Thursday, December 8, 2011


so, as shown in this post on the face forum, injuries are prevalent in bjj.

You almost always hear about someone having to pull out of a major tournament due to injuries and having a replacement competitor go in his/her place.

I believe that although it is not optimal, there is definitely at least a few things you can do to take advantage of your time.

1) Watch a lot of videos online.
2) Go to class still and watch/video tape people roll
3) Post online and ask other experienced instructors questions about positions/moves you have trouble with. Chances are they will probably answer it for free.

BJJ should be approached no differently than a class you are serious about doing well in. Difference would be that hopefully you care about BJJ more than that class... lol.

Anyways, if you wanna discuss some more BJJ related topics, check out the BJJ thread over at the face forum.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pedro Sauer Guard pass

This is another short technique, shown by Pedro Sauer. He demonstrates how to break open a closed guard methodically. Notice the "sliding" pressure he exerts, which can easily be overlooked.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Drop Seionage

This is a popular throw that is a bit risky, but lands you right in side mount or north south if you hit it. Technically originated from Judo, but commonly seen all around in the BJJ tournament scene.

Watch as Brad Court demonstrates.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wilson Reis back take from half guard

This is a somewhat advanced movement from Wilson Reis.

It begins in the deep half guard position (top) and is a pretty excellent unorthodox attack that gives you the back.

As the skill level of competitors goes up, the value of taking the back also goes up as well. I believe it is the position with the most amount of leverage that is the most difficult to defend against, and is fought for so fiercely because of this.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ramon Lamos (Atos head coach) triangle defense

A simple technique for today. Atos is one of the most prestigious BJJ teams out there today. As I referred to in an earlier post, champions are performing techniques with greater precision, more details, and better timing. When you observe even something simple/basic done by an average black belt, and a mundials champion, there are most likely several important things that will differ. This can be easily seen in the video above.

How to defeat larger opponents

One thing that I've constantly been discussing with people is having separate game plans for different types of opponents.

If you are rolling with someone much larger or stronger, there are certain moves that may not work.

If you are rolling with someone the same size as you or weaker, there are a whole new set of moves opened up for you.

Knowing both ideally is the goal, but if you could only master one, the first style/set of moves are the most important ones.

Marcelo Garcia Discusses this (addressing larger opponents) in the following video:

Monday, August 29, 2011

black belt level moves

So often times, you will see someone in the tournament scene tear it up with a single move. The precision and technicality of the move is near perfect, akin to a black belt's. However, the athlete may be a purple or brown belt.

Although some coaches value competition wins, other's want their students to be well rounded.

Take a look at purple belt Mundial's champion (and current brown belt) Andris Bruonvskis as an example.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Miyao brothers

The Miyao brothers remind me a lot of a younger version of the Mendes Brothers. They are lightweights, are brothers, and use a lot of the same exact moves.

I wonder, if the future of the divisions will look similar in terms of style as BJJ grows as a sport.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bruno Frazzato - half guard/spider guard series

Bruno Frazzato is considered one of the best lightweights in the world. Easily top 10 in his weight class. This series of moves he shows, displays how basic moves with very advanced set ups/combinations are the reason why elite athletes at the black belt level are far more successful than the average black belt. Timing is everything!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Armlock to arm drag combo

Here is a neat technique shown by Kurt Osiander from Ralph Gracie BJJ.

It is a very smooth attack that chains into a back take, which just gives you a glimpse of the way a high level black belt thinks/moves.

One key element is that the second he feels resistance for the arm lock, he is attacking with another move right away. As Roy Dean explained in an earlier video I posted, the techniques flow/overlap into each other.

Drill it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Losing motivation in training

This is a topic I am going to revisit today.

BJJ is not a team sport, and after every match there is always a winner and a loser. But really, you can not always be the winner, and when you are beginning (or train with more advanced/heavier partners), it is often the case.

How do you stay motivated during this period?

In my opinion a few things help:

1) Having new training partners come by time to time
2) Spend time (a lot) watching high level matches on video and/or instructionals
3) Spend more time drilling to make sure that the technique is perfect. Ask a higher belt to watch and make sure this is the case.

now an amazing video released by budovideos: the mendes brothers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mental toughness

BJJ is both physical and mental chess. Although physically, strength and conditioning + nutrition is enough to prepare you for competition and improvement, what about the mental aspect?

In my opinion, mental toughness is something that will take you far in BJJ with that alone. It is not to be confused with the white belt who shows up and acts tough and spazzes out. Mental toughness is about giving your everything and striving tooth and nail to maximize your own potential. The people who already have mental toughness apply it to every single endeavor they decide to attempt. It has nothing to do with how good you are in relation to others, or who you can tap. It really comes down to "are you as good as you possibly can be".

Specifically for BJJ, I can list some instances that show this trait:

1) Showing up to class even when you just don't feel like it.
2) Not caring about losing but focusing intensely on improving.
3) Not tapping to moves that are simply painful but not threatening
4) Not tapping because you are just tired.
5) Not avoiding the toughest guy in the room because you don't want to get tapped.

Now an amazing motivational speech I see posted on facebook all the time.

Also a Navy Seal talking about his daily exercise

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beginner classes

It is no surprise that everyone in the class is not on the same skill level. The solution, assuming that there are enough people, is to have beginner classes. When everyone is on the same page, the instructor can focus specifically on basics that most students that are more experienced take for granted.

Even in a beginner class, not everyone progresses at the same pace. But at least the slightly more advanced beginners can help the newer students.

In an environment with a smaller student body, this may not be possible. It should be accepted by the more advanced students that the basics are going to be mixed with the advanced moves.

Now a series of half guard sweeps, everyone should know:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rolling with the same people and progression

When you roll with even just one person over and over again, it is clear that you are able to defend against his/her moves better over time.

The benefit of this is that when you fight someone with a similar style in the future, you are able to defend against their moves as well.

The problem is that if you are limited to a very small group of people to roll with, you will not be able to defend against people that roll differently very well.

Styles make fights whether it be BJJ or MMA.

This is one of the reasons why competitors either invite athletes from all over, or go and visit their gyms. Variation (and lots of it) is key to becoming well rounded.

Now a great match between Chris Moriarty and Shaun Smith

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Defense wins championships

Defense is often a neglected aspect of BJJ. When you see highlight videos, you most often only see athletes successfully submitting or sweeping their opponents. But really, a lot of the time they are able to do so because they have so much confidence in their defense.

Roger Gracie is known for having one of the best overall sweep/submission defense in all of BJJ and even states in interviews that he is able to succeed because of that.

Now a very slick triangle defense by UFC champ Georges St. Pierre

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dominant BJJ in MMA

A lot of people have some mis-perceptions of BJJ because of the old days when Royce Gracie was fighting in the UFC.

Although that shows what BJJ can do against opponents that are much larger and less skilled... MMA has evolved quite a large amount since then.

I often hear the retarded argument that "BJJ doesn't work against multiple opponents."

To the people that say that, I respond:

What if you come across 5 dudes just like Hector Lombard. All have awesome striking, takedowns, and BJJ. Although 5 of them would end your life, they just decide to send one guy in.

Video for reference:

Toreando and smash pass

These are two passes that are pretty basic but often misunderstood. The details are easy for a novice to pass up and because of that, they are done incorrectly.

One thing to note is that for the Toreando pass, the bottom man's hips are pinned in place using tension created from an underhook and a pants grip.

For the smash pass, the hips are held in place using the free arm and the top man's hips.

Practice these for a better top game and better overall BJJ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dynamic BJJ

When people say that someone has a dynamic guard or top game, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

For me, the first thing I think of is a style that is perfected to work against anybody regardless of the size. It is like comparing Jeff Monson's grappling style to that of Rafael Mendes.

Monson does what works for him, but I feel that parts of his game, only he can pull off. But Rafael Mendes, 100% of his game is effective against anyone/any weight. This is what I think dynamic is.

Now a highlight of Guillerme Mendes

Monday, August 8, 2011

Black belts rolling

When the belt rank gets higher, the skill of the competition is so high that it may be hard to distinguish what happens differently in each match at first.

A lot of it has to do with differences in timing and faster transitions (as well as a larger repertoire of moves at times).

A great example is watching the transitions in the match between Ryan Hall and Rudy Fischman.

Notice the little to no delay between movements.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ezekial choke details

Here is a short video done by Caio Terra. A slight detail that a lot of people miss (bringing the wrist to the neck) pretty much increases the effectivity of this choke by several fold.

This goes to show you, no matter how basic the technique, there are many more details involved in terms of grips, steps, or timing that world champions do differently than the average Joe.

Now the video:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

un-passable guard

The spider guard is a position we see with the gi much more often than no gi. Amongst a lot of the higher level athletes, a good open/spider guard is what makes their guard seem un-passable. Michael Langhi, Cobrinha, most of the lightweight atos guys, etc. are great examples of what this type of guard can truly become.

Here is a video of some important principles as well as sweeps from the famous Caio Terra

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The clock choke

The clock choke in my opinion is something every BJJ practitioner should learn before considering him/herself advanced. It is a variation of the lapel choke from back mount on a turtled opponent.

There are many variations of how to grip and apply pressure, but generally the principles are the same for all of them.

1) The choke is always done from a side-ride on a turtled opponent
2) The arm that is closest to the neck is always the one choking
3) the other arm is used either to tighten the choke, or to keep balance (and stop sweeps)
4) You must walk around their body in a circular fashion to finish the choke (not necessarily clock-wise because you can do it from both sides)

Now an amazing variation of the move done by Andre Marola

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

High percentage moves

High percentage moves are just moves that have a very high statistical chance of working (based on competitions). If you see one sweep/submission that is constantly being used successfully, it is probably worth studying.

One example would be the bow and arrow choke with the gi on. Most of the time when an elite black belt has back control, the bow and arrow choke is the first move that he goes for and usually finishes. It is just a matter of establishing back control.

Now a match from Davi Ramos, where he finishes his opponent with a nasty bow and arrow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to improve in BJJ the most efficiently

Something I came to realize was that being a good instructor is something that a lot of people who own schools are not doing. Regardless of how skilled they are, or their accomplishments, teaching is a whole different ballgame.

Teaching random techniques daily, and then telling the students to wing it is NOT good instruction. The people who succeed under this type of instruction have done so in spite of the instruction. They may or may not understand how to continually improve efficiently by themselves.

The most important thing to understand in my opinion, is having context to the material being taught. Simply put, there is a curriculum that I've come to understand that provides the most efficient learning for students. I didn't arbitrarily pick the order btw, it is strictly from analyzing my own progress and struggles from day one, as well as comparing the students who advanced quicker to those who didn't, side by side.

It starts with the worst case scenario (which is also 90%+ of the reason why new people lose) to progressively learning the next logical part of the game.

1) Escapes (from every single damn position). The goal here is to cover how to get to the half guard from every position. Why half guard? Because in terms of worst case scenario, half guard is the next best thing, one notch above being in the positions where your guard is passed. The vast majority of white belts lose their matches NOT because they don't know the latest submission or rubber guard, but because they absolutely suck at escaping. Preventing guard passes also falls under this category. I feel that every single white belt who just starts out should focus a tremendous amount (an absolute metric shit ton) of time simply on escapes and not getting your half guard passed.

2) Sweeps - Once the escapes are mastered, typically the next thing is to learn to get on top of the opponent. Sweeps starting from half guard, then open guard/butterfly/different variants and finally full guard should be learned. It is at this stage that most people receive their blue belts. Because escaping is no longer a big problem, the focus should shift to the sweeps. There should be no bullshit about working on the latest submission, or practicing the newest guard pass quite yet. Yes it is good to learn something from every position, however 90% of the focus in training should be devoted to becoming a THREAT from different forms of guard.

3) Guard passing/Takedowns - Once the sweeping is solid, against most people of the same rank, getting on top should not be a problem anymore. The sweeps should be so good, that you are threatening nearly everyone you roll with to some degree. At this point, technical guard passing should be developed. It is very likely that in a tournament (assuming the person has reached this point), the most likely cause of a loss is not being able to score a takedown, or not being able to pass the guard. And yes, good guard passing implies that you also are working on NOT getting swept. Having the right pressure from the top is a fine art, and developing this along with takedowns will increase the amount of matches won far more than learning anything else at this point.

4) Maintaining the good position/transitions - This is also a point that is sort of neglected in training. The highest level competitors have the best/quickest transitions between one good position to another. So to succeed in a tournament, you want to try to emulate that. i.e. taking the person's back quicker than they can turtle as they defend a guard pass. Typically as the opponents get better and better in tournaments, quick transitions and solid ability to maintain good positions will make or break the matches.

5) Submissions - Finally, submissions. Not that the person shouldn't invest ANY time until now on submissions, but the focus should be somewhat basic until here. Submissions from EVERY position should be practiced. Assuming all of the above have been mastered, having excellent subs from everywhere will complete the game plan, and I am pretty sure from my experience that once this is achieved, the black belt level has also been achieved. The ability to finish matches and really punish the opponent for making a mistake, or not being able to impose his own game really separates the elite black belt competitor from the not as skilled competitors.

So, this isn't the end-all be all way obviously, but at least from my point of view this has been more or less the most accurate picture of the fastest way to improve in bjj.

Finally, one more point I would like to mention is

Big guy game vs little guy game

Being a somewhat little guy myself, there have been plenty of times where I lost to someone bigger who had far less mat time than me. Yes it was frustrating, but over the last 6+ years, I learned a REALLY valuable lesson, which is that: there are two different types of game plans that everyone should learn.

Yes. One for the people who are bigger than you, and one for the people who are the same size or smaller.

The absolute PERFECT example of someone who plays the way he should against a bigger opponent is marcelo garcia.

The main point in this game plan for bigger people, is that when you are on bottom, you strictly limit the moves you do to the ones that do not let the bigger guy put any weight directly on top of you. This means, no normal half guard, no deep underhook, no flat on the back. There MUST be something framing the top guy (your forearm on his neck, your foot on his hip, your butterfly hook, ANYTHING) but the weight must be off. The attacks have to come very aggressively via arm drag, single leg, head lock/snap down, taking the back, leg lock, or standing back up.

big guys who are equally as skilled as you, will most likely beat you. So the point is to be so skilled at this game, that being matched in skill is not possible.

Now against people your own weight, the above game plan plus all of the rest of the moves can be used with no consequence. The worst thing is when I see someone trying to use the same game plan against everybody, and it includes the big guy putting weight right on top of the little guy. This indicates a severe lack of experience.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Double under pass to back take

This is a neat technique that originates from Wilson Reis. Although it is shown no gi, it can be done with the gi as well.

In my opinion, the position of the bottom man's hips are the most important detail. After that, the timing of doing the move when you feel a certain type of resistance to the guard pass.

Try this out during your next BJJ class!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guard passing thoughts

There are many different approaches/styles to guard passing. Most of the time, they fall into the three following categories:

1) Over the guard
2) Under the guard
3) Around the guard

Alternating between these three types of passes makes it hard for the bottom person to stop, and is what most high level players do.

Guard and passing the guard can be viewed as an arms race, where new types of guards/moves are developed and new passes are also developed to counter them. A particular guard may be popular because a lot of people are not yet familiar with how to deal with it (the 50/50 for example) but as time goes on, the focus may shift to a different position. Also as a response, the corresponding guard passes also shift in popularity.

Now a great classic between Reuben Corbinha Charles and Ryan Hall

Friday, July 29, 2011

What is MMA (today)

This weekend, one of the greatest legends in MMA, Fedor Emeliankenko, is putting it all on the line and is fighting Dan Henderson. Although not directly related to BJJ, this match up should be an interesting one for all. MMA today is not just a single art and truly has become a hybrid style. This is evident when watching these fighters.

Both have really strong grappling, especially from the top position, and both are also heavy handed. In my opinion, the one factor that will play a huge part is the size difference. I view the fight going in a very similar direction to Matt Lindland's fight against Fedor.

Nowadays, you can see BJJ in most high level MMA fights in a modified fashion of course. I feel that there is a threshold of skill necessary to apply it in an MMA fight as well from the bottom position. Unfortunately I also feel that Fedor and Henderson are not the strongest in that position, and the person who is able to control the takedowns will most likely win.

Now a video of Fedor training for the fight.

what is brazilian jiu jitsu to you

For some, BJJ is a way of life. But in terms of goals and how it is applied, things can vary greatly. As my coach says, BJJ is necessary for MMA but not the other way around. And personally I am fine with that. Some enjoy BJJ as a pure art, just for the competition. Others, use it as a tool to help them fight in the cage.

If you never claim that it is more or less than what it truly is (i.e. being honest) then I feel that nobody can really say anything bad regarding that.

However, if you solely train BJJ but act like you are an accomplished MMA fighter... then you are just deluding yourself. This applies really to anything else really... such as Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Judo, wrestling, etc.

The "base" argument from where this stemmed from was years ago when relatively unskilled people fought each other just using ONE style. When that happened, then yes the BJJ guys most certainly dominated.

But again, nowadays people know better and mix up the styles.

Now a slick submission by Jordan Schultz

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cobrinha guard pass into back take (gi)

Here is just a good video I came across. Although the guy is not actually Cobrinha, it is indeed a move done by him.

The guard pass goes straight into the back mount, which is something I noticed that is very common amongst high level athletes. (In any grappling art).

i recall reading one time in an article written by Lloyd Irvin that transitions are something that can be practiced to the point where someone with less experience can beat a far more experienced person simply because he is beating them with transitions.

Now the video:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Learning in context

Something that can be difficult as a student is when you learn techniques that may not be usable right away. What I mean by this is that either you are too much of a novice to apply an advanced technique in a live match. A large part of this is the instructors responsibility to teach appropriate moves for everyone, but at the same time it is difficult to cater to all of the students.

One thing that makes a big difference is attendance. This actually may single handedly be the most important part of training, because you are forced to gain so much experience and exposure to the techniques that more and more of them become relevant to your own game.

The second thing that makes a big difference is to study applicable moves for your game outside of class. This easily hastens progress and fills holes quicker than waiting for your instructor to teach the right move to you, if ever.

Now a great highlight of Felipe Pena (world champ)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Styles revisited: wrestling

One thing I've been told many times was that "styles make fights". This was mainly regarding MMA, but I believe the same applies in BJJ. Although at the highest levels of elite BJJ, right now the athletes are strong from essentially everywhere... differences in styles can be more apparent when people are coming up in the ranks.

One very glaring difference is the difference between a novice with wrestling experience, and one without.

When faced against each other, almost always the beginner with the wrestling will assume the top position, and the other will play guard.

Now, what is interesting is that the non-wrestler will get crushed almost every time if he attempts to use sweeps that eventually turn into wrestling take-downs because he is out-matched in that area severely. (whereas the wrestler is able to turn sweeps into wrestling take-downs at will against inferior wrestlers).

What eventually happens?

The wrestler continues to derive success from turning pretty much everything into a wrestling take-down or a scramble, whereas the non-wrestler begins to rely on more technical guard work to dominate position against anybody regardless.

Not that either approach is wrong, but just an observation I've made.

Now a very exciting match featuring Justin Rader

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drilling vs Rolling

Depending on the school you train at, different amounts of emphasis may be placed on drilling and rolling. Although this is subject to debate, both have great merits.

The way I look at it is like this:

Rolling is only effective once you actually know what you are doing. If you are so brand new that you can't even demonstrate a move with accuracy against a drilling partner, then drilling is more beneficial.

Drilling is the precursor to rolling, and a considerable amount of time should be spent getting the techniques clean.

When a teacher shows a technique, often times it is like playing a game of telephone, where the students only retain some of the details.

A good practice would be to remember the technique you learned in class, and then look it up online later to catch details that you may have missed.

Now a back take from the de la riva guard.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"A" game camping

WHen you roll with people that are less experienced than yourself, it is very easy to become overly concerned with just "winning" the roll instead of focusing on drilling/practicing new movements.

Some examples would be:

1) A guy who is awesome at guillotines doing nothing but tapping all of the white belts with that one move.
2) A guy with a very strong wrestling background spazzing out and only playing his top game against all of the white belts.
3) A guy with a super deadly guard game only playing bottom against all of the white belts.

I call this "A" game camping, where you only practice your best moves.

Rolling like this has its place, but most of the time it is not the right way to practice.

The short term benefit is that you will be better at playing your own game. However in the long run, your game will not evolve and you will have a very tough time beating anyone who is more advanced.

So remember, open your game up and don't be afraid to lose to your training partners, even if they are less experienced!

A repost, but the mendes brothers doing their leg drag pass

Friday, July 22, 2011

BJJ for mma

Nobody can deny that MMA is the reason why BJJ became popular at first. Royce Gracie shocked the world in the early 90s by beating a lot of dudes using submissions. However, nowadays it is very common for people to just enjoy the sport for what it is, even with no interest in fighting MMA.

The same applies for boxing, wrestling, muay thai, etc.

But what if you do want do venture into the cage? Do you have to train any differently?

The answer is most certainly yes. Regardless of what it is you train, preparing for MMA requires a different approach to the craft. There are a lot of positions in all of the sports I just listed that are simply not optimal for the cage, and should be practiced accordingly.

The best athletes for each sport, move in ways that are optimal for their specific sport. So remember, while you can train everything individually, putting it all together and picking and choosing techniques is the hard part.

now a highlight video of George St. Pierre, arguably the best athlete ever to fight in MMA

Thursday, July 21, 2011

gi vs no gi

When it comes down to gi vs no gi training/competition... people seem very polarized in opinion. Marcelo Garcia says that to get good at no gi, you must master the gi. Eddie Bravo on the other hand would say the exact opposite.

In my opinion, a large amount of techniques are actually shared between the two. And since both are pretty important parts of BJJ, training should be divided roughly 50/50 % between the two.

I feel that in no gi, the skill disparity between two people is not as evident as with the gi on, simply because of the amount of available moves that are taken away.

Now here is the "classic sweep" or "shaolin sweep" done by world champion Robson Moura

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leg locks in training

Some academies look down upon beginners training leg locks. This is because certain leg locks (heel hooks in particular) can cause damage much faster than a normal submission. Most beginners will crank the heel hook a little too hard and the person getting submitted won't even feel the pain until it is too late.

This is fine if you are simply training for your own skill level in the gi. However certain tournaments allow leg locks in no gi very early on in skill level.

To ease into it, I believe they can slowly be drilled to feel out the pain thresh-hold and can be applied SOFTLY during rolling. There should be a mutual understanding between training partners where you know that the person who is applying it is not doing it full force.

And tapping early to the leg locks in training at least is encouraged (until you get more advanced).

Now another slick submission by Davi Ramos

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Changing it up

Although consistency is amazing for improvement in pretty much anything, not having enough variation can definitely take its toll.

Whether it be rolling with the same person over and over again, or having the same type of drills/rolling patterns... changing it up every so often makes the training fresh and also challenges the body in different ways.

This can be anything from changing the length of the rounds, to changing the number of people you roll with each class.

Even bringing in a guest instructor to see a perspective from a different style can make a world of a difference.

So remember, if you feel that your training is getting too repetitive in one aspect or another, don't be afraid to ask your instructor after class for some variation.

Now a recent match between Joao Assis and Davi Ramos

Monday, July 18, 2011

Measuring sticks

It is very common to use your training partners or other people at different gyms as measuring sticks.

Perhaps someone was promoted to the next belt before you, or you feel that you can beat someone at your own gym consistently.

Unfortunately, BJJ does not have unified standards, but several that depend entirely on the instructor. This does place a heavy emphasis on the instructor's competence when it comes to the promotions, as well as possible discrepancies amongst different practitioners.

In the end, just remember that your improvement is much better measured as a statistic (many many tournament matches against people your own skill/weight).

Now one of the most important guard passes, the X-pass by Saulo Ribiero.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spider guard techniques

Today I bring you a few techniques from Caio Terra and friends for the spider guard. It is a position that is much more effective with the gi on, and one that can be uncomfortable to get used to at first. However, the concepts that are used to produce effective pressure from here are ones that can be carried over to many other positions in guard, and should be studied!

Even if this is not a position you currently are comfortable using yet, at least understanding how the attacks come from here help a good amount in defending against it.

Now on to the video!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What I learned at each belt level so far

Looking back on my BJJ progression, it is interesting to note what I picked up at each belt level. Not that this is the end all be all for everyone, but just to provide a glimpse of perspective:

White belt: Aside from basics (escapes and a simple move from everywhere), I learned how to do the straight ankle lock and practiced it a very large number of times. In addition to this, I picked up one half guard sweep that was pretty reliable that also set up the foot lock. 100% of my tournament victories at this level were probably because of these 2 moves.

Blue Belt: I began adding a chain of moves from each position, so regardless of which position it was, I had about 3 go to moves I could rely on. In terms of sweeping, I added a butterfly sweep, and the x-guard that I felt very comfortable utilizing. Also, I spent a considerable time rolling with training partners that were far bigger, so my game was shaped around dealing with that problem. Towards the end, I began working on de la riva and deep half.

Purple belt: This is a belt that I've had for a long time now, and I feel that my game began to truly feel like it was "fleshing out" at this point. I've had countless hours to practice de la riva, reverse de la riva, deep half guard, 3-5 moves from each, FULL guard and set ups from there, takedowns, and guard passing. In addition to that, I've focused a good amount on actual submission finishes and transitions for them as well. Although it seems like I learned a lot before I got to this point, I might even go as far as to say I've learned more at this level than I have in the previous levels combined.

now a great video from Robson Moura

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to roll with beginners

Always crushing your training partners during rolls may help build up a game plan for yourself for upcoming tournaments, but that kind of practice should not always be the norm.

When you do this, your less experienced training partners may not have an opportunity to learn/improve their mistakes.

It is important to first correct any bad habits they are doing (such as trying to complete a guillotine choke even when their guard is passed), and forcing them to drill/use a good technical movement from the position.

The rolls with novices can also be used to practice parts of YOUR game that you are uncomfortable with, because even if you make a mistake you probably won't get punished too badly.

Now an amazing sweep combination from Andre Galvao

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Conditioning/working out

I've said this briefly before, but when two athletes of similar skill compete against each other, the one that is more conditioned/stronger will most likely win most of the time. Some people approach this by spending all of their time just trying to get more and more technical. Whereas others, either try to compensate greatly with strength/conditioning. Clearly at the highest level of BJJ, there is a good balance between the two. You will sometimes get an exception to the rule, but for the most part this applies.

So long story short: whether you are doing this seriously or casually, finding time to lift/condition yourself is always beneficial. Don't limit yourself!

Now a great match between JT Torres and Dan Simmler

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Novice habits

It is a confusing time to be a brand new white belt. Often times, you are told not to "spazz" out, yet when you go too easy, you are encouraged to be aggressive. The ultimate goal is to become more technical, and you should always remember to practice what you KNOW to be technically sound moves.

If you do not know what to do from a position, and/or get stuck in a position, it is always better to ask someone more experienced what to do. Practicing the WRONG thing over and over and over will only develop bad habits that will be hard to break later on.

Finally, remember that even the most basic of technique that may appear to be 3 steps can be broken down into 20+ by a more advanced practitioner. Ask a lot of questions! It helps!

Now some de la riva sweeps from the mendes brothers. A display of the highest possible level of technique in my opinion.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

When you train with the same people all the time, it becomes easy to lose sight of what your full potential could be. It may be due to the fact that you just can't beat one of your training partners, or maybe because you are too used to everyone's style (and they are also used to yours). That is when it helps to look at the best in your weight class and see how their techniques and style differ from yours. To me, this is the light at the end of the tunnel: I see what my full potential could look like and have some direction.

A good example of possibly the highest level of technique seen in a match:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Champions do it differently

When you watch videos online of champions rolling, they execute a lot of the basic moves as well as advanced moves with ease. But there are very subtle differences between them and an average athlete that may be hard to pick up.

A few noticeable differences:

1) Their selection of moves
2) The set ups for these particular moves
3) The number of steps involved in each move

As the sport of BJJ evolves, so do the moves and more and more of the top players begin to add the same moves to their repertoire. This is not by accident, and should be noted.

Watch this following video by one of the best lightweights Augusto Tanquinho Mendes and see the high level of detail in it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Training intensity

One thing that tends to happen the more experienced you get, is that you tend to go "easy" on your less experienced partners. While this is beneficial to both people at times, it also develops some bad habits and in addition creates plateaus. Specifically, in tournaments, you may be so conditioned on taking it easy that you may play too lazy or lack intensity/use too little strength/speed when necessary against a similarly skilled opponent.

A good way to circumvent this problem is to have tournament specific training especially when the date of a competition draws near. Remember to keep the intensity up and not be afraid to gas out in training (so it doesn't happen when it really matters)

Now a great video on guillotines by Kenny Florian

Friday, July 8, 2011

History lesson: BJJ edition

So at one point or another, most people who practice BJJ wonder where it came from. I would first recommend doing a thorough google search to read the whole detailed history. But in a nutshell, here it is:

1532: First time "Jiu Jitsu" term was used (Japanese). Originally meant for the battlefield
~1870: Judo was developed from Jiu Jitsu by Jigoro Kano
1915: "Count Koma" introduces Jiu-Jitsu to the Gracie family in Brazil
1925: Carlos Gracie opens up his Jiu Jitsu school and with the help of his brothers (most notably Helio Gracie) develops BJJ into the sport/martial art as we know it today.

1993: The first UFC takes place, and Royce Gracie defeats all opponents by submission regardless of weight

Now a highlight of Royce back in the day

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strength in competition

Due to the nature of the divisions separated by weight classes in tournaments, strength plays a huge part in the outcome of matches. Assuming all things are equal skill-wise, the athlete who is stronger and better conditioned will most likely win.

But sometimes, even high level athletes develop a very strength dependent style. They are stronger than their opponents the majority of the time, and use that to their advantage (utilizing moves that may not normally work otherwise).

Assuming that they are indeed stronger than their opponents MOST of the time, they will indeed win MOST of their matches. However, it would be foolish to assume that someone more powerful won't come along. Case in point, this following match:

Rustam Chsiev vs Tom Malenksi.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


How we deal with criticism has a huge impact on our improvement.

Most of the time, you will see beginners not very receptive to it. You say one thing they can improve on, but they respond with everything that they claim they were doing "right".

When you look at the more advanced athletes, no matter how good they are, they simply acknowledge that there was something they could have done better and work on it.

So remember, nobody is perfect and the only way to avoid plateaus is to embrace criticism!

now a highlight of my coach that I just made

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pass the guard

From what I've seen through the years, it seems like sweeping is the skill that is much easier to develop than guard passing. A lot of blue/purple belts are really good at sweeps, but not so comfortable passing high level guards.

This may be due to the fact that in a tournament, you can win on sweeps alone (and defense afterwards). If you do not pass the guard but are still up on points, there is no pressure to pass.

Keeping this mentality will only slow down progression though, so especially in training... guard passing should be a focus after sweeps have been mastered.

Now a very technical pass from Marcelo Garcia

Monday, July 4, 2011

De la riva guard: The little details

One annoying/effective guard in BJJ is the De La Riva guard (named after professor De La Riva). It is a form of open guard that creates a very tangled "weave" of the legs, and provides a large number of sweeping/back taking options.

Because of the entangled nature of this position, it is more difficult to pass (especially in the gi) than a lot of other guards.

Although the grips vary depending on who you watch use the guard, some principles always remain the same.

i.e. The person using DLR guard always wants to be at an angle to the person on top, and controls distance using BOTH feet.

Here is an amazing video featuring Shawn Williams showing a very methodical way to pass this guard.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

small improvements

If ever there is a goal each class, it should be to improve at just one small thing minimum. Losing the same exact way for a long period of time causes plateaus to happen, but small improvements over a long period of time results in good progression.

Even for the most basic techniques, a lot of beginners may not see all of the minute details. And as an instructor, it sometimes is frustrating demonstrating/teaching when the students just can't absorb all of it at once.

But through little steps, this is possible! Rome was not built in a day... lol.

now an awesome "smash" pass by Rafael Lovato Jr.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The guard and why it is important

Most BJJ instructors tell their students that the guard is the heart and soul of Jiu Jitsu. This is true, but why?

If you look at the matches that beginners lose in tournaments, and examine the most statistically accurate reason why they lose... it all comes down to preparing for the worst case scenario.

The majority of the time, they are not good enough at escapes... and for those who are... they are not good enough at guard work.

Once proficiency develops for the guard, the % of matches that are won at the beginner level increase by a large number. (This is referring to students with NO prior grappling experience.)

Now a match between two awesome guard players: JT Torres, and Michael Langhi

Friday, July 1, 2011

For the diligent, time is their best friend

Just a short post today, for some extra motivation.

Let's say you develop a habit of skipping a certain day each week from training for no good reason. Sure maybe once or twice it won't really hurt that much. But a habit by very definition is something that is repeated. Over the course of years (let's say 10) how many training hours have been skipped because of this?

Now if you take another example of someone who took advantage of this extra time to train, the difference between the two individuals would be like night and day.

So stay consistent, train hard, and make it a habit!

Now an amazing match between Justin Rader and Ary Farias.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


The ever so controversial topic of belts is unavoidable at any academy. People want instant gratification, yet in BJJ belts take a really long time to get. On top of that, the criteria for promotions are much different in every school.

Some also don't require competitions, and some do... What's the deal?

In my opinion, after going through the phase of desperately wanting my next belt... I've come to realize that it is FAR better to be the guy that is amazing at one belt, than the guy who sucks at another. I've seen plenty of people who get promoted almost out of pity, and are unable to perform up to standard.

On a competition level, I feel that students should be trying to compete at least enough to have some sort of statistical way of looking at how he/she does in an even playing field. (And also to learn what to work on)

On a technical level, I feel the following criteria should be met (minimum) for each belt level.

White: Escapes from every single position, a basic movement from every position, and one extremely solid sweep.

Blue: Begin to develop a system of sweeps that flow into each other. This on top of the fundamentals of guard passing.

Purple: Begin to develop a very specific game based on the strongest moves in the arsenal. Guard passing should now be a complex system of attacks that flow into each other, and transition into favorable positions. The guard should be the same way. This is where a certain level of Finesse can be seen.

Brown: I am not here yet, but I feel that this is where people focus a lot on being fast during the transitions, finishing submissions or chaining submissions from every position, and control. As I read in another article... a brown belt isn't "weak" anywhere.

Black: Beginning of the elite competition. All the prior skills are used to build a gameplan for either BJJ/MMA. Every match is about being several steps ahead of the opponent and imposing a gameplan. The depth of skill at this level is the greatest.

Now an awesome technique from the 50/50

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Types of opponents

I was browsing a forum, and one member (irishman301 from jiujitsu forums) mentioned something very interesting.

Not all of your opponents are going to be the same when you roll in class. To quote the post, the following will cover the entire spectrum of people you will be rolling with.

1.) Same weight and same level (best training partner for tournaments)
2.) Lighter and same skill level (you have an advantage)
3.) Heavier and same skill level (you have a disadvantage)
4.) Same weight and more advanced (you have a disadvantage)
5.) Lighter and more advanced (depending on skill disparity, it may go either way)
6.) Heavier and more advanced (you have a huge disadvantage)
7.) Same weight and less advanced (you have an advantage)
8.) Lighter and less advanced (you have a huge advantage)
9.) Heavier and less advanced (depends on skill disparity, it may go either way)

If you were to ask Marcelo Garcia, he would respond that he plays the same exact game against everyone. Which really means: 100% of his moves work against all opponents regardless of weight.

However, he is also considered one of, if not THE most technical grappler on the planet. Looking above, it seems that the "more advanced" category for him is very minimal.

In the long run, I believe that improving your skill level to the extent where you also don't have a lot of people more skilled than you is the goal. However, until you get to that point, you should be able to clearly identify what kind of opponent you are rolling with and adjust accordingly.

When you have an advantage, you are able to open up your game and practice new movements with less of a penalty.

When you have a disadvantage, you will get punished for every mistake you make. Tap if you get caught, and learn to tighten your game.

Now a legendary match between Marcelo Garcia and Renzo Gracie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are tournaments important?

A lot of people ask the question, should a BJJ black belt have to compete to get to that rank?

When dealing with the issue of standards, in this case, belt levels... there are always going to be discrepancies between academies.

i.e. A blue belt from one gym may be significantly better than a blue belt from another gym.

Some gyms may not require any type of competition to get a belt, whereas another school may require many tournament victories to get promoted.

When it comes down to it, competitions (and winning) are extremely hard and require a lot of sacrifice. On top of that, strength and conditioning, strategies for the tournament, and discipline to eat healthy and cut weight properly are also prerequisites.

When you have an instructor or team mate that has succeeded at difficult tournaments, it speaks very loudly about not only their skill, but their ability to achieve very difficult goals. And in my opinion, this puts a competition proven black belt above one that doesn't compete.

You wouldn't go and learn from a professor with no college degree, so in BJJ why is it any different?

Keep the standards high, and test yourself!

now a hook sweep technique

Monday, June 27, 2011

Variation in training partners

One thing that can be discouraging is rolling with the same people all the time. It happens at most gyms, and makes training seem a bit repetitive.

It is almost like a breath of fresh air when new training partners visit, or new members join. The fact that the new person's style is different, as well as the fact that they are unfamiliar with your style creates much different training scenarios that you will have to learn.

When you roll with the same person over and over again, both people tend to learn each others styles and become better and better at defending moves from each other. Eventually, if the people are close enough in skill (or have a big size disparity), then matches begin to stalemate much more often.

One remedy in my opinion is to remember that drilling is a huge part of learning BJJ, and use every opportunity whether it is live rolling or just drilling moves to your advantage. Perhaps start in a bad position against someone less experienced. Maybe even do it against someone MORE experienced for an added challenge.

Variation even in the smallest degree, helps a ton!

now an awesome sweep from Roletta.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


What exactly is sandbagging?

It is when someone far more experienced competes in a division that is meant for beginners. It is a practice that is looked down upon by the entire BJJ community, as it mainly goes against the spirit of testing yourself each time you go out there.

I believe if you are not trying to push yourself to your fullest potential, and only want to rack up wins against less experienced people, you are cheating yourself.

Do yourself, and your potentials opponents a favor and don't sandbag.

Now no gi sparring between BJ Penn, and Leo Veira.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


So, one thing that happens a lot (to good students too), is over training. The mentality of more = better influences us throughout our lives, and BJJ is no exception.

And often times, when you look at the elite BJJ competitors, you will find out they train much more than the average person. But I believe copying them right away may not be the best idea.

Everybody's body is different and reacts differently to workouts. My coach discussed a couple things that he felt were the pre-requisite to training like a professional grappler:

1) Nutrition
2) Proper rest

The way I interpret this is as follows:

If the ultimate goal is to push yourself to your absolute highest potential in this sport, then every single opportunity for an advantage must be sought. This means, anything that you eat should be towards the goal of nutrition for strength/endurance (and not for taste).

The same applies for resting... if you are planning on training 3 times a day, then you should also be able to allow proper time for your body to recover before working out again and risking injury. If this isn't possible, then remove a training session and work your way up.

Now an amazing match between Lucas Lepri and Augusto Tanqinho Mendes

Friday, June 24, 2011

I am nothing without my team

One thing that some people sometimes take for granted is how important having a good team is. These are the people you see the most assuming you train seriously. When they are killers, you have no choice but to get better.

Whether or not you are the leader or a member of the team, I believe it is important to try and support each other in and out of the gym. In reality, the BJJ team resembles a small military unit very well: When one person is discouraged or causes a problem, the morale of the whole team goes down.

So the next time you are in the gym, remember to look at all the other members of the team as an extension of yourself! The team is only as strong as the weakest link, so make sure that link is strong!

Now a video showing what "unstoppable pressure" really means.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Open guard techniques

Today, a short video from JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin black belt). He shows a high level arm drag from the open guard that leads to a couple sweep variations.

Although you are starting from a sitting position, both end up on the feet where you complete the sweep.

The sweeps actually are finished exactly like you would in wrestling, so here is one instance of where having a good wrestling base helps a lot!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not good enough?

It is no surprise that in today's society, most people expect instant gratification given the advancement in our technology. We've pretty much become accustomed to getting what we want whenever we feel like it.

The idea of grinding out something for a long period of time seems almost archaic, but really can be seen as a very long term investment.

Getting tapped out by all of your training partners in BJJ class can definitely do a number on your ego, make you lose confidence in moves/positions you once thought you were good at. However, the main point is to look at the big picture (elite black belts of your weight class) and know that whenever you feel like you are "good", there is always someone out there who will smash you. Not being complacent and always being hungry for improvement will serve you well in the long run!

now a highlight video of serious guard passing

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

lose the ego at the door

"Lose the ego at the door" is a saying that I've heard time and time again. It was written on the wall of my old BJJ academy, and is advice that is passed down consistently from more experienced BJJ coaches to their students.

How important exactly is it to lose the ego and why should people do it?

For me, the main benefit of doing so results in a willingness to experiment in class.

Instead of worrying about always tapping out everyone I roll with by playing a tight game and essentially drilling what I already know, I try out positions and strategies that will ultimately let me defeat higher level opponents in the future.

A great example is the person at the gym who is amazing at one submission. It may be a foot lock, a guillotine, or something else. This person always goes for it, and just worries about tapping out everybody with it. This is at the cost of sweeping, guard passing, and transitional positions/set ups.

Although his technique is refined through so much repetition, when higher level opponents easily defend that one move, that person's entire game is such down.

A lot of people go through this phase, but some people get stuck in it longer than others, mainly due to the ego. So leave the ego at the door!

Now an awesome way to take the back from half guard.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good training partners

All of the top bjj competitors have at least one thing in common, which is a solid group of people to train with. Although bjj isn't considered a team sport due to the 1 on 1 nature of the matches, the training involved until that point relies heavily on the team.

So how does one go about being a good team mate?

I believe it comes down to supporting your team mates in any way possible, even if it is something as little as showing up to their matches.

In class, one good way to make sure the whole team is benefiting is variation in training partners, and adjusting your game plan to help out your training partner.

By this, I mean having an equal amount of "A" game training for tournaments, and also just drilling movements you are not comfortable with yet (but need to work on). Getting tapped in training especially by your team mates is a natural part of improvement, and without it, you can not get better!

now a highlight of one of the mendes brothers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fixing the weakness

how does one fix a glaring weakness? As pointed out in an earlier post, I feel that it is an issue of identifying the weakness first.

"Where did I get stuck?"
"Where did I have no answer?"

The answers to these questions seem to be appropriate guidelines for what to do next.

Sometimes the issue is as simple as just NOT doing a bad-habit during a match (giving up points while you are already winning).

From what I've seen, the majority of the reason why beginner/intermediate students get stuck are because of a lack of focus on escapes and guard work.

What do you think?

Now a video of Michael Langhi, one of the top guard players in his weight class.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

High level/low level?

When people talk about private lessons, I also take a look at what skill level they are currently at.

I believe that when someone is too new to bjj/grappling, they benefit about the same from a private lesson as they do from normal training. (Meaning a private is just not worth it at that point in their training).

As the student becomes more intermediate/advanced, they are able to notice little intricacies in technique and also perform techniques with much greater precision.

Also, something that occurs is that the student is able to watch an elite grappler, and just an average grappler, and tell the difference right away. Being able to see exactly how the elite grappler sets his moves up/performs differently is crucial when taking a private lesson (in my opinion).

Other than just pure experience, I feel that spending a good amount of time watching matches either online or in class helps tremendously with this.

Now a highlight of Rodolfo Vieira, one of the dominant up and coming heavyweight grapplers

Friday, June 17, 2011

Failure? I don't think so

Bjj is not a team sport, everybody knows that. In a competition, it is always one on one. Just like wrestling, boxing, fighting, etc. There is always one person who wins of the two. But in reality, I feel that both people are benefiting through the match.

Yes one person suffers a "loss" on his record, but the loss really emphasizes what needs to be worked on in the gym.

My very first tournament match I lost because I got stuck in half guard, and then got ankle locked right after.

My grappling game took a huge turn after that day, as I focused almost primarily on developing a better half guard. Oh, and 90% of my victories were also by footlock for at least a full year.

I still have much to work on, but even to this day I emphasize the half guard first for all of my students!

So if you ask me, I am very very glad I lost that match in that way.

Now a slick way to take the back from half guard/reverse de la riva

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Basics? What does that even mean?

In bjj, a lot of people emphasize the basics over fancy new techniques. However, when an elite black belt performs the basics against other elite black belts, what is the main difference compared to when a white belt does it?

I believe that at a certain point, when a grappler is considered "advanced", they are able to perform all techniques with near perfection. The only thing that stops them from landing the moves is getting into the proper position, which leads me to my next point.

Set ups. The elite grapplers are excellent at attacking in chains (making the opponent worried about different moves) to such a high degree that they can land the basic moves as a response.

So in reality, basic moves need complex set ups. Get to drilling!

Now a highlight of Lucas Lepri, one of the best current leve grapplers

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Women in bjj

Last week, in my bjj class there was one session where we actually had more girls in class than guys. Since I began training, this was the first time it's happened.

So this post is for all of the girls out there that are training bjj!

Often times I hear complaints about how they are the lightest in the group, or that there are no other girls to roll with.

Knowing what I know now, I can definitely give out at least a few pointers.

1) Guys are stronger than girls on average, but if you aren't lifting weights do not even think about complaining about strength.

2) You may lose because you are smaller, but even for the little guy/girl, a lot of it has to do with technique. Even my technique after 7.5 years isn't perfect, chances are you still have a lot of technique to perfect.

3) In class if you do not take Bjj seriously, people will not take you seriously either. think about it.

4) The most accurate way to measure progress is through a lot of competition matches against people of similar skill/weight. So instead of concerning yourself about losing in class, just prepare to face someone just like yourself in tournaments as many times as you can!

Now TWO highlights of two top competitors

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Evolution of the sport

If you look at bjj 10 years ago, and compare it to the bjj of today, you will find two different sports pretty much.

The average level of athlete is MUCH higher nowadays, and the techniques are much more developed as well.

On top of that, most of the champions of today have far far better wrestling ability as well due to cross-training.

Some examples of "new" developments to bjj that differ from the classic system are:

the 50/50 guard
Inverted/tornado guard
Eddie Bravo's "no gi" system (which a lot of people hate on)

There are many more things out there, and more to be discovered.

Personally, I think it is foolish to NOT study everything, because even if you don't use it... at least you can defend against it.

Now, a match Joao Assis and Jeff Monson

Monday, June 13, 2011

Breaking plateaus

It is inevitable, but plateaus happen during training.

But if you look at the phenoms that dominate competition and blast through the ranks in a matter of 3, 4, or 5 years, something very different is happening. Are they better learners? Do they have better instruction? Surely something in their training differs.

In my opinion, I believe it really comes down to examining the weakest part of your game.

Watching matches of yours taped on video help the most in this regard (especially matches you lost).

An expert/instructor may watch the match and conclude that you did everything wrong and should change even basic strategy (which you may not have even known until asking)

Someone less experienced may point out just one flaw.

Regardless it is important to get everyone's opinion/advice and adjust accordingly.

Asking "where did I get stuck in this match" and "where did I have no answer to what my opponent did" often times leads to a very quick answer in terms of what to work on next (and breaks plateaus).

Now a video on guard passing by Vitor Shaolin Ribiero

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Playing your game

In tournaments, my coaches have always told me to play my game.

To a beginner, that may sound a bit confusing though. What exactly does that mean?

Personally, I feel that this is contingent on the competitor being actually good at a handful of moves. Afterwards, you can try your hardest to score points or win by forcing the opponent only to face that part of your game (until the rest of your game strengthens).

If you are not excellent at a few moves, you can NOT "play your game" in a tournament.

In a Lloyd Irvin article I read online many years ago, they said that he makes all of his best guys drill positions/moves 3000 times before they can move on to the next one. Doesn't matter how long it takes, but they have to put in the reps. And when you watch videos of amazing competitors like Ryan Hall, Mike Fowler, JT Torres, etc, they all execute certain moves with black belt expertise (often times way before they actually were black belts)

So next time you are in training, remember how important drilling these moves are!

Here is a highlight of Pablo Popovitch, Abu Dhabi Champ!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Style vs Style

At the beginning, most people who begin bjj have a very similar style to each other (just learning fundamentals).

But very quickly, people will realize that they tend to prefer playing a specific type of game that may or may not work well for other people.

Many things determine this:

Body type
Wrestling/judo background

My opinion on this would be to learn as much as possible and to develop a system around your strongest moves. (i.e. if you play de la riva guard, have 3 or 4 moves you can do from a failed sweep attempt that can be launched right away).

Eventually when you become a black belt, you will not have just a system that works around one area you are strong at, but you will be strong at most positions. In a way, it is rinse and repeating the above process for different positions.

now a video of Marcelo Garcia grappling Ben Askren, notice the difference in their styles.

Friday, June 10, 2011


There are many different tournaments for bjj out there, and they all have slightly different rules/point systems.

For example, if you compete in NAGA, they allow dangerous leg locks in every division for no gi (including beginner division). They also award points for submission attempts, which is unique to their organization.

Also, depending on the tournaments, passing the guard varies in rewarding you 2 or 3 points.

Little things like that can definitely change the outcome of a match, and should be prepared for.

However, sometimes the rules don't quite explain whether or not obscure techniques are banned (and often times get updated after they assess the situation better).

Many years ago, one of my team mates was able to choke out his opponent using his belt in a tournament and won that way.

Yes you heard right: he used his belt like a hitman would choke out someone to kill them!

Subsequently afterwards, they changed the rules to ban this technique.

check it out:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Takedowns and tournament strategy

So after someone new begins bjj, they inevitably ask the question "when are we going to work on takedowns?"

The curriculum varies from school to school, but really to answer the question, it is not emphasized much in bjj (much like groundwork in judo).

The heart and soul of bjj is grappling on the ground, learning the intricacies of all the positions. Even the rules of most bjj tournaments do NOT penalize you for simply pulling guard and forgetting about takedowns.

My opinion on the matter is this:

It is already hard enough to get good on the ground, so when you go to bjj... focus on ground work only.

Assuming that is all you have done, in tournaments, be smart and PULL GUARD to utilized your strongest moves a.s.a.p.

When you get to the point where you feel like you need to add takedowns, understand that it will take an even greater investment in time and seek out the best wrestling or judo instructors to learn how to do it right.

now a video of some of the craziest wrestling ever

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Being the little guy/girl in training

So, at the other end of the spectrum is the little guy. I've certainly been the smallest person in training and understand this position fairly well.

The big guy doesn't get punished for making mistakes as often, so he can feel more comfortable trying out new moves, however the little guy gets punished each and every time he makes a mistake.

Initially, this is frustrating to no end (and is the reason why a lot of people quit). However, in the long run, this helps the little guy/girl develop a game that is highly technical that will work on any opponent of any size (given a big enough skill gap of course).

Here is a video of Rubens Cobrinha Charles, one of the all time greatest lightweights .

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

highest learning curve

bjj has a pretty high learning curve in my opinion. It is similar to wrestling/judo/boxing/muay thai in that way. And because of this, many people quit when it gets tough or they plateau.

Personally, I was the very worst one of the bunch when I began bjj in 2004 at college. Although compared to the world class competitors of today, I feel insignificant, I also feel that I made huge improvements and learned quite a lot about my own capabilities.

I've heard the saying "A black belt is simply a white belt that never quit", and definitely feel that there is some truth to that.

Above all attributes (athleticism, speed, strength, etc.), I would value the determination to train consistently above it all. Just my 2 cents.

Now here is an amazing no gi match between Wilson Reis and Justin Rader

Monday, June 6, 2011

Being the big guy

I personally have not had this issue that often, but being the "big guy" in training definitely makes things difficult.

Getting technical is easier for smaller guys mainly due to the fact that they LOSE when they make mistakes.

Bigger guys can begin to rely on strength when they make mistakes and often times can get away with them.

Other than bringing in other big guys to train, I think the best way for a big grappler to improve the fastest is for him to study the way an elite grappler (that is also big) moves from all positions starting from the guard.

Then the next step is to throw away the ego, and roll with everyone in class without using strength.

Believe it or not, a big guy with a developed guard is one of the most difficult things to deal with.

and now here is a Roger Gracie highlight. Probably the greatest heavy/big grappler of all time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

bjj for the streets?

This is a topic that is brought up constantly. A lot of martial arts claim that they are for the streets, but what does that mean?

First and foremost:

Getting into a fight on the streets, where its possible your assailant has a knife or a gun is just STUPID in my opinion.

But, going along those lines, what people really mean by that is fighting someone unarmed if its a life or death situation.

Let me repeat that: LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION

Assuming you actually care about your life, you would be dumb to use techniques that were considered 2nd best or 3rd best when a better option was available.

This means only training something that has been PROVEN to work statistically.

And yes, this eliminates most traditional martial arts that have been defeated with ease in sanctioned MMA fights (And vale tudo fights). If there were a circuit of literally fighting on the streets that were recorded statistically, I would look at that instead, but mma/vale tudo seems to be the closest thing.

Next would be the issue of mixing multiple disciplines up. What is the best way to fight if the fight is standing? What is the best way to get the fight to the ground? What is the best way to fight when on the ground?

This is a very methodical approach to how to train for fighting, and when you look at the evolution of fighters through trial and error, the answer is pretty clear:

Muay Thai
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Every single successful fighter nowadays trains the above 4 with equal emphasis on all the disciplines. The sub-par fighters are the ones who lack in an area.

now a video!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Which videos to watch?

There are a lot of internet videos floating around. Even though it is good to spend time watching as many instructional videos as possible, it is better to be smart with that time.

Which videos should be prioritized in terms of studying?

I think the following criteria should be met:

1) The person demonstrating the moves must be of a similar body type to you.
2) The person demonstrating the move must be the most accomplished in his field (credentials).
3) The set of moves being demonstrated should fit into where you are in the curriculum.

So to make a long story short,

Tall lanky guys, study the best tall lanky guys.
Short stocky guys should study the best short stocky guys.

Oh, and here is my favorite guard pass

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Getting started

So, let's get started.

Currently I teach brazilian jiu jitsu and also am a student at the same time. I feel quite fortunate in that I found what I am passionate about so early in my life.

At the time of this post, I am a purple belt with 2 stripes and 7.5 years of very consistent non-stop training.

One thing that became much more important in my eyes is the best way to teach someone brand new in bjj.

What is the best curriculum/order in which to get them prepared for tournament success as fast as possible?

In my opinion it is:

1) escapes from everywhere
2) guard work starting with half guard and open guard
3) passing and takedowns
4) transitions
5) submissions

It is a simplified view of a very complex system, however I believe that in my opinion, proficiency in that particular order yields the fastest results.

And btw, here is a very technical back take from deep half guard.