Saturday, August 30, 2008


Edited for spelling mistakes and forgotten details. Sorry if you read this and saw weird stuff, it's the computer's fault I promise!

No pictures yet as my camera cable is in KL, so will post when I get home.

I'm sitting in the Business Centre of my hotel, having just finished a day of BJJ competition. I was in town for the Singapore International BJJ Tournament 2008, joined by Rob.

We got there at 8.30am and we hung out until 6.30pm or so. Mostly we were sitting around, but we got to meet a lot of cool guys. Roy from Synergy (Indonesia) was one of them, as was Sebastian from EMAC (Bangkok), both really cool guys.

It was mostly white belts. Not many blues attended, there were like 4 of us, Sebastian and I were 2 of them. Unfortunately, because of an apparent issue with the number of referees, Sebastian had to bow out. I don't blame him, it was just taking much too long and he wanted to go hang out with his son - I'd have done the same thing.

At first there were only 3 blues registered, but the third guy pulled out being that he was stuck in Indonesia for the day. Then a few guys showed up from Hong Kong, one of whom was a blue. Also, they got one of the blues from the organising gym to enter, a Japanese expat living here.

Sebastian was in a heavier weight class but the other two were in mine. So I would need to roll with the Hong Kong dude, then meet the Japanese guy in the final. I also entered in the open weight division where there were again only 3 of us (I was all set for my division to be "open" anyway), so I would have to go with Sebastian then, again, meet the Japanese guy in the final.

When Sebastian had to go, it was down to the two of us, so it was straight away a final.

At about 12.30pm they had the first rules briefing. At about 3.45, I had my first match. They only had one referee available and had to run only one match at a time, whites then blues.

MATCH 1: Blue Belt <77kg division, v. Danny H, from Impakt gym in Hong Kong.

I don't really remember much about this. He tried to pull guard but ended up trying to set up a scissor sweep. He couldn't get the sweep but he had a grip on my collar that I just couldn't break.

After the first few sweep attempts I managed to pass guard for a bit before he reestablished the scissor sweep setup. If I remember correctly I was always on top or in his guard. He tried a triangle but I defended and passed his guard. I didn't hold it long enough for the points because he pulled halfguard. I dropped down to secure it before he could get his knee in the way and hit an ezequiel.

It was a case of "I got him before he got me", as we had a chat for a bit after that and I found out he was trying to set up an armbar, but couldn't move his hips enough. He struck me as a good guy when we talked, and so did his friends from Impakt.

Result: Win via submission (Ezequiel choke), I was told afterwards that I was up by about 3 advantages.

MATCH 2: Blue Belt <77kg division, finals, v. Yu Morioka, from Alive Academy in Singapore.

The match started with him also pulling guard. He tried a couple of hook sweeps, one of which gave him an advantage. Early on, we ended up seperated then had to reengage standing. He hit a throw for 2 immediate points, I think it was an ashi barai. Rob later told me it was actually the best takedown of the entire day. Yay, I think.

I suspect he was watching my earlier match because he really didn't want to give me his neck. I think he then passed my guard or did something because he got another 2 points. I pulled him back to halfguard and got a lockdown, which he wasn't able to break.

At this point he tries his own ezequiel, but I managed to defend it. He goes for a cross lapel choke next, but I stopped that too. I pulled guard and went for a wristlock, and I hit it, but time was sounded. I imagine his wrists were pretty flexible though, didn't look like anything was happening.

Result: Loss via points - Me: 0, Yu Morioka: 4 points, 5(!) advantages.

So, a silver for me and guaranteed at least another silver, being that I'm directly in the finals, with Yu again. I was a bit disappointed in the result but I know I gave it my best, so that will have to do.

MATCH 3: Blue Belt Open Weight division, finals, v. Yu Morioka of Alive Academy.

The match started with some shuffling around, he was trying to circle around but I kept my hips squared up. He shot in for a takedown but I got the sprawl and we were there for a fair while. I was trying to get him on his knees or back. He, meanwhile, was bent double and holding on to my arms so I couldn't do anything. He was also very mindful of his neck.

I don't remember how but he got out and we scrambled for a bit. I'm not sure if he passed my guard or what, but he was up by 2 points. I was trying to set up another ezequiel but he got me in a triangle which fortunately I spotted. He was really going for it but I held out - he never got my arm free and his cutting leg was never directly over my neck.

After that was done I spent the rest of the match going for an ezequiel which I could never get, he just wouldn't give it to me. It was kind of funny as his cornerman was the referee in my first match, and he was yelling in Japanese but I KNOW I heard him say "ezequiel" (I mean, there's no Japanese translation). I looked up at him and gave a quick smile and a shrug.

Result: Loss via points. Me: 0 points, 1 advantage. Yu Morioka: 2 points, 1 advantage.

A much better job of it if I do say so myself. Was a much closer match. There was one point where I felt like I could almost have taken mount, but I could feel his hook near my knee so I could never get it.

After the medal presentations I talked to Yu and asked how long he'd been training and found out he's got 6 years' experience, 4 of them as a blue. Which was GREAT for me to hear, now I felt much better! It was also a pleasure to have rolled with him twice, he's smooth and fast - and also pretty strong.

The event was a great experience, not counting all the waiting we had to do. I met some good friends and got to catch up. Sul was there, as was Aziz (who competed in two divisions as a white belt, got gold in both, AND got graded to blue! Congrats buddy!).

In addition, Rob did a great job in his first-ever BJJ tournament, winning the silver in the White Belt Novice (<6 Months' experience) division. Way to go!

I'm also really pumped up for Melbourne - looking forward to a few good rolls!

Postscript 31st August: I ended up pulling out of the no-gi tournament due to injury. My ankle was slightly buggered after yesterday's competition - I can walk on it but risking it in competition struck me as being less than prudent.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I consider myself really fortunate in the sense that ever since I started training BJJ, my enthusiasm never stopped pushing me on. I’ve never experienced a serious drop in my desire to train, or ever considered just packing it all in and giving it a rest. So far so good, it’s been all about finding newer, better ways to drill and roll, and make it more fun.

Which is not to say that I’ve never had nights when I was just plain not up for it – the nights when I felt neither motivated nor engaged and just went straight to autopilot – which, also fortunately, have been few and far between. This brings me to something my wife was telling me about. She heard it during a workshop she attended and goes like this:

Finding out what is right in life gives us the strength to fix what is wrong.

I thought it was a very good way to look at things and because I seem to be clinically obsessed, set to applying this to my Jiu-Jitsu. You know, for the next time I start feeling blah. I ended up with a list of various people and things that inspire me, and give me a reason to not only get in gear and train, but to want it as well.

It turned out to be a great exercise. Not only was it, in some cases, a great reminder of stuff I want to bring back into my training, it was also cool to just hang out with some fun memories.

The list:

My wife
Vince, Sam and the rest of the KDT bunch
Rigan Machado
John Will
Adam & Jem Kayoom (one of my favourite memories of Adam is him looking at me and going “Albert, you’re one tough son of a *****”)
Finding out about the Ezequiel choke
Finding new ways to apply the Ezequiel
Taking loads of flak for using the Ezequiel
Reading Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu, by Dave Camarillo
Road tripping to Singapore with the KDT guys for BJJ seminars
Rooming with Vince and Tarbo during my first CMD trainers’ retreat
Silvio Braga, who taught me my all-time favourite armbar setup
Rolling with handicaps, even if everybody else cheats at it
Combining striking with takedowns and grappling in CMD class
Judo – with and without gi
Coaching, and learning how others coach
Batman & Superman

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Last Saturday, Steve Cotter was back at KDT for the second time this year to conduct a seminar on Dynamic Joint Mobility. No kettlebells this time, it was all bodyweight stuff. It was like a 2-hour warm-up that thoroughly did us all in! We did mobility exercises for pretty much the whole body, including individual fingers.

The only down side to the whole day was having to miss open mats, but it was worth it. It’s not often that someone like Steve visits and I’m glad to have been there. He even gave me some help with my bum knee.


On Tuesday evening, I made it back to the Bangsar Sports Centre for another spot of Judo training with Mike and Junji. Again, it was a lot of fun – I showed up late, which was a shame as I walked in and found out they were doing no-gi grappling! Looked like I missed a lot of fun.

I did a bit of standup and groundwork with a fellow named Max, really nice guy. I also got to do a bit of standup with Chew. I asked if he could go for throws while I just defended, which he was cool with. I decided that the best way to spend my time here was to get a better understanding of how standing starts feel – and to try and not get thrown, which I did a better job of this time.

I really liked training with Chew and Max, they’re the kind of training partners you wish you could have all the time.


Thursday evening, we cut our BJJ class a bit short, in order to adjourn to the Chili’s at Bangsar Shopping Centre. It was the last class for Ean, who’s in college in Texas and back in Malaysia for summer break. It wasn’t just a goodbye drinks session for him, but also for Walter, who will be making his way back to British Columbia to continue going after a university degree.

We shared stories and shot the breeze over many, many refills of 100 Plus and iced lemon tea, it was a great time. I wish them both well in all they do, they’ve got a lot of potential and their whole lives ahead of them (one’s 20, the other is 19)!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


No picture - I didn't think to bring my camera.

Earlier in the week I got my first taste of Judo training, courtesy of Mike. A little while ago he brought his friend Junji, a Judo black belt from Japan, to KDT for some BJJ training. He struck me as a cool guy and so I decided to act on what had for me been a pretty long-standing curiousity, which was to try Judo out and see what happens.

I had been interested in Judo for a fair while, but I didn’t want to jump into too many different things all at once. I already had Jiu-Jitsu and boxing to tide me over, so I put this back on the shelf. Then one day I read Dave Camarillo’s book, Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu, and the combination of BJJ and Judo really got me thinking. I just kind of don’t see myself trying any of his flying submissions.

It just so happened that in CMD training, we began to work on takedowns from the clinch around the same time. As soon as I realized what was going on I was sold – we did no-gi setups for tai otoshi, uchi mata, kata guruma and koshi guruma that week, definitely one of the more exciting developments of the CMD program at KDT.

I arranged to meet up with Junji and Mike at the Bangsar Sports Centre, where they train Tuesday nights (which was a major reason I never tried to join before, the timing is a direct conflict with the BJJ class). Mike met up with me a litter earlier and drove me there, where we found Junji waiting for us. We decided to meet up before the Tuesday class and train for a bit, then head back to KDT for BJJ.

The first thing I have to say about the sports centre is if the city council was trying to design that place with camouflage in mind, they did a really good job. It’s right smack in the middle of a housing estate, far away from anywhere I would have thought to look for it.

We began with some basics and Junji talked to me a little while about balance and the breaking thereof. After that and a little bit of practice (during which I got dumped on my head, ouch) some more people started to show up. Junji and Mike got me to spar with some of the regulars there. I did have a bit of difficulty adjusting to the rules of the Judo game, though. The biggest one for me was not being allowed to hold a cross-lapel grip for more than a few seconds, which took some getting used to.

I also found out that a lot of the guys there were keen on practicing their groundwork. I rolled with Junji, a fellow named Ash and this guy Chew, who is a black belt there and is apparently on the state team – as well as a really nice guy and a great training partner. During standup, whenever he would set me up for a huge seoi nage, he made sure it was always just uchikomi, giving me ample time to (very humbly) tap his leg.

It was a good time and a great learning experience. It was cool doing standup with those guys, and it reinforced the importance of having good grip strength, which they had in spades. Rolling with them was a bit like with wrestlers, as they had a lot of power and excellent base. They also know how to use their weight and their grips made it difficult for me in a lot of situations.

Finally, I learned the importance of being prepared. The room we trained in looked fairly innocuous when I stepped in. The thing is, when it starts filling up with guys it starts to turn, ever so slightly, into a gigantic pressure cooker. I was there for about 2 and a half hours, either getting thrown on my butt or rolling, without much of a rest in between. That, combined with the monstrous grips these guys have – they’re also pretty strong – made for an experience that almost equated rolling with all 130(?) kilos of big Raj at KDT.

I also didn’t think to bring water, which really cost me. By the time we got to KDT, dehydration was completely beating me down – after about an hour I had finished 7 cans of 100 Plus.

I’m going to give it a little more time to settle in, but I’m really hoping to train there again soon. Just about everyone was cool to me and it was a fun change of pace. I’m looking forward to more of this type of training!
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