29 Oct 2006

Wowee what a day, what a tournament!
Just got back from the Jikishin National Ju-Jitsu Tournament in Southend.

The facts:
1. The Meerkat defeats 2 rounds of ground-fighters to reach the final, gets a draw in the final with the referees final decision going to the opponent – SILVER medal.
2. Two out of five Team Imperial ground fighters (Anh and Colm) win their first round with solid techniques as drilled in the dojo.
3. Rob Line wins GOLD in purple-brown belt random attacks – in his first attempt!
4. Pete McCarney wins SILVER in his weapons kata event with a superb Sai 3 kata.
5. David Tedora loses only to a split decision in the random attacks.

Here are my recollections of the under 69KG GF event:
Firstly an apology for misinforming the GF team. I had told them to expect a grip to the uniform when starting the fight (no, the start was not from a gripping position) and to expect the round to be 90 seconds (it was instead 2 minutes). So that flummoxed us a tiny bit, but we were not to be deterred. Having shown out in full force, we all bonded well and kept our spirits up.

First up was Anh. Now Anh had literally just got off the plane from holiday. With only 4 hours sleep, he was the amazing slippery eel that we know him to be. His opponent tried everything, but Anh escaped each time, finally ending up with a nice pin, which earned him the winning points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOo7zk8DDYI

Next, they pitted our Colm with our Kevin. Oh no, an Imperial stand-off, no one could call it. So, in the end we just said let the best man win. And the best man on the day was Colm, showing amazingly good technique to pass Kevin’s guard and pin him and attempt a submission, it was BJJ straight out of the Gracie book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD789T67yaA

Daniel was up next. What a start. His opponent jumped at Daniel but, savvy to the move, Daniel used his legs to fend off the attacker and literally catapult him into the air! This move is actually a BJJ move, I think called a helicopter pass or something – I need to check with Ed. The fight went very well and I was sure Daniel did enough, but the judges gave it to the other guy, so a close call.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqjLHqHFLQU

Me – lucky Meerkat got a by to the second round, which gave me an excellent chance to suss out the opposition. I observed Some very aggressive play, with everyone bull rushing each other – just as I expected. Already I was forming a strategy but it was not without risks.

Second round –
Anh was already up for his second round. It much tougher of course, and he did his best to repeat the slippery guard passing and pinning, but the opponent was too heavy and pinned Anh to score the points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2adB9e5Iuc

Colm’s next round was also tough, with a bigger opponent, he still managed to hold his own, but a couple of accidental rule infringement (standing up) are probably what caused Colm to lose the fight. Several times the opponent dragged Colm into his guard and if only he could utilise the special anti-guard technique we had practised so hard, but nevermind, it is so hard to think out there!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJln3mk03JU

Seymour – round 2.
OK, here revealed was my last minute thought strategy – use an audacious and outrageous opening move to completely stun my opponent. That move was the hand-stand guard pass, or cartwheel pass. In my mind I imagined a Capoeira style wheeling over to the back of my opponent. What actually happened was a sort of half-hearted wheel-barrow which ended up no-where. However, it had the desired effect. Even though I knew I would get told off, it did cause the mental block in my opponent I was looking for. The ref got us re-started and I began to work my thing. The tactic thereafter was simple…let the opponent do all the aggressive actions and simply sweep and pin with hooks in. That’s all, get the points, cause frustration and win the match – and that’s exactly what happened. In between, a couple of attempts at armbars which nearly came off, after that, back to plan A.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVkcv2R9F-8

Seymour round 3 (semi-final)
The next opponent had obviously seen my crazy stunt earlier. HE was very wary and sat off. So, thanks to being inspired by watching Sami the Hun Berik, I started waving and flapping my arms Matrix style then prancing from side to side like Drunken Monkey Kung Fu. I must admit, it was a bit disrepectfl but I really enjoyed seeing the confusion on my opponent’s face. He just did not know what to do. After the opener, it was back to PlanA which worked a treat where I nearly got an armbar and a knee bar. But on each time, the ref stopped us as we were coming off the mat. Then, a little trick I shared with the team earlier, I went for my favourite BJJ technique – SPIDER GUARD. Clearly he knew nothing of this easily defeated guard, so I just wrapped his arms and played him like a marionette and swpt him. It was joy. Verdict – a win to me (though one judge mysteriously gave it the other way – like HOW! You can’t fight ignorance).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxHjjBsZwWs

The Final
So, there I am, my first ever GF final and I was tanked. I had nothing left and already my 37-year-old body was beginning to seize up. I planned my tactics again. This guy I knew was fairly good and very strong and much bigger (where are those weighing scales when you need them?) I would play open guard to save energy and hope for the best. IT almost worked as well. He was desperately attacked my neck but my tight defenses were frustrating him. So he tried an ankle lock – easily defended – then he went back to choking and I switched to upside down arm bar. It was lousy, so I switched to triangle. Just as lousy so I reverted back to open guard and then that was time. Very boring I’m afraid and no effort on my part to ‘win’ the fight.
The judges all gave it a draw. So it was left to the ref to give the final verdict which, rightly in my opinion, was given to the opponent. On another day, if I had the energy, I know I would definitely have won it. But I played safe and clammed, so it was my own fault. Thanks to my opponent who graciously complimented me and assured me that I should have won it. Silver medal it is then.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjCTaUGG0_g

So to conclude, it was a great tournament showing from Team Imperial. My report focuses mainly on the GF because that is what I saw close-up. The lads played brilliantly and were easily the most technical of the lot. It goes to prove my theory that utilising solid BJJ techniques is the best way to win at ground fighting tournaments.
My thanks to Eddie Kone who helped our team with a special coaching session and a mention to Oli Geddes from Roger Gracie Academy who also helped. Next year, we’ll be back and we’ll be better!




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Southend 2006

Wowee what a day, what a tournament! Just got back from the Jikishin National Ju-Jitsu Tournament in Southend. The facts: 1. The Meerkat de...

24 Oct 2006

Someone asked me the other day why I liked ground-fighting so much?
Well, I have two answers.
Here’s the serious answer: ground fighting offers a proven system of self defence where the smaller, less strong individual can defeat a bigger opponent. As many fights end up on the ground, it is an essential part of one’s armoury.
Ok that’s the official version, the REAL reason I enjoy it is because I am a lazy git. Let me clarify that. I’m getting old and my bones and muscles kill me after every training session. It’s far worse doing stand-up than doing groundwork. I don’t know why, but gravity could be a key factor.
This month, I celebrate 2 unbroken years of BJJ training. I very nearly didn’t re-start at all after my experiences at my former BJJ dojo where I felt I was effectively mat fodder for the higher grades and constantly tapped into ego-crushing submission.

Team Imperial is shaping up to be a formidable force this year, with several members of the ground fighting team following my example and taking extra BJJ classes to supplement their training. Personally, I feel I am peaking at the right time, although who knows what to expect on the day?
Our random attackers are getting more training than ever before and hopefully will produce a few of the tricks we have worked out. The final category of sparring I thought was gonna be a no-shower, but it appears both senseis Steph and Andy will be competing. Steph won gold in her division last year, let’s hope for more medal success. Just 4 more days to go and I’m already feeling the buzz.

Big tournament build-up

Someone asked me the other day why I liked ground-fighting so much? Well, I have two answers. Here’s the serious answer: ground fighting off...

19 Oct 2006

Just when I think my embryonic photography career is dead and buried, in comes the latest issue of COMBAT magazine (Nov 06 issue):

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Thanks to David T. who suggests that I am the new David Bailey of the martial arts world. Those of you who are under 30, David Bailey was very famous in the 60’s and 70’s for photographing and bedding hot skinny models. Sadly, my allusion to said photographer only extends to the shared ability to press the shutter button on a camera.

The Meerkat Strikes Back

Just when I think my embryonic photography career is dead and buried, in comes the latest issue of COMBAT magazine (Nov 06 issue): Thanks...

17 Oct 2006

Whilst I like to think that I possess Meerkat-like speed and grace, I can be a bit dopey sometimes. Not least when, after months of notice, knowing full well that the BJJ gym was relocating to Bethnal Green, what happens on Monday night? I drive all the flipping way to Wanstead on autopilot. Duh! Anyway, I eventually made it to Bethers and it was a really good session. I’m lasting longer in rounds, getting more technical and moving better. Of course, the way BJJ is designed, you never feel like you are good enough as the next person could easily outfox you. But it is encouraging to be able to hold one’s own against one’s peers.

Towards the end, there ensued an extraordinary scene. But first, let me explain a little about the Bethnal Green gym locale. This is a lock-up or works garage located in the heart of the Bangledeshi and Pakistani community of east London. The front door literally opens out into a backstreet off Bethnal Green High Road where social housing estates dominate the skyline. Gangs of youths roam the streets with, well, not very much to do other than smoke, spit and just hang out. This is no vision of racial integration and ethnic diversity, but the kids here are no better or worse than any other poor inner London borough.
So when a couple of heads peered into the gym to see what was going on, we all were aware of them. After a while Eddie went over to see what they wanted. Boys being boys they started posturing and mocking the ‘gay wrestling shit’ that we were doing so Eddie very graciously, like a good host, offered the ring leader a free sparring session. This lad was about twenty and after proclaiming his skill as a boxer of many years who could knock anyone out boldly stepped onto the mat.
You should have seen us. The whole class stopped their own sparring and made way as the young lad entered the Dragon’s den. Up went his fists and as he was shaping up, in dived Ed for a double leg take down. The poor lad never knew what hit him as he crashed onto the ground and basically gave Eddie his arms. Like taking candy from a baby, Ed immediately went for the armbar and somewhere in his muffled moans and cries, we were all shouting, TAP! TAP! YOU BETTER TAP!
Eventually Ed let go of his vice grip and the youth, by now with his head lowered and grin wiped off, sullenly sloped off the mat holding his arm and vowing to call the police. The whole dojo erupted with enormous laughter whilst Ed slapped him on the back and told him he was welcome to come back (I assume as a student rather than a challenger). What was particularly sweet was that Ed used pure jujitsu to silence this guy, no punches, kicks or nasties were necessary. So in many ways, it was a very humane way of using martial arts. The best bit was that it was all done infront of this Asian guy’s mates, who sniggered and hollered throughout. Needless to say, he walks a little less cocky now but hopefully a lesson will have been learned.Those who follow the path of pacifism and the ethic that martial arts should never be used might be appalled at the incident described. But it was not in any way vicious or nasty. It seemed appropriate - and damn funny! Our one regret - no one took a video of the incident to laugh back at!

Rumble in the Green

Whilst I like to think that I possess Meerkat-like speed and grace, I can be a bit dopey sometimes. Not least when, after months of notice, ...

10 Oct 2006

Meerkat was knocked out last week having caught a bout of gastroenteritis. In fact the whole Meerkat family caught it. Being ill sucks, especially when you still have to do all your chores and look after a sick baby. But I'm better now and back in action.BJJ sparring this week has been going pretty well. I finally feel I am achieving a level where I had left off a few months back. My plan to get down to BJJ training twice a week is paying off and the techniques are beginning to flow. Mind you, young whippersnapper KJ still caught me in a nice gi choke from the back leaving me with no choice but to tap to the pint sized assassin.

The autumn season is gonna be a busy one. Of course there is the Jikishin tournament in a fortnight. Team Imperial is shaping up pretty well, with me and the guys drilling some ground-fighting basics each week (6 of us in total entering ground fighting). I can only really cover the basics, and then, only the need-to-know relevant techniques. After all, one could go on for hours about how cool this pass would be or that hold or this choke, but really, for the groundfighting tournament that we enter, it is all hands on decks basic escapes, pins and submissions - all in the space of 90 seconds. Not pretty and not tactical, but still very workable, and it is where my BJJ training is helping big time. I have NO IDEA how competitors from our style managed to win ground fighting prior to BJJ coming onto the scene. Maybe they knew some judo or wrestling, or just played it instinctively. (I know, ju-jitsu came before BJJ etc, but you know what I mean).
And I have not neglected the random attacks event either. Three Team Imperial members are entering this year and we've made an extra effort to drill these. I think the standard is better than previous years, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Soon after the tournament, there is the Rolker Gracie seminar at Eddie's club. I'm looking forward to this because Rolker is less well known but he has established a very good rep as a teacher so I hope to pick up some valuable tips.Then, after that, I'm glad that Eddie has agreed to come down to Imperial again and host a seminar. We talked briefly about the content and I think it would be nice to mix it up a bit this time. Maybe include more Gracie self defence, since a lot of it is similar to our own ju-jitsu, but with nice little twists here and there which I'm sure the dan grades will just love (with modules in mind!)

Meerkat's martial arts media career has been scuppered. I finally finished my 'Secrets and Science of the Martial Arts' magazine article (3,000 words!). This has taken me about 3 years to mull over and finally get written. So as I send out the final version to all my magazine contacts and international agents - what happens? Flipping National Geographic Channel release their 'Fight Science' TV press release pictures exactly at the same time. Of course my little write-up can't compete and everyone has printed the NatGeog pictures and text instead of mine. Damn their eyes!Although I have to concede that the graphics of the human body they use are very funky.All may not be lost however. Some of my contacts say they still like the feature story and may run it later in the year, we'll see.

A little note about BJJ uniforms - which the general lingo affectionately call the 'kimono' even though it is not strictly a kimono. I see the brand KORAL is being marketed quite heavily here with big star endorsements (Wanderlei Silva and Jacare). And I bring this subject up because I see a lot of newcomers to the BJJ club have bought one. But I can't think of a more ill-fitting and badly designed uniform. For £120+ I expect something from Saville Row, not Skid Row. Maybe it is just down to personal taste but it's one expensive mistake to make if you agree with me. I got mine brand new from Ebay for £50 ages ago, and that I think is £50 too much. My criticism is that the cut is too baggy, the collar annoying (it is made of rubber), the cloth like sack canvas and the damn trousers always fall down no matter how tight I make the ties. For me, ATAMA is the best. Wearing and training in one is like a second skin. They are less expensive and do shrink and fade a little, but that is all part of their charm. Each week, while one gi hangs drying, I pack the other one in the bag. I actually dread having to wear my Koral instead of my beloved Atama, that's how bad they are.The other uniform I had was an MKimonos. God knows what I was doing but that thing shrunk to the size of a Barbie Doll singlet after just two washes. Anyway, enough ranting, just wanted to add my tuppence to the great kimono debate.

Postus pebbledashium

Meerkat was knocked out last week having caught a bout of gastroenteritis . In fact the whole Meerkat family caught it. Being ill sucks, esp...

 

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