Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Art of Jiu Jitsu, Part 3

Veterans of Storm Find Relief in Combat
Story by Leslie Eaton
Photo by Cheryl Gerber.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Marcelo's North South Choke

This one is so simple that I can't believe I couldn't figure it out just from competition footage.
Click to enlarge.

The choke is the most decisive finish in all of martial arts--moreso than even the knockout. It is probably no coincidence that the best pound-for-pound jiu jitsu guy on the planet finishes as many fights as he does with a choke.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rear Mount Armlock: Unplugged







Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sports Psychology and "Match Architecture"

Here's a quote from judo and jiu jitsu champion Rhadi Ferguson.

This was taken from the message board at MMA TV. The topic was BJ Penn's conditioning in the rematch with Matt Hughes. Rhadi blamed it on HLA during BJ's attempt to submit Hughes with a reverse triangle choke. But Rhadi digresses to talk about an interesting topic: match architecture.
I would recommend that EVERY fighter who has to go 5 five minute rounds take a very good look at the way that Sylvia, Liddell, Randy, Hughes and others begin their fights. They start them very slowly, because a 25 minute match is a war of attrition and the moves that you can pull off when somebody is tired is different than what you can pull off when they are fresh. Especially when the 2 individuals are equally matched. You have to wait fro 10-15 minutes to pass so that you can impose your will. It's very hard to do so against a fresh competitor. You will also notice that 5 five minute rounds favor the striker - NOT THE GRAPPLER!!! If you stall in Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling, they put you down. If you stall in MMA - they stand you up. Very different. That means (drum roll please..........................) that the way you should practice your transitions if you are an MMA fighter is to roll super hard in practice for 45-60 second blasts on the floor, followed by 2-3 minutes of boxing. (this is when you are prepping for 5 five minute rounds). Am I giving too much away or should I stop now? And make sure that you understand this.- IN A 5-5 fight everything doubles. Meaning your takedown attempts, punches and everything doubles - UNLESS you are smart enough like Hughes, Sylvia and Liddell to the point where you are the Champ so you don't have to bring the fight to the other person - you only have to win rounds 3-4-and 5. And while the other guys is coming out like a house of fire - all you have to do is weather the storm and not get knocked out - which is easy to do when you are the champ. It takes a lot less energy for Matt to run and dance with BJ in 2 round than is does for him to really attack him for 2. Now don't get me wrong, Matt was working, but he didn't hit full tilt until it was time. The champs have found a way to take the same energy expenditure necessary for 3 3 minute rounds and use it for 5 5's. BJ was in shape though. He could have definitely benefitted from some individuals with a better background in sport psych and match architecture.
What is interesting about this are the implications for jiu jitsu tournament fighting, and the way to be most effective in a five-minute match.

I remember reading somewhere that Mario Sperry's theory of tournament fighting was to score as many points as possible as early as possible so as to put your opponent in the worst possible situation of having no choice but to win by submission. The risks your opponent would likely have to taken in that instance would open up opportunities for submisssions of your own.

This makes sweeps and takedowns/passes critical elements of tournament fighting, it seems to me. In the same way that Rhadi talks about top mixed martial artists being most effective after the first 10-15 minutes, it seems to me that in a tournament match you want to spend the first minute or two pressing the action by either getting the takedown or pulling guard and getting the sweep as soon as possible. Anything that happens after that happen with you ahead 2-0.

From their it's all about getting the dominant position--mount, rear mount, knee on belly--or passing, depending on where you are coming from, and more points. Get ahead 5-0 or 6-0 in the first two or three minutes. The pressure on the other guy to take risks in order to avoid losing will become intense.

There are some training implications. You've got to be able to go at nearly 100% for two or three minutes to get to that 5-0 or 6-0 place. This is where the Chuck Liddells of the world have already scored their first few overhand rights, where the Minotauros have gotten mount, where the Marcelos have once again taken the back ... From there, it's all a matter of the opponent making the necessary mistake within the time allowed.

One of the things that caught my eye in the "Meeting Marcelo Garcia" post was the guy's observation about how hard Marcelo trained. A lot of the time I feel as if I'm training hard if for no other reason that the fact that I'm tired. But there is quite a bit to be said, especially in the context of what it means to succeed in a five, six or even ten-minute fight, for pushing oneself to perform the right techniques in the right way every single time. There will be plenty of time to feel sore once I'm done.

From what I've been reading, the 2-3 minute zone is all about glycolytic energy systems--someplace between the instant demands of a powerlifter and the continuous, steady-state, energy demands of a long distance runner. The five-minute jiu jitsu Tabata and the Berardi complexes are geared to streghtening just this "location", so I'm looking forward to seeing how my conditioning improves over the balance of the year.

This also means that Berardi was right about hydrating with a "sugary" drink during and immediately after training. I remember reading an article where Helio Gracie had recommended his sons eat honey while waiting and in between matches during tournaments. Honey is a a fast-to-medium releasing sugar source, which is ideal for evening out glycogen levels over the course of a long afternoon. For what it's worth, I tried honey during my last Copa tournament and it really seemed to help. I think Rhadi mentions glycogen in another post in this thread, also.

Monday, May 14, 2007

CC Grinder: Why Follow the Arm

When escpaing the triangle choke, it is natural--and sometimes effective--to move away from the trapped arm. I've seen no gi fighters get out of triangles this way.

Clearly, the lack of friction is a plus for this escape--which explains why it is more effective in bare-chested no gi and MMA competition than in gi or real-world situations. If there is one mistake I have seen in triangle chokes over and over again, then that mistake has been when the attacker has gotten "too much shoulder" into the choke."

I was watching an IFL mixed martial arts fight with Fabio Leopoldo and another guy, a tough, wrestler-type with good slams. Leopoldo won the fight, though it was closer than it needed to be because while Leopoldo achieved excellent submission positions--especially involving the triangle--he failed to finish any of them.

In particular, Leopoldo missed with numerous triangle chokes. His mistake was attacking straight on, and not getting an angle--something I think of as being able to look down the line of your choking knee. His opponent was powerfully built in the shoulders and was never in any danger because too much of his shoulder was involved in the choke. This prevented the necessary arm-to-neck pressure that makes the triangle a finishing move.

Attempting to escape the triangle choke by "pulling the arm out" actually gives the attacker a chance at getting an even better position because in pulling your arm out, you are taking your shoulder out of the equation and making it easier for a proper triangle choke to be set.

It seems counter-intuitive ("If I give him more arm, then he'll just transition to an armbar!"), but I think this is why the CC Grinder triangle choke escape is effective. As long as you remember to keep the hips in check, you can create a lot of pressure on the attacker's legs as you circle around in the direction of the arm, keeping the guy's hips low enough to ward off a realistic armbar attack, smashing the triangle.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Side Mount Escape: Unplugged







Thursday, May 10, 2007

The New Due Date

Tuesday, May 22nd is my target return-to-the-mat date.

My goal is to train twice a week from late May until early August when the book is done, and then kick things back to the way I used-to-do in time for my two-year anniversary in jiu jitsu.

2007 hasn't worked out as planned. But there is plenty of time for a strong finish in the second half. Having the book project behind me will help. And I've got to believe that whatever healing my eye needs to do will be farther along in the process in the second half of 2007 than it was in the first. I want to try the "pirate" eye patch that I'd been avoiding trying--it will limit my vision somewhat, but it will completely free my movement. So many times in the past few months I'd been afraid to move to escape or attack for fear that I'd catch a finger or a sleeve or whatever in my eye. It had gotten to the point where I would be driving to the academy muttering to myself "just don't hurt the eye ... just don't hurt the eye ..." and that kind of preoccupation is no way to roll.

With the patch I've got about 66-75% vision peripheral vision to my left without turning my head. As long as I don't have to worry a fight with new king of the head kick, Gabriel Gonzaga, then that should be a pretty minor limitation. The upside, though, is huge because I'd be able to move (read: escape) without fear of re-injury.

So that's the plan. Back on the mat in just a little over a week. I've managed to keep my weight down whilst sidelined and though I haven't worked out as regularly as I'd wanted to, the little jiu jitsu drills I've put together (my "Unplugged" series of guard techniques, for example) have helped me see some basic mechanical problems with some of the moves I've been trying (or, more accurately, avoided trying for fear of looking stupid.) We'll see. The truth, as they say, is in the tatami ...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Arm Lock From Guard: Unplugged







Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Meeting Marcelo

If it weren't for the fact that Marcelo Garcia is reputedly a great guy--in addition to obviously being one of the best jiu jitsu people on the planet--then some of these "OMG! I rolled with Marcelo Garcia!" blog posts would be downright ridiculous.

As it is, I love reading every single one I can find.
You can't shoot hoops with Michael, go biking with Lance or trade baseline shots with Martina. But if you love jiu jitsu, there is a better than one-in-a-million chance that you could someday roll with Marcelo Garcia.

The Best Roll Ever.

ADCC 2007

ADCC 2007 Results provided a live, streaming broadcast of the event from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. Unbelievable. I had a bunch of writing to do and some yardwork--as well as shopping for Mother's Day presents!--but I'm glad I popped for the $20 bucks for the broadcast anyway. I managed to see a number of nice matches including some matches featuring Leozinho, Drysdale, Marcelinho, Galvao, Pe de Pano, Werdum, Avellan ... I saw Rani's division-winning submission of Leo Viera. I saw Marcelo Garcia beat both Rolles Gracie and Cacareco en route to a second place finish in the Absolute ... I saw Cindy lose a close, close match to the woman who went on to win the division ... I even got to see Eric Dahlberg--who I didn't know was competing--make top contender Pablo Popovitch work hard for a decision win.

Mike Fowler, Saulo Ribeiro, Renzo Gracie ... I saw Roger Gracie and Jon Olav Einemo in a very fun superfight (Roger won on points).

I'm sure there are a number of fights I got to see that I can't recall right now. Suffice to say that it was a great weekend of jiu jitsu, and major props to everyone who competed.

And thousand thanks are due to On the Mat and ProElite for making this event available on the Internet.

I thought--and still think--that the ADCC 2005 dvd was worth every penny I spent on it. And if I find myself in a momentary lapse of discipline, I'm likely to pick up ADCC 2003, also. But let there be no mistake: ADCC 2007 should be up there with the Submissions 101 series and Laimon's No-Gi Remix in terms of "must own" jiu jitsu DVDs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Gumby's Critical Thinking Series

Have I posted about this before? Gumby of On the has been writing a series called "Critical Thinking in Jiu Jitsu" that is insightful and definitely worth reading.

Gumby does a good job of breaking jiu jitsu--or, rather, the learning of jiu jitsu--into some of its most basic elements of mentorship, the supremacy of safety and position and, most recently in episode four, what could be called the value of rolling in the other person's gi from time to time ...

Critical Thinking and Jiu Jitsu, Part IV

Critical Thinking and Jiu Jitsu, Part III

Critical Thinking and Jiu Jitsu, Part II

Critical Thinking and Jiu Jitsu, Part I

On Mount Escapes, Part II

Roy Harris is a very interesting black belt. He wrote a nice "guide to belt levels in jiu jitsu" that was posted over at back in the day, and remains one of my favorite belt-by-belt breakdowns explaining what those training in jiu jitsu should focus on at different levels in their development.

These are a variety of mount escape techniques from Harris that I found on You Tube. Some of them remind me of the sort of tricks that Cindy has talked about, attacking the legs as a way to set up an escape or a sweep.

Footdrag Mount Escape

Low Single Mount Escape

Footdrag Mount Escape #2

Foot Turn Mount Escape

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On Mount Escapes, Part I

Jason Stoll, a blue belt who has been training for about as long as I have (since July 2005), shared an interesting anecdote over at his blog, GotJitz.
A few weeks ago I was in a roll with a pretty slick fighter with good mobility. He got mount and I was unable to upa or bump him off, well for a little while. I found myself pushing him up and off me, straightening my arms in the process to make space giving him ample opportunity to arm bar me. A beginner white belt mistake.

After class, Professor pulled me aside asked me to take top mount on him. He escaped like butter. I mounted high on his chest, got my hooks in from a low position, postured up from a middle position and pressed down on his hips; each time nothing would stop him from escaping with simplicity. He then mounted me and asked me to escape. I was tired after the rolls, but that is no excuse; my mount escapes were weak, useless, and almost non-existent.

I love my Upa, but that only works when the conditions are in line. Professor then told me that someone who cannot escape from mount should not have a blue belt around their waist. I agreed. I was embarrassed and ashamed that there was such a gaping hole in my game. But it was what it was and needed to be fixed.
I’ve been in Stoll’s shoes before, both as an advanced white belt and as a brand, spanking-new blue. I’ve got a bump/upa move I call the “pole vault” because of the hand positioning that is very effective against the mount—at least when it is very effective. Other times, unfortunately, it is almost worthless. And I have found myself bumping and bumping pathetically under the mount of a larger or more advance opponent, wasting energy instead of focusing on the specific techniques that will allow me to improve my position.

The key to escaping the mount, so it seems, is a combination of bumping and escaping the hips. One approach by itself is not likely to work against a talented opponent. So in the same way that we need to push and pull to get a sense of our opponent’s (path of least) resistance, so do we need to raise our hips and move them from side to side to create space for an escape attack.

I suspect for most people with mount escape difficulties, the problem isn’t the bump, or the bump ‘n’ roll, it’s in escaping the hips. I know that’s the case with me. One problem I have in general with jiu jitsu is that I tend to give up after trying a given technique instead of fighting to make a certain technique work and then only giving up when it is clear to me that the technique will not work AND I’ve figured out something else, something better to do.

This is one of the things I love about watching that Werdum v. Lindland ADCC match from years ago. You can see exactly what set of techniques Werdum has decided to use against Lindland. First the double armbar/windmill sweep combination. Then after a number of attempt to catch Lindland with the submission or the sweep, Werdum switches to a “King Crimson” strategy of kimuras and crossover sweeps. In the process, Werdum sees an opportunity to take Lindland’s back. From there, it is RNC and rear mount armlock until Werdum gets the finish with the latter.

So I need to attack with the bump, but also to attack with the elbow escape—in both directions—when mounted.

Another key is similar to the fundamental rule when in the half-guard: get on your side. Getting on your side makes it possible to bring up a knee—top knee or bottom knee—and wedge it up between your hips and your opponent’s hips. There are both butterfly/Cobra guard recoveries (if you bring out the top leg first) and half-guard/closed guard recoveries (if you bring out the bottom leg first). So it is probably good practice to train bringing both the top and the bottom legs first.

The hip escape moves are especially worthwhile if the guy on top has his legs relatively wide to defend against your bump/upa. If he’s tight with his thighs pressing your legs together, then the bump is a better bet—or even the bump-to-butterfly move. As you can see, the bump can help create space for the hip escape, and if he tightens up to close off space you can transition back to the bump ...

In part 2, I'll show some Roy Harris videos that I came across on You Tube that describe some interesting mount escape options.