Monday, December 30, 2013

"Ain't No Circuit Like the IBJJF Circuit

'Cause the IBJJF Circuit don't stop ..."

If you're a West Coast, IBJJF circuit jiu-jitsu athlete, then the first event on your calendar is only a little over a month away.

The registration deadline for the San Francisco International Open is February 1st.

Results for the 2013 championships are here. Brazilian Top Team took top honors, with Yemaso Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Ralph Gracie finishing second and third respectively.

Among the black belts competing were Caio Terra, the Mendes brothers, Gracie Barra's Lucas Rocha and Magid Hage, and open division winner, Gustavo Dias Elias.

Results for the inaugural 2012 event are here.

Especially for Northwest jiu-jitsu athletes, note that while the first event of the Revolution series for 2014 has yet to be scheduled, it is likely to be after the San Francisco International Open. With the Pan scheduled for mid-March, the San Francisco Open and a probable mid-February to early March Revolution date, should provide excellent preparation opportunities for those competitors looking to make a splash at this year's event in Irvine.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Buy One, Get One

A little over three years ago, I posted a modest piece of snark about the lack of commercial incentives to support otherwise mandatory consumption of a particular product during a time when such incentives were, if not ubiquitous, then at least quite common.

Sad to say that little has changed in the time since.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Me and My Big Blue (Belt) Self

Very much looking forward to some time off over the winter holiday stretch (Xmas through New Years). It will be a working week and a half in some senses; I've got my first major report due for Contact in about a month and I don't see getting it done without a little labor over the holidays. But some days beneath the desert sun will no doubt do me some good as I gear up for what I hope will be a far more active 2014 than 2013.

I'm just now fully realizing how much adjusting to the new job has affected my ability and inclination to train. It's no surprise that after four and a half years of doing things one way, it was going to take some adjustment time before I could start comfortably doing things another way.

I've been sorting through goals over the past few days, things I want to accomplish in 2014. No point in spilling beans here when I've got some percolating to do in Sonora. But it is fair to say that "fewer, better" and training with my "Blue Belt Self" in mind will be themes for the coming year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Training Day: Wednesday

Self-defense/Standing: None

Ground: Wedge guard open from the knees / Double unders pass / Pass choke / Asymmetrical choke / Specific training: Submit from Closed Guard Pass Guard

Live Training: None

Scale: 166.5

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Training Day: Wednesday

Self-defense/Standing: Jump to closed guard from standing

Ground: Jump to closed guard from standing / Pendulum sweep with leg / Armbar from defense of Pendulum sweep with leg / Specific training: Guard Pass Guard (12 minutes)

Live Training: Robert (six minutes)

Scale: 165.6 lbs

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

BJJ Scout: The Nicolini Guard, Parts 1 and 2

Found myself talking a little bit about the Nicolini guard with Coach Tom the other morning. A singularly great breakdown of the multiple gold-medal winning game of Michelle Nicolini is below, courtesy of BJJ Scout.


3 sets. 6 reps. Variable rest.

Deadlift high pull

Upright row



Deadlift high pull

Front lunge

Side lunge

Reverse lunge

Calf raise / Shrug

Monday, December 09, 2013


One of the trickier things about getting older in jiu-jitsu is how much more risk-averse you become. 

Even though I started training relatively late at 38, it wasn't until recently that I actually found myself consciously thinking about the potential for injury every time I train live. 

I've never really suffered from any major injury (i.e., anything that required medical intervention) -  a labrium tear here, a popped rib there - other than my eye, which is more of a freak thing than something that the average person training should ever worry about. But now, I find myself calculating risk with every move I make when sparring.

Admittedly, I never played a wild and crazy jiu-jitsu game. So the adjustment is more psychological than physical. But it is a real adjustment, and it feels like the kind of switch that, once flipped, won't flip back.

Training Day: Monday

Self-Defense/Standing: Punch block to safe clinch. Safe clinch to hip throw. Hip throw to knee on belly with wrist control.

Ground: Pull feet sweep (feet on hips). Pendulum sweep with and without leg.

Live Training: Prof Carlos, Prof Maeda (eight minutes each).

Scale: 170.0 lbs


"This is my mat.

There are many like it.

But this one is mine.

Without me, my mat is nothing.

Without my mat, I am nothing ..."

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Takedowns by Faber

One of my favorite videos on lower body takedowns by mixed martial artist, Urijah Faber. Inspired by a FB post by GB teammate, Alex Kyllo.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Que es Mas Macho?

The number of black belts you defeat or the number of white belts you teach?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Werdum: What a Jiu-Jitsu Fighter Must Do Well in MMA

There's a reason why fundamentals are fundamental. Awhile back, Demian Maia talked about how his jiu-jitsu self-defense training helped his preparation for mixed martial arts. Now The Man Who Submitted Fedor has a similar thought when it comes to the basics of grappling in MMA:
If we go to the ground and I need to use my guard, I don't foresee any problems. I see when fighters lack confidence in the guard and want to stand up fast, giving their back to the opponent. The technical get-up is one of the first things we learn in jiu-jitsu, and we have to do it well in MMA. This is important. If there's no way to do it, use the guard, sweep, try a submission.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Kron

There is one thing more impressive to me than Kron Gracie's run of four submission victories in this year's ADCC.

The fact that there isn't a single leglock among them.

My sentiments toward leg locks are no secret. And your mileage may vary - especially when it comes to no gi competition. But peer beyond Kron's immaculate quartet and, to steal a line, it's heel hooks all the way down

As much as I respect the performances of Galvao, Cobrinha, Romulo and old warriors like Sperry and Gurgel whose age approximates my own, Cyborg's upset victory over Buchecha in the Absolute ... it is easy to find inspiration in Kron Gracie's performances in China this weekend. His jiu-jitsu is a kind of solution.
" ...of course the techniques are great – but the sensibility of the opponent, the sense of touch, the weight, the momentum, the transition from one move to another ..."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

When He Hollers ... A Look at the Palhares Heel Hook

Ever since they turned vale tudo into mixed martial arts, I've lamented that there is no jiu-jitsu-grappling analogue to the massive advantage of gloved hands for strikers. If there is one thing that favors striking over jiu-jitsu in MMA, this is it.

There was one way of restoring at least some balance. And no one made the case better than Frank Mir, whose tap or snap attitude - a talk walked in brutal submission victories over Pete Williams, Tim Sylvia, and the legendary Minotaro Nogueira - made jiu-jitsu scary again. You punch my face. I snap your arm. You kick my head. I pop your knee.

You can see this in the beauty of Royce Gracie's performances in the vale tudo-era UFC. The armlocks on DeLucia, Kimo, and Hackney. Those submissions weren't "just getting caught" as so many have dismissively referred to submission losses in MMA in the past few years.  Those armlocks were for keeps.

Which brings me to Palhares. The heel hook is the ultimate tap or snap technique. Worse than a two-step snake or a poison that paralyzes before it kills, the heel hook is capable of destroying almost before it hurts. In the hands of naive defender, the results can be inadvertently disastrous. In the hands of an aggressive (to say nothing of overly-aggressive) attacker, the results can be just as ruinous.

I've seen armlocks and kneebars held longer than Palhares' heel hook while referees tugged mistakenly at the most hyperextended part of the trapped limb as they called a stop to a fight. And to put it bluntly, the last person in the universe who should be convinced of the success of a submission hold should be the one applying it - at least when it comes to mixed martial arts.

In a world in which tapping to a submission is really no big deal, but tapping to strikes is a character deficit of the highest martial order, I'll admit to being willing to give a victorious grappler a second to untangle himself - and for the opponent to learn to concede (and concede quickly) even if as much out of fear of the submission as the submission itself. This isn't amateur sport jiu-jitsu. This is how they've decided to change vale tudo into MMA. I urge jiu-jitsu fighters to adjust accordingly.

And if you aren't ready forgive Palhares' heel hook or Babalu's choke, maybe wondering what the world would have been like with Vitor Belfort regaining the UFC Light Heavyweight belt will help.

"I've always had great respect for Jon Jones and know he is a great champion. When I felt his arm snap, I decreased the pressure, and he got out. Simple as that. During the bout, he managed to work his elbows well (from the top), but I was never afraid. But he was very good in the fight."

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Opposing Take on the Leglock Debate

Guest Post courtesy of Professor Griff Sombke, Gracie Barra black belt, No Gi World Champion at brown belt


In which I disagree with Burientopteam on the importance of Leglocks to your Jiu-Jitsu game...

(H/T to Brad DeLong)

"Those who live by the sword will end up getting shot by those who don't" - Keenan Cornelius

I've been meaning to write this for months. Seriously. However, life is complicated when you're an adult. Things get shelved, and philosophical debates about grappling are one of the first to go when you're running an academy, raising a kid, training for tournaments, etc. However, I need the writing practice, and I now have an extra hour in the AM, so I am knocking this out between PT sets for my shoulder.

For me, at the core, competitive Jiu-Jitsu will always be about figuring out what your opponent wants to see LEAST, and making sure they see it as often as possible. Applying that logic to other BJJ players, I would try to exploit my opponent's (stereotypical) lack of both takedown awareness and leg attack defenses. BJJ's answer to the takedown question seems to be the guard jump/pull, which works well in a sport BJJ context, and, per the data compiled by the fine folks at, seems to be a very high-percentage option at the elite level. Obviously, this strategy is a bit of a problem if you compete in other grappling disciplines, relatively wide-open rulesets such as ADCC, or in MMA/Vale Tudo. However, in the "Truman Show" environment of a BJJ tournament, you're probably okay, as long as you're Medio or smaller. Kind of how the idea of diving belly down to stop a double-leg attempt would be suicidal against a BJJ player, but was an acceptable defense in a Judo context.

Leglocks, on the other hand, are a different animal. Part of the reason is because they are actually pretty versatile. You can use them as a submission, sure. But, now you have guys like Buchecha, who use them as sweeps. You can catch an opponent not defending, or with a foot/leg in a compromised position, lock a toehold, and ride that to the top or to a victory. If you're savvy enough, you can apply them from almost anywhere. I remember something Trevin Raak said to me years ago about how his guard passing got a lot better once he added footlocks to his game. You put that possibility into your opponent's mind, and that's one more thing they have to consider when sparring/competing against you. Folks who train primarily non-BJJ based grappling know this, trust me. That's an advantage for them right from the jump, and kneebar defense isn't something you want to try and figure out on the fly.

It's also not a monolithic category. "Leg locks" can mean attacks that target the large joints, such as the knee, small joints like your Achilles' tendons and ankles, and a wide range of "cutter/slicer" attacks that work great as a "second option". This means that you've laid out a minefield for an opponent to cross to try and defend while trying to maintain position at the same time. Add that to the fact that most times, the correct defense is to roll/move in a direction that tends to be favorable to the person applying the leglock, and you have a powerful weapon, which becomes a market inefficiency if you have them and your opponent doesn't. Couple that with a BJJ player's overall awareness of "where you really want to be while rolling" and you have a really nasty combination. In fact, due to the preceding factor, I would speculate that in the hands of a skilled BJJ player, leg locks become an even more dangerous weapon than they are when deployed by a less position-savvy grappler. The old jazz saying about "it's about the notes you DON'T play" comes to mind here.

Personally, I don't use them as a main option. However, I will take one if I see it. And having to reinvent a lot of what you use for a guard game at Purple belt because you are getting leglocked by folks who understand that side of things way better than you will make you a believer. This may or may not have happened to me .
It's the same as how you would play a different game if striking was legal. These are not easy habits to break. And the way to break them usually involves getting tapped a whole bunch of times. What, in my opinion, is the wrong approach, is to do what Judo has done, and ban anything that allows folks from other disciplines to come into a sport and dominate. Don't ban leg attack takedowns, for example. Learn to sprawl better. The problem isn't usually solved with more rules.

Hole in your Jiu-Jitsu soul? Probably not. Hole in your "complete grappler" soul? Absolutely. We, as high-level BJJ players, need to be familiar with these concepts, as we are expected to be walking encyclopedias of grappling. Fair stereotype or not, that's the bed we made, and it's a lot more comfortable to lie in it if you know what to do when someone grabs your foot.

(And the same goes for wrist locks. Ask anyone who's gotten tapped by one. Luckily, that's relatively simple to defend, as long as you are aware of what they are and how they happen. Everyone who's trained at GB Edmonds for any length of time knows that you always have to be aware of where/what your elbows are resting against, and be conscious of not getting them trapped there.)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Top 10 Submissions in UFC History

To the extent that I have become the archangel of jiu-jitsu in mixed martial arts, here are a few favorite examples from MMA Nation of jiu-jitsu artists getting it done.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

What is a Complete Jiu-JItsu?

My guess is that many people will simultaneously agree and disagree with my five-part list. But I think it is defensible through both the "jiu-jitsu for everyone" and "competitive jiu-jitsu" lenses - the latter including jiu-jitsu's crucial crucible of mixed martial arts.

The Five Factors of a Complete Jiu-Jitsu

1. You can use jiu-jitsu to take a physical conflict to the ground in a controlled fashion.

2. You can use jiu-jitsu to move from a defensive position on the ground to a dominant position on the ground.

3. You can use jiu-jitsu to subdue an adversary from a dominant position on the ground.

4. You can use jiu-jitsu to subdue an adversary from a defensive position on the ground.

5. You can accomplish 1-4 in conflict with an adversary against whom you do not have a significant athletic (size, speed, power) advantage.

I think a lot of people confuse the techniques that can provide someone with a complete jiu-jitsu from the fundamental notion of what a complete jiu-jitsu actually means.

I think a lot of people overthink it, affected more by the innovations in sport jiu-jitsu than by either jiu-jitsu's trial by fire in mid-to-late 20th century vale tudo contests or the practical necessities of individuals seeking to protect themselves from physical harm.

I think, maybe most importantly, that all of this is still applicable to sport jiu-jitsu, that it can serve as the basis for a successful competition strategy, that it helps connect the old school jiu-jitsu that many of us love with the ever more new schools of jiu-jitsu developing right now in academies all over the world.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Sitting Up Guard: A BJJ Scout Analysis of Rodolfo, Cobrinha, and Otavio

There have been a few "eureka" moments for me when it comes to the sitting guard. One was while watching an instructional DVD from Stephan Kesting. Another one came while watching a recent competition between Cobrinha and Rafa. But the one that is still fresh happened during the seminar by Prof Otavio Sousa just a few weeks ago here at Gracie Barra Seattle.

BJJ Scout explains why my "eurkea" reaction may be fairly common in another great analysis of a great jiu-jitsu technique.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Song of Piton

Piton is the solution to movement.
Piton is the solution to speed.
Piton is the solution to flexibility.
Piton is the solution to strength.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Training Day: Saturday

A Saturday full of specific training from Prof Nate: guard/pass guard, finish from the back/defend Shark Tank style with a focus on the guard player and the finish from the back. A great way to spend the day.

Live training with a pair of tough brown belts (Steve and Pat) for eight minutes each. Almost a flashback to the days of training with Casey and Lance (and Steve and Pat, for that matter). Not the kind of training you get everyday, and it was every bit as challenging as it used to be.

161.4 on the scale post-train. WITStolo the guard replacement, the persistence, and the patience. There were more than a few Ryron Metamoris moments during today's training, and accepting that as part of my practice going forward likely will be key to arriving in one piece.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Training Day: Wednesday

Double legs from the snap down. Armbars from the "microwave" mount. Taking the back counter to upa escape from the "microwave" mount.

And Live Training. Versus half-guard. Working the lapel. Working the bicep, cross-carotid control. Working the head wedge. Working the pass.


Jiu-Jitsu Dream Mirror

"You have to think that you are better than you are."
-- T. Steele, 2006

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Does Jiu-Jitsu Need MMA?

If your initial conception of jiu-jitsu was formed while watching Royce Gracie in the early Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments in the first half of the 1990s, the intervening years have been interesting ones.

The sport of competitive jiu-jitsu has soared in popularity - with live streams of jiu-jitsu competitions from as far away as Brazil and Abu Dhabi increasingly a regular part of the average BJJ fan's agenda, and the IBJJF expanding its tournament circuit into a new major North American city every time you turn around. As someone who began training as jiu-jitsu superstars like Roger Gracie, Ronaldo Souza, and Marcelo Garcia were dominating the sport jiu-jitsu scene, it was hard not to have an optimistic sense of where this growing emphasis on the jiu-jitsu black belt v.s. jiu-jitsu black belt notion of jiu-jitsu competition seemed to be going.

But watching the black belt debut of one of our contemporary era's up 'n' coming young superstars this evening, I felt my heart sink a bit. Certainly not as a reflection of the performance: an armbar victory is an armbar victory and all the moreso against a talented, proven opponent. 

Nevertheless seeing the entrails of what has become contemporary jiu-jitsu: the emphasis on gi grips, the guard-uber-alles positioning, the endless inversions ... While a part of me enjoys and envies the technical mastery involved, I'll admit that there's another part of me wondering if what seems like an evolution in the art of jiu-jitsu is actually something else entirely.

Fighting against evolution is a dangerous thing. Judo is engaged in this Sisyphus-like labor as we speak, seeking to rid itself of any aspect of Western wrestling by banning direct attacks on the legs. 

This is the same judo that was arguably crippled as a martial art (however bolstered as an Olympic sport) when the time allowed for ne-waza or ground fighting became limited.

But what is evolution? And, maybe more importantly, what is driving the evolutionary change? In sport jiu-jitsu, the driver of change is not increased exposure to new, foreign challenges from outside the art, but instead from increasingly nuanced, increasingly contrived innovations from within the art itself.

This doesn't mean that the result is inherently decadent - though there is a significant danger that this can develop. But consider the same phenomenon in other spheres of endeavor: political theory developed by political scientists, but never influenced by or tested by free citizens or voters. Economic theory developed by economists, but never tested by free markets or a business cycle. Theories of reality developed and debated by philosophers, but never tested by the real world of gravity and physics.

I spent many years studying contemporary poetry. And if there was one thing that characterized contemporary poetry in the 1980s and 1990s in particular, it was that contemporary poetry was only read by those who wrote it. That's an exaggeration. But not by much. It was a very insular world, one that had grown to embrace its own irrelevance to the broader cultural conversation. 

Some may find it hard to believe that it wasn't always so with contemporary poetry. Poets, even American poets, just a generation or two ago were names that most well-read people had heard of: Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Syliva Plath - even if they never really read that much poetry.

All that said to say that I think I know what an art looks like when it becomes more pre-occupied with its own internal dynamics than with the sort of challenges it was originally developed to deal with. That doesn't mean that the art is on the road to obsolescence or irrelevance or decadence. But it does mean that practitioners of the art should be aware of how their art is changing, what is driving that change and, should they decide so, what to do in response.

Eddie Bravo famously said that MMA without jiu-jitsu was bad kickboxing. Of late, I've found myself wondering if jiu-jitsu without MMA - or at least the sort of sensibilities that MMA and vale tudo bring - is a similarly sub-optimal state.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Teaching Day: Friday

Great time teaching the 6 am, "Dawn Patrol" class this Friday. Roethke has that wonderful line "when a week of rain is a year". That's how I felt being on the teaching side of the tatame after two weeks away.

Five students is a lot for a Friday morning. And I couldn't be more grateful. I'm curious as to how attendance might change as the days get more than a little shorter and the nights more than a little longer.

We worked on the turtle headlock counter from the curriculum, and the mount reversal. I saw Coach Peter showing someone how to set up a triangle choke attack from the closed guard Thursday, and loved it so much that I decided to throw that one in to Friday's lesson, as well.

159.4 on the scale, post-train. A new injury, right elbow, has me preoccupied. But maybe not as much as usual. I've got a compression brace that seems to work well enough - though we'll see come next week. I'm probably not going to make the 12x this month - I'll be lucky to make it to nine. So being more efficient in training, and training what I need/want to train, are all the more vital.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WITStolo: Reverse Collar Drag

First time sparring in weeks. I hadn't necessarily planned on it. But tonight's black belt class was an hour of specific training - probably my favorite kind of training. So I rolled with it for as long as I could.

Tonight's WITStolo is definitely the collar drag reversal from the closed guard. I think a basic cross collar choke will be enough to properly set it up. Scissorhands was the weakest of my closed guard set-ups, but that collar drag reversal would fit in nicely among that set.

My body is still waking back up to the matwork. I felt a few tinges in my intercostals and my leg cramped up midway through the third quarter, so to speak, and didn't let up until near the end of the fourth. It's a reminder that I'm going to have to take it easy on the way back in.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rickson: Striking is a 50/50 Bet

Since I'm on my horse (or at least, back in the stable), let me add that I think that Rickson had a great point when he said that the problem with striking as a strategy was that it was a "50-50 game."

As you might imagine, Master Hickson continues to catch all kinds of hell for this remark in ye olde MMA forums. And while a number of folks have embarked upon some major counter-argumentation on behalf of the non-randomness of victory in the striking arts, plenty others remain just plain pissed off that Mr. 400-0* was unimpressed by probabilities that made pugilism more sport than self-defense.

But I when I think of knockouts like Rashad Evans over Chuck Liddell, or Rampage's Third Time Charm against The Axe Murderer, I can't help but think that Rickson had a point. Sure, there was Matt Hughes' armbar off of GSP's failed kimura from bottom half guard in their first match up. And we all remember the 24-hour fever over the "Von Flue Choke" (reminder: avoid trying to guillotine from the bottom when in side control).

Still simultaneous submissions, moments in which two potentially finishing attacks are deployed at the same time, couldn't be rarer relative to those photogenic moments we know and love as fight fans when two sluggers have moved from locked and loaded to near-full extension with their heaviest haymakers en route ...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Five Rules for Jiu-Jitsu Fighters in Mixed Martial Arts

A thread over at MMAFighting purports to provide commentary on Royce Gracie's take on the poor performance of his younger relatives in recent MMA contests.

I say "purports" because the comments seem to suggest that few of those opining have actually read the article.

Again, Royce's argument is an old one, one made by Rickson Gracie almost 10 years ago, and also amplified, in a way, by the man who is the best representative of BJJ-in-MMA done right, Demian Maia who said that his self-defense training was actually very applicable to his mixed martial arts training.

In any event, here are a few ways that jiu-jitsu fighters can improve their odds in the cage - using jiu-jitsu!

1. Train conditioning like a professional athlete
Top level competitive black belt matches in the IBJJF last for 10 minutes, plus overtimes. The minimum time for an MMA fight is 15 minutes, divided into three, five-minute rounds. Train accordingly

2. Stop striking
Rickson Gracie put it plainly almost ten years ago, and it is true today. If your edge lies in taking the fight to the ground, then your job is to take the fight to the ground. Everything that doesn't contribute to this ability is a distraction.  Fighting isn't a lifestyle. It's a game. And the best way to win the game is to have the greatest possible edge in one aspect of the game, and then force your opponents to compete with you there.

3. Takedowns Matter
I don't care if it's a judo throw, a Greco toss, or a folkstyle power double leg. Again, if your edge lies in taking the fight to the ground, then your job is to take the fight to the ground. Pick a takedown, a counter to the most common defense to that takedown, and don't stop until the round ends or the fight does.

4. "Nao Para!"
One of the things BJJ fighters can bring from the tournament mat to the cage is one of the most overheard commands from the sidelines: Don't Stop.

Strikers are told to move their heads and keep pumping the jab. Grapplers need to continue fighting for their grips and positions as priority one at all times. A jab won't end a fight, but some of the best knockouts lie right behind a well-placed fist in the face. The same can be said for grapplers when it comes to getting their best grips and most decisive positions.

5. The Patton Rule
Famous American general, George Patton, allegedly said, "Your job is not to die for your country. Your job is to make that other poor son of a bitch die for his country." I feel the same way about playing guard and fighting from your back in MMA.

In other words, your job as a jiu-jitsu fighter in MMA is not to show the world how great your guard is. It is to find out how good that other "poor son of a bitch" is off his (or her) back.  I don't have to run through the number of quality jiu-jitsu fighters who lost rounds in an MMA match because the judges preferred the top fighter's lay 'n' pray one-inch hammer fists to the bottom fighter's failed triangle, armbar and OMGaplata attacks from below.

I'm sure there are more. But these five would be a great place to start for most jiu-jitsu fighters - from Roger to Rolles - looking both to earn a winning record and showcase "the gentle art" at the same time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frank Mir Was Right

Here's another reason why, when it comes to MMA, I've always been a Frank Mir fan.
"He went up against a really good submission guy.  And he got caught. So it wasn't like he got knocked out or he got dominated, you know, through the whole fight."
--Dana White, talking about a replacement fighter for his reality series, The Ultimate Fighter.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Winning is the Solution to Losing

Maybe it's a matter of semantics. I've always felt uncomfortable with the "you either win or you learn" maxim of the "jiu-jitsu for everyone" school of thinking (a school to which I am 100% devoted, by the way).

After all, you can never step into the same river twice, as my favorite philosopher put it. So assuming we're paying at least some attention, every experience is by definition a learning experience. The problem with this maxim is that it doesn't recognize how you can - or maybe even how important it is - to win "within" losing.

One of my three greatest competitive jiu-jitsu matches is a match I lost: my first match as a brown belt. I'd end up losing three out of three matches that day (think about that the next time you have a hard time on the mat), but my first match is one I'll always remember because it was, for a moment, the most winning moment I ever had in competition.

By the time I became a brown belt, I'd long prided myself on my takedowns. "Pride" is a good word for it because while I was probably better at taking the match to the mat than the average guy, that didn't necessarily apply to the average competitive guy. And that's a difference that defines.

So by the time I got to brown belt, having gone a little better than 50/50 on the 2-0 strategy of Takedown Uber Alles that had won me many of the matches I did win, I was open to alternatives.

Professor Rodrigo had been teaching something crazy all week in the evening advanced classes. Deep half guard. And not just deep half guard, but pulling deep half guard from standing. This was a few years back, before deep half had truly eclipsed the regular "Gordo" half guard that many of us had focused on,

At this point, remembering bitterly a pair of takedowns in two competitions at purple belt that I failed to earn points for , I was more than ready for a new way to get that critical 2-0 lead. And given my love for the half guard, the idea of this new kind of takedown-to-half guard, looked and felt unbeatable

I drilled that Tuesday and Thursday evening. Pull deep half and right into the sweep. Easy as a waltz - at least a hundred-odd reps later.

The morning of the Revolution (accept no substitutes), I have my game set. I don't realize that there is a chasm of darkness beyond my plan to pull deep half and get the sweep that I have carved into my consciousness. But I'm so geeked up on my move I can't see anything beyond it.

And we square off. Me and the guy who goes on to win first or second or something impressive and podium-worthy. But I'll never forget, shaking hands, getting my grips, and pulling that deep half guard and getting that first two points. I'll never forget literally (and, yes, I mean "literally" as in "a real thing that happened") hearing a gasp from someone or ones standing or sitting around watching when I pulled deep half and got that sweep because, apparently, my opponent who went on to win our match on points despite him being robbed of mount position by a bad out of bounds reset by the ref, is the kind of guy who was expected to win first or second or something impressive and podium-worthy and I, relatively speaking, am not.

And right there, for a moment ...

That's the solution to losing.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tap or Nap, Said the TickTockMan!

Some niftyness from Prof Cavalcanti

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Friday, September 06, 2013

Stating My Status

I knew this week wouldn't be easy. I managed to catch a cold on Saturday that went symptomatic on Tuesday. Fortunately, Bryan was scheduled to cover my early bird class Friday morning since I'll be heading to NYC, so I'll get a few extra and badly-needed winks ahead of my cross country trip.

I'd fantasized about visiting Marcelo Garcia's academy on Saturday while I was in the city. But between my poor health and poor training in recent weeks, I'll have to wait until this time next year.

On the upside, I think I have finally figured out why an otherwise healthy jiu-jitsu dude like myself catches colds so frequently. I've been hit with significant cold symptoms three times this year (including now), which is just unacceptable - and all the more so now that I know what it's been happening. There will be a few long (as in 40-year) habits I'll have to break, but it couldn't be more for the better.

I'm a little anxious about flying five and a half hours with a stuffed up head. I remember reading how Mad Money host Jim Cramer ended up losing the hearing in one ear after taking a cross country flight with a head cold, and because I have a tendency to get cold before long trips, I've got a few nerves. Hopefully another night sucking on a zinc lozenge, another day of popping decongestants and expectorants, and the regular process of repair will have me in at least halfway decent shape by boarding time tomorrow.

Another good thing is that by the time I get back to the mat (ETA Friday, September 13th), my latest rib/intercoastal muscle strain is likely to have healed up well enough to train - at least the coursework if not the sparring. It's going to be a busy month, but that will be a piece of normalcy that I will be looking forward to very much.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

This Week in BJJ - Budo Jake Talks with Roger Machado

Another great show from Budo Jake.

This Week in BJJ Episode 41 – Roger Machado

Make sure you stick around to the end to see one of the Machado "family secrets": the armpit americana!

(Hint: it resembles the Nogumura)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Interview: John Connors on Jiu-Jitsu Over 40

I've never heard of this guy before, but he's dropping knowledge like rain. A lot of what he recommends are things I've thought about or heard in pieces here and there. Nice to hear it all in one package. "You have to have the confidence to ignore some really good jiu-jitsu."


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Interview: Oli Geddes on Living La Vida Jiu-jitsu

Some excellent practical insights on the jiu-jitsu lifestyle and competition from Roger Gracie black belt Oli Geddes.

Courtesy of OpenMatRadio

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Numba One Breakdown Brotha

A look at the technology behind the armbar that brought the UFC Lightweight title to Anthony Pettis.

Al Perdedor Perder

As much as I appreciate this kind of video, I've always felt that they've left me more than a little flat.

Don't get me wrong. If you are the kind of competitor who usually wins, and is having a hard time dealing with a surprising loss, then this is great advice. I'd also like to add, grow the F up. No one is invincible. Unless your psychology is completely upside down, infrequently losses are a budding champion's best friend.

But I always wonder what guys like this have to say to those of us who had competitive seasons like I did as a purple and brown belt. After winning most of my matches as a white belt and winning about half my matches at blue belt, every tournament above this level was a disaster. I probably competed 3-4 times as a purple belt, and almost as many times as a brown belt, and lost every match.

Every one.  All of them. Seven or eight tournaments in a row with multiple matches per tournament.

There aren't a lot of videos talking to folks in this position. The most honest comment was the one my professor gave after my last purple belt loss, when he pointed out that all my competitors were, quite literally, half my age. About half were amateur MMA fighters, as well.

True enough, but it didn't change the circumstance: if I wanted to compete locally, then I'd be competing against guys young enough to be my sons. Full stop.

In a way, earning my black belt has liberated me from this problem. There are very few local black belts who compete (maybe there'd be more if they saw my name in the brackets), especially at the lower weight classes. Even when it comes to Superfights, these sort of opportunities are few and far between - and I'm no one but a fool's notion of a Superfight participant.

There are the IBJJF events. I noticed that the Atlanta Open, for example, had a healthy number of master and seniors competitors at the faixa preta level. That's a good sign. But the idea of my nearest opportunity to compete against a peer being on the opposite end of a multi-state plane ride is a bit depressing - especially since my new job already puts me on the road 4-5 times a year (including two out-of-country trips).

That's the terrain. I have a few goals for 2014 that will require me to better navigate this terrain than I have thus far - and yesterday's minor intercostal muscle pull in some ways only accelerates my determination to make a few things happen before I turn 50.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to Portland?

Gracie Barra Portland's new head instructor has just been announced. Wow.

Gracie Barra Portland would like to proudly announce the Head Instructor for our newest location. 6x Brazilian National Champion, Pan Am Champion, 2x US National Champion, 3x World No Gi Champion and an MMA veteran with over 20 fights; Professor Fabiano Scherner. We are honored to have you as a part of our Team and our Family. Ossssss!
Between the recent announcement that Otavio Sousa would be joining Gracie Barra Seattle and this news about Gracie Barra Portland, I am amazed at how jiu-jitsu in general and Gracie Barra in specific is blowing up in the Pacific Northwest.

And, no, "Pacific Northwest" isn't redundant. It's just bragging. ;)

Friday, August 30, 2013

You Say You Wanna (Win at the) Revolution?

Crying in my kimono that I'll miss this.

This is in November. I'll be in Singapore, on assignment for the Daily Planet, which will make it easier to handle being absent (though I'll be missing the November Revolution event itself, also). But, damn, this looks like it will be a very good time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Aesopian: How to Be Less Defensive in Jiu-Jitsu

Some great basic pointers for jiu-jitsu students at all levels from Aesopian on making and breaking habits.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Innovation in Jiu-Jitsu: The Borges/Vinicinho Loop Choke

a.k.a. the "Your Back is Got" Choke.

If you saw this ...

You probably want to see this ...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Leglock Schmeglock: The Argument Against

One of the weariest tropes in jiu-jitsu is the notion that you need to train "leglocks" in order to have a "complete" jiu-jitsu game.

Set aside for a moment the notion that there is such as thing as a "complete" jiu-jitsu game (does such a game necessitate wrist locks, as well?  Or a minimum amount of "no gi" training?), I can't help but wonder if there's a bit of the forbidden fruit syndrome going on when it comes to notoriously leglock-free jiu-jitsu students.

In other words, like kids at a strict religious school assuming that their peers at the secular college down the road are engaged in 24-7 sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, I wonder sometimes if BJJ students have overestimated the actual amount of leglocking that goes on in grappling, let alone gi jiu-jitsu.

What got me thinking about this was the latest research from Bishop BJJ. Their whole report is worth reading. But the data on submissions is especially interesting.

Consider this. You are a jiu-jitsu student lamenting your lack of leglock acumen. I ask you, how prevalent are leglocks among some of the highest performing practitioners of your art.  How do you respond?

Here's how the data responds:

The above data is culled from the adult black belt divisions of the IBJJF World Championships of 2012. Obviously the data set could be larger. But the work done by Tyler and Jena Bishop here represents the best effort at quantifying jiu-jitsu performance at the highest level I have seen. Until further notice, they are my "Nate Silver" on the subject.

As you can see, combined "leglocks" accounted for about 14% of the submissions. This puts leglocks on par with armbars (trailing slightly when kimuras and americanas are included as "armbars"). It is also comparable with cross collar chokes.

What this data tells me is that, in terms of submission efficiency, nothing beats a choke from the back. It's not even close. In fact, I wonder how many of the armbars in the chart above came as a result of back control (i.e. defending a choke from the back often leads to an opening for an armbar).

Interestingly, when it comes to leglocks, it isn't the large-joint targeting kneebar that has resulted in the most submission victories, but the small-joint targeting techniques of footlocks and ankle locks. My guess is that most when people think "leglocks", they are thinking about kneebars and even heel hooks, much more than they are thinking about footlocks and ankle locks (straight varieties being available, under IBJJF rules, as early as blue belt, I believe).

Am I against leglocks? A little. I am a position first, second, and third type of jiu-jitsu player, and the idea of giving up a superior position to attack an ankle seems like a bad trade in most instances. Maybe I've watched too many Caio Terra matches. 

That said, I don't think the data argues against leglocks. If anything, they are ranked about where armbars are, which makes sense anatomically, at least. But the data does suggest that the idea that your jiu-jitsu will have some sort of "hole in its soul" if you don't get thee to a sambo seminar is probably overstating the case. Becoming the best at the jiu-jitsu you love (and finding a favorite finish from the back!) is achievement enough.

Monday, August 19, 2013

This Week In BJJ Episode 40 AJ Agazarm and JT Torres Part 1 of 2

This is such a great show. It's like SportsCenter for Jiu-Jitsu.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Celebration Day Eve

Today Celebration Day Eve: one day before my jiu-jitsu anniversary. And while the biggest part of the celebration in many ways was an outstanding seminar by two-time middleweight jiu-jitsu champion, Otavio Sousa, the more important part long-term might be my return to training with my the home mat.

I picked up a home mat years ago when I was a blue belt with a stripe or two. It was far too small to share. Instead, I used it as a jiu-jitsu conditioning tool, developing a handful of cardio and agility-boosting routines that I did a few times a week - again, especially as a blue belt and purple belt.

Suffice to say that I haven't spent nearly as much time on the home mat over the last year or two. That hasn't been for lack of opportunity, either. I'm still "blessed" (as the kids say) with a job that allows me to work from home for what is now five and a half years and running (two different jobs; same blessing). And while this afford me with a number of opportunities, none are more immediate than the ability to spend 20 minutes doing high intensity jiu-jitsu drills pretty much any time I want to.

Coach Ed asked me earlier today after the seminar if I missed competing. I don't miss losing, which characterized my purple and brown belt competition campaigns. But I miss the camaraderie of the competitor, the focus of the preparation. And I bugs me that I think I'd probably be a lot better at that part of the process now than I was then.

I'm a big believer in setting yourself up for success, establishing goals that are distinct not by their inherent majesty, but through their own attainability to lead incrementally to ever more credible achievement. Get flexible for the first time in your life. Train 12 times a month every month for a year.  Add HICT cardio after every session.  Now train 15 times a month. Bring back home mat conditioning 3-4 times a week.

The past year has found me with an occasional "fear of commitment" when it comes to training. Part of this was getting used to a new work routine, a pretty flexible one I'll admit, and trying to accommodate my training time and jiu-jitsu goals to it. A part of it is feeling as if the opportunities for the kind of "memorable moments from my jiu-jitsu that a 90-year old burientopteam wouldn't mind reflecting upon sentimentally are still here, but not becoming any more abundant from year to year ...

There's a part of me that would love to leave a little smudge that resembles my name in the IBJJF history books. And I don't think there's anything wrong in saying so.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prof Otavio Has Landed

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of my eighth year in jiu-jitsu and the beginning of my ninth.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Open Mat Radio Interviews Rickson Gracie Black Belt Henry Akins

I've been a big fan of Henry Akins for a few years now. The longer I train, the more I feel a kinship with guys like him.

Episode 78 - Henry Akins

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rehab Workout

Went to the academy today thinking I might be able to do some training. But I've still got no strength in my right knee LCL and Prof Carlos was working on armbars from the mount, so I did a solo workout instead.

40 Three-Step Drop Seoinages with Kouchi Gari

Five sets of 20 technical lifts, 10 medicine ball swings,  10 medicine ball squats

Cool Down:
Five sets of 20 hipscapes

No real discomfort in my knee, though I did notice that my left LCL isn't exactly feeling like Kevlar, either. I'm looking forward to loading up on the Super Cissus in a few days.

Tomorrow I'll get in a little cardio. I was 166 in the gi after conditioning today which is a low-down, dirty shame - injury or no.

Spent some time working with Sean (Connor's dad), whose decided to put on the gi and do some more formal training. It was a great time going over some fundamentals and details, and explaining something to someone is always just another way of teaching yourself all over again. Hopefully there will be much more of that to come from the lunch time training session.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

BJJ Scout Presents Ronda Rousey


Less than a month to go before my eighth anniversary as a Gracie Barra student, I've already reached a major milestone.

Last training year, August 2011-July 2012, I trained 161 times, averaging 3.35 times a week. This training year, running from August 2012 - July 2013, I did myself one better, literally, racking up 162 trips to the mat.

At least as of Friday. My knee kept me off the mat today (that and a little rendering unto Caesar, as the kids say), and I won't be able to train tomorrow night. I'm going to see if I can make it to the Academy on Wednesday, which will give me a 14 training session July. That's one shy of the 15/month that I like to think is an above average month of work. But given that it was injury-induced - and won't screw up my new overall, training year record - I'll cut myself some slack.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On the Case

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Knee-Poppin Daddy


There was absolutely nothing at all dramatic about my latest injury. I'm defending a deep half shin sweep, but my leg is a little too gathered up at the knee and a little move here and a little move there and pop! goes the ligament. At least that's my guess. The pop was audible and the inability to put any lateral weight on my right knee is pretty manifest. But I can walk and there's no crazy swelling so I figure a worse case scenario will have me non-sparring for a month and a half or so.

I've got a class to teach on Friday, and was planning to do another double. But the second half of that plan is 100% out of the question - as is the notion of training Thursday night that I'd been toying with up until my knee gave out.

Overall, I still think I'm doing okay as far as injuries are concerned. 2013 has been a little rough historically speaking: I popped my rib back in January, and looking back on my calendar for the previous training year (August 2012 to July 2013), it looks like I was back on the mat and training regularly by the beginning of March. So I'm hoping for a similar bounce back. In a perfect world, I would have gotten this injury two weeks from now; work is going to kick into high gear again at the beginning of August, so that would have been as good a time as any to slow things down.

165.3 on the scale, post-train. Plump as a plum, still. I don't imagine being sidelined for a little while will be great for keeping my weight down, but I've got to believe that 165 is at or near some sort of semi-natural limit.  I've got this trick with the pena weight class I'm been trying to do ... but you know that.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Train and Learn

Trained twice today and paid for it, in some ways, with my flagging performance during a ten-minute sparring session. For weeks, my mantra has been to quit when I'm ahead, to reach drop-dead fatigue AFTER training during a post-train conditioning workout like HICT. The idea being for weakness to remain 100% under my control in the training context.

But you don't know the edge until you test it, and with the prospect of not getting back on the mat until Monday, it seemed worthwhile to stick around for Friday's Live Training, even if there wasn't much left in the tank.

A good week on the mat. My training numbers are starting to creep up (back to 2.75 in the four-week moving average). This morning was essentially a private lesson with John since he was the only student to show up for Dawn Patrol. We worked on a couple of different entries into the DLR, which was a treat for me also since I almost never use the DLR in training.

The noon session was vigorous - a lot of drills out of side control (the turn to turtle and the scarf hold switch counter from Wednesday). During the Live Session I found myself working a lot of my older game from the top (handcuff and Flat Pass) from the closed guard, and even forcing the closed guard when my partner switched or tried to switch to an open guard.

This was ultimately a mistake, as it prevented me from working more thoroughly the Toreando pass game I've been wanting to focus on in the second half of 2013. It led to worse than that, by some measures. But at the end of the day, not pursuing the opportunity to attack the open guard and instead opting for what I thought at the time was an easier closed guard attack (the same closed guard attack I'd already used successfully three times in the session).

Train and learn. 162.7 on the scale at the end of the week. Ideally, this number will be 3% lower in a month or less.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Upcoming Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments in the Pacific Northwest

Northwestern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Challenge - August 10 - Vancouver, Washington

Proving Grounds Submission Only Tournament - August 24 - Bellevue, Washington

Oregon Open - September 7 and 8 - Hillsboro, Oregon

Chess on the Mat Invitational - BJJ Submission Championships - October 6 - Tacoma, Washington

The Revolution - November 9 and 10 - Bonney Lake, Washington

In Times of Peace, Preparing for War

Going with the philosophy that the best time to prepare for the next tournament is the day after the last one, here is some great advice from the Big Brains over at Bishop BJJ.

3 Tips to Improve Tournament Jiu Jitsu Performance
Guess what, the best in the world don’t just “see what happens”. The best in the world make it happen! You should do the same thing. If you haven’t checked out our series “It’s Science”, you should study up. One theme that comes across rather quickly is that the must successful competitors have a few things they are really good at, and then they put themselves in position to implement those strategies.
The rest is well worth reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old School Meets New School: Renzo Gracie e Paulo Miyao

If this doesn't warm your heart, you may have no heart to warm.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Cardio & Resistance: LSD and Shoulders/Arms

My Big Picture goal is to earn my third degree by 2020. I'll be eligible for my first degree late next year. And if that goes well, I would be eligible for my second degree in late 2017. Obviously, I'll be promoted if and when my professor feels the time is right to promote me. These goals are just an expression of the kind of commitment to my academy and the art I am determined to make over the next several years.

So to that end, I'm focused on longevity. I'm bringing post-train/off-mat conditioning back into the game which I think/hope will both make me more effective now and more likely that I'll be in good shape to continue training consistently over the next 7-10 years.

Sunday has always been a great day for LSD (long slow distance) training. So I managed to get back up on the treadmill for half an hour or so today.  I'm taking a page (actually the whole book, which I recommend) from local trainer Joel Jamieson's Ultimate MMA Conditioning, and focusing on cardiac output for the next month before turning the intensity up a notch.

There are other considerations. To compete again or not and, if so, whether or not the dearth of lightweight black belt competitors (or even middleweight), means that I need to start thinking about no-gi competition, where the intermediate and advanced ranks are always available.

But that's another conversation for another day. Right now, the idea is to improve my conditioning, get a little stronger, lose a little weight (my kingdom for a 70 kilo print!), tighten up my game (Rickson/Kron from the bottom/Leandro Lo from the top), and just see where that leads me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bonney Lake: Jiu-Jitsu Capital of the Northwest

Another Revolution tournament in the books. At this point, I don't know which team won. But the event was another reminder of what a tremendous jiu-jitsu culture we have in the Pacific Northwest.

I couldn't be more proud especially of my Gracie Barra teammates - especially the tons of women competing. I heard someone from another school make a pretty snide comment about Gracie Barra after one of our folks won a close match, but I'll tell you what: I'll take our "Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone" approach over the "Only the Strong May Apply" ideology every damn day of the week.

It's true that a tournament is fundamentally an opportunity for competition and skill testing against new and unpredictable adversaries. It's also true that the Revolution tournaments are like a "Gathering of the Tribes", an opportunity for old friends to catch up and enjoy a jiu-jitsu atmosphere right here at home that would have been hard to imagine 10-15 years ago.

Congratulations to Jeff, Gina, and the rest of the Revolution team for another great event. See you in the fall!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Screaming For Ice Cream

One of my big goals for the coming training year is to simplify my game.

When it comes to the top, to the art of passing, I'm studying Lo.

And now, after much reflection, I've finally figured out who I'll be studying when it comes to the guard.

I'll have a lot more to say about this in the weeks to come. A lot of very intelligent things have been said about Kron Gracie, especially by BishopBJJ - whose The Science of Jiu-Jitsu is must-reading on the BJJ blog circuit.

But one description of Kron's guard, the idea that his guard game is "basic", is a notion I want to challenge. Not because it is incorrect, but because I think that description may be a bit misleading, especially for those like myself who are trying to learn an approach to guardwork that, the more I study it, owes more to his father's philosophy of the guard than I ever realized.

The secret to Kron's approach to the guard, I think, can be found in this fascinating quote he provided after his exciting submission victory over Octavio Souza at Metamoris I.
"I don't think I would necessarily change the point system. The point system is great. I think what's stopping the sport is the grips. Guys will get a grip and then they'll stop when they want to. It's very easy to do that and it's really hard to break the grips. Guys are taking steroids, guys are really strong, it's hard to break those grips. So, I think when the guy grabs a grip and he stops and his intention is to hold those grips and not intend to go to the next move, I think that's the problem. So if you just take away the-- you know in Judo, guys only have 20 seconds with a grip or 15 seconds with a special grip or they have to let go-- I think that should be the rule in jiu jitsu. The guy should have a special grip, you can do what you want to do, but if you don't do it then you gotta let go. You can't just hold the fight and stop the fight. I think jiu jitsu has great rules, great time. Ten minutes is enough time if the guys are not holding and stopping the position."
Again, food for thought. And for study.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Toward Training Every (Other) Day

With one month to go before the end of the 2013 training year (my training year begins in August), it's nice to see that even with subpar training in May and June (i.e., less than 12 sessions), I'm still in a good position to finish out the year at a new annual PR of more than 161 sessions in a year (average of 13.4 sessions/month and 3.35 sessions/week). A 12+ July is all it will take, which is imminently doable.

That said, what I need is a 15+ July in order to match TY2012's six months of training 15x or more. I don't think that should be too much of a challenge either, especially if I can fit in a Saturday or two. The July Revolution is the 13th (a week from this Saturday), so that will be one less opportunity to get my number.

The goal continues to be a training year with an average monthly training of 15+. That would make for 180+ sessions a year, and give me the "I train every other day" equivalent I've been longing for.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday, June 07, 2013

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Is This Thing On? Or, The Return of Rei Braulio

Wow, May 2013 was the first month since 2005 that I haven't posted. Ominous sign of the future or a bottom worth buying?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Science of Gui Mendes

Some great quant work and analysis from Bishop BJJ.
There is a lot that the average competitor can learn from Guilherme Mendes style and approach. While the techniques are far from “simple”, his approach and execution is very basic. He kept his attacks to a handful of techniques, and insisted upon them from the beginning. One thing to learn from his competitive approach, is that by building a match around your strengths from the start, you can put yourself in a consistently offensive game. This can help reduce hesitation and can ensure that techniques are executed properly under pressure.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Professor Griff's Pan Plan

With the Pan underway, I don't feel too badly about sharing Prof Griff's Pan Plan, aka "Everything you needed to know about preparing for the Pan (or any major tournament), but didn't know you needed to ask."


"So, I highly recommend bringing a few things for the trip This will help you save money down there, as you won't have to buy replacements that you're only going to use for a few days. Also, you'll have more cash for stuff that you can't necessarily get easily up here. Budovideos usually has a booth, as does Koral, and maybe you just HAVE to have that gi/DVD/book/trinket. Besides, there's usually a Shoyoroll that drops around then. Way more fun to spend money on stuff like that than stuff you forgot.

This isn't a full list, but this is some of what I always wish had more of when I forget:

At least two gis. Make sure you weigh them. Know the weights, and make sure you have budgeted your own weight accordingly. For instance:

Griff's Tournament Gi and belt - 4.3 lbs
Griff - 215
Total - 219.3
Griff needs to make: 222

The lighter the gi, the heavier you can be. So bring at least two, just in case. Having to buy one on site isn't real fun.

Make sure all your patches are secure. I'm sure Nadir Ucgen Kiyanclar or I will sell you the name of the rad tailor we found who turns patch repair jobs around in a couple hours otherwise. Starting bid - $100 ;). (Don't undercut me, Nadir)

Cell phone chargers (bring two if you can). You'd be surprised (unless you have worked for a wireless carrier) how much faster your battery drains in a place like that. Also, bring a spare battery, or one of those iPhone external power packs. Trust me on this.

A list of hospitals that are covered by your health insurance provider. This is easy. Just call them and ask about where you should go in Irvine/Santa Ana/Costa Mesa. Accidents happen, and nobody wants to deal with thousands in bills as a result.

Any vitamins/supplements you take. Bring an extra day's worth. Also, athletic tape, braces, knee pads, etc. Big 5 runs are no fun and expensive.

Headphones/music player, books(if you're so inclined). I'm a huge Kindle fan, and if you are as well, you can save space by downloading the app for your smartphone/tablet and just access your stuff from there. Between the airport, the hotel, ad just waiting around to fight, there will be tons of downtime, so you need to have something to keep yourself occupied. If you're a gamer and you own a DS or PSP, that would be good as well.

Running shoes/sweats/hoodie. Nobody LIKES cutting weight. That said, missing weight for a tournament like this really isn't an option. At some point, you may realize you are a few pounds over. If that happens, you have to fix it.

Extra spending cash:). Like I said, there will be trinkets. Also, there's a Brazilian BBQ stand. Expensive, but totes worth it.

Feel free to add to this if you can think of anything I missed."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013


These days my training schedule is pretty much this: I train every day except when I can't.

Last week, I was able to get on the mat for five days in a row.  While that would ordinarily be an exceptional pace for me, at the time, it seemed almost matter-of-fact.

This week I feel as if I'm struggling to get to the Academy more than twice.

Teaching and training about 50/50 right now.  It's a great pattern for rehabbing my rib (does "rehabbing" have two Bs?  Apparently so.) and for reinforcing the Marcelo Doctrine I've been discussing with Prof Abel over the past few weeks.  I'm only on the first few parts of the Code right now: focusing on movement, not conceding position, "a few good moves" ...  But I'm already feeling some pretty good dividends.  With a little luck, I could have a very productive spring and summer on the mat.

Still a little heavy, despite getting a little cardio in this morning.  165 or so in the gi, post-train.  My goal is still to be a featherweight with a lightweight's strength.  Keeping at those levels, though, remains a challenge.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why (and How) to Train Hard in Jiu-Jitsu

I'll admit that I didn't entirely get this the first time I saw it.  Marcelo has been known as an advocate of "jiu-jitsu" as the best conditioning program for jiu-jitsu.  But I'm not sure if his approach has been properly appreciated.  As with all things Marcelo, a brief example makes the point clear.

I will add that this is something that Prof Carlos has been talking about more and more recently in asides before or after class.  Maybe it has something to do with his focus in advance of the Pan Ams (coming up in just a few weeks!), or something broader about the approach to training he wants to pursue.

In either event, for those of us who have only so much time devote to anything not revenue-generating, Marcelo's point about training intensity is worth keeping in mind.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Principals by Ray Dalio, founder, Bridgewater Associates

In pursuing my goals I encountered realities, often in the form of problems, and I had to make decisions. I found that if I accepted the realities rather than wished that they didn’t exist and if I learned how to work with them rather than fight them, I could figure out how to get to my goals. It might take repeated tries, and seeking the input of others, but I could eventually get there. As a result, I have become someone who believes that we need to deeply understand, accept, and work with reality in order to get what we want out of life. Whether it is knowing how people really think and behave when dealing with them, or how things really work on a material level—so that if we do X then Y will happen—understanding reality gives us the power to get what we want out of life, or at least to dramatically improve our odds of success. In other words, I have become a “hyperrealist.”  
When I say I’m a hyperrealist, people sometimes think I don’t believe in making dreams happen. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I believe that without pursuing dreams, life is mundane. I am just saying that I believe hyperrealism is the best way to choose and achieve one’s dreams. The people who really change the world are the ones who see what’s possible and figure out how to make that happen. I believe that dreamers who simply imagine things that would be nice but are not possible don’t sufficiently appreciate the laws of the universe to understand the true implications of their desires, much less how to achieve them.

Download here (pdf)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Deez Ribs

Nursing this rib injury ... On Prof Rodrigo's advice I came in to the academy to workout a little on my own tonight to see if I would be good to go for tomorrow's double (teaching the Dawn Patrol class at 6:30 am and the Masters/Over 40 class at 6:00 pm).  And while I don't have full mobility side-to-side, and can't take any pressure of any significance on my left side, I am good to go.

I think the timing will actually work out alright.  I'm headed for London in a week and won't be back until the middle of February.  That should be plenty of time to heal up and be ready to wade back into the water when I return.  Between now and departure time, I'm going to be pounding the Cissus - and I'm still convinced that the supplement played a major role in helping me recover from a far more significant shoulder injury back in the spring of 2008.

Some general conditioning work tonight, picking up the pace after about an hour to sync with the timing of the specific session being taught on the main mat.  Some double legs, some seoinages, some running and side shuffling, and a lot of technical lifts and hipscapes.  Nowhere near 100%, of course, but on the bright side of 50% for sure.

Looking to work on self-defense for both the early birds and the night owls.  I'm absolute on that.  We'll work the guillotine counter from the curriculum and probably the hip throw haymaker counter.  Then to the mat for the armbar from mount, north-south armbar from side control, and kimura option from the north-south armbar from side control.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beisbol Choke

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spring Training Comes Early to San Diego

Magid Hage v. Clark Gracie

Magid Hage v. Zak Maxwell

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Masters - at GB Seattle

I'm really enjoying our "Masters" Over 40 class that Professor Rodrigo has been developing over the past few weeks.  We've got a class on Friday nights at both the Bellevue and Seattle locations (Professor Doug and, I think, Professor Carlos, have been running the Bellevue/Eastside session).

One of the things that we've really been focusing on is self-defense.  We managed to train three different self-defense techniques last night: countering a punch, a kick, and a "grab."  I'll defer to Professor's preferences, but I think there's real gold in building the Masters class around self-defense.

We also did some work on escapes, specifically side control escapes and reguarding.  The nice thing is that we continue to work with the curriculum (these escapes are part of Week 11).  But I've been using Prof's variations and adaptations to suit the specific needs of our folks.

All in all, a lot of learning about how to teach jiu-jitsu most effectively.  I'm having a great time and if you're in the area and over 40 (or even close to it), consider stopping by some Friday evening for some great, efficient  training with your fellow grown-ups.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"When a Week of Rain is a Year"

One of my favorite lines from Roethke is a great way to describe being off the mats for even a short period of time.

My latest challenge have been these meio-pesado blue belts.  What they've been exposing is the downside of my relatively static half-guard game.  My initial reaction had been to try and develop a more dynamic half guard, moving more toward a deep half game, for example.  But I'm having second thoughts, for most of the obvious reasons.

There was a line in a recent retrospective on Terere that caught me.  It suggested that Terere felt claustrophobic when playing from the bottom.  And because of this, he focused on having an exceptional top game.

This reminded me that one of the more important things for a black belt to do is to carve out his or her jiu-jitsu out of the whole stone.  You are what you is, to steal a line from Zappa, and you're better off figuring out how to make that work rather than wasting your time wondering what life would be like if you were someone else with someone else's game.

Everyone is different.  There's a lot of jiu-jitsu out there.  Some of it, arguably most of it, is ultimately there just to keep you from being ignorant.  The rest, on the other hand, is all yours - if you'll have it.

There were a "few tricks with a knife I used to do" - to continue my lyrical larceny - when it comes to having the kind of game that will accentuate my positives.  2013 will be largely about trying bring that back.

162.4 on the mat post-train.  Another back-loaded training week with four sessions scheduled between tonight and Saturday, including the Masters class Friday night.  I'm looking forward to being lighter.