Eddie Cummings back to center stage

Eddie Cummings back to center stage: The Wolverine, Eddie Cummings, one of the most skilled submission hunters I ever had the pleasure of working with, will return to the big show - headlining the @kasaigrappling Kasai Pro 2 event in NYC on April 14. He will take on the extremely impressive Renato Canuto at 160 pounds in a fifteen minute super fight with no points for first ten minutes and then a shift to points in last five minutes. Mr Canuto greatly impressed everyone at the previous Kasai Show, beating out a stacked field with exceptionally dynamic movement both standing and on the ground and showing equal ability in both positional play and submissions. This will be a great clash of very different styles. Mr Canuto is a master of generating movement, but Mr Cummings is, like all my students, trained primarily in disrupting and inhibiting movement, this should lead to a fascinating match. Mr Cummings has been working hard developing his own brand over the last year independently of the squad, but still very much a flag bearer of the submission grappling/attack the whole body and one of the greatest products of the blue basement. In addition, several of the juniors (kohai) will compete in the card - I will talk about that soon. Looking forward to another great night of grappling in NYC in this very impressive emerging show!

Getting hands taped for the first time

Getting hands taped for the first time: A first MMA fight is never an easy thing. When camp begins, most of the problems are physical - the sheer volume of work is staggering. Much of that work is new, so it has a clumsy, unfamiliar feeling about it. There are myriad small injuries from the punishing training and you don’t have time to let them heal so they accumulate over the camp. As The first fight get closer, hard physical training is reduced and usually avoided altogether in the last week. That’s when the mental problems start. Self doubt, confidence issues, concerns about the opponent’s strength relative to your weaknesses - they all come out. Often they reach a peak in the warm up room. Here, Garry Tonon gets his hands wrapped and certified for the first time just prior to his debut fight last week in Thailand. I remember once at a UFC event, a young fighter in his first event was getting his hands wrapped professionally for the first time and was greatly impressed by the result off having a real professional tape up his fists. When it was done he jumped up and yelled, “my hands feel like they have been dipped into steel!!! When I hit that f**ker he’s going to wake up with a busted face and broken jaw!” The professional hand wrapper looked casually at him and quietly remarked, “I wrapped the other guys hands the same way ten minutes ago...” i usually find that the nervousness peaks at the hand wrapping - why? Because, once the hand wrap is complete - THE ACTIVITY OF WARM UP BEGINS, and PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY is the single best antidote to fear and nervousness that I know of. Shortly after this picture was taken, Mr Tonon went through a solid warm up that brought together all the main themes of the camp helped reduce the natural feelings of nervousness you would expect in a debut MMA performance. Always remember - WHEN YOU FEEL NERVOUS PRIOR TO AN EVENT OF ANY KIND - PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY RELATED TO THE TASK BEFORE YOU WILL HELP YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.

Why don’t you just call it a honey hole (or 411, or saddle or whatever) like everyone else? Often people ask me why I insist upon a large array of names for moves that most people describe with a single well known name. My reasoning is easy to understand. FOR ANY GIVEN MOVE, THERE WILL BE MANY VARIATIONS WITHIN THAT MOVE - each will have different strengths and weaknesses and areas of application. FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND THOSE DIFFERENCES WILL LEAD TO INAPPROPRIATE APPLICATIONS THAT WILL LOWER MY PERFORMANCE. Let’s look at a simple example. A friend calls me and says he needs me to come over with a screw driver and remove some screws. Being completely naive with regards screwdrivers and handyman work in general, I naively reach into a tool box and grab a screwdriver and head over. Given that there are several different types of screwdrivers/screws used out there - I HAVE PROBABLY CONDEMNED MYSELF TO FAILURE BEFORE I EVEN BEGIN THE TASK. As any task becomes more complex - THIS MUST BE REFLECTED IN THE LANGUAGE USED TO DESCRIBE YOUR ACTIONS AND THOUGHTS AS YOU PERFORM THAT TASK. If I have only a single term to cover a wide array of variations of a move, MY THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS WILL REFLECT MY LINGUISTIC NAIVETY WITH A NAIVE PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE OF THE TASK. If I have only one word to describe a given color, “red” - how good do you think my ability to paint a picture of a scene accurately compared with another person who distinguishes crimson, scarlet, magenta, maroon, garnet, cherry red etc etc will be? The language you use to describe your actions to yourself and others will set the limit on your ability to think about, reason, describe and distinguish the variations within a move that HAVE A GENUINE EFFECT UPON THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MOVE. Here, Georges St-Pierre works one variation of an inside heel hook with an inside sankaku/outside foot leg position that offers some mechanical advantages along with some disadvantages - being able to distinguish this from the many other variations lets me exploit those advantages when i can - a more sophisticated terminology helps us make and describe those distinctions to ourselves and others - greatly speeding learning

Most people teach heel hooks simply as a MOVE. I always teach it as a SEQUENCE. A sequence that begins long before the heel hook is applied and where the majority of time is spent upon INHIBITING MOVEMENT through the use of wedges and biomechanics and where breaking the opponent is usually no more than an afterthought...

Hey gang! We’re heading home! At Bangkok’s international airport waiting for our twenty hour flight home with Nicky Ryan who must now get home to train in preparation for his super bout with the outstanding Geo Martinez in just less than three weeks, along with his proud Dad. Mr Tonon will stay in Bangkok a few days to enjoy a well deserved rest after a very arduous camp. I am planning on getting back to NYC Monday morning and going straight to RGA to teach the Monday afternoon class and then the Bronx bombers at night. Let’s get the blue basement cracking like electricity and build the heat that forges champions! Barring any airport delays I will be there and need you all to turn that spark into a flame - many competitions coming up and victory goes to those who work hard and smart. See you all in the dungeon ☠️☠️☠️

A word of thanks

A word of thanks: Part 2: Thanks to Mr Tonon’s family, especially Mom, who did such an amazing job raising this young man and fully support him through thick and thin, traveling all the way to Thailand to support him. Thanks to my sensei, Renzo Gracie, who gives us a space to train and freedom to develop so the athletes can progress towards their dreams. Thank you to One FC for believing in Mr Tonon’s potential and giving him a chance to showcase his hard work on the international stage. And thanks so much to you, my dear readers, who follow our exploits, tolerate our foibles and share our vision of grappling and martial arts in ways that motivate us and makes us try even harder. Bless you all from Bangkok - sorry for long double post - there are so many to thank!

A word of thanks

A word of thanks: Part 1: Being a small part of Garry Tonon’s preparation for his winning MMA debut was a great coaching experience and to see him successfully execute many of the central themes and concepts of an entirely new sport in such a short preparation time was truly impressive. I wanted to thank the many people who played key roles in this young mans incredible development. First, to Mr Tonon himself. He trained three times a day seven days a week, through injuries, physical pain and early frustration and never missed a workout. Due to the fact that I have to teach a high volume of private classes to make a living, the only daily time slot for MMA sparring was immediately after his second grappling class. I did not want him to neglect his main strength, so he had to spar MMA immediately after two hours of grappling - he did it every day without complaint. His work ethic amazes me. Thanks also to Squad seniors Eddie Cummings and Gordon Ryan, along with all the kohai (juniors) who created the framework of the squad that helped build his brand and a training room that could promote development. Thanks so much to the unsung heroes of the squad - the regulars of RGA in NYC headquarters who come in every day while holding full time jobs and made a room that builds champions - you fellows are the rock upon which this whole enterprise is built. Thanks to Doug Pelinkovic, Mike Jaramillo, Gene Dunne, Brian Glick and Claude Levy, senior students whom I often discuss ideas and concepts of MMA and who provide such a fine sounding board for my developmental ideas. Thanks to Tom DeBlass for being such an outstanding mentor to Mr Tonon all these years. Thanks so much to Ryan Rizco, Jake Shields, Matthew Tesla, Neiman Gracie, Garry St-Leger and Mehrdad for being the sparring partners who took Garry from total novice to confident debutant in just four months. Thanks to Jamie Crowder and Joe Sampieri of RGA Muay Thai for all your insight and help. Thanks so much to Georges St-Pierre and Joe Rogan for extremely valuable input on the subtleties of distance, movement and timing that played a pivotal role in the outcome. Continued...

Victory in Thailand

Victory in Thailand: Garry Tonon won his first ever MMA fight here in Bangkok via TKO in the second round. Prior to the bout, Mr Tonon expressed a desire to use his fledgling striking skills rather than simply rely on grappling. Despite only around four months of MMA training he made remarkable progress and wanted to test his new skills as part of his development. After an understandably nervous start where he took some hits, he settled into his rhythm and started landed his own heavy blows leading to a first round knock down and very nearly finished in the first round. In the second, Mr Tonon took control both in the open and on the fence and ultimately to the floor where he landed many heavy punches and elbows to get a stoppage. It was impressive to see a grappling athlete with no real striking background other than some sporadic pad work until four months ago come out and win via TKO on a specialized striker. Obviously there is still a huge amount to work on, but it was an amazing performance by the rookie. It was also a brave choice to stay with striking when he could have easily gone into submission mode. Previous to tonight, Mr Tonon had never thrown a punch with bad intentions before, but here in his debut he landed well once he got settled in. Any debut into MMA is tough, but doing it in a foreign country, on the main card of one of the biggest organizations in the world, with only four months of experience behind you and big expectations from fans, and still have the presence of mind to work on new developing skills to help long term growth shows remarkable presence of mind. I hope you all enjoyed the bout. Thank you all so much for your interest and support. I know it means a lot to Mr Tonon and it certainly does to me. It was an honor come to Thailand, home of the mighty Thai fighters, a land steeped in martial arts tradition and influence, and make a memorable debut. Now it’s back to NYC to get the squad ready for upcoming grappling bouts!

Working through resistance

Working through resistance: Nicky Ryan works on his leg locking skills in sparring tonight. It is never enough to know only the mechanics of the moves you employ - you must be able to apply the moves against knowledgeable resistance - this will be the standard by which you will be judged in competition. Here, Mr Ryan takes his time to control his opponent’s movement through skillful application of an ashi garami variation. Now he will deal with each line of resistance in turn until he can get to the actual application of the lock and secure the finish.


Adapting: Garry Tonon learned some aspects of the professional MMA fighters life today - going to various media obligations, rules meetings, medical checks, preliminary weight and hydration tests etc. In the end, however, the athlete’s greatest responsibility is training, for without that, he or she would never rise to the level where they would have to go through all those chores in the first place - so at the end of a long day - it’s back to the gym for drills. Now we head to a light dinner and back to the hotel. Tomorrow is the official weigh in and then all promotional responsibilities fulfilled.