Tuesday, May 29, 2012

146 and some Bellator

Bellator first:
Rick Hawn is a very solid fighter, and a very bad match-up for Michael Chandler. I'm a fan of both guys, but since Chandler is a Mizzou guy I'm still hoping he pulls it out.

Luis Nogueira was very impressive once again.

Jeremiah Riggs vs. Kelvin Tiller might have been the single worst example of BJJ in a MMA fight in the modern age. Tiller was poor to bad. No idea of half guard. No base. Should have finished that Kimura about 15 different ways and times Just completely uncomfortable on the ground. Riggs was worse. He had no defense for the shoulder lock other than to endure it. He almost got triangled 2-3 times, and powered through them. It was just ugly.


Glover Teixeira looked great over Kyle Kingsbury. Welcome to the UFC Mr. Teixeira.

Kingsbury is an unbelievable athlete that has just never gotten good enough at any aspect of fighting to beat anyone. At 30 years old his clock is ticking.

Glad to see Mike Brown performing well. I don't know that he can compete at the championship level. Maybe if his wrestling becomes a bit more technical.

Nothing pained me more than seeing Mayhem Miller lose what turned out to be a pinkslip fight to CB "Crushing Boredom" Dollaway. I can't stand Dollaway. He is the personal embodiment of everything people hate about wrestlers in MMA.

Mayhem needs to get his strength and conditioning in order. I don't know that he has the physical gifts to keep up with guys at the top UFC level, but I don't think he has reached whatever his physical potential is either. He's always looked thin at middleweight. His bone structure is big, he could hold some serious muscle, and he's always looked a little soft at the weight ins. Combine that with his TKO due to hypoxia loss to Bisping. I have to think that is where his problems at least start.

Jamie Varner looks like he's back in the mix.

Edson Barboza is no slouch. He has a serious future ahead of him. He needs to work on his defensive wrestling, and understand that when he throws kicks that miss he may end up on his butt.

Darren Elkins showed some serious guts in his fight with Diego Brandao. His ear blowing up may have been one of the most disgusting things I have seen in a while.

Stipe Miocic looked pretty underwhelming in his win over Shane Del Rosario. Neither guy looked good.

Big Country Roy Nelson through a perfectly timed overhand right that turned out the lights on Dave Herman. Love to see that guy win, but I still think he's the best Light-Heavyweight in the UFC. Weighing in at 246 these days (Forrest Griffon walks at about that, as did Mark Coleman), he could trim down another 15-20 and cut the last 20 to make 205. Heck Chael Sonnen walks around at 217 and he fights at 185.

Cain Velasquez must have seen something on tape or heard from Daniel Cormier. The way he snagged Bigfoot's ankle in the first exchange was a little too clean. Antonio's team might want to look into that.

I think Cain is the number one contender. Cormier is still too green. Overeem is out. Unless you thrust a prospect forward, there really isn't a championship caliber heavyweight left (you could make a case for Fabricio Werdum). Combine that with the fact that the last JDS/Cain fight was after a long injury layoff. It's really the only match that makes sense. I don't like it (I'm really sick of the UFC giving these quick turnaround rematches. It's becoming a thing) but this is really the only match that makes sense right now.

Why did Frank Mir get this title shot? His peak was when Tim Sylvia was the UFC champ, and an aging Light-Heavy (Randy Couture) revitalized his career by going UP. His boxing is decent, but not good enough to beat good strikers. He has good submissions (of the grab and yank variety) but almost no wrestling (defensive or otherwise) so he loses to good wrestlers.
He beat the ghost of Crocop, and the husk of Big Nog (twice). He decisioned Roy, who as I stated before is fighting up a weight-class. So no Frank, you're not the "best ever." You're in a limited weight-class, with a limited skill set. Your comeback from the motorcycle accident was impressive, but still your own fault. I think he loses to about 1/2 of the guys in the Strikeforce grand prix (Barnett, Cormier, the ghost of Fedor, Werdum, maybe even Bigfoot)

Junior Dos Santos is the man. He'll be tested by anyone who wants to plant him on his backside and defend submissions for 25 minutes. His hand speed, length, and power are going to be a problematic combination for a lot of guys. He could stand to get bigger (237 is a pretty thin heavyweight especially at 6'4") and work on his wrestling. It's good to have a plan 'b' and if your plan 'b' is jiu-jitsu it doesn't do much good if you can't get the fight to the deck.


back on the 531 train.

Sort of. I know.. if you change it it isn't the program. So kids do as I say not as I do. That said I'm changing the menu to add MORE vegetables (sh!t I need to do) and not more dessert.
  • no chins the first month. my elbows are killing me.
  • front squats (I can't externally rotate and adduct my shoulders without an ow)
  • to a box (mobility at the hips, I need more)
  • floor presses (member that whole shoulder ow thing)
  • prescribed reps only. get in, get it done, get out.
week 1.
Press 95, 110, 120 x5

cleans 5x3 at 135
dead 290, 335,380

jumps 5x3
squats 130, 150, 170

floor press 135, 155, 180
rows, gun show

It's all pretty lame, but I'm pretty beat up so I'm starting exceedingly light. Especially on the squats and presses.
So far, felt pretty good.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Airplanes and athletes.

Within the strength and conditioning community there are two base philosophies surrounding physical capacity and sports.
The first is "stronger is better." Or "All other things being equal the stronger athlete wins." This is true. No matter what the sport. However, all other things are never equal.
The second is a matrix. If you partcipate in XYZ sport you need minimum strength numbers of blah, and anything more than that is a waste of time and effort. This is also true.. sort of. In certain sports results are more driven by physical attributes, others are less so.
I look at things a little differently (of course I do.. if I didn't I wouldn't still be writing).
I think of it like an airplane.
Physical capacity is the engine. It provides thrust. With enough thrust you can get a rock to fly.

The weight of the plane and payload is the specific requirements of the sport. A lighter plane needs less thrust to get off the ground and less lift to say up. A 747 needs a LOT of thrust to get in the air and a lot of lift to stay aloft.. which brings me to..

Sport specific skill is the aerodynamics of the plane. It provides lift, but also is the source of drag. With enough lift you need almost zero thrust. If you are a superior technician in a technical sport you can get away with less physical capacity. Unless your particular skills/tactics require a lot of physical capacity (that would be the drag in this equation).

So in real terms let's talk grappling:

BJJ in a gi: Very technical sport. The gi slows things down, and all the gripping points allow for leverage from many positions. Grappling on the ground (within weight classes) is inherently less attribute driven. This is a fairly light plane, and capacity is less of a factor than technical skill.
Judo: throw for ippon is a great equalizer, but strength and speed is required for grip fighting. No grips, no throw.Submission grappling: Technical, but less grips than gi bjj. Still a very skilled athlete can catch a more physical athlete in a submission at any time, but better athletes can positionally dominate more skilled athletes.Folk style wrestling: no submissions, all about positional domination. However tactics and proper set-ups for takedowns, breakdowns, and pinning combinations are still at least equally as important as physical ability. Par terre wrestling is more technical, and folkstyle has a greater emphasis on grappling on the ground.
Freestyle wrestling: touch pins actually make it easer for a stronger grappler to just maul his opponent, and the current rule set is singularly focused on wrestling on the feet.

Greco-roman wrestling: Don't get me wrong, at the highest levels greco is very very technical, but the physical capacity required just to be considered is astronomical.
BJJ: Roger gracie worlds 100 kgs world champion

Judo: Naidangiin Tüvshinbayar - 100 kg Olympic gold medalist

Submission grappling:Vinny Magalhães 99 kgs ADCC champion

Folkstyle: Cam simaz 197 lbs. NCAA champ

Freestyle: Shirvani Muradov 96kg Olympic gold medalist

Greco-Roman: Aslanbek Khushtov 96kg Olympic gold medalist

Look at the pictures above these are world champions, they're all athletic, but the first three guys are allowed to be 10-20 lbs heavier than the last three. I know, you can't always determine athleticism by looks especially things like speed, flexiblity and coordination.. but there is a pretty significant difference in musculature in those pictures.

So what does this all mean? one needs to figure out where you stand within your sport. Find you weaknesses, and then target them. Are you flying because you've got a huge engine on a rock, or do you have a glider? are you getting off the ground at all? None of us have these capacities in balance. It's impossible, but when looked at through the filter of your own tactical preferences it's just another way to look at your training, and make sure your priorities are targeted to get you better.

What's more, if you're a coach and you have an attitude of "you need only be this strong to play this sport." You don't leave any room for the sport in question to evolve. This is less of a problem in sports like Shot or Discus which haven't changed much in 50 years. However in combat sports things are evolving constantly. The athleticism required to win a Pan BJJ title today is miles above where it was when I started, and that was an order of magnitude greater than where it was when it first came to the U.S.
This feeds into the attitude that it is somehow noble to be physically less able than your competitors. I never understood that attitude no one would feel the same way if an athlete left another part of their equipment in a state favorable to their opponent. Perhaps sew handles onto your gi? No one would do that, but athletes enter into competition all the time weaker, less specifically conditioned, and physically able than their competitors. You're there to win, and to show up anything less than the best you possible is a disservice to those looking to you to test their own skills. Don't eat up all of your training time in the gym, but unless you're the strongest fittest fastest guy in the bracket you can't ignore those aspects either.


Edit: sorry folks. I kind of petered out without making a point.. I've made more of a point.. I think.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment.

A review.
If you don't know who Chael Sonnen is you're probably not a UFC fan. Chael was an All-American wrestler at the University of Oregon. A runner-up at the Olympic trials, and a silver medalist at the University Worlds. He was a candidate for the Oregon State Legislature (Republican), and a damn fine MMA fighter. He is a world class talker of trash, and a twitter world champion.
He is educated, biting, and brutal. With a oratory style that would make any Pro Wrestler blush. I had high expectations of this book.
This book arrived on Friday by Saturday night I had blown through the whole thing. It's a damn fast read. Overall the book is really funny and irreverent. He takes aim at (among many, many, others) Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva (naturally), drug testing, Jon Jones, the UFC, Judo, the entire Gracie family, the California State Athletic Commission, training in a gi, wearing cowboy hats when you're not actually riding a horse, Chael Sonnen and all of his corner men. There are chapters on wrestling, fighting, being a UFC fighter, being a man, music, and movies better than the Godfather. Some of which I agreed with, some of which not so much, but all of it was funny, presented as opinion and defended pretty damn well.
There are a couple of right wing screeds that felt more tacked on, just rang false. I'm pretty far on the left, but I'm not totally sold on my own B.S. Tell me something I don't know, and I'll willingly change my mind. The couple of chapters in question were just opinion "backed" by some ad hominem attacks, non sequiturs, and appeals to ridicule. Which was kind of disappointing. I was happy and greatly amused by the rest of the book to that point.
I have no vested interest in whether Nixon was a better president than JFK. I don't really care.. both men are dead. I didn't live through either presidency.. so go for it convince me. Bring up bay of pigs, bring up the Cuban missile crisis, bring up his infidelities, and downplay Watergate and compare policy or prosperity under either man.. but instead the whole chapter was confusingly vague. It contained no quotes, statistics, or details. It was a chapter length repeated recitation of Nixon was awesome. Kind of drug the book down. Which was too bad, because the rest of the book is great.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is/was a wrestler or is a fan of MMA. I would recommend it further, but the couple of struggling chapters on right wing politics really killed the tone of what was otherwise a very amusing book on just about everything.


An aside: I always contact authors when I review their products. "Uncle Chael" does not have an official site or contact information that I could find. So Chael, if you're reading this.. I wanted to step up and stand behind my opinions of you and your book, but was unable.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


More workout updatedness.

Deads kept things light. pulled 3 at 405.
Then did split squats to infinity.

Rows 1/2 kneeling x a lot at some weight.
push-ups a holy crap ton.

BJJ taught some takedowns Tani Otoshi in the gi, and high crotch in no gi.
Rolled some after. Went home very tired.

Su: off.. ish. Lots of yard work for Mother's day.

M: taught guard passing. Rolled with a few blue belts, and taught a lot. Overall not too taxing.

Power Cleans: light sets of 3 at 135.
Press: 4x5 at 135.
Still taking care of my elbows.

Tuesday night I built the Grizzly a sandbox for his birthday. I put 900 lbs of sand in it. All of which I carried two 50lb bags at a time out of the car, up 8 steps into the back yard. Brutal.
Took Wednesday off because I was sore as all heck.

For no reason at all Jack White:


Thursday, May 10, 2012


My own training has been good lately, but my elbows have felt like Big Black sounds ragged, raw and painful (in a good way in the case of Big Black.. not so much with my elbows).

I have been cutting down the volume of my pull-ups on Tuesdays, and trying to spread it out over the week. We'll see if that helps.

Last week:
went to Sleeper Athletics just for a change of scenery. Got some good rolls in and a sweep that I'd been playing with for a while and tightened it up.

Cleans: Some. light sets of 3 working up to 155
Press: sets of 5 working up to 135 set of 15 at 95
Chins: lots

one good roll with one of the blackbelts at the academy. I get dealt to every time we roll, but I have my moments.. I've been having more lately.. Improvement is good.

Deads: worked up to a double at 455
Box Front squats: worked up to 5 at 185

Took it off to finish building the chicken coop. More on that later.

Drills and 3 rolls. Black belt, blue, black.. and spent.

Good class. Did some pull-ups, TGUs, and some other stuff to warm up.
Rolled a bit.

cleans worked up to 2 at 185
press: worked up to 5 at 135 my elbows felt like garbage, so just kept it light and easy.
chins: 1x amap
some light gun show stuff to help heal the elbows.

more rolling. kept it light. rolled with a couple smaller guys, didn't get too aggro. Working on some stuff.

th: the plan is deads to 405 (light) then a crap ton of single leg bw stuff.

this is big black:

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Two events in the past 24 hours have caused me to examine my life. I am not one to wax rhapsodic, but these things hit home.
The first was the suspected suicide of Junior Seau. Started me thinking about CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Playing rugby for over a decade I took a lot of shots to the head. I am constantly looking at my speech, behavior, and mood. Am I slurring? Forgetful? Depressed? Sometimes I am.. how much of that is normal? What price have I paid for that decade of fun, travel, and experience? Have I given up decades with my wife and kid to be a guy who almost 'made it' I don't know. Time will tell, I won't know till the bill is delivered.
Which brings up the question, was it worth it? Did I waste my life? I can't answer that yet, but Clint Darden does a pretty good job answering for himself:

Right now that's where I'm at too. Assuming (and hoping) my brain doesn't disintegrate before I've reached an acceptably old age, my time and strife and struggles were worth it. Even though I was a top level backup in a second rate rugby country. I was part of the mill that ground the grist for the true elites. I pushed some top guys to be better, and I helped carry on the tradition of Rugby Football in the U.S.A. (something that could easily have died out, and still could.) Most importantly I befriended, coached, and mentored others. Some of which became elite footballers, some of which are running rugby programs, and mentoring others.. a several are doing all three.
It's what I really enjoy about sport, and it's one of the biggest joys I have in BJJ. I'm a solid club brown belt. Fairly athletic, but I'm never going to be an elite competitor. I came to the game at 32. An age at which many of the top players retire. I can however translate what it means to be a dedicated athlete to jiu-jitsu at a time when that is becoming more and more important. I can take my analytical approach to life and help a younger player see a bigger picture. I can take pride in the beauty of the art. I can make a difference. I can teach, and mentor, and coach.
That legacy is alright with me. Athletes who win medals are buried with them, but coaches who create champions live forever.