Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Road FC Busan

Finally!  Road FC is coming to Busan.  The fight card looks pretty good, and Jeff Monson is fighting!  I just happen to be a big Jeff Monson fan.  That last Road FC (Beatdown) was awesome, and almost every fight ended in a KO/TKO or submission. 

Also, I am super excited that I'm going to get a chance to see Kume Takasuke fight.

The guy is a B-E-A-S-T, and an awesome grappler.  I think that he is going to take the whole lightweight tournament, and after, I think he may be signed by the UFC. 

Man, one of the things I love about Korea is the convenience of just about everything.  Things are done quick and easy here.  For example, I walked in and out of a dermatologists office in less than fifteen minutes once to have a mole removed (by laser), and I didn't even have an appointment.  You can have anything delivered to your house in an instant:  fried chicken, appliances, McDonald's, beer, girls....

To be honest, when I first got here from France I was a bit suspicious of these Koreans and their "lets embrace convenience" attitude.  France is not known for timely and convenient service.  Let me repeat that.  FRANCE IS NOT KNOWN FOR TIMELY AND CONVENIENT SERVICE.  For example, say oh, your faucet breaks.  First you have to make an appointment for someone to come look at it.  Then, two weeks later, the service man comes and tells you, "Yeah, it's broken.  I'll be back in a week".  I know I have some French readers, so let me just say that  I love France, and France kicks ass (even if you guys are lazy).  

One thing I find inconvenient here are Korean on-line sites.  Usually, I buy my own stuff on-line (even though it's a pain in the ass at times) and the Korean is not a problem.  Buying a ticket for Road FC took frustrating to a whole new level.

Eventually, I figured out that there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to buy a ticket all by myself.  My boss ended up helping me out, and she was finally able to figure everything out and actually buy a ticket after twenty minutes of work.  And she is Korean!  Whew.

I got a pretty good seat one row from the front.  This is all after my instructor tells me that he can get me a ticket at half price.....

    I will kill this Korean computer!  Why?  Because it's Korean, and I'm an idiot.

                      I annoyed my boss and all I got was this lousy piece of paper-My ticket

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ham "Little Cutie" Seo-hee 함서회

This is a great match from one of our competitions here in Busan a couple of years ago.  Actually, maybe it was more than a couple of years ago.  Maybe, about three?  Wait, no....look it was a little while ago, okay?

Here is professional women's MMA fighter Ham "Little Cutie" Seo-hee in the men's division (57 KG no gi final).  Enjoy.

                                                                동천백산 유술회

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why am I not improving in BJJ? (plateauing)

di・min・ish・ing returns
      A yield rate that after a certain point fails to increase proportionately to additional outlays of capital or investments of time and labor.

 What does that mean?  How the hell am I supposed to know?  I usually sit at home sitting on the couch in my underwear eating Cheetos and sticking things up my nose.  Someone on Sherdog once asked, "Why am I not getting better at BJJ"?  Someone replied that it was the law of diminishing returns;  meaning that the more you put into something (like training), over time, the less positive results or progress you are going to see. 

Well then what about guys who train their asses off six days a week, basically live at the gym and excel at an amazing speed?  Take the Miyao brothers for instance.  It doesn't seem like all the hard training that they are doing is hurting them.  My instructor told me that one of our brown belts really started to blossom when he started training six days a week basically twice a day.

I think there is some truth in this theory, but I think a lot of what we see as insufficient progress is really only in our head and largely mental. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I felt like I have finally gotten over some hurdles in my training that I have been trying to overcome.  Chiefly, passing half guard, top pressure, and movement.  A couple of concepts have finally "clicked" in my head and have been working during live sparring (still no knee bar success, though).

   Wednesday night no gi class

For the last four or five months I've been feeling like I haven't really been progressing even though I train four times a week religiously.  Even when I tore my MCL recently, I only took a week off BJJ.  After that, I was back at the gym taking notes and working out with weights and doing conditioning on an exercise bike. 

BJJ is fun.  I love it.  If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it.  As a BJJ practitioner, don't ever forget the #1 reason why you are on the mat. 

Having said that, I still get down in the dumps from time to time when I feel like I am stagnating.  It's only natural to feel a little sad when you feel like you aren't getting what you want out of something you are putting 100% into. 

I've come to the realization that there are two very important things that one must do to keep improving and to maintain a positive mindset and they are simple:

1.  Go to class-This seems like a no-brainer, but I'm always surprised at the guys who say they want to get better, but never come to class.  If you are going to class two times a week that's fine (BJJ isn't the number one priority for everyone and we all have commitments) but don't expect to make the same leaps and bounds as someone who is training five times a week.

Equally as important as going to class, is making the most out of your time at the gym.  My BJJ really started to improve when, as as white belt and blue belt, I would stay an extra couple of hours after class and just spar.  If you can't do two hours, do one hour.  Can't stay an hour or thirty minutes after class?  Well, make sure to roll with everyone during sparring time and don't sit out.  If you have a couple of questions ask your instructor or a higher belt after class.  Work your strengths, work your weaknesses, and work on things you want to learn.  You know, train!

2.  Don't compare yourself to others-I think this is one of the most important things to remember when evaluating your own progression.  Don't worry about why someone else is getting better and you're not.  Try not to think about who is tapping you in class, who you are tapping, or why you can't submit a certain person.  It's perfectly natural to compare yourself to other people and your teammates, but don't get stuck in that mindset.  It really does nothing for you and is a waste of time. 

There are so many intriguing and enjoyable aspects to BJJ besides your own progression:  the theories behind why things work (and don't work), the dedication it takes to excel, the different mental and physical barriers one has to overcome.  Lately,  I have really started to appreciate and enjoy BJJ theory and the minute details (specifically, the small movements and placements of your body) that can make or break a passing game. 

I'd like to close with an awesome quote from John Danaher that I found really inspiring and one that really resonates with me:

"I should walk off the mats knowing in my heart that in some small way,  I'm better than I was when I walked on the mats.  And that should always be the focus of your training especially day by day".

   Wednesday night was great and I feel I walked off the mat a little more knowledgeable

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On the line and off the line

In this blog entry I want to address the importance of hip placement and moving your hips.  I want to talk not only about the importance of moving your hips, but also about the importance of maintaining hip, head, and shoulder pressure as you move your hips and try to pass. 

The concept I'm talking about talking about works well in many situations (especially when someone has you in knee shield), so don't try to pigeonhole it.  What I'm talking about is more of a general idea of how you should condition your body to move rather than an actual step by step technique.  Also, as with everything in BJJ, this should be used on a case by case basis. 

I think the biggest mistake I made at white and blue was trying to force techniques or movements that were simply not there (either in sparring or during competitions).  I think it is important to know not only how to use a technique, but also when to use a technique. 

Finally, something else that I really want to stress in this post is the the concept of changing directions.  My instructor has several theories on this concept, but today I am focusing on changing the direction of your hips.

Don't be stubborn!  If someone is not letting you pass one way, move and go around.  Think about it.  The easiest way to pass a blockage is to go around it not through it.

Now, for example, I am in someone's half guard.  What I want to do is get my hips slightly off line with my opponent's hips, while keeping pressure on their head and upper body with my shoulder and head.  Keeping pressure on my opponents face/head is vital, because if I can't control my opponent's head they will sit up and try to sweep me or take my back.   After I move my hips slightly off line, while keeping top pressure,  I twist my hips in the direction I am trying to pass.  Here are two diagrams:

             First, I get my hips off line with my opponent's hips.  Notice the heads are touching.

               As I change the direction of my hips and then twist them, I keep top pressure

In the diagram above, my hips (represented by arrows) are moving off line, but the upper half of my body is staying on line.

Also, this is VERY IMPORTANT!  I want to try and keep my hips down as much as I possibly can.  I want my hip bone down!  That means I want my hips/butt cheek area touching my opponent's midsection/crotch area.  If I don't keep my hips down low, touching my opponent, then I am creating space for my opponent to move and escape. 

If your opponent has you in half guard knee shield and is keeping you at a distance with his/her knee, change the direction of your hips slightly.  He/she may be also pushing your head or face to maintain distance and keep you from passing.  To keep head and shoulder pressure on their head/face (this stops them from taking your back), move your head and shoulder slightly off line (keep your upper body bent at a forty five degree angle) and then back on line with their head and upper body.

Even if your opponent has  an under hook you should still be able to pass since your head and shoulder are controlling their head and keeping your opponent from moving his/her upper body.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Busan International Film Festival-el resquicio & In Darkness

Due to my misanthropic nature, I usually avoid large crowds at all costs.  In a daring feat of bravery, I ventured out of my neighborhood this week to partake in a couple of movies showing at the annual film festival here in Busan.

                              An early Wednesday morning before the crowds
The first film I saw was a movie from Colombia (imagine me saying Colombia like Tony Montana) called el resquicio.

                                         el resquicio

If you don't any Spanish, the trailer talks about a kid that is obsessed with his aunt, and a couple of kids that believe a witch lives in the forest.

The second film I saw was called In Darkness.  Is was directed by Agnieszka Holland (the director of Europa, Europa; an excellent movie and true story about a young Jewish man who served in the German army during WWII to avoid the concentration camps). 

The movie tells the true story of Leopold Socha, and how he helped a group of Jews in Lwów, Poland hide in the sewers beneath their city during WWII to avoid the Nazis. 

                                         In Darkness

 I can't say enough good things about this movie.  It was a really powerful film, and I highly recommend it. 

 A photo I took at Auschwitz concentration camp outside of Krakow, Poland.  It says, "Work shall   set you free". 

Tozi Korea rashguard

   My collection of rashguards

I am a bonafide rashguard junkie.  I'm not into skulls, dragons, or tribal designs.  I really love plain, simple designs (hence my collection of RVDDW rashguards).  My instructor recently made new team rashguads, so I got a new one tonight to add to my ever growing collection.  The design has a lot going on on it, but it's pretty sweet nonetheless.

Review:  The major drawback of this rashguard is that I can't walk around the gym and show off my muscles when I wear it.  Enjoy this picture of my cat:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sunday training

My buddy Jackie and I decided to get together this past Sunday to work on techniques, exchange ideas, and spar.  I was excited, because we are the same size and level, however we rarely get to train with each other.  This weekend was a Korean holiday, so we both expected the gym to be pretty dead.

Imagine our surprise when three more purple belts ended up showing up to the gym along with a few  whites, a brown belt, and one of our black belts who lives in Seoul!

                                            노영암 Noh Young-ahm (DCBS black belt)

I sparred for several hours, and it was a good feeling getting my butt kicked. I have to say it was a great atmosphere with everyone pushing each other and having fun.  

Also, I can't say enough good things about Young-ahm.  The guy is a class act all the way, and he is definitely someone I look up to.  I hope that someday my level of BJJ can come even remotely close to his. 

                                           ^^ He loves leg locks 전두광 Jun Doo-gwang

           My BJJ wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for this guy 이영석 Lee Young-suk