Next assignment

Next assignment: After a great weekend in England, where Garry Tonon defeated two time world champion Gilbert Burns via heel hook, it's back to NYC for four days of training getting Gordon Ryan ready for EBI 9 in Los Angeles California. Mr Ryan has been training diligently in the shadow of Mr Tonon's big show at Polaris, but now takes center stage on the training mats for this heavyweight event where he will be by far the smallest competitor. We are headed to Heathrow airport now then back to the mats in NYC Great to see the burgeoning BJJ scene in The UK and the rising success of a professional grappling league - Polaris - this bodes well for the future of British and European grappling.

One step forward - one step back

One step forward - one step back: Live training at the seminar today finished with a disappointment. Garry Tonon took a small but deep cut to the forehead during sparring - we are off to local hospital now Hoping to get some stitches in quickly but it's going to be a while until Garry can train again, so Worlds competition is in jeopardy at this point We will have a better idea of situation after we spoke to local doctors - off to Birmingham hospital now

Going over ashi garami at Braulio Estima's school in Birmingham England. The British lad and ladies are doing a good job following some complex material from myself, Garry Tonon and Gordon Ryan. Mr Tonon is doing a superb job of showing the tactics he used last night to defeat Gilbert Burns. Though I am very proud of all the squads competition (shiai) achievements, nothing makes me more proud of their ability to teach - that way I feel very positive about the future growth of the sport - so much more important than mere individual achievement Gordon Ryan even agreed to take off his crown to teach - amazing! Thanks to @braulioestima and Garry and Gordon and most of all, British BJJ which appears healthy and full of enthusiasm


Breakthrough!! Garry Tonon wins via his tokui waza, inverted heel hook from cross ashi garami - defeating two time world champion and ADCC bronze medalist Gilbert Burns despite a major size and strength disadvantage at Polaris 4 in England tonight. It was an interesting match, with Mr Burns scoring some nice takedowns and positional scrambles to pins whilst Mr Tonon employed an interesting strategy of recovery into standing position to set up submissions. About two thirds of the way through the match, the strategy worked as Mr Tonon locked out a very tight cross ashi garami and controlled it through to the finish against the very explosive and strong Mr Burns. It was a good show overall. There was a fine match between 10th planet standout Nathan Orchard who countered the dangerous leg lock game of Japanese wizard Imanari with a solid traditional BJJ positional game through to a strangle. Dillon Danis put on a superb performance, two fine looking arm in guillotines, one of which was unlucky not to get a finish; then a very well applied inverted heel hook for a very nice win indeed against highly decorated and larger opponent, Jackson Sousa. It was nice to see three such well engineered submissions at such a high level against such talented opponents. Now we head back to NYC to prepare Gordon Ryan for EBI 9 where he will once again be then smallest man in the field - depending upon his technique and tactics as his lifeline to victory.

Size difference

Size difference: I always urge my students to see the main attribute of jiu jitsu training as the ability to control and defeat greater size and aggression with less. Often the squad struggles to find opponents their own size to compete against. Very often they have to fight opponents significantly larger than themselves as a result. Today at the weigh ins for Polaris 4, Garry Tonon weighed in at his actual bodyweight of 167.5 - after eating a steak lunch. His opponent - Gilbert Burns was supposed to weigh in at 170 but failed to make weight by almost 10 pounds. He was so far over that he will not even try to make the weight and once again the squad will face a much larger opponent and rely on technique to prevail. Nothing shows belief in our technique better than taking on much heavier opponents.

Structured training

Structured training: So often I see people engage in training with no plan as to what they are trying to accomplish. This will always limit your ability to improve over time - the whole reason why we engage in practice. It is critical that someone in the room have a clear idea as to what we are trying to improve and how we are going to do it. In a beginners class or a general class, it is enough for the coach to know what the plan is and run the class accordingly. At elite levels however, I like to make the athletes part of the discussion as to what we are trying to achieve - they have the knowledge and insight to add to the discussion and we can make adjustments based on their input. Here Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and myself outline want we want to go over at a local gym in Poole England just prior to Polaris 4 - once the plan is set, words get replaced by action and the room heats up accordingly.

An American werewolf in London

An American werewolf in London: After-training dinner with Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon is always an adventure. On the way back to the hotel Gordon Ryan saw a pair of poles in the street and immediately went to street ninja mode and began climbing them, screaming something about the memory of Harambe!! I always dread seeing things like this before a match, fearing accidental injury - maybe I am getting too old! Anyway - after paying tribute to Harambe, Mr Ryan climbed down safely in front of an admiring (?) crowd of curious English people and not so admiring police officers and went to sleep - ready for another day of training

Shiai preparation

Shiai preparation: Garry Tonon and Gordon prepare for their upcoming respective competitions (shiai) in a local gym in England. the high humidity and cold create a steam room effect that made for an eerie but enjoyable mist - appropriate for England - the misty Isle that has given so much to world history. At this stage the training takes on the same character as the final stages of sharpening a knife - the hard work has been done - now it's a matter of gently polishing the edge without removing any more metal - body movement and mental programming are the emphasis now, not physical conditioning or skill development. Mr Ryan's training is still physical as he still has a week before his event. Building the athlete to a peak over time is key here.

Newark airport

Newark airport: Heading to England for Polaris 4 where Garry Tonon takes on the outstanding and physically very powerful Gilbert Burns in fifteen minutes of submission grappling action. Mr Tonon has trained extremely well. Fellow squad member Gordon Ryan is traveling with us also as he prepares for EBI 9, the heavyweight competition where he will be by far the smallest competitor - a situation that is becoming normal for the squad now. After we return Monday its a quick turn around to California for Mr Ryan's show. It's a privilege to be able to go to so many shows to exhibit our approach to grappling against such distinguished competition

Realistic combinations

Realistic combinations: In the past I have talked about the critical need for students to learn to combine submission attacks into short sequences to overcome resistance and break through to victory by submission. Just as no good boxer would expect to defeat a worthy opponent with single punches, so too, no jiu jitsu player would expect to defeat a worthy opponent first time everything time with the first submission he tries. One problem I often see however, is people selecting inappropriate combinations. Sometimes these look good when drilling on a non resisting training partner, but fail in live sparring. The key is to select combinations that allow us to transition in a way that MINIMIZES THE DISTANCE WE HAVE TO TRAVEL TO GET TO THE NEXT ATTACK WHILST MAXIMIZING OUR CONTROL OVER OUR OPPONENTS MOVEMENT AS HE TRIES TO ESCAPE THE FIRST ATTACK. This creates very effective submission combinations that are difficult to avoid even when resisting as hard as possible. Here, talented kohai student Matthew Tesla shows fine form at a recent local tournament with a well selected combination leg attack that offers his opponent little opportunity to avoid or counter the second attack - resulting in a nice submission win. Creating rationally ordered, short submission combinations based on the criteria I just outlined will greatly increase your chance of success with the various submission holds we work with with.