I’ve been using the Kathmandu Retreat 60 tent for a while now and I noticed there’s not a lot out there about it so I thought I’d write down my experience with it.
- Lots of space – with 2 people there’s good room for gear inside, or keep gear in the semi-covered front part to fit 3 people snugly.
- Well-insulated – bodyheat is usually enough to keep it pretty warm inside.
- Sturdy – I’ve had it in 120+km winds and as long as the support lines are up, it holds up well.
- Heavy – carrying an extra almost 8KGs on long hikes is noticeable
- Big – it barely fits in my pack and doesn’t leave room for much else, meaning I usually have a bunch of stuff hanging off the side and back of the pack which affects balance for things like river crossings
I really recommend this tent for drive-up camping or for short hikes, but if you’re looking for something more all-purpose I recommend looking for something that packs down smaller and weighs less.
Last night (15th) I got promoted to blue belt by my BJJ instructor Geoff Grant, I’m really happy about it!
It has been a hard year for me, I lost my fiance and my home, two of my best friends moved away and some other stuff, and now this great thing happened.
The belt really represents a lot to me, and not only is the belt amazing but the congratulations have been overwhelming. After getting the belt I got heaps of congratulations from the people in the club, and then on Facebook the pic has 99 likes and 22 comments as I write this. Incredible.
At my club, GSW, promotions are really special because they are surprises. I had no idea it was going to happen, I had sat down on the mat and was tying my white belt around my waist when Geoff walked over to me and said something like “hey you might as well put this belt on instead” and handed me the blue belt with a grin. Then the grin transferred to me and it hasn’t left my face since then
I recently did a comparison of the 3 main smart phones on the market today – Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One using GoodGuide, which is a really great website that reviews products and rates them in terms of their negative impact to the environment.
I went into it with a preconception that the iPhone would be the worst because of the press about the working conditions of their third-world workers.
To my surprise, the iPhone ranks most highly on GoodGuide in both categories they rate phones on – environmental impact and societal impact.
Here’s how they stack up:
The impact for all 3 of these phones is not good, especially the impact to society, and there are other phones that get much better scores such as the HP Veer with 8.0 and 7.0 and the Palm Pixi with 6.9 and 7.0, but in terms of the popular, flagship products, the Apple iPhone seems to be the best one.
Note: The phones on GoodGuide weren’t always an exact match, but close enough for me; I used reviews of the iPhone 4, Galaxy S Ii and HTC Inspire and other similar HTC smart phones.
Last night at GSW we had a seminar from the legendary John Will.
He covered lots of chokes and tips from a low knee-ride position. It was really great and I think I absorbed a lot of stuff and will try to use all of it.
I’m gonna write down some of the things he taught us:
Knee ride positioning
After the warmup which involved some light judo throws, we started off with general low knee-ride positioning.
From a tight side control with head and arm control with our left arm behind their head, we grabbed their far shoulder with our left arm and pulled it towards us and used the same shoulder to force their head to tilt away from us to make it harder for them to hip escape. Then we placed our cupped right hand on their far hip with our forearm across their waist/belly, then joined the elbow of the same arm to our right knee, creating an unbroken chain from the right hand to the right foot.
Next the knee goes up to the belly and the left leg posts out, roughly a shoulder width away from their body, and roughly in line with their shoulders, with the foot pointing slightly towards them. It’s important to place as much weight onto your knee/shin as possible, and to keep the weight distributed across them with your shin instead of the point of the knee because if it’s just the point of the knee they can hip escape more easily.
Chokes from knee ride
Next was a double lapel choke that works if the opponent successfully hip escapes your knee ride. You get a four-finger grip on their right-side lapel with your right hand before they escape, then after they escape and while they are facing sideways, you maintain the grip with your right hand and grab a thumb grip with your left hand on their left lapel. To make it easier to grab their left lapel you can punch your right hand farther and upwards which will make the lapel looser for your left hand to grab. Your head should be above your hands, so all 3 parts (both hands and head) are in a vertical line. Then to finish you lift your right arm up to get the choke.
We learned that if you are going for a choke from knee ride and the person defends by grabbing your arm tightly, that’s now your arm. It doesn’t matter if they are gripping you or you are gripping them.
In the example we went through you have the knee ride and your right hand is gripping their right lapel like in the previous example. You try to grab the left one to set up the choke but they grab your arm with both of their arms. This exposes enough of their right arm for you to sit back and put your left leg over their head for the armbar.
Baseball bat choke, AKA spinning choke
The first version starts from knee ride, then you get a four finger inside grip on their left lapel with your right hand and a thumb inside grip with your left hand on their lapel near the back of their neck, like you’re holding a baseball bat. Knowing where to get that grip depends on your body and your opponent’s body, if you get sore wrists from doing it then you can try gripping either farther or nearer to you. It can help to maintain control of them if you transfer some weight to your right elbow. Move your head close to your right knee and move your elbows together on the same side as your body. At this point it can already be tight enough to choke depending on how deep your grips are so for drilling you may have to loosen your grips a lot to follow through to the end of the technique. Next your right foot should move into the place of your left foot, and your left foot should move away so you are in a semi-standing north-south position. Stay really low the whole time since if you move upwards your wrists/forearms may slide out of position of their neck and onto their jaw which reduces the chances of the choke working. So as you rotate try to keep your head on their belly to maintain that good angle while your feet do the rotating. Your head should finish on the right side of their body, which again makes the angle better than if your head was on their belly, and to make sure the choke is using both sides of muscles (lats) on your body, you should be off-center to your left in relation to them, as opposed to being in line with their body with your head tilted. If the person still hasn’t tapped you can raise your body onto your toes and squeeze your elbows tighter.
If, during the stage of bringing your elbows together, your opponent places their right hand by their right ear so their arm prevents your elbows from getting close enough (“answering the phone”) you can slide your knee from their belly to their shoulder and to the ground behind their head, taking their arm with it.
The variation on that is if they are blocking your right hand from grabbing their left lapel, you can distract them by continuing to go for it while your left hand sneaks up to grab their right lapel with your fingers on the inside, with the top of your hand towards your face. It works pretty well because that grip doesn’t feel like it’s a threat yet to them. From there you rotate around their head completely to end up in side control on the opposite side, which turns that grip into the one you want for the choke. As you’re going around you can grab the lapel at the back of their neck with your right hand and do the choke from that side.
Back take chokes from knee ride
This starts from the knee ride position, you get grips on the lapel as if to go for a choke – or just grab the gi in the shoulder/traps area – and pull towards you to make them sit up. Then your left leg goes behind them and you take the back with a seatbelt grip and hooks in.
The first version of this involves a double lapel choke. With your left arm under their left armpit and your right hand over their right shoulder, use your right arm to pry their chin away from their neck to get your wrist/forearm under their chin, then use your left hand to feed their left lapel to your right hand for a thumb-in grip. Then you grab their right lapel with your left hand positioned as close to your right arm as possible for tightness, and pull your arms back to finish the choke.
The variation on this is if you can’t get the grip with your left hand, you can remove your right leg hook and put it on the ground below their butt and prop up on your right elbow, so you are sideways facing them. Unhook your left foot and place it on the ground by their belly, then slide your right knee along the ground until it is close to their right shoulder, point your shin away from them and sit backwards while grabbing under their left knee with your left arm. This is really awkward for them and depending on how deep you got your right hand they could be tapping now. If they aren’t, you can turn it into a bow and arrow choke by putting your right leg over their right shoulder, hooking your feet together and pushing with your legs while pulling with your right arm.
I’m sure I missed a bunch of great stuff, and for sure I left out his awesome and hilarious stories throughout, but that’s the main stuff that stuck with me.
Also, Pat and Phil got their brown belts last night, huge congrats to both guys! I haven’t rolled much with Phil but I’ve seen him owning, and Pat is just amazing with his level of dedication and skill.
Here’s a pic of them from John’s Facebook:
Last Saturday I went to a grappling competition in Palmerston North to support my teammates who were competing. We had a great turnout and it was really inspiring for me.
I had originally planned to compete but with the staph infection and flu in the month before the event, I had only had 2 training sessions since then and I knew that wasn’t enough.
When I do compete I don’t need to be at 100% or anything, I do realize that it’s best to just get the first comp over with, but I don’t want to be entirely useless either.
Anyway here’s a vid of my GSW teammate Rob Laurent in the match that won him the gold medal in his weight-division:
In my teenage years I was around 65KG and very fit and strong with almost no fat, then a few years ago I was 105KG with a lot of fat and had lost a lot of strength and had almost no fitness, now I’m 90KG with mostly muscle and have regained some strength and the fitness is getting better. So now I’m satisfied that my fat-loss phase is more-or-less complete.
What this means for me is it’s time to change my diet, so last week I had a look at everything I eat, added it all up and saw where I need to take it to start my next phase which is building more muscle.
I added up my daily protein intake and it was around 70g per day. For a 90KG guy trying to bulk it seems to be recommended to get at least 125g protein per day.
So I’ve started having protein shakes, which works out great for me because I was already having smoothies every night (banana, berries and oat milk).
Other than that I already eat quinoa and beans most nights, with quinoa being one of the rare sources of complete protein, and beans a good source too. Almond butter also has a high protein percentage.
With these changes I’m at around 120-130g of protein per day and I’m happy to have finally made it to this phase.
I got a staph infection on my chest and back last month and that had me out for a couple of weeks, then the flu straight after that.
I’m back to full health and training now though.
Last night at jiu jitsu we covered some passes and sweeps, focusing on weight placement and underhook control. I learned a lot of finer points that will really help me.
I’m going to try to use this blog more regularly to keep a record of some of the things I learn, I’ve been super slack with updates lately.
There’s big controversy about whether to let Fallon Fox, a post-op transgender woman, fight in MMA competitions as a woman. Opponents of this usually cite musculature and bone-density as reasons to make her compete as a man. At first that seems like a good point, it’s unfair to let people fight when one of them has stronger muscles and bones than the other.
But then have a think about how it is right now for men; there are massive physical differences between fighters in the same weight-division. Look at fights like Fedor (barely 6ft) vs Semmy Schilt who is almost 7ft and 25kg heavier (which Fedor won), or Minowaman vs any of the giants he has beaten.
So in order for the opponents to actually commit to that point, they would have to suggest that we also split up the male weight divisions based on bone-density and muscle strength.
“Aaaaand new Heavyweight, Weak-bone, Medium-muscle-strength champion of the world…” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I’ve been training regularly lately, finally having a long injury-free period so I’m making full use of it!
I’m doing 7am classes as well as the ones starting at 6:30pm.
I’ve got my friend Duncan Stuart coming along to the night classes too which is really fun and he seems to be a natural with some aspects already.
It’s a personal breakthrough to me to be able to do 3+ hours of training in one day, proof that my hard work with strengthening my body is paying off.
The other thing I’m noticing is I’m able to be more aggressive in terms of enforcing my will. I spent months at the club getting dominated, sometimes because of a lack of technique in comparison to my opponent, but often I think it was because of a lack of aggression, so I would spend the whole time defending attacks instead of initiating some of my own.
It has resulted in me developing some defense to some moves which is useful but now I’m rounding it out by going for my gameplan more often and I’m finding that what people said would happen is happening; as soon as I switch to attack mode it becomes much easier because it mentally affects my opponent, when they are focusing on defense it makes everything easier for me.
It’s really obvious and I think it’s a realisation that happens to everyone, and now I’ve had it too. Awesome!
I’m still training regularly, though I have yet to get back into the wrestling and striking aspects this year. I will look to start them again at Lockdown MMA soon but it’s about finding a balance that my body can handle.
Last year my training ebbed and flowed because my body couldn’t keep up with my motivation. I have so much motivation that I want to train all the time, so I would do that but always got injured, then I had to take time off for the injury, and it was a cycle that happened over and over. So this year I unfortunately have to be smarter if I want to avoid having periods of time off; it is better to train just 3 times per week and have that be sustainable rather than 5 times a week but with weeks off to heal up.
So at the moment I’m aiming for Monday, Wednesday and Saturday trainings, which are all jiu jitsu, but I miss striking and wrestling which are really fun and useful so I have to keep working at getting the balance right, and I hope that after doing 3 days a week for a while my body will get used to it so I can increase to 4, then after a while 5, etc.
So I guess if there’s a lesson there for anyone else it’s to try not to rush into it. I know it’s hard not to do it all the time since it’s fun and addictive, but look at the long-term results of that.