Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Sandbag Training

I've taken a few pictures of my training. Logistically it's not the easiest to take photos in my garage so I didn't take many.

The first picture is of a side-loaded squat. Compared to a bilaterally loaded squat I found it challenged the musculature of my torso as opposed to my legs.

The second picture is mid-point of a Turkish get-up. It is originally an exercise developed by Turkish wrestlers and involves getting to your feet from a supine position with a weight. Previously I have done this exercise holding a dumbbell overhead.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Women's Open Mat at Dartford MMA

I will be attending the Women's Open Mat at Dartford MMA on 12th July 2009. I'm looking forward to meeting and rolling with other BJJ women. It should be a great opportunity to train with so many other female BJJ players. Please contact Meg for more information


Following my previous post, I thought it would be useful to clarify what I intend to do for the 'regeneration' component of my planned training week, partly because it is an important part of a complete training programme and partly because it is an area of training that seems to be ignored by a number of BJJ fighters. By the term 'regeneration' I am referring to activities that improve the body's recovery from the rigours of exercise, assisting to restore the body to its pre-exercise state and improve soft tissue (particularly muscles, tendon and fascia) quality. In spending time on improving my body's ability to recover I can train harder, with greater frequency and a reduced risk of injury.

It's important for me to schedule regeneration into my weekly plan otherwise it's just so easy to overlook it: In dedicating a time slot for it, I make it an integral part of my training program. I tend to plan this area of my training somewhat instinctively, varying the type, frequency and quantity of work depending on how I feel. Below are some of the modalities I have found useful; it is by no means an exhaustive list and I am certainly not using all of these methods all the time.

  • Ice – Reduces inflammation and swelling of muscles and connective tissue; it has an analgesic (pain-killing) effect.
  • Heat – Relaxes muscles and is therefore useful if something feels tight or spasmed. Heat treatment should not to be used during the acute (early stages) of an injury as this may exacerbate the injury and prolong the recovery period.
  • Contrast – Can improve circulation to the muscles by pumping blood in and out of the muscle. If I want a full-body effect I will either use a contrast shower (alternating hot and cold water in the shower, always finishing with cold) or alternate use of a sauna with a cold shower. When I'm using it locally, I alternate heat and ice packs. As per heat treatment, should not be used locally on an injury in its acute stage.
  • Sauna/Steam Room – Relaxes muscles in a similar way to heat treatment. Can't say I use it too frequently as I tend not to like the experience much and I can't sit still in the heat for more than a few minutes.
  • Epsom Salt Bath – About 300g dissolved in a bath can help to relax muscles and reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.
  • Static Stretching – Restores length to tightened muscles and realigns it's fibres, improving flexibility and tissue quality.
  • Dynamic Stretching – Improves the active range of movement around a joint, improving mobility and joint function.
  • Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling and similar) – SMR reduces tension in hypertonic muscles, increases the pliability of muscle and fascia, breaks down scar tissue and fibrotic tissue in the muscle and deactivates active trigger points, resulting in improved mobility, tissue quality and muscle function.
  • Sport and Remedial Massage – As this is what I do for a living, I am very keen on implementing it into my training programme. I usually have 1-3 treatments a month, depending on how I'm feeling. I will write a seperate post about this at a later date.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Scandinavian Open 2009

The next major competition I intend to do will be the Scandinavian Open on the 17th and 18th October 2009. Prior to the British Open 2009 I didn't do any General Physical Preparation (strength and fitness training) work: I had spent most of the early part of 2009 nursing various injuries and so decided to focus exclusively on technical preparation in the run-up to the competition, partly to avoid being too rusty when I stepped on the mat and partly because I only expected to have one or two fights, given that there are so few female purple belts in the UK. I ended up having three fights on the day and I really felt that I wasn't fit enough to perform at my best. Leading up to the Scandinavians my plan will be:

Monday: Judo
Tuesday: GPP and BJJ
Wednesday: Regeneration/Prehab or Off
Thursday: Judo and BJJ
Friday: GPP and BJJ
Saturday: BJJ
Sunday: Regeneration/Prehab or Off

The GPP will be divided into three four-week mesocycles (medium-term periods of training) with one week deload (period of rest or relative inactivity) after each:

Mesocycle One: Accumulation Phase
Mesocycle Two: Intensification Phase
Mesocycle Three: Maintenance Phase

The Accumulation Phase will be targeted towards increasing my work capacity and strength-endurance. The Intensification Phase will involve increasing my limit strength and speed-strength, using a low volume of high-intensity weights and jump training. During the first two mesocycles I will aim to maintain my existing level of cardiovascular fitness; I would expect that rolling and randori will be sufficient to achieve this. The Maintenance Phase of my preparation will focus on energy systems (cardio) work, while the volume of strength training will be cut back to maintenance levels.

All that said, my primary emphasis over the next 15 weeks will be on Technical and Tactical Preparation (BJJ and Judo classes) and if I have the opportunity to do more technique training such as a private class or if I can arrange to drill/roll with someone outside of class, that will take precedence and I will drop a GPP session if it falls on the same day. When all's said and done, techical ability is the foundation of progress in BJJ; GPP is merely the icing on the cake.


My blue belt was defined by the word 'insist'. One of the most important things I learnt as a blue belt was that I had to always insist on positions, believe in them and execute them with a 'full heart'. If I'm going for a pass, keep pressuring until I've established it; if I'm going for a choke keep holding until my opponent taps. Never stop until the position has been conquered.

I was reminded of this recently while training Judo. We were told that during randori we need to go to throws with the intention of completing them. The way we spar in randori should be the way we will fight in competition: The body 'remembers' the throws and will perform them the same way in competition as in training. Once again, I was convinced of the importance of insisting: My stand up is nowhere near as good as my ground game and I find I hestitate when I'm going for a takedown, stopping halfway through the entry to a throw as if I don't believe in it and then turning out again. This has translated itself to be a problem for me at the last few competitions I've taken part in.

I am convinced that I should be able to integrate my judo training into my BJJ game, having seen other Jiu-Jitsu fighters implement Judo throws to great effect. While I'm still relatively inexperienced, I believe that a large part of the problem I have had using my Judo in BJJ competitions is psychological. My resolution for Judo, as it was for BJJ, is to insist; to believe in myself and never stop until I've put my opponent down.