Thursday, May 31, 2018

It seems to be working - Part I - Health

I went to my GP a few weeks back for my annual checkup. I've gone once a year since I turned fifty. I am now sixty-three.

He asked me if I had any problems eating, sleeping, going to the toilet, etc. No.

I take no prescribed medication.

I am in good shape for my age, about the same weight I was when I was twenty-five, i.e. seventy-six kilos, with a visible six pack.

Age sixty-three. Unfortunately the hair on my head did not survive as well as the rest

He listened to my chest with a stethoscope. Got me to breathe noisily, pant and cough. All good.

He took my blood pressure. 114/78. Right in the normal range.

He sent me to the local pathology centre for blood tests. Sixteen Haematology indicators, eighteen biochemistry indicators, four lipids and HDL (cholesterol) indicators, glucose, PSA (prostate), all within the normal ranges.

Except for the HDL cholesterol, which is slightly above the normal range, but that's the "good" cholesterol, so that is perfectly fine.

I have regular bowel cancer checks as well, the details of which I will spare you. All good, to date.

I attribute my good fortune here to, well, good fortune -  to a large degree.

My wife Pat is largely responsible for my diet, and I think she plans healthy meals and prepares them well.

I don't consciously avoid many foods because of potential health impacts. Every time I've tried a serious fashionable diet, I've gotten sick, was unable to get some of the necessary ingredients, or something else went wrong. So we eat fairly conventionally. Meat and three veg. I like kombucha, and changed my snacking regimen during the drive home from training from "muesli" bars to raw unsalted mixed nuts. But obviously, not an avid clean eater, keto guy, or paleo freak.

I eat as much as I want, which isn't generally a huge amount. I could probably eat cleaner and better than I do, had I a good reason to do so, or a good reason NOT to do otherwise. I drink alcohol, and one could always drink less.

The rest is a lifestyle in which martial arts practice plays an integral part.

Not just going to regular classes, but all the other things we do to stay healthy, and get stronger, more mobile, agile, and enduring, to be able to do more training at different intensities, more often.

As well as my formal stylistic practice and randori, I do qigong and other breathwork, much of which I got from Steve Maxwell, directly or indirectly. Steve, at 65, is definitely my Mr Jiu Jitsu for a Lifetime.

My current reasons for training definitely involve self defence  - in the wider sense, not just physical, but also financial, emotional, and guarding against sickness and the ravages of time for as long as possible. Looking at it another way, I train martial arts to be able to keep training martial arts as long as possible. The other health benefits are consequences, not necessarily unintended.

I want to move well into advanced age. Avoid muscle wasting and reduced bone density as far as possible. Stay agile, mobile and nimble enough to avoid the damaging falls that seem to signal the beginning of the end for many old people.

(Just so you know, "old" means bout ten years older than me. It's been this way since I was about forty-five).

This is not a boast. I am no superman. I am not preaching, but testifying. This lifestyle has, to date, worked very well for me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Carlos Machado Seminar 7 May 2018 - Straitjacket, Elbow Dig, Pliers

The prof and I

The seminar was held at Lange's MMA, North Manly. Thanks to Anthony, Nikki, and Prof. Carlos. Oh, and Nick, my training partner for the evening.

Seminar group

Closed Guard - Getting the arm drag position, flower flip

You have him in your closed guard. He has some type of grip on your collar(s) on your chest. Assume he is gripping your collars with his R hand. Get a grip on his R sleeve with your own R hand, and cup the L hand over both your R hand and his to prevent grip stripping attempts.

Alternately bridge and crunch.

Bridge by pulling your heels in toward his butt and lifting your hips. your guard should be fairly low on his hips.

Crunch by .. crunching, but also pulling him in with your legs.

Each crunch will apply significant pressure on his wrist and grip. He probably won't tap out, but he will likely relax his grip which will allow you to nudge it across your body to your R with your hip. Or, move your hip out to the L away from his hand. You can also nudge his R arm across using your L elbow.

Once you have his R arm fully across his body, you can crunch up and reach around his back and grab his lattismus dorsi muscle under his L armpit with your L hand, or grab a "wrinkle" on the back of his gi. Pull your L elbow close to your body to deny him any space to extract his R arm.

You now want to start working your hips back to the R to get back underneath him. You should open your guard now and use your feet on the ground to do this. Carlos often moves backward as well to pull the guy further off his base. Get your hips under and twist his body so his hips turn to your L. Turn towards him, kick your R leg up under his armpit, use your L foot to knock his R leg out from under like a a scissor sweep and complete the flower flip.

N.B. There is a lot of things Carlos will do with moving his hips in various directions which are too much reliant on the situation and feel for my limited writing abilities to be able to properly elucidate.

That move was really a prelude to ...

Pressure Passing

You are in his closed guard. Lie on him, get chest to chest, forearms blocking his shoulders and arms. Get off your knees, legs out behind and up on your toes. All your weight is on him. Don't do anything, just WAIT.

Dont worry if he has a sleeve control, just put your forearm over the top of that upper arm and apply the pressure. Your bodyweight on top will basically nullify any utility it had.

He should eventually want or need to start pushing on your shoulders or chest to create space. When he starts to push, start walking up to a tripod position one foot at a time and raise your hips. If he keeps pushing start walking your hands down his body until they are on his hips.

If you stay static here, he may be able to pull you straight forward and off balance. To prevent this, sway from side to side, bending and straightening your legs alternately. This prevents him from getting a good angle to be able to pull you forward.

Turn your hips to the R, putting pressure on his R hip with your L hip, looking to break his ankle grip. When his legs do open, turn to face R, stretch your L leg behind you and get your R knee behind his L thigh, up on the toes of your L foot. Make sure you keep forward and downward pressure on him so he cannot knock you over backwards. Keep the pressure on and WAIT, again, for him to start pushing back at you.

(NB - wheter you tur nto your R or L probably depends on what he does as much as your preference.

When he pushes back at you, move your hips back slightly so that you can scoop up his R ankle in the crook of your L elbow. Go for the ankle, not the knee. Flare your L elbow out and up to the side to straighten his R leg, then drop your shoulder and hip so your L arm is on his torso, and sideways sprawl your legs so your L hip is pressuring on his R hip. Hip to hip pressure is crucial here. If his R leg is still blocking your head or whatever, WAIT until he starts trying to push you with it. If you have good hip to hip pressure, it should be easy to let his L leg slip past your face and to your R and you have pretty much completed the pass.

If he is doing a heavyleg with his R leg making it hard for you to scoop up his ankle, grab the outside of his R knee and pull it to the R, thus making the shin and heel jut out in space. You should now find it much easier to scoop up under your L elbow.

If he is using the heavy leg but he is controlling your R sleeve so you cannot manipulate his R knee as above, grab his calf with your L hand and drive your hips forward. Again , you should have a longer bit of his shin to hook your elbow under and lift up.

If he gets his R knee across in a type of Z guard configuration,  or uses other types of open guard,this will still work with some minor adjustments.

If he has a De La Riva hook in, you must turn towards it. You need to turn the knee on that side out, and come up on the heel, lifting your toes, downward pressure on the knee on that side should make it hard of even painful for him to keep the outside hook. The rest of the pass should be substantially the same.

If he gets a DLR hook with his L leg on your R and puts his R foot on your L thigh, he will want to scoot around to your R and set up and angle for a sweep, etc. Turn your R knee out as before, and grab the knee and pull it to you, thus keeping his foot in place. If/when you feel the pressure change, move back slightly, grab his foot and pull it past your hip, dropping your weight and pressuring him.

As Pete King observed, there is no point in rushing the pass. It is nearly all about waiting for his reactions to our pressure, and our capitalising on those reactions. Let him decide when you move and how long it takes.

There seems to be some potential in that hip to hip pressure for controlling an opponent safely and strongly.

And I'd say that once again, the movements you use rely strongly on what he does and so it is impossible to go into all the nuances.

Plus, to be brutally honest, there's way more to all this than I was able to grasp during the seminar.

Tough black belts

The Straitjacket and Side Control Escape

He is passing our guard, on our R side. We stop him getting a good side control position by adopting the Straitjacket.

He is coming around to our R. We block inside his L arm with our R arm to prevent the crossface. Our R arm is nearly straight, with the palms turned up, so we are blocking his arm with the back of ours. we want to keep his R arm back near his hip. Our L arm is pushing against the L side of his head in a similar configuration. His bodyweight and head should be pushed well down towards our hips. "Spread him out" with our arms.

If he pushes in with his R arm, we can guide it over our head and around to the other side with our L hand. If he tries to pull it back again, use both hands to return it to the original position. He should never come close to grabbing our head.

I understand the "straitjacket" name comes from the way we keep his R hand close to his hip, sort of like ... a straitjacket.

Crunch and "Elbow Push" Escape

From the straitjacket, he has pushed his R arm across and we have taken it over the L side of our head both forearms on each end of his upper R arm. (not hands - hands are the weak link).We are turned to our L.

We kick our legs straight out just off the floor, which gives us momentum to crunch up, pulling on his R arm. We the curl our feet back under our butt as far as we can. Now we push with our legs and arms and escape our hips out behind us. We are now on our L side facing him. Do not turn away - instead get your  R leg out and on top of him, and/or reestablish your guard.

(This bears some resemblance to the elbow push escape popularised by Marcelo Garcia, though the way MG does it is much more of a lever and timing based movement, relying on momentum, and this way uses frames more and can be done much slower and more deliberately).

If he keeps following you with his knees and you cant get your hips out, you may need to revert to more standard shrimping and framing side to side.

The Elbow Dig Escape

He passes to our R. We catch him in the straitjacket. He shows no desire to try to grab our head.

We turn toward him and pass our L arm over his head, and ideally "dig" it in to his L tricep. If you cant quite reach it, go for the armpit or front of his chest on that side. This "Elbow Dig" now forms a frame which we can use to escape. Hold him in place with your L elbow. Start sliding your R knee and hips underneath him, using Your L leg posting in the floor to push. Use the L elbow pushing down, or grab the back of his armpit with your L hand, to keep his head down and stop him regaining posture. Put him back in closed guard. His L arm may be vulnerable to kimuras, cutting armbars and wristlocks here.

This then, is the Elbow Dig. Make sure you keep the elbow where it is and do not let it slide across toward the centre of his chest.

Friendly black belts

Elbow Dig if he switches base

If you get the Elbow Dig from the Straitjacket and he switches base to face your head and his weight shifts backwards, follow him with your L elbow (the one digging) and come up on your R elbow. If you keep pushing with both elbows and move your hip away, you should be able to roll him over you onto his back for the reversal.

Elbow Dig if he grips the near arm

A common tactic for the passer to your R is to grip your R arm as he comes around, and pull it up, ostensibly to flatten you out, either on the end of the sleeve or at the elbow. The elbow is more effective for him, usually.

Just go to the straitjacket as before, pushing his hand back toward his hip. This will put his wrist and hand in an uncomfortable and perhaps painful position. If you perform the Elbow dig with your L elbow now, you can hold his arm in place while you break the grip on your R sleeve. and then proceed with the escape as before, either recovering closed guard or rolling him.

Roll him if he switches base

If you have the straitjacket and he goes to switchbase, particularly if he lifts his hips to place weight on you, this may give you another escape opportunity. Move your feet to the R (rock and roll steps), keep the pressure on the straitjacket, and start sliding your hips to the R underneath him. once his hips turn, you can use the R arm to to "chop" his R shoulder down as you bridge and roll him over the top of you and onto his back.

Once he starts going over as you bridge, kick your L leg straight so as to turn your hips and his. Keep the L foot posted here, and you actually get in your own way.

Do not try to use the R arm to lift him over you. Instead move your hips underneath him until he goes, and then use the R arm to "chop" him down.

Escaping a strong switchbase

If he has a strong switch base posture (it is called the hundred kilo position after all) and you do  not feel the previous tactics will work, more your R arm from pushing on his L arm to pushing on the R side of his head. Stay flat and move your hips away, your feet moving in a circle out to your L. You thus take you body out from underneath him and he will fall to his back, as you come up to take top position. Similar to the collar push escape, but this should also work no gi.

Beating the Crossface

He is passing to your R and beats your straitjacket and catches you in the crossface, his L arm pushing on your jaw.

You need to wrap his upper arm and shoulder with both of yours. Your L elbow is under his jaw. Don't push away - instead, grab that arm tight and pull in

"Stretch his skin" by pulling your hands apart, as a result pushing his head away with your L elbow.  Try to create enough space to get your R knee, then hips underneath him and get to closed guard.

Consolidating an Open Guard, and Pliers Sweep

Say you have closed guard on the guy, and he stands up. You should get both sleeve grips. Or he is approaching your open guard in a good position, with his elbows on his thighs, stopping you from putting your feet to his hips. Grab his sleeves in any case.

So he is standing in your guard, your legs are open. You have his sleeves.

Move your hips and turning from side to side, putting weight  on his hips and pushing away by raising yours and pushing down with your legs and heels ("sinking the spurs"). until you are able to get a heel to the hip. Assume you get the L heel in his R hip.

Anytime you can get the R hand in his R collar, do so. Carlos did it late in the process in the seminar, but on his "Seven Winning Strategies" video series, he gets the collar first.

So you have his R sleeve with your L hand, your R and is in his collar, and your L foot is in his R hip. You can put your R leg in the crook of his L arm. Get your L knee outside and pressuring his R elbow, and bring your L knee in as well. Drill and experiment with keeping the position.

For the "Pliers" sweep, get your L knee behind his R elbow and use it to bring him closer. Wrap your R leg around the back of his L leg (sinking the spurs once again), and then wrap your L leg around the other side, joining your ankles like closed guard, pulling his knees together until they touch. Like a pair of pliers.

Move your hips slightly off centre (probably to the R), then rock him side to side with your legs until he falls. Be gentle in training, If he falls hard onto his R shoulder and you have his R arm this could damage his shoulder.


Professor/Master Carlos seems to really enjoy the teaching process. He is doing a LOT of it in Australia.

He makes Jiu Jitsu seem almost effortless, much the same as I noticed with fellow coral belts Rigan and Pedro Sauer. Not there yet myself by any stretch, but hoping.