Griphouse People: Gordy Smith

Gordon Smith may have recently moved to Newcastle but he is a true Griphouse OG. He started Muay Thai with Guy before there even was a Griphouse. You all probably know him. He’s the guy that popularised the”scream your lungs out while throwing a jab” trend that is now thoroughly entrenched among our Muay Thai athletes.

He’s a noteworthy chap in that not only has he lost tonnes of weight he has also went on to fight all over the world, hold many titles and in general be a Muay Thai badass. He also found his wife here which is very cool.

Here is him in his own words and 3 different systems of weight measurement.

What made you first set foot in the Grip?

Guy came into Caley one day and said, ‘We’re getting a gym in Maryhill’.

I had been trying to get my weight down (I had reached the ‘heights’ of 110kg, or 17 and a bit stone in old money) for a while at Strathclyde University using the treadmill, exercise bike and weights, etc., but had gotten pretty bored by it all. A friend saw the flyer for Guy’s classes and wanted somebody to go with him. I decided to give it a go and was hooked from there. A few months later, my friend stopped going but by then I had started to try to find as many of Guy’s classes to go to as possible.

What effect has training at the Grip had on you?

Well I’m married and no longer classed as ‘Obese’ or ‘At Risk’ by doctors.

It’s literally changed my life, not to get all clichéd and teary-eyed, but I’ve made some amazing friends, including my wife, I’ve managed to fight on three continents (including a fight at Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok) and was Scottish Champion for four years and Top 10 ranked fighter in the British rankings, all whilst losing almost 100lbs, quitting smoking and changing my diet/lifestyle in general for the better. In short, it’s turned my life around for the better.

Is there anyone in particular that has helped you out a lot?

There have been plenty of folk over the years, the main ones being Guy and Big Mike in the early days for not just seeing a vastly overweight, heavy drinking and smoking waster.

My main training partner when I first started fighting was Mike Strachan and I have to say that his outlook shaped the way I trained and fought a lot in the early years. Guy has been a constant and positive influence to me for more than 13 years running the gambit from friend to surrogate big brother to coach to training partner.

In the last few years there have been quite a few people who have shaped me as a fighter and in the way I train (in no particular order, and apologies for any unintentional omissions) T, Brian Calder, Keith McLachlan, Brian Totty (Jr and Sr!), Top Gun, Paul McVeigh (a.k.a. The Dark Lord of S&C), Adrian, the list goes on…..

What is it like being at the gym and would you recommend it?

Like being in a sweaty sauna that smells of protein farts most of the time. Yes, I would recommend it, but only if you like being sore and successful.

I would definitely recommend it as it’s by far the best place to be if you are looking to progress in Thai/MMA but also if you want a great place to train that doesn’t patronise you, judge you for not being ‘perfect’ or not fitting in like some gyms do. The only pre-requisites are self-motivation and determination.

Training at the Griphouse is very hard, but so much more satisfying and rewarding for it. Whenever there are a group of fighters all training for top level fights at the same time, there is no better place to be. You turn up everyday not knowing what’s going to happen but know that it’ll involve hard work with some of the best fighters in the UK and that you’ll be leaving sore and tired.

Unfortunately Since becoming a pro level athlete has destroyed every trace of his former fatter self. Seriously I even checked Bebo. So we can’t get the before and after stuff people find so popular.

All off the Grip guys are sad to see Gordy go and hope he has success and a lot of fun in his new endeavours.

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Superior Hip Mobility: A how to guide.

When people learn that you do martial arts they immediately assume you have the ability to kick hapless attackers in the neck while wearing skinny jeans. For many of us that isn’t the case and we require a nearby radiator to lean against in order to throw any kick above waist height. We are used to Thai guys displaying pretty impressive hip mobility but all combat sports athletes can benefit from loosening off creaky hips. Jits guys will have harder guards to pass , wrestlers will be tougher to takedown and boxers will hit harder. In general you will move better and be able to do more stuff.

As well as messing with your ability to preform certain techniques stiff or short hip musculature can lead to whole host of problems for your lower back and knees. If your hips are locked up your body will find that movement somewhere else, usually by increasing the movement at the knee and lower back. These are two joints where we really don’t want to be that bendy. This is also one of the reasons why the frequency of lower back and knee pain is much higher than hip problems.

So if your hips are creaky, you can’t move well and your more likely to get a debilitating injury. But that’s not all. You are also going to be weaker than you might otherwise be. With short hip flexors you will have trouble using one of your most powerful muscle groups, your glutes or as they are known at the Griphouse “yer erse”. Tight hips equals inhibited glutes. This limits your ability to generate power as well as increasing the risk of strains in the hamstrings and lower back as they pick up the hip extension slack.

If we can get your hips working optimally again you can expect:

  • Improved technique application
  • More power
  • Decreased injury risk
  • Less session ruining niggly pains.

All good stuff unfortunately the conventional wisdom of spending a few minutes stretching is not likely to lead to lasting change, particularly as you get older.

The Grip Hip Fix.

Snappy title right?

Stage 1. Addressing tissue quality

Getting kicked in the legs or squishing someone in half guard can leave you with some funky adhesions and trigger points in your leg and hip musculature. Stretching while your legs are riddled with these nasties offers a very temporary solution. You will feel like a ninja for a little while but your hips will rapidly go back to their more jacked up state.

Bash those trigger points with a foam roller, concentrating on the front, outside and inside of both legs, before moving onto jamming a lacrosse ball into your glutes.

This is all pretty standard stuff that you will see happening daily at the Griphouse so if your unsure ask someone how it works.

Points to bear in mind.

  • Go mega slow. Doing 1-2 passes of the leg is enough so long as you are going slow enough to address all the horrible bits.
  • When you do find something that makes you want to hate life, hang out on it and if possible flex the knee joint. It will soon go from disgusting > nasty > unpleasant > wonderfully fine.

Stage 2. Banded Stretches

One of the major problems in finding a solution to the tight hip problem is that the traditional approaches do not deal with the joint capsule. The joint capsule is a bag of fibrous tissue that completely surrounds a joint.

Hip Joint capsule

It provides stability both actively and passively ensuring the joint is strong and moving optimally. When the joint capsule is damaged there is often an increase in joint laxity and the risk of dislocation. So we should all be pretty happy we have them.

Unfortunately when we adopt certain positions for too long the joint capsule itself can adaptively shorten. This messes with the joint range of motion and contributes to the problems outlined above.

One of the easiest ways to effect change in the joint capsule is with banded stretches. The band drives movement through the joint capsule as the stretch takes place. The band pulls the head of the femur into a more optimal position.

To account for all movements we must address the hip capsule anteriorly, posteriorly and laterally.

Anteriorly

The band pulls the hip capsule forward as the hip flexor stretch is performed. Note the band is in line with the hip. Keep your arse and stomach tight through out and avoid excessively arching your lower back.

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Posteriorly (2 positions)

The band pulls the hip back wards while the stretch is performed. Note the lowered attachment point of the hip.

Position 1

If this kill your knee bring the heel closer. try to keep your chest up and move around going towards the knee and then the foot searching for the tight bits.

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photo 2 (2)

Position 2

Don’t let you lower back arch. keep your chest up and sink back. You are trying to get the biggest stretch with the least amount of movement.

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Laterally

The band pulls the hip capsule to the side as the stretch is performed. The band is set up at hip height to the side and slightly behind the hip.

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Hang out in each of these positions for 2mins. That may seem like ages but you will be doing stuff the entire time. This is not a passive stretch you will be actively moving in and out of the end range and utilising the contract and relax method.

Imagine the anterior joint capsule stretch above. You will actively try to pull your knee through the ground towards your other heel for 10seconds then relax and try to sink into a new increased range.

If you need any help with the “how to’s” of all this give me a shout at the gym. If enough people are interested ill do a quick 20min freebie seminar sometime.

Implementation

Do  this routine everyday for 6days and see if you notice a change in your hip mobility. This 6day rule is a great way to assess whether or not a mobility or soft tissue intervention is having an effect, although with this program you will probably notice the difference straight away. Try squatting immediately after completing the routine. You should notice a big change in mobility.

After 6 days switch to doing the program on alternate days for another week. Then move to utilising as and when you feel it is necessary. You will miss that new found hip mobility when it’s gone.

Let me know how you get on.

Fat Loss: What we can learn from fighters?

The quest for long term fat loss is a giant industry worth billions of pounds word-wide. People will happily spend hundreds on any person or product that will help them shed unwanted fat.

At the Griphouse almost every week one of our athletes is attempting to drop weight for an upcoming competition. Our guys regularly drop 3-10kgs in water and fat mass in the lead up to a scheduled bout.

What makes these guys so good at getting to incredibly low body fat percentages?

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With great results comes great homo eroticism


1.They are doing something they love.

This is pretty much the biggest secret. However you are trying to shed fat mass tie it to an activity you find fun and challenging. If you have to drag yourself to training and hate your time there, why bother?

Ultimately our fighters train because they enjoy it. It’s the only good reason to do anything anyway. If you enjoy it you will be consistent and consistency is the key to improvement. When you focus on continual improvement,body composition change happens as a byproduct. Love what you do and focus on getting better everyday, this will ensure you will be training for a long time and less likely to pile on pounds.

Getting in shape and staying that way your entire life is not about a 6week plan. It’s a life long commitment to activity and sensible eating choices.

Tip: whether it’s Jiu jitsu, MMA , Muay Thai or Wrestling give it some time and make sure you enjoy it. If not move on to something else and see what fits for you. Then throw yourself into it, become a fan of the sport and everything associated with it.

2. They have built a positive supporting community.

Being surrounded by in shape people sets the bench mark high. Societal norms push us to be like everyone else so if everyone you know looks like Huge Jackedman you tend to watch what you eat.20140702-155407-57247828.jpg

The Griphouse is a great source of information for those looking to improve how they look in the nip. The shear amount of Tupperware flying around with delicious stuff inside is staggering. People are always ready to share healthy recipes, nutrition advice and cool tips for everyone’s mutual benefit. If you do not enjoy eating clean then staying in shape is going to be a challenge.

Did you know that hazelnut milk mixed with chocolate protein tastes like Nutella? Thanks to Griphouse fighter Keith Maclachlan for that one.

The community vibe also permeates to the classes themselves. Did you do those million burpess followed by 1000 double kicks to lose weight or did you do them because everyone else did? Having people around you who are pushing themselves is invaluable in making the most of your work outs.

Tip: get involved, be there regularly, help out where you can, ask questions and become a true member and resource for those at your gym.

3. They are accountable.

A fighter has a date and a time whereby the must be a specific weight. If they miss that weight they will face some hard questions from their team mates. Missing weight at the Griphouse is like drop kicking a baby, it’s very not cool.

With a set time frame, positive motivation and the threat of violence if you don’t meet your goals, good things happen.

Tip: Tell people what you are doing and set a time frame. “I will do this diet for 4 weeks, if you see me with a doughnut, kick me in the leg” you can usually find a good few volunteers to oblige you.

I have highlighted a few points that I think help our fighters achieve some really impressive results. But it’s not just the fighters. Our non competitive athletes regularly achieve results as impressive if not more so than the guys competing. More than once a members transformation has tricked me into thinking they were two different people. Ross Jack was one such guy.

I have worked in more traditional fitness venues and the level of success achieved is nowhere near the level that I see on a daily basis amongst our non competing members. I believe that the success is due to factors listed above, an activity you love and a supportive community. Non competitive athletes don’t tend to get photographed taps aff at a specific date so the accountability is diminished somewhat. However by letting people know what you are attempting and setting deadlines accountability is brought back into play.

I am currently guinea pigging a nutrition intervention thingy that will be unveiled on this blog as the BIg Griphouse Nutrition Experiment. This will be free to everyone and will be ready to launch in a few weeks. All I ask is you let us know how you get on. If your interested in taking part drop a message in the comments section.

 

 

Griphouse People: John Brown

Here is our next installment in the Griphouse People series. With this blog series we are celebrating some of our members who have achieved really cool things outwith attacking people in cages and rings around the world. We strongly believe that everyone’s reasons for training have equal validity. Our goal is to improve our people through martial arts .

Just over three years ago I was encouraged to try a session of Muay Thai at the Griphouse gym by my Daughter Jo and her partner Grant. At the time I was an overweight couch potato, with a waistline of 36”, not too healthy for a male who is only 5’ 7” tall. My idea of a good evening after a hard day at work was lying on the couch watching television. I had my week set out and it didn’t involve too much exercise. Friday night was the time to head to the pub for a few beers and then go home and relax for the rest of the weekend. This seems quite a common life style for a 55 year old male in Glasgow.

I attended the first session and I found it really hard, but I was encouraged to give it everything I could by my daughter and the coach “Guy Ramsay”. Needless to say I had a few aches and pains for a few days after that first session but I did enjoy it. How do I know that I enjoyed the training? I am now 58 years old and still attend the Griphouse Muay Thai classes.

I am now a 30/31 waist. I weigh a little more as the fat has now been replaced with some muscle. This has helped my own perception of my body image and increased my confidence. I work as a secondary school teacher which at times is very stressful. If I feel tired and stressed a session at the Griphouse takes it all away. I go into work the next day feeling invigorated and without a care in the world. My overall Health & well being has increased considerably since I started training at the Griphouse.

This has all been possible due to the family atmosphere at the Griphouse, everyone is made to feel welcome. I have made many new friends who I look forward to seeing and training with. I now attend the Griphouse on my own as my daughter now lives abroad but this is never a problem, you always find a partner to train with. It could be a joiner, a shopkeeper or a lawyer. We are all there for the same reason and that is to improve our fitness, so everyone fits in.

The two main coaches that I have worked with over the years have been Tommy Young and Kenny(Kent) Ho. Both are excellent coaches who have a love of their sport , really enjoy coaching and passing on their experiences. They have different methods but the same goals, which keeps it interesting, it’s never boring. There is always something new to learn. I have also been fortunate to attend sessions with Guy Ramsay, Sean Wright, Lyn Minn-Din, Mani Singh and Hillary Mack who are all excellent coaches.

Personally I really enjoy training at the Griphouse and would recommend it to anyone. The family atmosphere where all are welcome makes it stand out on its own, it is second to none. Don’t let silly things like age, lack of fitness, being overweight or your own self esteem stop you from giving it a try. You are never pressured to do any more than you are capable of at the Griphouse. The experienced coaches have your health & well being as their primary concern and will look after you. Always remember that any exercise is better than no exercise. I would recommend that you attend a session at the Griphouse and give it a try you will be pleasantly surprised at how well you feel after the class.

Cheers for that John.

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Consistency: Embracing the grind

These days everyone appears to be looking for the quickest way to get results. They want to lose 20 pounds in ten days, they want to be a black belt in 3 years or have their first fight in 6 months. The vast majority of us know that training and sensible nutrition will lead to long term sustainable results yet we would much rather do 6 weeks of the Angry Viking diet and a strength program designed for Bulgaria’s National Olympic lifting team.

There is always a time and place to “Train Insane” but the vast majority of your training should be at a level that is sustainable. This ensures that your training remains consistent and consistency is the key to learning.

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Embrace the grind.

Im not suggesting that your training should not be difficult far from it, but if someone were to say that your current schedule was one that you would adhere to for 5-10 years you should not be overly traumatised. Now try suggesting the same thing to a fighter who is training for a bout. Most guys train 6-8 weeks specifically for a fight, at an incredibly intense level. If you suggested to a fighter that they would benefit from being in camp for a few years you may have a discussion on your hands.

Going all out and pushing yourself to the limit everyday sounds cool and makes you feel like Conan but it is ultimately unsustainable. You may find professional fighters back in the gym a day after they have competed (particularly at the Griphouse) but they are almost certainly training at a lower level and enjoying themselves more. Seven weeks into an eight week fight camp very few athletes are truly enjoying their training. The level of intensity combined with pre fight pressure and other stressors takes its toll on the athletes. Many mention looking forward to getting back to regular daily training where they can focus on getting better as opposed to winning a fight. It is not uncommon for some fighters to only train when competing.

The expression “Embrace the Grind” seems to have come from the wrestling community and is the counterbalance to the Train Insane ethos. Its the long slow “grind” to improvement and mastery. Its turning up every day, doing what you are supposed to do and slowly dragging yourself towards your potential.

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You are training hard but in a way that does not leave you ruined for your next session. You are putting in the time and enjoying the process, the small victories that lead to the big improvements.

Enjoying your training and being consistent are the keys to mastery. If you do not enjoy what you are dedicating yourself to you are unlikely to be consistent. It is no coincidence that the guys who train the most tend to be the better guys. Books like the Talent Code, Bounce and Mastery have all suggested that the concept of innate ability or talent is overrated. Particularly in sports where technical ability is so prevalent. It comes down to a simple equation

  • Hours of deliberate practice + skill and ability of coaches and training partners + physical attributes = level of badassery

Jiu Jitsu guys will roll light , in Thailand fighters will rarely spar at a competition level instead they play around, wrestlers will flow wrestle. All of these interventions allow the athelete to get more mat/ring/cage time in and anything that increase the amount of deliberate practice is highly beneficial to those commited to getting better. Sparring at 100% could maybe be done for 3 rounds twice a week, maybe? But drop that intensity down to 60-80% and you can be doing 30+ rounds. The further we get away from 100% the less “real” it becomes but with 10 times the mat time, who is learning more?

Getting better at any activity is actually quite simple. Do you want to be a great guitarist? Well you should probably get a good teacher and practice as much as you can. The same goes for any activity. Want to get good at it? Do it a lot.

Embracing the grind means turining up and paying your dues. It is the tougher path as it is sustainable. You wont have the luxury of burning out, giving up or picking up an injury as the intensity is optimised. Everyday you will have the battle with yourself to train or not to train. This will happen forever as you have commited yourself to life long improvement. Missing a session here and there has no effect in the short term but in the long term this adds up.

Eventually you will be where you want to be you just have to keep going.

 

 

Griphouse People: Ross Jack

The Griphouse is well known for producing the country’s finest combat sports athletes, with many  of our guys competing at an incredibly high level. This weekend we have Robert Whiteford out in Dallas competing in the UFC and we wish him the best of luck. Drop the Hammer son.

What many people often do not realise is that a good 90% of our people have no intention of competing professionally. At the Griphouse everyone’s reason to be there is respected and holds equal validity. Our recreational guys are just as important to us as those striving to be world champions.

With that said I wanted to run a series of articles on some of our people who have done really cool things and benefited from their time with us. The first guy that sprung to mind was Ross Jack.

He probably sprung to mind because I see him almost everyday. He has embraced training and combat sports as a lifestyle and the results he has achieved have been a testament to the hours he has put in.

His transformation has been incredible, as the pictures below can attest to.

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On day 1 Ross was living a sedentary lifestyle, was unfit and unhealthy. Now he is a competitive fighter, gym rat and an asset to everyone he trains with. He has also begun personal training at the Griphouse helping other to achieve goals like his own.

Here are Ross’s own words.

I have now been training at The Griphouse gym for over 3 years. On my first session I was 15st and lasted 5mins of a personal training session with Guy before collapsing on my arse. But with Guy’s help, support and approach to training I was able to transform my physical abilities and appearance. 

The Griphouse offers a fantastic support network as all the athletes help to train and encourage each other. The standard of coaching is world class and is proven by the titles the coaches and fighters have won.

The gym has a great work ethic that has taught me the discipline and hard work required to transform from a complete novice to a competitive fighter. I owe the Griphouse a lot and would not be the person i am today without it. Guy Ramsay (the owner) is a fantastic coach/friend and if it were not for his patience and determination throughout the past 3 years I would still be 15st and unfit.

Ross’s story is a common one at the Griphouse. To achieve big changes you must make big changes. Body composition and health related goals are not achieved by simply doing a particular class or adopting a goofy diet. In my experience the most profound changes come when a person finds an activity that they really enjoy doing.

When you really enjoy what you are doing turning up is easy. From there adopting the culture of this activity starts happening by itself. You eat cleaner, because training after a chippy is brutal, you turn up more because team mates are relying on you. All of these things and many more combine to encourage you to transform into a better version of your previous self.

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Mega Smasher: Murilo Santana’s guard passing breakdown

Murilo Santana is one of those guys who has a lot of success in tournament jiu jitsu but is relatively unheard off. He does not have a DVD instructional series, a subscription website or a host of moves named after him. What he does have is a highly effective and brutal passing style that has served him well competing against the some of the best guys in the world.

Posture in the over under position

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Murilo’s passing game is based around working from the over under. He will often pressure from this position for up to 6-7mins in the round and not really commit to a pass. In the last 3mins the exhausted opponent is passed and often submitted in rapid succession.

The over under position provides a number of advantages for the athlete:

1. Being latched onto the hips negates the advantages many flexible guard players have.

2. Inversion is incredibly difficult with this degree of hip control.

3. Adopting this passing strategy completely avoids all the cool guard positions. There is no spider, de La Riva or inverted DLR options.

4. The opponent is carrying your weight the entire time. This is exhausting for the bottom player. Their options are limited to destroying the head position and framing against the top man in an effort to recompose some sort of barrier. This is tiring work, doing dumb bell presses for 7mins will knacker anyone.

5. The top mans has minimised a lot of the bottom guys offense and only really has two main concerns. Which are, the leg escaping into a triangle on the overhook side (this can be minimised by constantly contouring the hips to the overhook side) and being tilted or swept to the underhook side (this can be minimised by posting with the underhooking arm and keeping hips contoured to the overhook side). Keeping your opponent off the leg on the overhook side eliminates a lot of tilt sweep options.

Murilo Santana’s passing breakdown.

There are two really interesting things about Murilo’s personal passing game. First of all he is highly proficient in the passes outlined below on both sides. This is pretty unusual and is probably due to the fact that his passes are determined by his opponents responses.

Secondly he rarely does the traditional shin circle pass to side control. Perhaps he feels this methods offers up too much space when compared to the options outlined below or more likely he prefers passing directly to mount.

The side smash position

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After pressuring his opponents long enough to make them start hating life he begins moving towards the opponents mid line I.e. the underhook side. This makes tilt sweeps more difficult as the leg grab is tougher. It also opens up the elbow and knee space for the shin circle pass, but as we know Murilo has no intention of going that way.

Instead he is moving all the way round to the side smash position. Lateral movement is the key here. He is actively raising and lowering his elevation, contouring his hips and moving to the underhook side. You an see this in action whenever anyone tries to elevate him with butterfly hooks. At times he appears to be floating on the end of these hooks before gracefully landing in the side smash as the opponents legs fatigue.

From the side smash he covers the top leg with the shin and moves to the side. The bottom mans hip positioning makes it really difficult to re guard, they are left with a crappy choice, accept side control or expose the back.

The flattened half guard

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Often in the face of this pressure the opponent will shoot for half guard to increase the degree of control they feel they have in this situation. This rarely helps them. Instead of fishing for the underhook; very difficult to do on elite player, Murilo stays low and pins his head to the ground removing the threat of his opponents underhook while freeing up his own hand to actively post or assist in freeing the trapped knee on the way to mount.

With only the foot now trapped in guard the underhook is taken and solid forward pressure completes the guard pass. The opponent is mounted and in a seriously vulnerable position. The frequency with which Murilo taps an opponent after the pass may be due to the way in which he passes to this incredibly dominant mount.