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.


The two greats flaws of ashi garami

The two greats flaws of ashi garami: No position has had more radical influence and effect on the no gi Jiu jitsu game over the last decade than the many variations of ashi garami (a generic term denoting “entangled legs” of which many varieties can be employed). Most of the effect over this time has come from the leg locking techniques showcased by the squad and those who followed their example. However impressive this development has been to observe, It is important always to consider not just the strengths of every weapon you employ - but also it’s weaknesses. In the case of the various ashi garami variations the two great weakness are mutual foot exposure and back exposure. Every form of leg entanglement to some degree - some more than others - will expose your feet and your back to an opponent. Usually the less they expose your feet - the more they will expose your back - and the less they expose your back - the more they will expose your feet. As such it is a weapon stands in contrast to the strongest attacking positions of Jiu jitsu such as rear mount - where you can attack with near impunity and focus entirely upon your attack with little to no regard for counter offense. Understanding this must make you circumspect when engaging in offense with ashi garami, and optimistic when engaging in defense - since at any moment you can counter attack very strongly at the feet or back if you play intelligently.


Don’t be afraid to take a step back sometimes

Don’t be afraid to take a step back sometimes: Jiu jitsu is a game of pressure. As such it’s natural to want to always pressure forward and let the other fellow feel the heat. However this is also a game where sometimes an opponent can get into a sequence of grips that spell danger and you get the feeling that you can’t break all those grips before the first attacks will come. In these cases it can be a good thing to break out of there completely and briefly disengage and then step back into the fray with renewed focus to get a better start. Generally the athlete who starts better in a given engagement will tend to dominate the rest of that engagement as they have the tactical momentum in their favor. If you feel this is the case - disengage to break the momentum and start again on your terms. Don’t be too quick to use this tactic as it can lead to negative play if overused, but acknowledge that there is a time and place for it when you get off to a bad start and it can definitely save you some grief down the line


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.


If your back is on the floor - then you know that your opponent can’t get to your back

If your back is on the floor - then you know that your opponent can’t get to your back: There are several good ways to defend your back but one of the safest and most effective is to work to get your back to the floor. Part of the problem of defending your back is that it’s tough to SEE what your opponent is doing - he is behind you after all - you have to feel it. The beauty of getting your back to the floor is that vision is unnecessary - it’s simply impossible for an opponent to get behind you if you put the floor on your back first. Like any escape - hit it early - the longer you delay the harder it gets. Bear in mind that ultimate it will lead you back to the safety of guard - so be ready to pull your legs in tight upon completion


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


When you’re starting on the path to back control mastery - focus on the upper body first

When you’re starting on the path to back control mastery - focus on the upper body first: The back is the most dominant position in a grappling match without striking. Nothing else creates such a mismatch between the control and submission opportunities of the attacker vs the defender. The SCORE comes from the legs - getting your two legs hooked into an opponents hips is what creates the score. However, the real world control comes from maintaining chest to back connection with or without the legs. When you first begin the back game - focus on the upper body connection first and foremost. You can always get the hooks in later to score. Use your arms in seatbelt or double under control to form a tight initial connection and create a strangle threat. As you get more advanced you’ll find there are ways you can get legs in first without conventional upper body connection but they aren’t the best place to start since you’ll be using those far less than conventional methods. Here, Gordon Ryan, a true master of back control, uses a safety first upper body connection to secure himself in a winning position, knowing that once this is done, getting the legs in later will be relatively easy


Pathways to the back

Pathways to the back: You all know how much emphasis I put on getting to the back. In a pure grappling match without strikes I value the back mount far more than the front mount EVEN THOUGH THEY SCORE THE SAME AMOUNT OF POINTS. As such, a big part of our coaching program is spent of developing pathways to the back from anywhere. All of my students excel in this, particularly the Ryan brothers. An interesting point about this notion of constantly seeking the back is that whilst it is mostly a physical skill, there is also a mental component insofar as you first have to identify the OPPORTUNITY. You have to train your eyes to see the opportunity before you actually pull out the move to realize that opportunity. The world is full of Jiu Jitsu students who know many moves to take the back, but who overlook myriad opportunities in live sparring and so never get to use those moves when it counts. I often preach to my students IF YOU CAN SEE THE BACK, YOU CAN TAKE THE BACK. While this is an oversimplification and there is more to the story than this, it does a good job of getting students to MENTALLY IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES to take the back - the single most important first step towards back mastery. Next time your are sparring keep those eyes of yours looking for the back and I promise you you will find yourself more often on your opponents back! Here, Gordon Ryan, master of identifying even the tiniest opportunity, goes from mental recognition and into physical action as he moves towards the back of yet another world champion opponent at the recent ADCC world championships en route to gold.


If you want to make a strong man feel weak - get his hand behind his back

If you want to make a strong man feel weak - get his hand behind his back: There are lots of strong people out there - but no one feels strong when their hand(s) are pinned behind their back. Whenever working against strong people it is crucial to create conditions where your opponent works from some kind of mechanical disadvantage and you from advantage. So for example, if you wrestle his arms with your legs, you will have an advantage, if your get behind him you have a big mechanical and tactical advantage. One of the best is to get your opponent’s hand behind his back. Probably the most well known application of this principle is the use of Kimura - a fine means of both controlling and submitting opponents. Once you get the hand behind the back - keep it there until the job is done. Here, Craig Jones does a good job of exactly that as he goes through training and preparation for ADCC 2019 in the blue basement. While there are many effective ways to utilize Kimura even with the hand in front, all the most devastating arm breaking finishes and controls rely upon getting the hand behind the back as early as possible and keeping it there. The difference in strength in an arm between situations where the hand is in front of the torso versus behind the back is huge. Anytime you get a chance to put that hand into a position of weakness behind the back - take it - and soon you will be taking arms as trophies