo, Estima's inverted triangle or Rodolfo Vieira's signature throw for the first time without me having seen them used in competition, I would probably shrug them of as something that probably won't work if the opponent is skilled.


Neck pains and anaconda positions today

Yesterday night I was celebrating my friend's PhD in Medicine and had a few drinks. Despite not feeling my best in the morning I decided to head to wrestling practive at 12.30 this morning. I was really sweating like a pig in warm up which included a lot of moves that made me dizzy like trying to throw myself up to my two feet from the headstand.

The techniques of the day were very interesting from a jiu jitsu perspective because we basically went through what you can do from a anaconda control. In jiu jitsu this is a position where most people don't think about points anymore but instead look to finish with either an anaconda or a darce choke. In wrestling, you can't choke people out so the technique is mostly used for gaining top position on the mat.

Our set up for it was pulling your opponent down to catch it from the collar tie position. Sometimes you end up getting this control also from when your opponent shoots at your legs.

What I call "anaconda control":

  • Tie and drag to the mat by sprawling, from which you can either
    1. Spin under like in an anaconda shoke to gain top position (side control)
    2. Spin to the back to get a point
  • Tie and step to the side of the trapped arm and grab outside the knee and finally clasp your hands together. Sit back and throw him over your shoulder closer to his head. Come on top
Today's training was a lot of fun, although I hurt my neck while sparring and my ankle while warming up. My right ankle has now taken damage 3 times this month, 2 times from twisting it while sprawling and today twisting it in warm up.


My training log, a nice app for jiu jitsu

I've heard numerous times that people train less in reality that they think they do. Therefore, I decided to start keeping a training log on how much I actually train jiu jitsu, wrestling and gym. I started keeping track using this free app called my training log for Android. The application allows you to record your weight development and other details as well, but I will stick to just recording my training sessions.

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

At the end of the year 2013 I should have fairly good idea on how much I actually train when taking into account holiday break, being ill etc. The app also records the actual hours spent training so I will have a number on that. I also decided to write down what technique I have practiced in each session, such as foot locks, takedowns or arm bars from bottom. After a while, I will be able to see if I have really been able to work on my weaknesses or have I just sticked with my strengths.


Another wrestling class, thoughts on wrestling stance

I had another freestyle wrestling practice yesterday and let me tell you it was tough. We started with some basic "gymnastics" such as cartwheel, advanced somersaults, bridges etc. The techniques this time were a double leg, a fireman's carry and a fireman's carry forward, which I've never seen before.

My training partner Toni and I have been thinking a lot about the stance we are going to use in wrestling and jiu jitsu. Usually in wrestling they have their strong foot forward but I think I'll be using my left foot forward instead. This is not wrong per say, because I know that wrestlers who switch to mma often will learn to use the weak foot forward stance to have a better stance for boxing.

My thought work so far is as follows:
  • When no grips are in place, assume a staggered fairly low stance (one foot forward, one back) putting your left  foot forward
  • Keep your left arm on top of your left leg to protect against takedowns on that leg
  • Keep your right hand up and looking for the opponent's arm or neck
  • If you get a control of the neck (clinch), try to control the biceps with the other arm. Often in jiu jitsu the arm just gripping below the elbow which I think ruins your control of the inside space. 
  • When you have control of the neck I should try to have the leg on that side forward
  • When you are clinching with neck control, do not put your head on the other guys shoulder. You can even go forehead to forehead. If you're clinching with an underhook, I don't think putting your head on his shoulder can be avoided
A good stance display

We finished yesterday's training with 5 rounds of sparring. On the 5th round, I was so tired you could do a shot but not get up from it.