Defense in depth

Defense in depth: Most of you know that I put an extraordinarily high value on defense training for my students. My belief is that only when students have a strong belief in their defense will they take risks - and any offensive move entails risk - so ironically only athletes who believe in their defense will engage with their offense in high level competition. Understand always that defense comes in different forms based upon how far the opponent has entered into their move. Early defense is the most efficient. The old clock that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is very true with regards Jiu jitsu. If you can anticipate an attack you will defend it easily. Much more challenging is late defense, where an opponent has performed the move almost to completion and you have to dig your way out. This requires knowledge, skill and a steady nerve. Learn all the aspects of defense from early to late and everything in between - but when you care about winning, be sure to prioritize early defense - it will be easier on your body and less scary for your friends observing on the sidelines! Here, Nicky Ryan shuts down the dangerous leg lock game of the great Masakazu Imanari early on to allow himself to focus on his own attacks and victory

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

Defensive soundness

Defensive soundness: I’m sure you’ve all been to a boxing match and heard fools in the audience randomly screaming “KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!” every twenty seconds regardless of what is actually happening in the ring. Well, underneath it all there is some wisdom. Boxer keep the hands up in order to cover the chin and make it less accessible to a blow. Observation will quickly reveal good boxers don’t always keep their hands up, but they do whenever they NEED to to. Grapplers too need to protect and cover their chin when they need to - but for different reasons. We don’t need to worry about a blow to the chin, but rather a hand/wrist sliding under the chin to set a stranglehold. As such there is a need for us also to keep our hands up as a block when appropriate to catch not punches to the jaw, but strangles UNDER the jaw. Learn to keep your hand up and ready to block - just like a good boxer you don’t want your hands always in defensive mode - otherwise it can stifle your offense a little - but when it’s needed it BADLY needed - so get those defensive hands up and ready to save you

Getting out of trouble - and putting the other guy into trouble

Getting out of trouble - and putting the other guy into trouble: If there is one skill in Jiu jitsu that NEVER goes out of style it would be getting out of bad position. I don’t care how talented an athlete is - we all make mistakes and at some time we all find ourselves fighting for survival out of pins. My approach to pin escapes is a little different from most. I train my students to work in two phases. First the escape itself - then to develop a sensitivity to when the danger is past and then AN IMMEDIATE AND AGGRESSIVE COUNTERATTACK THAT FEEDS OFF YOUR OPPONENTS DESIRE TO REGAIN THE PIN. This takes the humble art of defense into the devastating art of counterattack. Most athletes are satisfied with just getting. I teach to go the extra distance AND FINISH EVERY ESCAPE WITH SUBMISSION COUNTERATTACK WHENEVER POSSIBLE - and in MANY cases it is possible. Take this approach and you’ll soon find that your submission percentages double. Tomorrow I will release my NEW WAVE JIU JITSU escapes into counterattacks instructional video and showcase this attacking philosophy into your defense.

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

Open guard knees to chest

Open guard knees to chest: People talk about posture all the time in Jiu jitsu - understand from the start that different situations will require different postures from you to maximize your efficiency. When it comes to open guard - if you do not have a controlling grip on your opponent - be sure to KEEP YOUR KNEES CLOSE TO YOUR CHEST. This lessens the chance of an opponent explosively clearing your legs and passing before you can react. It also lessens the danger of a quick leg lock entry by the top player. In short - it makes you DEFENSIVELY SOUND at all times until you can get a solid grip upon your opponent that allows you to focus on offense. Here, Australian grappling Star Craig Jones shows near perfect open guard posture, necessary because he does not yet have a controlling grip upon his partner.

Shields up Captain...

Shields up Captain...The human body is a rather delicate thing - but there are certain parts of our body that are quite robust. The elbows/forearms and the knees/shins are two fine examples. Both are exceptionally tough and can take a real beating with no ill effects. When it’s time to create a robust shield between you and your opponent - MAKE YOUR ELBOWS/FOREARMS AND KNEES/SHINS THE BASIS OF YOUR SHIELD. You can hold back anything your opponent can throw at you with these shields set in place and do so without suffering and be in good shape to counterattack. Learn to use your body in such a way that the tough parts of the body protect the delicate parts of the body and Jiu Jitsu will be a much more pleasant experience for you. Your shins and forearms are your shields in this sport. Just as ancient soldiers used their shields to protect themselves until they could launch their offense, so too you must do the same. Here, Nicky Ryan makes good use of his shins to hold off a spirited passing attempt.

Practicing offense is fun - but it’s the practice of defense that will determine how well you do against strong opposition

Practicing offense is fun - but it’s the practice of defense that will determine how well you do against strong opposition: The sport of Jiu jitsu is evenly divided between offensive and defensive skills. It’s natural to want to focus more on the former as it is generally more fun and glamorous. Be aware however, that it will be your mastery of defense that will prove the more important when you come up against very good opponents who will be attacking you at least as much as you attack them (and in many cases - a lot more). While defense may not be as sexy as offense - those are the skills you will draw upon in a crises - and let me tell you - when you go against someone your own level or better - Jiu Jitsu is very much a sport of crises management. Make you you devote AT LEAST fifty percent of your training/development time to defensive skills. Those skills may not be as much fun to train but whatever unhappiness that training time may cause you is nothing compared with the unhappiness of losing a bout due to underdeveloped defensive skills. Balance your training time accordingly.