This man is extremely pissed off

This man is extremely pissed off: I have just informed him that all training today will be limited to IBJJF heel hooks, no leg reaping...if you let your partner pass your guard you lose the was just a joke...please don't kill me sir Still, his reaction was not as extreme as Eddie Cummings - he tried to stab me with a plastic fork!

Controlled aggression

Controlled aggression: Ultimately the goal of all combat is victory. This requires at some point the notion of defeating an opponent through physical harm or the threat of physical harm. At some point we have to take the fight to the opponent in a way that gives us victory, thus there must be some degree of aggression involved, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending upon our character and the context of the situation we find ourselves in. The problem we confront as beginners is that nature teaches very naive forms of aggression. Watch any street fight between untrained and inexperienced protagonists and you will see a comedic array of missteps, lost opportunities and unforced errors as the fearless combatants try to express their aggression with what little knowledge they have. The various martial arts require us to direct our aggression through thick layers of technique and strategy. This requires of us all a large measure of self control - in the mental and physical turmoil of combat, we have to insist upon precise mechanical details and refined movement; all set in the context of an overall plan that directs our technique. Building this mindset of a disciplined, methodical, detail oriented inner state whilst engaged in extreme physical turmoil is one of the most import aspects of our training. This is why live sparring must always be the foundation of an effective training program and why those who engage in live sparring have a huge advantage over those that do not. Here, young Nicky Ryan shows the kind of inner mental composure that allows him to focus on all the required mechanical details required for successful application of a heel hook variation he favors - all set during a tough match against a talented, knowledgeable opponent. There is no emotion here - just cold calculation - there will be time for emotion later

Chris Weidman shows his dangerous positional and strangulation skills in training today. He has a sense for opportunity that is a hallmark of champions - once he makes his decision there is no hesitation - that, combined with refined technical skills, makes him a formidable opponent both in training and competition

Training vs fighting

Training vs fighting: one of my favorite aspects of UFC champions Georges St-Pierre and Chris Weidman is that when they come to train in my classes they always pull guard at the onset of sparring and work bottom position - this despite the fact they they could easily take down everyone in the room if they chose to. They recognize that the value of training here is in submission grappling, so they expose themselves to that as much as possible in the time they have. They work on their submission grappling skills, even though that will make their work much harder - they will work their takedown training with specialists in that area at another location better suited to that skill. This willingness to come into a room and trade skills with specialists is what keeps them learning and improving over time - and yes - both of them give our submission specialists hell even in our specialized domain! They recognize the need for an MMA athlete to see the big picture of skill enhancement for their sport overall as far more important than winning anonymous battles in training rooms by avoiding the skills utilized there and stalling away the training time. They come to gain skills rather than to learn to avoid them. Here Georges St-Pierre works bottom position with Robson Gracie during a tough afternoon training session with the squad.

Nicky Ryan - Locked out! Young Nicky Ryan, just 15 years old, was matched with older 10th Planet prodigy Derek Rayfield today at Gracie Nationals. Originally he was to compete in the adult tournament but was apparently pulled into a superfight by Mr Bravo himself under EBI rules. Nicky Ryan attacked with submissions and positional pressure before locking in a very tight heel hook variation to get the submission victory and reward for all his hard training. It is very exciting to see what this young man can do out on the mats - lots more to come

Carrying the flag

Carrying the flag: In modern MMA, most people see an individual art like jiu jitsu as a component of the total fight game. For some, that component is more than for others, but regardless, it is never more than a component. Demian Maia is one of a handful of elite MMA fighters who use only a very pure form of jiu jitsu as his whole game, not a component. His fights look like a perfect statement of the traditional approach to BJJ - takedown, positional advance, working through a hierarchy of pins culminating in submission. In bottom position - recover guard, sweep, submit or stand back up and look for takedowns. That he is able to get such a traditional approach to work at such a high level is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that Mr Maia appears to be getting better at this approach with every fight - remarkable for a man of 38 in a young mans sport. One of the most interesting coaching assignments of my career was helping Chris Weidman fight Demian Maia. Mr Weidman had outstanding jiu jitsu skills, so I was not worried going into the fight - even though he took it on only 17 days notice. In truth however, Mr Maia has greatly improved since then. When he fought Mr Weidman, he was trying to add kickboxing to his skill set. In my opinion this actually reduced his effectiveness and made him an easier opponent to beat. When he went down a weight division he went back to his jiu jitsu and refined it in a way that has made him far better now than he was earlier. His traditional jiu jitsu style has not proven popular with many MMA fans, but he will always be one of my favorites. In a world of trash talking, brawling entertainers, he stands out as a man who has dedicated his life to control - both of himself and his opponents - so that he can achieve the martial ideal of bloodless victories in a violent sport. All MMA fighters use some jiu jitsu, but I cherish watching the fights of this man who uses nothing but jiu jitsu. He has a tough fight ahead with Carlos Condit, but win or lose, I will always appreciate the exceptional work of this lone flag bearer of our sport.

Grapple Boxing

Grapple Boxing: My average day is mostly concerned with teaching jiu jitsu, but sometimes my students compete in MMA and then I teach a very different curriculum which I call grapple boxing. This is the merging of grappling and striking technique on the floor - very different from pure jiu jitsu. I always hated the usual term for this skill ground and pound" as it implies that only the athlete on top who has performed the takedown does the striking - which is not true at all. Moreover

All limbs working in unity

All limbs working in unity: When beginners come to jiu jitsu, they grapple primarily with their arms. As they gain in skill, they learn to grapple with their legs. Mastery however, will only come when they come to use their arms and legs in unison. Your legs provide the horsepower to your bottom game, your arms (through grips) provide the ability to apply that horse in meaningful ways to your opponent. Think of your legs as the engine, your arms as the transmission that allows you to apply that power to your opponents body. Here Eddie Cummings shows fine unity of purpose between upper and lower body work - legs and arms working in unison to destabilize his opponent in directs that will set up his attacks Photo by Tiago Molinos


Misunderstandings: Quite often I get questions that make me believe there is a misunderstanding as to what my vision of good jiu jitsu is. Many people appear to believe that I favor leg lock attacks over other forms of submissions. This is a natural mistake to make, as the most distinctive and obvious feature of my students work in grappling competition, and that which most obviously makes them stand apart from other competitors, is the use of a new approach to leg locking. In fact this is not the case. One of my major goals as a coach was to correct what I saw as a long standing weakness in traditional jiu jitsu, a lack of effective submissions systems to the lower body. Correcting this weakness has been a major part of my work - however, this correctional work and coaching goals must be distinguished from my notion of what constitutes the ideal of jiu jitsu. My ideal is simple to state - I believe that jiu jitsu players should be able to attack the whole body with submissions with equal efficacy. This (mostly) means legs, arms and neck. If I show any bias in submissions, it is in favor of strangleholds (shime waza) over joint locks (kansetsu waza). But my ideal is a player who can attack the whole body with great and equal effect. Visitors to our training sessions are often surprised to be caught in volleys of leg locks arm locks and strangles. Afterwards they say they expected the leg locks, but were surprised by the arm locks and strangles. This is the ideal we must strive for. If you limit your attacks to one part of the body, they become easy to defend, but defending the whole body against determined and skillful attacks is a difficult task indeed. Here Garry Tonon shows his attacking versatility with a strong strangle attempt on Ralek Gracie, progressing towards an armlock, and ultimately finishing his opponent with a leg lock - a fine expression of our style in action photo by Jeff Chu

Intensity levels

Intensity levels: I am often asked what level of intensity ought I to train in my daily jiu jitsu sessions?" A basic demand of the sport is that we can control bigger stronger opponents doing their best to defeat us - that is