T Nation

Do Meatheads Dream of Iron Sheep?


Thanks @The_Myth. Good explanation of how belts work, at least when you look inside a single school. I’ve heard people say they’re skeptical about celebrities getting belt promotions, but I’ve never rolled with any so I can’t say much about that. Once you start rolling or competing with people from other schools it can become clear that belt standards vary wildly. Each instructor has their own ideas about what the belts mean.

One of the two brown belts I’ve tapped out was clearly from a school that had much looser standards (the other was out-of-practice with years off of the mat). He was big and strong, but had huge holes in his game that I consider fundamental. My yardstick for belt performance is the school where my brown belt instructor trains, and the blue belts there don’t make the basic mistakes he did. I would expect most decent-sized blue belts there to eat that guy alive.

If I keep going to my old school, which I probably will for the near future, I’m guessing I’ll have a blue belt fairly soon. It won’t mean much to me though, because I’m still a bit behind where I expect a blue belt to be from a technical standpoint. Not real far, but definitely missing some stand-up techniques and proficiency that’s part of the curriculum where my instructor trains, but not where I’m training now. I’d say I’m roughly even with how I perform on the ground.

Who knows though? My BJJ experience has been atypical, with my training more or less evenly split between a more casual sport-oriented school and private lessons from an instructor at a top-notch combat-focused school. I’m also the biggest and strongest guy on the mat most of the times.

Regardless, I’m eager to get a chance to roll with our senior purple belts next week. I still haven’t tapped either of them, but it’s definitely within reach for me.

As an aside, there are a few celebrities I’d like to train with.

James Maynard Keenan, lead singer of Tool. I think he’s a purple belt.
Ed O’Neil, aka Al Bundy is a black belt.
Chuck Norris is a black belt, which is amazing when you think about all the other martial arts he’s studied.
Keanu Reeves trains too, although I’m not sure what his rank is.
Joe Rogan has black belts from two different jiu jitsu schools, and I’m sure he’s a total beast on the mat.


He had another podcast about how the mat tells the truth, it was good. He was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as a teen, got into BJJ later. He’s jacked as fuck, and admittedly on TRT - said he would “ring the bell” if drug tested.

But he tells it like it is. Says a small guy in wrestling loses regardless of skill. A small guy in BJJ with superior skill taps out a bigger guy with less skill. Blah blah blah.

A blue belt from a serious school taps out a purple or brown from a belt factory. We’ve all heard it before, but the deal is the mat tells the truth.

He also said rolling with the little guys is where you get the technique. Big fuckers like you tend to rely on weight, little guys are more technique.

I know from reading your posts that you get this and try to not use your strength.

Interesting shit.


Well, I’d say you get the technique from rolling with everyone you possibly can. Everyone has their own combination of size, strength, mobility, skill and gameness to go along with their own style of play. If you’re a lot bigger and stronger you can get away with a lot of slop on sweeps, throws and takedowns, so you can’t fool yourself into thinking you’re doing the thing well unless it works on someone your size or larger.

Similarly, a smaller guy HAS to be able to suck it up and deal with the pressure and strength a larger or more athletic guy can bring if they’re serious about building a game that can work in real life. I suppose it may behoove a serious competitor to primarily train within their weight class, but I’ve never trained with any serious competitors. When I train with anyone from my instructor’s school I’m specifically instructed to use pressure on anyone blue belt and above.

At my other school I shelve pressure techniques on everyone except two guys.

Small guys in and of themselves don’t possess any special advantage in BJJ, although they tend to be more mobile and better-able to stack up and play guard from more angles than larger people. It can definitely pose a challenge you don’t get from a larger guy who just can’t move that way. Guys with good technique, big or small, will make you polish up your techniques. The thing you’re trying to do will not work on an adult male of nearly any size who knows a technical counter, regardless of what size they are. They either stuff it directly or deny you the opportunity to use your attribute advantages in the first place.

Gameness is important too. Some guys tap out WAY before you’ve actually got a submission locked in, and sometimes when you don’t really have it at all. Some people tap to pressure alone. If you train with a bunch of people who tap too soon you can get bad feedback about your effectiveness. This even extends to basic drilling. I don’t tap until they do it right and I expect the people I train with to give me the same feedback. Just because it looks like what the instructor did doesn’t mean you’re stopping the blood flow to my brain.


Monday 3/25/19

BJJ 90 min

Guard work continues for March. First sweep was a review of omoplata sweep. Pull their opposite side arm high across your chest, scoop their leg with your free arm and hip out big, turning 180 degrees. Flatten them out and roll them over, keeping the grip to retain options from there.

Next up was a sweep from half guard. Pinch their thigh, get your shin up into their hip. Turn your torso and post your hands, then walk backwards with your hands. This simply reverses the position, putting you exactly where your opponent just was.

Next up from there was an escape from that same top position. Work your knee out a little bit, then slide it across to their other side, making sure to keep that underhook active the entire time. From there you slide into a kesa-gatame sort of position and work your foot out. If you did it right they won’t have much besides your toes.

First roll was with the guy who took over my title of senior white belt last week, having four stripes to my three. He doesn’t like to start standing, so I started in my crappy open guard. He passed it easily, landing in side control. From there he kept trying to muscle me into an Americana, so I let him burn out on that for a bit and feel like he was winning. I broke out by punching my arm straight and got my frame back under his neck. I loaded him up like I was hipping out to replace guard, let him drive back into me and rolled him right back over. From there I put him in side control 1, which I’ve just been murdering everyone in that gym with since coming back. Laced up his legs and waited for my moment to take mount. From mount I climbed up a little higher to take some of his frames away, got hooks into his hips and spread out my arms, letting him work on escapes that had no hope of working while I was that stable and he had no frames. I slid back down, got a hook into his leg and slid right into an easy Ezekiel choke before the bell rung.

I’m really good at the re-roll escape and I should probably stop using it to work on other stuff, but this was a roll I wanted to dominate technically while shelving all of my pressure. He’s a good guy and a good sport. Dramatic improvement from the last time I rolled with him when he was still a two stripe white belt.

Next up was the black belt instructor. He also wanted to start from the ground, which sucks for me, but whatever. I know the score at this gym by now. I forget how it started but he got me in side control. I never got a good position all round. I was close to a few escapes, but he shut the door on them before I advanced to a better position. He worked a lot of stuff on me from side control, mount and high mount. Various gi chokes and several arm bars. He was close to sinking it but I didn’t tap. He eventually went for an armbar and I locked my arms, rolled with it and stacked him up. He was close, but never got me extended. The bell rang before we could see who would win the battle for the arm, but he ended in a bad spot without submitting me.

He dominated me the whole round and was a lot closer to submitting me than he was last week, but this extends my streak to maybe 4 or 5 rolls with him since he’s caught me in something. I’m not easy to tap out after learning how to defend my other instructors stuff in hundreds of rolls.

Last roll was with the four stripe white belt again. Same scenario as last time, he passed my crappy open guard and took side control, falling for the same trick again. Did the same thing, getting him in side control 1, lacing the legs. I tried to take mount but he got me in half guard and won the underhook battle, which was stupid of me. He swept me on to my back but got sloppy in mount where I trap-and-rolled him. Passed his guard from there, took side control and submitted him with a paper cutter choke.

He complimented me on what I was doing with side control 1, so I spent the rest of the round showing him what my other instructor taught me. It’s really quite simple, stable, and a low-energy control position, but it’s not something that’s taught at this school. One of my chief complaints is that almost all of the drilling is spent on either submissions, escapes or sweeps. Very little time is spent diving into the technical details of gaining and holding positions. My other instructor teaches three different side control positions, and explains the purpose of them all. How you get there, what they are good for and where they lead. It’s part of a tactical pathway that’s explained in detail. All of the tactical pathways are part of the gigantic manual of what to do in a fight, explained in what amounts to a very large flow chart of if/then statements.

This school just gives you puzzle pieces and it’s largely up to you to put them together. It’s still mostly good stuff, but definitely lacking when I compare it to how I was learning jiu jitsu from my other instructor.

At any rate, I’m still being challenged and enjoying myself, so it’s a good use of time. Everything I learn here I put into the context of the tactical pathways I learned from my other instructor, so I feel like I’m in a good position to make the most out of my current jiu jitsu situation.


Your posts are great. Keep up the good work.


@biker Thanks. Time appears to be freeing up on my horizon, so hopefully I’ll have more productive training to report. I need to suck it up and get back into the groove with some lifting too, but I’ve been nothing but talk on that front lately.

Wednesday 3/27/19

Bouncing 300 min

I’m sorry to report that the only issue tonight was a domestic dispute with a smoking hot 20-something who was beating up her skinny ex-boyfriend. I don’t like to ask any young woman to leave, especially after she jumped on me, gave me a big kiss and sucked on my earlobe to say hello, but she was punching the poor fellow in the face. Then she went out and started bashing his car up after I asked her to leave. I’m not sure what happened between them, but I’d wager she’s fantastic in bed.


Earlobe sucking, practicing BJJ. Nice job.


Always the crazy chicks, am I right @dt79, or am I right?


You can’t go wrong with crazy lol.


There’s a saying about putting certain body parts in crazy, and it’s borne true in my experience, much to my regret.


@OTHSteve @dt79 @biker @The_Myth

I’m not going anywhere near that type of crazy, and it will be at least 3 months before she can give me another salacious greeting at the door since we hit her with a ban last night. It’s like our local penalty box. We even have a closed facebook group to keep track of the various antics and ban durations across shifts. It reads like a local tabloid, great stuff.

Besides, if I wanted to bang every crazy chick who tried to make her ex-boyfriend jealous by flirting with the bouncer I’d probably just go all-in on the lifestyle and become a drug dealer.


What’s the prob?


This thread is solid gold lately. I appreciate it!


Well I sort of have a good thing going with my white-collar day job, but deep in my resume you can find a successful stint as a black market entrepreneur way back in the 90’s. I’d have to dig my pager out of some box in the basement, figure out where pay phones still exist and dust off my code words, but I could probably make it all work. Pot’s legal where I live, so I’d probably need to step up to coke and whatever else people are getting high on in my town.

I could probably sell a lot of drugs out of that burger shack I’ve been thinking about opening and launder the money while I’m at it. Don’t the woo masters say something about positive-thinking, proper breathing and daring to dream so the universe gives you lots of money and desperate women with daddy issues?

You’re welcome. Bouncing really is a good way to inject a little excitement into an otherwise normal life. Play-fighting in pajamas is a fun hobby too.


I recommend deleting the pot post. the rest are great.


@biker I’ve heeded your lawyerly advice and polished that post up a bit. That stuff is all distant past and by no means in my future, even if it could mean banging lots of unstable women with daddy issues and making lots of easy money. It’s still fun to contemplate and it’s still fun to look back on my harmless teenage antics that are now completely de-criminalized in my jurisdiction.

White collar work is where it’s at. Make honest bank, don’t break your body in the process and leave lots of free time to do reckless things like dive bar bouncing and pajama wrestling.


@biker You might also like to know that I met a buddy for a couple drinks and some cheese curds at the local dive bar tonight, and we ran into a pack of three local one percenter bikers. One of them knew me as the doorman and has seen me in action, and great conversations about bar fighting and bar violence were had. I had to ask them about the circumstances that lead up to a bar fight with a group of patched bikers, and I wasn’t surprised to hear that it’s usually aggressive drunk people who don’t have any business starting fights with anyone.

I have to say it’s pretty cool to rub elbows with guys like that and have them want to shake my hand. I’m not interested in involving myself in their world, but it’s still pretty cool to be introduced by a patched guy and be treated well by his brothers. That’s not the kind of stuff you get to experience in the white collar world or playing Magic: The Gathering with your pals. I’m glad I’ve branched out a bit.

For what it’s worth, bikers flying colors have never started any problems on any of my shifts. They just have a good time and look out for their own.


I met a patched guy down in Old Orchard a couple summers ago. He was a really swell guy, not at all the stereotype people seem to have.


@mr.v3lv3t I’ve found that to be mostly the case with bikers I’ve dealt with on the job. I’m not sure I’d call most of them “swell guys”, but I also don’t know any of them very well. I’m acquainted with some sleazebags and some guys who seem pretty stand-up. I have no doubt they would have all thrown down if some asshole had provoked them, but there were no instances of provocation on any of my shifts. If there were, I’d be more inclined to throw out whoever had it in his head to start shit with a group of bikers who were minding their own business than the bikers themselves. If a group of patched up one percent bikers started raising hell on one of my shifts, I’d probably just call the cops and let them deal with it. One guy I can handle. A gang, no thanks.

We’ve had a few guys coming in flying what seem to be colors of street gangs, but they were not in large packs and they all acted cool too. If they start showing up regularly in groups I might decide to hang it up. I can deal with being a bouncer at a bar where gang members sometimes show up, but not where they congregate.


Tuesday 4/2/19

BJJ 60 min

My brown belt instructor got me private lessons for Christmas, and we’ve just gotten around to finding time that works. The guy is another four-stripe brown belt, active pro MMA fighter and an instructor at another area school. I’ve trained with a few of their guys before and they were pretty decent.

We made this a problem solving session, looking to expand my escapes from positions where guys give me problems. First we looked at options from mount. I have a lot of success with trap-and-roll but less with getting back into a guard or even half guard.

First option we looked at was to keep them in low mount over your hips. Then hip on to your side, keeping your lower leg flat on the mat. Step your top leg over both your leg and theirs, scooping their ankle over your foot and locking into a quarter guard position. From there you can keep frames and tuck in tight to stuff their leg deeper into a half guard, then hip on to your other side and keep that top underhook, looking to escape or take the back from there.

Next up is a total goon move that I’m surprised nobody’s ever shown me. Keep them in low mount, hip them forward so they post their arms, then get your hands in their hips while still keeping your frames. Bridge BIG, then bench them straight up and hip out BIG to one side. This can get you back into guard or use the chance to get back to your feet or even knees, making it a scramble situation. People will bitch about this one for sure, but I like it as an option. It’s technique, but easily misconstrued as just “using your strength”. Well, tough shit, beanpoles. I’ll be practicing this one on big and small.

The next position we looked at is when guys lace their legs around your thighs and make a complete connection to your leg, letting them ride your hips and stay glued. Hip them forward big, keep your frames but get your palms on the edge of their hips, just like the goon move above. Bridge big, benching them up with your arms and at the same time stick your legs up in the air. Make their hips clear your knees and they will slide down in to a butterfly guard.

Note to self: I like this escape and maybe looking at options from butterfly guard will be good for the next private lesson I have with this guy. I don’t really have a butterfly guard game.

Last up was addressing grapevines, which is when they lace their feet around your legs to make a connection, posing the same general problems as when they tie up your legs. This basically turns into a pummel to free your legs, then work any other escape. This wasn’t new to me, but we did some positional drilling afterwards where he made me work these escapes and it was good to throw the grapevines in.

Next up was knee-on belly escapes. Nothing completely new here, just looking at details. I keep a stiff arm and roll to a side to shuck the knee off, which is solid. You can also do it with an elbow if you can reach. What you don’t want to do is push the knee off with your hand, which generally opens up space for them to collect your arm and walk-around armbar your or generally cause problems.

Additionally, I need to work on the grips of a single leg more. Really get them wrapped up with the far-side hand, and use the near-side hand to secure the grip. You can also knee pick them with your off-hand to help them go over. As they turn into you, keep walking around to their back and driving into them.

We wrapped up with some side control escapes. I told him how I have such high success with re-rolling, but I’m basically a one-trick pony when it comes to side control escapes. I have a really tough time replacing guard, so we looked at other ways to proceed but still making space. The re-roll is great and people have to respect it, but when they do they will often leave room for my hips to make space away from them. The key difference we looked at today was framing them off of your hard, hipping big and then just getting back to your knees or even your feet. Not unlike replacing your guard, but a different use of the space you’ve made.

I really enjoyed this session and I was really pleased with his ability to address the specific concerns I came in with. We both treated it as a problem-solving session. I was going to work on some stand-up with him, specifically getting to a safe position when being struck, but I accepted a new job yesterday and I’ll no longer be able to swing Wednesday night bouncing. So I decided to keep it fun and work on playing the game a little better today, and I’m glad I did. I’ve got two more shifts left and I’ll stay on staff as a no-commitment weekend backup who will probably decline most shifts if they’re offered.

I’m also in a position where this instructor’s school is now the most convenient for me to train at. I’m also in a position where training at my brown-belt instructor’s school is viable, but will involve a 100 mile triangle every workday I go there to train. My old school is most likely out, as it will make for even more driving and even later nights than either of those other two schools. Plus my instructor says he’s freeing up time for home training soon, so that’s always an option as well.

Decisions, decisions.