Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mind C

BJJ LAB Technique: Roger Gracie style armbar

I recently created a website for my teammate and instructor Noh Young-ahm for his new BJJ gym here in Busan, Korea.  This is the third website I've made (Tozi Korea, the BJJ LAB, and my blog).  You can check out the website here:

It's not the fanciest website out there, but it's not half bad for a guy who isn't very tech savvy. 

We are going to try to upload a new technique video every week or every other week, so make sure to check the website.  Here is the technique for this week:  a Roger Gracie style armbar (the one he broke Jacare's arm with).  The best part is that the video co-stars yours truly!  Enjoy. 

Some Tips for This Technique
*Make sure to keep your elbow (the arm that is grabbing the sleeve) tight to your body
*In this particular scenario, you can't bring your leg over your opponent's face, because they are keeping their shoulders and hips square to you, not allowing you to shift your hips
*When your opponent bases off the sweep, you throw your leg over their head and armbar; you can keep their leg under hooked like Young-ahm does in the video or let go of it

Here is Young-ahm hitting it way back in 2006 when he was a blue belt!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Comic World & BJJ

Hey, on what other BJJ blog are you going to have a chance to read about Cosplay, Manga or in Korean "Manhwa", and BJJ?

This past Saturday, I went to Comic World here in Busan.  Comic World is a weekend event that takes place once every few months here at BEXCO auditorium.  Local comic book artists set up booths and sell comic books and merchandise, and tons of Korean kids get together and dress up in Cosplay outfits.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons.  One, you would never, ever normally see a Korean person (it would be very rare) in Cosplay.  Hell, not even on Halloween do people dress up here.  In Japan, it's quite common to see a variety of young people (punks, goth kids, skateboarders, Cosplay kids, and a bunch of other crazy styles).  In Korea, being different and not conforming to cultural or mainstream norms is not accepted or looked upon in a favorable light.

That means that there is little to no variety in the way people look or dress.  I remember being at the super market here once (mind you I live in the second largest city in Korea) and seeing a bunch of punk rockers walking around the store.  The looks on the faces of the super market employees were priceless.  Coming from the self proclaimed weird capitol of the world I found this quite amusing (where else in Texas can you find a Mexican cowboy, an old hippy with hair down to his ass, and a business lawyer in a suit all sitting down, casually enjoying a drink at the same bar but in Austin).

Also, there were a few gay (no, I don't mean happy) comic books at some of the booths.  Apparently, homosexuality doesn't exist here, and if it does, it is something foreigners brought to Korea.  Homosexuality is also something that people don't discuss.  It's very rare to see something like this, and I found it refreshing people having the courage to express themselves, especially about a subject that is so extremely taboo.   


There were tons of booths inside, and all the stuff was super cheap and pretty cool.   I got a pretty cool comic book and a t-shirt for about $15.00.  There were also some interactive booths and a stage set up with a panel of guest celebrity speakers.  There was a young Korean girl on stage when I was there with about a million kids sitting down hanging on every word she was saying and screaming at the top of their lungs after every sentence she said.  I was thinking to  myself, "Who the hell is this chick"? 

After Comic World, I headed to the gym.  I taught class from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. to a bunch of beginners.  I've taught class before, but this was the first time the whole class was made up of complete beginners (everyone happened to not be Korean, also).  I taught an arm drag, how to stay on someone's back and apply a choke, and a standing guard break.  Then, we sparred for a few rounds.

Several times, a couple of them (or I guess probably all of them at some point) said during sparring, "I don't know what to do".  I kept trying to stress to them that they've only had a few classes and that it takes time to get to the point where you are even half way aware of what's going on.  

I was reminded of the importance of having a clear cut path and plan when introducing BJJ to new people.  It's quite the challenge.  I purposefully only showed them two techniques as well.  I think anything more than three is overkill, and something that they will not remember anyway.  Next week, we will briefly go over what we learned last week in positional sparring at the beginning of class and I will add maybe two more techniques.  

The awesome part was that almost everyone at practice told me how much fun they thought sparring was!

I'm not the most articulate person, but I really tried to stress to the class that BJJ is not easy and for them not to not feel bad if they felt clueless.  I told them that I was the worst student when I first started; that I couldn't understand anything and I was the weakest, smallest guy at the gym.  I told them that BJJ is extremely hard, but if they stick with it, and are persistent, they will improve.   

After I taught, there was an open mat for a few hours.  I stayed for about three hours and rolled until I was exhausted.  My legs are killing me today.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Should I Use Strength In BJJ?

                               One of my least favorite training partners:  24 kg kettlebell

Let's just cut to it.  Nothing makes me more stark staring mad than I when hear people say, "You shouldn't use strength in BJJ" or to a lesser extent, "I'm not going to use any strength".  What!?

The thing that sets BJJ apart from other traditional martial arts is the fact that you and your partner can go 100% (yes, that means using strength, lots of strength) without hurting each other.

And when I say 100%, I am talking about rolling in a controlled manner (not rolling recklessly or with the intent to injure or hurt someone).  Look, things happen.  We are practicing a full contact sport.  I've been hurt unintentionally, and I've hurt people unintentionally, too.  That's part of the game, sometimes.

Use some common sense as well.  I am not going to roll the same way with the young, high school kid or the fifty five year old recreational player the same way I roll with the another purple belt my size and weight.  Also, if I am visiting an academy (which I do quite often), like I did this past week in Japan, I am going to let the upper belts set the pace of a spar and try to be a respectful as I can to the other guys.  Some of you guys that have been doing BJJ for awhile, you know exactly what you are in for the first minute or so of a spar.  Act accordingly.

If I am sparring with a strong guy or a big guy, and things don't go my way, I have several options:

1.  Get frustrated and inwardly complain that the other guy is just using strength
2.  If the guy is a lower rank than me, tell them, "Gee, you shouldn't use so much strength"
3.  Realize that something is off about my game if I can't handle someone's strength or that I just need more experience.  That means assessing the situation and problem and taking the appropriate steps to solve it like rolling more with strong people (not avoiding them), figuring out the holes in my game, and using alternative strategies when sparring with someone really strong that gives me problems.

Being a tiny dude, I don't need to have some false sense of my BJJ abilities.  I want to remain honest with myself and what I can do, so that I can always improve and try to stay grounded.  I specifically tell some guys to go 100% (without hurting me of course) and to use full power and pressure.  It's real simple.  You and I are going to do our best to strangle each other, and if either one of us catches one another we tap and start over.  I'm going to try my best (yes, using power) to get you and you are going to try your best to get me.  Case closed. 

I've stated before that I don't agree with Caio Terra on his stance on weight training, but I really admire other views that he has on BJJ.  I watched an interview with him recently, and he said something like, "Don't worry about getting smashed in the gym.  Only then can your jiu-jitsu grow".

I try to remain realistic about my jiu-jitsu abilities as well.  Sure, Helio made BJJ for the small guy to beat the bigger guy, but he never said anything about the bigger, stronger guy knowing BJJ, too.

Also, if you are strong, don't feel bad about using what you have.  Work on technique of course, but use your natural abilities, too.  I've never had someone tell me, "Gosh , your fast, but you shouldn't use your quickness".  If you are not hurting people, don't let people make you feel bad, because you are using strength.  Those are other people's hang-ups.  It's going to be a real eye opener when you show up to a competition and are surprised or not used to the other guy using his power. 

The last thing I want to touch on is weight training.  For me, this has only improved and helped my BJJ.  I'm always getting, "Man, you're strong"!  I find this comment a compliment, but I get it most often (9/10) when I am not even using that much strength.  Gee, the reason that I'm not breathing very hard, and you are laying on your back huffing and puffing probably has more to do with technique than strength.  Especially considering you outweigh me by at least 10 kg. 

To put things in perspective, I am about 63/64 kg.  I lift weights about two, maybe three times a week along with some basic calisthenics.  I also use an exercise bike since I feel that cardio is what can make or break your game.  The main reason I've excelled at BJJ is dedication, hard work, and mat time, but at the same time the fact that I am strong has really, really helped me in being able to handle bigger, stronger guys.

To make it clear, I feel technique is very important, but it sure helps (a lot) if you are srong, too. 

Be honest with yourself and your abilities and don't make excuses when things don't go your way.  Instead of complaining or getting frustrated (I get frustrated, too sometimes, so don't be too hard on yourself), be introspective and  look at those situations as opportunities to help you grow and improve your BJJ.  Happy rolling!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

ZST.33 10th Anniversary

My plan was to show a couple of my teammates some love and post their fights from ZST.33 10th Anniversary, but ZST doesn't upload any of their fights on their You Tube channel.  All I could find was this promo for the event that they fought at.  The trailer is actually pretty cool.

ZST.33 10th Anniversary

ZST Rules
*Three rounds (a minute and a half rest period)-the first and second rounds are five minutes with the third round being an extra round that is three minutes in duration
*All striking allowed standing (punches, elbows, knees, kicks)
* Only strikes to the body are allowed on the ground
*Bouts are not judged
*In the event that there is no winner (KO, TKO, or submission) bouts are ruled a draw

Other Rules
Grappling rule
*Two rounds (first a one minute rest period and then a two minute rest period)-the first and second rounds are five minutes
*Positioning is not considered an important factor in scoring a match
*Any motions, like clinching or holding, that impedes bouts are prohibited

ZST, ZST GP, Battle Hazard, GT-F (grappling rule), Genesis, SWAT!, Pre Stage

A bit funky, but interesting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

RVDDW Bearbrick

                                             Rash guard on the Bearbrick (which I own)

I got this Bearbrick at Mandarake (a big toy shop) in Japan.  What's a Bearbrick?  Well, they are these collectable plastic bears that adults pay up to and over a thousand dollars for (mine didn't cost that much).  Why?  I don't know.  Some things in this world just don't make any sense.  Actually, a lot of them have really cool designs and Bearbrick collaborates with famous artists, designers, and does a lot of special Bearbricks based on celebrites, musicians, and movies.  They come in five sizes:  50%, 100% (mine), 200%, 400%, and the elusive 1000%.

                                            A $1,500  400% (28 centimeters) Bearbrick, insane

                              100% (seven centimeters)Mega Man Kubrick and Bearbrick!

                        1000% Bearbrick (70 centimeters)-I saw this one in Japan.  It's expensive

I also got a  couple of new RVDDW rash guards last week for about $100.00 from the Isami shop in Seoul!

                               Out of Production

Monday, February 11, 2013

My super terrific happy Japan trip

Have you ever said anything really stupid?  I mean really stupid.  Then there's that reaction where the person's face that you are talking to glazes over in a stupor trying to process the nonsensical information that has just been presented to him/her.

My initial plan was to attend graduate school immediately after my undergraduate studies.  Things worked out a little different, and I ended up moving to France with my wife.  At the end of our stay in France, my wife and I decided that we would move to Korea (my wife had been to Korea before to visit a friend and had really liked it).

Me being me, she was incessantly bombarded with questions over the next month and a half ranging from the mundane to the utterly ridiculous.  The best being, "Is there a subway system in Busan?  Yes.  Wow, so if like we're on the subway will everyone be Korean"? 

This was my fourth trip to Japan since I've lived in Asia and the thrill of being around real live Japanese people still hasn't worn off (remember, I'm stupid). 

I can't say that I've ever traveled to a friendlier, cleaner, or safer country in the world.  Also, Fukouka (my destination for five days) is an absolutely wonderful city.  I departed on Friday morning from Busan heading to Fukouka.  I was taking a high speed hydrofoil ferry that would get me to Japan in a little under three hours.

                                            The BEETLE ferry

 I checked the weather for the time I would be staying in Fukouka, and it said that the temperature would be in the lower fifties, sunny and partly cloudy.  Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Fukouka and it was snowing!  Not just light snow.  I'm talking big huge snow flakes coming down in droves.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  Anyway, it was freezing cold.

                               Fukouka port

Arriving at my hotel, imagine my second surprise as less than two steps away was an Isami shop!  I had no idea that there was even an Isami shop in Fukouka.  Before I even checked into the hotel I dragged my poor unsuspecting wife into the store, so that I could drool all over everything.  Unfortunately, everything was too damn expensive and besides I can get the same Isami/RVDDW stuff in Korea for a fraction of the price.  They did have a few things that I haven't seen in Korea.  In particular a few really cool shirts, but none of them were in my size.

                               Isami Fukouka

                                            Unfortunately, not for sale (*drool)

                               Tokoro & "Hell Boy" Hansen autographs

On Sunday, I went to train at Axis Fukouka headed by Axis black belt Takeshi Kanda.

                               Axis Fukouka

The last time I had trained with Mr. Kanda was about a year and a half ago when I was a blue belt.  I arrived for the 2:00 p.m. class and saw a few guys already on the mat.

 I guess there had been a previous class, because there were some other guys getting dressed and getting ready to leave.  Sunday was an open mat day, so I spent the afternoon sparring with Mr. Kanda, a brown belt, and a couple of white belts.  Everyone was very nice, and of course I was very impressed with Mr. Kanda's technique (duh, he's a black belt).  His style is very similar to my main instructor's style, and I like it a lot.  He even took the time to show me a sneaky submission (that he caught me with over and over again), give me some pointers, and answer a few questions that I had. 

   "The Man"-Mr. Kanda and I

   Axix Fukouka

As I write this, my lazy butt is still contemplating on whether or not to wake up and catch the 11:00 a.m. class before I head back to Busan. 

    Fukouka castle

   Japanese Gardens

   Japanese Gardens

   A temple

    Someone's house-I love the houses dammit!

   Life sized Bearbricks 400%-the one on the far right end costs $900.00, the cheapest one was  $600.00

                                           A vending machine that

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lee Eun-soo at the Jiu-Jitsu Lab!

This week, Road FC middleweight champion Lee Eun-soo is training BJJ (gi and no gi) at the Jiu-Jitsu Lab here in Busan.  Lee has fought in Spirit MC, DEEP, Pride FC, and Hero's.  I got the chance to meet and train with Lee, and he is a very nice guy (and also very soft spoken).  My instructor also told me that he loves the gi and wanted to primarily focus on that this week.  I was already a fan, but now that I've had the opportunity to train with him and see how humble and nice he is, I am now an even bigger fan. 

                     Lee Eun-soo

    Monday night training:

                                                   Road FC middleweight title fight
                              KO! Road FC 010 In Busan-Lee Eun-soo v.s. Shungo Oyama

Killer Bee Winter Edition Custom Gi

The time has come once again for me a new gi!  I can't help myself.  Getting a new gi makes me feel like a little kid on Christmas, and I can't wait to get my hands on this hot little number (yes, we are still talking about gis). Pathetic, isn't it?

The thing that's got me so excited is Killer Bee's Winter Edition Custom gi.  You can fully customize a gi for about $150.00.  There are a multitude of options to choose from:

-gi color (white, black, or blue) and choice of weave (Scutellata or Ligustica)
-contrast stitching (twelve colors ranging from orange to purple)
-custom embroidery, you can choose up to two scripts or custom images with twenty-one different areas on the gi to place your script or custom image
-customizable sleeve and pant length
-customizable trim work on the sleeve and pant cuffs
-choice of pant material (cotton or ripstop)

There is even an option that says "gusseted fabric crotch style" (normal fabric or gi material fabric).  What does that mean?  Who the hell knows, but it sounds cool. There are a ton of things to choose from, and I didn't even list them all.

My final order (after bothering my wife and my friend Jackie ceaselessly for about an hour and a half for advice) is:  a white gi with grey contrast stitching and pink trim on the bottom of the gi skirt and inside the end of the gi sleeves and pant legs.  Hanja (Chinese characters) will run down the left lapel in red, and I am placing my academy's old school logo on the back of the gi. The Killer Bee logo will be placed on the arms in white embroidery.


                                            "East Heaven White Mountain" 동천백산