Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fightzone (Checkmat) Sweden 04-22-14

Getting to Sweden from Estonia was going to be a bit of a task for me. I had planned only flying from Tallinn (Estonia) to Stockholm, and then taking the train from Stockholm to Malmo. I stupidly booked the flight before checking train prices, and when I finally did look at the train prices I found that it would have been cheaper to just buy a plane ticket straight to Malmo. I was lucky enough to find a FinAir flight from Stockholm to Copenhagen for under $100, with a bit of a layover in Finland and a cheap train ride over to Malmo. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but at least I could say I’ve spent some time in Finland!

I woke up around 0500 and was still feeling the effects from the food poisoning. I felt sick, lethargic, and otherwise like shit. Rather than taking the public transportation to the airport, which didn’t start running until 0600 anyways, I decided to just spent money on a cab from the hostel. Normally taking a taxi to an airport is very expensive, but I ended up spending about $15 USD on the ride including a tip to the driver. 

It amazes me that people are still ignorant when it comes to security checkpoints at airports. Henry Rollins did a great spoken word piece that embodies my thoughts on the subject rather well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2lVcmtHX90 I’m always ready to go when I hit the line. Things in my pockets are transferred to my bag, as is my metal clad belt. My laptop and tablet are out of the bag in my arms. My jackets and sweatshirts are off, and my shoes are in hand. But I always have to wait on multiple people who act like they were just magically transported into the line and are slowly taking things out right before they get to the metal detectors, like it’s an exercise in Zen meditation. I’d say there are 1 out of every 3 people who think their cellphones or whatever will be able to pass through the detectors. I know, it shouldn’t irritate me as much as it does, but it’s a huge peeve of mine. 

After getting some food in the airport and some fluids in me, I started to feel better. I was behind on writing my blog, but didn’t really feel the motivation to write anything. More or less I just wanted to sleep some more. Instead, I decided to do some reading which ended up leading to me falling asleep mid-flight. 

After arriving at the hostel and checking in, I was pleasantly surprised to fine that there was only one other person occupying the dorm with me. A younger Israeli guy by the name of Yuval. We chatted for a bit about our trips that we were on. He was taking some time away from home to just travel about to a few countries in Europe. I noticed he was reading “Into the Wild” and commented on it. It was his second time reading the book and he found the story to be extremely fascinating. I can understand the romance with the novel, as I have my own with Fight Club. 

Yuval wanted to go out later in the evening for a beer, I told him to let me know when he was ready I would head out with him. It was still pretty early in the day so I decided to go try and find some food and water for the couple of days that I would be in town. Luckily there was a corner store about 100m from the hostel, so I headed down there and loaded up on goods. 

Later on Yuval and I headed out into Malmo to see what was going on. We walked for 30-40 minutes before we found a pub that was open. We inquired with the bartender why everything was shut down on a Monday evening and we told that it was a “red day”, which meant it was a public holiday. Yuval and I had a couple of pints while discussing out travels, politics, and war among other things. Yuval had served in the Israeli Defense Forces and had some interesting insight in terms of the politics in the region. He essentially told me that things are not as bad as American media portrays them to be. Thats not to say that there are not problems in the area, but watching American news you would think there is an active war in the region with fighting daily. Yuval seemed pretty impressed with my limited knowledge of the intricate story of that area. We ended up leaving the pub pretty early, around 2200 or so and headed back to the hostel for some sleep.

The Academy I would be training at, Fightzone, only had evening classes. I had the day to myself to go around and take some photos and wander aimlessly. And I did exactly that. I found a Vietnamese restaurant off the main stip to eat lunch at. While the Pho was a bit bland compared to what I’ve ate at home and in Hawai’i, it was still good. The Bahn Mi sandwich I ordered along with the pho was fantastic!

Before too long it was time to head out to go train. My foot was still bothering me and my energy levels had not returned to anything close to normal, but I wasn’t going to mis an opportunity to train. The academy is located in a Swedish version of a “YMCA” and covers about three levels of the building. On walking in, I headed for the main level training area. As I entered the small doorway I was greeted with the smell of stale sweat and mats on of side of the room and a ring on the other. I looked around for a place to change and couldn’t find it. After standing about for a mite or so Stephan, the academy owner, came up and introduced himself. He asked where I was coming from and what I was up to. I told him briefly about my trip and that a user from Reddit had invited me to come out and train. At the time I didn’t know the redditers given name, only his internet handle. Stephan welcomed me in and showed me down into the basement where the locker room was. 

After changing out into my uniform I headed up to the training area with Stephan and was introduced to some of the other folks who were training there that day. The warmup started promptly there after. The warmup wouldn’t normally have been too strenuous, but as I was still recovering from being sick just two days prior it was a bit of a workout for me. I rarely sweat from a warmup, I had a good one going after the exercises which consisted of running, inside/outside shuffling, inside/outside shuffling while dropping levels, skipping, forward rolls (which made me incredibly dizzy), backward rolls, technical standing and basing, and solo single leg shots. 

I ended up being introduced to Drago, one of the purple belts at the academy who was a few years older than me. He was another person who was very interested in my trip and offered up some help for finding places to stay in Croatia if I ever decided to head that direction in the future. We ended up teaming up as partners for the technique portion of the class. I really enjoyed the setup for the technique portion, it was one technique for the entire class. Personally I don’t like learning 3-4 techniques during a class period. It makes it more difficult for me to assimilate the knowledge. It’s been a point of contention for me at my home academy with some of the instructors sometimes showing a few unrelated movements which just ends up confusing the hell out of people. 

Stephan decided to have the class work on a deep half guard sweep, and one that I’m familiar with but needed some help with on the mechanics. The setup for the sweep is with the half guard on ukes right leg, taking the same side arm and reaching around the back of uke with your palm flat on his lower back just above his rear. The opposite hand goes under ukes thigh. It’s important to note here that your left ear needs to sit about on ukes bell button, unless you feel like getting choked or want to lose control. After establishing the above position you want to dive under ukes hips while throwing uke over yourself. From my position, the right side of my body will go under uke and my right arm will shoot up further through ukes thigh. Your legs need to be working in tandem with your upper body by moving down ukes legs, more specifically your right knee needs to be brow ukes knee. Doing this will help from ukes legs forward so that you can capture his ankle/calf with your now free leg hand and bring it over towards your stomach or chest. You also want your leg leg to be sliding up the front of ukes right thigh to above the knee. 

Another important aspect to get the move to work is to make sure that your switching or “hopping” your hips. I was trying to roll over my hips and kept getting stuck. Once I watched Stephan a bit more closely I noticed him popping his hips for the switch. I tried it out and got into position every time. Once in the proper position you will find that uke is already unbalanced and you don’t need to move him anymore into position, just rather push uke over a bit. As you’re coming over through, you want your left hand to let go of the ankle while bringing it to (the hand) to hug ukes right thigh. While maneuvering your left hand into place you want to straighten out your right arm and push it forward to keep ukes left leg weak. 

From here you you want to circle in to straighten ukes legs together, it should appear like your doing a top side knee bar on ukes right leg. You want to keep on your toes for pressure, making sure that your left knee is keeping tight contact with ukes right leg. If you don’t keep the knee con act you will give uke enough room to escape his leg out. You can now free up your right leg from any entanglement that uke might have had. Stephan pointed out that it’s a common mistake for people to get a bit excited here and immediately try to jump into side control, which may or may not work. He said that it’s not worth the risk, you just passed the guard, sit there for a few seconds and get your points before moving on. Some additional things to look at are if uke is pressuring your with his arms extend (while you are hugging his legs) then it’s east for you to reach up and over for the crossfire while shrugging his arm through. 

Conversely, Stephan pointed out that when someone has you in deep half guard it should be your sole duty to remove their high knee. That’s where they get their sweeping power from. 

Had time to spar with three people. First was the purple belt Drago, a Croatian guy who took interest in what I was doing trip wise. We drilled the technique together and he helped me piece everything together when Stephan wasn’t over helping me. Roll went pretty good, messed up in half guard and left an arm out for a straight armlock for him, took him a minute to get it in the right position before I finally tapped knowing that he had it. 

Next up was one of the white belts I had talked to also about my trip. I forget his name, but he asked how long i had been training and when I told him 4 years he exclaimed that I must be good. I laughed and said I’m average at best. Ended up catching him with a triangle after opening my guard for a bait of a guard pass for him. At first he didn’t want to tap, so I trapped his head and pulled it down, which elicited the tap in a few seconds. Ended up trying to work my lockdown half guard, didn’t have much success. I need to work on moving uke into position from here, as nobody wants to give me the free leg for the electric chair sub/sweep.

Last person was a rather big white belt. Big as in tall and maybe 220 pounds or so. Not big as in fat. He started off pretty good, but his lack of confidence ended up messing him up. He had some good movements to start, but didn’t commit which allowed me to get a hip heist that I wouldn’t commit on because if I had it would have put both our weight onto my injured foot and made it hurt worse than it already was. I ended up pulling him back into guard and working on some other sweep attempts. I don’t recall if I worked any submissions on him that stuck. I just kind of played around for a bit. 

                                                                      (Stephan and I)


  1. Yeah, I'm with you on the technique quantity thing: I teach two at most, if it's a 1.5 hour class or longer. Anything less than 1.5 hours and I'll teach one technique (although we'll do a bunch of drills).

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