Posts Tagged ‘judo’

Fine tuning the Mata Leon. If you want to get a good mata leon choke, make sure your choke arm is deep and the elbow of your arm lines up with your opponents chin and underneath. The choke arm makes a v shape. Once you have that, grab your bicep. With the free hand, monkey grip the back of the opponent’s head. Before, I did the Mata Leon by placing the back of my hand on the opponent’s head. That was bad technique. When the opponent is being choked, they will reach, grab, for the hands in desperation. If the hand, on the neck is cupped, then they have nothing to grab. Squeeze. Beware the opponent, may get off a punch but will soon be knocked out.

Changing topic a bit, I also learned a new throw, Kouchi gari, another tool for the arsenal. I also learned how to escape the classical judo pin. The classical judo pin was a side mount, one wrapped arm under the elbow and wrapped head with the legs scissor kicked in front. Ironically, with a 30 second pin, I had won third place in the Midwest Regional Judo Tournament in Chicago in the late 70s. I was amazed how easy it was to escape the classic judo pin.

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I need to stop over thinking and just do. I’m worried about getting injuried and stepping out of my comfort zone to push myself to a higher level. I felt that I needed time off to get my head straight and to heal. I went through something like this, taking time off to prepare myself mentally for tougher competition, because I moved to a higher weight class in judo. I left for a while but I learned that I missed judo competition and would have comeback but moved.

One thing that I remember about my judo training as a kid, many, many, many years ago, which kept me coming back, I used to train with my best friend who was stronger and smarter than I was. We were in tremendous competition against each other all the time. I rarely beat him. That was the best training for competition and for life.


This week I started Iyengar yoga classes to try and fix my shoulder, old sports injury. I prefer yoga over physical therapy. I am doing it twice a week. I am not a fan of yoga. I find yoga painful and difficult. What exactly is Iyengar Yoga? Iyengar Yoga is a type of yoga that uses props to get you where you need to be. Because of Iyengar's frail health as a child, he created a special type of yoga that uses props. Today, he is one the most recognized yoga teachers in India.

If your in South Florida area and your interested in learning yoga correctly, I recommend Iyengar yoga at Yoga Rosa of Hallendale, Fl. See web page. yogarosa.com. Most of the teachers have been to India and many years of experience. It is intense, or as intense as you want yoga to be. What I like about Yoga Rosa is that is all it is, yoga. No free weights. No spinning cycles. No aerobics. It's not a gym. That is something I like about Valente Brothers also. You go there to study Jiu Jitsu. It is not a gym either.

Getting back to the Gracie Diet, I am on chapter five of the Gracie Diet Book. I started the log book chart in that chapter. I would like to dive right in but I don’t have a firm grasp of the rules and they recommend doing a three phase in. Start with small changes. I learned that I snack all day long.

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The instructors aren’t going to like this but I injured my back during lesson 20. I blame myself for the injury. My back was hurting before the class. The day of the class, I arrived late and didn’t fully stretch out. The biggest cause is that I have been sleeping on a bad mattress. The ten days before, I was not exercising like I usually do. Despite what happens in my life I need to always exercise. The good news is that I am improving. I hoping to come back on Wednesday.

Observation, once you become a blue belt, you become a mentor to white belts, not an instructor. So during review, we practice what lessons the white belts know. I have some anxiety that I maybe giving bad advise so I try just to point out the most obvious mistakes in their form. When I feel it’s not going well, I seek help from the instructor or higher belts that I trust.

We learned esquima, re learned, which I find difficult, however, in my opinion, it is a good defense against fist strikes while standing. It is also a good position for a takedown as well. Esquima, is a Portuguese word meaning fencing. It is a locking one of the opponents arms under the arm pit and holding that arm at the elbow. The other arm is grasping the other side back shoulder under their arm holding the shoulder blade. Your head is to one shoulder side. When the opponent switches grips, or swims the shoulder holding arm down, you switch to the other side, sort of like a dance.

As far as distance, esquima grappling, shoulder to shoulder, is the opposite in judo where it’s like a waltz dance distance, arms length. This judo distance is bad for a street attack from fist strikes. Professor Pedro had pointed out the mistake of my judo distance.

Next throwing class, when I am healthy enough to participate, I want to work on getting into the esquima grip and also to work on throwing from the esquima grip. I wonder how it would work in a size mismatch, a bigger opponent.

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˝In the East it is said, when the student is ready, the teacher will present himself.” 1950s documentary video about the Japanese judo master Masahiko Kimora. Before I found Valente, I had two odd experiences with two judo clubs.

I wanted to return to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so I choose a college there and moved back after graduating high school. I had the hope of returning to my old dojo under Norm Miller. Unfortuntely, it had moved locations or was out of business. So, in the Fall of 1989, I found a club two blocks from the university from the yellow pages. It was only twenty dollars a month and at the Ymca on the 15th floor. I arrived on time and met a heavy weight
black belt by the name of Ken. He was obsessed with trying out for the Olympic team. I told him I was a student of Norm Miller. I clearly asked if he knew of him or his where abouts. He completely ignored my question. Ken’s behavior was strange. A few minutes later, the rest of the group arrived, five guys and Ken. They changed in another room when they came out, all of them were wearing black belts. I thought to myself this can’t be real. I asked where are the other students, Ken, looked at me and said your it, your the only student. Ken showed a throw and then said lets practice. They lined up then one of the black belt said white belts get to throw once while black get 10. Ken didn’t throw me, but all the others did. I hadn’t practiced a fall slap in many years and I was just thrown 50 times. I injuried myself when my knees hit each other as I hit the mat. It was one of those injuries you don’t realize right away. It was not fun. From there, we went into randori. One black belt was eager to go at me. Even though I didn’t do judo in a while, I had wrestled in a tough conference in high school so I was prepared for the ground attack. He didn’t throw me so well. We went to the floor. I escaped. He threw me. Some how he hit me with a loose elbow to my nose. Blood started slowly dripping. We stopped. The black belt ran to the bathroom for tissue. I plugged my nose and we started sparring again. I was very disappointed by that club. My knee was throbbing. I decided that it was to risky to purse my judo training with that group. I focused on my studies and gave up martial arts until 1998.

In 1998, I went through a bad divorce, no kids, and had a smoking habit. I needed to get my face out of my hands and get moving. I knew if I played a sport, it would motivate me to quit smoking. I found a judo course at Miami Dade Community College Northh Campus. It was a reasonable cost. I didn’t think that I would compete again, but maybe I could become a judo referee. Jack, a mid sixty year old, sensei, was some sort of judo guru that was training the police there. The North Campus has a law enforcement school. Part of the class was in a classroom. He would write the Japanses words for the throws. He had some good floor drills. Face of a clock warmup, pinning moves. One day he explained what happens medically to an elbow that is broken from an arm look, and what happens when a person is killed from a choke hold. I thought it to be gruesome. I guess police should know.

Jack had some remembeable sayings. His catch phase, ” You want to be a bad ass like me, you have to do what I say?” He drove a fast corevette convertible and wore reflective sun glasses. Another one, ” When you grab someone, its like taking out the garbage.” I didn’t like that one either. What that does is dehumanize your opponent. He was someone that I would consider dangerous, even at his age.

Things were going well until he realized I was training to kick someone’s ass. He did not like that. He was correct. It is a violation of the judo code. So, that’s when he made it so unbareable, anyone would leave on their own. He beat me up for six weeks. The day before I threw in the white towel, he put me in the mata leon. As he choked me, i paniked. Take it easy, he whispered in my ear. I think he debated in his mind about knoçking me out to test my dedication like they would do to you at the Kodokan. He said something like that. Miami Dade Community College ain’t kodakan. Kodakan is the best judo school in the world, located in Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese did not like foreign students. As a test, they would test a foreigners worthiness by knocking the prospective student out with a chokehold. To purposefully use a choke hold to cause a non struggling person to unconsciousness ,without sparring, is like a simulation of an execution without dying. Then, they would do it the next day. If you kept coming back, you would past their test and they would teach you. I didn’t like the idea. I decided Jack was insane. I wasn’t coming back. I gave up my grudge too. Instead of judo, I played lacrosse, mid field, with the Miami Makos, for the next five years and I completely quit smoking.

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This week during randori, throwing sparring, I had a hard time moving around my opponent.  Getting the opponent to move is a precurser to a good throw.  I need to get clear in my mind where to move my opponent, and to be prepared for the right throw. I will start training, focusing, more on trying to control the movement.

Probably just a dream goal, I wouldn’t mind putting on 10 lbs of muscle.  This would require weight lifting. In conjunction with the weight lifting I would take a muscle supplement. I found a product that claims to help rebuild muscle tissue lost from aging, ensure with revigor. It is sold at cvs and walgrens. When I can’t win with technique, I like the power side. I used to have great curl strength about 12 years ago.

I’m looking for a meditation instructor or a group. I wasn’t impressed with what I found locally, south Florida. I admit that I didn’t put a lot of effort into my search. I may try something via skype.

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Mata Leon. In Portuguese and Spanish, it means lion kill.  This is a very powerful choke.   I don’t know the japanese word for it.   The Mata Leon is when you get your arm in a vice grip around the throat and squeeze until unconsciousness.  The other arm blocks the opponent from escaping.   How romantic.   During this weeks fundamental class while relearning this move, Lesson 6, I had a flashback.   When I was a kid, Norm Miller,  http://www.judoinc.com/main/ji/Judo7.htm, invited another Judo club to our dojo for an in-house tournament.   This was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1978.   In the tournament, I defeated my opponent with the mata leon.   I wasn’t able to win with a throw.   The referee stopped the match.  The other kid was holding his throat and crying.  I felt bad about the crying.  They gave me a trophy.

A week later, at school, St. Mary’s, Elm Grove, Wisconsin, I had told someone about my judo win.  On the playground, my friends were asking me to try the mata leon out on them.  “Please..please..try it out on me,” they asked me.  I totally didn’t want to do it.   After a lot of nagging by this kid named, Danny Lipscome,  I gave in.  I put the choke on him.   He turned red, started choking, tears came running down his face.  I let him go.  He ran off as soon as I let him go.     A few minutes later, two nuns marched from across the parking lot and stopped right in front of me.  They were not pleased.  ” To the Office. Right Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  one screamed at me.   They wanted to expel me.   My mother was a teacher at St. Mary’s.  I told them I would NEVER do that again.   I was let off with a very stern warning.


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Here are my Jiu Jitsu goal’s  for 2012:

Keep coming to class.

Try to follow a weekly plan, one fundamental class, one throwing class, and one sparring.

Give 100% effort while training.

Make it past the first round of the next Grandmaster Helio Gracie tournament in October 2012.

Talk with white belts. Give them support.

Review my fundamental notes twice a week. Copy my fundamental notes into my phone.

Be able to do 40 military push ups and situps by the end of the year.

Practice Uchikomi. Note, Japanese word meaning self throw practice. Article to follow.

Eat a five vegetable soup everyday.

Improve flexibility.

Buy a chess game for my computer. Play once a month.

Learn all the bushido words to memory.

Try a meditation class.

Add pictures and videos to up coming posts.

Learn to make it a habit of executing throws from the clinch only.

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December 23, 2011, was the last morning fundamental class of 2011.  During the class, Professor Pedro talked about fight strategy.  Professor Pedro brought up an example of boxers and power.  You never see a middle weight champion boxer challenge a heavyweight champion boxer.  Why?  It would not be an interesting fight because an average heavyweight boxer could easily defeat the best middle weight champion boxer due to the strength of the punches.    It would be a bad strategy for a small to middle size person to get in a boxing match with a heavy sized person.  So, what do you do?  Distance  control.   Stay out of range.  Pizon.  Wait for the clinch. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about the slow fight.

Most of this week, I was at Disneyworld with my family.  I tried to put Jiu Jitsu aside for a few days.  I could literally talk about Jiu Jitsu all the time. I noticed that I could be a bit fanatical about it.  I planned to relax and start the new year with a renewed commitment to the study.

My weekly blue belt program will be one sparring class, one throwing class, and two fundamental classes.  I asked Professor Jimmy what we blue belts should be working on as far as training, and he said ” Just reflex.   Beyond purple up to black, it will be reflex and timing.”  I was expecting him to say you need to work on escapes, kimoras, chokes etc.  Just reflex.

I asked brown belt, Chris, if he had any tips for blue belts.  Note, Chris had made it into the third round of the last Helio Gracie Challenge Event, at Valente Brother’s Headquarters, on October 1, 2011.  The Helio Gracie Challenge is an annual event held in honor of Helio Gracie’s birthday on October 1.   Chris didn’t have any advise.  He said,  ” The blue belt is really like you tried out for the team and you made it.”

Headquarters will reopen on January 2, 2012.

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What is the best defense in a bar brawl ???  That question comes up a lot during Jiu Jitsu practice.  As a Jiu Jitsu student, you adapt to the situation.  Generally,  I know that I don’t want to take it to the ground. Bars are known to have broken glass on the floor.  If your on the ground, someone could throw a chair on you or you could be kicked in a group attack.  In my opinion, the best defense is not being there.

June of 1987 , Greg S., a friend from high school,  and I went to Ocean City, Maryland.  It was a tradition for recent High School graduates from Baltimore and the surrounding  area. Ocean City, Maryland,  is a small run down family vacation town on the Atlantic Ocean with a sandy beach.   Near the O.C. boardwalk, there was a night club with a dance floor, which allowed 18 year olds into the establishment, but were not permitted to drink. We happily paid to get in and had to wear yellow wrist bands.   Meeting women was on our minds.   Note, we had a couple of beers on the beach before we entered.  To be honest, I don’t recall drinking or how much but it definitely wasn’t an unreasonable amount.

As we were entering the bar, I believe we were being watched.  It was about to get very ugly.  The place was dark.    As we were scoping out the dance floor for women,  a ring of guys formed around Greg.  Greg was in the center and another guy facing him.  The guy next to me said, ” Stay out of this and you won’t get hurt.”  Greg is a big guy and he could hold his own so I didn’t immediately object.  Thirty seconds later, the man who told me to stay out of the fight,  sucker punched Greg in the face.   Just as his hand recoiled, I noticed that he was wearing brass knuckles. Brass knuckle is a small metal weapon; worn over the knuckles on the back of the hand.  Greg was stunned and stumbling.   To make things worse, as Greg stumbled, the attacker in front of him struck him.  There was no time to get help.  I didn’t remember seeing a bouncer at the front door.   I had to act.  Right or wrong, I forcefully grabbed the back shoulder shirt of the guy with the brass knuckles and the other guy  on my other side by his shirt shoulder.  I charged forward while dragging the two guys by the shoulder into Greg and the other guy.  In a second, we were all laying on the floor in a pile and I was on top.  My hope in collapsing the ring was to create chaos so that Greg could escape.  This is when the whole situation gets really unclear.  I don’t know what happened to Greg S. after that point.

My next memory is jumping to my feet after the pile up.  When I got to my feet, there was a guy in front of me with his hands up with clinched fists.   I quickly looked around.   I didn’t see Greg.  I jabbed the guy hard in the jaw.  He returned with a hook.   I immediately felt a cut under my eye.  The cut on my face was from the attacker’s jagged ring.  Blood ran down my face.  I don’t have memory of the events after that.  Perhaps there was another attacker, out of view, that choked me out? I believe I was knocked or choked unconscious at this time.

Next memory, I saw K. Hopkins, she graduated with me and Greg,  standing with her boyfriend in front of us.  Her boy friend was manic, wide-eyed, breathing heavy, and holding a broken tennis racket.  It was weird.    Her boy friend said that he thought he saw the attackers leave the bar.  I don’t know if he came to our aid or after I broke the fight ring, the fight evolved into a brawl.    After that, I remember the sun had risen.  A cop was making a report.  We started making our way to the exit.  Someone yelled, ” Let them go, they had nothing to do with this.”

Next memory, I was in Greg’s car.   Greg was in bad shape.  One of his eyes had a broken blood vessel.  He kept repeating the same sentence over and over. He had a concussion. I wanted to go to the emergency room but he insisted on going home, so I drove him home in his car.

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