Tuesday, July 31, 2007


From what I remember, "gospel" actually means "good news", not "rules you must follow" or "great advice." So it is in the spirit of receiving good news that I treat this entry in Roy Harris' essay, "Progression in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu."

Blue Belt

This is the belt of survival. It is the belt where the focus of your training must be on escaping from most of the inferior positions (the mount, the guard, the side mount, the wrestler's cradle and headlocks). Having the ability to escape from most inferior positions is paramount to having the ability to get on top of a person, positionally dominate them and making them tap. I know that there are a number of submissions from inferior positions (not necessarily the guard), but these submissions require a high level of speed, power and explosiveness. The reason why these submissions require speed, power and explosiveness is because your body, when placed in an inferior position, can not effectively apply leverage. To compensate for the inability to apply leverage, you substitute it with speed, power and explosiveness to effect the lock. (Anyone who tells you any different is either purposely misleading you or very unknowledgeable with grappling! I know that some may argue this point, but I stand by this point.) Not only do you have an inability to apply leverage from an inferior position, you also do not have control of your opponent's body! So now do you see why escapes are so important to building a firm foundation in grappling?

When you can easily escape the tightest pin (from just about anyone), you will find yourself on top more often. When you find yourself on top, you have more chances for submission. However, you should not jump right into submission just yet because you have not developed the skill to hold someone down with finesses and ease. I have seen too many blue belts begin their journey into submission too soon and often become frustrated because they just can't finish their opponent. They get so close, but they often fail at finishing their opponent. This usually leads the blue belt to seeking out more and more submission techniques. He thinks that the "new" and "sneaky" techniques will make him more skilled at submissions. However, what he doesn't realize is that his inability to finish his opponent is directly related to his inability to positionally dominate him. The blue belt feels good when he has escaped a hold down and has landed on top. However, he also feels like he has ONE SHOT at sinking in the submission. He knows if he fails, he will end up on his back and have to fight for the top position again. So, he usually stalls, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake so he can hopefully capitalize on it.

Once the blue belt has a firm grip on positional escapes, he should then move on to positional dominance: which is "the ability to control an opponent." When the blue belt can readily escape from most of the bottom positions, he should focus his training on learning how to control his opponent with greater ease and finesse. Although anyone can control their opponent if they can use all of their strength for short periods of time. It will take some time before a person can effortlessly hold down their opponent.

Once the blue belt has a good grip on these two aspects, he should then begin to develop a few good submissions. Still, he should not be consumed with them because there are still a few more areas to train before a lengthy period of time should be spent on submissions. (Yes, yes, yes, I know that submissions are the more enjoyable part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I am not saying that you should not train them at all. However, all I am saying is this, "Don't focus on them quite yet. Wait until you are a high purple belt!")

The blue belt should have a large repertoire of positional and submission techniques. However, his depth of knowledge of these techniques is very limited because of his experience level. And because of his limited experience, he will still require a good amount of speed, power and explosiveness to effect most of his techniques. This is to be expected.

Another interesting thing happens at the blue belt level: the bar of performance raises itself to highly competitive levels. I remember when I was a white belt, it felt OK to tap to everyone because hey, I was a white belt. However, once I was promoted to blue belt, many of the bigger, stronger and more talented white belts began to set their cross-hair on me. What once was a shared journey of joy and frustration suddenly became field of itchy trigger fingered snipers. Many of the white belts who were once fellow sojourners now wanted the privilege of being able to say, "I made a blue belt tap!" It seemed like overnight the game of Jiu Jitsu suddenly became very competitive. Well, if you think the game was interesting at the blue belt level, wait until you hear about the highly regarded purple belt!
Tonight, I spent more time on top trying to pass half-guard than I would have liked. Passing the half guard should be something that I can do with some consistency--if for no other reason than I spend so much time defending it.

Dan Inosanto was right: "When you're tired, you're not strong, you're not fast, you don't have good technique. When you're tired you're not even smart." I'm trying very hard to parse between situations when I know what to do, but feel I can't do it for one reason or another (read: fatigue), from those situations where I don't have any idea what to do next. Five days into the third week of post-layoff "pre-training", there are an annoyingly high number of situations in the former category relative to the latter.

The conditioning will come--I'd like things to happen sooner. But I don't see myself competing until September at the earliest. That gives me at least five weeks to get my act together, conditioning-wise. Next week I'm looking to get back to three times a week, taking Stephan's class on Wednesday's. That should help.

But there's no denying that fatigue makes you stupid. It's like your brain becomes a house with rooms you forget existed.

Fatigue also makes you cowardly. You start settling for half guard because it is better than being in guard. You settle for side control because it is better than half-guard.

I've been thinking about it for a few days now. I want to make it a point of trying to get dominant position at every opportunity. Obviously some opportunities are going to work out better than others. And those opportunities, per Harris, will be all about escaping, not merely defending. It's better to get submitted trying to complete an escape than to avoid a submission simply by not trying.

And that goes double for passing the guard.

Spider guard sweeps were the instructional. I'll do the write-up in a separate post.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

De La Riva

Basic De La Riva Sweep

Passing the De La Riva

De La Riva to the Back

De La Riva Tackle

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Don't Let Him Pass Your Guard"

One of the downsides of the Cobra guard is that if the guy stands to pass and starts running around, I'm in trouble if I don't catch him with either the armdrag or the hook.

This guard pass defense move is one alternative for when I'm late. The key is that the guy's head needs to be down. He has to be about to put his weight on you. I suspect that if the guy comes in with very upright posture, as if he is going to go just for the knee on belly, this guard pass defense might not be as effective.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before ...

Two weeks back from the 3-month layoff and one thing that hasn’t changed is my difficulty in maintaining posture in the guard.

While this is obviously something I need to work on, it also makes sense that—if maintaining posture is a problem—I come up with another way of dealing with the guard that makes the posture problem irrelevant.

The solution? You guessed it: STAND.

There’s really only one good reason why I don’t try and stand to pass the guard—and I’ve said it before: laziness. I don’t mean moral laziness. Just a feeling that the effort required to stand, open and pass the guard is “too much” at any given point in time (i.e., almost always). Part of that is a mental block. But part of it is indeed a physical one: I need to get my legs in better condition so that I always “feel” strong enough to stand and pass.

In no gi, this has been especially tricky. Last night, rolling with one of the newer guys, I got caught in his guard and my posture was completely broken. He had a good armwrap on my right arm and though I never felt threatened by it, I was having a hard time staying out of the armwrap when I did manage to pull my arm free.
It’s been said a thousand times: standing up in the guard eliminates much if not most of the submissions you can get caught by. Every single loss I’ve had in a tournament came from a submission from the guard (three armlocks and a triangle).

Again, I’ve had some difficulty with standing passes in general. But whereas I feel confident about being able to improve my standing passes in the gi, I still feel a little lost when trying to do so in no gi.
With that in mind, here are the steps to a no gi standing pass from BJ Penn’s MyGym:

  • In posture, reach out and put your right hand on the mat near the guy’s hips.
  • Step up deep with the left leg. Your foot should be by the guy’s shoulder.
  • Put your left hand on the guy’s throat/collarbone, Jacare-style. You don’t want to choke him. Just to make it hard for him to sit up without choking himself.
  • Turn your left leg in so that your knee is pressing down on the guy’s ribs. You should be virtually perpendicular to the guy’s body. Come up to stand on both legs.
  • Continue turning your body (similar to the CC Grinder triangle choke escape) into him, putting pressure on with your knee. With your right hand, push down on the near knee to open the guard.
  • Step back once the guard opens. Bring your knee forward to that you are staggered (not front) and ready to pass the guard.
  • Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Take Downs and Drag Arounds

    No gi tonight. A smallish class with two new brand new big guys, and a couple of guys who are just starting out also. Angela, Jason (Garcia), Steven, Lance ... Andrew showed up a little later ...

    A good rough warm-up, though not as tough as last Thursdays. My conditioning is slowly coming back. But I definitely need to get back to it on Saturday and Sunday I'm thinking The 39 on Saturday and a LSD on Sunday.

    We worked hip throws and then arm drag takedowns. For the hip throw, in addition to making the right inside pivot, Rodrigo emphasized bringing both hands together--almost like a wedge--and sliding your outstretched arms around the neck and over the arm to grip the tricep.

    Another way of doing the move is to underhook the arm instead of wrapping the head. I didn't practice a lot of those--in part I think because I was working with a taller guy and I just didn't feel like I had much control. We drilled this standing and walking.

    The arm drag was standard. The emphasis here was not letting go of the arm after you've dragged it. It will be part of the takedown eventually. Another detail was how Rodrigo had us to a short of inside leg chuck or sweep on the leg that is on the same side as the arm you are dragging. I actually remember a takedown drill where one person had to takedown everyone in class one after the other in a line. Tommy did just this armdrag takedown on everybody. I've also seen Marcelo Garcia hit it in highlight videos.

    Getting a little ahead of myself ... Rodrigo showed us what the next move would be, which was to drop down and hook the drag-side leg with your leg. The move was very similar to the one Rodrigo had us do a few days ago. It's a great, great move and one that I really have to perfect since the arm drag is something I'm trying to make a big part of my game.

    Sparring was pretty good. I think I rolled five or six times. In some ways it was pretty crazy; the mat seemed like a water slide and it was impossible sometimes to get a base. I did manage to get my first ever rear naked choke submission. I actually had the neck perfectly for a few seconds before I realized all I had to do was the "good to go" move and slide my other hand behind the neck. Squeeze the elbows and ta-da.

    I'm not going to say that I want to pattern my game after Marcelo Garcia's. But maybe a combination of Garcia's and Rodrigo's wouldn't be so bad (with a little Leo Viera thrown in for good measure). I like Rodrigo's guard a lot: excellent use of hooks and very little inverted guard type stuff. With Garcia, the armdrag and the RNC are just gold as far as I'm concerned.

    Interestingly, the afterschool special was Rodrigo showing a bunch of us how Marcelo sets up his x-guard or cross guard. Rodrigo doesn't use a whole lot of cross guard himself. But the philosophy of the hooks is very, very similar. The more I looked at it, even though I don't think Rodrigo's game and Marcelo's game are all that simiiar, both have a similar appreciation of the well-placed hook behind the knee.

    The afterschool special was similar to the move from spider guard that Rodrigo showed us the other day. From Cobra guard with one knee up and one knee down, you shoot your down leg through and underhook the guy's leg. The knee up leg hooks under the guy's knee.

    The underhook needs to be deep. Get that guy's leg up on your shoulder not just on your arm. Saulo makes this point about the guard pass: use your shoulder, which is stronger than just your arm.

    Push out with the knee hook and straighten your body to extend the leg-on-shoulder. Take the shoot-through leg and hook it higher up on the leg compared to the knee hook. You are now in cross guard.

    You can shoulder the guy over. You can stand. And if the guy tries to lower his weight on you by sitting, you roll in the direction of your leg-on-shoulder, pulling with the inside hook to take him backwards.

    Rodrigo also showed a great counter. When the guy rocks back into the cross guard, Rodrigo just walked forward and then did a sort of sit out with the leg that was being double hooked. Straight into side control.

    It was pretty funny having Rodrigo go over and over and over on all the variations of the cross guard, everybody's eyes like saucers, then he goes, "Okay, and here is how I would counter that."

    Good stuff. During sparring, Jason (Garcia) caught me in a crazy scissor neck crank armbar for my last tap of the week. I remember Cindy catching me in a similar scissor neck crank twice in a row. So when Jason hit it, I thought I knew what was going on. But then he caught my arm. I tried to slide my arm back. But he had me perfectly, right at the elbow.

    Hilo Guard

    With no-gi training tonight (Thu 7/26), I’m looking at my three top closed guard sequences—King Crimson, The Widow and H. Rap Brown—as something to focus on, as well as the half guard and Cobra guard sequences.

    I’m also looking at some of the tips over at BJ Penn’s My Gym. One interesting tip has to do with what I called the “Hilo Guard” sometime ago. Basically it is an open guard for no gi that involves putting both feet on the hips at the same time. This obviously gives you a lot of control over the guy’s ability to move forward. But I never really worked the Hilo guard thoroughly and BJ’s talk about open guard for no gi gave me some things to think about.
    For one, BJ says to keep your shins on the guy’s biceps and your hands around his triceps to help hold him in place. You don’t want him to get too high on your knees or too low by your ankles—both of which would make it easier for him to pass your guard. And we all know what BJ Penn’s attitude is toward letting guys pass your guard … So keep the guy on the top of your shins.

    The Hilo guard works by pushing with your legs on the hips and pulling on his triceps with your hands.

    BJ says that the guy will try to trap your hips by either overhooking or underhooking your leg. If he tries to go over, then just block his arm with your arm on that side. If he tries to go under, then just circle your leg at the knee counterclockwise and replace the guard.

    If the guy does manage to get over your knees, then do the following: (1) raise your hips up, (2) put both hands on his shoulders and lock them out, forming a double stiff arm, (3) elbow escape to one side and replace the Hilo guard, (4) elbow escape to the other side and replace the Hilo guard.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    H. Rap Brown

    I'm working on a new attack sequence to go along with King Crimson and The Widow. It's based in part off some success a Lake Stevens blue belt had against me earlier this spring, as well as some success I've had recently with training partners here at GB Seattle.
    If you happen to have Kid Peligro and Rodrigo Medeiros' excellent book, The Essential Guard, then you can find some of the techniques I'm putting into H. Rap Brown on pages 163, 166-167, 170, and 170-171. Four techniques total--all equally gi and no gi friendly--plus the obligatory transition to half guard and transition to Cobra guard.

    We'll see how it works next week.


    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Arm Drags!

    How do I know I was meant to train jiu jitsu? Just last night I was working on an "armdrag unplugged" idea, trying to break down the steps of the armdrag counter to the foot grab while in Cobra guard. I pretty much figured one out, and figured I'd get around to posting it a little later.

    Tonight in training what does Rodrigo have us do? Arm drags.

    This has happened before. I remember a weekend trying to figure out if there were any chokes from side control that I could start working on. At the time, I was finding myself on top in side control and know really knowing how to attack with a choke threat that might bring the arms into play. I come into class on the following Monday, and Mamazinho shows us three chokes from side control.

    It may not be instant karma, but it's pretty damn close.

    After a blistering warm-up (the regular running with jump sprawls and froggers, which I think are swiftly becoming part of the new "regular), we started on the arm drag. Rodrigo first had us just work on the drag from the guy standing and holding your knees. He emphasized kicking the drag side foot out and gripping behind the elbow. Another key point--one that runs through so much of jiu jitsu--is to keep the grip on the arm.

    The next step was the move to the back. Here, as you drag the arm, you want to use that leverage to spin around the leg on that side, hooking it with your trailing leg. The emphasis in this step was to make sure you get behind the leg, and not to the side. If you stay to the side and don't commit your body to a full spin, then you make it easier for the guy to press down on you with his knee and put you in a bad position. And with that arm grip, you want to switch hands, pinning that arm to the leg, using your inside arm to wrap them both up and your outside arm to keep you propped up.

    The last part of this arm drag series was the reversal. Once you get behind the leg in step two, in order to complete the reversal you need to press forward with your inside shoulder against the guy's thigh and bring your trapping knee from the inside to the outside.

    The special bonus technique was a De La Riva esque sweep from the spider guard. There were at least three variations on this: a basic reversal takedown, a standing reversal takedown, and another reversal that I can't remember. There's also a bicep slicer in there, for the record. Rodrigo encouraged us not to use it.

    Here's the move: from spider guard move one foot to the belly and kick the other foot wide to the side. Take your outside leg and hook it over the trapped arm on that side (remember we're in spider guard) and under the guy's leg on that side and hook it behind his knee.

    From here, release the far side/inside grip. Bring your foot-in-belly leg back and shoot it between the guy's legs. You are going to dive and underhook the far side/inside leg as in X-guard or cross guard.

    Pull on the sleeve, kick out with the hook and drive forward to complete the sweep. In order to keep from hitting the bicep slicer, let go of the sleeve as you come up on top in the reversal. If you do everything else right, you won't miss it.

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Omoplata: Posture and Roll

    If the triangle choke were God's gift to long legged jiu jitsu players, then maybe the omoplata was His stocking stuffer for the rest of us.

    The omoplata came up recently in a discussion of Scott Bieri's match against Ryan Hall.

    What makes this match so interesting for me is that we've got a copy of Bieri's gameplan against Hall, including some of Bieri's thoughts about how the match finished. Bieri's comments were posted at the Jiu Jitsu Gear Message Boards and are included below
    Alright here is now I prepared and executed my gameplan for Ryan Hall.

    Ryan's game is in my opinion a "counter grappling" game. He waits for his opponent to set himself up and he capitalizes--I was going to throw him off by making him attack and then countering. I wanted to pass his guard by counter his triangle attempts and then use the pass to transition into a arm lock or RNC.

    The Match

    Just as expected Ryan sat right to guard. I tried to get him to play a butterfly guard in order to negate his triangle choke, but he wouldn't take the bait and went to a tight closed guard.

    Ryan went for all the attacks I had prepared for, he tried his sit over sweep and I countered, he tried to control my arms and I broke his grip, he tried to jump his legs and I went for my pass. After my first pass attempt I noticed he reached his arms out to counter my pressure. I thought I could leap into an armbar if I could momentarily clear his legs.

    I think Ryan got frustrated that I wouldn't open up and so he started to initiate, he went for the triangle adn I did my back door escape. He moved his legs into position for the omoplata but made a big mistake by not pressuring down with his legs, allowing me to sit up. He also controlled the wrong leg--IMO it is important to control the far leg for an omoplata he only had my near leg.

    I immediately swung my far leg over Ryan's head and straight into mount. Just as before I noticed Ryan has his arms extended to push me away to regain his guard. I immediately clamped my knees and fell back with his arm. I didn't pass his head with my legs so he had the opportunity to roll out, but I clamped my knees and arched my hips so much it didn't really matter ...
    Bieri goes on to compliment Ryan for his toughness and thanks his students for helping him prepare for the superfight.

    There's a lot worth catching. And I'll probably come back to this match in a few posts before I'm through. But I want to focus on the omoplata part here, insofar as the omoplata is an integral part of my "King Crimson" attack/sweep series, and the more I know about how it works--and doesn't work--the better.

    From the beginning, though Bieri doesn't mention it, the problem is Hall's failure to get his hips high enough to bring them down with real pressure and keep Bieri from posturing up. In Rodrigo Gracie's book, Path to the Black Belt, it is called the "lazy shoulder lock" and avoiding it is critical in order to keeping the guy's posture broken.
    Bieri talks about Hall failing to pin the far leg. I'm not sure about that. Traditionally, we're told that all you have to do is wrap your arm around the waist to keep the guy down. But Bieri employs a roll, kicking a far leg over, that might be enough to counter the arm-around-the-waist. It may also have to do with omoplatas when sparring no gi ...

    But the big thing is breaking the posture by getting your hips up high, really attacking the shoulder. Second, pin the waist or the far leg to guard against the potential roll into mount.

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    B.J. Penn Video Interview

    A nice find from one of the guys over at the Jiu Jitsu Gear Message Board ...
    UFC Legend Penn Stops By CBS2/KCAL9 Studios

    Pick the Lock. Open the Safe.

    It seems to me that given the idea of action/reaction, the basic pummeling technique should be a rocking, swimming sort of motion, almost like playing an accordian. To set up the reaction, given what Martell says here, and not what I was thinking recently, you would push with your underhook and pull with your free arm. When he reacts by trying to posture up, you would pull with your underhook and push your far side forward, swimming your free arm into the space between his arm and body.

    As you do this, I'm thinking that you want to squeeze your arms in, elbows first, then as you bring the free forearm tight, do the "good to go" swimming motion with your hand to hook into the space created between the guy's arm and body as you change direction.

    I think this would work well combined with a simply outside trip/foot sweep on the underhook side. If you get a good tug on the underhook side, ducking down and to the outside, putting your outside foot right next to the guy's foot sets up a dangerous takedown. If he doesn't react to restore his balance, then there's a good chance that he goes down.

    The idea is that while he is focused on his balance he is not as likely to keep his other arm tight against his body. It is more likely to fan out to help restore his balance.

    This is at least what I want to try next time we're doing pummeling drills. I've got to get the guy to want to move his arm, rather than just trying to drive my arm like a wedge between his arm and body.

    I always try to think that somewhere out there is a 120-lb expert in pummeling who would have no problem getting double underhooks on me and my training partners. Then I ask myself: what is that guy (or gal) doing, technique-wise, that I am not doing? What is it that will seem so obvious once I figure it out?

    Friday, July 20, 2007


    Apropos of nothing more than the fact that this is the first song I hear when my 20-odd minute "hills" routine on the treadmill begins in earnest, I give you Sugar's "Tilted."

    It's also part of the "soundtrack" of my drive to train jiu jitsu. When I'm on my way (and on my way back, for that matter) I don't listen to anything else.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Pummel Young Man, Pummel!

    With apologies to Muhammad Ali ...

    Thursday night reminded me of what it is that I really like about Rodrigo's teaching/classes. We warmed up, and a pretty rigorous warm-up at that. And then we pummeled. And pummeled and pummeled and pummeled.

    The entire "instructional" part of the class was just focused on this. It must have gone on for 30 minutes or more. Nothing but pummeling for underhooks. No takedowns, no thing. Just position, position, position. Then switch partners, and battle for underhooks some more.

    I did okay, but I had a hard time remembering some of the pummeling techniques from my Greco-Roman wrestling book by Martell.

    As I remember it, the best way to go for the underhook is to bend in the direction of the arm that you want to underhook. Use the underhook to pull the guy into you to disrupt his balance as you bend.
    In other words, say you've got the underhook on your right and are trying to get the otehr underhook with your left arm in order to get double underhooks.

    You would want to drive your right shoulder into the guy and dip down to your left. This will help put his body in the right position for you to slide your hand and wrist between his side and arm. You are driving his body toward the arm you want to use to hook him.

    Some of the guys I was training with were trying different things. But none of them in and of itself seemed superior. Some guys would frame their arms across your chest, locking in your one underhook under their upper arm.

    This sort of gave them more tools to work with. But mostly just to try and grab my hooking arm as I went for the underhook. Locking my underhook in place doesn't hurt my pummeling effort, at all.

    It kind of reminded me of the figure four from the guard. It definitely keeps things in place, but it is hard to advance the game from that position.

    (Update: Here's a link to a previous post on the subject. I might actually have it backwards ...)

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Back in the Barra Groove, Yeah!

    And, baby, you better believe it!
    They say that you never know how good it was until it's gone. I'd argue that you never know how good it was until it's gone--and comes back ...

    Last night was my first time back on the mat in about three months. That was the longest hiatus since I began training in August 2005. And, by most counts, I'd argue that the return was a successful one.

    My conditioning was not nearly as bad as I'd feared. To be sure, after my fourth five-minute round I was flat on my back, ventilating my gi jacket like an exotic bird. But given the worst I've seen of guys (especially new blues and lower) coming back after layoffs, I don't think I fared too badly.

    What I liked? I hit three windmill sweeps. My neck is actually sore because of all the time I spent working from the guard and craning my neck up. Rodrigo's warmups have always included neck work, and last night was another example of why.

    I got caught in two basic cross chokes and a triangle. The triangle was tight, but other than protect my arm from an armbar transition, I just didn't have the gas to fight out of it. Or, rather, I didn't have the gas to make my mind command my body to move the way I know how to move.

    Not to make a big deal of it, but I want to distinguish clearly between those instances where I am in a situation where I have no clue what to do and those instances where I am in a situation where I simply feel too fatigued to do what I know I should do.

    Fortunately, I'm finding myself more often in the latter category. That means a little more conditioning and time on the mat should help.

    It also underscores why timing is so important. If you are "on time", then you don't have to be fast or strong. You are in the right place at the right time, taking advantage of an opponent's mistake.

    Reminds me of my favorite line from Rickson Gracie: "During fights there comes a moment when an opponent makes a mistake. That moment cannot be missed." There are smaller moments, when you are trying to escape from side control or knee on stomach, and greater moments, when an arm or a neck is left unprotected and the opportunity to finish the fight is at hand.

    But the point is the same. As long as you have the clarity of mind and the ability to move your body, you can do the right thing: escape, attack, submit ...

    I still have a terrible time passing guard. My mind was getting scrambled by the time I was doing some serious guard passing last night. My problems fall into two categories: passing the legs and sealing the pass. The passing the legs problem had a lot to do with mental fatigue. I simply forgot to try the "bear hug" pass that I'd been studying on B.J. Penn.com. My mistakes in not blocking the hip on the few occasions I did manage to get an advantage on the legs were also in evidence last night.

    The instructional for the evening was the kimura from side control, and a transition to straight armlock when the guy tries to defend the kimura by straightening his arm.

    With regard to side control, I tried to make sure my chest-to-chest was solid, and that I was up on my toes to keep the pressure on. I think that is a huge thing that a lot of guys don't do that can make your side control just misery on the other guy.

    With regard to the kimura, the key detail for me that Rodrigo mentioned was getting your elbows on the ground as you are applying the lock. When you hook your north side arm over the guy's head and under his bicep, you want that elbow on the mat. When you secure the wrist with the other hand and are driving the arm back toward the mat, you want to have that elbow on the mat also.

    I was having major problems finishing the kimura from side control this spring before the time off. I want to focus on this in the next few sparring sessions, particularly the elbow placement. It seems to me that one way to know if you've got proper chest-to-chest is whether or not you can put both elbows on the mat on the far side of the guy's body. If you can't, then you probably don't have enough pressure on him in the first place.

    There was some great "After School Special" with Rodrigo, Lance and a new, multi-stripe blue belt (Steve?) who I rolled with twice (he was the one who caught me in the multiple chokes!). I'll talk about that "After School Special"--which focused on Rodrigo's De La Riva guard variations--in an upcoming post. Great gi stuff.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Interview with Marcio Feitosa

    First night back on the mat in three months. Wow.

    I'll post about that tomorrow. For now, here's an old interview with Marcio Feitosa. Marcio and Kyra Gracie are scheduled to do seminars for "Gracie Barra Bellevue" and Tap or Snap Lake Stevens in the first half of August. So I thought it might be worthwhile to link to this interview with Marcio from Grapple Arts
    Marcio Feitosa Talks Techniques, Training and Teams

    P.S. Kyra interview coming as soon as I find it ...

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Defending Kimura from the Guard?

    One of the great things about watching the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter was listening to B.J. Penn coach from behind the cage. I can't think of a more awful jiu jitsu hell than having to compete against a guy B.J. was coaching (assuming the guy is actually taking B.J.'s advice which, as we saw, was not always the case ...)

    I thought I picked up a defense to the kimura from the guard. B.J. was coaching Maynard, who was fighting Nate Diaz (Nick's little brother). Diaz had Maynard in guard, and was attacking with a kimura.

    B.J. kept yelling: "try to push your head between your shoulder and his shoulder! Move your head to the middle!"
    I'm not sure exactly what B.J. meant. So this little bit of jiu jitsu soltaire should help me ponder the problem for awhile.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Twist Counter to Scissor Half

    I've been caught in this guard more than a few times. For lack of a better word, I'll call it the scissor half.
    The guy using the scissor half is on his side, with his top leg across your body as in a scissor sweep, and his bottom leg hooked inside-to-out on your inside leg.

    The guard works with the top leg blocking a pass to the outside, and the lower leg blocking a pass to the inside.

    Jamal Patterson is dealing with Eduardo Telles use of this guard. The one time Patterson is able to pass is when he pivots his trapped knee in and then out. That move frees the lower leg trap, opening immediately the path to the inside and possibly to side control.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007


    Minotauro and Anderson Silva in Tacoma this weekend.

    The Switch

    I remember Rodrigo showing us defenses to single leg takedowns a few months ago.

    I've been thinking about those defenses and counters a lot lately, with the current Sherkmania that has taken over some of the MMA Forums on the Internets these days.

    I was rewatching the Diaz/Sherk fight. Nick showed some excellent single leg defense in that fight. Including this move ...

    One mistake Nick makes is trying to go for the switch while Sean's head is on the inside. From what I remember, you've got to move the head to the outside--otherwise the guy's head will be in the way.

    With the head inside, Rodrigo had us push the head down, turn inside and put the held knee to the mat, then kick forward with that leg, goose-stepping your way out of the single-leg. You can see how that would have worked for Diaz here.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Jiu Jitsu Crush Warning!

    First, it was Fabricio Werdum, and that great double armbar to windmill combination in his ADCC match against Matt Lindland. Werdum's switch to the kimura/crossover sweep attack ("King Crimson")is now the alpha and omega of what I want to do from the closed guard.

    Then it was Robert Drysdale. Not sure exactly why he became my obscure object of jiu jitsu desire for a little while. But his winning of the ADCC 2007 absolute division this year suggests that I was right to spend some time studying his

    Maybe I'm just a big Stones fan ... Anyway, now, it appears that Senhor Telles is distraction du temps. With Telles, I'm thinking its the escapes from turtle, as well as his sweeps in general that I've been fascinated with as much as anything else.

    Here's a simple clock choke escape and reversal from Telles that I'm pretty sure Mamazinho showed us earlier this spring ...

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Mount to Take-the-Back

    More fulfillingness from the mighty mighty Aesopian.com

    Deep Thoughts: Belt Progression

    There's been a discussion about belt progression in jiu jitsu over at the Jiu Jitsu Gear Forum the past few days.

    My favorite article on the topic remains this one from Roy Harris, though there are a number of good ones out there.

    Recently I thought up this shorthand, which I think sums things up well.

    White belts have heard what they are supposed to do.
    Blue belts know what they are supposed to do.
    Purple belts do what they are supposed to do.
    Brown belts do what they are supposed to do very well.
    Black belts do what they are supposed to do very well on a consistent basis.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    If God Had Never Invented Kneebars ...

    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira might be King of the World ...

    Sit Out

    The first technique in Brazilian jiu jitsu I ever learned ...