Peeling hands

Peeling hands: Always remember that most grappling techniques begin with grip. The hands and feet are the mechanisms of grip in Jiu jitsu - if you can peel those hands off and deny an opponent his grips it will be very hard for him to initiate grappling techniques. Learning to quickly disarm an opponent by peeling off potentially dangerous grips before they can have effects can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Just make sure you don’t focus only upon peeling away grips - you can’t play a negative game where you only focus on stopping the other guy doing his work - you have to them assert your own positive attacking grips and get to work yourself. The cycle of grip breaking and grip assertion is what allows good athletes to shut down an opponents options while asserting their own - a hallmark of good Jiu jitsu

Making strong people weak

Making strong people weak: The human body is set up in such a way that it can only exert strength upon objects that are placed in front of it. When we have to exert strength upon objects behind us we simply can’t and have to turn ourselves around before we can attempt to do so. When you grapple strong opponents - seek to get behind them. Once you get behind an opponent he simply won’t be able to use raw strength against you - he will have to know exactly what to do if he is to get out of the position - strength alone won’t be enough. Developing the skills of getting behind opponents is arguably the single best response to the challenge of opponents who feel stronger than yourself. It does better than level the playing field - it slants the field distinctly in your favor regardless of strength disparity. Among the many skills of Jiu jitsu - the skill of slipping behind an opponent at every opportunity is the one most likely to benefit you when going against opponents with a strength advantage over you.


Extension: The essential feature of successful submission attempts is always extension of the limb being attacked away from the torso to a degree that renders it vulnerable. The hardest people to submit are those who contract their limbs in tight to the torso (though by doing so they render themselves vulnerable to other methods of attack). When it’s time to lock joints or strangle necks - extension is the ingredient you need. Extended limbs don’t stay extended for long in a competitive match - so once you see it - trap it in place. Here, Nicky Ryan latches on to an extended arm in a way that will make extraction difficult and as a result he has a number of great submission opportunities in front of him. Now it’s time to make a decision as to which option he will take - that of course, is up to you - we all have our favorites - but the one commonality between all those choices will be prior extension of the limb - focus on that first.

The power of kimura

The power of kimura: Of all the major submission holds, kimura is in my experience the one which creates the most devastating injuries when opponents fight to the end and refuse to tap. All the major submissions are capable of doing serious damage when taken to their conclusion but the extreme rotation power of kimura creates total separation of the joint that often results in gruesome dislocations and on occasion, even spiral fractures of the bones. It is a move that is often disparaged as a strong mans move, but this is an unfair criticism. If you let an opponent lock his hands in front of his torso and fight his two hands with yours - then yes - strength will be the deciding factor. However, if you get an opponents hand behind his back or use your legs to supply the rotation power against his hands, smaller athletes can definitely use this move against bigger athletes. Understand always that there are many variations of kimura - many of which incorporate the legs and thus avoid the two versus two hands deadlock and use legs against hands to ensure skill, not strength will be the deciding factor. Here, Gordon Ryan works on expanding his formidable submission repertoire with kimura practice. Note how he immediately gets the hand behind the back to take strength out of the equation and take advantage of the devastating rotational power of the move.

Hands and head

Hands and head: When you first make contact with an opponent whether it be standing or from seated guard situations, the first points of contact with your opponent will typically be at the hands and forehead. Learning to place them so as to create defensive barriers and then manipulate them to create offensive opportunities is a big part of your opening gambits in Jiu jitsu. Understand always that your head and hands have both defensive and offensive value - but that in most cases it’s tactically smart to take care of your defensive responsibilities before your offensive ones. Your head and hands are both a barrier and a key to your opponents door that can give you access to everything else. Use them wisely from the start of each engagement and you will stop an opponent in his tracks whilst setting up your own attacks

In a game where control is everything

In a game where control is everything - using frames to prevent an opponent from establishing controlling grips and position is a huge part of your development. The centerpiece of your frames will always be the link between your knees and elbows. The closer your opponent gets to you - the closer your knees and elbows need to be together

Tension and relaxation

Tension and relaxation: Jiu jitsu is a game that requires from us great variations in states of muscular tension and relaxation. If you’re too tense too long you will quickly exhaust yourself and your movements will be stiff and inefficient. Too relaxed too long and you won’t be able to hold and control a wildly resisting opponent when pinning him or going for submission attempts. Different scenarios require different physical dispositions in terms of muscular effort. The LESS CONTACT with an opponent the LOWER the tension level. The more you engage in MOVEMENT the LOWER the tension levels. The more you engage in STOPPING movement the HIGHER the tension levels. Use these simple rules to guide your degree of muscular tension so that you can exhibit good endurance and good movement quality while at the same able to lock someone in place with sufficient control to pin opponents and finish them.

Don’t give it away for free (unless you’re setting a trap)

Don’t give it away for free (unless you’re setting a trap): The grip fighting that precedes engagement is a subtle art. Too often athletes give free access to good grips to their opponents. If he gets a good grip on you from which to begin the process of control to attack then it should be because he EARNED it - not because you gave it to him. When he goes to control your wrist, pull your wrist away or strip his grip and take your own - don’t just leave wrists out there to be taken and controlled. The only exception to this is when you are setting traps for an opponent and you are using a bait to draw him in. If grip is the first step to control and control is what leads to match winning submission - then make sure he never gets easy grips that lead you into a downward spiral. Be ready deny, block and strip grips because the moment they are established a good opponent will be looking to take them further

Only one position truly merges position and submission - the back

Only one position truly merges position and submission - the back: If you look at the pins of Jiu jitsu you will see that as desirable as they are - you still have quite a bit of work to do to go beyond the pin into the submission. Getting side pin or mounted or north south or knee on belly is good, but getting the arm or neck from there requires a significant set of skills. The rear mount on the other hand leaves you VERY close to submission. Unless your opponent has good defensive skills a simple wrapping of your arm around the neck is enough to end it. You can see how closely the position (rear mount) is to the submission (rear strangle) by the fact that the escape from one entails the escape from the other. This is not true for say, a mounted arm bar or Kimura from side or knee on belly. Usually escaping the pin is one thing, the submission from that pin is another. As such rear mount/rear strangle is the single best synthesis of position and submission in the sport. Mastering the art of getting there, staying there and finishing from there is the best way to close the gap between position and submission in your game

Getting under an opponents center of gravity is the key to any lifting throw or sweep

Getting under an opponents center of gravity is the key to any lifting throw or sweep: sweeps come in different forms - some are trips, some are like wrestling takedowns, some involve getting behind the opponent. The biggest and most impressive looking sweeps are those where you get under an opponent and lift - these create amplitude and flip an opponent over straight to his back. It’s important to focus on two things. First, get under your opponent. Second, keep contact with the floor with the other foot and your same side shoulder so that you can create drive off the floor and create power out of your lifting position. When you can do this you can get the kind of amplitude you see Gordon Ryan exhibit here at the World Championships.