Thursday, December 29, 2011

398 flighthours sparring video

Shot a video of some training from tuesday. Most of my sparring is "silent coaching", where I do something specific in order to help my training partner improve in an area of their game, that is lacking. I rarely just go for the kill myself, maybe a result of not having many guys to train with that are much better than me.

First round is with one of my young guys, who are competing in juvenile. I am taking a few of them to the European Open in a month, and is expecting them to do really well. Last year, we got a silver medal in that age division, so we are going for the gold this time :)

With the strong focus on wrestling, I have had on my kids team, they usually end up on top in the competitions. Therefore, I need them to train a lot of defense against the different guard attacks, they will be exposed to. So in the first round, you will see me do a lot of different attacks and positions, so he can practice keeping his base and defending, while setting up his passes.

Guy in second round has a killer underhook against deep halfguard, so I made sure to get caught in that to practice defending it and also let him get even better at it. Besides that, he just recently moved up to blue belt division and needs to work his "plan B", so I usually roll a little extra hard with him.

Third round is against a heavyweight guy, who has a really good guard. It is so difficult to pass, that he doesn't get to train his bottom game escapes so much. To make sure, he gets a chance to do that, I am more aggressive in passing his guard and putting some pressure on him from top.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

About listening to my body and respecting, what it says.

If there is one thing, I have come to a conclusion about through out the years of training, it is, that when my body is trying tell me something, it is for a reason, and I shouldn't ignore it.

Six years ago, I got a herniated disc in my lower back after a deadlift 1 rep max test. Since then, I haven't done any lower body training because of pain in my leg. I have tried physiotherapy and all sorts of other weird stuff, but nothing really helped, and eventually, I just designed my life and training around the injury, not stressing it too much. A lot of situations in Jiu Jitsu, I just skip if I get there and if I have been standing up for about ten minutes, I always find a place to sit down, not even thinking about it.

I haven't really done any serious rehab training for my lower back since the injury. The first many years, I didn't even know what had happened. Since the pain was in my hip area, many doctors and physiotherapists failed to diagnose me. An MRI scan a few years back finally did the job, and it was nice to find out what was actually the problem.

Now, about a month ago, I re-injured my lower back. It was pretty bad, as I couldn't stand up for a full day. When that happened, I realized, that my body was trying to tell me something. It told me loud and clearly, that I shouldn't ignore my disc injury anymore, and it was now time to do something serious about it. There was no doubt about the message, and I completely got it.

The last month, I have been strengthening my lower back with a serious training programme and it seem to have done wonders. Not only is the injury gone, I feel like my back is even stronger now, than it was before. Since I herniated my disc six years ago, I have not been able to do any form of squat or deadlift. Even with the bar only and no weights on, I would be looking at a good week of nerve pain down my leg after a few sets.

I am thrilled to write, that last week, I managed to do deadlifts for the first time in six years, and I have had no pain from it at all. I am moving slowly and is currently lifting 70 kg and doing some hurdle jumps. It feels great to finally be able to do some leg training again.

Once again, I am reminded, that I should respect my body and obey to whatever it is telling me to do. I recommend you do the same :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ten quick tips for you, who is practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I am trying to organize a ton of notes for my upcoming book, The BJJ Globetrotter, on which I am writing like a maniac at the moment. It is containing a lot of my thoughts and philosophy on Jiu Jitsu, and looking at the notes, I decided to quickly boil some of them down for a blogpost.

So here are ten quick tips to make your training and life easier:
1) Don't worry about getting good. There is always someone out there, who will kick your ass anyway, no matter how "good" you get. Just enjoy the daily training, that’s the real value of Jiu Jitsu.

2) The number one factor to really learn Jiu Jitsu is time. Talent and hard work will get you nowhere without time, and there are no shortcuts. Everyone has periods, where they feel like they have stopped improving or are getting worse. Frustrations like that, are a part of the journey and they will pass. Stick with it and eventually you will be a black belt too, it’s just that simple.

3) Don't try to learn too many things at once. Focus on really learning a few things, maybe only four or five a year. Make a commitment to yourself to always go for these in sparring, and with time, you will end up with a handful of solid a-game moves, that you can pull off against almost anyone. As a beginner, trying to learn a hundred moves off YouTube is a classic mistake. Pick out a few basic things, that you have been taught in person instead.

4) Trust experience. The advantage of having a more experienced teacher is, that he made all the mistakes for you in the past. Even though something might initially not make sense or seem to work for you, trust what he tells you, keep trying and it will pay off in the end.

5) Don’t worry about the color of your belt and number of little tape stripes on it. It really doesn’t make sense to try and sharply divide the skill level of individual athletes into so many categories. Imagine a ranking system like that in any other sport, like maybe tennis, golf or basketball? Measuring your expectations of performance against who ever you clap hands with, through these nonsense visual indicators is impossible. Despite being a cute idea, belts symbolize many other things, than just how you are “supposed” to do in sparring and competition. We are each on own our own journey, and you can confidently be proud of where ever you have personally gotten to. It is normal for many people to feel, that they don’t deserve a promotion, but you have to trust your instructor on that. He probably trained a lot longer than you, and most likely knows better. There will be plenty of time to mature in your belt, and it is a part of it.

6) Compete, even though your brain tries to convince you not to. You will lose and you will suck, but it is an important and non-avoidable part of competing, that pays off in the long run. For us normal people, it takes everything from 20-40 matches to start getting a hang of competing. Everything up until that point is full of nerves, irrational thoughts and lots of bad results. And don't wait till you feel “ready” to compete. No matter how ready and prepared you might think you are, there is still a very good chance, that you will lose anyway. Just jump in the deep water as early as possible and learn how to swim there, instead of spending all your time practicing on land. The experience - no matter the result - is worth way more, than giving in to your natural fear of failing. You will agree, when you've done it.

7) Train with everyone. There isn't one correct way to do Jiu Jitsu and you might have ten different black belts show you ten ways to do the same technique, before you settle on how it works best for you. Also, the people in that other gym in town have similar interests as you, and could very likely become great friends and training partners. Why not pay them a visit next week? Jiu Jitsu politics makes zero sense, except for those, who are worried about losing money or status in a fantasy hierarchy, which basically only exists in their own heads. In the real world, where most of us lives, grown ups should be allowed to play with any other grown ups they like. Especially, if they pay for it.

8) Jiu Jitsu is a fantastic vehicle for social life and traveling. With this sport, you posses a special key to experience other worlds. You can walk into any academy on the planet and you will have an instant network of local friends. That is a bulletproof recipe for lifetime experiences, memories and friendships. Do it.

9) The final answer, on wether you should train gi or no-gi is here. Just do whatever you enjoy most.

10) If you come by a waterfall, always do a cool Kung Fu pose under it. It will improve your balance and sweep defense.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back injury rehab exercises

Someone commented on one of my recent posts about my back injury, asking about what exercises I used for the rehab. Since my new handy GoPro camera is always at hand in the gym, I brought it downstairs to our CrossFit gym today and filmed my routine.

I tried to remember all the exercises, I have been doing since I got the injury, but probably missed one or two. In the video, I show all of them, but during the last few weeks, it has of course been a progression, starting with the easy ones, building up strength to be able to do the hard ones.

My back feels really good now, and I have started to roll again. Still only sparring with the 15-16 year old boys that don't have the weight to push my back too much, but they are giving me a serious run for my money.

Maybe you can use some of it too, maybe not. At least it is here for my own future reference, if I get back pain again :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quick update: Back on the mats!

I visited my physio today and he was surprised, how fast I had healed up. Rolled a little bit with the teens wednesday and today with some adults, just making sure I didn't have any heavy loads on my lower back. It went fine, and I am psyched to work my way back up to high intensity training again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rehabbing like a boss, will roll tomorrow.

I've been really consistent with the rehab training for my back this time, doing it twice a day since I got the injury last friday. There is a great improvement, and I plan on trying to slowroll a little tomorrow. I'll probably start out by rolling with the kids and teens first, before I move on to the adults next week. It is such a privilege to have high level technical sparring partners in all ages and sizes to chose from, when I am injured :)

Was working on some technique for an hour today, and back didn't complain at all, so I am very pleased. I think my mental focus on fixing this injury has really made a difference to me. Instead of seeing the injury as an annoying thing keeping me from training, I have chosen to look it as a challenge. Like a competition, I am trying to win and I will work every day to improve whatever it takes to succeed. In some way, it has actually been exciting to try and fix myself. I must say I am a little surprised, that I feel this way about having an injury, but I will definitely keep this mindset for next time something happens. Makes it a little less boring to be sidelined from sparring.

Hopefully, I will have enough time to get up in gear before the European Open in Portugal in January. Just bought the plane ticket today!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Belt promotions and video from class

The combination of my injury keeping me from training and the the fact, that I have just bought two new cameras (GoPro Hero2 and Canon EOS 1100D), quickly results in me being in video-nerd mode. Last night, I put together this little video of the class:

It was also an evening, where I promoted a handfull of the guys on the team. Everyone has been putting so much time and effort into training since I got home from my trip in the summer, and it was well about time for a lot of them to move on to the next level. Whenever I promote someone, they always thank me, but in reality, I am the one thanking them. It is a great honor and inspiration, that they chose to devote so much time of their lives to letting me try and teach them, what I know about Jiu Jitsu.

Every single promotion is always something special, but a few of the recent ones means a little bit extra to me. I have been teaching kids for many years, and everyone have always been talking about "that day", when they grow up and start kicking the adults asses in training. Well, that day has come, and they have already started their rampage crusade in the adult classes, where they are a big mouthful for any sparring partner. The belts given to these young boys are a symbol of all the hard work and effort we have put into those junior classes and competitions together and that they are not kids anymore. A lot of them are now blue belts and are facing new challenges in training, life and competition. As always, I am just excited to tag along on the journey and see, where it takes us :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

413 flighthours video, back getting better.

I filmed a bit more sparring last week, before I hurt my back. Instead of waiting for more footage to add, I thought I'd just throw this up on it's own. Going to take a little while before I can roll again, anyways.

Had a bad day of training when it was filmed. Felt a bit stressed out that day and couldn't really concentrate on the sparring. It was pretty good practice though, since my training partners were very good and tough, so I had to try and push myself in a situation, where my mental state was against me.

After having been in the bed all weekend with back pain, I feel considerably better now. I am actually able to stand up and walk, more than I could saturday. I bit more optimistic, but will probably be out of sparring for a while.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's official: I am getting old(er)

I have been training martial arts basically my entire life. When I was a kid, I didn't even know about the concept of recovery. I was never tired. Even when I was in my teens and early twenties, I could train as much and hard as I wanted, combined with only little sleep and drinking alcohol every weekend, and still not be get tired from it. At that time, many people told me "oooh, you just wait till you get to your thirties, then you'll start feeling it!".

I think I have been cheated. It is still a good six months till I turn thirty and my body feels like a wreck at the moment!

When I was younger, injuries was something I had for days or weeks. Now, they seem to last for months or years instead. When I have had a hard night of training, I wake up the next day and feel like I have been hit by a truck.

The knee injury I got in competition last summer is still nagging me, so is the shoulder problem from August. To make things worse, I hurt my lower back pretty bad friday. I got a herniated disc there about six years ago, which had started to heal up pretty well. When rolling, I was twisted or pushed or something, I am not sure what happened, but I felt a slight pain exactly in my disc injury. The result was, that I was in my bed the entire day yesterday, not being able to stand up or walk.

Despite having gotten much better today, I am seriously worried about this back injury, as it could potentially sideline me for a long time. And I don't like breaks from training. At all :(

Anyways, I am crossing my fingers, staying away from sparring, seeing my doctor and starting rehab training tomorrow. I hope it is not bad enough to keep me from competing at the Europeans in two months, but we'll see.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Video from my kids team training today

I just got a new DSLR camera with video recording ability in the gym, so I decided to film a bit of one of my kids classes I was teaching today. This is my youngest team of kids, and I really enjoy training with them. Having spent over six years on figuring out how to build up kids teams, I think I have finally found a good recipe for it, and the results in competitions (and how much the kids enjoy training), speak for themselves.

I recently promoted all of them to yellow belt after they did an amazing job at Swedish Open, and I am excited to spend many more years with these great boys on the mats.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rolling with Marcelo Garcia, Drive In and Quico

When I said, that I hadn't made any sparring videos in a year, I was not telling the exact truth. During my trip, a few videos of me rolling was filmed. Some of them are on my globetrotter blog and the rest I've just put on YouTube so I can add them here.

With Marcelo Garcia in New York (May):

With Paulo Cesar (aka. "Drive In") and student in Rio de Janeiro (June):

With Quico in Bali (April):

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

417 flighthours - short rolling footage video

I have really been neglecting the 1000 flighthours project, not having posted a video of sparring footage since about a year ago. Well, I have been traveling for the most part of this year, but still been too lazy to film sparring. There has been lots of competition footage lately, but that is usually quite different from sparring, where there is more room to experiment and play different games with different opponents.

Now, I'll get back to that project. I think recording sparring sessions has been very valuable for my understanding of developing my jits game over the years. Every now and then, I'll click back in the flighthours archives here in the blog to find a detail on how I used to do a specific move or to check up on holes in my game, I might have forgotten to patch up.

Recorded a few rolls today and made this short video. I'll make more of them in the coming days and weeks, it will be my little project to document this stage of my Jiu Jitsu career.

If you have the patience to look all the way to the end (or just fast forward, but that would be cheating), you can enjoy a high pace round of me getting my ass kicked by Fernando Moya, a guy I trained with in Costa Rica who is visiting my gym for a few months (more on that in a soon-to-come blog post, so far you'll have to do with this video teaser :D).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Highlight video from NAGA in Paris

I've made a ton of highlight videos and on a boring sunday like today, I thought I would try and change the style a little bit. Also, I just watched Drive and loved it in case you think I got some inspiration from there ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

67 medals in two months - last competition of the year is in the books.

This weekend, I went to the last competition of the year and the seventh in eight weeks for me. I had already decided to not compete myself, since my body is pretty worn down from all the competitions lately. Also, I was coaching a ton of kids and adults on my team, so I thought I had deserved a day off the mats myself this time.

The competition was Swedish Open, where we have gone every year for the last four years. The event is getting bigger and better for each year and this was no exception. It is probably one of the most well organized and well run tournaments I have ever been to and will highly recommend anyone in the area to check it out.

We had a total of 40-something people on our team this time in every sex and age group. Every single one of them did really well, and we ended up with some great results, taking home eight gold-, six silver and three bronze medals. Even better, we finally took the first place in the junior team competition, beating the swedish club, who has won every year for the last five years. It was actually a draw for the first place with another great academy, but we had more gold medals, and they were gentlemen, so they gave the trophy to us. I have put a lot of work into my junior team over the last six years and finally I am starting to see some serious results coming out of it. A new generation is coming up, and the "old" ones - consisting of one brutally good teenager after the other - is on the verge of switching over to the adult team.

Another result of the weekend, that I am really proud of is, that we ended up being the second best adult academy of the tournament. With about 600 competitors, I think that was quite a good result.

All in all, it has been a crazy fall of competitions for me and my guys, girls and boys. I managed to compete in five tournaments myself over just two months, Taking four gold, a silver and two bronze medals in those, I conclude that it went pretty alright. I still have lots to learn about competing and there are still hundreds and more brown belts out there who can kick my ass, but it has been a really valuable experience and I have learned a lot from it (<-- hang on for the blogpost on this :D).

In total, we have won 67 medals in the last two months with the team. I am super proud of everyone on the team, and super honored, that they chose to train with me.

Now it is time to go back to the lab and fine tune the technique before the European Open in end of January. It will also be nice to have some time to heal my body and get back to the physical training. I am still having problems with my shoulder, but working hard on the rehab and can hopefully lift some weights again soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big win at NAGA in Paris this weekend

In the weekend, I competed for the last time this year and for the last time in the adult age division (I will be 30 next year). NAGA was holding a tournament in Paris for the second time and we went a team of fifteen guys there to compete. All in all, it went really well and we took home a total of thirteen medals.

I had initially decided to only do the gi division, but when we got there, I signed up for the no-gi as well. It was a long day of waiting before I was on, and there seemed to be a bit more adrenaline than usual, I don't know why. I managed to channel it into concentration and focus of stepping on the mat and performing.

First up was the expert no-gi middle weight division. My opponent was a french black belt and judging from his first match, it was going to be an extremely difficult task for me to beat him. He was superbly athletic and played a very aggressive and powerful game. I decided my only chance - as it usually is against bigger, stronger guys - was to try and take the explosive factor out of the match and utilize my guard to stress him. I pulled guard right away to avoid his wrestling and managed to keep him from passing for the entire match. It was 0-0 by the end and I had to try something, so I set up a bodylock sweep and found myself suddenly playing his game of explosive wrestling. He immediately judo tossed me and I knew I had to just get back to my guard to survive. After 2 minutes over time, the referee gave me the decision. I don't know if I agreed with him, but I didn't mind winning :D Sometimes, the marginals fall to my side, sometimes to the opponents - that's just how the game is.

The final was against a guy who had won his first two to get there. I had one less match, so I was hoping I had more energy than him. Unfortunately, he was also really strong and keeping him in my guard required a lot of leg strength. Luckily, I didn't had to work from there for the full match, since he tried to jump over my guard, which allowed me to set up a nice heelhook to which he tapped immediately as I locked it in. I like to compete with heel hooks, it is really an equalizer for the smaller guy and it suits my game perfectly. I think at the expert level, people are good enough to know the danger and when to tap anyways.

The gi division was black and brown belts together. I had really hoped to compete against a black belt, but instead I got another interesting challenge in meeting the guy I lost to in London a month earlier. I had been working hard in the gym on closing the holes in my game that he exploited last time, and it was exciting to test it out and see if I could beat him this time.

Everything worked pretty well and I managed to defend the moves he caught me with last time. The match was only six minutes so I had to take some chances to try and score, and at one point I try to pass to halfguard to get an advantage, but he manages to flip me over. It was a little stupid that I lost my balance there on that sweep, it shouldn't had happened. Wasn't too bad though, as I swept him back a few seconds after for the final score of 2-2. This time he got the referee's decision and I was pleased to confirm, that I had evolved and improved my game since I fought him last time.

It was a really good tournament and very well organized. NAGA definitely knows what they are doing in terms of organizing events and it was a breath of fresh air to compete there after some really badly organized tournaments lately. Also, I liked the rules very much - I could wear my rip stop gi and cup as well as reap the knee and do any submission I wanted. Nice! I took home a giant belt for winning the expert adult division and it looks cool hanging on my surfboard in the gym now :D

Quick conclusion on NAGA Paris:

Good things:
  • Won expert division, pretty nice!
  • Guard worked great, not passed for ten consecutive matches now.
  • Relaxed and cardio felt good
  • My students did awesome
  • Improvements in my game against same opponent
  • Held my own against bigger guys who had weighed in the day before

Bad things:
  • Got swept where I shouldn't have been
  • Not much else, really :)

Paris was awesome, what a beautiful city it is in the fall with the yellow leaves all over the old streets. We had some great days there, walking around town and checking it out. It was nice to be back to a place that has almost symbolic value to me, since it was the first destination on my around the world trip earlier this year.

This was my last competition this year. I have decided to skip Swedish Open next week, first of all because I simply just need a break after five competitions around Europe in six weeks and second because I will be coaching my team of more than 40 guys and girls fighting there. It has been some great experiences and I will do a write up on it all some time next week :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good match at Scandinavian Open today

I had actually decided not to compete at Scandinavian Open this weekend, since I am also competing the next two weekends in Paris and Sweden. However, on the last day of registration, I saw that there was only one guy in my division, coming all the way from Finland. I thought it was a shame for him to not get a match in his own weight, and since I live less than 30 minutes away from the venue in Sweden, I signed up.

With all the small injuries and pain during training recently, I have found, that competition is the only place, where I can really relax and roll without thinking about parts of my body that hurts. It is kind of interesting how, in this period at least, the matches I have are much easier and more enjoyable, than rolling in the gym. A slight adrenaline dump takes care of all the little bruises, sprained fingers and sore muscles, it is great :)

It was a pretty long wait for my match today and the hall was cold. I decided to just do a light warm up and not try to work as much to get the pulse up, as I usually do. I had no nervousness at all. When my division was called up, I recognized a small adrenaline release and my sprained fingers and sore body welcomed it with open arms.

Match itself went well, I think. I pulled guard and he was aggressively trying to pass right away. He almost got it, but I managed to get to my knees and stand up with the single leg to take him down. I was a little confused, why I didn't get two points for that, but with the very undefined rules of our sport, it can always go either way. I still had lots of time to score, so I didn't worry about it too much. Was more worried about my balls, that he (unintentionally) kicked really hard when I stood up, grabbing his leg (0:45 in the video). Actually they are still a bit sore this evening, must have been a solid Steven Seagal front kick. Thank you, adrenaline!

He was working very well on a variation of the reverse de La Riva spin, that I had not encountered before. I decided to stick to good old base and posture and see if my chance to pass showed itself. He had a few good attempts, but I was very pleased with my success in defending them and get back on top. In London I was swept with a similar move, where the opponent is going to the back, but this time, I had improved and defended it the right way. I had an attempt at a japanese necktie, but his head slipped out. At one point, I lost focus for a second and he managed to set up an x-guard sweep, stand up and finish it. Now, this is the third tournament where I have been swept with this move, and I still haven't improved on it. If this is not the indicator I need to go home and close that hole in my game, I must be really retarded :D

Being back in my guard, I think I was working pretty well, but he was strong and I couldn't get the sweep or positions I wanted. I shot a triangle and closed it in. His hand was in, so it was a bet if I could finish it with power or not. I took the chance and pulled it for a good while, before I eventually decided that he was not tapping and I had to try and score two points before time ran out. It did run out and I lost 0-2 with 2-2 in advantages.

Great match and good experience. He was also a cool guy on top of that, so all in all a good day at the office. Next up NAGA in Paris in six days.

Conclusion time!

Good things:
  • Posture in guard top worked well
  • Triangle setup successful again
  • Attempted japanese necktie
  • Seventh consecutive match without guard passed
  • Sidecontrol defense is still working, yaaay!
  • Very relaxed, cardio was really good
Bad things:
  • Got kicked in the balls

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Free shipping on Roll Eat Sleep Repeat products this weekend :)

One of my many recent projects is producing BJJ lifestyle hoodies and t-shirts with all the designs, I would buy myself if only I could find them in the shops. I never accept donations for my blogs, but if you want to support me, this is a good way to do it :-)

The Roll Eat Sleep Repeat webshop just opened a few weeks back, and right now, there is a special offer on free shipping to anywhere in Europe, Japan and the United States. Use the promotion code "WITCHINGHOUR" and the shipping will be free, but only this weekend!

Check out the store and grab some of the awesome shirts before the offer ends :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Semi-successful training today

I am almost desperate to feel better with my body these days. Basically all my focus goes towards re-energizing and recovering from my injuries, soreness and low energy level. I have skipped way more training sessions than I wanted to, but it is necessary to prevent me from reaching a state of over training.

I tried stretching a little bit before training today, but it just seemed to hurt in some muscle, no matter what direction I moved. Eventually, I did a thorough warm up in my gi class, which loosened me up a bit. After going through a few variations of a sweep, I am working a lot on lately, I decided that we would be rolling for a full hour today.

Saturday, doing any kind of sparring, was very painful and it was hard to ignore it and focus on the training. Today was much better, although there is still a way to go for me to be 100% again.

I did manage to roll for an hour today and was very pleased. Towards the end, I was so warm that I didn't feel much of my injuries (sprained fingers and toes didn't get hit today, weeee!) and I really enjoyed rolling. I had some really good rounds with lots of tough guys on the team and after class, I felt great. I know I am probably going to feel it tomorrow morning, when I wake up though.

There are still three competitions to go, before the season ends. I just spontaneously decided yesterday to sign up for Scandinavian Open this weekend. The week after that is NAGA in Paris and after that Swedish Open. I am really looking forward to being done with these competitions and have a few months before the Europeans, where I can just focus on recovery and getting in killer shape.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One of those periods where everything hurts

I seem to have picked up a truckload of small injuries lately. Nothing serious, just still some pain in my shoulder, a big bruise on my left hip, sprained toes and fingers and all the other usual stuff. Apart from that, I feel pretty tired and low on energy at the moment. Maybe all the traveling and competing has starten to take its toll on me.

I eat healthy (allmost all the time), drink nothing but water (and plenty of it), and get at least 9-10 hours of sleep every night. Still, I might be on the edge of overtraining, since so many parts of my body are in pain at the moment.

Yesterday, I was running a two hour wrestling class. My once-a-week all out, high pace, no-gi madness class, that I always enjoy doing. This time, I just couldn't focus on the sparring and drills, since all my attention went to the pain I felt, at what seemed like every movement I made.

It is not the first time, I have a period like this with many small injuries. It almost mandatory for someone who trains Jiu Jitsu for many years. Right now, it is a bit demoralizing, that everything hurts and nothing seems to work in sparring, but I also know, that I will come out on the other side and feel good again.

There is a competition in the weekend nearby, but I have semi decided to skip it. I have tickets for Paris in two weeks though, so I hope I will be healed up by then. Now it is just time for a nice, relaxed sunday to recover while doing nothing. Ok, just rolled six kilometers on my longboard in the nice weather, but that can't count ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Five days, three cities, three seminars and two gold medals in Scotland

Just got home from a bit of an intense trip to Scotland, packing in a really busy program in just five days. It was great to experience a little high pace BJJ globetrotter-style traveling again, and I even ended up taking home a few medals.

Due to a school holiday this week, the tickets for the relative short flight of just 90 minutes, were really expensive. Most of the guys on the team decided to pass on the trip and save the money for other tournaments in the upcoming weekends. Never letting down an opportunity to see the world, I decided to go anyways. Two of my training partners, Kasper and Ben, went along and I met up with my scottish friend and fellow BJJ globetrotter, Dan, who I traveled with in Taiwan, New York and Estonia during my trip.

First stop was Aberdeen on wednesday, a city that is all gray from the granite blocks that has been used for basically all the buildings. A small group of guys are running a Jiu Jitsu gym, where I was teaching for two nights. They were mostly beginners, but there were some quite skilled blue belts in between. We also managed to do a bit of sight seeing in Aberdeen, going mountain biking in the highlands and visiting an awesome castle on a cliff.

Early (!!) saturday morning, we drove down to Glasgow for the competition. It was held in a big sports hall and there was quite a few competitors. Mostly lower level belts though - me and my opponent in the gi division were the only two brown belts signed up.

I had a loooong wait before my matches would start, so I spent the most of the day coaching the guys I had trained with. I love coaching at competitions, and they were all doing a really good job, most of them taking medals in their divisions.

I wasn't nervous about competing, as in I didn't have any particular thoughts in my head about it doing the day. Despite that, I could observe, that my heart was beating a bit faster, and I had to go take a piss about ten times during the day. Definitely a slight adrenaline release activated for all those hours. I was mostly worried about getting dehydrated during the wait, so I made sure to drink a lot of water.

First up was my no-gi division. It had been a long time since I had competed in no-gi, so I was excited to play that game a little bit again, and also had a chance to sport my sweet Kim Jong-Il "livelifelikeaBOSS" t-shirt from my recent apparel project Roll Eat Sleep Repeat ;)

There was no-one in my weight category (-79 kg) in the advanced division, so I was moved up to -85 kg with the big guys. First opponent was a swedish guy, who I had just seen win his first match with a pretty solid game. I decided to play a bit safe in the match and try and beat him with my guard. He felt very strong, so when I had the opportunity, I pulled butterfly guard. Standing up with double underhooks to try and take him down did no good, so I pulled guard again. At one point he tried to pass my scissor guard by putting his hand through my legs and I had an attempt at a spinning triangle counter. He postured up at the right time and defended it. I knew he would be difficult to sweep as his base was really good, so I went for a guillotine to try and get an advantage. Tapping him out with it would be hard, so I just held on long enough to convince the referee to give me an advantage. As soon as it was on the scoring board, it was just a question about not getting passed for the rest of the time. The whole day, I hadn't seen any referees give warnings for stalling, so I just happily stalled away in my closed guard until time ran out. At one point, I looked at the camera and made a silly face at it. Don't know why I chose to do that, in fact I think it was probably a bit douchy and overconfident, but I have pretty much never been able to take anything seriously in life.

Second match was the final against an MMA guy, who seemed to be in good shape, bigger and stronger than me. I had really missed the wrestling aspect of competition for a loooong time since I hurt my knee last year. It is something I really enjoy in training and since my knee has gotten much better, I decided to wrestle him for a while just to try it out in competition as well. I had attempts at my armdrag single leg and fireman's carry, both of them with no luck. A little bit maybe, since I got an advantage for the fireman's carry attempt. Eventually he ducked under for a nice double leg, and don't know why I am being so lazy in defending it, but I for some reason just sits down and accepts it. Getting back up, I decide to just pull guard from there on.

Being behind by two points to one advantage, I knew I just had to get one sweep then hold on to win. I went for the deep butterfly halfguard and pulled his foot across for the calfcruncher submission (with which I unfortunately popped both mine and my opponents knee in this match). I felt him rolling, so I decided to ditch the sub and go for the sweep instead. With a bit of scrambling and wrest-jitsu, I got him on his back. During a guardpass attempt, he stood back up and I pulled guard once more. He tried an ancle lock in the last seconds, but I was having none of it, and wrestled him down for the sweep and the last two points, ending the match 4-2 in my favor.

I was supposed to compete in the open weigh advanced division as well, but it started right after my two long matches with the big guys and I was feeling pretty tired. I only had one opponent with the gi, who had been driving three hours to get to the competition, so I prioritized giving him a good match instead of trying out the same guys I just fought.

The gi match was a "superfight", since we were the only two competitors over purple belt. My opponent was in -88 kg, but I accepted the challenge. He was a really nice guy and we had a good chat before the match. I had decided to pull guard and play from there, since he looked to be much heavier and stronger than myself. Initially, I was trying to set up a sweep, that I was succesful with in the open weight final of Swiss Open, but he either knew it already or had read my blog and prepared for it, because he was posturing perfectly to defend it. Since the referee didn't mention anything about my fingers being inside the opponents pants, and thereby giving me a nice solid grip, I decided to stay there and give it a few more tries, before I eventually had to change tactics and switch to spider guard. An opportunity for a triangle choke presented itself and I took it, getting the tap out.

Quick conclusion on competition experience:

  • No nervousness, despite slight adrenaline release during day
  • Cardio felt good for three matches
  • Wrestling was fun, will try more of that
  • Has build up a good amount of competition confidence recently
  • Change of mindset to try and win instead of trying not to lose
  • Competing against bigger guys was an interesting tactical challenge

I will be competing again in Paris on November 5 at the NAGA Europe.

The day after the competition, we went to Edinburgh, where I taught a class. I was ridiculously tired from the competition, night out and lack of sleep, so I sparring with the guys was horrible. I normally never ever go out the night before I am teaching, but we had to celebrate a little bit. A solid group of guys there, I wish I could have enjoyed the rolls more, but I will definitely be back one day. I promoted one of the guys to blue belt, who was doing really well in the competition the day before and was tough to roll with.

All in all, some eventful five days in Scotland with lots of cool experiences and new friends!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Off to Scotland tomorrow

Still keeping the BJJ globetrotting going a bit, tomorrow, I am going on a little trip to Scotland for six days. I will be teaching in Aberdeen thursday and friday, competing in Glasgow saturday, then teaching again in Edinburgh on sunday.

I expect castles, kilts, beer, bagpipe music and just general medieval awesomeness every minute of the day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Six years since I quit my desk job - never looked back.

These days, it is six years since my training- and business partner called me at work and told me, that we got the full time rental contract for our gym. I was sitting at my desk by the computers, programming some software interface, as he called. I had probably just spend an hour and a half having lunch and playing table football to kill time. I was frustrated with my life and the outlook of my future. I was well underway to get sucked slowly down into the quicksand of spending the rest of it doing something, I didn't really want to.

I hung up the phone and leaned back in my chair for a second. I took a few slow breaths and looked out the window. The weather seemed to always be gray and boring in the suburban industrial area, where I was imprisoned by my lack of initiative and courage to do something drastic about it. I knew, that very moment would change and define the rest of my life. I got up, walked steadily to the desk of my boss.

"Hey how are you today, I would like to quit my job as soon as possible", I said.

Cleverly, I had made sure to finish all my current projects and not taking up any new ones, while waiting for the call about the rental contract. I was allowed to leave with one weeks notice, and the day after I stopped, I went on a five week training trip around Canada and the United States.

Getting out of that office and straight into adventures in the nature of Canada, bustling city of New York and tropics of Florida left me with no doubt. It was the most important decision of my life and I have never since looked back for a second.

(more about this story is in the works for my upcoming BJJ globetrotter book :))

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One match at IBJJF London Open

Last weekend, it was time for the first IBJJF London Open in England. It is a short flight from Denmark and we went a team of about 11 guys. Two had to cancel last minute, but it was still a good team.

Sometimes, the little things just doesn't go your way, and we had a handful of frustrating losses this time. Few important matches were lost on advantages and one of our guys were way ahead on points, but got disqualified for having a small scratch on his nose that was bleeding. Anyways, we ended with two gold, one silver and a bronze, and I was very pleased with the performance of everyone.

My own division had four guys and looked tough. I knew the guy I was facing from Swiss Open, where he did really well against the guy I lost to. As usual, I didn't feel nervous at all before the match. This time, I had time to warm up well, compared to last tournament.

The match was pretty straight forward. We had a strikingly similar game, using basically the same postures and techniques in guard. He had a very strong grip, that I managed to break in the beginning of the match, but later on it was getting more and more difficult. Once again, I got swept with the x-guard, so it is obviously a big hole in my game. I could really use some more power to open up my opponent, when he has a strong posture and doesn't make many mistakes. In the very end of the match, I finally managed to lift him up for the x-guard, but the time ran out and I didn't get a chance to try and finish. It was really nice weather that weekend and the sports hall was really warm, which I think affected my cardio a little bit. When the match was over, I was boiling hot and sweating like a pig.

I was pretty pleased with the match and think there were some good elements as well as some stuff I need more work on. Losing doesn't bother me, it is all just steps on the way and a part of progressing.

When we were done, we hurried outside to enjoy the nice weather. Walked around the city a bit, took a nap in the park and ended the evening with a cold beer by the Thames river. Went home with a bronze medal, a t-shirt and a tan, what else could I ask for! Awesome weekend with awesome friends, gotta love the Jiu Jitsu life :)

I'll be back on the mat in two weeks for the Glasgow Open in Scotland on October 15th.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Three matches at Swiss Open in Geneva, Switzerland.

This weekend, I went with some of the guys from the team (haven't yet decided if we are "Team Madness" or "Team Teabaggers" this year) to Switzerland to attend the first competition of our busy fall. Everyone performed really well, and we ended up with a total of three gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

I feel like talking a bit about the event first... Switzerland is a beautiful place, and I had been looking forward to check out some alpes, maybe even walk up to the top of something. According to the time schedule of the tournament, it looked like we would finish already around 12-13 both days, which would leave us plenty of time to go check out lederhosen-land. Unfortunately, the tournament looked good, but was poorly organized.

- Cool medals
- Nice venue with six mats
- Big screens with scoreboards

- Really difficult to get information from organizers on email or facebook before event
- Price was high for registration: 60/80/100 euros
- Start was about 3 hours delayed both days
- Only one registration table for hundreds of people in line in the mornings
- Everything was super delayed but no-one seemed to hurry
- Usually only 1-3 of six mats were in use - don't think I ever saw all used at same time
- Food options were very limited
- Very few staff members spoke english
- Information papers, brackets etc were in french

Most of all, we were just annoyed with the delays. We got up really early every day to be there well before the 9 am scheduled start, but the first matches didn't get going till around noon. And even then, only a handful of matches were running at the same time, while the rest of the referees and staff were just hanging around waiting for something to do, and the competitors were getting frustrated and wanted to get on the mats. Definitely not very positive about coming back next year :-/

And now to the matches themselves!

[Bla bla bla usual stuff about lots of injuries goes here bla bla bla]

First match was against a french guy in the middleweight division. I didn't feel any nerves or anything before the fight. Only had a few minutes from my division was called to the match was on, so didn't really got to warm up. He pulled guard and I was happy to play top a little until he caught me a few seconds later with a nice x-guard sweep. He had trouble passing my guard (succeeded once), but I had even more trouble sweeping him, so he ended up winning 5-0. He scored with x-guard from bottom and passed when I tried x-guard. I thought that was one of my strong moves, but apparently not LOL Pretty nice moves he caught me with though, I will steal them right away for my own game. Physically, he was far superior and I felt like his base was too good and he didn't make any mistakes, that I could take advantage of. Very strong opponent, that went on to win the division. He would probably beat me 10 out of 10 times that day. I got a bronze medal for my amazing performance.

Second match was in the open weight division against the winner of the -70 kg division. I had seen him compete early and he looked skilled. He was wearing a polish judo jacket, so I decided to pull guard pretty quickly. This time, I had a size advantage and I also felt I was a step ahead technically. Was pleased to do a good attempt on a guillotine from halfguard top, that I have been working a lot on. He was really difficult to put on his back and hold down, but I eventually managed to finish him with one of my favorite chokes from the back.

Third match was the final in the open weight division against the winner of the -88 kg division. He was a nice guy I had a good chat with before the match. Big, heavy and strong, but I felt like my cardio was better than his. He fell for the same sweep a few times and I scored a bit with that. It was a good, tough back-and-forth match and I didn't feel like the victory was safe at any point, even though I was slightly ahead on the scoreboard. Had a few attempts on guillotines and loop chokes that were really tight, but lacked leg-position due to his base and weight. At one point I have a tight guillotine that I decided to give up sweep and guardpass for, but end up releasing to save grip energy. I caught a triangle choke from a guard recovery and got the tap.

Another good/bad analysis - this time of my own performance:

- Won a few matches
- Cardio felt ok
- Hit some good a-games moves
- Headhunting project, looking for guillotines and loop chokes is improving.
- Escaped sidecontrol several times (that used to suck)
- Stood up to open guard without getting swept like at the Europeans
- No nerves

- Need more strength for middleweight division
- Must improve x-guard defense
- Warmup sucked / were non-existing

I will be on the competition mats again in two weeks for the London International Open in (surprise...) London, England :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Visit from Robson Barbosa today

Robson (who normally teaches in Kaisho, Sweden) dropped by my gym today to teach a little bit. He ended up doing three classes; the juvenile team, a no-gi class and a gi class. It is always cool to have him visit and bring some inspiration to the team and everyone seemed to have a great time.

My shoulder is still not doing too well, so I had to skip most of the class today. I really wanted to roll with him now he was there though, so I sacrificed some of it's recovery for a few rounds both gi and no-gi. Always cool to spar with him as he has gotten a very special style.

I got a few stripes on my belt today too. I guess that means I better hurry up and become as good as I possibly can, before I one day get the black belt ;)