Oct 04

The beginning of an endless chain of technique


Imagine a puzzle that has no defined shape. You can add a countless amount of pieces to it, but it will never be complete. All you can do is form little structures or images in the mass.

That’s Jiu-jitsu.

It’s endless.

But learning how to start piecing it together is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn. No technique works in isolation. You may learn it that way, but that’s not enough to make it really work. It’s just the start. And from there, you must take it further.

To give you some ideas, I’ve started a new project.

The Endless Chain

Starting with the technique you’ll learn below, I’m going to show you a ridiculously long sequence of technique.

One clear path will be taken through many different positions. Many different techniques will be shown. And you will also be able to influence the journey, if you so wish, by commenting with problems you would like to see addressed.

Oct 03

Structures are built and they are demolished


One of the ways that I like to teach certain techniques is by showing the exact change in position that breaks an opponent’s structure and weakens them in the position. Seeing it action makes the technical lesson more vivid, and it also becomes easier to apply the concept to other aspects of the game.

A quick example:

One of the first sweeps from half guard that I ever had success with was the kneetap. And at white belt, I struggled with it for sometime before it clicked.

The major breakthrough comes from an after class mat chat. Fred Ramie had come up to visit, and when we rolled, I tried the kneetap on him. Let’s just say that it did NOT work. I wasn’t able to budge him at all.

When I asked him about it though, he showed me how pulling out the ankle would make it the sweep harder to stop. Whoa, that was a game changer. And I’ve never forgotten it.

Now I teach that adjustment as more than just a step in a move.

It’s bigger than that.

That small adjustment is a clear attack on your opponent’s structure. In an instant, it weakens their base and creates an opportunity for attack. I like the demonstrate that by pushing someone from different angles while they sit on their hands and knees.

In that position, they have structure, and it’s for them to maintain balance in all four directions. Sometimes interesting happens when you pull an ankle outward though. It creates a hole in the structure, and it becomes simple to push them over.

That’s one example though.

Fundamentally, we play a game of creating and demolishing structures. It really is that simple. And your challenge is to become aware of exactly how technique works and then improve it to make it even more devastating.

Sep 14

Speed is the eternal enemy of perfection

Let me tell you about a curious phenomenon.

I can look at someone drilling a technique and know whether or not they will reap the maximum benefit from the experience. It has nothing to do with the technical mechanics of their movements though and everything to do with their level of focus.

And it’s a variable that changes depending on the day. I’ve noticed it in myself as well.

Quick story time:

In the room, I’ve often seen a certain kind of guy. He’s young, athletic, and he can move. You show him a technique, and zoom, he’s speeding through it.

The problem though is this: he’s going through the motions. Mechanically, he’s figuring it out as he goes, but just as quickly, problems arise. The reason?

He went on autopilot while drilling. And small errors started to appear in the technique over and over again, but they weren’t noticed because he was powering through.

Towards that situation, there’s a saying that really stuck with me, and I have no idea where I heard it first. But even now the wisdom in that sentence can’t be denied.

Speed is the enemy of perfection.

I was reminded of that fact a few weeks ago.

In the effort to continually expand my knowledge so that I can help my students more, I visited a different gym, and we only drilled one thing.

It was a variation of the X pass against knee shield half.  It was AWESOME, but it required me to change how I’ve done the pass in the past.

So I slowed everything down to snail’s pace.

In my mind, I reinforced the idea that every rep is of immense value, and I took my time. Slow. Slow. And whoa, I felt myself improve.

It was obvious.

And I was able to add that variation to my arsenal, even with the limited time I spent on it.

That’s the power of being present in your practice.

Every rep counts, if you focus.

Sep 12

Give em a choice between a rock and a hard place

The transitions were fast and furious. And sweat was pouring on the mat. Suddenly, there was an almost pass. He cleared the legs and was fighting to stabilize the position.

But then it happened…

Woosh, a quick transition led to a new position, and the action slowed down. The guy on top couldn’t escape. He moved here. He moved there. He tried to frame. He tried to pummel.

None of it worked.

Unfortunately (depending on your perspective), he had just fallen into an offensive loop.

Frantically, he defended against one attack but another followed right after and yet another after that one. It was endless, and eventually he succumbed to the barrage.

That story is a little dramatic (just a wee bit) but it highlights the power of offensive loops.

You can create situations where you can entrap an opponent in your web and just suffocate them with offense. And the key to accomplishing that feat lies in understanding defense as much as you understand offense.

No matter what you do, there will be a response.

And if your understanding of defense is deep and profound, the response is predictable. And anything you can predict, you can counter.

Today, I’m going to share a lesson with you from my underhook half guard course. It focuses on an easy offensive loop that I’ve been punishing people with for the last few weeks. And you’ll be able to do the same exact thing.

Study well:

Sep 04

Severing the gordian knot with one broad stroke

According to legend, Alexander the Great was once faced with a problem that seemed intractable.

In the year 333 B.C. he marched into the Phrygian capital of Gordium in modern Turkey. And within the city, there was a prophecy. It foretold the conquest of all of Asia by any man who could succeed in unraveling an extremely complicated knot known as the Gordian knot.

It was a challenge that just couldn’t be resisted.

And he didn’t hesitate. He strode forth and spent long moments to unravel the knot, but all his efforts were unsuccessful. The problem was too complex. But then, he did something unexpected. He pulled his sword from his sheath, raised it high, and then severed the knot straight down the middle.

A simple solution to a complex problem.

And there’s lesson there for those of us who play this Jiu-jitsu game.

This art is filled with complexity, but there is also simplicity.

One of the areas where things can easily get complicated is open guard. Every time you look around, there’s a newfangled guard. Worm guard, donkey guard, octopus guard, and so on (hooray for biology inclusion into the art).

I’m not a fundamentalist. I love all the innovation. But you’re faced with a problem when you’re hit with a guard that you’ve never seen before and you have to pass.

That’s where concept comes into play.

No matter what control in guard is determined by the quantity of contact points. Guard is strong when someone has both hands and both legs on you. And if you did nothing else but destroy those points of contact, you would weaken their control.

The application of that principle is very linear too.

Every grip you break, exponentially weakens your opponent’s control. What that means for you is that you don’t need to know a specific pass for every guard that someone uses on you.

You just need to understand how to neutralize and break points of contact.

Even if you did nothing else, you would increase your ability to pass all these complicated guards.

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