Tag Archives: Jarrod Fobes

Gracie Judo Club RD

by Jarrod Fobes


Jarrod Fobes, the meet director for the Gracie Judo Club Record Day, performs a USAWA record in the Miller Clean and Jerk.

We had a small but dedicated turn out Saturday.  Dan Wagman stepped out of retirement for “just one more” record day (I suspect that Dan is retired from lifting the same way I am retired from fighting). Newcomer Evan Sioros came and set a couple of records as he learned some of the lifts, but it was all Ruth Jackson’s show as she set a whopping 43 records! Rather she set records on 43 lifts, setting and crushing records in both the Master’s and Open categories. I myself broke the bone-head record. In the middle of the lifting I decided to set a repetition record for chin-ups. I managed 18 reps, however I forgot that the rules state that “the weight of the lifter is not factored into the overall weight of the lift”. So if any math whiz out there can figure out how to give me a record for pulling 18 reps of zero weight, I’ll be your friend for life!


Gracie Judo Club Record Day
Gracie Judo Club
Littleton, CO
December 1st, 2012

Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes

Officials (1-official system used): Jarrod Fobes, Karena Fobes

Lifts: Record Day

Jarrod Fobes – BWT 190 lbs, AGE 35 

Miller Clean and Jerk: 115lbs
Chin up: 45lbs
Pull up: 45lbs
Hack Lift – Middle Fingers: 135lbs

Ruth Jackson – BWT 104 lbs, AGE 50

Crucifix:  22lbs
Lateral Raise – Lying: 32lbs
Lateral Raise -Standing: 22lbs
Swing – Dumbell, Right Arm:  48.5lbs
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm:  48.5lbs
Squat – Lunge: 106lbs
Good Morning: 101lbs
Bent Over Row:  90lbs
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm:  81lbs
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 81lbs
Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip: 155lbs
Deadlift -Ciavattone Grip:  175lbs
Deadlift -Heels Together:  205lbs
Deadlift – No Thumbs: 225lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand:  116lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 116lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 117.25lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 117.25lbs
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm:  36lbs
Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 36lbs
Clean & Push Press – 2 Dumbbells:  62lbs
Clean &  Press – 2 Dumbbells, Heels Together: 72lbs
Clean and Seated Press:  56lbs
Clean and Press -Heels Together: 71lbs
Cleand and Press -12″ Base: 86lbs
Pinch Grip:  117.2lbs
Rectangular Fix: 50lbs
Curl – Reverse Grip: 55lbs
Curl – Strict: 55lbs
Curl – Cheat: 86lbs
Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip: 86lbs
Finger Lift -Right Little: 16.25lbs
Finger Lift -Left Little: 16.25lbs
Finger Lift -Right Thumb: 23.75lbs
Finger Lift – Left Thumb: 23.75lbs
Finger Lift – Right Ring: 36.25lbs
Finger Lift – Left Ring: 36.25lbs
Finger Lift – Right Index: 38.75lbs
Finger Lift – Left Index: 38.75lbs
Finger Lift – Right Middle: 43.75lbs
Finger Lift – Left Middle: 43.75lbs

Dan Wagman – BWT 185 lbs, AGE 50

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand:  189lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 164lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 211lbs
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 211lbs
Pinch Grip:  190.5lbs
Hack Lift – Right Arm:  275lbs
Hack Lift – Left Arm:  275lbs

Garage Days, Revisited

By Jarrod Fobes

Jarrod Fobes in action winning the 2009 AAU Freestyle Judo National Championship in the 210 pound division.

Long ago, back in a dark, distant past called “the late 90’s” things were very different. Starbucks was called coffee. Everyone could buy a house. And there was virtually no grappling training to be had in Lawrence, Kansas. Brazilian jujitsu hadn’t made it’s way into every strip mall in America, and the few judo schools I had visited before the Welcome Mat did not convince that I would learn effective groundfighting skills there. For my small group of friends, this left one option: break a few bones over the years figuring it out ourselves.

Very often, we would train in a friend’s detached single car garage. It was made out of cinder blocks, and featured an obstacle course of broken out windows and rusted pipes sticking from the wall. But it did have a 10’x10′ wrestling mat, and sturdy rafters to hang a punching bag from. There was no electricity, so we would train by lantern light after dark. I remember in cooler weather, you could see the steam rising off of the two combatants wrestling on the mat while the others tried to learn by watching.

We didn’t have a coach. We had a vast library of tapes and books: BJJ, judo, wrestling, catch wrestling, vale tudo…anything we could find. If we thought somebody knew a thing about fighting, we would beg them to come in and work with us. A couple of notables were a collegiate wrestling national champion, and a Navy boxer. I learned a lot from both of these guys, but I can probably count the sessions I had with them on two hands. Of course, there were a ton of self-proclaimed experts who somehow never made it to the mat with us. Oh well.

Your partner was your best training tool, period. Lots of good coaches will tell you this. But when you have the luxury of a good coach, you also have the luxury of ignoring him. I can’t tell you how many techniques I learned after saying “I saw this on a UFC last night. Tell me if it hurts.” Then one of us would fumble and twist a limb around, seeking that tap out, while the helpful dummy would tell you if and where it hurt, what you could try to make it better, tighter, faster, etc. I don’t doubt that I would have progressed faster with a coach in those early days, but I did learn to think for myself. Self-coaching has it’s advantages too. I never had a coach tell me something wouldn’t work. Or that a technique was not correct for judo/bjj/wrestling etc. “Can’t” wasn’t a common word. The ultimate aim was truth in fighting. Our early group came from pretty diverse backgrounds. We had a decent powerlifter and wrestler who just liked to scrap. Another came from a ninjitsu background before starting video based bjj training. Me, I had started Tae Kwon Do years before. After six months or so of training, I got into a high school fight with a smaller wrestler, who gave me a painless but humiliating beating. After that I stayed in karate and TKD for lack of other options in western Kansas, but I picked the brain of every fighter and wrestler that would let me.

I wasn’t the best guy in the garage. But I was the one who stuck around. Some guys jumped ship to train bjj in Kansas City. Some just bowed out as injuries accumulated and real life began to impose. In time, my kickboxing coach Dwane Lewis graciously offered to let me throw some mats in his gym, and the Lawrence Grappling Club was born. LGC operated for about seven years, and I learned just as much from teaching as I ever did from training. Students will ask you anything, and you had better have an answer. I began training at the Welcome Mat to finally get some consistent (and excellent) coaching. Not only did I learn how to fight, but how to teach.

After the LGC had been up and running for a few years (and getting a small but tough reputation) a prospective student called. At the end of the call he said “well, thanks for your time. I just wanted to make sure this wasn’t run out of a garage or something.” I thanked him for his call and hung up.

Garage training isn’t for everybody. There’s no music piped in, no showers, and admittedly questionable hygiene. But you will not find sissies there. You will not find belt-chasers, or politics. Whatever their degree of skill, you will find tough men and women dedicated to pursuing fighting in a way most people never will. If that’s not what your after, be sure to call ahead and make sure the place isn’t run out of a garage.

Making Your Weight Training “All-Around”

by Jarrod Fobes

Dean Ross performing an Index Fingers Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. This is one of the many variations of deadlifts within the USAWA that could be done as a "warm up" prior to a heavy deadlift training session.

Let me start off by saying that I am very new to the sport of weightlifting, and in that regard my opinions on how weight training should be done don’t count for squat. But I am a long time athlete and coach, and I do know a thing or two about creating an effective training program. So I thought I would share how I have been incorporating all-around lifting into my overall strength training, and see what the athletes of USAWA think.

Initially I tried training two days a week; one day of Olympic lifting and one day training whatever all-around lifts I was most interested in at the time. This didn’t work because if I had to miss a day of lifting, I either had to sacrifice my beloved all-around lifts, or miss out on some desperately needed Olympic practice. Also, my all-around sessions tended to focus on the lifts I was good at, rather than the lifts I needed to do. I needed to find a way to make sure I got a good full body workout on either day.

The general program I settled on is nothing revolutionary or even particularly intense: one or two full-body workouts a week, three or four lifts, each one for three or four sets of heavy singles, doubles, or triples. I pyramid up each set. I realize this is a pretty inexact scheme, but between teaching four martial arts classes a week and holding a physical job, I have to be able to vary the intensity based on how rested and ready I am. What is not inexact is my record-keeping. I think it’s important to diligently record the weight lifted each workout, regardless of whether it was a PR day or not.

With such a necessarily limited workout, it’s pretty hard to train the nearly 200 lifts included in the USAWA. So I’ve started “stealing” sets from the core lifts. For instance instead of doing four sets of Clean & Jerks, I might warm up with a set of Miller C&J. While this is a tough finger lift, it’s just a warm up for the back, leg, and shoulder muscles. Afterwards, I’ll struggle through a couple sets of Clean & Jerks, going up in weight if I feel my technique has improved enough. Then I’ll do one or two sets of an all-around lift that trains muscles or movement similar to the clean & jerk. If I’m sore and tired that day, I’ll pick something I’m not very good at (like One-Arm C&J, Judd C&J, etc) and focus on technique. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll pick one of my better lifts like the Turkish-Get Up and really try to push weight. Not only do the all-around lifts function as assistance exercises to the core lift, but the strength and technique gained from the core lift helps the all-around training too!

I bet there are a ton of creative ways to get some all-around practice in during your training, and I’d love to see some follow-up stories from veterans as well as other beginners.

Grandma’s Wooden Dumbbells

by Jarrod Fobes

Grandma's wooden dumbbells.

We’ve been cleaning out the crawlspace in my basement in preparation for a yard sale.  The house was built in 1924, and belonged to my wife’s maternal grandparents until they passed.  Anyway, tucked behind a box of knitting supplies from the 1950’s, I came across what looks like a pair very well used wooden dumbbells!  You can see in the picture that they are marked as weighing 2lbs, so I suspect they belonged to Grandma.  I never met the grandparents, but I know that Grandpa was in the Alaska gold rush and was something of an adventurer, so I suspect 2lbs might have been a bit light for him.

Rubber Grip Trainers

The night before, my lovely wife Karena also came across these rubber grip trainers in the storage room. They’re made out of dense rubber, have a nice feel to them, and provide some pretty good isometric grip work.

I know these aren’t exactly artifacts of old-time famous strongmen, but I still thought it was interesting because Karena has recently started more serious strength training and is showing some real potential. Her mom keeps pretty fit as well, and it’s fascinating to me to see the roots of all that go back to Grandma!  In any case, I was wondering  if anyone knows the approximate age of these things?


by Jarrod Fobes

Karena Fobes demonstrating the use of Clubbells and the exercise Curls with Extensions.

My grip got a lot stronger from training my shoulders. Last year after multiple back injuries, a couple of rotator cuff tears, and even tearing the cartilage between my ribs (twice!) I was becoming very interested in exploring different ways to train. That’s when I discovered clubbells.

For those that don’t know, clubbells originated in India and have been in use for thousands of years. They enjoyed tremendous popularity in the west during the Victorian era, but fell out of favor with the advent of modern weightlifting. In recent years, renowned coaches such as Scott Sonnon and Louie Simmons have done much to bring club swinging back into physical training. They are steadily growing in popularity with martial artists and other oddballs.

Being the thrifty sort, my clubs are made out of PVC filled with cement mix. I put together a simple circuit of shoulder exercises consisting of front circles, windmills, and curls with extension and got to work on building up my shoulders.

The particular exercises are best learned via video or in person, but a brief description is as follows. All exercises begin with the clubs hanging at your sides.

FRONT CIRCLES: Draw circles in the air in front of you with the clubs. Your right hand will move clockwise from your perspective, and your left will move counter-clockwise.

WINDMILLS: You are still describing circles, but the angle has changed. Your right hand will start lifting in front of your left hip. As it rises, it will move back to the right side and fall behind you. The motions should be similar to doing a backstroke.

CURLS WITH EXTENSIONS: This exercise is as much to give your shoulders a slight rest as it is to work the rest of your arms. Perform an explosive curl that ends with your elbows pointed up and the clubs lying against your back, points down. From here extend your arms and fully tighten your triceps. Lower your clubs to the starting position. If you want, you can also combine this exercise with a squat to warm up your legs as well.

I did this circuit about every other day, doing the circuit for two rounds at first. After successfully completing two consecutive circuits for two workouts in a row, I would add another round, eventually working up to six rounds. When you can consistently perform six rounds of this circuit, it’s time to build heavier clubs.

The first thing I noticed was a dull ache in my hands and forearms, even before my shoulders began to fatigue. The clubs were just plain hard to hold on to, so I decided to come up with a little forearm circuit as well to conclude my clubbell sessions with. This consists of front wrist lifts, rear wrist lifts, and finger crawls.

FRONT WRIST LIFTS: Keep your arms as straight as possible, and lift the clubs to at least parallel to the floor using only your wrists.

REAR WRIST LIFTS: These are the same as front wrist lifts, except you hold the clubs in a reverse grip. Your wrist has a greater range of motion working this way, so try to whack yourself in the triceps with the clubs on each rep. Make sure your arm is straight though this will isolate your forearms more.

FINGER CRAWLS: You know how when you get really fatigued even the most simple task can seem difficult? Welcome to finger crawls. Let the clubs hang at your sides, and walk your fingers up the club until you reach the tip. Keep the club perpendicular to the floor until you reach the tip, then let the club flip over and crawl back to the handle. Repeat this circuit until one of the exercises fails. Most likely, it will be the finger crawl that you bonk out on.

After about six weeks on these two circuits, I had added noticeable mass to each of my hands. Even better, I went from being able to do 15 consecutive reps on my Captain of Crush trainer gripper, to 26 consecutive reps. My grip is as strong as it’s ever been, and what’s better is that my shoulders have never been stronger or more stable. No USAWA lifts incorporate clubbells, but consider adding them to your routine to bump your hand strength up to the next level.