Sunday, April 30, 2006

First Place

I won first place in the 158-146 division at the Pacific Northwest Jiu Jitsu Championships yesterday.

There only four of us in the division (there were five in the 145 and under division). So I had two fights, the second one for first and second place against a Gracie Barra guy from Vancouver I think.

I won both matches on points, basically from an overwhelming side control. The first fight, the guy tried a takedown and lost his balance early. I pounced on him, took him down, and got into side control instantly.

Rodrigo, fresh off his neck surgery, did a great job of coaching me. As did Cindy, whose voice I could also hear. I fought for a choke, transitioned to knee-on-belly, then north-south, then back to side control before time ran out.

The second fight was a little more difficult. We clinched up and fell to the ground on a take down attempt that I don't think he got points for. He did end up on top in side control and that may have been where he got his two points. While I was on the bottom, I heard his coach warn: "be careful, he's very strong." A few moments later I reversed him, turning away (which was the wrong direction, but I've gotten away with it) and powering him over.

I wound up in his guard. I never felt in danger of being swept or submitted. But I was down 2-0 and need to pass his guard and get to side control to win. I tried to stand a couple of times, but just couldn't get his guard open. I really, really need to work on guard passing if I'm going to play from the top.

Anyway, one of my efforts finally got his guard open and I shot through to side control. I was pretty tired and Rodrigo was coaching me to rest and relax. My side control was like a vise--just as in the first fight. Keep the grip tight and use your shoulder to press the guy's face away from you to make it harder for him to turn into you and elbow escape.

Rebecca took some pictures that I'm looking forward to seeing. And Griff, who came in second in his division, got some video. The blue belts from Gracie Barra: Robert, Tommy and Jesse all lost their first fights. Tommy got sandbagged by some guy from Demon Jiu Jitsu who Rodrigo said "had been training as long" as he had. That would be about 15 years! Some "blue belt." Tommy was pissed, and I don't blame them. Sandbagging is probably worst at blue belt.

Arnell fought and lost twice in his matches. It was his first tournament and a good experience to get under his belt.

Hopefully these losses will motivate them to really work hard over the next months leading into the fall tournaments. I am about as excited about training as you could imagine. I think this will be the fuel to get me back on my morning cardio/workout routines four mornings a week. I got a little tired in my second fight, and I want my cardio to be much better.

Even though 158-146 isn't the deepest division, it is clearly where I need to be right now. Once my technique level matches my strength level, maybe I'll move up to 171-159. But that would require deliberately trying to gain weight, which I've avoided doing. Besides, that the division that Jesse Singh fights at--though probably soon enough as a blue belt. From a team perspective, it is nice to have somebody at 145 and under and somebody at the next level up. A new white belt, Lindsey, fought at 172-184 and placed second I think. That covers all the lower weights.

Anyway, I'll do more analysis of how I did, how well I followed the gameplan, and any other general observations later. For now, I'm happy that the work I have put in since December and Copa Northwest 6. My record is now 3-2, but still no submission victories. That's where I need to improve next.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Eureka Moments in Jiu Jitsu

I had another eureka night last night during class. It reminded me a little of the last eureka night I had on April 12th--the last night the Demon Jiu Jitsu guys were training with us. Then, it was chokes and scissor sweep that I was hitting with reguarlity that provided the eureka moment. Last night the chokes were there (I swear I use chokes more than any other white belt I've trained with!), but what really seemed to click was guard passing.

Guard passing?!?! Did I just say guard passing?

You betcha. I finally think I've found the key details that have made my guard passing so terrible. The little primer I posted not too long ago not withstanding, it appears as if it is the little things that have been undermining my guard passing game.

With the standing guard pass, it is important to pump your hips back and forth while "pushing" (remember, we don't push the guy ...) on the knee. The count should be: stand-pump-pump-pump, then DROP to pass the opened guard by dropping your knee down on the lower leg of the newly opened guard. The guard shoud open by the second PUMP. But the third one is there for good measure, to make sure you have opened the guard. Stand! PUMP-PUMP-PUMP! Drop!

With the Saulo Ribeiro ground pass, the trick is to move both legs around as you move in the circle. I had been trying to do this move with my bent leg remaining strictly in place while I walked the other leg around behind me (i.e., from 4 o'clock around toward 6 or 7 o'clock). That won't work. What I've got to do--and finally did successfully in some sparring--is to pivot around on the knee of the bent leg as I walk the other leg around. The same "step out" position you start with, the same posture etc. is the one you maintain until the guard is opened. I just have to move BOTH LEGS, not just the outstretched "walk around" one.

It's always the little details. We'll see if any of this comes in handy Saturday morning at the tournament. But I already feel like my training will be a lot better over the next few months now that I've got some of the kinks worked out of my two main guard passes. I've always thought that if I could get guard passing down, I'd be a lot better because my work from the top is pretty strong.

Speaking of work from the top, I've been doing a better job of getting my elbow OVER when I'm attacking from side control. That's key not just to the kimura and keylock attacks, but also to having good top side control with my weight on the guy's upper body. I think the attack sequence from side control needs to be: kimura-keylock-Cindy's keylock to S-mount armbar, with the option of the straight armlock if I can hit it in between fighting for the kimura or keylock.

I also want to learn some good chokes from side control, in addition to the basic chokes from the mount. Not necessarily for Saturday. But definitely for things to work on over the summer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tommy's Tips

A great class/training to start of tournament week. Rolled with Brandon the judo guy, Adam, the Asian white belt from Ballard (Trevor?) and finished with a long session with Tommy.

I've been rolling a lot with Tommy. This might be the prelude to my first quantum leap, when some of this stuff really starts to click into body memory. Tommy's got a flowing, highly technical game that I like, but never thought I could adopt. It's a nice combination, and helps break me out of my slow, methodical, grinding style.

It also reminds me of what Eddie Bravo said about the guard (Kid Peligro said the same thing): the more comfortable you are being on the bottom, the more willing you are to be adventurous and "flowing" on the top and in other positions.

I'll post again some of the details of the class, the specific techniques, etc. But first here are some of Tommy's Tips:

  • Go! Go! Go! Don’t stop to think. If you stop to think, that gives your opponent time to think. You know the techniques. Move!

  • Be ready to open to spider guard. A foot on the biceps becomes a foot on the shoulder and a solid triangle attack or an omoplata.

  • Against sitting up guard, stand and work to control the knees.

  • On top against the guard, drop the knee in the middle once the guard opens up. That allows you to switch it to a side to pin, or to bear hug legs and pass to the side.
  • Friday, April 21, 2006

    Four Problems, Four Fixes

    I'll backfill with some technical stuff from recent classes, including another way of getting an armbar from the mount and a key lock from the mount follow-ups to a choke attack. But here's the latest update:


    A week out from the Pacific NW Jiu jitsu championships ... I've been doing a pretty poor job of keeping side control updated ... As well as filling in notes on my progress with the Q2 Grappling Gameplan.

    I'm coming along. I can't help but wish this tournament were in May rather than next week. I don't feel as if I'm making the progress I should be making--or, at least, that I'd like to be making. Here are the things I'm doing wrong that I don't like.

    1. When starting from knees during sparring, I do a very poor job of pulling guard. This leads to more Mighty Joe Young stuff, which wastes energy and does get any learning accomplished.

    2. I've been letting guys get to my side, and then into side control. I don't mind working side control (and mount) escapes. But I don't like the way Arnell and Jeff from Demon JJ got to my side Monday and Wednesday.

    3. My guard work is still bad. My biggest problem is in not breaking the posture. Both Arnell and Jeff sit WAY high up in the guard, which makes them hard to attack with the omoplata/triangle/armbar combination.

    4. My guard passing is pathetic. Seven months of training and I still don't have a consistent approach to passing the guard. Unlike Arnell and Jeff, I am too low in the guard. Against better guys, it makes me vulnerable to triangles. Against equals, it just makes for a lousy guard passing game.

    There are plenty of other things that I'm not doing as well as I'd like. I'd like to be more effective from the mount--both in having a more stable base and in being able to finish with the choke or armbar. I also need to remember not to "hang out" in X-guard, but to use it to take the back. I'm also making the mistake of being flat on my back when in half-guard, instead of on my side.

    Here are some solutions to the four forementioned problem areas:

    1. To pull full guard, grab the sleeve and the collar. Drop back and put the foot in the hip that is on the same side as the collar. Pull on the sleeve to keep the guy in the middle and to not allow him to roll around your foot to your side. Roll over toward the collar-grip side--that will also prevent the guy from taking your side.

    2. The best way to avoid having somebody take your side is to lie on your side. I bet most of the time this happens, it happens because I am flat on my back OR sitting up but not using hooks or grips to control the guy. If the guy is trying to take your right side, then lean over so that you are lying on your right side. If he gets too low, then you'll be in position to take his back.

    3. Use the Bravo set up for Mission Control to break posture: open guard, reach up and underhook both arms, then either pull him down or use the underhooks to stand or sweep. Mission Control is really a technique worth trying out in practice. Also, high posture guys are vulnerable to the hip bump sweep since their weight is already back. Tommy's used the hip bump sweep on me well when I've postured too far back. The gameplan series, by the way, is to set up the hip bump with the guillotine or the kimura--especially the kimura.

    The arm drag to cradle sweep or take-the-back is also a posture breaking option ...

    4. Ugh! To speake of the woe that is guard passing ... I adamantly refuse to use the Loiseau. So I've got to come up with something different. Both the Saulo and Cindy passes have me nervous because I don't think I've got a good base when I attempt either of these. With regard to the Cesar, once I've hoisted the guy up, I need to move my hips ("shake the tree") while pushing on the knee. With regard to the Gracie Barra, I'm just not sure. I'm still having a hard time getting the guard opened up. Maybe more "tree-shaking" ...

    One thing though, if the guy moves to put a foot in your hip then HIS FUCKING GUARD IS OPEN!!!! I have got to capitalize on that moment when the guard opens to either underhook the leg (scoop-leg) or pass my knee over and pin the leg. As hard of a time as I have getting out of guy's guards, I MUST MUST MUST take advantage of these moments when they come.

    I have been doing relatively well with baiting the triangle, and when the guy opens his guard to attack my neck, scoop legging his attacking leg and grabbing the opposite collar as I pass. Two things: (1) I've got to move quickly so that he doesn't get his legs clasped in the over/under around me, (2) the wrist of my other hand can be no higher north than his waist (also to avoid the triangle), and (3) I've got to keep my hips low and working higher north until I get beyond his thigh and can slip into side control. You want to move his attacking leg away from you because it is the only thing that stands between you and side control.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Defending the Loiseau

    The Loiseau is the technique to get open the guard by digging the elbows into the inner thighs. I call it the Loiseau after David Loiseau, the UFC middleweight known for his brutal elbow attack.

    Kid Peligro teaches a counter to this. Peligro has the guy open the guard up just enough to re-close the guard around the guy's upper arms. This prevents him from posting with an arm, easily allowing himself to be swept.

    I've had a hard time with this counter. Peligro admits that it has to be done quickly, and I suspect that long legs don't hurt the effort, either.

    Here's the counter I'm thinking of: the perfect attack would be the triangle choke. By digging his elbows into your thighs, the top guy is exposing his neck and wrists. This gives two of the necessary handles for the triangle choke.

    The first task is to get an underhook. I think you can do this by opening up your guard and stepping on the hip while pulling on the wrist of the same side. This should help isolate the one arm by stretching the guy out. It also makes it easier to attack the neck on the other side because you can use the step on the other side to help lift your hips up.

    Push off with the step foot, swinging your other leg around the neck and pulling the arm toward you. You want to get as perpendicular as possible to make the triangle choke efficient.

    You can also get a sweep from this motion if the guy's base is not good, or you get an exceptional pivot off of your step foot.

    Whatever you do, don't let go of the arm on the step side. He may try to shuck your neck attack leg overhead. Keeping that arm will make it more difficult to pass if he does. It will also make it easier to reset your guard.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Wild Wacky Demon Wednesday

    Very behind in the updates. But let me say that Wednesday night's class may have been a milestone.

    First off, we had a bunch of no gi guys from Demon Jiu Jitsu in attendance. These are the Eric Dahlberg guys from the Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. Their gym was closed down for Passover, so they came over to train with us. Some really, really good grapplers. I rolled with a white belt who was about Joaobat's size (Jeff?) and a blue belt (Nathan?) who was about my height but stockier, probably closer to 175. I also rolled with some of our guys: Robert the blue, Arnell and Bruce.

    Against Arnell and Bruce I did tremendously well. I was able to work chokes on both, got an armbar on Arnell, and managed to scissors sweep him twice. I HAVE NEVER SCISSOR SWEPT ANYBODY BEFORE WEDNESDAY NIGHT. Robert caught me in an armbar, but during our roll I actually slipped right into X-guard! I couldn't remember the sweep, or exactly how to destabilize him with my legs (hint: push out, extending your legs, instead of trying to "lift" him up with your legs). But suffice it to say that I have never been able to get into X-guard and I just fell into it Wednesday night as if I'd been doing it for weeks.

    I couldn't do anything with Nathan, as is typical against these blue belts. I had him briefly in my guard, but he just powered out to pass. I did try and switch to an open guard before he did, but I was too late to establish my position and even managed to pass. Against the Demon white belt Jeff, I threw him around a little bit from the knees, but was never really able to get him into any advantageous position. I'm trying to learn how to pull guard more effectively based on what I saw in the Ryan Hall/Lloyd Irvin "sloppy guard pull" video from the Gameplan: wrist and collar, collar side foot in hip.

    Given my little success with the scissors sweep, I'm thinking that I should include it as an attack combination in the Q2 GGP, maybe choke-to-scissors sweep-to-??? I'm determined to work more chokes into my game, and choke attacks help bring the arms up to defend, making it harder for the guy to stop the scissors sweep.

    I've printed out some nice 11 X 17 copies of some of my key techniques from Rigan's encyclopedia. That should make it very easy to both study and focus on just those techniques that I want to add to my game. The scissors sweep--and the spider scissors variation--were definitely on that list.

    I'm still having a tricky time with guys getting to my side if I don't lock them up with a closed guard. I know that I should turn on my side when that happens--I see guys like Rodrigo do that all the time. But from there, what exactly should I be trying to do? Get them in open guard or spider guard? I think I want to keep the knee down on the side that they are trying to come around and work to take their back by grabbing their near arm with my outside arm and pulling them down and past me as I swing around behind them--with my down leg providing a hook on their near leg. Marcelo winds up in this situation a lot. I need to take a peek at what he's doing.

    Some bad news. I jacked up the little toe on my right foot and will probably be out until Monday's class. That will mean missing one class and only doing two classes for the week. Fortunately, Wednesday was a really good night.

    Two weeks until the Pacific Northwest Jiu Jitsu championships. Two weeks from this Saturday to be specific. I need to start working my weight down bit by bit--most importantly, not letting it get above 160 this weekend. The toe will keep me off the treadmill unfortunately, so I may have to hit the weight bench instead. I've been thinking about tilting back toward more weights and less cardio anyway, as a way to help ward off injury and increase muscular endurance. That's the way things will go after the tournament anyway.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Workout Periodization

    More than eight weeks before tournament:

    Core resistance (MWF am)

    3 of 9
    Squats/Deadlifts/Incline Bench

    3 of 6
    Arnolds/Alternating Curls/Skullcrushers

    Tabata abs (MWF am)

    Six rounds of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off

    Crunches/Leg lifts/Bicycles/
    Egg Beaters/Leg lifts/Bicycles


    Eight to five weeks before tournament:

    Dumbbell complex (MTRF am)

    Three cycles: Six reps: 90 seconds btw. cycles

    Upright rows/High pull snatch/DB thruster/
    BUDRS/High pull snatch/Lunge/
    Side lunge/Reverse lunge/Shrugs


    Four weeks before tournament:

    Cardio only (MTRF am)

    Two miles/8 laps
    Lap 1: 1.5 incline, 3.6 mph
    Lap 2: 1.5 incline, 3.8 mph
    Laps 3-4: 10 incline, 3.6 mph
    Laps 5-6: 10 incline, 3.8 mph
    Lap 7: 1.5 incline, 4.0 mph
    Lap 8: 1.5 incline, 4.2 mph

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Passing the Guard: Saulo Style

    Looking down destroys your posture.

    If you are in the correct technical position--hips back, belly forward, chest out--then he won't be able to both keep his guard closed and attack you with triangles, chokes and armbars.

    If his guard does open, then scoop-leg or knee-down and pass to the side.

    The step-out should be to about 5 o'clock, completed in one sudden move. Don't step out to 3 o'clock and then try and walk your leg back to 5 o'clock.

    Practice reverse lunges to perfect move and maintaining of base.

    Once you've completed the step-out, stop and make sure your base is solid before opening the guard. His best attack will be a sweep at this point.

    Don't just turn your head to the side.

    Turn your whole body perpendicular to the guy on the ground.

    You want to be looking in the same direction as the knee you are working on.

    Your elbow must remain in contact with the thigh.

    Keep your elbow against your side, as well.

    The primary goal is to keep the hip in check. The secondary goal is to block the guy from coming up.

    What opens the guard is the pressure your hip blade puts on the crossed ankles of the closed guard.

    Keeping a hand on the knee on that side and maintaining a good base, walk from from 5 o'clock around toward 6 o'clock and even farther if necessary, pressing your hip blade (the side of your hip, the "back of your butt") against the crossed ankles.

    Be ready to pass the guard as soon as it opens. If the leg stays up, then scoop-leg. If the leg goes down, the knee-down.

    Saulo Ribeiro Explains the Passing of the Guard on the Ground

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    About That Class

    Last night's class was kind of underwhelming. Granted, it was the third night of jiu jitsu in a row so in addition to being a little fatigued, I was in a somewhat less than tolerant mood.

    Rodrigo had two new guys--including Tapper, the new guy who swore that he'd tapped out Tommy. Tommy says the guy is a "nice guy." But I don't buy it. Apparently, when he came to look at the class--Tapper, who allegedly has no experience in jiu jitsu--was convinced that there wasn't any body who was "very good" for him to train with. I'm sorry, but "nice guys" don't talk out of their asses like that.

    Anyway, two new guys. So Rodrigo spends the first 30 minutes working with them. He has Stefan, who was rolling with Jeff the Blue before class, lead us in some drills. Let me say it now: God save me from uninspired advanced belts! I got stuck with Stefan, who is usually a good guy. But he had absolutely ZERO enthusiasm for leading us in drills. We did a few armbars from the guard. Then he suggested chokes from the guard. Apparently he'd gotten his trachea jacked up rolling with some of Eric Dahlberg's warrior jiu jitsu guys, so I couldn't really choke him back.

    Then he did some open guard stuff from the bottom where I'd try to switch my hands to the inside or outside and he'd transition to triangle. But when it was my turn, all interest in the pretense had completely disolved. Abel and Shaka showed up (no gi) and started a conversation with Stefan and that was pretty much it for our warm-up drills. The other two pairs kept working: Jesse the Blue and Jeff the Blue, Arnell and Ryan. I sat there feeling like an idiot while Stefan, Abel and Shaka chatted it up about how much money it would take for any of them to fight Mike Tyson (like THAT conversation has never happened before).

    There was some sad news--it sounded like Shaka's wife or girlfriend had a baby that was born too prematurely to live. Condolences from the rest--as a premie myself, I'm sympathetic. But we moved on from that to "would-you-fight-X-for-millions" ...

    What made me embarassed was that Rodrigo kept looking over at us--seeing us sitting around not doing the drills he wanted us to do (and I would have preferrred doing). I couldn't see the look on his face, so I don't know if it bothered him or not. But (a) we weren't doing what Rodrigo wanted us to do and, (b) I could have used that time to work on some real techniques.

    It really set me off in a bad way--kind of clouding the whole evening. I'm still very annoyed about it--"authority misused" is one of my biggest bete noirs. It especially sucks because I've gotten such a good impression of Stefan in the past. Whatever. It just reminds me of why I'm glad I train at South Seattle instead of Ballard. At this point, a diet rich in white belts is more helpful that a diet of brown and purple.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Hansen's Half-Guard Sweep

    Joaquim Hansen and Eddie Bravo were working techniques backstage at one of the early ADCC competitions. This half-guard sweep and sweep-to-back is one of Hansen's moves. More than anything, it underscores the importance of getting your hips clear when attempting to do work from the bottom in half-guard.

    Hansen's Half Guard Sweep

    From half-guard, you've got your outer arm across his throat to create space and your other arm in an underhook.

    You are going to hip out to the outside as much as possible while maintaining the half-guard with your other leg. You are going to go at least perpendicular to his body--if not almost fully inverted--as you hip out away from him. I think you can use the underhook on the opposite side to help pull you around.

    When you get your hips clear, you are going to kick your leg back toward his head.

    Variation One: This move is the sweep. Once you get your knee on the other side of his head, you know you'll have the necessary leverage to sweep. Your underhooking arm goes between the guy's legs. The cross-throat arm helps push his head down so that you can get your leg on the other side. From here, use your underhook arm and your trapping leg to sweep him back towards your feet. Move your underhooking arm to outside the leg to hook outside the thigh.

    Variation Two: The variation allows you to take the back instead of sweep. Same moves, only when you kick your leg back, you want to work your underhook under and use that arm to help push you over. You want to almost fully invert to give your arm room to get in the right place. Push and kick the leg back over his back. Follow your leg over into rear mount. Your half-guard hook leg will become the main/first hook for back control.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    April GGP Review: Tuesday, April 4

    Shorter class, with Cindy leading.

    Still struggling to follow the gameplan. I rolled with Tommy, Adam and Ryan (who I sold my Torah gi to)--three very different kinds of guys. With Tommy, the issue was passing his guard--which I came close to doing on a couple of occassions. With Adam, the issue is more "keeping moving" and letting him get more and more accustomed to the flow of jiu jitsu. With Ryan, the issues were more conventional, but I still didn't do as good a job as I would have liked in terms of following the gameplan.

    Let me add before I forget that Cindy showed us a nifty little closed guard pass that I'll call "the Cindy." It looks like it might be a good compliment to the Saulo Ribeiro pass. It works like this: you grab the same side collar for upperbody control. You don't want to reach across the guy's body because that makes it easier to get arm-dragged and pulled across. Keep the other hand on the belt or on the hip or upper thigh.

    Establish your good posture. Then bring your knees together in the middle (a dangerous move because your base is temporarily very weak) and push down on the knee opposite your collar grip. When the knee goes down, step over it with your knee and keep it pinned. Hook your foot underneath that leg to help the pin.

    There are two options from here. If the guy's other leg stays up, then you want to release your collar grip, underhook that leg and backstep toward the trapped/pinned leg.

    If the guy's other leg moves across your body in an attempt to block you, then you want to release your collar grip and underhook that leg. THEN you want to reach as far as you can with your other hand and reach behind the guy's head. You are going to cradle him by bringing your hands--the leg underhook and the head wrap--together, or as close as you can get.

    Keep your hips low and walk your way around the legs. Once you've gotten clear of the legs, press forward, rolling the guy onto his back, then move in for side control.

    I think this is a good compliment to the Saulo Ribeiro pass because they are opposites. Saulo has you move your legs wide to "break" open the guard. Cindy has you move your legs together to give the guy less to hold on to. Being able to do both ground passes should help me keep my opponent off-guard (no pun intended).

    Back to the April GGP. I tried to catch Ryan in a triangle, but didn't get my hips nearly high enough. Remember what Peligro says: move your hips as close to your target as possible. I can do this either by bringing his body down (such as when stepping on the hip and pulling the arm toward me) or by bringing my hips up (stepping on the hip and lifting/bridging my lower half up). All that said, remember what I wrote in yesterday's review: get the leg underhook/overhook combo, lock the legs and THEN work to improve the triangle position.

    I also spent more time than I would have liked on the bottom with Ryan in side control. I need to do a better job of transitioning from side control bottom to half-guard bottom. Lockdown. Get underhooks. Go Old School or Twist Back.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    April GGP: Monday, April 3

    Not a great job of following the GGP, at all in Monday's practice. I'd like to blame a late start caused by exceptionally bad traffic for putting me off my mark. But the fact of the matter remains that I didn't do very many of the things I highlighted in my GGP.

    The two most glaring problems were improving my position from side control/half guard and executing my GGP while on the bottom in guard.

    With regard to improving my position from side control/half guard, I didn't get a single armbar, kimura or keylock submission. When I was rolling with a new guy (Ryan?), a white belt my size, he caught me in a pretty solid Lockdown that had my leg trapped in his half-guard and wouldn't let go. He also had an underhook that I should have pummelled him for--but he didn't do anything with it (much to Rodrigo's consternation). Eventually I did work the elbow over hip switch escape to mount--or some variation of it--but I wasn't effective from the mount.

    A note on that point: I need to get deeper into the collar when I'm trying to execute a choke. I still am far, far too shallow. My hand should be as far behind the guy's head as possible.

    I also had my problems with being on the bottom in side control. I need to be more aggressive about getting out of side control and, if not reversing entirely, then getting to my knees or to half-guard are critical. I was in this situation with both Arnell and a new white belt whose about 180. I eventually managed to wrestle into a better position. But it took WAY too much energy to do so. That's what the GGP is for: to help me move as quickly as possible into the most advantageous and familiar positions as possible.

    Side control bottom -> Half-guard with Lockdown -> Half-guard with Lockdown and double underhooks -> Sweep (Old School/Twist Back)

    Another note: my back control is just terrible. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. But I'm having a hard time with both my hooks and my Marcelo grip. I need to work on that--getting back control is a big, big deal.

    On the bottom from the guard. Ugh. The good news is that Rodrigo showed us a sweep that I'd like to add to my GGP (along with the scissors and hip heist sweeps). The bad news is that except for a roll with Adam, I didn't implement it or any of the rest of my April GGP as far as guard work from the bottom is concerned.

    Most of the time I was on the bottom in the guard was against the new, 180 guy. He had strong arms and kept his elbows in tightly. I tried to work the guillotine, but when that stalled, I couldn't transition to the kimura or the omoplata because he did a good job of keeping his elbows in.

    When this happens, it is paramount to break his posture and stretch him out by stepping on the hip and pulling on the arm. That will give me the space to try both kimuras and omoplatas, as well as sweeps. When a guy in your guard has a solid base, you have to undermine the base first and foremost. Step on the hip and go through your hand game (double wrist push/pull, wrist cross collar arm stuff, wrist cross tricep) until he gives you something.

    Don't be afraid to go for armbars and triangles from the guard. Watching 101 Submissions Volume 2 last night reminded me of how "easy" it can be to set up a triangle. Any time you've got a leg over a guy's shoulder and a leg under the opposite arm, you're ready to attack with a triangle choke.

    Don't worry about getting the form perfect at first. If you get what is basically an overhook / underhook with your legs, then first lock your legs behind him by hooking your feet (overhook side on top). From that position, work on bringing the trapped arm toward you, straightened out. Don't worry about bending it and getting it across your body first. Just get control of it. The fact that you've underhooked the trapped arm and locked your legs will make it harder for him to get his arm back.

    There are three things to do from here: (1) move legs from "scissors" position to "triangle" position, (2) pull the arm out and then across your body to the opposite side and, (3) pull down on the head and finish off the choke. The first two you can more or less try and do simultaneously. The last is a finishing move. Don't worry about that step until you've successfully completed steps one and two.

    This should help me get into the triangle must faster and easier. I've really avoided trying this submission because I thought you had to fall into step (1) immediately. As Saulo would say, "But is not!" Just get the overhook / underhook and a good grip on the underhooked arm. Hook your feet to get the scissors. Once you get there, the guy is in trouble. Then just move through steps 1-3. Instant triangle. And you can still transition to armbar or omoplata from here if the triangle doesn't work--though remember that you should abandon it before the guy forces you to.

    Nothing to panic about. A bad day disguised as an okay day. But let's get back to the GGP, ASAP!

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Four Judo Throws

    Here are the four throws that I'm making a part of my April Grappling Gameplan. We don't work takedowns a lot, and Rodrigo is sure to show us his own. But these four encompass the four main situations: two leg throws, two leg hooks or trips, one inside and one outside each.

    --uchi mata ("inside thigh sweep")

    --harai goshi ("outside thigh sweep")

    --ko soto gari ("outside leg hook")

    --ko uchi gari ("inside leg hook")

    The hook on the ko uchi gari isn't very good in these examples. But rest assured that there is an inside-to-outside sweep that initiates the takdown.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    April GGP: Saturday, April 1

    Second class trying to follow the game plan. The emphasis is passing the guard right now, and we did some guard-specific work in class today.

    Tommy gave me some pointers on the Cesar pass. Mainly that after you hoist the guy up, bend your knees and rest his weight on your knees. Don't try to stand there holding the guy up with all your strength. Be ready to drop the knee!

    I actually got side control momentarily when rolling with Tommy using the single-leg underhook and sprawl method Cesar points out. What was especially nice was that I was doing it to counter a triangle attempt. Insofar as I get caught by triangles, it was nice to see it work. I remember Cesar saying that if you get the right position--underhook reaching across to grab the opposite collar or shoulder, other arm's elbow tight against your side, outer leg sprawled for a good base--then it will actually help the pass if the guy tries to use a triangle against you.

    That said, Jesse caught me in a triangle. I used the "talking on the phone" arm to defend for awhile, but he just keep pulling and eventually got my arm across.

    There were some general pointers that are worth remembering whether or not I'll specifically put them in the April GGP. Tommy has incredible posture in the guard. Arnell and Big Mike are guys I've rolled with who've got that excellent posture. The way I've been breaking that down is by stepping on the hip--sometimes one hip, sometimes both--and moving to an open guard.

    The thing is that if I drive the guy's leg back, straightening my legs in the process, then I lose my leverage. He can easily bear hug my legs and move to pass my guard.

    What I need to do is to move from foot on hip to foot on shoulder. Try to maintain wrist control. But you want to reset your feet so that you've got them "cocked" and ready to press. Kid Peligro makes this point in The Essential Guard. Feet on shoulder is also a great prelude to an open guard triangle attack.

    One thing I didn't do very well was TURN TOWARD THE SIDE that I'm pressing down in the standing guard pass. That not only helps keep me from being swept (feet perpendicular instead of parallel). But it also helps break open the guard when I step back and out. Plus, it makes it easier to drop either knee across the down leg.

    Open Guard Sweep

    Tommy showed us this one Saturday. Rodrigo was out with the flu, so Tommy taught a pretty solid class. Some warmups and stretching on our own (there was a new guy and Adam, who's only had three or four classes). Then three minutes of the armbar from the mount. Then he showed us an open guard sweep that we worked on for a little while. Ten minutes of passing the guard (he and Jesse Singh were "kings of the guard"). Ten minutes of maintaining the guard. Then I rolled for twenty minutes with Tommy and five with Jesse.

    Here's the open guard sweep. You are maintaining the guard. The guy stands up. You want cross collar and wrist control. Feet on his hips.

    Switch hands so that your inside hand is now controling the wrist. Now, you are going to swing around to the outside of the guy and ultimately take his back. To do this, swing your outer leg back toward your head as deep as possible and then swing it hard behind and between the guy's legs.

    You will hook your foot around his far leg. It sounds impossible to do unless you've got long legs. But the trick is to get a good deep swing back and then kick it out and around and in between the guy's legs. Hook the top of your foot against the top of the thigh of his outer leg.

    Your other leg should hook behind the knee on his other leg. With your outer hand, grab his belt at the back

    The sweep: kick out with both hooks. Pull on the belt and the wrist grip. The guy should fall backwards right into your lap. Sink in your hooks and take back control.