Doing More With Less Since 1972

Category: Jiu-Jitsu (Page 2 of 6)

Peruvian Neck Tie – BJJ Training July 25, 2017

We worked on getting to the ground from a failed double leg shot where the opponent defended by shooting an under hook. We clamp down with the over hook and get our head out, stepping backward and exposing their head which we wrap up similar to a guillotine:
  • Stuff trapped arm in and grab with neck gripping arm
  • Strong grip over the wrist to tighten up
  • Hop backwards to get to the ground
  • Close knee scoots toward their body
  • Step in deep (hamstring heavy on their head)
  • Push in and come up to foot on knee side
  • Immediately sit back to hip and throw foot over the back

Knee On Belly Flow – BJJ Training 6.29.2017

For the last few training sessions we’ve been working on options from side control that are all based on knee on belly.

  • Gable grip and shoulder pressure from side control
  • Shallow thumb-in collar grip on head side hand
  • Leg side hand finds belt know
  • Elbows tight!
  • Knuckle push up to KOB, pull in, posture up, hips forward
  • Wait for hand reaction and shoot leg side hand through the loop, bringing them tight to your chest
  • Step over with head-side leg and talk on the phone with their wrist
  • “I Dream Of Jeanie” downbar, americana, kimura, unorthodox kimura or…
  • If they sit up, rotate hips out to go for omoplata
  • If they roll from there, cross legged arm bar option
    • If they hitch hiker out, back to the omoplata
  • If they posture up
    • figure four the legs and loop hand under leg for grip on cuff
    • straighten legs and lift the looped hand
    • step over head  and release cuff for an S-mount

Yeah…a whole lot of stuff there, but it’s fun just to flow through it all. Crazy how many submission options you see during this flow that I didn’t even list here. Like, if you don’t get the hips out to go for the firs omoplata, there are arm bars, kimuras, and scissor chokes from that weird position we’ve worked on in the past.

Last night I was very out of gas for rolling. I basically just survived and tried to not get submitted. Didn’t get submitted, but got crushed by pretty much everyone.

And I didn’t ask permission to use the Neon Belly image, but hopefully a link is good too.

Why I’m Glad I Started Training BJJ In My 40s

One year ago today I started training Brazilian jiu jitsu.

After training BJJ for a couple of months, I had a thought I’m sure many people who pick up the sport at this point in their lives have:

“Ugh…I wish I would have started this 15 years ago.”

Picking up BJJ at 43 presented (and still presents) some challenges that didn’t exist for me 15 years ago. At 28 I was a well-employed single guy living in a low cost part of the country. With no family obligations or kids’ books to read at bedtime, I had nothing but time on my hands for training. I could have easily trained 6 days a week and still had plenty of time to rest and recover between sessions. I even had time to augment my training with yoga and lifting. There wouldn’t have been many financial restrictions either. Want some new gear? Done. Want to travel to the Caribbean for a week long camp? Done.

Ok, being honest, I do wish I could go to those camps.

Then there are the physiological realities of participating in a combat sport that I have to overcome at this age . Speed (ok, I was never fast, but I was faster than I am now), ability to physically recover, better coordination and agility, and the sheer amount of testosterone coursing through my body would have made jiu jitsu a blast at that age. And it’s a little frustrating to think about where I could be in my progression if I already had 15 years under my (blue/purple/brown/black) belts.

I’ve also reflected back on the number of nights I spent at Duff Field with 5 or 6 other guys wishing we had enough warm bodies for a real rugby practice. If I’d been training BJJ back then, all I’d really need for a productive training session is one other willing person.

All of these thoughts haunted me for a while.

“What if?”

Then I realized that BJJ came into my life at the perfect time and place.

It’s crazy to think about the things I wouldn’t have done if I’d started training BJJ in 2001. I would have missed out on a few really good years of rugby. Peak years. And if I’m being honest with myself, I’d probably be skipping BJJ and playing rugby today if my body was physically able to handle that sport 3 days a week. But it’s not just the matches I’d have missed out on–some of the most fun times I’ve had in my life were during those few years riding up and down the roads to matches with my friends and enjoying the “social” aspects of the sport as well.

Those rugby years weren’t really conducive to living with and supporting a family, but jiu jitsu life fits our family just fine. Everyone can train. Everyone loves it. Competitions are something we can all participate in on the same days.

Then there’s that post-rugby/pre-BJJ cardio base I got to build.

The eventual “backy-no-likey” resulting from rugby led me to years of training for endurance sports. Of course, some people train a lot more than me, but I did more than my share of time and miles swimming, cycling, and running. All the time I invested there served me well for building a good cardio base I don’t think I’ll ever lose.

Maybe the biggest thing I got out of all those years of running and triathlon is a big time ego check. I realized a long time ago that I was never going to win a race. Ever. Winning my age group? Maybe one day after everyone else that age is dead. Guess what else–I’m going to get slower as I get older. It’s already happening. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m good with it.

The biggest realization I had during my endurance sports years is that I just like to train.

When I was 28, I loved to train too. I always loved going to rugby practice and lifting. But I liked to train to compete. I was training for the pissing contest. There was a fire in the belly and desire to beat someone else that I just don’t care that much about these days. I’m a lot more motivated now by learning something new and improving.

This was made even more evident after competing in BJJ recently. I did well at the competition, but came away from it sort of wishing I’d spent the time training (and getting beat/schooled) instead.

Back to Some Basics – BJJ Training 6.13.2017

Smallish class last night after the competition. I’m guessing there were a few people who needed to decompress from that intensity or maybe handle some things that didn’t get done over the weekend. As for me, I was ready to go since I felt like I missed out on two hours of rolling Saturday for about 8 minutes of competing. There is still a small twinge in my back causing a hitch in my get along.

Warmups involved hitting some arm bars, hitchiker out of arm bar, and passes, then we moved on to technique, which consisted of a couple of side mount escapes.

  • Shuck the outside shoulder to create elbow to the mat space
  • Frame at the hips and grind outside hand to frame across chest/neck (protect elbow)
  • Hip bump to create momentum before the bench press
  • Shrimp and slide knee in for a frame

Another option

  • Hook the inside leg with your foot and extend it
  • Hook thigh with other foot
  • Push away at hip and arm pit and rotate hips back in for buttterfly guard
  • Sweep, sit up, reguard, or go for kimura if that balance is there

Rolled with Abe, Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan

NAGA Jacksonville 2017 Tournament Review

TLDR Version

Got up early.

One kid went 1-2 for a first and a second.

Other kid went 2-1 against a single opponent for a first place.

I went 2-1 with a first and a second.

Had a lot of fun. Learned a lot.

Long Version

We headed out for Jacksonville at 5:30 am the morning of the event, stopping by to pick up Coach Frank and The Hurricane along the way. Parking and check in went really smoothly, and man…UNF is a really beautiful campus! I was competing in my very first competition, as were the two oldest girls, and all of us were right on the cusp of a weight class, so we went for a quick urination break and came back to have our weight right on.

All I’d had that morning was a half cup of coffee and a boiled egg, so I was ready to eat. Luckily, I wasn’t competing until the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to get food and water in me.

Bug was first up in no-gi, and the girl she went against was awesome! I was glad we’d entered her into the Novice bracket with no submissions. She’s been exposed to BJJ for 10 months or so, but she really hasn’t shown any kind of spark until the first of this year. I think her opponent’s aggression was a little bit of a wake-up call for her. Bug would escape mount, but end up getting swept every time and was unable to pass the girl’s guard. On one hand, it was tough to watch. On the other, it was awesome to see her continue to fight (and fight and fight) a losing battle.

Her next match was against the same girl, and we were really proud of her for going back out there knowing what was coming. She showed more aggression this time and scored a few points herself, but the result was the same.

Second Place Novice No-Gi

After those first two matches and the podium pic, we found out she still had another match. This one was a different story–the little boy she was grappling with seemed to be much more on her level. She did a great job of listening to Coach Frank throughout the match and executing the moves he was calling out. She ended up winning, and to our surprise was awarded first place in that division (a sword). I’m not sure how NAGA brackets for kids, but we thought maybe her first two matches with the more experienced girl were just to give her opponent some matches in a bracket that was empty…maybe? Dunno, but she was really happy with the experience (and getting to pick the color of her sword), and we were really proud of her for not giving up in the first match and being brave enough to go out for another whoopin’ in the second.

I hope she found a switch inside herself she didn’t know was there before. What a great confidence builder to know you can fight through and survive difficult situations and come back for some more!

First Place Novice No-Gi

There were a couple of other kids competing on our team, and they did great as well. It was awesome to see the kids cheer for, console, and congratulate their teammates. This is the first time any of our kids have ever competed in a sport, and I loved seeing and feeling the nervous energy, excitement, and comradely come out of them. It was palpable.

Pea was up next in the gi division. While we had a good idea going in how Bug was going to respond, Pea was more of a wildcard in my eyes. She is really focused and serious in training, but she hasn’t really felt that feeling of being dominated by an opponent before. How would she respond if she was put in the same situation Bug was in during her first two matches?

She was pretty evenly matched with her opponent, and won the match with a take down, sweep, and mount points. But it was a really good fight and a challenge for her. She ended the match stretched out on the mat and tired. They were the only two girls in their division, and in order for them to get two matches they had a second with each other. Different story this time around–flipped script. They ended up needing a rubber match to decide the winner of the division.

Pea was ahead on points with about a minute left and was controlling her opponent’s posture from guard really well. The other little girl started crying, but she didn’t quit. It was hard to watch, but I was so proud of that little girl for hanging in there and fighting, fighting, fighting to break that guard. I was even cheering for her a little bit when Pea went for a sweep and the girl defended it.

I was proud of Pea for not letting up while the match was going on, but I was even more proud of her when the match ended. She let her empathy for her opponent come out and started crying as well, hugging her and telling her she was sorry and hoped she was okay. They got up on the first place podium together for the awards photo, which I think was appropriate for their three hard fought matches.

First Place Beginner Gi

Plenty of downtime between the kids competition and mine. I’d heard lots about anxiety and nervousness for your first competition, but I didn’t think it would be a huge deal for me. True, I’ve never competed in wrestling, judo, or any sort of combat-type sport, but I have enough experience competing in general that I didn’t expect to be very rattled. I’ve put my body in harm’s way against guys who were out for blood countless times, and it’s not like these guys were going to be punching me in the face or anything.

It’s the gentle art.

The last time I was truly nervous before an event was in 2006 when I was ill-prepared for a triathlon, didn’t believe I could do the distance, and didn’t even want to be there. I’m usually pretty good about believing in the work I’ve put in during training, having a game plan in mind, and feeling comfortable tweaking it midstream if I feel the need.

Honestly, watching the kids was much more nerve wracking that competing myself.

My plan was to get on top and stay on top–passing if I’m in the guard, and taking any submissions that were presented to me without trying to force my way into them. I think I was pretty well prepared for the most part, realistic about my ability in the take down game (average at best), and confident of my ability to maintain a dominant position once I got there.

I was not prepared for the difference in competition and training in the gym. Yes, the intensity is definitely amped up, but I was ready for that; even counting on it. I felt that my conditioning would probably be better than most people in my divisions, and my “calm-before-the-storm” level head would keep me from adrenaline dumping the way others might.

The difference I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of time white belt matches spend in closed guard. I very seldom use closed guard in training for any extended period of time,mostly because it just isn’t very fun. We play King of the Mat a lot, and I always choose open guard because it’s more dynamic and energetic. If I could change one thing about my training, I’d have drilled the crap out of three or four options from my back and been able to cycle through them on auto-pilot. I had a definite plan for passing closed guard from the top, but should have spent more time thinking about the bottom.

More about this in summary of my last match.

My first match was no-gi against the only other competitor in my division. He carried a lot of his weight in his upper body–shoulders and neck, not gut. More of my weight is in my lower body. Pre-match pep talk from Coach Frank was, “Get in a dominant position and get heavy, squeeze, and start looking for submissions.”

Exactly what I’d been planning. 🙂

I’m not very confident in my take downs, but I attempted a double leg. I wouldn’t call it a “shot”, just a half-assed attempt. My lack of confidence was probably apparent. I was, however, confident in my ability to defend and my cardio. He had his arms near a guillotine, so I thought he may go for it, and as I was thinking that and grabbing his arm to defend it he pulled guard and attempted it. One point for him and encouraging for me–at least I didn’t lose the take down, I’m on top, and am ready to start working a pass to take the point lead.

I got my head out and started to build my posture, getting mentally prepared to work my higher percentage passes.

Credit to my opponent for this–40-49 year old beginner weighing ~190 pounds immediately goes for a gogoplata!!! Dude was game!!!

Luckily for me, The Missus also trains and is super flexible. She loves that gogoplata type stuff, and I’ve had lots of practice with her trying to get it on me. My hand instinctively came up and defended my neck. Another point for him for the submission attempt, but I was able to push his leg away and create a scramble situation, settling in half guard.

I’ve been working on half guard a lot, from the top and the bottom, so I went into auto-pilot mode here–established cross face and the under hook on the open-leg side and put his back to the mat. As I flattened him out and glanced up at the time to see there was ~2:30 left. This is where I wanted to be–on top with lots of time to work. I knew I was down by two points, but also knew all I had to do was pass this half guard and we’d be back to even. Then I’d be a submission attempt away from the win.

I know it’s boring to watch and probably more boring to roll with, but I pretty much just grind. The difference between training and competition is that in training I try to adjust my pressure to the opponent–just enough to make them give up something to work with. In competition, the plan is all the pressure the whole time. I was a little concerned that the matches would only be 4:00 long, but there was plenty of time left in this one, and I liked my chances and told myself to be patient, conservative, and methodical.

He went for the lock down on my trapped leg (exactly what I would have done without the under hook), which was an issue for working my preferred pass. Bells went off, but it wasn’t a ton of pressure on my knee, so I doubled down on the commitment to pressure and started trying to work my leg free. He bailed on lock down and I could feel that I may have an advantage in leg strength, remembering how we sized up before the match. I decided to go for a more conservative pass than my original plan, which would put me into mount instead of side control.

As I started working my leg out I felt some wiggle room there. Maybe I should have exploded through and gotten mount earlier, but I just kept inching until my leg was clearly through and flopped down to the mat. Then I squeezed.

And I heard Coach Frank yelling, “SQUEEZE!!!!”.

I sprawled my legs to the closest I could get to a grapevine and squeezed harder. I was thinking that I’d go for an Ezekiel choke first and get a point, hoping an arm presented itself. I like that option because I wouldn’t have to give up a ton of pressure to go for it, and if he were to try to bump out I could just bail and post–pretty conservative.

I never got to attempt it though. I guess I had a pretty good amount of pressure and squeeze because he tapped. I was a little surprised because I didn’t think I was in a submission position–hard to know what was going on.. Not really the way I’d have chosen to win. I’d much rather have been able to do something more technical, but I guess I’ll take it either way. I have a feeling if I rolled with this guy regularly we’d have a lot of fun.

[EDIT]: Todd left a comment on Facebook that the tap was due to a smother. Ugh. Very unsatisfied with that. That’s one of those that you want your partner to tell you about in training because it’s just inadvertent and brutish. Yeah…it’s a competition, and you’re supposed to be trying to submit however you can, but if I’m going to win with a smother I’d at least want it to be intentional. 🙁

First Place No-Gi Directors Beginner Light-Heavyweight

In the gi division, I was bumped up a weight class, but it was cool–the other two guys only weighed in at ~194, and I was probably close to that after eating and hydrating, so there wasn’t a huge weight discrepancy. They went the full four minutes, and I got the loser. If I win, I get the winner of their match, if I lose, I’m third place.

Pre-match advice was, “Just like the last match–position and control!”

I didn’t get to see their match, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I set up my “insurance policy” as soon as the match started and we both worked gi grips. I got the sense that his stand up game was about on par with mine, so this would be 50/50. Somehow, I ended up standing belly to back and controlling him. The first thing that popped into my head was, “No suplexes!” I didn’t want to risk being DQ’d, so I sort of drug him to the ground.

Two points for me and a good position.

He was in a loose turtle so I attempted to jump on him without getting too high and get my hooks in for the back take. He threw his legs up to defend the hooks and sort of rolled to his right side. I landed on my right side with my left leg over this shoulders and neck and both hands on his right arm. I had an arm and could control his posture!

I started looking for a way to an arm bar.

Coach Frank was giving me directions, but I didn’t do a good job listening here. Not exactly sure what he was even telling me to do, but I solved the riddle by sliding my right knee behind his elbow and using both hands to keep his wrist in place as I pressed my knee in for the tap. I kind of wish this one could have lasted longer because this guy was bigger than me and we never got a chance for any sort of back and forth.

Next up was the championship gi match. I learned a lot in these four minutes.

I expected this opponent to be technically better than the guy I’d just faced since he seemed a little smaller, but had earned the victory. When we locked up, he immediately went for a throw, which I defended. That should have been a cue for me to pull guard–that his take down game was going to be better than mine. If I’d pulled guard I could have locked up closed guard without losing any points and gotten an advantage point at least for attempting submissions. Again, I’m confident enough in my strength and cardio to think I could hold a closed guard against most people at my skill level for four minutes without much of a problem, but I haven’t practiced this as a competition tactic.

As I type this, I’m thinking about one of the biggest lessons I learned in competing–the SPORT of jiu jitsu and the ART of jiu jitsu are entirely different things. I have another post swirling in my head about this matter, but here’s the spoiler: I much prefer the art.

Long story short, he went for another throw and got it, and passed to side control for a total of five points. I didn’t have a lot of trouble working my way from side control to half guard. That was the good news–I’m pretty comfortable in working my way to the top from half guard, and I work on it a lot. The bad news was that I had half guard on my stupid side. I established the under hook and tried to work my way up using my favorite move to the top from half guard. He was able to fight that off, but I moved on to plan B. This move is even weaker on my stupid side, and he was able to base out and stop it pretty easily.

This should have set off another alarm in my brain–this guy had a solid base and was not going to be easy to sweep.

From there we got into an under hook pummeling contest, which I thought he’d be happy to do for the rest of the match since he was ahead. I felt like I could keep him from smashing me no matter what, so I started setting up a baseball bat choke we’ve worked on from half guard. There’s some risk here, because I’d have to let him pass to get it. Maybe I didn’t commit to it as a should have because of this risk. I actually heard his coach yelling, “Watch the baseball bat choke he’s setting up!”

It didn’t work, but I was able to re-establish my guard before giving up any points. Is the reason it didn’t work because I didn’t fully commit to it…worried about points? I’m not sure, but I don’t get it a lot in training either. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. My thought from here was to get to closed guard (still plenty of time left), sweep to mount for six points, and grind like I’d done in my no-gi match.

But, duh, this guy wouldn’t be easily swept.

Once I’d made the decision, I got to closed guard pretty easily. I felt like he was being conservative and was happy to take that position knowing he didn’t have to pass, just hang on. I’m sure if he’d been down on points it would have been tougher to get. Replaying the match in my head, this guys definitely made good decisions.

There was some grip fighting, and I almost caught his arm once, but he got it pulled back. We were pretty even on the posture fight as I remember it, but we were playing two different games because of the points. I was finally able to get my knee in to attempt a scissor sweep. At this point I had “sweep and mount” on the brain, and that’s what Coach Frank was yelling for too. My first attempt at the scissor sweep was not very good technically, but it ended up being as close as I was going to get. I could hear Coach Frank yelling for me to focus on the knee with the sweep, and I thought I did a better job with that on my next two attempts. But he based out even harder and I know after talking to Coach and The Missus after that I was missing a key detail–something to work on this week!!!

Time was ticking down, and all he had to do was keep a solid base and hang on for the win. Coach Frank was yelling out the time left, and I knew I was going to have change tactics. I was able to get into position for a triangle attempt with 20 seconds or so left. My best shot at it was in the first few seconds, but I wasn’t able to get a full figure four with my legs, and I couldn’t move his arm across. Something else to work on. I heard his coach yell, “TEN SECONDS….YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TAP TO THAT!!!”

Haha…that didn’t mentally defeat me, and I kept trying my hardest, but it crossed my mind that if I heard my coach yell that at me, I’d get choked out before I tapped, and it takes about 6 seconds to get choked out when it’s in tight.

This one wasn’t in tight.

Time ran out and I stood up with a huge grin on my face. Even though I lost, that was, by far, the most fun match of the day, and I’d love to have the opportunity to train with this guy day in and day out. Tough guy who played hard, played smart, and was friendly both before and after the match. He could definitely help me get better, and seemed like the kind of guy who’d be happy to do so.

2nd Place Directors Gi Cruiser Weight

A pretty good haul for our family at our first competition–three first places and two second places. Having been involved in running MUCH smaller rugby tournaments, I think the organization of the competition seemed to go pretty smoothly, especially when you consider the dynamic situations with that many divisions being run.

We all had a great time and learned a lot, but it was a long day for a whole family to compete.


Passing Headquarters Options and A Choke

Been a loooong while since I’ve kept any notes on my training. I haven’t even been voice recording my thoughts post-training. For a couple of months I’ve been commuting back and forth to training with the whole family, and I’ve been able to talk about everything that happened, what works and what doesn’t, analysis of rolls, etc. with the Missus on the way back. The problem with that is that I end up not recording it in anyway, and I have a terrible memory about all the jive. So everything gets lost.

I’ll try to remember what we worked on the last couple of nights at least.

Tuesday (gi)–from side control:

  • Tight control and loosen opponent’s lapel
  • Pass to cross-face hand, knuckles down
  • KOB and grip lapel on same side of head we are on, palm up.
  • If they are fighting that, same grip on the other side, cup their head and loop over
  • Go thumb in on lapel on other side
  • Choke

Wednesday (no gi):

  • Passing headquarters
  • Hand on hip, hand on outside of knee we’re sitting on
  • Push in and long step. (Reverse kesa gatame worked well for me)
  • If knee is high, underhook and chop down on it
  • Loop arm under crook of knee and onto thigh.
  • Push and move to side control

We have a competition coming up, and I was going to post some thoughts on that, but I think it’s better to make that a post on its own.

Tangled Up Options – BJJ Training May 2 2017

Last night we worked on options from that weird tangled position we’ve been ending up in. We have the arm isolated, and more than likely have a kimura grip or something close to it. We’re on our backs and our opponent is kinda sorta turtled up. We’re throwing one leg over the waste to stop them from rolling, and we’re lacing the other foot underneath their arm with the crook of our knee in their neck.

Grab that arm and keep your elbow tight to your body. From there we have a downbar from our elbow, the “I Dream of Jeannie” downbar, the unconventional kimura, conventional kimura, or we can push their hip out and get our foot under their torso–encouraging them to roll into the scissor choke.

But never let go of that kimura grip.

Rolled with Ana, Brad, Ed, visiting Mike, and Miguel-The-Father-Of-Four.

Failed Kimura Options — BJJ Training

I’ve somehow fallen out of logging every single training session, which is bad because I can’t even remember all the things I’ve forgotten that we’ve been working on. There was a focus on half guard for a couple of weeks, and I found some stuff there that I’m using in live rolls a lot. But I’m only using 20% of the stuff we learned. Limited by age and natural athleticism, I’ve been latching onto the stuff I know will work for me and running with it. Still, it’s good to be exposed to stuff other people may try to do.

This week we were heavy on the white belt attendance on both Tuesday and Thursday, so it was a good week to go back and review some stuff, which I love!

First of all, setting up the kimura from side control.

  • Move cross face to push face back with elbow
  • Pull them to their side and elevate arm to sneak other arm in
  • Get kimura grip
  • Windshield wipe leg and move to seated
  • Pressure on triceps/elbow
  • Motorcycle grips, pull out, posture up, hide wrist behind
  • Finish

If grip can’t be broken, trap the hand and go to collar choke (thumb in). Tuck elbow to hip and put weight down.

Or step over and release the wrist. Roll to the released arm, figure four and twist for the bicep cutter.

Or go straight to scissor choke.

Rolls have been going great. That is all.

Closed Guard Progression Two-For BJJ Training 4.4.2017

I didn’t get to write up last Thursday’s training, but I guess that’s ok because we built off of that progression in class last night, so there was plenty of review. Again, I love going back and getting the details after I *think* I know how to do something.

Closed Guard

  • Make nice finger grips at the cuffs
  • Pull and raise hips to tighten up closed guard
  • If lapel is loose, use that to secure arm by wrapping around
  • Or grab deep behind the bicep to trap arm
  • Deep collar grip – 4 fingers in to control posture
  • Foot on hip to rotate for arm bar–knee tight to their ribs
  • Other foot pressing heels to floor to control posture
  • Squeeze knees tight
  • Push collar grip away and rotate knee over face–keep squeezing knees

If they go to their back and grip to defend

  • Head side under target arm. Knife of forearm on their forearm
  • Kimura grip
  • Roll to shoulder or cross feet into opposite arm to pop grip

If can’t break grip

  • Don’t give up that fight, but work lower foot into hole between arms
  • “Let” your leg that’s pinning their head down slip
  • When they sit up, secure the triangle

If triangle is being defended

  • Swim over trapped arm and under other arm
  • “Wave” that arm back to your head and trap wrist between head and shoulder
  • Slide arm down, sit up and pull down for downbar

Some good rolls too. Ian (visitor from Mexico) wiped up the mat with me a few times. I have 15 pounds or so on him probably, but he was getting anything he wanted from his closed guard, and mounting when that didn’t work. Also rolled with Jonathan and Django.

This is from open mat on Saturday, which was also some really good rolling!


Four Step Progression From Side Control — BJJ Training 3.28.2016

I actually have been training a lot more than you’d think by following my blog, but there have been some interruptions due to to moving and a persistent shoulder injury. Only 10.5 hours of BJJ training in the last three weeks though. I heard the guys on the BJJ Brick podcast mention a good idea–a pain journal. I may try keeping up with the little annoying things that hurt here and tag them up so I can try to figure out what is causing something and know to avoid it. I have no idea where this shoulder thing came from, but it was pretty much immobile for a couple of days. I just woke up one morning and it was stuck.

Anyway, for this session we reviewed some very basic stuff in a series of submissions and answers to the defenses. Some people may get bored learning something they already know in class, but I really love going over the basics and picking up the details that I missed the first time around or having the chance to ask a question about something I’m having trouble finishing. The Americana is a great example–I got some key points that I missed out on the first time around when I was just focused on what an Americana is.

And even though I feel like I have pretty good side control for my skill level and size, picking up some finer points never hurts. Those details come in handy when trying to keep a big guy under control.

Side Control

  • Pull up near side arm by the triceps, elbow tight
  • Slide knee under that shoulder and arm under head
  • Elbow to knee. Gable grip with the underhook from opposite. Hand under the head goes on top.


  • Side control pressure to cause reaction of reach across the face
  • C-cup grip between bicep and shoulder, or post their arm to the ground with the head (my preference)
  • Under head arm comes out and push face back with elbow
  • C-cup grip at wrist. Two fingers on each side of the bend
  • Grip forearm
  • Reverse motorcycle the wrist grip first to create the angle and prevent defense
  • Reverse motorcycle forearm hand to elevate elbow
  • Paint the floor

Downbar From Failed Americana

  • Loosen grip on wrist if needed to allow some extension
  • Clamp back down when arm is out
  • Slide forearm grip arm back to elbow
  • Push wrist out, reverse motorcycle grip
  • Reverse motorcycle grip elbow arm to elevate

Kimura From Failed Downbar

  • Pull toward you to move them to their side, elbow tight
  • Pin near side arm with leg and windshield wiper to switch to the other leg
  • Step over head
  • Establish kimura grip, assuming the defense will be a grip on their belt or lapel
  • Pull hand away against the fingers–towards the front of their body
  • Pull arm up so they can’t establish another grip
  • Pull arm back and to opposite shoulder

Choke From Unbreakable Kimura Defense

  • Open the pants and reach in to trap the defending hand. There–you can have it there forever
  • Thumb in lapel grip
  • Step other foot over head and drop shoulders behind their shoulders. We want them on their side until we establish choke, but not pushing them to their bellies either
  • Pull lapel over and place knife of forearm on opposite carotid.
  • Elbow to the ground

See, I’m already forgetting some of the details of the last couple because I seldom progress that far successfully.

Rolled with Brad (quickly becoming one of my favorite people to roll with), Dr. Dan, Ed, and Dave. I love how easily Dave can take me down. He just stands up and whips out some judo on me that works even though I’m on my knees alread–crazy. Got closer than I’ve ever been with a bow and arrow on ol’ Tuesday.

Pain Journal: right shoulder still sticky. Left thumb weak from two year old rugby smash–can feel this when reaching into lapels for grips.

[image credit]

Mount Escape Reviews – BJJ Training 3.9.2017

I love review nights. Yes, it’s really cool to learn new mind-blowing techniques, but I forget most of what we go over in class, even though I write most of it down. It’s just information overload for a poor ol’ white belt from Robertson County.

Tonight we reviewed these two mount escapes.

I like review nights because they help me see the little details that I don’t pick up on the first time around. For instance, the big oopa and sit up escape works much better when your opponent is bringing his weight and posture low to you because his center of gravity will be shifted more to the top of his torso, which makes his hips a little lighter and easier to pop up.

King of the mat was next, and I actually hit a submission from the bottom in one round. Got a couple of sweeps that I don’t know what to call, and got to work on deep half guard a little bit.

Rolled with Brad, Abraham, and Ana.

King Of The Beatdown – BJJ Training 3.2.2017

Last night was a little different at the gym. Coach Frank has been sick for a couple of days and trying to recover, so it’s been tough for him to teach any technique without being able to get up close and personal with at least one student to demonstrate. So we stretched out on our own and went straight into King of the Mat, followed by some really quick rolling rounds. I guess Norm didn’t notice that he was out there the whole time, and he didn’t think it was weird when Coach Frank sicced two guys on him to deal with at once.

After that was over, we all lined up and took off our belts for Norm’s promotion to brown belt. I’m not versed enough in jiu jitsu to determine what a brown belt is, but if Norm isn’t one, I’d hate to have to tangle with the fellow who is.

He’s not just tough as nails, strong, technical, and limber. The guy works his butt off every single day.

I love being partnered with him for drills because I know he’s going to push the work rate.

I love being partnered with him for technique because he’s so generous with his knowledge and is willing to help me with the little details (and big ones) I’m messing up.

I love rolling with him because he whoops me.

Afterwards, we went back to two rounds of rolling, and then back to King of the Mat. This became a game of attrition. On the way home I realized how much I love training sessions like the one we had last night. I didn’t want any more. Shoulder banged up, foot banged up, hamstring and foot cramps–a real grind.

It’s been a while since I experienced a situation like this in training, and I loved it. I was able to get a spot on the mat and win a couple of consecutive rounds. And every round I won made me want to hold that spot more, which upped the intensity every round. I was whipped when I lost my spot, and wanted it back really badly, and that upped the challenging intensity as well.

Paying for it today, but it sure was fun.


Butterfly Sweep – No Gi and Muay Thai 2.27.2016

Small class, and I think Coach Frank was probably glad the partner match ups worked out. Big Shawn was there for me to partner with, and TJ and Django had each other to drill. We worked on the butterfly sweep, keeping elbows tight and trapping the over-hooked arm while dropping the knee to the ground for leverage to push off of on the sweep.

We also worked on a solution for getting stacked in the triangle, which I needed. We under-hooked the leg and rolled back to an arm bar. The flow we used to work on this was to start with an arm bar and transition to a triangle if we think they’re going to be able to move our top leg by getting our bottom leg up above their shoulder through the hole they are using to defend with the gable grip. From there we roll to the triangle, hit the down bar, and let them stand to under hook the leg and roll back to the arm bar.

For Muay Thai, we worked on basics, which is what I need. Jabs up and down the mat, foot work, then combinations: 1-2-3-roundhouse and 2-3-roundhouse. Rolled a couple of rounds with Shawn, and he dominated me in positions. His cardio is getting better, and once he’s on top I can’t get out from under him for very long. So ten minutes of fighting for space, under hooks, and trying to catch legs and get back to guard.

Omoplata From Lasso Guard – BJJ Training 2.23.2017

For technique we kept working the same direction–stuff we can do off of lasso guard. During warmups we did the spin under from reverse de la riva, which I’m getting a tiny bit better at, and this move showed up again in the technique of the night.

This technique was pretty tough for me. Once establishing the lasso guard, we had to create enough space to actually spin under, then we had to use the back of the hand on the knee to make the spin, but this time without the extra leverage of the foot that we have in the  reverse de la riva. That gets you to the spot where you can sit up and extend the legs to finish the omoplata.

He gave us to option to work on that or to continue working with the sweep and bicep cutter we’ve been working on. I tried a couple of the spin unders, but I know where my bread is buttered. I think in this case it would be better for me to rep something that I am almost able to do reliably instead of using that time for something I’m pretty far away from.

Rolled with Matt, Dan the Man, Django, and Abraham. Of note: spent a bunch of time on my back with Matt, and I went for a bunch of different stuff–armbars, chokes, kimuras, etc. Felt bad about that, but he said he was having fun defending, and he did a dang good job of it too! Dan the Man roll was really fun–we were both trying to choke the other guy with his own gi.

Boxing and Greco Roman Wrestling – Bonus Day at the Gym

One of my favorite things about training BJJ at Off The Grid is the visitors. Coach Frank is not only welcoming of visitors, he’s genuinely excited to have someone come in for a day or a week to train, whether they are on vacation or on a business trip. That’s the culture the whole gym buys into–someone new gives all of us a chance to train with and learn from people with different experiences, styles, and bags of tricks.

But then there are special visitors.

Coach Frank has a network of buddies who are legitimate bad asses, and not just at BJJ. He’s had his buddy Dave Carelli, a judo black belt, has come in and introduce us some basic throws on a couple of occasions. Last night, his buddy Tom Finch came in and did a special seminar on boxing and Greco Roman wrestling.

So. Much. Information.

I probably will not remember half of what we learned and worked on last night, but I want to try to write down as much as possible while it’s still fresh in my mind. This is probably going to be a  stream of consciousness, but…


First we worked on stance and moving. Move the foot already going in the direction you want to go first, then move the other the same amount. So if you’re going forward (traditional), move the left foot first, then the right follows. Small movements–a fist isn’t very big. We just need to move enough to get out of its way. Move to a spot out of their punch zone and into yours. Balls of feet are active with heels grazing the ground. Should be able to squat down comfortably at any time without adjusting your feet.

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

OOOHHHH!!! Like swimming.

To practice the jab, we reached out and grabbed instead of punching. Arm extends and shoulder to the chin as you take a small step forward. Back leg and jab arm are stiff at contact–like your whole body is a stick you are poking with. Jab returns as the back foot follows in. To practice, stand a couple of inches from a wall and move down the wall throwing jabs–no part of your body should ever contact the wall.

For the cross, rotate the hips into the punch. Don’t extend body or reach. Hips stay over the feet (can squat). Should be able to see both your hands at all times. We worked on the 1-2 and 1-2-1-2. Then added the left hook, rotating the lead foot back around. Elbow stays low, and the hand actually only moves a couple of inches. Hip rotation throws the punch. To practice, work on feet and hips only without throwing hands. Then work up to slight hand movements and  use them more and more.

Parrying the jab–we worked on just catching it, not pushing it away. Keeping our hands in sight at all times, catch and move. I was moving way too much–just a small movement and adjusting distance with that move. I was working with Ed, so for him it was move and close distance. For me it was more move and create distance.


First we worked on pummeling for underhooks with a partner and switching our feet as we go. Then we did a drill where we work our partner for underhooks and grip the waist once we get it (no throw). He stopped us in between rounds to give us tips on changing levels, using our heads to make space, and going leg to crotch to get under our opponent and stand them up.

From here we went to the arm spin. Holy crap–cool. I’ve posted a video below showing the basics, but Tom had us focusing on a couple of things that were important for BJJ as well. When we shot the arm under, we continued to reach high and roll over it, almost like we were reaching for the opposite wrist. And we need to try to stop the roll once we hit the ground so that we end up belly down in side control.

Next we worked on bailing out of this by stopping at the arm shoot, backstepping the closer foot and moving to a double leg. That was way more comfortable for me. We started moving into straight double legs from there, and I was a little tentative because of back problems. The back is feeling pretty good with no rugby, and I want to keep it that way so that I can continue to train regularly. I know my double leg is not perfect (or even that good), but I’m pretty confident in my tackling ability if I only have to do it once or twice. Repping it really hurts my back for a week or two.

We worked an arm drag before I left–hand on wrist, pulling to opposite hand on bicep and throwing the arm down to shoot under. I liked that Tom taught shots without bringing the front knee down. Not only is that pretty painful for me, it never made sense when learning it that you’d want to put your power down to the mat. It seems like to me the push from the foot up is so powerful, and there’s no flex in the knee to push off of, not to mention the shorter lever.

I know I’m not deep enough or low enough in this photo for a wrestling takedown, but this seems like a more natural method for me that I can hit reliably. And this was at 41 years old, so I should still be able to do it. I can’t see that I’d have any better power with that lead knee on the ground, although it probably would help in getting deeper.

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