Submissions - It’s an all or nothing game

Submissions - It’s an all or nothing game: There is a temporal order to Jiu Jitsu that is emphasized from your first day in the sport - first get your opponent to the floor, then get past his legs, then work your way through the various pins, and finally submit your opponent. Before you even get to attempt a submission, quite a lot of work has to be done. There is nothing more frustrating then, than doing all that work and getting halfway through your match winning submission hold and then having your opponent slip out just before you could close the deal. Failed submission holds are like missed punches - they had potential, but score nothing and if thrown too often can exhaust you. It is critical therefore that your study of all your favorite submissions be in great depth to minimize the chance of losing them while in the act of applying them. Here, I am coaching the one of the last steps in the arm bar (juji gatame ) from bottom position. A LOT of arm bars are lost at this final stage. As always THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF THE ARMBAR FROM SET UPS TO BREAKING MECHANICS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS AND THE ANTIDOTE TO FRUSTRATION AND DISAPPOINTMENT. Submissions are a chain of moves in a sequence - and as the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you are losing more submissions than you like - IDENTIFY THE MAIN AREAS OF WEAKNESS IN YOUR CHAIN AND TRY TO BRING THOSE UP TO THE STRENGTH OF THE OTHER LINKS OF THE CHAIN.

Happy to announce a big super seminar in Singapore coming up in the future in conjunction with @evolvemma and @onechampionship Looking forward to teaching alongside Garry Tonon and Gordon and Nicky Ryan!

The mind leads the body

The mind leads the body: Whenever you are sparring your mind will have a given direction of focus. The most basic division is between SELF FOCUS and FOCUS UPON THE OPPONENT. Both are necessary for success but an important question is - what amount should I focus upon myself and what amount upon my opponent? I often see beginning students out A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF FOCUS UPON WHAT THEY OUGHT TO BE DOING WITH THEIR OWN BODY AT ALL TIMES IN A MATCH. This is a perfectly natural mistake to make at the beginner level. The game is complicated and there are many ways to lose. You are juggling a lot of new information in a very stressful environment, so it’s natural to over focus upon how you should holding your own body so as not to be an easy victim, rather than focus upon the weaknesses and opportunities your opponent is offering. The opposite mistake is to be overly confident and focus too much on looking only for your opponents vulnerabilities WHILE BEING BLIND TO YOUR OWN. This can definitely get you in trouble also. Your path to mastery in Jiu Jitsu is largely bound up with finding a workable compromise between these two extremes. If you feel you suffer from an over emphasis in one direction, command yourself to mentally focus on the other at the start of each sparring round one day. You will immediately notice that THE CHANGE IN MINDSET WILL YIELD PHYSICAL RESULTS. You may not submit everyone but you will try more attacks if you make yourself actively look for the second by second openings your opponent offers. Conversely, if you command yourself to focus on maintaining sound defensive posture at the start of each round, you will immediately present a more difficult target to your training partners. Here, Frank Rosenthal shows a fine perception of his opponent’s body position, made easier by his well balanced posture. This reflects his confident attacking spirit - the ideal of Jiu Jitsu that you must strive for. When you train - don’t just train your body - train your mind - for it has dominion over your body and it is the inner workings of your mind that will determines how well your body performs the physical skills you work so hard to perfect.

Getting ready

Getting ready: @garrytonon is preparing to go back to fight for the fourth time in @onechampionship in Tokyo Japan on March 31st. The transition from Jiu Jitsu to MMA is always a long and arduous one. It has been about a year since his first fight now and his progress has been astounding - but still a long way to go. Despite the new direction we never forget where we come from and Garry is proud to carry the Jiu Jitsu/submission grappling flag into the cage. A big part of what we are trying to do is show that the power of submission holds applies in all domains and that locks and strangles can play the same role as KO punches in a fight - as devastating and highly effective weapons that can thrill an audience and end a fight at any time. On the other hand, we are realists and only a fool would claim that grappling is all you need in MMA. Training in striking is essential also, even if it is not your main weapon. It’s a fascinating journey and nothing is more interesting and challenging to me as a coach than the complex interplay between striking and grappling. Another day on the mats and in the cage - lots more to go

Filming in Boston

Filming in Boston: Today I finished up the final installment of the ENTER THE SYSTEM video instructional series - The Arm Bar (juji gatame). Then we began filming more material for the next series FUNDAMENTALS: GO FURTHER FASTER This represents a radical departure from the ENTER THE SYSTEM series. It is a gi series and our intention is to make a series showing a path to quicker progress through the use of a structure that builds a foundation of essential moves upon which the sport is based taught with a level of technical detail and conceptual insight that cuts down on the time spent to get to a strong level of performance. As such, the content is much more classical positional work - the foundation of the sport. It is positional excellence that will create the opportunity for submission brilliance further down the road for developing athletes. I always loved teaching fundamentals more than any other aspect of Jiu Jitsu - that is where the heart and soul of the sport is, so I’m having a blast with this material! I hope you get similar enjoyment when you get to use it on all your teammates! Heading home now on the train from Boston - tired but happy. Big day of training back at RGA tomorrow and looking forward to it Wishing you all the best from somewhere between Boston and New York City!

Concentration of force

Concentration of force: Among the most foundational axioms of all forms of combat is that of concentration of force. The idea is to take a large percentage of our strength and apply it against a low percentage of an adversary’s strength at a vulnerable and important point where, if the attack is successful, the opponent will not be able to continue the fight. Jiu Jitsu, like all intelligently crafted approaches to combat, is based around this principle, most obviously through the use of submission holds, which are a very clear example of concentration of force in practical application. One of our favorite examples will always be the triangle (sankaku) which pits the strength of both our legs and hips against an opponent’s single arm and neck. It works not just one vulnerable point, but two (strangles and locks to the entire arm). Within the triangle family one of our big favorites is the rear triangle (ushiro sankaku) which creates an especially impressive demonstration of concentration of force as you can see in this picture of outstanding junior squad member Nick Ronan. Note the total isolation of head and arm and the power restraining forces of the legs and hips that immediately create both a strangle threat and arm lock threat. This is the ideal of Jiu Jitsu. Make the study of concentration of force your life’s work in Jiu Jitsu

A study in greatness

A study in greatness: The most important people in our lives are those who give us an example of what is possible so that we can lift ourselves higher. They don’t give us THINGS, they give us IDEALS; and those ideals can move us from within to become better people. Georges St-Pierre was the single greatest example of a positive athletic role model I ever met in my career. Every dojo or training partner he walked into or befriended was lifted by his appearance. Starting off as an unknown youngster from Quebec, he fought his way to the top of the fight worlds toughest division and beat the best of three generations of welterweights and then came back from an initial retirement to win the title at middleweight. Along the way he exhibited the highest standards of character and professionalism in an often wild sport. He ushered in the modern era of professionalism in preparation for MMA athletes to replace the traditional martial arts methodologies used by previous generations of competitors. Nobody did more to elevate the standing of the sport in the public eye as it grew from its bloodsport beginnings into the most popular combat sport in the world. He was an innovator who staked his career on the paradigm shift from single style specialists to what he stood for - integrated skills where the primary emphasis was on the interface BETWEEN skill sets rather than over emphasis on any one skill set. This enabled him to outwrestle wrestlers, outstrike strikers and dominate Jiu Jitsu champions on the floor. He was not the best at any one of those skills - he was the best at integrating them with a speed and direction that no one could keep up with. He defeated all his opponents, dominated every re-match he ever took and shut down the toughest opponents to a degree what was utterly astounding. It was the greatest privilege of my coaching career to be a small part of this great mans ascent to the top of martial arts. Through all the time i knew him and i have no doubt all the way into the future - He was a martial artist first and an MMA athlete second. This made him a perpetual student, a generous teacher and a truly noble fighter. Thank you, Georges, from all of us

With a well applied joint lock there is no such thing as failure

With a well applied joint lock there is no such thing as failure: The very nature of joint locks is all or nothing - they either get the submission or they don’t - sometimes the dividing line is very narrow indeed. It is important that you don’t let this fact permeate into your thinking in a way that becomes destructive to your performance. While it’s true that the obvious outcome of a joint lock is black or white - submission or not; there are other important benefits that come from a well applied joint lock that occur even when you don’t get the submission. First, Sometimes your opponent simply refuses to tap. In these cases, continue the break and now his performance will begin to drop as the injury takes effect, leading to other routes to victory. Second, a threatening lock will elicit strong defensive reactions that enable you to go forward in other ways - towards a reversal, a new position, another submission hold etc. so that even failed joint locks can have excellent consequences if sufficiently threatening. Third, your opponent will now be much more respectful of your skills once he has felt serious danger and hence much easier to manage as the match progresses. These and other benefits of such joint lock attacks that don’t actually get a submission raise an important point - EVEN WHEN A POWERFUL JOINT LOCK ATTACK FAILS, THERE WILL BE TANGIBLE BENEFITS FOR YOU TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF. Don’t get dispirited if you don’t get the tap - instead, TRAIN YOURSELF TO LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ALMOST ALWAYS ARISE FROM THOSE ATTACKS AND SCORE WITH THEM. Here, Gordon Ryan comes close with a powerful heel hook attempt in a very close match - the lock ultimately failed insofar as it did not get the submission, but it forced a strong defensive reaction that under the rules of that particular match, scored the match winning points. Don’t concern yourself with the outcome of your joint locks - that’s up to your opponent - concern yourself with generating maximum breaking power and then a good follow up that takes you forward should it not end the match.

Strangles and self doubt

Strangles and self doubt: A very common phenomenon that I see both in sparring and competition is for an athlete to get into a good strangulation position, apply the strangle and then as it is starting to take effect, lapse into self doubt and unnecessarily release the strangle to adjust position, only to give the opponent a second chance at defense and have him escape. Remember, strangles take a little time and require constant application of force to be effective. Squeezing and releasing won’t get the desired effect - only squeezing and holding will get the job done once the strangle is properly set. Now, if you have set the strangle poorly, no amount of squeezing will be effective, indeed, a common problem is that of beginners setting a strangle badly and then squeezing for all they are worth And exhausting themselves. However, don’t let fear of this make you fall victim to the opposite error - THROWING AWAY A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR A STRANGLE BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HOLD RESOLUTELY FOR THE TIME REQUIRED. You must train the sensitivity required to know when the strangle will interfere with blood flow sufficiently and the confidence to hold pressure long enough to get the win. Here Nicky Ryan works a variation of the rear naked strangle where he compressed the jaw back into the carotid arteries (mandible strangle). This requires even more sensitivity and confidence as it usually takes longer to get the strangle effect due to interference of the jaw bone. So practice the feeling of a well set strangle to the point where EVEN WITH EYES CLOSED YOU KNOW WHEN ITS ON AND WHEN ITS NOT, and once it’s on, go forward with confidence to your victory

Many will look - few will see

Many will look - few will see: A sizable portion of any grappling match just looks like a profitless tangle of limbs leading to nothing but confusion. I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of trying to explain the appeal of grappling to non grappler friends. When they watch a match it just looks to two people aimlessly rolling about on the floor. Your job as an athlete and mine as a coach is never to WATCH the action, but always to INTERPRET it. You must train yourself TO SEE OPPORTUNITY AND DANGER EARLIER THAN OTHERS DO - for this is the surest way to success in the sport. You can train this skill daily by watching two other athletes spar and trying to ask yourself what you would be doing in their respective situations. This trains your mind to ACTIVELY INTERPRET events rather than what most people do - which is passively watch for the outcome. The idea is not to FOLLOW the outcome - but to CHANGE the outcome; and the best way to train this is active interpreting observation - a skill you can train every day - even when you are not training yourself.