Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Standing Guard Pass Stuff

I had some confusion about standing guard passes. I'm now okay on the idea that the leg on the northmost side is the side you take the initial, deep step up. But my problem comes in trying to figure out which leg is the one you step back with to help open the guard.

Rodrigo seemed to suggest that once you are good at the standing guard pass, you might not have to step back with either leg to get the guard open. You might be able to just "shimmy" the guy's legss down and open with both your legs relatively on the same plane.

What he wants to step up is the "groin stretcher" pass where you underhook the guy's up leg. I'm going to need to take notes while he's showing me this pass because I just don't ever seem to be able to remember the mechanics.

Here's how I think it goes: you grip the left cuff with your RIGHT hand. Elbow in tight. Excellent. Stand immediately. RIGHT foot first, LEFT foot second. Good posture. Push down with your LEFT HAND against the guy's right knee. Step back with your LEFT leg.

The guy's right knee/leg goes to the mat. KEEP IT PINNED. Now, here is the PASS:

Version One Collapse on that leg immediately with your RIGHT knee. This will require you to twist a little to the left as you are opening the guard. Remember that this is similar to the Saulo Ribeiro ground pass in which you turn your body toward the side that will be stepping back. I think this gives you a better base because your feet are perpendicular to each other instead of parallel.

Shoot the underhook on the far side with your RIGHT arm. Slide your body over the pinned leg into side control or scarf hold. Excellent examples of this are on Cesar's first DVD, series one, at around the 33-minute mark.

Version TwoCollapse on that leg immediately with your LEFT knee. This will require a back step with the RIGHT leg in order to complete. I think this is the one that Rodrigo has been showing us. He's shown us version with a straight backstep pass and with a groin stretcher. I need to ask him Saturday about this.

I'm watching the Cesar video. He points out that Version One is good if the knee goes to the mat. If the knee stays up, though, you don't want to fight against his leg, trying to force it down. Instead you want to underhook the leg.

As you do this, you want to do two things simultaneously. One, drive your underhooking shoulder forward into the guy's body. Two, sprawl back with the leg that's on the same side of the underhook.

A crucial point: with your other hand, that is grabbing the collars ... you want to avoid being triangled or armbarred. Do that by bringing that arm tight against your body, elbow to chest.

Once you've driven your shoulder in on the underhook and sprawled, reach across with the hand on the underhooking arm and grab the opposite lapel. Keep your hips low and walk around toward the underhooked side. Once you reach the side, release the leg and secure side control. Trick: you know that you've "reached the side" when you can put your head between his head and the leg. Specifically, the steps are (1)walk around to the side, (2) hips pressed down deep to the mat, (3) switch head outside his leg.

Grappling Game Plan: April 2006: Day 1

Review of Wednesday, March 29th

Fortunately, Rodrigo had us doing a lot of specific work. I really think that's the way to go. A few guys got too gassed so he ended the specific work early and let us spar--though he let Joaobat and me do more with the guard ...

I like that I tried to follow the gameplan in my guard passing. I've still got major mechanical issues. But at least I'm implementing the plan. Fact of the matter is that if I were already capable of fulfilling the game plan, then it would be time to do another one.

With Joaobat, I managed to almost pass his guard. I waited until I got a cuff then immediately stood up on that side. I'm still keeping my elbow too wide and not tucked against my side when I do this, so I need to be careful.

Managed to get his other leg down and get my knee know immediately. Good. If I remember, though, I failed to hold down the leg until I was almost completely past his guard, and he managed to put me in half-guard. This happened both times that I opened his guard and moved to pass.

My work against Tommy Boy was a mess. He's much too good. He did show me a couple of thingss--Tom's always good about that--including how to use the gi to wrap up the arm when I try the "handcuff" guard pass set-up that's worked well against Arnell and Bruce (who is out with a bad ligament in his pinky finger). Tommy also pointed out that if I get double underhooks on the legs, that I need to raise the guy's hips just enough to get control and toss them to the side. If I keep going and try to stack the guy from this position, then I'm likely to get reversed.

Ended up banging my left big toe while rolling with Tommy. No biggie--I'll be back on Saturday. But I'm gimping about a little come Thursday ...

Rodrigo also showed us some half-guard stuff--including the hip switching half-guard pass I've wanted him to show us for months! I tried to use it when I got caught in Joaobat's half-guard during the pass drill, but he managed to reverse me both times. I'll still keep working it. I think I've got two half-guard passes now. I'll have to consult the archives.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Game Planning

I’ve subscribed to the free Grappling Blueprint service from Lloyd Irvin, a top jiu jitus/submission grappling coach from Maryland. The Blueprint is based on the ongoing work Irvin is doing with his new prodigy-in-progress, Ryan Hall. Hall is a lightweight, around 150-160 like me, and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu under Irvin. He’s got a number of top wins in national competition and is known for his triangle choke (unlike me!).

I’m enjoying what I’ve gotten so far. Irvin e-mailed subscribers a copy of Hall’s game plan from back in September 2005. Irvin’s game plans apparently are reviewed every 30 days, so the fighter can adjust the game plan based on the progress (or lack thereof) that has been made (or not made.) They start with "Opening" which covers basic takedown/pull guard strategy. Here’s an old-fashioned outline of the gameplan. I’d like to create something similar for myself, officially starting April 1, 2006. What I really like about Irvin's project is that he repeatedly emphasizes that this experiment is about making Ryan the best jiu jitsu player he can be. Irvin thinks Ryan will be the next big thing. But that's beside the point. The point is just to have Ryan's game keep improving and where it that hard work and focus takes him. I can dig all of that.

On the Bottom
The Guard
Guard objectives
Gi Guard series
No-gi Guard series
Upside down Guard series
Half Guard
Half guard objectives
Half guard bottom positions
Half guard bottom submission series
Half guard bottom positional advances

On Top
The Back
Back objectives
Grips on the back
Back attack series
Half Guard
Half guard top objectives
Half guard fundamentals
Half guard attack series
Half guard passing series
Inside the Open Guard
Objectives of Open Guard Top
Inside the Open Guard (GI)
Inside the Open Guard (no-gi)
Finer Points of the Over/Under Pass

As when Joe, Arnell and me were joking after class on Monday about jiu jitsu flash cards, there’s no need to create a game plan in a day—although a weekend (hint, hint) would probably be plenty of time. Irvin says that there are different game plans for practice and for tournament competition, and he says that his fighters typically switch into competition mode about 30 days out from a tournament. Since I’m a calendar month away from the Pacific Northwest Jiu Jitsu Championships here in Seattle at the end of April, it seems like now is a good time to get down to brass tacks about my training and tournament preparation—Rodrigo certainly has!

A couple of other points: Irvin’s Grappling Blueprint includes some audio conversations between Irvin and Hall about the things they are working on. It’s hardly Cinderella Man or Rocky, but Irvin and Hall get the point across. One thing is that Irvin points out that, at this point in his training Hall is mostly a "guard puller". This is clear from the September 2005 game plan, where Hall’s opening objectives are a flying triangle (gi) or an armdrag to guard pull (no-gi).

On the other hand, I’m very much a top player. Whereas Irvin lists Hall’s objectives from the guard as "submit, submit, take back, submit, sweep, submit," I’m thinking my objectives from the guard are closer to “sweep, sweep, take back, sweep, submit, sweep." In other words, at this stage in my training, I need to be thinking "sweep" when I’m on the bottom in the guard.

As a top player, this also puts a premium on passing the guard. I can’t say that enough. If you are a bottom player, then you need to have a great guard, great submissions from the guard, and solid sweeps. But if you are a top player, then it is absolutely vital that you have a GREAT GUARD PASS, excellent transitions to side control and solid submission defense while in the guard (no more getting triangled for making stupid mistakes!). I say “solid” submission defense because if you are busy enough pressing the guard pass, then you won’t be as vulnerable to submissions (the bottom guy will be too busy trying to maintain his guard). In other words, the best way to avoid being submitted from the guard is to pass the guard.

So this is my weekend project: create a training game plan of things to work on specifically when sparring in preparation for the April 29th tournament. Including tonight’s class, I’ve got 13 sessions to work on these things—specifically, guard passing, sweeps from the guard and takedowns.

Another note on my own guard play. Ryan’s best technique is his triangle. The one thing I’ve had some success with from the guard is the omoplata. Imagine that! I just feel very comfortable with it, the roll, the mechanics … Irvin has Hall transitioning from an omoplata to a triangle. Monday night in sparring, I was able to turn a weak triangle attempt into a successful armbar submission. So I might be able to hit the triangle better as my omoplata becomes more dangerous. I can see a series that goes omoplata / triangle attempt / armbar / omoplata opposite arm (?), as a main submission series from the guard. I should try that tonight.

I also need to focus on sweeps. I’m pretty bad at sweeps from the guard. I should come up with at least three and start working them overtime. The hip bump is definitely one. Rodrigo’s "curl" sweep/reversal is another that I should start trying out. And I’ve seen the DEVASTATING effectiveness of a well-placed scissors sweep (against the hips or Rickson style against the shoulders). I should also remember that the omoplata attack can be converted into a sweep if I don’t get the submission from it.

But the alpha and omega of the deal is GUARD PASSING.

I’ve got two: the Saulo Ribeiro "ground" guard pass and the Gracie Barra standing guard pass. I need to do a MUCH better job of consistently applying these passes. I had some confusion about the mechanics of the Gracie Barra pass, but after watching a few segments of Cesar Gracie’s DVD last night, I think I’ve got it down. Now I just need to apply these passes CONSISTENTLY.

Hand position: One hand high on the collars. One hand low on the low lapel, the belt or the pants high on the thigh. Keep your elbows in.

Prepare to stand: Stand up first with the leg that is on the same side as the northmost hand. If the right hand is northmost, then step up with your right leg first. Also, take a deep, lunging step, not a step backward or to the side. Bring your other leg up to full standing.

Note: Rodrigo has us grab the cuff and the pants. In this case, the cuff is considered the northmost hand, so stand up first on that side.

Open the guard: Use your southmost hand to press down on the knee while stepping back with the leg on that side. As Saulo says, the back of your thigh and butt will be what breaks open the guard. Keep your northmost grip—cuff or collars.

Push the knee and drop the knee: IMPORTANT. When you push the knee down, keep it pinned to the mat until you have dropped your knee down over it. If you don’t do this, then everything you’ve done up to this point is wasted. Push the knee down. Pin it down. Drop the knee.

Underhook the opposite arm and side control: From here, under hook the far arm to keep the guy from hunching over and taking your back. Then "baseball slide" your hips over the pinned knee and move into side control quickly.

Anyway, a lot of stuff—and I’ll have a lot more in the next few days. Suffice it to say that I’m enjoying the hell out of Irvin’s Grappling Blueprint and Game Plan. I really think it might help me focus and get the most out of my training. I think the difference between a two stripe white belt and a new blue belt is consistency. The advanced white belt knows enough techniques; he just doesn’t apply them with optimal technique and consistency. The optimal technique probably won’t come until purple. But consistency is what separates the white from the blue.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Renzo's Academy in the Media

To the Mats: Forget brawn--Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about focus and stamina.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More Guard Passin'

Finally found my missing copy of Jean-Jacques Machado's book, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Championship Techniques. It was hidden in plain sight, as I suspected.

Anyway, there are some very nice guard passes in there, as well as some good general rules. JJ Machado seems to be big on double underhook guard passes, where both arms are outside the legs. You hoist the guy up, stacking him somewhat, and pick a side to pass. Throw/roll his hips out of the way and move into side control.

JJ refers to this type of guard pass as "very common, effective and safe." Which means that I need to include it.

The other "common" guard pass JJ mentions is what I'll call the "underhook and push" method. JJ describes it as "a very effective and contemporary method of passing the guard is to underhook one arm inside the opponent's arm and push the opposite leg down and pass over that side. The underhook keeps the opponent's shoulder flat on the ground, giving the passer significant control."

Of course, the thing to be wary of with this pass is the triangle choke. To avoid the triangle when doing this pass:

  • Keep your head low to his belly.
  • Keep your underhook underhooked.
  • Keep the other leg pressed down just below the knee.

    Once you've got the "other leg" controlled, you want to pass with your inside knee. The underhook prevents you from being able to do the "backstep."

    The last method I'll mention here is what JJ calls the "traditional one-arm-under" method. He says:
    The traditional one-arm-under method of passing the guard is very solid and precise. Your one arm under the leg grabs the belt and controls the opponent's hips, keeping him from moving away from you. You have the option of passing to that side and around the leg by stacking the opponent on his head, or should he block that sidee, you can simply pass to the inside as you slide your knee over his other leg, which is down on the mat.

    If I can find pics of these passes, then I'll put them in a separate post and provide the appropriate links.

    I feel as if I've got a lot to learn. I've been working extra hard on my guard game over the past month or so, and I've developed a halfway decent omoplata attack from the closed guard. I've also been trying to work out escapes from side control (or guard replacements, if your prefer). I found a nice one in JJ's book while doing laundry this morning. But some pass-the-guard drills on Saturday suggested that I still don't really have a technically sound approach to the guard. I'm really still at a push-and-shove level, and not applying technique consistently.

    I know I need to concentrate more on the passes I know well--the Saulo Ribeiro pass and Rodrigo's standing guard pass. There's also the point about the knee. But I'm hoping that having a bunch of guard passes to refer to will help me focus on the commonalities that are important to remember whenever you are trying to defeat the guard.
  • Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Guard Passin'

    I've been doing a typically lousy job of passing the guard. A lot of the time, I'm just defending against sweeps and submission attempts. Maintaining my base. But I need to focus more on passing the guard. Ideally, George (who was back for training today) would be a good guy for me to train with: him working on his guard game and me working on my guard passing game. But I'm not sure he's back regularly. Joe is also a good guy for me to work with. Whenever we spar that's pretty much where we end up anyway ...

    I'm not commiting enough to the pass, especially Saulo's pass, which I know like the back of my hand. And I'm not completely comfortable with the standing guard pass that Rodrigo has shown us (though I'm more and more comfortable with standing in the guard ...).

    I think a part of it is that I'm not completely sure what move I make after the guard has been opened. A technical problem.

    Anyway, here are a couple of passes.

    Basic Leg on Shoulder

    Inside Knee
    Never mind the description of this at the website.

    "Outside Knee"
    They call this "Near Knee" but it seems like he's attacking with the "outside" knee. It's "the backstep." Again, ignore the title at the website.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Sweet New Choke

    I'll post notes about tonight's class and assorted other matters tomorrow night. There's a tournament coming up that I'm probably going to be competing in, and a whole bunch of other jiu jitsu notes worth mentioning

    Anyway, I'm watching 101 Submissions Part 2 after class tonight. What's cool about this choke is that it is part of the guillotine family, and I'm impressed by how many times the guillotine is available in sparring. But I find the guillotine hard to finish with. I've actually used the guillotine best in the same way that Stephan Bonnar uses the kimura from the guard: as a way of getting a reversal.

    Here's a choke from Noman Rana of Tiger Martial Arts.

    Basically you get a good grip on the collar with your right hand. DON'T HESITATE TO USE YOUR LEFT HAND TO FEED THE COLLAR TO YOUR RIGHT. Loop your right hand under the neck toward your right. Now you need a fulcrum. The fulcrum ("the pivot about which a lever turns") comes from your left arm and hand.

    Take your left arm. Make sure your elbow is behind/on top of the guy's head. Keeping tight, stuff your left hand under your right arm at the elbow.

    The choking pressure comes from the right hand that is pulling the collar to the right--and the fulcrum provide by the left arm and hand: the arm keeps the head down, the hand hooks under the right arm at the elbow, providing a fulcrum for the choking pressure from the right hand.

    I think that once the fulcrum is in place (i.e. the left arm and hand in this example), all you have to do is pull with the right, "choking" arm.

    I like this as an alternative to the guillotine (which I still like for sweeps). I can't help but wonder if some of the brown belts I've rolled with (Paul and Spencer come to mind) haven't caught me in a similar gi choke. I'll look it up in my books. But for now, I'm calling it the Rana Choke.

    I hope I've done a decent job of explaining it. It's a classic example of how technique accomplishes a great deal when properly applied. I definitely want to include this choke in my armory.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Matt Hughes' Flying Armbar

    Just for fun ...

    Flying Armbar.

    A very nice MMA Weekly Tip of the Week from the UFC Welterweight Champion.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Sweet Rickson Sweep

    It's against a wrestler, but it's a nice sweep from the closed guard that is simple and worth adding to the arsenal ... Essentially, it's a scissors sweep against the shoulders. From the closed guard, open your guard and bring your legs up high under the arms as possible. Pick a side and bring the leg on that side up a little higher.

    Then switch ("scissor") your legs quickly, bringing the higher leg down against the guy's leg who is in your guard. At the same time, swing the other leg up under the guy's arm with the same sort of pummel you'd use to set up an armbar or even an omoplata.

    It looks like you want to control the biceps, if possible. That would take care of both the arms and the shoulders. The lower his posture the better. Remember if the posture is good, we prefer the guillotine/kimura/cross-over sweep series of attacks.

    Rickson Sweep

    The sweep appears a little over halfway through the clip. About where the "E" in "SHARE" is below the player.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Guillotine/Kimura/Cross-over Sweep Combo

    This combination is best against guys who have good, in-guard posture. It's one of the many gems in Kid Peligro's book, The Essential Guard.

    Start with the kimura attack (actually, you could start anywhere in the rotation). If he leans in the direction of the kimura in an attempt to counter, then follow-up with the cross-over sweep.

    If he postures forward, ducking his head to counter the cross-over sweep (essentially, he would be breaking his own good posture), then go for the guillotine attack--or the modified "front naked choke" that Rodrigo showed us as an alternative. Same choking position with the one arm, but instead of grabbing the hand of that arm and pulling up, you hook that hand with your other arm and put the forearm of that other arm behind the guy's head/neck.

    If he tries to posture up from the guillotine attack--especially if he plants his hand on the mat in an attempt to "push up" and relieve the pressure of the choke, then go back to the beginning with the kimura attack on the arm that is posting up.

    The order can be switched around depending on the guy's reaction. For example, when I slapped a kimura on Maggie the other day, she countered by ducking her head, lowering her posture and grabbing her own gi. Here, it makes more sense to follow-up with a guillotine attack rather than the cross-over sweep. Why? Because her lower posture would make the cross-over sweep much, much harder to pull off.

    (A side note: it wasn't a kimura attack from the closed guard. I was in more of an open/butterfly guard. But I think the principle is more or less the same.)

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    More Spider Guard

    A smallish class tonight, which probably spared us from the usual blasting we get on Wednesday evenings. Elbow escapes to warm up (three trips). Then straight into drills. I trained with Mario.

    The first few drills were spider guard related. Rodrigo first had us practice pivoting in the spider guard from side to side. You want your body/butt to be close to the side where the guard is close, the "pull" side of the spider guard. That is compared to the "push" side, where you are pushing on the guy's bicep with your foot.

    Second, Rodrigo had the top guy work a spider guard pass technique that involved dropping a knee on the the thigh of the extended leg in the spider guard. This drop simultaneously removes the cuff grip on that side, as well.

    Third, Rodrigo had the top guy work a hand technique to beat the grip in the spider guard. All the top guy had to do was rotate his forearm/hand out and under the leg (generally, the extended leg) and grab the pants inside the knee. This is almost guaranteed to remove the grip.

    Lasly, Rodrigo gave the bottom guy something else to do. It was a counter to that third technique. Just as the top guy rotates his hand out and under the leg to break the grip and grab the pants by the inside knee, the bottom guy wants to flicker the lower leg on that side up and out ...

    then (and here's the tricky part that I'm not sure I got right) circles the lower leg over the top guy's forearm and then back under the arm higher up. If I'm remembering correctly you'll end up with your foot in the guy's armpit.

    We've done a leg-grapevine move likes this from spider guard before. Working with Mario, doing it one way made the move almost impossible to complete, but doing it the other way made the move perfectly easy to do. Like I said, I want to remember how that one worked ...

    We finished up with a pair of drills. The first was a repeat of the side control to mount drill we did on Monday. You start in solid side control, then reach over the head, elbow to the mat, with the northmost arm, while simultaneously switching your hips to open them up to the south. That paves the way for the attempt to take mount. You can go completely over the top of the guy's knees, stick your knee in between his knees and belly or, if you are flexible enough, stick your foot between his knees and belly.

    The last drill of the night was a sort of takedown from the ground. It involves that "sidecar" hip switch from the JJ Machado book, a switch I've been practicing as a warm-up exercise before classes. Essentially, you start on your back knees up. The guy is in front of you on his knees. The guy takes a step (one knee up, one knee down) toward you, with his leg between your knees. You want to sit up quickly in the sidecar position, with the front leg hooked around his ankle ...

    Here's the cool part. You bring that front leg back toward you, sweeping the guy's step-up leg out from under him. Your knee should end up pointing outside (to your right if you are using your right leg) as you take him over. That sweep should do most of teh work of putting him off balance--not the shoulder that you drive into him to "help" put him on his back.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Armbar/Omoplata: Inside/Outside

    I'm thinking about the armbar and omoplata from the guard as a nice inside/outside attack.

    With the armbar from the guard, you want to bring the targeted arm in, with the omoplata, you want the arm of the targeted shoulder out.

    I also think of the armbar as an inside-to-outside attack. You're pivoting your body into the guy to begin the attack. The attack is finished on the outside, with your outside leg coming down across the neck to immobilize the guy's body while you hyperextend the arm.

    On the other hand, the omoplata is an outside-to-inside attack. You swing your body outside the arm that's on the same side as the targeted shoulder. But the attack is finished on the inside, as you bring the arm of the targeted shoulder backwards across his back ("put his wrist on his ear").

    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    Ooh-Ooh-Ooh Ooh-moplata

    Stefan led the class. Rodrigo was giving a seminar in Port Townsend today.

    Stefan had us work two omoplata variations. The first was the standard omoplata. The second was a way of gaining the mount position in the event that the guy rolls out of the omoplata.

    I love omoplatas. Some things just seem to work for some people and I think omoplata's work for me. Renato Magno said in that interview in Grappling magazine that omoplatas were the ultimate giant killer. I think this is because you very directly get to use all of your bodyweight on the very specific target of the guy's shoulder. It also involves a roll, which I like, and which can disorient the other guy for long enough for you to really attain a superior position.

    Stefan's omoplata works like this. The guys is in your closed guard. You are looking for his arm to be a bit away from his body, if possible, preferably with the elbow poked out a little bit. This is to provide space for your hip as you roll over. One way to set it up might be to force the guy's arm toward the middle as if you were setting him up for an armbar. The action/reaction principle suggests that he will move his arm farther out thaan he needs to because he'll be wary for the armbar. That might make him more vulnerable to the omoplata.

    We'll go to my right, attacking his left shoulder. Open your guard and plant your left foot on the mat. You could also probably plant your left foot in his right hip--whichever way gives you the better leverage.

    You want to hook your right leg up under his armpit, with your toes pointing to your left. As you roll into the omoplata, your toes will point back toward the position you were just in. Hold his left arm by the wrist or elbow if you can get a good grip. Scott your left leg around behind you--you are doing the "sidecar" hip drill, in a sense.

    Stefan likes this next step, though I've seen others do it differently. Stefan has use take the hoooking leg and hook the foot of that leg under the guy's chin. This applies pressure by keeping his head up while you are pressuring his shoulder down with your thigh.

    Watch his hand! One defense against omoplatas (and kimura's for that matter) is for the guy to grab his own gi. Keep his lower arm close to you as you roll into the omoplata, only bringing it back close to him as you are applying the pressure. Cesar Gracie describes the pressure as "trying to touch his ear with his wrist." It's the basic handcuff move.

    You also want to grab the guy's back or belt to keep him from rolling over and releasing the pressure. If he does manage to anticipate the omoplata, you want to do the variation.

    The variation has you roll with him. From the above starting place, if the guy rolls on you, you want to turn around toward your left, keeping your momentum moving in the same direction AND keeping the arm trapped between your legs. You will end up in a starfish pattern in mount high up on his chest. He will be in a bad, bad position. It won't take much to submit him by catching his trapped arm with a keylock, kimura or straight armlock.

    These details are a little sketchy, but I've got the main points down.

    Saturday rolling was fine enough. Rolled with Arnell and Mario mostly, and once with Stefan. Mario asked if I had somebody to practice with at home because he thought I was getting better very fast. That was a nice compliment. Arnell was going on about how good my arm attacks were. I was rolling with Mario and heard Arnell say, "there he goes for the arm. Once he gets your arm, that's it." Another very nice compliment from two of the good guys at GB Seattle. I really appreciated it--especially after feeling a little shitty about my progress a week or two ago.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Marquardt's Butterfly Guard Sweep

    Here's a great sweep from the butterfly guard by Nathan Marquardt in his recent UFC fight against contender Joe Doerksen.

    A poster on Sherdog explains the move a little bit a few posts down.
    It's actually 2 techniques that flow well together... he starts from control of the upperbody from double underhooks from butterfly guard, pushing off and shifting opponents weight and then using the momentum to sit up (in this case they actually stood all the way up), and then before joe could pummel and get and over-under, since nathan already had hip control with his grip (see how he shifts his double underhook from up high when in the butterfly to down low when they're standing), applies pressure with his head up top, pulls in the lower back with his hands, trips and gets the takedown.
    It seems like Marquardt gets his initial momentum by kicking out with his hooks, driving Doerksen's hips back. That is what gives him the space to stand up (using Jean Jacques Machado's quadraceps killer drill!). It also moves the center of gravity back off of him.

    It's a nice move. Since I've been trying to work the butterfly guard more and more, I'm going to try and incorporate it into my game.

    Another point. Having one hook in and the other leg around the guy's back/thigh is okay if you're setting up a sweep in the direction of the "overleg." But you don't want to stay there because it is a holding move at best. It is better to put a foot in the hip to break the guy's posture than to "waste" that leg wrapping it around the guy's back/thigh.

    Again, if I'm going to sweep in the direction of the overleg, say while kicking out with the underhook leg on the other side, then fine. But I can't just sit there.

    I've also got to sit up and get my hips under me. No lying down in the butterfly guard (they don't call it the "sitting up guard" for nothing!)

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Two Takes on the Knee on Belly Escape

    I think I've already talked about the escape from the knee on belly position that Saulo Ribeiro has taught. I think the key to that escape--and Saulo sort of suggests it--is the location of the knee on belly. Is it a shallow knee on belly, with only a small part of the knee and shin on you? Or is it a deep knee on belly, with the guy putting much of his lower leg on you, as well?

    In the first case, Saulo Ribeiro's escape works well. You roll to your side away from the knee, then hook your elbow under the knee and turn quickly into the guy, dropping your elbow to the mat. It works because since most of the guy's weight isn't on top of you, it is easier to move out from under the knee on belly.

    In the second case, it might be too hard to elbow escape and hip out from under the guy. With this situation, I like one of the "guard replacement" strategies that Kid Peligro talks about in his book, The Essential Guard.

    Here, the goal is to put the guy in your half guard. To do this, you elbow escape away from the knee with your hands on the knee. But rather than try and move your body entirely away from the guy, you just want to move yourself far enough so that the knee that was on your belly is now by your upper thigh or groin area. From here, hook that inside leg around his knee on belly leg. He is now back in your half guard.

    Peligro takes this another step further, taking the guy from half guard to butterfly guard. He does this by rotating his hips (opening them up) to make it easy to squeeze his outside leg in between his leg and the other guy's once-a-upon-a-time knee on belly leg. Then slide both legs over and apply the butterfly guard hooks.

    Shaka caught me in a knee on belly mount a couple of times Wednesday night. I need to start trying both of these escape variations as the situation warrants.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Monday Up and At 'Em

    Monday's class was regular size: Joe, Arnell, Robert the Blue, Jesse (Singh), a few newer guys whose names I still don't know, Big Mike and Maggie. I worked with Robert the Blue during the Level One part of the instruction.

    Technques. Rodrigo has us work one-step armbars. First we did them by grabbing behind the elbow and chucking under the arm with the off-leg as we swung around in the direction of the trapped arm to execute the armlcok. Then, because we seemed to have so much trouble moving, Rodrigo had us do the same technique only holding the elbows. Then we swung back and forth from one side to the other applying the armlock.

    It was a heck of a workout and a great drill. I wish we could begin every class with stuff like this--at least for us white belts.

    We also worked the standing guard pass, which I am terrible at, still. This time, Rodrigo emphasized what to do once the guard has been opened. You want to drop your leg over the thigh of the guy's leg that is on the ground, pinning that leg down. Then stretch the other leg out toward the guy's head. As Rodrigo said, if the guy isn't flexible, then he might tap right there from the pressure (actually more of a stretch). Otherwise, use that position to take a backstep with the other leg (the leg that isn't pinning down), then switch into side control.

    Lastly we worked two open guard sweeps. The first one is the open guard sweep that Stephan showed us awhile back. Grips on the cuffs, foot in the hip (toes pointed in) and leg hooked around the opposite leg near the ankle. Switch from side to side, going completely on your side when you make the transition. To do the sweep, switch hands, grab the ankle with the outside hand. Pull with that hand. Push with the foot in the hip (or stomach, more accurately). Pull on the cuff. Sweep with the lower leg.

    The other sweep was a variation on that one. This time, with grips on cuffs, you put one foot in the belly (toes out) and one foot hooking behind the knee. Switch back and forth. To do the sweep, switch hands, grab the ankle with the outside hand. Pull with that hand. Push with the foot in the stomach. Pull on the cuff. Kick out with the behind-the-knee hook.

    Sparring. I rolled with Arnell, Robert the Blue, Maggie, and Josh(ua). I managed to catch Arnell in an armbar. Robert and Maggie both got me in chokes. Josh caught me in some strange keylock/wristlock thing when we got tangled up in his side control. He gassed pretty bad after that, and we had to quit for the night.

    Maggie commented about my breathing too hard. It was mostly exhaustion--though I suspect she thought it was because I was "trying to hard." Robert has warned me about my breathing also, so I should probably be on the look out for it. It's tricky business.

    My excursion into the sitting up guard has been pretty mixed in terms of results so far. Mostly people have been able to pass it fairly well. I must not be grabbing that near arm to block them.

    Robert and Big Mike were both desperately trying to finish me from rear mount. Robert managed to get the choke, but I was doing enough to keep Mike at bay by just ducking down and getting as much of my weight on the mat as possible (as Saulo Ribeiro recommends). I should really work that before Rodrigo introduces his escape from rear mount so that I'll end up with two rear mount escapes.

    I want to try and focus on what I can work on with different people I spar with. If there is one general point, it is that I need to figure out ways of making that Marcelo Garcia guard work better. Or at least stop people from rushing to my side--which people have been able to do with impunity. I'll check out The Essential Guard tonight, as well as the Marcelo Garcia highlight--which should provide some tips. One thing I know Marcelo does is get a hook in to limit their ability to move around you. That hook also makes it easier to swing around them and take their back.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Catching Up

    I've got a few things to catch up with insofar as it's been a few days since my last post.

    First, the next Copa tournament is April 22nd, a little over six weeks away. That's plenty of time to get ready. More about this in the days and weeks to come.

    Second, I'm back to the "every other Saturday" routine. I trained Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and I'm whipped come Thursday morning. I'm still having a hard time getting back on my personal training track. But hopefully having this tournament out in front of me will help with that. I want to put in some serious treadmill work on Saturday morning and some heavy-duty lawn work on Sunday. That should set me up for Monday morning and the renewal of the tournament-training program.

    Third, I haven't written about the Saturday class, Monday's class, Tuesday's class or last night's class. My memory of Saturday and even Monday has faded a bit. Maybe it will come back to me after I talk about Tuesday's and Wednesday's night classes ...

    Let me say this straight out: I've GOT to do a better job of incorporating what Rodrigo is teaching us. Sure, I'm going to have a hard time implementing my new techniques against the higher belts. But I've got to, got to keep doing it. Otherwise, what's the point?

    I really like the open guard stuff that Stephan and Rodrigo have been showing, controling the sleeves and using your feet in their biceps or hips. I also like the "sitting up" type guard that Marcelo Garcia uses. I can match that up with the technique that Rodrigo showed us that created both a sweep and a pass to the back. I've been trying to incorporate a kimura attack when the guy (or, as the case was last night, gal) tries to grab my ankle cuff. But while I was able to put both Joe and Maggie on the defensive with that quick kimura move, I was pretty much stuck once they countered it (Joe straightened his arm; Maggie grabbed first my pant leg, then her own gi).

    I'm thinking that the kimura attack from the sitting up guard needs to be combined with something like an arm drag and move to take the back. I'm thinking that the arm that is under (as opposed to the arm that has the wrist gripped) should grab the elbow and pull it toward and across my body. With the inside hook in, I should swing my other leg around and move to take the back. The wrist-holding hand should reach around and the other hand (the one that was grabbing the elbow) should reach under the arm to establish back control.

    Wednesday night
    Rodrigo really worked the hell out of us. A lot of running, pushups and squats ... not so much ab work. But he did have us do the fall/standup drill for awhile. It's been many moons since he's had us do that one ...

    I worked with Tommy. Rodrigo has us learn three techiques, I think.

    Side control to armlock via knee-on-belly
  • In this combination technique, you start from side control. Leap up from side control to go knee-on-belly.
  • From knee-on-belly, the opponent will try and push your knee away.
  • When he does that, reach under his arm at the elbow.
  • Step out and around the head with the back leg. Swing your body around (toward the south first) and drop into the armlock. The leg that was applying the knee-to-belly will become the leg that goes across the neck. The other leg should be tightly wedged, knee up, against his side--preferably under his arm.

    I want to double check the spin-into-armbar part of this move. I think I've got it right. But I need to make sure.

    Open guard sweep of standing opponent
  • Grab both cuffs. One foot in the belly, the other on the ground hooked around a leg.
  • You work into the sweep by changing direction: switching feet and turning as far to your side as possible.
  • To do the sweep, switch the grip of the cuffs so that the outside hand is free. With the outside hand, reach down and grab the ankle on that side.
  • Simultaneously do the following four moves: Pull the ankle. Pull the cuff. Scissor sweep the standing leg at the ankle. Push with the foot in belly.

    Spider guard sweep of down opponent
  • Start in spider guard with grips on the cuffs and knees in the biceps.
  • Reach under with the far hand (the side you aren't going to sweep toward) and grab under the thigh.
  • On the opposite side, kick out with the knee and pull on the cuff. At the same time, lift the guy with the other hand (on thigh).
  • You want to bring him on top of you first, then off at a 45 degree angle over the shoulder that you did the knee kick with.