T Nation

Do Meatheads Dream of Iron Sheep?


Thursday 8/9/18

BJJ 90 min

Back control is the position we’re working for August. Not much new tonight, just a lot of drilling with three different attacks. Sliding collar choke, mirror choke and bow-and-arrow choke.

Only one roll tonight, with a female white belt. She’s pretty fierce and a good flow roll for me. She knows it’s totally cool to go all out with me with pressure and discomfort techniques, and I can still maintain a relatively easy flow roll pace. Today I worked a lot of scissor sweeps on her while I let her work to advance positions. Fun stuff.

One and done tonight. It’s been HOT!


Wow! Shot in the face! Glad to hear he is going to be okay.


@ChickenLittle Me too. On a related note, I’m doing the bouncer a favor and picking up a shift at the old dive bar tomorrow. Saturdays are always a toss-up. Who knows what sort of creatures will crawl out?

Friday 8/10/18

BJJ 60 Min

Open mat at my brown belt friend’s house. Nobody else showed up for Friday afternoon training, so another private lesson was had. We rolled a few times and I did a few creative escapes, but it just led to different submission pathways for him. No surprise there, but this is the second session in a row I’ve shucked him off of high mount. I did it with my legs this time, a sort of pendulum escape that rolls him over into guard, where we jumped back and forth between an omoplatata and a triangle until he got me in the triangle. This was a really good roll for me.

After that we flow rolled a bit. This led us to technique for the day. We dove into a few topics.

First was kung-fu choke details. I think I’m just trachea choking people at least as often as I’m blood choking them. Detail to remember is once I get the choke in, put my elbow to the mat. I don’t want to actually hit the mat, because that can open up the escape, but that’s the motion. The deeper I can sink the grip the better.

Next up was a technical pathway to mount. From side control 1, lace your lower hand under the near-side leg and over the far-side leg. Straighten your arm out towards your own hip to stop them from kicking out of it and to set up the next step. Step your lower leg right on top of your fingertips, or at least try to. Keep your hand where it is, then slide that knee over their knee and on to their thigh. Slide right in to mount from here and wreak havoc.

After that it was another technical pathway to mount. From side control 3, work to apply pressure to the carotid artery. Think about squeezing a tube of toothpaste, starting at their mid-torso, clinching up with your arms as you go and making sure to really isolate their near-side arm. Keep the pressure on the neck as you work your way perpendicular to them. Continuing with pressure, you should be high enough on their torso to step over into mount without them being able to slide the knee in to replace their guard.

Pressure, pressure, pressure. These two transitions to mount will will definitely be training priorities for me.

Happy weekend!


@ChickenLittle Sorry sweetie, no wild bouncing tales from my night back at the dive bar door.

Saturday 8/11/18

Bouncing 300 min.

I stopped one fight before it started, the guys were cut off and that was that. We had some 1 percenter bikers show up and a bunch of people told me they weren’t allowed, but they are. I’ve never had any problems with guys flying colors in that bar.

I have, however, had plenty of problems with regulars who make up their own rules, try to take liberties with the place or otherwise act like they get special treatment just because they drink there all the time. People telling me to bounce their ex. People telling me to bounce patched-up bikers who are being cool. People telling me to let this person or that in without an ID. People expecting me to be their bodyguard while they spout off to someone. People going into the basement to do coke. People thinking they shouldn’t ever be cut off. The list goes on…

I got a nice tip and made a little scratch, but I’m not exactly eager to sign up for more shifts there. Besides, I literally get paid twice as much to work the door at the other bar where I’ll probably never have to put hands on anyone and I go home at 11 or 12 most nights.

I never say “never”, but it’s entirely possible that all of my Roadhouse moments are behind me. It was a good run and I’m really glad I did the work and got the experience, but the gains I get from bouncing at a roughneck bar are drying up. I’ll take easy street and a well-paying, low-commitment side job at an upscale establishment, thank you very much!


Monday 8/13/18



Incline bench

45x3 Shut this down shoulders said NOPE.

Standing DB press


Tricep pushdowns
Light shoulder stuff

10 min sauna
10 min hot tub


Wednesday 8/15/18



Bench Press

Bar x 3… Nope

Buncha light shoulder stuff

Tricep pushdowns

3 sets of 10

DB Rows


Strict press


So my shoulder, while feeling LOADS better than a year ago, is still not completely good to go. Horizontal pressing sets it right off still. Overhead work still feels good, so overhead work is what I’ll be doing until something else feels like it won’t jack up my shoulder any more.


What kind of injury are you dealing with there?


Well the last time I went to the Dr. he wasn’t sure. I had no pain that day and, despite describing what I’ve been dealing with, he told me to come back when it hurt. Then I spoke to a PT friend of mine and his belief was that it was the beginning of rotator cuff issues.

Since coming back to semi-regular lifting I’ve just been doing a lot of shoulder rehab stuff. Rotation work with bands, bottoms-up kettlebell presses with light weight, stiff arm lat pulldowns, band-pull-aparts, all light weight and all high rep.

That’s helped a TON. I never have pain during normal everyday stuff, not even jiu jitsu. My shoulders used to hurt when I did menial stuff like lifting up a bag of groceries from a dead hang. Barbell pressing of all kinds was shot for me. It wasn’t super-painful, more of a stiff-dull ache and a lack of strength.

Now I can overhead press without pain, although I still feel weak. Some of that weakness is just time off from barbell work though. Not sure how much is shoulder-related, don’t really care right now. I’m just going to keep hammering the shoulder stuff, which I also do a bit of at home. It’s working and I’m just being conservative with anything that feels off until it doesn’t feel off anymore.


Sounds like a pretty smart plan to me.


Friday 8/17/18

BJJ 120 min

Open mat at my brown belt friend’s house. Nobody else wanted to train on a Friday evening, so I got another private lesson.

After rolling for a bit we dove into some technique, again working on shoring up technical holes in my game. First up was a review of some side control basics. Side control 1 traps their near-side hip, not far. This is to prevent them from hipping out to make space and replace the guard. There’s not much to attack from here, but controlling that near-side hip really doesn’t give them a lot of options for escape.

This is a position I need to settle into more often. I’m usually looking to wrap the head, which is also a great position, but side control 1 can be a good, safe stepping stone to get to side control 3, which is wrapping the head.

Standing guard passing was covered next. He used the term “ride the line” to explain the idea of controlling a person’s side as you get past their legs. From standing, toss their legs over to the right side. Spin 270 degrees clockwise, establishing contact with their leg and keeping pressure against it with the backside of your body as you spin around. Put your right hand behind you, holding their leg behind their knee in the hamstring tendon if you can, or pants if they’re wearing them. Left leg is trying to isolate the same-side arm at the elbow, right leg is trying to control the hip. This is a transitional position and the same principles apply if you just step past their leg instead of spinning, but spinning can be really tough to deal with once you understand how to keep the pressure on that side of their body and “ride the line”.

From here you have options. You haven’t committed to the ground yet, and the spinning guard pass actually gives you an opportunity to scan your surroundings as well. Knee-on-belly is right there. If they try to sit up you can stuff that with your left hand. Their left hand is not a threat here either. Smash right into them in side control too. Let them up if you want. All viable options depending on circumstances.

Finally we worked arm-drags from standing with the goal of taking the back or controlling their hips for a takedown. This is something I need to play around with more, but not everyone likes working stand-up. The key here is to stay close, use both hands to control one of theirs by pushing it down and away from them while keeping pressure on the backside of their arm with your shoulder and torso. This can open up all kinds of options, depending on how they react. A good pathway to the back for sure.

That’s it for last night! Exhausting training two hours with a brown belt!


Saturday 8/18/18

Incline DB press

5 sets of 10

Some curls and band-work.

Some quick work in my basement gym that I haven’t used in way too long. Incline press felt good on my shoulder! Off to a party now!


Yeah, you’re 270 and a three stripe (or is it four?) BJJ student.

Gun only bro. I would never fuck with you unless I was packing, and I don’t.


@The_Myth You’d think more people would just not fuck with other people no matter how big they are, but sadly that’s not the case.

The new bar I’m occasionally working at will probably have an asshole incident at some point, but I doubt it will be anything too bad. Drink prices starting at $8 and a room full of upscale people mostly over 30 is not a recipe for unrestrained brawling. If you’re the bouncer you’re still getting sized up by a good chunk of the guys that walk in, but that’s totally normal behavior in my opinion. As long as people act cool I don’t care if they want to brag to their wife that the bouncer doesn’t look that tough or whatever. And everyone there is acting really cool. The bar is doing great.

The old bar I worked at routinely attracts roughnecks, bikers, occasional gang-bangers and just regular 25 and under dudes who often lack the life lessons necessary to fully understand why picking a fight with the bouncer is a bad idea. The dive bar setting also imparts an “anything goes” sort of party atmosphere, which is definitely part of its attraction. Wednesday nights there are the wildest party spot in town and that’s the shift I worked most of the time. Good times.

The regulars all know I’m relaxed and not looking to hurt anyone. Most of them have seen me break up fights and handle rowdy customers. A few know that I train BJJ but a lot more of the younger guys have seen me lifting over the years. This is overall a good deterrent, especially keeping force to minimal levels, but there are about a half dozen guys who’ve stated they want to whoop my ass. Never to my face, but I don’t particularly like second-hand threats for doing my job. I’ve got some good screenshots people have sent me of text message tough guys saying my ass is grass.

I’m too old for that shit! Still on my third stripe BTW!


True dis. I try to fuck with people with love, kind of a “What do you have for me” and keep things loose. I suspect you’d be okay with that.

I have a different take on this. If I’m going to throw down, and that is never, I want the bouncer on my side so I try to be totally respectful of that guy.

Yeah, I’m not that guy. Feel like I could handle myself in a fight, but not going to mess with the bouncer. Always feel like I’m the baddest dude in the room, but thoughts are different from reality, and I know that.

Now, if you want to throw down a sonnet, I’ll totally take you, lol - just doesn’t go over well in a bar quoting “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

This - the last guy you want to fight is the bouncer. My brother was a bouncer at 42nd Street in Palo Alto - Silicon Valley, Stanford. He was 5’8" and 165 pounds, but he was a bad ass.

When I get to Maine, and I will, I am definitely going there - just to watch.

Yeah, your size is a good deterrent as well. I laugh at the smack talk behind your back. All the Vegas money is on you.

Me too, but you’re inspiring me. I am probably going to start at the Matt Serra BJJ dojo near me. My buddy teaches there, I think he’s a blue belt or something like that, but I don’t think belts mean that much in BJJ until you get up there. He’s small, but fearless. We talked about surfing in NY and how rough it can be and he just said, with no braggadocio at all, “I’m a blue belt in BJJ so I’m not worried about it.”

He’s 5’8", 180 pounds, and is fearless.

Third stripe, whatev. It’s a journey and I have really been enjoying this journey with you. Thanks for sharing.


Well they do and don’t. Promotion standards vary, but each belt is a pretty significant milestone at any legit BJJ gym. It’s a pretty decent marker of skill, or at least mat time and technical knowlege. I’ll probably be a white belt for another 6 months or so at least, so 2 years at white belt for me, which is pretty normal.

At this point I’ve got a decent bag of tricks that I can pull off reliably, so a new student might not see a huge difference when rolling with me vs rolling with a purple belt. They’re just getting dominated by both of us and probably don’t understand jiu jitsu well enough to recognize the huge gap in skill between the purple belt and I. The outcome is the same, they get tapped out fast no matter what position we begin in.

Anybody with a blue belt, for instance, should at least be a fairly competent grappler who you can be reasonably assured will not injure you in a roll by doing something crazy. Think of it this way. With a blue belt you’re looking at an associate’s degree body of knowledge about jiu jitsu as it was taught to them. Purple is a bachelor’s. Brown is master’s. Black is doctorate. Beyond black is getting into research of new jiu jitsu techniques, insights and becoming a better instructor. Generally speaking, a blue should reliably tap whites, purples reliably tap blues, so on and so forth, but there’s a lot more to it than that and it doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t deserve their rank if they get tapped out by someone lower. Not at all.

Translating belts into mat performance isn’t always as straightforward. I’ve tapped out blues, purples and one brown belt. But I’m also fucking huge, and a person can easily get to purple belt having never grappled with someone my size or strength, making me lot to handle for “just a white belt”. People get injured, get old, and take time off too. The brown belt I tapped out probably hadn’t trained with any regularity in over a year.

Just show up and take a class. Take the plunge. You’ll either like it or not but you won’t regret trying.


Sunday 8/19/18



Lat PD’s, neutral-grip

3 sets of 10

Tricep pushdowns

3 sets of 10


3 sets of 15

Buncha light shoulder stuff

10 min sauna
10 min hot tub

I woke up puking this morning due to entirely avoidable circumstances, so I wasn’t feeling particularly strong. Showing up was the battle today!


I am just guessing here :nauseated_face:


Tuesday 8/21/18



Strict press


Buncha light shoulder stuff and some curls too.

That’s it off to jiu jitsu in an hour!


Thursday 8/23/18

BJJ 60 min

While technically another open mat at my brown belt friend’s house, I was once again the only one who showed. Like usual, we warm up with going right into a roll. As an aside, I really think people overestimate the importance of warm-ups with jiu jitsu. Not unlike lifting. I’m sure they’re a necessity for some for various reasons, but I don’t see any particular risk. Plus I’m training for self-defense over sport, so it’s not like I’d get 20 min to do stretches and planks and hip-out movements before things get ugly.

I won the takedown with a nice little sweep when he was off-balance from what I think was a failed sase (sp?) takedown. The crazy thing is that even when I “win” a take down with this guy, he is so technically sound that I have yet to establish true side control on him. He’s always however many steps ahead, posting and framing and escaping or sweeping. I can’t hold this guy down. That’s jiu jitsu.

The rest of the roll went well for me. He’s been working high mount Americana sequences on me and I’m definitely paying attention to what he’s doing. I’m making some decent escapes and defending somewhat, but of course I’m getting tapped still. We did a few more and started working on technique for the day, guard passing details.

This got into a discussion of WHY? Why are we passing the guard, and in what sort of circumstances. A lot of guard positions and strategy for passing exist only in the vacuum of sport grappling matches where everyone agrees to the rules. These are great and all and you can get really creative, but we focused on what to do when things get chippy.

In a fight, you need to be on your feet. If you’re not on your feet, you had better be pinning the guy. This is the “why” behind the tight pass position. I’ve learned this position and the passes stemming from it before, but today we dove a little deeper into the principles that make it work. The tight pass position is basically a low crouch where at least one of your feet is planted and you are making a wedge with your knee, keeping your elbows in and flaring outward onto their legs. Keep your posture upright and don’t grab the belt, posture on the hips instead.

In addition to being a pathway to technical guard passing, this position gives you the ability to stand right back up since one of your feet is already planted. This differs from a lot of stuff that happens on the mat. If you’re in a street fight and your, say, in someone’s guard with both of your knees on the ground, chances are you’ve made some poor choices to get there. Not so during a casual roll. That’s one of the things I like about his jiu jitsu lineage. It is self-defense first, second and third. Plenty of guys from there compete in sport BJJ and do well, but the techniques taught (and the techniques not taught pre-blue/purple belt) on their curriculum are all selected with the goal of preparing you for violence when you are weaponless.

We covered more details today and I’ll try to log them tomorrow, especially the bit about head control when guard passing, but the principles behind the tight pass position were the real eye-opener for me today.

I should sleep like ten bears after deadlifts and an hour with a brown belt!


Friday 8/24/18

BJJ 60 min

Open mat at my brown belt friend’s house. Nobody else showed. He runs other open mats that people actually go to that I don’t usually make, but I’m really glad he’s keeping these going for now. I get that not everyone’s looking to train at 6pm on a Friday, but it fits into my schedule great.

We mostly rolled today and I definitely had my best rolls ever with him. I’m still getting tapped but I’m doing better in almost all aspects of the engagement. Made some good escapes and won every takedown today, insomuch as I put him on the ground. Unfortunately, he disappears for a moment and before I realize what’s happening I’m in some form of his guard. I can never establish a dominant position, even after I put him on the ground.

Becoming more mindful in the moment between takedown and pin is the key to better outcomes there. Greater technical understanding will no doubt help as well. I’m generally doing well with takedowns l on just about everyone except this guy, which is why I train with him every chance I get. He forces me to get better instead of tricking my brain into thinking I know what I’m doing just because I’m getting my way.

We did a little technique for armbar escapes. The key takeaway I need to remember is to try to lock up on my other bicep and turn that hand away so I can push their leg over my head while simultaneously defending the arm extension. Afterwards walk my legs clockwise (if left arm is being attacked) and turn it into a guard pass from there. More details underneath but one thing at a time.

Happy weekend!