The journey of an aspiring fighter #21

Published On June 8, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

This week has seen some fantastic training, and by some miracle I have also had a fantastic week at work – the kids were amazing and I get such a big kick out of seeing them learn and progress.

Monday 3 June 2013

MMA sparring class
Anthony took the class, and JJ was also taking part so it was pretty cool to have them both there. There was an odd number so I sat out of two rounds but overall we did something like 8X3 minute rounds of stand up and 4X3 minute rounds of rolling. The sparring was good, although I had “first day back syndrome” where I felt like my timing was worse than normal, and I couldn’t see things as well as I felt that I could before… but that’s all part of the game; Good days, bad days, high days, low days. It’s all a learning curve. Hopefully I will be back on track within a few sessions and then I will start improving! I find the thing is with MMA is that you really don’t notice how fast or slow you are improving, it just seems to creep up on you. Suddenly someone you used to get thrown around really bad by will start backing off your punches and you will be so shocked about it that you will panic and not know what to do. Then you will get used to this feeling and want more of it, start looking to control the game more.

BJJ Evening class

Olavo taught us a really awesome sweep from side control today, and: Breaking news: I actually managed to use it in the rolling session!! I think that’s the first time I have ever used something properly that I have learnt in the same lesson. I was so proud! I felt pretty tired during the session though, I guess two weeks off seems like a great idea until you have to start again and you’re not as fit as you were… Anyway back to the Jiu Jitsu technique of the day: Sweep from side control. Someone has you in side control, what do you do? Most people would say shrimp out and turn into them and regain your guard or at the very least, half guard. Well, what if you didn’t do that? What if you turned away from them? And then used their momentum to roll them over you? Sounds ridiculous? Try it, it works in live rolling too! When you roll them over you, you have to be careful to control their hips and come round into side control pretty quick or they will take your back but it is a really awesome move! I used it in rolling in the third of three rounds (when I was pretty knackered but was trying not to do the same thing I always do when I am tired which is pull guard and then arm bar my opponent) against a friend of mine, Slade’s, girlfriend who I happened to be rolling with at the time. I can’t wait to try it again on Wednesday!


Tuesday 4th June 2013

Wrestling class
Andrew was back from his fight with ONE FC which he absolutely smashed: controlled all 3 rounds to bring home a solid decision win making 10 wins in 8 weeks for Phuket Top Team! I love Andrews classes because he really works on building up our muscle memory by completing high reps per technique. Talking of which, a technique Andrew taught us a few weeks back that we have been repping loads I actually managed to use in live sparring!! I was so proud!! The technique I am talking about is a sit out, when you shoot to take someone down and they sprawl, you sit out and come round and take their back. Also, yes, this means I was shooting on people trying for take downs. I only got two successes in the hour, however compared to none only a month ago, I am actually pretty pleased with my progression! I have made an aim for myself that I have to beat my take down record from the last session each session… So my current record is set to 2 – Which means I will have to take down 3 people in the next wrestling session (Friday as I have to work later on a Thursday)
The actual wrestling technique we looked at today was a double leg focusing on the control after the actual take down, and making sure we landed in side control (or moved to side control if we didn’t get a perfect landing). We also looked at a take down defense into the other person taking down. Both were brilliant to get the reps in and focus on that muscle memory which Andrew promotes so well.
We then got to do 9 rounds of live wrestling, split in to 3’s: 3 rounds of pure wrestling, take downs only. 3 rounds off the side of the cage, and 3 rounds of submission grappling (my favourite). We worked with the same 3 people for each set of three which was kinda cool because we knew what to expect, and I got 3 really cool people so I was pretty happy!

Boxing sparring class
I was lucky again and got some really good sparring partners for boxing. Obviously as standard I don’t know most of their names, but I actually had a lot of fun in the ring. There were a couple of guys you really have me some hard punches which was great because I need to get used to that feeling again. I actually felt my peak in this session as well which was pretty weird – I felt like I was warming up for the first 3 rounds and then I had 3 really good rounds where I felt like my timing was good (for me) and I was hitting people where I was aiming and it was all going really well. The the following rounds got progressively worse, my timing was out, and my punches felt powerless and weak. I definitely need to work on extending the peak period, but I am really glad I felt it today because usually it just all blurs into one. I feel like being able to self critique in a positive way will help me a lot, and hopefully help me improve my game for my next fight (which I hope will be soonish!)


Wednesday 5th June 2013

MMA sparring class
I had so much fun in this class today! I had an absolutely awesome spar with Rob Lisita who is fighting back in Australia very soon. Also another few guys really bringing the level up. The entire lesson was run in MMA gloves, and we did 3 rounds of boxing and takedowns, then 3 rounds against the wall and finally a 10 minute round where we kept swapping partners but always starting in side control. The guys in this class push each other so hard, it makes me really proud to be a part of the team.

BJJ gi class
I was absolutely shattered for this class, literally lying on my bed 15 minutes before it started willing myself to get up, trying to persuade myself it was the best option for my painful body. It was a great class, not too mentally taxing either, which it sometimes can be. We worked a sweep from open guard: your opponent has control of you around your hips and you push back on their hips to create space. Immediately sit up and control their head, also open up the further side of their gi collar so you can get your closer hand in there for the collar grip. Once you have this grip, make sure one foot is between their knees and the other is outside posting. From here, push up/across on the posted leg and control them with the collar grip. You are aiming to move them over to their side where you can either come into side control or better still go for the darce choke.
After the Jiu Jitsu technique we did 4 rounds of rolling, in which I got some really good partners. I have said this before so many times but the guys in Olavo’s class are so technical, and I know it is because Olavo has such a fantastic attention to detail – he can spot if your leg is 1 inch wrong and it will literally change the whole technique! If you don’t believe me, why not come and train with us? Find out for real how much your game can improve!


Thursday 6th June 2013

Wrestling class
I can’t believe the day I have to stay late at work we ended up finishing early!! Thank you mummies and daddies for picking your darling children up on time and letting me get an extra session in! It was a fantastically run session by the one and only Andrew… The main drill was one we have done before, and every time we do it, it is better than the last. One person in MMA gloves and one in boxing gloves, the MMA person is aiming to take the boxer down and the boxer is aiming to defend the take down as well as smashing the MMA person with punches. We did however keep the first few rounds at 10% which was cool because it got us mentally warmed up, and the take downs were not completed, only the distance closed in preparation for the take down. The wrestling technique was mixed in to the drills which was fantastic because we were already switched on to it, and we worked double legs – keeping it in with the drill. We then turned up the volume on the MMA/boxing drill and the boxers hit a little harder, while the MMA people completed the take downs. I actually managed to take a few people down – although I don’t think it counts as the other person couldn’t really counter with a take down. We didn’t have too much live wrestling (I think one round but I might be wrong) so I didn’t count this lesson in my “trying to beat my own take downs”.

No-gi class
I am sad that this class is only once a week, although I don’t know where else on the packed out timetable they would fit another no-gi class! Anthony ran another insane class, consisting of 20 minutes of hard drilling including guard passing drills, side control escapes and knee-on-belly changes. We then got around 8 rounds of 5 minutes just rolling which was AMAZING! I managed to roll with most of the people in the class (we had 12 in total) so that in itself was great experience, but the fact that people like JJ and Anthony are rolling within the class is just out of this world. Where else would you get pro’s like that rolling on the mat every day with everyone in the class?


Friday 7th June 2013

I had to work late today instead of Thursday, but that was fine because I got the extra class in on Thursday so no drama. Friday is always a little quieter because only the hardcore train – most people like to hit up Patong and find themselves a ladyboy to take home. This however is (contrary to popular belief) not my style, I am all about the training, so myself and 4 men who could obviously wait for their ladyboys had a great little session with JJ.

No-gi class
There was me saying yesterday that I wanted more no-gi on the schedule, and out of nowhere JJ takes the evening class for Olavo and it’s a no-gi class! Look at that, I think it, it happens. Amazing.
Anyway, since it was Friday and there was only 5 of us in the class, JJ asked us what we wanted to look at. One of the guys was having issues with putting on a guillotine, so we experimented with a few different guillotine’s for a while which was interesting. The guillotine I always use works for me, so I rarely look into others, but this class made me realise I really should.
We then had 5 rounds of pure rolling. This is great for a Friday because mostly our brains are too frazzled to take in too much new knowledge (I know mine is for sure!) so we just got to experiment in our rolling which was awesome. The smallest guy was about 20 kgs heavier than me, but I still got good rounds from all 5 of them (JJ included himself to make an even number).

Tomorrow (Saturday) the gym is closed because Bus is getting married – CONGRATULATIONS!! I will be going to the Splash park, in the north of Phuket with fellow grappler Jane Clohissey and one of her son’s Namo. Namo is at my school so I know him very well and he is going to be an insane grappler when he’s older! Photos coming next week.

Just one photo for this week: a photo taken by Daniel Nestor, of my hand being raised at the Kata Open back in April. I only just saw this photo so that’s why I can only just post it on here! Thanks Daniel for the great photo!


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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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