May 03

The sleeve drag deceives and destroys all

Oh boy, let’s talk about the sleeve drag.

It’s one of many grips that I like to use in the closed guard, and I call it that instead of other names that others use because I always want to remind myself of the primary intent behind using it.

Once I establish it, I must always threaten to drag the arm. That nagging sense of worry has to invade my adversary’s mind at all times because that threat will lead to more offensive opportunities.

Case in point:

In the video above, I demonstrate an offensive sequence that I’m experimenting with. It’s predicated on the idea that the guy is going to resist the drag, but in the process, some space will be created between their elbow and their rib. In that moment, the transition to the reverse grip is made, and now they’ve found themselves in an even worst scenario.

But it all starts with the grip.

And that cross sleeve and elbow grip is powerful.

In fact, yesterday, I was training with one of my students. And he knows that I’m experimenting with connecting the sleeve drag to the reverse kimura so he tried like all hell to stop it from happening. He tried to strip the grip. Not even close. Then tried to dig his elbow in tight. And that’s where he gave me some trouble. I couldn’t set up the reverse kimura… so I just dragged him and took his back.

It’s a rock and a hard place.

I’ll take what you give me.

And that’s the power that grip gives you. If you understand it, there are many paths of offense that can be taken, and it is deceptively strong (if done right).

Don’t take my word for it though.

Play with it.

And if you want to learn another powerful for the closed guard, go here:

Apr 19

Solid side control Isnever static

I’m in the process of developing several defensive sequences for escaping side control.

Frankly, I’ve gotten tired of seeing so many people struggle helplessly, and the reason behind that is that most often escapes are taught only for the most ideal of circumstances. The most flagrant example is when the person on top is just holding the position on their knees (that’s not true side control).

Not only are you more likely to feel shoulder pressure from hell but also their hips are going to be low, the space is going to be small, and you’re going to feel almost all of their weight.

It’s entirely different situation than most people experience when they drill escapes.

Then on top of that, they aren’t going to be static.

They will move.

As you desperately try to escape, they will adjust their position to maintain control and make you suffer all the more. But escape is still possible. Every adjustment comes with an opportunity. It just has to be seen and taken advantage of.

And that’s where my attention is focused at the moment.

Above, you’ll also get the opportunity to see a small bit of what’s currently in the lab, and soon, very soon, it will all be added to the side control ghosting course.

Here’s where you can find out more about it:

Apr 17

One of the drills I like best for improving the armbar from closed guard

This is one of my absolute favorite drills for closed guard. It isolates and focuses on the leg work that most commonly contributes to issues executing the armbar.

Nowadays, I include it often in classes I teach, and it has had profound effect.

All the time, I notice students getting better and better at hitting armbar just because of this drill.

It’s fascinating.

Apr 07

Two simple improvements to the knee cut pass

The other day, a student asked me about a problem he’s been having often during rolls.

Over and over again, he gets to one of the very best positions for finishing the knee cut pass (deep underhook and head tight against the ear on the other side), but yet (get this) he goes noooowhere. His opponents lock up his leg like a death vise.

And it’s been bothering him…. ALOT.

Frankly, it’s a common problem. And it stems from focusing too much on using the knee to cut through the guard. The name of the pass definitely doesn’t help in that regard either.

Where they go wrong is that they don’t realize how hip dominant the pass truly is.

There must be a connection between your hip and your opponent’s body, and THAT is what gives you the most leverage for making the pass finish as smooth as silk.

It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about the knee cut.

Mar 30

Hip tilt setup to the hand gun choke

A few days ago, a pal of mine sent me a link to a video.

He immediately notices some similarities between its execution and the principles I stress when teaching the loop choke. So immediately he thought I might want to check it out.

He’s a good guy.

And I appreciate that because he was damn right. There were, indeed, similarities. And yesterday, I experimented until I got it to work.

And I have to say this:

Neil Melanson’s hand gun choke works best when I treat exactly like a loop choke. In fact, it is a loop choke in no-gi form.

There’s like twins that were split at birth.

Yes, the grip might be different, but everything else is virtually the same.

In fact, having both attacks in my arsenal means that I can use the same setup with or without the cross lapel grip to set up the choke. Boom, in an instant, my attack just got a little more devious.

And that’s what a principled based approach can do for your game.

One of the absolute most inefficient ways to improve at this game that we call Jiu-jitsu is to consider all technique to be isolated bits of knowledge that you must learn one by one.

It doesn’t work that.

And if you force yourself down that route, only plateaus await you.

The better path is to look for the connections. Find the aspects of the art that apply to more than just one situation.

I call them one-to-many relationships.

And generally, there are either principles or movements.

In this case right here, the following principles apply to both attacks:

  • For any blood choke to be effective, both sides of the neck (the carotid arteries) must be blocked so that the brain is deprived of the blood it needs to function.
  • The attack is initiated when the opponent’s head is lower than yours.
  • The opponent’s head must be directed to outside of the hip on the side of the choking arm. (Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to force their forehead to touch the hip.)

And with those principles as a framework, I know exactly how the attack must be setup. And I know how to recognize any opportunities for the attack the very moment it appears.

That’s just one of the benefits that approaching the game from principles first gives you.

And you can learn more about how I approach the game here: