25 Mar 2006

Day 7: Saturday - Ju-Jitsu in the church!
A slightly easier start to my day - it being Saturday I could afford a lie-in. But before I knew it, I realised I was on the northern line to visit Pete McCarney's new dojo in Kentish Town.
I wasn't sure what to expect, I walked in and mass was being held. Ooops! Wrong part of the church.
The training hall is behind the church, so when I walked in I was pretty impressed that it was a good size and very quiet - a world away from the hustle of LA Fitness, his previous venue.
I was in a different state of mind today. By now, my aching joints and sore muscles still hurt, but I cease to notice them. Instead, my body was conditioning itself to everyday training, and as such was ready for anything. I found my breakfalls and strikes were getting snappier and the throws a little bit tighter. In essence, I was reaching the level of fitness and conditioning I used to have when training towards my black belt.
I'm not going to make too much of a big deal here, my 7 day challenge is nothing compared to the training a marathon runner, cagefighter or soldier would do.
So what was the point?
Well, apart from showing that I have an appalling lack of social life and that I am a rather neglectful husband and father - I wanted to prove that I could physically train every day. I also wanted to illustrate that in order to succeed in anything, you need to dedicate a lot of time to it. This is especially true in martial arts. Just training once a week surely cannot do justice to one's ability in MA. In our jujitsu style, we train to react to punches and strikes with our own strikes or blocks and throws. Just how good do you think you can be with just once a week training?
It is my opinion that once a student embarks on martial arts as a hobby, a twice a week regime is the bare minimum one should do. It doesn't have to be the same MA, but the body needs to be conditioned to accept this standard.
In this month's grappling magazine, I'm reading an interview with a BJJ black belt who mentions that he trains every day, twice a day! And I know that this is fairly common amongst the senior BJJ community. Maybe this will be my next Meerkat challenge!

Until then - together in jitsu pain.
Meerkat

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Seven Day Slam - Day 7

Day 7: Saturday - Ju-Jitsu in the church! A slightly easier start to my day - it being Saturday I could afford a lie-in. But before I knew ...
Day 6: Friday - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Day 6 of my strange seven day self-declared odyssey began poorly. I woke up with a stinking cold and a body wracked with pain and stiffness. I found it hard even to put my socks on.
It was at this stage that I began to regret my challenge - I'm no spring chicken anymore!
But I bravely soldiered on to work and then, in the evening, walked to BJJ class.
It was a good session with emphasis today on defence against single and double leg takedowns. Then we practised some sweeps as your opponent passes the guard. Nice techniques and ones that could be used immediately - as big geezer Brian happily demonstrated on me when we sparred - cheeky sod. A couple more rounds of sparring and it was time to limp home, where I sit now nursing my swollen joints and bunged up nose.
Just one more day to go...tomorrow, some Jikishin ju-jitsu training in the Church!

Seven Day Slam - Day 6

Day 6: Friday - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Day 6 of my strange seven day self-declared odyssey began poorly. I woke up with a stinking cold and a ...

23 Mar 2006

Day 5: Thursday - Kickboxing
Woohoo! That's how I felt after a session at the Paragon Gym kickboxing club. It's been about 18 months since I last trained there and I forgot how energy sapping a session could be, and yet I left feeling invigorated and pumped up.
Stuart Lawson took the session. you never know what to expect when Stuart is teaching. He had us spinning left and right with hook kicks, roundhouses, sides. We were jumping karate-kid style into switch kicks and spinning backfist punches aplenty. Stuart is definitely the master showman of the kickboxing world and he enthuses that in you. Not that many of us could actually do the techniques, but I was surprised I haven't lost too much of the snap, crackle and pop.
I definitely miss my time down at Paragon. But the gym is not without its critics. Some say that the sparring (or lack of) during lessons leaves much to be desired and students are training, in what is effectively just padwork and shadow drills. But I like it there. And I think the teaching is sound. Not everyone likes sparring, but if you do - they have sessions dedicated just to sparring, which I used to do quite often.
In any case, time and priorities mean that my patronage of Paragon will be sporadic at best. If I had to choose, BJJ and JJ comes first. But it is nice to know I can still do those crazy kicking.

Tomorrow...more BJJ...

Seven Day Slam - (7 martial arts in 7 days) Day 5

Day 5: Thursday - Kickboxing Woohoo! That's how I felt after a session at the Paragon Gym kickboxing club. It's been about 18 month...
Day 4: Wednesday - No gi submission grappling
Meerkat woke up this morning with aches, pains and all over stiffness - yes! Just like old days.
I can't explain what possessed me to do this 7 day challenge. I could so easily sit at home and make the most of my week off from the demanding baby. But I read in the papers about Steve Vaught the obese man who is walking all the way across America. I read his diary online and it is an inspiration. Real human courage of spirit and guts. Makes my little 7 day effort seem rather silly. Still, no giving up now as tonight, it was off to Bethnal Green for some no gi grappling, also known as subgrap. Basically it is BJJ without the uniform and it is the speed demon of the fight world. You have no time to rest and hold your guard or cling on mercilessly to the uniform, you have to move move move!!
I have DVDs at home of subgrap tournaments and those guys are amazing. The pinnacle of the sport is the annual tournament in Abu Dhabi. Win that, and your fame is assured.
But back on Earth, my sub grap experience starts here in Eddie's Bethnal Green class. Again, Ed went through a number of techniques, today focusing on takedown, sprawl and counter to the sprawl manoeuvre - ending up in various submission winning positions. I must say, I love subgrap. It suits the smaller faster practitioner and you can still use BJJ skills with slight modifications.
Some pictures from tonight:

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No, I am not pretending, it really does hurt!

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Meerkat (centre) as ever the shy and elusive one.

Tomorrow - kickboxing...

Seven Day Slam - Day 4

Day 4: Wednesday - No gi submission grappling Meerkat woke up this morning with aches, pains and all over stiffness - yes! Just like old da...

22 Mar 2006

Day 3: Tuesday - Imperial Ju-Jitsu
Normal training down at the club, only this time, sensei Kevin hosted a series of Iaido introductory seminars. He went through a number of Iaido techniques which led to a basic kata - all vaguely familiar through our own katana work, but perhaps a little more refined. Kev finished the class off with a very impressive kata. This Iaido stuff certainly looks the business when it comes to using a Japanese sword and the precision needed must take hours and hours of practice. It also somehow looks much more impressive when wearing the full haks.
So, club night as normal, mainly teaching but got thrown for a couple of techniques - so I still count it as part of my magic seven!

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Tomorrow - submission grappling!

Seven Day Slam - Day 3

Day 3: Tuesday - Imperial Ju-Jitsu Normal training down at the club, only this time, sensei Kevin hosted a series of Iaido introductory sem...

20 Mar 2006

Day 2. Monday. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The first night of full sleep for four months has rejuvinated Meerkat. I entered the dojo refreshed and itching to spar. Monday night is officially beginners night, so there were a lot of newcomers. But I chose to spar with the blue belts and experience white belts. Although I found it hard going (those once a week only sessions mean I am barely topping up my skills) I have found that my defence and escapes are improving marginally.Quite a few members are gearing up for the big SENI tournament in May. I would love to compete, but will have to wait maybe until next year when I can dedicate more time. So, business as usual on Monday night, I survived and feel great, roll on day 3...

Seven Day Slam - Day 2

Day 2. Monday. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu The first night of full sleep for four months has rejuvinated Meerkat. I entered the dojo refreshed and ...
I never thought anything could be so hard as looking after a baby. But there is something almost just as hard - and that is not being able to do my MA. Clearly, baby Meerkat is the priority, and I'm lucky to be allowed time off to still train in BJJ once a week and teach JJ. So when Mrs Meerkat decided to take the baby and spend a week with her folks, I jumped at the chance to use my week off to do as much MA as I physically could.
Hence, my new challenge - the 'Seven Day Slam'. To go training in various MA for 7 days in a row and still live to tell the tale, so here goes:

Day 1. Sunday. Vale Tudo
My BJJ coach Eddie has started a new Vale Tudo (aka NHB or MMA) class in Bethnal Green of all places - YES! Only a stones throw from where I live - there is a God.
I used to deplore the seemingly mindless bish bash of MMA, but now I love it. Not only is it an exciting spectator sport, it is a very realistic method of training self-defence. Without the gi to grip onto, you have to rely on cunning body movements and timely striking. Without doubt an art in its own right.
Eddie taught techniques for us to drill for about 1.5 hours then we sparred for half an hour. At this stage, you could be toe to toe with an experienced cage fighter. But the pace is just right, as no one wants to get seriously injured. Still, I seem to be a sucker for getting my foot locked.
I survived (despite having only had one hours sleep the night before) and so onto Day 2...

The Seven Day Slam - 7 Martial Arts in 7 dayz

I never thought anything could be so hard as looking after a baby. But there is something almost just as hard - and that is not being able t...

13 Mar 2006

I somehow knew that JJ kyu gradings were not going to be as straightforward as normal when one student pulled out and another's budo pass went 'walkies' all at the last minute. Then, there was mini chaos when unbeknown to me, head sensei had changed some of the belt colours around (I seem not to have received the circular that went around a few weeks ago). White belt was now yellow and yellow was now orange. This led to dozens of yellow and white belt students running around not knowing which hall to grade in and which colour belt to wear. Still, it was all sorted out in the end so I settled down to watch my green belts grade for their blue. Oh dear, what are the chances of two of your students who week in week out produce quality techniques to have a really bad grading. Poor chaps, they looked almost ashamed of their performance. But it wasn't all that bad, their minds just went a bit blank. They passed in the end, though Meerkat was given a little bit of a dressing down by one of the examining senseis about the performance and I could only mumble something about possible nerves getting the better of them as my defence.
Still, the day was not all lost. I got to catch up with my original sensei, Steve H, and it was really nice to see him again after such a long time. Plus, with slightly fewer numbers of students at these events due to a couple of clubs leaving the association, I quite like the newer slimmed down version. Previous events always seemed to me rather bloated with huge numbers of bodies running around, the noise, the nerves, the whole thing seemed a bit too much. Mind you, it means less places for grading students to hide on the mat - so that probably contributed to my blue belt's nerves. The events of the day gave me the resolve to get students working harder and committing a little more to their training. Hopefully, the next grading will be incident-free!

Red and yellow and pink and blue...

I somehow knew that JJ kyu gradings were not going to be as straightforward as normal when one student pulled out and another's budo pas...

 

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