Friday, October 24, 2008


I am not.

In essence, fear keeps people safe. I know that as well as anybody, yet I simply didn't realise how much it applied to me until class on Tuesday night. Fear stops you from doing stupid things, but it also inhibits your growth.

I think I have a much better picture of how fear has influenced my learning curve and the evolution of my game. To an extent it's been great: I have a top game which works quite well, and a bottom game that leads slowly back to a top game. As far as that, it's worked out quite well for me. So it's not so much the fear of losing, or looking stupid, in my case it seems to have been a fear of letting go.

John Will has a great analogy that more or less illustrates my point: (paraphrasing) if a bad situation in BJJ is like the sinking of the titanic, the black belts are the first ones off the ship (with the best lifeboats and supplies), the browns and purples are right behind and get whatever's left, the blues have what is pretty much a 50-50 chance and the white belts are locked in their cabins wondering why their feet are getting wet.

When I first heard it I thought it just referred to knowing when to bail on a submission or position and move on. Now I think it's also about not being fixated on one or a few facets of my game, to the exclusion of others. Maybe it's about letting go (not the same thing as abandoning) of what I think I know and being OK with moving outside my comfort zone before I get mentally locked into a set path and never deviate, even if it becomes a sinking ship. Because I like my top game, but it's really depressing to think about never doing anything else.

My game has almost always been very stable, tight and economical. It's been slow to evolve and when it has, it's been quite a significant jump. But a part of the reason is simply that I was afraid to try new things. Not of the consequences, just of trying them. I got so comfortable with one game and never really did any kind of exploring. I had so many missed opportunities over the last couple of years to try and experiment that it hurts to think of.

So I started messing around with my guard game and, while it's kind of lacking, I started really enjoying it. What also made a huge difference was a few nuggets of advice Vince gave me. They changed the way I approached my guard, which was pretty exciting.

That same class, we had another grading. Leong was promoted to blue, which I was happy to see. I feel he deserves it because he's put forth an impressive effort in developing his own unique game, which nobody else can really imitate. At this point it's still kind of attribute-driven (but hey, who am I to talk) though I can clearly see him getting more and more technical. He's the only one in the class who regularly goes for (and hits) gongoas.

Also, I got bumped to blue with 3-stripes. Which was nice.

This will likely turn out to be the last grading I see at KDT as a full-time student. In a way it was really a bummer, but it's still got that "In a little while I'm going to have that new car smell I can feel good about" vibe.

I'm really going to miss nights like these.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Sorry sorry, I would have liked to have posted this with the pictures but I only just saw this. If you get bored watching it, just let it load then forward to about the 3:20 mark. Thanks very much to Aziz of Kreation BJJ for taking the video and for the encouragement during the match.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This is a selection of the photos that the professional photogs on the scene were able to get. I'm waiting on the pics on Rob's camera so can't put those ones up yet.

The rules meeting just before the day got under way. There were over 120 competitors, quite a fantastic turnout, I would say.


I was fortunate to have a few friends from Singapore there at the competition. Here are some of them, wondering when the action is going to start.

I went for an ezequiel but couldn't lock it in time. Can't say I didn't try.

He almost got both hooks in but I stopped him getting points by underhooking his leg. You can see he's almost got the choke set, he's nearly past my chin.

Here's the mount that I still don't remember how or when I got.


He really wanted the choke. He couldn't get past the chin but he meant business.

Here's how you can tell: the blood that would normally be in my torso is currently in my head. Either that or I really need a tan.

Here's one of the few moments in the match that my head is free.


I didn't actually find any photos of this match that I liked, but here's one that I'm putting up so you can check out the scuffs on my forehead. It's more than 2 weeks later and I've still got them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Over the past weekend, Gustavo Machado was in Singapore to give a couple of BJJ seminars at Kreation BJJ, for both gi and no-gi. If I'm being completely honest I wasn't so hot on going - not because I didn't want to (because I did) but because I was just feeling fatigued and slightly emotionally drained after the recent competitions and just wanted a quiet open mat session at KDT.

As it turned out, my sister-in-law needed to drive to Singapore on Friday night. I didn't want her to go alone so I volunteered to drive. Her plan was to come back Saturday night so I thought, "OK great, this means I'm in town anyway, so I may as well go to the seminar". It was set for gi from 2-4 and no-gi from 4-6.

Then, just before we leave KL I check the details again. Apparently I managed to read "Sunday, 5th October" as "Saturday, 4th October". I don't know how, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm feeling kind of bummed about it as we're all still leaving town Saturday night, but when I check with Aziz, there's a BJJ class anyway from 2-4 at Kreation so I may as well bring my gi.

Fine, so we get to Singapore. Friday night passes without event and we're on to Saturday. I had printed out a bunch of Google maps so driving to Kreation was also pretty merciful. I get there and I say hi to a lot of familiar faces. Aziz and Melvynna were there and I met Christiano, their resident black belt. Gustavo is also walking around and I get introduced to him.

We started with a cardio warm-up that was way more intense than I'm normally used to for BJJ. Fortunately it was still much easier than one of Vince's conditioning classes, or Adam's style of warm-up, so I was fine. We did some basic self-defense stuff and that's more or less all I remember about the class. I know we did one or two BJJ techniques as well but they just escape me right now.

Which is fine, as the main reason I wanted to attend the seminar was not to see what he teaches, but how he teaches it. It's always interesting for me to check out different coaches and their styles.

At the end of class we started rolling. I got to roll with Aziz, Christiano, Kon and Gustavo, among others. It was a lot of fun! It was my first time rolling with all of those guys, except Aziz and it was a really interesting experience. Particularly fun was rolling with Kon and Christiano, I really like those guys.

The only thing was except for the roll with Gustavo we kept getting interrupted by people who were getting too close to us. As it so happened, twice the normal number of people showed up and it was pretty packed. I got a photo taken with Gustavo but it wasn't with my camera so I'll need to wait for that as well before posting.

Finally, after I left I drove over to the Fightworks Asia gym to have a look, as they were pretty much just down the road. It was more or less the end of the day for them and I had a chat with Sascha, who runs the place. He was cool to me, he showed me around both floors of the gym and we talked for a while.

Overall it was a really edifying trip. The drive itself was quite the experience, as was the causeway. Rolling with the guys at Kreation was always going to be fun. I learned a lot this trip and I'm glad I made the drive!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Here's me and Aziz surveying the crowd before the action started, and trying to not get kicked.


He shot, I sprawled, I landed on top. Not the smoothest of starts but it worked out for me.

He went for the guillotine but I had known it was coming for at least 10 seconds because of all the people yelling, "GUILLOTINE!"

Fortunately for me, by the middle of the match he had already used up most of his energy trying to sweep me and I was able to get mount, and subsequently, an ezequiel.


He opened with a shoot but I saw this one coming as well (last Machado Nationals, I lost after getting double-legged pretty early, so I spent the next year working my sprawl).

Here's me thinking, "He's trying to choke! Thank God!"

Here's Matt shouting instructions at me. I didn't have a clue what was going on until a bit later.

I got to mount again and started looking for an ezequiel, which fortunately I was able to find.


Neither of us was willing to commit to a shoot, so we were standing for a fair while. I managed to pull him into a kind of sprawl, which didn't really work... he used it to drive in and get takedown points.

He went to consolidate his position but we landed outside the mat and they brought us back. He started to get a kneeride but I blocked his leg and rolled to my knees.

He went for it, giving me the chance to underhook his legs and shuck him off.

He ended up putting me in hook guard, which I passed by pushing his knees down and hopping forwards.

Me and Matt.

A handshake, a first place trophy and congratulations from one Mr. John Will. I'm not going to lie to you: this felt SWEET.

Aziz, my wife and I were joined by our good friend Justin, who took us all out to a restaurant called Sofia for a post-competition dinner. The portions here are, as you can tell, massive. All of these dishes are "small".

I'll be putting up pictures of the Bangkok competition as soon as I have them. I forgot to bring my own camera, but Rob loaned me his and I got a few photos. Also, a nice value-added feature the organisers had was the option of getting professional photographers to take pictures of your matches for a small fee (I've never seen anyone else offer this type of service but it's a great idea and I hope more people do it). So when those come in I'll try and put them up as well.
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