Friday, January 31, 2014

TGIF: Dawn Training

Top control vs turtle / Top control vs turtle to spinsit to back / One arm choke from back control / Armbar from back control / Bow and Arrow choke

Live Training: 
six minutes


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Training Day: Wednesday

Live Drilling: X-pass to knee on belly / turtle escape vs turtle control to sitting back take to RNC

X-pass to knee on belly / turtle escape vs turtle control to sitting back take to bow and arrow choke

X-pass to knee on belly / turtle escape vs turtle control to sitting back take to back control with seatbelt to armbar

X-pass to knee on belly / turtle escape vs turtle control to sitting back take to back control to one armchoke

X-pass to knee on belly / turtle escape vs turtle control to sitting back take to back control with seatbelt to behind the head choke

Live Training: six minutes

Scale: 168.8

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Most Difficult Move in Mixed Martial Arts

according to these guys is a simple 2-point jiu-jitsu reverse. 

How Effective are BJJ Sweeps in MMA?
This month MMA Fight DB delves into the murky world of BJJ sweeps. Despite the long history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in mixed martial arts, sweeps (as defined in BJJ) are rarely seen in MMA fights. This low rate contrasts to the comparatively high rate of other grappling techniques such as; takedowns and submissions, within mixed martial art competitions.
The statistics suggest that the efficiency of sweeps fairs poorly when compared to other techniques, and that alternatives to sweeps such as standing up should be more of a focus for many grappling practitioners.

And some conversation on the topic from the good folks over at Bloody Elbow:

Bloody Elbow Open Mat: Where are all the Sweeps?
T.P. Grant: I think Ben and Ian have really hit on the cause of it, and to me the root of this lays in both ground striking and MMA judging. Top position provides serious advantages in MMA, both allowing a fighter to strike with the aide of gravity, but also in that the judges will award them the round based purely on position 90% of the time. So, fighters who are on top seek to preserve their position by hunkering down in guard, or if they do try to advance as far as the half guard, and use the position to simply keep fighters down and avoid sweeps, rather that generate their own offense or seriously advance position.
Short version: if you want to sweep your opponent in mixed martial arts, focus on half-guard and butterfly guard. But given the rule set, you're probably better off just getting to your feet.

That said, great stuff all around. Data ... it's got groove, it's got meaning.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why Grappling > Striking

Four fighters in last night's UFC on Fox co-main event. Two end up with broken bones from striking.
It looks like headliner Josh Thomson wasn't the only one to suffer a hand injury Saturday night. "Napao" posted a video showing extreme swelling on his right hand.
I'm not sure a broken hand cost Gonzaga the fight. But there's a very good argument that a Josh Thompson with ten fully-functioning digits takes the decision over Ben "Smooth" Henderson.

I've always wondered what would be the grappling equivalent of being able to fight with protected fists. There was a day when wrestlers would risk heel hooks in favor of wrestling shoes, and Shinya Aoki has made grappling spats a popular option for grapplers in organizations that allow them. But short of a return to RINGS-era rules, I can't imagine a practical way of giving grapplers the same kind of advantage that padded gloves give strikers.

And that's why every time someone breaks his/her hand or thumb in a mixed martial arts contest, I'm reminded not just how impractical striking can be as the basis for a martial art, but also how problematic the habit of punching can be in martial sports, as well.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Conditioning Day: With Or Without the Stone

box steps / two sets / 10 minutes / 164 abpm

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meet Cicero Costha

This video was getting a lot of love among some of my jiu-jitsu teammates and friends last week, so I thought I'd post it here posterity's sake, as well as for those who haven't seen it yet.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rough, Tough Russian Wrestling

Read Mike Riordan's preview here

Conditioning Day: Threshold Training

matwork / 20 reps / 3 sets / 168 abpm 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Galvao, Cornelius, Training

Training Day: Wednesday

Ground and Live Drilling: Replace guard from turtle / Knee on belly escape to turtle / Replace guard from turtle / Single leg takedown from turtle guard replacement counter / Escape from back control to recover full guard

Live Training: 14 minutes

Scale: 170.0

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Magic Beans

If you grind and brew your own, then give this a try the next time you're in the market for tasty coffee.

Just finished a sack of Honduran Ventura yesterday and will be opening up a 3/4 pound bag of this from Rwanda this morning. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ground Warrior Submission Challenge Deadline One Week Away

The 2014 calendar for competitive grapplers here in the northwest is filling up fast. The deadline for the Ground Warrior Submission Challenge is next Monday, January 27th.

Sub League is sponsoring this event, which will be held on February 1, 2014 at Liberty High School, in Hillsboro, Oregon (about a three hour drive south from the Gracie Barra Seattle academy). It is not part of the Sub League tournament, per se, which will hold its first qualifier in early March (also in Oregon). But it will follow the Sub League format of round robin competition and submission-or-draw finishes.

This kind of competition (along with the submission-only Proving Ground event, now in its second year in Washington State) can be an ideal way to prepare for the bigger, points-oriented tournaments like the Revolution at the end of March or even the IBJJF Pan that begins on March 12th.

And obviously if you are thinking about making a run through Sub League, the Ground Warrior Submission Challenge is a great place to start.

Metamoris 3: Eddie Bravo v. Royler Gracie

Visit the Metamoris site here for more information.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Will to Win

A little something in honor of my Gracie Barra Seattle teammate, Prof. Nate.

Training Day: Saturday

Live Drilling: Cross grip counter to lapel grab / Safe clinch to rear takedown / Pummel drill to ankle pick / Upa flatscape counter to Knee on Belly to Low Single / NogBros half guard pass to side

Live Training: 24 minutes

Scale: 166.6

Friday, January 17, 2014

Me and My Noise

When I'm driving to training, I like to listen to rock music (currently this). When I'm driving home from training, I like to listen to big band jazz (currently this).

I've correlated music with training almost from the very beginning. My first driving-to-training music was this, and I still think about the Tully's academy whenever I listen to those guys. Driving to Bonney Lake for the Revolution? More often than not, I'm tuned in to this. And on the way back? Win, lose, or just watching, I'm singing along with these mad men every single time.

The Revolution's move to Tacoma will give me a chance to bring something new into the mix. So far, I'm thinking about this for the ride down.

Submission Fighter of the Year: Ronda Rousey

My submission fighter of the year is a vale tudo/mixed martial arts based award. The criteria is simple: which mixed martial artist has proven to be the most consistent and legitimate submission threat to his or her opponent?

The answer, for 2013,  is Ronda Rousey.

Ronda's winning her spot as the submission fighter of the year for 2013 is not just to recognize her pair of submission victories in the UFC that year (a title defense against Liz Carmouche in February and a rematch against Meisha Tate in December). It also celebrates the fact that she has a trait that, while reviled by most MMA purists, nevertheless reflects one of the most essential and fascinating aspects of all sports - and combat sports more than others. I'll leave it to Billy Jack, the character immortalized by the late Tom McLaughlin, to explain:

Those who fault Ronda Rousey for having a predictable game miss the point entirely. There's no reward for being able to predict the future. The reward comes from being able to do something about it. And as of December 2013, Ronda Rousey's opponents have failed to claim that prize. That is what helps make Ronda Rousey my submission fighter of the year for 2013.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

TGIF Training

Join us Friday morning at Gracie Barra Seattle!

BJJ Fundamentals

6am -7am

Live Training 

7am -7:30am

Proving Grounds Sets March 1st Date for Sub-Only Qualifier

Another competition has been added to the spring calendar for grapplers here in the Pacific Northwest (and, no, "Pacific Northwest" is not redundant. It's just bragging). Proving Grounds is back, returning submission-only grappling competition to the Evergreen State.

With Sub League limiting its events to the State of Oregon in recent years, opportunities for submission-only competition here in Washington have been virtually non-existent. Fortunately, Proving Grounds has stepped into the breach and is back for a second year of gi and no gi, submission-only grappling.

For 2014, the Proving Grounds event will be split into three competitions: spring and summer qualifiers with a championship final in the fall. If you are looking for opportunities to prepare for the Pan in the middle of March or the Revolution in the second half, the Proving Grounds may be an opportunity worth checking into. For more information, visit their website here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

So You Wanna Be an Ultimate (Submission) Fighter?

Here's some great research on which submissions are finishing fights in the UFC.

The bottom line: chokes represent fully 50% of the total submissions in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rear naked chokes account for 32% of the submission victory total, while guillotines represent 18%.

So if mixed martial arts is in your future and jiu-jitsu is in your blood, the old saw about there being plenty of tough arms but not very many tough necks remains as true as it ever was.

Somewhere Grandmaster Helio is smiling.

There's much more data worth checking out, all of it helpfully and colorfully graphed for your consumption. Truly impressive stuff. Oh, how I heart data!

Training Day: Wednesday

Self-Defense/Standing: Cross grip counter to lapel grab / Safe clinch to rear takedown

Live Drilling: Upa Flat-Out Counter to Knee on Belly to Single / Turtle to Recover Half Guard

Scale: 166.6

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Royce Gracie Makes SI's 50 Greatest Athletes of All Time

For all my love and respect for the many masters of jiu-jitsu, there is no doubt that I would not be involved in this martial art at all if it weren't for the performances of Royce Gracie in the first few Ultimate Fighting Championships.

Royce Gracie is my alpha and omega. He is the jiu-jitsu artist whose performances  in the vale tudo days of the UFC forged my most basic and fundamental notions of jiu-jitsu. It is no exaggeration to say that that is where my jiu-jitsu was born and, in many ways, where it still lives.

It is why I am both a strong supporter of the "jiu-jitsu for everyone" approach to promoting the art, as well as a knee-jerk defender of jiu-jitsu's more violent practitioners when it comes to mixed martial arts. It is why I respect the ability of consummate jiu-jitsu technicians from Os Bros Mendes to Os Bros Miyao, but remain most mesmerized by the work of jiu-jitsu artists like Roger, Marcelo, Kron ...

But I digress ... Congratulations to Royce Gracie - the competitive mixed martial artist, Royce Gracie - for earning a well-deserved spot on Sports Illustrated's list of the 50 greatest athletes of all time.

Conditioning Day: Fatigue Eater

"If you're tired, you're not even smart."
forty-five minutes / acceleration / 3% grade

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Classic Matches: Romulo v. Saulo, Mundial 2007

The Spring Revolution: March 29th in Tacoma

Back in December I speculated that the first Revolution event of 2014 would be in the late February - early March time frame - i.e., before the Pan Ams.

Now we have word from the tournament planners that the Spring Revolution will be held on March 29th, at a new location in Tacoma, Washington.

This puts the Spring Revolution two weeks AFTER the Pan.

So for those of you training and competing in the northwest, there's still one Pan prep event on the calendar. Unless something else pops up over the next few weeks, make sure you're getting your competition training at your academy.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Training Day: Tuesday

Self-Defense/Standing: Free Takedown Drill

Ground: Pull half guard from knees / Watchdog hold counter to pummel underhook hipswitch Knee Cross pass / Knee on belly / Spinning armbar finish

Pull half guard from knees / Watchdog hold counter to pummel underhook hipswitch Knee Cross pass / Knee on belly / Drop knee to choke / Spinning armbar finish versus choke defense

Free Takedown Drill (2 min), Live Drill #2 (3 min)

Cooldown: (HICT) 100 hipscapes, 5 sets 20 reps technical lifts

Scale: 171.2

Jiu-Jitsu Athlete of the Year: 2013

OntheMat used to do something like this. Not sure if they still do. But I'm more than happy to open up the shop, turn the lights on, and let everybody get a few rolls in for the day.

Marcus Vinicius Oliveira de Almeida - CheckMat

When you win your division and the open class at both the Pan and the Mundial, you are the jiu-jitsu athlete of the year, period.

The open class is the often-unappreciated feature of sport Jiu-jitsu. In some ways, there is no greater testament to the martial integrity of jiu-jitsu than the presence, if not pre-eminence, of an open class competition and an open class champion.

So while there are other performances from 2013 that may hold much mystery and anticipation for the future, the ability of the young man from Sao Paulo to meet the ultimate grappling challenge - win your division, win the absolute, twice in one year - deserves the highest praise.

Honorable Mention

Kron Gracie - Kron Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Any other year, Kron Gracie's exciting run to the gold medal at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's biannual championships, submitting all four opponents in his path, would be the easy call for jiu-jitsu athlete of the year.

Was Kron Gracie's unheard of run through his division at the ADCC championships something we should have seen coming after his impressive performance against Marcelo Garcia at the previous Abu Dhabi? Maybe it was his exciting endurance contest against two-time Mundial champion Otavio Sousa in the Metamoris submission-only event that should have warned us what was coming?

There were moments of domination and danger for the son of Rickson Gracie at last year's ADCC in China. But the fact that Kron was consistently able to maintain his composure - and maintain his hunt for the submission - in contest after contest is the stuff of every competitors dreams.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Inspiration Du Jour

Training Day: Monday

Live Drilling: Pull half guard from standing / Knee Cross pass with crossface / Side control to north-side armbar via watchdog to mount

Pull half guard from standing / Knee Cross pass with crossface / Side control to north-side armbar via watchdog to mount / Hitchhiker escape / Pull half guard / Watchdog hold counter to pummel underhook hipswitch Knee Cross pass / Knee on belly / Drop knee to choke

Pull half guard from standing / Knee Cross pass with crossface / Side control to north-side armbar via watchdog to mount / Hitchhiker escape / Pull half guard / Watchdog counter to pummel underhook hipswitch Knee Cross pass / Knee on belly / Choke attack  / North-side armbar from knee on belly

Scale: 171.1

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Conditioning Day: LSD

forty-five minutes / moderate pace / variable grade

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Strength Day: Squats / Rows

DB Squats: 10 sets 5 reps
One-armed DB rows: 10 sets 5 reps
30 Crunches / 30 Alt Obliques

Friday, January 03, 2014

TGIF Training

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Conditioning Day: Berardi / Beaster


3 circuits / 6 reps / 60 seconds between sets

upright row
sumo deadlight highpull
push press
sumo deadlight highpull
forward lunges
lateral lunges
reverse lunges
calf-raises / shrugs


400m at 3% / 400m at 6% / 400m at 7% / 
400m at 8% / 400m at 9% / 400m at 1.5%

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Road to Mastery Begins with Failure

One of the best things I ever heard about learning jiu-jitsu was a reminder of how much jiu-jitsu I'd never get to know. There's something of that spirit in this personal essay by black belt Stephan Kesting:

The Real Secret to Mastering a Skill
In the popular new age Ophrah conception of the world the only thing stopping you is your imagination or – alternately – your lack of belief in yourself.
We tell our kids, “Honey, you can be anything you want to be. You just have to believe in yourself…”
We give each other calendars with motivational sayings like, “Conceive, Believe, Achieve.”
Well belief might be important, but it’s not the only thing you need. It’s necessary but not sufficient; those syrupy sayings don’t tell you the whole truth…
The truth is that you CAN be anything you want to be, but only if you’re willing to make the sacrifices that are required.
Anything worth achieving is going to require some kind of sacrifice.

Ralph Gracie in Action

There are a few people whom I've never seen footage of in training. Ralph Gracie, a legendary Gracie especially here on the West Coast, is one of them.

 Not sure what it means that my first jiu-jitsu post of 2014 is of Ralph Gracie. But I'm going with it.