Reducing intensity - increasing effectiveness

Reducing intensity - increasing effectiveness: When preparing for a major competition, the intensity of the training sessions must be correlated with the time remaining before the event. Our camp for ADCC 2017 put a heavy emphasis on standing grappling/takedowns (tachi- waza) which is typically more physically demanding than ne waza (ground grappling ). In the final week in Finland prior to the event, I eliminated live standing grappling from the workout and focused entirely upon drilling and limited ne waza sparring. This was to give the athletes a chance to physically recover from a grueling two and half month camp that had severely tested their bodies and to reduce the likelihood of last minute injuries. In the final days it is very unlikely that any additional training will improve performance - there simply is not enough time to adopt new techniques. Instead the focus is upon coming in healthy and rested. Here, Gordon Ryan and Oliver Taza go through ashi garami drills three days before they got to use them so effectively on the big stage at the world championships. Learning to vary the intensity of workouts is a big part getting athletes to peak at the right time. For those who are not actively competing, it is still a crucial concept. Varying workout intensity is a fine way increasing longevity in the sport by decreasing physical demands on days when your body is not ready for high output. Not every day needs to be maximal effort. I would rather see an athlete consistently workout seven days a week with big variations in intensity than say, twice a week at maximum intensity over the course of a year. Just as we don’t try to live every day of our lives at maximum intensity but rather follow a pattern of easy days with intense days interspersed among them, so too, we ought to act similarly with our workouts.


Counter offense

Counter offense: One of the key themes of our approach to jiu jitsu is a heavy emphasis upon counter offense. Whenever your opponent goes to attack, he must to some degree open himself up in order to initiate that attack. If the initial attack can be contained or nullified, he will, for a short period of time, be left in a vulnerable state of extension and open to your own attacks. Some of the most frustrating experiences we can have in jiu jitsu involve attacking an overly defensive opponent who will not open up at all. Counter offense gets around this problem by allowing him the initial attack so that his defensive posture is broken. Most people are happy enough merely to defend any given attack - BUT THE BEST DO NOT SEE AN OPPONENT’S ATTACK AS SOMETHING TO DEFEND, BUT RATHER AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN ATTACK. This requires more than technique. It requires a mindset that is not satisfied with stopping an opponent from doing what he wants to do, but only with using that as an opportunity to do what WE want to do. Here, Gordon Ryan stops the single leg takedown attempt of the great Keenan Cornelius and is already thinking about how he can use his opponents over extended position to his advantage - in this case via a combination of Kimura grip and sumi gaeshi throw. Always remember that there are two main families of attacks in jiu jitsu - direct attacks and counter attacks. If you do not fully exploit the latter you are losing half of your attacking opportunities.


Reflections on ADCC 2017 - The lesson of Xande Ribeiro

Reflections on ADCC 2017 - The lesson of Xande Ribeiro: One of the stand out performers at this years ADCC world championships was doubtless the great Xande Ribeiro. He had some truly memorable matches including an epic showdown with the man generally believed to be the best currently active jiu jitsu player in the world, Marcus Almeida Buchecha. In addition, Gordon Ryan’s toughest victory was over Mr Ribeiro in a match so close it could easily have been ruled a draw in any other setting. An interesting feature of Mr Ribeiro’s game this year was that he chose a very traditional style - he pulled closed guard on many of his opponents, especially those he believed were better than him in standing position. In an age of leg locking and innovative open guards, this is rarely seen in contemporary no gi tournaments. It was a brilliant decision however, as Mr Ribeiro was able to apply three of the best arm bar attacks from bottom position closed guard in ADCC history - on very tough opponents. The Technical precision and composure of his attacks was impressive not only to the crowd, but also the other athletes watching from the sidelines. Mr Ribeiro’s brilliant ADCC performance paints a very clear lesson to all athletes in the sport - WHICH TECHNIQUES YOU SELECT IN PURSUIT OF VICTORY IS NEVER AS IMPORTANT AS THE DEGREE OF TECHNICAL PRECISION WITH WHICH YOU APPLY THEM. Don’t obsess over which techniques are best, the truth is, almost all the major techniques of the sport can be used to attain victory - worry more about how good you are at applying whatever techniques you choose for your arsenal. Trends come and go - but technical excellence and precision in the execution of your chosen moves never goes out of style. Mr Ribeiro’s fine performance was all the proof you need.


Memories ADCC 2017

Memories ADCC 2017: The recent world championships in Finland were doubtless a source of great pride for me due to the accomplishments of my students - first for qualifying an unprecedented number of entrants and secondly for fine performances in the event itself. One of my favorite memories however, and one that I shall treasure for all my life, was my time cornering my dear sensei, Renzo Gracie in his Masters rematch with the former ADCC champion, Sanae Kikuta. They had fought an epic MMA match years ago, with sensei winning via his legendary guillotine stranglehold. Once again they had a closely contest match - with Mr Gracie winning a very close bout due to higher work rate/passivity penalty. It was a great honor to watch sensei prepare for and contest his match - I have watched him spar ten thousand times over two decades in the gym - seen changes and adaptations in his game as he gained in age and experience- to watch it all up close and be a small part of it was a memory I shall always cherish. Photo @banejitsu


It’s a long way to the top

It’s a long way to the top: One of the more remarkable aspects of our younger team members at the ADCC world championships is how little training time they have had in total. Gordon Ryan’s total training time in the sport is substantially less than the time most of his opponents have been black belts. Nicky Ryan has trained less than three years. Ethan Crelinsten and Oliver Taza around four. Part of the reason for this is the heavy emphasis I put in truly progressive, directionally fixed training programs. Another part of it however, is the dedication my students had to enter competitions whenever possible - traveling long distances and enduring tough camps for each one. My students all had an excellent sense of progressive competition. People know that ADCC and EBI are currently the major no gi events. No one however, gets straight to the big shows. The pattern all athletes must follow is to begin small and build incrementally over time until you have sufficient experience to make waves among the best in the sport. I can think of no better example than Gordon Ryan. For years he tested himself in small shows against unknown opponents. Building upon each minor success until by the time he got to his first ADCC show, he was more than ready to get to the first place position on the podium and gain a higher medal account than any athlete in ADCC history in a debut performance. Here, from some time ago, Mr Ryan battles the impressive grappling and MMA star, Antonio “Shoe-face” Carlos Junior as part of his quest to get to the highest level. That day he prevailed via triangle (sankaku) submission - another rung in the ladder leading to his deepest goals. This idea of incremental progress is just as important to those of you who choose not to compete or have limited competition aspirations. The only difference will be that you use different yard sticks appropriate to your different goals.


Reflections on ADCC 2017

Reflections on ADCC 2017: The rise of submission only grappling. The last few years have seen a significant growth of a new facet of grappling - the submission only movement. It was spearheaded by Mr Eddie Bravo’s EBI shows, which quickly gave rise to others based on a similar format. Unfortunately the movement ran into a lot of entrenched resistance when it first emerged - as most new ideas do. For years I heard numerous complaints that these shows attracted only mediocre talent and exhibited only limited skill sets. I just smiled and said nothing. I knew the criticism was based on the erroneous idea that a new movement would emerge fully mature. That is not the way the world works. ANY NEW MOVEMENT TAKES TIME TO DEVELOP. Submission grappling is no different. ADCC is almost twenty years in existence. If you look at early ADCC competition it often looks amateurish compared with contemporary events. EBI type competition has only been around a few years. It was a pleasure to see athletes who have figured prominently in submission only formats do so well at this years ADCC. Gordon Ryan, Wagner Rocha, Craig Jones and Elvira Karppinen were either Medalists or were able to take on and defeat prominent champions in ways that would have to impress even the harshest critics of submission only events. Our squad had its beginning in sub only events, in particular EBI, we don’t forget that and will always be grateful for Mr Bravo giving us a great format to make our start in. I am happy that the world got to see that sub only grapplers can play a strong role in other forms of grappling. Rather than see ADCC and submission only as opposed formats, I hope the effect will be to break artificial and unreasonable divides between them. Given more time I expect submission only athletes will mature and develop in much the same way ADCC athletes have and lead to many dual champions in both styles - each has so much to offer with regards skill development of the athletes involved.


Golden boy

Golden boy: Gordon Ryan had the weekend of his life at ADCC world championships- the grappling Olympics. In the most successful debut performance in the history of the sport he won gold in his weight category and silver in the open weight category. There were too many notable features in his performance to list them all in one post, but I will say this is one of the most memorable performances in my entire coaching career - it was a privilege to play a small role in his preparation and then observe up close this incredible debut. Mr Ryan is not even close to his full potential and is determined to improve for future world championships. This is only the second time an American has won two medals at one ADCC (Mark Kerr won double gold in the early days of ADCC). Our whole team is so proud of his great accomplishment, as are his Mom and Dad, who traveled all the way from New Jersey to watch their Uber talented progeny. So much great work from the whole squad - I will say more in the near future. I hope you all enjoyed the big show. Happy that the approach we bring to jiu jitsu and try hard to communicate to you all through words and deeds had such a strong showing. I am so proud that my dear sensei Renzo Gracie was there (he had a fine win today which I shall talk about very soon) and that I could make him happy with the teams performance. Wishing you all the best from Finland. I will head home to NYC soon to begin the training of Georges St-Pierre for his comeback fight November 4. Thank you to ADCC for another great show - thank you to all the athletes who participated- so many legends among them - Your presence and achievements fill me with pride for our sport.


Great first day for the squad

Great first day for the squad: Very proud of all our team members who put on such a strong performance today. Our two Canadian boys Ethan Crelinsten and Oliver Taza both had great matches - attacking relentlessly and impressing the crowd with their submissions arsenal. Young Nicky Ryan at sixteen was by far the tournaments youngest competitor - he had a fine match against a black belt no gi world champion lost narrowly on points, but impressed everyone with his attacking style in such an elite event. Tom DeBlass had two titanic matches at heavyweight, winning the first and losing the second on a tight referees decision against last adcc world champion. Jake Shields looked great in his match but as he seemed to be controlling his way to win he got caught on a sweep and then additional points as he tried to recover - impressive as he was fighting two weight categories above his own to avoid clashes with team mates in his actual weight category (170 pounds). The two standout performances came from squad seniors, Garry Tonon and Gordon Ryan. Mr Tonon won tough matches against the Brazilian trials winner and also the very talented world champion Marcelo Manfra. Mr Ryan had a tough match against his very talented and tactically sound rival Dillon Danis- taking a narrow decision win due to getting a full leg locking position just as time expired and then getting close to a back position in overtime. He saved his best performance for his second match against multiple world and former ADCC champion, Romulo Barral. In a classic display of positional play, Mr Ryan was able to take home down, pass his guard twice, then take his back and finish with a tightly applied stranglehold. Day 1 is over - now it’s time to prepare for tomorrow, recharge batteries, plot and plan and head into day 2 So proud of our young athletes performance in the Olympics of grappling - they will be back even stronger next time! Excited for the continuation tomorrow- hope you are all well and enjoying the show! Quick salute to our Australian friends - Australia had an amazing day through the incredible work of Craig Jones who had a breakout performance, Submitting two jiu jitsu legends today


Nicky Ryan chows down on sushi and teriyaki chicken and then finishes off with green tea ice cream before the official weigh-ins at ADCC while his jealous team mates sit empty handed around him #reapthebenefitsofbeingthesmallguynickyryan He then proceeded to weigh in fully clothed and with his back pack on!


Squad gets last light workout in

Squad gets last light workout in: When the squad travels, we always like to get a light workout in the day before competition. Today we worked out in a place like no other before! This jiu jitsu gym in Finland is a former nuclear bomb shelter! It is deep underground encased in reinforced concrete! It looks like something from a James Bond movie - a jiu jitsu lair! We work out every day on the blue basement back in NYC, but this is a whole new level of dungeon! The squad was joined by beloved sensei Renzo Gracie and superstars Lovato Jr and Xandre Ribeiro among others. It was great watching everyone roll together and listening/watching a great interchange of jiu jitsu ideas and concepts used by so many great champions. Experiences like these are always among my favorite coaching memories. Now it’s off to rules meeting and official weigh in