Thursday, July 31, 2008

Inverted Keylock from Closed Guard

A very nice set-up on the keylock/americana from the bottom.
Trapping the arm this way also sets up the Bibiano armlock (the one from the Mundials DVD) and the regular armlock from the guard.

Also, if the guy reacts by driving his forearm inward, you can change your grip on his upper arm and go for the armdrag and move to the back.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Buddy Choke from Half Guard

I'm calling this the buddy choke because you execute it while side by side after defending a top half guard position from an underhook from the bottom.

Rodrigo has shown us a couple of similar moves from the top in half guard that involve this backstep. I remember a guard pass that had you backstep over the guy, walk yourself backward to clear space, then step back over to the other side and tuck your leg in, wedging your knee between your hips and his hips. From there, it is a lot like my current main half guard pass. Or a combination of that one and the version with the knee wedge that Saulo shows in his first DVD series.

So here, the guy on the bottom get the underhook. You hook the head with your forearm tight around his neck like you were going to do an Ezekiel.

Grab low on your lapel and feed it to your headhook hand. Then reach over and behind his head and grab your wrist with your far arm hand.

The choke comes from the lapel on one side and the forearm of your far arm on your other.

To get leverage, it is a good idea to walk your hips backward, towards his head, as if you were moving to north-south. That also makes it easy to throw your leg over and really add some torque to the choke.

There are two leg throw-overs that Rodrigo showed. The first is just over his far shoulder, sort of like you might do for a kimura finish. The second is all the way over his head, so that your leg is on "your" side of his head.

Both options create tremendous pressure on the neck. So it is a good idea to be careful when attacking with them.

Comin' Home

If I'm going to train on the occasional lunch, then I might as well do for the whole roll.

I got in some very rare lunch time training today, making it to the academy by noon and staying until 1 p.m. It was like coming home.

It's funny. I started out training in the evenings at the old Tully's location. But ever since the academy moved to Sodo, I think I've trained as much during the day as during the evening.

And some of the best training I've ever done has happened at Sodo during the day. That great stretch of five weeks before I hurt my shoulder this spring, a span that included one week where I trained five days in a row for the first time, was responsible for a huge burst in my development. I finally felt like I had "grown into" my blue belt a little bit.

So being at the academy in the full of the day was a real treat. That said, there's really no point in arriving at noon. The sparring starts at 12:30 p.m. and the class at 11:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes earlier or thiry minutes later makes more sense. And after listening to Dr. Kiev, I don't need to say any more about that.

We'll see what we can do. I think there are a couple of different ways to get six hours a week on the mat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two Sweeps from "Moth Guard"

Tonight's lesson in the 6-7 class was very Rodrigo, very Gracie Barra. It was a sweep from the Tinguinha style butterfly guard, which looks like a spider guard with your knees. Nowadays, people are starting to treat butterfly guard set-ups as part of the sitting guard. And I have another strong sense of a Marcelo Garcia-style butterfly guard. So I'm going to call this spider guard with the knees "moth guard."

From moth guard you hipscape out and grapevine an arm with a leg. Let's say we hipscape to the left - stiff-legging with the right leg and grapevining his arm with our left leg.

From this position, you want to thrust your leg all the way through. This step caused me problems. But you want to shoot is all the way through. At the same time you scoop the guy's leg on the other side, underhooking it and doing deep. You should be lying almost completely on your back like a big log in front of him. Your other leg should be flat on the mat, blocking the guy's other leg at the knee.

To sweep, extend the grapevine leg and scissor the legs as you would in a flower sweep. Pull on the grip of the grapevined arm. Never let that grip go.

The variation was if the guy put his leg up between your legs to block you. I actually liked the variation better and it gives me something to do whenever the guy puts one knee up.

When this happens, put your free leg up as a hook on his knee up leg. This time when we dive for the scoop, we scoop the knee up leg. An underhook is best because it will put you in the strongest position after the sweep.

Pull on the underhook. Extend the grapvine. Kick out with the hook. It's a Fugitive style sweep, turned up to 11 with all the weapons you are using.

Keep the underhook and you'll be able to keep him from hipscaping away. You want to swing your leg forward (Rodrigo called it "kicking the guy in the face") and tuck it in and under you as you pull up on the underhook, which will probably have him by the heel or ankle. Keep that ankle high up and he won't be able to recover until you are already in side control.

The variation is a nice, nice sweep. And I seemed to get it. I need to start using it exclusively for awhile and seeing how well I can make it work. Watching some videos over at the GB Seattle website the other day, I saw how often Rodrigo worked out of this "moth guard" as I'm calling it. This might be the chance I'd been thinking about to start directly and fairly explicitly "copying" his game.

It's true in most fields of endeavor that many of the greatest found their own style only after trying to emulate the style of someone else who had proven success with that style. It's true in sports, its true in trading, its true in art. It's true, I'm sure, in jiu jitsu, as well.

Performance and Dr. Kiev

It was interesting interviewing Dr. Ari Kiev, performance psychiatrist and trading coach to some pretty famous traders earlier today for the Daily Planet. I had read some of Kiev's work, and completely got how his work in helping traders deal with their psychological issues dovetailed with the same sorts of issues that plague athletes.

It's not rocket science. But it never fails to impress me to hear a professional talk about what it takes to be successful at anything. The role of focus, discipline, prioritization ... all about providing yourself with the opportunity to succeed instead of, essentially, just wanting it to happen.

"Are you willing to do what it takes?" is a key question. If you want something, are you willing to do what it takes to get it? I think a lot of times that phrase has an ominous, "12 Labors of Hercules", tone to it. And surely doing "what it takes" is probably not as easy and instantly gratifying as a bowl of buttered popcorn and a baseball game that goes into extra innings (a.k.a. my perfect Friday evening from April through August). But rarely is "what it takes" impossible. And realizing that is the first crucial hurdle.

I need to train three times a week to get better at jiu jitsu. Two times a week will probably keep me from looking and feeling like a fool on the mat. But if I want to improve, then I need to train three times a week. The only questions are: what do I need to do to make that happen? And will I do what I need to do to make that happen?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marceloguard: "They Pass with Their Hands"

From the always helpful Aesopian, "Becoming a Better Butt Scooter.

Most of what Aesopian writes, I remember. My basic problem is that I treat the Marceloguard like the closed guard - meaning, a guard I can hang out in and be defensive.

It really, really, really doesn't work that way.

I've already signed on to the Armdrag City pledge, and will get a chance to try it out tomorrow night. But the main idea is that I have to do a better job of initiating contact, of starting the game as Saulo puts it. For me, I suspect attacking the wrists with the occasional move to the collar for chokes and snap downs will be what works. The trick is to be consistent: arms can either go inside or outside, draw back or extend. I need to have a response to whichever direction I am given.

Was too worn out today to do the planned workout, so I just took a 2-2.5 mile walk around the neighborhood to get the blood flowing. Until I get the hang of the 2/3/4 days, that might be the best I can hope for on Tuesdays.

More vitals on the Marceloguard.
1. Control the hands. This is simply the most important thing I have taken from him. Last week I wrestled my instructor. I could tell he was surprised when my first defense was to keep both wrists controlled. Marcelo says “they pass with their hands.” After grabbing his wrists he started fighting to get something free and I got an arm drag.

If you watch Marcelo from standing or seated his arms are up looking to control the guy’s hands. I have never seen him teach this or make much of a point of it except when I wrestled him. He said that was the first thing to defending guard.

2. Keep your weight over your legs when seated. Do not lay down. This makes your guard agressive. It is great to defend against him grabbing your pants or controlling your legs. Your head is over your feet, elbows in and your hands looking to control his hands.

Many of his arm drags from seated come because of what I posted above.

3. This is also a great way to defend against standing passes. If they step between your legs scoot back and insert that side hook. Keep doing that and you will stop them from dropping the knee over the thigh to pass. Never let them pick up your ankles or grab your knees. Again, leaning forward and controlling the hands stops most of this.

--from Leo Kirby

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back on Track

I took a week off after the tournament. No training, no working out, no nothing. I figured I deserved it after competing twice in three weeks.

"Deserved it" is an interesting way to put it. I feel a little worked over tonight, a little over an hour and a half after training. My last ten-minute spar, with the young Brazilian guy who injured his arm at the last GB Seattle intramurals, was a real battle - one which featured me getting guillotined from the closed guard within the first few minutes. I think the last guy who got that on me was Andrew, now a brown belt, during one of the first times we ever rolled back at Tully's.

My shoulder is a little achy, and though it was far from the worst leg cramps I've gotten, my left leg just didn't seem to be getting the juice it needed. Then again, the cramps didn't hit until my final roll, so my hydration was really just a little short of the minimum required.

Did some good work against the closed guard. Lindsey did a great job of exposing my mistakes when trying to stand, particularly by breaking my posture every time I leaned forward. It was impressive - almost educational, like rolling with Casey or Rodrigo or Cindy. It will be good to roll with Lindsey more often over the next nine weeks.

The same can be said of Stephen, though I'm a little more accustomed to rolling with him than Lindsey. The results are similar and I'm spending most of the time fending off submissions and trying to escape from bad, bad positions. But they are good rolls, mostly because rather than just being overwhelmed, I'm being exposed error by error.

Then again, maybe that's the way it is with all of the rolls. Getting my guard passed by the Brazilian guy reminded me that I must, must, must improve my armdrag and cobrinha attack if I'm going to play a Marcelo-style, butt-scoot butterfly guard. In fact, I'm going to make that a priority for the next nine weeks: at least nine armdrag attempts per training. They can be standing, from the guard, from the half-guard, doesn't matter as long as I get nine good attacks in. As far as I'm concerned, it's Armdrag City from now until the first day of fall.

Today was a 2/3/4 day, meaning I did my 45 minute workout (3T and Man Makers) around noon on a jiu jitsu training day. We'll see how long this holds up. Tomorrow ia a 3/4 day; I've got to do Berardis and an LSD9 to the tunes of Mars Volta. Will they feed us the womb, indeed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Review: The Revolution 7 12 08

When Casey and Lindsey took first and second in the purple belt welterweight division at the Revolution event today, my first thought was "please let Sauleh and me do the same for the blue belt lightweights."

Chalk two up for the Gracie Barra blue belt lightweights.

Sauleh won a challenging 6-2 contest against a young guy from Impact Jiu Jitsu. Both were very much guard players - I think the Impact Jiu Jitsu guy actually managed to pull guard on Sauleh, which isn't something you see every day. For awhile it was dueling spider guards, but Sauleh managed to come out on top more often that not to get the win.

My match came next (there were only four of us in the division). I went after the arm drag immediately, but noticed that he was already open for the double leg. So I shot in and got the takedown. 2-0 GB Seattle.

I ended up in his guard, which I thought I'd be fine in. But he was very aggressive with his armlock/choke attack. I initially had to fight off an armlock that he had set-up pretty well. I remembered to stay low, keep my weight heavy, and not extend the arm FOR him.

Then he was after me with the choke. I'd argue that the choke was at least as much of a threat as the armlock was. I was probably one mistake away from getting choked. But I managed to stuff it, stay low and prevent him from getting the angle he needed.

His final attack was a triangle choke. He launched his leg up and I managed to scoop it and pass to side control. A lot of times, guys will escape triangles this way in no gi. But it is a risky way to go in the gi because it's easier for the attacker to hold you in position.

It worked for me this time and I made it to side control and eventually to mount. I would have thought that made the score 9-0 - 3 pts for the guard pass and 4 for the mount. I had mount for awhile, then lost it to half guard, then managed to get mount back again, lose it to half guard and then to full guard where we finished the match. But the score on the sheet said 8-0.

Whatever. It couldn't be less important. I had done almost everything I'd wanted to do in this tournament. I made weight with almost three pounds to spare. I executed my gameplan by getting the takedown. And though I didn't win by submission as I'd hoped, I did get to dominant position and win the fight convincingly.

As did Casey and Lindsey, Sauleh and I split the 1st and 2nd spots. I didn't even want to go the "rock, paper, scissors" over it. When Rodrigo asked if I wanted to figth Sauleh, I turned to Sauleh and said, "sure, do you want heads or tails?" But after a little while, I just told him to take first. For one, I was just so happy that I more or less did what I'd hoped to do that I really didn't care. For two, Sauleh beat the Impact Jiu Jitsu guy who ended up beating the Marcelo Alonso guy I defeated. So technically, Sauleh beat the third place guy and I beat the fourth place guy.

But all that is neither here nor there. The colored belts did really well today: Casey and Lindsey, Sauleh and myself, Nathan won first place after losing his first match, Connor was dominant as usual. I think the white belt results were a little more mixed. But I think there was a lot to like there also.

A great event on a great day. Jeff and LeapLLC continue to put on very well-run, professional events. Between them, Sub League and our own intramurals, we've got a nice "season" of jiu jitsu and sub grappling starting to develop here in the Pacific North west. I celebrated with a Mango Smoothie from one of the event sponsors, Jamba Juice (along with my traditional post-fight slice of pepperoni pizza). I got some great coaching from the sidelines by Rodrigo, Jesse and Casey in particular.

Plenty to work on between now and November. I really felt exhausted after that match - too much so given what should be my conditioning level. That will be something I'll want to pump up over the next few months. I'm also determined to get my training per week average back above 3. The mistakes I make against people at my level are very basic ones. But I need to pound the corrections into my head so that it becomes second nature to avoid those mistakes.

Friday, July 11, 2008


My goal was to weigh-in at 153. To hit the scale at 152.1, was almost better.

There were a few weird moments earlier today, like almost falling asleep on the futon when I took a little break in the afternoon. I need to figure out a way to get more sleep. Seriously.

I ran into Michelle (Wags) at the weigh-ins. It was great to see her - I don't think I saw her since the last tournament. She says that she's training at least four days a week ("almost living there"), which made me both impressed and jealous. I wanted to find out if she were competing, but I was still so anxious about making weight that I ended up getting registered and heading off to the scales sort of abruptly, forgetting to finish the conversation.

Also ran into a pair of teammates who were there to make weight. It's always nice to see your guys at the weigh-ins, especially when the scales aren't at our own place. I guess it sort of reinforces the "all in this together" spirit, which is all the more interesting for me since I've got more experience in tournaments than both of them. But I know it makes me feel better psychologically, anyway.

Not a lot to say at this point. I've got my gameplan together and know what I must do most fundamentally to get things done tomorrow. I'm ecstatic that I made weight with so much room to spare (max was 154.9) and am really going to try and keep things on this side of 155 as much as possible. Making weight was goal 1 of 3. Goal #2 is to execute my gameplan without hesitation. Goal #3 is to win by submission. #1 is accomplished and #2 is just a matter of will. We'll see how close I come to pulling off the hat trick.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Miscellaneous Inspiration

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gameplanning, Or ...


"You are a top player. You've got good wrestling, explosiveness and strength advantages over most of your opponents at your level. At your worst, you get outwrestled by stronger opponents and out-finessed by more technical opponents, particularly taller, longer opponents.

You win fights in the old school, Gracie in Action style: you take them down, get dominant position and finish, usually with a wrestling-based submission like the Americana. Most of your losses come while you are in the guard, to submissions by triangle choke and armlock.

Of the three main fighting styles, you are a slugger, like Foreman, like Liston. You will not by technical manuever, nor by a blitzkrieg attack, but by breaking the will of your opponent, usually by establishing a dominant position. For you, the submission is almost a formality. For your opponent, the thinking is: "God, this is hopeless. Please just get it over with and finish me already!!!"

Jiu jitsu fighters with this style, of course, tend to be the bigger fighters like Margarida and Pe De Pano. I would also put Jacare in this category. At the same time, this is a very old school approach to jiu jitsu, so it is also true that fighters like Renzo Gracie and certainly Carlson Gracie Sr. would be in this category, also.

So what do you need to do to become great? You to become unstoppable, the "irresistable force." You need to take opponents down, pass their guards and achieve dominant positions from which they cannot escape.

Takedowns: Given your athleticism, wrestling takedowns - both freestyle and Greco - are going to be your first options rather than judo type throws. Right now, given your southpaw preference, let's work an armdrag / double leg combination. We are always looking to grab his left wrist with our right grip, and then reach across and grip his upper arm with our left grip. Relentless attacking this way will encourage him to cheat his right side forward, shifting him into a southpaw stance that will make him vulnerable to the double leg.

Pass their guards: Stand, stand, stand. Remember not to keep your feet parallel but, instead, stagger them for better stability. Also remember that we are perfectly comfortable passing half guard. So don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Achieve dominant position: The main move is from watchdog to mount. Look for it immediately after passing half guard. From north-south, remember not to be too deep. You want enough room to be able to scoop under the armpits for armlocks, as well as having a good angle for kimuras.

How are we looking to finish fights given your skill set? For now, let's continue to work on the bent armlocks: the keylock and kimura. We won't get those from mount; you'll have to switch to the crossbody to finish the keylock and the crossobody or north-south to finish the kimura. But those are your attacks: again, strong, athletic jiu jitsu.

Most important: be aggressive. Like the jaguar, we stalk and ambush rather than chase. But always look to start the game. Force him into being defensive on the feet, to not want to engage. Fight off his grips. Look for the armdrag or double leg if he retreats from the armdrag.

Kron says that his father taught him to always look for the quickest route to the submission. For you, that route is through dominant position, through the takedown. Get those two and the third and final piece, the submission, is soon to follow.

Go. Go! GO!"

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Feed Your Head

We just re-published this interview with former Navy SEAL and host of Discovery Channel's Future Weapons, Richard Machowicz: "Not Dead, Can't Quit." My boss, Larry Connors, is a huge fan of Machowicz and after you read the interview, you'll see why. You'll also see why, a week out from the Revolution event, I'm including Machowicz in my regular reading. Enjoy!

Not Dead, Can't Quit: No Limit Thinking

Arm In Guillotine At Last!

A favorite of Ricardo "Big Dog" Almeida, a choke Jamal Patterson - also a Renzo guy - called "The Secret" after using it to finish an IFL fight, the submission many people still don't think average jiu jitsu guys can use ... I had a guy trapped in an arm-in guillotine in my second match at the February tournament, but I couldn't finish it. Here's a very good instructional on the arm-in guillotine from Red Schafer of Wisconsin Combat Sports.