Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Current Reading List: Feeling the Burn

BJJ Training Burnout? - Jiu-Jitsu Times

Burned Out of Training? - Gracie Barra News

Stay Thirsty My Friends -

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More Maia

With Demian Maia facing off against Carlos Condit this weekend, I can't think of a better time to share the fourth part of BJJ Scout's excellent analysis of Maia's incomparable jiu-jitsu-for-MMA.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Get Lo

With the start of my New Jiu-Jitsu Year right around the corner, the guard passing game of Leandro Lo Pereira do Nascimento is my project for the next fifty-three weeks.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Where I'm Calling From

"The worst is a look you expect - and don't get - from a face you thought you knew."
--Jeffrey Skinner

For the past 10-11 weeks I've been responsible for teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Barra Seattle two evenings a week while our head instructor recovered first from an experimental knee surgery and then, almost immediately afterward, from a challenging and painful infection of the finger that left him similarly and additionally sidelined.

Teaching classes this summer - fundamental, all levels, Live Training - has probably been one of the most significant experiences in my jiu-jitsu life -certainly since I stopped competing after earning my black belt in late 2011. And while the opportunity to focus on, explicate, and share many of the basic techniques of jiu-jitsu was awesome, the challenge of working with students from a variety of backgrounds and with widely differing skill levels was probably what I appreciated most. I am at root a solver of problems, and there are few greater chances to practice my problem-solving vice than by working to find the simplest way to explain the gentle art to those eager to learn it.

I'm going to leave it at that. I'm looking forward to both continuing to work with students - especially white belts, older students, and those who think they don't have the physical attributes to do jiu-jitsu - as well as working on my own jiu-jitsu game, which has taken a bit of a back seat this summer as the obligations of teaching the best class possible took center stage. I've spent a lot of time thinking very hard about what I want to do with my jiu-jitsu as I enter my 12th year in the art (August 18th, mark the date!). Tonight was the first night of putting some of that thinking to task. Here's to many, many more.

Monday, August 01, 2016

"All Positive is What I'm Trying to Say"

For what must be the tenth time, I found myself last night watching Eddie Bravo's interview with Joe Rogan after his epic rematch with Royler Gracie. But this time, a line from Rogan really stood out to me. As someone who has loved MMA since the 1990s, and is having a harder and harder time of late justifying traumatic-brain-injury-qua-entertainment, I found a lot to like in this:
"So Saturday night rolls around and I couldn't imagine there being any more anticipation in a room for something. And it was a cool anticipation too because ... one of the things I like about jiu-jitsu is, no one's going to get knocked the fuck out. Even if you get choked out, you know ... There's something about seeing a friend fight (that) gets real rough. We've been friends with MMA fighters ... knowing a guy and liking a guy and watching him get headkicked - it's hard to do. So it didn't have, the danger, that aspect to it. But it was all, it was all positive is what I'm trying to say. It was like, holy shit, it's all going down."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

#WhiteHatGrapplers: Me and My Jiu-Jitsu in MMA Fantasy

Demian Maia retires after winning the UFC Welterweight Championship and several successful title defenses. Opens his own school and shares all his secrets with a new generation of jiu-jitsu oriented fighters determined to rid MMA of the plague of traumatic brain injury ...

Monday, July 04, 2016

Eddie Bravo Invitational 7 - Alternate Qualifiers

What better way for a grappler to enjoy the Fourth of July than by celebrating jiu-jitsu's independence from points with a little EBI7 alternative qualifier action?

The Eddie Bravo Invitational 7 is July 16th. Check it out on UFC Fight Pass. And while you're at it, check out the previous SIX installments of Bravo's ground-breaking submission-only tournament series - with submission-based overtime rules - also available only on UFC Fight Pass.

New to EBI? Read my essay "How Eddie Bravo Saved Sports Jiu-Jitsu."

Monday, June 27, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

COMBATE! PNW Grapplers Get Ready! Q3 Edition

The second half of the jiu-jitsu/grappling competition season is right around the corner. Here is a running list of the events in July, August, and September for competitors in the PNW.

July 2016
August 2016
September 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jiu-Jitsu Conditioning: What I Do

I've decided to focus on conditioning during the summer months and leave strength training to the fall and winter. Right now, I'm training jiu-jitsu three days a week, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and doing conditioning work before and after training on Tuesday and Thursday, with full conditioning sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

So what does this mean? My before training conditioning/warmup consists of what I've been doing for a decade now: my matwork series. I try to get in three reps (3:30 min each for a total of 10 minutes work) before class. If I've got time left, I love to do neural charge jumps to rev up my nerve system after what is usually eight hours of sitting at a desk.

My after training conditioning on Tuesdays and Thursdays is a complex of squats and deadlifts, eight sets of five reps each as shown in this great video from TFW founder Martin Rooney.

After that, I'm working on this pull-up series from Russian trainer Pavel Tsatsouline. Note that I do this routine Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than every day. I'll be doing the 65443 routine on Tuesday evening. In between each set of pullups, I do 20 hipscapes down the mat. It works out to five sets or 100 total hipscapes.

On Saturday and Sunday, I do a Martin Rooney-inspired, DB complex with active rest.


1/4 mile at 3.7 mph
5 sets: 5 reps upright row, 5 reps bench press
5 sets: 5 reps overhead press, 5 reps Kroc row
one mile at 3.8 mph
3 sets: 5 reps upright row, 5 reps bench press
3 sets: 5 reps overhead press, 5 reps Kroc row
1/2 mile at 3.9 mph
3 sets: 5 reps upright row, 5 reps bench press
3 sets: 5 reps overhead press, 5 reps Kroc row
1/2 mile at 4.0 mph


1/4 mile at 3.7 mph
8 sets: 5 reps squat, 5 reps deadlift
one mile at 3.8 mph
4 sets: 5 reps squat, 5 reps deadlift
1/2 mile at 3.9 mph
4 sets: 5 reps squat, 5 reps deadlift
1/2 mile at 4.0 mph

I'm looking to switch this up a little in a few weeks, replacing the squat and deadlift with glute bridges and heavy KB swings, respectively, for a little variation. But this is the basic template for now through mid-July or so.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Only Resistance Exercise You Need for Jiu-Jitsu*

*At least from the bottom.

The most fundamental movement in jiu-jitsu for the person on the bottom is the movement to lift the hips up from the mat. Whether bridging to turn a mounted position into top side guard or hipscaping to replace the guard, going from hips down to hips up is as universal a movement as there is in jiu-jitsu, at least from the bottom.

Triangles, technical lifts, hip bump sweeps, back2bellyscapes ... you name it, getting your ass off the ground is a pivotal part of it.

So for folks who like to supplement their jiu-jitsu training with weightlifting, but also want something practical, try out the hip bridge and see how you are moving off your back in a few months. Single leg variations are great for "step on the hip" muscle endurance from the guard, and having strong, tight glutes, quads, and abs is not exactly the worst way to go through life, either. ;)

P.S. Bret Contreras has done some great quantitative work on resistance training. If you lift weights and want to know what actually works to make strong people stronger, check out his "Inside the Muscles" series.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Interview with Cindy "Sleeper" Hales Ahead of Her Return to MMA

Check out this awesome interview with Gracie Barra black belt and MMA veteran, Cindy "Sleeper" Hales.

Monday, April 04, 2016

How Eddie Bravo Saved Sports Jiu-Jitsu

EBI multi-event champ Gary Tonon (left), squaring off against Stephen Martinez at EBI5, is the posterboy for the new, submission-first, sport jiu-jitsu
Shortly after earning his spot in sport Brazilian jiu-jitsu history by defeating Royler Gracie at ADCC 2003, Eddie Bravo shared with the world his vision of a new jiu-jitsu. The irony of his vision - building a jiu-jitsu for MMA - has never been lost on me. That it had little to do with the circumstances through which we'd come to know Bravo in the first place - a major underdog victory via a triangle choke from the guard, in a traditional, point-based, sports jiu-jitsu match - could not have mattered less.

And so the legend of the rubber guard was born. The rubber guard was essentially shorthand for a version of jiu-jitsu, particularly without the gi, focused on maintaining connection with the opponent at all times with a multi-limbed combination of overhooks and underhooks. For Bravo, this system of holding, clinching, entangling, and squeezing could save jiu-jitsu competitors entering the world of MMA from suffering the kind of brutal, ground and pound assault then-typified by a fight like Mark Kerr versus Fabio Gurgel.

As  a cure for what ails jiu-jitsu in MMA, Bravo's rubber guard seems to be a somewhat incomplete solution. What the rubber guard has done however is contribute to a more dynamic, submission-oriented, attacking game from the no-gi guard. This is no small accomplishment.  The rubber guard's focus on using the legs to break posture and avoid strikes, for example, paved the way for tighter triangle, armbar, and omplata attacks - each arguably progressively more difficult to pull off in no-gi contexts. Watch the way Richie "Boogie" Martinez attacks with the omoplata or Nathan Orchard sets up his "Dead Orchard" submission and you'll see what I mean.

And it's also worth mentioning that while leg attacks aren't necessarily considered a "core" feature of the rubber guard, Bravo's friendliness toward not just kneebars, toeholds, and heel hooks, but calf cranks such as the one he attacked Royler Gracie with in their rematch, are also positive contributions to no-gi sports jiu-jitsu. But it is clear that at this point Bravo's rubber guard innovations are largely accomplishments for the sport of competitive jiu-jitsu, not for jiu-jitsu in MMA (for this, I continue to point in the direction of Demian Maia's masterful combination of chain wrestling and grapple-first-last-and-always attitude).

If only Grandmaster Helio would have lived long enough to see this ...
Considered this way, the Eddie Bravo Invitational - or more importantly, the overtime rule-set for the Eddie Bravo Invitational, is the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder's second great gift to the world of competitive jiu-jitsu. To the extent that Sport demands a Winner - no matter how contrived the means to this end - the EBI rule-set has succeeded where other submission-only rule-sets have failed. With a series of sudden-death periods, starting from pre-set positions not unlike the "specific training" used by jiu-jitsu practioners worldwide, the EBI rule-set has managed to produce a "winner" 100% of the time without ever abandoning the emphasis on the pursuit of the finish.

For those unfamiliar, the overtime rules for EBI are essentially this: players alternate attacking each other from an offensively-advantageous position (rear mount with hooks and grips or a armbar from the top position [the arm is hooked but not extended] Bravo calls "spider web"). Here, players still have the opportunity to win by submission or, failing that, to win by a combination of time-to-submission and time-to-escape-from-rear-mount.

What is crucial is that there is no referee or judges discretion in the issuing of points. There is either submission or time (to escape the threat of submission). And while that is not perfect - there are still ways to game the overtime and settle for a "time" victory - it is hard to imagine a rule-set more thoroughly incentivized toward the submission.

You know your format works when you can get away with putting on Superfights between competitors who aren't even old enough to drive.
And at the end of the day, providing the proper incentives is the best we can do (this includes only restricting such events to competitors likely to embrace the spirit of submission-only competition). To the extent that we want a better sports jiu-jitsu - or at least more options for those looking to compete in the world of sports jiu-jitsu - the submission-only format has a lot to offer.

Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest have two great submission-only events - SubLeague in Oregon and Proving Grounds in Western Washington - throughout the year. And perhaps because they are open events, with round robin divisions, that are especially geared toward beginner and intermediate competitors, draws have been less of an issue. But in invitational settings, where players are often more risk-averse, the EBI overtime rule-set is the best way we have seen so far to coax out the ultimate in competitiveness in a sem pultos sem desculpas world.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

COMBATE! PNW Grapplers Get Ready! Q2 Edition

Here are some of the need-to-know events for competitive grapplers in the PNW during April, May, and June 2016. Check back for updates throughout the quarter.

April 2016
May 2016
  • Proving Grounds IX (tentative) - Seattle, Washington
June 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why I (Still) Love Eddie Bravo

If you aren't a 40-something black belt on the verge of becoming a 50-something black belt, then you might not appreciate the beauty of truth here. Indeed, no one has a better sense of their own limitations than a middle-aged grappler.

Eddie Bravo: I go with everything, man. I'm like 'You wanna go that way? Let's go!" And let me see if I can hold on and get a little clinch and then go back this way "Bam!" You know? I'm too old to force my way through anything.

Joe Rogan: That's probably the smart way to do it, though, right? That's the traditional way of jiu-jitsu-

Bravo: It's the survival way of jiu-jitsu! My jiu-jitsu is becoming very survival now. My guys are fucking me up, now. I'm getting tapped out all the goddamn time, now. The only way I can tap out certain purple belts is if I have gas. If I'm tired and I take a round with one of my purple belts, I'll be fucking on survival mode the whole time, man. My guys are coming with fire, now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Register By Friday for Submission Only Proving Grounds Tournament in Seattle

Not only does the Pacific Northwest featuring some of the best grappling in the country (if not the world), but also the PNW is lucky enough to be the home of TWO great submission-only tournaments. Sub League in Oregon is one. Proving Grounds in Washington is the other.

Proving Grounds VIII is a little over a week away. If you're in the PNW and looking for an opportunity to compete in the awesome submission-only format, then Proving Grounds is the place to be on March 26, 2016.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Get Ready for Wrasslin'!

For the past few years, "March Madness" has meant more than "The Big Dance" for me. I still draw up a bracket for the men's NCAA basketball contest. But lately my TV - and real-time attention - have belonged to the wrestlers.

I've caught a few matches in the last few weeks and months courtesy of ESPNGo/WatchESPN. And while the selection isn't overwhelming, it's just enough to keep you sated until the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament arrives in the spring.

So with that in mind, here's a little something for those whose palates, like mine around this time of year, prefers the competition on the sheathed polyurethane mat over the action on the parquet floor.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Acid Sunday: Turkish Bath

long slow distance (LSD) / 45+ minutes

Saturday, February 20, 2016

HIIT Saturday

db one-arm snatch / 10 reps / 5 min

db row / db bench 10 reps / 5 min

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Acid Thursday

long slow distance / 45+ minutes

Monday, February 15, 2016

HICT Training: Box Steps

Box Steps / 2 sets / 8 minutes

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Acid Saturday

long slow distance / 45+ minutes

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Acid Wednesday: A Poke At You

long slow distance / 30+ min

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Acid Saturday: See Emily Train

long slow distance / 3 miles

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Acid Thursday: "When the Truth is Found ..."

LSD (long slow distance) / 30+

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

HIIT Hump Day

thrusters / upright rows / 5 minutes

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Acid Tuesday


LSD 30+

Monday, January 25, 2016

On the Minute Monday

thrusters / upright rows / RDL  / 10 minutes

DB bench / DB row / DB curl / 5 min

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Acid Saturday

LSD 45

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Acid Tuesday

Berardi complex / LSD 30+

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Thinking About Competing in the First Revolution of the Year?

Your "8 Weeks Out" begins today.

Be a part of the premier competition event for grapplers in the Pacific Northwest: The Revolution XXX, Saturday, March 5th.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Acid Saturday: "Shadows Run from Themselves"

LSD (long slow distance) / 45+ minutes

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Acid Thursday: Meeting of the Spirits

LSD (long slow distance) / 45+ minutes

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

COMBATE! PNW Grapplers Get Ready!

January - March 2016
Note: IBJJF San Jose International Open - January 30-31 / IBJJF Pan - March 16-20

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Acid Tuesday: "These Are the Answers"

LSD (long slow distance) / 45+ minutes

Monday, January 04, 2016

On the Minute Monday

6 single-arm db snatch / 6 minutes

6 thrusters / 6 upright rows / 6 minutes

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Acid Weekend: "It is Not Dying"

LSD 30+ / 45+ / 45+