I’ve been interested in grappling within MMA for a while now. When I first went to the LA Dojo, Shibata San taught a few different techniques on how to shoot in for a takedown ands that was fascinating to me. I wanted to join an amateur wrestling club when I got back to England to keep up with that style of training, but at the time I was so poor I couldn’t afford the joining fee! Haha.
Pro wrestling is very similar to no gi BJJ, Olympic wrestling etc. But the techniques are different so sometimes when you learn something new it will throw you off guard a bit!
When I got to LA in 2019 we would always warm up by shooting for a takedown using different techniques. 50% pace just to get the blood warm. To be honest, I always struggle to grasp the philosophy of a technique at first, but then I like to go away and study it so I can truly understand the movement, pressure etc.
Last year, me and Shibata San would train together and we’d look a lot at grappling. You don’t need me to tell you how good of a grappler he is, but when you are rolling with Shibata San, you sometimes forget how strong he is in that field. He doesn’t use any power, he just knows how to take you off balance and get into a good position for him to tap you out. His legs work like arms! It feels like you’re grappling and octopus sometimes because he can control you completely with his legs.
When we started doing shows again in June, it became harder to find time for myself and Shibata San to train due to both our schedules being very busy. I feel when I don’t train in grappling for a while I got rusty and forget some basics so I really wanted to keep up that style of training.
BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is a form of grappling that I’ve always been really interested in. Kron Gracie, who I’ve mentioned in the past comes from arguably the most famous family in BJJ. What really captivates me about BJJ is that size doesn’t really matter. It’s built around smaller guys being able to tap out bigger guys due to good technique, which is ideal for me when my job is to fight guys who most of the time are bigger than me. So I started looking for BJJ dojo’s around my area, which I when I found Carpe Diem. I’ll be honest, I got very lucky finding Carpe Diem. I saw that their dojo was pretty close, so I checked their class timetable online and decided I would go as soon as I could.
I went to my first class in July, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked back since. BJJ has helped improve my work in the ring, its given me new friendships and has allowed me to learn a completely new skill. I’d find when I’d fight experienced grapplers such as Uemura, I’d get mauled a lot of the time because it was an area I wasn’t too familiar with, but I feel a lot more comfortable in that area now. Of course I still take up every chance I can to train with Shibata San, but that extra BJJ training has really helped up my game.
I’d been so focused on wrestling for the best part of 10 years, that I realised I hadn’t really earned anything new (other than wrestling) for a long time. So I’ve enjoyed the process of learning something different that takes me out my comfort zone. There really is no other adrenaline rush like being in a wrestling match or sparring on the mats. There is no time to really think, you have to feel what position you’re in and find a way to escape it with the techniques you’ve previously learned. It’s very scientific in a way.
I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to my coaches Thomas, Craig, Kushiro San & Watanabe San for their support and guidance.
Let’s not get it twisted, I am far from a wizard on the mats. I have still got so much to learn, but I am thoroughly enjoying the process of learning and becoming a better overall grappler.
Thank you for reading!
Today’s track for this diary entry: Don Strapzy – Different Rules.