Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fitness update. Not there yet

so I started gong to the gym. First it was twice a week, doing 15 minutes on the eliptical and a full-body circuit on the weights. After a few weeks I switched to a 2-day split, pulling exercises and pushing exercises. Then I added a day for legs. I was feeling stronger, my body mass was shifting from fat to muscle, and I was adding weight and resistance to my exercises.

Then one day I found myself having to run three blocks to catch a bus. In combat boots. Pulling a small suitcase.

When I got to the bus there was a great cheer from all the passengers (no there wasn't, but I like to think there was). But I was out of breath, like I had been fighting in armor for a minute or so. In the course of the run my legs got tired lifting up those heavy boots. I realized what it was: I am still out of shape.

I went into the gym his week and decided to do functional movements; the warm-up exercises that we would do in Brazilian jiu jitsu class, for instance. They kicked my ass. These were things that wee never "easy," but in time, I was able to do. Now it's a drag to do more than one or two reps.

All those months of "healing" did my conditioning no favors. We got a lot of work to do.

The good news is that I discovered that yes, I can run again. The knee is no longer the problem. Now I an run every day if I want to. And I think I shall.

Look out world!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Worst shape of my life...

It's official. I am in the worst shape of my life.

For those of you who have been following this blog (wait, that's not you? You're not the guy? Oh well, I know he's out there somewhere...) you may be wonding where I have been. for those who have not see tnis blog of mine before (I expect that woud probably include you. Yeah, and you too.) you are probably wondering what this blog is and why I decided to post here now.

This blog was started when I began producing my first feature the film I now call "Redemption: find Out What You're Worth." It was a Rocky/Karate Kid - type sports-redemption story set in a world of submission grappling. After the film was completed I kept this blog alive chronicling my adventures in the grappling world, mostly training and competing (my competition record: 3 wins, 46 losses, 2 draws).

Since then, my martial arts and filmaking endeavors have migrated to full-contact medieval armored combat in armor with blunt steel weapons. I have been chronicling that in my regular "Captain Zorikh" blog at But now I fel an urge to return to this blog.

The term "redemption," to my mind, means finding the value of yourself. If you find the value is too low, you have the opportunity to do something about it. Through work, effort, and dedication you can increase your worth, thus truly earning a worthwhile redemption.

In late september of 2013 I tore my right ACL at a tournament in Ontario fighting a Ukrainian-Canadian. You can see the action here:

Still I fought in the International Medieval Combat Federation world championships in Belmonte, Spain in the spring of 2014, leading tha All-on-All team in the "Kill the King" scenario. In late October of that year I had the surgery to repair the ACL. since then I have been recovering and therapizing my knee. But I have not been working out, fighting, or training. In short, I have been sitting and eating a lot (and writing and editing videos, but that's for my other blog).

Then I went to the Pennsic War this year (the largest medieval event in the Western Hemisphere). I used to fighti in battles like this...

By recommendation of the doctor and the therapist, I did not fight in the battles this year, but instead marshaled (that's those guys in the black tabbards with the crossed yellow swords. They are there to keep everyone safe and make sure folks are following the rules).

I wasn't ready. I couldn't handle the heat, and after marshaling a battle in the morning, I was exhausted and sleepy the rest of the day. This is not too surprising. I have not seen the underside of 200 lbs since the surgery, my waist is now over 35 inches, and I have not been outside an air-conditioned room for an extended period of time since last summer.

I knew I wasn;t at my best, but I took pictures of myself to post as "before" pictures. They are so disgusting that I am not even ging to post them until I have decent "during" and "after" pictures.

What really disgusts me is that I was doing "Insanity" workouts before the surgery, in addition to all the fighting and training that I had been doing, so I must have been in pretty good shape back then.

So I got myself a gym membership and I am going to sue it. Hopefully I will make enough money soon to re-join a martial arts school, get back on the grappling mats. And I know I will be putting armor on again in about a month.

So hold on tight, it's going to be a wild ride until I look like this 2011 picture again:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Hate/Love This Sport

I just got back from by first ECU BJJ class in a while (my new work schedule had kept me away) and I have to say one thing:

I hate this sport.

I hate the agony of the physical exertion needed to go through the warm-ups. I hate the feeling of  sheer terror and uncertainty I feel when sailing through the air and not knowing how, where, or when I will land when being the victim of a properly executed throw. I hate the feeling of suffocation when underneath a smothering side mount. I hate the feeling of panic I get when I realize I can't breathe and have to tap or pass out.

But you know, after tapping out, I bounce up and I am ready to do it again. Maybe I enjoy the feeling of relief and rebirth that I get when the other guy gets off of me. Maybe I dig the look that the hard work and exercise gives to my body. Maybe I enjoy the near-post-orgiastic afterglow of a good long hard training session. Maybe I enjoy the testosterone rush that I get from the exertion. Maybe I like the challenge of seeing just how far I can push myself, how much I can learn, how well I can apply what I have learned in a fight. Maybe I enjoy the comraderie and support I get from my teammates. Maybe I just like feeling like a badass fighter when I walk down the street with my hood up, my gear bag in one hand and my Muscle Milk shaker cup in the other.

I love this sport.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Latest training blog

Report for last three weeks' training.

Forgive me, I have boon so busy with work and other things that I have neglected the blog. But I have been continuing my weekly trainings at East Coast United BJJ. I have also been working out in the gym with G.A. West, wearing a 10 lb armored coat of plates.

For the last three weeks I have been discovering in the free rolling that I do have some knowledge of certain basic principles, and have been using them. the idea of keeping your legs in front of you to prevent side mount; the idea that being in someone's guard is better then being under their mount or having your back taken; the concept of knowing when to relax, because you are just wasting energy; I have been finding submission attempts and escapes where before I would not know what to do and tap out or stall.

I have been paired with people who invariably have at least one of the following: more strength, more endurance, more energy, more training, more skill (all things considered, that is not very difficult to find in a BJJ school). I have ben able to avoid submissions and even score a couple submissions, a lot more than I used to. I guess this is what they mean by "progress."

I have been told that I am now pretty strong and have good energy, entrance, and skill. It's just a matter of putting it all together. As one guy said, "Stop being a spaz."

I am looking at competing in The Good Fight next month We will see how much I have progressed and can avid "spa zing out" there!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Training week, RGL coming...

I did not get to the gym this week (phone problems, don't ask, but I did train at home a little bit, doing bodyweight exorcizes and jumping jacks, and I got to ECU BJJ on Thursday.

This week our warm-ups were different. Instead of the usual rolls, sprawls, and other movements across the floor, we did hopscotch and what I call "bridge-and-tunnel." The we studied the arm-bar, a way to block it, and a way to counter the block, then we drilled, drilled, drilled. When we were done drilling, we had three rounds of sparring.

My first round was with another white belt, stronger and heavier than me, but will less experience. Though I was not able to submit him, I was able to try an execute several technical moves, including some interesting angles on which to apply a triangle.

In the next round I went up against a much more skilled and experienced fighter. He was able to deny every attempt at passing the guard and submit me a couple of times. At one point I stopped to examine method of passing guard by getting both arms under the opponent's legs. I had been getting caught in guillotines when I had tried that recently, and I learned a few new principles. It seems that it is trouble to leave your head in the guy's stomach when getting a group there. You have to either be buried between his legs, or sit up fast ti pull his legs up and get his hips close to yours.

The last round was with the strong, aggressive white belt I had trained with my first week back. After he got me in a quick guillotine, when we re-set, I was able to deny his speed and aggression by going to my back and getting him in guard. He was strong enough to keep me from executing any submissions at that point, but he never got past my guard in over 5 minutes.

After class, I asked the experienced grappler about the execution of a certain type of sweep from guard. It involves bringing your chest up, and I kept on getting stiff-armed in the chest. we figured out that what I need to do is get the stiff-arm hand blocked away from my chest for the duration of the move. There is a way to do that which involves using my arm to guide the opponent's arm out of the way as I sit up. We'll see how that works.

One of the instructor's said I was getting better, showing good technical work in the rolling today. That makes me feel good. I still feel I am lacking a lot of skill and some aggression, and I certainly have forgotten a lot over the couple of months I missed training this summer. I just hope I can pick it back up soon.

This weekend I have been invited to compete in the Renegade Grappling League tournament at an event in the Bronx. This is the same organization that gave me those epic, three-round matches that you can see on YouTube. We will see how I do this time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

SO I took a week off from working out, swordfighting, and bjj last week as a result of Thanksgiving schedules, though I did run twice, confirming that I have about 75% of the stamina I had about a year ago, when I started with ECUBJJ. This week, I worked out with G.A. West twice, with a new emphasis on cardio and less on weights. In addition to trying to up my endurance, I am also trying to drop about 5 pound to make 185 lbs since Peter Storm invited me to compete in the 185 lbs division of his Renegade Grappling League tournament on December 11 (will post details as soon as available). So in between sets of bodyweight exercises, I did jumping jacks. Jots of jumping jacks. A total of 1000 for the work out. My right calf, already sore from running, is still feeling it.

So I went to ECU last night. My across-the-floor warm up is beginning to pick up pace. My push-ups are deeper, and my sit-out drill is slowly creeping up in pace.

WE focused on a particular method of gaining the triangle choke from guard., involving swinging the leg like you do in part of standing up in base from a sit-out. This started feeling like the kind of jiu jitsu that is a step above "basic." To me, "basic" involves being pretty much rooted to the ground and doing things that are slow progressions. This particular move feels dynamic and "swoopy." It's actually kind of fun. We drilled the heck out of it, which is very good for me. I noticed that one par of the move, in which the hips are lifted to move the opponent's arm across his face, can flow organically out of the move where the legs are crossed behind his head. By the end of the drills, I felt very confident about the move, and like a more skilled fighter.

Then we rolled. I was first partnered with a fellow who had advanced from white to blue belt some months ago, and whom I had gotten into that "Tarzan" hold two weeks ago. He must have been very fatigues when I fought him then, because he showed be a degree of skill and energy that I had never seen from him before. He was aggressively moving all over and around me, while I felt pretty much rooted to the ground and lacking dynamism in my game. I was able to hold off a few submission attempts and even escape from a few dominant positions he gained on me, bus his techniques and energy were able to deny and escape anything I tried.

Next I fought the skilled, technical guy I had fought the previous class. He was pretty conservative in his game, which didn't matter too much because his strength and skill were greater than mine, but I did manage to escape a pretty tight rear naked choke from him and survive being under full mount and side mount. I tried the side-mount escape in the latest ECUBJJ YouTube video, but he was too strong for me.

Finally I fought a brand new guy, bigger, stronger, and younger than me, but had only started a few months ago. I was able to mount him twice, and he mounted me once, but I failed to gain any submissions.

Jojo is being very encouraging to me, talking to me about what it takes to advance and get better. I will be bringing my camera to some upcoming ECU seminars and new locations soon.

Here's that video of the escape from side mount I referred to...

I have got to figure out a way to get more training into my life.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return (again) to ECU BJJ!

Well, after three weeks at East Coast United Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a new work schedule and an illness kept me away for another three weeks, but I finally got back today (Thursday). This was in a week that I also returned to SCA fighter practice on Sunday and working out with G.A. West on Monday and Wednesday. So my body was pre-fatigued and word when I got there, and I did not slack in the class.

There are certain warm-up exercises moving across the floor that I still can't seem to do as fast as the other guys, and it's a little embarrassing. I hate being the last guy, struggling to get those sit-out's across the floor, as the rest of the class is getting ready to do crunches.

We learned a new way to get out of side mount, of which I will post video soon.

When it came to the free rolling portion of the evening, I was first paired with a fellow with great physical mechanics. He pretty much wiped the floor with me, once he was able to get a hold of me.

Next I fought a member of the competition team who rolled with me when I first started coming to ECU, but not much lately. While he was able to beat me several times, he said that I am getting stronger. Where he used to be able to sub,iot me at will, now he has to work at it. He may be right. I did actually feel like I was able to avoid getting trapped in a submission several time. I specifically found moments where I was saying to myself "guard is better than mount! Guard is better than mount!" (meaning that I should try to get om ny knees with him on his back, rather than letting him sit on my chest)Similarly, I fought hard and maintained half-guard and denied a kimura, and was able to avoid several other submissions.

I sat out one round, and in the final round of training I rolled with someone closer to my skill leve. He tried to pass into side mount right away, but left himself open for me to put my leg in front of his neck while seizing his arm for an attempted arm bar. While he was able to get his head out from my leg, I somehow managed to get his other arm with my legs. I had him in a wrestling hold exactly like one I had seen in a Tarzan comic book!

I didn't really know what to do from there. He was unable to escape, so I tried to twist his arm back, but he escaped. I had him in a few advantageous positions, but I lacked the strength, or technique, or killer instinct, or energy, to finish him off, and he submitted me. In the last minute of the round, I was so beat, that I stole a glance at the clock, When I saw there were 17 seconds to go, I decided to see how little I could do and still avoid being submitted, and succeeded.

When I was done, I felt more beat up than I remember feeling. Hopefully, if I keep my training up, I will be able to fight more before getting that feeling again. some things that bother me: I always seem to get my wrists grabbed by the other guy, and I never seem to be strong enough to get out of it. On m y back, a standing opponent seems to be able to grab my ankles and throw me around at will. I need a more effective escape from guard.