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