In the continuing series, Scramble Matt being beaten up by Scramblers, I face off against Oli Geddes, the original Scrambler!

(Must get Scramble Ben to participate in one of these videos next!)

Best thing about this was, having only seen Oli dominate people with his half guard game, to find myself completely crushed by his heretofore unseen by me pressure-tastic top game!

DkA – Lively up yourself (Bob Marley vocal edit)…

Guest post from Scrambler Oli Geddes, brown belt under Roger Gracie, who is competing Gi and No Gi at the Abu Dhabi Pro this week.

Oli fought Rafa Mendes!

Read on…

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Guest post from Scrambler Oli Geddes, brown belt under Roger Gracie, who is competing Gi and No Gi at the Abu Dhabi Pro this week.


Abu Dhabi Pro Diary – Day 1!

I’ll skip over all the exciting details of getting here in the first place, no-one -really- cares all that much about that. Took an hour and a half flight to Paris, followed by an hour’s wait, followed by a nine and a half hour flight from Paris to come in to Abu Dhabi. Taxi from there to my hosts’ house, a lot of sleep, and getting up at midday later, we’re roughly up to speed!

Moped around the house for a little bit, browsing various forums (fora?), having breakfast, nothing particularly special. My hosts’ work during the day and the kids are at school, so had the place to myself, for the most part. Whilst there is some information online, there’s no substitute for asking the various organisers who are running around (things change a lot from day to day here, and the web presence isn’t exactly finger on the pulse stuff), plus I wanted to get a little bit of rolling in so I didn’t lose my edge, so decided to head in to train. Normally, I would use the Combat Club itself, but I was informed that some people were using the Armed Forces Officers Club, which is a fair bit closer to where I’m staying, so figured I’d save myself a bit of money on a cab and take the trip over that way instead.

Called a cab, picked up some food at a service station on the way, and headed over. Now, the one problem I had is that I had no idea where in the Officer’s Club I was going. The AFOC is basically a giant luxury hotel and resort, which, I presume, is intended primarily for use by the Abu Dhabi Armed Forces. So I hopped out of my car and began exploring, looking for the BJJ arena, or some kind of outside sports hall, or something. After about a half-hour of wandering aimlessly I gave up on that and headed into the lobby to ask one of the staff members. Luckily, as they were looking at me rather blankly as I asked where the jiujitsu was, a group of Brazilians wandered past and informed me that the training was in the Billiards Room. Which was, uh, a trifle unexpected. But I thanked them and headed on my way.

It turned out they were telling the truth, and they had moved the billiards tables to one side and covered the floor of the high class billiards room with mats, and there were a fair few guys and girls training in there. I watched for a little while, since I was still digesting from lunch anyhow. There were probably about eight male black belts in there, two female black belts, a few guys training no-gi, a couple of purples and a couple of white and blues. Not too crazy, and it was an open mat rather than a class, so everything was pretty chilled out. Had a chat with one of the black belts, and they explained that we had actually all been forced in here, because the Combat Club had been taken over for some kind of Senior Judo Championship, so everyone had been shifted over here. Which made it a good thing I hadn’t gone that way. @_@

Anyway, I got changed up and warmed up on the side. Whilst I was doing that, some of the guys from Atos wandered in just to look around (Durinho, Frazzato and Calasans). I exchanged head nods and hand shakes, before getting back to watching the training. The black belt and purple belt guys were training pretty hard, and after a couple of minutes of eye contact with the coach managing their rotations, I got thrown in with an aggressive but tired-looking purple belt from Brazil. My Portuguese still isn’t up too much, but I said my greetings and got down to it. As soon as we started, he went to pull De La Riva, and I footlocked him. He resisted for a little while, but I had it pretty sunk, so he had to tap and we started again. From here it was a little more even. He was playing a little bit of open guard, and I was working to pass. I got through the open, locked him down in half-guard top, and began working for a kimura. Long story short, that went a little bit wrong, he popped to my back, and I spent the next couple of minutes defending my back with him having one hook in. I wasn’t really under any threat, but he took advantage of the opportunity and he was pretty good, so fair play to him and a good roll.

Next, I got invited to train with a black belt girl. She was obviously in competition training too, and took no prisoners. She was still a bit smaller than me, but had very good pressure, and although I was fairly comfortable for the most part, she did sink a very tight Ezekiel from top half-guard that meant I had to bail to side control. Little hands are awkward. @_@ A good roll, anyhow, and, come to think of it, my first roll with a female black belt. At least as far as I can remember. The training group had by now turned into a kind of brazilian pow-wow, and it looked like I wasn’t going to be doing any more rolling with them, so I looked around, and ran into Mark, a small blue belt from England who, by some coincidence, had been training with my first instructor before heading out here. He was short and powerful, and remarkably good for a two year blue belt who I had a fair amount of size on. A quick note is that the vast majority of BJJ practitioners in Abu Dhabi are ex-patriates of some kind, and very rarely will you run into a local, and if you do, they will tend to be white belts. I get the impression that the better local guys have some kind of closed training sessions and don’t attend normal sessions, but I could be wrong on that front.

I finished off training with the last guy left who really wanted to roll (people were leaving by this point, presumably because the no-gi competition is in two days and no-one wants to get hurt), who was a 120kg guy from Bosnia. As one might expect, even though it was supposed to be a light roll, there’s only so light a guy like that can go, but it was fun. Lot of pressure, had to work very hard for everything, and a decent end to a fairly moderate training session. I headed back out, called a cab, and headed back to another service station for food, before heading home. On one half of that journey, I ended up in a long conversation with the taxi driver, who spoke pretty good english, which is a relative rarity here. Another quick cultural note: you have to queue for petrol/gas here, pretty much the whole time, even at night. On the other hand, it’s very cheap by most people’s standards. It’s 1.35 dirham a litre, which exchanges at about 6 to a pound or 4 to the dollar. So, well, definitely cheap.

My driver (originally from Sri Lanka) also explained that per day he was clearing approximately 250 dirhams for a 14 hour working day, which, again, translates to about 40 pounds or $60. Most taxi drivers over here seem to be in the same boat, which really makes me wonder why exactly they travel so far to work so hard here and earn so little. But not my place to judge, and pretty representative, it seems, of the working model here in Abu Dhabi.

Anyway, to conclude, I was told that weigh-ins were 10 until 6 tomorrow at basically the same venue, and also that numbers were pretty low, relatively speaking. Many of the qualifiers were saving themselves for the gi event, because whilst the no-gi has good prize money, it’s basically half of what the gi fetches, and since everyone who qualified is a gi qualifier, pretty much, they seem to be saving themselves for that. Will probably train tomorrow, lightly, before fighting on Friday and, if all goes well, Saturday. Not really worried about weight at all, since I walk within a kilo of the weight limit, even on my worst day, but leaving a few hours for sweating it off just in case the climate has done strange things to me. Now…sleep!

A few pictures:

The front lobby of the hotel part of the Officer’s Club:

One view from the inside of the Officer’s Club:

The converted Billiards Room:

The bathroom (@_@):

Dan Strauss Crane Kick to Guillotine Instructional:

Dan Strauss kicking ass in the Scramble rash wear

HLs from the weekend from Daniel Strauss on Vimeo.

And Oli Geddes winning gold in Brown belt lightweight AND absolute at the English Open!

Congrats Oli, who is now the Combat Sports National Championships 2010, um, Champion!

Looking very handsome in the Scramble ‘Be Water’ rashguard, I must say! Get yours here!

Scrambler Oli Geddes at Factory BJJ up North.

Many an opponent has fallen foul to this bad boy. Quite simple, too!


Scrambler Oli Geddes has started another youtube account that is sure to be chock full of random cool stuff from his BJJ Adventures.

In the mean time here is an instructional he filmed on a nice kimura / half guard sweep combination!

Big thanks to Scrambler Oli Geddes who manned up and got a photo while sporting the Scramble Real Heart tee.

GSP is in town for personal reasons and dropped by the Roger Gracie Academy for some gi training.

Who tapped who? That would be telling!

Oli G, Real Heart, GSP!

Oli G, Real Heart, GSP and Roger Gracie!

Training has been going… meh, it’s been going. I’d rather not talk about myself but about the little team of scrappers at Gary Baker’s academy, a number of whom have fires lit under their arses about the Bournemouth BJJ open. They are really excited about and working very hard to make sure they are in shape for what will be all of their first official BJJ competition.

They have all been training under Gary Baker for a while now and so have a mixture of traditional Japanese jiu jitsu, submission grappling, combat submission wrestling, jeet kune do, and all the other tips and tricks a lifelong martial artist like Gary can show them.

I’ve come in in the last few weeks and tried to help them put it all together so that it works under BJJ rules. I really can’t wait to coach them at the competition and see how they do. It will be fun to compete with a team. I’ll be fighting too, of course, and I’m going to do my best. Putting in the time training and improving my strength in the meantime.

This month’s Fighters Only has an article (the “Icon” retrospective) I wrote about Mario Sperry in it so please check that out.

Last but not least, Scramble is pushing onwards and upwards. We’ve test driven two new prototypes of fightwear that are going back to the factory for modification, and the collaboration t-shirts with a very famous MMA brand have been signed, sealed and almost delivered. Can’t wait to start promoting them.

Scramble sponsored athlete Oli Geddes has been on a fairly wild round the world trip in recent months, competing at the Pan Ams in America, then the Abu Dhabi Pro in Abu Dhabi (where he got stranded for a long time thanks to some exploding volcanoes near Santa’s house or something), and then either the Spanish Open (or Mediterranean open – can’t remember!) where he won gold, so congratulations Oli.

Here he is rocking the Real Heart Tee whilst crushing people at one of his secret amateur MMA fights. He keeps them a secret because he wants everyone to think he only does jiu jitsu, until one day he’ll explode, fully formed, onto the MMA scene.

oli geddes real heart

And, here is Jimmy Johnstone, a good friend of mine – and professional fighter – who was nice enough to turn up to my training sessions almost since the beginning and tie me in knots, sporting the Scramble logo (in yellow) on his team t-shirt. He’s got a scrappy bunch of up and coming fighters like Ben and Matt Harrison (pictured) training out of his gym, Pheonix MMA. Ben and Matt came to one of my jiu jitsu sessions and surprised the hell out of me by being very game and very aggressive, which was wicked. I hope to sponsor some of his athletes properly in future as Scramble continues to grow.

jimmy johnstone scramble

Last but not least I was pleasantly surprised browsing through facebook to spot the Real Heart Tee again, this time sported by Jimmy Millar of House of Pain MMA (with a massively improved homepage – nice one guys!), where I used to teach. He bought the t-shirt from me and I’m super pumped to see him wearing it – as a walkout tee no less! Thanks, Jimmy!

jimmy millar real heart

Like the tee? Buy it here!

Scramble-sponsored athlete Oli Geddes is stranded in Abu Dhabi. A volcano exploded in Iceland or something apparently and all the airplane pilots are crying about dust getting in their eyes or whatever.

So what does a jiu jitsu player, fresh off a difficult showing at one of the world’s most prestigious BJJ competitions, do with his time once the dust has settled?

Why he gets introspective and writes some pretty cool stuff about jiu jitsu, of course. Here it is.

Jiujitsu is the hardest sport in the world.

In a warm and sweaty tennis stadium in the Middle East, the Abu Dhabi
Pro is finally over. Claudio Calasans’s face holds a smile that beams
just as brightly as the carefully-engraved belt around his waist and
the medals that hang from his neck. Elsewhere on the mat, the Mendes
brothers paw through their winning packages containing golden watches
and crisp dollar bills. The cameras have barely stopped flashing, but
most of the other competitors are already gone. The only ones that
remain are those who were victorious, and those who just missed out.
Braulio Estima stares blankly off into space, contemplating whatever
it is one contemplates when one gets so close not once, but twice, and
has to watch it all slip away.

And in a way, this is the saddest thing about the World Professional
Jiujitsu cup – the Abu Dhabi Pro. There is only one winner, as with
any tournament, but there are so many hopes and dreams carried by each
and every competitor. This is a proving ground, a chance for jiujitsu
fighters from all around the world to test themselves against the very
best. And, almost every time, they are found wanting. Whilst the
opportunity to fight the greatest is most definitely an incredible
one, it also, when the fight is done, brings reality crashing back in
and lets everyone know just how wide the gap between the two athletes
really is.

Even in regular tournaments, once you reach the top, you are fighting
opponents in matches where one mistake, one mis-step, one slip, can
mean the difference between winning victory and defeat. Whilst at the
same time there are always younger, hungrier, more explosive
competitors coming up through the belts and nipping at your heels,
hoping to get that one victory that will take them to the next level.
Then, once all is said and done, you are part of history in a
constantly evolving sport where your own innovative game becomes
basics for blue belts all around the world three years later.

So what is it that makes people stick with it? To dedicate their lives
to that small collection of medals that they will eventually put on
display? Is it the art itself – its infinite complexities that a
lifetime’s study cannot even come close to mastering? Or is it the
people, the lifestyle, the experiences that you share along the
journey? Maybe it’s something else entirely. But what I do know is
that I will never see how far I could have gone unless I try now,
whilst the opportunities are there in front of me. Because in the end,
all I may have is my collection of medals, but the days that they were
earned? Those are worth more than a hundred days behind a desk in an
office, slaving away at work whose results you may never even see.

Jiujitsu is the hardest sport in the world.

But there is nothing else that I would rather do.

© 2011 The Grappling Dummy Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha