Scrambling through the world of MMA, BJJ and grappling

Dare to dream by Gina Hopkins

by Ben ~ posted June 4th, 2015

Dare to dream…..

Gold and Bronze comes to the U.K., comes back to female fighters, comes back to my community, comes back to my supporters, comes back to my sponsors. Gold and Bronze…..

I genuinely don’t know what makes me more proud, helping to pull off this amazing tournament orbringing fruition in everyone’s investment in me.  I went to this tournament with a lot of my own investment and with a lot of investment from my local community, I went to make my point for disabled women in combat sports.  Being the only female and weighing in under the lightest category I went to fight for my principles, pride and respect, not daring to dream of bringing home medals.  I still wonder if I was dreaming everything that happened in New York.

With so much invested in this tournament and with my ‘’support crew’’ in tow (family, friends and sponsors), I was incredibly calm. It was one of those surreal moments where you don’t know what to expect, so what emotion can you express.  Being task orientated I just wanted to focus on my logistics, getting the right food and nutrients, going over my game plans and being crystal clear on the rules I was fighting under. I was the first competitor to arrive and the atmosphere soon became electric and we quickly all became one family.

Renzo Gracie academy, eagerness to compete, all proud to be representing our [disabled] population and ready to support everyone else.  What an atmosphere… we’re all on a mission!

Although we had a friendly, positive and supportive atmosphere, it was clear we were all there to compete and compete hard.  It was a beautifully liberating tournament, there was no judgement, no presumptions, no “taking it easy”.  It’s commonplace for able-bodied people to refuse to roll or fight with us disabled, it has been said that it’s a lose-lose situation for the able-bodied person. They either beat a disabled person or they get beaten by someone with a disability.

My mother always said “People either get it, or they don’t” in regards to disability.  My mother is very perceptive, I don’t think I need to expand on how this relates to that perception of fighting a disabled athlete.

This is, however, exactly why we need to have tournaments like Grapplers Heart. To showcase how we adapt and to show how disability can be an advantage. We saw so many awesome examples of this successful adaptation at the tournament.

Even though I won my Neuromuscular category, it was far from easy. These guys were strong, stronger than any able-bodied guys I’ve rolled with! Sorry lads!  These guys were beasts in terms of strength, unfortunately with myself being the one of the few who walked unassisted, this worked as a disadvantage as I was just not as strong.  Luckily, I have some teammates who like to pummel into me (in a controlled but fabulously fun and brutal way!), so I was prepared and I had a game plan!

Incredibly, my teammates will know how hard it is to choke me out, but the raw strength of one the guys with a Spinal Cord Injury was too much for me!  I escaped a few attempts of chokes and I got some good positions but that arm strength was amazing, even the toughest guys I know would have been envious at that applied strength he had.I would dare anyone who thinks they wouldn’t tap to a choke to roll with Brian! The guy who won the absolute was even scarier (sorry Shannon!) his arms were massive.  I didn’t feel nervous about any of my fights but if I’d of had to fight Shannon, I think I may have been apprehensive!  I would have certainly played a very tactical game of “give nothing away, under any circumstance”! It would have been fun though…

I had the time of my life, I enjoyed every minute, loved everyone, made lifelong friends, learnt a lot and have a lot of homework… for next year!!

Please remember if you’re fighting someone disabled, on the whole we have something over you and not the other way around. We have learnt to adapt and can surprise the best of you.

Fight us if you dare!


Classic S&C Mistakes made by grapplers and MMA fighters

by William Wayland ~ posted May 27th, 2015

On your quest to supplement your BJJ and MMA with strength and conditioning for a stronger, better and healthier version of yourself you will find pitfalls and missteps along the way. However years of experience from strength coaches and athletes can help you in avoid all too common mistakes when it comes to strength and conditioning.

Copying ‘famous’ athletes training program or workouts.

Many athletes share clips on instagram and facebook of what they are doing which is a great insight and often very interesting. Much is made of the workouts of George St Pierre, Rhonda Rousey, Gabi Garcia or Andre Galvo they get a ton of re-shares on social media. But before you breakout the rings and Bulgarian bags consider that these instances, these brief glimpses into someone else’s training are merely snap shots. We have no context for the conditions that have led them to that particular exercise or work out. They key point is here is that you need a program that meets YOUR needs.

Following popular powerlifting programs

When many often set off on their quest for a good strength program they’ll often take to the internet. After a quick google you’ll probably wind up with a ton of recommendations. But more often than not you’ll find a powerlifting inspired lifting routine. Don’t get me wrong some of the more popular powerlifting ebook routines has been responsible for helping people get really strong and make consistent results. However the key flaw is in the intent of they programs, they are for getting better at the powerlifts. Regularly heavy lifting is extremely neurologically demanding and past a point yields diminishing returns (see point 4!). A program like this often won’t take in to account just how draining a full schedule of MMA or grappling practice can be. Lack of variability in intensity fails to account for those type of situations. You may end up getting hurt and no body wants that!

Listening to functional movement guru’s

Biggest driver of strength gain is progressive loading and you won’t find that in a yoga class or from swinging an expensive kettle bell in the shape of a skull. The notion of functional movement seems appealing as it creates a false dichotomy, the idea that anything else (usually some method they don’t like) is some how non-functional.  Often these people speak is flowery anatomical terms which sound pretty convincing and talk about neurophysiology of movement using nebulous concepts or confusing jargon, they are Depak Chopra’s of fitness. They also often violate basic strength training principles, such as progressive overload or argue for over emphasis on stability type training despite the efficacy for such training for healthy athletes not holding up under scrutiny. My other suspicion is that this stuff is the preserve of people who have never really learned to lift properly in the first place. Step off the bosu ball, put down your soy latte and go learn to front squat. If you are dysfunctional see a physio or a decent strength coach.

More is better blues

At over 2.5 x BW I don’t think Arnold Allen needs more Deadlift in his life

I love this term  and it relates to some extent the previous points, S&C super coach Vern Gambetta summed it up in a short blog post “Volume is a seductive trap. At younger training ages virtually anything an athlete does will make them better. The more they do, the better they get – up to a point. That point is something we recognize as the point of diminishing returns. But despite the diminishing returns it is very tempting to continue on that path because that is what got them to that point. This is where the more is better blues occurs in the form of stagnation, performance plateaus or injury. Now what? More is not better, better is better. The emphasis must shift to quality training and perfect effort.” As you adapt training emphasis must change, see how strong is strong enough? post from earlier this month.

This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK. Facebook

[VIDEO] BJJ Hacks: Eddie Wolverine

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted May 13th, 2015

Hywel Teague and the BJJ Hacks team have done it again, with a whole series of videos filmed in the Big Apple.

First up is Eddie Wolverine, someone we (alongside our friends at Newaza Apparel) are very proud to sponsor.

Queue it up and enjoy!

How strong is strong enough?

by William Wayland ~ posted May 1st, 2015

How Strong is strong enough for Jiujitsu and MMA? Strength addicts will say you can never have enough, smart athletes however need to know if pursuing more strength worth diminising returns and time cost. We are not trying to produce strongmen, powerlifters or olympic lifters. What we want is strong powerful combat athletes.

This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK. Facebook

[VIDEO] Rad Roller tools quick review from Powering Through

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted May 1st, 2015

Our resident expert on strong guy (and girl) stuff, William Wayland of Powering Through, is very pleased with his Rad Roller self myofascial release tools.

Pick yours up here!


[VIDEOS] Rad Roller – new videos on releasing tension

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted April 21st, 2015

We were very pleased to introduce the Rad Roller to our UK / EU customers. We hope you’re enjoying them and the immense agony – oops I mean relief – they can bring.

The official Rad Roller YouTube account has been updated with some new content, so whether you have back, leg, arm or neck stiffness, pain and tension, check these videos out.

Rad Rollers are now in stock!

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted April 7th, 2015

The story of how we came to stock the Rad Roller range is a simple one.

In my daily life I am constantly battling sore muscles, either from jiu jitsu or from using the computer all day.

I had seen a post from Sally Arsenault on Facebook mentioning her review of the Rad Muscle Flushing Kit, which is a combination of the Rad Helix and Rad Rod.

I bought it, had it sent from the US to the UK, and started using it. It was literally the best tool I’ve ever used for this kind of thing. The Rad Rod is perfect for stripping away the points of tension not only in my muscles but also in the parts where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bone, which can get very sore for me. The Rad Helix was like a foam roller on steroids, able to get much deeper into my back than my regular foam roller.

I took the kit to the dojo, using it to roll out after class. Everyone wanted a go, and the universal response was that they were amazing bits of kit.

A few emails later, and we at Scramble can now proudly call ourselves stockists of Rad Rollers.

By putting more than one Rad Roller item in your cart, you’ll automatically unlock 10% off the total of your order.


So if you’re in the UK / Europe and you want to get your hands on some Rad Rollers, follow these links.

RAD Block - use for storing your RAD Rollers, and also allowing your more versatility in applying them

RAD Helix - It’s like a foam roller only a hundred times better.

RAD Rod - A myofascial release / muscle stripper that has to be tried to be believed.

RAD Roller - The original Rad Roller, perfect for relieving tight knots of muscle.

RAD Rounds - For extra targeted relief of knots wherever they are on your body.


Videos on using Rad Roller products

Avoiding ACL injuries in female grapplers and MMA fighters.

by William Wayland ~ posted April 5th, 2015

“Female athletes endure two to eight times more anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries than their male counterparts”

This quote is from a University of Akron study and doesn’t bode well for female athletes who apparently are at much greater risk than their male training partners of ACL injuries. Hopefully it does come as a message to take better care of your knees and approach injury prevention in the right way. Athletes such as Ronda Rousey, Julianna Pena, Zoila Gurgel, Cat Zingano have all suffered with ACL injuries at some point in their training careers. It also seems many in the female BJJ Blogosphere have also been hit with this particular injury, blogging about post op rehab in the process. And I am sure many of you reading this have ACL Injury stories too!

We are getting closer to finding an answer to what cause this apparent predisposition towards ACL tears in female athletes. Be it laxity, physiological, structural, but the main cause  in increasingly looks like the culprit being hormonal changes.  One recent study finding that “rise in estrogen during the follicular phase decreases lysyl oxidase activity in our engineered ligament model and if this occurs in vivo may decrease the stiffness of ligaments and contribute to the elevated rate of ACL rupture in women.”

With this hormonal joint laxity is the combined risk that comes with larger Q angles. Q angle is the angle at which the femur meets the tiba, in men the femur points largely straight down, in women it often points inwards. This can cause knee tracking issues and instability at the knees. Q angle is what causes nasty valgus collapse (inward caving of the knee) you sometimes see when people squat. According to Bret Contreras “proportionately wider hips, increased Q-angles, diminished hip strength, and in my opinion from being taught to “sit like a lady” (along with reinforcing that movement pattern repeatedly throughout their lives).” Stands to reason that many of the injuries I see are caused in scrambles and or during standing phases when risk of traumatic forces are at their highest.

Be able to make the Shapes for your sport

We are seeing an over swing towards mobility work at the moment which isn’t helping the situation. The female grappler is actively encouraged to get into activities like yoga, which can dis-inhibit protective mechanisms that provide protection again injuries that result from sudden force absorption. people are spending 20-30 minutes mobility work for joints that may not need it. If you play a combat sport consider which joints you mobilise carefully, make it flexible enough to make the shapes you need to for your sport (Comfort being stacked or throwing a de la riva) any more than this and your risk for injury gets higher.

My counter to some of these issues would be get strong, get stable.

Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings! And make them stronger

Martial artists have been stretching the heck out of their hamstrings since forever! And changing a culture of stretching is difficult when it is so ingrained. You have to ask the question “I may have range of motion, but am I strong with in that range of motion?”  What we want is hamstrings that are long ‘enough’ but also strong ‘enough’.

Eccentric strength and injury prevention are now being seen as a key component of training programs. Eccentric strength is the ability of muscle to yield under load, which makes the muscle more capable of absorbing force. You are basically teaching yourself to better apply the brakes. This is why eccentric posterior chain and hamstring work is such a crucial to prevention knee injuries. Below are a few exercise I regularly use with my clients. RDL’s, Zercher GM’s, Ball Curls and Nordic Curls all being great choices for hamstring strength.

Of particular note is the Nordic Hamstring curl or the Ghetto GHR which is increasingly seeing a lot of love in injury prevention programs. Mainly due to more research showing eccentric hamstring training have a huge effect on injury prevention.  Increasing strength of the hamstring muscles helps stabilized the knee by providing “backward” forces on the lower leg. The distal hamstrings help protect the ACL from being stretched and ruptured as the quadriceps muscles contract and pull the tibia forward (knee extension). For more on hamstring stiffness and ACL injuries check out Brian Schiff’s excellent blog post on the topic.

Ghetto GHR or partner nordic curl below shows, how simple it is to do and requires almost no equipment. Pretty simple to break out on the mats!

As more female athletes take up MMA and BJJ professionally and recreationally the rate of ACL injuries could well spike. Participation in a combat sports can be rough on the joints as we all know. Its the Job of the coach and the athlete to take steps to minimise risk.

This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK. Facebook

[NEW PRODUCT] State of No Mind – Camo Drawstring Bag

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted April 1st, 2015

We’ve got a sneaky little new product for you today. The State of No Mind Camo drawstring bag is the follow up to our surprisingly successful Samurai Drawstring bag.

It’s like a gi bag, but made to a higher spec. Perfect for carrying around your training gear or just a couple of items, the bag is lightweight and durable and has various bag functions including (but not limited to)

- Opening and closing

- Wearing on your back

- Carrying stuff

- Being very bag-like

- Bag

- It’s a bag.

We hope you enjoy it.


Commemorative Polaris Pro t-shirts on sale!

by Matt - Scramble ~ posted March 25th, 2015

We’ve taken inventory of the t-shirts that were on sale at the first ever Polaris Professional Jiu Jitsu Invitational, which was held in Cardiff, Wales on January 10th 2015.

There are just a few shirts available, so click through and grab one before they run out. They will probably be collectors’s items that you can resell for hundreds of pounds (or yen) once Polaris reaches its 50th iteration!