Jul 16

Better than the average mechanic

Mat chat time:

Many moons ago, after a great training session, amidst many grand puddles of sweat, a few of us had a discussion.

I could regale you with a fascinating tale of how it took many turns and covered several topics.

But no, I just want to share one thing.

One of my teammates used to work in the car industry. And he often found himself bored with routine maintenance and daily customer interactions. But he LOVED new and challenging projects. They motivated him.

While he was telling his tale, I felt an instant sense of connection.

I’m the same way. I love a challenge because it is only by stretching ourselves that we grow. And growth excites me.

Get thee away from me, average.

We aren’t friends.


He also told a story about the part recall on a certain model of car. The estimated time for service was 30 minutes. And he said most mechanics took an hour and a half to do the work.

But listen to this.

He was different.

It took him 15 minutes. Why? Because he was efficient. Through repetition, he learned the process in and out.

There’s a lesson there if you choose to snatch it.

Challenging yourself to solve new and interesting problems is one path to growth, but it is not the only one. It’s also possible to grow through improvement of process.

And the same principle applies to our game of choice.

Don’t get so excited by learning new movements, concepts and techniques that you neglect deep exploration.

In fact, at the very least, give yourself a monthly project.

It should focus on one topic. And your goal is to dig as deep as possible. Shoot for a high number of reps. Challenge yourself. And make some progress every time you step on the mat.


Hell, if you’re a half guardian, I’ll even give you heaps of help.

It can be found here:

Jul 15

A troof for the ages


One troof you’ve probably not heard anywhere near enough is that:

Technique is only as good as the conditions that you drill in.

Case in point:

These days, even the best shrimp escape for side control isn’t enough to make me give up control. You ain’t getting back to closed guard that easy, son.

At best, you’ll make me move.

It’s not because the technique is bad though. More often, it’s just because people don’t account for how I will defend their first attempt. It’s all or nothing. Escape or reset.

Instead, that first attempt should be just to make me move.

THAT should be your goal.

Creating movement is the key to escaping from bad situation. In fact, you should aim to create so much that control slowly yet surely slips through your opponent’s fingers.

When you do that well, you create opportunity.

And if you’re savvy enough to take advantage, escape becomes much easier and your comfort levels, even in the worst situation, jumps through the roof.

For example…

Earlier today, one of my students wanted to work on escaping side control. So I had him do some situational rolls, so that he could work on his technique against after resistance.

He struggled.

It was much more difficult to deal with an actively resisting opponent than to drill (obviously). That shoulder pressure was on point and he struggled to even move.

In that situation, you have to do little things to break the structure of the position, and once that’s done, massive movement must be created.

And you know what?

You learn some of those little tricks now if you so wish.

Or not.

It’s up to you:

Jul 14

Barbarians just want to rampage through your guard

The city is surrounded.

Barbarians are at the gate, and they’re making a loud clamor. You can hear swords banging shields, shouts and jeers, and sound of countless feet stomping the ground combine in cacophony of noise.

It’s grinding on your nerves.

And it’s already been a few weeks. Supplies are running short, and soon it will all come to head. You can see them preparing the battle rams and ladders.

They want to smash through the gates and go over the walls, and once they do, it will be nothing short of hell.

Blood and mayhem.

And all you can do is wait or sally forth to do battle.

A similar dilemma faces us when we play guard. In fact, there is a zone that we must defend at all costs.

It’s the space between your shoulders and your hips.

That’s your base. All your riches and the foundation of your power lies there. The barbarians must not get through the gates. And that is something that you must keep in mind at all times.

Even in the most precarious of situations, you have a line of defense. It consists of your hands, forearms, feet, and shins.

Frustrate your opponent with those tools. When they clear one, bring another to bear. One after another again and again.

Watch as despair and hopelessness filled their eyes, and then strike when they least expect.

It’s a game.

And strategy is your friend.

Always defend your home base.

And you know what?

You can add another layer to your guard, if you so wish, over here:

Jul 13

Three adjustments that changed my game forever

Let’s chat about ah ha moments.

They’re those times when something just clicks for you. At that moment, it all makes all sense. And they’re sneaky too. Sometimes someone will show you something that makes you smack your head and wonder about why you didn’t think of it first or perhaps you’ll just stumble on a insight out of nowhere.

I’ve had many of those experiences.

But in an effort not to toot my horn (this time at least), I’ll just focus on what I’ve learned from others.

Let’s go…

1. Creating leg torque

Back when yours truly was a not so wee little white belt, I had an opportunity to train with Fred Ramie while he was visiting from out of town. At the time, he was a brown belt, and even back then, I was a disciple of the half, so I played it against him.

It didn’t go well.

I couldn’t do anything to him.

Oh, I tried. Yes, indeed, I tried. But it was no go.

Afterward though, I asked him for advice on what I could have done better in that situation, and he showed me the leg torque.

It blew my mind.

I’ve never forgotten.

And over time, my understanding on the principles and applications of that small adjustments has continually expanded, and it all started with that one moment.

2. Popping the collar

Nowadays, I’m almost anal about popping the collar on the back when going for the bow and arrow choke or any of its variations. It’s such a small thing but it makes a massive difference when it comes to maintaining a strong grip, getting under the chin, and finishing the choke clean.

I first learned that from Roberto Torralbas.

And the first time I used it, I was like wooooow. It’s just amazing the difference it made. All my chokes just went to a whole ‘nother level in an instant once I started incorporating it into my game.

3. Kicking the leg out

In the early days, I would often run into situations where I would get on the back and then the guy would lift his hips up and drive back to stack me there. Then we would enter this strange contest of wills.

I couldn’t attack.

He couldn’t escape.

And I had no answer for it at all. But then my coach, Mike Moses, showed me how I could hook one leg and kick out to instantly destroy the structure of that position.

It had to be done on the same side as the primary choke though. Otherwise, it would aid in their escape rather than setting the stage for their doom.

That’s been in my game ever since.


I think about these things sometimes because this art is fundamentally about learning. Every time, you step on the mat, there’s an opportunity to learn something new and there’s someone that knows something that you don’t.

Those are realities that I appreciate.

And if you’re ever on a mat with me, feel free to pick my brain. I have no problem with helping you expand your game as much as possible.

Case in point:

All my courses are different than traditional instructionals.

I didn’t tape any of them all at once and none of them are static. I often go back and add or replace lessons, whenever I feel that an improvement can be made.

The reason behind that is because nothing remains the same. The game is always changing, and you have to embrace the chaos in order to take it far.

And on that note, I just added new lesson to my side control escape course. It breaks down how to escape with crucial details for reversing the position even when your opponent is hellbent on smashing you into the mat with the force of ages.

Learn more here:

Jul 12

Off with the table’s leg, and down it will tumble

A familiar scene:

It’s another day on the mats, and the class is in its final phase. You’ve been partnered up with someone who always gives you a tough time, but this time, you were able to force them into your position.

HAH, it’s go time now.

You establish your grips and start setting up your sweep. Then you go for it, and they start to tilt tilt tilt then bam, a hand comes out and bases on the mat. After that, they then drive back across and start smashing you again.

All that effort wasted…

It’s rough.

And those experiences never truly go away because your partner is always going to react, and sometimes they actually respond in the right way (shocking, I know).

But here’s the thing.

No matter what technique you use to sweep, there is a concept that help you improve your success rate.

And it starts with understanding posts and leverage.

The human body is no different than a table when it comes balance and base. The limbs serves as the legs that give the body stability in all four quadrants.

If you take out a leg, a hole is created in that direction at the diagonal (northeast for example).

If you take out two legs, a whole major direction becomes vulnerable (north, east, west, south).

Amidst all the concepts and principles that can help magnify your skill, this is one of the most universal. It lays at the foundation of every sweep.

In any direction that you want to sweep, you must be aware of the limbs that can be used for post. And you must dominate those limbs before you initiate your attack.

That is half of the equation.

The other half is creating leverage towards the direction where the hole has been created.

That’s not all though.
There’s also another application of this principle that will allow you create structural imbalances in your opponent’s position just by changing the angle of their hips through one of the weakest links in the movement chain.
It’s broken down in detail in my half guard course because it’s a key element in two of the sweeps that chain loads of attacks off of.
Find out more here: