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!