Incorporating systems into your game

Incorporating systems into your game: I always enjoy coaching experienced athletes with a well established skill set that they have used for years and working with them to take on new skills and add them to their already existing skills as a means of increasing their effectiveness, or even just giving them the joy of new perspectives and skills on top of what they already know. My good friend, Tom DeBlass is a fine example. He has a highly successful game that he developed over many years of Training that saw him win US ADCC trials on many occasions and compete at the world championships on multiple occasions. As he saw the success of the squad (to whom he is very closely linked - he gave Garry Tonon his black belt and is a great mentor to Gordon and Nicky Ryan) he became interested in studying the various systems we employ. Being a skilled athlete with vast experience in jiu jitsu made it very easy for him to pick up the essential concepts and movements and very soon he started having success in the gym. This weekend at Fight2Win Pro Grappling in Philadelphia he went out with the intention of using that knowledge in classic squad style - sit and battle for inside position, then a fight to off balance the opponent (kuzushi) to get an opponent into vulnerable extended positions from where a solid connection via ashi garami can be attained - from there it’s a task of negating resistance, exposing the heel and then proper breaking mechanics. Mr DeBlass did exactly that - and in quick time - just thirty seconds in and victory via outside heel hook was his. It was a fine example off an athlete who had a certain skill set and added to it. If you have been studying jiu jitsu for some time, I am confident and infusion of our systems based approach can do similar things for you. Sometimes people think that my students became proficient because I began teaching them early - in fact I have had many athletes who started very late in their careers with me and had similar success at learning the various systems. Hats off to Mr DeBlass for taking on a new skill set that he did not need, but did so for the sake of knowledge and learning and did a fine job of demonstrating it.


Weekend of victory

Weekend of victory: Squad juniors, Frank Rosenthal and Jason Rau had a great weekend at Pilgrim Grappling Championships in Philadelphia over the weekend. They were the main event matches. Mr Rosenthal took on EBI Combat Jiu Jujitsu Champion Chad Georges and had a great victory in overtime using elements of our back system to lock in a winning strangle and continue his impressive win streak. Jason Rau won in regulation time via Kata Gatame strangle in regulation time over Quentin Rosenweig, a very tough EBI competitor. It’s great to see both athletes showing they are at that EBI level and rising fast. Outstanding female blue belt, Katya Leontyeva had a tremendous day, winning advanced category gold in both her weight and absolute divisions - every match by heel hook! Today Mr Rosenthal and Ms Leontyeva showed their impressive work ethic by coming back to the gym next day to help Gordon Ryan train in anticipation of his big match next weekend with the great Vinny Margalhaes in Los Angeles. Wonderful to see such progress and the work ethic that makes it possible.


Neiman Gracie wins again! Outstanding MMA jiu jitsu representative, Neiman Gracie extended his unbeaten record in fine style last night with another very impressive submission victory at Bellator 198 - taking out a very tough opponent with a beautiful kata gatame strangle in the second round. It was a great match to watch as Mr Gracie showed the various influences of his father, Marcio Stambowsky, his sensei, Renzo Gracie and Mentor Royce Gracie along with kickboxing coach Jamie Crowder in a very impressive blend that has produced an incredible winning streak that has taken him very close to title contention now. Well done Neiman Gracie!!


When it comes to fighting, most people think in terms of who is strongest, fastest, most athletic, bravest, toughest etc. These qualities are all very good, but the history of all modes of combat, whether individual or group, shows very clearly that the SMARTEST fighter, the one who employs his resources best and to greatest effect while avoiding harm, is the one who usually prevails. Therefore, make your primary commitment to be THE SMARTEST FIGHTER YOU CAN BE. The one who constantly looks to maximize damage to an opponent whilst minimizing damage to himself. Let THOUGHT be your first reflex when entering confrontation and KNOWLEDGE and SKILL your sword and shield before all other resources.


The essential skills of the leg lock system

The essential skills of the leg lock system: You might be puzzled by the first two listed essential skills of the leg lock system - grip and inside position is the first, distance and connection is the second. In both cases TWO skills are listed. True - however, in practice those skills are so closely entwined that I usually teach them together and certainly in practice they are usually performed together- so for the sake of brevity I listed them as one skill (yes, brevity- sounds weird coming from me I know ) Here, Nicky Ryan goes through his grip and inside position drills with Garry Tonon just prior to his winning performance at Kasai Grappling 2. Note how inside position with the feet and a preliminary grip have been attained at the same time to lessen reaction time for his opponent and set up his ability to go to the next step. Seen in this light, you will see heel hooking as we do - as a PROCESS rather than a MOVE. There is a chain of skills where the preceding skill must be completed before the next can be attempted. All my students are highly adept at at working methodically through this process even against tremendous pressure. In this way even skilled resistance can be overcome and victory attained


Open wedges/closed wedges

Open wedges/closed wedges: an important principle of my leg lock system is the closed wedge principle. Ashi garami is essentially a set of wedges around your opponent’s leg and hips. Like most examples of wedging in jiu jitsu, it is designed to INHIBIT MOVEMENT so that you can more easily break your opponent. As a general rule I have a preference for CLOSED wedges over open wedges when it is time to break someone. In practical terms, this means that ONE OF MY LIMBS MUST REINFORCE THE POSITION OF THE OTHER, LOCKING IT IN PLACE SO THAT AN OPPONENT CANNOT EASILY SEPARATE THE WEDGES AND ESCAPE. There are a vast number of ashi garami variations out there, but if you observe my students in operation you will see immediately that whenever they are in a tough match with a skilled opponent, they will go back to the strength and security of closed wedge variations of ashi garami where their legs lock around their opponent with crossed feet or triangled legs. This adds greatly to the tightness of the control. Our two favorite and strongest finishing positions at the top of the breaking hierarchy both feature closed/reinforced wedges - in the case of straight ashi garami variations we favor outside ashi garami. In the case of cross ashi garami variations we favor versions of inside sankaku. Both lock the attacker very securely to the opponent and thus can generate truly intimidating power. Are closed wedges always necessary? No - you can get a lot of success without them up to a certain level. If your opponent is perhaps inexperienced in avoiding heel hooks, then open versions of ashi garami can work just fine- but when you are in a serious struggle against a skilled opponent - work with the security, safety, strength and power of closed wedges when possible.


The leg lock system instructional

The leg lock system instructional: There are many different ways to present my approach to leg locking to students. Initially I thought it best to do so in a simple and brief introduction video - show some important moves and counter moves, in the standard format for jiu jitsu instructionals. The more I thought about, the less happy I was with that idea. That was not how I taught my own students. I got so many requests over the last few years to go and teach in many locations, also many visitors here in NYC asked for instruction - but I am one person with some rather serious physical issues and can’t reach many more people - so I thought about teaching a video that would be quite different from the norm- a video where I went in much greater depth using my preferred style of teaching, the scenario/problem/solutions model that I use with my own students. This is a difficult thing to present on video and puts much greater demands on the viewer than regular videos, where the viewer just passively watches some moves and seeks to copy them. Here, I am looking to present a complete working method for leg locking and give the viewer UNDERSTANDING rather than mimicry. My proudest achievement as a coach is to have produced students who were independent, innovative problems solvers who can teach as well as they compete - I don’t want to produce robots. My goal is to do the same with you. The simplest way to state the structure of my system is as follows. It consists of six essential and sequential skills, manifested in three distinct yet linked sub systems, each of which presents at least one central problem along with subsequent problems as the system unfolds; and is given its character by around ten core principles/axioms. This is the way I taught my students and they rapidly became the best leg lockers in the world. It did not create just one good leg specialist, but a ROOMFUL of them, across all weight divisions and body types. If you can invest time, patience and study into it, I believe it can work for you to. LEG LOCKS: ENTER THE SYSTEM will be released soon by BJJ Fanatics


Moves and movement

Moves and movement: Jiu Jitsu is usually taught as MOVES. However, every MOVE presupposes that you are capable of the physical MOVEMENTS that underlie that move. The better your capacity to control and direct the movements of your OWN body, the better will be your ability to perform the moves that will enable you to control and direct the movements of ANOTHER PERSONS body. Therefore, take as much pride and interest in your ability to move yourself around the mat as you do in moving an opponent - your performance of the latter will improve in relation to the former. Whatever your age, physical limitations etc, there is always some way that you can increase or improve your own capacity for movement. Whatever gains you make in this area, no matter how small, will aid you in your quest to perform well the many moves of jiu jitsu and thus move and control another person - the ultimate goal of the sport.


In all combat two things are required for victory

In all combat two things are required for victory - the necessary SKILLS and the CONFIDENCE to use them to their full effect. One without the other is worthless. Confidence without skills is merely delusion. Skill without confidence is like unspent money, it’s value is never actualized. When skill and confidence meet, magic can happen.


Ideal positioning and less than ideal

Ideal positioning and less than ideal: When we first begin to learn a move it is wise to begin study under ideal conditions - your body well aligned in the preferred position for that particular move. In competition and sparring however, IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES YOU WILL HAVE TO PERFORM YOUR MOVES IN LESS THAN IDEAL POSITIONS AND ORIENTATIONS THAT NATURALLY OCCUR WITH MAXIMUM RESISTANCE. As such, we often practice finishes in a range of different orientations - belly up, belly down, inverted, rolling through etc etc. In this way there are no surprises on match day - you will be prepared for any contingency as you go in to finish your move. Here, Frank Rosenthal easily adapts to a belly down rolling situation when he needed to - finishing a fine inside heel hook at Kasai Grappling Championship in fine style - strong preparation in non ideal scenarios made for a flawless finish against strong resistance.