Saturday, May 23, 2009

Necessary Items: Cryogel

When I first started training in any sort of combat sport, I thought Tiger Balm was the endgame for pain relief. Joint pain, muscular pain, bruising, anything at all, I was smearing Tiger Balm on it. And while it clears the sinuses nicely, and the heat may feel kinda nice at times, I've since moved on to better things - both in terms of olfactory irritation and actual treatment of pain.

I present, for your consideration, Cryogel.

I first tried Cryogel when a fellow on the Sherdog gear and equipment forums offered to send samples out to anyone who wanted to try the stuff. Hell, no risk there-- it's a no brainer! A few days later, I received a padded envelope with a fistful of sample size packets-- two of each "flavor" of cryogel.

Cryogel is interesting in that it clearly works off of a cooling effect, which makes a little more sense given most ailments from combat sports training is coming from a place of inflammation. Why would you add heat to something that was already inflamed?

However, in my own usage at least, I notice a weird numbing almost heat feel to it as well, as it sinks in. Whatever it is, it's highly soothing. Great for those random bruises you get in training. DOMS too. And there were many times when I was experiencing knee pain that Cryogel allowed me to keep training (since, you know, it was intelligent to keep training on bum joints).

Fortunately, I train a little smarter now, so I don't need to use Cryogel as much, but you best believe I don't allow myself to run low on it. I keep a tube or roll-on of it in my gym bag, and several lying about the house.

Cryogel is available in either squeeze-it-out tubes or roll-on (like deodorant). I use both, but tend to favor the roll-ons since there's less chance for a mess in the gym bag. Three scents are available : original blue (which I'm hearing has been re-tooled to smell a little less medicinal), Island Rain green (my favorite, as it's the least offensive/noticable), and Lavender purple (which also smells nice, but is more noticable. has a slight patchouli/pothead smell that reminds me of college).

You can normally find Cryogel for around ten bucks (USD) apiece. Plenty of other vendors available - you don't have to go direct. However, I also endorse some of the other products available from Cryogel's direct site -- inflamax forte and baldrian plus, both of which I've used for more advanced pain management. All natural, which is also, to me, a preference.

training notes, April 28th - passing open guard

I can't say I was at all enthused about having everyone learn open guard passes, since I love playing open guard. No, I kid: having a group of people who know how to foil my go-to guard position means I either develop a new guard game, or I improve my existing one. And that's win-win stuff right there.

Pass 1: Push away at their hips -- keep your elbows in, NOT flared out; place one knee in their tailbone (as a position, not Pride rules striking) and the other knee opens up to the side; sit back and twist your hips -- their guard should open up/fall apart.

Pass 2: Place both of your hands up into their armpits; scoot your hips back as you push them away. This clearly requires some reach, and as such, I didn't find much success with it this go-round.

Pass 3: Hands placed in their armpits; stand and wedge your knee in at their tailbone; sit back down over that same knee, sliding the opponent down your shin-- should bust apart their guard.

{After the fact, I'm wondering if maybe I would've seen a little better success with these 2 passes by instead placing my hands at belt/hip level and shoving away? If I reached up to my training partners' armpits, my balance was way off, as I was having to over-extend to reach that high. Or maybe I even could have underhooked the legs and grabbed some pants cloth?}

Pass 4: Smash pass. Control their hips. Raise one of your legs, planting the sole of your foot well beyond their reach. Raise your hips, placing one hand on their inside knee, the other hand stays on their hip. Press their leg down to the floor using the inside knee grip. Underhook their other leg. Reach across with that grip to secure a cross-collar grip on opponent. Once you've secured that cross-grip, tripod yourself up to place considerable/all weight on your opponent. Rotate (slowly, if you feel like being a bastard about it), smashing your opponent over into side control.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

brief gushing over anything Stephan Kesting

Okay, so I unabashedly adore the dvds and work of Stephan Kesting over at

So it should come as no huge surprise that as soon as I read the email about his new dvd series, Unorthodox Positions, was ready for ordering, I quickly requested that it be sent my direction, ASAP.

I've often compared bjj instructors to math teachers, in that if they don't present the material in a manner that the student can easily consume and assimilate it, well they're both probably doomed to a lot of frustration. Kesting has been one such instructor from whom I feel confident in learning the calculus of this at times difficult art.

I can be accused of having a larger library of materials than is evident by my skills, but at least it's there for whenever I'm ready for it. I own a few materials by Kesting that I've not yet been able to absorb. All in due time, though.

And whenever this new dvd reaches my doorstep, I may watch it and think, "pfft. I'll never use any of this!" I may be right at the time. But some day, it may come around again, and suddenly it may become my bread & butter go-to move.

just a short note. more to come when I can slow down a bit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

open guard intro....

(to be updated)

discussed some basic concepts of open guard, a longtime favorite of mine. I was most taken with the 75/100% concept for grips (i.e.-- have no fewer than three grips at all points in time, all four being the goal).

more later

okay, and it's finally later. Expanding on the 75%/100% "rule"-- Feet need to be jammed in the opponent's bicep, hip, or hooked under the knees (note: obviously there are more options, but this is basic intro type stuff).

With bicep placement, your feet should be angling more towards the elbows, not the shoulders. Force your feet/legs wide to force the opponent to come down, and also to compromise their balance and control a little more. We did a foot placement drill, alternating which of the three areas our individual feet were in, maintaining three/four points of contact.

We maintained sleeve control for our hand positions, but there are plenty of other options there as well. One we briefly explored involved taking your foot from the bicep position, wrapping it out and around to trap their arm a little more snugly.

We also drilled the "hitching a ride" concept involved with the open guard position of having your feet hooked at the opponent's knees. Emphasized strong hook placement on the side your opponent is trying to rotate towards-- their motion will pull you along with them, provided your hook is placed solidly.

Another side control escape: before your opponent settles into side control, shrimp out and sweep your leg up and over their back, clamping down on their spine. Bring yourself parallel to opponent, then pull your other leg through to either replace full guard, or at least achieve a butterfly hook. Achieving a knee-across-hip position is also acceptable.

Replacing guard when your opponent smashes your legs down from butterfly guard:

Option 1. Push your upper leg out, swoop it over the opponent's head, clear, and replace guard.

Option 2. Kick your top leg straight through their legs, replace guard.

Option 3. Opponent hooks under your leg-- wrap/rotate your leg back out to replace guard.

And lastly, we worked on upper body/head control from the "seated" jiu jitsu stand up position, using our non-posted hand/arm to control the opponent's head and direct them, switching hips if necessary.