Tunnel vision

Tunnel vision: One of the biggest detractors from performance improvement in grappling is tunnel vision. We all have a tendency to get fixated on one course of action and become blind to other possibilities that are right there in front of us - but as in life - if you can RECOGNIZE possibility you can ACT on it. This one important sense in which combat sports are a mental game - every action begins as an idea/possibility in the mind - when that is absent, no physical action will be taken. Make sure in all your major attacking positions you have three or four major options that you work with on a regular basis so that you don’t become overly enamored of one and fall into a one track mind. Here, Gordon Ryan, master of strangles from the back, shows versatility in a switch that could lead into juji gatame arm bars and rear triangles (ushiro sankaku), or indeed, an entire shift of position into mount - so that an opponent has to defend against a much wider spectrum of attacks

Breaking a turtle down versus riding

Breaking a turtle down versus riding: When it’s time to attack an opponents turtle position, I general counsel students to begin by breaking an opponent down to a hip. This immediately reduces their athletic potential and makes them much more controllable so that you can focus on applying your attacks. However, there are going to be times you cannot do this on tough opponents. Then you will have to get hooks in and ride the opponents turtle while they are still on their knees. You can see Nicky Ryan doing a fine job of this here. Be sure to maintain a tight chest to back connection at control both sides of the body - otherwise you can slip off and end up underneath your opponent. Interestingly, the more your opponent resists being off balanced and broken down to a hip, the more he will have to widen his base and open himself up to your hooks and riding. The more he tightens up to resist the insertion of your hooks and riding, the easier he will be to off balance and break down to a hip - so the two modes of attacking turtle work very well as a dilemma.

Company anniversary

The company I make instructional videos for @bjj.fanatics is having their company anniversary sale this week with 35% of all my instructional videos! I am very happy to say that we will be donating from this sale to FEED AMERICA charity - an relief organization that organizes free meals for underprivileged and unemployed Americans struggling during the covid crises that has left more than 40 million Americans unemployed. I believe the sale goes through to August 7. If you’ve been looking for a chance to see how the squad does what they do - now is your chance!

Action in Texas this Friday

Action in Texas this Friday: This weekend the worlds most exciting grappler, Garry Tonon, will take on one of his toughest rivals, the extremely talented physical specimen Dante Leon, for a rematch after their classic confrontation at ADCC 2019. Mr Leon stunned everyone at that event by defeating the great Lucas Lepri, a man who undoubtedly ranks among the greatest Jiu jitsu players of all time. Mr Leon has an exceptional mix of positional and submission skills, along with excellent takedowns and is known for his devastating guillotine. Last time these two met, Mr Tonon was able to win after a tough battle with his dangerous leg locking skills - but as anyone familiar with top level competition will tell you - the difference between winner and loser at that level on any given day is so close that in the great majority of cases the outcome could be very different if the same athletes competed against each other the next day. Mr Leon is a smart and tactical player and doubtless has worked hard to improve in all the areas that Mr Tonon was able to use successfully last time. Unfortunately Gordon Ryan and Craig Jones tested positive for covid and will have to delay their matches until quarantine and subsequent testing is complete - then of course they would need some amount of time to get prepared. They were excited to face two of the legendary gym ATOS Jiu Jitsu’s most brilliant athletes, Lucas Barbosa and Ronaldo Junior - hopefully when medically cleared those matches can be rescheduled as they would have incredible for spectators. Looking forward to getting back to Texas! Hope you enjoy the show!

When working from open guard - constantly seek to off balance your opponent forwards so that his hands go to the mat

When working from open guard - constantly seek to off balance your opponent forwards so that his hands go to the mat: A man taken out of balance is an easy target. A huge part of your ability to develop a strong attacking game from open guard comes down to your ability to off balance your opponent and one of the clearest signs that you have been successful in doing this is your opponents hands being snapped down to the mat. Remember - if his hands are on the mat - they aren’t on you - and if they aren’t on you - he can’t pass your guard or stymie your attacks. Here, Gordon Ryan, a master of off balancing from open guard, gets his opponents hands to the mat as a way to prevent him interfering with the ashi garami he has locked up.

Turtle breakdowns - start by forming an effective connection and get them out of balance (kuzushi)

Turtle breakdowns - start by forming an effective connection and get them out of balance (kuzushi): When you first start out working to attack turtle position it seems like an easy task - your opponent has his back to you and seems quite harmless. Then you start working against more experienced opponents and attacking turtle position seems like trying to attack a fire hydrant, then you start working with people who specialize in counter offense from this position and suddenly it feels like you are trying to ride a barrel floating down a fast moving river. One thing is clear - you need to be connected to your opponent or they can simply move away from you. You have a bunch of good options when it comes to connection - just make sure you connect with both upper body through arms, and lower body through hips. Once this is done - GET THEM OUT OF BALANCE. The turtle position gives your opponent a surprising degree of athletic potential. They can roll, stand up, sit to guard, trap and roll you into a pin etc. Take all that away from the start by breaking their balance and suddenly the task of attacking turtle position gets a LOT easier. The only way an opponent can stop an attack on his balance is to widen his base - and that will immediately create different opportunities for your turtle attacks. Make it a habit - get connected and attack his balance - then you can choose all your other options at will

Turtle breakdowns

Turtle breakdowns: The main concern of turtle breakdowns (attacking the turtle position in order to gain points and/or to gain some kind of advantage that leads to submission) is quite different in Jiu jitsu than in other grappling arts. In Judo and wrestling the idea of any turtle breakdown is usually done with the idea of forcing the opponents BACK TO THE FLOOR in order to pin his back to the mat. In Jiu Jitsu this scores nothing. The central focus in Jiu jitsu is generally towards GETTING TO THE REAR MOUNT POSITION. This scores the maximum possible in the sport - four points. As such, it makes sense to make your primary focus in Jiu jitsu training for breaking down an opponents turtle position geared towards getting your hooks in a advancing to rear mount. This will satisfy both the demand for scoring points (you get the maximum score) and for submission (you end up in the position that allows you to use the most high percentage submission method in the sport - rear strangles. There are other good ways to attack a turtle position that have their merits, but getting to rear mount should be your primary focus. The central problem you will have to overcome will always be the connection of your opponents elbow and knee, which serves as an obstacle to your ability to insert your hooks and score. Here, Gordon Ryan looks to break that connection and open space for his legs to enter and get into his favorite finishing position. When it comes time to train your turtle breakdown skills, out the majority of your time into those methods that take you to rear mount - no other methods are so well suited to the unique nature and points system of Jiu Jitsu

Turtle position - the OTHER bottom position of Jiu jitsu

Turtle position - the OTHER bottom position of Jiu jitsu: When people talk about playing bottom position in Jiu Jitsu, they almost always mean to play from GUARD position, which is defined as a situation where you face your opponent in bottom position with at least one of your legs between you and him as a barrier. There is of course, a second bottom position that gets a lot less attention due to the fact that it offers a lot less attacking potential and has a high risk of back exposure - turtle position - where you are in bottom position facing away from your opponent on your knees. Though it is not the preferred bottom position in Jiu jitsu it is nonetheless very important due to the fact that it commonly occurs in competitive guard passing and takedown scrambles when opponents are reluctant to concede points. As such it is crucial for your development that you build a strong set of attacks and controls to breakdown the defensive structure of the turtle position. Just as you should be able to pass an opponents guard, you should also be able to break down an opponents turtle position if you are to have a complete top game. Remember that a guard pass score three points - but a turtle breakdown that ends with you in rear mount scores four points and results in you being in the single best finishing position in the sport - so it’s actually the preferred situation for the top player if you get a choice. Here, talented back attack juggernaut Nick Rodriguez looks to initially control a turtle position with the intention of breaking it down to score with hooks and finish with his powerful rear strangles


Forethought: Things happen quickly once sparring begins. It’s a lot easier to get things done against a tough opponent if you have at least a rough idea of what you want to do before you attempt the next move. AS YOU ARE ATTEMPTING ONE MOVE, YOU SHOULD ALREADY HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOUR NEXT MOVE SHOULD BE IF THE FIRST MOVE SUCCEEDS. Here, Gordon Ryan has stood up and successfully opened his training partners guard. This gives good attacking opportunities to BOTH athletes. THE INITIATIVE WILL GO TO THE ONE WHO MOVES WISELY FIRST. The only way to consistently do this is to look beyond the move you are currently performing and plot the next so that the very second the previous move is completed, you are entering the next. You must train your mind to operate this way. It’s unrealistic to plot too far out into the future - there are too many variables to control more than a move or two into the future. One step ahead is enough to gain advantage. Don’t be satisfied with the move your doing now - let your mind be restlessly seeking out the next move - and you will soon find yourself seizing the initiative from your opponents in sparring and competition

Ethan Crelinsten wins EBI Overtime event!

Ethan Crelinsten wins EBI Overtime event! Outstanding squad junior Ethan Crelinsten, one of our Canadian representatives, out in a near flawless performance last night to win the new EBI overtime event, a new version of EBI that only uses the distinctive overtime period of the old EBI competition format as the basis of the event. In the old EBI there was a ten minute submission only regulation period. If there was no submission the two athletes went into overtime with a choice of starting either on the back or juji gatame arm bar position. This was an exciting and viewer friendly format that proved very popular and was an excellent way to showcase the leg lock revolution that changed the face of submission grappling. I was always very proud of the fact that the three senior squad students, Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings and Gordon Ryan, all achieved the remarkable feat of submitting all their opponents in regulation time on the way to their victories (I think Garry May have done it twice). Eddie Bravo shelved the old format in favor of combat Jiu Jitsu but recently brought in the idea of overtime competition. I think the idea was that Many athletes now simply stall in the regulation time with the intention of winning in overtime, so the idea was to cut to the chase and go from the start where it was likely to end up. Our back attack system is very well suited to EBI overtime format and Mr Crelinsten showed the depth of his knowledge training in this very unforgiving position - he won three of four match via strangle and won the final decisively on riding time. It was a great performance and shows well the spirit of training hard to reach for ever higher goals - well done Ethan!!