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


Perfect performance!

Perfect performance! The great Roger Gracie took on Marcus Almeida "buchecha" in a rematch today in what was essentially a battle for the title of greatest of all time. Their first bout had been a titanic struggle to a draw. Few were aware however, that Mr Gracie had fought in the immediate aftermath of a severe staph infection. This time he came in healthy and despite a long lay off from competition, put on a characteristic display of classical jiu jitsu perfection to shut down a very powerful and dangerous opponent, and, as he has done throughout his career, make it all look easy and simple. He went back to a theme exhibited so often in his matches, strong gripping sequences in the standing position to shut out his opponents standing attacks, then dragging his opponent to his guard and coming up from bottom to his opponents back in such a calm and relaxed manner that it always seems to make his opponents look like beginners - except that it is the second best jiu jitsu athlete in the world. From there, the usual inevitability of the finish and the seeming impossibility of escape for the opponent. Fittingly it was a last show for Mr Gracie. There is simply nothing more he can do in the sport, and, like all great performers, he saved the best until last.


The foundation of our approach to bottom position ground grappling - kuzushi

The foundation of our approach to bottom position ground grappling - kuzushi: There are many ways to play effectively from underneath your opponent in grappling. Some play a game of reactive game of waiting, when their opponent makes some kind of tactical or technical error, they seize upon it and attack. Others play a game of immobilization, they wrap tightly around their opponent to hold him in place and gradually work their way into offense, variations of closed guard and rubber guard are good examples of this. Our approach is to actively seek to break our opponents balance. This action is traditionally referred to as kuzushi. Kano made it the foundation of his approach to standing grappling in Judo. We look to extend that into ground grappling from bottom position. Our primary focus is always TO GET OUR OPPONENT'S CENTER OF GRAVITY BEYOND HIS BASE OF SUPPORT. Once this is done, we work of his reaction to gain either positional advantage or go directly to submission attacks. Many outstanding jiu jitsu players have used this method with great success in all weight categories. Specialized guards have been created over the years to facilitate kuzushi. If you are to make it the basis of your game, then you must train diligently in the means of creating kuzushi on a resisting opponent and learn to tie these in with the attacks of the sport. This approach to the game breeds a fast attacking style that CREATES opportunities rather than waits for them. In addition it makes for a dynamic game rather than an immobilizing/stifling one. All the various approaches have their advocates and successes. In our experience we have found the kuzushi based method to be preferential given that we seek quick entries into our preferred submissions whenever possible. Here, Gordon Ryan does a fine job of elevating his opponent up where he will be forced to base out and leave extended limbs available for attack


Touchdown in NYC

Touchdown in NYC: Just landed at JFK with the squad - in a cab and heading to RGA for Monday noon class. It's a grey old day here in the apple - great day to train early and leave time to reflect and thank those who served our mighty nation. Seventeen hour flight and Mr Tonon and Mr Ryan are ready to train - share in that championship attitude today. Let's rally the team and get some good preparation in for upcoming challenges at noon - see you there


Ryan brothers dominate

Ryan brothers dominate: Last at night at Fight2Win Pro 34, another great event for the promotion, the squad standout Ryan brothers took center stage and stole the show with two impressive victories. Fifteen year old Nicky Ryan won his match with a well applied ashi garami to heel hook in less than 30 seconds. The promoters were puzzled as to what level of belt Nicky Ryan should fight at - he is too young to have an adult belt. I don't blame them for the confusion, I am his teacher and I don't know what belt to give him! In the end they went with purple belt and Nicky is now the fight to Win belt holder in his weight category. Big brother, Gordon Ryan was the main event where he took on the very talented and successful Eliot Kelly, multiple time world champion, ADCC trials champion and A man who has defeated some legends of the sport such as Xande Ribeiro. Mr Ryan however, was not to be denied. His confidence was very high coming off a very good training camp and he got his characteristic submission based game into operation. Mr Kelly showed some very skillful defenses, but the sustained pressure Mr Ryan can impose is very difficult to deal with and eventually the breakthrough came via a beautiful sankaku (triangle) combined with armbar (juju gatame). I am very happy Mr Ryan was able to show his sankaku skills. Both Ryan brothers excel in this technique - in fact they have invented their own unique versions of it that we named after them, but their success with leg locks and back attacks has overshadowed their incredible sankaku skills on the big stage. I believe this will change in the future- in the gym it is their main weapon - it's only a matter of time until this translates into competition (shiai). Mr Ryan expressed to me great admiration for his opponent, Mr Kelly, complimenting him on his defensive skills, wrestling skills and fighting spirit. Both men came out looking to win in an exciting fashion, which created a memorable match. A great night for the Ryan brothers whose diligent work, inventive approach to technique and growing confidence continue to impress me.


Weaving jiu jitsu into life brings life to your jiu jitsu

Weaving jiu jitsu into life brings life to your jiu jitsu: A theme I try hard to instill in my students is to take the lessons of jiu jitsu and apply them to other aspects of their lives. So much of our lives, in business, commerce, relationships, politics etc take the form of competitive and cooperative games - just like jiu jitsu. It is surprising how often insight drawn from jiu jitsu can illuminate other aspects of our lives (and vice versa). When this happens, jiu jitsu takes a much richer and deeper meaning for us. We see it no longer as a game or recreation, but as a way of thinking. I had the chance to express this theme in the popular TV show Billions, where one of the main protagonists uses themes learned in jiu jitsu to gain advantage in his battles against a foe. Most competition and cooperation follow the same basic structure, so we should not be surprised at overlap between jiu jitsu and other aspects of life. Often however, the themes are clearer in jiu jitsu and learned there first and applied to life later. Here, Paul Giamatti takes a Kimura from a position that people naive in ground grappling might consider inferior, but takes a win through tactics and technique - and sees a deeper lesson that will inspire and energize his character in more important ways...


When the hard work is done

When the hard work is done: Nothing brings people together like shared adversity. Hard training and shared goals make some of the strongest friendships and make the punishing routine of championship training tolerable. If shared adversity is the best way to help build team unity, story telling after training is a close second! When you have a cast of characters like Jake Shields, Georges St-Pierre and the squad together - you know there will be no shortage of crazy stories to tell after class to bring a smile and laughter to everyone's face! The martial arts never had a shortage of crazy characters and events, so story time after training is always a highlight of the day. I always encourage this kind of thing - it's a great way to cement the camaraderie they will build a training program that forges elite athletes and forward progress for all. Training cannot be a joyless slogging match if it is to be sustained over time - there must be a release and sense of good times. Every gym has there their coaches and athletes who make training time intense and beneficial, but just as valuable are those characters who make it fun just to be there - I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are both!


Big ambitions start small

Big ambitions start small: Very often I will be asked how athletes got to the high level of competition they currently work at. What many people are not aware of IS THE SMALL AND HUMBLE NATURE OF THE BEGINNINGS OF MOST GREAT ATHLETES. It is natural for them to make this mistake. Athletes are only noticed when they get to a certain level. All the myriad small, local trials and competitions they battled through to get to that level are unknown to the general public. This is the most natural and effective way for emerging athletes to work. START WITH SMALL, LOCAL CHALLENGES AND PROGRESSIVELY WORK YOUR WAY UP. So often I see talented athletes try to skip steps in the order of progression and end up with problems. People know the squad mostly through their success in high profile professional grappling events. Few are aware of just how many low level competitions against unknown locals they fought through prior to making it to the big stages. This was a very unglamorous but very necessary step in their road to success. The experience gained at the lower levels is of critical importance when fighting at the higher levels. So many times the squad would travel on their own dollar to obscure events in the tristate region to take on unknown opponents - all the while gaining competition experience and confidence that would one day provide the foundation to much greater goals. Many emerging athletes are in a rush to shorten this important start, or worse, bypass it altogether. Don't - do your time - gain your knowledge and experience and THEN move on. This is true also for non competitive jiu jitsu players. Make your goals in the gym PROGRESSIVE. Start with small goals and THOROUGHLY CONQUER THEM before moving on. In my experience, smooth progression in goals gains better long term results than giant leaps. Here a very young looking squad (I think Gordon Ryan is eighteen here) relaxes after matching victories in local tournament in New Jersey, one of a vast number that they entered around this time. It was at these local shows they laid the foundations of the game they took to the big stage


Meeting up with Senpai

Meeting up with Senpai: When I was a beginner student under my Sensei Renzo Gracie, our senpai (big brothers) where Ricardo Almeida, Matt Serra and Rodrigo Gracie. All three were world champions in their respective areas. All three were highly successful in jiu jitsu and MMA. All three were amazing teachers who inspired us every day we trained. Here I am in Sudbury, Canada teaching next to Mr Almeida at the NOMAD martial arts convention. It is magical to see the same looks of wonder on the faces of the students here as we had in NYC all those years agoHere is he teaching a superb class on the essential principles of guard passing. I never forgot the power of role models like Mr Almeida in the classroom to bring out the best in the class overall. That is why I try so hard to create a group of outstanding students who I know will create a level of excitement and interest that will make the level of the ENTIRE ROOM rise.


Gordon Ryan back in action tomorrow night

Gordon Ryan back in action tomorrow night: Tomorrow night at Fight To Win Pro 30, Gordon Ryan will battle the brilliant and physically very powerful Brazilian grappler, Lucas Hulk" Barbosa in New Jersey in a ten minute bout without points - if it goes the distance a decision will be rendered based upon submissions and positional control. Mr Ryan has been training exceedingly well. This matchup of two great grapplers should be thrilling!