Archive for the ‘training’ Category

Clavicle debacle

Posted: June 5, 2015 in bjj, brazilian jiujitsu, training
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So after coming back from a lack lustre performance at the Irish Open BJJ Champions,due to a strained groin, I am once again on the shelf with another injury in the form of a fractured clavicle.

This occured during while trying  to apply a kimura counter to a half guard sweep but my timing was off.

My partner managed to get too deep an underhook and I started to defend the sweep. I posted out as he came up and started to stand and drive into me and my elbow collapsed and all my weight and my now advancing opponents weight came crashing through the point of my shoulder. This ended in an audible crack similar to the sound of breaking timber.  

 Fast forward I’m sitting in the emergency room wearing a rash guard with my arm in a rudimentary sling fashioned from a white belt, which did impress the duty nurse to some extent. X-ray confirmed the clavicle was fractured in a butterfly fashion, which means the bone fragments don’t  line up exactly but will heal with a visible lump. 
I spoke to a consultant and am in a sling for 5 weeks. 

He also informed me that the clavicle wasn’t that important a bone as it is a carryover from our quadrupedal times. Well I informed him I needed the structural integrity of the bone to assist in framing out against a resisting opponent who is determined to choke or apply a lock to one of my limbs! I also informed him that I like to lift heavy things up and put them down. 

So in addition to the five weeks with the arm in a sling there will also be 6-8 weeks of mobility and strength work to get the shoulder back to mat fitness. 

All I can do now is sit it out and spend my time working on a game on paper and then trying to implement it when I get back on the mat.



Rodrigo Medieros, co founder of BJJ Revolution Team and 4th Degree black belt under Carlson Gracie, visited the Limerick BJJ Academy for the first time in about five years. In previous years we had to travel to seminars and not all from the academy would be able to make the trip with work/home commitments, so it was quite a big deal to have the facility to host the boss.
We had a decent showing of students with a mix of white, blue, purple brown belts and our own black belt in attendance.

As Rodrigo is a Carlson Gracie black belt, we know that he will focus on the basics and expand from there. He spoke at length about the importance of basics and drills that would create muscle memory. With the evolution of the sport, speed and pressure are the keys to success in competition and with that in mind he told us long term we need to create our own drills that we could incorporate into our own game.
So we warmed up with guard passing drills, armbar switches, side control retention drills,open guard drills with inversions and leg drag drills before we moved onto some technique work.
So we started with a closed guard smash pass and added a couple of variations depending on the reaction of the opponent which included ending in a leg drag position. We continued with leg drag passing, applying it to open guard, spider guard, lasso guard and De La Riva guard that finished by applying a nasty little choke.
We finished up on attacking the turtle position with clock choke variations and an armbar set up that opens up other attacks. All in all a great seminar that everyone took something from regardless of rank.



If you have spent any time training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you will definitely be aware that knees are by far the body part most vulnerable to injury. From guard passing to guard recovery, sweeps, throws, scrambles and reversals. All the time the hips and knees constantly moving applying pressure from top position or from the bottom depending on the players styles. Players from the bottom trying to take the base away from the top player by pushing and pulling to shift their centre of gravity. The top player trying to control and pass by clearing the legs and arms of the bottom player.

All these changes of direction puts a certain stress on the joints and most times an injury will occur during a transition when one player commits to a pass/sweep and the other attempts to resist it. If the technique is good and the weight distribution is correct there will be no problems, but if there is a slight change in foot position, weight distribution, body angle, a sudden awkward movement by either player or an incorrect application of a technique, an injury is possible.
Below is Conor McGregor smash passing half guard with a knee slide and you can see the potential of a knee twist if his foot gets clamped as he pushes through by leading with the hips. Of course Conor is a high level mma practitioner with a purple belt in BJJ so has drilled this pass a great many times.

Most knee injuries sustained during rolling is due to flexibility or more the lack of flexibility in the hip capsule. So it is often found that knee injuries are more common among the lower level belts or with players that are not training regularly.


Typical knee injury associated with BJJ?
Sprains and tears to the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and tears and sprains to the medial and lateral collateral ligaments.
Twisting pressure will aggravate the cruciate ligaments where a force from the side of the leg will put pressure on the collateral ligaments. It is also common for a combination of ligaments to be affected.
There are levels of sprain from level 1 which is a sprain but no tears,level 2 is a sprain with some strand tears to level 3 which is a complete tear that would most likely need surgery. Recovery times vary but generally a level 2 sprain is about 6 weeks off the mat. Surgery on level 3 could be up to 6 months or more with rehab.

So you heard something pop in your knee?
Immediate pain is definitely a ligament,either tearing or stretching and dislocating across the meniscus. It may relocate itself immediately causing a second pop. Rest, ice, compress and elevate and have some anti inflammatories at hand.(this is my normal ritual after almost every training session)
If the area is bruising and swelling and unable to hold weight, then it is torn and may require surgery to repair. Follow the RICE protocol and seek medical assistance.
If the knee locks up without swelling or bruising it is most likely cartilage damage and as there is limited blood flow to the meniscus surgery may be required to repair.

So the steps necessary to help prevent an injury?
1. Train regularly. Drill techniques so they become muscle memory.
2. Warm up sufficiently using dynamic warm ups through full range of motion. Listen to your body and work on anything tight.
3. Work on mobility, particularly the hips, if you don’t use it you lose it.
Here’s a link to a good yoga based sequence from fellow martial artist and general movement guru Dave Hedges hip opening drill
4. Build up strength around the knee with resistance training and agility drills. Go with a combo of squats swings and agility ladder footwork. Throw in some plyometric work with some bag/box jumps and add in some multidirectional lunges and old fashioned skipping rope intervals to mix things up.
5. Roll smart, especially if you haven’t trained in a while. You might not be as flexible or as sharp as you were so you may not be able to hit some of your fancy go to moves. Stay relaxed while rolling, accept a position if you feel resisting it may cause or aggravate an injury. Rolling is supposed to be fun and a chance to hone technique, this is not the ADCC finals. Don’t try pull off a technique when rolling that you have not drilled live. You may put yourself or your training partner at risk.

A pressing session

Posted: December 6, 2012 in hardstyle, kettlebell, training

imageThis shoulder training session is about time under tension. Keep the reps slow and controlled during the eccentric phase of the movement.

The beauty of this routine is the loading of the non working side in both the rack and the lockout position. This keeps the shoulders level and square ensuring good posture through the lift.

Use a light to moderate weight on this, it’s not about going heavy but quality of movement I used 16kg bells and I had the DOMS for a couple of days afterwards and not just in my shoulders. 


Give it a try, let me know how you get on  🙂


Most days this is what is going on upstairs

Work out?  You don’t work out with kettlebells, I leave working out to the  mathematicians and accountants.

You train with kettlebells, you learn,you practice and drill, after all repetition is learning.

The more you practice, the better you get, the stronger you get, the more efficient you get.

Strength is a skill, and skills need to be learned and honed. 

Learn the basic movements then add the small details that make them work for you.

Be it a different foot placement that allows you to get a stronger hip drive to move a  heavier bell or a different grip position that doesn’t fatigue the forearms so quick and lets you carry on for longer sets.

This will happen over time through trial and error or with a trainer’s experience (they’ve done the trial and made the errors on your behalf )

As you grow more proficient and more efficient with the movements start chaining them together, combining movements, making them a bit more complex but try to make them flow.

Combine movements that will naturally flow together for example  a swing to clean to squat to press to reverse Turkish get up to negative press to swing and switch hands, the weight is not important but the movement is.

Train the movement,then start developing the strength.

“Obey the principles without being bound by them” ~Bruce Lee


Today started with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu this morning for 2 hours. A good session with the guys drilling sweeps and basic positional work for those competing this weekend at Grapplepalooza. We went fairly easy so there would be no tempting fate for possible injury in the run up to the competition.

Homeward bound afterwards for some kettlebell conditioning work.

This consisted of 3 roundsof a swing/squat complex  with the 24 kg bell that I’ve now named the “Ticker Kicker”

followed by 2 rounds of the Deep 6 complex with a 20kg bell (Video shows me using the 16, I filmed this last week)

First half of this session really challenged the CNS as the swings and squats took their toll. This carried over to the second half of the session which required a lot of focus and control, especially during the Turkish Get Up.

I was hoping to knock out a third round of the deep six but I found after round 2, I was toast.  Over all a really good challenging session that I know will leave me with some well earned muscle soreness tomorrow 🙂


The kettlebell basics

Posted: November 1, 2012 in hardstyle, kettlebell, training

The basics of the hardstyle training system boils down to 6 movements, the swing the snatch,clean and press, the squat and the Turkish get up.



I’ve always had a fondness for the martial arts and combat sport.Be it boxing, karate,judo or more recently MMA. The recent main-streaming of the UFC and similar organisations has led to a mass increase in cross training martial arts and the opening of such schools/academies to accommodate the new trend.

One such school is the Combat Sports Centre in Limerick. I was directed towards them by a co-worker who was also a blue belt in BJJ at the time. I had expressed my interest in martial arts and he suggested I give it a try. So I rolled up to the gym, and spoke to a few of the guys. I had no idea what to expect and was going in with an open mind, a gum-shield and a willingness to learn. The gym was split in two, in one room the floor was matted and there was about a few guys grappling in BJJ Gi (BJJ uniform,similar to a judo suit). The other room had bags hanging, a small matted area, and padded walls(to emulate clinch work against the cage) basically the MMA side.

I was waiting for my Gi to be delivered so I decided to hop into the MMA class.

I learned some very valuable lessons here

  1. Always wear a gum shield
  2. Always wear a groin guard
  3. Gym owned boxing gloves stink
  4. I’m too old to be getting punched in the face by guys half my age that are faster and have better reflexes than me

So the following week I turned up for BJJ class with my brand new Gi.

Limerick BJJ Academy


This is a note I put up on my facebook page a while back

My path to the kettlebell

I smoked for almost 20 years, more than half my life.
Four years ago I decided to quit, the night before St. Patrick’s day, 16th March 2007 at a friends wedding I smoked my last cigarette. Went cold turkey, I tried the gum( heartburn in tablet form) and I tried the patch(itchy rash).
What worked for me was my stubborn nature, no way was I giving in.
The next fortnight I was a nightmare to live with and work with but I eventually pushed the nicotine out.
The next three or four months I spent clearing my lungs of the best part of  twenty years of tar.

One of the perks  I have with my job is free access twice a week to what is arguably this country’s finest gym.
University of Limerick Arena gym, walk past the treadmills,recumbent bikes and the cable machines and you got to the free weights,squat racks and Olympic platforms. This is where I wanted to be, but what to do….?

Enter the Internet, behold, the information superhighway!!
I was going to find everything online, programs,routines,upper body split,lower body split, 5×5 programmes.
I would trawl the web seeking information and advice,some good,some not so good.
Settled on the simple 5×5. Squat,dead lift,press,barbell row and bench press, lifting three times a week.

This is where I hit problem #1, this routine required me to lift three days a week.
Anyone who has worked 12 hour night shift will tell you that hitting the gym for a heavy barbell session afterwards is not easy.

Problem #2 kicks in here,I learned that I have a poor range of motion in my shoulders that is aggravated by pressing a barbell over my head. What to do….?

Back to the Internet..stumbled into Iron On Line

Dave Draper(Mr Universe 1966) and his wife Laree run this site and it’s packed with information all provided freely by themselves and a realm of IOLers. A truly fantastic  crowd of common minded friends that stretch across the planet.
Here I found everything I needed to get me moving again.
Encouragement and advice, all gold.
I can honestly say that if I hadn’t found this site I would have most likely given up weight training.
So barbell pressing was out, dumbells were in. I kept going with this 5×5, substituting barbell pressing with dumbells but shift work and balancing family life made it difficult, if only I could find a way of training at home.
No room at home for a barbell, never mind a squat rack, bench and plate storage.

Back to the internet….back to IOL, searching through posts and conversations,barbells…nope, dumbbells…no good(no space for a bench), bodyweight….could do that, suspension training….nope(no room for the TRX),kettlebells…


Back to the internet and typed “kettlebell” into the search bar.
Wikipedia describes:
“The kettlebell or girya (Russian: гиря) is a cast iron weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.”

Intrigued I probed deeper into this whole kettlebell thing.
Names started popping up on the web, Mike Mahler, Steve Cotter, Steve Maxwell, Pavel Tsatsouline, David Whitley, Dan John, Dragondoor and more and more information coming all the time.
I had to get hold of a kettlebell.
Easier said than done. Couldn’t for the life of me get one in Ireland. This only made me more determined and I  found a 16kg bell on a physio supply site.
“That’ll do me!!” I thought. Ordered one and had it in my hands within the week.
So I began playing with my new toy.

New toy, new problems.

Problem 1  
How do I use this thing?
Solution to problem 1 was trial and error, lots of learning the hard way, lots of internet searches. Lots of sore forearms.
I made sure I was researching the above mentioned names and found them on youtube, spent hours sifting the gravel to find the gold. Again IOL was my fountain of knowledge.

Problem 2
Why is this kettlebell and it’s handle completely covered in rubber?
This was a bigger problem than learning how to use it. High rep snatches test the hands at the best of times, throw a rubber handle into the mix and not a happy outcome. I used chalk or soaped up the handle(that was interesting) to help this.
This went on for over a year. Trawling the web, learning all I could.

Right it was time for me to go up a weight, I found a site that was based in Ireland and ordered two 24kg kettlebells.
(In hindsight, I should have gotten one 20kg instead)
They were heavy and they were steel, massive green kettlebells, competition grade and I loved them.

This is when I discovered the brutal side of kettlebell training, get it wrong and you will really suffer.
I had no coach, no trainer, noone to correct my form.
The end result was a strained rotator cuff and a weakened  infraspinatus.
Too heavy too soon.(hindsight is 20/20)

So off to rehab the shoulders and go back to basics.
Nothing over head for months, all swings with the 24’s and Turkish Getups with no weight to help mobilize the cuffs.
Band work to strengthen the cuffs and the infraspinatus.
Slowly the strength came back into the shoulders and felt good again to hike a bell into the rack and press it.
I continued to train, I took up Brazilian JiuJitsu to help with flexibility.

I got word that Shane Nicoletti who is  RKC certified was  offering a kettlebell instructors course.
It was not going to be a “one day cash for cert” course but a respected certification with detailed instruction of how to train others safely, and to learn by doing, spread across 2 days.
I jumped at the chance and here I am.

I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.