BJJ Black Belt
So the next evening Tiger Claw turned up again.We went through some basic techniques
which of course,during training he resisted each technique we were pracising as if his life depended on it.
It was difficult for his training partner,who as a beginner was probably wondering if any of the techniques i was
teaching would actually work in reality,as before he got a chance to learn them properly,he was trying to
apply them to a fully resisting opponent,and,as we all know,techniques need drilling many times before becoming
second nature enough to work in sparring.
It came to sparring,and i again went through the rules,singling Tiger Claw by looking directly at him and saying,
while demonstrating by putting my own fingers in my eyes then wagging my fingers in a "NO!" gesture,that
Fingers in eyes were not allowed.
I had a feeling this guy was a little dangerous so i decided the best course of action was to go with him myself rather
than risk the beginners health and/or eyesight.
I started by jumping to guard,which i feel is the least aggresive way of starting a grappling match and often
calms the nerves of a beginner,rather than a clinch and shove fight for top position.
Tigerclaw entered my guard and began putting his hands in my chin and face and generally thrashing around
being uncontrolled.I broke his posture and he kept trying to regain it by pushing my face.
I probably should have swept him but he was pushing my face with an outstretched straight arm so i slowly and methodically gripped his
right tricep with my right hand and his right wrist with my left hand and escaped my hips into an arm bar.Rather than cranking it on,i made sure my
left leg was completely bent to 90 degrees around his neck with my ankle pushing down towards the mat,so i had a very good leg grip on him.
He stood up and tried to shake me off and i,ever so slowly-really gently over the course of about 5 seconds applied more and more pressure to the arm bar with him wildly
trying to shake me off and me just hanging there wondering why he wasn't tapping because by this point although i had applied the lock slowly and gently it was now on quite
hard.I kept pulling in a 'linear' fashion i.e. Not jerking it dangerously (i didn't want to damage him), and eventually (perhaps 10 seconds after first applying it) Tiger Claw howled like a scalded cat and i immediately released him,dropping to the floor (i had actuallly been hanging off his arm,but with a great grip).He then walked off the matt swearing in Spanish and rubbing his elbow.
I said "My friend,you must tap",although i don't think he was listening,or would have understood if he was.
Another couple of Rounds went by and Tiger Claw was still waiting for another round so i decided to put him with Marcus the Stunt Man who is i think a 6th Dan TKD
master and a very well respected 35 year old Hollywood Stuntman,who was responsible for the fighting in such films as the latest Bourne.
Marcus has dabbled in many arts,done a tiny bit of shootfighting and mma but is a BJJ beginner.He picks things up FAST though.
Anyway Marcus basically and methodically starts destroying TigerClaw with great technique,in a controlled fashion and ends up mounted on him.
To secure the position he did what i had taught him and crawled up into a high mount and put his arms out wide and his head on the floor so he had 3
points of contact with the ground,to secure the position before deciding if it was safe to move onto a submission attempt.
From here Tiger Claw put his finger right in Marcus' eyes really hard.
I saw a split second of anger flash through the usually completely calm Marcus' face-well somone was trying to blind him.
And then it happened,a moment of superb technique from an absolute beginner-Marcus span,putting his leg across Tiger Claws Neck and
Slid down his outstretched left arm as if the arm was a firestation pole.He landed with his crotch right against Tiger Claws shoulder and
sat back onto the most almighty arm bar i have seen for ages.He had SO much leverage-Tigerclaws Elbow was above Marcus' solarplexus.
As the Arm Bar went on i yelled "NO!" and surely saved Tiger Claw from a broken arm.The Lock,even though it was not fully applied
had TigerClaw scream again and he jumped up,this time rubbing his left elbow furiously.
I thought at that point it was best to finish the class.TigerClaw got changed quickly and left without doing any of his explosive Forms with animal sound effects this time.
BJJ Black Belt
I had been in Morocco a few days.The mats had turned up and i had mangaged to install them in the Gym on the 4th Floor,
and on days off,we carried them outside onto the terrace and trained in the sunshine.The hours we were all working were long,so
it was only about 4 of us training.It had been a week since last training with the Big Guys in Spain,and i was anxious not to start
getting lazy.Teaching Jiu Jitsu sometimes has a habit of making me lazy.I show a technique 4 times and the students repeat it 20 times
so they are doing more work than me.It is good when there is an odd number and i can partner one of them.Although i do the warm up
and spar at the end,it is easy sparring with beginners.What i am trying to do is only hit submissions from my 'bad' side.
I envy Jiu Jitsu guys who are as good on either side,but i find i have a favourite side to hit each position and submission.
It isn't always the same side for each technique,but nevertheless it is good to try triangling people on my 'bad side'.
One evening i was sitting in my Hotel Room waiting for Room Service to bring me some spaghetti bolognaise.I was watching
'Favourite Submissions' DVD by my teacher Rodrigo Medeiros.
There was a knock at the door,and i paused the computer and let the room service guy in.As he brought me my food in he glanced at the paused
image on the computer and asked in French if i did Judo.I replied yes,and he said he trained Judo as a Boy.I asked him if he could give me the address of the club and he said
he would show me it.
I wonder what he would have offered to show me if i had been watching Porn on my computer instead of BJJ!
Anyway,he said that his next day off was Monday and he would meet me outside the Hotel at 11 am and take me to the Judo Club.
I was very pleased because Judo would be a great test for me in Morocco and i was sure there would be some tough guys there.
It also meant i would be able to train in the Gi.Remember my Hotel classes were all No-Gi and 3 months No Gi is not good for my game.
3 or 4 weeks can be a great rest on the gripping muscles of the forearms and give the ligaments a rest,but 3 Months makes me rusty when i return
to Carlson Gracie.
BJJ Black Belt
Monday came,and luckily it was a day off for me.I met room service man outside the Hotel at 11am,and we began walking through the streets
of Rabat.He didn't speak any English and so were conversing in my pigeon French.As we walked throught the bustling streets in the bright Sunshine
i told him that the weather here in February was the same as the hottest summer's day in England and he laughed.All around us were people
from seemingly different African Cultures,with the recognisable ones being Arabs,Berbers (the indiginous Moroccan race) with people of varying degrees
of Muslim clothes depending on their particular interpretation of the religeon.There were people that looked Arabic,others that were from further south and were
true Africans,with every other mixture inbetween.It was a very busy day in the city.Car horns hooted continually as they all weaved and swerved to avoid each other,
and the sound of 2 stroke mopeds screaming like mosquito's filled the air.The smells were a mixture of 2 stroke oil,diesel,incense,and arabic food being cooked on makeshift
barbecues on the street and sold to passersby.As we made our way the smells changed every few paces.
As we walked along the pavement we avoided street sellars with their wares spread out on blankets on the pavement,selling everything from watches to trainers
to jewellry.There were guys that looked like indian shamen in brightly coloured costumes with bells all over them ringing as they shook their bodies,selling water to drink in the hot sun
which they carried in what i think were ornately decorated camels bladders with tubes to dispense it,like the tubes you would find on an arabic bong,i think they're called hookums?
As we made our way through through all of this i was struck by how lucky i was to be able to witness these far away places and cultures.I wasn't shocked by it,as this was my 5th
visit to Morocco,just enthralled by how magical it all felt.The towns in the first Star Wars Movie accurately described the mix of cultures here.
Every Moroccan city is like a different country.Morocco is the last point of Africa before you get to Europe,so historically there has been a migration of all african cultures North to
find prosperity.So Morocco is a huge mix of people.They all speak Arabic which is the common Language,most speak French which is taught from the very beginnning in all the schools-
a throw back to French Colonisation,and people also speak their own Tribal Language depending on which tribe they are from.
BJJ Black Belt
Room Service man and me eventually reached a doorway and he beckoned me to follow him inside.We walked up a stair case
and on a wall on the stair's i saw lots of pictures of WTF Taekwondo competition,Semi Contact KickBoxing,and Muay Thai.
But no Judo.Having studied all these arts at some point i could make out exactly what art the exponents in each picture were doing,
and it seemed to me we were heading into a Kickboxing Gym that taught WTF TKD,specialised in Semi Contact (WAKO) Kickboxing
and that a few guys here also fought in Muay Thai.
We reached reception and there was a woman receptionist there and a guy who from the look of him was an instructor.
My man asked in Arabic if there was any Judo and they said No.They didn't offer up any Judo clubs and didn't seem too helpful.
I asked if they did Jiu Jitsu,hoping that Muay Thai man behind the desk might know what it was and want to train some MMA,
or that the mention of Jiu Jitsu rather than just solely Judo might open up a new conversation or avenue of communication.
It didn't.He looked at the ground when i said the words "Jiu Jitsu".
BJJ Black Belt
Eventually after more Arabic,Room Service man turned to leave and i said 'Merci Beaucoup' and put my hands together
in front of my solar plexus in a praying motion and bowed slightly,the way Thai Boxing students do,and the way everyone in India
does.I find this to be a courteous,respectful sign that transcends language and culture,and every martial artist understands.
I showed them my respect and left to walk down the stairs.
Room Service man told me that this was the Judo Club when he was a Boy,but there was no Judo there now.At least thats what i think he was saying
in French.He told me that the receptionist had told him to try another address,so we walked another half a mile through the crowded metropolis.
We reached another doorway that was VERY like the last one.Up the stairs,and more pictures of WTF Competition,but this club
seemed to be a more serious TKD club,with pictures of the students competing at the Olympics,pictures of the King Of Morocco visiting the Dojo
and some tough looking guys in WTF sparring gear.
We got upstairs to a beautiful Dojo that was empty,so we went up another floor to a fantastic 1970's style bodybuilding gym with 3 big guys training there.
They seemed very friendly and talked in Arabic to my friend.He told me in French that this Gym was only TKD and weights but these guys had told him where to
find the Judo Club.I asked the guys in French if i could come and do weights another time and they said yes.So i felt like even if we didn't find the Judo Club,
the morning had been worthwhile.
BJJ Black Belt
We made ourway downstairs and walked through an alleyway.My friend told me in french to never
come this way at night because i would be stabbed in the arse.
I told him thanks but i can look after myself and he shook his head and laughed as if i was stupid.
We walked another half mile until we came to a Riad (A traditional Moroccan Building with an outer wall and a courtyard)
and in the courtyard there was a group of young guys playing Volleyball.
We walked to one of the spectators and asked about the Judo Club and he pointed to the corner of the courtyard and said
"Come Back at 5pm".There was a sign in the corner saying 'JUDO' above a door.
I had finally found the Dojo.
BJJ Black Belt
I thanked my Room Service friend and tried to give him 100 Dirham (about £7) and he made out he was offended
as we walked away down the street.He did a good job of making me feel like i had upset him and said "Non! Mon Ami"
I suddenly realised it was an act and quick as a flash stuffed the note into his jacket pocket.He had spent an hour of his time
on his day off walking me round dojo's and he was a waiter.He looked even more offended and i said "Allez,c'est Fini!"
and he looked relaxed again.We walked together another half mile and he pointed out the weights gym and which direction the Hotel
was.I thanked him and he left.
All afternoon i waited for the time to go training.I spoke to Dickie on the phone to see how Carlson's was doing and told him about
the Judo club,and he said "Be careful you don't get smashed up,they're bound to be good with the French influence and the african
athletisism",i told him i'd smash them up,but secretly i was a little nervous.Both me and Dickie know you can receive a harsh smashing at a
good judo club,and unlike BJJ you can't just tap.You fly through the air and land on your head with the weight of your opponent
landing fully in your ribs knocking the air out of you.I knew i could look after myself on the ground,but standing i am decidedly average.
I walked by myself to Judo at 4.30 after consuming a strong "Nus Nus" in the Bar at the Hotel-A very strong arabic coffee that you have to
put a lot of hot milk in to make it drinkable it is so strong."Nus Nus" literally means half and half.
After walking through the crazy streets again,on my own this time,
I got there and there was a 70 year old man at the Front desk.Its funny,it doesn't matter where you are in the world,70 year old judoka all look the same-
Teeth that are now dentures,cauliflower ears,a smashed to smithereens look about their shoulders and a possible glass eye that stares the wrong way when you talk
to them so you don't know which eye to look at.Think Larry at the Budokwai for those that know him.
I will tell you how i talked to him so you can laugh at my grasp of french.
"Bonjour Sensei,Je'mappelle Simon.J' Habite Londres.Je Voudrais,C'est possible moi Judo avec vous?"
He then asked in French how long i was in Morocco for.
i held up 6 fingers and said "6 weeks" because i couldn't remember how to say weeks in french.
He looked like he was going to say No.
"Monsier,Moi allez Judo avec Le British Judo Association"
He then asked me for paperwork in french.
"Sensei,Pardon,moi papier avec moi familie du Londres,Sensei moi belt.........."
At this point i opened my bag and pulled out my belt that had my name embroidered in it.
Sensei looked a little more welcoming when he saw the belt with my name.It was not as official as a BJA
license but it was better than nothing.
*Note to everyone-If you want to do Judo in a different country take your license*
I then said
"Sensei,Moi le student du Ray Stevens.Moi allez Judo pour Le Budokwai,Londres"
He said immediately "The Budokwai?"
I said "Oui Sensei,Le Budokwai,Moi Sensei Ray Stevens"
The old mans eyes lit up,and he said in perfect English
"I was at The Budokwai in 1975 with Brian Jack's.He was a very tough man.The Budokwai is a very beautiful Dojo,
the roof is a pyramid like a Japanese Dojo" and he looked wistfully into the air.
He then said "Ok,You are here for a month and a half.I will charge you 100 Dirhams (£7) to train for that time here.
There is training on Monday,Wednesday and Friday at 7.45 until 9.00pm.Come back tonight at 7.45.
I was in! and i was going to get 6 weeks training for £7. Amazing.
To Be Continued.If i live to tell the tale!!!
BJJ Black Belt
Basically i have just returned from Judo and i am too f.ucked to write about it.
I am in pieces.Properly gone.Oh my god.
I will write a report tomorrow.
BJJ Black Belt
As i walked to the Judo Club through the early evening hustle of the city i wondered what would happen.
Sometimes when i am approaching a big challenge where i could get seriously hurt i often do a 'pre flight check'
on all my joints,i circle my shoulders,twist my neck,stretch my toes,open and close my hands etc.I do this not as a warm up,but rather
to rejoice of the fact that i am injury free and i can use my body without pain.I savour the moment and try to install the feeling in my memory
bank,of what a healthy body feels like.So if it is taken away i can at least remember and appreciate the feeling of wellness.
I don't really go through this process at Jiu Jitsu competitions,but i did it before i fought amateur MMA and i certainly
did it before i fought in the 10k Challenge,when i knew meeting Braulio,Monson or Lovato jnr on their way to £10,000 could be a career
ender for me.You will probably not get a chance to tap in that situation,it's just going to go on until the ref stops it.Thats how the game changes when money is
involved.I also sometimes feel like this at Judo if i am fighting a British Team Player and i manage to get a cheeky score from them.I know they will be peeved,and i know
they are capable of really hurting me.Most of the time the young British Team players are kind to me in Randoori,and have enough control
to do a perfect ippon by sending me flying through the air,and then,at the last minute they roll out of the throw instead of landing square on me and breaking me.
On the rare occasion i have managed to piss off a quality judoka,or i have met a good one with an ego problem (very,very rare) i have felt what it is like to be buried
into the mat,and it is scary,and very very easy to get injured in a horrible way.
I don't want to put anyone off Judo as it is a fantastic sport but it is not BJJ.You run a much higher risk of injury IMO.
Anyway,as i walked down the street i realised i was going through my pre flight check routine.I told myself i was probably being stupid and the club would be teenagers,
old people and lower grades.But i knew i was going to a Judo Club where i didn't speak the language of the students and had a different religeon and skin colour.
It was a little daunting.
BJJ Black Belt
I walked into the Dojo ten minutes early.It is disrespectful to arrive late at Judo especially if you are not at your club.
The old man greeted me and asked me to come into the waiting room where 2 other old (60+) Judoka were sitting watching
television.They shook my hand and murmered politely when Sensei explained in Arabic that i was from The Budokwai.
Their eyes never really left the TV screen though.I wondered what was on.I stared at the telly and was shocked to see these
3 old men were glued to a cookery programme.Not really with it because of my nerves i watched and tried to work out why they were
watching it.I suddenly realised why.The young Arab girl presenting it was Hot,Young with skin tight jeans and big tits.I internally giggled
and relaxed enough to sit with them in silence watching the programme.
A fella came through the door way.The old sensei turned to me and said "This is our Sensei" and motioned me towards the
the young man stood in the doorway.The only way i can describe him is as a Moroccan version of Braulio.Same age,build and certainly the same amount of
time in the Gym.The bloke looked like a serious athlete.6ft 2,90 odd kilo's with long legs.ripped to shreds.
I shook his hand and introduced myself in French and he motioned for me to follow him.He showed me the changing room.
I got changed and made my way to the Dojo.As i entered there was a 55 year old Brown Belt in the corner and a 18 year old green belt stretching.
I went and shook both of their hand and began to feel like i would be ok.
The Dojo was a big one,about 1.5 times the size of The Budokwai,or,say,Carlsons or RGA.
It was in a big old Moroccan Hall with tiled walls and a massive tarpaulin stretched out over the floor.I noticed that around the edges the floor was exposed and the mats weren't
very thick,with the floor being tiled concrete under the tarp and the mats.No sprung floor like the Budokwai here.I tapped the floor with my foot and to my horror realised that whatever
was under the tarpaulin,it wasn't Judo tatame.It was hard as fuck.It felt like their was a layer of dishcloths being used as mats under the tarp.
The best way to imagine it is this-The floor was as soft as a Boxing Ring floor i.e. Not very soft at all.Oh dear.I was going to do a class with unknown guys throwing me as hard as possible
onto,basically a concrete floor with a little padding.
The dojo kept filling.More and more people turning up.The class was supposed to start 15 minutes earlier,but everyone just stood around the sides waiting.
There must have been about 40 students.20 of them coloured Belts under thirty years old.15 or so of them over thirty,with 3 Black Belts.A 30 year old 80 kilo Blackbelt,
a 35 year old 95 Kilo Black Belt and the insructor.There were many Brown Belts.
We began a warm up that was similar to a normal Judo/BJJ warm up but lasted 30 minutes and was tough on the cardio system.We were then told to pair up and
a Blue Belt about my age and size came over and grabbed me.We then did moving Uchi Komi for 20 minutes.This is when everyone moves up and down the mat
with one person entering the same throw without completing it,again and again for repetitions on the move,while the other lets the him by walking normally.It is to build footwork,timing
and the breaking of kuzushi (balance) against a moving opponent.Each time you have another go down the dojo you change your technique.
We then did 20 minutes static (still) Uchi Komi,with the instructor showing some specifics.We also did some 1 minute bursts of high speed uchi komi.
Static Uchi Komi is mainly to build an understanding through repetition of the basic's of throws, concentrating on the all important entry-the place where most thorws are won or lost.
During Uchi Komi it is rare to follow a throw through and actually throw your partner.It is all about entry and grip and footwork.
Sensei then said something and everyone got on their knee's.I said to my partner "Quesce c'est" (what is it?) and he said "Ne waza Randoori".
My partner was,by the way,the best Blue Belt in Judo at uchi Komi i had trained with.He felt so much like a Dan Grade i was sure he had forgotten his belt
and borrowed one.
I thought "No No No,not groundwork first.I really don't want to scrap this lot on the ground and have them comeback for revenge later in stand up."
I made a promise to myself to not submit anyone.A promise i knew i wouldn't be able to keep.
I did 3 minutes of ground work with the Blue Belt and i think he was glad when it ended although i was playing a mellow game.To be honest i think
he was wondering how this bloke with the average uchi komi had just changed into a different fighter on the ground.I was wearing a plain white Judo Gi,
my Judo Belt and had deliberately not mentioned bjj.
At the end of the 3 minutes the 30 year old Black Belt came over and asked to go with me.I of course said no problem and we began fighting.I was struggling really hard
not to submit him and large it,just playing knee on chest,side control,changing sides etc.The 3 minutes ended.
The next Black Belt came and wanted to roll with me.He was 95 Kilo's and 6ft 1inches tall.Quite a big bloke.
I started by jumping to guard.I had a tough fight with him and i knew by the end he would be looking for me when it came to stand up.
By the time the round ended i was properly knackered.Sweating profusely,gasping for air.The warm up and Uchi Komi was tough,and fighting Judoka on the floor
is not like doing BJJ,they are very explosive and that style of sparring takes a lot of you.
It was now time for stand up sparring (Tachi-Waza Randoori) and i wondered how i would be able to defend myself i was so knackered.
The first Black Belt i had fought immediately came over and beckoned me to the middle of the mat.
I started tentatively with him but i could tell he was seriously after me for the control i had on the floor earlier.He made the mistake of pushing me very slightly
and i threw him with a lovely tomonage for ippon.I knew now i was in for a really hard time.I could feel that ultimately he was better than me although i had just thrown him.
I spent the rest of the round defending.Towards the end after trying a few counters i hadn't scored again and he still hadn't thrown me.He entered for a lovely Uchi Mata.
When you get thrown with this throw well,you fly.In the air i knew it would be a bad one.Such a bad one i knew that at my club the guy throwing would rollout.It would be too dangerous to
land on your opponent.It was an ippon anyway and there was nothing left to prove.I wondered and hoped this guy would roll.All this went through my head as i flew through the air.
I kind of knew what the answer would be.SMASH.I landed and his full body weight crashed into my ribcage.He had followed me through the air so it wasn't just his weight but all of his momentum
and force landing on me as well.I had broken 2 Ribs 12 weeks previously demonstrating a takedown on a Thai Boxer at Carlsons who had decided to put his knee up as i followed him to the floor to secure side position.They were very badly damaged and as my whole rib cage flexed i wondered if they would go again.Luckily for me it was the other side and i didn't feel any pain.I waited for a delayed reaction but a few seconds later i was still feeling ok.I could walk away.As i stood up the Sensei called "Matte" (Finish),and i walked to the edge of the mat and collapsed in a heep on the floor.