Friday, December 31, 2010

Recommended reading: Martin Aedma's blog

Martin Aedma from Estonia just started blogging and I recommend anyone to bookmark his blog and check it out. He's got a solid understanding of the underlying concepts of grappling, and has helped me tremendously in my own game. He has a video on my blog about his guard passing, that I shot in the summer of 2009.

Check it out on!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 season recap

Looking back at 2010, I think it was a really good year for me. The biggest thing, of course, being that I have spend another year away from a 9-17 desk job and instead lived the life I want. That, I appreciate every day, and keeping this going is the most important thing to me.

From a sports perspective, I got my brown belt a year ago now from Robson Barbosa, who I find to be a very inspirational, charismatic and enthusiastic athlete. In many ways, it was a very big motivator for me. Like most other people training BJJ, I wanna tell myself, that I don't care too much about what color belt I have around my waist, but if we really didn't care, why don't we just train without belts. Getting the brown belt is an accomplishment, I have been proud of. It is a symbol of the unbelievable amount of hard work, that has been put into learning the art of BJJ, both from myself and my training partners. Also, it became a big motivational factor for me, because it reminded me, that I can one day reach black belt. And for that, I want to become as good as I possible can. I know there is always someone (or a lot!) out there, who are MUCH better than me any day, but what is important to me, is to do my best to preserve the integrity of the belt system. We've all seen the 6-year old Karate black belts and I know how easy black belt is to get in many arts. I think that BJJ is one of the few martial arts left, where the belt actually represents a level of real life practical skills, knowledge and experience, and I want to honor that. So getting my brown belt has definitely pushed me to become better at what I do, for myself, the art and for those, who chose me to pass it on to them.

The result of this mindset has been, that for the last year, I feel like my game has evolved a lot. I decided to do some competition again, which of is a good way to stay sharp and push my development and focus. Unfortunately, I managed to get two knee injuries in competitions this year. It was my first knee injuries of my career, so was pretty nervous for it. Luckily, I just needed to rest for some time and it healed up fine. No operation needed, but of course, I am much more nervous for it to happen again now :-/

The injuries kept me away from a handful of competitions, I had planned to enter, but I ended up doing five competitions this year, which I am very satisfied with. In total, I had 9 wins, 2 losses and 2 draw, which was actually a bit better than I had expected when I decided to start competing again. My first goal was to get one submission in no-gi and to score two points against a brown or black belt in gi. I exceeded that pretty well, so I think I'll have to put my expectations higher for next season ;)

Besides the injuries, competing again has been a good and valuable experience for me. I was pretty concerned wether I was capable of even winning a match at all, and wether I could transfer my game in the gym to a competition. Apparently, winning was definitely possible, and I was kind of surprised how well I handled adrenaline and how well my game transfered. I think this comes a lot from my basic lack of interest in winning, which takes away a lot of the pressure from me.

More importantly, I have gained a lot of first-hand experience from competition, that I can pass on to my students. Cutting weight, handling the nerves, warmup routines etc. is something I have not had a lot of experience with in my typical role as a sideline coach.

However, when all comes to all, the medals are counted, technical and tactical improvements are in the notebook and so on, what matters the most about the competition project is, that I have had some really great experiences, travelling around Europe with my friends, having a good time, laughing, going out, eating good food, strolling around foreign cities and backing each other up in both wins and loses. The memories and experiences you get from the social and adventurous aspect of competitions is worth 1000 times more, than winning any medal. I think some people tend to forget this and focus too much on the result itself.

Besides my own competition experiences this season, I have had some great experiences with my kids team, which is still one of my dearest projects. Their results speak for themselves, but what I really value, is having the opportunities to take these kids away from the computers for a few hours a week and teaching them the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. The training they do now will provide them with the physical foundation they will be needing for the rest of their lives. Ofcourse, they still like to eat candy and they are also starting to get a natural interest in the wonders of alcohol, but I see how they still have that awareness of staying healthy in the back of their minds. If I can help plant that seed in just one young person, let alone 25 or 30 of them, then I think I have really helped to make a difference in their lives in the long term. Anyone taking a look at these kids will see that they are in extremely good shape, already at the age of 14-15 years. Strength wise, they already match or outmatch most grown ups who comes in my intro class, and I think that is a very good thing for them.

Besides all the focus on competition, there has been a very healthy growth in my BJJ classes in general. Not everyone have interest in competing and that needs to be fully respected as well. There are many people, who just enjoys learning the art of BJJ and I think that is an equally good and healthy - and for some people, better - way to train. These people have been a great inspiration and help for myself and my training partners, with their nerdy enthusiasm about the technical aspects and details of the sport. Great sparring- and training partners, that I value much to have the opportunities to work with.

This year has also been a year of planning. In february, when I visited my girlfriend in Australia, where she was traveling around on her own for eight months, I got the idea of doing a round the world trip to train BJJ. The BJJ community is so strong around the world, so why not use this to visit as many of these great people as possible? I have travelled many times to train, but always just to one or two places at a time. I figured I could do one big trip and visit a lot of places instead, so it ended up with project "BJJ Globetrotter". I have prepared for this trip for over ten months now, doing physical preparations for three months and now there is only 52 days till I leave for the first stop, which will be Montpellier in Southern France. I am very excited about this project, and can't wait till I sit on the first flight.

Next thing you'll hear from me will probably be my instructional video on how to learn how to slowroll. I plan on shooting this in a week or so :)

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Swedish Open highlight video

Just another highlight video I put together from our trip to Swedish Open last weekend. Hope you enjoy it :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

600 flighthours sparring video

It's been over a year since I last posted a sparring video for my 1000 Flighthours project that I started about three and a half years back. I still keep track of all my sparring hours, hoping to one day reach number 1000 for the project. For now I have reached the first 400 and I think my game have moved a lightyear from when I started. At the moment I train five days a week and I can really feel how I am improving. I wanna be as well prepared as possible for my training trip around the world in only three months from now.

As always, I have a list of what I am currently working on in sparring:
  • Deep butterfly halfguard
  • Pressure passing the guard
  • Wrestling as guard sweeps (another Martin Aedma inspiration)
  • Loop choke from halfguard bottom (a la Oliver Geddes)
  • Understanding gi chokes from the back

The deep butterfly halfguard is a game I have been working on for ages trying to develop and fine tune. I have taught it in my gym and both me and my training partners have used it successfully in sparring and competition enough now, that I think I am ready to make an instructional on it. No idea when it will be ready as always though ;)

Another thing I am working on on the side is trying to stucture the art of teaching people how to slowroll properly. We have all seen these really good black belts slowroll so nice and smooth, but how do people actually learn to do it. I have had a lot of succes teaching it in my class and it is not something I have ever seen anyone teach before, so I think it could make a pretty good instructional video here on the blog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swedish Open champion!

...after only one match in my weight division ;)

As the title says, I took gold at this weekends Swedish Open tournament, which is the biggest in northern Europe with 600+ competitors. Of those 600, only two were in brown belt -82.3 kilos, so I only had one match. That suited me really well, because I was very nervous about my knee since it popped last time I competed, and it is still very sore when I train.

We went about 40 people from my gym to the competition and before I stepped on the mat myself, I was coaching our 22 kids, who did great and won a shitload of medals as usual. I was pretty tired at the end of the day when it was my turn. Knew nothing about my opponent, which I think is a good thing, because then all I know is that anything can happen and there is no pressure to perform in a certain way against him. He could be really good or really bad, I have no idea, so I just go there and try to execute my own game no matter what his plan is.

The match itself was pretty straight forward and it went better than what I would expect. I pulled guard right away even though I love to wrestle for the takedown, but I wanted to take care of my knee. Got the sweep, passed the guard a few times, mounted and finished with the crosschoke (Thanks again, Martin ;)).

I had a strange experience with this competition, as I found myself to be completely emotionless before, during and after the match. There was absolutely zero sense of nervousness or adrenaline when I was about to step on the mat, and during the match I felt nothing really. Only a lot of thoughts about tactics and focus on listening to my corner, who did a great job of keeping me informed with valuable information and suggestions. Even after I won, I didn't really care at all, no happiness or feeling of satisfaction. I've felt like this many times before but not as much as this time.

It just enforces my feeling that competition for me is nothing but a tool to gather experience. It does nothing to me towards satisfying my ego or similar. I wish it was different and I could be a fierce gladiator-style competitor like those many athletes I look up to in sports (including some of my own training partners), but I accept that I am not. I did, however, feel a great deal of happiness for my kids team, who was cheering for me during the match and obviously was happy that I won. If nothing else, I will compete to be a role model and inspiration for those I train with.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Big win for kids team

Been a busy time lately, as I am working hard daily on the official opening of our new project CSA CrossFit. I think it is going to be a great succes and it is exciting to try and create something completely new.

Also been to a few tournaments. Not competing myself, as my knee is still not feeling too good from popping at the last one. Right now I am just focusing on getting in as good shape as possible for my globetrotter trip in less than 6 months.

Yesterday, we went to the final tournament of "Skåneserien" this year, which is a sort of grappling league for kids here. With only one point to the second place, we took the trophy for the best team of the season. A very big result for the guys, and something that I am pretty proud of to be honest :)

Enjoy yet another video I made of these cool boys:

Friday, September 3, 2010

More videos of my matches this weekend

From another camera / angle :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Went 3-1-1 in competition today.

Went to another Grappling League competition today and had five matches. Same rules as last time - either you win/lose by submission or it's a draw.

Preparations for this competition was not impressive. I have gotten a lot of good sparring lately, but 90% of it has been with the gi. I was however tempted by the chance to get five matches on one day and gain some experience.

I needed to cut a little weight for this tournament. The weightclasses was -88 and -77 kg and since I was walking around at 80-81, I decided to cut down to -77 for the "experts" division. It went really well during the week, until I made homemade sushi friday and had way too much. Ended up at 79.2 friday evening, so it was pretty tough getting through saturday with minimum food and liquid intake. The night between saturday and sunday, I was sleeping with some extra clothes on to sweat out the last bit. I weighed in at 76.7 kg, pretty tired and dehydrated, but I felt ok a few hours later when I was about to step on the mat. Next time, I definitely need to cut the weight over a little longer period than only 6 days and also not eat sushi two days before :D

Alright, let's get to the matches. I had five, so I will only do a brief description for each of them, as I am pretty tired right now :)


First match was - as I expected - the toughest one of the day. My opponent, Kevin, is very skilled and strong, and I knew he would not be easy to handle. It was one of those matches, where none of us would really like to engage too much and even though I of course hoped for a submission, my best guess was that this one would go to a draw, which it did. I had a few attempts at my armdrag single leg, but SOMEONE must have read my blog, because he stepped out of it perfectly every time. He swept me once from standing closed guard, which I don't worry too much about since I almost always scramble up from there, but as I posted my left arm behind me, my elbow injury from february popped up again. Hurt through the rest of the matches, but didn't want it to stop me at that point. Last seconds, I attemt pulling guard again and gets the deep butterfly half to one-legged x-guard, but didn't manage to do anything from there.

Second match was against my old friend from the local grappling community, Torben. I had no idea what to expect, so I just went with the flow. We started out by doing some Chi Sao (not caught on tape unfortunately), then I pulled guard and got the deep butterfly half. For some reason, I decided AGAIN to go to my heelhook setup? I can still use this position to sweep, but I really need to condition myself just to sweep directly from deep butterfly half instead of setting up a heelhook I cannot do anyways. I was trying for a straight footlock but with no luck. Scramble back up, Torben jumps guard, I keep posture to prevent from sweeping (thanks, Martin Aedma), which leads right into a guardpass. From here I went with the good ol' sidecontrol series, setting up the armbar to taking the back. I got the choke in by trapping one arm with my leg and the other by wristcontrol.

Third match was against a team mate and long time training parther, so I just goof around a bit here :) Win by armbar from sidecontrol series again.

Fourth match was my loss of the day. I think it went pretty well and I felt confident and in control even though he had a very active DLR and 50/50 guard. I did before the match decide not to fall into the footlock-for-footlock game because he looked like he was good at it, so it is a very interesting question to me, why I did it anyways :D At one point I go for a straight ankle lock that feels really tight. His foot started making weird sounds so I thought he would tap for sure but he didn't. In the moment, he caught my foot for a toehold and I started rolling to get out. He had a very tight grip, but I didn't really feel like he would get the submission. Could be adrenaline or the heat of the moment, I don't know. Anyways, while rolling a bit, suddently I hear my bad knee make a really a REALLY nasty pop sound, and I tap right away. I think it might still be a little weak from when I injured it in competition earlier in the year. Anyways, I made a mistake and he did a very good job at setting up that sub, all props to him. Didn't bother me to lose, but I really don't hope it is going to be as bad as last time with my knee, where I couldn't roll for months :,(

I put some ice on my knee and made a stupid decision to take the last match. I know, I know :D Just wanted to go nice and easy. I pulled guard, got the deep butterfly half and went for the heelhook position again instead of just sweeping. Don't know why I do it really, maybe it is just a reflex. Can't get the straight ankle lock there anyways. Scrambled back up, got the takedown and passed the guard a few times (he did some weeeeird rubberguard thing move when I was in sidecontrol :D). Ended up getting the armbar straight from the guardpass.


What did I learn from this experience:
  • Do NOT make 150 pieces of sushi two days before weighin in - I obviously cannot control myself in a situation like that.
  • Do NOT f*cking go for anything else than the sweeps in the deep butterfly half, unless heelhooks are allowed. Really gotta work on this in sparring. Due to my knee injury, I haven't been able to work any deep butterfly half for the last five months, but I should still be clever enough to do it right in competition. Back to the lab!
  • Do NOT engage in footlock-for-footlock battles when I have decided beforehand not to do it.
  • I owned the coolest pair of grappling shorts of all the contestants today.

Next day update: I ended up placing first in my division, but my knee is really fucked.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gi chokes reference video

This summer, I have gotten a renewed interested in gi chokes. For many years, I have basically ignored them because I wanted my game to work just as well in no-gi, but at the moment, I am in a period, where I am finding the details of gi training very fascinating.

Gi chokes is one area, where you will find literally thousands of techniques and variations for finishing the opponent. I have boiled my own game down to what I can make work really well in sparring under full resistance. I hope to try it out more in competition in the future, but for now I have only tested them in that arena through my kids team, who have been doing extremely well with gi chokes last season. I recommend scrolling through my archives and checking out some of the videos with them.

Anyways, I shot a quick little video with a reference of which gi chokes I use in my game at the moment. Maybe you can catch a detail or two you can use yourself. In that case, I am always glad to hear about it :)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Around the world BJJ training trip

I got this idea to travel all the way around the globe to teach, train and compete in BJJ. I was trying to find just one good reason not to do it, but I failed epicly, so departure February 2011 it is!

Check out my blog for the project at:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Congratulations, Martin!

Now black belt both in BJJ and in weird food combinations.

If you haven't yet - be sure to check out Martin's Guardpass From Hell video here on the blog!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Training camp in Estonia

I know that some people who read the title of this post will already start laughing at me there, so I'll be quick to admit, that I didn't get much training done at this years training camp in Estonia ;)

Like last year, we went to Estonia to attend the training camp set up by the guys over there. The training there is really good and there are some very, very good instructors to train with. Also, Estonia also surprised us by being a really cool place to spend some time, so we were very excited to go there again. Last year, we went four people and this year fifteen uf os went, so we must have spoken well about it back home ;)

Long story short, my knee and elbow injuries got pretty bad after the first few days of training (and walking back and forth to the beach!) and that combined with amazing weather and a perfect beach just ended up taking my focus away from training. It didn't bother me too much, since this training trip also was a vacation AWAY from training for me (training = job + life at home) and what really mattered to me was to have a great time there and to see my estonian friends again.

Anyways, I did get a few really good little details out of the training. Martin Aedma, who at last camp got me thinking about pressure passing and mount chokes for a full year, had some good stuff about using wrestling to sweep from guard. That was easily enough material for me to go home and work on for the next year :)

But anyways, thanks to the guys in Estonia for putting on a great camp, we had an awesome time there!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My match at Gracie Invitational

This weekend I was competing at the Gracie Invitational tournament in London, England. I had actually decided not to participate due to the knee injury I got at the last competition, but I ended up stepping on the mat anyways, and I am really glad I did it.

Preparations for this event was non-existing. My last training was about three months ago due to vacation, popped elbow and latest, a knee injury. The knee has been hurting really bad, and I had only managed a few rounds of sparring with my kids team. If anyone over 50 kilos put their weight on my leg, the pain in the knee was unbearable. I did expect to not compete in London, but since I had bought the plane ticket and we were going nine guys together, I really wanted to do it. So by the deadline for signing up, I paid up the 35 pounds, so I had the chance to step on the mat, just in case I felt like competing on the day. At that point, I honestly thought that I had just thrown that money out of the window and that it would be impossible for me to go through a match with the pain in my knee.

My weight with the gi was around 82-83 kilos at the time of signing up. I thought to myself, that if I was going to spontaneously decide compete on the day, I did not want to worry about cutting weight with no preparation. So I signed up in the -88.3 kilo class. Also, there was only one other competitor there, so having a single shot at the medal was an appealing thought to me, since I didn't expect to have cardio or energy for more than one match anyways :)

On the day of the event, I really felt like stepping on the mat. At least just to say I did it and then tap out if I felt anything in my knee. I spend an hour or so massaging my knee with tigerbalm and then wrapped it up tightly. A few painkillers and a visit from an old friend, adrenaline, took care of the rest, and I decided to go ahead and take the match. In the meantime, about five other black- and brownbelts had signed up in the weightclass, so a single match for the gold was out of the question. Also, I weighed in at a whopping 82.0 kilos, so I was actually under the lower limit of the weight class, oops :D I decided to go ahead anyways, since I was psyched to watch the other guys go at it in the higher belt divisions and I wanted to try it as well.

My opponent was Nicolas Gregoriades, a fellow blogger from Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood, so we were looking at a legendary Battle of the Blogmasters. He is a solid black belt and experienced competitor, also looking quite a bit larger than me, but I was determined to do my best and see how it would go. I had no gameplan going into this match, since I thought trying the deep butterfly halfguard would be impossible with my injured knee. So I would just go with the flow and treat it as a regular roll, focusing on breathing since my cardio is worse than ever these days.

We start the match and pretty quickly I go for my crossgrab single leg setup. I can feel he's got solid base, so I try to switch for a double, but he rolls me over and almost ends up in mount. From here I go deep butterfly/x-guard/footlock-guard crazy for a few minutes before he finally manages to pass my guard and get to mount where he finishes with an ezekiel choke. I had a calfcruncher and a few good sweep attempts from my guard, but it was obvious, that he was just bigger, better and more experienced, and he did a very good job of just basing out of everything I tried. I noticed how he grabbed my sleeve every time I got the x-guard sweep, which prevented me from getting up. Very nice detail, I will implement in my own game right away.

I was surprised to find, that I felt absolutely no pain in my knee at all during the match. I felt nothing when I did the deep butterfly guard and I even had a calfcruncher on him with my bad leg (!!) that didn't hurt me. Thank you, adrenaline ;)

You can watch the match here:

After the match, something magical happend. For the first time in many, many years, I felt like it was really cool to have been competing. My immediate thought was "wow, that was awesome, I wanna do it again", something I have not felt since I was a competing as a blue belt, and something I thought I just did not have in me anymore. So I think I am going to ride that feeling and compete as much as possible, before it goes away again :) For now though, I will take some time off to focus on healing my injuries, so I can get back in training. I am getting really tired of doing nothing.

Also, it was cool to feel that I could hang with the brown/black belt division. Obviously, I got outclasses in this match, but I got the confidence, that in my right weight class (-82.3 or maybe cutting down to -76), injury free, with preparations and some more experience, I can one day do pretty good there. So I am definitely going to give it a shot and compete throughout my brown belt.

Here is a highlight video from the trip, that I have put together:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Going to London

I will be traveling to London today along with 8 guys for my gym for the Gracie Invitational tournament. If you are there and wanna hook up for some training or whatever, let me know :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Swissball drills for BJJ

It seems like all the big names in Jiu Jitsu have some swissball videos online these days, so I thought I would make one as well, to showcase my own skills with it. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

You're the best around!

I love these kids.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Teenage Dirtbags

I think that my kids team is moving forward at a very serious pace at the moment. Latest, they demolished almost all opponents at a tournament in Sweden and impressed me very much.

I have spend the last 5-6 years experimenting with how to design my kids classes in the best possible way, and I think I have finally settled on my solution now. I have been running my current method of teaching with them for about a year now, and the results have been phenomenal. They are taking home tons of medals, and I really see them improve and mature technically and socially as a team.

At one point, I will do a post here about how I structure the class, teaching, training and competition for them, but I will give it some more time and also not give away too many secrets to the opponents before the big tournaments coming up (Europeans, Scandinavian Open, etc) ;)

Here is a video from the latest tournament:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Competed again: Two submissions & one popped knee.

Another competition was coming up and I thought it looked interesting, so I decided to sign up even though I still had not been able to train due to my elbow injury. It has been two months now, where I only managed to compete in Germany and have maybe 4-5 rounds of sparring the following week (which made my injury much worse). I thought my arm was feeling pretty good (maybe around 75%), and since this event would guarantee me at least 3-5 matches, I thought the experience would be worth more than the slight risk of injuring my arm again. In this tournament, there is no points, only submission or draw.

Since I had no preparation for this event whatsoever, once again, I had to be very aware of my cardio. I didn't make a specific gameplan this time, other than really focusing on relaxing and treating the matches as any other saturday roll in the gym. Also, I wanted to get a chance to try out my deep butterfly halfguard game a little more, since I am working intensively on polishing this. I am planning on making an instructional video on this when I am "done", since I really feel that is has revolutionized my offensive guardgame.

Anyways, I ended up having three matches, since we were only four people showing up that day. I was competing in the -77 kg advanced, and I felt really comfortable in that weight, even though I have not been doing any physical training for two months. I think it will be my preferred competition weight in the future.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with my performance. I won two by submission and had one draw. I had the chance to try out my deep butterfly half game a few times and it worked flawlessly, both for setting up submissions and sweeps. Ofcourse, there is the factor that not many people recognize this position and then don't know what to do from there, but also it is a solid way to actively break guard posture before going for submission or sweep. My cardio was pushed, but I managed to stay relaxed so that was pretty good.

While I think my performance was good, unfortunately I popped my knee in the first match, when doing the calf cruncher submission. It made a nasty sound, but didn't feel too bad, so I decided to do the last two matches anyway. Probably shouldn't have done that ;) The knee hurts pretty bad now, but it is not really swollen so I don't think it is too bad, so I'll give it a week or so and see how it feels. My only concern is getting ready for the Gracie Invitational in London in a month and a half.

Here are the matches with brief descriptions:

Match 1:

This guy felt like he had a very slick technical game, so I wanted to focus on just keeping my base and don't get caught up in any fancy stuff that I didn't know about. I started out by pulling butterfly guard to go for butterfly half, but his feet were right there for the sweep so I went for that instead. When I got on top, I instinctually went for the heelhook position. I also use this a lot to sweep from or to get the toehold/ancle lock, but I forgot to grab the foot the right way before I went for the position, so that failed and I had to bail on the position. Probably would have helped with some sparring, where I had practiced going for the other submissions in the heelhook position.

At one point I tried my high crotch takedown, but seems like I missed the grip on his hip with my right hand to finish, and he managed to get the underhook and reverse. Nice and basic move, I should be more aware of this in the future if I get stuck low with the single.

When he reversed, I found myself where I really wanted to be, and could get the deep butterfly half right away. Instead of the sweep this time, I went for the calf cruncher and he submitted. Both our knees popped at this point, but I think his was worse than mine. I hope he is alright and will be back on the mats again soon. For myself, I need to remember to triangle my legs while doing this submission, so I isolate my knee joint a little more. My left knee is not supposed to make a nasty sound like that again ;)

Match 2:

I know this opponent very well, since we trained together many years ago, and he is now a very experienced competitor and pro MMA fighter. Very strong and explosive for his weight, so I was puzzled on how to handle him in the match. I decided to just go with the flow and see if I could catch him in my guard even though I many times have seem him staying far away from engaging in the guard top.

I managed to take him down once with an armdrag single, but he scrambled up very nicely. A few times I pulled guard, but didn't managed to get him to engage. Finally, he took me down and I managed to escape with a not so pretty, but functioning stiff-arm escape (thanks, 100 sidecontrol escapes project ;)). So pretty even match, and I was pleased with holding my own against this very game opponent.

Match 3:

Knew nothing about this guy, but he seemed strong and tall. Kept his elbows very tight, so I ditched the idea of clinching and pulled guard instead when he went for a standing guilloutine. Went straight for my deep butterfly half and got the sweep pretty easily. I went straight for the footlock position, but once again, I didn't do it quite right, so my only option was heelhook (illegal) or bail. I swept again, this time with an armdrag, and when I passed and got on top, I was back in my good old sidecontrol series that I used a lot in another competition, and I went for the kimura but he seemed like having too strong a grip to pull it out, so switched to the armlock and got the tap.


I also made a little highlight video for the team:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to competition again (again)

So, I decided to compete a little again. I have been waiting a long time for my prolapsed disc injury to get better so I could do some cardio again, but I realize that I have been waiting for many years now, and it's maybe never going to get really good again. An exciting opportunity for a little competition showed up and I decided to go. It was the German Open Hayastan Grappling Challenge in Hamburg, Germany, about four hours from Copenhagen.

The event appealed to me for several reasons. First of all, we would go a small team of experienced grapplers, so I didn't have to coach too much. Normally, I coach all the time and it takes a lot of energy during a whole day. Second, ALL submissions were allowed, no restrictions. Finally, it was a 16-man tournament for each weight class in a cage with finals at night during an MMA event. I really liked the concept and wanted to support it, so I signed up.

Preparations was terrible to say the least. First, I was three weeks in Fiji, only doing a little physical training, no BJJ. When I got back home, I had ten days to prepare for the tournament. First day back at the first round of sparring, I got thrown by one of our judo guys and posted my left arm straight on the mat, so it bend the wrong way and got completely fucked. Training was impossible, so when the day of the tournament arrived, I had not trained for more than five weeks. Luckily, adrenaline and painkillers took care of the arm :)

I had lost some weight during vacation and was around 81 kg, so decided to cut down to -77 for the tournament. With some highly valuable help from my teammates and the gyms physical coach, it was no problem and I ended up weighing in at 76.2 kilos on the day.

I have been working intensively on a very aggressive butterfly halfguard game for sweeps and submissions over the last few months, so I really wanted to test that. With all submissions allowed and me having absolutely no cardio, I decided to write down this gameplan flowchart for my matches:

This should hopefully keep my mind focused on just getting that heelhook :)



First match started out very weird, as my opponent immediately pulled x-guard. Very similar to what I had planned to do, so it was kind of funny. Luckily he was playing my own a-game, so I knew it very well and spun out pretty easily. There was no points in the first round and I wanted that heel badly, so I kind of dropped fighting for sidecontrol and let him get his guard back in order to try and catch a foot. He made one big mistake by going to the shin across guard, which is what one of my toughest trainingpartners is using all the time, so I am pretty good at catching the heelhook from there. He was not very keen on tapping, so unfortunately his knee made a very nasty sound when I pulled the heel. I hope he recovers quickly, he was a very skilled grappler and I could easily see him beat me another day.


This guy was very strong, I could feel it when I shook his hand before the match. I was a little worried that he might be a good wrestler, but when I got my guard, I could feel that he didn't have much base. I went for the heelhook from my butterfly half setup, but before I had a chance to finish it, the referee stopped the match. I think she was maybe a little nervous because of the knee popping in my first match. I would probably have gotten it sooner or later but I think it was a shame for my opponent that he didn't get a chance to fight more.


I was watching this guys previous matches and he looked very good there. Good base and solid positions. At the beginning of the match, I thought I would try a takedown and see if I could catch the foot in the scramble. Unfortunately, my armdrag single attempt failed pretty bad, but I didn't worry too much about it since I wanted to be in guard bottom anyways. I closed the distance and got the heelhook right away from my planned setup. He rolled out very good and would maybe have gotten out if it wasn't for the referee stopping the match again. They did proclaim that they would stop at heelhooks for safety reasons, which I think was a good and a bad thing. With this opponent, I would have loved to get some more roll going since he seemed pretty game, but I was content with the quick win anyways of course, saving the energy for the finale later that evening. I got to chat with the guy afterwards and he was very cool, asked me to show him my setup. That passion for learning is something I have always had myself, so I spilled him all my secrets with joy ;)


This was a little strange to mentally prepare for, because it was against my own teammate through many years, Kári. We know each others game in and out, so it would be impossible to surprise with anything. Also, he is the one I have worked mostly with on the butterfly halfguard project, so I decided just to roll and see what would happen, trying to steer around his very dangerous guilloutines and D'Arce chokes. We talked to the ref and kindly asked her not to interfere with the submissions since we knew what we were doing and it would be a shame to get a premature stoppage in the final. We both had some very good attempts at heelhooks from butterfly halfguard, but I ended up getting the tap at around two minutes in the first round, winning the tournament.

For the rest of the team, it also went very well. We had three first places and two second places. Also, we won the best team trophy, best technique trophy (team mate Milan's crazy footsweep to armbar in the finale) and best fighter trophy. We qualified five guys for the European Open in October and I think we are definitely going to see if we can get some more wins there. Perhaps I should try another submission there ;)

Competing again was fun and I learned a lot about cutting weight. Also, mental preparation before the matches was very good, I was not nervous at all and I think I performed very well under pressure. Many thoughts go through my head when I deal with competing though, but I think I have to write that in a separate post another day, since there is a lot to it.

It was a really cool little roadtrip and I had a lot of fun with all the guys. Will definitely go to some more tournaments around Europe this year, trying to get some guys to come with me. Here is a video I did on the trip:

Hayastan Challenge 2010 from Christian Graugart on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Castaway gym

Just got home from three weeks in Fiji. It was really nice there, but I got a little desperate to get a workout, so I ended up making a pretty cool little gym from stuff that washed up on the beach. Did some really good workouts in the heat during the trip!

Training area with pullup tree

My first collection of equipment

This was great for sidepresses

Pushup rack

My first attempt on a barbell

Grip training

Later in the week, another cement block washed up and fitted perfect. Curl time!!



Postworkout drink (banana milkshake)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Australia next three weeks :)

I have just arrived in Sydney, Australia and will travel around here and in Fiji for the next three weeks. Brought my cup and mouthpiece so hopefully I can drop by a gym somewhere for some grappling along the way. No real plans just yet for where to go when, but will be in Sydney and Brisbane for sure, so if any of you out there are training these places, let me know and I'll come by for some rolling! Didn't bring a gi though.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crossface alternative when opponent gets on his side

Here is something I use all the time, when I am either passing the guard or in sidecontrol, and my opponent manages to get on to his side to escape. It is a little thing, but as always, little things often makes big differences in scrambles :)

In my head I always think of it as a three-step move to get him from his side to flat on his back. Roll him over -> build structure with leg -> underhook and get crossface.

Hope you can use it :)