BJJ Black Belt
I was very lucky it had been the 80 Kilo Black belt who had landed on me and not the 95 Kilo who was now looking for his turn.
BJJ Black Belt
Speaking of being inspired i wanted to share something with all of you
while you wait for my next update.
All i can say that i had been working from 5.30am - 7.30pm everyday for 6 days with no lunchbreak.
I had been to Judo twice that week,and was sore.It was a Friday night and i was being driven back to my Hotel
(a 45 minute drive).
All the way i was playing that game in my mind of "Should i take the night off,it's friday,i'm tired,i've done enough this week..........."Blah Blah Blah
Training twice a week is not enough.It's enough to make you feel like you've done something-but it's not enough to be properly beneficial to our Cardio Systems.
Training twice a week is not enough for Warriors.
After remembering this speech i got dropped off at Judo while all my workmates had Friday night on the piss.
BJJ Black Belt
Back To Judo..................
So i picked myself up off the floor and luckily Sensei called "Matte".
I went and collapsed on the floor at the side of the mat.At The Budokwai in London it is seen as extremely poor conduct to sit down at the side of the mat.
For two reasons-
1.If someone throws their opponent onto you,there will be no time to get out of the way and you will get flattened.
2.You should be standing to recover better from the intense cardio of the fight.
Well i couldn't have stood,i was knackered and luckily there were other students sitting so i knew it was acceptable here.
I hadn't done a serious Judo class for 5 months.Saturday has always been my Judo day,but since Wilson,Dickie and myself decided
that there should be a BJJ Class on Saturday at Carlsons it has been my job to run it,unless i am out of the country.So my own Judo has taken a back seat
for the time being,to try to give the students at Carlsons more training sessions.The idea had been to run the class at Carlsons from 2pm-3.30pm then go to
The Budokwai for 4.30pm.I had decided that i would teach the class at Carlsons but not do any sparring so i would get to Judo.Everyweek sparring would begin and for one reason
or another-someone being injured and not being able to spar so me having to make up the numbers,or a visitor coming who wants to roll with the instructor-i always end up sparring.
I had made the Saturday class at Carlsons 50% Judo so i could train my stand up,but doing Judo with BJJ students isn't as taxing as competition Judoka.
So,suffice to say,i wasn't fit for Judo at this first class in Morocco.Infact,i was exactly the opposite.I was f.ucked.
Its funny how you can be fit for BJJ but not for Judo.It just proves that fitness is not JUST fitness.We become fit for the sport we practise most and our bodies become able to practise this sport
without being taxed as hard it should be.
I bet if a rugby player tried to play 90 minutes of Soccer he would be in trouble,and vice-versa,just to make an analogy.
So there i was lying on the mat drenched in sweat,puffing hard,when the 95 Kilo Black Belt i had rolled with on the ground 20 minutes earlier came over and asked me if i wanted
to fight.He wanted revenge!
There is no point being a hero on a Judo mat.I was in no fit state to defend myself and i knew i would need all my minerals for this round,so although my ego was telling me to get
on the mat,i refused."Non Monsier,trois minute sil'vous plait.Je fini,c'est terrible" i said to him.He laughed at me and said "Dakor,trois minute!".
I had 3 minutes to sort myself out........................
BJJ Black Belt
I watched the sparring.The class was awesome.There were orange belts and green belts who looked like Brown and Black Belts.
The standard here was exceptionally high.Sensei was funny.As i said he was about Braulio's age and size and took his judo and his club VERY
seriously.If one of his guys got caught by a silly throw he would shout and scold them in Arabic,running across the mat to kick them HARD if they did not get immediately
back to their feet.If he was very upset with them he would chase them around the Dojo as they zigzagged through sparring couples,with Sensei booting the poor unfortuate
student as hard as he could up the arse as they tried to escape.I laughed at first until the higher grades gave me a warning look,as if to say."This is serious-Don't laugh."
When the student had received his beating,a group of girls training in traditional Hijab's would laugh at him and call him a "Pussy" in Arabic.
I had never really trained in a club this brutal.My taekwondo instructor was quite scary,but if he had a problem with you,you would be chosen to spar with him and he would
get a TKO from kicks to the ribs.It was rare for him to do this though,apart from when he caught my friend Rowen at a Thai Boxing class-but thats another story.
At The Budokwai,all it takes is a stern look from Ray Stevens to keep order.
And here i was watching a half crazed instructor chasing his students around the mat kicking them and slapping them round the back of the head as they ran away because they had been caught by a good throw!
BJJ Black Belt
It was time for the next round and i walked to the centre of the mat to fight the big guy.
We bowed and shook hands.And it began.As soon as i gripped him up i felt like my style matched up to his a lot better than the smaller Black Belt who had uchi mata'd me.
Just like Jiu Jitsu,Judo is all about styles,and sometimes our style is difficult for someone and with other people they can make a throw on us easy.
Well luckily this Bloke was all about strength and Power.His game was not about speed and agility.Luckily for me,his type of game matches up well for me,unlike the other.
We had a good round and both scored a couple of Koka's-The lowest score in Judo-basically a poorly,or well defended throw.The three minutes was up.
I was gasping for air and needed a rest.
BJJ Black Belt
I watched the instructor in the next round with one of his green belts.The green belt must have been about 17 years old,and had the same build as Sensei.
He was as game as a train.I had been watching Sensei being hard on him,scolding him more than everyone else and always being negative about this young chaps technique.
This gave away 3 points,i could tell from watching the kid and my experience of tough instructors.
1.This kid had enough talent to go all the way,certainly at National Level.
2.Sensei was reminded of himself as a green belt.
3.He was secretly Sensei's favourite pupil.
As they fought Sensei scolded the boy for every bad grip,threw him hard whenever he made a small mistake with his foot work.The boy kept coming back for more,literally throwing his being
into attacks-and they were good attacks-putting every ounce of bodyweight,momentum and technique into trying to throw sensei with almost a disregard for being countered.
When you play Judo like this kid was, the rewards when you get a throw are great.It is going to be a BIG ippon,but just like many things in life,the higher the reward the greater the risk-and if you are countered while attacking like this you will hit the ground HARD.This boy had minerals in abundance.
He didn't throw Sensei and was punished by counter's again and again.But one day he WILL throw Sensei.And when he does it will all have been worthwhile.
BJJ Black Belt
So i was fighting one round on and one round off,so i could rest.
Judo rounds in a club are normally 3 or 4 minutes long,and unlike BJJ,the instructor doesn't match you up.
You are expected to match yourself up.This happen's when someone walks over and asks if you would like to "practise",
or sometimes someone will go and stand in the middle of the mat before the round starts to signify he is game and will
spar with anyone who wants some.If no one goes to join him the instructor will usually call out "Come on,that fella over there is looking for a practice",
and that will be enough to get someone to join him.
When i am in a new club i stand *or sit at the side gasping for air* but i try not to ask anyone for a practise.
No one has ever told me it is seen as disrespectful,but i feel it could be misconstrued as a big headed challenge,or 'larging it' in West London patois.
I also try not to ever ask any British Team members,or exceptionally good competition players to spar at The Budokwai,as i am a very average 1st Dan and
i don't want to waste their time if they are training for a comp.If i want a tough practise i will go and stand at the 'Hard' end of the Dojo and wait to be asked.
They only time i break this rule is when Roger Gracie comes to The Budokwai to do Judo.I always ask him to train in TachiWaza and Newaza when i get the chance,
because i know Roger just thinks this is funny and not disrespectful.I am an easy warm up for him in Tachi Waza before he goes on to fight the Proper Competition Players,
and in Ne Waza,although he can tap me every 20 seconds while talking to someone else and not paying attention,he will do that to 99.9% of people anyway.
Anyway,i was recovering slowly when Sensei came over and asked me to practise.I thought to myself "This could range from a friendly spar,to a smashing,or,if any of his students have been complaining about the Newaza it could be a warning not to come back to the club"
BJJ Black Belt
Sensei smashed me.I couldn't get anywhere near throwing him.Every attempt left me looking like a white belt.
I now knew this man was very very good.On a par with others i had sparred with who were on National Teams,in fact,to be honest better than many.
He,technically,methodically and thoroughly took my game apart.
The really disheartening thing was,he did it with such control he didn't hurt me once.He had to put so little effort into the thrashing he gave me,he could literally throw
me through the air and at the last moment with a tug on the sleeve of my Gi,break my fall by 30% for me.
He must have ipponed me 20 times.He also made the round go on a lot longer until i was gasping for air again.All of the people resting were watching this demolishing i was gettin g and the younger ones were laughing.But he did it in such a gentle way it reminded me that a Black Belt in Judo is the beginning of learning.And i was at the Beginning.
After the round i collapsed on the floor and Sensei's green belt protege came over and asked me,as i was lying there,if i wanted to practise.
Sensei was looking the other way but seemed to have a 6th sense.He ran over,clouted the green belt round the head with his open hand and kicked him in the arse,
shouting what i assume to have been "How dare you approach an elder with a Black Belt who is resting,and insolently ask him to fight,you are lucky i don't kick you around this dojo
now go away before i smack you again".
I quickly said "Sensei,Sensei,Non Problem,c'est bon,c'est bon" and stumbled onto the mat with the green belt.
Now green belt thought all his Christmas's had come at once!
He had a foreign Black Belt in front of him,who he had just seen his instructor systematically destroy.The Black Belt was the wrong side of 35,and gasping for air.
This could be his big chance to show Sensei that he wasn't a worthless waste of space and become the Dojo hero for the evening.
I very carefully,very gently did exactly to him what Sensei had done to me.(Well to be honest i only threw him a few times cos i was knackered but i did it in a very controlled way without hurting him or landing on him).
He began to realise that the road we all travel in Martial Arts is a very long one,and along that road we will all meet many challenges.Winning or losing the challenge is not what is important,
but how we do our winning and losing is.
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I went back to Judo twice more that week.
The next time i arrived Sensei had obviously been told about my Newaza exploits from the first session by his Black Belts.Because he came looking for me.
BJJ Black Belt
So,48 hours later after a long day at work i was in the truck on the way back to the Hotel.
It looked like i was going to arrive back in Rabat at 7.40pm-25 minutes after the Judo class had started.
I knew from my first class there that they didn't really start the warm up until 7.30pm,the first 15 minutes seemed like a meet and greet time.
I thought about whether it was disrespectful to turn up late to the class,and i figured,it's not my fault if i have to work like a dog,and this was going to happen regularly.
I decided that i would be as respectful as is humanly possible while on the mat but they were going to have to tolerate my lateness.
Remember,there is always a little voice in the back our heads looking for an excuse not to have to train.
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That voice is our ego's.It is not us.If we all led our life by listening to our ego's the world would be a terrible place.
I can practically put every bit of serious trouble i have ever been in down to listening to my ego.
Sometimes it is VERY difficult to ignore your ego,but the way ahead is to see him for what he is.He is a trickster-He wants you to believe that he is you.
He jumps on the back of your personality,and because he lives in your mind,it is easy to think he is you.Well he isn't-He is a trouble maker and is not to be listened to.
He is not your spirit.Your spirit is the real you.And your spirit and your ego are on opposing sides of a battlefield in your mind where daily wars are fought.
He's the one that tells you to jump out of the car when someone cuts you up.
He's the one that tells you to have a word with the fella in a Bar who is looking at your missus.
He's the one who tells you,you are a pussy if you let someone bump into you and don't tell the bloke off.
He is also the one who tell's you not to go training-because you might get tapped.
Every time you ignore your ego your spirit becomes a little stronger and your ego becomes closer to dying.
Don't get me wrong-If you see him for who he is,he can be a useful little fella-If you can harness his competitiveness,and his will to win it can be a very good thing,
but like everything-too much of a good thing is bad-and listen to him and treat him as your god and you will never go training.
The more you react to what your ego is telling you to do the more you become his slave,and your life becomes one big reaction.
You are pulled from pillar to post all day everyday and become controlled by your ego,and the more this happens the more powerful he becomes.
"THE GREATEST TRICK THE DEVIL EVER PULLED WAS CONVINCING THE WORLD HE DIDN'T EXIST" The Usual Suspects.
Well,the greatest trick your ego ever pulled was convincing you that he is you.
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So there i was sitting in the truck,listening to my ego and my spirit having their usual fight about whether i was too tired to go training.
As i bumped along the road the boys around me all had fantastic smelling Moroccan Hashish Spliffs on the go,and were all having a deep conversation about whose was best.
Sometimes being in this enviroment is hard.I gave up everything when i got my Purple Belt four years ago.Drinking,Smoking - the lot.
It is the best thing i ever did in my life,for my Jiu Jitsu,My career and my sanity.I wake up every day and praise god (or whoever it is up there) for giving me the
single mindedness to live my life as an athlete should,but every now and then it is difficult.And after a 14 hour day in the sun,with no lunch break in a very high pressure job
it is sometimes hard to carry on with this single mindedness.Especially when a little voice is saying "Go on,you're in Morocco,you'd be crazy not to sample the local delicacies........"
Well i can recognise my ego for who he is and i told the boys-"TAKE ME TO JUDO!"
BJJ Black Belt
I arrived at Judo 15 minutes late,and the warm up was underway.
They have a separate changing room for Black Belts which is great because the regular changing room is carnage.
It is ankle deep in water and there are 50 people in a room that should have no more than 20 in it.
The Black Belt changing room is lovely-it has a carpet and 2 sofa's in it!
I walked in and there was a guy who i hadn't met before.I introduced myself to him,and he seemed friendly enough but i could tell he was
a tough guy and senior in the pecking order,and although we were pretending to be cool there was a tiny bit of an alpha male thing going on.
Sometimes this shit just happens.I could tell he wanted to beat me immediately.He was about 35-40 and a 90kg lump.
Me and him were 2 old guys still walking the walk.........................
I had a brief conversation with him in the changing rooms where i told him how welcome i felt at the club,and how priveleged i felt being able to train there,
and as i told him how good i thought Sensei was,he replied that Sensei was the Moroccan Under 81 Kilo Champion.
Ah-ha! I was glad my senses had been correct.
I was changed now and went to stand at the edge of the mat.Because of my lateness i didn't want to walk straight onto the mat.In Judo you wait for sensei to ask you to join in.
I met Sensei's eye and he beckoned me onto the mat.
It was immediately Ne-Waza (Groundwork) i kneeled down opposite the lump but Sensei came straight over and said something to the lump in Arabic and the Lump moved away and Sensei took his place.
I could tell the other Black Belts who i had sparred with on the ground at the previous class must have told Sensei i was alright on the ground and he was coming to test me.
I started by pulling guard.
We had a tough fight.I showed Sensei some Carlson Gracie Jiu Jitsu,which was fine because at the previous lesson he had certainly shown me some Kawaishi Judo!
(Google Kawaishi if you're interested......)
At the end of the round i hoped Sensei saw me in a slightly different light,as someone who it may be useful to have around,rather than another 1st Dan.
It was time for the next round and the Lump came over.This guy was really good at Ne Waza.It was a very even round.
I had immediately noticed that at this Judo Club they carried on fighting in Side Control or Mount.At some Judo Clubs they train strictly to Competition rules and if they get
side control they consider it a win-and it is-under Judo rules.However some Judo clubs are a little more progressive with their Ne Waza,
and the fight continues unless someone manages to hold side control for like a minute.One of the things i liked about this club were they seemed to be almost sparring on the ground with a jiu jitsu
style to their rules of engagement.
Anyway,here i am scrapping the lump and every time there is even a slight infringement of the rules he points it out.For instance if i am on his back i know i cant attack his face or chin the way i would in BJJ.I am well aware you cannot do that,but even reaching across his face and having my forearm brush past his chin to try to take control of his Gi,he say's " Non,Shido!"
which means " No-Penalty".The fight progressed and i tried some open guard with him and he passed.The moment he passed,having secured North-South for all of
4 seconds he came back to kneeling as if to say "Well i won that one".I realised how it was going to be sparring with him and commited it to my memory banks for next time as the round ended.
I knew i would be meeting him again.