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Teppo Ebi – September 3rd & 8th

September 10, 2008

I went to Teppo Ebi last week Wednesday which usually isn’t the case cause I’m busy on Wednesdays. I wasn’t really feeling it but I forced myself to go. When I got there I sparred only twice. Most of the time I was drilling armbars, armbars to triangles, sweeps from armbars and triangles, and armbar escapes. Or staring out into space. Everybody noticed I wasn’t my usual happy-genki self. Tomo-kun cheered me up by shrimping over and staring at me while lying on his side until I smiled. Gotta hand it to him. It worked.

Fast forward to this past Monday, where things were completely different and Tomo-kun did his shrimp and dead maguro-fish impression yet again, along with a new impression, fresh maguro-fish out-of-the-water.

Tomo-kun drilling armbars on Brent from mount
Badass in BJJ, comedian extraordinaire

What I’m working on:

From the top position – I’ve been using an open guard stance taught to me by Shane Agena (he was a third degree blue belt at the time, now he’s either gotten his black belt or on his way to gaining it, i.e. fourth degree brown) way back in the day back in Hawaii. It seems to work well for me as Shane is my size and all the points that I do remember about it ring true. Hopefully I’ll share it here by taking photos of it sometime in the future and do my best to explain it but I’ve only been using it fairly recently, I’m by no means an expert on it.
From the bottom position – the plan is to keep working for a sweep or submission. And when I can’t, work back into closed or butterfly guard.
The mindset – developing a healthy killer mindset is hard. I don’t want to take training too seriously (all the fun goes out the window) but at the same time I don’t want to be a pushover with a goofy smile on my face and keep tapping out like it’s earning me money. I suppose it’s going into sparring with my A-game mindset. Rolling with a game plan, rolling with a purpose. For me, it’s to get to the back position. That was my plan going into the Kyushu Open tournament, that’s what I’m going to do from now on. I can change or bail on that plan because I have it. It’s better to change tactics in mid-spar than not to have a game plan going into one.

Who I rolled with:

Top level Blue Belt – forgot his name – no-gi
What I did badly: my submission attempts were slow and telegraphic
What I did right: I never gave up my back and fought through (and escaped) every submission
Observations: This guy is hardcore. While everyone else is doing warm-ups, he’s doing stand-up punching drills with Shimosako-san. Afterwards he goes straight into no-gi, and then rolls with the gi on. I’m usually his first or second no-gi match. Badass-ness flows out of him. He submits Shimosako-san. I have no clue how I survive rolling with him.

Kimura-san – no-gi
What I did badly: no submission attempts
What I did right: I held dominant positions throughout our roll
Observations: Kimura is going to be a major threat one day and I can’t wait to see that happen. For now, he’s a lazy bottom player. See, I’d be like that if I was extremely flexible too. Kimura-san is very flexible. BJ Penn flexible. Both legs behind the head flexible. Add the fact that he’s deceptively strong and you’ve got a ninja jiu-jitsu player working armbars and triangles from weird angles and pulling off moves like getting to the back as if they were magic tricks. Take the first time I rolled with Kimura-san for example, he got my back – from the bottom north-south position. The only way I can overwhelm someone with a natural skill like Kimura-san’s is to out perform him.

Morimatsu-san – white belt, Judo black belt
What I did badly: tried for an armbar to kimura, but relied too much on strength rather than sneaky sneaky tactics and techniques
What I did right: got his back, kept him from passing my guard
Observations: Morimatsu-san looked pretty frustrated while we rolled. Here’s where I kept working from the guard and didn’t let up. I almost pulled off a sweep but didn’t because of a throw we caught sight of in mid-air that was headed in our direction. We both leapt (I rolled) out of the way like it was a kung fu movie. It surprised everyone ourselves included. It was one of the highlights of the evening, which everyone talked about after training was over. Coming from a Judo back ground Morimatsu-san relies a lot on his strength, his guard is a stall game hoping for a sweep, his top position relies on his speed. When he figures out how to use his weight and be more pro-active in the guard, he’ll be hard to deal with. I just keep pressing forward and do a lot of fakes to pass his guard, which is exactly what I need to do to catch him in a submission.

Double stripe Blue Belt – forgot his name
What I did badly: got submitted a lot
What I did right: passed his guard and during it he gave up his back, of course I worked from there
Observations: When I was in his closed guard, I didn’t establish my base or followed through with my techniques. I got caught in several of his triangles but never really attempted to escape. The only time I did escape I used a technique I saw online and I drilled only once. If I wasn’t “fooling around” I think I could give him a run for his money.

I should point out that I rolled with a bad elbow all night. I got the bad elbow from, strange enough, a Judo throw that Morimatsu-san demonstrated on me last week Wednesday. I told everyone I rolled with to be careful, and if possible no armbars on my right arm. Everyone was kind enough to do so except for this guy. Half of his submissions were from attempts on my right arm (I tapped way before I was fully extended). He kept apologizing after I tapped and realized he was working submissions on a bad arm. But I didn’t mind because of my mindset. I left my “A-game” mindset when he first “caught” an armbar on my right arm, because I didn’t want to get upset (A-game mindset takes submissions very seriously). So I went into “play” mode. Obviously I don’t perform at full capacity when I go into the roll to just have fun. Still sucked to get submitted ridiculously and to have half of them done on my right arm.

Which brings up an important point; training with injured sparring partners.

If you know that your sparring partner has brought up the issue of an injured body part, try not to forget that. I know there are a million different things happening on the mat and some people even shut down, no cognitive thinking whatsoever, but it the long run it’s best not to go blank in the head. Why? It makes you a better submission artist. There is an actual limitation (no armbars on the right arm) placed on you. If you’re able to work pass it and are still able to pull off a submission, how much more so if there was no limitation? (Having one arm to armbar as opposed to two)

Next, by respecting the injury your sparring partner has you still keep them in the training circle. Aggravating an injury will make things worse as your partner actually has to stop training to recuperate. That’s a lose-lose situation, it means that they can’t train anymore and you just lost a sparring partner.

Can’t wait till my elbow gets better. Gonna make it a mission to armbar somebody. How’s that for a mindset?

Be safe out there.


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