Friday, August 31, 2012

Drilling the Right Way to Win on the Ground

Those who have asked when our book, Winning on the Ground, will be available, first of all, thank you for asking. Jim and I aim to have every last thing to Black Belt Magazine by next Friday. We sent the final manuscript six weeks ago but between my business commitments and Jim being busy at a little thing called the Olympics, we didn't get the edits back to the editor yet. I had to rewrite this part of Chapter 6, which was originally called


but then we added another 8 pages of drills after this section so it didn't seem a very fitting title. Chapter 7 is Basic Matwork Drill training and has another 27 or so pages of drills.

I had written a blog post on this before where I wondered if I would be able to slip the original graphic into the book without Jim catching it.  Apparently the answer is no, because the editor had a lot of questions and Jim said,
"You know, I never did like that diagram."
Bah humbug! So, here is more much more mature take 2. Let me know if you think it is better.

Well, here you go, matwork connections are the secret to winning on the ground. You have several techniques that you do very well and you connect them together in ways that are a little different each time. So, if your opponent blocks your half-nelson by putting the hand out, you grab the wrist and do the wrist control series. If he is on top of you, you can “collect the arm”, go into the mount (either pin in judo or start punching in MMA), then the arm bar.  If he rolls to his stomach to escape the arm bar, go for the half-nelson.  

See our nifty diagram below that illustrates why it is not as easy to avoid an arm bar as some people think. Let's just take an example using actual math and combinations and permutations, with three different techniques and the end being an arm bar.

    Let's say you only know three moves to set up an arm bar, throwing your opponent to her back and then doing an arm bar, being on top of your opponent in the mount to an arm bar or a turnover from your back, throwing your leg over to an arm bar. Five different paths are shown above, but there are actually many more.

    There are six permutations of any three techniques, the first three of which are shown above. A permutation is the order in which numbers occur.  So, you could throw your opponent, then do the mount and if your opponent managed to roll you over to the bottom, you could do the turnover to arm bar. That’s path number 1. You could do the throw, and if that misses, try the turnover and if that missed go into the mount and try the arm bar from there. That’s path number 2.  You could start out in the turnover - maybe your opponent missed a throw and ended up on the bottom so you went for the turnover. Then, you tried the mount, couldn’t get that, gave up, went back to standing and threw your opponent, then transitioned to the arm bar. That’s path number 3. Work it out, trust us or just go to Wikipedia and check. (There are six different permutations. - The number of permutations is n! also read as “n factorial” which in this case is 3x2x1 = 6. You’re welcome.)

One thing you will hopefully learn from this book is that you should ALWAYS learn every technique to both sides. So, you don’t actually just have six possibilities. You have twelve, because all of the first six permutations can be done to the right side or the left side.

    HOWEVER, you don't have to always do all three together. You could throw and just jump into the arm bar - that’s path number 4. So, doing each one individually gives you three more options. Or you could do combinations of any two. That is why we said there were many more than five possibilities - because there are. (Didn't think you'd start delving into set theory in a book on matwork, now, did you?) In fact, because you can do the same move in a sequence more than once, there is an infinite number, but that got messy to draw. You can throw, go to the mount, roll over, try the arm bar, roll back on top in the mount.

There are two points here that explain why we are showing the same thing several different times, but each time is a little different. First, that when you train, your mat techniques should be connected, and second, if you do train the connections between techniques, you can vary those paths so that no matter which way your opponent turns it all ends up with you winning.

If you notice in that diagram above, every path has the same outcome for your opponent.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How to teach judo (and statistics)

I'm getting ready to fly up to Seattle to do a workshop on propensity score matching, and I realized one of the more useful lessons I learned from judo had to do with teaching.

Think about what you want to accomplish. I am the first to admit that I do not do the most impressive techniques in clinics. I do juji gatame - a straight arm bar. I do it several different ways. I teach a few ways to knock people down and go into an arm bar. I am not flashy. I'm a brawler.

All those things people say about me are true.

I watched Mike Swain do a clinic once - he was the world judo champion in 1987 - first American man to win the title. He said beforehand he was embarrassed I showed up because he was going to just teach basic techniques like o soto gari (outside leg sweep) and tai otoshi (body drop throw). On the contrary, I was impressed.

What Mike did, and what I try to do, in teaching both judo and statistics is to focus on what the students need to know, not on what makes me look good.

Too often, as black belts we are trying to impress the other black belts, as elite competitors, trying to impress the other elite athletes.

I don't teach to the top and tell everyone else to reach. That's stupid. How can I expect people to "figure out" in a two hour clinic or class what it took me months or years to figure out on my own? I teach to the middle, maybe a little below. In statistics classes, I tell people to feel free to check their text messages if I am going too slow for them.

In judo (and statistics sometimes), I tell them to help their partner or feel free to go off to the side and work on something else if you already have this down. Or, better yet, do the same technique but try to do it faster. A theme I have been harping on for years is that people know matwork but not well enough to do it fast enough to pull off in a competition.

When I teach, I start at the level most students are and work up slowly. Yes, it does mean I go over the same things a lot. That's another part of the Lego theory.

If you ever built anything with Legos you would know that the trick to having a stable structure that doesn't fall over isn't building as high as you can as fast as you can. It's in building a broad base.

So ... my point is, when I leave a class, I don't want everyone to be saying,

"Gee, that Dr. De Mars is brilliantly awesome."

I want them to be saying about one or two little things,

"Yes, I see how to do that now. I completely understand that."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Free Rice Winners and TOPPS

As promised, the first five people received prizes, these were:

Jeremy  @svtjer
Jarib  @yariv0
Matt  @MattHouston
Alan @monsieur_alan
Sai @rabble_rouser

The top two people will get signed TOPPS trading cards. Apparently, these TOPPS people are mega-serious because they have to verify that Ronda signed the card and they keep track of the time it was signed, date, number on the card (or something like that). These are more than collector's items because the two she is sending out are the total that she has signed out of some special set she received.

Thank you to Steve Scott for donating the Juji-Gatame Encyclopedia . A signed copy will go out to Monsieur_Alan who requested it.

I do not know what the other two people in the top five are getting. Maybe signed posters? If you have a request, holler.

Ronda is on her way to New York at the moment to be on some show, so she will sign and mail everything when she gets back in a few days.

Five names were drawn in a NON-RANDOM sample (I am a statistician, after all). The more rice you donated, the higher chance you had of getting selected.

 User_Name ..........Grains_in_ Group
Blackwater01 ...... 448,240
mid josh1991 ....... 201,930
BautistaDS    ....... . 17,900
Verotik          ......... 27,170
Brad Nieder ...........66,570


Ccarnagua is getting a prize because he donated 335,000 grains of rice and hadn't received anything. And he follows me on twitter.

I expect those six people will be getting autographed patches. I hope you like them.

Enough rice was donated to feed about 8,800 people. That is amazing. Thank you all.

And thank you to Ronda for not being one of those kids who embarrass their family by getting drunk in a Porsche and then insulting hard-working police officers (like our friend, Gary Butts) and instead raising money to feed  the hungry.

Your mom thinks you're cool.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Random Thoughts after Fight Night: Armbars, Spite & Ronda's Next Fight

On twitter, @gilbert_king asked,

"Am I wrong? Everyone is talking about the arm bar but Ronda's judo skills are getting her into the mount so she can get the arm bar quicker."

He is not wrong. In fact (warning - shameless plug ahead - ) I wrote a couple of chapters in our book on transition from standing to matwork. Judo players who are really, really good at matwork are a small fraction of all of those competing in judo. All of those who excel at matwork are either very good at transition or very good at matwork combinations. Ronda is one of the minority within that minority who happens to be very good at both.

@svtjer, also on twitter (and congratulations on winning the free rice competition, by the way!) , asked

... since I like the technical side of things, is it possible to break own arm pulling 2 hard? For ex lft arm

I don't believe you could break your own arm if you were DOING the arm bar correctly. A correct arm bar locks the arm against your body, so it isn't as if you are lifting weights and could hurt your arm pulling too hard. Defending against the arm bar correctly -- well, there is a way to escape from an arm bar and all I can say is - what she is doing above is not it, obviously. There are two drills in our book on how to escape an arm bar and a discussion of how not to escape.

The main way NOT to escape you CAN actually break your own arm. I'm not going to say any more. You will have to buy the book.

And on to Ms. (Cyborg) Santos ...

I don't know the woman. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. When I heard rumors she was doing steroids I said she was probably just training really hard. There used to be rumors about me and I passed every drug test ever. I lifted weights a lot and trained my ass off. Ronda scoffed at me for being naive. So ... then she failed a drug test and we know that she did do steroids.

I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt again and assume she is not stupid, and that she doesn't want to lose. THAT, I believe is the reason she doesn't want to fight Ronda. I say this because while I do not know Ms. Santos, I DO know Ronda. Seriously, do you mean to tell me that if there was enough money involved you couldn't drop ten pounds from your usual competitive weight? I won the U.S. Open at both 48 kg and 56 kg -- that is 106 and 123 pounds, so I am not buying it.

We were talking about the odds for the fight and Walter Mendez, one of Ronda's old judo friends said, 

Yeah, I would have bet some money on you but I would have had to bet $100 to get back like 8 bucks.

If the fight with Santos has close to even odds, I'm putting down some serious money.

 As with every parent, there are traits in each of my children that I think are faults they need to correct. 

Ronda holds a grudge. 

I can kind of understand this because I am that way if you are mean to one of my children. I will hate you forever. Ronda is that way about way too many things. She will still bring up the fact that one of her sisters borrowed her favorite shirt eight years ago, washed it and ruined it. 

In this case, though ... all I can say is that what you saw Saturday night is nothing like what Ronda does when she has a grudge against someone. As she puts it, 
"I am greatly motivated by spite."
Having unsuccessfully tried to change that about her for 25 years, now, when it is going to do her the most good, I am going to sit back and watch it run its course.

When Ronda was 17 years old and became the first American to win the junior world championships, I was not surprised. When the U.S. coach asked me why not, I told him, 
"Remember, you have only seen Ronda on her average days, some of her better days. I see her every day, including at her very best. At her best, she is on top of the world."
One trait a good judo player needs is patience. I saw it with the French player in the Olympics who was down until the last three seconds when he slammed his opponent for ippon. Ronda has that patience. She will wait as long as she needs until Ms. Santos comes down to 135 lbs. And then she will get even for whatever real or imagined slight she feels.

If she is not stupid, Cyborg is trying to switch organizations, refusing to make the weight because she is running from Ronda. And she is right to do so.

You know that saying, "You won't like me when I am angry" ?
I don't mean unhappy she didn't get her way or frustrated because something doesn't work and a coach is yelling at her, I mean really, stone-cold, out for revenge angry.

You have no fucking idea.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free rice contest - how to help people & win stuff

The free rice contest wins tomorrow.  Free rice is a website where Ronda Rousey (a.k.a. daughter number 3) has a group. where you answer questions on topics like math, Spanish, English vocabulary, science - the questions are pretty easy in some categories. For every question you answer, the advertisers on the site donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program.

In case you don't know, Ronda is the world champion in mixed martial arts and defends her title in a fight in San Diego on Saturday. You can also watch it live on Showtime.

Before each fight, Ronda runs a contest to raise food for the hungry since she is cutting weight and hungry. Between her last fight and this one, the group has raised over 30,000,000 grains of rice. Since one bowl of rice is about 3,400 grains and comes out to about 3 cups of cooked rice, that is enough to feed approximately 8,850 people.

How to win, what to win, when to win details below. First of all, join the group and donate rice. Make sure you are playing for the group. Here are some more details.

Here is how to win stuff:

1. Be in the top five donors OR donate a million grains of rice (easier than it sounds - four people have done it so far). The top two donors get an autographed Rowdy Ronda Rousey Topps trading card. These are not the ones for sale. These were made for Ronda personally and there are only a few of them and she has all of them (greedy little brat). She will give up two for the contest.

The next donor gets an autographed copy of the Juji Gatame Encylopedia by Steve Scott. We will have it autographed by Steve AND Ronda.

That is the top three. The next two as well as anyone else who has donated over a million grains of rice (it is more than five people) will get Rowdy swag - signed posters or t-shirt (we'll email and ask your preference). By the way, if you are in this group and will be at the fight LET ME KNOW. We will try to catch up and give you your winnings in person.

2. Be lucky.  Out of all of the rest of the people who have donated, we will pull three people out at sort of random. We'll weight your chances by the amount of rice donated. I'm a statistical programmer so I can do that sort of thing. If you have donated 300,000 grains of rice you have 30,000 times the chance of the person who donated 10 grains - but they DO still have a chance. Hey, people buy lottery tickets, right? Those people will also get prizes.

When: As of weigh-ins on Friday.

I have to work tomorrow so I will not be at the weigh-ins. In fact, I am in North Dakota on the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. However, I will have a spy at the weigh-ins who lets me know exactly when the weigh-in takes place so I'll record the totals at that time.

Thank you for feeding hungry people, by the way. To quote Ronda, "It sucks to be hungry".

Monday, August 13, 2012

G-form - non-newtonian fluids protecting your body parts

Two points are evident from today's post. First, you had best be ready for anything when you come to our house and second, there is more than one way to protect your knees, elbows, phone and iPad.

Brett Robichaud is from my friend Serge's judo club, Mayo Quanchi, in Rhode Island. Brett did judo in southern California while attending University of Redlands. There is Brett below practicing.

Now Brett is all grown up and has a real job that no longer involves French table cloths but occasionally requires midnight phone calls detailing a trip to Dubai (you'll have to get the details from him).

In town on business, he was in Santa Monica taking a well-deserved hour off to go to the beach and came by for coffee. Since I thought his G-form for knee pads and elbow pads were pretty interesting, we fired up photobooth and had him talk about them a little.

As I said, it sounded like an interesting concept. He gave several of the pads to Ronda for mixed martial arts practice. Obviously, you could not use these in competition but they could possibly be added protection in practice.

After he left, I was thinking maybe the youngest daughter could use them in soccer, if they made shin guards.

I am not too sure the basis for this foam that hardens on impact is non-Newtonian fluids. I am married to an actual rocket scientist with degrees in physics, so I will check this out. On the other hand, if it keeps my kids from being injured, I don't really care what science it is based on.

I'll let you know what I find out on both scores.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An arm bar is not ONE technique

One of Ronda's friends who wanted to bet on her fight told me that we should not be so selfish as a family and that we should pretend Ronda might lose.


One thing that made me think Sara Kaufmann is underestimating Ronda was her comment on the media call that,

"An armbar is only one technique, though of course Ronda has multiple ways to transition into it."

An armbar is not just one technique. There are several techniques that are a bent armbar, a straight arm bar. I'd question whether a straight armbar you do with your opponent on her back and one you do when the opponent is on all fours and you hook an arm and turn toward her hips are really the same technique, even though you end up with a straight arm.

For more detail and a little set theory, check out my blog post months ago on Why armbars are hard to avoid.

Really, to say, "She just does an arm bar" is like saying about a boxer "He just punches people," or about a judo player, "She just tries to throw people on their back"

Somehow, even though every boxer in the Olympics knew that his or her opponent "just punches people" every match I saw, both people got punched a bunch of times. Lots of judo matches, I saw people get thrown on to their backs, even though they knew the opponent was going to try to do that.

Funny how that works.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hurray for Everybody!

What a great week!

I haven't been blogging much because I was at the Joint Statistical Meetings - kind of like the Olympics for statisticians but with people who are in WAY worse shape.

Since I was in a hotel with hopelessly slow Internet, I did not get to watch any Olympic judo except the first day (which was before I left for San Diego).

Thanks to twitter, I was able to follow the step by step move of Marti Malloy to a bronze medal and then Kayla Harrison for a gold medal! First American gold medal in the Olympics, first time the U.S. has ever won more than one Olympic medal. Many well-deserved kudos to them and to Jim Pedro, Sr. and Jr. as coaches.

I went straight from San Diego to Las Vegas for a conference that had the added bonus of my grandchildren being there. (They were with their parents, not attending the conference).

Then, I came straight back from Las Vegas and went to the Staples Center without even stopping at home, so I could watch Manny Gamburyan fight another judo guy, Omigawa from Japan, who had been Asian champion. It was a must-win for Manny since he had lost his last three matches in the UFC. I've seen him grow up on the mat could not have been prouder of him if he was my own kid.
 His performance in the third round was amazing. You know he was tired and he really dug deep, picked Omigawa up and slammed him repeatedly. If you can find the video on line anywhere, you have to watch it.

Well, I am back home and back to work. Just wanted to say, congratulations to everybody!