Back home in Puerto Rico!

Back home in Puerto Rico! It was great to back in the gym today training the juniors for upcoming competitions. As much as I love travel there is a true pleasure in getting back to home ground and into a routine that builds the skills you need to excel. Thank you all so much for the interest you show in the squads development and growth. It was so impressive to see Craig Jones and Gordon Ryan show the skills we work every day on the mat so perfectly in competition. No technique, strategy or set of tactics is a completed project however - so as always it’s back to the mat to refine and improve what you have and discover what you don’t! Here Nicky Ryan and Nick Ortiz work on their back skills in preparation for upcoming matches.

Victory in Texas!!

Victory in Texas!! Craig Jones and Gordon Ryan both won brilliant submission victories against very tough opponents tonight here in Austin Texas. Gordon Ryan took on the very talented Roberto Jiménez. He expressed a desire in training to avoid using leg locks and focus on arm bar from mount as the means to victory. He released an early leg lock and focused on passing to mount and juji gatame arm-bars. His first attempt was close but Mr Jiménez escapes brilliantly under pressure. The second attempt however was devastating and secured the win. Craig Jones took on the brilliant ATOS emerging star Ronaldo Jr. Both men went immediately to their strengths, Craig Jones with his extremely dangerous open guard and Ronaldo Jr with his speedy passing skills. After some strong exchanges Mr Jones latched on to an ashi garami and converted to a 50/50 variation. After a brief fight for hand control and heel exposure Mr Jones got into a powerful breaking position and won another great victory. Both athletes showed their incredible mastery of the squad ideal of control that leads to submission. Now it’s time to return to Puerto Rico and get everyone ready for new challenges! Hope you all enjoyed the show!

Showdown in Texas tomorrow night

Showdown in Texas tomorrow night: Tomorrow night night In Austin Texas. Squad seniors Gordon Ryan and Craig Jones will take on two extremely talented opponents. In the co main event Gordon Ryan will take on Jiu jitsu dynamo Roberto Jiménez - one of the most talented of the new generation Jiu jitsu players. They have battled each other in the gym before and it was a war! The stage always adds something to the equation so this should be a fascinating match where they both know what they have to do to beat each other based on past experience and the one who finds their path onstage will take it. In the main event Australian grappling superstar Craig Jones takes on a surging star among the new generation Jiu jitsu athletes - Ronaldo Jr - who has been tearing up the competition scene recently. He is one of the fastest men in Jiu jitsu, very difficult to control. He is a star member of team ATOS, so you know he will be very well prepared and in tremendous shape. They always do a good job of sending their athletes out in peak condition and with a well worked out strategy. Both are fascinating match ups. I have always said that there are two main ways to excel in Jiu jitsu. You can either make yourself a master of movement and make movement your weapon; or you can make yourself a master of preventing movement and make control your weapon. Mr Ryan and Mr Jones are both true masters of CONTROLLING movement - but both of their opponents are masters of CREATING movement - so this will be a fascinating clash of styles! Weigh in is tonight here in Austin and then tomorrow night @flograppling will broadcast the action - i hope you enjoy the show!!

The ultimate submission

The ultimate submission: We all have our favorite submission holds - in time I hope you develop at least five to six submissions that you can attack from anywhere on anyone - but never lose sight of a fundamental truth in grappling - the ultimate submission is not a hold per se - it is FATIGUE. If you can PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY BREAK an opponent with fatigue he will submit with his MIND first and then with his BODY second. A big part of your skill set has to be the skill of WEARING DOWN AND EXHAUSTING AN OPPONENT SO THAT ALL THE SUBMISSION HOLDS ARE EASY TO APPLY AND TO WHICH AN OPPONENT WILL GLADLY SURRENDER. There are ways to control and manipulate grips, stance and pace that are heavily in your favor so that an opponent is working at two or three times the rate you are. If you can maintain this the result is inevitable - an opponent who is looking for an excuse to quit - your submission hold provides that excuse. When you put hands on an opponent your constant underlying goal should be to create a disparity in work rate skewed in your favor that opens the door to submission later in the match.

Your legs versus his head

Your legs vs his head: One of the basic features of Jiu jitsu is the notion of controlling greater strength and aggression with lesser strength and aggression via mechanical and tactical advantage. One of the surest ways to do this is to use the strongest parts of the human body (legs and hips) against the weaker parts (head and shoulders for example). Two excellent examples of this would be the triangle and juji gatame arm bar - both of which directly match your legs against an opponents head and arm. Whenever possible look for this kind of match up in your favor. IF YOU ARE TO DEFEAT BIGGER AND STRONGER OPPONENTS THEN YOU MUST SEEK TO FIGHT YOUR OPPONENTS UPPER BODY WITH YOUR LOWER BODY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. If you make it a battle of your upper body against a similarly skilled and bigger opponents upper body it is unlikely you will win. MAKE IT A FIGHT BETWEEN YOUR LOWER BODY AND HIS UPPER BODY AND VICTORY WILL FIND A PATH TO YOUR DOOR OFTEN.

Taking yourself to a new level

Taking yourself to a new level - front headlocks and the example of Craig Jones: At any given time our game is certain level. This can change a little week by week depending upon training conditions and the state of our body, but there is a rough level that can be roughly measured by your skill set/knowledge and how you stack up against other athletes in sparring/competition. Once you can to a level that you find satisfactory it’s natural to take stock of yourself and see yourself as having a certain type of game. Both you and Your classmates have a good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are. You see yourself as being good at moves A,B and C but not very interested in E and F. You take that skill set of yours and refine it a little and that’s you. You can do pretty well with this approach - but you will never reach your potential. You have to periodically set projects to add whole new aspects to your game. This is the only way to avoid stagnation over time. Take the example of Craig Jones. Early in his career he was known primarily for his triangle attacks. When he came to America to compete in EBI events he realized he had to excel in the leg lock game. He took that project on with such gusto that he became known as one of the best in the world. Not satisfied, he went on to develop a very powerful back attack in response to opponents who ran from the pressure of his leg game. Watching his development a few years ago i talked with him about the need to develop a powerful front headlock/Guillotine game as a counter to opponents who did not want to engage his dangerous submissions game or who were faster than him in a scramble. Immediately he took the project on. Within a short time he was developing lethal variations of Guillotines, anacondas and Darce strangles. Then tying these back to his already formidable back game and leg game. Now he has one of the best front headlock games I’ve ever seen! THIS is how you keep developing. NEVER SEE YOURSELF AS A COMPLETED PROJECT. Rather than cover up and hide your weaknesses - train them to become your new strengths and ally them to your old strengths.

Control the hips

Control the hips: The only scoring position from the back in Jiu Jitsu is rear mount. This involves hooking your two legs into your opponents hips. There are many other back controls that don’t involve the legs at all. They don’t score but are nonetheless very useful methods of control that can win matches. My favorite involve the use of tight waist grips that offer direct control of an opponents hip with an arm. It does a fine job of giving you hip to hip connection along with a great ability to off balance an opponent and leaves you with a free arm that can be put anywhere in response to rapid changes as the match unfolds. When you don’t have hooks in - throw in a tight waist grip as an excellent means of dynamic control

When you have no control time is your enemy, but...

The more dominant your grips and position - the more you take your time when moving: Sometimes Jiu jitsu rewards us for moving quickly - usually when we don’t have any form of advantage over our opponent. In these cases an advantage in speed may be the only advantage you have and if you can get to the next position ahead of your opponent you can profit. Sometimes Jiu jitsu rewards use for being slow. This is usually when you have a dominant grip and (usually top) position. In these cases time is your friend. Time spent in these positions is tiring and frustrating for an opponent. As he works harder and harder to get out, the more risks he will have to take to escape and the more likely he will leave a limb behind to be taken. So next time you take a dominating position/grip - take your time! Don’t be in such a rush for your next move. Remember that WHEN YOU HAVE NO CONTROL TIME IS YOUR ENEMY - BUT WHEN YOU HAVE CONTROL - TIME IS YOUR FRIEND

The interplay of push and pull

The interplay of push and pull: When playing bottom position in JiuJitsu there is a continual battle for DISTANCE CONTROL that leads to a never ending interplay between PUSHING and PULLING. From guard we always seek an optimum distance that keeps an opponent at a range that gives us SUFFICIENT ROOM TO ATTACK (space creation) and yet at the same time SUFFICIENT PROXIMITY TO ATTACK (space restriction). In short, if the opponent is too close you won’t have room to move into your attacks. If he is too far away you won’t be able to get and main connection to attack. We need to seek a middle distance we’re the opponent is close enough to attack yet not so close that we our attacks get stifled. As such you must be able to PUSH BACK WITH FRAMES if he gets too close, and PULL HIM CLOSE WITH GRIPS if he is far away. Because things happen very quickly you must be able to switch from pull to push and back again at a moments notice. As a general rule DEFENSE IS BUILT AROUND PUSHING and OFFENSE IS BUILT AROUND PULLING although there are some important exceptions to this general rule. Best of all are grips and positions that enable enable you to do both - such as ashi garami. Next time you play guard pay more attention to push and pull dynamics. When opponents threaten to pass - FOCUS ON STRONG PUSHING FRAMES. When opponents hand back FOCUS ON PULLING THEM INTO YOUR ATTACKS. It will make your developing guard game progress rapidly

Identify the problem

Identify the problem: Every submission hold has an escape. Every escape involves a set of movements - but invariably there is ONE movement that does the majority of the work of escape. For example in upper body submission holds from guard involving your legs such as triangle, juji gatame arm bar, omoplata etc - most of the early escapes are postural escapes involving your opponents HEAD rising away from you to create distance and this is the core of the escape/defense overall. Once you understand this as the athlete trying to perform the submission it’s all a matter of building increasingly powerful HEAD CONTROL as the basis of your submission game from guard. Focus upon the most pressing problem pays big dividends in Jiu jitsu. In a word of ten thousand problems learning to focus on the biggest ones first makes a big difference to your performance. Under stress it’s much easier to solve one bigger problem than a dozen smaller ones simultaneously. Develop a clear idea of what the biggest threat to your success is and attack that threat relentlessly - you will soon notice the difference in your performance