Carrying weight

Carrying weight: Any time you work underneath an opponent there is a real danger you will have to carry his weight for extended periods of time. This is tiring and leads to restricted movement- neither is desirable. As much as possible try to create situations where your opponent has to carry his own weight. One of the very best ways to do this is to snap his hands to the floor. Any time you do this the majority of his weight will be carried by his own hands. This will make other parts of his body feel very light. Here, Nicky Ryan snaps an opponents hands to the mat from open guard. As his opponent now carries most of his own upper body weight; his legs will become light and easy to move. Mr Ryan takes advantage of these lightened legs to enter into a variation of ashi garami. When you want one part of his body to feel light - get another part of his body to the floor so that his weight gets divided and you now only have to lift a fraction of his weight rather than all of it. The easiest and most practical part of his body to get to the mat is his hands


The old saying is that there are only two certainties in life - death and taxes. Those are certainly two things of which we may be completely certain - but let me propose a third - IF YOU EVER GET A HOLD OF BOTH OF YOUR OPPONENTS LEGS (particularly at the ankles) AND PUSH HIM IN SOME WAY - HE WILL FALL TO HIS BUTT. Whenever you have an opponent in your open guard who just seems unsweepable (not sure if that’s really a word but I’ll go with it ) - GO BACK TO THIS PRINCIPLE. Research ways to get a hold on both ankles from guard whether with hands or feet or both and push - you will bring him down every time I promise you. That doesn’t mean you will always score - you have to get up and reverse him for that - but it’s a step in the right direction!

The three things your opponent just can’t hide in a grappling match

The three things your opponent just can’t hide in a grappling match: Once you come to grips with an opponent you obviously want to hide certain vulnerabilities from each other. No one wants to expose their back obviously and most opponents do a good job reducing back exposure as much as possible. There are three things an opponent will find very difficult to avoid exposing himself to. First is the front headlock. Any time you try to tackle a leg or lower your level, an essential movement in any extended grappling exchange, you become vulnerable to a front head lock. Any time you reach for an opponent, inevitable in any grappling exchange, as you have to grip to begin any form of action, you become vulnerable to KImura. Any time you wisen your base, essential in grappling as no one want to be taken down or swept, you become vulnerable to Ashi garami based leg locks. These three families of submission- strangles from front headlock, kimura and Ashi garami based leg locks; no opponent will be able to totally hide from you in a grappling match that goes longer than a couple of minutes. Make them part of your arsenal. Your opponent can hide many things from you - but he can’t hide those three.

Don’t let opponents impose their grips upon you

Don’t let opponents impose their grips upon you: All control in grappling begins with grip. Without grip and connection there is no grappling. Even a white belt on his first day can instinctively feel the danger of a powerful and well directed grip that allows an opponent to dictate his movement and will intuitively resist it. As you gain in expertise you will learn to distinguish between ineffective grips and highly effective ones - it’s simple to tell the difference- any grip that gives his control over your ability to hold a stance and move is effective. Any grip that doesn’t do this can be safely ignored or even exploited; but grips that DO feel effective cannot be ignored - in these cases it’s usually wise to defend or negate such grips immediately, or if the danger is high, break them completely and start again. DON’T TOLERATE OR IGNORE GRIPS THAT PREVENT YOU HOLDING A STANCE OR MOVING AS YOU WANT - this is simply surrendering too much advantage to your opponent. Negate them or break them. You don’t want to become an overly defensive player who simply breaks an opponents grips and continually disengages without ever playing a positive attacking game, but on the other hand, you don’t want to be naive and get crushed because you tolerated grips that made it almost impossible to succeed. Finding the right middle ground between defending and opponents grips and imposing your own so you can get in with your attacks is a big part of your path to grappling maturity. Here, Georges St Pierre defends the dangerous grips of Gordon Ryan - one of the best grip players in the game - so that he can work effectively from open guard

A big part of your confidence will come from having a plan of WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

A big part of your confidence will come from having a plan of WHAT YOU WANT TO DO in the match; but an even bigger part of your confidence will come from knowing you can handle anything THAT YOU DIDN’T WANT TO HAPPEN in the match. When you’re not scared of the worst case scenarios, you won’t be scared of anything.

Two approaches to submission

Two approaches to submission: Submissions are the soul of Jiu Jitsu. All of the skills of Jiu Jitsu are designed to take you in that direction. When it’s time to enter into submission there are two clear paths. The first is to use a fast entry that gets you so quickly into a winning position that an opponent simply does not have the time necessary to create an effective defense and must submit. The second is one where you use relentless pressure and control break through an opponents defense over time and force a submission. Both methods are highly effective, but I think it’s fair to say that the control based method is responsible for more wins than the speed based method. In addition, control based methods work better for a broader range of athletes and give better long term results because speed based methods tend to work in conjunction with surprise. Once an opponent has seen the move a few times the surprise is lost and you will need more than speed to keep succeeding. Nonetheless as students we all ought to strive to be good at both, even if we tend to favor one over the other. Sometimes it helps to divide your submissions up into your speed submissions and your control submissions based on situations. For example, entries into submission from standing positions make for much greater use of speed (humans move at their quickest when standing rather than on the floor), where as ground grappling permits much greater control, but a much slower pace. So for example, you might train your juji gatame arm bar from standing and knee on belly positions as a speed move, while your arm bars from mount, side position and closed guard as a slower control based move. However, you do it - leave room for both approaches in your training as both are proven pathways to the highest goal of victory by submission

Divide your goals into long term and short term

Divide your goals into long term and short term: In order to make progress you must have goals. Without goals we are like ships adrift on an ocean without a compass or star to guide us. Not all goals however, are to be achieved at the same time. It is important that you divide the achievement of your goals by time. Some goals are easier to achieve, perhaps for example you just want to improve a skill that you are already quite good at. This won’t take long and so this might be a goal you aim to achieve inside a month. Other goals might involve entirely new skills completely outside of your current skill set. This might be put into a three to five year category. It is important that at any given moment you have a clear sense of your goals divided by time. You should have a goal for your next workout. A goal for the coming week. Several goals for next three months to a year. A few big goals and many smaller goals for next three to five years. The fastest learners I ever coached were generally the most goal oriented athletes. NOTHING SPEEDS PROGRESS BETTER THAN A STRING SENSE OF DIRECTION - and the best way to ensure that sense of direction will work for you is goal setting. Set your goals and divide them by projected completion time and work on them every time you step on the mats. Here, Nicky Rod works on his long term goal to become a strong leg locker in between his short term goal to better integrate his wrestling skills with Jiu Jitsu skills. Sustained progress over time needs diversified goals, some short term, some long term, determined by how your current skill set will influence expected completion dates. Only in this way can you achieve you longest term goal - to be the best Jiu Jitsu player you can be


Angle: The human body is set up very well to defend attacks coming from directly in front and very poorly adapted to deal with attacks directly from the rear. As a result, opponents will do everything they can to prevent you getting the preferred rear positions. A good substitute when you can’t get directly behind an opponent, but still don’t want the difficulty of direct frontal attacks, is ANGLE. getting to an angle on an opponent gets away from strong frontal defenses and is a lot easier to get to than all the way behind. In the case of most submissions entry from bottom position you will need some degree of angle on your opponent to get a good entry and a sting mechanical finish. Here, Gordon Ryan does a fine job of going perpendicular to an opponent from underneath and as a result, enters easily into a strong leg attack. Don’t fight your way in from the front when you can halve your difficulty by entering in from the side. Take the take to find angle first and attack second. You will get twice the success with half the effort.

Jiu Jitsu is not about perfection

Jiu Jitsu is not about perfection. Not even the best among us have perfect Jiu Jitsu - nor has anyone in the past and neither will anyone in the future. Jiu Jitsu is about the PURSUIT of perfection through the use of rational thinking in response to the myriad problems we encounter and testing these thoughts physically through trial and error and edging just a little closer every day towards the unattainable dream of perfection. Take confidence in the fact that if victory is all you seek - your Jiu Jitsu doesn’t have to be perfect - it just has to be better than the person in front of you. The real battle however, is not with the person in front of you; but rather with the distant dream of perfection within you and the growth of character and skill required to push yourself daily towards that shimmering dream you know you will never reach but whose pursuit will make you a far better person than those who live without a dream and an ideal.

Heels or toes?

Heels or toes? A lot of what determines the effectiveness of a given move is unseen by bystanders. This gives rise to the notion of “invisible Jiu Jitsu” which captures well the idea that the success or failure of moves sometimes can’t be seen by spectators. One of the most significant determinants of whether certain moves will work is our opponents weight distribution - in particular, whether his weight is currently located on his heels or toes. The difference may well be invisible to an onlooker but it is of great importance to the action. When the weight is on the heels, sweeps and takedowns to the rear will prove highly effective with minimal effort. When the weight is on the toes, sweeps and takedowns to the front will work very well. Trying to force a rear sweep/takedown when the opponents weight is on the toes takes a lot of effort and will likely end in failure. As you rise in experience you will soon learn that you can manipulate an opponents weight on to toes or heels as you desire. When you want weight on the toes, push, and as the opponents resists and pushes back, his weight will gravitate to the toes - just as you desired. Here, Gordon Ryan senses an opponents weight is momentarily on the heels and immediately takes advantage with one of his favorite sweeps to the rear!