Nov 23

Side control better ready itself for oblivion


There’s some monsters out there that know how to make side control one of the most horrendous of experiences.

They settle their weight just right. They drive off their feet into the side of your ribs just right. And they smash their shoulder into your chin just right.

It’s almost seems like they putting no effort into it at all, as you flail around and struggle to breathe. It’s not a pleasant situation to be in. And to avoid, you’re going to need more tools in your arsenal when it comes to escape.

Let me help you out.

A Bit of Concept First

When it comes to obliterating an opponent’s ability to control you in side control, you must:

  • Prevent or weaken their control of your head.
  • Prevent or weaken their control of your hips.

You can find those elements in every effective side control escape, and the better you are at weakening or preventing control of your head and hips, the easier your escape will be, no matter what technique you use.

Keep that mind, as I show you one of the uncommon escapes I use.

Rolling Out Like A Ghost

I learned this escape when I was a blue belt, and it clicked right away. In fact, I remember using it during a roll THAT night. And I’ve never forgotten it since. At first, it might seem a little flashy, but it operates under solid principles.

The bridge is absolutely key.

That creates the space needed to move and weakens any control your opponent has of your hips. What might not be noticeable though is how the overhook is used to weaken control of the head. The side of the wrist digs into the armpit, which shifts your opponent’s body slightly, and if your chin is getting smashed, that little bit of space is a life saver. Oh, and it also makes the escape easier as well.

And the second part of the demonstration is a little drill, I’ve been using to develop the movement and counter the knee cut pass. It’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re doing. You’ll have fun doing it, and it’s a great warmup.

Nov 21

Smashing through plateaus like a boss

Argh! The dreaded plateau.

You can run. You can hide. But it will find you, and it has a particular set of skills. Skills that it has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make it a nightmare for people just like you.

And what skills, pray tell?


The first is illusion.

It can make you feel its presence when it’s not even there… You’ll think that you aren’t improving, even when you are. And as your motivation decreases, it will finally bear its sharp fangs and unleash its true fury upon you.

It’s horrible.

And many fall to its power.

You MUST not be one of them.


The second power is distraction.

It can make you focus on the wrong benchmarks for improvement. Your focus will shift to making every roll a competition. You have to win. And that desire will force you to play a very limited game and ignore many learning opportunities.

And then suddenly you’ll notice that others have improved and you haven’t…

Many people quit at that point.

The jiu-jitsu graveyards is filled with their corpses. And there’s a grave waiting for you as well, if you don’t smash through plateaus like the boss you are.


Here’s how you do it:

First, you must take responsibility for your own growth. And I suggest you get a notebook. But don’t use it to take notes. Let me repeat that. Don’t use it to take notes. At least not how most people do it.

I’ll explain.

Use it mainly for planning purposes. Write down your training goals. Write down the problems you’ve run into on the mat more than once. Write down techniques that you want to master. Write down your successes. Write down your failures. Write down questions you want to ask higher belts.

The notebook is a tool that will help you maintain focus and a sense of progress at all times.

Use it.

Nov 20

How to make your triangle chokes more vicious


It happened again.

Someone told me that they weren’t built for triangles. How can this be!? I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve heard it often enough.

It matters not!

I’m still annoyed. Why? Because being shorter and stockier is no excuse for not developing a vicious triangle. There is more than one way to finish. And you can absolutely demolish people with it, no matter what.

Here’s the thing though.

Knee pinch is EVERYTHING. The pinch makes life hard for your opponents. They won’t like it. Not at aaaalllll.


First, it makes it harder for opponents to escape because they won’t be able to easily:

  • Posture up.
  • Cut the corner.
  • Stack you.

Imagine that.

In an instant, you just killed most of the common defensive responses. Can you see how that would make your choke more vicious? It was a game changer for me. And it made me more comfortable shooting for the triangle even against bigger guys.

When you get the pinch right, transitioning to the finish becomes a lot easier. But you must also understand the progression of the threat. When you first clear one arm, your priority is NOT to lock the triangle.  It’s to control posture. I remember being told over and over again that I must control when I triangle, and it’s one of those lessons that has reaped massive value for me over the years.

Next, after controlling posture, that’s when the pinch comes in. Words will not do it justice. You have to feel it, but its like night and day when you get it right. And your finish rate will soar.

I taught it live recently, so you can see it in action if that helps, but if you’ve been struggling with finishing, adding the pinch will make a massive difference.

I guarantee it.

Nov 01

The first thing you must do when the bow and arrow choke is imminent


Just another night on the mat.

And once again, I allowed someone to get on my back. In that moment, suddenly, the intensity increased. A submission was now in sight, and the guy was hunting. He wanted it. And he went after it.

Then through flurry of grip fighting, he finally gets the cross collar lapel grip…

I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me. I’ll admit it. There’s no shame. I’m very comfortable in that situation, and it’s specifically because I test my defense against people who actively and aggressively pursue the bow and arrow choke.

All about Rotation

If you understand the choke, it’s not hard to escape, but there is a point of no return (obviously). The key to staying far away from that point is understanding how you should rotate in order to reduce the threat.

Below, you’ll see an example of exactly what you can do.

Of course, it has to be done fast, and you’re already steps behind in the game. You’re just trying to recover ground now. But it’s still possible. And I’ve escaped a lot of bow and arrow chokes using exactly this method. And I’ve also just frustrated the hell out of people with rotation alone.

It’s fun as hell.

In fact, last week, I was rolling with a blue belt, and while he was attempting to finish the choke, I made some small adjustments, told him that I was about to escape, and then did exactly that. And you’ll be able to do the same exact thing if you truly grasp this movement and the concept behind it.

One Challenge

Fair warning.

What your opponent does with their non-choking hand may restrict your ability to rotate. Respect the grip if they grab your far lapel with that hand. It will restrict your ability to rotate and make escape more difficult.


Oct 31

Open guard principles that will help simplify the game

Right now, if I held up a hand and starting counting out open guard positions with my fingers, I would run out of room in an instant.

There’s a lot of them!

It’s glorious.

Countless people are on the mats every day, innovating and brainstorming. They’re expanding the game. And it presents both a challenge and an opportunity. How can we maximize our learning experience? What’s the best way to approach all this new knowledge? Is there any way to simplify the complex?

That’s where concepts come into play.

No matter the innovation, there are still some elements that are universal. Identifying them and applying that knowledge in the right way can give you instant advantage even when you encounter situations that you’ve never dealt with before.

Open Guard – Four Points of Control

One of the inherent advantages of a person playing guard is that they can use all four of their limbs to control their opponent. Hands, forearms, feet, and shins can all be used in many different combinations to establish control, and each limb plays a role. Understanding that is the first step.

The second lies in making connections.

Take an open guard position that you play or want to play. Identify your points of contact. Where are your hands? Where are your feet? What transitions are required for you attack? Is there any point in particular where you lose control? Are you getting passed at any point? What grips are broken the easiest?

There’s a whole line of inquiry and study that opens up. And it starts from taking the concept and developing it to a deeper level of understanding.

For me, this was one of my first major concepts when I was a white belt. I heard it once, and it has influenced me ever since. I don’t expect it to be new to you, but there are levels to it.

You can take it further.

Open Guard – Tension

I once heard someone say that Jiu-jitsu is all about creating space and taking it away. It blew me away because I like simplicity, and that concept really sums up the game.

Since then though, I’ve realized that there is also third aspect. We must do more than just create space and take it away. We must also maintain space. Stopping opponents from pressing in too far and pulling away too much is just as important.

And we do it all the time.

In open guard especially, it is an essential control mechanism. It’s called tension, and we create it by pulling and pushing at the same time. You’ll notice it in in spider guard with the greatest ease. You pull the sleeve as you push the bicep away. That tension gives you control of the limb, and and if you maintain it in the right way, it magnifies your control of the whole body.

Lately, I’ve been using this concept to deepen my understanding of specific passing strategies. I’ve noticed that there is an imbalance in several open guard positions. I noticed it first in DLR, which consists mostly of pulling grips. There are only one push in the standard variation of the position, and that one point of contact can be focused on.

And once it is, a massive gap in the guard is created.

It’s something that has broader applications, and you would benefit from identifying what each specific grip in doing. Is it pulling you? Or is it pushing you? Recognizing that can help both on the bottom and top.

Open Guard – Entanglement

One place where four points of control becomes less significant is where entanglement happens. An example is lasso guard. The entanglement of the arm acts as both a push and pull at the same time. And the increased amount of control can lessen the need for four points of control.

But the rules of tension are still in play.

You have to attack either the push or pull functions of the grip combination, no matter what it is, from the top. And the from the bottom, you must maintain those elements of control.

The First Step to Application

The key to applying these concepts in a meaningful way lies in focusing only one type of guard.

Spider guard is a great place to start. But any open guard position that would be good. Pick something that you already know about. Create connections between technical knowledge and concept, and see what makes sense to you.

Older posts «

» Newer posts