A sense of direction

A sense of direction: When you have a clear sense of direction and know exactly what you want to do in a bout and have the skills to get it done, you will not only be a difficult person indeed to stop - you will usually get what you want in very little time. Here is Frank Rosenthal going on a leg lock rampage this weekend - ending his match in seconds via outside heel hook. I always look to coach A STRONG FIRST MOVE THAT WILL EITHER GET AN IMMEDIATE BREAKTHROUGH OR CREATE OVERLY DEFENSIVE REACTIONS THAT WILL SET UP SUBSEQUENT MOVES. Very often a well performed strong first move will be all that is required. All my students excel in creating pressure from the outset even when the opponent knows what to expect. This often results in very quick victories like this leg lock blitz. You must train this aspect of the game - know what you want and practice until you can get there quickly - the results can be astounding

Juniors on fire at Rise Grappling Invitational! Last night the squad juniors put on an amazing team display at the growing Rise grappling show in New York. First up was leg locking ace Robert Degle who blitzed his opponent in ten seconds via heel hook. Newly promoted black belt Frank Rosenthal clearly took that as a challenge - he took on an athlete that flograppling ranks number five in the world no gi and heel hooked him in less than ten seconds! Then Ryan Quinn stepped up to win the 185 pound tournament. Nick Ronan had a tough physical match with a Pan Am brown belt double champion and won a thriller in overtime using back system to get the strangle for the win! In the main event Jason Rau took took on the outstanding Mansher Munch Khera and showed his leg locking mastery with several beautiful entries into the legs along with bottom sweep attempts that took him to a tightly contested judges decision win! Before all that, young Trinity Pun, just thirteen years old, showed her skill and tenacity to take a hard fought draw - big future there! Gordon Ryan did great work as cornerman along with my mentor Matt Serra, where Mr Ronan and Mr Rau began jiu jitsu and still teach and train. Great stuff from these outstanding athletes! Always so proud of their development and growth and the story that all of you must write - of someone following their passion and crafting a plan to get there and showing the discipline to stay the course. Well done! Legs and back system FTW!

I am very happy to announce the release of my latest installment of the ENTER THE SYSTEM series of instructional videos THE FRONT HEADLOCK/GUILLOTINE. BJJ Fanatics has finished the editing process and everything is ready for release. If you are interested the link to their website is in my instagram bio. The front headlock/guillotine has always had a strong presence in no gi grappling - there is a reason - it’s among the most readily available moves in the sport and the finishes available from this position are devastating if applied well. We have our own distinctive approach to the position, based as always, around a step by step approach that takes you from all the necessary prerequisites through all the different options needed to overcome resistance and the central problems you will encounter in the position; and then the technical details needed to maximize efficiency in finishing. Thanks as always to my teachers and mentors who got me started on this journey and all my brilliant and hard working students who have shown this approach so successfully in competition and expanded upon it as they make their journey. Wishing you the best on your own front headlock/ guillotine journey!

Great morning training with @chrisweidman along with @gordonlovesjiujitsu and @wonderboymma Three of the most talented athletes I ever met. The application of jiu jitsu to MMA is a theme that my sensei, Renzo Gracie, always encouraged me to pursue and emphasize. I am blessed to do so with such talent as this. What an introduction to aspects of MMA training for Gordon Ryan - working with titans from the start!

Art and martial art - start with a sketch

Art and martial art - start with a sketch: When teaching I always keep in mind the analogy of the artistic painter. The painter BEGINS WITH A SKETCH and then fills in all the details over time to arrive finally at a beautiful painting. So too, The martial artist must approach every skill that he or she learns in a similar fashion. It’s tempting to jump straight into details, afterall, we are told so often it’s the details that make the difference. I believe it’s essential however, to begin with a general idea of the underlying PURPOSE and CONTEXT of the move first, and once this is clearly established, THEN move into details. Details without direction is just so much noise that won’t improve performance. Start with WHAT are you trying to accomplish and WHY this is a good thing and WHEN you employ it. Then start with an overview of the move and finish with details. So like the painter - BEGIN WITH A SKETCH and in time let the painting fill out the picture into a work of art that all who see it will admire. Here I chat with outstanding youth athletes Mikey Wilson and Liam Zeh before drilling begins - creating an outline that will give the practice session a sense of direction and purpose that they can build towards over the training time.

Gold medal front headlock/guillotine

Gold medal front headlock/guillotine: I constantly push my students to excel in the use of front headlock/guillotine attacks. My reasoning is that it is always available, is highly effective and even when it fails, it elicits such a strong defensive reaction that it functions as a tremendous gateway into other great attacks. All of my students work hard at the skill, in particular Gordon Ryan. Mr Ryan was always devastating in the gym with his front headlock and guillotine attacks. Like all my students he even developed many of his own variations and tricks. Interestingly, Mr Ryan had a similar problem that several of my other students had - he was so successful in his main attacks to leg and back that he never got an opportunity to use his front headlock game outside the gym. Before ADCC I told him this was a good thing as few would be expecting any danger from that direction and the rules of ADCC heavily favor standing grappling/takedowns which increase the opportunity for front headlocks/guillotines even more. In the biggest match of his career so far - ADCC finals for the gold medal - he pulled out his unknown front headlock game during a standing wrestling exchange with the great Keenan Cornelius. Mr Cornelius used all his defensive skills, creating a wild series of rolling attacks, but Mr Ryan followed him through everything and finished mounted with a devastating strangle to take gold. It was an incredible example of the power of a hidden weapon, of systems based training to surpass high level resistance and of the immense tactical value of strong front headlock/Guillotine attacks. If you feel you want to increase your submission rate, invest time and study into the most readily available submission opportunity in the sport - the front headlock/guillotine. There is a reason so many great jiu jitsu athletes have made this move a centerpiece of their game - with study and training - so can you

This ain’t his first rodeo

This ain’t his first rodeo: Check out my sensei, Renzo Gracie sleeping just before his most recent MMA match in @onechampionship in Manila Philippines where he won via submission. Not many people can relax shortly before a main event fight - this photo was taken between Garry Tonon’s victory and Mr Gracie’s bout. So often you will see people expend vast amounts of energy unnecessarily before a fight. Energy is a precious resource - spend it as you ought to spend money - carefully and with an expectation of a return on your investment. Set a time for the beginning of your warm up and put whatever energy into it that feels right for you - but as much as possible, outside of your planned warm up, reduce energy expenditure through stress, worry and expectations to the greatest degree possible. Recognize that endless worry and physical tension won’t benefit your body performance. The only hard work before the fight should be the planned and structured warm up - prior to that - relax as much as you can. Obviously this is an extreme example of this - but it’s something to build towards as you gain experience.

One step at a time

One step at a time: A feature of most of the moves of jiu jitsu is that they can usually be divided up into sequential steps. Until one step is successfully completed, the next cannot be made. In most cases, when a step fails, one has to abandon the move and either start again from the beginning or try something else. This step by step feature makes teaching and learning rather easy. As you go higher in the sport you must learn to use this step by step character to your advantage. Once you begin the first step, a knowledgeable opponent will have a good idea of what you will want to do next. The step by step nature of the sport makes many of our moves predictable to BOTH players. It is important then, that you use subterfuge on occasion to make yourself unpredictable. I will often enter the first step of a given move with aggression to try to elicit a predictable defensive reaction from an opponent who now expects the usual second step of the sequence - and then apply an unexpected second step that slips past whatever defensive structure the opponent built for expected next step. When you first begin your jiu jitsu study, the step by step approach to learning is a great learning aid; but as you advance it can become a liability insofar as you become predictable. Make sure you constantly look for ways to disguise your real intentions by committing strongly to a given move and then having several alternative second steps quite different from the usual one. In this way you will always be an unpredictable and tricky opponent, but at the same time have the solid foundation of a strong step by step game.

Principles versus techniques

Principles versus techniques: The underlying PRINCIPLES of jiu jitsu , and indeed, all combat sports, are as fixed and permanent as the night sky; for they are rooted in the unchanging strengths and weaknesses of the human body. The TECHNIQUES of jiu jitsu on the other hand, change with the speed and fluidity of the waters of a river, as they are based upon the minds of men who forever seek competitive advantage over each other through insight, study and innovation. Accordingly, stay true to the basic principles at all times, they will give you sound direction with the reliability of a compass; but recognize that techniques must be in flux, with constant change and innovation in response to a changing landscape.

As a coach or mentor there are two things I can never give you. Two things that only you can provide. The first is a deep underlying PASSION for what you do. I can deepen that passion, fuel it, strengthen it - but only YOU can CREATE it; and you either have it or you don’t. The second is the ability to PULL THE TRIGGER when opportunity presents itself. I can teach you all manner of techniques, tactics, game plans, risk calculations, strategy, drills etc etc. but in the end, at the crucial moment, ONLY YOU CAN MAKE THE NAKED CHOICE TO PULL THE TRIGGER. In jiu jitsu and in life - much can be offered to you - but these two things, passion and the ability to seize the moment and pull the trigger, these two must come from within you - they are yours and yours alone.