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.