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.

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.