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.

Sep 01

Hope still exists even when the underhook has been lost

Just another day playing half guard, and it happens.

You lose the underhook.

And then the guy proceeds to smash you without any mercy at all. Where is the consideration? It’s supposed to be the gentle art. But noooo. There’s nothing gentle about the pressure that’s raining on your chin.

It sucks.

I know. I’ve been there many times.

But it’s not the end of the road. You still have options. You can still strike, even in that situation. And guess what??

I’m going to show you some tricks of the craft. First though, let’s talk about concept.

You Lost the Underhook. Oh Noes!

Hearken to this.

Your most severe issue isn’t the underhook; it’s the fact that you’ve been flattened out. Once both your shoulders hit the mat, it spells trouble. You lose mobility and your ability to leverage is damaged. Keep that in mind at all times. It may just save you.

Anyway, we’re going to assume that you’re flat.

Because otherwise, you would still have the ability to move as you wish for the most part.

And in that case, you must damage the structure of your opponent’s position. And your tools for that will be hip movement and bridges. Ahh. It’s basics 101. Just goes to show that there is a reason behind all the movement drills.

They actually have a purpose.

And their applications are countless.

Well, well, that’s enough with the abstract principles, take a gander at how they can be used to either sweep or take the underhook back.

For more tips and tricks for the underhook half guard game, mosey over to my course on the topic. I’m sharing all of my experience playing the position over the duration of seven weeks jammed packed with little lessons. Jump in, and improve your game.

Aug 09

Stacked on your head in the armbar no more

For me, the closed guard armbar is the submission that I love most. Not because it’s easy though (there are a lot of submissions that are easier for me). It’s actually the complete opposite.

I love it because it’s so difficult.

Almost everyone recognizes the threat early and defends powerfully.

And many times, I’ve lost it before the threat truly began. That forced me to start developing little tricks to disguise the threat but that is a topic for another day.

Let me tell you a story instead:

About two years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a Pedro Sauer seminar. And he ran it a little differently than I’m used to. It was entirely Q&A. Everyone asked questions, and we covered a wide range of topics. When it was my turn though, I only had one little simple question.

How do you finish the armbar from closed guard?

That’s all I wanted to know.

And he gave me a detail that blew my mind. No joke. I cannot overstate how powerful that little detail was. It revolutionized the mechanics of my finish. I’ve never forgotten it, and I never will.

And guess what?

I’ll share it with you today.

Be warned though. It absolutely slaughters the stack in its infantry. May it rest in peace. And I’m going to show you some other small adjustments that will help you make your attack more lethal.