Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Knit one, pearl one.

I'm a little beat up, so yesterday, drills, but no sparring. I learned a spiffy new armbar. I'd explain it, but like I said it's spiffy and a little complicated. Today I am feeling well and truly over trained, so I'm skipping today's speed work. I'll do a light workout tomorrow either before or after class.
hope you're doing well.
enjoy some sunshine.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Johhny Gearhead..

I have always been conscious of not outfitting myself in stuff until I felt that I had been accepted, until I was a part of the team, club or crew that I was competing with. I feel that you should understand your place in the group, before you represent them to the outside world. I feel that you earn that. When I was in college, I refused to buy a tournament t-shirt unless we won the tournament. When I first started rowing, I refused to buy any club gear until I'd medaled in my first race. With jiu-jitsu it's less cut and dried. My initial thought was that until I'd earned my blue belt I wouldn't really have earned enough credibility to wear school "gear" off the mat. After Pan-ams I really felt like part of the crew, like I'd found my place. I bought a t-shirt. It doesn't seem like much, but to me it's a big deal. I don't wear these things lightly. Last week I slapped a Gracie Barra sticker on my truck. This is my school, my friends, statements I don't make lightly.

BJJ: worked on the arm bar. We learned two ways to break a defense. Then open mat. I've been pulling guard a lot lately. My guard game is getting better (still far weaker than my top game) but I'm getting more comfortable.

Afternoon training:
Bulgarian Split squats:
4x5/5 @ 95 (kept these light, posterior chain is pretty sore)


worked up to a single @ 225

1a db rows:
4x 5/5 @ 85
Called it a day from there.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wisdom of Homer part II

"It's better to watch stuff than to do stuff."

Friday workout:
either weighted kneeling jumps, or front squats.
work up to a 5 rep max.

Kb Snatch drop sets:
1minute @44
2min. @ 35
3min. @ 26
no rest, 1x each arm.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

kneel before me puny mortal.

Tonight max squat work:
Kneeling squats:
triples up to 3@405

Upper body rep work:
chins 20 total reps.

Right shoulder work:

Chest supported rows:

1arm Dumbell farmers walk:
each side

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


My hips did not want to open up last night. I tried mobility drills, foam roller work, even static stretching.. they did not want to go.
DE squats:
about 20 singles and doubles @ 135 to try and get my hips to open up.
then 7x2@205

clean and jerks:
4@135 (the jerks hurt my elbows, so I went to straight cleans)

glute hams:
10@MM band
2x8@MM band+35lbs

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth day.

Today is earth day.
I was driving in, the mountains were clearly visible above the Seattle skyline. The trees along 99 are just starting to bud. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I hope there are still some wild places when my children's children are growing up. I hope we have not changed our world's climate to a degree that we as a species can no longer survive. Earthday is about hope. I believe that firmly.. and I believe there is hope:
hope that we can have our lives and keep this planet livable.
hope that there is enough profit and pressure that the corporate world/our elected officials will stop monkey-wrenching efforts of regular folks to do right.
hope that there are places in this world, in this country that will not be clear cut, drilled for oil, mined, settled or used as a dumping ground. Places that will not be someone's "profit center" but they will simply be wild places.
Perhaps it is my age, perhaps it is the friends and family I have made in recent years, but a few years ago I would have not had such hope. It is going to be an up-hill struggle, but there are still possibilities.

Last night's BJJ:
worked on rolling to guard from turtle. Worked on a triangle from there. Learned a couple of arm-bar defenses. Need to practice the latter.. I am sure I will get plenty of chances.
In sparring I worked the arm-bar variations I learned at the seminar, and the 1/2 guard escape.
My game is coming along. Just need to give it more time, and practice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze..

..Seem to be the only friends I've left at all.
-Garth Brooks "Much Too Young (to feel this damn old)"

Ok, I have friends, but I've been listening to Chris LeDoux and feeling a little long in the tooth.
My rib has been killing me. Friday, we did assessments, and I haven't crunched the numbers, but my raw numbers don't look that good. Oh well, it's just work, won't kill me.

Saturday, Went to BJJ basics a Gracie Barra Ballard, learned an Ezekiel choke, to cross choke to Ezekiel transition. Then quickly changed and busted a move down to Foster BJJ to a seminar by Juliano Prado.
Semniar was really cool. Got to meet a few folks from other schools. Learned a variation of the arm bar that beat me at Pan-ams. Learned a couple half-guard escapes with transitions to submissions. Learned a crazy reverse Uma plata. Did some No-Gi grappling. I almost rolled over the top of James Foster (the owner, and head instructor of the hosting school), sorry about that. Foster BJJ is just down the road from my work, so I think I might drop in from time to time just to hear things explained by someone new, and roll with some different folks. The seminar was great. I learned a ton, but it was 6.5 hours of BJJ with only a 30 minute break between class and the seminar. By the time I got to my truck I was toast. The wife and I went out and had some Mexican and did our grocery shopping, then I crashed on the couch.

Sunday, I cleaned house, and fired up the BBQ for the first time this year. We had a couple folks over, and really had a great time.
Weekend was over way too fast.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mr. Browning has a prediction..

And we've all been told.
-Uncle Tupelo "New Madrid"

Quakes in my home town, CES appears fine, emails from my folks say they're fine.
Brings me back to high school, when Iben Browning showed me the influence of an unsubstantiated prediction.

I'm going to listen to some St. Louis alt country.
Glad everyone's ok.

lighter heavier.

last night's workout:
ME deads (sumo, from floor)
miss@475 (you could have slid a sheet of paper under it, but not a comic book)

I am now 20 lbs lighter than the last time I checked my max dead, and while I hit 475 then, It was a total grinder, now I just missed it.
I'm ok with that.
The goal is 500@ ca. 205 bw (or 2.5xbw).
Seems doable to me.

from there:
close grip bench 2x10 @ 135
1A rows 2x10 @ 75

Pull throughs:

varius silly little exercises to bring up my bum shoulder:
several x AMAP @ silly baby weights.

Saw a raccoon this morning. When I was rowing more, I'd to see all kinds of wildlife: otter, beavers, haren. It's always strange to see a wild thing in the middle of a big city like this.. well at least something besides rats.
have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The basics then the details.

Nutrition is not rocket science. Eat vegetables, and lean protein. Eat whole foods. Eat breakfast. Simple.
If you're not doing these things, then don't talk about insulin loading during the post-workout refractory period with high-GI carbs, or supplement xyx, or whatever.
I have a friend who has a terrible diet. I've worked with him on it, and it's getting less bad. The other day after working out he rolls up with a bottle of chocolate milk like it's a great thing. It's an excuse to eat junk food. It's sugar and junk protein. If your diet is good, and you have some endurox or surge after a grueling workout, that's great, you're tweaking something that is already solid. However, if it's just more junk in a series of junk, don't pretend that you're being a dedicated athlete.
People who have a crappy diet need to excise the bad stuff from their diet first. They are probably already resistant to insulin, so it's just another spike in a day/diet filled with spikes. The idea is that your body actually respond to the insulin that is released by the sugar, and use it as a transport device to move other anti-catabolic materials into your muscles. If you are insulin resistant, or aren't providing high quality protein to go along with the insulin spike: you're wasting your time.
The second issue is that most people with crappy diet have a low grade addiction to sugar. They need to break those cravings. To create a mental state where food has a purpose, then you can add things back in, either as a cheat/treat, or better yet to make use of the insulin surge to shuttle nutrients to your muscles, but they have to break the habit first.
These types of studies, supplements, and strategies are small advantages you can gain, but you have to do the hard work first. You have to have a diet that preps yourself to perform in the first place. You have to set yourself up to respond to the supplements, and you have to work hard.

Who wants to be the cowboy sitting on a fancy saddle strapped to a donkey?

Interview with A.J. Roberts.

Not by me.
Former Washingtonian and Elite powerlifter A.J. Roberts gives a great interview here.
A.J. is 5'11" 303 lbs in the interview he lists himself at 17% body fat.
his best competition lifts are 1003 squat, 705 bench and 705 dead.
Good information in the interview about gaining mass, putting together a plan, and the difference between having a plan and a program.
More later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yesterday's workout:
speed squats:
6x3@185 of 13" box
Just getting back into the groove with these. The weights will come up.

hang snatch:
1@135 and OWWWW.
I let the weight get out in front of me and bad things happened to my right (already surgically repaired shoulder). It's pretty damn sore this morning, but I think it's just 'hurt' and not injured.

Super set glute-hams/chins
10@MM band/8@bw neutral grip

bent rows:
15@MM band
bent rows:

no rest.
Called it a day from here.
Spent the next 2 hours freezing my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off teaching a rowing class.
Damn it was cold out there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nothing to report cap'n!

Work is busy today, and I have no tales to bend. Sorry dear reader.. check back tomorrow.

Last night: BJJ, worked on triangle set-ups, and arm-bars. Both are getting better, and both need to be better. Need to work on my guard game, still not comfortable there. It's all getting better though.
weights and rowing class tonight.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Oh, and before I forget.
Seattlites, one of (if not my absolute) favorite bands is coming to Seattle in may.
The Bottlerockets are playing the Tractor Tavern.
Go see them.. Come with me, I may even buy you a beverage.

"You think it'd be fun living in a house full of crazy people, but it's really not."

-Bart Simpson.

Playin catch-up.
Variation on a Dan John favorite:
10xfront squat @ 135+chains
sled drag across the parking lot. (tire+90lbs)
full rest, 4 total reps.
Brutal. Total oxygen debt, legs screaming, my last set of squats were a sheer act of will.
Good times.

BJJ-I'm BAAAAAAAACK. Triangles, and open mat. Really improved my triangles and triangle defense on saturday. Need to work more on initiating the triangle more cleanly. It's better, but not good.
Open mat: My rib still is kind of painful, and the flu killed my shape. So I kept it easy, and took a few breaks here and there. Rolled with B first go round of open mat. He's always been good, but something changed after Pan-Ams. Now he's aggressive, and he's better by an order of magnitude. He had me on the ropes the whole time. Tapped me with a kimora from guard and something else.. choke I forget which one. Good for him, and me. Raised the bar and all that. Now I have to raise it again.
Did some No-gi with Paul. Good roll, it's hard to tell how you're doing when you roll with him because he holds back. Lets you get into positions so he can work out of them. Afterwards he said "You've gotten a lot better." That means a lot. I am glad to be back.

Saturday afternoon:
Unilateral work/Rep method.
Step ups: 24" box 3x6/6 @ 95 (legs were still sore from friday)
Chest supported rows: 3x8@115
incline bench: 3x8 @135
Chins:3x5@ bw
curl to OHP (slow neg) right arm only:
AMAP@ 25, 30, 35

Sunny on saturday, had lunch with the wife outside. I love Seattle in the summer time. You've gotta come check it out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Squat, thrust, push, row, clean, press, crawl.

10 min kb stuff (swings, cleans, whatever.. sets of 5-10) and chins sets of 3.

Man-makers: 5@30lb dumbells
bear crawl:10m@30lb dumbells
no rest.

Getting back into the swing of things.
The flu this weekend took a lot of my.. sharpness? efficiency? I just feel flat and sluggish.
It'll come around.
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If you work on something it will get better.

Low volume lifting last night, just trying to get back in the swing of things.
Squats: all off a 12" box. My previous best was off of a 14" box. All of the mobility work I've been doing and the OHS are starting to pay off. I'm going to start free squatting my warm-ups work on getting truly ass-to-grass.
worked up to 2x2@225+chains.

5@ bw

Incline bench: this seems to really work the weak sections of my bum shoulder, so as loathe as I am I'm going to be doing more of these.

db bent rows:
3x8/8 @ 75

1A db static holds:
3x15missippi each side @ 100 lbs
these were mostly for fun, I do a lot of planks for core stability, and this is a novel way to change things up.

This was good to be able to try out a couple things to see how my body responds.
I'll be picking up the volume here shortly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Belly button?

Last night, I was getting ready for bed, and I felt some stuff in my belly button.. nothing new. I have an "innie" and it gets lint from time to time (always blue, I don't know why. I could be dressed head to toe in orange and yellow, and I swear my navel lint would be blue.. maybe the navel produces it's own lint.. hmm must research) so I go to retrieve the lint that has collected there in (you know, cause I'm all hygenical an stuff) and I pull some weird lint out and then my navel starts to hurt a little. Weird, belly-button pain is not exactly on my "hot list." I stick my finger back in there to sort of "check things out" and I have blood on my finger. Rather disconcertingly I am bleeding from the navel. Not one to panic, I go to the bathroom and swab out my navel with some rubbing alcohol and a q-tip. Producing a rather peculiar stinging sensation, and more blood, and then I just sort of left it alone.
I remember when my folks brought my brother home from the hospital. There was this big clothes pin looking thing on his umbilical chord. When my mother very scientifically explained what it was for (the cord, and the pin) I became very worried that the pin would fall off and that my baby brother would "go flat." Belly buttons are weird.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Vertical and working today. Managed to ingest 2 meals (though I have yet to be actually hungry) feeling reasonable. I have a rowing class to teach tonight, then I'm going to have a light workout tomorrow, and build things back up going into the weekend. Man I hate being sick. I shudder to think where my weight is, I haven't really eaten in 3 days. I was thinking of trying to get down to the 207s I might have just stumbled my way there.
I hope you're all fairing much better.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I've been sick all weekend. The wife is in San Diego winning races. I have been fighting it off all week. I got up yesterday, and felt ok. went to jiu-jistu, was a little sniffly. Went and got some coffee and read my book for a bit, and started getting the cold sweats.. It got worse from there. I made some soup. Now I'm sitting on the couch. Blech.
I hope I didn't pass this on to anyone, because it stinks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Light workout, heavy eating.

The past few days post-Pan Am I have allotted myself a few of the "treats" that I had been denying for the months I've been cutting weight, latte here, PB&J there. I find that I do better in full on denial for several weeks (8-12), then a week of "cheats" here and there, then back on lock down. Others work differently and can cheat once a week or so.. I find that routine helps me stay on track during my "on" time. Different strokes. Last night I had some nachos and later ice cream while watching the UFC. It was fantastic. 2 more cheats then back on lock-down (fish-n-chips this weekend, then my belated birthday dinner with the in-laws.. sometime)

Did some heavy lifting, but low volume last night:
OHS 20+@ bar. (Took me this many to hit full depth without anything under my heels. I am going to get my hips opened up if I have to use the tire-jack from my pick-up to do it)
worked up to 1@135 hang snatch.

1+@+45 (didn't quite make the second rep)

chest supported rows:

Glute hams:
20@MM band

Then headed home.

I noticed this morning that my right (surgically repaired) delt and bicep are visibly smaller than my left. I have been doing some work to try to bring them up (I always start 1 arm work with my right, I only allow my left to do the number of reps completed by my right, ect) but it seems this is not enough, I am going to try some addn'l volume (as part of my warm-up) to bring the right side along.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Training.. the plan.

For the next bit, I'm looking at a training schedule like so:
Monday: BJJ
Tuesday: weights
Wednesday: BJJ
Thursday: weights
Friday: Friday fun.
morning:BJJ/open mat
afternoon: weights.
Sunday: off.

I am changing my lifting plan, and am going to go to 3 full body workouts. The section listed first will be the focus of the workout getting 5-10 sets, the second section will be the next priority, and may be done in a superset, 3-5 sets per exercise, and the accessory lifts will be super-setted for 2-3 sets.

Tuesday: Dynamic effort Lower (Squat variations), Olympic lifts upper (1 of the following: snatch, clean, clean and jerk),
Accessory lifts: glute-hams or pull throughs, rows or face pulls, and push-up variation.

Thursday: Max effort Lower (deadlift variations), Repetition upper (horizontal pull, horizontal push, vertical pull, vertical push),
Accessory lifts: glute-hams or pull throughs, face pulls, ab work.

Saturday: Max effort upper (Vertical pull, horizontal push, horizontal pull), Unilateral Lower (1-2 of the following:BSS, lunges, step-ups, one-leg squats),
Accessory lifts: abs.

If time becomes a factor, then the accessory lifts will be done in a separate session.
Obviously this is open to tweaking, or scrapping all together should it fail miserably.
I'll start this next week.

Pan Am weekend.

Before I get into the whole weekend, I'll give my personal results: I lost. I got caught in a tight arm-bar in my first fight. I was fit, ready, my head was right, he was just better than me. It happens.
The rest of the weekend was fantastic. We flew into Long Beach Thursday morning, and hopped in a van and drove straight to Gracie Barra America. I trained a bit. I rolled with Hector from L.A. and John from Florida. Had some good rolls, felt good. I had some rib issues, but they didn't bother me, so I called it a day. From there we got some lunch, and checked into the Hotel. We lounged a bit, then headed back to HQ. I didn't train (wanted to take it easy on the rib), but got to watch some of the best black belts in the world roll. I met Master Carlos Gracie Jr. and really started to understand jujitsu.. more on that later. From there we dispersed. The young guys and folks who weren't competing went to In and Out burger. Matt, Brian and I went to Chilli's (Which is horrible, but Matt's weight was close, and Brian and I wanted to get some vegetables). From there I went straight to bed.
We got up early in the morning Friday. Matt, Louie, and Keith all fought in the morning. My bracket started at 1:20. Matt went first, he put up a good effort, but lost his first fight. Keith ran into an absolute buzz-saw who transitioned from x-guard, to abandon ship, to a nifty arm-bar in a blink. It was amazing. Louie had a great run, submitting his first two opponents with chokes before running into the same buzz-saw.
I ran back to the hotel to get my stuff, and was on deck at 1:20. I did a light warm-up, and checked my weight (217 in the gi, 4 lbs under) I reported to the bull pen.. D. and Sam waited with me. 10 minutes. I loosen up a little. I'm getting nervous. So I take a walk around the pen. 30 minutes in the pen. I shoot the breeze with D. and try to stay relaxed. 50 minutes.. come on! let's go.. just under an hour in the bull-pen: it's time. I get flagged because I'm weiring a shirt under my gi. I toss it to one of the guys from G.B. Florida, and ask him to hand it to one of the Ballard boys. Official weight 217.2 they measure my gi, it's all good (I had to tug my sleeves a little bit, but no big deal.. stupid monkey arms) I walk out to my first fight. I'm a little nervous, but I'm ready.
The fight starts, I start working a take down. Get my grips. Don't rush anything. I'm feeling good on my feet, and my opponent, is less than enthused. He pulls guard and immediately gets a sweep. Crap. This is exactly where I did not want to be. I start working. He starts to pass, I abandon ship, he covers, I turn in and drive through. I end up back in turtle, he starts working, I try a Gramby, he pulls his arm out. I turn back in, and try to suck in his leg, he hits the arm-bar. I am in trouble. My arm is already straight. I push my arm to his hip and turn out, he pulls the arm. I think about tapping.. nope not going to do it. I turn in and try to stack him. Almost got it when he hooks my leg and flips me over. I feel my bicep start to strain and tear.. I tap.
I have no idea how long the match took could have been 2 minutes could have been 4:55. I was embarrassed. I was taken out of my game and beaten roundly. I was fit enough, I thought I was ready, I just didn't get it done. I wanted to show the Professor, and all the guys who've taken time out to show me this or that that I've learned. That their time was well spent, instead I got whupped. The guy who beat me ended up taking third.
Now with some time and perspective: I just have to work on my game. I never stopped moving. I never stopped working. I was always trying to improve my position, I just didn't have the answers this time. Next time I will.
I change, and head to the bleachers. The blue belts had a rough go of things. Sam got beat in the first round, by a hair's breadth. Honestly it was such a technical match that I couldn't say where things went wrong. Tristan, Brian and Drew all finished out of the medals, with Drew losing in the second round the others going out in the first. Erik had a great win in his first fight, and nearly pulled his second out at the end. It was a long day sitting on the bleachers. Only Griff had yet to go. We got some burritos and headed back to the hotel.
Griff went first thing in the morning. My feet had been killing me the day before. I just brought some cheap flops, and they were blistering my feet to no end. I got up early, walked over to Target and bought some cheap converse. Then met up with everyone to watch big Griff fight. Griff had a great showing in his first match, and then lost a tough one in his second. The second was a judo match with neither Griff nor his opponent wanting to give up the takedown. It ended in a tie with the ref giving the advantage to Griff's opponent, a hard way to lose to be sure. Griff took third, and really could have taken second.
Saturday we watched a lot of upper belts compete. It's a whole different sport. Black belts pass guard like a glacier moving over each other. They inch and inch along slowly and inevitably. That is the biggest thing I learned this weekend, is be tight and heavy, and precise, and things will eventually happen for you.
That night we went to the On the Mat store as a team. I picked up some sorely needed white Gi pants.
Then we all went out to dinner together.. to some brew pub (Hale's Ales I think). It was a lot of fun. I genuinely like everyone in the group, and after this weekend I consider them all my friends.. even Jeff. Before this weekend I sort of felt like an outsider. Too old to be one of the young guys, too new to be one of the old guys. I've found how I fit. Hopefully they feel the same. Sunday, I finally got some sleep. The beds in that hotel stink. We watched the brown and black belts fight. Kron Gracie won the brown belts going away. He was truly amazing. We headed out a little early, went to Tacos el Unico in Compton (best tacos EVER) then some of us oldsters went to Hollywood. We went to Legend's gym. Not much to see (it was closed). Then to Ripley's believe it or not, which had lots to see, and had a blast. From there we went to a sit-down dinner. I had a mediocre Neapolitano style pizza and a fantastic tiramisu. Monday, Micah drove Michelle and I to the airport.
It was a great weekend. I realized how much I've learned from all of these people, and how much more there is to learn. This was their world, and has become mine (hopefully I can add half as much as I have been taught). I get it.. I think. Jujitsu is a journey. Tournaments and the belt system are a way-points to check to let you know how far you've traveled, but the big thing is there is no destination. I am going to compete more. I am going to keep training hard (more on that later) and most of all I am going to spend time with my friends.