Drilling as an ideal

Drilling as an ideal: We spend a lot of time drilling - there is a simple question that fascinates me - IS IT WORTH IT? Is it possible that we would be better off just sparring the entire workout instead. I usually have about 1/2 - 2/3 of my workouts as drilling and 1/2 - 1/3 sparring - is it possible that all that is a waste of time and we would be better off just 100% sparring? I have many reasons why I am a strong advocate of drilling as an essential part of a daily Jiu Jitsu workout and why I believe it translates into faster progress for most (not all) students. One of the simplest is the argument that WE ALL NEED AN IDEAL TOWARDS WHICH WE AIM OURSELVES. If we have a strong mental ideal IT CAN HELP PULL OUR PHYSICAL BODY CLOSER TO THAT MENTAL IDEAL - EVEN IF WE NEVER REACH IT. We all know that in most cases we look a lot smoother and more competent when we drill a move on a cooperative training partner than we ever do in a live sparring situation against a competitive opponent. Drills let us get close to the IDEAL of what we OUGHT to look and feel like when we perform a given move - an elusive ideal to strive for. We know very well it won’t look that smooth and clean in a competitive match - BUT THE HIGHER OUR STANDARDS IN DRILLING, THE HIGHER OUR PERFORMANCE IN A MATCH. This is one of many reasons why I favor drills as a substantial part of your overall training time - the ratio may change depending on circumstances sometimes drills are only 1/4 of the workout, but always they are there. I do believe that different people need different ratios and that there are some who do better almost exclusively with sparring and for whom drilling does little good; but for the vast majority drilling technique in some way (obviously there are many types of drills) is a key part of faster progress. Here, Georges St-Pierre gets close to an ideal front triangle (omote sankaku) as a way of improving performance when we switch to live sparring.

Indirect attacks

Indirect attacks: When you first begin studying Jiu Jitsu you learn your first basic attacks - an arm bar from guard, a strangle from the back, a guillotine etc. In beginners class you see an opportunity and you try to apply the move. You do DIRECTLY to the move from observing the opportunity. As your opponent’s learn the same moves you are learning, they soon learn the warning signs that you are entering into a move and they start reacting defensively to frustrate you. Because you are going directly to the move, this is easy for them to do. This is when the great law of KNOWLEDGE AND ATTACK comes into play. THE MORE DEFENSIVE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL YOUR OPPONENT POSSESSES, THE MORE YOU MUST EMPLOY INDIRECT ATTACKS TO DISGUISE YOUR REAL INTENTIONS TO A KNOWLEDGEABLE OPPONENT AND BREAK THROUGH THEIR DEFENSE VIA MISDIRECTION. You must learn to get your opponent reacting to false attacks/direction in order to break through with real attacks. THE LESS SOPHISTICATED YOUR OPPONENT - THE MORE DIRECT YOUR ATTACKS OUGHT TO BE. THE MORE SOPHISTICATED YOUR OPPONENT, THE MORE INDIRECT YOUR ATTACKS SHOULD BE. So if I am attacking someone with great lower body defense and I want the right leg, I may well fake an attack to the neck, as he reacts to the fake, go into another fake attack to the left arm, as an the opponent skillfully reacts to this, enter into the REAL attack on the right leg that I wanted all along. Moving in this way i am much more likely to break through sophisticated defenses than simple direct attacks. Making a habit of housing your favorite attacks in the context of INDIRECT approaches will greatly raise your success rate against talented opponents

The default principle

The default principle: A critical part of your pathway to strangulation mastery is understanding and enacting the DEFAULT PRINCIPLE. This is the idea that you must constantly be alert for a strangle opportunity every time you get in position to do so. All you need to attack with a strangle from the back is a separation between your opponent’s chin and his chest greater than the width of your wrist - if you see that - GO FOR THE STRANGLE! If not - engage in hand fighting to trap arms and force an opening. You will be amazed how often strangles will present themselves to you on a platter if you are simply mindful of the conditions of opportunity. So often I see athletes on the back with the neck wide open and they are locking their own hands or fumbling for an opponent’s hands when victory is right there in front of them. When the opportunity is there - STOP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING AND GO BACK IMMEDIATELY TO THE DEFAULT OPTION - SINK THE STRANGLE! Here, blue belt phenom @nickyrod247 uses a variation of the default principle (going over the jaw rather than under) with devastating effect. Remember always that the mind leads the body so applying this default principle is always first the mental act of recognition of opportunity followed by the physical act of strangulation - so train your mind to stay alert and immediately identify opportunities when they arise.

Aussie Invasion

Aussie Invasion: The squad is in preparation for ADCC 2019 and a big part of the team is our Australian friends spearheaded by @craigjonesbjj @izaakmichellbjj and @ethanthomasmma Though I was born in the United States, I was raised in New Zealand and my family lives in Australia - one of my regrets in life is that I was never in a position to help grappling as much in Australasia as I was here - so having these Aussies here in the basement full time is a great way to atone for this Here they after a great day of training - a true cast of characters who represent Australia’s incredible sports heritage in the world of grappling.

Let the incredible power of combinations take your game to a new level

Let the incredible power of combinations take your game to a new level: Imagine you knew literally nothing about punching. You found a competent boxing coach and in your first lesson he taught you one punch - a basic jab to the head. At the end of your first class you are excited to have a little knowledge of one punch. In your second class he teaches you another punch - a straight rear hand to the head. Now you are pleased to know a little about two punches. On your way home you reflect on your progress and wonder how many punching attacks you could use on an opponent. You know TWO punches, but you can throw FOUR attacks off just this tiny amount of knowledge you have. You know two moves - jab and rear straight - but you can use them in four ways - jab, rear straight, jab followed by rear straight and rear straight followed by jab. So you in your second class you DOUBLED the number of punches you knew, but QUADRUPLED the number of different blows you could throw by doing so. THIS IS THE MAGIC OF COMBINATION ATTACKS IN A NUTSHELL. Even a small number of moves can be worked together in combinations to create limitless combinations that opponents will find extremely difficult to stop. Now add a few more moves, double jab, jab to the body, rear straight to the body - and suddenly the number of different striking attacks rises EXPONENTIALLY as the combinations of a few similar moves creates massive numbers of potential attacks that even very skilled opponents will really struggle to keep up with. EXACTLY THE SAME LESSON APPLIES TO GRAPPLING. My students have some the highest finishing rates in Jiu Jitsu, yet Ninety percent of our finishes come from combining just six submissions holds. You must learn to make the incredible potential power of COMBINED ATTACKS work in your favor. Don’t just drill and spar with single attacks in mind but always ask what will be your follow up if this should prove insufficient - start with it as a mental habit and then it will become a physical habit that will greatly improve your success rates.

Step outside of yourself and observe your game

Step outside of yourself and observe your game: One of the most factors in your progress in Jiu Jitsu is SELF KNOWLEDGE. If you can make an honest and accurate assessment of your current skills set then you can plan accurately what you need to improve and add to it to become the athlete you want to be. It is difficult to this, especially when you first begin the sport - you simply don’t have the knowledge yet to accurately assess your level and what else needs to be learned. In time however, you will learn the skill of SELF ASSESSMENT. Let me tell you that this skill is crucial for your progress. One of my primary functions as a coach is to ASSESS MY ATHLETES AND MAKE DECISIONS WHAT THEY NEED TO CHANGE TO GET TO IMPROVE THEIR PERFORMANCE. If you have an outside pair of eyes to do this for you - wonderful - it will be a great benefit. If you don’t - you will have to learn to do it yourself. Start writing down the things you believe you do well against your peers. Compare this with a list of things you think would make you perform better and write down the reasons WHY you think those additions are well suited to you as an individual and will be good additions to your current skill set. Now write down the skills you think are necessary but which you perform poorly. Compare and contrast the lists of skills that you do well and those which you perform poorly. What is the correlation between the two? Searching yourself in this way can teach you a lot about yourself and your current game - and the more you know about that, THE MORE YOU CAN MAKE BENEFICIAL CHANGES. Keep an eye on the game, keep an eye on your role models - but don’t forget to keep an eye on yourself...

We all have our favorites

We all have our favorites: A huge part of your progress comes from acquiring and developing your FAVORITE MOVES (tokui-waza). These are the moves that suite your body type and personality more than any others and with which you show early promise. Remember you are involved in a sport where A PERFECT APPLICATION OF ONE MOVE WILL WIN A MATCH, BUT THE IMPERFECT APPLICATION OF A HUNDRED MOVES WON’T DO A DAMN THING. When you acquire some favorites that seem to work for you - preferably high percentage moves - DEVOTE A BIG PART OF YOUR TRAINING TIME TO ENLARGE AND PERFECT YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND PERFORMANCE OF THISE MOVES. How good you get at those favorite moves will determine how good you get at the sport overall. Only once you have some heavy hitting main weapons can you branch off those main attacks to add new directions to your game. Let your opponent react to your main weapons and defeat him on his reactions to the strong initial threat - that is the pattern of good Jiu Jitsu for most people. Here, Georges St-Pierre works one of his grappling tokui-waza - Kimura. It is the mainstay of his submission offense and the move from most of his other grappling attacks branch off. What are yours? Are you happy with them? What would you like to add in the future?

You can’t close all the doors...and neither can your opponent

You can’t close all the doors...and neither can your opponent: A big part of what makes Jiu Jitsu so fascinating, so frustrating and so uplifting; is the fact that our job is to shut down our opponent’s ability to move - TO CLOSE ALL THE DOORWAYS TO ESCAPE SO TO SAY. So if an opponent is using an under hook to escape, we can close that door by pommelling in our own under hook. If he is turning his head inwards to begin an elbow escape we might close that door with a strong cross face - and so it goes on - the better we get at Jiu Jitsu, the better we get and closing off all the routes to escape - closing each door as our opponent tries to open them. Understand however, that you can only shut so many doors at once - YOU CAN NEVER SHUT THEM ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY. As you focus on shutting down one area, ANOTHER DOOR MUST OPEN SOMEWHERE ELSE. This means that NO MEANS OF CONTROL IN JIU JITSU CAN EVER BE COMPLETE. The ramifications of this are deep. It means first, that we must move on from control and actual FINISH opponents, because you can never hold a skilled opponent for ever as eventually they will find an open door. Second, if you are the one being controlled, NEVER LOSE HOPE. There is an open door there somewhere no matter how hopeless the situation might seem - you just have to find it. This simple insight of the impossibility of closing all the doors of escape is both a source of frustration and hope. Frustration because you can never completely shut down an opponent’s ability to escape your control (and so the onus is on you to go forward without delay to the finish). Hope, because no matter how shackled you might feel, you always know that somewhere there is an open door for you to walk through.

Getting good at offense quickly - learn to get to the back - the remarkable case of Nick Rodríguez

Getting good at offense quickly - learn to get to the back - the remarkable case of Nick Rodríguez: So often I am asked how one can improve more rapidly in Jiu Jitsu. Well, there is no avoiding the mastery of fundamentals, especially the skills of escape and guard retention as the necessities for fast progress. Nonetheless, I can give you some simple advice for faster progress and results in one part of your game - offense. Devote a LOT of your training time mastering the various routes to your opponents back. The back is the single most dominant finishing position in the sport. If you want to boost your finishing rates in a hurry - focus on getting there quickly and efficiently. There are many routes to the back - you can go under the arms, around the arms, through the legs, over the back and shoulders etc - and once you get there your opponent is one hundred percent defensive. Nick Rodríguez is a blue belt with around a years training. This weekend he went into a crazy tournament where he took on four opponents (four against one) including a black belt and brown belt and beat all four. His favorite tactic for getting finishes against people with far more experience than him? You guessed it -TAKE THE BACK. He is a legend in the blue basement for a quote he gave us one day as we talked after class “If I can get behind an opponent and lock my stranglehold anywhere below his eyebrows - it’s done!” Make a point of training your pathways to the back. I am certain you can hasten your progress if you do.

Set the wedges, levers and fulcrums first - apply force second

Set the wedges, levers and fulcrums first - apply force second: One of the most common mistakes I see among developing grapplers is a tendency to get the opportunity for a submission and jump in with maximum force as soon as they enter the submission hold. This usually results in large amounts of energy expenditure and is a quick route to exhaustion and frustration. Take a little time to set your immobilizing wedges and your breaking fulcrums and make sure to seize the longest lever you can and only then apply your force. You will immediately see results. The submission holds of Jiu Jitsu are devastating when properly set, but feeble when poorly set. Get it right first - then your application of force will almost always get the results you seek. Remember that with submission holds it’s not how fast you get there that counts, but rather, what effects you can generate ONCE you get there. So give yourself a little time to adjust, a little time to refine and you will generate a LOT more force through the proper use of lever and fulcrum than you ever could through muscular exertion. Here, Gordon Ryan has set his wedges and fulcrums superbly and the result is another devastating leg lock - and another win. Follow the same philosophy and you can do the same