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.